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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The dining room table was still covered with dishes from lunch and two ponies were busy trying to make themselves comfortable in the library. A pile of papers was spread over a table and there was a map as well.

In the living room, a different group of ponies was sprawling out, mostly foals with a few adults. Yew was already sound asleep on the floor with Harper and Peekaboo at her sides. Loch Skimmer had her head resting upon Yew and was drifting off to sleep. Ripple was on the sofa, her eyes struggling to stay open. Beside her Piña, Dinky, and Diamond Tiara were in a pile of their own, heads drooping and conversation slowly dying as they drifted off.

Sentinel had hidden away in his cubby and enjoyed the quiet dark as he too drifted off to sleep, feeling safe and secure in his private space.

 

 

“So you want me to be your majordomo,” Mister Rich said, sitting comfortably in the library. There was a snifter of whiskey beside him on a small table.

“Is that the word for it?” Bucky questioned, curling into the chair, resting his head upon the arm, and wrapping his long tail along the side of his body as he settled in.

“Close enough for your purposes,” Mister Rich replied. “You want me to be the go between for you and city hall. You need somepony to keep an eye on the bureaucrats, keep your interests guarded, and organise everything you want done. I used to manage an empire. I have experience in it. You’re going to need an army of devoted workers.”

“Help me,” Bucky asked.

“I will,” Mister Rich replied. “Our goals are similar. I’ve been focusing on community improvement and education. Different towns have different industries. Manehatten had culture, theatre, art, and the fashion industry. Baltimare had manufacturing. A lot of furniture is made in Vanhoover because that is where the lumber industry is. I want our chief industry in Ponyville to be education. I want ponies to come here to acquire learning. I want it to be our brand. Ponies buy Manehatten fashions. Ponies seek a Ponyville education… I want this town to have a brand.”

“I like this line of thinking,” Bucky remarked, his ears perking forward a bit and his face becoming quite thoughtful.

“I was the one primarily responsible for the building of your school. I organised the refugees into labour groups. The construction has been stop and go. Right now I am pushing for a new schoolhouse but I am being ignored by the mayor. She says there is no money in the budget… what is so funny Buckminster? Why are you laughing?”

Chortling, Bucky wasn’t sure how to explain what he had done to the budget. “Oh there is money in the budget. I have… reorganised the budget. I’ll write you out a note. Drop by city hall today or tomorrow and pick up a copy. If they give you any lip, tell them my pen will begin go to work on city hall salaries next.”

“Did… did you… did you abuse your authority?” Mister Rich stammered.

“The budget was a monster that was terrorising the town. I am to do anything to keep ponies safe as part of my obligations. It is part of my royal duties. The ponies of Ponyville were threatened by the budget and there was real harm being done. I did my job,” Bucky explained in a very solemn voice.

“You… you did your accounting magic upon the budget, didn’t you?” Mister Rich inquired.

“Yeah. I did. Ruthless efficiency,” Bucky answered, nodding as he did so, his smug smile present and accounted for.

“And so now that the hard work has been done, you want me to function as a gardener to keep the weeds from creeping in and protect our mutual interests,” Mister Rich said as he lifted his whiskey snifter.

“Correct. I will see that you are paid and paid well. Assemble an army Mister Rich. Let us work on this idea of Ponyville as a brand name for education. We’ll turn out educated earth ponies, pegasi, and unicorns the same way Baltimare churns out consumer goods. Or used to,” Bucky stated.

“Public image is a concern Buckminster,” Mister Rich said. “Even if you are doing good things, ponies are going to complain if you come down too hard.”

“Princess Twilight Sparkle has told me I have the authority to come down as hard as I want right now during this period of anarchy. I am unofficially in charge of the defense of this nation just below Princess Luna. I have free reign to do anything I feel is necessary to protect and defend. To this end, Twilight Sparkle and I discussed becoming the two heads of education. Prime ministers. Department heads. She used so many big words and phrases I can’t keep up with her garble. The best defense begins with education. It is part of what keeps Equestria as a major player in the world power structure. So I will do what I need to do to make things happen by any means necessary, and you will do whatever it is you need to do to repair my public image if there are any overwhelming displays of force. I don’t plan on putting anypony in the stocks so your job shouldn’t be too hard,” Bucky explained in a slow and patient manner.

Nodding slowly and grimacing from his whiskey, Mister Rich gave Bucky a long look.

“In time, the public will begin voting for things in their own interests. If ponies are going to vote, they need to be educated so they can vote well. In time, we can soften our stance a little bit and be gentle. For now, brute force is the only thing ponies understand during this time of civil unrest,” Bucky continued.

“I understand,” Mister Rich said. “I will talk to my own public relations department. Their numbers have dwindled but the ones who are left are good at what they do.”

“Mister Rich, place advertisements in the newspaper. Put out the word that any teacher who comes to Ponyville will get an above average wage and a place to live. Make the words sound real inviting and irresistible,” Bucky instructed.

