Rain and Lightning

by Nitro Indigo

First published

After everypony in Equestria was transformed into an Eeveelution, Sassaflash and Sea Swirl try to continue their lives as normally as possible.

Sassaflash was enjoying a milkshake in Sugarcube Corner with her best friend Sea Swirl, when a wave of magic spread throughout Equestria and transformed her into a yellow dog/rabbit/cat-thing. The good news is that now she has awesome lightning powers and can run faster than ever before. The bad news is that Equestria is struggling to cope.

Side-story to Twilight Sparkle is an Espeon Now that was written with permission from Starscribe. I’d recommend reading that first, because this fanfic won’t make sense otherwise and contains spoilers for it.

Sassaflash is a Jolteon Now

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“I saw something really strange earlier,” said Sassaflash in Sugarcuber Corner, between sips of her super whipped cream marshmallow caramel chocolate deluxe milkshake. (“It was Pinkie Pie’s idea,” Mrs. Cake had said.) “Like, really, really, really strange.”

“Let me guess: was it the marching band?” asked Sea Swirl, putting down her boring strawberry milkshake. Okay, so Sea Swirl complained about Sassaflash always ordering carrot juice at Clover Café, but that was completely different. She wanted to support the Carrot family’s business!

“No. I saw this fish-dog-fox-thing!” exclaimed Sassaflash, slamming her hooves on the table to emphasise her point. “But that’s not the strangest part. It could, like, breathe water or something! It bust a wall through a house! A house!”

“I heard about that!” exclaimed Sea Swirl. “Poor Golden Harvest...”

“Come on, Swirly, sound more enthusiastic!” Sassaflash leaned forwards. “Think about it - you’re an aquatic biologist! I just discovered a new aquatic species! We could make history!”

“But I’m not interested in being famous,” replied Sea Swirl.

Suddenly, Sassaflash felt a gust of wind blow through the building. Had somepony left the door open? ...No, they hadn’t.

She resumed sipping her drink... until she heard the Cake twins crying. As Mrs. Cake hurried upstairs to comfort them, Sassaflash’s whole body started to feel funny, like she had pins and needles, and a bright white light filled her vision. Her wings ached... then disappeared altogether. Her legs felt like they were sliding downwards. Her fur rapidly grew longer. After a few seconds, the light cleared, and she briefly felt numb from head to... toe?

The first thing she noticed was that she was now shorter than the table. The second thing she noticed was that she now had tiny, sensitive paws, the same pale shade of yellow as her mane. The third thing she noticed was that between her face and her paws, there was a spiky, white ruff of fur that looked as if somepony had gone overboard with hair gel. She was so freaked out that a rush of energy surged through her body, and her fur stood up on end... and sent sparks flying.

“Ouch!” a vaguely familiar-sounding voice yelped. Sassaflash looked up to see another fish-dog-fox-thing, slightly taller than she was, only instead of being blue like the one she saw earlier, this one was lilac... almost the same shade of lilac as Sea Swirl.

“Sea Swirl?” asked Sassaflash. “Is that you?”

“Sassaflash!” gasped Sea Swirl. She gritted her teeth in pain, and her ear-fin-things drooped. “Where do you think that static shock came from?”

“I think it was me,” replied Sassaflash sheepishly. “Sorry! It was an accident!”

“Then I won’t hold it against you,” Sea Swirl sighed. “But... what am I?”

“You’re a fish-dog-fox-thing,” replied Sassaflash. Sea Swirl looked unamused. “I’ll come up with a better name later! But what am I?”

“Some kind of... rabbit... dog... cat... hybrid?” replied Sea Swirl, tilting her head in confusion, and it was kind of adorable. Sassaflash felt disappointed. She’d wanted to finish her super whipped cream marshmallow caramel chocolate deluxe milkshake, but she’d probably die if she drank it now. “I honestly have no idea, sorry. Do you think this has anything to do with that pink and white fox?”

“What pink and white fox?” asked Sassaflash.

“It was leading the marching band.”

“Didn’t see it.”

“What?” exclaimed Sea Swirl, flabbergasted. “How did you miss the marching band?”

“I saw the marching band! I just didn’t see who was leading it! But that’s not important right now,” Sassaflash said, impatiently shifting her paws.

She looked around to see that it wasn’t just the two of them; all of the ponies in Sugarcube Corner had been transformed into some sort of long-eared fox-thing. Mr. Cake was fluffy and orange; Mrs. Cake hurried downstairs as a cyan and white fox with ribbons attached to her ears, carrying a pair of smaller and fluffier brown fox-things on her back, who were still crying; Cherry Berry was pale yellow with leaves for ears, and desperately trying to reach the top of her table with her brown paws; White Lightning was pale blue, and her drink had mysteriously frozen; a sleeping Star Hunter was black and covered with the glowing, yellow outlines of stars; and Amethyst Star was a pinkish-lilac cat who seemed very interested in her table’s legs.

Sea Swirl gasped softly. “Do you think this happened to the rest of Ponyville?”

“Let’s go take a look!” exclaimed Sassaflash. Carefully, she pushed the lower half of the door open... and without a second thought, bolted outside. She was filled with so much energy that she felt like she could run and run and run forever! She might even be fast than the Wonderbolts! She would have loved to fly with them, but she was too busy with the weather factory. Running felt so amazing that she forgot to look where she was going... and smacked face-first into a house.

Sassaflash sat down and looked around. Normally, Ponyville was bustling with ponies happily going about their day, but today it looked like a ghost town. There wasn’t a single pony in sight, just a few confused at best and panicking at worst fox/cat/dog-things.

“You could have... waited for me...” Sea Swirl panted once she caught up to her.

“Sorry. I got distracted,” replied Sassaflash. “Seriously, though, running is great! I thought that running on paws would really, really hurt, but it doesn’t! Do you have any cool powers now?”

“Not that I’m aware of. Anyway, I didn’t see any ponies on my way here. But it’s not just ponies - I saw another, blue... fish-dog-fox-thing,” Sea Swirl sighed after saying those words, “with some kind of hairy pig. I think they’re students at the school. Also, is it just me, or is it too dry today?”

“Probably just you,” replied Sassaflash. “How far do you think this spread?”

“I don’t know,” said Sea Swirl. “Where’s the easiest place to look?”

Sassaflash’s eyes widened in shock as a sudden realisation hit her. If she was a pegasus, and now she couldn’t fly, and neither could anypony else... What'd happened to the population of her hometown, Cloudsdale? Were they all...? No... she shouldn’t be pessimistic yet. She had to take a look as soon as possible.

