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


399. 399

The sky to the east already looked troubled from this altitude. Bucky scowled, not liking what was ahead. They were moving with good speed as the sun slowly settled on the western horizon. Realising they would need more altitude, Bucky pulled the ship upwards. They plowed through a massive bank of clouds and Bucky watched as the fluffy whiteness was cleaved in twain by the ships passing through.

He had no real plan. He had no idea on what to do. Twilight Sparkle had quietly told him that she suspected that even Princess Celestia and Princess Luna together might actually be powerless against a storm of this size. Pegasi were able to stop smaller hurricanes and cyclones. Pegasi and unicorns working together had taken out somewhat larger hurricanes, a hallmark of intertribal cooperation, and very powerful unicorns like Lyra were capable of creating and even dispelling hurricanes, using them as weapons as she had done in Griffonholm, a terrifying ability of any sufficiently trained type three with an affinity to lightning magic. This however, this was beyond the scale of anything that Twilight Sparkle understood. There were no records of a storm like this. Not of this size. Even if she had wanted to help, a small part of Bucky’s brain quietly accepted the fact that even Celestia might have been powerless against a storm of this size and scale.

Some ponies were too stupid to listen to reason and were dumb enough to try anyways.

Bucky was one of those ponies. Scowling, Bucky raced his ship towards the danger.



His talons drumming upon the floor, Bucky looked down at the four faces looking up at him in fear. Three fillies, one colt, all four of them stowaways. Already, Bucky had sent off a message to Luna via shadow-link so that their worried parents would know. There was no turning around to send them home.

A short distance away, several enraged family members waited patiently, like slavering predatory beasts waiting to feed upon helpless prey.

“You stowed away on my ship… you do understand I hope, that under ancient Equestrian maritime law, I have the right to seize you as property and pressgang you into service… hmm, I could use four little backs to break with endless labour,” Bucky said as he thoughtfully reached up and stroked his chin with his talons. He heard four little foals swallowing and gulping.

“There is also the proud maritime tradition of the lash,” Lugus suggested.

“Lugus!” Bucky snapped. “We are not monsters!” he added as Sweetie Belle fell over on the floor and covered her eyes. He struggled to contain his need to smile.

“I don’t know, I think the lash is warranted!” Rarity stated in an icy voice, which caused Sweetie Belle to gibber with terror. The mare’s blue eyes glittered with barely contained rage.

“Scootaloo… how could you?” Rainbow Dash questioned as she stepped forward.

Watching carefully, Bucky saw Rainbow Dash raise her hoof slowly. He felt his muscles tense, knowing how Rainbow Dash tended to communicate. He readied his magic to stop her, prepared to intervene if he saw her hoof start to swing outwards.

But the blow never came. Rainbow Dash pulled her front hoof to her barrel and one wing whipped out instead. It struck Scootaloo on the snoot with a loud “POP!” sound. Scootaloo immediately went down to the floor, clutching her muzzle and sobbing.

Bucky felt an odd sense of pride for Rainbow Dash as the pegasus stood there, clutching and nursing at her own stinging wing, tears now streaming down her blue cheeks. The pegasus was learning.

“THAT HURTS!” Rainbow Dash cried as she tucked her wing against her side and danced around from the pain. “OW OW OW! Why do wing slaps have to hurt?”

So you never use them unnecessarily, Bucky responded mentally. He glanced at Rarity and Coco, both of whom still looked furious.

“I’m sorry,” Scootaloo apologised, crawling across the floor on her belly to Rainbow.

“I am too!” Rainbow replied as she flopped over on the floor with her foal and began to squeeze her. “Don’t screw up again, it hurts us both!” she commanded as she held Scootaloo close.

“I think we should allow them to choose,” Bucky said in a solemn voice, his eye lingering on Rainbow Dash, who seemed to have learned a valuable lesson in being a pegasus.

“Choose?” Rumble asked, his expression fearful.

