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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Feeling rather pleased with himself, Bucky stood in the room he was preparing for his apprentice. It occupied the floor just below his office and was now somewhat furnished. There was a bed, a desk, and a bookshelf. A bathroom of sorts had been added, with an incineration toilet created through enchantment. Unicorns had ways and means of looking after themselves, far more than the average earth pony or pegasus.

“Getting ready for your apprentice?”

Bucky turned and looked at Lyra, who was peering around the room curiously. “How were the stairs?”

“Normal,” Lyra replied. “I think you have the enchantment just right. Still can’t teleport in here though.”

Nodding, Bucky sat down and watched as Lyra made her inspection. He had told Lyra of his plan and Lyra approved, with the caveat that she also have a hoof in Sunset Shimmer’s training. He watched Lyra look over the bed and the bookshelf.

“So what have you learned about her?” Lyra inquired as she inspected the small closet where the incineration toilet was tucked away.

“She started off being much older than Twilight Sparkle… Twilight Sparkle was just being noticed when Sunset Shimmer had her downfall as a filly on the edge of being a mare. Time passes differently on the other side of the mirror. Sunset Shimmer has stayed almost the same age, while Twilight has grown up, making them both similar ages. Sunset Shimmer was skilled in abjuration and at some point, gained an illicit knowledge of destructive magics. Sunset Shimmer was being trained to be a spellbreaker, no doubt that Princess Celestia wanted her student to become a Black Cloak,” Bucky said, reciting everything he knew to Lyra in a somewhat droning monotone.

“Plan to make her a Black Cloak yourself I take it,” Lyra said as she turned around to look at Bucky. She began to walk towards him slowly, taking note how dramatically and delightfully evil he looked wearing the black cloak he now favoured. Lyra knew it was all theatre really, while Bucky was capable of doing bad things, terrible things, the unicorn mare loved him and appreciated his darkness.

But she did not find him evil.

“How did your meeting with Witching Hour and Tiddlywinks go?” Bucky asked as Lyra approached him. He looked down as she smoothed out his cloak with her hoof and straightened out his torque. He caught himself a whiff of cinnamon and minty toothpaste as Lyra breathed on him.

“There’s been some curious goings on,” Lyra replied as she continued to adjust Bucky’s cloak and smoothed out the patch of long shaggy hair on his chest. “They went to Dodge City while we were gone. The undead in the deserts around Dodge City certainly aren’t a rumour. Witching Hour told me that she saw with her own eyes several undead ponies, an undead cow, and one undead buffalo. She and Tiddlywinks put them down but she expects more of them will just keep coming.”

“This is worrisome,” Bucky grumbled as Lyra sat down beside him and looked out the window. “We need to find the source. There are necromantic death cults out in the deserts. Type twos being lured in by the promise of unlimited power.”

“I will confess, I held an unhealthy obsession with it,” Lyra whispered, her eyes focused on the distant treeline of the Everfree outside of the window. “Gone now. I have other obsessions.”

“Like what?” Bucky asked in a low voice.

“Like motherhood,” Lyra replied, turning to look at Bucky.

 

 

Tucked away in a corner table at Sugarcube Corner, a group of foals sat together, speaking about the day’s events in low voice with one another. Ripple, who was enjoying herself immensely, was tucked into the actual corner itself, with Sentinel on one side and Scootaloo on the other. Beside Sentinel was Diamond Tiara, and beside her was Dinky and Piña. Spike, Apple Bloom and Sweetie Belle were beside Scootaloo, and the group crowded around the small table sipping milkshakes and eating brownies.

“Funny story about Rumble,” Scootaloo admitted, looking at Ripple. “Well, uh. you see… he might have done what he did for a reason… maybe.”

“What’s the matter Scoots, cat got your tongue?” Apple Bloom teased, looking over at her friend and having a bit of a laugh.

“Apple Bloom, you are the last pony to talk about tongues,” Sweetie Belle squeaked nervously, turning to look at the earth pony beside her.

Blushing, Apple Bloom glared at Sweetie Belle, her eyes narrowing. “Shut up Sweetie Belle,” Apple Bloom grumbled and then stuffed a bite of brownie in her mouth, chewing angrily as she turned away from Sweetie Belle.

“What’s that all about?” Spike asked.

“The funny story involving Rumble,” Scootaloo replied, looking around at her companions with a mischievous glint in her eyes.

“A bunch of us got together and played spin the bottle,” Sweetie Belle admitted. “Rumble took a spin and it pointed at Apple Bloom. So Rumble kissed her on the cheek and I got a little jealous because I’ve been kinda having a crush on Rumble. So later on, when we weren’t playing spin the bottle, I sorta arranged to bump into Rumble.”

Dinky and Piña both stuck out their tongues and gagged at the same time.

“And Sweetie Belle kinda gives him a sloppy kiss… and Apple Bloom got jealous. So Apple Bloom marches up, grabs Rumble, and kisses him. And somehow manages to slip him the tongue just a little bit, which totally weirded Rumble out. So he split, he took off and left our little get together. And Sweetie Belle and Apple Bloom both start arguing over who gets to be with Rumble,” Scootaloo explained, barely able to contain her laughter.

“After a bit of a scuffle, Scoots said to Sweetie Belle and I that we could all share Rumble, and then Sweetie and I put two and two together and realised that Scoots has a thing for Rumble too,” Apple Bloom said as she shot a glance at both Sweetie Belle and Scootaloo.

“So then what happened?” Ripple questioned, her ears perking forward with curiousity as she looked at the trio beside her.

“Sweetie Belle and Apple Bloom both jumped me and there was another scuffle,” Scootaloo replied.

“You three,” Spike muttered as he rolled his eyes.

