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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In the hour before dawn, the house was full of hustle and bustle. Semillon, the cook, was already getting breakfast for the foals ready, and the other early risers as well, There was an unmistakable feeling of excitement in the air. Sentinel could barely contain himself, today was the first day of school for him. It had taken much cajoling, but finally his father had made the final say, which meant that Sentinel was going to school.

Citrus Summer, the earth pony foal of the hard working ponies who looked after the land and the garden, was having breakfast with them and would be catching a ride to school with them this morning, as she did every morning. She sat at the table, chattering away to Dinky and Piña, going on about the difficulty of moving a pencil with your lips.

Breakfast was thick oatmeal and freshly baked cinnamon rolls, along with all of the usual stuff that went on oatmeal. Little nostrils flared as Semillon applied the glaze to the cinnamon rolls, and wide little eyes glanced over to watch her work.

“Cinnamon buns are sticky,” Derpy groaned, awake before the chickens. “Now I will have little foals with little sticky faces.”

“Your buns are sticky,” Piña quipped.

“They might be… how would you like for me to be your foalsitter Piña?” Derpy replied, a bit of a grin spreading over Derpy’s lips as she settled down at the table.

“Don’t sit on me with sticky buns!” Piña protested, which made Citrus Summer bray with laughter.

“Buns,” Dinky remarked and then began to giggle immaturely.

Rolling his eyes, Sentinel looked at his sister Dinky and his ears folded back against his head. “I remember you being a bit more mature.”

Turning to look at her brother, Dinky smiled a broad toothy smile. “Discord reminded me of how important it was to play and be a foal.”

“Discord, who was well behaved and made me suspicious,” Derpy grumbled, her face clouding over with motherly worry. “Where is Ripple?”

“Outside getting a run before school,” Piña answered. “Can I put peanut butter in my oatmeal?”

“I don’t see why not,” Derpy said, her voice patient and loving in a way that only a devoted mother can be patient and loving this early in the morning.

“So are we princesses now?” Dinky inquired, looking up at her mother.

“Dinky… that’s complicated,” Derpy responded, looking down at her daughter.

“Life is often complicated,” Dinky stated, giving a knowing nod to her mother.

“To the griffons yes. But ponies don’t need to know and you don’t need to go around introducing your self as Princess Dinky Doo Hooves,” Derpy said, her tone becoming firm.

“I had no plans to do that,” Dinky said in a low voice. “I was just curious. I can’t wait to meet all of the griffons and be nice to them.”

“You’re very sweet Dinky,” Derpy said proudly.

“Belisama is so soft and fluffy,” Piña remarked. “And she is so nice to us. She said we were very well behaved and not bratty at all.”

“She doesn’t know you very well yet,” Derpy snarked, her brows furrowing.

“Ouch!” Piña cried, looking wounded as Dinky began to giggle.

Hoisting the tray of cinnamon buns high in the air with her magic, Semillon brought them over to the table and set them down carefully, making sure nothing was disturbed. Finicky about her duties, the unicorn mare made no distinction between serving foals and serving adults, she did her very best either way and held herself to exacting standards. The tray was carefully placed in the center of the table and nothing was jostled.

“Thank you,” Sentinel said as Semillon turned to head back to the stove.

Turning her head to look at the colt, Semillon smiled. “You’re welcome.” Having replied, the cook headed off to fetch the oatmeal, humming quietly to herself.

“What are we going to do when Berry Punch is too fat to pull a wagon?” Piña asked as she grabbed a sticky cinnamon roll to eat.

Rolling her eyes, Derpy shook her head. “Well, for foals that call one of their parents fat, they get to walk to school in the morning.”

“But we have to walk home in the afternoon,” Piña protested. “And it is a very long way. I meant to say fat with foal,” the earth pony foal corrected, looking at Derpy with wide eyes as she stuffed as much cinnamon bun in her mouth as equinely possible.

