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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“Greetings class… my name is Bill Neigh, and I teach all kinds of science. This class is political science. Some of you might remember my old poli-sci class back in the old secondary school… I, uh, was apparently having a bit of a mental breakdown due to low pay and overly stressful job conditions. Once more, I apologise if I caused any of you some undue stress.”

Of course, Bill Neigh did not realise that a changeling had replaced him…

Moving to the front of the classroom, he pulled down a large roll up map of the Equi-pan trans-oceanic empires and then turned to face the class.  “This is the civilised half of the world. That isn’t to say that the other side of the world is not civilised, but this is where most equines live along with a few other races. The other side of the world has dragons. We leave them alone and mostly, they leave us alone. Today class, we are going to talk about the major failings of the three main equine societies that make up the Equi-pan trans-oceanic empires and then we’re going to brainstorm new and exciting ways that we can make our future better and correct some of these shortcomings. All three of these empires have something in common. Can somepony in class tell me something that all three empires have as common factor besides equines?”

The class stared up at their teacher for a moment, some vacantly, some curiously, but all seemed to be waiting for the student next to them to answer the teacher’s question and nopony wanted to come forward.

“Um… all three of them have had societal breakdowns of some kind,” a unicorn filly finally said in a sheepish voice.

“Correct!” Mister Neigh shouted enthusiastically. He bounced in place a few times.

“All three empires have had troubles with unicorns,” a unicorn colt stated in a somewhat guilty voice as he looked around sheepishly.

“That is also correct. And the unicorn problems led to various forms of societal collapses in some form or another. Each society has dealt with these problems in a different way and all of these methods so far have had some serious faults. Can anypony tell me more about this pickle of a problem?” Mister Neigh responded.

“I think it comes down to the fact that absolute power corrupts absolutely,” Loch Skimmer said as she felt her enthusiasm ignite.

“Hmm… I agree… there is a lot that can be said about that!” Mister Neigh said excitedly.

 

 

Closing her eyes, Apple Bloom sank down into the soft cushions of the cozy couch she was sprawled on. “My brain hurts.”

Beside her on the couch, Spike rubbed his head. “Everything is a lot harder.”

“I was excited about the new school until I found out the schoolwork was going to be this hard,” Scootaloo whined as she jumped up on the couch and collapsed with half of her body over Spike, who grunted as he was smooshed by his sibling.

“I have to actually pay attention,” Sweetie Belle whimpered as she hopped up on the couch and flopped over Apple Bloom.

“I kinda like it,” Babs grumbled as she too jumped up onto to the couch and joined the pony-dragon pile. “My astronomy class is awesome.”

“Sweetie Belle, you’ve gotten pudgy,” Apple Bloom said as she gave the unicorn filly a bit of a shove. “Marshmallow butt!”

“Hey!” Sweetie Belle cried in protest.

Heaving an exasperated sigh, Scootaloo rubbed her eyes. “Our reading class is certainly different. In the old schoolhouse, we had those tattered old books filled with those stupid stories about different ponies knowing their place in society and the so called moral lessons… ugh… now we’re reading stuff that is actually really hard to read and I keep having to dig out a dictionary to figure out what stuff means.”

Spike gave Scootaloo a bit of a hug to make his sister feel better and then cleared his throat. “I like my teacher. He’s a pegasus and his name is Quire Quota. He’s a bookmaker and he’s teaching us how to make books. He says I have talent.”

“Good for you Spike,” Apple Bloom remarked as she continued to squirm under Sweetie Belle. “I got placed into the advanced science class somehow… and now I have to do a really big science project. I have no idea what to do.”

“You know we’ll help,” Sweetie Belle offered.

“Ah, pony pile,” Rumble announced as he finally made it to the study spot. He looked at the couch and grinned with anticipation. “Where are the others?”

“Not here -oooof!- just yet,” Apple Bloom replied as Rumble took a flying leap and landed on top of the pile. “Ugh, marshmallow butt was bad enough.”

“Be careful of Babs,” Spike warned. “She’s got a weak stomach still.”

“I’m fine you nimrods,” Babs grumbled as she situated herself at one end of the couch.

The couch creaked as the pile adjusted itself. Rumble found himself pulled between Scootaloo and Sweetie Belle. There was an alarmed cry when Piña Colada and Dinky Doo showed up and eyed the pile, both of them grinning crazily.

“Where is Sentinel and Diamond Tiara?” Rumble asked as he was smooshed by Piña Colada clambering up to the top of the pile.

“They’re off making goo-goo eyes at one another,” Dinky answered as she rolled her eyes in mock-disgust from the question. “I hope there’s room for one more,” she announced as she began her harrowing climb to the top of the pony-dragon pile.

“Hey! You don’t make fun of them! Young love is sweet!” Babs barked as she gave Dinky a shove to help her over Scootaloo, who grunted as Dinky stepped on her head.

“Whee! I’m gonna be the queen of the pile!” Cloudstreaker announced as she came around the corner and saw the now precarious pony-dragon pile on the couch.

 

 

“So you’re going to go back to school,” Violet Velvet stated in a flat voice.

“Yes ma’am,” Dirtbound replied as he gave a faint nod.

