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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Rubbing her face, wincing not at pain but at the memory of pain, Celestia looked at Berry Punch. Celestia was regal, solemn looking, and her eyes were wide and wise. “I am sure that you, of all ponies, understand what I must do and why I must do it.”

The earth pony mare nodded. “Do it. Get it over with.”

Extending her foreleg over the table, Celestia delivered a light slap across Berry Punch’s face, catching her on one side, and then reversing her stroke to catch her once on the other side of the muzzle.

Berry blinked.

“I am sorry that it must be this way, can we at least have a cease fire so we can remain civil?” Celestia looked hopeful and there was a faint smile, her teeth flashed for a moment.

“This changes nothing between us, but I suppose that if I wanted to fight dirty I’d be taking your niece hostage,” Berry said. She shrugged and crammed a banana nut muffin into her mouth, the whole thing, all at once. It had been slitted down the middle and a pat of butter had been stuffed in.

“Taking family members hostage is dirty pool.” Shaking her head, Celestia looked a bit distressed. “I suppose I should be going. That poor, poor guard. I think I shall see to it that he gets a promotion for his bravery.”

Reaching out with her hoof, Berry Punch grabbed another muffin and stuffed it into her maw. She chewed, her cheeks bulging. Her eyes closed and an expression of bliss spread over her face.

“You seem hungry.” Celestia hoped that her words did not offend. War might have just been declared, but there was no need to be uncivil.

There was a loud gulp. “I’m eating for three.” Berry eyed the platter of muffins, glanced around the kitchen with guilty looking eyes, and took another one.

“So how many muffins has that been for each of you?” Celestia asked.

 

 

Bittersweet peered under the crib, her ears limp and drooping. Being mute, Bittersweet didn’t have a lot of options when it came to communicating her feelings, at least not with words, but she was the undisputed master of pantomime. She could convey her feelings, her emotions with exaggerated expressions.

Under the crib, a pair of blue eyes blinked.

There was something of a stalemate between the donkey and the zebra. Piña hadn’t given up, but she was no longer an active participant and was now sitting in the bowl shaped chair in the corner, watching and waiting for something to happen.

Bittersweet sighed and there was a faint wheezy whimper. It was one of the few sounds she was capable of making, along with lip smacks, pops, and whistles.

There was another sigh. Bittersweet focused on becoming the saddest donkey ever. She contorted her face and mangled her expression into the saddest looking expression of pain that she could muster. It worked on Rising Star, it worked on Sparkler, it worked on Loch Skimmer, and it made Ripple look as though she might start crying at any moment.

With soft gasp, Bittersweet fell over on her side and continued to look melancholy. Morose. Doleful. Woebegone. Wretched. She let out another mournful sigh and appeared to be ready to expire from ennui at any moment.

To any casual observer just entering the nursery, the donkey might appear to be a teenage suicide victim on their way out, having said goodbye to the cruel world in a final fit of existential expression.

Bittersweet laid there and waited. In her chair, Piña was very still.

Under the crib, Sukari blinked, watched, and did not move.

After what felt like a long time, Bittersweet’s sensitive ears felt the faint vibration of movement. She did not move, but continued to lay there, heaving gusty sighs of sorrow. Something moved in the corner of her vision. Something that was more grey blue than black.

A tiny hoof pressed against Bittersweet’s face. The donkey did nothing but continued to lay there, limp. She made herself think about all of the saddest thoughts she could. She forced herself to think about losing Ripple. Her herd. She thought about kicked kittens and funerals.

She felt her eyes water.

The hoof against her face gave a little shove. She thought about standing all alone, in the freezing rain, with no family, no home, nothing, nothing at all but open sky and rain.

She felt something curl up against her neck and go still. The donkey made no move, no indication that she was happy on the inside, but continued to lay there and look sad.

Piña, moving with slow assurance, dropped out of the chair, crossed the room with exaggerated slow steps, and crept close to Bittersweet. When she heard a soft cry from Sukari, Piña stopped mid-step and fell over onto her side. She lay on the floor, unmoving, trying to look like a harmless pink lump.

When Piña was confident that the zebra filly was not looking, she wiggled along the floor like an inchworm, scooting herself closer to Bittersweet. It took a while, but Piña reached Bittersweet’s side, cuddled up against the donkey, and went still.

Extending one long ear, Bittersweet reached out and gave Sukari a gentle pat.

 

 

“Doctor Mawu?”

Standing in the doorway, Thistle rubbed one foreleg against the other. Her mouth felt dry.

“Yes? How might I help you?”

The kelpie looked at the zebra. “My name is Thistle, I am one of Bucky’s wives and I have a bit of a problem that I hoped you might be able to help me with. I understand that you are a bocor and a psychiatrist.”

Doctor Mawu nodded. “I know who you are. I am pleased to meet you. So what can I do?”

Thistle looked down at her front hooves as she made little hoofy kicks with her left hoof against the tile. “I have a zebra foal… she’s broken.”

“I see… and if I might ask, how is she broken?” Doctor Mawu’s voice was soft and sincere.

“She’s a branded slave covered in lash marks and Bucky thinks that she might have been conditioned to pull a mine cart or something horrible. She pees and poops everywhere if you startle her or make her scared. My husband blew a raspberry on her hoof and she just shut down… after peeing all over the bed.” Thistle blurted everything out and then began to feel queasy.