“My mother has offered to pull the wagon,” Citrus Summer said, hesitantly taking a cinnamon roll, which caused Derpy to look concerned.

“You’re our guest. There is no need to be shy about taking food,” Derpy said in a gentle voice. “You take what you need. I don’t like how scrawny you look,” the motherly grey pegasus stated.

“Thank you,” Citrus Summer said just before taking a bite.

“We’ll figure out something when the time comes. Now eat. All of you. Sentinel, are you nervous?” Derpy said, her gaze falling upon her colt as she asked her question.

“I get to see Spike again and see how he is settling in,” Sentinel said dismissively.

 

 

It is a dreadful feeling, realising that you are different, that you are doing something that causes you to stand out among your peers. Such was the case with Sentinel, who realised that he was the only foal in class that was eagerly paying attention and taking notes about Cheerilee’s history lecture. He glanced at Spike, who had a dull glazed look in his eye. Spike had done well for the first lesson of the day, script work was something that Spike did well, and his writing skills were complimented, but the dragon had begun to drift off during history.

The classroom was entirely too full and crowded. More desks had been crammed in, leaving very little room between them. Most of the students were nodding off during the mid-morning lull as Cheerilee continued her lesson about history.

“... and so began the era of freedom, once the era of slavery had come to an end. Equestrian subjects were finally left alone to live in peace after a long and difficult battle with the nations that practiced slavery. Slavery in the world was put to an end. Are there any questions?”

Looking around nervously, Sentinel raised his foreleg.

“Yes Sentinel?” Cheerilee said, glad to see at least one student was paying attention. She made notes about the others who were napping.

“But slavery didn’t end. House Avarice continued in the slave trade, and it happened right here in Equestria. Dodge City started off as a slave market where slaves were bought and sold to work in the many mines, and the practice continued even after slavery was officially outlawed. Plus, Equestria did nothing to stop the world slave trade, we just pretended to condemn it within our own borders. The Sea of Grass continues to this very day dealing with slavers who steal their citizens. Should I even bring up the fact that the griffons took a massive part of their own species and turned them into slaves?” Sentinel said in a nervous voice.

“Um… I’m not sure what to say,” Cheerilee said in a somewhat panicked voice. “I will admit that the history printed in the history books isn’t always accurate.”

“Diamond dogs took my sister Rarity and tried to make her a slave. She had to be rescued. And that happened here in Equestria. And still keeps happening, or so my sister says. The south is lawless,” Sweetie Belle interjected, her green eyes glittering with foalish anger.

“And then there is wage slavery, like what happened in Baltimare, where the pay is so low that ponies have just enough to get by, but never enough to get out, and some of the factories operated by House Avarice didn’t pay in bits, but company coins, had company credits, and company stores. Ponies often died in debt to the company credit providers and the company stores, plus the costs of their own houses. Somehow they died in debt after working their entire lives and had nothing to show for it. That’s slavery,” Sentinel stated in a matter of fact voice.

“That is a bit beyond the simple history lesson we had today,” Cheerilee said in a nervous voice. “I’m not supposed to say this, but I will admit that there was and continues to be a lot of unpleasant and unfair things in the world. I suppose the important lesson here today is that it is important to study these things for yourself.”

“If it is wrong, why teach it?” Sentinel inquired.

For a moment, Cheerilee looked frantic. Her eyes darted around the room. Anger flashed in her eyes. Her ears drooping in defeat, Cheerilee closed her eyes. “Because I am not much better than a slave myself. I became a teacher to make a difference and I am continuously coerced into teaching things I don’t agree with just so I can keep my job. I endure because I want to believe that things will get better, but change takes time. So I do what I can when I can when I have the chance to do it and hope that one day I will get a chance to make the difference I wanted to make before I am too burned out and bitter from all of the compromises I had to make.” Taking a deep breath, Cheerilee opened her eyes and found Sentinel staring at her intently.

