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 was a pegasus at the door, bearing the insignia of a royal courier. He stood politely waiting after asking for Berry Punch, passed her a scroll casing when she arrived at the door, and then flew away.

The door was shut and the trio stood inside, Berry Punch holding the scroll case in her teeth. She took it to the kitchen, set it down upon the table, took a seat in a chair, opened it, and then unrolled the scroll.

She sat reading for several moments, set the scroll down, and looked sad.

“What is it?” Derpy asked.

“I am being summoned back to the Isles by order of Keg Smasher, High Laird of the Isles. Legal summons,” Berry Punch said, looking very troubled.

“We’ll go with you,” Bucky said.

“Yeah,” the pegasus agreed.

“Somepony needs to say here and watch the foals,” Berry replied.

“They can come as well. A trip would do us all good,” Bucky said.

“Legal summons,” Berry repeated. “This might not be a fun trip.”

“So we face it together,” Derpy said. “We knew there would be consequences when we bonded together. So shut up, you numbskull.”

Berry Punch slumped in her chair and fell silent as Bucky read the scroll.

“This doesn’t seem so bad. Keg Smasher wants to discuss his terms of surrender with you, the one who started this war, he probably has some provisions or demands to make of you. Perhaps demanding that you make a formal apology before he will consent to any plans to make peace,” Bucky said as he read. “We have to leave tomorrow,” he muttered. “Early morning train to Manehatten, and then a boat northward.”

“I always wanted to go on vacation,” Derpy said thoughtfully.

“I’ve always wanted to see something other than Ponyville,” Sparkler said.

“You’ve been to Canterlot,” Derpy reminded.

“I was little and Canterlot was boring,” Sparkler retorted.

“Trains make me wanna hurl,” Piña protested.

“Boats probably aren’t your thing either Piña,” Berry warned.

“I get to get out of school!” Dinky shouted.

“I’ll keep you both doing your schoolwork,” Bucky promised.

“D’aw,” both foals said together in crushing disappointment.

“I wouldn’t be a very good father if I let you two slack off,” Bucky stated calmly.

“Yes you would,” Dinky retorted.

“Yeah, I’d be fine with that,” Piña added. “Totally fine.”

“Well I wouldn’t,” Bucky said sternly.

“Don’t sass your dad,” Derpy warned.

“Aw, this isn’t fun at all now,” Piña whined.

“Hush Piña, mama is giving us ‘the scowl’ and I want to keep living without her finishing breaking the crack that is already in my plot,” Dinky warned.

“You only have one eye open,” Piña observed as she looked at Derpy, her voice a little nervous. The young earth pony foal began to realise that all of the adults were looking directly at her. “Having three parents isn’t as fun as I thought,” she whined.

Berry fell apart first, snerking into her fetlock as she covered her mouth, Derpy finally broke down and giggled, and Bucky held out the longest before cracking his brand new smile, which was slightly lopsided from his facial paralysis along his temple.

Sparkler, at that odd transition between being a foal and an adult, laughed with the adults, realising just how foalish Piña’s behaviour was.

 

 

Meanwhile, off in Canterlot, in a small study with fine mahogany walls, a broad desk made from matching wood, and paintings of old nobles covering the walls, an old stallion sat in a finely upholstered chair, staring up at a painted portrait of Princess Platinum. He was drinking, slugging down large gulps of brandy from a snifter. He stared at the painting, casting accusing glances at it sometimes, hateful glances at other times, and sorrowful glances after a particularly large gulp of brandy.

He refilled his snifter and continued staring.

“You never wanted this,” the old stallion said, gesturing around him, indicating the world at large.

He took another long drink, cringed at the sour burning belch that blossomed in his throat, and pounded on his own barrel, trying to get the wretched taste out of his mouth.

“You, you had friends. You never wanted to actually hurt your friends… you loved them. I’ve read the words you wrote down yourself. You… you just wanted to make sure your lineage was looked after… you stupid idiot… your lineage wrecked your good intentions and abused that little bit of leverage you left in place, and look what we’ve done. We’ve wrecked everything!” the old stallion said to the painting.

The painting stared back wordlessly at the old stallion. The mare in the painting was silver, her pelt seemingly metallic. She wore a small crown studded with dainty jewels.

“We’re at war… somepony was finally brave enough to call us out on what we’ve done. And I’ve done something terrible,” the stallion confessed, finishing off a nearly full glass in one gulp. He poured another snifter of brandy from the decanter and continued to stare at the painting, which stared back at him.

“Shut UP! Stop scolding me. SHUT UP!” the old pony shouted, cringing and closing his eyes. “I’ve done as you have asked! What more do you want from me?”