“Cloudsdale,” Sassaflash said flatly. She sprinted north without a second word, not even caring if Sea Swirl was following her or not.

Sassaflash arrived in the open field that was currently below Cloudsdale, and what she saw there made her feel sick. Scattered across the ground were a few tiny, brown bodies - just like the Cake twins - laying broken and lifeless. They were just foals, and nopony could’ve expected this to happen... they didn’t deserve this! The way they were now, their grieving parents wouldn’t even recognise which foal was theirs... tears welled up in her eyes.

Sassaflash’s ears twitched as she heard the sound of paws brushing against the grass.

“Are you okay?” Sea Swirl asked.

“No...” Sassaflash sighed. She heard Sea Swirl gasp as she saw the utter carnage in front of them. “They... they at least... deserve a... proper burial...” she choked, now unable to contain her tears.

Sassaflash walked up to the nearest lifeless fox-foal, and was shocked by just how tiny it was. Still crying, she dug a grave with her front paws. She dug faster than she ever could have as a pony, as if it was an instinct. Once she was done, she carefully pushed the fox-foal into the hole and covered it, and Sea Swirl marked the grave with a stone she found.

Once she was done, though, she started to wonder: why weren’t there more broken, lifeless fox-things laying around? She looked up to see that Cloudsdale was still there, and her tears started to fade. She might never be able to go there again, and that was sad too... but life went on. She was sure of it!

Questions at the Bowling Alley

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Sea Swirl’s bedroom was full of surfboards, swimming gear, and various other knick-knacks from her time living by the coast. She glanced at a photograph of herself receiving a trophy for winning a wave-surfing competition in her teenage years, and it made her miss her old self. As she climbed out of bed, her huge, heavy tail dragged the blanket onto the floor. She reflexively focused her magic into her horn to lift it up... only to remind herself that she didn’t have a horn anymore.

She had agreed to meet Sassaflash at the bowling alley today. Her house was right next to the river that weaved through Ponyville, and when she stepped outside, she realised she hadn’t tried swimming yet. Curiously, she dipped a slippery, scaly, pinkish-lilac paw into the river. It still felt cold, but the temperature didn’t bother her nearly as much as it did when she was a pony, and she would do anything to get away from this dry air. She took a deep breath and dived in.

Once she was immersed in the water, she realised that she didn’t need to hold her breath at all; she must’ve had hidden gills. She’d have to research her new form later. She breathed out and gleefully watched the bubbles pop as they rose to the surface. All her worries melted away as she swam as smoothly as a knife through butter and as gracefully as an ice skater. Water was always her element, but now she felt like she had become one with it.

...And then she remembered that she was supposed to go to the bowling alley.

Sea Swirl dragged her body onto land next to a bridge. As she clumsily walked towards the bowling alley, she observed the citizens of Ponyville going about their day. Cherry Berry was still selling cherries in the market, even though Sea Swirl wasn’t sure if anypony could eat them now. A lime green cat who she assumed was Lyra Heartstrings was busking, passionately singing a ballad as she strummed her lyre with her paws. Just a few days after an unexplained catastrophe, life went on.

“You set ‘em up, I knock ‘em down!” exclaimed Sassaflash as she kicked the bowling ball down the alley. Waiting for Sea Swirl to show up was so boring that she'd started bowling without her.

“YES!” she cheered as her ball scored a strike. She went to collect her next ball, when she felt a chill as her hoo- paws touched another pair of paws. They were dark blue, and belonged to a light blue fox-thing she sort-of recognised, who pulled the light blue bowling ball onto the floor and rolled it around like a cat playing with yarn.

“I wonder why these balls have holes in them?” asked the light blue one, and a realisation clicked into place.

“White Lightning!” exclaimed Sassaflash. “Long time no see!” The last time they’d spoken to eachother was at the last Winter Wrap-Up. Had it really been that long?

“Sorry,” White Lightning giggled sheepishly. “I've been busy.” She sat down and scratched behind her ear with her hind leg.

“So have I,” replied Sassaflash.

“I wonder when the Weather Factory will be active again?” asked White Lightning. “It's been awfully dry lately, and I'm starting to miss Cloudsdale.”

Sassaflash's eyes widened. “About that...” She told White Lightning about the gruesome scene she saw on the first day.

White Lightning gasped. "I have a young cousin who lives in Cloudsdale. Do you think she's...?" She started to cry, and her tears instantly froze into tiny ice crystals.

“I... don't know,” was all Sassaflash could say.

“Is there anypony in Ponyville who could... Check...?”

“Probably not,” Sassaflash said bluntly. “At least, not anypony...”


“Yeah,” said Sassaflash, trying to lighten the mood. “Sea Swirl told me that only ponies turned into these weird fox/dog/cat/rabbit-things. Not to mention, most of Cloudsdale isn't... Is still alive.”

“So what are they?”

“No idea.”

Just then, Sea Swirl arrived.

“Hi!” exclaimed Sassaflash. “We were just talking about what everypony turned into. Say, have you seen any-ex-pony come down from Cloudsdale?”

“I haven’t,” replied Sea Swirl. “Cloudsdale has moved north over the past few days.”

“Come to think of it, if the ponies of Cloudsdale probably turned into things that could fly, why didn’t we?” asked Sassaflash.

“Maybe it’s based on our colours?” suggested White Lightning.

“Nah, I don’t think so,” replied Sassaflash. “Otherwise, I’d look like you.”

“I thought you were mint green,” replied White Lightning. “Maybe it’s based on our cutie marks, then? Yours was a pair of lightning bolts, and Sea Swirl’s was a pair of dolphins.”

“But your cutie mark had nothing to do with snow,” said Sea Swirl. “I think that-”

“My cutie mark wasn’t just about lightning,” White Lightning interrupted. Sassaflash remembered that it was a dark cloud with a thunderbolt. “It was about weather in general, and that includes snow.”

“Good point, but you didn’t let me finish,” said Sea Swirl through gritted teeth. “I think that it’s random, and Sassaflash and I are lucky that our transformations related to our desires.”

“What makes you think that?” asked White Lightning.

“Remember Rainbow Dash?” asked Sassaflash rhetorically. Sea Swirl frowned at the interruption. “Flying was her favourite thing in the world, and she became a fish-dog-fox-thing.”

White Lightning giggled, and Sea Swirl sighed. “Fish-dog-fox-thing?

“What! Can you come up with a better name?” asked Sassaflash. She turned to Sea Swirl. “You’re a biologist! Think of one of those fancy scientific names!”

