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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The room was chilly and Dinky struggled through her own disappointment, grappling to keep her resolve and her focus. When Lyra had her lyre going, the room stayed warm and toasty from the fire, and the fear was gone. The room was chilly, but not freezing, and Dinky couldn’t tell if it was the wolves’ fear that plagued her or her own sense of failure, but she felt nervous and unsettled.

The others had settled in for the night, and for the first night in quite a while, ponies in the bed were huddled under blankets. Dinky could feel the chill on her nostrils and it was her siblings that kept her warm, piled around her on the couch. Sentinel in particular was a great source of warmth due to his thick shaggy pelt and higher than a normal pony body temperature.

She looked up at her father and gave him a half smile, and she felt some of her courage returning when he touched her. Dinky knew that he believed in her, and she was determined not to let him down. He had always believed in her. All Dinky could think about was everything that Bucky had done for her, starting with being her tutor and keeping her at home with her mother. He had endured so much in keeping her safe and Dinky wanted nothing more than to offer something in return, something to prove to him that all of the time he had spent trying to both teach her and be a good father was something she appreciated.

Lyra had helped to fine tune the hum coming from her bees and now the musical unicorn was sitting on the couch and spending a final bit of time offering reassurance before going to bed.

Dinky thought about everything that the wolves had taken from her. She thought about her father’s eye. She thought of Piña’s misery and everything that Piña did to hide it. As she did so, the room felt a little warmer and Dinky felt a little more confident about her task. Where foalish determination was not enough, it seemed that anger gave her the edge she was seeking. She settled in between her siblings and thought about everything the wolves had done.

 

 

“How are you holding up Dinky?”

Dinky did not reply to Berry Punch’s inquiry. Her head was hurting, she felt tired, and talking would require effort. She just gave a nod.

“It is a little past midnight. You’re doing so well,” Berry whispered.

“She hasn’t even dozed off yet and the bees just keep humming,” Ripple said.

“How are you holding up Piña?” Berry asked her smaller sibling.

“I am studying dweomers,” Piña replied, looking up from her book and rubbing her eyes with her fetlock.

“Piña, hugglebug, tell me, what is a dweomer?” Berry asked, raising her eyebrow and feeling slightly concerned about Piña’s study habits.

“Dweomers. Magical auras. The subject of study for auroramancers,” Piña replied. “All I have in this book here is a short section explaining some of the basic theory. The study of magical radiation, magical fields, different types of magical light, which comes from different magical fields, and the generation of magical darkness,” the foal explained.

“I see,” Berry said, now more aware than ever that her sister was developing signs of being devastatingly intelligent.

“Daddy gave himself a sunburn when he used his light spell. He burned the wolves. Which means he generated actual daylight. There is something called “ultraviolet radiation” and that is what causes the wolves to burn and sunburns to happen. Ponies that can generate actual daylight are very rare the book says in a hoofnote. The only ponies that can do this come from a bloodline of unicorns who once kept the sun moving back when the world was still in chaos,” Piña said, tapping her book with her hoof.

“Bucky has ancient blood. His lineage goes all the way back to before the Long Walk, when ponies from the Old World came to Equestria,” Berry said.

“But weren’t there ponies already here in Equestria?” Piña asked as her muzzle scrunched up in concentration.

“Yes there were,” Berry answered. “The Founders hadn’t encountered them yet. It wasn’t long until they ran into Discord and the ponies that Discord kept as slaves. And then the battle for Equestria began. Our Founders saw this as a land worth fighting for. The Royal Pony Sisters were freed from their prison. More ponies came from the old world. The Elements of Harmony were recovered. And then there was a big fight, a terrible fight, and it lasted for many years. Discord was defeated but that was only the beginning. There were griffons and dragons and so many other foes that had to be subdued. At the cost of many lives, Equestria was founded, secured, and eventually had our borders expanded from ocean to ocean.”

