The Chase

Bucky Bitters struggles to escape the airborne affections of Derpy Hooves after a chance encounter caused them to bump noses together. His real mistake was trying to comfort the mare after the snoot-bump. Little does the poor stallion realise that their meeting was only the prologue to a journey that will change not only his life, but the lives around him forever.

This story is a sequel to The Catch

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“Sentinel?”

The foal did not respond. Instead, he squeezed a little tighter, clinging to Derpy’s neck, his face buried in her now soaked mane. She was warm against him, and much like the pony that he called his father, he needed warmth as well.

“Sentinel, you do know that I love you, right?”

Derpy waited for a response, and none seemed forthcoming.

“Sentinel, you and I, we don’t talk as much as we should. And I don’t mean to just each other. We’re pegasi. We might have different wings, but we are still pegasi,” Derpy said in motherly tones. “When I first met Bucky… we didn’t understand one another very well. There was a bit of a misunderstanding between us. I had trouble expressing myself… I… this is very difficult for me Sentinel, I’m sorry.”

Derpy paused and took a deep breath.

“As a pegasus I relied on how we usually do things. I told Bucky that a hug would do and words weren’t needed. That was only half true. It was my way of protecting myself from other ponies laughing at me… making fun of me. There are lots of very expressive pegasi, even book writers, but actually talking to other ponies meant putting myself into a position where I might get laughed at, so… I… just sort of gave up. And now words don’t come easy for me and I miss out on what ponies are really saying because words have so many meanings and I still want to go back to the way things were but I can’t,” she said.

Derpy felt Sentinel’s foreleg stroking the side of her neck.

“And while a hug might do, I have learned that it is very important to actually try and say something to somepony… even when I barely knew you, I welcomed you into my heart. And then I got to know you. And while I loved you, I don’t think I ever spent as much time as I should have talking to you or telling you that I loved you. I still have trouble,” Derpy said as she continued to walk back to the castle.

“I do not want to be hurt again,” Sentinel whispered, his warm breath on the back of Derpy’s neck caused the mare’s ears to twitch. “When you hug me… when the others hold me… all I can think of is the pain of being alone. Being an orphan. I worry that I will be alone again. The pain defines me and makes me…” his words trailed off as he was speaking and the colt fell silent.

“Makes you what?” Derpy asked.

“Distant,” Sentinel answered.

“You and Bucky are so much alike,” Derpy said as she walked.

“I learned that last night,” Sentinel replied. “We have the same fear.”

“Being alone?” Derpy asked.

“Yes,” Sentinel said, not feeling the need for further words.

“I was very lonely. Even with Dinky, Sparkler, Berry and Piña,” Derpy confessed. “I still feel alone sometimes. Berry says it is because I am an introvert. We can be alone in a crowd.”

“I saw myself… I was dead,” Sentinel said with a shudder. He squeezed his eyes shut, trying to hold back tears but they came anyway. “I could feel everything that he was feeling. I knew his thoughts. I could feel his reaction as he touched you… he stroked your tail. He…” the words faded and the colt wept bitterly, clinging to his mother.

Derpy felt a lump in her throat and it made it difficult to breathe. She felt the sting of tears in her own eyes. She stood still, no longer walking, and closed her eyes for a moment. After a few minutes, she opened her eyes and resumed walking.

“I am glad we talked,” Derpy said as she continued to make her way home.

 

 

The sun was only beginning its afternoon decline. Dinky sat on the deck of the ship and watched as the adults were working. She could hear hammering and sawing. The air was filled with the smell of lumber and summer.

“Piña, I need your help,” Dinky requested.

Piña looked up from the book she was reading and glanced at Dinky.

“I need you to steady me… you know, the way you do,” Dinky explained.

Piña nodded. Dinky settled in beside her and the two foals snuggled together. Piña was laying on her stomach, her legs folded beneath her, except for one that she kept extended for turning pages. Dinky was propped up against her side, sitting up on her haunches, her forelegs folded over her barrel. As Piña watched, Dinky closed her eyes and her horn flared.

Piña returned to her book. Starjammer’s Guide to Practical Sorcery. Between the two of them, Piña had a better understanding of the concepts in the book and the ability to break them down and explain them to Dinky.

“You know, we could be playing,” Piña commented.

“Playtime is over,” Dinky said. “Piña, do you think things will ever be normal again?”

“What is normal?” Piña asked.

“I dunno,” Dinky replied. Her eyes were still closed and she slowed her breathing.

“It says here that you have to let go. If you try to force your mind to make sense of what you are seeing, the spell will fail. You have to let it happen and relax your will in this instance, and things will come into focus,” Piña explained.

“So instead of gathering my will, I need to let go once I connect,” Dinky summarised.

“I think so,” Piña said. “Has to do with perspectives. You are an equine. When you go into the mind of another animal or an insect, if you try to force an equine perspective, all you will get is a headache. I think. This is really complicated Dinky. Maybe we should ask for an explanation,” she suggested.

“Trial and error Piña, trial and error. Lyra says I need to make mistakes. Failure is the best teacher she said,” Dinky replied.

Piña flipped back a page, read, flipped forward, and read some more. “Starjammer was a lousy writer,” she quipped. “He spent all of this time ranting about the equine perspective and how it taints our perceptions when performing mental magic when all he really needed to say was “try to imagine yourself as a bee” or whatever it is that your mind is touching,” the filly groused.

“How does a bee think?” Dinky asked.

Piña shrugged. “How would I know? Buzz buzz, I have a big butt sword and I stab ponies in the snoot with my butt sword for smelling flowers, buzz buzz.”

Dinky’s concentration broke and she exploded with the giggles. “You have never forgiven that bee for stinging you,” she giggled.

“Why should I? All I did was sniff that flower, I didn’t know that the bee was in there working… it hurt Dinky,” Piña said in annoyance.

Dinky calmed herself and resumed her concentration. She felt Pina’s soft pelt against her back. She called forth her magic, something that came to her much easier now, and she pushed everything out of her mind. The world fell away from her and there was only Piña and herself. There was a faint pressure behind her eyes and her brain vibrated with power. She could feel the root of her horn and the pulse of magic. This was power. This wasn’t popping popcorn kernels or creating a little flare of light. Dinky built her reserves and she could feel the thrum pressing outwards against her eyes and the insides of her ears.

A gasp escaped the foal’s lips. When she opened her eyes, they were white, the thaumaturgical nerves flooding her eyes with raw mana. A single bee popped into existence, surrounded by a nimbus of magic. “Obey me,” Dinky murmured.

Piña looked up from her book and glanced at Dinky. Raw energy crackled along her horn. Piña could feel an odd pulsating vibration in her own hooves, and a strange throbbing through her tail. As Piña watched, the bee moved in very specific patterns as Dinky extended her influence and control.

Dinky’s mind filled with a confusing jumble of images. Rather than try to make them make sense or bring them into focus, she let go. A part of her brain realised that bees had different eyes, and this was how the bee saw the world. She continued to allow the bee to see the world as it had always seen the world, and gave up trying to make the bee’s alien eyes focus.

And then, the world began to slide back into focus as the magical connection between them began to make corrections in the information being transferred between their minds. The bee was still a bee and Dinky was a blank slate ready to take in whatever the bee had to offer.

Dinky realised that she was seeing through the bee’s eyes and not her own. The bee buzzed over the deck, and Dinky saw Berry Punch hard at work. She saw other pegasi and earth ponies holding crude brushes in their mouths and they were brushing some kind of goop over the wood, making the wood look shiny and new. She looked everywhere, but could not find her mother and her father. She found Thistle, the kelpie was with Ripple and both of them were busy trying to read something off of a page. They were studying, and that was boring, so Dinky buzzed off, looking elsewhere.

Beneath the ship, Sparkler was applying goop to the wood with a brush. She wasn’t paying attention to her work though. No, she was watching Rising Star and Loch Skimmer as they engaged in a very sloppy kiss, both of them covered in the goop they had been painting onto the wood. Not wanting to watch something so icky, Dinky buzzed away.

She buzzed over the deck of the ship again and flew through an open window into the cabin. She immediately wished that she hadn’t. Dinky let out a cry and her connection to the bee was broken.

“What happened?” Piña asked as she watched Dinky rubbing her head.

Dinky shivered and shuddered. She blinked a few times and grimaced in disgust. “Ugh,” Dinky grunted. Dinky rubbed her eyes and turned to look Piña in the eye as the earth pony stared back at her.

“What happened?” Piña repeated, her voice now filled with concern.

“I saw… I…” Dinky fell silent and shook her head as her body trembled.

“What did you see?” Piña inquired.

“I saw mommy and daddy kissing,” Dinky said as she slipped into foalish speech, hoping to salvage her innocence after what she had seen.

“That’s not so bad,” Piña muttered. “You’re a silly pony.”

“I am not,” Dinky retorted.

“Look, kissing is gross, but even I can deal with watching them kiss each other,” Piña said, returning to her book after rolling her eyes.

“He was kissing her down there and she was moaning and kicking,” Dinky whispered.

“Ooooh…. eeeeeeeew,” Piña groaned.

“My foalhood is ruined,” Dinky muttered. “I can’t unsee it.”

“Yuck… why would anypony want to kiss that?” Piña uttered in a tone of shock and revulsion. She stuck out her tongue and gagged.

“My mother was making silly faces,” Dinky cried. “I can still see her,” she added as she clenched her eyes shut.

“He… he wasn’t gobbling her up was he?” Piña asked in a nervous whisper.

“What are you talking about Piña?” Dinky replied in confusion.

“His teeth… those fangs… You don’t think he was actually biting her down there do you?” Piña questioned.

Dinky’s eyes flew open wide and she looked at Piña. “He would never eat our mama,” Dinky insisted. “He was just kissing her or maybe just a nibble… I don’t want to talk about this Piña,” the unicorn foal insisted.

“I am going to ask him about it later,” Piña said, steeling her resolve.

“NO!” Dinky protested.

 

 

Derpy winked at Berry Punch as the two mares passed one another. Derpy was leaving the cabin, and Berry was entering. The pegasus planted a kiss on Berry’s cheek and stroked her with her wing.

Derpy looked out over the deck as the door shut behind her. Her legs still felt wobbly and she felt sticky. She was thankful that her tail was long and full. She spread her wings out wide and took to the air, going to the lake for a bit of a dip.

Below her, she saw Dinky and Piña, and she waved to them as she departed.

 

 

 

 

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