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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“He’s sleeping… peacefully.” Berry Punch closed the door behind her and stepped out into the hall. Standing there, she rubbed her left front leg with her right front hoof.

“Something wrong?” Thistle asked.

“Cadance bit me when I tried to pull her away. Just a nip to let me know that she wasn’t in the mood to be messed with. She can stay hungry for a while,” Berry replied as she began to move away from the door. “I guess Derpy will wake up if her diaper sense goes off.”

Following after Berry, Thistle brushed up against Berry’s side as they went down the hall together. “I’m scared.”

“Why are you scared?” Berry bumped up against Thistle again in an intentional sort of way. “You scared for Bucky?”

“No… the doctor visit today. I just get so nervous.” Thistle, glad for Berry’s touch, matched pace with Berry, hoping for another reassuring bump.

“Who is gonna take ya?” Berry asked.

“Rising Star offered to pull the sleigh. He wants to see his parents and his little brother and his little sister.”

“Well, I’ll come with you. No need to be scared now.” Berry grinned and gave the kelpie beside her another bump.

 

 

“Greetings class… so glad to see you once again,” Stargarden said to her students. She paced in front of the blackboard, moving the width of the room, back and forth in a slow, steady gait. “Some of you didn’t do your homework… I can sense your fear, your anxiety over not doing it. When will you learn that you can’t hide these things from me?”

Still pacing, the unicorn giggled at her class.

“So… who can tell me what we are going to talk about today?” Stargarden asked. She looked at her class and saw no hooves raised. “Now now, I am not guarding my thoughts particularly well… somepony try to discern what I am projecting.”

Still no hooves raised.

“Well, I suppose you will get better in time.” Stargarden stopped pacing and stood near the lecture podium. “Tell me, have any of you ever heard stories of the Hag?”

“Isn’t a hag a witch?” Larch asked.

“Not just any hag, the Hag,” Stargarden replied. She took a deep breath. “A long time ago, a very long time ago, thousands of years ago, there was an earth pony. From what little we know about her, modern researchers have determined that she was a powerful psychic. She could leap into and control the minds of others. She made others do her bidding, follow her whims, and she became quite powerful and wealthy.”

The class watched their teacher with rapt attention.

“When she started to show signs of getting old, she did something with her talent that no other psychic has done since. She lept out of her body completely and took over the body of a unicorn, a unicorn by the name of King Borealis. Nopony knew that she had done this however. Now, King Borealis was a powerful wizard and a good king. Ponies began to get suspicious when he began acting strangely and his magic seemed… a little off. The Hag, being an earth pony, did not know how to use unicorn magic.”

“So she messed up and revealed herself,” Rainy Feather said.

“Yes!” Stargarden raised her hoof and pointed at the pegasus filly while smiling. “Ponies began suspecting something was wrong. She had to put the whole kingdom under a mental spell to keep them in line, but other kingdoms also began to notice. A few very powerful wizards went to investigate… a battle broke out and it was revealed that King Borealis was actually the Hag. All of this was well documented, so we know a lot about it. The wizards drove the Hag out of King Borealis’ body… but alas, in doing so, they killed him. With nothing left inside of the body after the Hag left, it lingered for a few days and then the good king expired. She had completely killed off what he was when she had jumped into his flesh and bones.”

“That’s kinda scary,” Piña said.

“Even more scary when you realise this is only the beginning of this tale, Piña,” Larch said.

The pink earth pony filly blushed and turned a little pinker at the sound of Larch’s voice.

Stargarden looked at Piña and a sweet smile split her muzzle, this time a smile with teeth. “The Hag survived. They don’t know how, or who she jumped into, but she survived. They presumed she was dead though and the wizards all wrote very careful notes about this strange magic they had encountered.”

“So… I’m guessing she revealed herself again?” Rainy asked. The little pegasus filly was trembling, shivering in her seat, her wings wrapped around her.

“Yes she did. Once more, she was discovered in the body of another unicorn, this time almost fifty years later. She was discovered by accident, by a group of wizards that sensed that something was wrong. This time, she did battle, and she slew the unicorns that had discovered her. The Hag had mastered magic, or at least understood it enough to be dangerous.”

“So they knew that she was still alive.” Larch leaned forward over his desk, eager to hear more.

“The Hag had to flee. She became hunted. For years, she was never found. Almost twenty five years later, she was found again, this time in the body of a pegasus. She had traveled a long ways from home and was still hunted by those who vowed to end her evil.” Stargarden shook her head. “The wizards were wise to her ways. The Hag was wise to the ways of the wizards.”

“So she knew that she had to keep jumping from body to body, and to never stop running,” Dinky said, rubbing her head as she gave thought to the dilemma.

“Yes, but so much more than that. The Hag was gathering lifetimes of experience and magical knowledge. She kept jumping around, leaning all there was to know, she became a living library of knowledge… instead of a few wizards hunting her down, it soon became whole armies. Eventually, a pegasus named Meadow Thatch began to hunt the Hag. We have records about Meadow Thatch. She had strange and powerful magic that the unicorns of that era did not understand. Meadow Thatch was even believed to be the Hag, but she cooperated and did everything her captors asked of her. Eventually, she joined the Hag hunt.”

