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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Princess Luna had far too many foals to look after lately. The Nursery had a new foal. After a long and disturbing interrogation, the new ‘foal’ had told them much. Now, a few hours after midnight, Luna was putting one very foalish little foal to bed. Pulling back the blankets with her magic, she gently laid Bucky down upon the silk sheets and pulled the blankets over him.

“Deserter,” Bucky said sleepily as his head hit the pillow.

“Yes Bucky, he is,” Luna said in a soft melodic voice.

“He just wanted the fighting to end… he wanted for all of the fighting to be over. He burned off his mark so the others like him would not recognise him so easily… do you think that would have worked?” Bucky questioned as Luna tucked him in.

“I don’t know,” Luna answered honestly. “He was certainly trying very hard to make it work. He was clever. But he was also only one pony and he had to sleep sometime. You were lucky catching him when you did. He slept during the day. Always with the lights on, just like the others.”

“I am becoming afraid of the light,” Bucky admitted and then yawned, revealing fangs and jagged molars. “I feel so vulnerable and exposed in daylight. I find myself panicking sometimes when I am out in the open in well lit areas.”

“I know Buckminster,” Luna cooed. “There is very little that you fear but I know what plagues your mind,” the alicorn said softly as she gently stroked Bucky’s face with her wing.

“You need to be nice to them… our perpetual foals. I know you find it troubling, but what I did was mercy. Our deserter seemed almost happy to have all of the troubling adult thoughts taken out of his mind. He was happy to see his fellows,” Bucky mumbled, his words becoming less distinct as he struggled against sleep. “I can’t sleep alone Luna… the troubling dreams will come… all the dead things I’ve killed will ask me why I did it… please don’t leave me alone Luna.”

Pausing, Luna did not know what to do. She looked around the room, trying to figure out what to say. There was nopony to put in the bed with Bucky, his wives were all at home. As she stood there debating what to do, she watched Bucky’s eye close as he slipped into much needed sleep. Feeling a strange painful sensation in her heart, Luna slipped away from the bed, knowing that she was leaving Bucky alone, but she did not know what else to do.

As she paused for a moment in the door, she killed the lights, leaving Bucky in the dark.

 

 

The house was filled with the usual early morning activity when Bucky returned home. He was immediately pinned to the floor by one very aroused grey pegasus mare who was a little too excited to see him, and as he lay on the ground, helpless, being smooched, Princess Luna stepped over the two canoodling equines so she could enter the kitchen, where she was immediately set upon by Loch Skimmer, who told her about her horrible secondary school teacher.

“You -smooch- did good -smooch- in saving -smooch- foals,” Derpy said as she worked Bucky over, holding his head between her forehooves. “I -smooch- was told all -smooch- about it -smooch- by Sparkler and Ripple -smooch- and Sentinel. This -smooch- is -smooch- why -smooch- I -smooch- married -smooch- you, -smooch- because -smooch- you -smooch- look -smooch- after -smooch- foals,” she added breathlessly, kissing Bucky all over.

“Don’t get him too worked up, I need him,” Barley announced from in the kitchen. “We’re heading off for the brewery. A day doing what he’s meant to do will do him good.”

“But I have things I need to do,” Bucky protested, his face soaked with pegasus slobber.

“YOU’RE GOING!” Luna commanded, her tone one of imperious authority. “BREW BEER OR FACE THE CONSEQUENCES!”

“Fine,” Bucky grumbled from beneath Derpy. “I suppose it would be nice… just to let everything slide and make beer.”

 

 

The scent of the brewery was almost overwhelming for Bucky. Stepping in from the cold, the heat of the brewery washed over Bucky and the smell caused his muscles to relax. He stood for several moments, just taking it all in, and feeling rather glad that he had come. After the events of the past few days, he needed downtime.

“The beer is already brewed. Today, we’re doing quality testing and bottling,” Barley announced in a somewhat sleepy sounding lilt. He nudged Berry Punch and then eyed the griffons who had tagged along.

“That smell,” Bucky said, sniffing. “I’ve never smelled anything quite like it.”

“I call it ‘Dinky Doo Brew’ and you are smelling sweet potatoes, Dinky’s favourite food,” Berry Punch explained as she moved around checking on various gauges and dials.

