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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“Dinky?”

Dinky looked up from her book and rubbed her eyes. “Yes Piña?” she replied wearily. It had been a long day, they had eaten dinner, and now it was getting close to the time for sleepy foals to go to bed. Dinky was sleepy foal. But she wasn’t going to bed anytime soon.

“I have an idea Dinkadonk,” Piña announced in a low whisper.

“Spill it, Pine Nut,” Dinky whispered back.

“Fleas,” Piña stated.

“What?” Dinky asked in confusion.

“Fleas,” Piña whispered. “You can control flies, bees, butterflies, and one of those shiny beetles, you need to control fleas and send them after the wolves,” she explained.

“Fleas?” Dinky murmured.

“Fleas exist on ponies and wolves. Just find the fleas on the wolves. And then gather up every flea on the island and have them go after the wolves. It is called a plague Dinky, and you could cause one,” Piña said in a low but excited voice.

Dinky nodded, beginning to understand. “Tomorrow,” she whispered. “Tomorrow I will try it.”

“Hey, what are you girls whispering about?” Derpy asked.

“Nothing!” Dinky replied, her eyes wide with feigned innocence.

“We’re plotting,” Piña answered sweetly. She felt mildly annoyed with Dinky. Her sibling was terrible at subterfuge in any form.

“Oh?” Derpy asked.

“Just foal stuff,” Piña said as she folded back her ears and widened her eyes as she tilted her head to the side. She knew how adorable worked and she gave it to Derpy in a concentrated dose. Piña waited, her mind carefully calculating the next dose should it be needed. Piña decided that if it came down to it, she could try the hug and distract gambit. Pegasi were suckers for physical distractions.

Derpy pursed her lips. Her instincts were telling her something was up, but Piña looked incredibly adorable. She decided to let the matter drop even though her motherly instincts were telling her that her foals were up to no good.

Piña heaved a sigh and let it out slowly. She had learned a lot this summer, and each day she became more and more aware of what she was capable of. She and Dinky shared a giggle, and both couldn’t wait until tomorrow.

 

 

“Dinky is so much like me,” Bucky whispered to Bon Bon, who was stroking him softly.

“Driven?” Bon Bon asked in reply, her voice low and melodic.

“Dinky possesses so much potential. She worked her self to the verge of exhaustion this evening and then kept going a little longer, refusing to give in until both Sparkler and Rising Star were ready to call it quits,” Bucky explained.

“She’s like us Bucky,” Lyra quipped. She squirmed against Bucky as Bon Bon stroked them both. “She’s like us and she’ll suffer like us,” she reiterated.

“Sadly, I know enough about unicorns to understand that statement and to know that it is true,” Bon Bon whispered.

Bucky wiggled, trying to turn himself in such a way that the brush went over the itchy spot on his neck as Lyra brushed him. “She is also like us in that she is strong,” he stated. He jumped slightly as he felt Lyra yank a hair out from his pelt. “Ow!”

“Hey, look at this,” Lyra said as she held up a tan hair in her magic. It was long, thicker, and shimmered faintly in the firelight. “This looks a lot like Sentinel’s hair. Bucky is going to be a shaggy pony,” she announced.

Sentinel looked up from his writing. “What?” he asked, blinking his eyes a few times and recovering from distraction.

“Bucky is getting shaggy hairs like you Sentinel,” Bon Bon said.

“Makes sense,” Sentinel said. He resumed his task, his pencil scratching away on paper.

“I love the feeling of Sentinel’s pelt,” Bon Bon said as she looked lovingly at Bucky.

“Sentinel, what are you writing?” Bucky inquired with gentle curiousity.  

Sentinel set down his pencil and stretched out his wing, extending his grasping digit and claw that protruded from his central knuckle. “Stuff,” Sentinel replied.

“Stuff?” Lyra asked.

“Yes. Stuff. I wrote down the questions Piña asked earlier today and how everypony reacted. I’ve been writing down notes about our family and I tuck them all away. I don’t know what it is called, but it gives me a sense of history,” Sentinel explained.

