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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“Somepony has a cutie mark,” Celestia said, a faint teasing tone in her voice as she pointed at Apple Bloom’s backside with her wing. This was, perhaps, her favourite moment in life. Seeing another reach their full potential.

Blinking, Apple Bloom looked around at her friends, feeling very confused, and then, in a moment of slow, creeping realisation, she came to the understanding that time had not passed here in this place and she had not gone anywhere, at least her body hadn’t.

Turning her head, still blinking, still stunned, Apple Bloom looked at her backside and saw an apple tree growing out of a white fluffy cloud. As she stared at it, she was tackled by Scootaloo and then by Sweetie Belle. Too stunned to respond, Apple Bloom went limp and allowed herself to be hugged.

“For your hard work, and for doing the impossible, I grant you the title of ‘Princess’ and from now on, you will be known as Apple Bloom, Princess of Agriculture,” Princess Celestia said in a loud booming voice that carried through the school auditorium. With a flash of her horn, the privacy barriers around the exhibit disappeared.

Other students and teachers began to stare.

Sweetie Belle let out a shrill wordless squeal that echoed through the auditorium.

It was Bucky who bowed first, bending his knee, dropping his head, and then dropping the front half of his body, kneeling down beside Apple Bloom.

Seeing Bucky bow, Scootaloo went still and silent, and as she sat there, holding Apple Bloom with wide eyes, she watched as others came up and began to bow. Fearful, Scootaloo gripped Apple Bloom a little tighter. Her heart racing, Scootaloo could only think of one thing.

Protect Apple Bloom at all costs.

Shoving his way through the crowd, Rumble reached the three fillies and dove into the pile, trying to get all three of them gathered into his stubby legs. He pulled Apple Bloom the closest.

“I couldn’t have done this without my friends,” Apple Bloom said in a sobbing voice as the tears started to come in a flood. Grateful for her friends, she tried to pull them all closer.

“When the tribes work together as one, anything is possible,” Celestia said, her voice a clarion call that echoed through the auditorium. “Even the impossible can be done if you work together. This is proof!” Princess Celestia, her head high, pointed at the sprouts growing out of the clouds. “This has been the impossible dream that many have tried to make happen, even when I was but a filly many attempted to make this dream a reality. And it was Princess Apple Bloom that has done so.”

Rising up, Bucky lifted all four foals into his magic, gave Princess Celestia an unapologetic expression, and then as he began to depart, he said, “Sorry… little filly has been awake for too long and is in need of a warm bed and a quiet place of rest. I hate to disrupt this triumphant moment, but she’s been miserable long enough.”

Watching Bucky go, Celestia felt the faint sting of disappointment, but could not fault his actions. Apple Bloom’s wailing could be heard all over the auditorium. Turning to face the crowd, Celestia’s eyes narrowed. “I expect good things from future science fairs. Do not disappoint me.”

 

 

When Bucky heard the sonic boom overhead, he knew that company was incoming. He paced up and down the hall of the farmhouse, Rumble following at his heels, and the sounds of Rumble’s fluttering wings filled his ears.

Moving towards the front door, Bucky made ready to greet Twilight Sparkle. He heard hooves on the porch and he pulled the door open. He saw Twilight and then he saw Applejack. The earth pony mare’s eyes were bloodshot and her cheeks were stained with tears.

“Where is she?” Applejack asked in a raspy strangled voice.

“Getting the sleep she so desperately needs,” Bucky replied.

“I’ll be quiet,” Applejack said, pushing her way inside and shoving Twilight out of the way. “Where is she?”

“Back there, in our spare downstairs bedroom,” Bucky said, gesturing for Applejack to follow him down the hall.

“Twilight told me… she done told me everything when she came to get me,” Applejack said in a low whisper.

Leading Applejack down the hall towards the back bedrooms, Bucky took a deep breath and hoped that Applejack could contain herself. Apple Bloom was exhausted and a calming tea had sent the foal right to sleep.

Standing in front of the bedroom door, Bucky pulled it open with his talons and then stepped aside so Applejack could enter. He bowed his head and in a low whisper, he said, “Princess Apple Bloom.”

