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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Even though the hospital was a familiar place to her, Loch Skimmer felt more than a little nervous. She gnawed her lip, tapped one of her rear hooves upon the tile floor, fidgeted, and twitched. At least she wasn’t on fire, that made things a little easier.

“You need to calm down,” Rising Star said in a calm and collected voice. He closed his magazine and set it down upon the low, small table that sat in front of the row of chairs. “Just a little visit to make sure that you and the foal are healthy.”

“I don’t want to be calm. You… your part in this is done, more or less. You can be calm all you want. Me on the other hoof, I get to be poked, prodded, have needles jammed into me, have my tail lifted so strangers can stare at my backside, my troubles are just beginning… so don’t tell me to be calm—”

“Loch Skimmer, calm down.” Rising Star looked his wife in the eye and gave her a gentle smile. “I will be with you every step of the way.” He watched as Loch Skimmer took a deep breath and her wings fluttered at her sides. A bit of down worked itself free from her left wing and drifted down to the floor like an autumn leaf on the breeze.

“Thanks for being here with me,” Loch Skimmer said in a husky, quavering voice. She stepped forwards, walked around the table, and then pressed her face into Rising Star’s neck.

“We’ve finally got Ripple sorted out and acting mostly normal and now we need to work together and get you through this. Now that we are all working together, things have been easier. This will be a cinch. You’ll get through this and you’ll be a great mom, because you are an awesome pony. And you’re totally hawt, as Sparky would say.” Rising Star gave Loch Skimmer a reassuring nuzzle.

“Loch Skimmer?”

At the sound of the gravel filled voice, Loch Skimmer pulled away from Rising Star. She turned around and saw a short, squat looking diamond dog. She was grey with black spots, hunched over a bit, and had a kind expression.

“My name is Silkie. I just took a job here and I would like to say right up front that if you are uncomfortable with me as your doctor, another doctor can be assigned to you. But I am very good at what I do,” the diamond dog said, introducing herself.

“I am totally okay with you as my doctor,” Loch Skimmer replied. She tilted her head and looked at the diamond dog. She saw the doctor wag her tail. “You must be part of the Unity Initiative.”

The diamond dog nodded, her long droopy ears flopping around her face. “I am. I grew up in Germaney where there is already a lot of integration. During my career, I have worked in Germaney, in Fancy, the Sea of Grass, and Saddle Arabia. I specialise in crossbreeds and births of a highly magical nature. I understand that you occasionally burst into flames?”

Loch Skimmer nodded and a sunny smile dawned upon the charcoal grey pegasus’ face. She felt Rising Star pressing up against her side and he was now standing, having slipped out of his chair while she hadn’t been looking. “You sound amazing.”

“I had to beg the hospital for a job here,” Silkie replied.

Rising Star took a cautious step forward. “Things are slow to change, but things are changing. Just give it some time… Ponyville is ground zero for big changes.”

“I know who you are,” Silkie said, looking at Rising Star. “Everyone knows who you are. Representative Rising Star, the voice of reason.”

Bowing his head, Rising Star gave Silkie a charming smile. “I do my best, but for me to do my job, everyone has to listen. The most reasonable voice in the world is useless if there is nopony there to listen to them.” Rising Star paused, and then self corrected. “Or no one to listen to them. I do not wish to be an exclusionist.”

“If you will follow me, we can continue talking in the exam room. I look forward to getting to know your entire family,” Silkie said as she made an inviting ‘follow me’ gesture with her well manicured paw. “And it is my distinct pleasure to make your family a little larger…”

 

 

Looking at the assembled students, Daylight Shadow cleared his throat, cast a glance at Neon Blitz, and then prepared himself to address the crowd. He checked his notes, some of them written by Princess Apple Bloom herself, smiled, and thought about everything that needed to be said.

“Greetings, all of you,” Daylight Shadow said into the microphone. There was a squeal of feedback and Night Light worked to adjust the sound settings. “Students, today, I am here to announce an all new school project. As all of you know, Equestria has entered into a serious conflict. I know that some of you have fathers and even mothers who have answered the call and have gone overseas to fight a good fight… but there are a lot of soldiers that don’t have families. They don’t have loved ones at home rooting for them. Princess Apple Bloom brought this to my attention and she has a plan. Working together with the Royal Pony Sisters’ School for Gifted Unicorns, we’re going to adopt soldiers. Classes will get a list of soldiers and a basic dossier about them. And then, we’re going to let them know that we appreciate them and we love them for what they are doing for us. We’re going to send them cookies. We’re going to send them letters. We’re going to send them care packages and little useful thoughtful things that let them know that we are thinking of them and to make them feel better.” Daylight Shadow smiled at the crowd and then looked over at Cheerilee, who was in charge during Bucky’s absence, and Apple Bloom, who stood grinning at Cheerilee’s side.

