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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Inside of Bucky’s head, there was an army of little teeny tiny Rising Stars, all of them with hammers, pounding away upon the inner surfaces of his skull. Outside of Bucky’s head, there was an alicorn that was far too chipper for this time of morning.

“Daddy!”

There was a tug upon his ear, at first gentle, and then becoming very insistent.

“Daddy?”

It was becoming clear that Cadance was out to finish him off in his weakened state. Bucky felt a little dribble of drool trickling down the inside of his ear. Then, in the most egregious of all of Cadance’s efforts, the little foal began to drum upon Bucky’s skull with her hooves.

“Daddy!”

Reaching out his right foreleg, Bucky extended it to full length. He then dropped it on top of Cadance, sliding her away from his head, and pinning her down upon the bed. Stars floated in his vision from the early morning alicorn bebop bonkapalooza.

Pinned under her father’s foreleg, Cadance engaged in a mighty struggle. She wiggled, kicked, squirmed, and with all of her strength, she broke free. “Daddy!”

The slow creeping realisation crept through Bucky’s mind that this was the most successful attempt to kill him as of yet. He wantedto die. Never had death held so much appeal. He had hung on a hook and had his balls ripped off every day for this.

With Cadance om-nom-nom-nomming on his ear once more and smacking her lips, Bucky let out a low moan, a wordless plea for help, for assistance, for somepony to rescue him.

A faint memory of the night before surfaced in his brain, an unpleasant memory. The bad taste in his mouth right now could be attributed to that memory. With the memory, a teasing idea formed in his mind. The idea, at first a flicker, a faint flame of an idea, found fuel and began to burn. After a moment, the idea blazed.

Sitting up and causing Cadance to tumble away from him, Bucky said in a low mumble, “Self cleaning beer vomit puddles…”

Through bleary eyes, Bucky saw Berry Punch blinking at him. He saw her eyebrows go up, then down, and then moving up and down, moving over her brow like hungry caterpillars. She looked confused.

Her face caterpillars settled into a very perplexed looking expression and Bucky heard Berry say, “Huh?”

“I hath me a brillianth ithea,” Bucky said, smacking his dry lips together and trying to work up some spit. He coughed, cleared his throat, and licked his dry lips with his parched tongue. “I will invent a beer that will clean up its own vomit puddles! I will go down in history and be remembered for my efforts… there will be self cleaning beer vomit puddles for all.”

Bucky saw Berry Punch’s face caterpillars rise, almost disappearing up under her mane.

“Since times long forgotten, since ponies first discovered the secrets of brewing beer, ponies have struggled with beer vomit puddles… I shall put a swift and decisive end to this conflict.” As Bucky spoke, he felt his cutie marks tingle, a pleasant humming vibration.

“Daddy silly.”

Berry Punch nodded in agreement with Cadance. “Yes he is.”

“What happened last night?” Bucky asked, fearful of the answer.

“Well, when I found you, you were singing airship naval songs. Not long after that, Celestia came back to the party after getting lost in the castle. There was an epic drinking contest between you, Keg Smasher, Celestia, and a number of others—”

“Who won?” Bucky asked, cutting in.

“Do you feel like a winner? Nopony won you twit… there was… there was a catastrophic disaster that—”

“I remember getting sick.” Bucky shook his head, his ears flopping, and the tiny Rising Stars in his skull began hammering even harder.

“Yeah, I was getting to that… you got sick, and then Keg got sick, and then Celestia got sick, and while I’m pretty hardcore about this sort of thing, I’m no super-equine… so I got sick, along with a bunch of other ponies and when everything was said and done, the dining hall was flooded with an ocean of vomit.”

Cringing, Bucky closed his eyes. “I remember something about Thistle…”

“Oh yeah… Thistle… you came back to this room in a romantic mood… even in your sloshed state, you couldn’t do anything that might hurt her even though she was begging for it—”

“Whew… I was worried that I might have—”

“You just gave her a good dry humping instead.”

Bucky’s head fell back down upon the bed and he let out a long, low whimper.

“Well, I had a nice time,” Thistle said in a low voice. “I was the middle of a pony sandwich and it was nice to be the center of attention.”

Bucky opened his eyes and looked at Berry just in time to see her face caterpillars moving up and down in salacious manner. Leave it to Berry to turn an eyebrow waggle into something perverted.

“Daddy?” Cadance asked, reaching over and booping Bucky on the nose.

“What Cadance?” Bucky looked at the pink foal, noting her wide adoring eyes.

“Daddy smelly.” Cadance, having her say, sat back and stuffed a hoof into her mouth so she could have a good gnaw.

“She has an excellent point. Come on, let’s go have ourselves a bath,” Berry Punch said.

 

 

The bathroom was a room with a bath in it. Bucky stared at the crude set up, his head thudding, pounding, Rising Star was showing no mercy as he continued to hammer away. There was a large copper tub, just big enough for a pony, maybe two if they were on friendly terms with one another. There was a water pump. The pump connected to a crude piping system and a lever. One pipe connected to a big copper boiler that had a spigot. Over the tub was another spout, under the lever, and after examining the contraption, Bucky determined that after filling the tub with hot water from the boiler, one would pull the lever and then crank the pump handle to fill the tub with cold water to cool off the boiling water and make it just right.

In the corner, there was a stack of firewood and compressed peat bales to burn.

“Keg Smasher is real proud of this,” Thistle said as she looked around the room. “He can offer guests a hot bath.”

“Bucky, you want to heat up the water?” Berry asked.

The idea of using magic almost caused Bucky to faint. The hammerfalls inside of his head reached a crescendo of agony. Stumbling, he staggered over to a wooden bench and flopped down, his legs dangling down on either side the bench.

