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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18. 18

A troubled mind lay dreaming.

It did not matter that it was the day, and that she was asleep. Luna’s mind eagerly seized upon this opportunity as this was a mind she had been working on wearing down for a long, long while. Luna could sense his troubled thoughts slowly drifting into her dreamscape, slowly settling into the realm that was her domain, she could sense his worries, his fears, and his weakness.

Princess Luna had been chasing this one for a very long time, slowly wearing down his strong will, his stubborn earth pony nature, and his unflappable sense that he was always correct, a feeling that Luna herself was a bit too familiar with and sometimes had some occasional troubles with. Luna was also a little bit earth pony, and she understood his stubborn nature.

Only now, she sensed something had broken in his will. She also sensed regret and a freshly created sense of humility. She sensed a powerful desire to restore his place within the herd, his understanding and his belief in the greater herd structure badly damaged, weakened, perhaps believing himself now outside the herd, alone, vulnerable, and exposed.

No matter, the hunt was on. And her prey was weakened.  He was alone, vulnerable, and exposed, and Luna was the consummate hunter that was about to pick him off from the fringes of the herd. It was time to educate him on why you did not stray from the herd as a group. Luna, being the loving benevolent pony herd-keeper that she was, intended to make sure he never strayed from the herd again, for his own good.

Filthy Rich had fallen into Luna’s clutches, and Luna favoured a tough love approach.

 

 

Filthy Rich found himself in the Ponyville schoolyard. The sky was grey and the air felt hot and strange. Swings creaked in the breeze, the chains needing oiling, the seesaw sat unmoving, and he realised that he was utterly alone. There was nopony around at all. Being alone was a terrible thing for a pony. Alone meant no herd.

The playground was empty. And more than a little creepy.

Filthy Rich moved quickly, moving at a brisk trot, running to the schoolhouse. He tried the door, but it was locked. He checked the window, and saw that there was nopony inside. Nopony at all. As his gaze lingered in the window, he saw the blackboard indoors, and upon it, written in chalk, was the word “failure.” Seeing the word filled him with dread. Is that what he was?

Filthy Rich gulped, and pulled his gaze away from the window, not wanting to look inside any longer. He turned and instead continued to study the empty yard.

He was alone. He had no helpers, no assistants, no secretaries, he had no assets.

Filthy Rich was a pony whose entire life was built around exploiting said assets and suddenly having none to fall back upon was quite unnerving. The herd was an extension of himself, and, with no herd present, a large part of what he was was now gone, leaving behind an empty void that could not be filled. He was a pony without power.

Filthy Rich had a terrible fear of being alone, ever since his wife had left him all those years ago, a fear that his daughter Diamond Tiara ruthlessly exploited to always make sure she had her way, bullying her father into doing her whims.

And right now, that fear was gnawing away at Filthy Rich’s mind.

“Hello?” he cried, hoping for some sort of answer, a voice, any voice would do.

There was no answer. No voice. There was nothing. Nothing had answered Filthy Rich, and nothing made terrible company.

The nothing was replaced by a distant hum. A faint humming noise filled the air, a vibration more than anything, and Filthy Rich could sense it in his hooves, being an earth pony. Something felt off… something felt wrong.

Suddenly, nothing seemed to be much better company than something. Filthy Rich wished for nothing’s return.

The nameless dread now called something intensified, and a low terrified moan struggled its way free from Filthy Rich’s throat. Filthy Rich suddenly had the most peculiar want, a strange desire, a powerful aching need that manifested into one tangible thought.

He suddenly wished that he had a pegasus and a unicorn with him right now, powerful protectors that could guard him against the seen and the unseen. It was a strange thought that lingered in his rapidly flooding with terror brain, a strong notion that a herd was not complete without his fellow tribesponies. Terror flowed like water, and Filthy Rich felt as though his thoughts would drown him. He could feel his consciousness being swept away by the raging torrent that cascaded through his mind.

