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 city of Baah-Rein. The city of Sheep Stop in some old tongue. Aside from ponies and the much taller Saddle Arabians, there were sheep everywhere, baahing and bleating away, and Bucky suddenly missed Berry Punch more than ever. Smiling to himself, he realised that with a little effort on his part, he could make Berry Punch fit right in here.

There were a fair number of unicorns here, a few pegasi, and the occasional earth pony. Type one unicorns seemed to be everywhere, and Bucky wondered where they came from and why they were here. He wondered if they immigrated down here to feel special, being away from the type twos and type threes of Equestria. Any sort of magic was useful down here, where the Saddle Arabians had no magic.

Most of the unicorns wore collars, indicating that they were owned.

Bucky didn’t like this. Not at all.

Saddle Arabia didn’t keep slaves, not in the traditional sense, but they had a culture of pets. It was a culture that encouraged ownership over what you adored. The males seemed pampered and the unicorns actually looked a bit fat all things considered. Most of them were pulled around the streets in drawn hackneys pulled by earth ponies or goats.

 

 

The hummus was fantastic and Bucky was glad he had learned the seemingly simple recipe for its creation. He was currently licking out the bowl of hummus and listening to Twilight Sparkle clearing her throat. He knew why she was clearing her throat. It was because he had his head inside of the hummus bowl. He simply didn’t care and was ignoring her. The Saddle Arabian ponies had no magic and they ate without silverware. Bucky felt that he was fitting right in just fine.

Finally, he heard Twilight sigh and give up. When there was no more hummus, Bucky moved on to a dish of slivered cucumbers in yogurt, filled with little green leaves which seemed like mint and something else, Bucky wasn’t sure what.

“I see you are enjoying the khyar bi laban,” Twilight said in a low embarrassed voice.

Lifting his yogurt covered muzzle from the bowl, Bucky smiled. “It’s delicious!” he cried and then stuffed his head back down into the wooden bowl, slurping and smacking away on his food.

“Such a simple dish really… cucumbers, yogurt, garlic, and different types of mint,” Twilight mused. “All things we eat in Equestria, but this dish is unlike anything we prepare for ourselves.” The princess watched her companion gorging himself on food and felt mildly disgusted. Her table manners weren’t always perfect, but at least she knew when to make the attempt, like in diplomatic situations. Buckminster was just barbaric. She shuddered and felt the corner of her eye twitch in alarm, the coming storm of worry just on the horizon.

“Save some room for fattoush. The bread salad is delicious. I do hope they bring out the abakadoo ma' taheena soon, that’s avocados and other stuff,” Twilight announced. She tried to ignore the fact that Buckminster was sucking in khyar bi laban through pursed lips, and making the most obscene sounding slurping sounds in the process. It almost sounded like the wet sloppy sounds of muddy ghosts crawling through the air ducts-

“Once I have The Scorned Mare again I’m coming back here for the food,” Bucky announced around a mouthful of yogurt and cucumbers, completely derailing Twilight’s train of thought.

Twilight began to have worrisome thoughts about eyebrows. Angry eyebrows slowly raising. Her mood manifested in her mane, and a single split end poinked into existence. Her father and his raised eyebrows. It hadn’t been ghosts at all, but Shining Armor and Cadance. Wrestling.

No… not wrestling

There was entirely too much pressure upon Twilight Sparkle, getting the train back home in one piece was really starting to weigh upon her mind. She could only imagine her father’s look of disapproval if she failed. He might raise his eyebrow again. Or her mother might take away Twilight’s most prized possessions, her library card. How would it look if the town librarian lost her library card? Not good. Not good at all. The corner of Twilight’s mouth twitched and several more hairs in her mane sproinked up alarmingly. Suddenly her appetite was gone. Gone. Like her library card would be if she failed. Gone like her dignity when her father raised his thick hairy eyebrow at her. Gone like her sanity would be if she was sent back to magical kindergarten.

And the sounds of Bucky’s slurping flooded her mind with the memories of the night she had hidden under Shining Armor’s bed trying to hide from the ghosts. And she had discovered what Shining Armor and Cadance were really doing.