“A diary,” Bon Bon said. “I keep one of those. Or did. I left it at home.”

“Bon Bon, don’t be silly. Colts don’t keep diaries, fillies do. Colts keep journals,” Lyra corrected. “Sentinel needs a journal. I’ll try to transmute one. I’ve never transmuted a whole book before, this will be a good test of my abilities,” she added.

“Easy on the magic Lyra,” Bucky warned. “You need to keep your milk flowing, think of how magic robs us of calories.”

“A little magic won’t hurt me,” Lyra said as she cast a nervous glance at Harper.

“Speaking of calorie expenditure, tomorrow is going to be exhausting,” Bucky muttered.

“Big plans?” Bon Bon asked.

“The once-over for the gasbag and then I begin forging chains to secure it to the ship. My first big foray into metalworking,” Bucky explained.

“After that, The Scorned Mare rises like a phoenix from the ashes,” Sentinel muttered. “Hey, that’s worth writing down,” he grumbled to himself. He hunched back over his papers and the sounds of a pencil scratching away could be heard over the crackling of the fireplace.

“How does he know what a phoenix is?” Bucky asked in confusion.

“Piña has been reading to him,” Bon Bon replied. She settled herself a bit more on top of Bucky and Lyra, her body settling into the crevasse that formed between their two bodies, her barrel resting on two croups.

“Piña… I don’t know what to do about Piña,” Bucky whispered. “What is the ethical thing to do about Piña...” he continued.

“Bucky?” Bon Bon asked.

“Piña is a foal. An earth pony foal. With magic. Understanding her and potentially training her to use it is going to involve magical experimentation upon a foal,” Bucky grumbled.

“I never thought of it that way,” Bon Bon said. “But it would do her good. Would it be so bad? So wrong? She has a right to live up to her potential.”

“Maybe so Bon Bon, and even if it never hurts her, it is still magical experimentation upon a foal… we seem to keep slipping down a moral slippery slope,” Lyra groused.

Bon Bon sighed, hating that Lyra was right. She lifted her hoof and looked at it, wondering if she too had magic of some sort, given her knack for cultivating unicorns and keeping them sane. She pressed her hoof down upon Bucky’s spine, rubbed, watched as Bucky’s ears drooped, and then she saw his head lolling off to one side, bumping into Lyra’s. There was a soft ‘conk’ sound.

“Ow, hey, watch it bonehead,” Lyra muttered.

“Sorry…” Bucky offered.

Bon Bon felt an exhilarating rush of power. Unicorns might control reality, but she could control unicorns. Thankfully, Bon Bon had no major ambitions or an eye for world domination. She just wanted a larger candy empire. She thought of her shop back in Ponyville and felt a twinge of regret. She hoped it would be there when she finally went home.

“Hey,” Bon Bon said. “Would it be wrong to use golems to help me make candies?” she inquired.

“Unicorns use golems to assist in all sorts of tasks. What do you think keeps the streets of Canterlot so clean and perfect?” Bucky answered.

“Could you make me a few golems?” Bon Bon asked as she rubbed her hoof in a slow well pressured circle along Bucky’s spine.

“Maybe,” Bucky replied as he melted. The feeling of the brush on his neck and Bon Bon’s touch upon his back was almost too much. “I bet I could make golems. I’d have to start small and experiment.”

“I have always wanted to try that. But as a lone type three, it would be very difficult. Both of us together though,” Lyra said, her statement open ended and something of a suggestion.

“Sparkler would be a natural for golem creation,” Bucky stated.

Bon Bon smiled. She didn’t want the world, just a good hoofhold over the candy business.

 

 

The iron ore was reddish green. Bucky had never actually seen raw iron before. He stood in the smithy, looking around, taking everything in. Later, he would do amazing things here. This smithy was used to make simple iron implements. Hinges. Barrel rungs. Crude armor. Nails. All of the various metal bits needed for day to day life. There was a small foundry for smelting, a few anvils, and the main blacksmith was a massive earth pony named Crush that had a pair of very expensive manipulation shoes.

