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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Sparkler looked at Flash Sentry and studied the stallion that was watching her. He was attentive, his eyes followed her every move, his ears perked at every sound around them, and he had a calm cool demeanour that Sparkler appreciated.

“You wanted to speak with me?” Sparkler inquired, sitting down upon the grass, settling on her haunches and feeling grateful to take a load off. It had already been a long day and it was barely past noon.

“Yes ma’am,” Flash Sentry replied in raspy voice. “What happened in the Crystal Empire has really hit me hard. It bothers me that I no longer serve and I wish to serve again, but I don’t want to be taken away from my home, my wives, or my young. I understand that you are the head of the Ponyville Police…”

Her eyes narrowing, Sparkler leaned her head forward. “Who told you that?” she said in a mock serious voice. She gave her best glare to Flash Sentry while silently interrogating him with a stern face.

Chuckling, Flash Sentry’s ears splayed out sideways and the stallion smiled.

“Well, you passed the first test,” Sparkler announced, her expression becoming softer. She noted Flash Sentry’s confused face and his quick recovery, immediately figuring out what was going on and giving a little nod. “And I think you just passed the second test,” the purple pink filly stated, now smiling somewhat as the muscles in her neck quivered and spasmed.

“You are not what I expected,” Flash Sentry said in a gravelly rugged voice.

Pressing her lips into a straight line, Sparkler paused and gave thought to Flash Sentry’s words. One nostril flared and an eyelid fluttered, she couldn’t stop them, but she didn’t allow herself to be distracted by them. “Just what did you expect?” she asked.

“You are very much like your father,” Flash Sentry answered, looking Sparkler in the eye and ignoring her Shiver-related facial tics.

“Oh ho ho… now you attempt flattery,” Sparkler responded, one ear standing straight up while the other fell backwards.

“No, never that, just an honest observation,” Flash stated, shaking his head softly.

Sparkler felt a strong spasm wrack her body and she gritted her teeth, trying to ride it out. It was painful, everything clinched tightly, and it took several moments to pass. She could feel the muscles of her scalp jerking around spasmodically, which caused the muscles in her neck to pull tightly. Finally, the painful convulsions passed and Sparkler offered up a forced smile to let Flash Sentry know that everything was okay. “I need a daytime commander. I need a visible public figure out where the public needs them from sunrise to sunset. You don’t always have to be out patrolling, but you do need to be available. I need somepony that is willing to do this for insultingly low pay, because that is how it is. There are no days of the week off, at least not yet, maybe not ever, because the city is loathe to spend money on the new law enforcement budget, but there is an allocated salary for a daytime commander should a suitable one be found. The bad news is, the salary is the same as a beat officer, the good news is, there is camaraderie between all of us because we are all paid the same meaningless amount of coin and everything feels fair between the whole miserable lot of us.”

“Where do I sign up?” Flash Sentry questioned, looking at Sparkler earnestly.

“Welcome to the Watch, Day Commander Flash Sentry,” Sparkler responded.

“Wonderful, I like the way this sucks already,” Flash said, smirking slightly.

“Hey… I like you… I think this is going to work out well… I have your first orders… Bulk Biceps, Holly Dash, and Orange Swirl are helping Coco Pommel gather up toys, food, blankets, and other things for the needy, she’s organising a big event for Hearth’s Warming Eve, and this is an event that is going to make us look good. SO I WANT YOU THERE AND I WANTED YOU THERE FIVE MINUTES AGO YOU LAZY GIT!” Sparkler said, working herself into a commanding bellow. “TOWN SQUARE! MOVE!”

Cringing, Flash Sentry quickly saluted reflexively, he knew a voice of commanding authority when he heard it, nodded his head, spread his wings, and then took off at a brisk pace for the town square, feeling absolutely terrified by his new boss.

Feeling relieved, Sparkler took a deep breath and felt thankful that she only had to worry about the night shift. She sighed, still feeling stressed. From the beginning, she had been on duty all day and all night, always on call, waiting to be summoned for trouble, and there had been trouble. Hopefully, now she could rest during the day and let down her guard. She closed her eyes for a moment, took another deep breath, held it, and let it out slowly. Already, and maybe it was her imagination, but her twitches didn’t feel quite as bad as they had been.

 

 

Left alone to his own devices, Bucky looked up at the partially constructed glass golem in front of him. It was massive, but not too massive. It was scary, but he needed it to be scary for the photograph taken for the newspaper when the gunpowder initiative was introduced to the world. This was going to be a massive spell jar golem and he planned to fill it with fire. Since Twilight wasn’t around to help him, he had commanded Sunset Shimmer to help him, and the young mare was eagerly moving around the laboratory, watching as the golem slowly gained shape and working on her own contributions.

Bucky, not wanting to waste anything, already had an idea of what to do with this golem and its twin once they were completed. After the newspaper photo, he planned to turn utilise them as trash incinerators. They were to be filled with Rising Star’s fey-fire for the sake of public spectacle, and Bucky figured it wouldn’t be difficult to give the golems a directive to eat garbage, litter, and other items of waste, which would then be burned. Any leftover ash could be ‘pooped’ out and then recycled as fertiliser or something Bucky figured. Waste not want not. He also planned to enchant the golems to command ponies not to litter, which was currently a big problem. Nothing quite like a massive hunchbacked golem bellowing at you to not litter to get your attention, Bucky reasoned.

“Princess Celestia would have never let me construct massive melee capable golems,” Sunset Shimmer murmured as she worked, carefully crafting an arm out of glass to match the one that Bucky had already created. The unicorn seemed giddy, she was truly enjoying her work, she was sweating with effort and there was a manic gleam in her eyes. “It feels nice to be trusted.”

