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 pearlescent white alicorn stood locked in concentration. Twilight Sparkle and Rainbow Dash had both willingly offered up their memories of the event, and Celestia had pulled everything she needed from them. Before Celestia, a large projected screen slowly formed, the picture grey and void, nothing yet to see.

Everything in the room vibrated with the intense magical energies being summoned. This was top tier magic, a magic exclusive to type fives, and a skill that Twilight Sparkle was still practicing.

She carefully studied Celestia hoping to perform the spell better herself.

Eventually, images began to form on the projected screen, showing images of what had taken place. The image zoomed in, showing everything in perfect detail, and sounds became easy to hear.

The image played backwards, to the beginning. The image began to move forward at normal speed, and the doorbell was rung. A few moments later…

“CLAN PICKLED CLAIMS HIM AS THEIR OWN!”

“Oh dear,” Celestia gasped, hearing these words.

“Clan Pickled sends their regards. Consider that friendly slap across the cheek my invitation to war you heartless bitch.”

“OH NO!” cried Celestia, now in total panic, her wings fully extended and flapping in alarm, and she began to dance around on her hooves.

The sounds of splintering bone thundered through the room and all three ponies winced together, sensing pain.

“You, you broke the sacred trust that exists between a mother and her foals. OUR SACRED DUTY! OUR RIGHT! OUR PRIVILEGE! WHAT YOU DID WAS UNTHINKABLE! CURSE YOUR WOMB AND DAMN YOUR EYES!”

Celestia began to sob, Twilight sat silently, and Rainbow Dash growled.

“But Berry is right!” Rainbow Dash insisted. There was no reply.

“You took a beautiful mind, a wonderful soul, and you left him twisted and broken. I should kill you for what you’ve done. You are a shame to mothers everywhere. What I am going to do is even worse though. You are going to live. Clan Pickled has taken what you have so carelessly destroyed and thrown away. Consider the peace broken!”

Celestia stumbled and fell to the floor, horrible sounding shuddering sobs now coming from mouth, her long neck and throat giving them unusual resonance.

Twilight tried to comfort her fallen mentor, gently placing a foreleg around Celestia’s neck and stroking her gently.

“But she did do that!” Rainbow Dash said angrily. “Berry is just being honest!”

After a few moments of the image playing, there was an awful meaty sounding “thwump!” and an accompanying image that made Celestia roll over on her side and clutch her groin with her forehooves, nearly crushing Twilight Sparkle, who cried out in alarm, trying not to be squashed under the much larger alicorn.

Even Rainbow Dash cringed again.

“I doubt you will ever have foals ever again, but I had to make sure,”

Silence.

“This is war. Come near me, my family, or my foals, I WILL KILL YOU!”

“I ain't saying that Berry is right, but I understand what she did! This was a moment of brutal honesty! I might have done the same!” Rainbow Dash said, now clutching her groin again.

“How is this an act of honesty?” Twilight snapped, squirming uncomfortably and clenching her hind legs together, or trying to as she stood.

“Berry Punch told the truth! She said what was in her heart and she didn’t hold back! I might have done the same. Some stuff just makes my pegasus blood boil. If somepony was to ever touch one feather on your wings Twilight, I probably would kill them…” Rainbow Dash confessed. “She made an honest mistake, but I might have done the same.”

Twilight Sparkle lept over Celestia and tackled Rainbow Dash, hugging her tightly, overcome with emotion and crying.

“My Ponyville Project,” Celestia mumbled, still sobbing.

Twilight Sparkle, still hugging Rainbow Dash, turned to look at her fallen mentor and felt a painful stab of resentment and more than a little anger. The tiny spark of anger ignited a furious blaze, which quickly became a burning conflagration, and then a blistering inferno of seething rage. And the resentment, forged in the fires of rage, became a tiny shard of hatred that pierced her heart painfully, making it bleed.

Twilight Sparkle gnashed her teeth, she then closed her eyes, and then she teleported away without a single word of parting, leaving Celestia all alone, sobbing on the floor and utterly alone in her moment of pain.

 

 

Later that afternoon in Ponyville…

Princess Twilight Sparkle stood in the middle of the living room of one Derpy Doo Hooves, looking angry, confused, and a little bewildered.

Before her sat three ponies. One looked sad, one looked confused, and one looked defiant. Bucky looked confused, deep conflict on his face, Derpy looked sad, and Berry remained defiant.

