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


107. 107

Bucky slowly awoke, aware somehow that the sun had fallen and that it was dark outside. He could feel it. His first thoughts upon thinking about this peculiar sensation was to wonder if Sentinel felt the same thing. He could hear Lyra’s lyre. There were soft voices. The room was full of ponies.

He had been having a dream, some pleasant dream, but he could not remember what it was. A warm body at his side moved slightly and Bucky turned his head. Sentinel was beside him, his eyes half open. He turned his head back around and became aware that many eyes were staring at him, all of them filled with concern.

“On top of the trunk there is a platter of food, we saved you some dinner,” Sparkler said in a low voice. “It is cold, but it is easily heated. I could do it for you if you would like,” she offered.

“Maybe in a bit,” Bucky replied. “Did Sentinel eat?” he asked.

“Yes, he ate a little,” Lyra answered.

Bucky yawned and rubbed his eye with his fetlock. He eased himself away from Sentinel carefully, spilled out of the bed, and disappeared behind the privacy barrier. After several minutes he stepped back out, looked around nervously, still feeling funny about this whole business, and returned to the bed, where he settled down next to Sentinel.

“I’m fine,” Bucky said to nopony in particular. “Really, I feel okay. I don’t know what happened earlier but I feel fine now,” he said reassuringly. The room was now entirely too quiet. “Somepony say something… all of this awkward silence is unnerving.”

“Sparkler learned something new,” Loch Skimmer said in a low voice.

“Did she?” Bucky replied, all too aware of all the concerned eyes focused on him. “What did she learn?” he inquired.

“She turned to stone,” Loch Skimmer answered.

“She what?” Bucky questioned with stunned disbelief.

“I don’t know what happened, Loch Skimmer was tickling me with her wing, I thought I was either going to die from laughter or pee and then suddenly I was stone and we planned to tell you but not like this and I don’t know why Loch Skimmer had to bring this up right now of all times,” Sparkler explained as she glared at her herdmate.

“She was petrified?” Bucky asked, trying to flog his brain into working.

“She was stone, but she could move,” Rising Star explained.

Bucky closed his eye and tried to gather his thoughts. Petrification was a difficult magic and there was still a lot about it that was unknown. Only he wasn’t sure if Sparkler was petrified. He opened his eye and looked at the purple-pink filly intently. “Show me,” he asked in gentle tones filled with curiousity.

“I don’t know that I can,” Sparkler said.

Bucky rubbed his head. This was completely new to him. In all of his long studies, he had never heard of a pony turning themselves to stone before. Much less releasing themselves from petrification.

“Derpy,” Bucky said in a loving voice. “Tickle her. No mercy,” he commanded.

Derpy raised her eyebrow. She looked at Bucky and then slowly turned her head to Sparkler. “This will be loud and cause a lot of noise,” Derpy said.

“I’m fine. And Sentinel I think will be okay with it,” Bucky insisted.

Derpy’s eyes narrowed and she slid from the couch with a wicked looking grin. Her wings spread and her ears perked forward.

“Mom, no!” Sparkler begged, backing away after slipping over the arm of the sofa. “You are a free mare and you don’t have to do everything your husband says! You have options! Rights!”

“This is for saying your father has cooties earlier,” Derpy said as she advanced.

Bucky felt a brief moment of confusion. Cooties?

The pegasus pounced and tackled the unicorn, bearing her down to the floor. Her wings went slashing in and in moments, Sparkler was subdued and crying out with laughter, pleading for her mother to stop. There were a few laughs from the concerned ponies around the room, which is what Bucky had hoped for.

He also hoped for other results.

“I’m gonna pee!” Sparkler cried out breathlessly as she tried to crawl away from her mother. Derpy pulled the filly back and worked with both wings.

“I like a more direct approach to magical experimentation,” Lyra quipped as she watched with pitched interest. She brushed her mane from her eyes and poked Bon Bon. “Her horn is igniting,” Lyra observed.

There was a flash of light and a strange crackle.

And Sparkler looked a bit grey. Derpy ceased her tickle assault and Sparkler rose to her hooves with the scraping sounds of stone.

“I’m a rock,” Sparkler muttered in a gravelly voice.

“Extraordinary,” Bucky breathed. Sparkler was living moving stone. “She’s solid,” he stated. “Come here, let me have a better look at you,” Bucky asked.

As Sparkler moved to Bucky’s side, Derpy whacked her filly on the backside with a hoof. “Ow,” Derpy said, jerking her hoof back. “She really is stone.”

Bucky grinned a smug looking grin as Sparkler approached. “I knew that it worked,” he said in a low voice. “You don’t get this sort of magical manifestation from type twos,” he muttered. There was a gleam in his eye, a sort of manic fire and the unicorn looked very pleased with himself.

