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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“There are a lot of ponies dressed up as the founders. I wonder why that is… Usually you do not see these costumes until Hearth’s Warming Eve and the plethora of pageants that take place to ease the long stretch of winter boredom,” Luna said as she watched all six founders to trotting past, complete with one foal dressed up as a windigo.

As Luna was watching the founders go trotting past, she continued to wonder why. The civil unrest? Tribal unity? The recent events on the Shire Isles that had left over nine hundred dead? Ponyville had always been a place of integration and now, with Bucky’s school, Luna suspected that Ponyville would finally be a place where tribalism finally earned a headstone.

It gave Luna hope.

“What’s up with all of the ponies dressed up in ugly sweaters?” Barley asked.

Barley’s words made Luna smile as she turned to face him. “I do believe some of the foals have dressed up as a pop culture icon. His name is… Trendy something-or-other… I do not remember.”

“He made ugly sweaters popular? What an arse.”

Unable to help herself, Luna giggled. This was why she so loved Barley.

“Maybe we should get an ugly sweater for Erebus…”

Feigning mock outrage, Luna turned her glare upon Barley. “Speak not of such a thing!”

Luna could see a look upon Barley’s face, but she did not know what it was, something beyond his usual impish look of mischief. He was grinning, but there was something else… and Luna was at a loss to figure out what it was.

“Luna, yer in some kinda mood this evening. Something different about you. I cannae figure out what it is though,” Barley said.

In the distance, a band played. There were sounds of merriment all around. Ponies were laughing and giggling. The entire world seemed so alive and Luna could hear everything. It was almost overwhelming. The night, the mood, the atmosphere, it was the sort of night where one could not help but feel alive... the evidence was visible in each puff of breath that came out as a great cloud of stream. The cider seemed sweeter and more tart. Leaning over a bit, Luna kissed Barley on the cheek, pulled back, sat up straight, and said, “I was just thinking that there is something different about you. Sit with me for a while Barley. Let us be happy together. I want this night to last forever.”

“Aye… lass… careful with them wishes. I need the sun… takes the ache from me old bones… this night is all about the last time you wanted the night to last forever.”

Allowing a pouty expression to settle over her face, Luna gave Barley a glare and then turned away in mock anger. “Hmmph. Well I never…” Pausing, Luna’s expression softened and she turned back to Barley. “I could never do it now. I love too much. Ponies like you… and Erebus… I could never hurt either of you. Nor could I betray the trust of the ponies around me now. I think… I think I am finally making peace with myself.”

 

 

All of the time spent in the forge had changed Rising Star’s magic. Bon Bon’s shop was crowded, packed wall to wall, every table, every booth, every stool at the counter, all of it was full. And somehow, Rising Star was keeping up with the demand with his telekinesis. Washing dishes, making malts, preparing spiced cider, preparing hot chocolate, pulling trays of carefully made chocolates and other candies out of the cooler, restocking the display case, and collecting all of the dirty dishes while cleaning the tables when a customer was finished.

What amazed Rising Star was the fact that he didn’t feel strained. There was a time in his life when this would have been impossible. After his change, there would have been a time when this was overwhelming. Now, as Rising Star kept everything moving, Rising Star realised that he could be doing more if necessary.

Lyra was serving the customers and doing a myriad of tasks herself, Helia was operating the cash register, Golden Harvest, along with Loch Skimmer, was helping Bon Bon make candied as well as caramel apples, and Violet Velvet was taking orders while keeping order, making sure that the customers remained well behaved.

Somehow, and Rising Star did not know how, but the small group that he was part of was making the impossible happen. The customers were happy, and the sounds inside of the shop reflected that. There was laughter, happy sounds, and the mood was good.

Rising Star couldn’t even begin to imagine how this would be possible without him and Lyra. As he laboured, he thought about his magic; it was a boon to those around him, a labour saving measure, and it made life a lot easier. It made Bon Bon’s business a good deal more profitable. Rising Star figured that Bon Bon might need a half a dozen to a full dozen ponies to do all of the work he was doing right now, all of which would need to be paid.