Twilight snapped to attention when there was a slight pressure upon her nose. She focused, trying to see what had happened, and she realised she had been booped. Buckminster had nose booped her and left behind an enormous dollop of khyar bi laban. Twilight, a princess of Equestria, was sitting there, stupidly staring cross eyed at a giant blob of khyar bi laban plastered to the end of her snoot. Several more split ends manifested, each accompanied by a faint sound like somepony plucking strings on a cello or a violin. Magic manifested in strange ways, often comical ways, and magical insanity was no different.

Bad manners. Bad manners. Buckminster needed that raised eyebrow. Buckminster needed his library card taken away. Buckminster needed to go back to magical kindergarten.

A reedy wavering laugh escaped Twilight’s lips. If something went wrong, she would blame Buckminster and they would both go back to magical kindergarten together. She would make certain of it. A worrisome thought occured. What if Buckminster got the gold stars she was entitled to? She couldn’t let that happen. No. She needed those gold stars to validate her existence. She was just going to have to show him what she was capable of. Twilight Sparkle giggled, and for a brief moment, it lapsed into a cackle.

 

 

The train was impossibly long. Over twenty two thousand feet in length. It stretched from one horizon to another. Ten engines of a fairly recent design teamed with ten tender cars. Each engine had four driving wheels connected with heavy duty coupling rods on each side, or eight wheels total providing pull. The cars were all of an enclosed design, not open air bin cars like Bucky was used to seeing. There were a few passenger cars in the middle of the train.

The past week of travel and relaxation had been surprisingly pleasant and just what Bucky needed. He missed his wives terribly, but he was managing, and he found that he rather liked Twilight’s company, even if she had lost her mind just a tiny bit the other night during dinner.

Bucky did get the distinct impression that he wasn’t the only pony with questionable sanity.

He settled into the passenger car, determined to enjoy as much of his trip as possible. His armor was at the ready. There were high calorie snacks stationed around the train that could be conjured up if needed. A whistle blew, and there were several loud cries.

Many were worried that the train wouldn’t be able to move.

Another whistle blew, and then another, and then horns blared. A shudder was felt in the passenger cars. The train vibrated, it seemed to almost shiver with anticipation and Bucky found himself shivering with it. Cold chills ran down his spine. He was part of history with this train.

He felt somewhat excited. He wasn’t too sure about going down in the history books as a royal, but escorting this train was a worthy accomplishment that he didn’t mind taking credit for.

“Think it will move?” Bucky asked his companion.

“Yeah,” Twilight grunted in reply. “The wheels will spin a bit on the rail and when they get hot, they’ll get traction.”

“Think we’ll have trouble?” Bucky inquired.

“Almost certainly. But from who is anypony’s guess,” Twilight answered. “Changelings, mirror travelers, bandits, saboteurs, cultists, ponies who hate Equestria, unicorn superiourity groups, could be anypony.”

“Well, I’m ready,” Bucky said. “This might sound odd, but I am actually spoiling for a fight. Or at least something exciting. I’ve been bored out of my mind since returning to Equestria.”

“You sound like a pegasus I know,” Twilight muttered. “I miss my friends.”

“I miss my family,” Bucky whispered.

“The idea of having a family scares me,” Twilight admitted. “I don’t know if I can do it. The idea of being responsible for all those lives frightens me.” She looked around as the train lurched again and then gave a soft smile. “Any moment now,” she announced.

And then, with a screech of metal, the train lurched again and moved a scant inch forward. The passenger cars were two miles away from the engines and two miles away from the rear of the train, where there was a little caboose for comfort. With a herky jerky motion, the train began to move, the metal couplings creaking as tension spread through the cars.

“We’re actually moving,” Bucky muttered in disbelief.

“I know… feels amazing. We’ve done the impossible,” Twilight responded as she broke into a broad smile and clapped her front hooves together.

“Getting it home intact is going to be the impossible task,” Bucky argued, a smile cracking his mangled face as well.

