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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The lights in the room were dim; the room was quiet and calm. There had been a long discussion after the meeting had ended, and quite a number of beings had stayed to listen. Bucky felt exhausted, but was still able to keep going. Celestia was off somewhere, Bucky did not know where, and Luna was just outside of the door in the hall catching up with old acquaintances. Twilight was sitting at the small table in the corner, Bucky did not know what she was thinking or feeling, but he felt worried about her. Berry Punch was looking after Erebus and Cadance, who seemed content to cuddle together on one of the beds. Nearby, on the same bed, Spike was reading a book he had brought along to catch up on his schoolwork.

The door opened and Scorch entered. He moved with incredible speed, smiling as he drew near the bed. Reaching out, he grabbed Berry Punch, which startled her, and Bucky strained to control the sudden need to try to obliterate Scorch.

Lifting Berry Punch, he cradled her in his arms, Scorch gave her body a gentle squeeze. “You did so well out there. You got them to appreciate a mortal perspective. You made them think, you made them reconsider… you wonderful little pony you!” Scorch spun Berry around and then kissed her upon the head. After another squeeze, he reached out and set Berry down upon the bed once more.

“Thanks?”

Bucky could hear Berry’s confusion as he tried to calm himself. He watched as Scorch placed a hand upon Berry Punch’s now rounded stomach. The fey fire demon rubbed with a soft touch and Bucky could see the effect upon Berry; she melted and sank down into bed.

“So warm,” Berry said as she closed her eyes. “Oh that feels so nice.”

From where he was sitting in his chair, Bucky watched as Scorch turned to look at him. As Bucky took a deep breath and tried to relax, he heard Scorch say, “You did just what I had hoped that you would do. Bucky, thank you. For now, this is a time of gentle involvement. Not tyranny, but just a little assistance. Just enough to get you mortals interested in fighting for yourselves so you can deal with this threat. Afterwards, we can once again fade into the background.”

There was a lot to say but Bucky wasn’t sure how to say it.

“Scorch, thank you for trusting Bucky with the firearm issue… I know for certain that he will not let you down,” Berry Punch said as she opened her eyes.

“We met under trying circumstances… I’ve grown to respect and trust Bucky.”

Remembering how he and Scorch met, Bucky thought of something to say. “So… how is my mother doing? I trust that she has somehow proven herself… useful?”

Scorch chuckled and changed form, becoming a large well muscled earth pony. “Creatures with living flesh are such a rarity down here. There is a lot of demand for her. Right now she is serving the greater good. Because of her, I have managed to gain a few favours which in turn has scored me a few new allies.”

“Aw… mom finally did something good with her life,” Bucky said in voice that dripped with acid sarcasm. “I hope she rots.”

“No, no chance of rotting. At least not in a permanent sense. She was brought down here in body… which grants her functional immortality. You know how it is. You’ve been on the hook,” Scorch said.

“I shall have to learn to live with my disappointment.” The acidic words hung in the air for a moment and then Bucky heard Berry Punch clear her throat. Looking at Berry, Bucky saw that she was gesturing at Twilight Sparkle and Spike, both of whom had wide eyed looks of horror.

After a long moment of silence, Bucky thought it might be wise to apologise. “I’m sorry…”

 

 

The day after Nightmare Night was cold, so cold that it seemed impossible for the season. For most, this was only a cause of brief concern, but for Celestia, this was a cause of considerable concern. The seasons were somewhat out of control. The cause was unknown but the evidence could be seen by any who knew how to look.

“Raven, is everything prepared for my announcement?” Celestia asked.

Nodding, Raven looked up at Celestia. “Yes. The crowds are gathering. The news reporters are all accounted for, all of those invited have show up and even a few independents have arrived. Several auto-quills are ready to record your every word. Would you like a cup of tea before you begin?”

Shaking her head, Celestia closed her eyes for a moment, gave thought to her answer, opened her eyes, and then said, “No, I do believe that a glass of Fancy cognac is in order.”

Nodding once more, Raven replied, “Majesty, we have a fine Fancy Vieille Réserve as well as a few bottles of various hors d'âge cognac leftover from the Grand Galloping Gala.”

“That sounds lovely,” Celestia said.

 

 

“He’s finally drifted off to sleep. He won’t let go of Belisama though,” Derpy said as she stepped into the nursery with Berry Punch. She smiled at Bittersweet, who was in the corner on a cushion with Cadance, paused, and then trotted over to Bittersweet. Leaning down her head, she kissed the donkey between her ears and then went back over to Berry Punch. Berry, who was in the bowl shaped chair with Harper, scooted over a bit and Derpy climbed in.

Once settled in the chair, she leaned over and kissed Berry Punch on the cheek. Afterwards, she smooched Harper, who giggled from the affectionate kiss.

“So how was Tartarus?” Derpy asked.

Berry Punch rubbed her chin against Harper’s back and gave the foal a squeeze. “Tartarus was surprisingly pleasant. I can’t complain. I was treated very well there.”

Berry’s body was warm and Derpy could feel Berry’s ribs pressing against her own. The heat from the warm body next to her, the chill of the day, and the comfortable chair, all of these things made Derpy feel sleepy. A mid morning nap sounded pleasant. The grey mare yawned and then considered the option of returning to bed to be with Bucky.

Grasping a brush within her folded fetlock, Berry Punch went to work trying to brush Harper’s fluffy orange mane. In theory, this should help; in practice, it tended to cause Harper’s mane to become even fluffier and fuller. As she brushed, she leaned her head against Derpy and said, “Scorch told me to tell you that there is no chance of Bucky being hurt when he goes to Labyrinthia. Not with whatever they have planned. Scorch has given me his word, his promise, that Bucky will come home unscathed.”

