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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Leaning forward, Piña Colada inhaled the fragrant steam rising from her cup of tea. Black tea, with ginger, Piña had added a slice of lemon and some honey. It was rapidly becoming one of her favourites. She looked around the table, glad to have this opportunity, and gave her sister Dinky a nudge to let Dinky know that her teaspoon had fallen off of the saucer and onto the table.

Hearing Agnetha inhale, Piña turned to look at the griffoness when she realised that Agnetha was about to speak. Piña’s ears perked and she looked the queen of the griffons in the eye.

“This is quite lovely, I’m glad I came,” Agnetha said.

Off to Piña’s left, there was a barely audible clatter as Dinky placed her spoon upon her saucer. Piña turned to look, distracted for a moment, and then turned back to Agnetha the griffoness.

“Agnetha, you are rapidly becoming my good right hoof; it is good that you come to things like tea parties and such so that you learn all of the little quirks for good social interaction.”

Looking over at Princess Celestia, who had just spoken, Piña raised an eyebrow and thought about what it was that Princess Celestia had just said.

“Majesty, you are too kind… I do my best to be a helpful griffoness, but I make many mistakes when it comes to proper social graces.” The griffoness, holding her teacup, seemed nervous, and Piña could sense this as she listened to what the griffoness had to say. Something else felt off, and Piña felt something within her give an odd feeling twinge.

“Agnetha, please, no titles, this is casual afternoon tea… and you are far too humble…”

As her head turned to look at Princess Celestia, Piña saw the alicorn winking at Agnetha. Holding her teacup carefully between her two front hooves, Piña took a careful sip of tea. She watched as Agnetha took a sip, fascinated at how the hunter griffoness drank. Agnetha held the teacup to the side of her opened beak, tilted her head back slightly, and poured a tiny bit of tea in carefully. Mindful of not staring, Piña looked away and thought about how Belisama drank, the smaller griffoness, now one of her mothers, pecked at her tea with her beak, somehow slurping some tea up without lips.

It was a mystery to Piña how one could slurp without lips, but Belisama-mama did it.

“I’m so glad to see you again Tourmaline,” Dinky said.

Turning her head once more, Piña looked sideways over at Dinky, and then at Tourmaline, who was sitting beside Dinky. Today, Tourmaline’s pink mane was different; it was pulled back into a small bun and tied of with a section of pastel purple ribbon.

Piña saw Tourmaline’s ears splay out sideways and then she saw Tourmaline look at Dinky shyly through her thick lenses. It occurred to Piña that Tourmaline must nearly be blind to require such lenses. Piña could see Tourmaline’s nostrils flare for a moment, the jet black filly inhaled, and then Piña heard her say, “Thank you Dinky, it is always nice to see you.”

Tea was all about being polite and practicing your manners… there was a time for pegasus manners, and while those were fun and good, practicing unicorn manners was always a fun challenge for Piña, simply because you had to be so mindful of everything you did.

Heaving a sigh of disappointment, Piña sat up a little straighter in her chair and then took another careful sip of tea. Diamond Tiara had not come for tea. She was off with Sentinel. Piña felt a spike of jealously, followed by a shameful feeling of guilt. She wondered how Dinky felt about Diamond Tiara spending so much time with Sentinel.

 

 

Holding her teacup in her telekinesis, Princess Celestia watched everything going on at the table around her. Dinky clearly had a connection forming with the changeling sitting beside her, but Dinky did not know that Tourmaline was a changeling. Agnetha was relaxing a little bit, obviously realising that she didn’t need to worry so much about her clumsy manners around foals. When griffons drank from teacups, they tended to spill and dribble a bit as they poured tea down their gullets, and Agnetha was clearly self conscious about this fact.

And then, there was Piña Colada. Celestia was watching her carefully, eyeing Piña’s every move, reading Piña’s every expression, and queuing in on every movement of Piña’s head as well as the foal’s eyes. Piña was being quiet, well mannered, and clearly was observing everything going on around her, displaying a sense of awareness and attention far beyond the foal’s young age. Piña Colada had become fascinating. She displayed signs of being devastatingly intelligent, and reminded Celestia of a pony she still loved dearly.

