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 floorboards creaked underhoof as Bucky made his way down the hall. The house, after a long day, was quieting down. The foals had gone to bed, or at least had gone to their rooms, while some of the adults were chatting, drinking, and eating a late night meal of fondue.  

Standing just outside of Dinky and Piña’s door, Bucky could hear very little coming from inside the room. Just muffled voices, no laughter. He made the reasonable assumption that they must be tired. He knocked a light rapping upon the wood, and then pushed the door open after pulling down upon the handle.

“Hi Bucky.”

In the dim light, Bucky turned to look at Diamond Tiara, who was in the spare bed. After looking at her for a moment, his eyes wandered around the room. The only light in the room was a projection lamp, a small lamp with a special cover that projected stars upon the ceiling, making it look like open night sky. It was something Piña had wanted, something Piña had begged for. Bucky and Lyra had gone to Canterlot to find one some time back, to make sure that Piña had one for Hearth’s Warming.

“Did you girls have a nice holiday?” Bucky asked.

“It was one to remember,” Dinky replied.

Piña rolled over in the bed. “I got everything I wanted and a few things I didn’t expect.”

Bucky turned to look at Diamond Tiara once more. “And what about you?”

“I had a nice time. I started missing my father though,” Diamond Tiara replied.

Bucky, moving through the room, looked around as he approached the beds. On the desk was a field guide for identifying insects, the cover proclaiming it had entries for everything from aphids to zap beetles. Bucky wondered if it mentioned adelgids as well as zebra caterpillars, or just began at aphids and stopped at zap beetles.

For a moment, Bucky wondered how he knew so much about bugs, and then he looked at Dinky as he thought about all of her conversations about insects.

The desk was covered with books, scraps of paper, there was a jar of popcorn, unpopped, a collection of buttons, a spool of thread, a cushion with a needle sticking out of it, a tangle of yarn, some knitting needles, a scrapbook along with some newspapers, and a small booklet entitled ‘Teas of the Known Civilised World’ with a picture of a delicate looking teacup.

It occurred to Bucky that if he studied the desk, he would know just about every important thing his foals had an interest in. There were clues among the clutter. He moved between the two beds and sat down on the floor between them, easing his haunches down.

“Daddy?”

Dinky’s voice. A trace of sadness, some worry, and a soft nervous squeak. Bucky’s ears perked, the tufted tips snapping upwards. “Yes Dinky?”

“Something has been in the back of my mind all day and when I was in the bathtub a while ago, I really started to think about it,” Dinky replied.

More soul searching. More navel gazing. Bucky sighed and prepared himself. “What is it, Dinky? Talk to me.”

“You love my mother, right?”

What an odd question, Bucky thought to himself. “Of course I do.”

Squirming in bed, Dinky lifted her head and sat up, propping herself up on a front elbow. “And you love all of your wives, right?”

Curious, intrigued, Bucky began to wonder what Dinky had been thinking about. He nodded and his brows fell low over his face.

“So I was thinking… doesn’t love mean never wanting to hurt them?” Dinky asked.

The first hints of confusion settled over Bucky, causing his nostrils to flare. “I would never hurt them… I love them all a great deal Dinky.” He saw a troubled look darken Dinky’s face.

“But you are hurting them,” Dinky said in a low voice, her eyes darting from side to side, looking everywhere but at her father.

Flummoxed, Bucky did not know how to reply. He wasn’t sure what he was being accused of and he hoped that Dinky would explain whatever it is she was talking about.

“Having foals hurts. A whole lot. It tears them open, makes them bleed, it makes them scream and causes them pain… if you love them, why would you do that to them? Why would you willingly hurt them?” Dinky asked.

His throat closing, Bucky let out a strangled gasp. Dinky almost sounded frantic, but was keeping herself calm. Beside Dinky, Piña had a blank expression, and he could hear Diamond Tiara’s breathing quicken.

“Hurting them so much seems like an awful thing to do to somepony that you love.” Dinky’s elbow gave way and she flopped back down upon her pillow, her head bouncing once.

“Dinky, I’m not trying to hurt them… this is consensual… this is an agreement between two adults… a willing agreement—”

“Easy for you to make this agreement, it isn’t hurting you,” Dinky said, interrupting her father. “Not hurting you at all. You get to do the fun part and it is the mares that have to deal with the hurting, the screaming, the bleeding, and all of the bad stuff.”

