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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Pushing open the door, Bucky and Lyra returned to the Royal Suite after their meeting with Witching Hour and Tiddlywinks. Much to Bucky’s surprise, Twilight Sparkle was sitting on a sofa and playing with Peekaboo. He paused just inside the door and wondered what was going on, and his eye went around the room looking for clues.

“Hi there, I was just dropping off some manipulation shoes,” Twilight said when she saw Bucky. She smiled and began to rock Peekaboo.

“They're not actually shoes,” Ripple said with a very confused look upon her face.  

“Well, they used to be iron horseshoes, but really, what else can you call them?” Twilight responded with a grin.

“They’re stickers,” Piña said matter-of-factly.

“I stepped in goop,” Loch Skimmer said.

“It is a thin bio-thaumaturgical film that is artificial in nature. It gets absorbed into the hoof and remains there for a year to eighteen months, and provides a minor near field magic that allows for manipulation,” Twilight droned, reciting these facts from memory.

“I keep feeling like I am sticking to the floor,” Ripple grumbled.

“Well, let go of the floor,” Twilight Sparkle said helpfully.

“Thank you Twilight, I am sure it was difficult to procure these during these troubled times,” Bucky said graciously.

“Oh, I had to make these myself. I did it late at night when I couldn’t sleep. The factories that make these are no longer functioning. Manipulation shoes are in short supply. There are quite a few of the really bad ones around. The ones that barely even work,” Twilight replied. “Cheap knockoffs that sometimes mess up your hooves and make them rot. Stupid Flim Flam Industries…”

“How are these made?” Piña inquired.

“Well, there are factories in the big cities, like Baltimare, and unicorns go to these factories and they sit down in a government regulated comfortable chair. Then something is slipped over their horn and all they have to do is sit there for three hours. Then, there is the government mandated lunch break, they are fed at the expense of the Crown, and then it is back to work for three more hours, sitting in the chair wearing something on their horn. They’re free to talk to one another or even play games with the unicorn sitting next to them,” Twilight answered.

“They’re milked like cows?” Piña responded in a startled voice.

“Well, no… uh, well, yes actually, I suppose they are. The device goes over their horns and their magic is harnessed and used to make the shoes. And a number of other items, some of them arcano-tech in nature. For many type one unicorns, it is how they make a living. They’re not particularly magical, but what little magic they do have can be harnessed. Quite a few type twos do this for a living as well because it really is a good way to make bits, especially if you are not educated because you never finished school. It doesn’t hurt them and many of them find the experience quite pleasurable. Plus, they know that what little bit of magic they have is being used to help others,” Twilight explained.

“There are some shoes on an activator pad for both of you,” Bon Bon said helpfully to Bucky and Lyra.

Bucky finally moved away from the door, eased himself into a chair, and then leaned upon the table. Lyra went and sat on the sofa with Bon Bon, and the pair exchanged a quick kiss.

“How did your meeting go?” Twilight asked.

“Is this something we should talk about around everypony else?” Bucky replied.

Shrugging, Twilight focused on Bucky and set Peekaboo down. “I just wanted to know how the meeting went, that’s all. No need for details,” Twilight stated.

“I am a bit bothered by the idea of magical licensing,” Bucky said, turning his head towards Twilight. “Seems like unicorn backlash.”

Sighing, Twilight’s wings fluttered as she began to formulate a response. “This isn’t as bad as it sounds. Type ones will not even need a license. Not enough magic to be of concern. Type twos will require a permit. Type threes and above will require a license. Let’s be honest, magic is too dangerous. It needs some regulation. My plan, as it currently, stands, is to let all of the current adult unicorns go unlicenced. The license will be optional, but not required. If they commit an offense, they will be punished to the fullest extent that the new laws will allow. So it will be in their best interests to get a license and comply. Minor spellcasting and cantrips are allowed, it is only deep magic and dangerous magic that I wish to regulate. To this end, all unicorns when they graduate magic school,  they will have a license upon graduation, just like all pegasi who attend flight camp. No flying without a license,” Twilight explained. “So the current generation of unicorns will be grandfathered. Sort of. Life will go on as usual, but if they do something destructive or harmful, they will receive no mercy or leniency if they are unlicensed. The next generation will grow up knowing the laws and the regulations, and it will not be a problem.”

“That seems fair,” Lyra said, her face thoughtful.

“You mean I can’t fly?” Loch asked incredulously.

“Not without a license, no,” Twilight replied.

“We will need to get you a learner’s permit,” Derpy said.

“But I can fly just fine,” Loch Skimmer argued.

“If another pegasus is in your flight path, and both of you are heading right for one another, which way do you bank to turn to get out of the way?” Twilight asked.

“I suppose I’d go left,” Loch answered.

“What if that pegasus goes left too?” Twilight questioned.

“Oh…” Loch said slowly, coming to a realisation after a few moments of thinking.

“Right?” Ripple said helpfully, trying to come to her sister’s rescue.

“Actually, both pegasi are required to bank right so there is no confusion. I had to learn this after I got my wings,” Twilight said.

“I actually lost my flight license for a while,” Derpy admitted. “I was only allowed to fly while I was working so I could do my job. Six months of walking except for when I was at work.”

“So unicorns need licenses, pegasi need licences, what about earth ponies?” Loch Skimmer inquired, looking around the room.

