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


461. 461

“Sir, I have organised the various reports about the affairs of the Shire Isles, and the reports that are of the utmost importance have been placed in a red folder. Things that require attention, are important, but can wait a little while are in orange. Things that are of minor concern are in the yellow folder,” Violet said as she carefully arranged the folders upon the farmhouse library table.

“Thank you Violet, I’ll have a look at the red folder before school today. How does it feel being unofficially in charge of the Shire Isles?” Bucky asked his faithful secretary.

“Honestly sir?” Violet replied as she looked up from the folders.

Raising his remaining eyebrow, Bucky made a gesture indicating ‘out with it’ by waving his talons around in a wild gesticulation. “Honestly… I wouldn’t have asked otherwise.”

Bucky could see Violet suck in a deep breath, he saw her face contort with a flash of anger, and then he settled into his chair, bracing himself for her acidic response… Violet was a bitter pony, and Bucky was already quite affectionate towards her because of it.

“I would swallow my own personal feelings and then do what was best for all of them, probably hating myself the entire time, and then perhaps I would intentionally cultivate an addiction to your wife Bon Bon’s chocolates to see me through what would certainly be a trying time in my life. I would personally uproot every single unicorn I could and then offer them a trip to either the Sea of Grass or to here so that they might be rehabilitated, freed of the influences of the drugs, and then I’d leave the… the… subjects of the Shire Isles with exactly what they want… a society free of unicorns and the related paranoia,” Violet said in a curt and icy voice.

Reaching up and stroking his chin with his talons, Bucky pondered Violet’s words and wondered if the mare might have other usefulideas embedded in her bile. Enamoured with her current idea, Bucky extended his left foreleg, pointed at Violet with his first talon finger, and made a little nod. “Do it.”

“Do what sir?”

Letting out a small sigh to avoid frustration, Bucky took a moment to keep his annoyance in check. “Send agents… trusted agents of the crown. Welfare agents with spotless backgrounds… send them to the Shire Isles with a fleet of privately hired airships. Gather up nurses and doctors if you can. Send a dispatch to the Sea of Grass and inform them of the plan, request their assistance, tell them that the Windigo once again needs their aid… and then began to evacuate every single unicorn that is willing to leave the Shire Isles. Get those unicorns cleaned up. Have the zebras use whatever sort of elixirs they can cook up to ease their addictions. The Shire Isles are a toxic place for unicorns, they will never be able to heal if they remain there. As for those too far gone to care for themselves, have an ultimatum delivered. The asylums are all to be closed before spring… I want every broken unicorn taken into protective custody and then either taken to the Sea of Grass or here, to see if there is any hope of restoring them. Luna has powerful magic to fix broken minds… so it might be possible to give them some kind of life back.”

For a moment, Violet looked aghast and her mouth hung open. “Sir… as much as it bothers me to say this, the Shire Isles need unicorns… this will cause their living standards to—”

“Become like those on the Shetlands, which had few unicorns?” Bucky asked, cutting Violet off mid-sentence. “Good… let them suffer. Let this generation find out what it means to live without unicorns.”

Bucky saw Violet flinch and he felt encouraged. That was the very sort of reaction that he desired. He leaned forward in his chair and watched as Violet’s composure broke, he could see and hear her stammering…

“Sir… sir… this is an extreme measure that will have… will have… will have so many… unintended consequences… but I will do as you ask.” Violet Velvet’s mouth closed and her lips pressed into a straight line. She took a deep breath and then began to straighten out her badly shaken sense of professionalism.

“Make it known that if they protest this decision, I will come to the isles personally and detonate a massive burst of dispelling magic, rendering all arcano-tech devices utterly useless. I want them to think about what they’ve done,” Bucky said, his upper lip curling back from his fangs as the final word left his mouth.

“Very good sir.” Violet’s eyes dropped down to the table and Bucky watched her as she went perfectly still. After a moment, her saw her look up at him, and then her mouth opened. “Sir?”

“Yes Violet?” Bucky’s voice was now calm. Cool. Collected. His moment of anger was now gone, and he felt a bit more like himself once more.

“Teatime this afternoon, sir. Princess Celestia will be arriving with Tourmaline to visit Dinky and Piña. I will be personally making sure that everything is as pleasant as possible… will you be attending, sir?” Violet asked.

“I’d like to Violet, but as you no doubt know, I have a very long and busy day. Twilight will be bringing by thousands of arcano-tech motors for golem creation and I have classes to teach.” Settling back into his seat, Bucky felt a bit of a sulk coming on and he felt his muzzle crinkle. “Anything else?”

Violet’s ears perked up as she looked at Bucky intently. “There is one more thing sir. I have received a communication informing me that the entirety of the royal family is to be gathered together for photographs to be taken. Princess Celestia and Princess Luna have a thing about Hearth’s Warming cards… anyhow, this is not optional. Failure to comply will result in Princess Luna personally hunting you down with a troop of Myrmidons and dragging you in chains to attend the occasion.”

“Oh dear… I wonder if the Sea of Grass will offer the Windigo sanctuary…”



Dropping a stack of books upon his desk, Bucky then turned around and faced his class with a small quiet sigh. He lifted a glass from his desk using his levitation, took a drink of water, cleared his throat, coughed, and then looked upon several smiling and curious faces.