His thoughts turned to the unicorns of the Shire Isles and everything he had read recently in the paper. Unicorns were viewed as little more than appliances, ideal servants, and everything awful that had been done to them had been done in the name of the greater good. Shaking his head, Rising Star did not know what to think or how to feel. He enjoyed working for Bon Bon. She was one of the many mares that he now called mother.

But he could not imagine being forced to do this all in the name of ensuring that a business became profitable. At the end of the night, Rising Star would have gratitude, love, affection, many kisses on the cheek, and probably more candy than he should be eating. For a Shire unicorn, the end of the day brought more drugs, more addiction, and probably things like more hopelessness with the knowledge that things were never going to change.

Except, things had changed. Once again, it had been Bucky who had changed them, and Twilight Sparkle was now shaking things up as well, getting the Bureau of Thaumaturgy involved to create new laws and punishments against magical exploitation.

Shaking his head, Rising Star cleared the thoughts from his mind and made a mental note to take his share of candy home to his other parents to make sure that Brass Note and Singsong, his new siblings, had a little something extra special. His new siblings adored him, and Rising Star wanted to be the best big brother possible.

 

 

“Come on girls, I don’t want to go into the haunted house… I don’t like being scared,” Tourmaline said, knowing that she would have trouble handling everypony elses’ fear. Especially Glass Slipper, who seemed terrified at the very idea of going into the haunted house.

“We had Nightmare Moon jump out of our mirror earlier… trust us, not much can be scary after that.” Dinky was defiant, bold, whatever had happened earlier had left her almost fearless, and Tourmaline could feel it.

“I’m hungry. All that magic I used earlier… I’m still hungry even though I ate something. I say we find something to eat.” Piña’s hunger was so strong that Tourmaline could feel it affecting her own hunger, and her belly growled from sympathy pain.

“Too cold for apple bobbing,” Glass Slipper said as she looked around and watched ponies go passing by.

“Things have changed…” Dinky’s voice was sad, but her emotion was something that Tourmaline couldn’t quite make out. It was far too complex. Tourmaline listened carefully as Dinky continued: “The spider toss used to scare me. I remember last year, those silly little spiders scared me silly. I went and hid under my mother. Now, I look at the spiders for the spider toss, think of how silly and stupid I was to be so afraid, and I just feel embarrassed.”

“A lot has happened Dinky. We’ve seen scarier. I’m not sure if we can have the sort of scary fun that most foals our age can have. We went to the Shetlands. We grew up. We’ve both seen things scarier than stuffed spiders and probably that silly haunted house. Now we’re in that odd place where we aren’t old enough to be with the older foals, but we don’t fit in with foals our own age either,” Piña said.

“I know how that is… I lost my whole family and I was foalnapped and a bunch of stuff happened and I met Tourmaline and then I got saved… and other foals my age don’t know what it’s like,” Glass Slipper said.

Tourmaline really wanted to say something, anything, to tell her friends that she understood. She felt the pain of other things. She felt emotions, raw and unfiltered, she had been made aware of everything around her, including things she knew she wasn’t old enough to understand. The odd feeling of shame and embarrassment came flooding back as Tourmaline recalled Celestia patiently explaining what lust was in the most gentle terms possible, and why Tourmaline kept feeling this particularly odd feeling of love coming from the guards and so many other adult ponies that lived in the castle.

Many of the guards felt an odd feeling of love for Celestia and it made Tourmaline uncomfortable knowing that ponies thought of her mother in that way.

Gulping down her own emotions, Tourmaline took a moment to clear her thoughts. She reached out and prodded Piña, poking a hoof into her ribs. “That’s something we all have in common. Something we all share. We don’t fit in with other ponies our age. We’re a bit more grown up on the inside but on the outside, we’re still foals.”