“Oh… oh dear.” Reaching up with a hoof, Doctor Mawu adjusted the lapel of her blazer.

“I feel so hopeless.” Thistle began to sniffle. She snorted, determined not to cry in front of a stranger. She lifted her head. “I don’t know how to help her. She peed in the corner and I just stood there because I was too afraid to tell her it was wrong.”

Moving behind her desk, Doctor Mawu sat down in her chair. She looked around her somewhat cluttered office, her eyes blinking in a slow stunned manner.

“I have to meet with a client in a short while, but do come in. We can speak for a few minutes. Of course I will do everything I can to help you. Please, do come in an have a seat. There is no shame in sitting down and speaking to a psychiatrist.”

“Thank you,” Thistle said, bowing her head for a moment as she came in.

 

 

“Father, I am begging you… if you put your hoof down, they will listen—”

“Sentinel, for the last time, the rules state that the princess must take upon herself the role of the damsel in distress and she is to look as princessly as possible. This is a chance to strut one’s stuff. You are supposed to put on a fine gown and then sit in your tower and look fabulous… and this is exactly what I shall do.” Shaking his head, Bucky extended his talons and pushed open the door to Carousel Boutique.

 

 

“You will go to school every day and you will learn and you will pay attention. Am I understood?”

Boadicea slumped down, bowing her head. “Yes ma’am.”

“Poor thing… you’re shivering. The attic loft is actually the warmest part of this house. All of the heat rises and Lugus loves it up here… go sit in the sunny patch in front of that big window.” Yew planted a hoof upon the cub and gave a hearty shove.

Peekaboo giggled as Boadicea went sprawling over. “Mama strong.”

Scrambling away from the pegasus, Boadicea did as she was bid, sitting down in the sunny patch in front of the big window. The window opened, allowing for any flier to get outside in a hurry.

Peekaboo, enthralled by Boadicea, began to strut around the cub in a wide circle. “Imma griffon too.”

Boadicea looked at the pegasus. “You are?”

“Yes.” Peekaboo nodded. Throwing back her head, she roared. “GRRRROOWRRR!”

“She’s fierce. She is also sometimes invisible, so look out. She can come out at you from nowhere.” Yew smiled at her family.

 

 

“Bucky… darling… do come in! I was just organising these swatches of fabric for display!” Rarity moved forward, her eyelids fluttering in a most alluring manner. “Sentinel! What a pleasure to see you… why aren’t you in school? This is unbecoming… tsk tsk.”

Sentinel ducked his head, shamed by Rarity’s tongue clucking and by what his father was about to do. He sighed.

“Rarity, I need a dress.” Bucky tried to muster some sympathy for Sentinel and failed.

“For which wife?” Rarity blinked. “I have some new fabric that would look wonderful with Derpy’s pelt—”

“No… I need a dress. A gown.”

The corner of Rarity’s eye twitched.

“I need something formal… maybe something with sequins—”

“Father… no!”

“Hush Sentinel!”

“Yes father…”

The corner of Rarity’s eye twitched some more. “Well, anything is possible.”

“I have to be dressed to go to war.” Bucky began to look around at the dresses and gowns on display.

The entire side of Rarity’s face spasmed.

“I thought I heard your voice!”

Coco trotted out of the kitchen, crossed the room, and upon reaching Sentinel, she kissed him on the cheek. She lifted her head, smiled, and kissed Bucky on the cheek as well. She looked at Rarity and raised an eyebrow.

“Is something wrong?” Coco asked.

“Bucky… Bucky needs… Bucky needs a formal gown to go… to go to… to go to war in.”

Coco’s face contorted into a wrinkled mass of confusion. “What?”

“I need a formal gown fit for a princess. I’m going to war.” Bucky didn’t bother looking at Coco, Rarity, or Sentinel. He focused instead upon the fancy hat in the window. “And maybe a fancy hat.”

“Well, I suppose we can. We’re in the middle of the post holiday doldrums. There is nothing, and I mean nothing for us to do. We’re dead in the water.” Coco began to study Bucky with a critical eye. “Rarity, I’m thinking something in a dark navy with teal accents. His tan pelt is neutral, but we have other considerations.”

Rarity, her sense of professionalism now snapping into place, nodded. “We have… some skin visible because of life being cruel to him. We need to draw the eye away from that.”

“He has a lovely slender, slight build. We could make something clingy, yet flowing.” Coco began to circle Bucky.

“Floor length. Cover those legs. The legs are shapely, so we want something that will flow around his legs and show them off, just not show the legs themselves because of… well, scarring.” Rarity peered at Bucky through narrowed eyes.

Bucky nudged Sentinel and waggled his eyebrows. “She says I have shapely legs.”

Sentinel’s nose almost touched the floor as he slumped and his ears went limp.

“We could do something daring, like a gown made in a dark olive fabric. We have that olive crushed velvet in storage…” Coco’s mane bobbed around her face as she moved and a wrinkle of concentration stood out on the middle of her muzzle.

Dragging his hooves, Sentinel walked away, heading for a couch. He climbed up, sat down, and sighed. He looked at  his father, the two mares, and then his gaze dropped back down to the floor.

The world did not make sense, and Sentinel wanted the world to make sense.

 

 

 

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