Filthy Rich’s brain flooded with a confusing jumble of images, six ponies trapped in a cave, the entrance blocked with ice, some of them had already succumbed to the cold, the rest grouped together in terror, terror very much like he was feeling right now, threatened by the Unknown Something that lurked within the shadows.

An earth pony lay on the floor, falling prey to the freezing cold and the Unknown Something. A pegasus stood over the earth pony, wings flared, teeth bared, a long string of slavering drool dangling down from pulled back lips, nostrils flaring, a protective stance, not able to see what was threatening all of them, but ready to fight to the death anyway, because that is what pegasi do. Even at the end of its life, the pegasus would follow its instincts, blindly going from this life into whatever lie ahead in the great beyond, fighting every step of the way, because that is what pegasi were made to do. Beside the pegasus, standing under its wing stood a unicorn, horn igniting with much welcomed luminescence. Light brought understanding. Light drove back the darkness.

The unicorn snorted defiantly, every bit as protective as the pegasus, ears splayed out sideways away from its ignited horn, teeth also bared, it whinnied and nickered at the Unknown Something, able to sense and detect what the pegasus could not.

And then, the unicorn’s horn flared brightly, covering the three of them in burning pink fire, driving back the cold and the darkness, sending the Unknown Something back into the shadows, the earth pony slowly struggling to rise up to its hooves, standing under the other wing of the pegasus, a united tribe, burning with protective fire. The earth pony, now standing, leaned up against the pegasus’ side, filling the empty space left under the protective wing. Together, they were an unstoppable force, something to be reckoned with.

And then, Filthy Rich’s mind went blank. He blinked, now only having memories of the confusing and jumbled images. He was still alone on the playground, and the air was filled with a terrible sound. He turned…

And saw the sky was filled with a swarm of bees, bearing down upon him with alarming speed. He ran, really the only thing a lone earth pony can do to save themselves, He ran, knowing full well that running was not enough, there was no cover, and the schoolhouse door was locked.

He ran, knowing that the inevitable outcome would happen anyway, he ran, knowing that there was no pegasus or unicorn to save him, he ran, because he had seen a glimpse of what the bees were.

Little Diamond Tiaras, flying on gossamer wings, tails replaced with stingers, little queen bees coming to bully him and sting him into submission.

The first few stings weakened him considerably, making his legs feel numb and strangely long, unable to function right. He slowed, and more stings lanced into his flesh, Diamond Tiara’s cruel words ringing and echoing into his ears, saying such unspeakable things, blaming him for her mother leaving, accusing him of not loving her, all of the terrible and hurtful things she knew all of the right words to say to make it hurt the most.

His legs collapsed underneath him and he tumbled down into the dirt, slamming his chin into the hard ground with a grunt. More stings came, the little queen bees now swarming all over his body. Filthy Rich’s flesh burned with white hot lancets of pain.

He begged for them to stop, but they did not listen. Diamond Tiara never listened.

 

 

“Good job Dinky, try to stay inside the lines,” praised Bucky.

Dinky concentrated, her horn glowing with faint purple light, the tip of her tongue sticking out from between her pursed lips as she concentrated on moving the crayon inside of the picture she was trying to colour.

The kitchen was still filled with popcorn, most of it now on the floor, a few pieces stuck to the ceiling, spelling out the words “I luv u mommy” in oddly shapen letters.

“This is a lot like kindergarten,” Dinky said, still concentrating, the crayon still moving carefully. “All we’ve done today is fun stuff.”

“Well, Dinky, in a way, this is kindergarten... magical kindergarten. You are learning control and a few basic magical principles in a way that is enjoyable and fun,” Bucky answered, studying Dinky’s efforts with a careful eye. “Today I wanted to find out what you are capable of, so I can see what we need to work on. Tomorrow, we will work on other things. In time, I am going to teach you how to write using your magic, how to use silverware, and, I think at some point, we’ll pull out your Daring Do doll and I’ll have you change her clothing so you can learn magical dexterity and manipulation.”