Smart Cookie

Feeling a moment of sorrow, Celestia reflected briefly upon those she had outlived. At least Cadance would be around now to keep her company, along with Luna. As for Shining Armor, Celestia suspected that Shining Armor was now very nearly immortal as well. His body was a construct, something that could be obliterated and then simply reconstructed by the will of the Crystal Collective.

He’s not even burdened by immortality, Celestia thought to herself as she took a sip of tea and half listened to Dinky and Tourmaline chatting with one another. There is only love and existing in the moment. He won’t even feel the pain of time passing like we do, because the Crystal Collective exists outside of time… I wish I was so lucky, to not feel the agony of knowing that time passes…

“—and then just when mama Luna thought everything was going to be okay, Erebus exploded… but I can’t say what happened next because this is tea time and what happened next was rude. After it was all over, Luna needed a bath and the maids had to clean the ceiling.”

Smiling, Celestia gazed over at Tourmaline, who was always so animated when telling a story. Celestia felt the muscles in her jaw pull her smile back, revealing her teeth in a broad grin.

“The ceiling?” Dinky asked.

Celestia could see Tourmaline’s teacup wobbling in her still weak telekinesis as the changeling foal turned to look at Dinky and say, “Yep. The ceiling. The maids had to clean the ceiling.” Unable to help herself, Celestia tittered.

Piña’s eyes were exceptionally bright and Celestia could almost stare into Piña’s soul as their eyes met for a moment. There was so much potential in this little pink earth pony foal.

Taking a sip of tea, Celestia swallowed slowly, cleared her throat quietly, and took advantage of the lull in the conversation. “Piña Colada, I suppose you’ve been wondering about your spirit of knowledge. Do you have any questions?”

“I don’t feel any smarter,” Celestia heard Piña reply. Unable to help herself, Celestia allowed herself a small bit of laughter.

“You are already far too smart… it wouldn’t be fair if you became any smarter. No, this spirit will allow you to know this when you encounter magic, or so I believe. It will make your own gifts stronger. I do believe you will have a certain amount of intrinsic knowledge now when dealing with curious magical situations, if you can touch something. Mind you, this is merely suspicion and an educated guess,” Celestia said as she kept eye contact with Piña Colada.

“Stronger?” Celestia heard Piña ask.

Carefully choosing her words, Celestia took a deep breath and said, “The spirit will draw power from the ley lines… it should, in theory, take whatever magic ability you have and make it stronger. I have actually seen this effect before in others and I know just how much power it can bring.” Falling silent, Celestia thought about how she was filled with spirits… all of the alicorns that had been defiled. Each and every one of them allowed her to draw upon an incredible amount of power. It allowed her to control the heavens, move the cosmos, and keep the planet alive. It allowed her to hold the gates of Tartarus shut. It kept the sun moving and even allowed her to cheat death beyond the normal realms of necromancy, like when she had brought back Twilight Sparkle and given her a new body.

“You seem distracted. You okay?”

Blinking, Celestia snapped back into focus. “I’m sorry Piña, I was—”

“Lost in your own thoughts?”

Offering the observant foal a sheepish smile, Celestia nodded. “Yes Piña, for a moment, I became distracted. Do forgive me.”

Celestia watched as Piña gave a shrug and then said, “There is nothing to forgive. I don’t always pay as much attention to things as I should.”

“That’s because you are an egghead and you keep thinking about deep complex stuff,” Celestia heard Dinky say as the unicorn foal gave Piña a poke. Celestia observed the siblings, related not through blood, but through a bond so much stronger. Feeling her heart warm, Celestia glanced at Dinky, lifted up her teacup, and then took a sip, making sure to make a slurping sound in the hopes that Agnetha might become a little more animated.

 

 

“—and so Piña, I do hope that you will use this gift wisely. You have the potential for greatness. You have an obligation, both to yourself and other earth ponies, not to mention all of pony kind, to utilise this gift for the greater good.”

