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 bloodstain had been cleaned from the wall. Bucky had noticed it as he had been moved up the stairs, carried in Lyra’s magic, carried down the hall, and left in a large bed with fresh smelling sheets. Berry had been waiting with a canister of concentrated food paste, calorie dense, nutrient dense, connecting it to the tube and releasing the valve.

No matter how much he took in, Bucky continued to feel empty as his horn attempted to heal and his body tried to compensate for his extreme magical output.

After dropping him in the bed, Lyra vanished, along with Bon Bon, leaving Bucky alone with Berry and Derpy in the bedroom. Berry settled into a battered old loveseat in the corner, located next to a large wooden cabinet. Derpy stood, her wings looking ruffled, her ears perked forward. She continued to stand until Berry cleared her throat, after which Derpy crawled into the bed and gently settled in next to Bucky, making odd grunting sounds and snorts that Bucky hadn’t heard before, and covering him with a wing before settling into place.

“She’s nesting,” Berry said, her voice thoughtful and gentle. “Mama bird has an injured bird in the nest, she’s going to be restless and aggressive until you get better.”

There was a single tap on the door, and then Sparkler entered. She crossed the room quietly, minding her hooves, and settled on the loveseat with Berry.

“I cleaned the blood off the wall. There was large puddle on the floor too,” Sparkler said, looking distressed. “Look, I need to know something before I get any further in my emotional involvement here. Where are we going from here? Are we going to be a family? I need to know, so I can make some decisions, I feel that I am owed at least that.”

Berry looked Sparkler in the eye and nodded, but said nothing. Sparkler, seeing Berry’s nod, sighed heavily and looked relieved.

“Then I am in this for the long haul then,” Sparkler said. “I’m sorry, I just needed to know, it is difficult for me to get close to other ponies sometimes because of things that have happened. I found myself getting uncomfortably close, and then this happened, and it scared me.”

Berry leaned over and hugged Sparkler, quietly, no words spoken.

“Lyra is reading the foals a Daring Do novel,” Sparkler said. “I saw them getting settled downstairs when I came up here.”

“How are we going to afford this?” Berry asked, giving voice to her thoughts.

“Princess Celestia said she is paying for all of this, Bucky was hurt doing his job,” Derpy said, carefully squirming closer to the injured pony in her bed.

“But you’re not working, and you don’t get paid unless you work. Sure, it was nice of them to give you some time off, but I know there are bills. Can I help?” Berry asked.

“I have a little money from foal sitting,” Sparkler said. “Not much, maybe a hundred bits it has taken me almost a year to save.”

“Hold on to that,” Derpy said. “For a rainy day. Berry, yes you can help. I’m not too proud to ask now that you are with us. We’ll manage. We’ve always managed. The flock looks after its own.”

“I can let go of my apartment,” Bucky whispered softly. “I trust you both to look after me and I know you’ll care for me. I don’t need it.”

“So how long is Bucky going to be down?” Sparkler said.

“Doctors say a few weeks,” Berry said. “Damaged horns are crippling.”

“Bucky, should we try to contact your parents?” Derpy asked.

“No, they wouldn’t care. I’ve been disinherited,” Bucky groaned, raising a fetlock and gently touching his snoot. “All I have is my name and few meaningless titles.”

Berry grunted a few times, saying nothing, making an odd hitching sound her barrel. She squirmed on the couch a bit, and then hugged Sparkler fiercely. “Don’t say that!” Berry shouted, squeezing Sparkler tightly. “Titles don’t set you above other ponies unless you let them, they are a reminder of who and what you are, the responsibilities you have, and the obligations you have in life.”

“That is why I took on ‘Doo Hooves’ and acknowledged myself as Dinky’s sister. I suppose I’ll be Piña’s sister… er, actually  I don’t know what I’d be and I don’t give a damn either,” Sparkler said.

“Doo Hooves is a title of shame,” Derpy said, hiding her face under a wing, her voice tight and gritty.

“What?” Berry asked in astonishment.

“I made it my own,” Derpy said, still hiding under her wing.

“I’ve never heard of this before,” Berry said, her tone incredulous.

“It means a pony that walks in horseapples. Ground bound. My parents said it to me when they threw me out and disowned me,” Derpy’s tone was one of complete misery. “Very old pegasus slang. And I do mean old.” The miserable mare shoved her face into Bucky’s back and lay still.

“Well damn,” Berry grumbled.

“I didn’t want their last name any more and there are worse things to step in,” the sorrowful pegasus said.

“I don’t care what it means,” Sparkler said defiantly. “Call me whatever, just don’t call me late for dinner.”

Berry planted a loud wet kiss on Sparkler’s cheek. “I’d be proud to call you family.”

“I gotta go,” Bucky said.

“Oh no, you ain’t leaving,” Berry retorted.

“No, I gotta go...” Bucky replied, his words full of urgency.

“Oh. Oh! That’s why we bought a bedpan. I was going to use it as helmet, but I suppose you can use it for more mundane purposes,” Berry said.

Bucky groaned, fearing the coming embarrassment, but unable to do anything about it. This was going to be painfully exposing and a test of his mental endurance. For some reason, he was far more afraid of the coming bedpan experience than he was facing the rampaging mobs that had chased him and the foals.  The thought struck him as being particularly weird.