“Your day is coming,” Sentinel said in a low voice, his eyes locked on Cheerilee.

 

 

“So how is school? Is this what you had hoped for?” Sentinel inquired, looking at Spike. Beside him was Diamond Tiara and his two sisters, Dinky and Piña.

“I liked the writing and the math. The history lesson was boring until the end of it, where you made it interesting. The first half of the day wasn’t bad,” Spike admitted.

“Math is not my best subject,” Sentinel stated.

“Nor Ripple’s,” Dinky muttered. “She’s off sulking over there. I feel bad for her.”

“She doesn’t wish to be bothered,” Sentinel said to Dinky. “She’s having a tough go at this transition. She’d rather be at home continuing her martial training.”

“You seem to be adjusting well enough,” Piña remarked.

“I have my friends and my sisters with me,” Sentinel responded.

“Oh no, here comes trouble,” Diamond Tiara muttered.

Tensing, Piña’s eyes narrowed as she looked at the approaching colt. “And I’m not allowed to punch him again either.”

“No bees,” Dinky whispered to herself.

“Hello losers!”

“Oh gosh, I used to sound like that," Diamond Tiara muttered.

“I’m surprised they allowed monsters to come to school,” the colt said, first looking at Sentinel and then Spike.

“Look, Steeplechase, just go away and leave us alone,” Diamond Tiara said in a flat humourless voice, her ears folding back against her skull.

“Give me one good reason,” Steeplechase sneered.

“Just go away,” Dinky muttered.

“Leave us alone,” Diamond Tiara said, her eyes downcast as she thought about all of the times she had done this herself.

“Gonna cry about it Diamond? When are you gonna tell your headshrinker about your new coltfriend? I see you had to go for the ugly one because nopony else will even give you the time of day,” Steeplechase teased.

The colt’s words cut deep, and before he was even finished, Diamond Tiara had begun crying. Dinky and Piña had moved between Steeplechase and Diamond Tiara, and Sentinel had wrapped one foreleg around Diamond Tiara’s withers to comfort her.

“Sod off,” Piña swore, her eyes narrowing. “Want another long nap?” she asked as she raised her left front hoof in a threatening gesture.

“Want to be arrested? This time my father promises to press charges!” Steeplechase retorted, taking a step closer to Piña.

“Then I guess I’d better do something worth getting in trouble for… your mouth has far too many teeth I think!” Piña threatened, her lips curling back from her teeth as her eyes became piercing pinpoints of rage.

“What’s going on here?”

Everypony stopped and looked at the drawling voice. Apple Bloom stood a short distance away, her eyes narrowed and her brow furrowed. Sweetie Belle was on her left and Scootaloo was on her right.

“I wasn’t causing trouble, I promise, I wasn’t instigating anything!” Diamond Tiara whined, burying her face into Sentinel’s neck as she continued to cry.

“You know Apple Bloom, I’ve always wondered something. Is Applejack and Big Mac your bother and sister… or are they your mother and father?” Steeplechase asked, his lip curled back in a snarl.

Before Apple Bloom could make her angry retort, a grey blur shot past her and collided with Steeplechase, bowling the colt over and sending him sprawling. The grey blur happened to be Rumble, who began a furious assault upon the earth pony colt, moving with the sort of furious speed only an enraged pegasus could muster.

“Dirty motherplucker!” Rumble shouted as he punched Steeplechase in the snoot, sending a spray of blood spurting out onto the grass nearby. He pulled up his front hoof and rammed it down again, striking Steeplechase in the eye this time with a wet meaty sounding thud. The third punch connected with Steeplechase’s lip, splitting it open on the colt’s teeth.

A crowd began to gather and there was shouting. It wasn’t long until Cheerilee came running over and tried to put an end to the scuffle, but Rumble ignored the attempts to pull him away, getting in several more hammering blows.

It wasn’t long until the pegasi, always watching, began to land.

