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


52. 52 (The Goodbye - also the place to stop reading if you want to avoid the Isles Arc, darkness lies ahead)

The railway station was crowded. There were four alicorns present, the Elements of Harmony stood by, and a massive flock of pegasi, now one unified flock, had turned out. So had most of Ponyville. Something almost like a parade had formed as Bucky and his herd had moved through the town, during the hours just after dawn. It was strangely quiet, oddly dignified, and the long procession of ponies had moved towards the station.

And now, they stood among the throng, Bucky looking rather uncomfortable.

Twilight Sparkle cleared her throat, which somehow caused the crowd to quiet down. Spreading her wings to look a bit more regal, just as she had seen Celestia and Luna do so many times, she took a deep breath and spoke: “Know this, whoever goes to the Isles may never be allowed to return. Much will depend on Berry Punch and the conditions placed upon her. This may very well be a one way trip for any who goes.”

Berry, hearing those words, panicked. “All of you need to stay. Bucky, I want you here with Derpy and the foals. Look after Piña. I’m going alone,” Berry demanded in her state of sudden alarm.

“No,” Derpy said. “Bucky, go with her. She is going to need you. I need to know that Berry is safe. I will stay here and look after the foals. Barley will be here to help me, and I still have the flock.”

“No, Derpy, I cannot allow that. Bucky, you stay here. With her. She’s tough on the outside, but I am her best friend, and I know how soft she is on the inside,” Berry said.

“Berry, stop being so damn prideful, he is going with you and that is the final word. As the head mare, I get to make this decision,” Derpy growled. “We both love him, and I love you, you stupid bleating numbskull! I need to know you are looked after!”

“SILENCE!” Bucky cried, using the Voice. The force of his utterance caused the glass of several street lamps around the station to shatter.

Celestia and Luna, unaware that Bucky had the Voice, both looked a little alarmed and surprised, but said nothing. Both made plans to say something later however.

“Both of you will be SILENT!” Bucky’s voice carried with it magical compulsion and a puff of smoke drifted from his horn. Everypony’s ears rang and many ponies recalled Luna’s return on Nightmare Night. Several bowed, overwhelmed by a strange magical compulsion that jolted through their bones. The noble Voice was a powerful thing.

“Both of you, come here, at my side, this instant,” Bucky commanded. Heads low, both mares followed his command, not quite daring to look him in the eye.

“We are going together, and that is final. There will be no arguments. Sparkler, you are free to make your own choices. You are old enough that you can. Personally, I would like for you to stay, keep in school, and focus on getting into university. Barley will look after you. Piña, Dinky, come here,” Bucky said, his tone now gentle. The foals moved quickly, not wanting another shouted command.

Sparkler looked at Rising Star, who stood close by with his parents, and then at her own family, and then at Barley, who stood looking glum.

“I am coming with you, the flock stays together,” Sparkler said, her eyes flooding with tears as she spoke. She moved to be with her family.

“Sparkler!” Rising Star cried, prancing in place, looking frantic. He turned and looked at his mother and father, his face contorted with pain.

“You will only meet a filly like that once in your life my colt,” Shining Star said, looking her son in the eye. Rising Star threw a leg around his mother’s neck and hugged her tightly, and his father embraced both of them. Finally, they separated and pulled away.

Looking one last time at his parents, Rising Star moved to stand beside Sparkler, never once asking if he could come along.

“I am proud of you,” Galaxy Guide said to his colt. “Go and do us proud. You take care of her, do you hear me? She is a rare creature, just like your mother.”

Rising Star nodded, suddenly looking very grown up and mature.

A flashbulb went off, and Barley stood, holding the camera in his magic, worried if he would ever see Berry again. He quietly decided to keep working under the assumption that his niece would be coming back again soon.

Cadance felt a silent sense of satisfaction, this was the best example of what a herd marriage could be. A powerful and inspirational force of love. Both mares had only wanted the other to be happy, never once thinking of themselves. If there was any fear of jealousy or selfishness regarding this union, it died upon seeing the selfless display.

