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


518. 518

“The invasion has begun. This is the beginning of the end. The end of all things—”

“Bucky, stop being melodramatic. What are you talking about?” Berry Punch didn’t even bother looking at Bucky, knowing full well that visible theatrics accompanied the delivery of his dire warning. Instead, she remained focused on the foals, both the big ones that weren’t really foals anymore and the little ones that seemed to grow each day. All of them were fawning over Bell Heather and Thistle.

“Bell Heather was the first. Soon, Bandua will be born. After that, two sets of twins. TWO sets of twins. After that, who knows? We’ll be overrun. Outnumbered. Brought down by an army of our own making—”

“Bucky, you’ve taken too many blows to the head or something. This is why we have a herd. Foal rearing will be a piece of cake,” Berry Punch said, now looking at her husband and raising her eyebrow.

“Ah yes… the herd. There is me… who is often off in exotic locales or far away places. There is Bon Bon and Lyra, who are running a full time business. And then there is you. There is a new brewpub opening up. Several businesses that you and Barley manage. You bought the old movie theatre—”

“We are independently wealthy because of what Barley and I have done! You don’t need a stipend for being a royal… that money that I made was used to purchase all those toys and stuff for the orphans this year, along with Twilight’s contribution!”

“No need to be defensive and please don’t be upset.” Reaching out, Bucky wrapped a leg around Berry’s withers. “But when you sit down and think about it, that leaves Derpy, Thistle, and little Belisama to do the foal rearing, and Belisama can’t nurse them. I’m looking at this objectively and so should you.”

“But—” The words died on Berry’s tongue. “But we—” Again, Berry failed to express how she felt at the moment. Berry worried that she might start crying again.

“Six little lives that are going to be utterly dependant upon us. And that’s just the start.”

“Damnation… where did this go wrong?” Berry asked.

“The modern era, with sanitation and good health. Mares live through foal birth. Foal mortality rates are low. Herds, once necessary for survival, were lucky if a few foals lived to adulthood and if a few mares survived the birthing of all those foals. We have vaccinations now, diseases can be treated, and predators are scarce,” Bucky replied.

“How did everything I believe in just go wrong? I don’t understand.” Berry Punch felt her stomach twist up into knots and she leaned on Bucky for support. “I’ll quit working… I’ll stay at home and be a mom. We’ll make this work.”

“You’ll keep working so you can be happy and we’ll make this work. Now, if you will excuse me, I have to go check on my students.” Bucky kissed Berry Punch on the cheek and gave her a squeeze. “Everything will be okay somehow…”



Laying on the floor, Dinky cradled Bell Heather between her forelegs. The foal was tiny, pudgy, and a shade of purple that was similar to her own. The tiny kelpie had a scent, Dinky could not describe it, but she remembered that she had smelled it on Harper. New foal smell. Dinky supposed that she also had the new foal smell when she was a newborn.

Looking up, she saw Sentinel, who appeared to be torn between staying and sitting with the foal, or going after Bucky, who was heading out the door. Much to Dinky’s surprise, Sentinel stayed put, wrapping a wing over Harper and pulling Peekaboo closer to him.

“She’s so tiny… just like Harper was,” Loch Skimmer said.

“She’s bald.” Ripple’s ears drooped own and she turned away from Rising Star, unable to meet his gaze as he glared at her. “Sorry, but she is.”

“You’re the big sister now Dinky… I really hope that I was a good big sister for you,” Sparkler said as she looked down at Dinky.

“You still are my big sister,” Dinky replied.

“I feel like I don’t get to spend as much time with you as I would like,” Sparkler said. Shoving Loch Skimmer aside, Sparkler laid down on the floor beside Dinky, ignoring Loch Skimmer’s protests.

“Stuff happens.” Dinky turned and looked at Sparkler.

“Loch Skimmer and I don’t always get to spend special sister time with one another… but we still have our moments.” Ripple grunted as Loch Skimmer laid down on top of her and wiggled as Loch Skimmer’s forelegs wrapped around her neck.

“Yeah, like when Thistle was giving birth and we both started bawling our eyes out,” Loch Skimmer said as she squeezed Ripple.

“Her head is the size of a cantaloupe,” Sparkler said.

“Why is that important?” Piña asked.

“Never you mind Piña… Sparkler, don’t answer that.” Rising Star bit his lip after speaking, forcing himself not to smile, laugh, or otherwise react.

“What? I don’t understand… somepony tell me what is going on,” Piña demanded.

Shuddering, Dinky gained an understanding that she wished she hadn’t. A cantaloupe was big… huge even, and she could not imagine trying to squeeze one out of her backside. Leaning over, Dinky steeled her nerves and prepared to whisper into Piña’s ear…



There was now a massive tree in the school cafeteria. There had been a few smaller trees before, but now there was one tree that actually reached all the way up to the ceiling. Craning his neck, Bucky looked upward.

“The pegasi and the griffons helped us decorate the top half,” a little zebra filly said.

“Are you having a nice time? Are you enjoying the holiday?” Bucky asked.

