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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Twilight Sparkle sat in her library, surrounded by her family. It was a private family moment, with her mother, her father, Spike, her brother, and Cadance. All of them sat looking at her, all with very different expressions on their faces. Her mother looked happy to see her. Her father looked proud, as he had always looked proud. Spike looked confused, but the recent events had left him very confused. Cadance looked calm and supportive.

Shining Armor looked angry.

“Twilight dear, I am sure you had very good reasons for doing what you did. But I am very curious as to why you did them,” Twilight Velvet said to her daughter while leaning on her husband.

“I had a number of reasons mother,” Twilight answered. “I needed to make sure that Berry Punch was safe. I didn’t want members of House Avarice coming here and harming her, or killing her. Declaring independence for Ponyville allowed me to protect her. House Avarice doesn’t want to start a war with me. I’ve already been sent communications stating that they recognise my authority for the time being. So I have Berry Punch secured. Also, I intend to force Celestia’s hoof on a few issues. I will give Ponyville back when certain glaring issues have been addressed and a fair resolution is offered to all parties.”

“That seems reasonable,” Night Light said, looking at his daughter and considering her many words carefully. “And what do you intend to do with Berry Punch?”

“I don’t know yet,” Twilight admitted.

“She should be pardoned,” Shining Armor said.

“What?” Cadance gasped.

“You heard me. Pardoned,” Shining Armor insisted.

“How can you say that Shiny dear,” Twilight Velvet asked.

“Easy,” Shining replied. “Sure, the war looks bad, but it will allow Twily to fix things and it will allow both sides to talk and maybe sort things out fairly for both parties. None of this could be fixed without a state of war first. This is a war in name only. Berry Punch should be declared a national hero and offered a full pardon for what will eventually restore real peace. It is what I would do if I had it in my power. And now that the war is back on, I would use the current laws, created by House Avarice I might add, to try House Avarice for war crimes retroactively. The new state of war would allow for that to happen if a brave soul went forward to press charges when peace is sued for. I would strip them of their wealth, wreck their houses, and make them pay one thousand years of restitution to Clan Pickled for their horrible atrocities. And I would hold OUR family responsible as well. We had a part in all of this.”

“Shining, son, have I have ever told you how proud I am of you?” Night Light asked. “I cannot help but feel you are right. We in this room may not have actually had a hoof in what happened in the past, but we continue to profit from all the horrible things done.” The older stallion sounded terribly sad, Shining’s words settling in uncomfortably into his mind. There was a lot to answer for.

“Yes we do,” Twilight Velvet said despondently. “Every year we collect our tribute payment from House Avarice as part of the bleedingly cruel tax that is levied over the Shetland Isles. I just found out where that money came from when I refused to answer the summons and they sent the papers saying that we had violated the pact of mutual defense that existed between our houses. Shining Armor told me where that money came from. It made me sick. Actually sick.”

“Blood money,” Shining Armor spat.

“We are all war criminals,” Twilight Velvet said, the shock still slowly settling in. The sheer enormity of the situation finally resting on her shoulders. “We’ve been profiting from the blood money for almost a thousand years. There is no way we could pay it all back and absolve ourselves of wrongdoing. Shining Armor is right. We will have to pay our dues or become hypocrites.”

“This is becoming complicated,” Twilight said sadly.

“This is really confusing,” Spike agreed.

“Well then, we as a family need to do the right thing now. As a family. All of us. As soon as possible, we begin the legal proceedings to strip ourselves of our titles and our lands. We give up our wealth and any claims to what House Avarice collects. We quietly accept our lots with all the dignity we can muster and we become paupers,” Night Light said, his voice cracking with grief. “And when this ends, we be the brave souls that seek prosecution for the war crimes that have taken place, and throw in our lots with those to be punished. The courts will be merciful if we begin to make amends now.”

“Shining, you know more about all of this, is this the right thing to do?” Twilight Velvet asked her son, her eyes now teary.

“I don’t know,” Shining Armor admitted. “But it would be a good start.”

“So that’s it then. House Evening Star is no more,” Night Light said. “We begin again and do the right thing. We become the examples that we want to see in the world. I worked very hard to teach my foals these values and I will not be made a hypocrite. My only regret is not knowing sooner. I wonder how many other houses continue to make profit.”

“We cannot go home,” Twilight Velvet said, the truth of the situation settling in.

“Stay in Ponyville, the flock looks after their own,” Twilight Sparkle said, the real meaning of those words continuing to grow each day she heard them.

“Celestia is here in Ponyville and even though she is not here in full official capacity, we can begin by telling her,” Shining Armor said solemnly.

“I will begin to study and try to find a solution that is fair for all of us. To be honest, I do not fully understand what is going on,” Twilight Sparkle said to her family.

“House Avarice planned this well,” Shining Armor said. “I’ve been doing a little study myself. Twily isn’t the only scholar. This could potentially collapse most of the noble houses,” Shining Armor said.

“Suddenly I don’t feel right trying to punish Berry Punch,” Twilight Sparkle tearfully confessed.

“I don’t know what to say,” Cadance said. “I don’t think she should be pardoned. I think she needs some kind of punishment for what she has done, but it should be very lenient and more of a token gesture than anything else.”

“How can you say that Cadance? She’s the victim!” Shining Armor argued.

“Are we fighting?” Cadance asked, alarmed.