“Look, I cannot agree with what you have done, but I do have some understanding of why you did it. You were a lone earth pony taking on two unicorns. That explains the initial assault for incapacitation. I don’t fully understand the follow through assault,” Twilight Sparkle said.

“I do,” Rainbow Dash quipped, her voice unusually low. “Tradition from the old days, punishment for a mother that brought harm to her foal, or to another foal. Back when everypony went nuts and mothers were poisoning and killing each other’s foals. The black days, when so many pegasi were exiled from Cloudsdale. They talk about this in a Daring Do book. Well, sort of. The days I mean. And some of the punishments.”

Twilight rubbed her face with her fetlock.

“My mother will be fine. She has access to the best care available, an endless supply of bits and the best unicorn doctors that Canterlot has to offer. I bet she’ll be out of the bed faster than I was,” Bucky said, giving Berry a squeeze. “I doubt there will be any lasting damage. There isn’t much the unicorn doctors in Canterlot cannot heal if you have the bits and the right name. My mother has both.”

“Look, Princess, here is the bottom line. In a declared state of war, I have a lot more options to protect my foals than I do otherwise. You cannot look me straight in the eye and say that the Canterlot unicorns do not abuse the law. You do know about the clearances, right?”

“Yes, yes I do, which is why I am here trying to be a good Princess and sort this out. For now, you are to remain here, in your home, with your family, until such a time that I can figure out what is to be done with you. I know that you will do what I ask because you want me to help you, right?” Twilight Sparkle asked.

Berry Punch nodded slowly.

“Confinement in your home is only the beginning. I do not know what is going to be done with you, but I will try to make sure that it is fair. What you did was wrong, and I do not agree with it, but I have some understanding as to why now, not that this makes anything easier to accept,” Twilight said, her breathing somewhat laboured. Her mind was racing and she was having trouble holding everything together. Fillydelphia weighed heavily on her thoughts. Celestia’s visions danced through her mind.

“Look, what happened a long time ago is horrible, and to be honest, I cannot say that it won’t happen again, because it is still happening in some ways,” Twilight said, looking pensive. “I really wish I could reassure you and say that you had nothing to worry about. I cannot honestly do that however. I know that even now, they still sometimes sweep foals from the Shetlands and raise them in mainland orphanages because of what happened and the public outcry over the barbaric practices of herd marriage that take place in the Shetlands,” Twilight muttered, rubbing her head and trying to keep her eye from twitching.

“That needs to stop,” Derpy protested, her voice cracking with sadness.

“Yeah it does,” Twilight agreed. “And somepony needs to make it stop.”

“Word is going to spread about this. Ponies will not be able to ignore this any longer,” Rainbow Dash said, rubbing Twilight on the shoulder. “War means serious business. This will be in the papers. It will get ponies talking. Maybe something good will come out of all of this. At least, I hope so. Derpy, the flock has your back. Berry Punch, you are a numbskull and I am really really angry with you right now, but the flock has your back as well. All of you. We’ll sort this out. Berry, I need your word that you are willing to make compensation for this.”

“I am willing to make this right, but I want this oppression to stop first. When that happens, I’ll do whatever it takes,” Berry promised.

“Then I need to make this oppression stop so you can hold yourself accountable and this can be dealt with,” Twilight said. “I need your word as well.”

“You have my word, I give you my word that I will do whatever is necessary to make amends and see this through,” Berry assured.

“Good. Then I give you my word that I am going to make this oppression stop, one way or another. We need this settled,” Twilight agreed.

 

 

Princess Luna trotted down the long hall towards Celestia’s quarters, feeling flustered and confused. The sun was up late. It should have settled down and gone to other parts of the world almost nine minutes ago. Princess Luna had been forced to do it herself and now she was on her way to discover why her sister had been so lax in her duties.

When she reached the door, she didn’t bother knocking, she shoved past the guards and kicked the door open, looking around the room. What she saw alarmed her. The entire room had been completely trashed. The mirror was broken. Things had been thrown. And there was an enormous lump in the middle of the bed, hidden under a blanket.

Princess Luna jerked the blankets from the bed and saw her sister curled into a fetal position, softly sobbing, not saying anything.

“What is the meaning of this?” Luna demanded. “You have failed in your duties.”

“We are at war sister, there is war between houses once again,” Celestia mumbled, almost incoherently.