 

 

Cheerilee sighed, knowing that something like this was bound to happen. The classroom was over crowded, the students were stressed, and everything was under constant pressure. Steeplechase, bloodied and bruised, one eye swollen shut and forced to breathe through his mouth because both nostrils were swollen shut, was being lifted away to the hospital by a helpful pegasus. Rumble was sitting on a bench waiting for one of his parents to arrive. The students were divided. Some were spooked and would not stop crying, others were excited, jubilant even, that Steeplechase had been so soundly thrashed.

  His eyes on Cheerilee, Sentinel wrapped his wing a little tighter around Diamond Tiara as she continued to sniffle and cry. He felt a hot prickly heat along the back of his neck, a symptom of his frustration no doubt, and he didn’t know what to say to make the sobbing earth pony at his side feel better.

“Are you really seeing a psychologist?” Dinky whispered, patting Diamond Tiara on the back and trying to comfort her.

“A psychiatrist,” Diamond Tiara admitted. “A behaviour specialist. I wanted to get better,” she said as she drew in a deep shuddering breath and trembled.

“And you didn’t tell us?” Piña questioned in a low voice.

“It’s embarrassing and I am ashamed of it,” Diamond Tiara murmured.

“So how does Steeplechase know?” Sentinel inquired.

“His father is my psychiatrist,” Diamond Tiara sniffled.

Dinky, Piña, and Sentinel watched as Blossomforth and Raindrops arrived, wearing the hats and badges that marked them as officers of the law while Diamond Tiara continued to sob softly with her face pressed into Sentinel’s neck.

“What do you think they are going to do to Rumble?” Dinky asked.

“I dunno… nothing good. He keeps getting into fights,” Piña replied. “He beat the stuffing out of another colt for teasing his sister Cloudstreaker.”

“You did good Sentinel,” Dinky said.

“I did?” Sentinel questioned.

“You didn’t get into a fight or hurt him. Would have made you look bad,” Dinky responded. She leaned over and kissed Sentinel on the cheek. “You let us protect you in these situations. We can’t have other ponies afraid of you.”

“And there comes Flitter and Cloudchaser… oh boy do they look angry!” Piña exclaimed in a worried squeak. “Poor Rumble...”

“You know, Diamond, we don’t have a problem with you seeking help. You shouldn’t be ashamed,” Sentinel whispered as he gave Diamond Tiara a squeeze.

“I feel so bad now… I can’t seem to catch a break and I know exactly what I have put others through. I used to talk and act just like Steeplechase… I feel so guilty,” Diamond Tiara whispered.

“You okay Diamond Tiara?”

The group looked over at Sweetie Belle, who had a warm look of genuine concern upon her face. Beside her was Scootaloo and Apple Bloom. The trio all looked worried as they drew closer.

“I’m so sorry,” Diamond Tiara said, sniffling as she lifted her head to look at the Cutie Mark Crusaders. “I did such awful things.”

“Are you okay though?” Sweetie Belle repeated.

“I think she’ll be okay,” Dinky said, turning to look at the still sobbing pink earth pony that her brother was holding. “Might be nice if she had some forgiveness.”

“About that… that’s why we’re here,” Apple Bloom said in a low voice as she watched Rumble getting lectured by his mothers.

“We had no idea that you were getting help. We feel a little guilty now. You really are trying to turn over a new leaf and we’ve shut you out and we’ve acted like jerks,” Scootaloo said, looking down at the ground as she kicked the grass with one front hoof nervously.

“So what we’re trying to say is, we’re sorry too,” Sweetie Belle said in apologetic tones to Diamond Tiara.

“Thank you,” Diamond Tiara whispered. “I don’t deserve it, but thank you.”

“Don’t talk like that,” Dinky grunted.

“Rumble keeps living up to his name,” Apple Bloom mused.

