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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“Oh my goodness! You’re so little and adorable! Come back here!”

Bucky found himself in the odd position of wanting to break the rules in his own school. No running in the halls. Behind him, Heifer Aestus thundered down the hallway at a light jog, coming after him, her arms outstretched. In every encounter they had shared, she had tried to give him a huggle-snuggle.

“I love shaggy ponies! Come back! You look scruffy! Let me brush you!”

As Bucky broke into a run down the hall, an odd sense of queasiness overtook him for a moment, but was gone just as sudden as it had arrived. He heard heavy hooves clopping just behind him.

“Miss Aestus, please, I am not a pettable, brushable little pony!”

“But you could be!”

There was a flash, a burst of snowflakes, and then Bucky was gone, leaving poor Heifer Aestus standing there, looking rather forlorn. She huffed in frustration. A rare and elusive shaggy pony had gotten away once more.

She threw her hands up into the air and snorted in frustration. “Drats!”

 

 

Bucky appeared the forge, appearing in a whirlwind of snowflakes. Griffons were all around him, working on whatever it was that little griffons worked on in here. Half of the time, Bucky didn’t know. He looked around and spotted a burning pegasus.

“She almost got you again, didn’t she?” Scorch asked.

Bucky nodded.

“My old apprentice loves shaggy ponies. I’m sorry.” After smirking for a moment, Scorch began to chuckle. “She is going to catch you, you know.”

“Look Scorch… I came here to speak to you about a deal. A binding deal,” Bucky said.

Scorched shifted and became bipedal. He snapped his fingers and the world around them shimmered. The foundry blinked away. All around them were flames. A river of magma went churning past. Flaming creatures frolicked and gamboled about in a burning meadow, and nearby there was a forest that was on fire.

Bucky sighed and enjoyed the soothing warmth.

“So… you wanted to make a deal?” Scorch asked.

Poking at a burning rock with his talons, Bucky nodded. “I have in my possession one soul and one mortal body. I was told that he was mine to do with as I pleased, by a ruling voice of authority. I am far too angry with him to deal with him in a rational way, and I am afraid just being around him will inspire my need for revenge. So… I am going to give him to you and I am hoping you can pull his secrets out of him. I’d also like something in exchange, because let’s face it, souls are valuable.”

Scorch folded his arms over his chest and raised one burning eyebrow.

“Can you give me another year of life?” Bucky asked.

“Not for one soul… sorry. Plus, you want information. Come on Bucky, don’t put me in a bad spot, I’m your friend. I don’t want to haggle with you and hurt your feelings,” Scorch replied.

“Well, that’s good to know. I need to find more souls—”

“Bucky, the powers that be would come down on my head if I extended your life. Something would come about to reset the balance. Sorry my friend, but your string is already measured and readied for cutting.” For a moment, there was an expression of agonised sorrow on Scorch’s face.

“I understand.” Bucky nodded and then looked off at the blazing trees. “So. What can I get for one soul?”

“Well, you trade me one soul and I can tell you,” Scorch replied as he shifted form and became an earth pony. “Bucky, do I need to explain the rules? Because if I do, that’ll cost you a soul.”

Looking up at the blazing sky, Bucky became thoughtful. “Could you do something for one of my foals?”

“Let me guess… you want an alicorn born to one of your wives. I could do that for one soul… as a favour, mind you, I’d never make this deal with anypony else… but then for the next ten thousand years, Celestia would let me have it every time we bumped into one another… and I’d need at least ten more souls to deal with that sort of inconvenience.” Scorch shook his head and shuddered.

“No… no alicorn… nothing like that,” Bucky said in a low whisper as he turned to look at Scorch. “My foals are going to be born in my shadow… I want at least one of my foals to be normal… no, not normal… just slightly above average—”

“You want a slightly above average foal in exchange for one soul?” Scorch gave Bucky an incredulous stare. “You could have all of your unicorn foals born as type fours. I could give all of your pegasus foals the ability to break the sound barrier. I could make your earth pony foals as strong as titans. Bucky, there is so much more I could do for—”

“You just gave me a list and it didn’t cost me anything.” Feeling smug, Bucky grinned.

“You bastard!” Scorch’s lip curled away from his teeth and he snarled. “Damn you and your supernatural cleverness… you cheated me!” Scorch shifted into a large diamond dog, sat down, and began to scratch behind his ear. “Why would you want a slightly above average foal?”

“What will you give me in exchange for an answer?” Bucky asked.

“A means home,” Scorch replied.

“Oh… okay then.” Bucky sat down on the blazing ground and looked up at Scorch, who appeared to have fleas. “I get the feeling that my foals are going to be exceptional. Call it a hunch, call it vanity, but I have this feeling, And I want one of them to be mostly normal. I want one that the others can fall back upon during times of trouble. I want one with a level head to give the others perspective. I want one of my foals to be a rock of normalcy and stability for the others.”

Scorch paused his scratching and stared at Bucky. “That is shockingly wise. Greatness always brings sorrow, strife, and trouble. Look at your own brush with greatness and what it has done to you. So you want one foal to be a refuge for all the others, one slightly above average sibling to balance out the others.”

