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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“This is impressive.” Princess Celestia felt no need to mince words. She paced around the gyrocopter, looking it over, admiring the sleek design. Once she had gone around the entire craft, she paused and looked at Lugnut and Spanner. “I must commend both of you.”

Lugnut stepped forward, his head low. “Sun Mother, you flatter me. The basic design was mine and Spanner’s. Scorch made some changes. Rising Star made the body possible… it is a steel frame with magnesium and an aluminum double hull that holds cloudstuff. It is very light and it is done without magic. There is still some magic in the craft, but we are making it very hard to dispel. When we run into a serious problem, we go to Winter Father and he tends to think of things that we don’t.”

Princess Celestia nodded. “Tell me more, if you will.”

Spanner walked to the rear of the craft and lifted his talons, pointing to the tail. “The rear seat is the gunner seat. If you hit the swivel lever, the entire seat rotates three hundred and sixty degrees. The guns are angled down at the ground and targets below. There is a pane of glass on the bottom and the gunner can look between their legs to see their targets. We are still working on a targeting system.” The griffon lept towards the front of the craft. “In the front there are two side by side seats. One is for the pilot and the other is for the front gunner. The front guns can aim downwards, upwards, starboard, and port. For now, the guns are mock ups, but in time, Winter Father hopes to add a spell orb launcher and other projectile based weapons.”

“The craft can achieve almost four hundred knots in clear skies. Winter Father demands more speed, but this is about the limit that we can push with the technology that we have. At least with the electric turbine engine. We’re looking at other engines, but that is where we are having problems,” Lugnut said.

“Winter Father has demanded a version of this craft that is magic free for fighting unicorns… he doesn’t want any essential arcano tech being knocked out.” Spanner looked up at Celestia for a moment, heaved a sigh, and looked very dejected.

“We have spent over a million of your bits on this project so far, but we promise you, once we get past this stage, we can bring down the cost considerably. We’re paying for mistakes right now, soon these will be much cheaper,” Lugnut said.

“I am going to offer you further help,” Princess Celestia said as a unicorn guard wheeled in a wooden pushcart with a large wooden chest. “I feel that you have earned my trust. Inside of this chest is something from beyond the mirror. We recovered it from Fromme du Lac. It is a terrible weapon and it was used to mutilate ponies, but I believe it can be repurposed.”

The guard opened the trunk with a flick of his telekinesis. Spanner and Lugnut looked inside. They had no idea what they were looking at. It looked like a very messed up looking sword.

“Beyond the mirror, in the world where Sunset Shimmer was exiled, they call this a chainsaw. It is a saw powered by an engine that runs on combustible fuel. The chain along the blade spins, cutting, ripping, and tearing. It was used as a weapon of terror by a unicorn. It inflicted terrible wounds… I saw those wounds while I was in Fancy.” Celestia shuddered and closed her eyes for a moment, trying to compose herself. When her eyes opened, she looked at Lugnut and Spanner. “I want you to repurpose the engine. It is something called a diesel engine and from what little I know, it can be run on peanut oil and a variety of other compounds. I will have this sent to the foundry. I want both of you and Scorch to pull this apart, figure it out, and with Rising Star’s help, try to find a way to use this engine to power this craft.”

“Spanner?”

“Yeah Luggy?”

“This is gonna be awesome…”

 

 

Feeling conflicted, Princess Celestia allowed herself a good fret. She felt bad, even guilty for using the recovered technology, but the potential good that could come out of it held so much promise. Scorch would make certain that the technology was used for good. Perhaps a lot more than gyrocopter engines would come of this.

The steam powered tractor was a practical device, and perhaps a new motor would make it more so. The possibilities were endless. Thinking of this dulled the pain of seeing those horrible wounds in the hospital from those who had lived through the nightmarish assault.

She passed into a small dining area intended for castle staff and found a lone earth pony eating. Quite a spread was on the table and the earth pony taking bites from everything. Celestia watched her eat for several minutes, stuffing bite after bite into her mouth, and with each bite, Celestia’s smile grew a little more. She hadn’t seen anypony eat like this since the days of Smart Cookie, who became a terror while carrying triplets. Smart Cookie’s distant daughter was sitting at the table now, stuffing her face.

“Hello Berry Punch,” Celestia said in a low voice, hoping she wouldn’t startle the grazing earth pony. “Enjoying a little snack?” The white alicorn’s tone was teasing.

“I was hungry,” Berry replied. “And worried… I was real scared for a while there.”

“I could imagine.” Celestia came forward and sat down beside Berry at the too small for Celestia table. “I could tell you something that would make you feel better.”

“You could?” Berry Punch raised her eyebrow and then stuffed a bite of strawberry shortcake into her mouth.

“I think Ripple will be okay… see, I know a little something about broody pegasi.” Celestia leaned over the table. “My sister, Luna, deep down in her alicorn bones, is a broody pegasus. It has caused her no end of grief, heartache, and trouble, but it is still her strength. I think it is part of the reason why she did what she did. She was lonely and had no nest. The ponies rejected her, feared her, were frightened of her storms, her magic, and the dark majesty of her night. For all of the trouble that being a broody pegasus has caused Luna, I would not have her any other way.” Celestia smiled and watched as Berry Punch shoveled in some macaroni and cheese. “I myself, well, I am more of a watcher pegasus deep down inside. I watch and I wait and I keep guard… Luna on the other hoof, Luna wrestles owlbears to deal with her instincts.”