“I’ve heard some talk, but I see no signs of war,” Luna stated matter of factly.

“A member of House Avarice came to the palace earlier this day and asked to buy the services of the guards as mercenaries. They also inquired as to where to buy mercenaries,” Celestia whimpered.

“So they have no army?” Luna asked.

“No,” Celestia admitted.

“Is the mare in any danger of dying?” Luna questioned.

“No. She is fine. She is getting the best treatment that bits can buy, the best care  that is available to ponies of her social class. She’s going to make a full recovery in a day or two,” Celestia said hollowly.

“I do not see the problem,” Luna said, scowling. “Stop being neurotic! You are no better than the unicorns you look after!”

“Ponyville has a standing army,” Celestia said, collapsing into fresh sobs. “The two pegasi flocks have united into one unified body. They have banners Luna, banners!

“And where is Twilight Sparkle, why has she not restored order?” Luna said, puzzled, and looking rather miffed.

Celestia did not reply, she merely pointed to a scroll on the bedside table.

Luna began to read, her face becoming more and more confused as she did so. Her jaw hung open, her eyes went wide, and finally, she spoke: “The flock looks after its own.”

“Twilight Sparkle has turned Ponyville into an independent republic. She has taken Ponyville away from me...” Celestia said, her voice failing due to her uncontrolled sobbing.

“This is indeed, surprising,” Luna admitted.

“I sent messengers,” Celestia said, her voice hitching and hiccuping. “I sent a dozen of the royal guard to arrest Berry Punch for assault and have her brought in for questioning. To arrange some kind of agreement. To put an end to this. And only one guard returned, bearing that note. The others have been taken prisoner and are currently under the custody of Twilight Sparkle,” Celestia said miserably.

“I see,” Luna said, looking very surprised. “Prisoners already. We’re up to that now. Well, that is almost a war. So, one mare about to make a full recovery, I take it Ponyville is going to be used as a bargaining chip for something that Twilight wants, and I have a few guesses as to what her desires might be, and eleven royal guard ponies taken as prisoner so Twilight can make some weak show of force, letting us know that she means business. With her banners and weather pegasi protecting her republic. Sister, I shall make plans at once to hide under the covers with you,” Luna said in teasing tones.

Celestia buried her head under her pillows, refusing to look at her haughty sister.

“Well, at least Cadance is dropping by in a few days. Perhaps we can engage her services as a neutral party and make her an ambassador,” Luna said.

There was a loud groan from under the pillows.

Luna crawled into the bed and lie down next to her sister. “Look, I know this is rough on you. Ponyville is still under Twilight’s protection. This changes nothing. She is not going to allow harm to come to it. I say we allow her to have her moment, make her gambit, and then try to reason this out. No doubt that she already has Berry Punch properly secured somehow. For the record, I sympathise with that mare. I saw this coming. I figured this would come to a head sooner or later. The Shetland Isles ponies have wounded hearts and they live under desperation because of what you allow to continue to happen, all in the name of keeping the public peace and stable public opinion. Well, that and those old treaties that are still legally binding, but those are broken now. Actually sister, this might be a good thing. Real peace can finally be settled. Perhaps we can let the Shetland Isles go their own way, free of our influence. It isn’t right to have a repurposed penal colony in this day and age and I feel sympathy for them being trapped on a desolate pile of rocks. I’ve been there,” Luna rambled.

“You are right Luna. The treaties ARE broken now!” Celestia said, her head emerging from under the pillows. “Do you believe a fresh start is possible if we can just end this somehow?”

“Anything is possible sister. We are together once again,” Luna said, snuggling up beside her sister.

“As bad as this is, maybe this needed to happen. Maybe we can finally smooth things over in a way that both sides find some measure of peace and everypony can be happy,” Celestia said, cuddling closer to her sister.

“We need to trust that Twilight Sparkle is going to do something to hold Berry Punch accountable. I believe she has something to answer for, but if her crimes allow all of this to finally be settled in some fair fashion, a little leniency could be allowed,” Luna said, rubbing her sister’s neck with her snoot.

“Stay with me tonight sister, I am scared,” Celestia said, her voice flooded with uncertainty. “There hasn’t been an internal war in so long. I do not want any more little ponies getting hurt. Twilight has betrayed me…”

“Oh hush,” Luna interrupted. “Twilight Sparkle would never betray you. She has done something, yes, but we should give things time and see what she does. Perhaps this is a matter of perspectives and she knows something we do not. Twilight is a good pony, and I would trust her implicitly.”

