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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Being a shadow creature, Moonbow felt the dawn break. She was delirious with pain. She had been hearing things in the dark. Voices of those long dead from her old colony. Laughter. Soft hisses and growls. Her fevered mind barely registered the sensation of the sun coming over the horizon. She did not hear the click of the door behind her or the soft tap of hooves.

Her bonds were released and she fell suddenly, as there was no longer anything to hold her up. She had been dangling by her collar and dock clamp for hours. Her body never hit the floor though, she was caught and held by some invisible force that cradled her gently.

She made a strangled wordless cry, kicking and struggling, her body reacting with fevered panic. She hissed feebly and gnashed her teeth, biting at the air all around her, trying to be intimidating.

“Hush now my sweet little foal… away with me to your rest… come and rest your weary head… upon my tender breast…”

The voice was soothing. It burrowed through her now awakened feral nature. The voice quieted all of the other sounds of madness Moonbow kept hearing. Her slavering jaws stopped snapping and her grunting cries ceased.

“Listen to my lullabye… find shelter from the bitter cold… I will cradle your aching neck… upon my fetlock’s fold…”

The song was mesmerising and Moonbow felt herself drifting over the ground, flying without flapping her wings. She hissed one last time and then fell silent completely. The lullabye was now a soft hum. She could feel her agonised muscles being gently rubbed by something invisible and Moonbow wondered if she was dreaming.

After floating away she was brought back to the world again when she was dunked into warm water. It was soothing all around her. She tried to focus her eyes and all she could see was something blue with silver sparkles, like stars glittering in the distant night.

“Who?” Moonbow moaned, her first somewhat coherent word.

“I am your mother,” the voice said in a smooth satin whisper.

“Mama?” Moonbow asked.

“Yes my foal… now hush my beloved foal and let me tend to you,” the voice commanded.

Moonbow tried to see, tried to make sense of what was happening, but could not. She sank back into water, now limp, her head resting upon the edge of the tub she had been placed in.

“Your mother loves you…”

Moonbow struggled to determine if she was dreaming or awake. She could no longer tell. The dreadful voices were gone. All she could hear was her mother’s humming and the soft feeling of something gently bathing her body and making all of her aches go away. She felt warm and blissful. Her pain was now gone and she felt as though she was floating away again.

“Your mother loves you…”

“Yes mama,” Moonbow mumbled.

“Good foal…”

Moonbow felt cool water at her lips. She opened her mouth and drank greedily. She choked for a moment and she felt her head lifted. She coughed and sputtered and then began to drink the water again.

“Do you want some food?”

“Yes mama,” Moonbow moaned.

“There is something your mother wants…”

“W-w-what?” Moonbow stammered. She licked her lips. Food sounded good. Food sounded very good. She felt her belly growl. Somewhere, off far away, she could smell fresh blood and it made her belly ache with hunger.

“Your mother needs help protecting all of your little brothers and sisters. Very bad things want to hurt them. Did you hear them in the dark? They will come for your brothers and sisters if you do not help me…”

“Yes mama,” Moonbow whispered.

“Good foal… your mother loves you… just like she loves all of her little foals… but your mother loves you just a little bit more because you are going to protect all of your little brothers and sisters…”

Princess Luna smiled. The rebirth of a new foal always filled her with hope for a better future. Now that she was back, her Myrmidons had their mother again. Celestia had done all that she could, but Celestia did not have dominion over the creatures of the night and was never able to truly bond with the lunar pegasi in the way that Luna could.

 

 

Rising Star moved through the private gardens, following a stone path. It wasn’t long after dawn. He had been told that Princess Celestia herself had requested a meeting with him, and now he was hurrying off to find her. He moved along the cobblestone path with purpose.

Sure enough, as he had been told, there was a massive stone spire with steps spiraling up along the sides. He mounted the steps and took them several at a time, the vigor of his youth allowing for reckless exertion and abandon.

He rounded the final steps near the top and he paused for a moment when he saw her. She was beautiful, standing face first towards the sun. From up here, he could see all of Canterlot and even the surrounding countryside far below.

“Do not be shy,” Celestia greeted warmly. “I wanted to talk to you.”

Rising Star took the last few steps and joined Celestia upon the platform.

“No titles, no formality, let us speak to one another as we are,” Celestia said. “Do you know what we are?” she inquired.

“Ponies?” Rising Star replied.

“Yes, we are ponies, but that is not the answer I wanted from you,” Celestia said, her voice filled with a soft faint laughter.

“I don’t know,” Rising Star said.

As he watched, Celestia transformed before him. Fire burned from her eyes. Her delicate pastel rainbow mane and tail turned into a blazing curtain of plasma. Her whole body became engulfed in flame. The heat caused the rock to sizzle all around them, and Rising Star realised he was on fire as well.

“We are living flame. Few are as dangerous as we are,” Celestia said, her voice a roaring furnace. “It feels good letting it out, does it not?” she asked.

Rising Star nodded. It did feel good. He was on fire again and all of his repressed rage was burning away from him. He allowed himself to blaze a little brighter. “Bucky was able to subdue me,” Rising Star said. “I don’t know how dangerous I am,” he added.

“Buckminster’s real magic is a special type of entropy. The cold he brings is caused  by how he leaches heat from everything around him. If he understood what he was truly capable of, he could go on to do even greater things,” Celestia said, her voice sounding like a forest fire. “He could draw heat and energy from all around him and convert it to his own energy. You and I burn energy. Buckminster leaches energy. He is our anathema. I suspect that when he subdued you, he extinguished your fires.”