Names were marvelously simple on the isles. Ripple. Bludgeon. Thrasher. Wrecker. Crush. Names that implied the actions that the ponies who held that name were good at. Crush certainly looked as though he was the embodiment of his name. Crush specialised in cold forging, pounding the metal until it became hot and pliable. One of his work hammers was half the size of Bucky’s body.

Crush was willing to help him, or so Bucky had been told by Wrecker. Crush couldn’t tell Bucky anything… Crush had his throat torn open by wolves. The story about the event stated something to the effect that Crush was mighty pissed off about the whole thing, killed several wolves, stomped from his cabin to the castle, and then cauterised his own throat right here in the smithy.

And Bucky believed every word of it. He could see the scars. Crush looked like the sort that would just be angry about having his throat torn open. Crush had no way of complaining about what had happened, so Bucky assumed that the big earth pony probably worked out his frustrations and mute rage by smashing iron repeatedly until the iron gave up and did what Crush wanted.

Crush towered over Bucky, just like Keg Smasher did, and Bucky felt no small amount of resentment that he was so stunted and scrawny compared to other stallions.

Bucky loathed being so small.

 

 

After a morning of inspection, first checking out the smithy before it went into full production for the day, and then a whole morning of carefully inspecting the gasbag, Bucky was near exhaustion. He needed sleep. It would be lunch time soon.

Pegasi fisherponies worked to create the largest net they had ever created. Bucky had transmuted a tremendous amount of rope, the rope was going to make a massive net, and the massive net would be used along with a harness to secure the gasbag to the ship.

Lyra had worked a late shift, staying up past breakfast, transmuting a journal for Sentinel, and then adding more wards and defensive spells to The Scorned Mare before finally going to sleep. Bucky had worried about her milk production, but she had assured him that Berry produced a ready supply, something that had completely slipped Bucky’s mind.

Even as he and the pegasi worked, others laboured to create an obstacle course and other events for the upcoming Sisterhooves Social. A ditch was being dug to create a mud pit for tug o’ war.

He heard the flutter of wings and Derpy landed beside him.

“Hello handsome,” Derpy greeted.

Bucky knew better than to argue. He turned to look at the grey pegasus and watched as she preened her wings, smoothing them out after landing. She was still molting a bit and she tugged out a feather that needed to go.

“Busy morning?” Derpy asked after she spat out a downy feather. “You seem distracted,” she observed.

“You are very distracting,” Bucky stated.

The pegasus mare blushed. “I know,” Derpy said shyly. “The ponies seem so happy to be working. So many smiles,” she added before tucking her head back under her wing and preening a few more feathers.

“I need to get some rest. I’m afraid to go to sleep now. I don’t want anymore dreams,” Bucky said to his mate.

“Do you need somepony to shag you to sleep?” Derpy asked as she lifted her head out from under her wing.

“I hate to say it, but I think I am probably too exhausted to do that,” Bucky answered.

“Well, eat lunch and go to bed,” Derpy suggested.

“I can’t. This afternoon after lunch I need to smelt a massive amount of iron into ingots to create chains for the gasbag. Crush can’t do it all alone. Well, he and his helpers might, but it would take weeks to make as much iron as I need,” Bucky replied.

Derpy growled. “I bet your eye is all red and bloodshot under those goggles,” she muttered.

“Look, after smelting, I plan to go to bed. Well, I might cuddle Harper for a bit first, but I know my limits, and I’ve reached them,” Bucky said reassuringly.

 

 

“Any luck yet Dinky?” Piña inquired as she held her hoof down upon the page she was reading. The breeze was acting up today, and it wanted to turn the pages of her book for her, which was annoying.

Dinky did not reply. She was thinking of small irritating bugs that sucked blood. She was feeling increasingly frustrated and was doing her best to hold it in. She had been touching the mind of bugs for a while now, and something kept going wrong.

“Dinky?” Piña asked.

“What?” Dinky replied.

“You seem off,” Piña said in a worried voice.

