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 morgue in the hospital basement smelled strongly of disinfectant and floor wax, which blended together to create an aroma that seemed to be unique to hospitals. The lighting overhead was harsh, unforgiving, bright, and powerful. Filthy Rich was laid out on an examination table.

Beside him, Bucky peered over the body, trying to learn what he could.

“You’ll notice the eyes are bloodshot,” the mortician said. “This is common for those who choke, strangle, or otherwise have an obstructed airway.”

Nodding, Bucky took note of this detail.

“What you are smelling is putrescine and cadaverine. Putrescine, also called tetramethylenediamine, is a chemical produced during putrefaction. Cadaverine, which is also called pentamethylenediamine, is also produced as the body begins to decompose," the unicorn mortician said helpfully. “I understand that you have developed a sensitive nose due to your unique physiology. Knowing these smells will be useful in your line of… work.”

“So this was really just an accident?” Bucky questioned, still unable to believe it.

“His lungs were full of granola, milk, and alcohol. His nostrils were still clogged with various partially digested bits of food. There were bits of matter still lodged in his throat,” the mortician replied. “He was exceptionally inebriated. For an earth pony, Mister Rich did not have a good tolerance to alcohol. I suspect that stress weakened his body.”

“You’re a mortician?” Bucky questioned, looking puzzled.

“I am also a medical doctor, or I was, before I became burned out by the practice. The living were far too troublesome. So I chose to pay my respects to the dead and make sure they were looked after with the compassion and gentle care that they deserve. I was a much happier pony after I made the change,” the unicorn responded.

“The dead are lucky,” Bucky said, his eye looking upon Filthy Rich.

“How so, Lord of Winter?” the mortician asked, raising one eyebrow.

Filling the air with silence, Bucky did not reply right away. He gazed at Filthy Rich for a while, his face thoughtful, and then he turned to look at the unicorn. “For some, it is the only rest they will ever know. The race is over and they can finally stop running. The chase is finished.”

“I suppose you are correct,” the mortician responded, nodding his head softly. “Mister Rich had plans to be cremated. I will see that the ashes are delivered to you and left in your care. His daughter might wish to do something with them.”

 

 

Four mares sat around a table in Bon Bon’s shop, each of them looking a bit weary and sad. Bon Bon was slumped over the table, staring down at a cup of hot cocoa. Beside her, Lyra sat quietly, looking unsettled, the corner of her eye twitching on occasion. Next was Golden Harvest, looking a little forlorn and out of sorts. She learned back in her chair and stared out the windows. And tucked into the corner was Helia, who sat in the chair while stroking her belly.

“I told Gala this was a bad idea… stringing a stallion along,” Golden Harvest commented, her gaze resting unfocused out of the window.

“Goldy, please don’t,” Bon Bon requested in a polite but firm voice.

“I’m sorry… but all of this brings into sharp relief exactly why you shouldn’t do that,” Golden Harvest grumbled. “I don’t know how to deal with this Bonnie… Mister Rich was one of my financial backers. I’ve lost more than a friend, I’ve lost a business partner and potentially my livelihood.”

Squirming in her chair, Lyra looked very uncomfortable.

“Most of the farms around here… during the collapse… Mister Rich took the different liens he was a financial partner for on his own back. When the banks fell apart and tried to lay claim to everything they had some investment in, Mister Rich let the banks take it out of his own fortune… along with everything else that happened, it left him broke,” Golden Harvest said, shaking her head. “He saved Ponyville. He saved us Danvers. He saved the Apples. Every farmer in Ponyville owes him a debt of gratitude. And he’s gone.”

“I didn’t know this,” Bon Bon murmured.

“Mister Rich didn’t go bragging about it. He quietly took it on the chin and the only ponies that knew about it where the farmers who were served papers by the banks. He went from farm to farm, going out to every patch of dirt he had invested in, and told us not to panic. He had his lawyers protect us when we couldn’t protect ourselves,” Golden Harvest explained in a heartbroken voice.

“Makes you wonder, who is going to look after the farmers now?” Helia questioned, the pegasus shifting in her chair. She sighed and flexed her front fetlocks, making them crackle and pop.

“Mister Rich understood that Ponyville only existed because of the farms. He exploited them once, he made a lot of money off of them, but after his change of heart, he was our champion. And Gala had to go and play with his heart,” Golden Harvest said bitterly.

“Bonnie, we don’t lead Bucky along do we?” Lyra asked in a panicked voice.

Looking up from her slowly cooling cocoa, Bon Bon stared at Lyra. “No Lyra. Don’t say that or think that. Bucky loves us just as we are. Even during those moments where he could have done something with either of us, he’s respectfully backed away.”

Reaching up with her front hoof, Lyra scratched behind her ear nervously.

“I’ve never met a stallion that was content to be just friends,” Helia muttered. “Oh they say they want to be friends…. but if you are just friends with them, they call you a tease and hate you for leading them along. But I do know from second hoof information that that a few genuine friendly types do exist.” The pegasus spread her wings and stretched out her wing joints, squinting one eye as her left wing socket popped.

“Nopony knows this, but Dirtbound, my cousin, Filthy Rich is his father,” Golden Harvest blurted out. “I’m worried that now that he is dead a lot of secrets aren’t going to be secret anymore. Please keep this among us, I really don’t want to be a gossip, but I am honestly afraid.”

“Dirty?” Helia asked, looking shocked. “That accident prone goof bag?”