“After the scuffle, we talked and reminded each other that we are best friends, and friends stick together,” Scootaloo said.

“And I sort of suggested that, as friends, we can share Rumble,” Sweetie Belle said.

“So now, we’re all working together to tame Rumble and make him ours,” Apple Bloom finished, looking around the table at her friends.

“Poor Rumble,” Spike groaned. “You three destroy everything you touch.”

“That’s not… totally true,” Scootaloo said hesitantly. “You be nice or I’ll tell mom,” she giggled.

“I bet it feels nice to say that,” Piña remarked.

“You have no idea,” Scootaloo responded, looking over at Piña.

“So are you two an item?” Apple Bloom asked, looking at Diamond Tiara and Sentinel.

“I suppose we are,” Diamond Tiara admitted. “I must confess, he makes me happy.”

“And today, he got you to hug Cheerilee, which made her happy,” Dinky chimed in.

“Yeah… she said she felt as though she finally reached me as a teacher,” Diamond Tiara said in a low wavering voice that dripped with embarrassment. “Thank you Sentinel,” she whispered and then kissed Sentinel on the cheek.

“Aw, that’s so sweet,” Sweetie Belle gushed, her mouth hanging open in adoration of the touching moment. The unicorn filly brushed her curly mane out of her eyes and looked at Diamond Tiara. “You really have changed.”

“I’m trying,” Diamond Tiara replied, her gaze dropping down to look at the table.

“Applejack told me that if you're lucky, you meet a pony that makes you want to be a better pony. And if you’re really lucky, you marry them,” Apple Bloom said as she pulled her milkshake closer. “She said that Silver Shill told her that she makes him want to be a better pony and he’s made a lot of changes because of my sister.”

“I think Sentinel is that pony for me,” Diamond Tiara admitted in a low voice. “Doctor Bluegrass told me to focus on my relationship with Sentinel and see if I can develop a positive relationship with just one pony that isn’t my father.”

“You’ve talked to him about us?” Sentinel questioned, turning to look at Diamond Tiara. “I’m okay with it, don’t be panicked, I was just curious.”

“It started off when I told him about what I did to Princess Luna and how you held me accountable for my actions,” Diamond Tiara said in a low raspy voice that was barely audible. “Dr. Bluegrass said that I need ponies that love me enough or care about me enough to hold me accountable for my mistakes and that I need to focus on making friends with those kinds of ponies even if it makes me feel uncomfortable and makes me hurt.”

“We’ll hold you accountable,” Apple Bloom said in warm voice, looking at Diamond Tiara. “And we’ll be your friends. Sounds like you could use a few.”

“What you need is martial discipline,” Ripple grunted as she pulled her lips away from her straw. She focused her eyes on Diamond Tiara and offered a wicked grin. “Sparky and I could whip you into shape.”

Terrified, Diamond Tiara’s eyes went wide as she stared at Ripple. She leaned closer to Sentinel, who began to chuckle softly, and gave her a nudge. She began to tremble when she realised that Sentinel might actually think this was a good idea.

“I think that’s a great plan Ripple,” Sentinel remarked.

“No,” Diamond Tiara whimpered, her worst fears confirmed.

“I was only kidding,” Ripple mentioned. She watched as Diamond Tiara melted down into her seat in relief, her forelegs resting on the table. “But to be honest, getting involved in this family involves a lot of bleeding, heartache, and sacrifice. Don’t let that scare you away, it’s worth it, but be forewarned what you are getting into.”

“My father gave me a long talk actually. He sat me down and said that I wasn’t getting involved with the common colt next door. He spent a lot of time explaining just what I was getting into… so I know,” Diamond Tiara said in a low quavering voice. “I understand that this is not an easy path to follow.”

“But it is very rewarding,” Ripple stated, looking around the table at her companions.

Looking pensive, Spike drummed his claws upon the table rhythmically, his narrowing in deep thought. “I had some of the best moments of my life on that trip. And also some of the worst. I still don’t know how I feel.”

“You’re alive, and you have a story,” Ripple said as she looked at Spike. “You got be a dragon, as awful as that might be, and now you know exactly what you are capable of, for good or for ill.”

“I suppose so,” Spike said thoughtfully. “I guess I do know exactly what I’d do if something tried to hurt Twilight.”

“Or your family,” Scootaloo remarked. “Even me,” she added softly.

“This is why I ignored Steeplechase,” Sentinel grumbled. “I’ve seen and dealt with real threats, and there was nothing remotely threatening about him. I’ve eaten things more dangerous than he was. Or tried to. Like that stinky skunk that sprayed me.”

“I’ve seen Sentinel deal with threats,” Spike whispered. “It’s awful. We’re both awful in what we can do.” For a moment, the pained expression on Spike’s face looked as though it was almost too much for the young dragon to bear, and then it softened when he looked over at Scootaloo. “This trip taught me a lot about myself. It gave me a family, it gave me friends, and now I have sister too… I guess it’s all a fair trade.”

“There is no greater bond than those forged in battle,” Ripple said, lifting her head high. “Lugus constantly reminds me of that when he and I are sparring. In bloody life or death combat, you learn who your friends are and who really loves you.”

“This is true,” Spike agreed, nodding his head. “I know that Rainbow Dash and Flash Sentry love Twilight more than any words will ever say because of what they did. I know that Sentinel and I are friends and I would do anything to help him.”

“Gosh girls,” Apple Bloom said, looking around the table. “Sounds like the Crusaders need to go on a diplomacy trip with Bucky and his family sometime.”

“I’m up for it,” Scootaloo announced.

“I dunno, Rarity said she’d kill me if I ever took a trip with Bucky,” Sweetie Belle said in a fearful voice as she looked around the table.

 

 

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