“Yes.” Bucky nodded. “I need at least one level headed foal to look after the others when I am gone.”

“You are condemning one of your offspring to a life of mediocrity. I commend you for this.” Scorch shifted into griffon and extended his talons. “Do we have a deal? For the cost of one soul, I Scorch, will give you, Buckminster, one slightly above average foal, all of the information said soul possesses, and a means to get home.”

Bucky extended his own talons and shook Scorch’s to seal the deal. “I accept.”

Scorch leaned forward. “Since I am giving you so much, could I ask a favour in return?”

“You can always ask,” Bucky replied.

“Let my old apprentice catch you at least once… you are scruffy looking…”

 

 

Bucky popped into the farmhouse library, bringing with him the eye watering stench of rotten eggs and the burning of the damned. He began to fan away the stink as he started coughing. Getting up from his chair, Bucky felt a powerful rush of nausea, it hit him like an ocean wave hitting the rocky shore.

He staggered out of the library, skidded down the hall, and made his way to the guest bathroom. He slammed into the wooden doorframe, bounced, hit the sink counter, and made his way to the toilet. He gagged a few times, a long string of drool dribbled from his chin, but nothing came up from his stomach.

Standing with his head over the toilet, heaving, and not feeling well at all, Bucky gagged a few more times. He felt clammy and weird. His face itched. His scars all over his body itched. They felt hot and weird. Almost like a wound healing, the itch was both familiar and strange at the same time.

“Whew.” Bucky felt the waves of nausea subside and he sat down upon the tile floor. He shook his head. He was overcome with the odd sensation of wanting to rub the scarred side of his face against something, just as he had done with his horn. “Stress… the silent killer. This must be what Diamond Tiara goes through. I wonder if I am breaking out in hives or a rash or something.”

After his head cleared a bit more, Bucky got up, went to the sink, and washed his face. The cold water felt soothing against the fevered and itchy withered skin on the scarred side of his face. Closing his eyes, Bucky stuffed his face further beneath the faucet and let the water wash the itch away.

 

 

“Class, you must not fear stumbling. Falling is a part of walking. You fall forward and then you recover. Deep breaths,” Stargarden said in a low whisper.

Sitting on a cushion, balanced upon her haunches, Piña sat with her eyes closed. This was becoming her favourite part of the day. She inhaled, held it for a moment, and then let it out in a steady exhale. She felt her worries slipping away as she breathed out.

Piña, I know you can hear me right now. Be calm and do not panic.

Inhaling once more, Piña reached out with her mind. Is this magic?

No Piña, this is the herd voice that exists within our minds. This is what tells us to run together, to all turn together in the same direction, to keep our weakest in the middle where we can protect them, this is the voice that makes us one.

There was an almost painful feeling of pressure behind Piña’s eyes, but she ignored it and focused upon the voice. Her inner voice. So we all have this voice. It guides us and directs us a herd. How are we talking?

Simple Piña, we are projecting our own voice, our own thoughts, and making them heard over shared instincts that guide us all. It is my belief that one day, all of us equines will be able to do this and the world will be peaceful. We are but the first, the first few courageous seekers trying to find a way to speak with our inner voices.

The pain behind her eyes began to subside a bit. So this is what you mean by evolve?

Yes Piña, it is my hope that one day, we will all be like this. If we can all touch minds, if we can see and feel what the others around us are thinking, are feeling, our innermost perspectives, misunderstandings will go away. We will know each others points of view. We will have understanding. Mistrust and paranoia of one another will go away and we can be harmonious.

It was a dizzying thought for Piña. She pondered the meaning of Stargarden’s words and heard a soft cough from Tabasamu. Piña wondered what it might be like to touch minds with Berry Punch. Having a perfect understanding of her sister might be nice. Piña realised there was one mind she could touch and gain understanding.

Dinky? Piña pushed outwards with her thoughts.

“OW OW OW OW OW!” Dinky fell over on her cushion and clutched her head between her hooves. She rolled off of her cushion and landed upon the classroom floor, her hind legs kicking. “It is like getting brain freeze!”

“I’m sorry, Dinky!” Piña lept from her cushion and went to Dinky’s side.

“Dinky will be okay.” Stargarden got up and went to Dinky’s side. “This is like using any other muscle, it takes time to gain strength.”

“I’m fine,” Dinky said as she sat up. “It was like sucking down a milkshake too fast. Piña, I heard you inside of my head in a weird way.”

Piña wrapped her forelegs around Dinky’s neck and squeezed. “Why do we always hurt the ones we love?”

“We trust the ones we love to bear with us through our mistakes, so that we might better ourselves, learn, and grow strong,” Stargarden replied.

 

Author's Note:

Consider if you will, Bucky's deal with Scorch and the cost of one soul paid.

In order for Scorch to keep his end of the bargain, every single one of Bucky's other foals are going to have to be exceptional in some way to fulfil the obligation of having one slightly above average foal. If two of Bucky's foals are average, that would be going back on the deal, and if any fell below average, that would also go back on the deal. So... in one clever move, Bucky just guaranteed a good future for every single of his offspring.

 
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