“We’re so small though… I’ve always wondered how ponies stand up to dragons,” Piña said thoughtfully.

“By working together. Unicorns need a lot of food to keep using their magic. You’ve seen how Bucky can eat. He can eat more than a whole clan of earth ponies when he starts using the deep magic. Before the founding of Equestria, unicorns were limited by what food they had. Magic was extremely limited. The old tribes squabbled and fought for resources. Some kept slaves. Some traded services for food. But after the founding of Equestria, we all worked towards a common goal. Earth ponies grew tons of food. All of this food caused a magical revolution of sorts. We saw an era of magical exploration that made us a major world power. The extra food and the extra magic allowed the pegasi to grow in number. They had always lived bloody lives of violence and conquest, keeping their numbers low. But with the surge in the pegasi population, we had armies. Vast powerful armies that could protect the unicorns while they slept and recovered. By working together, we grew strong. Even dragons learned to fear us. We stopped being an easy meal, and after the dragon wars, where we slaughtered several thousand dragons, most of the dragon clans agreed to a treaty to prevent their race from being exterminated completely,” Berry said, finding all of the history she had learned in university was finally useful.

“It was ponies like Bucky that made the dragons fear us, right?” Ripple asked.

“Yes, very powerful unicorns. Star Swirl the Bearded. Clover the Clever. Sombra,” Berry replied. The earth pony shivered for a moment after saying the last name. “Princess Platinum was a powerful unicorn in her own right. She came from those who learned how to control the sun. She was a brilliant strategist. She played to win. Along with Smart Cookie and Clover the Clever, those three clever ponies used their minds to carve out an empire. Platinum was full of cunning and was always thinking ahead of her enemies, Smart Cookie was probably the smartest pony who has ever lived and was the brains of the outfit, and Clover the Clever’s talent was luck, which was an immensely powerful talent. She was lucky at everything she did.”

“What of Hurricane?” Sentinel asked.

“Hurricane brought an end to clan warfare of the pegasi,” Berry answered.

“How did he do that?” Sentinel inquired.

“Before I answer, you have to understand, those were very different times,” Berry replied in a nervous whisper.

Sentinel nodded and Berry continued.

“Hurricane, at Platinum’s request, moved against the heads of the other pegasi clans. He made them squabble with one another. He instigated fights and restarted old blood feuds. And once everything was stirred up and everypony was fighting and weak, Hurricane took to the field and killed all of the clan heads. He then killed their wives. And he killed their oldest offspring. Hurricane’s army committed The Purge, something that isn’t talked about very often. Hurricane spared the youngest of clans. They had no parents to teach them that they had to hate one another. What they had was Hurricane telling them that they were all brothers and sisters. There was no oral tradition passed along about the blood feuds and why one clan had to hate some other clan. All of that was over. Hurricane erased history and taught the pegasi a new way. The pegasi were unified, and those that grew up under Hurricane’s iron hoof fought savagely to defend one another. If you were some monster and you injured even one member of the flock, the entire flock would hunt you down and kill you. The new generation of pegasi were of one mind and one body, made that way by Hurricane’s fanatical teachings,” Berry explained.

“That seems awful…” Sentinel said slowly.

“But necessary?” Berry asked.

Sentinel nodded but had no words to say.

“Hurricane also taught them it was their sacred duty to defend the unicorns and protect the earth ponies. You had an entire generation of foals that were blank slates, foals that did not learn to hate from their parents. They learned unity and togetherness. And then those foals as they grew up and started having foals of their own, they taught their foals what they learned from Hurricane. And so the pegasi entered a new era of savagery. Hurricane’s doctrines were horrific, but they are part of what made us the world power we are now. The new generation grew up believing that a dozen griffons had to die for every foal or pony taken or killed during raids. Eventually, the griffon colonies in the New World were all but exterminated, and many griffons fled back to Griffonholm. But that wasn’t enough. The pegasi followed them across the ocean, determined to get their pound of flesh for all of the atrocities the griffons visited upon our kind. Griffonholm was sacked and much of it was left a ruin. The twin capitals of Griffonholm, Huginn and Muninn, were turned into a pile of rubble. Finally, the last few surviving chiefs of the griffons came to Celestia and begged for mercy, which she refused. The war lasted another half a decade, and Celestia accepted surrender from the king of the griffons himself,” Berry said, enjoying the chance to tell a tale.

