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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Sentinel held out a flash card pinched between his thumb and central knuckle, holding it out where Sukari, Harper, and Cadance could see it. “Orange,” Sentinel said, being careful with his pronunciation. On the card was an orange.

“Owange?” Cadance replied.

“Owenge…” Harper said, looking at Cadance.

“Chungwa.” Sukari looked at Cadance, then Harper, and then Sentinel. “Orange.”

“Hmm, Chungwa must mean orange. Good job Sukari.” Sentinel set down the orange flash card and picked up another card. He held it up for the trio to look at. “Apple. Apples are red. Unless they’re ponies, and then all bets are off.”

“Apple.” Harper bobbed her head.

Cadance’s wings fluttered. “Apple apple.”

Sukari tapped her hoof on the floor. “Tufaha!”

Sentinel flipped the card down into the discard pile. “Somepony loves apples.”

“Tufaha?” Sukari asked, blinking at Sentinel and then pointing to the card with her hoof.

“We don’t have any fresh apples… but we do have applesauce. Come on you three… let’s see if big brother can get you some applesauce. Not certain how I am going to feed the three of you by myself.”

 

 

Piña felt a dreadful sense of worry. After all the shouting earlier, she wondered if perhaps Sparkler and her herd had fallen apart. If things were over. If things had gone so wrong that they couldn’t be fixed. Unable to study, unable to read, unable to do much of anything, she lay in her bed, curled up, and felt fearful.

There had been a lot of shouting earlier after Ripple had come home. Derpy had shouted, Berry had shouted, Loch Skimmer had shouted and Loch Skimmer had said some very mean things to her sister. And then Ripple had screamed a whole bunch of really awfulthings back at her sister.

Things that Piña hoped that Loch Skimmer and Ripple didn’t mean. Piña had learned one thing from hearing the heated exchange. You never, ever, under any circumstances whatsoever, said that you wished that you weren’t sisters. Feeling very small, feeling very miserable, and feeling very much like a little foal at the moment, Piña closed her eyes and hoped that she was never, ever angry enough to say such horrible words to Dinky. Ever.

 

 

Pushing open the somewhat already open door, Dinky made her way into Barley’s bedroom. It was sunny in here, the sun was blazing through the big window. It smelled like spicy rum and cologne. The bed was made and everything looked to be in perfect order. Barley himself was curled up in a chair by the window, reading through the newspaper.

“Uncle Barley?” Dinky asked as she stood in the doorway.

“Aye, Dinks, what do ye need?” Barley replied as he lowered his newspaper and looked at Dinky with one squinted eye.

“Everypony is in an awful mood. There was that big fight earlier. And I feel so out of sorts but when I go to my mama or Berry or Thistle they’re all out of sorts too and I feel even worse just being around them.” Dinky kicked the floor with one of her front hooves.

“Poor lass… come on in. Have a seat on the bed if’n ye want,” Barley said, inviting Dinky in. “I reckon yer worried about things and the things that were said.”

After bouncing up on the bed, Dinky nodded.

“Dinky… where do I begin… lessee… Loch Skimmer and Ripple both grew up under very hard circumstances. See, this is important to know, it gives you some perspective on why they do what they do, without this, we can’t understand them. Loch Skimmer and Ripple both worked very hard as foals and didn’t have much time to play around and have fun and have themselves a good time… ye ken?”

Dinky blinked and tried to take in everything that Barley had just said.

“Ripple and Loch did nothing but work most of their lives already. They came here, to where we live, and they enjoyed the fun. Now, Loch Skimmer is still a hard worker, don’t get me wrong, she was doing the whole dawn brigade thing and working for Sky Hook as part of the emergency response team. But when she’s not doing that, she’s focused on having fun. Too much fun. And wee Ripple, she’s the same way. She works hard and takes care of her duties.”

“So they’re tired of working?” Dinky asked as she got herself comfortable on the bed.

“In simple terms, yes. They work very hard at what they do, and then they poop out,” Barley replied. He folded up his newspaper and placed it down on the table beside his chair, next to a stack of books. “Now… Sparkler and Rising Star… they’ve never really worked before. They had good lives. All they had to worry about was school and stuff that foals their age have to worry about. But then, some bad things happened. Rising Star came home a little less than whole from his time on the isles. And he’s not grown up enough to face his troubles, so he hides away in his workshop, pounding out metal, and losing himself in his work. And his problem is getting worse and worse because he refuses to admit that it is a problem. It is like a foal that has a thorn in their frog and they don’t want it pulled out because it is going to hurt and mama is going to pour iodine over the wee boo boo, ye ken?”

