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 royal train car was well appointed. Full of comfortable seats, a few small day beds for reclining equine forms, and all manner of delicious snacks, it was truly a small palace on rails. The car itself was packed with royalty and nobles, a delegation headed to the independent republic of Ponyville, now an enclave within Equestria.

Now that the shock had worn off, Celestia was actually proud of Twilight Sparkle, and intended to tell her so. Twilight Sparkle had not moved against her, or at least that is what Celestia had believed, Twilight Sparkle had moved to protect Ponyville. And Celestia hoped that her hunch was right. Celestia refused to believe that her student, her pupil, her most trusted friend, would ever actually move against her. She had to believe it or else the foundation of long standing trust would now be gone.

And there were others who shared Celestia’s belief. Night Light, Twilight Sparkle’s father, Twilight Velvet, her mother, Shining Armor, her brother, and Cadance, her sister in law, who had done much to comfort Celestia and help Celestia see reason. All of whom were currently in the train car. All of whom were fiercely proud of her for doing what she did. And Celestia had been moved into a position of agreement. Twilight Sparkle had done the right thing. Twilight Sparkle had almost always done the right thing.

It was Celestia who currently wondered if she herself had done the right thing.

“Cadance, are you sure this is going to be a good course of action?” Celestia asked, seeking reassurance from the bright pink alicorn currently curled up against her.

“Auntie, I assure you, it was love that brought us to this state of affairs, and love will get us out. This is a little hiccup, just a little rough spot. I believe this can be smoothed over,” Cadance reassured, giving Celestia a nuzzle. Cadance had always been more pegasus in her means of communication, having once been a pegasus herself.

“But bringing back herd marriage. Officially sanctioned herd marriage. After all of the trouble it caused. It had to go,” Celestia said, comforted somewhat by Cadance’s nuzzle. Cadance was well suited to being the Princess of Love, Celestia reflected, being such a physically oriented creature derived from pegasus stock. Pegasi were always hooves on in everything they did, and Cadance was no different. The pink alicorn now began to rub the side of her face against Celestia’s long neck, causing Celestia to relax considerably.

“And now it has to come back,” Cadance replied, feeling a warm happy sensation from feeling Celestia’s soft pelt against her cheek. “At least in Ponyville. Restrict it to one city only. Have Twilight Sparkle pass a law allowing it, and when Twilight Sparkle inevitably hands Ponyville back to you once her conditions are met, keep the law on the books in the name of ‘fairness’, that way, everypony gets what they want. And you can save face by being the fair and just ruler. You do not get blamed for changing the law empire wide, and they cannot fault you for being a gracious ruler when you settle this dispute and sue for peace.”

“That is brilliant Cadance,” Celestia said. “This is why I moved you to the Crystal Empire,” Celestia remarked.

“Which still technically has herd marriage on the books and is currently being ignored I might add,” replied Cadance.

Celestia pursed her lips together and looked thoughtful. Cadance was telling the truth. Technically, the Crystal Empire was outside of Equestria, so it should not matter. “What is your own opinion on this manner? Would you share Shining Armor with another mare?” Celestia asked in a low voice.

“The right mares, certainly,” Cadance replied.

Celestia sat, genuinely shocked.

“How could I be selfish and keep him all to myself? He is going to make a wonderful father once I can get him to relax and lighten up a bit. Love is love is love. Our family could only be improved by making it larger. I would get to watch Shining Armor be a father and interact with other mares, I would get a chance to see him as he really is, from an outside perspective other than my own exclusive perspective. I would get a chance to open my heart to my fellow-wives, to test myself, to see if my values are as strong as I claim they are. Adversity brings growth and chances for improvement. I would get a chance to see if friendship really was magic, and if it could survive at the next level of social operation, that of applying those values in a family setting, to see if sharing, caring, loyalty, honesty, and all those other values can hold true under a real test of fire, because marriage is the ultimate testbed of one’s values. When Shining Armor and I had our first fight, I thought my world was ending, my confidence completely shattered, and I didn’t feel worthy of being the Princess of Love. I had failed in my duty. It was a reality check on everything I believed in and Shining helped me put all of the pieces back together. He was terrified that I did not love him anymore. We were both very vulnerable and exposed after that squabble. We both grew a great deal. Now, add a couple of mares that were my most trusted and loyal friends and add them to this situation, and I would welcome the chances for growth, opportunity, and self improvement,” Cadance said in one very long winded bit of exposition.

“When you put it that way, it seems reasonable,” Celestia replied.

“I wonder what this lack of growth has robbed society of,” Cadance said, looking thoughtful, now covering her auntie with a wing and going for a full body rub.

“That is not fair Cadance,” Celestia grumped, feeling a bit miffed with her niece.

“You do not deny that it is true though,” Cadance acknowledged, attempting to merge with her aunt. Celestia had the most wonderful pelt.

Cadance’s physical affections were creating floods of oxytocin between the two mares, bringing them ever closer. Bonds that lasted centuries took effort to develop.

“Berry Punch brought us to war,” Celestia said distractedly, enjoying Cadance’s affections. It seemed as though all of her worries were being soothed away.

“I would go to war for Shining Armor,” Cadance confessed. “I would have to make a grand gesture worthy of his love though, like razing a city or sacking a county.”

“That is not funny Cadance,” Celestia admonished, trying to not crack a smile.

“I’m not laughing,” Cadance said.

Celestia suffered a painful start as she realised that Cadance was not joking, what she had said was not said in jest. She turned to look at her niece, another alicorn that she trusted implicitly. For a brief moment, Celestia wondered if love might be a threat to the empire, a source of destabilization. Cadance was, in her heart, a hot blooded bad tempered pegasus held back by a thin alicorn veneer.

