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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“Bucky?” Berry Punch wrapped her forelegs around Bucky as he got into bed and pulled him closer, her voice was a ticklish whisper in his ear. “Bucky, I had a bad dream. I’m glad you’re here.”

Rolling over in Berry’s embrace, Bucky lay snoot to snoot with the earth pony. Dropping his voice to a low whisper, he asked, “Bad dream?”

“My mother was a good mother… she was… really… she was good to all of us. She was so loving and patient. She sang to us,” Berry replied in a breathy whisper. She took a deep breath. Bucky smelled like tea and rum. He had been drinking a bit. She took another deep breath, taking in his scent, and closed her eyes. “My mother stopped caring when Piña came around though. I don’t know what happened to her. I had a dream that I kept having foals, they just came squirting out of me, and I stopped loving them and I stopped loving you but we kept screwing because it felt good but I stopped loving my foals…”

“At least we kept screwing.”

“Bucky, you numpty… I love you.”

The feel of Berry Punch’s bulging stomach against his own was warm, inviting, and Bucky snuggled up against her as close as he could. She was warm, she was soft, and Bucky had a chill that he could not make go away.

“I don’t understand what happened, Bucky. It was like a light switch. One day, my mama just stopped being the mare she was and she became a stranger. I loved her so much. I still do love her. But I also am angry with her for how she treated Piña. Piña deserved better. And I don’t want to turn out like my mama…” Berry’s words faded into sniffles and snuffled gasps. “What time is it?”

“Almost five in the morning. I came home early from my project and then I got a little work done on some golems and a bit of research with Sunset Shimmer,” Bucky replied. He pressed his muzzle into Berry Punch’s and gave her a gentle kiss, not a lusty ‘I plan to screw you’ kiss but more of an ‘I’m sorry you’re sad and I hope you feel better’ kiss.

When Bucky pulled away, Berry Punch kissed him in reply, a long kiss that said a great deal, the gist of it being ‘I’m glad you’re my husband, thank you for making me feel better, I plan to jump your bones later but right now I’m sleepy.’ Kissing was a complex language and it took a great deal of practice to reach this level of communication.

 

 

Glancing up at the clock upon the wall, Diamond Tiara saw that class would begin soon. She looked over at Boadicea and she knew something was bothering the griffoness. Reaching out her hoof, Diamond Tiara nudged her companion, a gentle tap to get Boadicea’s attention.

“What’s wrong?” the earth pony filly asked.

“Who said anything is wrong?” Boadicea's feathers all fluffed out and she rotated her head around backwards to look at Diamond Tiara. “Nothing is wrong—”

“Don’t lie to me.” Diamond Tiara’s eyes narrowed.

The griffoness drooped into a defeated slouch. “There is something wrong.”

“Well, out with it,” Diamond Tiara said, doing her best to act and sound like Sentinel.

“There is a school dance coming up. I’ve heard some rumours.”

“Yes… there is a dance coming up.”

“Have you noticed that there are no male griffons my age? There are some little griffons… little cubs… there are lots of older male griffons… but griffons my age… there are none.” Boadicea’s wings fluttered and she began to tap her claws upon the floor.

The pink earth pony filly felt a strange pang in her barrel. She had grown close to Boadicea; there was now a keen sensation of discomfort after hearing the griffon's words and seeing how sad the griffoness looked. A very peculiar sensation overcame Diamond Tiara, a strong need to comfort her friend. But there was something else… something that lurked in the back of her mind. It had been there for a while. A daydream that would not go away and would come into her mind as she gazed out of the window or stared into a book but did not read the words.

Her mouth went dry as Diamond Tiara realised there was something she wanted to do. She stepped forward, her heart thudding in her barrel, she felt afraid and she did not know why. Trembling, she wrapped a foreleg around Boadicea’s neck, got a grip on the griffoness, and then before Boadicea could react, Diamond Tiara kissed Boadicea on the cheek, just behind her beak.

The griffoness squawked and them squirmed away. “What was that for?” Boadicea stared at Diamond Tiara and saw that the earth pony’s eyes were filled with fear and other emotions. A lone feather had come loose and was stuck in the corner of Diamond Tiara’s mouth.

“I just wanted you to know that I care… and I wanted you to feel better,” Diamond Tiara replied in a voice that wavered a bit too much for her own liking.

“Wait… you like me. You like me like me.” Boadicea’s eyes narrowed.

There was a strong urge to run away, but Diamond Tiara forced her legs to remain still. “A little,” she admitted, her voice cracking in the middle of the word ‘little.’

“A crush?” Boadicea fell silent and then peeped. Her feather’s fluffed out and suddenly the study alcove where they were sitting was far too warm. “And what about your relationship with Sentinel?”

“What about it?” Diamond Tiara replied, her ears pinning back against her skull as she responded. “He’s betrothed to marry Moonbow and he’s also my coltfriend.” Diamond Tiara’s lip quivered. “It doesn’t have to be complicated.”

“Sentinel doesn’t like me.” Boadicea cocked her head to one side.

Diamond Tiara opened her mouth and the most embarrassing croaking sound came out. She swallowed, cleared her throat, and looked Boadicea in the eye. “If I can convince Sentinel to take both of us to the dance, will you go with us?”

“I dunno… I need some time to think about it… I did not expect for an earth pony to have a crush on me,” Boadicea replied.

“I’m so scared right now… I just revealed how I feel and now I am terrified that I will lose you as a friend.” Diamond Tiara closed her eyes. “I don’t know what came over me.”

Reaching out her wing, Boadicea touched Diamond Tiara’s cheek. “Oh come on, don’t be scared… I just need a little bit of time to think, that’s all. We’re still friends. Only now, we’re friends and you have a crush on me.”

The feather stuck in the corner of Diamond Tiara’s mouth fell away and drifted down to the floor as she opened her eyes. “Thank you… I gotta go to class…”

“I do too… see you at lunch.”

 

 

Cocking her head to one side, Belisama peeped at Bandua and waited for a peep in return. After a moment, she was rewarded. She cocked her head to a different angle, peeped, and her head moved upwards in a swift, almost mechanical motion as she looked at Magpie.

There was another peep from Bandua.

“Magpie… have you noticed anything peculiar about Bandua?”

“The fact that she is bald headed…” Magpie’s crest rose upwards as she looked at Belisama. Magpie’s neck shortened and it appeared that the nanny griffoness’ head was growing straight out of her shoulders.

“I think she’s going to be vulture headed.” Belisama’s gaze darted downwards in the swift way of avian creatures. “My ugly cub is going to be an ugly griffoness.”

“Her daddy will love her.” Magpie shrugged and wrapped her wings around her body.

“Yes. Her daddy, will in fact, love her. I’m not worried about that. But I’m a little worried about other griffons. We griffons have superstitions.” Belisama lowered her head down and looked Bandua in the eye.

“She’ll be fine. The bat wings and the vulture head will go well together.” Magpie extended her neck, folded her wings to her side, and then crossed the nursery to sit next to Belisama. “She will be like her daddy… an avenging force that springs from the shadows. Her appearance will make her the stuff of legends.”

“Hmm.” Belisama’s head tilted sideways and one eye focused on the tiny cub in front of her. “You bring up a good point.”

“You have to be at the town hall in less than hour… are you taking Bandua?” Magpie asked.

“No… I planned to leave her here with you,” Belisama replied.

 

 

As Sunset Shimmer passed through Ponyville, some ponies waved at her while others gave her plenty of room. A heavy black woollen cloak hung over body, keeping the cold out and her body remained warm. Steam rose from her hood with each puff from her nostrils.

She had a task, a goal, a mission. To help a friend. To assist Twilight Sparkle in making Twilight Sparkle’s dream possible. She knew what needed to be done, she had studied all of Twilight Sparkle’s notes, she had even walked through the site with Twilight.

Her belly full of a hearty breakfast and lots of coffee, Sunset Shimmer was as ready as she would ever be. This was going to be a perfect day, a wonderful day, a day where she would finally be able to show Twilight Sparkle how much she cared, and how much Twilight mattered.

Reaching the edge of Ponyville, Sunset Shimmer looked over the Whitetail Woods, the place where Twilight Sparkle planned to create Ponyville University. Each tree was marked with a faint magical beacon by Twilight Sparkle. A grove of white oaks.

Already, she could feel the spirits of the phoenixes stirring within her. They knew. Sunset Shimmer could shape a few trees on her own with her magic, but it would be draining. A whole grove would be time consuming. But with the phoenix spirits aiding her, this would not take long.

Wings of fire sprang from her sides as her cloak billowed away from her body. It blew away from her, carried aloft by an unseen force. Heat radiated from Sunset’s body and the snow around her began to melt. She rose into the air as her mane and tail burst into burning blaze.

Reaching out with her mind, she touched the earth, the trees, and she could feel every living thing around her. She could feel the ponies of Ponyville. The trees felt sleepy, and Sunset Shimmer could feel the effects of winter upon them.

She rose even higher into the air, blazing like a miniature sun. She was filled with life, full of living fire and light. These were spirits that craved a return to the earth, to nature, so they could know peace at last. She heard sounds within her mind, cries, the calls of birds longing to be free.

She touched every seed of magic placed by Twilight, her mind connected with every tree that Twilight Sparkle had marked, and Sunset Shimmer imparted her will upon the spirits within her, pleading with them for their aid once more, as she had done when she had healed the earth and had healed Bucky.

The earth rumbled, a deep low frequency hum filled the air, and the air around Sunset Shimmer became like summer. As she blazed brighter, she felt joy inside, the feeling of sweet release. She thought of her life; of good things, of forgiveness, of Celestia, of her family, as large as it had become, of her friends, and she thought of Twilight Sparkle, who had shown her genuine friendship at a time when Sunset Shimmer needed it most.

Below her, the trees came alive, writhing, their branches moving with growth at an unnatural rate. Trunks thickened and became hollow. Rooms formed, like bubbles within the wood. Stairs grew as the wood changed both shape and structure. Each room, like each tree, was different, unique. Openings for windows appeared and what would one day become doorways yawned open as the trees awoke from their winter slumber to grow. Flames lept down from Sunset Shimmer and went dancing among the trees, consuming in flames but the trees did not burn. They grew stronger, changing, becoming fire oaks, trees forever changed by magic, now impervious to burning by all but the most determined fires.

As her magic was released, Sunset Shimmer shrank, becoming smaller and smaller, until at last, she was a normal sized unicorn again. Her wings vanished, but she did not fall. Blazing spirits cradled her, holding her aloft, she was borne down with gentle grace to the earth, and set down before a crowd that had gathered to watch the show.

Sunset Shimmer rose up on wobbling legs and watched as the grove of fire oaks continued to take shape front of her, the living trees becoming the campus of what would soon become Ponyville University.

One spirit broke apart from the others, it flew over to Sunset Shimmer, it was phoenix-like in shape and size. It hovered before her for a moment, its form becoming more and more refined. Its eyes blazed with burning intensity.

“We thank you,” it said in a voice like a roaring fire. It bowed its head and then flew off, off to join its fellows in reshaping the grove so the ponies could live in harmony with nature, living with the grove rather than cutting it down to make way for progress.

Tears splashed down Sunset Shimmer’s cheeks as she too, began to feel reborn in this moment.

 

 

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