Pondering her mother’s words, Tourmaline noticed a few similarities how her mother was talking to Piña and how her mother had spoken with her. That had been a long talk. Tourmaline had gifts that could benefit the greater good. It had been her gifts that had saved Sunset Shimmer.

Looking around the table, Tourmaline could feel the mood of those around her. Agnetha was scared, nervous, there was something else there but Tourmaline did not understand what it was. It was a complex emotion that beyond the scope of what Tourmaline understood. Piña was mostly calm, curious, the earth pony foal was thoughtful, enough that Tourmaline was able to sense it.

Her mother was having fun.

Dinky was odd. Out of all of them, Dinky was the most confusing to poor Tourmaline. When Tourmaline looked at Dinky, she felt a curious sensation of love, an odd type of love, sort of like the love that mama Luna and Barley shared, only weaker, and Tourmaline could sense that it was directed at her. It was confusing, distracting, and made Tourmaline feel funny. She dared not say anything, she had endured a couple of lectures already about blurting out how other creatures around her feel, and Tourmaline wanted to give Dinky her privacy.

Try as she might, Tourmaline could not ignore the strange feeling of weak love coming from Dinky Doo Hooves. She lifted her teacup, took one nervous sip, and then on a whim, she floated over a tiny frosted tea cake for herself.

 

 

“Buckminster, I need a word with you.”

Looking up from his work, Bucky saw his soon to be victim, Celestia. He said nothing of course, he knew that she knew that he knew, there was indeed mutual knowledge of knowing that they each knew what had been done, and the game was ahoof.

Celestia was old and wiley, Bucky was young and clever.

“What do you need auntie?” Bucky asked in a saccharine voice. He wanted Celestia to know what she was in for. Family members got special treatment.

“First off, your stairs are evil... Twilight was absolutely right to complain about them. What is it with all of Sombra’s bloodline and stairs?” Bucky heard Celestia say as she gave him an annoyed glare.

Grinning, Bucky leaned over his desk and rested both forelegs amid the many scattered golem parts. “Sorry… my stairs were on ‘do not disturb mode’ and could sense when somepony, er, someone, was coming up them to bother me outside of an emergency. You are quite stubborn to have made your way up them.”

For a moment, Bucky felt a smug sense of satisfaction in knowing that he had made his way under Celestia’s skin. He thought about making a suggestion… something along the lines of ‘perhaps fewer sweets were in order’ but Bucky chose not press his luck. He watched as Celestia drew a deep breath and readied herself to say something.

“Bucky, you have a student coming to your school. A special student that I have decided to place here. And we need to talk about this student, because I am placing him in your care,” Celestia said.

Seeing Celestia wince, Bucky’s smug attitude melted away and he grew concerned. He raised his eyebrow as he saw Celestia’s mouth open.

“She…”

“She?” Bucky asked, now very interested in what Celestia had to say. “Spill it. Just say everything important. I’m listening.” He watched as Celestia sighed and attempted to regain her composure.

“His… her name is Little Slip. She is an earth pony, no parents, I will not go into why, it is unpleasant, not pretty, and he… she comes from an abusive background. She is originally from Vanhoover. She is currently recovering in Canterlot after an… accident. Self harm? I do not know how to put it—”

All personal differences now put aside, Bucky realised that Celestia was crying. He felt a deep sense of concern welling up inside of him as Celestia was speaking, and he locked his gaze upon the trembling mare. For all of her seeming hardness, Bucky knew that Celestia had a tender heart buried under seemingly stony exteriour.

“—in simple terms… he… gelded himself… herself… DAMNATION!”

Celestia’s shout sent Bucky’s golems scrambling for cover, running to hide in any place they could. Some even fled the room, no doubt running down the stairs to hide in Sunset Shimmer’s room. Bucky could see Celestia’s frustration upon her face.

“I am better than this. I owe my subjects more respect than this... SHE!

The loud sound of Celestia’s inhale filled Bucky’s office and Bucky poured two drinks of strong brandy that was blended with vanilla liqueur. He pushed one glass forward upon his desk and left it sitting there, a silent offer.