“Let me think...” said Sea Swirl. “Despite her morphological differences, our species all seem to be related, so I would classify them in the same genus. Off the top of my head... I’d call myself Xenovulpes lepidocyon, you X. brontodromeus, and White Lightning X. cryoderma.”

Sassaflash didn’t have a clue what any of that meant. “What?”

“The genus is the first part of the binomial name,” said Sea Swirl. “Xenovulpes means ‘strange fox’. Lepidocyon means ‘scaled dog’, brontodromeus means ‘thunder runner’, and cryoderma means ‘cold skin’.”

“Hey!” complained White Lightning. “I’m not that cold.”

“Thanks,” replied Sassaflash calmly.

“Anyway, I know this sounds like it doesn’t make sense,” said White Lightning, “but I think we’re all the same species.”

“Really?” Sea Swirl asked in disbelief.

“Yeah. The other day, I saw this kit who was overjoyed, like he’d just earned his cutie mark,” said White Lightning. “The sun was shining down, and suddenly, he turned into a purple cat! Since the kits used to be foals, it’s only logical that they’d be able to grow up to be like any of us.”

Sea Swirl frowned in a way that Sassaflash recognised as her "I don't really believe you, but I don't want to be rude, so I'll pretend to think about it" face. “I’ll have to look out for it.”

“Anyway, let’s get back to bowling!” exclaimed Sassaflash. First it was White Lightning’s turn, and she gently rolled the ball forwards, but it curved to the side and only knocked over a few pins at the edge. Then it was Sea Swirl’s turn, and she placed the ball on the floor and swung her tail back and forth, until she precisely whacked it forwards and earned herself a strike.

Finally, it was Sassaflash’s turn. She kicked the ball forwards in the same way she’d done before, but this time it rolled straight into the gutter. It was probably a fluke, so she tried again... and got the same result. What was she doing wrong this time? Enraged, electricity sparked throughout her body, and she prepared to run forwards...

...When a high-pressure jet of water smacked her in the side and knocked her over. “What was that for?” she yelled, and looked over to see that Sea Swirl was the culprit.

“I needed to stop you from getting out of control!” growled Sea Swirl.

“You’re the one who’s out of control!” exclaimed Sassaflash. Her fur stood on end, and she sent out a spray of electrified needles towards Sea Swirl... only this time, it was on purpose. Sea Swirl yelped in pain as she was knocked to the ground. Everypony else in the building gasped.

“CUT IT OUT! BOTH OF YOU!” yelled White Lightning, breathing out a blast of cold air. “Why are you fighting?!”

“I... don’t... know,” panted Sea Swirl weakly. “Maybe... it’s a new... instinct.”

“Sorry,” sighed Sassaflash. “You’re right. If you hadn’t stopped me, I would’ve destroyed the whole bowling alley.”

“And I hate to see friends fight,” sighed White Lightning. “Ever since this transformation plague, ponies have been becoming more and more bitter. Please, promise me that you two won’t destroy Equestria.”

Sea Swirl nodded. “We won’t.”

“And I’ll try my best to fix things!” exclaimed Sassaflash.

Brawling Wonders, Fire and Thunders

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“Fifteen koi!” shouted Sea Swirl as she poked her head out of Saddle Lake. She watched Sassaflash, who was sat by the edge, write it down on the ecological survey chart - not with a quill pen, but by dipping a retractable claw in ink. It wasn't the only discovery they'd made about Xenovulpes over the past week; Sea Swirl had discovered, much to Sassaflash's shock, that she could turn invisible in water... and much to her own shock, that she could now eat fish.

“Any more?” asked Sassaflash.

“That’s it,” said Sea Swirl as she swam to the shore. She sat down next to Sassaflash. “What are your plans for today?”

“I’m gonna go to Appleloosa, see how Caramel is doing,” said Sassaflash. “Wanna come?”

Sea Swirl shook her head. “No thanks. I would probably dry up there.” She scratched herself with a hind leg, much like a dog would.

“I’ve been kinda worried, seeing as there hasn’t been much news from anywhere lately,” said Sassaflash. “But no news is good news... I hope...”

Appleloosa looked like a warzone.

Most of the apple trees had been reduced to charcoal. Some of the buildings were in ruins. The streets were completely empty, except for a pair of cat-dog-fox-things - an electric one like herself, and a fire one - who brawled with no regard for their surroundings. The fire one breathed out a stream of flame, but the electric one dodged it at the last second with the swiftness of a Wonderbolt, causing the fire to burn a hole through a building instead. It creaked as its timbers started to collapse. Her fight with Sea Swirl a few days ago looked like a friendly competition by comparison.

Sassaflash noticed another fire one cowering to the side of the same building, but instead of being orange, both his coat and fluff were golden brown. His ears drooped in shyness, and Sassaflash instantly realised who he was. She ran towards him, trying to avoid catching the fighters’ attention.

“Caramel, are you okay?” asked Sassaflash.

Caramel looked up nervously. “Sassaflash... is that you?”

“Yeah,” she replied. She put a paw on his shoulder in concern, and started stroking his fluffy mane once she noticed how soft it was.

“Please could you stop that?”

“Sorry,” Sassaflash said sheepishly, pulling her paw away.

“How’s Ponyville doin'?”

Sassaflash froze as she thought of the nicest thing to say. “It’s not nearly as a bad as this.” There was a crackling sound as the other electric one leapt into the air, charging up a bolt of lightning. The fire one dodged... and the lightning bolt was heading straight towards Caramel. In a split second, without even thinking, Sassaflash stood defensively in front of Caramel... She braced herself as the lightning struck her head-on...

And it didn’t hurt at all! If anything, it made her feel re-energised. With powers like this, she’d never have to worry about safety precautions in the lightning wing of the weather factory again! Assuming she’d ever go there again, that is.

“They’ve fought like this all day,” said Caramel.

Sassaflash turned around and crouched, ready to pounce. “I’m gonna fight them,” she said, smirking with determination.

Caramel walked up to her. “D'you know how to fight?”

“Er...” Sassaflash sat down. When she fought against Sea Swirl, she didn’t actually think about using her electric powers; they just activated by accident, like an instinct. “I don’t.” Her ears twitched; the building next to them was about to collapse. “RUN!” she exclaimed.

The dry sand felt rough against Sassaflash’s paws; How do the Appleloosa ponies live with this? Not looking where she was going, she smacked face-first into a cactus. Ouch! As she sat down and shook the spikes out of her face, she saw Caramel catch up to her.

“Who are they, anyway?” asked Sassaflash.

