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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Bucky sat upon the deck of The Scorned Mare and surveyed everything beneath him. The ship was tethered to a tower of the castle, and Bucky would have had quite a view from this height had he been able to see anything in the bright light. In the mid-morning sun, the first ever Sisterhooves Social was taking place. The ponies below him were happy. Joyous. Even in these troubling times. Bucky found that he could not join them. Every squeal, every excited shriek, every loud exclamation from a happy foal nearly sent him into a panic, made his muscles tense, and made his horn ignite reflexively. He sat in solitude, feeling very alone. He remembered a time when solitude did not bother him.

This was the price he was going to have to pay for keeping his ponies safe.

He lay down upon the smooth wood and looked down, understanding all too well Sombra’s pain, stuck on the outside looking in. He wanted to be with them, but he didn’t feel they were safe with him nearby.

Later today, he would take Thistle as his wife. He felt guilty. He hadn’t been giving Thistle the time that she deserved with him. He hoped to make it up to her this evening. He thought about how nervous he had been when he had married Derpy and Berry. How afraid he had been. He had no fear of claiming Thistle as his, just a sense of sadness that he hadn’t given her the romantic courtship that she deserved. The past few days, he hadn’t really given anypony the time they all deserved. He had been working non stop getting the The Scorned Mareairborne and trying to catch up on much needed spell jars. He hadn’t been sleeping well. And when he had slept, his dreams had been troubling.

The dream of being an alicorn was a nightmare for Bucky, but he supposed that many ponies dreamed of becoming one. In his most recent dream, he had watched helplessly as his alicorn self had ruthlessly killed Cadance, destroying the last bit of love and hope in the world, condemning the world to darkness and death. All hope had died with Cadance.

Bucky pushed the troubling recollection from his mind and tried to think of other things. As he lay there with his head hanging over the edge and cringing to himself, he heard the flutter of wings from behind him. He really wasn’t in the mood for company at the moment and he wasn’t sure what to do about his visitor. He had come up here to be alone and gather his thoughts.

Or perhaps to wallow in his own guilt and misery.

He heard the unusual and distinctive three legged tromping of Loch Skimmer and sighed. He heard the filly come up beside him on his blind side, then she laid down beside him, scooting herself up against his side, and then she covered him with her wing.

“You slipped away. Everypony thought you might need your space. But I had to check on you,” Loch Skimmer said in a soft soothing voice.

“I’m fine,” Bucky replied.

“Yer a liar,” Loch Skimmer retorted, her annoyance causing her accent to become rather thick. Not knowing what else to do, Loch Skimmer leaned over and kissed Bucky on his withered cheek softly. “Anything in that jug?” she inquired.

“Yeah, but I haven’t been in it yet,” Bucky answered.

The pegasus filly smacked her lips and eyed the jug. “You shouldn’t drink alone,” Loch Skimmer said in a playful voice. “So why are you up here?”

“I had to get away from the sounds Loch. The squealing. The shrieking. Squeaks. It makes all my muscles tense and I panic Loch. I… I don’t know what is wrong with me and I have trouble being around those sounds now. I can’t be happy with them today,” Bucky answered with total honesty.

The pegasus filly looked crestfallen and she leaned her head over, pressing her ear up against Bucky’s neck. “I’m sorry… that sounds awful,” Loch said apologetically.

“And this guilt is eating me alive… Dinky can still feel bugs crawling under her skin. She wanted to do it, I wanted to hurt my enemy, and I think I made a terrible lapse in judgment using Dinky’s talent in the way I did,” Bucky confessed.

“Dinky is doing a little better,” Loch Skimmer said in a comforting tone. “They listened to you… even though Derpy really wants to hold Dinky, Berry has been with Dinky and stroking her, and Dinky is doing a little better. You were right, there is something about the touch of earth ponies.”

“I still feel like I screwed up,” Bucky stated.

“We are in the middle of some great conflict that I can barely understand. And everypony is doing their part. Everypony is suffering in some way. Dinky gave all she had to give, and I’ve talked to her. She doesn’t regret doing what she’s done, even though she never wants to do it again. Dinky got the revenge she wanted for whatever it was hurting her family. And now that she’s had a taste of revenge, she’s decided that it isn’t something she likes. So maybe some good will come out of this later, when she’s older. Dinky’s a good foal,” Loch Skimmer said to Bucky, trying to make him feel better.