“Did you enjoy our visit?” Twilight asked, settling into a comfortable position in her chair.

“The food was good. The uh, the delegate trying to give me a unicorn pet was troubling,” Bucky admitted, his voice sounding troubled. “I don’t know how to feel about that.”

“You enjoyed the food so much that he wanted you to have one of his cooks so you could eat well. They all felt you were far too thin for a male,” Twilight explained.

“Oh I get that, I heard all the whispering,” Bucky said as he reached up and scratched his ear. “It was very clever of you to tell them that I was a pet myself. They were concerned about the branding though. They’ve outlawed that practice here and have gone with collars.”

“They were a bit shocked, but also strangely hopeful that we were finally starting to civilise ourselves as a nation,” Twilight giggled. “For a pegasus to own a pet prince… I do believe we may have accidently cemented all future relations quite securely.”

“You gave your word that you would lecture my owner about my scrawny appearance and slight build. You’d better keep your promise,” Bucky chided.

Overcome with the giggles, Twilight was unable to reply. She continued to giggle, the worries of the mission temporarily forgotten as she thought about the absurdity of the situation. She enjoyed spending time with Bucky. Her distant cousin was almost like a brother or some other close member of the family now. She saw a side of him that was easy to love and to feel affection towards. She had seen other sides as well, but she chose to focus on the good parts. She saw the pieces of Buckminster’s personality that Celestia desperately wanted to hold on to.

The train lurched again and now it was actually moving, creeping forward oh so slowly.

“A week to get home if we’re lucky,” Bucky said, looking pensive. For a moment, a dark cloud passed over his face. “A week of not being able to watch my foals do silly things.”

“I miss Spike,” Twilight said. “I left him with Fluttershy and Discord.”

“How is Discord?” Bucky asked, seizing upon the offered distraction.

“Discord is doing a little better. He’s able to get up and move around now. He still has no real magic. When he gets a cut, he actually bleeds now, which really thrills him and makes him excited. He keeps announcing that he is going to die when he gets nicked,” Twilight said.

“Fluttershy loves him,” Bucky said in a low voice.

“More than anything,” Twilight replied. “All of my friends are growing up and settling down and I’m still stuck writing my pen pal.”

“Settling down?” Bucky asked.

“Applejack got married. She didn’t want a fuss so she slipped off to city hall and eloped. She married Silver Shill and they’re happy," Twilight answered. “And her brother Big Mac married Cheerilee not long ago.”

“Cheerilee didn’t tell me this,” Bucky grumbled.

“Big Mac is a very private pony,” Twilight said to Bucky, trying to make him feel better. “And Applejack insists that Rarity is madly in love but I don’t see it,” she huffed. “I think Applejack is teasing me and having a good laugh at Rarity’s expense which kinda makes me mad.”

“Rarity found her noble?” Bucky asked, remembering what he read in the book about Twilight and her friends. It was public knowledge that Rarity wanted a big step up in life.

“No, Rarity has an earth pony living with her. They’re just friends. A pony named Coco Pommel, an old friend of Rarity’s. Spike seems to think there is something going on there too, but I think he’s seeing something that isn’t there because of Applejack’s teasing,” Twilight explained.

“And Pinkie Pie?” Bucky asked.

“Pinkie Pie has a pen pal just like me,” Twilight said, blushing as she said it.

“And what about Rainbow Dash?” Bucky asked, even though he suspected he knew the answer already.

“I dunno, Rarity keeps implying that Rainbow Dash has a crush on somepony, but I can’t figure out who. Probably some Wonderbolt. I’d guess Soarin,” Twilight replied, now looking out the window as the train picked up speed and moved at the pace of a slow walk.

“Sometimes, the love of our lives is just a snoot-bump away,” Bucky said and then then yawned. He settled into his chair. “Maybe I’ll get in touch with Shining Armor and find out who your pen pal is.’

“YOU WOULDN’T DARE!” Twilight shrieked in alarm, covering her face with her wings, trying to hide her glowing embarrassment.

Laughing, Bucky fell silent and watched the world as it crept by.

 

 

 

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