Derpy let out a low equine sound of concern, almost a whicker, a deep resonant sound that existed only within her barrel. “I really want this to be true… Bucky has both eyes again. He finally went somewhere and came back with something. This coming trip scares me.”

“For fey creatures, their promises bind them. Scorch will keep his word. He wouldn’t have given his word if he wasn’t capable of following through with it,” Berry Punch said as she continued to brush Harper’s mane with slow even strokes of the brush.

“I remember Bucky’s grey eyes. I would give almost anything to see them again. All I have is a few photos now… photos of how he was. He was so different back then. So frail. So fragile. I still love him… that hasn’t changed, but I miss his eyes. I felt so bad when he lost his eye. I didn’t know how to deal with it. And then the Taint came along and took over his remaining eye,” Derpy said as she closed her eyes and recalled a mental image of how Bucky was.

Berry’s eyes opened wide and she almost dropped her brush. “The twins are kicking. They’re moving around in there. That feels so weird. What are they doing in there?”

“Dinky was a very active foal… my twins aren’t very active. At least not yet,” Derpy said as she opened her good eye and glanced over at Berry.

As Berry Punch was lost in the moment of feeling her twins move inside of her, Bon Bon and Lyra came into the room, both of them still looking somewhat exhausted. Lyra came to the bowl shaped chair to nose Harper while Bon Bon went over to plant a loving kiss on Bittersweet and Cadance.

“Harper! How is mama’s little girl?” Lyra said as she pressed her snoot into Harper’s cheek. Lyra snorted and caused Harper to giggle.

Bouncing up and down in place, Harper acted thrilled to see Lyra. “Mama!”

“You two aren’t going to believe this, but Bucky has two eyes again,” Derpy said.

Bon Bon whirled around to look at Derpy. “What?”

 

 

Taking a deep breath, Princess Celestia stepped out onto the balcony and looked out over the crowd that was gathered. The courtyard was full, too full. There were more ponies here now than there were for Twilight Sparkle’s coronation. There were quite a few griffons as well, the griffons who were now valued members of the palace staff.

The sound of the crowd cheering made her ears ring. Wincing, Celestia wished that the crowd would quiet down. The sound carried far too well in the royal courtyard. Her throat still burned from the multiple glasses of cognac. What she was about to do felt far too much like tyranny, but she knew it was something that had to be done. The time for being passive and trusting in the good left in the world was now over. Now it was time to take a more active role in keeping the world safe.

Princess Celestia felt a hand upon her back. Startled, she let out a shrill faint cry and turned around, her fear making her prance in place. She saw Scorch, someone she did not expect to see. He smiled and Celestia felt her tensions and fear melt away.

“I see my little girl is a bit jumpy. Nothing to be afraid of. I just showed up because I thought you might need a little support. I know how you feel about this,” Scorch said in low voice. “Look, just keep it short and simple. Nothing too complicated.” Scorch ran his hand along Celestia’s spine and tried to comfort her.

“Thank you Scorch,” Celestia said. She took a deep breath and just for one moment, allowed herself to lean up against Scorch, glad to feel his reassuring warmth.

“Look, I raised you… and I know how hard this is going to be on you. I just want you to know that I’m proud of you. I might have only been your nanny in title, but I always felt as though you were one of my own,” Scorch said.

Celestia felt tingles radiating from everywhere Scorch’s heavy hand touched. It brought her comfort, something she both desired and needed. “Someone had to keep me from burning the world down.”

Giving Celestia a little shove, Scorch pushed her towards the rail of the balcony. “Stop being a scared little foal. Momentous change is necessary. We should not be afraid of it.”

Swallowing, Celestia turned to face the crowd once more. She cleared her throat.

“We find ourselves in dire circumstances. There has been a massacre in the Shire Isles. A serious threat now faces the entirety of our civilisation. Because of this, the Solar Court must endure change.” Celestia paused and allowed her words to sink in for a few moments. She could hear Scorch beside her. She closed her eyes, took a deep breath, and then opened her eyes once more. “The Solar Court is now one of the groups responsible for the harmonic coexistence of our civilisation and exists to protect you from the Lunar Court. Come to the Solar Court seeking peace or the Lunar Court will find you and obliterate you without a second thought. The Solar Court is your only means of protection. Seek shelter in the light or face the darkness alone. I warn you, there are terrible things that lurk in the darkness, things you have no hope to defeat should you fight against them.”

In the crowd below, flashbulbs popped. Hundreds of cameras were now snapping pictures. A roar went through the crowd, but Celestia could not tell if the mood was positive or negative. She gave the crowd her best look of grim resolve.

“Residents of Labyrinthia… surrender now and you may live. Flee the city. Surrender your arms. This is your only warning. You cannot comprehend the terrible punishment that is coming. If the city is emptied out of all residents, it will be spared. But if so much as one defender remains in defiance, then destruction follows. The world will once again know why my sister is called ‘The Electric Death.’ Those of you that study history will already know, but too many of you forget your history.”

More flashbulbs popped down below.

“I fear we must follow a treacherous path to reach the greater good. I hope we do not stumble. We face an enemy that seeks our destruction. I will be releasing a full explanation to the newspapers. The document that will be made available is to be printed as is. Nothing added, nothing taken away.”

When Celestia finished speaking, massive banners unfurled bearing messages to enlist in the guard. Horns blared. Much to Celestia’s relief, she heard the sounds of the crowd cheering, a sound that made her knees feel weak and wobbly. She readied herself for one final announcement and took a deep breath.

“As of this moment, Equestria’s military might is now ruled by the Triumvirate. Princess Luna of the Lunar Court, War Chief Buckminster Bitters, also of the Lunar Court, and Lord Governor Keg Smasher of the United Isles. Enemies of global harmony, make peace with me or face absolute destruction from them. You choose!”

 

 

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