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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“He’s finally out,” Derpy whispered as she shut the door behind her. Her mane was mussed and her cheeks were flushed. She was breathing heavily and her tail twitched restlessly behind her. She stretched out one wing and began to fan herself.

“Looks like he put up a struggle,” Berry replied in a low voice.

“He… just wanted… a little kiss… before bed…” Derpy confessed hesitantly.

“So where did he kiss you?” Berry giggled.

“All over. He was very grabby. I swear, he’s like a foal sometimes,” Derpy complained.

“He seems to have had a busy night. There is a new glass dome on the tower. Glass windows and doors too. I don’t know how he made the hinges, but they look neat. Breakfast sure was nice. And as a parting gift, he left you all flustered,” Berry said as she began to walk away from the back bedroom door with Derpy beside her.

As both mares came into the kitchen, they bumped into Bittersweet, who was holding a written note in her lips. She held it out to Berry, who took it in hoof and had a look.

“Harper keeps vanishing. Very hard to find. Worried about job,” Berry read. “Oh my, troublesome unicorn magic.”

“Bittersweet,” Derpy said carefully, making sure her mouth movements were very careful. “You don’t need to worry about your job so much. I trust you completely with my foals and you do a very good job. Unicorn foals are tricky for anypony… er, anydonkey.”

The donkey visibly relaxed and her long almost rabbit like ears drooped down to the sides of her face. She sighed and gave a nod. She turned for a moment and then pointed at Peekaboo and Harper, both of whom were sitting at the table, one in a high chair, the other in a booster seat. She then turned and carefully mouthed the words “I love them so but they both try my patience” to Berry Punch, who nodded in understanding.

“Peekaboo has a knack for hiding in plain sight,” Derpy said as she moved into the kitchen where Lyra was busy feeding Peekaboo quiche while introducing Harper to thin runny oatmeal.

Upon seeing Derpy, Harper blew a raspberry, spraying oatmeal everywhere and all over everypony. She bounced up and down in her chair, spewing oatmeal, all while banging her front hooves on the high chair tray.

“Nuts,” Lyra muttered. “Harper, why do you do this to mama?”

“Love mama,” Harper replied.

Wiping oatmeal from her face, Lyra snorted. When she was done wiping her face, she went to work on Harper's, even though it was a futile effort and Harper would only make her face dirty again. Lyra felt it was important that she never gave up.

Berry coaxed Bittersweet into a chair and then Lyra levitated over a cup of tea for the donkey. Bittersweet still had trouble being treated as a family member rather than a servant donkey, and she sipped her tea nervously.

Derpy, covered in oatmeal, took over feeding Peekaboo. “Eat your breakfast,” she urged.

“No,” Peekaboo refused, crossing her forelegs over her barrel.

“Why?” Derpy asked.

“Egg pie icky,” Peekaboo fussed.

“But you like scrambled eggs,” Derpy reasoned.

“Pie crust,” Peekaboo said.

“What if I scraped the pie crust away?” Derpy offered.

Peekaboo’s expression softened for a moment and she looked around, her face pensive with thought. Her resolve came back a moment later. “Green stuff. Yuck.”

Sighing deeply, Derpy settled in for the breakfast battle that seemed to be becoming more and more common every morning with Peekaboo. “So you don’t like the green onions and the seasoning?”

“No!” Peekaboo cried.

“Plerf!” Harper spat, spraying oatmeal everywhere.

A deep sense of contentment settled over Derpy. This is what she wanted from life more than anything. She loved moments like these, even if it tried her patience. Foals were foals after all. Sometimes they misbehaved and sometimes they were lovable. She thought of Bucky for a moment and his reluctance to go to bed. He was really just a big foal sometimes. She began picking through the quiche, scraping away crust and bits of green.

“Just where is Yew anyway?” Berry said.

“She went to the lumber mill with Lugus right after breakfast. They need planks to construct a smokehouse so Lugus can start storing up smoked fish and smoked meat for the winter,” Bon Bon replied. “And I need to go. I have a lot to get done today. Lyra, are you going to be okay without me?” she asked, sounding worried.

