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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Moving through the hospital corridors, Princess Luna felt troubled. She was tired, sleepy even, but she forced herself to carry on. There were things to do, trouble to look after, and her beloved subjects needed to be checked on. Nurses and patients hurried to get out of her way. Her sister, Celestia, wanted Luna to be seen on public missions of goodwill to help Luna once again gain some trust. Too many ponies were still entirely too afraid of her.

There was an Element to look after. Celestia had sent a message and made it very clear that Luna was to make sure that the Element of Honesty was well, and that her mental state was stable. Luna realised that her sister had seen her mistake, the error of her ways, when Celestia had sent the Elements off to Griffonholm on a gambit. Now, Celestia was concerned and trying to make up for her mistake.

The Night Mare stomped down the hall, her steel shod hooves striking sparks from the tile with each step. Her lip was curled back in a scowl, revealing white square teeth. As she passed, she left the unmistakable scent of ozone in her wake.

Princess Luna rounded the corner and shoved through a pair of double doors, entering the wing where foals and adolescents were looked after. An orderly shrieked as Luna entered and then scurried away, her tail streaming out behind her as she ran.

This was not turning out to be a good day. A changeling had been found in Ponyville and it wasn’t Slate, the one changeling that was supposed to be living in Ponyville. Already the bug was being shipped off to Hidden Hollow Fortress to be processed and the missing pony was now being investigated. Luna still felt troubled about the three irreversibly brain damaged lobotomites now living deep within the bowels of Canterlot Castle that wanted to call her ‘mama’ and asked to be cuddled.

Finally, Luna came to a door. She took several deep breaths, trying to regain her composure. She fluffed out her wings, which probably needed preening. She blinked a few times, wondering how bloodshot her eyes might be. Standing before the door, Princess Luna put on a mask of serenity, turning herself into the calm all knowing, all seeing Princess of the Night.

 

 

“Princess Luna,” Applejack said, looking up from the chair where she was sitting beside the bed. The earth pony took off her hat and clutched it to her barrel.

“Applejack, Silver Shill, how are you?” Luna asked, looking at one earth pony and then the other, her voice quieted so she would not disturb the foal in the bed, who was sleeping. Already, Luna could feel the foal’s troubled dreams. She allowed her magic to flow freely, making sure that the foal stayed asleep during her visit.

“We’re just trying to make it through this,” Silver Shill answered, shaking his head.

“I’m nervous,” Applejack said, her voice a whisper. “In a few hours, she’s… she’s gonna have some kind of termination procedure. Doctor’s say she is too young to carry to term. She’s gonna have to have something called a ‘D and C’ or something, I dunno, I didn’t catch all of it. These doctors need to slow down when they talk.”

“I am really very sorry,” Princess Luna said in a soft voice, her pain sincere and genuine.

“Doctors said she might end up sterile because of this. There are a lot potential complications. She’s suffered something called a uterine prolapse. They don’t know how bad it is until they get inside of there,” Silver Shill said as he turned and looked out the window.

“Princess Luna… is there something you can do… I know that you can do things in dreams,” Applejack asked, her words slow and hesitant.

“Are you asking me to alter her memory?” Princess Luna questioned.

“I don’t know what I’m asking,” Applejack stated in response, shaking her head in a confused manner. “Can you do that?”

“She deserves a chance to be happy and recover from this,” Silver Shill said, still staring vacantly out the window.

“I agree,” Princess Luna replied, looking first at Silver Shill and then at Applejack.

“Can you make all of this go away?” Applejack inquired, looking suspiciously at Princess Luna, her brows furrowing and her green eyes flashing. “She’s been brainwashed. I said something about the earth pony way and she starts talking about earth pony servitude and all the things he did to punish the earth ponies he kept. The torture that went on in the open and the other… things… that went on in private. At least he didn’t do that in front of the other foals.”

“I am, in fact, capable of making this all go away,” Luna admitted, now looking uncomfortable, her mask of serenity now slipping from her face.

Applejack did not respond right away, she sat staring at the clock on the wall, her face going through a range of emotions. Her eyes shifted to the foal in the bed and she watched Babs as she slept. “I gotta know… what did Bucky do to this… this… I don’t even know what to call him.”

“I cannot tell you exactly what Buckminster has done, but I can say that what Bucky did was utterly unspeakable, if that makes you feel any better,” Luna answered in a cold voice. “He has done things that have even chilled my blood. The perpetrator has suffered a fate worse than death,” the alicorn answered honestly.

“Well then, that actually makes me feel better. I think I owe him a drink,” Applejack drawled in a hateful spite-filled voice. “So can you fix her?”

Nodding, her eyes filled with pain, Luna's teal eyes locked with Applejack’s green eyes. “I can take away the troubled memories. She will have lost a large span of time. There will be a gap in her memory. I could even give her false memories, but in this instance… I do believe that it would be best to leave it blank. Tell her that she has been asleep. That she has been sick. Start thinking now what you wish to tell her.”

“Is this right?” Silver Shill questioned in a quavering voice. His tail twitched and one hind leg jerked, kicking his hoof into the ground.