“Minion, I trust you with my foals. A golem is of no real consequence,” Bucky said in a soft voice as he wove enchantments into the massive glass torso.

“Dinky is an apt pupil. Piña… I am still unsure of what to do with Piña but I have been teaching her my focus tricks and careful concentration. She’s still a very young foal, she’s squirmy. Master, her training might have to wait until she matures a bit and calms down. She still wants to play and run about,” Sunset Shimmer said as she closed her eyes and let her magic flow freely.

“Hmm, perhaps you are right, Minion,” Bucky responded, magic flowing from his horn like spider’s silk and weaving into the massive glass torso as he spoke.

“Master, I have become very fond of Dinky, if I am allowed to say so,” Sunset Shimmer admitted, her tone guarded and careful. “I will not allow personal feelings to get in the way of my duties.”

“Minion… I want you fond of my foals, that is the point. I want you to have a close relationship with them,” Bucky said, his words patient and calm as he wove complex enchantments into glass.

“Yes… Master… I do not understand but I will reflect upon your words,” Sunset Shimmer replied as she began to shape fingers and a thumb at the end of the arm she was shaping, carefully coaxing the shape of a hand out of the glass.

Sighing, Bucky glanced at his pupil, realising that he still had so much to teach her. “Celestia was the one who tried to teach you to remain emotionally distant, am I correct?”

“Yes Master… it was all about perfect control,” Sunset Shimmer answered.

“And she went in the opposite direction with Twilight Sparkle, sending her out to find friends and become emotionally involved… hmm… fascinating. If you think about it, you can clearly see that Celestia was trying to teach you her own personal approach to rulership and governance,” Bucky said, offering up a helpful bit of wisdom.

“I do not understand, Master,” Sunset returned, shaking her head as she laboured.

“Princess Celestia had to remain impartial. She had to focus on long term goals and strategies. She had to plan for a future where her sister eventually returned, and she had to keep the country held together just enough for it to survive until Luna’s return. Celestia had other responsibilities, I can’t go into those, so she had to let go of a number of things and allow things to happen. Even bad things. Sacrifices made for the greater good. Princess Celestia had to keep everything held together and running all by herself at such a great cost. She had to secure herself away in a prison just as she had done to her sister. She had to remain “hooves off” and look disinterested so that the world would grow to trust her again, accept her wisdom, her years of experience, and place faith back in her as a ruler. And now, Luna is back. Celestia has some trust again. She’s reaching out and trying the “hooves on” approach, but she is making mistakes and creating quite a few blunders. Personally, and this is my opinion, Celestia is using Twilight Sparkle’s friendship reports as a blueprint for her own rehabilitation and reintegration back into society… I might be wrong, I could be wrong, but I just have a hunch. You… you caught her during a transitional moment. She knew that Luna would be returning soon. She was preparing. She was planning. She was probably panicked and scared out of her mind. The idea of opening her own cage door probably terrified her. She expected things of you, demanded things of you, and well, you know what happened because of all of that,” Bucky said, trying to explain everything that was in his head.

Stunned, Sunset Shimmer could not reply, and could only just barely continue her work upon the golem arm. Her mouth hung open and she gaped at Bucky, her eyes blinking rapidly.

“Being her friends, being the ponies that truly love her and know her, we’ve gotta walk her through these rough patches. She’s had a thousand years to get set in her ways, so she has a lot of behaviours to unlearn, just like I had a lot of behaviours to unlearn. So did Twilight Sparkle. It was her friends who sorted Twilight Sparkle out… for me it was my wives. For Celestia and Luna… I have a nagging suspicion that their support network is going to be all of us… those who were sorted out by our friends and our wives, and it is now our duty to see Celestia and Luna through this period of transition, where they are going to stumble, make mistakes, do stupid stuff, and learn how to connect with ponies again on a personal level, rather than on some distant, non involved, no emotional connection while you remain in prison level,” Bucky continued, pausing in his work and examining his spell weaving.

“Master… I’m stunned, I do not know how to respond,” Sunset Shimmer murmured.

“Twilight Sparkle and I were elevated to our positions to take some of the pressures of rule off of Celestia and Luna so they could let their manes down, spend time with one another, have a bit of a break now and then, and learn how to be ponies once more rather than statues that occasionally speak or give a decree. Think about it. Twilight is the Princess of Friendship. For all of her faults, she’s written an amazing body of work about interpersonal relationships and the importance of friendship. She has a wealth of experience in how to deal with almost anything and everything that friends can encounter. Right now, Celestia is probably reading those friendship reports and trying to sort out where she goes wrong when dealing with Luna, Twilight, Cadance, me, and even you. She’s trying to figure out how to deal with us, how to connect with us, how to cope with our willful natures, our quirks, and the fact that we do not always go along with her plans or what she thinks is right, just like how Twilight was occasionally humbled by her friends and shown to be wrong,” Bucky explained, the words pouring out of his mouth easily, he felt he was in fine form today, and he had given all of this a lot of thought.

“Master… I will reflect upon your words. I see wisdom in what you have said. I will also strive to be a better student, one worthy of your instruction. Thank you Master, for sharing your thoughts and your opinions with me. I value your insight,” Sunset Shimmer said, staring with wide eyed awe at Bucky.

“These are just opinions and hunches. Doesn’t mean I’m right,” Bucky said, returning to his task. “I make mistakes just like any other pony. Mine usually explode violently though.”

 

Author's Note:

Really, sit down and think about Twilight Sparkle's friendship reports.

 
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