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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“So how much did you erase? How much did you cut away? I suppose it was for his own good, or at least you will make a very convincing argument to that end, as you always do.”

Standing just at the edge of the steps, Celestia did not turn around to face Buckminster, who was sitting behind her, right where he had been when she had arrived. His voice was angry and carried with it a subtle undertone of frustration.

“I did what needed to be done,” Celestia replied in a low whisper. “I suppose you sensed what I was doing when it happened.”

“Of course I did,” Bucky replied. “Enchantment and transmutation are my bread and butter. I could feel the enchantment magic in the air. You know… a less understanding father might take offense to you messing with the minds of his foals.”

Hearing the icy edge of anger in Buckminster’s voice, Celestia felt a faint prickle of fear.

“I suppose there was a lot at stake and things that needed protecting,” Bucky said in cold voice. “We’re not so different, you and I. We both do… things. When you do… things, you can excuse them for the “greater good.” When I do… things, it is because I am playing to win or simply being a pragmatist. Right and wrong no longer seem relevant to me. I have discovered that I can live with myself after what I’ve done. Thankfully, out of the both of us, at least one of us has the “greater good” in mind.”

Biting her lip, Celestia choked back an angry retort. She chewed on her lip, her anger causing the temperature around her to rise, and then she tasted blood in her mouth. Tears stung her eyes. Buckminster’s cynicism and bitterness cut deep, made her angry, and hurt her far more than she would ever dare confess.

“So what were you protecting?” Bucky asked.

Taking a deep breath, Celestia tried to calm herself. She turned to face Buckminster and looked him in the eye. “I planted the acorn that would eventually become Thelesignus,” she said. “I was a filly. A tiny tiny filly. And I was given the acorn as a test. I was told to plant it where it would do the most good. I chose to plant it in the Everfree, not too far from the castle where I spent my years as a filly. I could have placed it in a private garden for my own amusement, but I chose to plant it so it would keep the Everfree, which has always been dangerous, in check. For over a thousand years, I have nurtured that tree and kept it safe.”

“So I am guessing that something went on that was a bit more than Rising Star eating some acorn,” Bucky said in a low accusing whisper that was thick with contempt.

“Yes,” Celestia admitted in a guarded voice, feeling another hot flash of anger towards Buckminster and the fact that he of all ponies might judge her for her actions.

“I can’t help you protect what you hold dear if you keep me in the dark,” Bucky responded.

“You chose the darkness,” Celestia said and then vanished.

Staring at the blank space where Celestia had just been standing, Bucky heaved a sigh of frustration. He understood the necessity, but resented the intrusion. He cursed, grumbling to himself, and then decided that it was time to go inside for the evening.

 

 

“You know, I am not sure what to think about you liking my brother,” Dinky said in a low voice. “I mean, I don’t hold it against you or anything, and I don’t want you to stop liking him, I just don’t know what to think about it.”

“He’s different,” Diamond Tiara admitted.

“He pounced you. I’ve never seen him act so silly… I think that is as close as he’s come to being playful,” Piña commented.

“Sentinel is kinda… I dunno…” Dinky began, and then faded off when she couldn’t figure out what to say or how to finish her statement.

“He’s noble. He’s chivalrous. I mean, he let us drag him to the tea party and doll him up, and patiently sat there while we robbed him of his dignity. He could have screamed at us or even fought back, but he was just so kind,” Diamond Tiara said.

“Sentinel is a good pony,” Ripple said, looking up from her book and speaking to the younger fillies. “He is what more colts should be.”

“So you think he likes me?” Diamond Tiara asked in a worried voice.

“He pounced you. We can assume that he likes you. Or has an interest in you,” Ripple stated in a carefully worded response.

“I really want him to like me,” Diamond Tiara said.

“You just want a colt to like you,” Piña teased.

“Well, yeah, but not just any colt… I’m picky. I wouldn’t want Snips or Snails liking me,” Diamond Tiara responded.

“Oh gross, Snips eats paste and likes it,” Dinky groaned.