“Huh?” Bucky grunted, looking around the brewery, which had changed a great deal since he had last been in here. There were gas lines now. This place was ultra-modern. It looked more like an alchemical laboratory.

“Well, everypony always goes with the usual pumpkin flavoured beer for the fall and the winter. Barley and I were brainstorming and Dinky Doo suggested a sweet potato pie beer,” Berry Punch answered as she stood near a massive vat.

“Aye… it is an idea whose time has come. We already have a buyer for speciality brews in Vanhoover, an old fella I know from when I lived there, and we have a quarter of a million gold bit advance for exclusivity in the Vanhoover area, with the condition we are free to sell in Ponyville,” Barley said as he wobbled around on rickety knees.

“A quarter of a million gold bits?” Bucky inquired.

“There’s money to be made in booze, does that shock ye lad?” Barley muttered.

“With lousy equipment, we made good beer,” Berry Punch announced, looking proud. “With awesome equipment, we make greatbeer,” she added. “Plus, Barley has a bunch of high test liquors being laid away so they can age. Bucky, even if we weren’t royals, we’d never have to worry about money ever again. Cadance likes to buy our stuff for the many festivals of the Crystal Empire, the crystal ponies love to drink and screw and make no attempt to hide what they do… hey, that rhymes.”

“Celestia secured a batch of special pale ale for the Summer Sun Celebration next year. And by batch, I mean the big dame is asking for enough beer to get the entire guard completely hammered,” Barley announced as he began to write things down on a clipboard.

Overwhelmed, Bucky eased himself down into a chair and took a deep breath. “Why didn’t somepony tell me?” he asked.

“We planned to tell you, and we just did. You’ve been busy doing other things. ‘Farting Filly Ale’ has been a smash success. We took a lot of heat for the bottle label, and our critics all say that ponies just buy the beer for a chance to jerk off to the bottle, which has a mare presenting her pucker, but we’ve done well with it. Also, I’ve refined the raspberry flavoured hoofeweizen you created. ‘Pink Pussy’ might have a funny name, but lots of ponies drink it. The pink kitty cat on the label is instantly recognisable on a shelf. Plus, Cadance tends to buy it out,” Berry Punch answered as she began to look over the bottling machine. “We’re being held back by this machine. We can only bottle so many beers. We need a bigger machine, but for that, we’d need a factory. The bottle shortage makes us sell a lot of kegs though!”

“This machine is inefficient. Look at all the wasted space,” one of the griffons said.

Suddenly looking very shrewd, Barley looked at the griffons. “You think you could build a better machine?” the old curmudgeon asked, raising his eyebrow.

“No,” the griffon replied, looking at the griffoness beside him. “I don’t think I could build a better one… I know,” the griffon replied in an insufferably smug voice. “In all that wasted space that makes the machine showy, you could have three, maybe four lines of beer being bottled. It wouldn’t look pretty, but it would be efficient.”

“Show me,” Barley commanded. “Prove it. I’ll make it worth yer while.”

Nodding, the griffon sat up on his haunches. “I can do that.”

 

 

Smacking his lips, Bucky gulped down another test glass. He belched ferociously and then sat back in his chair as he set down the glass. “That batch… that beer was not made from grain.”

“Yes Bucky,” Berry Punch said as she looked over a manifest. “We offer several varieties. That was a no grain beer made from sweet potatoes. We plan to offer several versions, including one that is specifically seasoned to taste more like pie. We have to add sweet potato flavouring back to the brew… brewing with the actual sweet potatoes, the starch and the sugars ferment away. The only drawback is the actual potato brew comes out at high alcohol by volume. The weaker batches come out at about eleven percent, the high test batches come out at about twenty two.”

“That’s a drawback?” Bucky asked and then belched again. He eyed the glass of beer that Barley was setting down in front of him. It was very, very orange.

“The customers feel it is a little… strong,” Barley grumbled, shaking his head. “Most customers are used to a beer that is only four or five percent. We’re having some trouble passing government regulations… there is some trouble listing it as a beer because of the alcohol content… it’s a bleeding headache.”

