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 excitement in the air was palpable as a large crowd began to gather in the field that existed between the school and the dormitory towers. Students, teachers, Ponyville citizens, newspaper reporters, anypony that was somepony was there. Mayor Mare had arrived, along with most of the city bureaucracy, all of whom kept a wary eye upon Violet Velvet.

Princess Twilight Sparkle was there, along with all of her family, Flash Sentry, Rainbow Dash, her parents, Night Light and Twilight Velvet, all in attendance and chatting amongst themselves about Night Light and Twilight Velvet’s future as teachers in Bucky’s school. Fancy Pants and Fleur Dis Lee had arrived with a small army of orphans, all of whom would be attending.

Of the headmaster, there was no sign…

 

 

In his office at the top of his tower, Bucky was huddled in his chair, slumped over his desk, fighting back the rising waves of panic. It had been a long time since he felt it quite this badly. His heart thudded in his chest, his head ached, and he could not step trembling.

“Master, shall I fetch one of your wives?” Sunset Shimmer softly inquired as she appeared in the door. “Perhaps Bon Bon? She is here, just outside, I could fetch her… she could make you feel better.”

“No… I must… deal with this… but if it becomes overwhelming... I will ask for help,” Bucky haltingly replied as he took deep breaths. With his magic, he opened a decanter, poured a drink of some almost blue liquid into a heavy glass tumbler, lifted it to his lips, and with one swallow, took down the entire shot.

“Why are you afraid?” Sunset gently questioned as she approached Bucky’s desk, moving slowly. She moved around Bucky’s desk and drew near his side. Stretching out her neck and lifting her head, she softly gave Bucky a gentle peck upon his withered and scarred cheek but made no other sudden moves in his blind spot.

“I don’t even know,” Bucky admitted.

Settling her haunches to the floor, Sunset Shimmer sat down beside Bucky. “So this is just general anxiety. When I was on the other side of the mirror, I got like this a lot. Having to deal with people after I became a rampaging she-demon. Days of academic testing… I believed that I would be stuck in that world…forever... and you have to get good scores if you want any sort of life there. I tortured myself endlessly with everything I imagined could go wrong. Probably just like you are doing right now. Anxiety was a problem for me. It held me back. It still does. You wouldn’t believe how much I live in fear of letting you down… you took me in. You brought me back here. You gave me magic again. You gave me power… but most importantly, you gave me a chance to patch things up with Princess Celestia… and every day I almost come unglued as I worry about if I am going to screw things up and make you angry with me.”

“I have nothing but pride for you…” Bucky responded, his words trailing off into a slow exhale. He turned his head to look at Sunset Shimmer.

Her opal eyes flashing, Sunset Shimmer looked at Bucky. “Some of those ponies out there, they don’t like you very much. I understand that feeling. Some of them are afraid of you. Trust me, I know that feeling. And now you have the pressure and responsibility of looking after a bunch of foals and these ponies that don’t like you and are afraid of you are going to be critical of you and they are going to look for any slip up you make so they can have a chance to rake you over the coals. I do understand what this situation is like, believe me. No matter what though, you have those that will protect you. Your wives. Your friends. Me… Trixie even… Master… she still holds some degree of infatuation for you… but that is a conversation for another time… Master, if trouble comes, it will be met by an army and dealt with. All you need to do is focus on being the headmaster. Do what Princess Celestia believes you will be good at. She and I have spoken… she has the utmost confidence in you.”

Feeling his lip quiver, Bucky reached out his right front hoof and touched Sunset Shimmer upon her neck. “Thank you Minion… I feel better.”

“Good. I believe you are expected to make an appearance,” Sunset Shimmer replied. “Now put on your cloak. The Lord of Winter is expected to look a certain way. Mine is also at the ready and I will be right beside you.”

 

 

The crowd fell silent as two black cloaked figures approached the small wooden stage constructed for this event. Sunset Shimmer, who had her hood down and her head visible, walked a half a length behind Bucky, glancing out at the crowd as she passed. Bucky, who had his hood up, his face unseen, he made no attempt to look at the crowd as he drew near where he would give his speech. Sunset Shimmer took a spot standing in front of the stage and she began casting defensive wards as she peered out towards the crowd.