“And Snails always smells like sour milk for some reason,” Piña muttered. “Yuck.”

“Snails always has a boogery snoot,” Dinky said with a shudder. “When he breathes, sometimes there are snot bubbles that grow and shrink as he breathes in and out.”

“EEEEW!” Diamond Tiara squealed. “I know what you are talking about… I used to tease him about it… I still want to tease him about it… we shouldn’t be making fun of them now…”

“You’re right,” Piña agreed, looking guilty.

“Funny how easy it is to do something awful,” Dinky remarked, her ears drooping down low as she slumped over and sighed once done speaking.

“Do you think Moonbow will kill me?” Diamond Tiara asked.

“Maybe… but she wants Sentinel to find another pony or two to have a herd with. I miss Moonie,” Piña replied. She heaved a fillyish sigh of longing and looked sad for a moment.

“Oh I don’t know about all of that later… I just want to get to know Sentinel now,” Diamond Tiara explained in a nervous voice.

“You’re hot to trot for my brother,” Dinky said, shoving Diamond Tiara over on the bed.

“Just a little, but I don’t want to think about marriage and adult stuff… I just… I dunno, want a special somepony,” Diamond Tiara admitted. “But Sentinel is engaged to be married. Which is weird. He is somepony else’s special somepony and I feel like I am intruding on something.”

“This whole family is weird. I call my sister my mother,” Piña retorted.

“And Piña Colada is actually my aunt… I think,” Dinky added.

“Princess Luna is our Godmother,” Ripple said, her face hidden behind her book.

“Rising Star, our big brother, got sent to Tartarus for something,” Dinky said.

“And our daddy had to go to Tartarus to rescue him,” Piña continued.

“Both of them got wing slapped silly by Princess Celestia,” Ripple contributed.

“I wonder if daddy scared the demons down in there?” Piña asked.

“If they’re not scared, they’re dumb dumb stupid heads. They should be afraid,” Dinky replied in a very foalish sounding voice.

“Your family is kinda weird,” Diamond Tiara interjected. She rolled over on the bed and propped her head up on her front hooves, resting her chin on both of them.

“Yeah, well, if you are interested in my brother, you have to take all of us with him. You’ll be a weirdo too,” Dinky said, flopping over on Diamond Tiara’s side and using her back as a pillow.

“I don’t want to marry him… I just want a special somepony,” Diamond Tiara whined.

“Sentinel only understands duty, honour, and obligation. If you show an interest in him, he is going to court you. Probably following the instructions for courtly behaviour found in one of these officer manuals that we have to read. If you get him to like you and then let him go, you are going to crush his heart. Don’t hurt my little brother’s heart,” Ripple explained, her last words a clear warning to the other pink earth pony filly in the room that was not named after an alcoholic beverage.

“I hurt him once. I don’t want to do it again. I just want a special somepony, so why does this have to be complicated?” Diamond Tiara said fretfully.

“Nothing is ever simple for Sentinel,” Piña responded. “Everything has rules. Meaning. He tried to explain it to me once. He called it virtue and something else.”

“I’m not ready to figure out my life and to try and be an adult. I’ve made a mess of my foalhood. Why does everything have to be so hard? Why can’t anything just be easy for me like it used to be?” Diamond Tiara whined, her voice almost squeaking from emotion as her ears splayed out sideways. “Nothing makes sense anymore. I’ve become an outsider. Hardly anypony likes me. Hardly anypony trusts me. I keep making mistakes when I am really trying to be good and ponies just think I am acting and when I do make mistakes I get punished extra bad because of what I have done in the past. And I finally meet a colt that doesn’t immediately hate me and he’s complicated.”

“Nothing easy is worth having,” Ripple said, lifting her face up out of her book to look at the troubled earth pony filly.

“I don’t understand,” Diamond Tiara replied, the first few tears now beginning to fall.