“I’m empty on the inside… let’s go to mama Bon Bon’s shop and get some food,” Piña said.

“And then we’ll figure out what to do afterwards… I’m with Piña… food sounds good,” Dinky added.

Tourmaline felt a poke in the cutie mark and then she heard Glass Slipper say, “I don’t care what we do, but I don’t want to miss Zecora’s magic show!”

 

 

On the outskirts of town, Sparkler heard the fluttering of wings. She looked around, trying to figured out where her winged visitor landed, and then she saw a familiar one eyed owl sitting on the back of a park bench.

“Heya daddy… come to keep an eye on me?” she asked.

The owl fluffed out, hooted, and then replied, “How ya holding up Sparky?”

Sparkler looked around to see if anypony was around and found nopony. “I’m doing okay. I still jump out of my skin when I hear somepony shout or hear a foal squeal. It’s hard on me. I’m not doing as well as I had hoped, which is why I am patrolling the outskirts. My nerves are so bad that my Shivers is nearly uncontrollable.”

“I have no plans to go into town… I don’t think I could handle it. Home is quiet and safe though. Lugus and Yew Wood read the story of Nightmare Moon to Peekaboo before putting her to bed. Harper actually ate some food on her own tonight without anypony having to make her eat it. It feels nice when home is quiet.”

Home. Sparkler knew how her father felt about home. “You’ll be leaving us soon.”

The owl nodded, his head bobbing up and down.

Home was the place where her father returned to recover himself. The train mission. Griffonholm. Las Pegasus. He always came home a mess and had to recover. It pained Sparkler to know that he was leaving once more, and she knew why. “Do you really have to go? Can’t you just tell them no and put your hoof down? Can’t Luna and Scorch just take care of this?”

The owl fluffed out and his head sank down into his body.

Feeling her cheek convulsing, which in turn tugged on her lower left eyelid, Sparkler gritted her teeth together and waited for the spasm to pass. When it did, she took a deep breath and then said, “I think Luna and Scorch are perfectly capable of taking care of this without you. Just refuse… say no… don’t go… I can’t stand what this is doing to you.”

“I must do what must be done. Steps are being taken to minimise casualties. The Sea of Grass has made it clear that a retaliatory strike on Labyrinthia is eminent. It is well known that Luna, Scorch, and I are coming. Intelligence says that a good sized portion of the population of the city has already fled. Minotaurs are showing up on the borders of Fancy and surrendering to the soldiers on the border. The minotaurs that remain in Labyrinthia are unrepentant, defiant, and are a danger to world peace. They foolishly believe that they can fight and win. They have no idea what is coming. There are reports that the rapid fire weapons that were used in the Shire Isles are also to be found in Labyrinthia, and these rebels foolishly believe that these new guns will give them the advantage.”

Sparkler felt a pang of worry… “Daddy, these guns could hurt you… how will you protect yourself?”

“Sparkler, I promise you, there is absolutely no chance that these guns could hurt me. Not with what we have planned. I will never be in any danger. I promise you, as I have already promised your mothers, I will come home in one piece with no missing body parts and no trauma to myself. Labyrinthia will be razed and the rebels are all going to be exterminated. We have no intention of offering them a fair fight. I only have one hope for the coming fight, but it is not a realistic hope…”

Feeling intrigued, Sparkler asked, “What is it that you hope for? What do you want?”

“That’s easy… I hope they will listen to reason and that the city of Labyrinthia is emptied when we arrive. It is the only way we can spare the city. If so much as one defender is left to attack us, we are going to reduce that city to dust and ashes. What happens next is entirely up to rebels and it saddens me to know that the city will be populated by those foolish enough to be defiant in the face of total oblivion.”

“I suppose they have brought this on themselves,” Sparkler said and then she heaved a sigh. Looking at the owl that was her father, she snorted. “Perhaps a miracle will happen and the city will be emptied.”

“I’d like that Sparky…”

 

 

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