“That sounds like fun!” cried Dinky.

“Make no mistake little Dinky, there will be a lot of hard work,” Bucky said with a smile, looking down at his student. Bucky realised that while his cutie mark may indeed be a hops plant, he was getting an immense amount of satisfaction from his task.

“So I get to make art?” Dinky asked.

“Yes,” replied Bucky. “Dinky, it is very important that you take up a hobby… a practice. Something that you do that uses your magic regularly, something creative. Unicorns have much to contribute to society. Someday, maybe someday soon, I will take you to Canterlot, the city of unicorns, and I will show you what you are capable of, what great gifts you have to contribute, the great things you can offer society if you can learn control and focus your magic into a steady stable output of creativity and production. Not only will staying creative and productive keep you happy and healthy, but what you create will make other ponies happy… this is our task, this is our duty as unicorns. We must not use our great powers for destruction but for creation, for the benefit of ponykind,” explained Bucky, speaking very slowly and carefully.

“I… I don’t know what to say,” replied Dinky, her eyes wide, still managing to colour. “So I have a duty to make art? To make the world pretty? To make other ponies happy?” she asked, her brow furrowing, her ears falling to the sides of her head.

“Just think about it now and then,” Bucky answered, smiling. “The magic has to go somewhere. If channeled into creation, it makes other ponies happy. Otherwise, bees.”

“I don’t want more bees!” Dinky cried.

“I know Dinky, which is why I am trying to help you,” soothed Bucky.

“I’m getting tired and my horn kinda aches,” Dinky said, still trying to colour with her crayon held aloft in a purple aura. “Why does a unicorn’s horn feel things?”

“The horn is hollow, filled with many nerves, and marrow. The casing is flexible so it doesn’t break if something bumps it. It is connected directly to the brain. It focuses thoughts and will, condensing them into magical energy. Make sense?” asked Bucky.

“No,” replied Dinky, shaking her head.

“Sometime soon, I will draw you a diagram of your standard issue magic zapper and try to explain it better,” Bucky offered.

The crayon fell, Dinky cried out, and then began to rub her head. “I need a break,” she said, her eyes closing and her muzzle scrunching up.

“We’ll take a break for a while. Go play with Piña and have some fun,” Bucky said, gently patting Dinky’s shoulders.

Dinky fled the table, stumbled through the kitchen door, and escaped into the living room.

As Bucky sat at the table, he had a profound realisation. All of his usual sense of agitation that he had felt lately was gone. He felt strangely calm. Fulfilled. A strange sense of peace had settled into his mind. The painful ache of loneliness that he had fallen prey to recently seemed to have vanished.

Panic, his ever present companion, gave him a violent mental prodding to remind him of its presence, and, as the panic made its presence known, Bucky thought of Derpy and Berry both squeezing him. It was a faint memory, almost dreamlike, but it rose up in his mind like an invisible shield, reminding Bucky’s panic who was really in control here.

A pegasus now patrolled and panic was not a welcome visitor.

Panic had become a threat, and pegasi had only one singular response to threats.

 

Author's Note:

Whew.

Yet more perspective. I saw that a bunch of folk had seized upon Filthy Rich's seemingly sudden turnabout without waiting for the proper perspective reveal. And now, tada, Luna has been revealed and has shown some of her perspectives, manifesting her own purposeful motivations into society.

Still, I worry that too many people are missing the obvious clues with all of the "unicorns must suck" comments... Rising Star and his family are unicorns. They're edging into the field of vision now, and things will slowly come into focus.

And for those that need a nudge, Bucky had the answer for his own troubles hidden within his own words to Dinky. He has no creative output. Sure, he dabbles in brewing, but he was working as an accountant for cripes sake. Bucky really needs to amp up his artistic output and focus his magic into creation, otherwise the misery will continue and panic will continue to roam his mind.

 
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