Lifting the glass, Bucky’s tastebuds were violently assaulted by something sweet, bitter, and had the distinct taste of autumn. He swished it around a little bit, took another drink, held it in his mouth while looking thoughtful for a moment, and then killed the glass. There wasn’t a lot of sweet potato flavour to be found, but there was a spiciness to the brew.

“Aye, that’s a twenty two. It has a nice kick to it,” Barley muttered.

“The Lord of Winter approves,” Bucky announced, and then let fly with a disgusting gurgly belch that made the glasses on the table rattle. “Mmm… Berry Punch is looking quite attractive.”

“Hooves off, sweet thing,” Berry Punch remarked, looking at Bucky and giving him a wink. “We’re working,” she said, her expression becoming coy.

“But I’ve been such a good pony,” Bucky said in a morose voice of disappointment.

 

 

This was just the sort of day Bucky needed. He found that he could think, he could sort out everything that had happened, and he resolved to do this more often. His mind felt quieted. He was able to sort out some of his feelings about Mister Rich. The mirror travelers. He wandered about the brewery, feeling a strange peace he had not known for a while.

Looking back at his own backside, he examined one of his hops plants, and noticed something odd. He had lost a small part of his mark due to scarring, but as he was staring at it now, he noticed that a patch of pelt had somehow grown back and his mark was now whole. Something about the sight calmed him, eased his feeling of worry, and he quietly began to wonder just how much stock he put into the ideas and concepts of cutie marks. Seeing his mark made whole again caused a massive flood of emotions for Bucky, and for a moment, he thought he might break down in tears. The wolves had stolen a lot from him, and Bucky had always felt that the tiny missing piece of his cutie mark indicated that the wolves have stolen away a part of his destiny.

 

 

The stallion was light grey, almost smoke coloured, with a dark brown mane and tail. He wore a hat, a broad brimmed hat that was far more common in the southern territories, and he stood quietly in the small office space of the brewery.

Barley exchanged a glance with Berry Punch and then with Bucky, afterwards, he allowed his gaze to return to the stocky earth pony stallion. He cleared his throat and looked the earth pony in the eye. “Yer a quiet sort.”

“I only say what needs to be said and save my energy for the road,” the stallion responded, looking Barley in the eye.

“Every two weeks, I’ll need a load of kegs hauled to Appleloosa. The saloon owner has a thing about kegs of beer and trains. He believes the chugging of the train makes the kegs either explosive or causes them to go flat. So he’s paying good bits for this transport. He says he has two pegasi that will tag along and keep you safe,” Barley explained to the earth pony.

“I do believe a wagon would shake up the kegs more than a train would,” the earth pony said knowingly, his brow furrowing. “A job is a job though. He wants it hauled by wagon, I’ll haul it by wagon.”

“Mister Longhaul Hoofer, you come with good credentials. Right now there are a lot of ponies looking for work. We chose you. We’re placing our reputation upon your shoulders,” Berry Punch stated.

“Aye, we’re not the standard sort of employer. We look after our own. We pay very, very well. Do well and there are benefits,” Barley said, still looking the earth pony in the eye.

“I’ve checked you out,” Longhaul said with a faint drawl. “I’m picky about who I work for, when I can afford to be.”

“This works out and you prove to be reliable, and you will be the first one we speak to when we start distributing Apple Family products down in Appleloosa. By spring, we’ll be selling apple cider, apple wine, apple brandy, and applejack. Not the Element of Honesty, but the booze,” Berry Punch said, raising her eyebrow. “That’ll mean a run every week. We’ve already spoken with the saloon owner. He’s bought exclusive rights to distribute in Appleloosa.”

“You know, there is no good point in hauling an empty wagon up here from Appleloosa. Might I recommend filling said wagon with some kind of goods to make the trip worthwhile?”

“What would you recommend?” Bucky inquired, looking at the earth pony curiously.

“Well, there is all kinds of produce, we grow a lot of agave and you can make Appleloosan tequila from that. And my sweet wife… she grows chili peppers. Hot ones,” Longhaul replied. Reaching up with a hoof, he tipped his hat back. “Not to boast or anything… but even the buffalo are afraid of them.”

“Um, while all of that is nice, I have to ask… what quality of sand does one have in Appleloosa?” Bucky inquired, looking at the earth pony with an hopeful expression. “Cause I could always use more sand…”

 

 

 

 

 

 

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