Stepping forward, Cheerilee approached the microphone, one ear twitching. She swallowed, let out a low polite cough, and then she lifted her head as she stood next to Daylight Shadow. “This is very important. Very, very important. I ask that you get your parents involved. We’re going to need a lot of cookies, a lot of brownies, a lot of treats. I know there are some shortages right now, so if you and your family want to do something, but need some help getting supplies, talk to me and let me know. Help is available. We can’t do this without all of you. I know all of you are very good students and that none of you will let me down.” Cheerilee’s smile broadened. “Now, in a moment, Written Sound is going to come up on the stage and talk about the music from home project… all of you gifted little singers and musicians are going to get a chance to make a record and we’re going to send copies to the fleet so that the music might lift their spirits.” She looked over at Twilight Velvet and gave a nod to the mare that the students adored.

Twilight Velvet strode forward, her head high, and her expression dignified. She stood beside Cheerilee. “Students, the Elements of Harmony need your help. As many of you know, my daughter and her friends are serving aboard the Sol Sempiternus. Twilight Sparkle and her friends need your help. This conflict is going to cause a lot of injuries… many are going to suffer. Twilight Sparkle and her friends could use a whole lot of little care packages, something small and easy to pass out to those they visit. Something to lift the spirits of the injured and the maimed. A kind word is good, but a little gift box is even better… so we need an army of volunteers to not only get the goods we need together, but to put everything into little boxes and maybe tie them up with little ribbons. We just need something that shows effort, care, appreciation, and consideration were shown.”

Daylight Shadow looked at the two mares standing beside him, and then back upon the crowd. “We’re counting on you. We have a lot of work ahead of us, and I know for certain that you will not let us down. Now, where is Written Sound?”

 

 

“There is going to be a literal storm of shit because of this.” Sunset Shimmer tossed her head back, trying to get her mane out of her eyes. “This is worse than I thought it was going to be. Thank you, both of you, for your excellent work. Both of you are a credit to the Shadowbolts.”

“Thank you,” Mask replied.

Fever Cure watched as Bartleby served tea. “This went much better than I had hoped.”

“I have already dispatched Witching Hour and Tiddlywinks, along with a contingent of guardsponies, to Baltimare with warrants for arrest and seizure.” Sunset Shimmer closed her eyes. “Earth ponies.” She lifted her hoof to her temple and began to rub, trying to ease her own stress. “Endovelicus Pharmacological Research Labs will be shut down, all of their products will be removed from sale, all assets will be seized, and some very powerful ponies will no doubt try to fight this using any means they can.”

“Where is Luna?” Trixie asked. “Luna should be here.”

“I don’t know,” Sunset Shimmer replied. “Something may have come up, she might be busy. We can take care of this though.”

Lifting up his teacup, Fever Cure gave a nod of thanks to the griffon and then looked at Sunset Shimmer once more. “So… tell me, what are we doing next? I strongly suspect that there are more jobs for my companion and I…”

 

 

Looking at his mate, Lugnut tried to calm his nerves a bit. Dreary the donkey was quiet. Too quiet. Lugnut began to worry that old tensions between donkeys and griffons might be the cause. The presentation for Rising Star and Sunset Shimmer’s prototype leg was lying upon the table and Dreary had said nothing.

“I don’t understand what I am looking at,” Dreary said as she shook her head.

Lugnut sighed in relief.

Stepping forward, Spanner whipped out his charm. “Rising Star had this idea to remove as many joints as possible from the leg. Keep everything mechanically simple. The first few prototypes had all of the usual joints found in a pony or a donkey leg, but it presented so many issues with animating those joints.” Spanner pointed at the prototype. “This leg has a knee and that’s it. It will bend and flex matching the rhythm of the walk.” He ran his talon down along the long curved piece of metal. “This is like a leaf spring. It is curved so it will store mechanical energy. Down here along the bottom, it curves even more. This will bend and flex when the wearer stands on it, or walks, or runs. It might have a bit of a learning curve, but I assure you, this will work. Because of the flexible nature of the curved spring, it will allow the wearer to walk over uneven surfaces, and even up and down stairs. It is made of ultralight composites, so it isn’t heavy.”

“The bottom of it, the place where a hoof should be, looks like an upside down question mark,” Dreary said.

“Yes, it is supposed to look like that,” Spanner replied. “An artificial hoof with a fully articulated fetlock and other joints was so heavy and there were so many things that could go wrong. And would go wrong most likely. This simplifies this, but I assure you, this will work.”

“I think I see how this might work.” