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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“Sentinel?” Thistle inquired gently, slowly approaching the colt in the water. She could smell fear, panic, and a number of other scents. She could also smell the source of Sentinel’s fear and panic. Her little colt was growing up. “Sentinel, please, don’t try to swim away, or I will use the water to grab you, don’t make me do it.”

She finally drew near where Sentinel was huddling down in the shallow water, sitting in water that came up to his neck. He was breathing heavily and glaring at her, angry and frightened. Thistle felt her heart breaking when she saw the hurt in his eyes.

“Tell me, what is wrong my little colt?” Thistle asked.

“I had a terrible dream where I mounted a filly and tore her throat out because I wanted to eat her,” Sentinel confessed in a frantic whisper. “She was food… but I wanted her in other ways… I was so scared. I feel so ashamed. I’m never supposed to use my teeth on another pony. Please don’t hate me mother Thistle.”

“Oh… my poor colt… I don’t hate you… sometimes creatures like us have these dreams. The grass eaters trigger our base instincts. I don’t know if I am going to be very good at talking about this, but I’ve had those kinds of dreams as well,” Thistle replied in a slow loving voice, her long fishy tail swishing in the water.

“You’ve had dreams like that?” Sentinel asked.

“Including one about Bucky, where I couldn’t help myself and I just took a little nibble. He forgave me and said he understood, patting me on the head. It was a very troubling dream, because that is probably what Bucky would actually do. It scared me terribly and I thought I was unfit to be around him and my fellow-wives. I had trouble looking them all in the eye for a while,” Thistle explained in answer.

“That was just eating… this dream I had involved… involved-”

“Oh I’ve had those sorts of dreams as well. We are what we are Sentinel. Meat eaters in the bodies of ponies. We must always guard against our instincts,” Thistle interrupted. “So who was it?”

“Oh I couldn’t tell you,” Sentinel whispered fearfully.

“If you ever want to leave this lake again, you will tell me,” Thistle said with a cheerful but willful smile. “Don’t test your mother’s patience.”

“Yes mother,” Sentinel replied, bowing his head. “It was Diamond Tiara.”

“She’s a pretty little thing. Do you share your father’s appreciation for earth ponies?” Thistle asked, her voice sweet and soothing.

“Now that you have said something, the thought is crossing my mind,” Sentinel muttered.

“She is pretty, but she also strikes me as being strong, stocky, and sturdy. She will make a good mate for you,” Thistle said, looking thoughtful as she spoke.

“With Moonbow it was necessary, but I am far too young to make these sorts of decisions,” Sentinel protested. “She’s young too. The mainlanders are different from us. She might be old enough to marry back where we came from, but that isn’t fair to her… I do kind of like her. There is something about her… how she struggles.”

“You should go back to your flying lessons,” Thistle suggested. “We will talk later. Come to me Sentinel. If you are troubled, come to me and we will talk.”

“Yes mother, I will do as you ask,” Sentinel replied.

 

 

“So how is our old home?” Lyra asked.

“There are probably tentacle monsters in the refrigerators,” Bon Bon replied.

Giggling, Lyra squeezed Harper close and lost herself for a moment in mirth.

“I suppose we need to pack up everything we want to keep and move it out here. Our little small bedroom we’ve claimed for our more private moments is about half the total size of our old apartment… I never realised how small it was,” Bon Bon said, her eyes narrowed and her brows furrowed thoughtfully. She watched Lyra holding Harper and thought about how much smaller the apartment would have felt with Harper exploring around underhoof.

“At some point, we should think about maybe letting the others watch our “more private moments” perhaps,” Lyra suggested.

“Do you think you’d be comfortable with that?” Bon Bon asked.

“I dunno… I’d like to be, but it is hard to say. Might be real hard around Bucky,” Lyra confessed in reply. She squeezed Harper again, and then began to bounce her around gently. “Berry and I flirt a bit. I feel bad for leaving Bucky out, but maybe we could ask the others to join us. But not all at once. I think I’d be overwhelmed. I still have some trouble when it is just us Bonnie.”