“I want to become a knight just like Sentinel wants to become a knight. My whole life finally makes sense now. I have purpose. I have direction. But if I want to be the very best sort of knight I am capable of being, I’ve got to have my snoot bloodied regularly. I’ve got to take my lumps from Lugus. I have to test myself every single day. Right now, I am covered in bruises, lumps, bumps, and there is a tiny crack in one of my back hooves that is just killing me right now. And tomorrow, he is probably going to thump the fire out of me again. One day, all of this is going to be worth it. One day, all of this training is going to pay off. Like Lugus, one day, I am going to meet my banshee. And when that day comes, I will not hesitate, I will not freeze, I will not falter, and the lives of everypony around me that is depending on me to do the right thing… I will do the right thing. I will come through. I will not fail. Reaching that point is not going to be easy. I am going to have to bleed for it. There is going to be a lot of lumps. Lugus takes a great deal of satisfaction in lump stacking, hitting already lumpy places and making them lumpier. It hurts so bad… and I love him for it.”

“Funny to hear you say all of that, seeing as how your father used to beat you,” Piña said in a quiet voice that was full of confusion. She leaned over and rested her head on Dinky’s side, making herself comfortable.

“Lugus loves me and wants what is best for me. And I trust him to do the right thing. If I am seriously hurt, I mean really hurt, he stops right away, picks me up, and holds me while I am bawling my girly little eyes out. And I trust him completely. But if I want to face my banshee, I am going to have to do things the hard way and take my lumps,” Ripple explained.

“You are only a couple of years older than I am. You’re married. You have your whole life figured out. I am not even sure how I am going to face the next year of school. You seem to like pain and lumps. You scare me just a little bit with how much of your life you have together,” Diamond Tiara said to Ripple as she sniffled and wiped her nose with her foreleg.

“If you want your life to be better, make it happen. Pony up. Dedicate yourself to a cause. Take your lumps. So everypony hates you because of what you did. So what? Dedicate yourself to those who are your friends now and everypony else can go get stuffed. Just take a direction and go with it. You stick with us, and we stick with you, because that is how we are in this tribe. My father, my real father, Bucky, he just went to Tartarus ready to go to war to rescue his son and my husband from that horrible place. You stick with us and I know for a fact that he will do the same for you. You stick with us and I will call you sister. But if you toy with my brother, if you string him along and break his heart, you will get a detailed blow by blow explanation of what my cutie mark means,” Ripple said. When she was done speaking, she lowered her face back down into her officer’s training manual and continued to read quietly to herself.

Trembling, Diamond Tiara did not know how to reply and fell silent after hearing Ripple’s words. She didn’t know anything about causes, or dedication, or even what her direction was. When she was little, she wanted to be a princess. A lady. She had a grand dream of elegance and nobility, and not long after, her cutie mark had appeared. Her father had called her his precious little Diamond Dazzle and the name Tiara had been tacked on after her cutie mark had manifested. She hadn’t even worn her tiara in months. It seemed so useless now, and she was teased for wearing it now that she was alone and at the bottom of the herd structure.

Her thoughts, fears, and worries were all interrupted when Piña smacked her in the head with a pillow, knocking her over and completely ruining her concentration. Before she could protest, she was slammed with another pillow held in a magic glow.

For a moment, everything was smiles and laughter, until somepony threw a pillow at Ripple.

Ripple’s cutie mark was all about war, and pillows were a weapon.

 

Author's Note:

So... just what was Celestia doing when she was out visiting Zecora... any guesses?

I was going to say something about typos, but I can't seem to remember what it was.

Writing the part about Diamond Tiara was surprisingly difficult. I actually wrote the sleepover scene almost a week ago and I have been editing the crap out of it for a while now. I wanted Diamond Tiara to be a bit whiny and confused, but I didn't want to make her a brat and be unlikeable. I don't actually know if I hit my mark or not. So I am exceedingly nervous about this chapter. I've been obsessively carving out and rehashing this conversation for quite some time now and I really don't know if I like it, but if I don't post it, then the story grinds to a halt. I can no longer fixate on perfection. The story must progress.

 
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