The painting gave no reply, but the eyes made from so many careful brushstrokes continued to stare, unblinking.

“I’ve condemned us all,” the old unicorn grumbled before he took a drink. “STOP GIVING ME THAT LOOK!” he roared at the painting.

The old unicorn looked away from the painting and his eyes settled upon a carved bust of Princess Platinum on his desk. He looked away from that too. She was all over this study, her image looking down at him from all directions.

“I sent the ledger, please, stop torturing me, I can’t sleep anymore, I just want some sleep. I want a quiet rest without guilt!” the old stallion begged.

“Stop shouting at me all at once, all of you, I cannot make out what you are saying!” the old unicorn said, pressing one hoof to his ear and grimacing. “SILENCE!” he shouted.

 

 

“Look, the three of us need to talk.”

“Stop being the insufferable big sister,” Luna demanded.

“I agreed that we would no longer engage in marriages, it is too political and it always does harm,” Celestia said patiently.

“You agreed! I was away when that decision was made!” Luna snapped.

“You cannot actually be serious,” Celestia said, staring aghast at her sister.

“I have thought about it, nothing more.” Luna said. “It was more than just a fling. He is… he is… he appreciates me and my values! I do not scare him or intimidate him! He appreciates my militance! He tells me I do not need to change, that I am fine the way I am, and that the world needs to change to go back to how it was.”

Celestia sighed and turned away.

“I do not care that he is old or that our time is short. That doesn’t matter. Our time is short anyway, no matter his age. What little time we have is precious, and I would not wish to squander it,” Luna explained. “And his age isn’t an issue. He’s aged like fine wine. Or whiskey. Time has only been kind to him.”

“I understand sister,” Celestia said, slumping in defeat.

The two sisters stood in what was jokingly being referred to as the “royal suite” which was the largest room available at the Ponyville Inn and Boarding House. Luna was still staying with the guard, mostly, not that they needed their spirits lifted.

“I cannot say what we will do, but we will continue to be friends for the time being,” Luna said.

“And I will not tell you what to do sister. It was a mistake to do so in the first place,” Celestia admitted.

“Thank you,” Luna said gratefully.

“Let us not be enemies,” Celestia said, repeating Twilight’s words.

 

 

It had been a long day, full of various tasks. Derpy had made the rounds, informing others of their trip, saying goodbye, letting ponies know that they would be gone for a while. At home, Bucky and Berry made sure that everything was in good order to leave, cleaning out the fridge of anything that might spoil, and allowing Piña, Dinky, and Sparkler to gobble down as much ice cream as they could stomach. During the later afternoon, Sparkler had gone to tell Rising Star of her departure, and the two had shared a quiet moment together. The house was cleaned, left spotless, a mostly effortless task done by Bucky, who did it while he was busy doing other things, like eating ice cream.

And so the afternoon had wound down into evening, and evening transitioned into bedtime, at least for the foals anyway, and the family had come together for one moment of bonding before the big events of tomorrow, all piled into the big bed together. It was a very crowded bed, packed full of ponies, and it was clean and had fresh sheets.

In the center of it all lay Bucky, head raised, somehow looking more like a lion among its pride than a pony, with Derpy on one side and Berry on the other, Sparkler lay beside Berry, and the foals were busy crawling all over everypony.

The change was not unnoticed by the two mares. Bucky had gone through some sort of metamorphosis during his convalescence, he had gone in weak, and re-emerged as something else entirely. He was still sweet, he was still kind, he was still everything that both of them had fallen in love with, but he was also different.

His expressed emotions were largely unfiltered now. He said things. He felt things. Very little was held back anymore, and the new path of total honesty as suggested by Bon Bon led to some troubling moments, but they were moments that the two mares were glad to share, happy to have a whole pony between themselves.

“Papa?”

The word hung in the air as a question, Dinky Doo still trying different words to see which one fit the best, leaving Bucky occasionally confused as he was still adjusting to responding to being called father, no matter which title was used.

“Yes Dinks?” Bucky replied as Piña kept rubbing the area on his head where the stitching had been, the soft bump of her fetlock making tiny circles.

“I understand how important my schoolwork is, and I want to keep doing it, but there is something I want to do more,” Dinky said, reclining on her mother’s back.

“And that is?” Bucky answered.

“Well, I know my cutie mark is only three bumbly-wumbly bees, but can I still be a powerful wizard even though I don’t have a magical cutie mark?” Dinky asked, her face scrunched in concentration as she stumbled through a difficult concept.

“Dinky, my cutie mark is a hops plant. Has it slowed down my magic use?” Bucky returned, answering a question with a question.

“No, I guess it hasn’t,” Dinky said thoughtfully.