“It ain’t about right or wrong sugarcube… it’s about what is necessary. Our own personal feelings don’t enter into this. We gotta do what’s right for Babs and then just sort through our own issues after the fact,” Applejack said in a pained voice, her eyes closing as she spoke.

“So this is what it feels like to be a father,” Silver Shill said as he turned around from the window. He gazed down upon the dark orange foal in the bed. “It occurs to me that if you can make her forget, that you could also make us forget. I don’t want to forget. Maybe there is something wrong with me, but I want to remember this. I want to remember that something happened and that the pony responsible was punished.”

“I understand,” Luna stated, looking over at Silver Shill. “You want to know that there is justice in the world.” The alicorn turned to look at the foal in the bed and her ears splayed out sideways.

“So Silver, this becomes our burden. We carry this upon our shoulders. Together. You and I. Like being hitched to a wagon together,” Applejack said in a raspy angry voice.

“What about the newspapers and what little bit of information that the public knows?” Silver Shill asked, his eyes closing as he thought about everything involved in this.

“There is nothing that can directly link this to Babs. I will make sure that all of the foals in this are protected,” Luna responded, her words carrying many layers of hidden meaning.

“You’re going to make them forget each other?” Applejack inquired, looking horrified.

“How is it any worse than making Babs forget what was done?” Luna retorted, looking at Applejack as she responded.

“Fair point. I suppose we can’t pick and choose between different evils,” Applejack answered as she rubbed her head and closed her eyes. “I don’t know how Bucky handles this. He just does what needs to be done… I’m starting to have second thoughts already.”

Stepping closer to the bed and touching the sleeping foal, Princess Luna’s expression became one of extreme pain. “Buckminster suffers far more than you will ever understand.”

Crossing the room and then standing near Applejack, Silver Shill hung his head. “This becomes our burden. I suppose I’m ready to be hitched to this wagon. I can’t think of a better pony to pull it with me.”

“I love you Silver,” Applejack whispered.

“I love you more,” Silver replied. “I suppose this is a fair trade, offering up our own happiness in exchange for hers.”

“Spend time talking with Twilight Sparkle and Buckminster. They will see you through this,” Princess Luna stated as her horn began to glow, a blend of harmony and shadow magic manifesting along its length. “Keep your story simple…”

 

 

Feeling conflicting feelings of relief and the sudden urge to throw up, Applejack watched as Babs Seed slowly woke up and wiggled feebly in the bed. “No no sugarcube, don’t tug on that there tube in your nose,” the earth pony mare said gently. Applejack looked at Silver Shill, who looked exhausted.

Babs Seed let out a raspy sounding cough and then went still. Her half opened eyes looked around, her gaze unfocused as she peered around the room. She whimpered, then squeaked, and then she shuddered as she stared cross-eyed at the tube sticking out of her nose.

“There’s a cup of ice chips here… they’ve melted a bit. Silver has been getting ice chips every quarter of an hour for you, waiting for you to wake up. We’ve both been worried,” Applejack said in a soft voice as she stroked Babs and brushed the foal’s mane out of her face. “You don’t know Silver yet, but you will,” she added as she looked down at Babs.

As Applejack watched, Babs’ eyes closed and the foal drifted off back into the realms of drug induced slumber. Applejack looked up at her husband, aware that something had changed between the two of them. They were earth ponies sharing a burden.

“Silver Shill, I ain’t proud of what I’ve done today. I’ve allowed a life to be aborted. I’ve chosen a lie. I’ve gone against everything I stand for… and I’m already having some trouble figuring out how to live with myself,” Applejack admitted, scrubbing at her eyes with her foreleg.

 

 

“So what do you remember?” Applejack inquired, her voice one of exhaustion.

“I dunno… I remember Tirek,” Babs replied in a raspy croak. “I remember Sunflower being killed… I heard her screaming when the building fell,” she added in a dry scratchy voice.

Carefully, Applejack spooned in a few ice chips, then watched and waited as Babs feebly chewed on them, sucking down the water as she did so. “You were injured. You got hurt real bad like. You were only recently returned to us… Silver, help me,” Applejack said, falling silent, unable to lie, the words sticking in her throat. As she spooned in more ice chips, Applejack began to weep, tears streaming down her cheeks.

“You were injured. You were lost from your family for a long time. You were recently found. And you’re suffering from a little amnesia,” Silver Shill said, none of his words technically a lie. “You finally came up out of the darkness after existing in a terrible nightmare.”

“I can’t feel anything,” Babs whispered in a confused voice.

“You had to have some surgery. You’re gonna have a few more. I don’t know how many. But you’re with us now. You’re home. You're safe now. No more… no more Tirek,” Applejack said in a strangled utterance. The mare’s hooves trembled as she held the small spoon over the cup of ice chips. “Discord killed Tirek. Equestria is being rebuilt.”

“How long have I been out?” Babs asked.

“You… you… you…” Applejack stammered uselessly, all her mind could think about was Babs being tortured for those long months. Long enough to be several months pregnant, likely from a summer estrus.

“You were out for a couple of months,” Silver Shill said, saying what Applejack could not finish. “It has been very difficult for Applejack. Your whole family was so worried about you. But you are with us now and you are safe.”

“I’m glad to be with family,” Babs croaked. “How’s Apple Bloom?”

 

 

 

 

 

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