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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As the late afternoon neared evening, Bucky called it quits for the day, finally worn out after his long day of labour. The day had been tiring and now he was worried. He sat on the sofa, reclining on his side, his barrel propped up on the arm of the sofa, and in his forelegs he held something precious to him.

“Hi Harper… are you happy to see me?” Bucky asked in a low voice.

The foal gurgled and blew spit bubbles in reply, which made Bucky forget the troubles of the day and the fatigue he felt in his bones. Harper lay with her head resting on his neck, and he could feel her breathing. Life wasn’t so bad.

“Lyra is conditioning her to pee upon command,” Sentinel reported as he sat on the floor before Bucky.

“What?” Bucky asked. At some point, he might have been shocked or sent into panic by such a statement. Now, it took something serious to shock him.

“When Harper pees, Lyra whistles. Lyra intends to condition Harper to the sound of whistling, emptying her bladder upon command, for reasons I am not sure I fully understand,” Sentinel explained.

“Some kind of potty training,” Bucky muttered in befuddlement. In that moment, his love for Lyra grew just a little bit more. There was something about mad hedge wizards.

“I plan to write about it in my journal,” Sentinel stated.

Bucky smiled and settled into the sofa, which wasn’t as comfortable as he would have liked, but it was better than the bare floor. Harper squirmed in his embrace and he felt small hooves on his hip. He lifted his head, saw Piña crawling up on him and then she flopped down on his ribs, sliding backwards towards the back of the sofa. A moment later, Dinky crawled up and sprawled out over Piña.

“There is going to be a lot of new ponies at dinner,” Piña quipped.

“There’s a lot of survivors,” Dinky commented.

“Too bad they lost a few,” Piña said sadly. “I wonder what it is like to drown.”

“Piña, how about no morbid thoughts just before dinner,” Bucky suggested.

“Okay,” Piña answered.

“Ripple beat the stuffing out of a much bigger mare today,” Dinky said as she squirmed and tried to get settled.

“Oh?” Bucky inquired with a monosyllabic grunt.

“The bigger mare tried to pin Ripple during combat training and Ripple freaked out. She’s fast. Her hooves moved so fast that they were a blur. And when it was all over and Ripple beat the big mare down, the big mare was proud of her,” Piña explained.

“I didn’t freak out,” Ripple protested from across the room.

“What do you call it then?” Dinky shouted back.

“I dunno, I just panicked a bit when she tried to hold me down,” Ripple said in a strained voice. “It is okay, we’re friends now… the black eye and the bruises will heal.”

“And now, Ripple is going to get special boxer training from a big pegasus and he is going to have her punch a dummy made out of wood and rope because she’s dangerous,” Dinky told Bucky in excited tones.

“Ripple, is this true?” Bucky asked.

Ripple rose from her sister’s side, slipped through the room and sat down beside Sentinel. “It is true. He doesn’t teach just anypony how to box. He says I have talent. He is going to teach me hooficuffs. Several of the other mares are also getting lessons. He said we hit too hard to safely spar with the others,” she said.

“You stick with your lessons. If you make me proud, I will forge you a pair of war shoes made for kicking,” Bucky promised.

“I will do all that I can to make sure that you are proud of me,” Ripple said. The filly sat up straight and her ears perked forward. She beamed, looking exceptionally happy. She gave Sentinel a soft nudge and then, unable to contain herself, lunged forward and kissed Bucky on the cheek.

“You know Ripple, I do believe he is already proud of you,” Sentinel whispered to the pegasus he called his sister.

“I know,” Ripple said in reply.

 

 

Bucky looked over the list of survivors and rubbed the scarred side of his face. A couple of school teachers, a few farmers, a crown certified alchemist, some weather specialists, a mailpony, and one of the griffons had listed his profession as an artist. The school teachers and the alchemist would be quite useful. The isles needed weather pegasi. Nature was wild here. He wasn’t sure what to do with the mailpony or the painter. The other griffons worked with the weather service. He wondered if the farmers had any other skills.

Several ponies had no professions listed, just the word “unicorn” scribbled into the list. This pleased Bucky a great deal. Buck of all trades types were always welcomed.

“No lab work tonight Bucky?” Bon Bon inquired in a soft voice.

“Too tired,” Bucky replied. “And the others are worn out.”

“I’m terrified of what is coming, but I am excited because everything is drawing near completion. The Scorned Mare is nearly finished. There are hundreds of spell jars downstairs. We know the location of our enemy,” Bon Bon said to Bucky in a silky whisper. “And you… you have held together so well. You’ve been the sort of pony I’ve always knew you could be. You and Lyra both.”

“Thank you Bonnie,” Bucky whispered in a strained voice.

“Aw nuts Bonnie, now I can’t see, my eyes are all watery… stupid hormones,” Lyra griped. “I am so emotional right now,” she whined.

“Sentinel, I am going to need you to change your sleeping habits a bit,” Bucky said.

“Sir?” Sentinel replied.