“Hopefully this time I don’t get shot in the head,” Bucky muttered to himself as he took the wooden steps up onto the platform. He approached the lectern and licked his lips nervously.

“Greetings,” Bucky said in his soft but commanding voice. The low sonorous voice that had come to him while he was exiled to the Shetlands. The voice that had manifested only after he had known suffering on an intimate level and the knowledge had broken him. The voice moved through the crowd and made a number of ponies bow their heads.

“Most of you know me as the Lord of Winter. This is the only title of mine that I feel as though I have made peace with. Winter is a time, a season, it comes when the time is right, it performs its function, and then it passes so it can become spring. This is how I have come to view my position of servitude as being one of your royal sovereigns. And nopony looks forward to spring more than I do,” Bucky announced, delivering his opening speech with as much aplomb as he could muster.

There was a little laughter and some applause from the crowd, which Bucky was immensely grateful for. He felt some of his fears assuaged by the warm response.

“Today, we open a school. This has been a dream a long time in the making. One pony worked very hard on this project and his name was Filthy Rich. He had himself a change of heart and he developed a grand vision for Ponyville’s future. I am doing my part to see that my dear friend’s dream is made real.”

Pausing, Bucky had trouble remembering his speech. His talons drummed upon the wooden planks he was standing upon. Taking a deep breath, he ditched his speech.

“I have long agonised over the naming of this institution. Many sleepless nights have been spent in thought of a proper name. Princess Celestia’s School for Gifted Unicorns is something that can be said and immediately something truly grand springs to mind. The Baltimare Academy of the Magical Arts and Sciences is another, but they closed during our troubled summer of unrest and have yet to reopen. The noble city of Vanhoover has the Ivy Hall, which is remembered because it is not a hall at all, but a lighthouse on an island off of the coast that has been converted into a magic school. There is one thing that all of these schools have in common besides a memorable name… they are all unicorn only schools. These are the finest schools available in our great nation and they are only available to unicorns. The upper echelons of power in Equestria all came from these schools. This exclusivity bred resentment. The finest education was only available for unicorns. Probably the best example was the Baltimare Academy of the Magical Arts and Sciences… not only was it a primary and a secondary school, but a university as well… and it held the finest medical school in the country. But what if an earth pony or a pegasus wanted to become a doctor and receive the best education available? They were excluded… The finest education was only available to unicorns.”

When Bucky paused, the crowd sat in near silence. The only sound was a few coughs, some low grumbling, and the sound of a fussy baby foal crying while being shushed by its mother. The crowd, almost as one, stared up at the Lord of Winter, all of them waiting expectantly for him to continue.

Clearing this throat, Bucky lifted his head as high as it would go. “I plan to change that. This school will be available to all tribes, all species, so that we might know the rewards that come from cooperation with one another. So that we might learn new magic. Earth ponies have magic… my own daughter Piña has a working thaumaturgical system and she can cast simple spells… but she would never get an education in any of those establishments that I have mentioned. She would be excluded. Left out. Because she is an earth pony. My subjects, I feel that such an act is wrong. So I am expending the effort to correct it. Loch Skimmer, another daughter of mine that I love dearly, has strange pegasus magic, musical magic that can alter moods... magic very much like the Element of Kindness, Fluttershy possesses. How much do we know about this magic? I’ll tell you… we call it strange because it is practically unknown. It was beneath any sort of real study. We have cheated and robbed our own society of potential greatness because of petty tribalism.”

The earth ponies and the pegasi in the crowd began to cheer, making a ruckus, and some of the unicorns nervously joined in to cheer as well. A bright pink earth pony and a cheesy orange earth pony launched confetti into the air, which somehow worked the crowd into a frenzy.

The sudden roar of applause was almost deafening and lasted for several minutes.

When the applause died out, Bucky continued.

“It was actually my son, Rising Star, who gave me the idea for a name. I’m very proud of him for all that he has done. He reminded me that it was time to forge a new society in the fires of the Founder’s ideals… we all know the symbolism of fire in the founding of Equestria. Well, a new society is being founded. New ways of thinking. A new sense of unity. And so it is with great humility that I honour my own bloodline and the ideals of those who gave us this great nation… and I am very pleased to open the Founder’s Forge.”