“The orange one is Braeburn,” said Caramel. “This mornin', he got into an argument with Apple Fritter. Neither of them are winnin', and it's put the whole town in trouble.”

“About what?” asked Sassaflash.

“I don't know,” said Caramel.

Sassaflash watched in shock as Apple Fritter chomped down on Braeburn's neck with electrified jaws, and he yelped in pain. His entire body became covered in flames, and he tackled her in retaliation, knocking her onto the sand.

“How DARE you!” yelled Apple Fritter as she stood up and faced Braeburn. Enraged, her entire body crackled with electricity that rumbled like thunder. Sassaflash's sensitive ears picked up a few terrified gasps, and she realised who was in that building: foals.

“We can't just stand here!” yelled Sassaflash. “We've got to do something!”

“Are you stupid?” asked Caramel.

“Maybe,” said Sassaflash, as quickly as possible, “but I have an idea. You - rescue the foals. I'll distract them.”

“But there's not much time-”

“Just GO!”

Apple Fritter spent several seconds charging up electricity. In response, Braeburn took a deep breath and breathed the largest blast of fire possible. Some of it singed Apple Fritter’s fur... but most of it missed her and burned another hole in the building behind them. It creaked as it started to collapse.

Without even thinking, Sassaflash leapt in front of Apple Fritter in the split-second before she launched a bolt of lightning. “STOP!” she yelled at the top of her lungs. The electricity arched through her entire body - but it didn’t hurt. If anything, it made her feel stronger. At the same time, she saw Caramel dive through the hole in the building and pull out two brown foal-kits, one smaller than the other. Immediately afterwards, the building collapsed.

“Look at what you've done,” Sassaflash growled, gesturing at the foal-kits Caramel had rescued. “Tell me - why are you fighting?!”

“He started it!” growled Apple Fritter, pawing the ground as she glared daggers at Braeburn.

“No, she did!” replied Braeburn, pointing at Apple Fritter.

“Whoa-whoa-whoa-whoa wait,” stammered Sassaflash, “Why did you start fighting in the first place?”

“SHE destroyed those there apple trees!” shouted Braeburn. He pointed at the charcoal on the other side of town.

“It was an accident!” shouted Apple Fritter defensively.

“QUIET!” Sassaflash yelled. As the other two prepared to fight again, she looked towards Caramel and tilted her head, signalling him to walk over with two foal-kits.

“You almost killed these children,” said Sassaflash bluntly, rage in her voice. Then, she walked up to the foal-kits. “Are you okay?” she asked them calmly.

“I wanna see mommy!” the smallest of the foal-kits cried, and it felt like a knife piercing Sassaflash’s heart. He couldn’t have been older than... She squeezed her eyes shut and shook the memories out of her mind. Apple Fritter and Braeburn walked towards Sassafash, Caramel, and the children.

“That... wasn’t my fault,” Apple Fritter gasped.

“Or mine,” Braeburn added hastily.

“They’re right,” added Caramel. “Their parents went missin’ a few days ago, the first time a fight broke out.” He gulped. “But they could still be out there, somewhere.”

“That’s... terrible!” Sassaflash gasped. “But if there’s a chance... Shouldn’t somepony go looking for them?”

“They’ve tried,” sighed Caramel.

“Now don’t you be givin’ her false reassurances,” said Apple Fritter, placing a paw on Caramel’s shoulder.

“What were you doing in there?” Sassaflash asked the foal-kits.

“It’s - was school,” the other one said, his voice more confident. “The grown-ups told us we’d be safe in there.”

“Where are these... grown-ups now?”

“They went out to find water this mornin’.”

Oh my gosh... I didn’t know they had it that bad. “Do they do this every day?”

“Yup,” the foal-kit nodded. “Ever since...” he gestured at himself and his friends.

Sassaflash turned to Braeburn and Apple Fritter. “This town has already gone through enough. Promise me you’ll never, ever fight again, okay?” Her voice had a hint of aggression.

“We won’t,” Apple Fritter and Braeburn said in unison; the latter had a tone of complaining, like a child being told off.

Sassaflash turned to Caramel. “What are we gonna do about the schoolhouse?”

“I don’t know,” Caramel sighed. “We can’t be rebuildin’ it, because we’re runnin’ out of timber.” Sassaflash remembered that some of the Xenovulpes looked like plants. Would cutting down trees be murder to them? “All we can do for now... is hope.”

Visitor from Above

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The next morning, Sea Swirl heard a knock on her front door. She slipped through the lower half to see a sleek Xenovulpes she didn't recognise standing outside. Her smooth fur was as white as clouds - with light blue highlights - and her tail was as fluffy as them, too. On her sides were a pair of dainty, feathery wings that looked far too small for her to be able to fly - but then again, so did pegasi’s wings.

“Hello,” Sea Swirl said politely. “What’s your name?”

“Really?” the white one asked with an accusative tone. “How could you NOT recognise me?” Something instantly clicked. She’d recognise her sister’s attitude anywhere.

“Rainy Rays!” Sea Swirl exclaimed in joy.

Sea Swirl was desperate to stretch her legs, so the two of them decided to go to the park. As they sat on a white bench, they heard the wonderful sound of Lyra playing her lyre and singing her heart out to a leafy Xenovulpes, presumably Bonbon. A blue and white serpent swam amongst the lilies in the stream. A small, light blue X. lepidocyon jumped out of the fountain, splashing water onto a cyan and black lion, who leapt backwards in shock. Overall, it was peaceful. Sea Swirl took a deep breath and relaxed.

Back when they were ponies, Rainy Rays had looked almost identical to Sea Swirl, the only difference being that she was a pegasus. They were both born in Canterlot, but Rays had moved to Cloudsdale to work in the Weather Factory.

“What’s Cloudsdale like?” asked Sea Swirl.

“Boring,” sighed Rainy Rays, slouching.


“Everypony looks the same. They all blend into the clouds,” Rays sighed. She pointed at the cyan and black lion. “Why can’t I be one of those?”

“You should be grateful that you’re still alive,” Sea Swirl said. Rainy Rays frowned and opened her mouth to argue, but Sea Swirl interrupted her. “Sassaflash has been worried about Cloudsdale.”

“She could’ve come to visit me at any time, y’know,” said Rainy Rays.

“She couldn’t.”

“Huh? But she’s a pegasus, right?”

“It doesn’t work like that. These transformations seem to be semi-random. See that green cat over there?” Sea Swirl pointed at Lyra.

Rainy Rays mimed throwing up. “Eww. It looks like puke.”

Sea Swirl rolled her eyes. “She used to be a unicorn, too. Sassaflash is a...”