Sparkler reached Bucky’s side and stood still at the edge of the bed. Each step had been a stony stomp and Bucky had been able to determine that Sparkler’s mass had also increased. Already, the spell was wearing off and bits of purple-pink were beginning to show as the stone faded into flesh.

“If something was to try and bite her while she was in her stony state, it would shatter their teeth,” Bucky stated as he peered at the remaining stony patches. A troubled look appeared on Bucky’s face. “You should be careful tickling Rising Star. He’s a pyromancer. No telling what he might do if he feels like he is in danger,” Bucky quipped.

“I am well aware of the fact that I could burst into flames,” Rising Star muttered.

“I learned some new magic today,” Dinky said. She looked nervous after speaking. “Nothing special like Sparkler though,” she added, now staring down at the sofa where she was sitting.

Bucky reached out with his magic, gently took up Dinky, and then grabbed Piña for good measure. He levitated them to the bed and set them down before him.

“New magic?” he asked.

The two foals looked nervous and neither would look him in the eye. Ripple made a choking sound and covered her face with her wings.

“Dinky, did you do something mischievous? It is okay if you did, these things happen. Just so long as nopony gets hurt,” Bucky said reassuringly.

Dinky wanted more than anything to melt into a puddle and disappear. There were entirely too many adult eyes now staring at her. She swallowed, looked at Piña, and wished she had kept her mouth shut.

“Dinky figured out how to see through her bees,” Piña blurted out.

“Good job Dinks,” Bucky said as he leaned forward. He kissed Dinky on the cheek and Dinky froze. She closed her eyes. Bucky felt puzzled at the odd response. Usually Dinky was far more affectionate.

“Dinky saw you and her,” Piña said as she pointed at Derpy. “She could see both of you through her bee,” Piña continued.

Ripple fell apart with nervous giggles on the sofa and buried her face into Bon Bon’s side, unable to contain herself.

Bucky felt confused. Dinky was now blushing purple.

“You had your muzzle in the place where foals come out,” Piña said bluntly, unable to contain herself any longer.

Dinky fell over limply on the bed, Ripple continued to chortle, and Piña looked Bucky directly in his eye.

“I am sure you had a very good reason,” Piña stated.

“I was saying thank you to her for bearing my foals. I was making her feel good,” Bucky answered with soft honesty.

“Did you say thank you to my sister-mama?” Piña asked, figuring that now was as good of a time as any to try her new word.

“Yes, I said thank you to Berry,” Bucky replied with a half smile.

Piña’s eyes narrowed and she looked over at Berry, who was sitting on the sofa and struggling to keep a straight face. “Adults are weird,” she commented.

“So you figured out remote viewing?” Bucky said as he pulled Dinky to him. Dinky squirmed in his grasp but he continued to hold her with his foreleg. He endured a powerful flash of memory of the day that Dinky had cast the “want it need it” spell. He pushed it from his mind and instead focused on the revelation that he actually loved her.

Dinky settled against him and looked up at him with her mother’s amber eyes. “This is awkward,” she whispered.

Bucky kissed her softly, causing her to squirm.

“I was able to link my mind to a bee,” Dinky reported.

Bucky nodded and looked pleased. Around him, he could hear the soft sounds of conversations, murmurings, as the other ponies in the room slowly went back to doing other things.

“Dinky could probably touch minds with other bugs. We can use her bugs to find wolf dens,” Piña announced.

Bucky raised his eyebrow. “I have such clever fillies,” he praised.

“Piña said I would need to touch minds with flies, because flies would be around poop, and poop is found wherever things are living, like ponies and wolves. Piña doesn’t think that bees would be good for finding a wolf den and I think she’s right,” Dinky explained.

Piña maneuvered herself around on the bed and resituated herself near Sentinel. She lifted his head and cradled it in her forelegs. The lunar pegasus foal let out a muffled sounding sigh and did not squirm away from Piña’s gentle embrace.

“I can spy on everything,” Dinky said.

Piña nodded and continued to hold Sentinel.

“And I could send bees to sting the wolves when I find them,” Dinky announced. “Maybe make them run into the sunlight.”

“That would kill them,” Bucky said in a soft voice.

“Why does the sun kill the wolves but not Sentinel?” Piña inquired.

“The wolves are corrupted and unnatural. Princess Celestia’s sun is an anathema to them-”

“What’s an anathema?” Dinky asked, interrupting her father mid sentence.

“It means a curse… a bane, a punishing force,” Piña replied.

“Piña, how?” Bucky asked, feeling more than a little stupefied.

Piña shrugged. “I like reading,” she muttered.