“All you need to become a powerful wizard is ambition, dedication, and drive. You have the raw magical ability. What you do with it is entirely up to you,” Bucky explained patiently. “This means a lifetime of dedication. It means reading books and studying when other foals are out playing. It means a life of careful control, a sacrifice of self, and a strong measure of self wisdom to understand what true power is.”

“What is true power?” Sparkler asked, suddenly very interested.

“Having the means to inflict great harm and then never once having to use it. Understanding what you could do, and then holding it back when the time actually comes for you to use it,” Bucky explained, his voice very soft, and each word carefully chosen.

“So like what you did to fend off Ponyville,” Dinky said, her face becoming thoughtful. “You could have smashed them, broken their legs, made them all boil, winked away a leg or even their head, or done all kinds of terrible things like setting them on fire or crushing them all into jelly.”

“Yes, I could have done all of those things,” Bucky confessed. “I could have killed every pony that had threatened us. Instead, I chose to hold back the full measure of my power, choosing instead to use only as much force was needed to try and hold back the rampaging mob.”

“I understand,” Dinky said in a small voice. “At least, I think I do. I hope I do. This is why you keep talking about the need for control, right? If you had become too angry during that time, you might have accidentally hurt somepony seriously or even killed them. You had to hold everything back, even your really mad angry feelings, to keep everypony safe, me, Piña, them, you, nopony got seriously hurt because you understand true power.”

“Piña and I,” Sparkler corrected.

“Yes, Dinks, something like that,” Bucky replied, feeling a strong rush of pride in knowing that Dinky was catching on quickly, and was understanding advanced concepts of morality and ethics that many students never fully cottoned onto.

“I want true power then. I want that kind of control and understanding,” Dinky said, looking unusually solemn for her a foal her age. “I never want to be responsible for seriously hurting anypony ever again. What happened to Diamond Tiara and Silver Spoon was a very hard lesson for me to learn, and I only want to learn it once.”

“Good Dinky,” Derpy said, to the foal sprawled over her back.

“Yes, you are a very good Dinky,” Berry Punch agreed.

“A lot of ponies never learn this lesson,” Bucky said, expressing his sorrow in his words. “They don’t learn it until it is too late, and then they are not in a position to get a second chance.”

“So if Dinky is going to be a wizard, can I be her assistant?” Piña asked.

“Yes, a wizard needs an assistant. A flunky!” Dinky cried.

“No flunkies,” Derpy quipped, causing Dinky to groan.

“Aw, nuts,” Piña muttered. “I wanted to grow a nice hunch, maybe develop a limp, and become Dinky’s faithful flunky, like the flunky for the Mad Doctor Scratch ‘n’ Sniff in that Daring Do novel.”

Berry Punch rolled her eyes and facehoofed.

“What? I have a palm tree for a cutie mark. I don’t even know what that means. What does one do with a palm tree?” Piña asked.

“Go coconuts,” Bucky said dryly.

“No,” Derpy said. “No puns.”

“You make puns,” Berry retorted.

“Only sometimes, when they are tasteful,” Derpy admitted, causing Berry Punch to snort in reply.

“So assistant, with the option for promotion to flunky when we’re older and the adults can’t boss us around so much,” Dinky said in summary.

“Yay!” Piña cried.

“I need a flunky,” Bucky said.

Derpy sighed in frustration.

“Berry, you do stupid things, you up for it?” Bucky asked.

Berry Punch could not reply, all she could do is lay there with her mouth wide open, her eyes wide with shock. Derpy chuckled, Sparkler giggled, and the two foals were overcome with laughter.

Bucky took the opportunity to plant a wet kiss on Berry’s lips, a short brief kiss, which made the foal’s laughter dissolve into groans of disgust.

“Gah, gross,” Piña exclaimed, not actually turning away this time, her voice disgusted but her face happy.

Bucky turned his head and managed to catch Derpy by surprise, causing the pegasus to give off one of her squeals that Bucky was beginning to adore. When he pulled way, the pegasus whickered in pleasure and blushed.

“We’ll face tomorrow together,” Bucky said, surrounded by his family.

 

Author's Note:

The section with the old unicorn was something completely new to the story. I was struck by creativity at like 3am. That scene was never planned, but I felt the need to add it, considering what comes later.

And so now, we move onto the Shetland Isles arc, where we begin to see a new family dynamic, Dinky grows as both a foal and a magician, Bucky blossoms into his true self, Berry is faced with her punishment, and Derpy becomes a figure of public worship because of her actions as a mother and the gentle sense of motherhood that she radiates. Motherhood is worshipped on the Isles, practically a religious sort of thing.

 
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