“Whatever happened to Meadow Thatch? The Hag lived… was Meadow Thatch okay?” Rainy Feather’s voice was a worried squeak.

“Meadow Thatch battled the Hag along with a group of wizards. She weakened the Hag, they battled wills against one another… and the wizards slew the Hag’s body. It was believed that the Hag was gone, Meadow did not sense the Hag jumping into another body.”

“But what happened to Meadow?” Rainy Feather asked.

“Meadow, now a hero, was well loved. She became Queen Stary Eyes’ advisor.” Stargarden moved away from the podium and began to pace again. “Near the end of Meadow Thatch’s life, it was revealed that the Hag still lived.”

“So she’s unstoppable,” Piña said, shaking her head.

“Seems that way. Eventually, she vanished. Nopony has seen nor heard of her for almost a thousand years or more. Some say she is dead… others believe she is better at hiding.” Stargarden stared at her students. “Some say she became a school teacher… and she travels the world, looking for promising students, finding them and vanquishing them before they become a threat to her!”

Every filly in the class squealed in terror.

And so did one colt.

“All of you are so adorable… I’m sorry… I couldn’t help myself. That is what you get for not finishing your homework. Look, I am sorry… all of you may be dismissed early. Go and calm down.” Stargarden gestured towards the door.

 

 

Beside Sentinel, a filly sat, and her head began to bob, her eyes half closed. Reaching over with his wing, Sentinel got ahold of a small flap of skin on her ribs and pinched it between his thumb and his central wing knuckle.

There was a pained yelp and Cloudstreaker was now wide awake. She looked around the meeting hall and then covered her mouth with her hooves. “Sorry… so sorry!”

There would be no sleeping during important functions like city council meetings or town planning meetings, Sentinel would make certain of that. He watched the filly out of the corner of his eye, waiting for any signs of drowsiness.

“...Twilight Sparkle picked a terrible time to go on vacation… how are we going to sort this out? I mean, we’re almost deadlocked…”

Cloudstreaker picked up her notebook and her pencil. Using her mouth, she began to take notes and trying to listen to what was being said.

“...well if you can’t reach a consensus, I could go get my boss, Buckminster—”

“Oh no! That is entirely unnecessary! Ok ponies, we need to pull together! Should the telegraph office be a private enterprise, a government venture… or… maybe… maybe we should have both?”

Both? Sentinel shook his head. That sounded stupid. But if it could get the council to agree upon something…

Cloudstreaker’s pencil scratched out letters.  

“... there could be some advantages to both… ponies would have a choice. The private venture would have to compete with the government venture, which would be cheaper. So the private company would have to offer more to compensate. Might be good for the consumers…”

Sentinel rolled his eyes. Ponies didn’t need choice. They needed practicality. When something served a function, there was no need to make it redundant. He shook his head.

“Without competition of some sort, innovation stagnates.” Violet Velvet’s voice carried through the room.

Sentinel reconsidered his stance. That was something he had not considered. Could the telegraph even be improved? Sentinel did not like the telegraph, but understood the necessity. It was cold, unfeeling, messages should be sent by courier, like a helpful pegasus or a griffon.

“...the private venture will soon become too expensive for the common pony and it will create class division! Rich ponies will use it so they can look down their muzzles at the poor…”

“...using the government office will bear stigma, shame… ponies will be too ashamed to go in there and take care of business, so it will languish…”

“...it will just suck up money from the city’s coffers and return nothing…”

Overwhelmed, Sentinel no longer knew his own opinion. Beside him, Cloudstreaker was hard at work, writing something down.

 

 

Yawning, Bucky was thankful for the feeling of Cadance beside him. She dozed, her eyes closed, her barrel rising and falling. The breath from her nostrils was warm against his neck and he was damp with drool.

Beside him, a pregnant pegasus slumbered.

Yawning again, Bucky blinked his eyes. His eyelids felt crusty and heavy. He sniffed, more to clear his nostrils, and smelled urine. Using careful caution, Bucky slipped out of bed, trying not to wake Derpy, and lifted Cadance in his magic. He almost stumbled, regained his balance, and walked with Cadance into the nursery.

The nursery was empty. No sign of Sukari.

He lay Cadance down upon the changing table, blinked, and looked at her. She looked very much like she did in the dream, laying on her back, one foreleg rested over her barrel.

Bucky felt a tightness in his throat.

Her eyes sprang open, she looked a little surprised as she looked up at Bucky. After a moment, she yawned, her mouth opening wide, her tongue lolling out and her uvula visible. Halfway through her yawn, she closed her mouth, pursed her lips, stuck out her tongue, and blew a raspberry at Bucky for waking her up.

Much to his surprise, Bucky felt a little better. As he stood there staring, Cadance squirmed, her wings fluttered, and she let out a grunt. A foul vapour crept from her diaper and Cadance began to frown.

There was no sense in complaining. Bucky undid the diaper, pulled it away, and tossed it into the diaper pail.

Shivering, Cadance went, “Brr!”

Lifting Cadance once more, mindful to let nothing drip, Bucky took her into the bathroom for a bath, feeling quite grateful to look after her needs.

 

 

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