She was interrupted by the sight of a yellow blur running into the park, then slamming head-first into the side of the fountain.

“...That,” Sea Swirl finished.

“Nothing’s changed there,” Rays deadpanned.

“Sea Swirl!” exclaimed Sassaflash. “There you are!” She ran towards the bench. “I’ve been looking for you all morn- who’s that?”

“Rainy Rays,” Rays sighed.

"Oh! So that means... Cloudsdale really is alright!” Sassaflash cheered. “What's it like?”

“We’re already working on getting the weather factory running again,” said Rays. “Some foals fell through the clouds, but we rescued most of them. Some are still missing, though. Although, that reminds me, there was this griffon cub who turned into a pink kitten...”

"Oh..." Sassaflash looked down. Sea Swirl told Rainy Rays all about what they'd seen on that first day.

"That's a shame,” said Rainy Rays bluntly.

"Shame?" growled Sassaflash, crouching as if she were about to attack. “HOW COULD YOU BE SO-” Sea Swirl interrupted her with a blast of water to the face.

“Calm down,” said Sea Swirl. “We don't want you destroying the park.”

“Okay...” sighed Sassaflash.

“How'd you do that?” asked Rainy Rays.

“We accidentally discovered that we had powers,” said Sea Swirl. “Don't you?”

“Nothing a normal pegasus couldn't do,” said Rays. “The most damage anypony caused in Cloudsdale was flapping their wings to hard and blowing furniture across rooms. What's happened in Ponyville, then?”

“Well...” Sassaflash said sheepishly. She explained what had happened at the bowling alley. “That's nothing compared to Appleloosa, though...” she trailed off quietly.

“I wish I could shoot lightning,” said Rainy Rays.

“And I wish I could still fly,” added Sassaflash. “Do you think you could switch our bodies?” she asked Sea Swirl enthusiastically.

“NO!” shouted Sea Swirl firmly. “I can't use magic anymore, and even if I could, body-swapping spells are extremely dangerous and difficult to perform.”

“But didn't you go to Celestia's School for Gifted Unicorns?” asked Sassaflash.

“I dropped out,” said Sea Swirl.

“What? Why?” Sassaflash seemed betrayed.

“I wanted to take up surfing instead,” replied Sea Swirl. “Then, I realised that aquatic biology was my true calling in life.”

“Speaking of which, what do you think Canterlot’s like?” asked Sassaflash.

“Haven’t been there yet,” said Rainy Rays.

“Hopefully, the princesses are trying to fix all of this as we speak,” Sea Swirl tried to reassure them, glancing at the mountain.

“Now that I think about it, I should give our parents a visit later,” said Rainy Rays. “Want to come?”

“No thanks,” said Sea Swirl. “The trains are barely running anymore.”

“How’d Sassaflash get to Appleloosa, then?” asked Rainy Rays.

“I ran,” said Sassaflash.

“Really?” Rainy Rays looked intrigued. “If you’re that fast, why don’t you race me? Running or flying: we’ll see who’s faster.”

“Challenge accepted!” exclaimed Sassaflash.

Sassaflash, Sea Swirl, and Rainy Rays arrived in the White Tail Woods, at the beginning of the racetrack used for the Running of the Leaves. The air was still, and the sky was clear - the perfect conditions for a race! Sassaflash crouched at the starting line, while Rays flexed her wings.

“In order to make this a fair game, Rainy Rays must follow the course of the racetrack at all times,” said Sea Swirl formally. “Understood?”

“Yeah,” said Rainy Rays.

“ON YOUR MARKS... GET SET... GO!” shouted Sea Swirl.

Sassaflash ran as fast as she could, her eyes dead set on the horizon; she wasn’t going to let herself get distracted by jealousy. She’d ran the Running of the Leaves so many times throughout her life that she could follow the track with her eyes shut. She skillfully leapt over the rock that tripped up so many first-timers. Now that she had paws, she appreciated just how soft the dirt was beneath them; it was much nicer than Appleloosa’s coarse sand.

Soon, the goal was in sight, and she hadn’t even broken a sweat. Nothing could take away her focus now... But then ahead of her, Rainy Rays dived down towards the finishing line to gain speed like a peregrine falcon.


Sassaflash’s body crackled with electricity as she forced herself to run even faster. Soon, her body was coated in electricity, and she caught up with Rainy Rays at the last few metres...

“OUCH!” Rainy Rays yelped as the two of them collided, sending them both tumbling across the finishing line. “What was that for?”

“I'm so sorry!” gasped Sassaflash, startled at what she'd done. “It was an accident - I meant to catch up to you but - I didn't mean to hurt you!”

“What have I told you about not causing trouble?” somepony said with the tone of a stern mother. Sassaflash looked up to see...

“Sea Swirl!” she exclaimed. “How did you get here?”

“I let the stream carry me all the way here,” Sea Swirl said, looking at the stream in question.

“But that’s cheating!” yelled Sassaflash.

I wasn’t a participant,” said Sea Swirl, sounding oddly smug.

“If anything, you’re the cheater,” growled Rainy Rays, pointing at Sassaflash. “I would’ve won if it weren’t for you!”

“Calm down, calm down,” said Sea Swirl. “Since she was so close to winning anyway, I declare that the winner is... RAINY RAYS!”

“See?” Rainy Rays snapped at Sassaflash, before turning to Sea Swirl. “So what do I win?”

“Nothing!” exclaimed Sea Swirl happily.

Vaporeon Anonymous

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That evening, after going bowling with Sassaflash and Rainy Rays, Sea Swirl decided to lazily swim in circles in Saddle Lake. In sharp contrast to the cool, rushing river, or the rough, salty Luna Ocean she visited every summer, the lake was calm and lukewarm, like a relaxing bath.

After she pulled herself out of the water, a short, pale Xenovulpes lepidocyon and an adolescent, cyan lion with a black mane ran down the slope and stared at her in awe; the latter's large, golden, oval-shaped eyes unnerved her. She’d seen both of them in the park earlier.

“Whoa!” the former pony exclaimed; his voice sounded vaguely familiar. “Where did you come from?”

“...The lake?” Sea Swirl asked incredulously.

“You were?” he replied, sounding surprised. “It’s like you weren’t there, and then, you were!”

“That’s... unusual,” replied Sea Swirl as the three of them walked up the slope. She could feel her face frown; she’d have to investigate this later.

“Do you think I could do that?” he asked with a hint of amazement in his voice.

Possibly...” replied Sea Swirl uncertainly.

“My name’s Sandbar,” he said, once they reached the top. “What’s yours?”