Berry Punch had offered up a few injuries to express her ire. Celestia realised that Cadance would have leveled the house to a pile of rubble or worse. It was a sobering thought. Cadance was the alicorn of love, love had passion, emotion, love was raw. Love was possessive and protective.

Love had always been the cause of so many wars, and Celestia now saw Cadance in an entirely new light. Cadance made grand gestures of her love and affection. Her gestures of war would be epic. It made Celestia squirm.

“What would you have done in Berry Punch’s position?" Celestia asked bluntly, needing to know, dreading the answer. “If somepony had left the love of your life broken, damaged, and badly hurt?”

“I certainly would not show her level of restraint. You were lucky auntie, that it was only an earth pony that had started the war,” Cadance said grimly. “I would have brought a flock and the war would have began in earnest immediately after the declaration.”

Celestia cringed at hearing the words.

“That house, not one stone would be left standing. I would leave behind a smoking crater. I would run them down in the street and trample them under my hooves. I would-”

“Cadance! Enough, stop being a pegasus, I cannot bear it,” Celestia said, her eyes clenching shut.

Cadance blinked, snapping out of her momentary angry spell. “I’m sorry auntie, I do not know what came over me. Just the thought of somebody hurting Shining. I thought about Chrysalis for a moment and everything began to flood out, forgive me,” Cadance begged. Cadance’s distress was visible, and Celestia tried to calm her niece. Pegasi were such flighty creatures, and so much of Cadance’s pegasus nature dominated her new form. Much like Twilight Sparkle still retained so many unicorn traits.

These faults were their strengths, Celestia knew this and celebrated it.

 

 

The train pulled into the station in a cloud of steam and smoke. A crowd had gathered. Banners were displayed proudly in such a location that it would be the first thing a pony saw upon stepping off the train.

Princess Luna was nowhere to be seen.

Twilight Sparkle waited, surrounded by her trusted friends. The truce was a chance for her to display her sense of civility. She looked forward to showing Celestia just what she was capable of, that she too could run an empire, only without all the ugly bits.

The doors opened and the first pony off of the train was Celestia, who was not wearing her crown or regalia, just as Luna had not worn hers. The crowd cheered a little bit, some of them confused, unsure of how they should greet the now foreign dignitary. Cadance came next and Twilight Sparkle could feel her heart jump up into her throat.

What she saw next broke her completely.

When her parents and Shining Armor stepped down off of the train, Twilight Sparkle became a foal again. All thoughts of public decorum died. She began to bawl from her raw emotions and ran forward to embrace her parents, sobbing pitifully.

There was a very touching moment in the family that the public realised that they were intruding upon. Many turned or looked away out of respect. Quite a few turned to their own families and had a moment of warm affection.

Twilight Sparkle’s sobs could be heard all over the trainyard, and Celestia had a powerful reminder that, even if still flawed, not all Canterlot unicorns were bad sorts.

 

 

Leaving Twilight with her family, Celestia followed a charcoal coloured pegasus named Thunderlane, hoping to see Luna, her sister, who was not there to greet her at the train station.

“Ma’am, the prisoners are all secured in here. Well, they live in here. They are actually free to roam the town. Seems cruel to keep them locked up,” Thunderlane said. “We are many things, but we are not cruel.”

“Thank you for your graciousness and your kindness towards my loyal guard,” Celestia said, thanking the pegasus.

She pushed open the door and peered inside. She was immediately hit with the smell of urine, which shocked her. Her nose crinkled. It was dark inside. It reeked of alcohol. There were bodies all over the floor, along with dozens of bottles of all kinds, beer, wine, and cider. She could see Luna sprawled on a couch, still drinking, currently chugging down a bottle of wine as Celestia had opened the door.

Thunderlane, sensing trouble, took off.

Luna’s only greeting was a thunderous belch.

Beside Luna sat an older ivory-coloured unicorn stallion that Celestia did not know or recognise, and he was cuddled against Luna in a most infuriatingly familiar fashion.

Both of them were deep into their cups, as drunk as lords.

They had completely obliterated the guard and were the last two ponies still conscious. The urine smell came from puddles pooled around sprawled out backsides.

Celestia’s thoughts of disgust were interrupted by Luna farting a trumpeting blast and giggle-snorting repeatedly.

“Aye lass, yer a wee pretty maid,” the unknown stallion confessed drunkenly.

Luna began to giggle even more, leaning on the stallion and taking another long pull from her bottle.

“What is the meaning of this?” Celestia demanded. A stallion on the floor, passed out, farted loudly, practically beneath Celestia’s hooves.

“I was appointed to keep up the morale of these fine service ponies. We had ourselves a party,” the stallion slurred.

“I had to lea-hiccup-lead by example,” Luna explained, hiccupping as she did so. “We’ve been up all ni-hiccup-ight. They all fell on du-hiccup-ty and somepony had to keep watch-hiccup-”

“Luna, what are you doing?” Celestia said. “And who is that on the couch with you?”

“This is Bar-hiccup-ley O’Blivion, and last night, some time after mid-hiccup-night, he felt me up a bit and I -hiccup- ran away and he chased me, and then after that -hiccup- I chased him, and then af-hiccup-ter that, we drank a whole lot, and then, -hiccup- we shagged and oh boy, it has been a long time since I’ve had a good and proper sha-hiccup-gging,” Luna explained, completely and utterly sloshed.

Celestia stepped away, backing out of the building. She took one deep breath and slammed the door.

“It isn’t any-hiccup-thing serious!” Luna hollered from inside. “Just a little chase and some frien-hiccup-dly shagging!”

Thoroughly disgusted with everything in life, Celestia strode away from the building and went off to collect her thoughts.

 

 

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