“I know Lyra,” Bon Bon said gently.

“So how is everypony? Did you see anypony?” Lyra questioned.

“I saw a few ponies. I stopped in and visited the Cakes. I saw Twist,” Bon Bon replied.

“How is Twist?” Lyra inquired.

“She is staying with the Cakes. Her parents went to Manehatten on business. The collapse happened. They haven’t been heard from in a long time,” Bon Bon said sadly.

“That’s not good,” Lyra said.

“She’s about the same age that Pinkie Pie was when Pinkie Pie left home, came to Ponyville, and then lived with the Cakes. I think she’ll adapt,” Bon Bon said. “Her parents were always gone anyways. They were never that close. As terrible as it sounds, I think it will make it easier.”

“Are we good parents?” Lyra asked, her voice filled with insecurity and doubt.

“I think so Lyra,” Bon Bon answered.

 

 

Looking at the map, Bucky studied the long twisting route that the train would be taking from Saddle Arabia to Ponyville. A vast section of desert, the Badlands off to one side, plenty of places for an ambush. The Macintosh Hills would have a strong potential for danger, there were a number of tunnels and canyons that seemed ideal to stop a train. Traveling along the coast of the inland sea would expose them to ships. The train would be traveling through Mustangia as it traveled along the coast of the inland sea, taking on water and fresh coal. The entire route seemed as though it would be fraught with danger.

“Why can’t we do this by airship?” Bucky asked in a demanding voice.

“Most of our navy is engaged along our borders, and many are in the Sea of Grass securing the borders with Griffonholm and the Hinterlands. Our fleet is spread thin. Also, I do not think you understand how much food is being shipped. The train is going to be several miles long. Ten engines and ten tender cars for coal,” Luna replied.

“What a nightmare. The train will literally stretch from one horizon to another,” Bucky grumbled, rubbing the withered side of his face with his stump. “This is insanity.”

“Nothing has ever been done like this before. This is a moment of engineering history. The longest train ever assembled. The heaviest load ever hauled. The food we haul will keep hundreds of thousands from dying of starvation during the winter,” Luna said, her voice full of an odd manic pride.

“Twilight and I must make sure that this train does not stop,” Bucky stated. He looked at the specification sheet. “Twenty two thousand feet long. That is over four miles in length.”

“Especially in the Macintosh Hills. If the train is halted on an incline, it will have to be thrown into reverse and pushed back to level ground in order to build up enough steam to make the climb on the second attempt,” Luna explained. “You will need at least a hundred mile stretch to build up steam to make the climb.”

“This is nuts,” Bucky grumbled.

“You will have one airship for support. A light support frigate crewed by Myrmidons,” Luna said, ignoring Bucky’s grumbling. “Pity you don’t have wings, they would be useful here. Twilight will be able to fly from one end of the train to the other. Enchant your armor so you will stick to the train and not risk falling off. You will be able to walk along the top and the sides. There will be a couple of passenger cars in the middle for your comfort.”

Looking at the map, Bucky sighed. He turned to look at Luna. This whole idea was folly. Scowling, he shook his head. “What if the track is damaged? Will the brakes on the engines even be able to stop the train?”

“We will have some unicorn engineers on the airship and the means to repair. That is why we are sending along a supply frigate,” Luna responded. Seeing Bucky’s irritation, her demeanor changed to one of commanding superiourity, and she watched as Bucky became a bit more submissive. “As for stopping, you and Twilight will be responsible for stopping the train in an emergency.”

“Sending supplies by sea is out I suppose,” Bucky said as he leaned over the map.

“Would take too long,” Luna answered.

“This is going to go badly,” Bucky mumbled. “This will all end in tears, I just know it.”

“And it is your job to make sure that it does not,” Luna demanded. “You are to keep Twilight as safe as equinely possible and you will command the Myrmidons if they require leadership for some reason.”

“Like when something goes catastrophically wrong,” Bucky groused.