“Freezerburn is around,” Lyra nervously replied. “If I have a bad enough problem, I know if I call his name he will come. He and Philomena have a nest in that big hollow tree.”

“I should only be gone for a few hours. Supplies are scarce, but I am going to try and see what I can do to restock the store for when I reopen. Mister Rich put me in touch with a very helpful supplier than can get hard to procure stuff… the same supplier the Cakes are using,” Bon Bon said as she carefully kissed Harper on the back of the head and avoided being slathered in oatmeal.

“Bun Bun,” Harper cooed, dribbling oatmeal down her chin and her barrel.

“This is like the happiest I’ve ever been in life,” Lyra announced. “And I’m covered in runny oatmeal. Harper, you just want to be nursed, don’t you?”

“Want mama,” Harper begged, reaching out with both front legs towards Lyra.

“Don’t you want to be a weanling?” Lyra asked as she slipped in another spoonful of oatmeal into Harper while the foal had her mouth open to fuss and beg.

“A foal can nurse for up to six months or more,” Derpy said as she stuffed a bite of food into Peekaboo. “Don’t rush it. We just want to introduce her to a little food, not take her off the teat completely,” she explained.

“Peekaboo is about a half a year old and seems weaned,” Lyra said as she carefully spooned in a bit more oatmeal into Harper’s mouth.

“I’d almost guarantee that Peekaboo was still nursing when the shipwreck happened,” Derpy said knowingly. “It was the loss of her mother that made feeding necessary. Lugus must be an extraordinarily patient griffon to coax her into eating after such a trauma. Which is why I love Lugus so much.”

“We all love Lugus,” Bon Bon said as she trotted to the front door. “I’d trust him with my life.”

“Buh bye Bun Bun!” Harper shouted, spraying more oatmeal as she blurted the words out.

Wiping her face with her foreleg, Lyra smiled patiently and set down the spoon. After she levitated over a fresh towel, she began to clean Harper and herself up. “I’ll do the laundry in a bit, it’s easier for me to manage than it is for you,” she offered as she scrubbed Harper’s face. “And I am going to take this little rascal into the living room and give her the breakfast she wants.”

“Where are Sentinel and Ripple? And everypony else for that matter?” Berry questioned.

“Sentinel and Ripple ate a light breakfast and joined Sparkler. Dinky and Piña ate, Piña drank a lot of tea, that foal has a thing for tea, and then went into the library,” Lyra replied as she tried to wipe oatmeal out of the inside of Harper’s ear. How it got there was anypony’s guess.

“Thistle is in the lake,” Derpy said. “She has the fish breeding out of season and she is trying to keep conditions just right for all of the new fishes to hatch. She says the lake is very large and the fish population is very small, and with all of the meat eaters around, more fish are needed.”

“Huh,” Berry said. “Thistle is a fish herder.”

 

 

Standing over her kill, Ripple examined  the remains of the giant spider. One leg still twitched. Green goo dribbled from its wounds. A foul looking yellow liquid trickled from its fangs. Not far from her, Sentinel sat in the grass trying to calm himself.

“That’s a giant mailpony eating spider,” Sparkler said.

“It’s dead, whatever it is,” Ripple remarked.

“I’m going to go round up my cadets. Thank you Ripple for… just being you,” Sparkler said. “You okay Sentinel? Did you get bit?”

“No, I’m fine,” Sentinel responded after a moment. “I almost got bit but I bucked it in the face a few times to let it know I don’t approve of its arse biting ways.”

“Living so close to the Everfree is exciting,” Ripple said as she peered into the treeline, hoping for more mailpony eating spiders. She turned and watched Sparkler trotting away.

“That spider almost got poor Blossomforth,” Sentinel growled, sounding rather upset.

“We took care of it. You did good Sentinel, tearing off the spider’s legs and getting Blossomforth free. You also made a good distraction so I could do what I do best,” Ripple praised.