“She gelded herself because she wasn’t comfortable with her body. She felt trapped, confused, she was all messed up inside and broken. She has scars Bucky, inside and out, just like you do. The ponies that should have been helping her ended up hurting her ever more. She was in an asylum in Canterlot when the collapse happened. She escaped during the chaos and the royal guard rescued her from a group of unicorns that were hunting her . She was brought to the castle’s hospital system and she has been staying there… willingly this time, getting some help and getting better. Luna has been helping her and they have become close. I want her here under your care, staying in your dormitories, living here at your school… but there are some issues that might be a problem,” Celestia said as she lifted the glass from Bucky’s desk.

Reaching up and rubbing his chin with his talons, Bucky felt a sense of relief when he saw Celestia tip back the glass and swallow the whole thing in one gulp. He watched her shudder, her eyes closing, and he watched her ears rotate in circles as the fiery liquid burned her. Clearing his throat, Bucky said, “What problems might there be?”

“She was born a colt, but identifies as female, and she is begging to stay in a female dorm—”

“Done.”

“—and she has surviving family members that might seek to do her harm, so if she ever decides to go into Ponyville, she will need an escort of some kind, a guard—”

Drawing in a deep breath, Bucky sighed, “Done.”

Bucky saw Celestia freeze up for a moment and stare at him. “You surprise me sometimes,” he heard her say. He poured more of the strong brandy into their glasses and raised his glass to Celestia in salute.

“Bucky, honestly, for some reason I’d thought you’d balk about a colt living in the filly’s dorms… I do not know what I was thinking I suppose. I know I was bothered by the idea at first, and it shames me to admit it.”

Now, Bucky knew that something was wrong. Celestia just used a contraction and he had noticed it. He could not recall if she had used one before, but this was never a good sign. Knowing that the mare needed reassuring, Bucky offered her a fang filled smile. “Put your mind at ease. I’ll figure out something. I look after my own.” The moment the words left his mouth, Bucky saw Celestia visibly relax and he was glad that his words had the desired effect. Celestia knew all to well that he looked after his own.

As Celestia stood there silent and Bucky sat there watching her, a lone golem came running out of hiding and approached Celestia. Bucky recognised this particular golem and as he sat there looking, it raised a leg in salute.

 

.--. .-. .- .. ... . / - .... . / ... ..- -.

 

“What is he saying Bucky? That sounds like Morsel code… Luna has told me of your self aware golems. Is he… is he prostrating himself before me?” Celestia asked.

Leaning over his desk, Bucky looked down at the little golem, that was bowing and scraping in front of Celestia. “He just said ‘praise the sun’ and yes, he is bowing to you. He’s scared of the dark and he worships you.”

Bucky could see Celestia light up, a broad smile spread across her face.

 

-- -.-- / --. --- -.. -.. . ... ... / .. ... / .. -- .--. . .-. ..-. . -.-. - .-.-.- / ... .... . / --- -. .-.. -.-- / .... .- ... / ..-. --- ..- .-. / .-.. . --. ... / .- -. -.. / .. ... / -- .- -.. . / --- ..- - / --- ..-. / -.-. .... . . ... . .-.-.-

 

Golems! Bucky thought to himself. There was no way that he could tell Celestia that the golem thought his goddess was imperfect because she only had four legs and was made of cheese. There was no way to even begin explaining why the golems believed that ponies were made out of cheese.

“What did he say?” Celestia asked.

Clearing his throat, Bucky carefully chose his reply. “It is best if you do not know. Suffice to say, he adores you, worships you, and believes you are his goddess.”

Bucky watched at Celestia lowered her head down to the floor, her snoot inches away from the little dark fearing golem. “Would you like to come home with me? I can protect you from the dark and Tourmaline would probably adore a playmate,” Bucky heard Celestia say. He then saw Celestia turn to look at him.

“You do not mind, do you?” she asked.

“By all means, take him.” Carefully contorting his face to hide his evil grin, Bucky realised that he now had an active spy living in the castle. He would be able to see everything the golem could see, listen to every spoken word, and for far more practical purposes, keep an ear out for trouble.

 

 

 

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