There was suddenly a bit of a commotion as a foal went running through the crowd, bawling and crying as she darted forward.

It was Diamond Tiara, and Filthy Rich was right behind her, trying to catch her. She had healed well, and was looking much better, though not quite her usual self. The slightly larger foal tackled Dinky, she squeezed, howling pitifully, and Piña moved to embrace the two.

The foals had spent a lot of time together, and were currently Diamond Tiara’s only friends. Mister Rich stood nearby, now still, watching the display.

Bucky looked Mister Rich in the eye and nodded.

“Buckminster, I wish you the best of luck. Return to us soon if you can,” Mister Rich said. “Look after your mares and your foals. Family is all we have in this world. Nothing else matters. Not money, not wealth, nor power. Just family.”

Bucky nodded solemnly.

Two mares pushed through the crowd and drew close.

“Please, both of you, look after Bucky together, I still worry about him so much,” Bon Bon said. “Bucky, you let them look after you, or else. I know you will all be coming back. I have to believe that.”

“Stay close to those you love. It is the only way for our kind to stay sane,” Lyra said.

Berry and Derpy both looked at the mares and then at Bucky.

“I know this is the worst time to ask about it, but it might be the last time we speak, even though I refuse to believe that,” Bon Bon said, looking at Lyra, who gave her a faint nod. “But we both wanted to ask you at some point if we could bond with your herd. We don’t want in on your inner herd, but we do want a hoof in raising the foals and being part of your family. We can’t have foals of our own, but we would like to share yours. We wish only to remain exclusive to one another, but we want to be a part of something greater,” Bon Bon said tearfully.

“We hope you will give it some thought while you are gone,” Lyra said, looking terribly strained. “And I need to get away from this crowd. This is turning into a bad scene for me. Goodbye, all of you. Keep one another safe and love one another.”

“The three of us will talk about it while we are away, and when we return, we shall all discuss it,” Bucky replied.

Bon Bon nodded. “Thank you. I am going to get Lyra away from here before something bad happens. Be safe, and keep each other sheltered in love.”

The two mares gave a final nod of goodbye, and then departed, Bon Bon clearing a way through the crowd for Lyra. Bucky watched them go, already missing them both, already wondering what Derpy and Berry might have to say about this.

Derpy gently rubbed Diamond Tiara with a folded fetlock and watched her foals, feeling proud. Before her was all the proof she needed in knowing that she had raised Dinky right, and Piña as well.

Celestia approached, the crowd parting for her. She wore no crown, no regalia, no symbols of office, but her nobility did not need useless symbolism. She moved with quiet grace and dignity until she stood before  Bucky’s herd.

She kissed Bucky first, gently on his cheek, then Derpy, and finally, Berry. She gazed down upon them, lovingly, feeling very proud of all of them. “Our Founders would be very proud of you, seeing you like this,” Celestia said in a voice thick with emotion, a voice that hinted that tears were coming. “This is what they wanted.”

“A unicorn to light my way, a pegasus to watch over me, and an earth pony to shoulder my heavy burdens,” Berry Punch said in a low raspy voice.

“Yes,” Celestia said, nodding, the first tear finally falling. “Buckminster, I am proud of you. I had always hoped that you would break free. And now look at you. Derpy, watch over them both. I cannot guide you during what comes next. Berry Punch… You are going to be held accountable for your actions. Keg Smasher is willing to discuss peace, but he has a condition that he is going to place upon you. I cannot say more.”

“Thank you,” Derpy said, blushing, unsure how to react to this situation.

In the distance, a train whistle blew.

“Last chance for goodbyes,” Twilight Sparkle called.

“Bucky, look after my niece, she’s a foul tempered hot headed little cuss,” Barley said, looking heart broken.

“I married her because of that,” Bucky said.

“Good lad,” Barley replied, his voice hitching.