Silence. Failing to have a reply, it was the only thing Bucky could offer. He had no idea how to deal with this, how to make Dinky feel better, how to explain this particular fact of life. Being so open with his foals, offering them frank discussions about adult subject matters, it was coming back to bite him in the arse.

“How could you?” Dinky asked.

“It isn’t intentional. It isn’t like I want to hurt them. I am giving them something that they want. Bon Bon wants to have a foal… and no, I don’t get to do the fun part. Bon Bon is going to get something called ‘insemination’ and the foal—”

“I know what that is,” Piña said, butting in.

Everything else that Bucky was going to say died as he wondered how Piña knew what insemination was. He cleared his throat. “Anyhow, Bon Bon wants a foal. While I would never want to hurt Bon Bon, she is going to have to deal with foal birth.”

“This is unfair… why is it that mares have to hurt to make more foals?” Dinky asked.

“I don’t know Dinky,” Bucky replied, wishing he had a better answer.

“When you want something done, you’re supposed to offer a reward. A treat. Something that feels good. When foals born, a mare has to hurt, to bleed, she has to be ripped open and bad things have gotta happen… that is not a reward—”

“Dinky, love, your mother had to endure extraordinary pain to have you,” Bucky said, cutting Dinky off.

“I know… I hurt my mother. I feel awful,” Dinky replied.

Cringing, Bucky shook his head, that wasn’t the reply he was hoping to get. He took a deep breath. “Dinky, as bad as it hurt your mother to have her pelvis broken so you could get out, your mother still wants more foals… she wants to give you little brothers and sisters. She wants to give me foals. She wants these foals for herself… now, as bad as the pain might be, doesn’t that tell you something?”

“Yeah, my mother’s stupid!”

Knowing what was at stake, Bucky choked back an angry reply with a splutter, knowing that raising his voice and letting go a furious reply would accomplish nothing. His talons flexed and he felt the muscles along his spine knotting up a his body tensed.

“She’s having trouble walking. She had her pelvis broken to have me… so what is going to happen now with the twins? Why would she do that to herself? Why would you do that to her?” Dinky demanded as she wiped at one eye with her fetlock.

“Are you angry with me?” Bucky asked.

“I DUNNO!”

Bucky’s ears fell back against his skull. He wasn’t sure what to say, how to feel, or how to respond to this. A strange new pain filled his barrel.

“I’m not angry with you,” Dinky said a moment later. “I’m just confused.”

The strange new pain did not go away. Bucky blinked and then felt a hoof touching his shoulder. Looking down, he saw Piña.

“She’s hurt, she didn’t mean to hurt you,” Piña said in a low whisper.

“I don’t understand where this is coming from… you had such a nice day… you seemed so happy today…” Stammering, Bucky tried to express his own feelings.

“Been in the back of my mind since Thistle gave birth. It really hit me in the bathtub when I was cleaning myself… down there… and thinking about what it means to be a little filly,” Dinky replied. The foal sighed. “I’m tired. And I wanna go to sleep.”

Feeling as though this was unresolved, Bucky wanted to keep talking about it. Conflicted, he leaned down his head and kissed Piña. “Good night,” he said as he lifted his head.

Leaning over, he kissed Dinky as well, shuddered when he felt her wet cheek on his lips, and the strange pain inside of him grew stronger. Guilt? “Good night Dinky.”

Standing up, his hind legs popped and creaked. He made his way to Diamond Tiara’s bed, leaned over, and kissed her on top of her head, between her ears. “And one for my other pink foal… Good night Diamond.”

 

 

Bucky did not knock when he pushed open Sentinel’s door. His colt was in bed, reading, the bedside lamp was on. It would have been considered dim by most, but it was bright by Sentinel’s standards. Bucky saw Sentinel looking at him as he entered.

It had been a while since he had been in Sentinel’s room last. There were more books on the shelves, a lot more books, and Bucky figured out what Sentinel was doing with the bits that he earned. On a small table, a scale model airship was half constructed. The box, sitting nearby, called it ‘old timey’ in big blocky letters. The Scorned Mare was old timey. The airship was made of wood, ornate, and looked complex. Bucky marveled that Sentinel had the coordination to assemble such a thing.

On Sentinel’s desk was the enchanted pen he had received just today. Self writing, it would jot down Sentinel’s every word on paper. It was one of Bucky’s better pieces of work. The desk was covered in papers, all well organised. Diamond Tiara had been in here, it was obvious. A stack of comic books sat on the corner of the desk.