“You are a type four and Twilight is an alicorn. Between the two of you, you should be able to reverse natural disasters, change the geography, alter the course of rivers, and make sure a train makes it from one point to another,” Luna snapped.

“I suck at magic, remember?” Bucky retorted, daring to talk back to his Mistress.

“You are good at killing things and finding creative solutions to impossible problems. No more whining!” Luna barked. “Plus, you are barking mad down deep in your mind. There are things in that twisted brain of yours that frighten me a great deal. If something happens and the train is lost, I at least have the satisfaction of knowing that those responsible will be dealt with in what could only be described as a waking nightmare.”

“I won’t hurt or kill other ponies,” Bucky stated defiantly.

“I am not asking you to kill other ponies, but if this mission fails and hundreds of thousands of ponies starve just because you decided to go easy on a few bandits, you will never know the end of my fury,” Luna promised.

“I understand, Mistress,” Bucky replied.

 

 

“You are to keep Buckminster contained, do you understand me Twilight?” Celestia inquired, her voice firm. “No fusing of hydrogen atoms. No demon summoning. No disintegrations,” she commanded, her eyes narrowing.

“Then why are you sending him?” Twilight asked.

“In the event that those things become necessary,” Celestia huffed. She turned her head to look at Twilight when she heard the loud gulp from across the room.

“What about me? You know… I could… I could do those sorts of things,” Twilight stammered nervously.

“Could you?” Celestia asked coldly.

“Well, theoretically,” Twilight began. She opened her mouth to say something else, her lips moved, but no words came out and she remained silent. Finally, she closed her mouth and gave up after realising she had no idea what to say.

“How is Chrysalis?” Celestia inquired.

“Chrysalis? What does she have to do with anything?” Twilight questioned in reply.

“She is still somehow alive after you went off to do battle with her,” Celestia stated. “And now, ponies in the south are being taken. Even killed. She foalnapped Sweetie Belle, Apple Bloom, and Scootaloo. She nearly destroyed the Crusader Project.”

“Well I couldn’t just kill her!” Twilight protested.

“Exactly,” Celestia stated.

“Oh… that’s not fair!” Twilight retorted angrily, her wings flared out and her legs went stiff with rage.

“I suspect that Buckminster would kill her without a moment’s hesitation,” Celestia said in a soft voice, trying to defuse Twilight’s anger. “That is the difference between the two of you. It is my hope that you never have to kill anything.”

“Do you really think he would kill her?” Twilight asked in a hesitant voice, but still angry.

“If he discovered that she captured and tortured the Cutie Mark Crusaders to lure you into battle? If he found out she hurt you and your friends?” Celestia asked. “What do you think he would do? Be honest Twilight Sparkle.”

“I… I… I suppose the Badlands... would become... heavily irradiated,” Twilight stammered. “But he is such a good pony with his family. I’ve seen him. I’ve watched him play with Harper. I don’t want to believe he would do something so horrible.”

“His own mother...” Celestia stated, falling silent, unable to finish her statement.

“I know. That bothers me. I don’t know how to deal with it,” Twilight admitted.

“I have begun to have concerns about my beloved Buckminster,” Celestia whispered. “I hope I do not lose him. Luna assures me that he can be contained. Balanced out. Held in check. But I am starting to have my doubts.”

“Maybe you shouldn’t push him so hard,” Twilight suggested.

Celestia whirled on her former student angrily and whinnied furiously.

“You pushed Sunset Shimmer too hard. You were so certain that she was going to be the Element of Magic. You hounded her. You pushed and you shoved and you never let her have a moment of peace. The strain finally got to her. And when she broke, you exiled her beyond the mirror rather than deal with and take responsibility for your own failure. What will you do with Buckminster once you’ve pushed him too far and he breaks?” Twilight said, standing her ground defiantly. “Will he go through the mirror? Would you kill him? Have me find some way of binding him or imprisoning him?”

Too furious to answer, Celestia stormed out of the meeting room, leaving Twilight Sparkle standing all alone by herself, and many unspoken words left between them.

 

 

 

 

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