“Oh!” exclaimed Sea Swirl. “I think I've heard your name before. Do your parents work at the Canterlot Aquarium?" Sandbar nodded. “My name is Sea Swirl.”

“Your name sounds familiar... Are you the tour guide there?”

“Yes, I am. Or at least... I was.” She sighed as she longingly looked up at Canterlot Mountain.

“And I’m Gallus,” the lion said, laying down and licking his yellow front paws. “If you worked in Canterlot, why do live in Ponyville?” asked Gallus.

“It’s cheaper,” replied Sea Swirl.

“I just remembered!” exclaimed Sandbar. “There’s gonna be a support group for ponies like us starting tomorrow, right here!”

“I haven’t heard about that.”

“Do you wanna come?”

“I’m not sure.” Sea Swirl looked down at her tail.

“I’m going, because...” Sandbar then leaned over and whispered into Sea Swirl’s ear. ”I don’t know how to swim.”

“I heard that, you know,” deadpanned Gallus. “There’s no reason to keep it a secret.”

Sandbar rolled his eyes at Gallus, before looking back to Sea Swirl. “Do you think you could teach me?” he asked.

Sea Swirl stopped to think for a few seconds. “I’ve never taught before, but I could try. I’ve had plenty of practise swimming in my new body. Follow me!” Sea Swirl leapt into the lake, then treaded water on the surface. Sandbar eagerly ran after her, but tripped over his tail, tumbled down the hill, and fell into the lake with a SPLASH. In an instant, Sea Swirl dived down and carried Sandbar to the surface, where he gasped for air.

“The easiest way to swim in this form is to not think about it,” said Sea Swirl. “First of all, don't worry about breathing. You have gills hidden under your neck frill.” She let go of Sandbar. “Second of all, don't move your legs like you would if you were a pony. Your tail does most of the work.”

“How do I do that?” he asked.

“I'll show you,” said Sea Swirl. “It’ll be easier to demonstrate underwater.”

The two of them dived just beneath the surface, Sandbar still reflexively holding his breath. The sun was so low in the sky that the lake bed appeared to be a bottomless, shadowy abyss instead of a few metres below, but there was just enough light for Sea Swirl to be able to distinguish Sandbar's scales from the rest of the water. She made a point of letting her back legs dangle behind her, then repeatedly pushed her forelegs backwards in a circular motion to propel herself forwards, effortlessly swimming in a small circle with a swish of her tail.

"Whoa! So cool!" exclaimed Sandbar with the little air that remained in his lungs, his voice distorted. Now it was his turn to swim. He flicked his tail up and down, but all that accomplished was making him spin in a vertical cartwheel. Sea Swirl shook her head, and he tried again, this time thrashing it from side to side. All that accomplished was causing him to swim forwards in a wobbly zig-zag. Sea Swirl surfaced, and he followed. She took a deep breath - not because she needed the oxygen, but because she needed to talk.

"You're supposed to lean your tail in the direction you want to go," she said. “Keep it straight if you want to swim in a straight line.”

"Really? You weren't clear about that..." he sighed.

“Let’s try again, shall we?” Sea Swirl suggested. They dived under the surface again, and Sandbar tried swimming back-and-forth in straight lines. The first few times, he was slow, so Sea Swirl decided to swim alongside him to encourage him to catch up. Eventually, he was almost able to catch up to her.

Sea Swirl surfaced. “Now it’s time to try swimming in a circle,” she said. There was no response. “Sandbar?” He wasn’t next to her. “SANDBAR?!” she shouted. She dived deep into the murky waters, her heart racing. She darted up, down, left, and right - but Sandbar was nowhere in sight.

A stream of bubbles sped past her. She desperately followed it, only to easily overtake it. Once it reached the edge of the lake, the bubbles gathered into the shape of a small X. lepidocyon... and Sandbar hauled himself of the water. Bewildered, Sea Swirl followed him.

“That was so cool!” he exclaimed. “What are you looking at me like that for?”

Sea Swirl realised she was staring at him. She blinked her expression away. “You disappeared!” she exclaimed, exasperated. “I was worried about you!”

“I did?” asked Sandbar. “I must’ve done what you did earlier! How’d I do it?”

Sea Swirl was stumped. She sat down and gazed at the now-twilight sky. “I still have no idea,” she muttered, but then a realisation hit her. Maybe I could help others with their problems! She looked at Sandbar again. “But I think I will go to this support group, after all. Will your friend come?”

“Why would I?” Gallus sighed. “I’m not one of you... fish-dog-fox-things.”

Sea Swirl sighed. Seems that Sassaflash’s nickname caught on after all... “Why are these groups species-specific?”

“I think it’s to prevent fights from breaking out,” said Sandbar. “See you tomorrow!”

The next afternoon, Sea Swirl was one of the dozen-or-so attendees who sat in a circle next to Saddle Lake. The counsellor, who had come to Ponyville from Canterlot, droned on with her introduction for about ten minutes; Sandbar fell asleep, and Sea Swirl finally understood why Sassaflash was so impatient.

Afterwards, it was time for the attendees to discuss their problems. They included Muffins, or Derpy, or Ditzy, or Bright Eyes (Sea Swirl didn’t know which one was her real name), who had trouble delivering mail efficiently without her wings; and another School of Friendship student named November Rain, who asked for advice about dating his marefriend, who had become (what Sea Swirl would call) an X. brontodromeus.

The next attendee placed down a photograph of a light blue Earth mare with a long, curly, light grey mane and tail, and magenta eyes that remained the same shade in her new form. Standing next to her in the photo was a unicorn filly with similar colours and a wind-swept mane. The two of them stood in front of a forge.

“The name’s Shoeshine,” she said, slamming a paw next to the mare in the photograph for emphasis. “And this is my little sister, Fairy Skies!” She nudged a brown kit with her other paw, encouraging her to step forwards.

“H-hi,” Fairy Skies mumbled.

“Pleased to meet you!” exclaimed Shoeshine.

“What’s your problem?” the counsellor asked in a disinterested voice, peering over her glasses that were balanced precariously on her slippery snout.

“I’m kinda out of a job right now,” said Shoeshine, shifting her paws. “I used to be a farrier, but nopony needs horseshoes anymore.”

“Can’t you just get another job?” Sea Swirl suggested.

“It’s not that simple,” said Shoeshine bluntly. “It’s my family’s business, but...” - she took a deep breath - “both of my parents died when I was only young,” she said quickly. “Now, I’m struggling to support myself and Sky financially... Besides, what places are open?”

