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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“Everything feels wrong Sparky… I don’t like it,” Ripple said as she looked over at Sparkler. “I think we’ve messed up. Mistakes were made. I’m sure I had my own part in it. And don’t you dare tell me its hormones.”

Closing her eyes, Sparkler fell over on the sofa and covered her face with her hooves. As she fell over, a potato chip bag left on the sofa crinkled beneath her.

“Rising Star is going off to Canterlot and Bittersweet is going with him. I’m here with my Raptors where I’m needed, cause Lugus has an exercise planned. Meanwhile, Loch Skimmer wants to move out and go and live in the farmhouse again because she doesn’t want to have her foal in a pigsty. We have fecked up and it is time to admit it. Loch Skimmer doesn’t want to even live with us anymore. My sister has gone to be with our parents and she’s a weepy mess that can’t stop crying and I just tried to clean this place up just last night and already it looks like I haven’t done a damn thing!” Ripple stomped her hoof to punctuate her words.

“We all stay so busy with school and work,” Sparkler said.

“And we’re about to be busier! That foal is going to keep us busy!” Ripple’s feathers fluffed out and the hair along her spine bristled. “I’ve let my sister down. I have screwed up.”

“Stuff happens—”

“Yes stuff happens in the farmhouse too, but they keep it clean! Lyra and Bucky both are busy ponies, but they use their magic to keep things tidy and everypony else does what they can to clean up as well… you… you’re laying down on potato chip sacks and cardboard juice cartons!” Ripple’s eyes narrowed and her wings fluttered at her side. Growling, Ripple turned and stomped out of the room.

Laying on her side, Sparkler sighed and brushed the litter on the sofa onto the floor. Alone, missing Loch Skimmer, already missing Rising Star even though he wasn’t even gone, and knowing that things were a mess, Sparkler closed her eyes and tried not to cry.

 

 

“Winter training. How to survive the cold of winter and the hostility of the world around you.” Lugus looked over the Raptors and noticed that a certain charcoal coloured pegasus filly was missing.

“At least we know we can make fires,” Grunion said as he looked at Loki.

“The plan is simple. We move into the Everfree, we find a suitable campsite, and we set up for the night. We make shelters from the ice and snow. The goal is simple. Do not freeze to death and guard the civilians from danger.” Lugus lifted his talons to point at Yew Wood and Peekaboo. “We must keep them from freezing as well. Sometimes, we are going to make rescues and the civilians we must look after will not be hard like us. So we must learn to make them comfortable whilst we suffer.”

“And what about Fresh Meat and Table Scraps?” Kiara asked.

“They get to suffer as well. They get to carry a fair portion of the gear and supplies. They will be responsible for their own shelter and keeping each other alive through the night,” Lugus replied.

Scootaloo could not help but notice Lugus’ choice of words when he said, “alive through the night.” The pegasus filly shivered, but not because of the cold. She turned to Boadicea and patted her friend on the back.

“I’m still growing back my feathers.” Boadicea leaned on Scootaloo and let out a miserable huff.

Nearby, Ripple landed. She folded in her wings and trotted forward to join the group.

“I want us moving in exactly one hour,” Lugus commanded. “Gather gear and be ready to march. We’re not flying on this trip. We need to learn to move as a unit with civilians that might not be able to fly and Yew Wood has volunteered to be the helpless pony. She will be wearing a simple rope hobble on her hind legs to simulate injury.”

“Feckin’ great, we’ll be draggin’ our balls through the snow,” Angry Angus said as he kicked at the snow with his talons.

“ANGUS! Down in the snow! I want to see your beak hit the snow a hundred times!” Gofannon barked. Gofannon watched as Angus dropped down and started doing his push ups.

“Fledgling Fresh Meat.”

“Sir, what, sir?”

“You have a special assignment.”

“Sir, what is that, sir?”

“You will be responsible for looking after your little sister.”

“Sir, I will do that, sir.”

Unable to contain herself, Peekaboo rushed forward through the snow. “Bodi!” she cried as she launched herself at Boadicea. “Bodi Bodi Bodi!”

 

 

“What’s it like?” Loch Skimmer asked as she looked over at Derpy. “Doesn’t it feel, I dunno, awkward? I mean, Cadance’s nose bumps right into your… well, I mean, our teats are located right next door to where foals come out.”

Derpy giggled. “Loch, you are a silly pegasus. Yes she bumps me. Sometimes when a foal is done feeding they get all tuckered out and they lay their little heads down on whatever is soft and they go right to sleep. They don’t care about it and neither should you.”

“I’m worried I’ll get turned on or something… I dunno. All of this scares me.” Loch Skimmer rolled over onto her side and rubbed her stomach.

“How did you talk with the others go?” Derpy asked in a voice thick with emotion and concern. The grey pegasus’ ears perked forward as she waited for a reply.

“Rising Star sort of accidentally let it slip that he thinks that I did this on purpose because I was talking about wanting a foal for a while. He tried to take it back and then accused me of twisting his words around when I said there was no taking this back,” Loch Skimmer replied.

“Everypony is panicking, that’s all. While all of you can act very grown up, this shows that you aren’t the adults you think you are.” Derpy reached out and touched Loch Skimmer with her hoof. “Everypony is scared and nopony knows what to do.”