“Today in An Introduction to Dangerous Magics, we are going to discuss non lethal pacification and useful defense. In a little while, we will have a guest speaker that is much much better than I am at casting defensive spells… mine are, um, lacking sometimes. I see some new faces, I’ll need to see you after class so we can talk about getting you caught up. Now… who can tell me a way to defend yourself as a unicorn or things a unicorn might cast upon you to help protect you?” As Bucky spoke, he carefully looked around the room, trying to spot those who had expressions of keen interest, curiousity, those who showed promise.

Seeing Dinky raise her hoof, Bucky reluctantly called upon her, but she was the only one with an answer. He pointed his index talon finger at Dinky and waited for her reply.

“Aversion spells might not save you from damage, but they do make it difficult to look at you, see you, and makes it very difficult to most ponies to try and hurt you,” Dinky said as she sat with her front hooves carefully folded over her desk. “Also, aversion spells can be difficult to dispel compared to standard shield spells, which can be disrupted or bypassed by clever unicorns that might teleport a spell through a shield that has not been teleportation warded.”

Impressed, and not because she was his daughter, Bucky nodded. “Very good Dinky Doo. You bring up some wonderful points to think about.” He looked around the class expectantly as he hoped for others.

Much to his relief, he saw Rumble raise a wing. “Rumble?”

“Um… since Dinky said you can teleport a spell… if somepony’s shields were not teleportation warded, what if somepony teleported say, a pegasus inside of a unicorn’s shield bubble?” Rumble asked, licking his lips when he had paused mid sentence.

Smiling, Bucky became a little animated now that he was feeling some enthusiasm. “Wonderful question. The unicorn would be in  a very bad spot… if he lets down his shield spell, he becomes vulnerable. If he keeps it up, he is now trapped inside of his shield bubble with an angry pegasus… and having lived with a pegasus that has on occasion became angry with me, justifiably so, nopony wants this to happen.”

Hearing the classroom giggle made Bucky relax a bit and he chuckled.

“Which brings up another point… always use the element of surprise,” Sweetie Belle said in a shrill squeaky voice.

“Yes!” Bucky seized upon this moment to surprise the class and his exclamation caused quite a few students to startle or jump. “Distraction is useful. Blow up something behind somepony. A flash of light appearing in the corner of their vision that might be mistaken for a second enemy spellcaster. A loud noise. Leave them never knowing which direction an attack might be coming in from. Startle them to disrupt their spell casting. It is better to scare somepony than it is to kill them.”

Shifting in her seat as she rubbed her front hooves together, Sweetie Belle looked at Bucky to get his attention and then raised her hoof.

“Yes Sweetie Belle?” Bucky asked.

Bucky watched as Sweetie Belle continued to show signs of discomfort.

“What if you have to kill somepony? Or something?” Once more Sweetie Belle squeezed her front hooves together and then stared down at them, her ears pinning back against her skull.

Looking at Sweetie Belle made Bucky want to rush over and comfort her, to give her a hug and try to make her feel better, but that would not be conducive to the lesson. “It comes down to personal preference….” Pausing, Bucky drew in a deep breath, held it, internally counted to five, released it, and then continued: “If it is just you, and for whatever reason you don’t mind risking your life during a extended confrontation, you wear them down, attempt to subdue them, and then you neutralise the threat they pose. If there are others with you, comrades, friends, those you love, and something is trying to kill them, then hold nothing back in the defense of others. Anything goes. When it comes to protecting others, not just yourself, you do not have the luxury of doing whatever it takes to satisfy your own morals. You have an obligation to protect those around you, you do what needs to be done, and you kill… plain and simple. It is a sad regrettable fact of life, but it happens. Hopefully, none of you will ever find yourself in that situation.”

“Like what you had to do for Sunset Shimmer?” Rumble asked in a solemn voice. “My dad read about it in the paper…”

“Yes Rumble, like I did for Sunset Shimmer. I made a terrible mistake that night, and I failed her. I failed the residents of Ponyville… I held on to my own convictions and failed to apply enough force to take down my enemy before they became a threat to others… and Sunset Shimmer nearly paid for my own failure… with her life… a mistake I will never make a second time.”

Bucky’s words caused the classroom to fall into complete silence, the only real sound was the soft faint snuffling of the occupants in the room breathing. Unsure of what to say next, of how to make sure this lesson was driven home, not knowing how to explain something this complex to a room full of foals, Bucky became increasingly aware that the silence was lingering.

The minute hand moved a few notches upon the clock, and Bucky realised that the longer a silence exists, the more difficult it was to break it. Now, the silence was oppressive, almost painful, and Bucky began to feel a tightness in his barrel as his old friend panic dropped in to say hello.

“In the end, any obligation we have to others is greater than any obligation we have to ourselves,” Piña said in a hushed whisper, her softly spoken words shattering the silence and banishing it away. “Especially if they are the ones we love, the very ones that will comfort us, reassure us, soothe us if we have to do something awful to protect them. To fail them would be the worst sort of thing.”

Feeling relieved, Bucky felt tightness in his barrel ease off. “Yes class… Piña is correct… now let’s continue the lesson…”



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