“I suppose so… we celebrate the winter solstice in the Sea of Grass, but we don’t exchange gifts and talk about the importance of friendship. We commit ourselves to a day of ritualistic fasting and remind one another of the winter of starvation, where so many of us were lost,” the zebra filly replied.

“What is your name?” Bucky sat down and made himself comfortable on the floor.

“Odu… my name is Odu, sir,” the zebra filly replied.

“So there was a time of starvation?” Looking around, Bucky noticed that other students were gathering around to listen.

“For us, in the Sea of Grass, winter is not really a cold season, but a very dry season. We get rains during the spring and the summer. But during the winter, it becomes very dry and a long time ago, this led to a shortage of food. One winter, not long before the solstice, there were storms in the sky. Not rain, but lightning. The Sea of Grass caught fire and burned, killing many zebras. Those who lived through the great fire stood in the middle of what was left of the rivers and the lakes. Some climbed onto the islands of rocks where nothing grows.”

The little filly was holding her head high now and speaking in a loud clear voice. Bucky felt proud to have her as a student. She seemed smart and well spoken.

“For those that survived the fire, there was no food. Only burned black savannah as far as the eye could see. Some zebras waited for the end to come. Others went on long walks looking for food. We found friends… ponies… the pegasi were kind and brought clouds filled with rainwater. The unicorns brought magic and protected us while we were weak, keeping away our enemies. The earth ponies brought life back to the land. Many of them were suffering from a plague, a terrible plague that caused some of them to grow black shells like beetles. We cured them of the plague and together, we formed a nation.”

Shells like beetles? Bucky became thoughtful as these words rolled around inside of his head. He looked at the zebra filly, feeling curious, and wondered what else she knew. He pushed his thoughts from his mind, focusing instead on the holiday. “Thank you for sharing that with us.”

The filly, who had been confident up to this point, poised, and very grown up, slouched down and the white in her pelt took on a pink tinge from a full body blush. “Thank you.”



“Feeling better?”

Turning his head, Bucky came snoot to beak with a grizzled old griffon that hadn’t been there just a moment ago. Unperturbed, Bucky nodded. “Feeling lots better… a foal was just born. I owe you some thanks.”

“You owe me nothing,” Odin replied. The old griffon reached up his trembling talons and began to adjust Bucky’s wolf headed torque. “I pay my debts. I still owe you a great deal. Anything I have at my disposal is yours.”

Bucky nodded and tried to ignore the fact that he was uncomfortable with Odin being so close. Not only was the old griffon in Bucky’s personal space, but he was touching Bucky as well, something that irked Bucky a bit. “I had some questions if you don’t mind.”

“About my eye?” Odin asked in reply.

“Yes.” Bucky peered at the old griffon, feeling curious. “There have been a few odd instances… it doesn’t always appear as an eye. Sometimes I have my old sunstone eye back.”

“My eye shows what others wish to see… or what they are most afraid to see. When others see you… they may see you… or they may see the version of you that they fear most… the one eyed bogeypony for example. Very much like that cloak you wear… it too shows others what they fear most… death,” Odin replied.

“I once looked at myself in the mirror and I saw that this eye had taken on the Taint. It scared me,” Bucky said in a low voice, hoping no students would hear him.

“Like I said, the eye shows others what they fear most. Including you,” Odin said as he peered at Bucky.

“I fear having this eye becoming full of Taint?” Bucky asked.

The old griffon’s shoulders heaved with a sigh and Odin rolled his eyes. “You are not the brightest pony, are you?”

“No, but I’m clever.” Bucky gave Odin a wry grin.

“You fear what you are becoming… the shadow that haunts you… the darkness that threatens you,” Odin said as he stepped back from Bucky.

All at once, it made sense to Bucky. “Oh.” Feeling a little stupid, Bucky nodded.

“You can’t fight it Bucky… if you cast aside your fear, you will become it. If you live in fear of it, it will only gain strength. This is a foe you cannot defeat,” Odin said as he settled himself onto a cushion and stretched out.

“I know,” Bucky replied. He paused for a moment, thinking about Odin’s words. “Wait, what did you mean if I cast aside my fear, I will become it?”

“Your fear is what holds you back… it keeps you running. It is both your greatest strength and your most crippling weakness. You fear becoming the very same sort of monster that Sombra became. You fear becoming the alicorn of war. So you’ve ran from both of those things. So long as you keep running, you will be fine… but should you ever try to fight Sombra’s shadow, you will fail… so remain afraid and keep running.” Odin folded up his forelegs and rested his head upon them. “Your failure will mean the end of everything you know and love. Keep yourself afraid of Sombra’s shadow and keep running. It is better for him to gain strength from your fear than it is for him to gain your body and your power. He will have no hesitation to ascend to his rightful position… killing Cadance in the process… and then he will kill the rest of your family as you watch from inside your own head.”

Bucky let out a very foalish squeak of terror.

“I’m tired Bucky… I’m still weak… this cushion is very comfortable. I think I’ll have a nap.”




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