Sea Swirl tapped her tail as she thought. “Let me think... There’s Clover Café... the bowling alley...” Now that I think about it, I’m stumped.

“And are any of them hiring?” Shoeshine growled. Taken aback, all Sea Swirl could do was shake her head. “I thought not. And why are you even suggesting that? I don’t think you’re in a job right now. I bet you had a fancy Canterlot education, and your parents were so loaded that you’ve never had to worry about money in your LIFE!” Sea Swirl was speechless. She didn’t want to argue with Shoeshine, because she was right. Fairy Skies’ ears were pressed against the sides of her head, presumably to block out the shouting, and the other attendees stared in stunned silence.

“I didn’t come all the way from Canterlot to watch you argue,” the counsellor said as she stood up. Her voice lost its monotone and became rough and scratchy. “The train broke down halfway here. I had to WALK the rest of the way! Do you know how hard it is to walk on these paws?” she complained loudly and obnoxiously. “I don’t get paid enough for this...”

“SHUT UP!” Shoeshine snapped. She slapped the counsellor’s glasses off her face and crushed them under her paw.

“HEY!” the counsellor snapped.

“LINKY!” Fairy Skies wailed.

Shoeshine took a deep breath. “What’s the matter?” she asked.

“I HATE it when you shout like that!” Sky snapped tearfully.

“It’s okay!” Shoeshine exclaimed hastily. “I won’t shout anymore, I promise.” She placed a paw on Fairy Skies’ back in reassurance.

“DON’T TOUCH ME!” Fairy Skies snapped, leaping away from Shoeshine’s paw. With that, she ran away.

“COME BACK!” shouted Shoeshine as she ran after her, but she couldn’t keep up. Her eyes widened in shock, and she sat down in defeat.

“What’s the matter?” asked Sandbar.

“She’s heading towards the Everfree Forest,” said Shoeshine, staring down at the grass.

“I’ll go,” said Sandbar.

“Are you CRAZY?” yelled the counsellor. “Kids these days, throwing their lives away...” She shook her head.

“And we should just let her die?” Sandbar stubbornly stared at counsellor for a few seconds, until she relented.

“Fine,” she sighed. “But don’t come crying to me if one of you gets killed...”

“He’s right,” Shoeshine added. “I’m going with him!”

“And I’ll go too,” said Sea Swirl.

Shoeshine frowned. "Why do you want to?"

Sea Swirl took a deep breath. “Because... I have a friend who hates seeing children suffer. If I didn't save your sister, I'd be letting her down.”

“I’ll go find Gallus,” Sandbar said, heading in the direction of the School of Friendship.

Half an hour later, Sea Swirl, Shoeshine, Sandbar, and Gallus ventured into the Everfree Forest. Even thought it was the afternoon, it was so dark that - apart from the occasional glowing mushroom - their primary source of light was the star-shaped tip of Gallus’ tail; he could make it glow at will. Sea Swirl could faintly hear the growls, howls, and screeches of monsters in the distance, but strangely enough, she didn’t find them nearly as instinctively terrifying as when she was a pony.

“How are we gonna find your sister?” asked Sandbar.

“That’s... a good question,” said Shoeshine, stopping dead in her tracks. The others soon followed suit. "She could be anywhere."

“It’s not like there’s anypony we could ask for directions,” deadpanned Gallus. There was a pause.

“There’s a zebra who lives in this forest,” said Sea Swirl. “We could ask her.”

“Right... and we can find her where?” asked Gallus rhetorically.

“Spike told me about her,” Sandbar interjected. “Her name’s Zecora. She lives in a hollowed-out tree.”

“Oh, it’ll be so easy to find a tree in the forest!” he exclaimed sarcastically. He walked forwards without looking where he was going... and tripped over a reddish-brown root. When he stood up again, his tail illuminated a wide tree, with multi-coloured glass bottles hanging from its thick branches. Most importantly, a warm, yellow glow shone through circular windows cut into the trunk.

“There!” exclaimed Sandbar. He smirked at Gallus, who looked frowned in response. Or maybe that was his default facial expression. It was hard for Sea Swirl to tell. “Who’s gonna go in?”

“I will,” Sea Swirl said confidently. She walked up to the door and knocked it, the others standing behind her. The door creaked open, and out stepped a silver fox who stood taller than all four of them. Her small, red eyes narrowed as she gazed at Sea Swirl, who reflexively stepped backwards.

“Whatever your circumstance, you should not feel fear.
What brings you creatures of rain - and lightning - here?” she asked.

Sea Swirl sighed in relief and stepped forwards. “We’re looking for a filly who ran into this forest. Have you seen her?”

Zecora nodded. “She ran away to the depths, where timberwolves lie.
Be wary should you follow - for you may die.”

Shoeshine pushed in front of Sea Swirl. “Thanks for the reassurance,” she complained through gritted teeth.

“Calm down, young one, there’s no need to be uncouth.
I was only telling you the truth.”

"Do you think we should leave? Because I think we should leave," said Gallus.

"NO!" Shoeshine shouted through gritted teeth. "We're not leaving until we find my sister, okay?"

"Okay..." Gallus sighed, as if Shoeshine were his mother.

“Which way should we go?” asked Sea Swirl.

Zecora gracefully stepped out of her tree, nine tails trailing after her. She spread them out like a paper fan, and a bluish-white flame appeared at the tip of each one. Then, the wisps flew towards a dark path.

Sea Swirl nodded gratefully. “Thank you,” she said.

Something moved in the shadows.

Sea Swirl stopped dead in her tracks, looking around to see what it was. A pair of glowing, yellow eyes stared back at her - followed by two more. The stench of rotting oak overwhelmed her senses. Before she could get a closer look at the shadowy figures, one of them pounced. Gallus yelped in pain as it tackled him to the ground, extinguishing their main source of light.

“GALLUS!” Sandbar yelled. There was a thud as he tackled the attacker in retaliation.

“Thanks,” Gallus said as he got up.

“No problem, dude!” replied Sandbar. He looked around. “Uh-oh!”

Two more figures stepped out of the shadows. Now that Gallus had lit his tail up again, Sea Swirl could finally get a good look at them. They were made of broken logs from various trees, crudely arranged in the shapes of wolves and animated by an unknown force. They must be timberwolves!

Sea Swirl reflexively breathed out a blast of water at one of the smaller timberwolves, but it did nothing to slow it down. She only succeeded at clearing away some of the stench... and making it angrier. It prowled towards her...

Shoeshine leapt in front of the timberwolf. “Take THIS!” she exclaimed as she fired a beam from her mouth that consisted of three overlapping, rainbow-coloured helices, which struck the timberwolf in the face. It whimpered as it shattered into splinters.