Sentinel gulped and and his ears folded back against his skull. “That’s awful,” he murmured.

“Can we talk about happier things?” Dinky asked, her voice wavering.

“Sorry Dinks,” Berry apologised. “We still have a few chocolate covered shortbread cookies, ya want one?” she asked.

Dinky nodded gratefully and Berry slipped from the sofa to retrieve some cookies.

 

 

Dinky wasn’t sure how much longer she could keep this up. She was sweating profusely, and her mane clung to her face and neck. She couldn’t stop trembling and the corner of one of her eyes kept twitching. Her horn ached and her head throbbed. She looked at Piña and saw that the earth pony filly she called her sister looked every bit as miserable as Dinky felt.

At some point during the night, the bees had changed. The droning buzz became more of a melodic hum, a softer gentler sound. Occasionally a bee would wink out of existence and Dinky would have to replace it.

“Dinks, you are starting to worry me,” Derpy said in a hushed whisper.

“I’m not quitting,” Dinky whined. “Daddy endured worse keeping me safe… I will not quit,” she said through gritted teeth. Dinky felt a large drop of sweat bead up on her brow and roll down her face, increasing her irritation. She could feel more muscles in her face beginning to spasm and she wasn’t sure of the cause. The drop of sweat was annoying, or it could have simply been the strain.

“It will be dawn soon,” Derpy said soothingly. “Not much longer Dinks.”

“I didn’t think I’d make it all night,” Piña said. “But I am so worried about Dinky.”

“Dinky is a tough little unicorn, just like Bucky,” Ripple said.

At Ripple’s words Dinky felt a surge of pride and some of her trembling eased off a bit. She leaned on Ripple and rested her head on Ripple’s shoulder. She felt Ripple’s wing brush over her face and wipe it off, and her mane was brushed away from her eyes.

“I can feel the humming inside of my head,” Dinky murmured.

“Dinky, I will never forget this,” Derpy said to her foal. “When we get home, I am going to spoil you. You get a free pass for toys, books, ice cream, whatever you want,” Derpy promised.

 

 

“Dinky?”

Dinky struggled to make out what was being said. The voice sounded far away. There was a loud painful ringing in her ears. She could feel something hammering away on the inside and the outside of her horn. Her eyes felt dry and she could feel her eyelids sticking to them every time she blinked.

“Dinky, it is dawn, you can stop now,” the voice said.

Dinky did not relent. She was going to keep the bees going. They were the only thing holding back the fear and the cold. She felt something lift her and a strange cool tingly feeling enveloped her body. Something held up her head, which was limp on her neck. She felt like she was flying, her body was weightless and free.

“Dinky love, sleep now,” the voice said.

Dinky struggled and kicked feebly, trying to fight back against the sudden feeling of sleepiness. “No!” she shrieked. She struggled against the coming blackness. She shivered and felt hot at the same time. “No no no!” she cried. She felt her body going limp against her will and she felt something large and warm pressing up against her side. She was laying on something soft.

“Dinky… stop struggling. It’s over Dinky… now sleep,” the voice said.

Very much against her will, Dinky felt herself sliding into darkness. One by one, she felt her bees popping out of existence and her careful control was broken. She kicked and squealed, trying to rouse her body which had turned against her.

“No!” Dinky murmured, her final word before she finally succumbed to the magical compulsion that was overtaking her.

Finally, Dinky slept.

 

 

 

 

 

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