“Yes, Dirty,” Golden Harvest said as she turned to look at Helia.

“Does Dirty know?” Lyra asked, looking somewhat distracted.

“No. But Dirty’s mother knows, for obvious reasons. She got lonesome when her husband went hauling a wagon full of carrots off to other cities,” Golden Harvest replied.

“Ugh, cheating,” Bon Bon grunted as she rolled her eyes. She lifted her cup of cocoa and took a long drink.

“Well, her husband had the gall to come home one day and tell her that someday, a foal or two of his might come knocking on their door. After that, it was open season and Dirty’s mom had her way with whoever caught her fancy. And her fancy was easy to catch,” Golden Harvest said, her voice thick with shame. “She left the root cellar door open… for anypony.”

“And she knew that Dirtbound was Mister Rich’s?” Bon Bon said in a tone of disbelief as she looked at Golden Harvest.

“Both of the must have known somehow… Mister Rich was paying her foal support,” Golden Harvest responded, looking Bon Bon in the eye as she spoke. “Plus, she told me that Mister Rich named him.”

“I don’t like this,” Lyra whined. “Somepony dies and for some reason, it always brings the dirt out. This is awful. Is this how we’re going to talk about Bucky after he dies? Sit around a table talking about all of the awful things he’s done?” Lyra’s lip protruded outwards and tears welled up in her golden eyes. “I can’t do this anymore. I’m going home to be with Harper. You can stay here and keep gossiping. I hope you all choke,” the unicorn said and then vanished suddenly in a flash of magic.

 

 

Sitting at his desk in his office at the top of his tower, Bucky peered up at the moon overhead shining through the glass dome. It was well past midnight. He was drumming his talons upon his desk as he tried to take in the events of this exceptionally long day. He found that he rather liked rhythmically drumming his talons upon the desk. One could do interesting things with talons, things that could not be be done with hooves.

Behind him, between two glass pillars, a small glass spider golem wove a web of spun glass, one of Bucky’s many current experiments. Bucky hoped to turn the web into something useful, something amazing. One day he hoped his spiders would weave webs of fine spun glass thread between cities and send messages between by vibration. If the line went down, it would be repaired by the nearest spider.

One top of one pillar, a glass spider golem pulsed, flashing periodically, and on top of the other pillar, another spider copied the flashes of the first, which happened to be Morsel Code. The first spider was teaching the second how to communicate, which was an amazing feat for anypony intelligent enough to realise what was going on.

Golems did not teach other golems how to communicate.

Nearby, another golem translated the flashing lights into a simplified alphabet perfect for glass golem spiders to scratch out with one spindly leg, which in turn could be easily translated into a standard alphabet for a pony to read, all of which was created from Morsel’s original code.

 

 

.- .-.. .-.. / .... .- .. .-.. / - .... . / .-.. ..- -. .- .-. / -.-. --- ..- .-. - .-.-.- / ... . . -.- / .- -. -.. / -.. . ... - .-. --- -.-- / .- .-.. .-.. / . -. . -- .. . ... / --- ..-. / - .... . / ... .- -.-. .-. . -.. / -. .. --. .... -

 

 

Not only had Bucky taught them a simple language, but he had also given them a sense of fanatical devotion. It would mean a lot less screaming and shouting when Luna eventually discovered what he had done.

Feeling pensive, Bucky picked up a spare orb in his talons and held it aloft. Seized with an idea, his horn glowed and so did the orb. It blazed for a moment with a bright blue-green light. Clearing his throat, Bucky tried to summon up his most regal voice.

“Sentinel… I… oh nuts I don’t know what to say,” Bucky grumbled, failing miserably at his idea right away. His horn flashed and so did the orb. He cleared his throat again, coughed, and then held the orb closer to him, his talons clenched around it tightly.

“Sentinel… if you are hearing this, it is because I have died. I feel as though I owe you an apology. There is a lot I have done that has shortened my life and I will not always be here for you. I have left you with a lot of responsibility and there are many duties for you to attend to. First and foremost, always look after your siblings. They will need you. This is especially true now that I am gone. Be earnest and forthright in everything that you do. Be a good and loving husband, as I know that you will be. A stallion is only as good as the wives behind him, holding him up and giving him strength. I am nothing without my wives. I know you will look after yours. Please, look after my griffons, they are dear to me and I have become quite fond of them. Serve Luna without reservation. One day you will understand the threat she keeps us safe from. Look after your mothers. I am certain they will be grief stricken without me. This orb will be the first of many. You have your journals, I suppose these will be mine. Remember that I love you a great deal, and I hope you understand why I did what I had to do. As I sit here dictating this message, Mister Rich’s death is still raw and painful in my mind. Whether I die from violence or from my greatly shortened lifespan, I regret that I did not have more time to spend with you and be the father that you deserved.”

Staring at the orb, Bucky felt a crushing pain settle over his heart. This was only the beginning. He had other foals that he had to leave messages for. The now glowing orb clenched in his talons pulsated with blue-green light, the magic burning its way into the glass. Long after he was gone, at least Sentinel and his other foals could take comfort in the sound of his voice and listen to his gentle instruction.

He set the orb down upon his desk, placing upon a small silver stand he had constructed to hold his finished projects. He picked up a second blank glass orb in his talons and fed magic into it, clearing his throat as he did so.

“My dearest Dinky Doo, if you are hearing this it is because I have died…”

 

 

 

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