Thunderlane and his family stood close by, wings closest to the heart raised in salute. Other pegasi followed his lead, and soon, every wing was raised on every pegasus in the crowd.

“I am trusting you with the life of my flockmate Derpy,” Thunderlane said, his voice stern and serious. “Bring her back to us,” Thunderlane begged.

“Please,” Flitter added.

“Return her to us, all of you, come home soon,” Cloudchaser requested.

“This isn’t goodbye,” Mister Rich said. “You are going to have a school to run. The community here needs you. I shall expect your return. Even if it might take awhile.”

“Coming home doesn’t sound too difficult, it sounds like all you have to do is agree to Keg Smasher’s demands,” Thunderlane said to Berry Punch. “So do it, and come home.”

The train rolled into the station, belching smoke and steam. It only had two cars, a tender, and an engine. It carried no passengers, other than a small compliment of pegasi and unicorn guards.

While Celestia had worries, she knew that Buckminster was more than enough defense all alone. She pitied anypony that might foolishly choose to attack the train. She hoped that nopony was that foolish.

Recent events had shown though, some ponies were foolish. The Monarch of the Sun mused on recent events as the crowd began to shuffle all around her. Berry Punch had little say in her actions, she was merely a player in this game of fate and destiny. What had started off as a rather simple declaration of war had set off a vast series of events, many changes that could have only taken place if Berry Punch had done what she was clearly meant to do.

It was a troubling line of thought, one that had once troubled Star Swirl as well. How does one punish a pony for doing what fate created them to do?

Mister Rich quietly pulled Diamond Tiara away from her friends, holding her close, and Diamond Tiara let her father hold her close. She was clearly a very different little filly now, and she turned to her father for comfort.

Galaxy Guide and Shining Star watched their colt, pride on their faces, and tears in their eyes. Rising Star and Sparkler were clinging to one another, clearly terrified, and they clung to one another as if they were the only ponies in existence. They held one another, unable to keep looking, but unable to turn away.

Twilight Sparkle found herself pressed in from all sides, both her friends and her family pressed tightly all around her, not actually wanting to send the family away, but knowing that hard choices had to be made. She now had a greater understanding of Celestia’s impossible decisions. She had no way of knowing if she was making the right decision now, only history would be able to confirm if she had been wrong or right.

Twilight Sparkle desperately wanted to be right, she had to be right, because this pain was terrible and the idea of being wrong and enduring all of this horrified her. Celestia’s decisions suddenly seemed so much clearer and Twilight resolved to spend more time listening to Celestia in the future, and less time being angry and judgmental.

Luna had moved to Barley’s side, and was now standing with him, the old stallion leaning on her side, occasionally swiping at his eyes. She leaned her head against his, saying nothing, no words actually needed to be said between the two, and Luna stood in support of her friend. There would be lots of drinking later, and words, what few were needed, could be said then.

When the door opened, Bucky quietly summoned up all of his noble dignity and led the way, his head high, he made his way to the train and started up the stairs, Berry Punch following on his heels. Derpy herded the foals along, turned to look at the crowd one last time, choked, and then turned away, resuming her task of nosing the foals along. Rising Star and Sparkler walked side by side, touching, their necks pressed together, neither one of them able to turn and give a final glance. They were the last ones up the stairs.

And then, all of them were gone. The door closed. No faces peered from the windows, the blinds were drawn, the occupants not visible. A dreadful silence fell upon the crowd.

Far away from the crowd, sitting on a roof, a unicorn and an earth pony clung to one another and wept, quite overtaken with emotion.

“We made a terrible mistake,” Lyra said. “We should have gone with them.”



Author's Note:

So it ends.

Well, at least part of the story anyway. This chapter marks the end of the first major arc. The Shetland Isles await, which is going to be a long frigging arc all on its own.

Troubling things lie ahead, major changes I am sure some of you will be quite unhappy with. This is a good spot to end. For the rest of you, we will pick up next time on the train, heading north and east, following them into exile.

Rougher times lie ahead.

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