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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Getting settled into a chair, Berry Punch heaved a sigh, shifted her massive belly around, patted it once with her right front hoof, and then began to unfold the evening edition paper as Harper talked with her dolls. The twins were far too busy inside of her, but Berry tried to remind herself to treasure every moment that she had.

The paper was a pleasure; somepony had saved it just for her. It was untouched, it had still been inside of the protective sleeve that kept it from the rain and the snow. Grinning, Berry Punch’s eyes began to look over the front page.

“Any interesting headlines that stand out?” Yew Wood asked.

Berry Punch focused on the main headline when she replied, “Twilight Sparkle to safeguard democracy. Plans announced to form the Aurora Guard, a group of polite and unobtrusive guardians who will safeguard stable meetings.”

A crease appeared in Yew Wood’s forehead as she considered Berry Punch’s reply. “It doesn’t say ponies. Interesting.”

Nodding, Berry Punch continued reading the newspaper.

 

 

Scootaloo, who had always been an athletic sort, found that she was gaining endurance. On her third lap around the lake, bounding through the snow, she still had some air left. She was panting, but she could tell she was getting stronger.

When she had started training, she had trouble completing just one lap without panting.

Beside her, Boadicea kept pace, the griffoness had her beak open as she ran.

Overhead, Loki circled and kept pace, his sharp eyes on the treeline of the everfree.

All of this was worth it. Scootaloo was going to fly. Scootaloo was going to soar through the clouds, she was going to be able to sneer down at the earth in contempt, she was going to earn her place in the sky and Rainbow Dash had promised that Scootaloo would be grateful for flight like no other pegasus was; because Scootaloo was having to work for it.

“Fledglings… you see a friend in trouble… bad trouble. Life threatening trouble. What do you do?” Loki asked as he circled overhead.

“Assess the situation while I am moving in, determine the best means to attack, and engage trouble,” Boadicea replied.

“We make sure that our friend gets away. We send our friend to go fetch help while we deal with the trouble. We may die, but our friends will live,” Scootaloo said as her hooves pounded on the snow covered path.

“Are we afraid of death?” Loki asked.

“Maybe,” Scootaloo replied, panting somewhat. “We might be afraid of death just a little bit, but we’re prepared for glory anyway. Our friends are too important; we Raptors will gladly die in the service of another.”

“If we must meet our end, we shall make it a glorious end!” Boadicea’s wings flared out as she ran, allowing cold air to blow over her sides and cool her body. “If we must, we’ll use our own guts as garrotes and strangle our enemies with the last of our strength!”

“When you reach the farmhouse, take a rest. The rest of our lesson will be spent talking. Now get moving!” Loki commanded.

 

 

Accidents happened. Bucky examined the accident, feeling both proud and a little in awe. This had been a failure, but the idea seemed sound. Several teachers were already trying to clean up the mess, and was it ever a mess, which was why Bucky was summoned to the school.

One of the teachers slipped and fell into a puddle of ink. Bucky, too his credit, did not laugh as the white unicorn mare became rather blackish-blue. He turned and looked at the unicorn colt beside him, who looked sad, terrified, and a bit heartbroken.

“Look, Hawthorne, you have a good idea. Modifying chlorophyll in plants so that it doubles as ink is a brilliant idea. We just got to work on the flaws. Just because something explodes doesn’t mean that is bad. Your project just exploded. I accidentally made carnivorous potatoes that tried to eat my classmates and took over a wing of the school.” Bucky reached out and patted the colt. “So your transmutations produced a few explosive compounds as well. That’s not a bad thing.”

“And you got your cutie mark,” a teacher said as she passed, pointing at the colt’s hip.

Craning his head around, Hawthorne stared and his eyes grew wide. A black leaf with an inkdrop hanging from the tip stood out in sharp contrast with his pale white pelt. The colt’s breathing began to quicken as he stared at his brand new cutie mark.

“See, even in failure, there is growth,” Bucky said, trying to offer a bit more reassurance.

“I’ve kept up the family tradition of plant based magics!” Hawthorne began to bounce around, pronking, his eyes twinkling with his inner joy. Still bouncing, the colt said, “I hope I can salvage enough of my project for the science fair!”

 

 

“Master, it is as you predicted… Sweetie Belle has considerable magic,” Sunset Shimmer reported when she saw Bucky. She moved to his side, standing close, and moved her muzzle closer to his ear. “Firelock brought Sweetie to a practice session. Once I got a big destructive blast out of her, what was left of her magic was much easier for her to manage, just as you said it would be.”

“Hmm.” Bucky’s eyes narrowed and he glanced up at Sunset Shimmer beside him.

Sunset Shimmer watched a teacher go by with some students and her eyes narrowed. Speaking in a lowered voice, she said, “I believe you may be on to something master. Perhaps holding back magic is wrong and we have been making a mistake this whole time. Perhaps we should encourage destructive outbursts in safe locations… what little magic Sweetie Belle had left after her near surge was so much easier for her to manage. She showed promise, real talent, magic very similar to her sister, Rarity. A fine sense of control and she had multiple telekinetic bubbles operating.”

“Harper’s mood improves and she is far less mischievous.” Bucky’s ears splayed out sideways and his expression became thoughtful. “I still think holding the magic back, the act of restraint, causes it to manifest as mischievousness. Dinky becomes a model citizen when she is constantly and consistently using magic.”