“I can touch the mind of bugs all over the island and even that next island over now, but every time I try to reach out and touch the mind of a bug in those big mountains over there, my spell fizzles and I get a headache,” Dinky grumbled.

Piña considered the implications of this for a moment and her eyes went wide. “We need to find daddy at once!” she cried. She rose, wrestled her book into the simple canvas bag she had, prodded Dinky to her feet, and tried to contain her own growing fear.

“Ripple, wake up, wake up Ripple, we need to go!” Piña commanded as she shook the napping pegasus, who awoke with a snort and a fart.

 

 

Bucky eased himself into the bed. In just a few hours he had made more ingots than Crush could make in months. He had carefully folded in charcoal and fused the iron with carbon, melding everything together in a vast bubble of magic, using a process similar to that of how he brewed beer without brewing equipment. Crush wasn’t even able to make steel on his own, his forge couldn’t generate the sort of heat needed.

Soon, the steel ingots would be shaped into links for the chains needed.

Lyra was sleeping in the straw with Harper, and Bon Bon was snoozing with Sentinel. Bucky eased his way close to Bon Bon, hoping to not wake her. He rubbed his good eye and then his whole face, the goggles left his face feeling rather itchy and irritated. Perhaps some magically transmuted rubber cushions were in order.

He kicked out his hind legs into the odd and unnatural position that felt the most comfortable, feeling some relief as the tension back there eased off. So long as he moved slowly, his legs didn’t bother him too badly. It was only when he moved about in a hurry. As he began to drift off to sleep, he thought about his long walk to the beach with Piña. His legs had barely bothered him at all that day. He made a mental note to slow down when he could and that other ponies were just going to have to adjust to his pace.

Just as sleep was starting to overtake him, the door slammed opened and the Gleesome Threesome exploded into the room. Bucky jerked back to wakefulness just in time to be tackled by a pegasus, the bone jarring impact immediately removing all thoughts of sleep from his mind. And this was a loving impact, Bucky knew enough about pegasi to know this. A combat slam would likely shatter his bones like glass and spread him like strawberry jam all over the bed.

“Daddy, we need to talk to you!” Piña announced as the other sleepers in the room began to wake up. “We’re sorry to wake you but we need you awake!” she cried frantically.

“Piña, what is it?” Bucky asked wearily.

“I know where whatever is controlling the wolves is,” Piña announced.

“WHAT?” Bucky questioned.

“Dinky keeps trying to reach out and control bugs. Today, she was working on fleas. She can control bugs everywhere on the island and even the next island over, but her spell gets broken and she gets a headache when she tries to connect to bugs in the mountains,” Piña explained breathlessly.

“Damnit, the Hydra teeth,” Bucky grumbled. “The Isle of Wheat’s port town sits right in their shadow. You can see them just across the water. Why didn’t I think of this? Magic loses potency at distances and the spell that created the undead had to come from somewhere close by.”

“We’re not all that far from them either,” Lyra said. “Which means whatever is hiding there is also able to influence around us,” she added. The soft green unicorn yawned and nudged Harper.

“Which means that night I got mauled by wolves I was wandering blindly right into the area where whatever is out there hiding has the most control. It probably knew I was here and was waiting for me, and knew just when to strike,” Bucky groaned.

“You mean we’ve been right next door to it this whole time?” Bon Bon asked, struggling to wake up and take in the situation.

“Yes,” Bucky replied as he struggled to breathe. Ripple’s forelegs were around his neck and she was squeezing him enthusiastically as she rubbed her snoot against the back of his head and snorted into his mane. “I wonder at which point whatever it is will realise that we are aware of it,” he muttered.

“We need to prepare somehow,” Lyra said. “This might be paranoid, but right now we need paranoid, but I think the undead assault was to draw us out and see what we’re made of. It has probably been studying us and probably knows more about us than we do about it, whatever it is,” she explained.

“You don’t think it is a pony either?” Bucky asked.

“No…” Lyra replied hesitantly. “Call it a paranoid hunch.”

 

 

 

 

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