“I am always in favour of allowing a foal to choose their own punishment,” Coco said in icy tones, still glaring at Sweetie Belle. “It helps them understand the consequences of what they do a little better."

“Oh we are so dead… this is worse than being covered in tree sap,” Apple Bloom grumbled as she began to sniffle. “I’m glad Applejack isn’t here… she’d be telling me to go find her a switch,” the filly said as she began to rub her own bottom, thinking of the times she had been asked to find a switch.

“You get to choose,” Bucky said, speaking slowly and carefully. “You can either walk the plank or you can do back breaking labour.”

“You can’t make us walk the plank!” Sweetie Belle squeaked.

“Walking the plank is a little extreme, but I can’t say I disapprove of it,” Rarity growled.

“Rarity!” Sweetie Belle wailed, looking at her sister in stunned disbelief.

“I’d rather work,” Apple Bloom said, closing her eyes and hanging her head.

“Me too,” Rumble agreed as he looked around fearfully.

“I guess I’ll work,” Sweetie Belle muttered in defeat.

“Scootaloo chooses to work,” Rainbow Dash murmured as she continued to hold the foal close. “And I know she isn’t going to disappoint me again, right?”

“No, no more,” Scootaloo promised in a muffled voice as she clung to Rainbow Dash.

“But the plank is the easy way out… just a short walk and a long drop. Punishment over,” Bucky said in a voice of terrible finality.

“I’m still liking the plank idea,” Coco said in furious tones.

“The plank does seem like the ideal way to be rid of troublesome little sisters,” Rarity agreed, her eyes narrowed as her brow furrowed. “I’m so angry that I’m giving myself wrinkles. Wrinkles! You are giving your big sister wrinkles Sweetie Belle!”

“I’ll be extra good! I’ll clean up my room! I’ll clean up after myself! I’ll do dishes! I’ll start remembering to flush the toilet when I’m done! I’ll stop trying to cook in the kitchen!” Sweetie Belle begged in a pained squeak.

Mouing, Rarity glanced at Coco and raised one eyebrow.

“Labour it is then,” Coco said hesitantly. “But I demand that the plank be left as an option if she starts to whine at any time.”

“Agreed,” Bucky responded, looking at Coco and then at Rarity. Bucky found that he liked Coco a great deal, appreciating her way of thinking. He would certainly trust his own foals with her, she knew what the score was and how to play this game.

Not knowing what else to do, Sweetie Belle grabbed Apple Bloom and squeezed, her eyes clenched shut and both foals sat there together trembling. Apple Bloom also closed her eyes and redoubled her efforts to pull Sweetie Belle closer.

“This was a bad idea. I tried to tell you girls that anypony with one eye and an airship was a pirate… and none of you believed me. This is gonna be awful,” Rumble grumbled. The little pegasus colt heaved a dejected sigh. “Still, whatever is about to happen will be better than whatever my parents are going to do to me.”

“If you work hard, I will plead for mercy on your behalf,” Bucky offered as he looked Rumble in the eye, not sure how he felt about being called a pirate.

“I’ll take that deal,” Rumble acknowledged, now looking hopeful.



As the group filed out of the common area, Bucky pulled Rainbow Dash aside, gently prodding her with his right front hoof. The pair watched the rest of the group leave, the foals all huddled together with one another, and after they had gone some ways down the hall, Rainbow Dash turned to look at Bucky.

“You did good,” Bucky whispered in a low voice. “How is the wing?”

“It hurts,” Rainbow whined, her nostrils flaring. “My wings are so sensitive.”

“Did your mother wing slap you?” Bucky quietly inquired.

“No… I never knew her. It was only me and my father… he was good to me, maybe a little too good to me. He never touched me. Well, when I was home with him. It’s complicated. But I was always off at flight camp or training camp or some kind of camp,” Rainbow Dash said in a low voice, her expression dark and troubled. “Being a parent is a lot harder than I thought it would be. I do stupid stuff and I feel really ashamed of myself.”

“What were these camps like?” Bucky questioned, his surviving eyebrow raising.