“The entire unicorn parenting model might be shown to be wrong because of this.” Sunset Shimmer’s lips pressed into a straight line and she watched a group of students disappear into the school library.

“How is Firelock’s behaviour?” Bucky asked in a soft unobtrusive voice that could only be heard by Sunset Shimmer, who stood beside him.

“Doctor Mawu says that Firelock’s hyper-aggressiveness has all but vanished. She is becoming well adjusted, calm, she is gentle and attentive, mindful of others, The willful and dangerous foal that was sent here by her parents is gone. Doctor Mawu says that Firelock is a sweet and loving little foal,” Sunset Shimmer replied.

“The little fireball was considered so dangerous. She got shipped to us because she burnt her house down because she was told that she couldn’t have cookies… we seem to have a clear cut case of behavioural change. I’m telling you, the long held belief of repression and holding back is the cause of our problems.” Bucky smiled when a group of earth pony fillies waved at him as they passed.

“Master, I am inclined to agree with you, but I want to see more results before I decide what my opinion is and what I believe. But the initial evidence suggests that channeling the magic outward greatly improves behaviour, mood, and fine control over magic.” Sunset paused and let out a faint groan. “Master, I am troubled, Master, this would mean that the methods of teaching that were used in Celestia’s school were wrong… that all of that effort, all of that education, all of classes of self restraint, repression, holding it all back, holding it all in, that would mean that the education model itself was the source of the problem. Or a contributor, anyway.”

“Sometimes, the old way must be completely destroyed to make way for the new. Sometimes, we have to admit that our entire way of life is wrong, and everything we believe in is false. And then we have to make mistakes as we find a new way.”

Her head dropping, Sunset Shimmer closed her eyes and gave thought to Bucky’s words, not knowing what to think, what to feel, or even what to say. “Master, we were taught to hold it all in… to hold it all back. To guard our emotions, to bury and press everything down. And then let it out in small controlled bursts of creation… is that why I turned out the way I did? Or you? How might our lives be different if we were taught to let it all out as a foal, just one big explosive burst, letting out emotions and our magic go free… might have we been happier?”

 

“I don’t know.” Bucky looked into Sunset Shimmer’s now opened opal eyes. “I do know that I want Harper happy and healthy. She deserves a better life, a happier life than you or I had as foals. She’s got powerful magic… I live in fear of the sort of neurosis she might develop because of that.”

“Master, Twilight Sparkle wishes to be kept informed of any new developments.”

“See that she gets them.”

“Master… I want to believe that you are right… even though I know bias isn’t helpful…”

 

 

With a flick of his magic, Rising Star lit a few candles that stood on the dining table in the small diplomat’s quarters that he and his family were staying in. Tonight's dinner, prepared by Sparkler, was to celebrate the fact that Ripple was no longer taking pills and showed signs of improvement.

He looked to his right, saw Sparkler, and then looked to his left, at Loch Skimmer. Ripple sat beside Loch Skimmer, and between Ripple and Sparkler, Bittersweet sat with a sweet smile. Everything that Rising Star valued was at this little round table.

“Sparkler, I see that you outdid yourself in the kitchen.” Rising Star kept a straight face as he looked Sparkler in the eye. He heard Loch Skimmer sniggering beside him.

“My, um, cooking skills aren’t very good.” Sparkler looked at the pile of peanut butter and mango jelly sandwiches. “Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches with grape soda by candlelight can be romantic.”

“Just so long as we are together,” Ripple said as she leaned herself on the table.

“You look shaky.” Loch Skimmer turned to look at her sister. “You okay?”

“Just a little adjustment. I’m fine,” Ripple replied.

“You’re all my best friends… my family. It sorta looked like I lost you there for a while. I hit a real low point in my life.” Loch Skimmer looked around the table and met each eye in turn.

“We messed up. We made some mistakes. Hopefully, we’ve learned from our mistakes and we won’t make them twice,” Sparkler said as stared down at her empty plate. Lifting her head, she started lifting sandwiches off of the platter and placing them on plates.

“I’ve learned that when mistakes do happen, it is best to acknowledge them, rather than ignore them and pretend that they will go away.” Rising Star watched as several sandwiches were dropped on his plate and then looked at Sparkler. “So, uh, not that I am taking you for granite or anything, but, um, is there any dessert?”

“I made banana pudding with crunched up vanilla wafers,” Sparkler replied. “Ripple helped me.”

“By help, she means that I licked the mixing bowl and the wooden spoon.”  Ripple grinned. “And I watched. But I was learning as I was watching.”

Loch Skimmer was the first to grab a sandwich and begin eating. In typical pegasus fashion, she devoured her first sandwich in three bites, belched, and then began work on the second.

“After we finish up with dinner and the cleanup, Princess Celestia has graciously allowed us to use the castle’s private theatre. Who is up for a movie?” Sparkler asked. She looked at Bittersweet and her face wrinkled with concern. At least Bittersweet could see the movie.

“I’ve never had a chance to see a movie yet,” Ripple replied as she watched her sister eat. “This sounds like fun.”

“Tonight’s film is Golden Fetlocks and the Three Ursas,” Sparkler said as she lifted a sandwich to her muzzle. “Apparently, it is Celestia’s favourite film.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

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