“I need you up during the day if possible. I am going to be very busy, and I can’t be everywhere. I am going to need for you to be the very grown up and responsible pony that I know that you are and I need for you to look after the refugees. I want them to come to you with their requests and needs, and then you can come to me. And I am trusting you to filter through what is important. Serious needs are to be looked after, trivial concerns are to be ignored, and I only have the time and the resources to look after what really matters,” Bucky explained. “Keep a pencil and some paper handy. Put those writing skills to good use.”

“I can do that sir,” Sentinel said. “Sir, can we talk for a moment?”

“What is on your mind Sentinel?” Bucky inquired.

“Princess Luna… I keep thinking about her. I’d like to meet her. I want to see her. I pray to her sometimes… do you think that is stupid? Do you think she can hear me when I look out the window and talk to the moon?” Sentinel asked.

Bucky heard a faint gasp from Bon Bon and he felt a catch in his own throat, which he tried several times to clear. “I don’t know Sentinel… I know she visits ponies in dreams. She saved me… she gave me knowledge of how to craft myself a new horn. I’d feel very foolish trying to answer if she could hear you or not, and I would never want to lie to you,” Bucky replied.

“Well, she’s already answered one prayer then,” Sentinel said with a heaving sigh.

“She has?” Bon Bon inquired.

“I begged for her to keep father alive,” Sentinel admitted to Bon Bon in a soft whisper.

There was a strangled hitching sound from Lyra followed by silence.

“I want to be able to go out into the night and bask in the moonlight. But those damnable wolves keep me indoors and I hate them,” Sentinel said. “I want to walk in the dark and secret places of the wood and prance through the moonlight dappled darkness that exists between the trees. I want to fly over a loch and touch the moon reflected in the water,” he added wistfully.

“Sentinel, one day, this will be over and we will go to a place where you can do those things,” Bucky whispered.

“I hope so,” Sentinel said as he lept up onto the couch beside Bucky and sat down.

“I need to get some shut eye… if you can, come to bed at some point so you can be up tomorrow. I need you Sentinel,” Bucky said as he stroked the colt with a hoof.

“I will serve,” Sentinel replied.

 

 

In the hours just after dawn, pegasi and a few griffons laboured to gather clouds and compress them into cloud banks. They had to fly out over the isles and gather the wild clouds, return them to central location, and then squeeze them into place. Others stayed and minded the clouds to keep them from drifting away.

A grinning earth pony mare and a somewhat battered looking pegasus stood together in the central courtyard, watching the morning drills after their first night together as a married couple. She was gentle and attentive, and carefully nosed the pegasi on occasion. Both of them seemed happy as they watched their respective squads train.

A young pegasus filly was getting her hooves filed down flat on a grinding wheel and she was going to get her first set of slugging shoes. The pegasus filly was nervous and skittish. She looked forward to proving herself and wanted to make her father proud.

A young unicorn colt and a young unicorn filly grappled together, trusting one another during their sparring to not hurt the other too much. Blows were expected though, as it was the only way they would learn. Plus, wrestling had its own rewards. They trusted one another with their honest mistakes, knowing that bumps and bruises would fade in time.

A grey pegasus sat upon the wall and watched as the pegasus filly she called her daughter was being prepared for war. She was fiercely proud of the filly. When ponies saluted her, she saluted back. While her salutes might have been somewhat clumsy, they were genuine and every pony in the courtyard had the utmost respect for the grey mare that sat watching them.

Deep within the kitchens, a plum coloured earth pony mare worked hard to teach the kitchen staff how to make light fluffy pie crusts and how to make simple pies. There was going to be a pleasant surprise come lunch, and the kitchen staff took to their new assignment with joy.

Moving about different groups, a small lunar pegasus foal yawned occasionally as he spoke with different ponies and coordinated messages between various groups, including taking messages to Keg Smasher directly. He wore brass goggles that had smoked glass lenses that blocked out the painful daylight and allowed him to see.

Inside of a smithy, a gnarled unicorn wearing smoked glass goggles and a giant earth pony worked together, perfecting the art of steel. Chains were being forged. On the walls were diagrams and drawings done in charcoal upon the stone of various types of armor pieces and panels. Working as a team, they were the perfect example of what an earth pony and a unicorn working with one another could do together. It became obvious to any observer that the pair had an immense respect for one another, both of them were master craftsponies and they had the respect for one another that only came to those who were at the top of their trades. There was nothing to prove here, but there was a lot to get done.

A lone kelpie swam the lake, hunting for fish and thinking about her marriage, which was coming soon. She was already a herd member, she knew this, but the ceremony, however simple, meant something to her, and she looked forward to what came after. There was no fear now. She was the trophy for triumph, and she would be wed upon the deck of The Scorned Mare once it was airborne. It would be a meaningful moment in so many ways.

And far away under the mountains, a dreadful something waited in the dark. It had found a way past the wards that had been thwarting its efforts and now it moved against its enemy, reaching out to touch a fragile sleeping mind that had been heavily scarred by darkness and was now quite unbalanced by hormones. It would undo its enemy’s strength by weakening what made his enemy strong. It planned to kill three birds with one stone as it prepared the spell that would invade the fragile unicorn’s mind.

 

 

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