Silence fell upon the crowd and for a moment Bucky worried that he had made a terrible mistake. Cold fear gnawed at his insides. He was certain that the inspiration he had drawn from Rising Star had been a good idea.

There was a loud crackling explosion from the front row and a massive cloud of confetti appeared overhead. One pink pony shouted “WOOOHOOO!”

The crowd went insane. Finally freed from its moment of awestruck stupification, the crowd hooted and hollered as the pink party pony went pronking about; crackers went off, the confetti drifted upon the breeze, streamers shot into the air, and one cheesy orange earth pony stood on his hind hooves, waved his front legs in the air above him, and attempted to work the crowd into a frenzy.

It took nearly ten minutes for the thunderous sound to die down enough for Bucky to continue. He waited patiently and made a mental note that he owed Pinkie Pie and Cheese Sandwich a great deal of thanks.

“So… as of today… class is now in session. Today the students and parents will be given a tour of the building. It is still a little bare in there. Today, we will meet some of the teachers. Today, we will simply settle in and get to know one another… don’t worry, I doubt there will be any homework.”

Pausing, Bucky raised his talons and extended his index talon finger. “Which reminds me… Cheerilee… Cheerilee, where are you my dearest Cheerilee? I need you up here for a moment please!”

A cerise coloured mare emerged from the crowd, grinning sheepishly, and she was prodded towards the stage by a big red stallion. She shyly approached the wooden stage where Bucky was, bowed once to the audience, and then approached Bucky’s side with her head low.

“Cheerilee… how are you?” Bucky asked. “You look well. I must say, your current condition only enhances your beauty.”

Tittering uncontrollably, Cheerilee covered her face with one hoof and bashfully turned away. “You sir, are a shameless flatterer,” she said, making a teasing accusation.

“Looking forward to motherhood?” Bucky questioned.

Very slowly, Cheerilee turned around to look at Bucky, now very serious. The change was sudden and abrupt. “Oh… very much so. I have hopes and dreams… but I suppose that all expecting mothers do.”

“Cheerilee… I have been challenged already on what it is that I am about to do, but I feel that a reward is owed to you after your many years of hard work, your tireless efforts, your dedication, and the fact that you never gave up no matter how bad it became,” Bucky said as he took a step closer to Cheerilee.

“Stop! You’re going to make me cry… I have a lot of mommy hormones… I become emotional if you just look at me funny,” Cheerilee responded as she nervously began to kick her right front hoof into her left front hoof.

“For all of your hard work, effort, your dedication, you are owed a considerable reward. Nopony should ever have to endure as much trouble as you have. Somehow, you have held yourself together through it all. You have endured. So it is with great personal pleasure that I offer you the position of Provost here at the Founder’s Forge,” Bucky said as he looked Cheerilee in the eye.

“Um, I’m flattered… I don’t even know what that means though,” Cheerilee nervously replied as she fidgeted and pranced in place on the stage beside Bucky.

“It means...” Bucky began, a smile cracking upon his face as he did so. “...that you will be in charge. It means that you will be in charge of approving curriculum. Teaching methods. It means that you will be one of the main heads in charge of the decision making process. It means that the only pony you answer directly to is me… and pretty much every pony else in the school will be answering to you.”

Cheerilee staggered backwards and Bucky caught her with his magic.

“I feel faint… light headed… I need air… where is Big Mac…”

A big red stallion approached the stage, moving with surprising speed. He didn’t bother with the steps, he simply lept up and landed beside Cheerilee with a thud. Immediately, Big McIntosh began to fawn over his mate.

“Provost Cheerilee… do collect yourself. We have a lot of work ahead of us today,” Bucky said as he looked at the mare with the wobbling legs.

“Can I still teach?” Cheerilee asked.

“Of course,” Bucky replied.

“Then I accept this position,” Cheerilee responded.

“Wonderful. I couldn’t do this without you. I needed somepony that I could trust,” Bucky said in a voice that he made sure was loud enough for the audience to hear. “Come. We have a school to open!”

 

 

 

 

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