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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Rising Star looked up at Crush the earth pony and felt a tightness in his throat. The silence hung heavy in the air, Rising Star’s emotions were running rampant, and he couldn’t find anything worthwhile to say after telling Crush that he was leaving.

He felt himself being snatched, taken in a fierce hug, one big strong leg around his neck squeezing him almost but not quite to the point where he couldn’t breathe. The hug lasted several minutes, and spoke volumes. Finally, Crush let go of Rising Star, stepped away, pointed all around the forge, pointed at the tools, pointed at the fire, and then prodded Rising Star in the chest.

“Yes Crush, I plan to keep working metal. It keeps me from going loony,” Rising Star said in return, feeling the tears coming and unable to do anything to stop them. “And if Bucky were able, I am certain he would give you the farewell that you deserve.”

Crush pointed down at his own left leg and then pointed at Rising Star’s horn.

“Yes, I plan to help Bucky if he needs me. I know he will be thinking of something to replace what he has lost. Bucky is that sort of pony,” Rising Star said.

Crush looked concerned for a moment, and then prodded Rising Star several times, emphatically, his brow furrowed in concern.

Rising Star nodded. “I suppose he will always need me.”

Crush lowered his hoof, holding it over the ground, and then raised it up high, holding it in place for a moment before prodding Rising Star once again.

Looking somewhat embarrassed, Rising Star looked down at the floor. “Yes Crush, I did a lot of growing up this summer. I came here to these isles, got a chance to learn how privileged I was, just how good I had it in life, I got to learn what life would be like without the Princesses, I got married, had to grow up a whole bunch, had to learn how to be strong while watching a pony I love die by degrees, consumed from the inside out, got to experience fear, got to experience death, saw the walking dead, learned how to wage a war, learned I was too dangerous to participate in the war, survived a major battle, saw a banshee, became a noble, and I learned a trade.”

The big mute earth pony nodded enthusiastically and prodded Rising Star one last time.

“I suppose I did find myself. Huh.”

 

 

“Loch Skimmer, Ripple, some of your mothers are below… they know you are leaving. They wanted to say goodbye, they are seeking permission to board,” the pegasus guard said to the two pegasi sisters.

Ripple and Loch Skimmer exchanged a glance with one another, saying nothing between them. Ripple looked away first, staring down at her hooves, and it was Loch Skimmer who looked the guard in the eyes. She held her head up defiantly, whipping her long mane around.

“I am not sure what you are talking about. All of my mothers are here, onboard this ship, looking after my father,” Loch said in a cold angry voice. Beside her, she heard a silent pained gasp from Ripple, and then she felt Ripple’s face pressing into her withers. In a moment, she felt a moist dampness spreading over her pelt.

 

 

In a small room within the castle, another father was busy talking to his son, the tone serious, the mood somber. In the room there were others, a small council of highly trusted and proven ponies.

“Thrasher, while I am away, your word is law. I am trusting you to look after my ponies. All of them. Right now, they are pretty happy and well behaved, but that can change. Lord Wrecker has offered to help you, you listen to him… Bah, I know you will. Lord Deadspin will be here to assist you as well. Lady Sour Mash and Lady Bunny are earth ponies. If you have doubts, you talk to them and you listen to them. We pegasi can be a little flighty at times, but those two are good solid dependable sorts,” Keg Smasher said to Thrasher. “And you look after Wheatberry.”

Thrasher nodded solemnly, but said nothing in return.

“There is one little problem we need to discuss before you go,” Lord Wrecker said.

“And that is?” Keg Smasher inquired.

“When you go, send word to Princess Celestia. There are some troublesome reports coming in from the Minnowrock Isles, our neighbor in the archipelago, that griffons have been raiding their most distant isles, and scout airships have been sighted among their inner isles. It seems the griffons are working their way westward, and if their progress continues, they will reach us eventually. The ponies of Minnowrock are experiencing losses, and have requested our aid. I just got the missive this very morning,” Lord Wrecker replied.

“Oh shite…”

 

 

“Come to visit us,” Berry Punch invited.

“We will, I promise Berry,” Sour Mash said.

The two cousins exchanged a smile and a hug, glad to have found one another, happy to have had a chance to get to know one another, and a little sad about the coming separation. Sour Mash poked Berry Punch’s belly with her hoof, and then leaned in and kissed Berry just behind her ribs. Not satisfied, she threw both forelegs around Berry’s neck and squeezed tightly.

“Look after my Sparkler,” Sour Mash begged. “Something is wrong with her, she can’t stop shaking. I hope we will have some way to communicate. Try to find some way to send me a message if you can. Bucky is clever…”

“I will try,” Berry promised. “I am worried about Sparkler’s shaking too. Keeps getting worse. Gets real bad when she is upset.”

“You kick Bucky in the arse when he needs it and be really gentle with him at all other times… we earth ponies can get a little boisterous with those we love,” Sour Mash said.

“Deadspin is going to need you and your solid shoulders. Bunny’s shoulders too,” Berry stated, nuzzling her cheek against her cousin’s muzzle.

“There has been reports of griffon raiders… I was there when Lord Wrecker got the security briefing. I hope you have enough guards to keep the ship safe,” Sour Mash whispered into Berry’s ear.

“You keep these ponies safe,” Berry begged.

“I will,” Sour Mash said. “Married me a good husband, I plan to have me some foals, this is my home and I will keep it safe.”

“Name a foal after me,” Berry requested.

“You do the same for me,” Sour Mash returned.

“Deal,” Berry responded.