“Wagon and cart licenses,” Berry said. “I have mine. Class four. Extra heavy load bearing class. I can pull the big ones. I can do so safely and without risk to others. It actually takes a lot of skill to pull a heavy wagon. You have to stop sooner, you have to be careful about corners, going up hills, going down hills, lots of ponies could be hurt with a runaway wagon. Pull a wagon without a license and you will get fined.”

“Pegasi need chariot and sky wagon licenses,” Derpy said.

“Unicorns need a licence to pull a wagon as well,” Twilight said.

“Hmm,” Loch Skimmer said to herself as she became thoughtful.

“Will I need a magic license?” Piña inquired as she trotted near Twilight Sparkle and looked up. The earth pony foal lifted a hoof and looked at it curiously, her brow furrowing as she continued to wonder how to make her magic activate.

“Yes Piña, you will. I’ve heard about your magic. I am very curious about you. There are some ponies I want for you to meet, I think they have magic as well. There is a lot of testing that needs to be done… The Pie sisters, Pinkie Pie and Maud Pie, I strongly suspect that like you, they have a working thaumaturgical nervous system and the means to generate mana. I have long wondered about Pinkie Pie’s powers, and I think we are close to finding an answer,” Twilight replied.

“I suppose pegasi need a license for weather work as well?” Loch Skimmer asked.

“Yes,” Twilight answered. “They get that when they finish flight camp. It is optional.”

“So you mean to tell me, earth ponies and pegasi needed licenses for the common everyday sorts of things they did, but unicorns had no restrictions?” Thistle asked.

“Correct. I intend to try and level out the system so it is fair,” Twilight stated.

“What about my water shaping?” Thistle asked.

“Before I can answer that, I’d need to study you and how your magic works,” Twilight replied. “I am actually very curious about you Thistle. You have strong magic without having a horn. Fascinating stuff.”

“I just want to go for a swim,” Thistle said in a heartbroken voice.

“Be patient Thistle, you have a surprise coming,” Twilight responded, hoping to make the depressed kelpie feel a little better.

 

 

Keeping a wary eye upon his hunter, Bucky watched as Peekaboo stalked him. Every time he looked at her, she would freeze in place. Bucky was quite amused at the sight. She kept her face covered with her forelegs and used her back legs to push her over the stone floor, her hindquarters shoved up high in the air and her chin resting upon the ground as she kicked forward. Bucky was sprawled out on the floor and the cool stone tiles felt good against his skin. His pelt kept him warm. Maybe too warm.

“No see me,” Peekaboo announced as she moved closer, her face covered by her forelegs and her little wings were flapping.

Smiling, Bucky understood. Peekaboo could not be seen if she could not see you. It was a perfectly logical assumption on Peekaboo’s part. He looked up at Derpy and saw she was busy brushing Dinky.

“Nopony knows who I are,” Peekaboo whispered as she continued to creep up on Bucky.

“I could have swore I heard something,” Bucky said as he looked off in a different direction away from Peekaboo.

The foal froze and sucked in a deep breath in panic, realising she could be heard even though she could not be seen. Peekaboo peered out at her prey from between her forelegs and waited for him to look someplace else.

Bucky glanced out of the corner of his eye. Peekaboo was close now. Just close enough for him to snatch. He waited just a moment longer, hoping she would edge just a little closer. He flexed his fetlock and made himself ready.

Moving swiftly and suddenly, Bucky snatched the foal who was creeping up on him. Peekaboo squealed, a piercing cry, and Bucky panicked. He pulled her close and immediately tried to comfort her.

“I didn’t mean to scare you, I’m sorry baby,” Bucky cooed. “Oh please don’t cry.”

“Not scared,” Peekaboo said.

“You’re not?” Bucky asked. He looked around him, aware of so many eyes. He heard the rustle of newspapers being folded and set down. For a moment, he looked at Lugus, who was trying to teach the many intricacies of chess to Ripple. Derpy was smiling at him as she continued to brush Dinky.

“Was playing,” Peekaboo said as she relaxed into Bucky’s embrace.

“I was worried that I scared you,” Bucky said. “I did snatch you suddenly and I am kinda scary looking… you screamed. I get nervous when foals scream.”

Peekaboo looked up with adoration in her eyes. “Not scary,” she murmured. “Mama told me story. Booty and Beast.”

“Booty and the Beast?” Bucky gently inquired as he nuzzled the foal he was holding. He didn’t bother trying to correct Peekaboo. He understood what she was really trying to say.

“Yeah. Booty and Beast. Beast scary. Scared Booty. But she love him. Kiss him. Make Beast not scary. Happy ever after,” Peekaboo explained in a lispy foalish voice. She reached up with her head and kissed Bucky softly on the cheek. “See, no scary no more.”

Bucky felt a lump rapidly growing in his throat. He squeezed Peekaboo gently. “Which mama told you this story?” Bucky asked, the question forming in his mind when he realised that Yew Wood couldn’t read yet.

Pointing at Berry Punch, Peekaboo smiled. “That mama,” she answered.

Looking Berry Punch in the eye, Bucky smiled. He didn’t know what to say, but he knew that some thanks were in order. He felt another slobbery kiss on his cheek and tears began to sting at his eye.

 

 

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