After swallowing, Berry Punch said, “That explains so much.”

“Luna has leveled out quite a bit by having Erebus around. She is calmer. Less sulky. Unadulterated violence is not always the first thing she thinks of when dealing with a conflict.” Celestia looked Berry Punch in the eye. “Ripple had a very bad upbringing. She is still healing and confused. So is Luna. But Luna is getting better, and I know for certain, Ripple will get better as well. Bucky was right to go with his instincts. Seeing Ripple react to Cadance made me think of Luna, even Luna’s worst moods can be banished by allowing her a moment with Erebus. I think that Loch Skimmer’s foal could be a source of healing for their herd.”

“Or it could make everything worse.” Berry Punch, a practical pony, spit the words out and then resumed eating.

“Of course it could make everything worse, having a foal is by no means a solution unto itself, it could make everything go horribly wrong.” Celestia folded one foreleg over the other on the table and looked down at a plate full of greenhouse grown dandelion greens. “Ripple said something just before she took her pills. She said, ‘love makes ponies dangerous’ and it struck me as being rather profound. I think with some help, their issues could be fixed. But they do need help.”

“They sure do,” Berry said just before cramming a massive bite of stuffed mushrooms into her mouth. As she chewed on mushrooms, she loaded up her fork with salad greens and them dipped them into a small bowl full of vinaigrette. She swallowed, and then stuffed in the bite of salad greens. She made a bleating sound as she slurped in the green leaves slathered in vinegar and oil.

“Love made you dangerous.” Celestia allowed her words to linger in the air and waited for a reply. She watched as more food disappeared down Berry’s maw.

“I have my regrets.” Berry paused with a loaded fork front of her mouth as she spoke. “I love Bucky in a way that makes me insane. I can’t even explain what it is that I feel for him. I looked into his eyes one day and I felt something in my heart. It changed me.” Having said what she wanted to say, Berry Punch stuck her fork in her mouth and gobbled down her food.

“Love has made Twilight Sparkle dangerous. She has changed a great deal. First she found amazing friends that rounded her out as a pony, and then she found the loves of her life. Twilight has been adorable to watch as she blunders through discovering love and motherhood. She has become quite a caretaker to Glass Slipper. That foal follows Twilight everywhere.” Celestia smiled as she thought about her vacation with Twilight. “She is closer to Spike now… Twilight has matured enough to understand who and what Spike really is to her. They have become very close to one another and Spike is so endearing as the doting older brother to Glass Slipper. If you tease him about it, he becomes quite flustered.”

“You want to see a broody pegasus and a big brother, watch Sentinel sometime.” Berry licked the sauce off of her fork and then looked up Celestia. “The way he is with Harper, Cadance, Sukari, Peekaboo, and Bell Heather is enough to rot your teeth.” Berry Punch eyed her beans, set down her fork, and armed herself with a spoon.

Celestia pulled her head back as she watched the earth pony’s ferocious assault on the bowl of baked beans. “I have high hopes for little Sentinel.”

Smacking her lips, Berry Punch swallowed the last of her beans. “Sukari likes to hide inside of Sentinel’s hidey hole under the stairs with him. He lets her in there and he’s started to reading to her while she’s tucked in there with him.” Berry Punch assaulted the remains of her macaroni and cheese next, shovelling it into mouth, chewing once or twice, and swallowing.

Not at all surprised by what she was seeing, most of the food on the table was now gone and Princess Celestia once more thought of Smart Cookie. Although there was that one time that Princess Platinum had succumbed to pregnancy hunger, invaded, and then proceeded to ransack the larder in the name of the Platinum crown. Thinking of it made Celestia smile.

With nothing to say at the moment, Celestia watched as Berry Punch devoured the last of her meal, leaving nothing behind. Not a single bean, not a single macaroni noodle, not a single dandelion green, not a single slice of cornbread. Nothing had survived the onslaught of the ravenous, pregnant earth pony mare.

Letting out a thunderous belch, Berry Punch tossed down her spoon and it clattered to the table. She patted her stomach, glanced around the table with a hopeful expression, and a look of disappointment clouded her face when she saw that everything was gone.

Berry Punch patted her belly, leaned back in her chair, rubbed down below her bulging navel, where the skin had stretched taut, belched again with enough force that it made the dishes on the table rattle, and then she looked up at Princess Celestia.

“Not only can love make ponies dangerous, but it can make them pregnant… and hungry. I think I’ll go for seconds.”

 

 

 

 

 

Author's Note:

I've been waiting a LONG time to post this discussion between Celestia and Berry Punch. It is an author favourite, but I don't expect too many people see it as anything special, but buried in the discussion is the entire how and why for Celestia and Luna's different approach to ruling.

Celestia is a watcher, and Luna is more prone to bonk little heads if they rear up. Somepony has to scare them back into the nest.

 
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