“We make a good team,” Sentinel agreed. He spat a few times. “Spider tastes awful and the hairs are still in my mouth. Yuck.”

“This spider is over a yard wide,” Ripple said as she moved around the still twitching corpse, her body tensed and ready to deliver another flurry of blows. “A mailpony eating spider. I wonder why Sparkler calls it that? Blossomforth is not a mailpony.”

Shrugging, Sentinel continued to try and spit out hairs while trying to get his jitters to stop jittering. This was not his first fight against a much larger foe, but it was certainly more dangerous than the giant brown trout he was fond of catching and eating. He looked up at Ripple when he came to a troubling realisation.

“We ran towards the danger Ripple. When everypony else was running away and Sparkler moved herself between the spider and her cadets, we ran at the Spider. Is there something wrong with us?”

“No little brother. Some ponies run from danger, others run towards the danger. All part of the balance. Somepony has to keep other ponies safe. You are a very brave little colt,” Ripple said as she moved away from the spider. She went to Sentinel’s side and kissed him between his ears.

“I’m not so little,” Sentinel replied.

“I’m sorry Sentinel,” Ripple responded.

“I’m tired of being a colt,” Sentinel grumbled. “I want to do things. Important things. Meaningful things. I want to be able to follow father into the thick of battle and not have him worry about me being so little and weak. I feel like I am a disappointment. I’m just a foal. I am not a protector, I am something to be protected. Father had to go off alone when he escorted that train and I couldn’t go with him because I’m so little and helpless.”

Sitting down beside Sentinel, Ripple wrapped a wing around her little brother. “There is more to being a squire and a knight than just combat. Take this time to hone your skills as a writer. Learn other useful things. Be patient. One day you will be one of the largest ponies around, and you will be too busy trying to save the world to keep up with your writing on a regular basis or take art lessons or do whatever.”

“At least I can fly now,” Sentinel grumbled.

“Yes, you are certainly improving at a rapid pace now that you know what you were doing wrong before,” Ripple replied. She gave her brother a squeeze and wondered what she was going to have to do to make him feel better.

“I want to see Moonbow,” Sentinel announced out of the blue.

“Miss her?” Ripple asked.

“Very much,” Sentinel replied.

“Want to tell her about Diamond Tiara?” Ripple teased.

“Ugh, why Ripple? Why must you tease me?” Sentinel whined.

“Because I am your sister,” Ripple answered. “And I love you a great deal. Sisters tease their brothers. Especially after a sleepover where all they heard was a fussy pink earth pony filly saying “Sentinel this” and “Sentinel that” all night long.” Ripple fell silent when she felt Sentinel growing warm under her wing. “She likes you a great deal Sentinel. She is worried because she feels you take everything too seriously.”

“I do want to tell Moonbow about Diamond Tiara. And ask a few questions. Mostly, I just want to talk to her and hear her voice. Tell her I helped kill a spider. I mean, I tore some of its legs off… I want to let her know that I am working just as hard in my own way as she is. Or at least I hope I am. Every day I worry that she is suffering and miserable to become something great and I am just being… worthless and doing nothing to improve myself or prepare myself for the life that I have chosen,” Sentinel responded.

“You worry about proving worthy for Moonbow?” Ripple asked.

“All the time. And while she is giving up whatever was left of her foalhood and comfort for me out of some strange sense of love and devotion, I’ve been playing around with another female and living a comfortable life,” Sentinel said guiltily.

“That sounds rough, little brother,” Ripple said in return. “Moonbow wants for you to find another worthy female or two for the future.”

“Diamond Tiara can’t figure out what she wants yet. I’ve overheard some of the things she’s said to Dinky and Piña and you. This is all very serious business. If I become involved with her, and it goes nowhere, then I have made no progress towards my end goal of forming a suitable herd for Moonbow to return to,” Sentinel explained. “I’ve just wasted my time fooling around with Diamond Tiara who wanted a fling when I could have been forming a bond with a pony who knew what they wanted from life.”

“You are far too serious for a colt your age,” Ripple said. “I don’t know how to help you.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

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