“Yes, I think I understand, uncle Barley.” Dinky nodded.

“Sparkler is no different. Sparkler prowls around the dark of Ponyville every night she gets because she’s never going to let the wolves come back and hurt somepony ever again. She’s still a wee scared filly under all that stone. Every night she’s pissin’ her wee self in terror and she’s out dealing with the fear the only way she can. Keeping others safe. She thinks if she puts on a brave face and turns herself to stone, nopony will see how scared she is.” Barley’s face became sad and he shook his head.

“I still don’t understand how everything got so bad though.” Dinky rubbed her front hooves together.

“Everypony is too focused on their own needs and no focus is paid to what they need as a herd. Loch Skimmer works hard and then wants to relax and have fun. Ripple gets beat up and bruised and she wants to go home and recuperate. Rising Star wants to work and work and work and so long as he is working, he never has to think about all the bad things that lurk in the dark corners of his mind. Sparkler works herself to exhaustion because when yer exhausted, you tend not to think about what scares ye… poor Rising Star doesn’t have that luxury… seems he can just keep going forever and ever. Poor lad.” With his magic, Barley poured himself a glass of whiskey and then took a sip.

“So they’re all taking care of their own needs but not each other’s needs,” Dinky said.

“Aye Dinky, that’s it, more or less.” He grimaced from his whiskey and then looked at his niece. “Now… I bet yer sister Piña is right miserable and worried about all things sisterly. Ye should go and bug her and even if she tells ye to go away, ye need to stick around and keep buggin’ her, cause I suspect the wee lass needs ye.”

 

 

Armed with a scrubbing brush held in her fetlock, Ripple went to work on the toilet while Sparkler scrubbed the tub and shower. The fillies worked together, and the sounds of bristles scrubbing filled the bathroom.

The bed had new fresh sheets. Ripple had not yet decided what to do with the blankets.

“Ripple,” Sparkler said as she scrubbed. “The second bed was mostly clean… the place where you and Bittersweet sleep was the cleanest place in our apartment. You were doing your part—”

“No. I wasn’t. I failed to say anything until everything went bad. I thought if I kept my head down and tried to do my part, things would be okay and I just let everything go because I didn’t want to start another row with you. I trusted that you would take care of things. That you were in charge and that at some point, you would do what you are supposed to do as alpha. Lead us.”

“This mistake was mostly mine,” Sparkler said as she lifted up a bucket of water to pour over the side of the tub.

“No. This mistake was ours. We all had a hoof in this. Even Bittersweet. She kept coming to me and telling me that things were out of control and she was worried, but she was afraid of coming to you because she had seen how you and I bicker and she didn’t want to make the problem worse.” Ripple flushed the toilet. “Because it is so hard for her to communicate, she will just keep to herself if there is a problem or come to me. She worries that you don’t do enough to pay attention to what she is trying to tell you.”

“I think we’re about done here… what now?” Sparkler asked. There was no satisfaction about a job well done. There was only guilt and shame.

“We go and we get my sister back,” Ripple replied.

 

 

Moving with near silence, Ripple pulled open the back door. She peered around, her ears perked for any sounds. She heard nothing. She moved with remarkable natural stealth. Behind her, Sparkler followed, her hooves muffled with a silence spell.

The two fillies made their way down a short hall that extended off of the main hall, and into the laundry room. In the laundry room, they found Loch Skimmer, who was sitting on a cushion and crying.

“Say nothing,” Ripple whispered.

“What are you doing?” Loch asked.

“Taking you home,” Ripple replied.

“No way… there is no way I am going home with you of all ponies… I might have it rough here but at least this place is clean and I can get hugs when I need them.” Loch Skimmer narrowed her eyes and glared at Ripple and Sparkler.

“Sparkler, I’m gonna need you to carry us out,” Ripple said.

“Whymmph—”

The rest of Loch Skimmer’s words never left her mouth. Ripple lunged and tackled her sister. In moments, Ripple, a powerful melee combatant, subdued Loch Skimmer and then had a hoof stuffed into her sister’s mouth.

Sparkler, obeying Ripple’s command, lifted both sisters in her telekinesis and then made ready to leave. She peered out of the laundry room door, looked around, and then began to creep for the back door while Loch Skimmer kicked and made muffled cries.

“At least you are getting hugged,” Ripple said in a low whisper.