“Oh sure, leave it to the pregnant mare,” Berry said as she moved towards the water pump. Grunting, she stood up on her hind hooves, grabbed the pump handle in her front fetlocks, and began pumping.

The sound of running water could be heard inside of the copper boiler.

“How does an earth pony or a pegasus start the fire?” Thistle asked.

Working the pump handle up and down in smooth fluid strokes, Berry Punch managed to shrug. “I suppose you bring a candle or or maybe bring along a helpful unicorn.”

“Or maybe a match, but I don’t see any.” Thistle looked around the room, looking at the bare stones. It was chilly in here, cold even, and Thistle was eager for a fire to be lit.

“With all the steam that is bound to be in here, it would be stupid to store matches in here.” Up and down went the pump handle and Berry Punch was grinning as she worked.

“I wonder where Lugus is,” Bucky said in a low pained voice that cracked and squeaked.

Thistle shrugged. “I dunno.”

“Last I saw, he was helping Celestia get to her cabin on board The Scorned Mare.” With a snort, Berry Punch pushed the pump handle down and dropped to all fours. “She said she was fine, but being the genteel griffon that he is, he insisted on helping her.”

“We have our duties as knights.” Reaching up, Bucky rubbed at his eyes with his right fetlock. “Lugus was pretty smashed.” Letting out a pained moan, Bucky lifted several bales of peat from the corner, levitating them in his telekinesis, and once they were below the boiler, he ignited them. The room filled with the smoky stench of burning peat.

“Stinky!” Cadance cried in a shrill squeal, not knowing that the sound of her voice was making Bucky grit his teeth together.

“Belisama, you’re awful quiet,” Berry said as she sat down upon the floor and waited for the water to get hot.

“I’m listening for Bandua to start peeping.” The griffoness said nothing else, but clutched the tiny bundle wrapped in a blanket closer to her chest.

“You need some sleep Belisama… Bandua peeps almost every hour it seems.” Berry, looking concerned, glanced over at Bucky and hoped that a part of him was paying attention.

“She can’t be nursed. She needs food. I must care for her.” Belisama yawned and her tail swished from side to side. “Later I will let Magpie look after her for a while and I will get some rest. I just want to be a good mother.”

Steam filled the room. It glistened upon each and every stone, caused the walls to shimmer with a wet sheen, and as the water became hotter, the steam grew denser.

Thistle sighed, taking in the steam, allowing it to fill her lungs. It was soothing after being the dry air of the room all night. She could feel it in her pelt, it was damp, and the room was starting to warm with the steam and the fire.

“Cadance is going to need her wings preened. The Empress looks scruffy,” Berry said, taking a look at Cadance and frowning.

“I’ll take care of them.” Belisama yawned and stretched out her neck. “It gives us a chance to be close. Cadance still tries to get milk even though there is none to be had from me.”

Watching the fire, Berry Punch stared into it as she felt the twins kicking around inside of her. The peat popped and sent a shower of sparks out. Sticking out her hoof, Berry stepped down on a cinder, extinguishing it with a few careful taps. “Come spring, there are going to be a lot of zebras here. They want to set up an alchemical refinery… there is some kind of root that grows on the mountainous areas that is real valuable… gonna take a lot of cooperation between the earth ponies and the pegasi to get the roots… and even more cooperation with the zebras for the refinement process. The Shetlands will finally know wealth and prosperity.”

“When did you hear about this?” Bucky asked.

“Last night. I only had a few mugs of cider… I don’t want to hurt the twins or make them soft headed. So while I was sitting there, I heard a couple of zebras talking. They’re really happy… the only other known source of these roots are the Hinterlands, and nopony wants to go there. Still dangerous. Word has it, without the griffons to hold back the monster populations, there are some real problems already developing. Wyverns and monsters of all kinds,” Berry replied.

“What do these roots do?” Bucky asked.

Berry Punch shrugged. “They never said. Just talked about how rare and valuable these roots are, and apparently, the stony mountainsides of the Shetlands have the plants.”

For a moment, Bucky thought about what used to lurk beneath the mountains. He thought of the war. Of his armor… his magnificent armor that seemed so powerful, so useful, the armor that had seen him through his first real test of combat.

The armor that had almost killed him when he had faced off with competent magic users.

The armor had served its purpose. It had given him the edge he needed to finish off his foes and get his family back to Equestria. Bucky sighed and closed his eyes, feeling very foolish. He had known so little then. He had been so weak, so incapable. He had made so many mistakes. He took a deep breath, drawing steam into his lungs.

Now, he knew that he could descend upon the Shetlands like a plague and purge the wolves in a single night of fiery death and destruction if he had to. Or ice. Armor was no longer needed. Preparation would be unneeded. Bucky now knew spells that would undo the crystal lich’s existence.

He opened his eyes. There was a lesson to be learned here, his sodden still being hammered upon mind told him. Foes that had once seemed so difficult were now easy… but there would always be more difficult foes. There would always be credible threats.

Bucky realised that complacency in any form would be his undoing.

Looking at Cadance, Bucky realised that he needed to make sure that Cadance had a world that she could live in while being an immortal Empress and have an empire to rule. The mirror travelers were a credible threat.

There was no time for complacency. Bucky thought about his long list of things to do, and the Shadowbolt Initiative moved a little higher up on his list of priorities.

“I think the water is hot enough. I’m gonna fill the tub and then add some cold water,” Berry Punch said, unaware that Bucky was lost in his own thoughts. “So who is going to squeeze in here with me and scrub my back?”

 

 

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