“I’m thirteen years old. I thought I was an adult. Now I’m not so sure,” Loch Skimmer said.

“I was fourteen years old when I had Dinky. I thought I was real grown up. I thought I had it all figured out.” Derpy blinked away a few tears she felt lurking. “My parents tossed me out. You’re not being tossed out though. You’re being pulled back in. We have you and we’re not going to let go of you. You’re ours. We’ll help you.”

Loch Skimmer’s barrel started heaving. “I just got done crying an hour ago… I don’t wanna cry again.” As Loch Skimmer spoke, tears trickled down her cheeks. With a gasp, the floodgates opened and Loch Skimmer began to cry once more.

Lifting her head, Cadance looked over at Loch Skimmer. Milk dribbled down her chin. The alicorn foal’s eyes began to glaze over with tears and then she let out a pained wail. Crawling on her belly, her stubby wings flapping, Cadance made her way over to Loch Skimmer and pressed herself up against the sobbing pegasus.

 

 

Wearing a full load didn’t slow down Sentinel at all. He led the way, his head held high and his ears alert for danger. They had cleared the treeline for the Everfree. Danger did not hibernate. His nostrils flared as he sniffed. Progress was slow through the deep snow but Sentinel did not mind. There was no point in rushing headlong into danger.

The forest was dark. Very little sun managed to shine down through the naked trees for some odd reason.

“Squire Ensign Sentinel, report,” Lugus commanded.

“Knight Commander Lugus, the area seems clear,” Sentinel replied. He paused in place, sniffed, and his ears strained for any sound that might be dangerous. All he heard was the creaking of the trees.

“Begin looking for a suitable clearing.” Lugus glanced over the troup. “It will be dark before we know it.”

“Loki’s not even cold… this just isn’t fair,” Kiara said as she took advantage of the brief moment of rest.

“If you want to stay warm, try dying in the service of another,” Brigid said to Kiara.

“I’m cold enough to consider it,” Kiara replied. “Hey Loki, want to keep me warm?”

“No.”

“Oh come on Loki, that’s cold!” Kiara looked at Loki with an expression of stunned disbelief. “You’re always trying to pull on my tail.”

“Things change.”

“Loki has changed, that’s for certain,” Kiara said as she looked at Loki.

“I fought a fight worth fighting… meaningful violence. Slaughter with purpose. It brought about my end. And then I saw my king in a bloody heap on the floor. My priorities have changed.” Loki looked at Kiara and shook his head. “I am sorry for how I was.”

“No need to be sorry,” Kiara replied. “You okay Loki? I’m worried now.”

The harrier griffon blinked. “I’m fine. I’m better than I’ve been for a long time. I have stopped being afraid. There is nothing left to fear. For a long time, I was afraid to live. I was never afraid of dying. Now, that fear has flown from me.”

“Enough talk, we move!” Sentinel barked.

 

 

“Dinky… last night was so wonderful.” Piña closed her eyes and rolled over on her bed. She lay on her back and tapped her front hooves together.

Engrossed in a book about practical enchantments for plants, Dinky almost didn’t hear her sister. But when she heard the tone of Pina’s voice, she lifted her head and closed her book.

“It was cloudy so Night Light had to cast a special spell on the telescope… it allowed us to see through the clouds and we got to see the stars, Dinky, there were so many stars. You wouldn’t know it just by looking up, but there are so many stars once you look through a telescope. I get it now, why Babs gets so happy when she’s peeping through a telescope.”

Dinky rubbed her eyes with her fetlock and then, after she pulled her fetlock away, she blinked a few times. “Sounds like you had a good time.”

“The top of the astronomy tower was so cold. There was wind. Larch and Babs and I sat together trying to stay warm. We were almost half frozen when Galaxy Guide and Night Light called it quits. We went inside of the tower where it was so warm and we drank cocoa and ate s’mores while Night Light and Galaxy Guide talked about the importance of studying the stars. We talked about physics, and science, and understanding the natural order of things.”

Blinking her study bleary eyes, Dinky looked over at the pink blur that was Piña. “You sound excited about this. Thinking about direction?”

“Maybe… last night… I felt something I don’t think I’ve felt before. It was like opening my eyes. Not just about the stars, but everything. I felt so small and humbled by what I saw.” Piña tapped her front hooves together some more and sparks flew from them. Her muzzle crinkled as she concentrated. “Larch wants to take an introduction to tinkering with Tuli, the big minotaur. I think I might join him. Babs is already signed up for the class. This might be nice, we can do science stuff together.”

“Wait, Babs is an astronomy student, why would she take tinkering?” Dinky asked.

“In the big observatories, the telescopes are massive mechanical things and the orreries need constant maintenance. She’s not a unicorn, so she is going to have to work so much harder to get a job in one of those places… so having more skills will be useful for her,” Piña replied.

“Because of Apple Bloom I’ve become curious about the magical sciences. This project is going to be the death of me. I’ve been studying since we got home from sledding on stuff that’s not even schoolwork. Apple Bloom has given me quite a puzzle to figure out.” Dinky fell over on her bed and her head hit her pillow.

“You just said you got interested in the magical sciences because of an earth pony Dinky… that’s kinda awesome…”

 

 

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