“Thanks Loch, that actually eases my mind a bit…” Bucky responded in a pained voice.

“Even Rising Star is different now,” Loch admitted. “He’s changed from when I first met him. I’ve slowly become aware of it and I’ve watched the change take place.”

“How so? How is he different now?” Bucky asked.

“He’s possessive… I’ve seen him. When other males look at me, Sparky, or Ripple, he gets the same look in his eye that he does when he wants to burn something,” Loch replied.

“That’s awful…” Bucky whispered. “I’m sorry.”

“Why be sorry? I like it. It makes me feel safe. I trust you. I trust Rising. I trust no other males. And I feel better knowing that me and Ripple are watched over by a possessive pyromancer that will do anything to keep us feeling safe and happy,” Loch Skimmer said in a smooth soothing voice. “And you. I feel bad for saying what I said and leaving you out. You’ve done so much for my me and my sister.”

Bucky peered down at the ponies below him and wished that he knew what to say to Loch Skimmer after she had bared her soul to him. He thought of how possessive dragons were, how protective they could be of their treasured hoard, but the only thing that came out was a soft grunt, which wasn’t helpful or meaningful at all.

“Looks like ponies have finished the race where they have their front legs tied together,” Loch commented.

“The seven legged race? Who won? I was looking, but I wasn’t paying attention,” Bucky said in reply.

“You also forgot those black glass goggles of yours, so you probably couldn’t see,” Loch teased. “I am not sure who won, I didn’t see,” she added.

“You should be down there with them,” Bucky said as he squinted down below him, trying to make out what was going on.

“I like getting a few moments alone with you,” Loch said. “A girl wants to spend time with her father.”

Bucky choked. He felt his throat close suddenly and he struggled to draw in air. The restriction ended just as suddenly as it had started and he sucked in a painful burning lungful of air, wheezing loudly as he tried to breathe.

“Bucky, take a deep breath,” Loch said in concern. “Come on, let’s crack that jug open and we'll both have a drink together.”

 

 

“Dinks, love, you don’t look well. Do you want to be away from the crowd?” Derpy asked her suffering foal.

“I’m okay… I can feel the bugs… but I want to be here for Piña… still feel the bugs,” Dinky replied in a low halting voice.

Berry cuddled Dinky a little closer and rubbed her hoof along Dinky’s spine. “You did a good thing Dinky, you helped a lot of ponies. This is the sort of burden that your father has tried to prepare you for. You killed so many wolves. The soldiers are having trouble counting all of the bodies. You’ve saved so many lives with what you have done and think about how few howls have been heard lately, how warm last night was. You’ve made so many lives so much better,” Berry said comfortingly.

“I don’t regret what I’ve done… but I never want to use dark magic ever again… just like daddy never wants to hurt another pony ever again… bugs… so many bugs,” Dinky murmured as she continued to squirm. She scraped her forehooves over her ribs and tried to squash the things she could feel creeping just under her flesh.

“It makes me happy to hear you say that,” Derpy said to her foal as she leaned down and kissed Dinky on the ear.

“Piña and Ripple came in second in the seven legged race,” Thistle reported.

“Think they will do well in the pie eating contest?” Derpy asked.

“Well, you’ve seen how Piña eats. Too bad Dinky couldn’t have joined in. We could have had Dinky and Sparkler use some magic and work up a unicorn appetite, and they would have won without trying,” Berry said as she continued to stroke Dinky.

“That’s cheating!” Thistle blurted out.

“Thistle, sweet innocent Thistle… how are you feeling about tonight Thistle?” Berry inquired with a wry grin.

“Oh… I… well… I…” Thistle stammered as she began to blush.

“Somepony is nervous,” Derpy said with the faintest smile upon her lips.

“Well of course I am nervous… I don’t want to disappoint him… or you…” Thistle replied to Derpy.

“Oh, you won’t need to worry about that. I’m sure he’ll be far more worried about disappointing you. Bucky’s a giver,” Berry interjected.

“He’s sweet,” Derpy said as she closed her eyes and thought about Bucky.

 

 

“Sorry I stumbled,” Piña said to Ripple.

“Hey, I did too, so no worries,” Ripple responded to her smaller sibling.

“We only came in second,” Piña grumbled.

“So what? We’re having fun… and look at all of the other ponies around us. They’ve never experienced anything like this before. Look how happy they are,” Ripple said, trying to cheer Piña up.

“All I can think about is how miserable Dinky is… I can’t focus on anything else,” Piña admitted. She rubbed her eyes ferociously as she tried to hold back tears.

“Do you want to stop?” Ripple said as she gently stroked Piña’s cheek.

“No… too many ponies worked too hard to make this happen. Quitting now after everything everypony has done would be wrong,” Piña muttered.

“We can stop if you want to Piña,” Ripple offered.

“No!” Piña protested.

“It really doesn’t matter if we win Piña,” Ripple said as she pulled the filly close using her wing. She gave the earth pony foal a hug, hoping to cheer Piña up. “I’m just glad that today, I got to be the big sister for once.”

 

 

“I think I’m feeling a little bit better,” Bucky muttered. He made a sour face. He wasn’t so sure that he liked bogberry wine, but he had kept drinking it anyway hoping that the taste might grow on him.

Or that he’d be too plastered to care.

“Gah! Tho thour!” Loch gasped as she stuck her tongue out through puckered lips.

Bucky bravely took another long pull from the jug and felt his face contort. He could feel the tingles in the hinge of his jaw and tightness just below his ears. He smacked his lips loudly. “Who is the jackass that decided to make wine from bogberries?” Bucky demanded.

“No more for me!” Loch said as she cringed away from Bucky and his jug.

“I wanna know who gave me this… they’re making me work hard to get drunk… I bet it was Berry… -hurgh- Oh that’s foul,” Bucky said with a shudder.

“I am gonna go find Rising Star and give him a sour kiss… Bucky, please, do try to come down,” Loch Skimmer begged.

“Once I deaden my reactions I might,” Bucky replied.

Loch Skimmer took one last loving glance at the unicorn before tossing herself over the side and taking wing, smacking her lips and regretting every sour swallow as she departed.

 

 

Bucky exploded into existence and covered everypony around him in a layer of frost and snow. He heard several gasps, a few shudders, and a couple of thankful sighs. He shook the crusts of frost from his own pelt and peered around. He was surrounded by mares. He lifted his jug and took a long swallow. Bogberry wine was wretched.

“Hey!”

Bucky turned and looked at the pony addressing him and saw Sour Mash. She was grinning broadly.

“Look at our new recruits. We’re running them through this Sisterhooves Social thing going on,” Sour Mash announced.

Bucky nearly swallowed his own lips from the sourness of his wine and from what he was seeing. He sputtered for a few moments before recovering his ability to speak. “Foals?!” he asked in alarm.

“Well, we figured that as a brigade we’d take in these here orphans and raise them to know our ways. You wanted us to teach foals to read and write, so we’d thought we’d go one step further and teach these fillies our ways of war and whoopassery. And don’t you worry, none of us gave those fillies those shiners and fat lips you’re seeing, they gave those to each other,” Sour Mash explained cheerfully.

Bucky decided that he hadn’t drank nearly enough yet for the troubling new world he lived in to make sense just yet. He guzzled back some of the bogberry wine and noticed to his horror that it was starting to taste good. He peered at Sour Mash, looked out at the fillies, looked over his brigade, and then he shrugged in defeat. The foals seemed happy.

“So our brigade has grown. And will keep growing. We’re gonna do what the males do and take in orphans to be raised for service,” Sour Mash said as she continued to smile a broad smile.

Bucky thought of Sentinel and the colt’s militaristic ways. Sentinel wasn’t so bad. The isles produced a different breed of pony. He looked over the foals and discovered after a moment of reflection that he approved of this course of action.

After even more reflection, Bucky determined that Loch had the right idea, and Bucky set off to find some mares to give some very sour kisses to, toting his jug behind him.

 

 

 

 

 

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