“Yeah!” exclaimed Shoeshine, high-pawing Sea Swirl. Sea Swirl looked across to see Sandbar repeatedly tackling the largest timberwolf’s side, while Gallus bit down on its opposite foreleg with electrified jaws.

“Mind helping us?” asked Gallus after he spat out a mouthful of woodchips. ”I hate teeth...”

“Of course!” exclaimed Sea Swirl.

Shoeshine looked at her. “Let’s try using our attacks together!” she exclaimed, and Sea Swirl nodded. They positioned themselves so they were equidistant from both the largest timberwolf and each other. Sea Swirl’s blast of water struck the timberwolf at the same moment as Shoeshine’s helical rays, creating shards of ice that lacerated it to pieces before it even had time to react. Shortly afterwards, Sandbar and Gallus tackled the other smaller timberwolf from either side at the same time, causing it to collapse in on itself.

Now that the timberwolves were gone, the four of them noticed a tiny, brown kit cowering in fear. Shoeshine stepped forwards.

“Sky,” she said calmly. “Why did you run away?”

“Because... I hate it when ponies argue!” she shouted at the top of her lungs. “So I thought... that if I went as far away from ponies as I could... I wouldn’t see you argue again.”

“That’s no reason to get yourself into this much trouble,” said Shoeshine sternly, but her voice soon warmed up. “I was worried about you! Now let’s go home.” The five of them turned around and started to walk back the way they came.

“W-what’s happening...?” asked Fairy Skies, her voice still raspy from shouting. The other four were looked behind themselves to see that the splintered remains of the timberwolves were glowing green and rising upwards, as if they were being levitated by a unicorn. The same force uprooted several of the surrounding trees, as if they were being swept up by the world’s smallest, most localised hurricane. In a matter of seconds, the various pieces of wood combined to form a giant timberwolf. Its roar was so loud and deep, it shook the leaves off the surrounding trees like a gale-force wind.

“Take cover!” Shoeshine exclaimed to Fairy Skies, who proceeded to hide in a nearby bush.

“What about us?” asked Sandbar, stepping backwards.

“I think we should work together to fight it in the same way we did before,” said Sea Swirl. She looked at Shoeshine. “Shoeshine and I will take out the forelegs, while you take out the back legs. Ready?” The other three nodded.

Sea Swirl took a deep breath and fired the most powerful blast of water she could at the timberwolf’s foreleg, which Shoeshine froze again. There was a loud sound similar to a tree being cut down as the leg collapsed, its splintered remains covered in a thin layer of frost. As they did the same to the other foreleg, she saw Gallus bite the twigs that held a back leg together in order to weaken it, followed by him and Sandbar repeatedly tackling it until the wood cracked and eventually crumbled. Now that it only had one leg to stand on, the timberwolf fell forwards.

“WATCH OUT!” exclaimed Sandbar. He and Gallus leapt out of the way just in time. Unfortunately, Sea Swirl and Shoeshine were not so lucky; the timberwolf collapsed on top of them, leaving their tails trapped under its torso.

“Are you okay?” asked Sandbar.

“No...” sighed Shoeshine.

“Don’t bother taking out its other leg!” exclaimed Sea Swirl. “Focus on the torso instead!”

“Got it!” the two boys exclaimed. They repeated their tactic of ramming into the timberwolf from both sides, but it was fruitless.

There was a rustling in the bushes.

“Sky, it’s not safe!” exclaimed Shoeshine. “Stay back and save yourself!”

“But I...” Fairy Skies sniffed. “I WANNA HELP!” She ran towards the timberwolf. She cowered in fear for a few seconds before she pounced, tackling it in the forehead. The timberwolf growled in annoyance, and snapped at her with its huge jaws, grabbing hold of her tail.

“I’m not... I’m not... I’M NOT GONNA GIVE UP!” Fairy Skies panted, holding back tears.

Then, something extraordinary happened.

Fairy Skies’ entire body glowed pure white, almost as bright as the sun. The other four stared at her in awe, and even the timberwolf dropped her in surprise. Over the next few seconds, her shape was remoulded; her legs became longer, her fur became shorter, and her tail and ears flattened. When the glow faded, standing in front of the timberwolf was a leafy Xenovulpes.

Sea Swirl remembered what White Lightning had said.

“The other day, I saw this kit who was overjoyed, like he’d just earned his cutie mark. The sun was shining down, and suddenly, he turned into a purple cat! Since the kits used to be foals, it’s only logical that they’d be able to grow up to be like any of us.”

Turns out she was right all along...

“W-what just happened...?” gasped Fairy Skies as she looked at her new self.

“I... don’t know,” was all Sea Swirl could answer, still awestruck.

“Think you can help us?” asked Gallus.

“I can!” exclaimed Fairy Skies with newfound confidence. She tackled the timberwolf in the face again, but it still didn’t too much; however, her tail grazed against the underside of its jaw as she fell, creating a small cut. As soon as she noticed this, she leapt into the air again and slashed her tail against the timberwolf’s muzzle like a sword, which created a deeper cut, but still didn’t hurt it much. Worse still, this only made the timberwolf angrier, and it snapped its jaws again.

“Sandbar! Gallus! Focus on the head!” exclaimed Sea Swirl. The two boys rushed to help Fairy Skies. Gallus leapt and bit down hard on one of the timberwolf’s ears, while Sandbar tackled its muzzle and pinned it shut.

“You can do it!” cheered Shoeshine. With that, Fairy Skies delivered one last slash to the timberwolf, straight between the eyes. The timberwolf collapsed into lifeless wood, and the green, glowing force that animated it dissipated into the still air.

“We’re gonna go back to the school,” said Sandbar once the group exited the Everfree Forest. “Do you wanna go back to the support group?”

“I’m fine, thanks,” replied Sea Swirl between pants. “Besides, that counsellor has probably lost her job.”

Shoeshine frowned. “Speaking of which, do you think you could find out what happened to my sister?” she asked.

“Possibly. It’ll take time to research,” said Sea Swirl.

“I’m just glad I saved Linky!” exclaimed Fairy Skies, affectionately nuzzling her sister.

As Sea Swirl headed home, she couldn’t help but wonder about what caused Fairy Skies’ transformation. Judging by what White Lightning had said, it was probably caused by strong emotional responses, but that was all she knew. Was it permanent? How many forms could they take on? One thing was certain: the Xenovulpes were all the same species. From now on, she’d call it Xenovulpes metamorphous.