“No,” Shining said. “Look, I’m sorry, but all of this has my blood boiling and the more I learn about this, the worse it gets. I’ll try to not be so imposing of my opinion on others. I really am sorry. To all of you.”

“Twilight dear,” Twilight Velvet said to her daughter, “please do try to be merciful in whatever you choose to do. This whole situation is only going to become more and more complicated as past sins are compiled and old debts are called in. Now, more than ever, it is time for a gentle touch. That mare, Berry Punch, she did what she believed was right. She had no way of knowing just how much damage was actually being done. She started a war, she ended the peace, and as awful this is going to be, it needed to happen. Do not punish her for her courage.”

Twilight nodded and went to her mother, and, upon reaching her, began to hug her fiercely. The two mares shared a tearful moment together, bonding only as a mother and daughter could.

Spike, needing to hug somepony, and seeing Twilight was busy, ran to Night Light and began to squeeze Twilight Sparkle’s father. “I have a few gems that could help out,” Spike offered, causing Night Light to begin to sniffle.

Shining, seeing his family hugging, turned to Cadance and tackled her, kissing her neck noisily while he squeezed, feeling so many conflicting emotions as he did so.

 

 

A small flock of pegasi studied Celestia. Flitter and Cloudchaser watched her, while Rumble and Cloudstreaker hid behind their parents. Celestia watched the foals peering at her shyly, and she smiled at them. Thunderlane pranced on his hooves and looked at her sheepishly, with his head down low in supplication.

“Look, I had no idea what was going on in there,” Thunderlane apologised again. Flitter whacked him a good one upside the back of his head and Thunderlane groaned.

“So all of you are a herd,” Celestia stated, speaking exactly what was on her mind.

“Yes,” Thunderlane replied, rubbing the back of his head with a foreleg.

“Would you care to tell me more? It might be helpful. I would really like to know your perspectives,” Celestia said invitingly. “It might help me make things right.”

“What do you want to know?” Flitter asked.

“Everything,” Celestia said.

“We just want to raise our foals and have a large happy family,” Cloudchaser said.

“Who is in charge?” Celestia asked.

“Nopony really. We don’t have an alpha. We try to vote,” Thunderlane said. “It was my idea,” he added, looking very proud with himself.

“And this is why we love Thunderlane. He does so many stupid things that when he finally has a good idea, he comes across as being utterly brilliant by comparison,” Flitter giggled, her wings fluttering and her tail swishing.

“Well, speak for yourself sister, I love him because even though he is a total chowderhead, he is a wonderful father and a kind and attentive husband that does everything he can to keep me happy,” Cloudchaser said, causing Thunderlane to blush. “Being a good father will allow me to forgive almost anything. How could I not share with my sister such a good father? That would be selfish. My sister deserves to have a good father for her foals just as much as I do.”

“Interesting,” Celestia replied, now looking thoughtful.

“I came up with a rule that one of us cannot take sides in an argument. So if something happens, I can’t get somepony to side with me or they cannot get somepony to side with one of them, one of us always obligated to be the neutral party and make sure that that the two of us that are bickering stay nice to one another, and then kiss and apologise,” Thunderlane announced, looking very pleased with himself. He raised his head high and took on a very dashing stance, very nearly preening himself with pride.

“He did,” both Flitter and Cloudchaser said together.

“May I ask a personal question?” Celestia asked.

Cloudchaser looked annoyed and Flitter glared at her sister.

“If we can answer and it will help our cause, I will answer almost anything,” Flitter offered, smacking her sister with her wing as Cloudchaser made an annoyed snort.

“I am curious about your sleeping habits,” Celestia admitted, blushing faintly.

“Everypony has to ask that,” Cloudchaser grumbled.

“We all sleep in the big bed together,” Flitter replied, “even the foals. We believe that sleeping as a family creates strong bonds. It has certainly helped Cloudstreaker readjust back into family life. We will keep them with us until such a time they are ready to claim their own beds or we will kick them out. For other things…” Flitter said, her words trailing off as she tried to think of a nice way to put this while foals were present.

“We have a separate room and a smaller bed,” Cloudchaser continued. “A pair of us will go there for quiet time alone. My sister and I do not under any circumstances engage with one another or share Thunderlane together. We respect each others privacy and need for alone time. I get him one day, she gets him the next day, and if one of us is feeling extra spry, we have the option to ask one another for his company. Usually, we agree.”

“Yeah,” Thunderlane acknowledged, grinning. “They’re sweet with one another like that, offering to cook dinner in exchange for having some time with me. Makes me feel good knowing I am worth bargaining for.”

Both sisters rolled their eyes at once, a gesture that seemed that it happened quite a bit, given that Thunderlane was in fact, an actual chowderhead.

“You all seem to be very happy with one another,” Celestia observed.

“We are,” Flitter answered.

“I am extremely happy, I mean, look at these two,” Thunderlane said.

“I couldn’t be happier,” Cloudchaser replied.

As Celestia continued to talk to the trio, she thought about another trio of ponies that she desperately wanted to talk to. She hoped that she would be welcomed.

 

 

Author's Note:

Sorry for the delay. I went out and watched 'Godzilla' earlier today.

Next chapter, Celestia meets with Bucky, Berry, and Derpy.

And thanks Bucky for his thoughtful and flattering letter.

More fallout revealed from the past. The source of much of the wealth in Canterlot. Lots of wrongness here. And as promised, Shining Armor's point of view.

 
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