“I’ll make this easier. I’m gone for now. I’ll be back for bedpan disposal duty. Somehow, I think it is better if I carry it,” Sparkler said. She cleared out of the room in a hurry.

“Want me to pre-warm this for you?” Berry said, reaching under the loveseat.

 

 

Twilight Sparkle flew towards home, her flight slow and careful. Her wings were tired. She might have pegasus wings now, but she did not have pegasus endurance. And she was carrying a load.

Secured to her back was a foal, close to Rumble’s age, a distinctive charcoal grey filly with stark blue-white hair named Cloudstreaker. As she flew, Twilight Sparkle rehearsed scenarios in her mind, of all the different ways she planned to rake Celestia over the coals. Sure, Celestia wasn’t directly responsible for this, but her government agents were, and their personal biases had broken up a family.

Twilight Sparkle intended to make Celestia responsible.

The foal had become sick, as foals tended to do at times. It was a common enough problem. The problem came when Cloudchaser couldn’t prove her marriage, and her sister and Thunderlane had tried to come to her defense. An obnoxious group of biased social workers cried neglectful parenting and made a move, citing a number of reasons why Cloudchaser was unfit as mother, none of them particularly valid in Twilight Sparkle’s opinion. Everything was jumbled and confusing, and actual details seemed scarce, other than the whole thing being a railroad job.

Twilight had very nearly leveled  the entire building out of sheer anger, becoming righteously indignant and finally using her Princess status for what she felt was a darn good reason. Social justice.

Unicorns! Twilight groused to herself. Sometimes, she really hated unicorns.

The fact that she had been a unicorn did not escape her.

Cloudstreaker had been left in one of Fillydelphia’s many orphanariums, unloved and unwanted, one of the many countless foals within the local government’s care. It had taken Twilight forever to find her after she had been shuffled around so many times.

Twilight streaked through the night, righteous anger fueling her flight.

 

 

“I am not sure that I did the right thing sister,” Celestia said, up late, pacing back and forth over the rug, not wearing her shoes, her regalia, or her crown. Her face was creased with worry.

“Technically, I was the one who selectively edited all of the problematic memories,” Luna said, trying to calm her sister.

“But I allowed it!” Celestia retorted, stopping in mid step.

“If left unchecked the results would have been disastrous I am sure,” Luna said, justifying her actions.

“I hate doing it. So does Twilight,” Celestia retorted. She resumed her pacing, her ears back, the corner of her mouth twitching slightly.

“It is an unpleasant task, of that there can be no doubt, but we cannot allow an entire town to become polluted by such thoughts. And so many other foals as well. Who knows what strange hungers might have incubated in such an environment,” Luna argued, settling into a lounge sofa.

“Seems like a violation of trust,” Celestia returned, closing her eyes.

“Maybe, but you do not see dreams like I do, or the perverse hungers that already exist. We’ve saved many, and we will live with the burden of our guilt. We are immortal. It is our duty to carry this burden,” Luna postulated. “Do you really want to scrap your Ponyville Project and start again elsewhere? Another Fillydelphia perhaps? How did the city of lesbian unity work out? All those mares that might have been absorbed into a herd marriage had to go somewhere... the city of sour grapes. Or Las Pegasus, where the government that governs least, governs best?”

“Stop!” Celestia cried, her ears dropping down beside her face.

“Sister, it is not my intent to anger you or hurt you, but you have been chasing these ideas of yours since before I was banished, creating cities and trying to cultivate their growth. The Ponyville Project has been your only true success so far, allowing it to go to ruin because of one mischievous foal would be folly,” Luna explained.

“You are right of course, but the long term has to reconcile with the short term sometimes,” Celestia said, looking painfully guilty.

“Cadance is coming soon, she will make you feel better,” Luna assured.

“Buckminster and his friends show hopeful progress. The elements of a great friendship keep manifesting. Generousity, kindness, and I think we saw loyalty during the incident in Ponyville. When I touched his mind, the repressed sense of devotion was so strong already. If only we could get him to let go,” Celestia said, changing the subject.

“For me, loyalty is divided into three equal parts. Duty, devotion, and dedication,” Luna replied, looking interested, nodding her head slightly as she spoke. “I also take the antiquated stance that there is no loyalty to objects or notions, or even nations, only friends, family, and like-minded compatriots.”

Celestia stopped pacing and looked thoughtful, staring at a lit candelabra in Luna’s chambers. Luna detested electric lights.

“I owe no loyalty to Ponyville as a place or an object, “ Luna said thoughtfully, “however I do owe the citizenry for their loyalty to me. Hence I protect them, even through complicated moral issues, doing what is best for them, even if I have some moral quandary or disagree with the course of action on a personal level, because of loyalty I can rise above my personal objections and do what is needed for the greater good. Much like you did about a thousand or so years ago. And you were right for doing that. I can overcome my personal objections about that event because of my loyalty to you.”

Celestia looked very startled and surprised for a moment. “Thank you Luna, I do not not know how to reply,” Celestia said in an unsettled tone.

“Enough, this talk bores me. How about we organise an army of my guard, scout carefully through uncharted territory, after which we then ransack and plunder the kitchen for brownies or other mood altering delectables?” Luna asked.

“Summon your captain.” Celestia commanded, smiling.

 

Author's Note:

Ooh juicy Fillydelphia exposition.

All those extra mares had to go somewhere.

Finally, something about Derpy's name, but probably not in a way that anybody expected.

 
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