“It was like he sucked me dry,” Rising Star said.

The burning alicorn nodded. “Buckminster has the sort of magic that makes stars burn out and stop blazing. It is what causes things to cease their movements and go still. It is the force that tries to make the universe grind to a halt. Do you understand?”

“I am not sure that I do,” Rising Star said, shrugging his shoulders.

Celestia studied the young colt standing beside her. Very few could stand by her side when she was ignited. It was nice to have another pyromancer to spend time with.

“Am I an abomination?” Rising Star asked.

Cocking her head, Celestia regarded Rising Star carefully, trying to read his expression and guess his emotions based upon the state of his flames. “No,” she said in a soft crackling voice that sounded like blazing kindling. “No you are not. You are living up to your potential. Buckminster has undone whatever quirk of fate that was holding you back. In time, I hope he will be able to do the same for others.”

The blazing pair both stared off into the direction of the sun, silence settling over the two of them for a moment. Rising Star shifted his stance, settling his weight over to his left hooves. It felt good to burn and let it all out.

“Our rage is a danger to all those around us. A while ago, I let my rage get the better of me. Too much of it overpowered me and my control slipped for just a mere moment. I vapourised the fortified compound of those who dared to attack me and incinerated my attackers. I intended to subdue them. I made a terrible mistake and many died. Even more died when Luna and Cadance showed up and thought my mistake was an example,” Celestia said to Rising Star.

“That’s awful,” Rising Star said.

“It is. It was. They were misbehaving, but I still love my little ponies even when they are being a little naughty,” Celestia replied.

“But they hurt you…” Rising Star said.

“Does that excuse me?” Celestia asked.

“Well, no, I guess not… I don’t understand,” Rising Star muttered.

“You have the power to reduce a pony that hurts you to cinders in the blink of an eye. Do I need to worry about you hurting one of my little ponies if they misbehave?” Celestia inquired.

“No!” Rising Star said quickly. “If you recall during the treaty signing I was trying to keep everything calm.”

“I do recall. Which is why we are here talking now. I know how angry you are. I want to see if I can help you,” Celestia said.

“I just need time to heal,” Rising Star said.

“That is not enough,” Celestia responded. “Does anything make you feel better?”

“Well, I feel better when I am working with metal. It calms everything down and keeping the steel in a liquid state allows me to burn off my anger,” Rising Star said, trying to guess what Celestia wanted to hear.

“This is good. I will see that you are set up with a forge that is well stocked and well supplied. You will make me things. You willtame those fires and keep them in check because you are a good pony and you love your family,” Celestia said, her mouth a roaring blast furnace.

“If I am making you things, I expect to be paid. I have three wives and you wouldn’t believe what two pegasi and a unicorn can eat in a single meal. After standing on her front hooves for a few hours, Ripple can clear a table in no time. Loch Skimmer eats like she does everything else in life. She holds nothing back. Sparky’s magic bleeds her dry. So yes, I will tame these fires, but first, I need to have my worries relieved so I can breathe a little easier and not be so stressed out,” Rising Star replied in a surprisingly strong and authoritative tone of voice.

“You will be paid fairly for your services. Buckminster is a prince. He is entitled to a royal stipend, some of which will be distributed to you as a member of his family. You see to it that my little ponies safe, well protected, and your skill as a smith continuously improves. I will see to it that you are provided for,” Celestia offered.

“Deal,” Rising Star said.

 

 

Derpy yawned and gently pulled Sentinel close. She kissed him softly and stroked his side as she cuddled him in the bed. It had been a rough night for him and Derpy hoped that she could console him somehow.

“Mother, I think I understand you better now,” Sentinel said in a soft whisper, hoping to not wake his father, who was still sound asleep.

“Hmm?” Derpy murmured, making an inquisitive noise in response.

“When father went off to battle… when he had to endure what we went through… I think I understand the worry you felt,” Sentinel said.

“Aw…” Derpy gasped. She hugged her foal a little tighter and watched as Berry Punch opened her eyes.

“Worried about Moonbow?” Berry said just before breaking into a yawn.

“Yes,” Sentinel said in a pained whimper.

Wiggling her head closer and flopping her body around, Berry maneuvered herself to plant a kiss on Sentinel’s nose. She lay there snoot to snoot with Sentinel, looking him in the eye, occasionally glancing into Derpy’s eyes.

With her chin pressed to the top of Sentinel’s head, Derpy looked at Berry Punch’s worried face. “They are going to teach her everything she needs to know to help keep all of us safe. They are going to teach her how to read and write. She might become a doctor like Grimglammer or something wonderful. She is going to learn how to fly and do amazing things. She is going to learn how to wear heavy armor. Do you remember how heavy that helmet was?”

Sentinel made a small whimper of agreement but said nothing.

“When you begin your lessons with Luna and the other lunar pegasi, I want you to think about everything that Moonbow is giving up so she can learn how to protect us. She probably won’t be getting things like ice cream or cookies or rootbeer. You love rootbeer Sentinel… now that you have had it, imagine not getting it. So every time your lessons get tough, you think about what Moonbow is having to endure and you stick it out,” Berry Punch said in a soft whisper.

“I will,’’ Sentinel promised.

 

 

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