 

 

Standing in the doorway, Applejack didn’t know what to do. She stood, chewing on her lip, and looked at Apple Bloom in the bed. Beside her, Sweetie Belle was sleeping, and the two were curled up together under a blanket. Scootaloo sat beside them both, awake, and stroking Apple Bloom’s back with a soft touch of her hooves.

“My sister,” Applejack said in a teeny, tiny voice that was little more than a breathy utterance. “My sister…my baby sister. She done did the impossible.”

Pulling the door shut, and doing it in a soft way that made little sound, Applejack backed away from the door and then began sobbing. She threw her forelegs around Twilight Sparkle’s neck as she collapsed into a weeping mess.

“See Applejack, she’s still an earth pony, just like I promised. But she is also a princess… I mean, a Princess... in the way that matters. It was Bucky that made sure that she stayed an earth pony,” Twilight said as she wrapped her wings around Applejack and hugged her.

Sitting down in front of the nursery door, Harper watched the ponies in the hall with wide, solemn eyes for a while, and then looked at up at Bucky.

“Applejack, you will never have to worry about the farm ever again… Sweet Apple Acres is now a royal residence,” Twilight said, trying to find some way of making Applejack feel better.

Applejack’s only response was to sob even harder and she wiped her snotty nose on Twilight Sparkle’s neck. It was something only those who were true, true friends or in love with one another could do.

“Look, I’ll go make us some tea,” Bucky said as he fought back the urge to sniffle.

“Coffee, Applejack likes coffee.” Twilight patted Applejack on the back and then lifted the sobbing mare up in a telekinetic bubble. “Gee Applejack, I thought you only cried on the inside.”

 

 

“I fell in love with her before she was a princess.” Rumble’s voice was squeaky and nervous a he peered over the top of his glass of chocolate milk at the other adults sitting around the table with him.

“Ayup, you did,” Applejack replied in a weak voice that was raspy from weeping.

“Rumble, you have a responsibility now.” Bucky looked at the colt, his expression serious. “Do you know who is Twilight Sparkle’s first and foremost protector?”

“Flash Sentry?” Rumble replied.

Twilight Sparkle felt her lips curl up into a smile when she saw Bucky nodding. Flash Sentry protected her from the things that Twilight herself could not deal with. Twilight Sparkle felt a sharp pang of desire and then more than anything else in the whole wide world, she wanted to be home with Flash Sentry.

“I gotta go, I’m sorry… I don’t know what’s come over me, but I need to go find Flash. And Rainbow Dash. I gotta go be with my own family. Sorry… Applejack, I’m so happy for you…”

“See?” Bucky said to Rumble, pointing to Twilight. “Every princess needs a refuge. One day, Apple Bloom is going to have a moment just like this one, where she feels the weight of the world bearing down upon her shoulders, and she is going to need you to help her carry it.”

“He’s right!” Twilight Sparkle lifted her coffee, cooled it with magic, and then drank it down in a few gulps. She patted Applejack with her wing, smiled at Bucky, waved at Rumble, and then took off for the front door.

When the front door clicked shut, Bucky sighed.

“Bucky?” Applejack asked in a worried voice.

“Yes?” Bucky replied.

“Apple Bloom being a princess and all… she can become an alicorn… what would have happened if the rats had killed her? I know it’s a dark thought, but I can’t stop thinking about it. I was gone… I was gone and I couldn’t protect my sister and all I can think about is what the world might have lost,” Applejack said as she lifted her coffee cup up and held it between trembling hooves.

“Fate, as funny and fickle as it might seem, made certain she had a protector.” Using his telekinesis, Bucky pulled the cookie jar from off of the fridge, floated it over to the table, popped off the lid, pulled out a stack of cookies, set them down in front of Rumble, and then took a few for himself. He set the cookie jar on the table and glanced at Applejack.

“Did she get a cutie mark?” Applejack asked.

“She did.” Bucky nodded. “An apple tree growing on a cloud.”

