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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“Sir, a Sunflower Showers here to see you,” Violet said to Bucky in a soft voice. “She does not have an appointment, but I have listened to what she has to say and I do believe you will want to speak with her.”

Looking up from his work, Bucky met Violet’s eyes. He saw a soft expression of urgency and Violet’s ears were perked forward. “Send her in. Let’s hear what she has to say.”

Stepping aside, Violet Velvet made a gesture as a pale yellow earth pony mare entered the farmhouse library. Violet pointed to a seat and the pale yellow earth pony mare sat down.

“Sir, there are matters to look after in the school. Do you need anything before I go?” Violet asked.

“No, but thank you, Violet,” Bucky replied. As Violet departed, Bucky looked over at the earth pony waiting with a patient smile. “Miss Showers, how can I help you?”

“Please, call me Sunflower,” the earth pony said in a somewhat shy sounding voice that was soft and without much volume. “I came to speak with you about some concerns that we, the earth ponies of Ponyville, are having.”

“Do tell,” Bucky said. “I am your servant.”

“I know that you are… that is why I was tasked to come to you. I was hoping that you would see reason, and that you would help us.” Sunflower’s face became troubled. “Apple Bloom’s coronation is coming. In Canterlot. Canterlot is a very expensive place to stay. The coronation tickets are going to start at two hundred and fifty silver bits and that is for standing room in the back.” Sunflower shook her head. “Add in the cost of a train to Canterlot, hotels, the cost of meals, and it becomes an impossible journey for most of the earth ponies of Ponyville. Even without the cost of a ticket to the coronation.”

“Hmm… I see.” Bucky frowned and looked the earth pony mare in the eye.

“We finally have an earth pony princess, but most of us earth ponies aren’t going to be able to see her getting crowned. That doesn’t seem very fair to us. And in Canterlot, the city of unicorns, no less. Many of us refuse to go there, some of us have very bad memories of things that happened there. Do you think you can help us, Prince Buckminster? You were the first member of the royal family that we earth ponies felt we could connect with, and we’re begging you for your help. We want our princess crowned in a place where we can reach her. Where we can see her. Where we aren’t crowded out by the high society types and made to feel unwelcome.” Sunflower looked at Bucky with pleading hazel green eyes.

“I can’t make any promises, but I will see what I can do. I’ll admit, this situation seems… awful. And I am flattered that you see me as an ally,” Bucky replied.

“You have long been our friend. Many of the earth ponies in Ponyville trust you and we all know that you look out for us when nopony else will.” Sunflower’s face split into a hopeful smile.

“There is something I want from you in return.” Bucky raised an eyebrow.

Looking alarmed, Sunflower’s ears fell down against the sides of her face. “We have so little, but we will give you all that we have.”

“I need a crown fit for an earth pony princess. Not made of metal, but of wood. Something beautiful, but simple. Something elegant but not ostentatious or tacky. Do this for me, give me what I want, and I will do everything within my power to help you.” Bucky’s eyes narrowed and he gave the mare a shrewd look.

Sunflower’s mouth dropped open for a moment and she stared down at the floor as she tried to take in everything Bucky had just said. She raised her head, lifted it high, and then looked Bucky in the eye. “We, the earth ponies of Ponyville, can give you what you want. Consider it done.”

“Sunflower, I look forward to working with you. Is there anything else you need?” Bucky asked as a smile spread over his muzzle.

“No sir, and I thank you so much for your time!”

 

 

“Violet?” Bucky asked when he heard his secretary return.

“Yes?” Violet replied as she stood in the door.

“I do believe I have figured out the solution to the tax dilemma. I think it will be very unpopular, but it is fair.” Bucky pushed the stack of papers on the table in front of him away and then leaned back in his chair.

“Unpopular?” Violet asked. Her eyes narrowed and she began to look concerned. “What are you planning and do I need my newspaper?”

“I am planning an economic revolt,” Bucky replied with total honesty.

“Tell me, out with it… the sooner I know the sooner I can begin damage control.” Violet began to tap one hoof upon the wooden floor. “Will there be rioting?”

“Um, actually, yes, I suspect that there may in fact, be rioting,” Bucky replied in a low whisper as he reached up and rubbed his eyes with his right folded fetlock. “Violet, I am going to cease all monetary taxes upon the farmers and producers of Ponyville.”

“YOU’RE WHAT?” Violet demanded.

“The farmers tend to have the least amount of actual bits… and the tax upon them is downright cruel. We take their earnings… what few bits they make, and we leave them almost broke. They need bits for seed, new equipments, and to pay their bills. So… I am ceasing all monetary taxes upon the farmers. I have something else in mind.”

Violet crossed the room, snatched up a snifter, and poured herself a glass of whiskey. She then sat down, folded her forelegs across her barrel, and she glared at Bucky. “You had better start explaining yourself. That’s all I have to say.” Violet tossed back her whiskey, grimaced, and then poured another glass.

“Violet, the farmers produce goods. Carrots. Corn. Apples. We have families who specialise in production of valuable goods, like cheese, cider, wine, and other commodities. They have goods, but they lack bits.” Bucky took a moment to collect this thoughts and he waved his talons around. “My plan is to take some of their goods. We determine the value of carrots, we take a share of carrots that is equivalent to percentage of their total yield, a fair percentage, and then we take the carrots as tax payment instead of the bits. Now, before you say anything…” Bucky held up one talon finger in front of Violet to silence her before she could start speaking. “Before you say anything, we take these carrots, we take these cheeses, we take these casks of cider, these bushes of apples, and we have options. We can distribute them to the poor, making certain that every citizen of Ponyville eats and keeps their bellies full, or… we could also sell them at a price that is matched by the farmer’s own price into local or foreign markets. The city then collects the funds. I have ran the numbers… and I can show you that Ponyville will become the wealthiest city in Equestria if we do this. But not right away. This is a matter of long term gain versus short term. If we don’t tax the farmers, but leave them with every bit they earn, they will have more cash to spend, pumping up the local economy, grow their operations, expand their enterprise, and as the farmers become wealthy and grow their business, we get to take a proportional share of their products and their goods in taxes. Instead of getting ten casks of cider, we might get twenty. And after a decade of growth, we might get fifty or even a hundred. But the farmers keep every bit they make so that their operations can experience steady growth.”

Violet slugged down her second glass of whiskey and scowled. “You brilliant bastard.”

“The agricultural tax system will only be available to farmers and ponies that produce goods. I am still working on a commercial overhaul, but I have something similar in mind for small businesses that produce non edible goods. I haven’t worked out the issues in those proposals just yet, like where is the cut off is between a small business as a massive commercial enterprise.” Bucky tilted his head back and looked at the ceiling. “We’re spending a massive part of the city budget just to keep ponies from starving. If we had the means to take food from the farmers directly, and give that food to the needy, that right there would start giving us some financial solvency and stability. The way things are going are unsustainable.”

“The wealthy are going to see this as being grossly unfair, the poor no longer paying a bit in taxes. You are going to have industrialists and capitalists howling for your blood,” Violet said in a worried voice.

“Oh screw them. They’ve been at the top long enough. This wealth restructuring will still benefit them the most in the long term, which bothers me a great deal.” Bucky, still staring at the ceiling, scowled and bared his teeth.

“We are going to see the rise of gentlepony farmers and land will become increasingly more valuable, as land will now directly translate into a means for farmers to make bits and a means for the Crown to generate taxable goods… in the short term this will create all kinds of trouble… but once we get past the trouble in the beginning, this is going to create a lot of new money.” Violet snatched up a second snifter, filled it with whiskey, and passed it to Bucky.

“Wealthy farmers is the goal. Farmers feed us. They deserve fair and just compensation. They should not be at the bottom of society. With Apple Bloom’s eventual cloud farming future, we should see a rise in wealthy farmers… the amount of goods collected through taxes will mean that Equestria can theoretically feed most of the poor in the known world. Once we put an end to hunger and increase stability, the world will be a nicer place. Once the cost of feeding the poor has been lifted from worldwide governments, they can focus on growth and development. And a lot of ponies will be able to be hired to help farm. It will become a good, honest, stable source of readily available work. At least, if everything goes as planned.” Bucky took the snifter of whiskey in his telekinesis and gulped it down. “This program starts in Ponyville… eventually, I plan to have it spread to all of Equestria, once it has been shown to work.”

“Sir, it might not be perfect, but it is a good plan.” Violet tipped back her snifter and emptied it.

“It is better than the current plan of screwing farmers over in the worst way and leaving them perpetually in debt,” Bucky said as he set his empty glass upon the table.

 

 

Picking Cadance up off the floor, Bucky gave his foal a soft squeeze. Wrapping his forelegs around her, Bucky leaned back in his chair and held Cadance close. Using the side of his talon fingers, he rubbed Cadance’s back, right between her wings, and he felt the foal go limp in his embrace.

“I’m doing everything I can to leave the world in a better state for you,” Bucky whispered into Cadance’s ear. “Everything I do, I do it so that you will have a good future to work with. I won’t be here for it though, and I’m sorry about that. I need you to look after your brothers and your sisters for me.”

Cadance, who had just eaten and was getting her back rubbed, belched in reply. She closed her eyes, snuggled against Bucky, and wrapped her forelegs around his neck.

“You’re going to have to look after Apple Bloom too… while the royalty of Equestria is a good thing, don’t get me wrong, we need somepony to look after the least of our subjects. Those who cry the loudest but are seldom heard. It can be hard to hear the voices of our subjects from way up there on Canterhorn Peak.”

Gurgling, Cadance belched once more, her eyelids fluttered, and then she yawned.

“I wish I had more time… just for moments like this one,” Bucky whispered as he felt Cadance slip off into sleep and begin drooling. “Even just a few more years might be nice…”

 

 

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