“Lots of bullies. Lots of military guard brats. Flight camp wasn’t bad, not at first, I suppose it got worse. I had to protect Fluttershy a lot. I took a lot of whippings for her,” Rainbow said, looking off at the wall and looking troubled.

“Whippings?” Bucky asked.

“Nothing too bad. They wanted to motivate poor Flutters. Whip the weakness out. I’d offer to take her place and they didn’t mind because it made her cry even more. Eventually, she left. And I went on to other camps. Eventually flight school, but I dropped out,” Rainbow explained.

“So there was a lot of corporal punishment?” Bucky questioned, looking at Rainbow Dash and studying her face as best as he could.

“Well yeah… most of these camps and schools are run by former guards. Military discipline is good for little pegasi they say. Keeps us on the straight and narrow. Some of the instructors are pretty cool… others were just… I dunno… bad ponies I guess? I was always screwing up and getting in trouble, so I had to deal with a lot of disciplinary training and the really rough instructors. They whipped me into shape. Made me a powerful flier. Taught me how to push my body beyond pain and keep functioning where most pegasi would begin to pass out. I can pull g-forces that would make most pegasi scream… I don’t mean to brag, I’m sorry,” Rainbow Dash answered. She shook her head sadly. “Whenever I screwed up, it was a hoof to the head or a swift kick in my backside. And then I had to fly with a swimmy head and throbbing inside of my skull.”

“And this is why you can rainboom,” Bucky stated. As he spoke, his own internal thoughts focused on Rainbow Dash’s other behaviours and all of the bad pegasus habits that she had inadvertently taught Twilight. He thought of Derpy’s many reflections and long conversations during sleepless nights.

“I suppose so… I guess. I dunno. Maybe?” Rainbow replied. “I really love Scoots. I almost thumped her a good one for what she did… love is a funny thing. I actually heard Flash Sentry’s voice in my head scolding me for even thinking about it. Every time I screw up he smacks me around a little and then afterwards he holds me and lets me know he still loves me.”

“Sort of like what you did for Scootaloo?” Bucky responded, thinking back to when Derpy had wing slapped poor Sparkler senseless for getting married and not saying anything. Afterwards, Derpy had held Sparkler close and made sure that Sparkler knew that she was loved before Derpy would let her go.

“I guess I did exactly what Flash might have done in that situation. Maybe. I feel so confused right now,” Rainbow Dash answered, shaking her head and looking troubled. “You were a really awesome parental type figure in there.”

“Thank you. I try. Dinky has some troublesome moments and so does Piña, but they are good foals. To be honest, I really don’t have to work very hard to make them behave. And Sentinel… Sentinel doesn’t even try to get in trouble. The thought of being in trouble sends him into fits of anxiety and neurosis,” Bucky said, smiling a faint smile.

“I want to be a good mother. I’m not sure I know how to be. It scares me Bucky. I was fine with screwing my own life up, I was only hurting me… but things are different now. I don’t like this. Not one bit,” Rainbow Dash said as she began to sniffle. “I’m so scared of failure. Failure makes me just shut down inside. Sometimes I’ll just quit something before I get involved if I think I’m going to fail at it. It’s easier to deal with quitting than it is dealing with the knots in my guts when I think I’m gonna fail. And now there is Spike, and Glass Slipper… and Scootaloo… and I lay awake at night worrying that I’m going to fail them.”

“When we get home, I want you to spend some time talking with Derpy. If you ask her nicely she will tell you everything you need to know about being a mother,” Bucky said in a low soft voice to Rainbow Dash. “Berry Punch too. I have been told that no creature feels motherhood so keenly as a pegasus mare does. You are the Element of Loyalty… so I am imagining that you are probably overcome with emotion.”

“Yeah,” Rainbow sniffled in reply.

“Go spend some time with Scootaloo before I have to work her to death,” suggested Bucky in a soft voice.

“Okay,” Rainbow squeaked as she wiped at her eyes and nose with her wings.




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