The orange mare sighed, took a sip of coffee, and then closed her eyes. Sniffling, Applejack began to tear up once more. “I wish my ma and my pa where here to see this…”

His mouth full of cookie, Rumble leaned over and patted Applejack on the ribs to make her feel better. He watched as Applejack set down her coffee cup, and then Rumble let out a squeak when Applejack snatched him up and out of his chair, lifting him into a fierce hug.

Eating a cookie, Bucky watched as Applejack hugged Rumble and sobbed.

 

 

“And how is our newest princess?” Celestia asked as she beamed at Bucky. The tall white alicorn was almost too chipper.

“Sleeping.” Rubbing his face, Bucky could feel his scarred skin had grown thinner; the lumpy bumpy places beneath had grown larger and harder.

“Hawthorne took second place. I hope you do not mind. A call had to be made and you were gone. Cheerilee helped me make the call; she is a most remarkable mare and she has extraordinary horse sense.” Celestia sat down at the kitchen table and rested her forelegs on the tabletop. “Buckminster, I am so happy… I am almost overcome. Last night, I worried about riots in Canterlot once more, but the citizenry behaved themselves. And then everything that happened today. I cannot help but feel happy at how things are turning out.”

“Coffee? Tea?” Bucky asked.

“Oh, no thank you,” Celestia replied. Still beaming, she asked, “Where is Applejack?”

“She crawled into bed with Apple Bloom and is sleeping peacefully,” Bucky replied.

“You look lost in your thoughts. Do not rub your face, your scales will grow in with time. I am going to go find Cadance and spoil her as much as I can while she is still little!” Almost bouncing from her chair, Celestia took off with a wide grin on her face.

Still sitting in his chair, Bucky sighed and thought of Growth.

 

 

“She did it, and we helped. I feel good about things,” Piña said to Dinky in a soft subdued voice. “It feels nice knowing that we had a hoof in that.”

Nodding, Dinky turned and looked Piña in the eye. “Getting some credit is nice, but not necessary. I did this for my own reasons. I have a greater understanding of magic now, I have learned, and the name Dinky Doo Hooves is now recognised as a wizard with some small ability.”

Blinking, Piña shook her head. “So you did this to be famous?”

“No, silly head… I did this to help a friend and it just so happened to get my name noticed.” Dinky winked at Piña and then grinned. “More than anything else, I want to be a great wizard. Like Twilight Sparkle… like Star Swirl the Bearded. Like daddy… some ponies want to be princesses and princes and members of royalty, other ponies want to protect princesses and princes and royalty. And that is how I want to be remembered. When Apple Bloom grows up, she is going to need wizards and powerful spellcasters to look after her interests… and I’ve proven that I can be trusted and that I am useful.”

“You’ve really thought this out.” Piña reached out and touched Dinky.

“Complimentary magics, destinies, and power. Apple Bloom will need more bees than ever to pollinate all the plants if we start cloud farming. Think about it. Somepony with a knack for controlling insects could be real helpful to her.” Dinky’s eyes narrowed and glittered as she peered ahead into the future that she wanted. “The best sort of magic exists to serve others and bring about the betterment of society. Daddy keeps telling me that. And I could be the best wizard ever.”

“You really have been thinking about this,” Piña said, staring at Dinky and feeling a little in awe. “Dinky… you’re really serious about this, aren’t you?”

“When Apple Bloom explained why she needed our help, I saw everything so clearly. I saw a way to use my talent to preserve life… to make others happy. I didn’t have to use my bees as a weapon… although I could use my bees as a weapon… or as spies if necessary… but I could use them to make the lives of everyone better. I didn’t have to do something I felt guilty or ashamed about. Apple Bloom is going to change the world, and I am going to be her right hoof.”

“Wow, Dinky, I don’t know what to say,” Piña said, looking at her sister with wide awestruck eyes.

“All I need now is a good hat. A good wizard needs a distinctive hat as a trademark, and I’ll be all set.” Dinky grinned even wider as she looked at Piña. “Of course, I’ll also need a best friend and an assistant that I can call my equal. Star Swirl the Bearded had Clover the Clever. Daddy has his beloved Minion. I wonder if I can find a worthy assistant who is my equal.”

“Hmmm,” Piña replied and then began to giggle. “I dunno, but if I find her, I’ll let you know.”

 

 

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