“Princess Celestia works magic through her sun and she cleanses the earth of dangerous things. Well, some dangerous things. Other things, very powerful forces of darkness, can protect themselves from her sun for short periods of time or learn how to avoid it completely, slipping from shadow to shadow. The corrupted wolves can’t bear to be in its light. It burns them,” Bucky explained. “Sentinel is a shadow creature, but he isn’t an abomination. He’s a pony, just like us,” Bucky said as his mind began to fill with new information, Sombra’s memories rushing in like a flood.

Bucky gasped as what felt like an entire library filled his head all at once. The effect was physically and mentally painful. He struggled to keep his mind focused as new knowledge flooded in.

“The lunar pegasi started out as corrupted versions of the solar pegasi. They were warped, twisted, and changed. They lost their ability to walk on clouds and work with the weather. They gained the ability to slip into shadow, to dabble in dreams, and become at one with the night. They were changed forever. They became terrors to other ponies. They ate meat. Princess Luna restored their equinity, as she had dominion over all creatures of the night and creatures of shadow. And the lunar pegasi became our night time protectors, keeping us safe from fell shadows and the terrors of the night. And to this day, the lunar pegasi revere Princess Luna for restoring their equinity and driving away their dark taint,” Bucky said.

Sentinel’s ears were perked and his eyes were now fully opened. He said nothing, but his face was expressive.

“A unicorn named Sombra led them against a powerful undead dragon, the Scourge of the North,” Bucky continued. “Many of them died. It was a costly battle. But the lunar pegasi proved their worth and the solar ponies of the day began to trust them. It was a hard battle for Sombra,” Bucky said in a wavering voice. “In the end, after everything he had sacrificed, he felt that it was worth it to have restored the faith of the solar ponies in their nighttime kin.”

Piña stroked Sentinel gently and kissed his ear. She then looked up at Bucky. “But they still tell scary stories about lunar pegasi,” she said sadly.

“Some ponies are more open minded than others,” Bucky replied. “And ponies are always afraid of what they don’t know. Plus, some ponies hold to certain preconceived notions because it helps them make sense of the world. Unicorns are snobs. Pegasi are brutes. Earth ponies are numbskulls.”

Piña nodded slowly, trying to understand.

“Is Lyra a snob?” Bucky asked. In the background, he heard Lyra’s voice go silent.

“No, Lyra likes making farty noises and telling gross jokes,” Dinky answered.

Bucky heard a chortle from the sofa and felt himself smile.

“Am I a snob?” he asked.

“You used to be,” Piña replied bluntly. “But you are getting better.”

“Thank you Piña,” Bucky said graciously. “Is Derpy a brute? What about Loch Skimmer or Ripple for that matter?”

“My mama is the most gentle pony I know,” Dinky said defensively.

“Ripple made us feel better when we were scared last night. She was very careful with us,” Piña said. She looked up and over at Ripple, aware that she was being watched. “And Loch is too timid to hurt anything. She’s like me,” the foal added.

“Is Berry Punch a numbskull?” Bucky asked in serious tones. He heard loud snort from across the room.

“Well, sometimes,” Piña replied.

“Piña!” Berry cried from the sofa. “You little booger face!”

“Berry Punch and Piña are smart,” Dinky said. “Piña knows what the word ‘anathema’ means,” she offered as evidence.

“So is Sentinel a scary pony eating terror of the night?” Bucky asked.

“No,” Piña said with a frown. “And if somepony called him that I would… I would…” the foal stammered as she tried to express her anger. “I would black their eye,” she said in a small frightened voice. She hugged Sentinel’s head to her barrel, causing the colt to grunt.

“Sometimes ponies stick to things they think they know because it is easier to live with assumptions than it is to do the work needed to understand something or try something new,” Bucky said to his foals. “As a species, we don’t always embrace new things or different things. Like Ponyville when Zecora came to town,” he explained.

“So what is Thistle?” Dinky asked. “We have snobs, brutes, numbskulls, and pony eating terrors… what is she?”

Thistle fell silent at Dinky’s words. She slipped from the sofa, came over to the bed, and eased herself down beside Bucky.

“I don’t know yet, I’d need to think about it,” Bucky said as he felt Thistle’s tail flick his backside.

“Will Ponyville accept her?” Piña asked, her voice full of foalish concern. “I mean, ponies there still have trouble with Zecora.”

“I hope so,” Bucky said, closing his eye.

“You need to eat,” Dinky said, poking her father in the snoot with her hoof. “As for Thistle, she’ll have us to look after her.” Dinky smiled as she saw her father open his eye.

Bucky pulled the platter to himself with his magic and stared down at his food.

“I’m sleepy,” Piña announced. She yawned, setting off a flurry of yawns all around the room. She kissed Sentinel’s head once again and then gently lowered his head down to the bed. She lay down beside him and carefully curled up at his side, mindful not to bump him too much or touch his wounded places.

“There is so much to do,” Bucky said as he began to tuck into his food. It was going to be a long night.




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