The group of foals looked at one another, a silence falling upon them. Saying nothing, Apple Bloom went to Diamond Tiara’s side and sat down beside her. Cautiously raising her hoof, Apple Bloom patted Diamond Tiara on the back. Sweetie Belle sat down in the grass and Scootaloo sat down as well.

“I think Cheerilee has had enough for the day. I think they’re going to call off classes for the rest of the day,” Sweetie Belle said as she looked at Cheerilee, who was sitting off by herself and sobbing. “Be right back girls,” she remarked as she stood up and headed off towards Cheerilee.

Watching Sweetie Belle, Scootaloo heaved a sigh. She saw Sweetie place her forelegs around Cheerilee’s neck and give the teacher a hug. “I don’t think Cheerilee can take much more. Something has to give. Something has to change. She’s just one pony.”

“And I used to make her life so miserable,” Diamond Tiara muttered, fresh tears now streaming from the corners of her eyes.

“I finally got the change I was waiting for,” Scootaloo murmured. “I hope that Cheerilee gets the change that she deserves.”

“She cries a lot at home,” Apple Bloom said in a low voice. “My brother tries to make her feel better. She didn’t want school to start.”

“Diamond Tiara… I want you to do something,” Sentinel said in a commanding voice, his words tickling Diamond Tiara’s ear.

“What do you want?” Diamond Tiara asked, lifting her head to look at Sentinel.

“I want you to go over there and give Cheerilee a hug,” Sentinel said in an authoritative voice that was remarkably like his father’s own commanding voice.

“You want me to do WHAT?” Diamond Tiara questioned, her eyes going wide. “She hates me… I’ve seen the way she looks at me… I’m part of the problem.”

“Do it,” Sentinel said, first giving Diamond Tiara a gentle nudge and then a much harder shove when she refused to budge. “Just go.”

Grumbling and looking betrayed, Diamond Tiara got to her hooves, shook herself, and then trotted off to Cheerilee. Aware that she was being watched, she cautiously approached, sat down beside Sweetie Belle, and then raised one foreleg in an inviting gesture.

Watching with great interest, Sentinel saw Diamond Tiara getting swept up into a big earth pony hug by Cheerilee, who squeezed the small filly foal fiercely.

“That was right nice of you,” Apple Bloom drawled, looking over at Sentinel. “I’ll admit, I thought you looked a bit scary, but this just goes to show that looks ain’t everything. My sister Applejack says you are the nicest pony and she was right.”

Unable to reply, Sentinel blushed and turned away.

“Poor Rumble… Cloudchaser and Flitter are working him over with wing slaps… yeouch!” Scootaloo said as she cringed from the sight. “Oh crap, here comes officer Thunderlane. He’s got his hat and his badge on… this is gonna be bad.”

“This has been a terrible first day of school,” Spike grumbled, kicking at a rock with his foot. “This is the kind of stuff that Twilight complained about when she gave reasons why she didn’t want to send me to school.”

“Spike… just tell Twilight that you learned something today and make up something that sounds reasonable,” Apple Bloom suggested.

“Oh gosh I’m probably going to get some kind of earful as well,” Scootaloo grumbled. “The first night at home was awesome, but today is going to be awful.”

“Rainbow Dash is going to make an awesome mother… it’s Twilight we gotta worry about,” Spike mumbled, looking at Scootaloo. “Feels weird having a sister.”

“Oh look, officer Thunderlane has taken off his hat and passed it to Blossomforth,” Apple Bloom said, looking over at the commotion.

“That can’t be good,” Scootaloo said, turning away from what was sure to be an ugly situation. “Poor Rumble.”

“So, when they let us out of school, who wants to go to Sugarcube Corner?” Piña asked. “No sense going home right away. I have bits in my schoolbag and I know Dinky brought some too.”

“But I want to do my homework,” Sentinel said, looking at Piña.

“Sentinel, you’re hopeless,” Piña responded, looking at her brother with wide eyes.

 

 

 

 

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