“You are going to be nice to your sister,” Violet said as she stared at Dirtbound.

“Oh yes ma’am. I’ll be sure to do that,” Dirtbound promised.

“And when you are done in school, during the afternoons, you are going to come and work for me. You are going to be my courier and I am going to teach you responsibility,” Violet stated in a commanding monotone. “We will put that speed to some good use and give your brain some exercise as well.”

Nodding, Dirtbound looked at Violet with his ears splayed out submissively. “Yes ma’am.”

“And when we are done here today, what are you going to do?” Violet asked.

“I’m gonna go home and apologise to my mama for disappointing her when I dropped out of school and then I am going to promise her that I am going to make up for being an idiot,” Dirtbound replied with a pained and regretful expression upon his face. “Do you think I made a good impression on Mister Bitters?”

“You made a fine first impression upon Bucky. You did well. You have nothing to worry about,” Violet said as her voice warmed. She smiled at Dirtbound.

“You sure are offering me a lot of bits for courier work,” Dirtbound remarked as he reached up an rubbed one still stinging ear.

“Fair pay for hard work. If you do well as a courier, I might make you one of my assistants,” Violet responded as she lifted up her coffee cup in her magic and held it near her lips. When she was done speaking, she drank down the last of her coffee. She wiped her mouth carefully with an napkin and then looked at Dirtbound. “Did you enjoy the chocolate?”

“Yes ma’am, I did,” Dirtbound replied with a sheepish smile.

 

 

In the farmhouse library, in the chair jokingly referred to as his throne, Bucky looked over the correspondance left in a well organised pile for him. The zebra students would be coming soon. More refugees were expected from overseas, mostly minotaurs with a small number of diamond dogs. Celestia politely mentioned that she had no idea where to comfortably place them. Sighing, Bucky tossed these papers aside and looked at the ones marked with higher priority.

Opening the night blue envelope from Luna, he read over the reports of violence spilling into Fancy and Germaney from Minos. The minotaur rebels, now in control of Labyrinthia, were conducting raids over the borders of the two countries and seemed to be preparing for invasion. The guns were entirely too effective against the unicorns and pegasi sent to defend the borders. Sighing, Bucky realised he really needed to speed up the production process for the anti-gunpowder golems, but he needed more arcano-tech motors for the rotors.

It seemed that Luna was indeed, gearing up for an invasion of Minos and an assault upon the city of Labyrinthia. The casualties in Fancy and Germaney were impossible to ignore and a response had to be made. The note said to wait for a public announcement from Celestia.

There were reports of undead in the south and necromantic cults were still plaguing the southern expanses. The orbs of undead compulsion were proving their worth, drawing in the undead so they could be destroyed and disposed of.

Feeling a vague sense of unease, Bucky set down the papers and rubbed his head. There was still a long way to go before real peace was made manifest in the world. The first step, at least in Bucky’s mind, had been made. The school was open and a new ideology was being created that might assist in eventual world unity.

Everything seemed so distant… everything felt like such impossibly long odds.

With a crushing sense of realisation, Bucky came to the conclusion that his work was only just getting started. For a moment, he thought of the hook and how it had nearly destroyed the hope within him. This was just another hook and he was going to have to endure somehow.

 

 

“Who is going to pick up where they leave off?” Apple Bloom asked as she looked over at her friends. “I mean, heroes can’t be heroes forever. Ponies grow old. Get tired of adventuring. There is always that point in the stories where the adventurer decides to rest their bones by the fire and just stay at home.”

“I don’t know. I suppose I’ve never thought of it,” Sweetie Belle replied as she looked at Apple Bloom and then glanced around at everypony else. “Applejack is going to find it real hard to go adventuring and save the world if she’s pregnant I guess… and so will the rest of the Elements of Harmony.”

“So who continues their work?” Scootaloo asked as she leaned over and rest against Spike, who had his foreleg around her. “What if there is another scary monster like Nightmare Moon or Discord and the Elements of Harmony are no longer there to keep the world safe?”

“This is why we have to get our heads screwed on right, pay attention in school, get smart, and prepare ourselves,” Dinky said to the group.

“I’m not even sure Applejack finished school,” Apple Bloom grumbled as she prodded at an orange leaf laying in the grass. The earth pony foal looked sulky for a moment and then her expression softened. “All the more reason why I should pay more attention I guess. I don’t want to spend the rest of my life working that hard.”

“There will always be heroes,” Sentinel stated in a soft solemn voice. “They’re not always big adventurers or powerful wizards… sometimes, they’re right under your nose… they’re an earth pony that is a school teacher that just sort of sticks out the rough times and tries to help foals. Or a police officer that does their job.”

“If it was any other pony saying that, I’d complain about how corny it sounds, but it is Sentinel, so he gets a free pass,” Rumble remarked.

“Who is going to be the Element of Generousity when my sister is gone?” Sweetie Belle asked in a small somewhat squeaky voice. “Who will take the place of Pinkie Pie?”

“I don’t know,” Apple Bloom replied as she let the full effect of everything being said sink in. “The problem with heroes is… the world suddenly seems like a much scarier place when you realise that your heroes won’t always be there.”

 

 

 

 

 

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