Much to Bucky’s surprise, there was a doll… a my Pretty Little Princess Doll. Of Luna. But Luna was not wearing a ball gown, or even a pretty dress. There was a tiny little helmet upon her head and and she was wearing a half finished suit of armor. The remaining pieces were on the desk, scattered around her. Luna’s brushable blue mane was stuffed up under the helmet. Bucky turned to look at Sentinel, and saw Sentinel looking back at him.

“Have a nice holiday?” Bucky asked.

“It was nice… seeing Diamond Tiara was a pleasant surprise,” Sentinel replied.

“Son, you have a Luna doll…”

Sentinel’s face split into a sheepish grin. “I, uh, rescued Luna from the store display. They had her hidden behind the castle where nopony could see her. It was the only Luna doll they had, the one inside of the display. There were no other Luna dolls for sale. All of her dresses seemed stupid and the pink dress was nauseating. So I’m carving her armor out of Hard Nuff modeling foam and painting it silver.”

“I see.” Bucky turned and looked once more at little Luna. “Does she know?”

“Oh please father, you must never tell her! She’ll tease me!”

His lips pressing together, Bucky nodded. Luna would tease Sentinel for something like this. To no end. Luna would also be flattered if she knew that Sentinel had rescued her from a terrible store display.

“Thank you, for helping out with Harper and Cadance. Lugus asked me to thank you for your services for helping him with Peekaboo. You’ve made my life a lot easier,” Bucky said.

“Spending time with Harper isn’t as much work as I thought it was going to be,” Sentinel replied. He stuffed a bookmark into his book, closed it, and then looked at his father. “She talks… Harper has a lot to say if you take some time to try and understand her.”

“She’s a little quirky, but she is easy enough to understand.” Bucky sat down beside Sentinel’s bed and looked at the cover of the book Sentinel was reading.

The book was called ‘A Sea of Ink’ and the title was in silver letters on a plain charcoal grey cover. It did not look like the sort of book a foal might read.

“Whatcha reading?” Bucky asked.

Glancing down at his book, Sentinel pushed it towards Bucky so his father could see it better. “Something Cheerilee recommended. I got it out of the library and I loved it so much that I bought my own copy. A Sea of Ink…”

“What is it about?” Bucky looked his son in the eye and tried to read Sentinel’s expression.

“It is about a writer… a journalist. He starts off young… he has all these ideals. He has goals, dreams, aspirations… and the book uses seasons as a comparison for his life. His youth is described as spring. He’s full of hope and his writing inspires an entire generation. He becomes famous. He writes the truth,” Sentinel replied.

“So… I am guessing that summer rolls around eventually,” Bucky said.

“It does.” Sentinel tapped on the book with his wing knuckle. “During that part of his life, Doctor Garbanzo—”

“He’s a doctor?” Bucky asked.

“He’s a doctor of journalism,” Sentinel explained. “Doctor Garbanzo starts going undercover and exposing stuff. He writes the truth that ponies are happier not knowing about. And ponies begin to hate him. He still has a dedicated following, but a lot of ponies that once praised him now curse his name.”

“Oh.” Bucky glanced down at the book. “And the fall?”

“During the fall phase of the book, Doctor Garbanzo is almost a hermit. He’s paranoid. He’s written some truth that a lot of ponies worked very hard to keep silent. He’s almost been killed a few times. He still writes, but the newspapers will not publish his works, only small independent magazines. He’s become disillusioned, the hope he once saw in the world is now gone, he is bitter, cynical, spiteful, and depressed. He’s started to hate the world.”

“Ugh… dreadful. You say that Cheerilee recommended this to you? What happens during the winter phase of his life?” Bucky asked.  

Sentinel blinked. “Doctor Garbanzo, realising that the game was rigged from the very beginning, realising he has been exploited his whole life, he uncovered that the media empire was mostly owned by House Avarice, his most hated enemies. He also discovers that the so called small independent magazines that publish his work are also owned by House Avarice so they can sell counterculture to the disenfranchised. It also allows their own newspapers, the serious print publications, to have a media focus… the pundits and the critics can take the articles printed in the indie rags and rip it to pieces with Avarice approved media views, further discrediting Doctor Garbanzo. He finds out that he has been working to help his most hated enemies all along, ever since colthood when he started writing about how unfair the world was.”

“Wait, is Doctor Garbanzo real?” Bucky asked.

“Yes, yes he is.” Sentinel’s head bobbed up and down with excitement.

“So whatever happened to him?”

“He drank hemlock and died in his study.”

 

 

 

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