“Consider it done,” Mister Rich responded, a worried look of reservation upon his face.

 

 

Rising Star carefully explored the school. The construction wasn’t finished. The building was quite large and the wings added a lot of extra space. He heard Sparkler’s hooves upon the floor behind him. Some of the classrooms already had some desks, but not many. There were birds in the building. Windows were still needed in many places.

The fillies restroom needed a door and for the wall to be finished. Rising Star realised that he hadn’t been inside of a fillies restroom. He stuck his head through the door and looked around. Behind him, there was giggling.

He continued down a hall and came to what appeared to be an unfinished lift. There was steam pipes connected to it and he supposed that it would be steam powered once it was done. There was an indicator for four floors.

Ahead, he saw an exit to the outside. He trotted to the doors and stopped when he heard voices just outside the doors. He saw Bucky and two unicorns talking.

 

 

“How are the both of you settling in?” Bucky asked as he sat down in the grass.

“We’re good,” Witching Hour replied. “Fine. Recovering.”

Raising an eyebrow, Bucky studied the pair. “Look… I’ve been thinking… how about we make this a permanent arrangement? Stay here. I’ll have a house built. We need to start schooling the next generation. Work as teachers in between assignments. We’d be safer if we stuck together. You could finally settle down. Maybe have a foal or two.”

“A house?” Witching Hour said, her face twitching in disgust. “I am more of a tower unicorn myself. If I was to ever settle down it would be in a tower. I miss Trottingham and it’s lovely little towers. Canterlot was far too pretentious with its big towers.”

“So, build a tower. Out here near the school. Or away a bit for privacy. We’d be safer if we settled in together,” Bucky stated. He watched as Witching Hour shot a glance to Tiddlywinks.

“We would like to settle down… we want things other ponies want. A foal. Maybe two. There is no safe place,” Witching Hour said.

“This is going to to be a magic school. I need for this to become a safe place. As safe as Celestia’s school. I can’t do it on my own. You two… you two know how to keep safe. I need guardians. Capable guardians. Proven guardians. Help me,” Bucky cajoled.

“The offer is tempting,” Witching Hour said in a low voice.

“If something comes for you, we have a better chance of fighting it together,” Bucky said in a persuasive voice. “Lugus has his axe. He’s killed a banshee. I understand that such a task is very difficult.”

“Almost impossible,” Witching Hour acknowledged. “I can’t promise anything, but Winky and I will think about it. We’d like to put down roots.”

“Fantastic,” Bucky said.

 

 

Derpy and Cheerilee sat together in the park after a lunch of daisy sandwiches. The pair sat in the grass together. Other ponies were around them and the pair spoke to one another in low voices as they continued their afternoon together.

“Things have been frightening. There are these weird cults running around. Unicorn superiourity cults. Doomsday cults. Cults that want to kill all unicorns. There are ponies that want to wreck what little bit of society we have left so they can rebuild a new society. There are even a group of ponies who want to steal back control of the sun and moon. They fled from Equestria before the fall of the noble houses, went into the Badlands, and then presumably to regions beyond. There are rumours they are hiding in Saddle Arabia, far to the south. There are some things the papers won’t print because of the panic it might cause,” Cheerilee said to Derpy.

“Wow, that is kinda creepy,” Derpy stated.

“A lot of public servants have been killed. Teachers. Educators. Somepony tried to kill Mayor Mare one night. Twilight Sparkle was in Canterlot. There was a big disturbance in one of the camps. A manticore attacked the refugees. The militia moved to defend and somepony tried to kill Ivory Scroll while the militia was off fighting. I think somepony lured the manticore to the refugees as a distraction. Does this sound paranoid?” Cheerilee asked after she was done saying everything else.

“How did the mayor survive?” Derpy asked, her brows furrowed.

“Barley heard the disturbance. He was having a late night meeting with some of the camp leaders in a restaurant near the mayor’s house. He led a group of concerned citizens over to find out what the screaming was about. She had jumped out of the window and was running up the street with a strange unicorn chasing after her. I don’t know what happened exactly, but there was a fight and the unicorn teleported away,” Cheerilee replied. “Holly Dash was gravely wounded that night. She lived, but she spent a fair bit of time in the hospital. She was outclassed by the strange unicorn who had more magic. Barley ripped a street lamp out of the ground with his magic and whacked the unicorn with it to save Holly’s life, or so the story goes depending on who you ask. Other ponies say Barley smacked the unicorn with a garbage dumpster.”

“Barley hasn’t mentioned any of this,” Derpy muttered. “I wonder why he hasn’t told us?”

“He doesn’t strike me as the type to toot his own horn,” Cheerilee answered. “Or maybe he didn’t want to worry you.”

“Bucky was supposed to meet with the mayor today. I hope he doesn’t scare her or anything,” Derpy said with mild concern. “I need to be heading back. Come out to the farmhouse. Please, talk with Bucky. He needs to know these things. He can help.”

 

 

 

 

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