 

 

Sentinel stared dully at the wall after telling both Piña and Dinky everything that had happened, not able to look them in the eyes. He had spilled out his heart and now the room was silent. He didn’t know what else to say, he had followed Rising Star’s advice to the letter, and had spared no detail for the sake of honesty.

“So you are kicking us out because of a boner?” Piña said, scratching her chin as she spoke. She scowled. “That’s no reason to kick us out. Dinky and I will just bring our own blanket, wrap ourselves up, and you can sleep under your own blanket.”

“Oh, this could poke though the blanket,” Sentinel huffed.

“Hmm, that is a problem,” Dinky said.

Feeling a painful tightness in his chest, Sentinel said goodbye to his innocence, unable to find some way of salvaging what was left. “I can’t do that to either of you. I would never be able to live with myself. Like it or not, we are going to grow up. Soon, both of you will have your first heats. And then the real trouble will start because we’re not actually related, I will be able to smell it, and the smell will cause me all manner of problems.”

“We have ways of dealing with that on the mainland,” Dinky said.

“Doesn’t change the fact that we are growing up. And I must protect you… even from myself,” Sentinel said in a heartbroken voice.

“We still love you,” Piña said. “So things are changing. So what. You are still our brother, you can’t change that.”

“At least you loved us enough to be honest with us,” Dinky said. “If you would have just kicked us out, I would have hated you.”

Piña crawled closer on the bed, wrapped her forelegs around Sentinel, and pulled him close. A moment later, Dinky joined them and the trio sat in silence, all too aware that things had changed for all of three of them over the summer.

 

 

The sun was nearing the horizon after a long day and Thistle looked out upon the land she loved, but wanted desperately to leave behind. She thought about everything that had brought her to this point. She thought of her failure, her isolation, her growth, her acceptance, and finally, she thought about her family, and what they meant to her.

It had almost been like a fairytale when Keg Smasher had first told her. A noble was going to come and sweep her off of her hooves. She was going to have a herd to look after her. It was going to be all so perfect. She had even accepted the idea of being a servant in a noble’s family, or even a broodmare, because nobles had wonderful lives and provided well for their foals, or so she believed from everything she had heard from fanciful stories.

Thistle had her noble. A knight. A knight in terrible black armor. Much to her dismay, there was no romance, no fairytale ending of happiness ever after from marrying a knight that took his duties seriously. His body was ruined, no doubt that his soul was broken, and Thistle had watched him slowly sink into ruin. He was going home to face the consequences of his own family and the country they laid to waste.

She took consolation in knowing that she had brought him happiness, and every day she made it a point to be as dutiful to him as he had been to the ponies of the isles. She lifted a hoof and rubbed her belly, silently thankful she had found Bucky. She had seen how he was with other foals, and she had no doubt that he would claim this foal as his own. She had no fears, no worries, no concerns that her foal would be an outsider in this herd, an unwelcome foal forced to live beneath the others or without a caring father.

She sat down, settling her now widening backside down upon the planks, and she looked off to the horizon, watching the sun set upon a land she no longer called home.

 

 

A lone figure stood in the doorway, watching a trio of foals cling to one another. She was the outsider, but she had been made to feel welcome. The herd was crazy, no doubt about that, they had peculiar ideas, strange practices, but they had welcomed her in without hesitation.

“Might I come in?” Moonbow asked.

“Come and join us,” Piña said invitingly.

Moonbow crossed the room and jumped up into the small bed, came close to the trio, and settled in next to them. She folded her legs beneath her and laid down.

“You gave my brother a boner and now things are weird,” Piña said, summarising the current state of affairs in a manner reminiscent of her big sister.

Feeling self conscious, Moonbow said nothing, but looked up at Piña. She saw a pained and embarrassed expression on Sentinel’s face, and she tried to imagine what the colt must be feeling right now. She felt a pang in her heart.

“I hope you understand just how much we love him,” Dinky said.

“That is part of the reason why I am here,” Moonbow said. “Sentinel, I wanted to tell you something. Something important. I’ve made a decision.”

“And what is that?” Sentinel inquired.

“You have picked a good fight. A worthy foe. I want to join you,” Moonbow stated.

“I don’t understand,” Sentinel said in return.

“Last night, I saw the real you. I saw you for what you really are, and I felt something in my heart. When I was holding you last night, when we were looking at the stars, I started thinking about it. The way you treasure your sisters. The love and devotion you show. You had your little moment with me and you didn’t even think twice about your own needs, your first thought was how this was going to affect your sisters. That touched me,” Moonbow admitted.

Sentinel nodded and waited for Moonbow to continue.

“You are going to have a whole bunch of little brothers and sisters soon, and I don’t think you can defend them all by yourself, but I know you would try. It is what we do. We are protectors. You and I, we are not happy unless we have something to defend. It is what we are. To that end, I plan to join you in your efforts to protect this herd, this family, this tribe. And when we have foals, and we will have foals, I will raise them to be the protectors of this family. I will be the mother of a whole new type of colony, and we will have one purpose. And I hope that all of our foals, and their foals, and their foals will follow this purpose. We will raise them to understand honour and to defend our ideals, whatever we choose our ideals to be, and this family will always have worthy protectors, defenders to watch over them.” Moonbow said.

Sentinel felt himself squeezed by his sisters and he looked at Moonbow, looking her directly in the eye. “I would like that. I would like to know that my family has somepony to watch over them, and will continue to watch over them even after I am gone.”

“I want your sisters to sleep a little easier even though they can no longer sleep with you,” Moonbow stated, her eyes meeting Dinky and Piña’s.

 

 

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