“Ponyville,” Celestia protested.

“Yes, there is another foal in your sandbox sister, playing with your sand. Look, take some deep breaths, calm down, and remember, you invited Twilight Sparkle into your sandbox,” Luna snarked. She made a very pegasus like gesture of affection, pressing her snoot into her sister’s cheek and snorting forcefully.

Luna was true to her word, guarding Celestia until the morning. When Luna raised the sun, Celestia was still sleeping, looking troubled. Luna stared at her crown and regalia, sitting on the bedside table. She made no move to put them on. Instead, she strode for the balcony, spread her wings, and took flight for Ponyville.

 

 

Luna landed in the early morning hours, and was immediately surrounded by pegasi on all sides. She studied them, and determined that they did indeed, mean business.

“Do you intend to stop me?” Luna asked. “Do you think that  you can stop me?”

“No,” Thunderlane replied. “But we can make you kill us. That will not go well for you,” he added. Flitter and Cloudchaser stood directly behind him, along with a few dozen other pegasi.

“I have no desire to fight you. I did not come as your Princess. I surrender and wish to see Princess Twilight Sparkle at once,” Luna offered.

“Very well,” Thunderlane said, stepping aside and gesturing at the library door. “Be respectful of Chancellor Twilight Sparkle,” he warned.

The door opened and Luna peered inside. She saw Twilight. And then she saw the others. Rainbow Dash, who was peering back at her. Pinkie Pie, who was laughing. Rarity turned her eye upon Luna and nodded politely. Fluttershy sat, looking dreadfully afraid, and Spike was trying to comfort her. Applejack sat with Pinkie Pie.

“Why are you here?” Twilight demanded.

“I came to offer myself in exchange for the prisoners,” Luna replied.

“Oh,” Twilight returned, looking a little surprised. “That isn’t happening. But you are free to see them and make sure they are treated well. Just because we are at war doesn’t mean we cannot be civilised,” Twilight reassured.

“We are at war?” Luna said in surprised.

“We are in control of Ponyville now. All of us,” Twilight said, gesturing to her friends. “And a threat has been made against one of our own. We will punish her as we see fit, but we will no longer be dictated to.”

“I see,” Luna said. “I wish to see the prisoners at once.”

“Of course. I will go with you,” Twilight offered.

The two alicorns walked through the town together, pegasi circling overhead. There were indeed banners, just as Celestia had feared. They didn’t walk very far. A large vacant shop had been commandeered and the prisoners were housed inside.

Luna was quite shocked upon entering. The guards all froze, looking at her, most of them rather guiltily. They had been drinking. There were bottles on the floor. Beds had been moved in. Some were still eating breakfast. Some were still sleeping.

“Do we have to go?” a guard asked, looking guilty.

“I don’t want to go back, I like being a prisoner. Yesterday, two ponies named Aloe and Lotus interrogated us. I swear, all I did was give them my name, rank, and number,” he muttered, his eyes downcast to the floor.

“The food is a lot better,” one guard confessed, not daring to look Luna in the eye.

“And the beer was fantastic,” one guard said sleepily, hiding his face under a blanket. “We are willing to make this sacrifice for Equestria. Don’t forget about us.”

“What is going on here?” Luna asked, clearly puzzled.

“We are civilised. This war doesn’t have to be bloody or brutal. We can work something out. If you send more guards, we will capture them as well. The only guard that protested his capture completely folded when Aloe offered him a backrub in exchange for his surrender,” Twilight said smugly.

“And they drew lots on who had to be the chump that had to take the note back to Celestia,” Applejack added.

“And what of Berry Punch, the cause of this all?” Luna asked.

“She is currently confined at home until I can figure out what to do with her,” Twilight answered.

“Wanna be our prisoner? Pinkie quipped.

“Very well, I surrender,” Luna announced.

“That was much easier than expected,” Rarity confessed in surprise.

“I cannot leave my sister’s guards,” Luna explained.

“So just like that, you are willing to surrender?” Rainbow Dash asked.

“Well, you are being very reasonable about all of this, and I would like to establish communications. No better way to do that than to surrender myself and show you all that I trust you with my well-being,” Luna explained. “I do request to be allowed to see the pony responsible for all of this."

“That seems reasonable,” Twilight agreed, sighing with relief.

 

 

 

 

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