“Mufferpruffer!” Loch Skimmer said around Ripple’s hoof.

“Loch, Loch Skimmer… Semillon needs your help, you’re going to help her make lunch!” Berry’s voice called from the front of the house.

“We’re horned,” Sparkler muttered as she scooted for the back door and escaped.

 

 

Back inside of their own apartment, Ripple let her sister go. Loch Skimmer stood wide eyed, staring, still stunned from being foalnapped, and her mouth hung open when she saw the apartment. Unable to move, Loch Skimmer just stood there and blinked.

Ripple lifted her head high and one eye began twitching. “I have put my nest back together,” she said in a strained reedy voice. One ear quivered and Ripple’s wings fluttered at her sides. Her eyes began to blink in an erratic manner.

“Look out Loch, I think Ripple might be going psycho,” Sparkler said, backing away from Ripple.

“A broody pegasus needs her nest,” Ripple said in a strained whine as she looked at her sister. “And a broody pegasus needs her sister. Broody pegasus doesn’t feel well. Nope. Not well at all. Broody pegasus is very very sorry for the things she said.”

“Ripple, you okay?” Loch Skimmer asked, feeling very concerned for her sister. She had never seen Ripple behave this way.

“NO!” Ripple snapped. “Not okay. I am not okay. I AM NOT OKAY!”

“Ripple—”

“SHUT IT!” Ripple took a few steps backwards. “I am the alpha now. What I say goes. We are going to get our act together. We are going to fix this. We are going to talk. We’re not done here today… nope. We’re just getting STARTED!”

Loch Skimmer, trembling, moved up against Sparkler and pressed into Sparkler’s side. “She doesn’t look well.”

“I think this is what a nervous breakdown looks like,” Sparkler replied.

“We are going to talk to one another again. You three are going to stop mindlessly screwing one another. If I hear the sounds of nookie, I swear to Luna, I will SHOVE YOU THROUGH THE FLOOR AGAIN! We’re going to lay off of that for a while, and we’re all going to sleep in the same bed again, together, and we’re going to talk and we’re going to giggle, and we’re going to remember why we LOVE ONE ANOTHER!”

Hearing the door, Ripple whirled. “HELLO BERRY PUNCH!”

Wide eyed, Berry Punch stood in the doorway, her mouth hanging open.

“We were just having a discussion… a discussion about EVERYTHING THAT WENT WRONG!” Ripple grinned a manic grin and stopped her hoof against the floor three times.

“Ripple… you don’t look well… why don’t you sit down—”

“Hey Berry Punch… WHY DON’T YOU SHUT UP! I WAS TALKING AND TRYING TO SAVE MY MARRIAGE!”

“Watch out Berry… she piledrived me right through the floor earlier,” Sparkler said.

Berry blinked and then stared at Sparkler. “She what?”

“I HAD TO GET SPARKLER’S ATTENTION!” Ripple squeezed her eyes shut and gnashed her teeth together for a moment. “I need my family together. All of them. I need my husband and I think I might need MY DONKEY!” Tears began to trickle down Ripple’s cheeks.

“Ripple… honey… just try to calm down,” Berry Punch said as she took a step forward.

“NO! IT HURTS INSIDE MY HEAD! I HAVE ALL THESE INSTINCTS AND THEY ARE TEARING ME APART!” Ripple shook her head. “My nest was ruined. Ruined. RUINED!”

“Oh shite, I think we fecked up worse than I thought,” Loch Skimmer said in a nervous whisper. She pressed up even tighter against Sparkler, not knowing what to do about her sister.

“Father gone… all my mothers… gone… all I had was my sister and we said bad things. We said we’re not sisters. Not sisters. NOT SISTERS! Different father… different mothers but I had a family of my own and now it is BREAKING APART AND I CAN’T STOP IT! Not again… not again… will not live in a nest where there is no love… my father never loved my mothers… my father wanted to sell me. Wanted to sell me. SELL ME. Sell me to another nest with no love. No love. NO LOVE. He never loved us. He hurt us. He hurt my sister… he broke my sister and I couldn’t do anything about it… won’t can't live like this where there is no love, nope, I CAN’T LET THIS HAPPEN—”

There was a flash of light and then, with a thump, Ripple fell down to the floor, her body limp. Berry screamed. Loch Skimmer squealed in terror. Sparkler stood there, numb, her mouth hanging open.

Turning around in the doorway, Berry Punch saw Bucky and almost swallowed her own tongue.

“She was suffering… I had to put her down…”

 

 

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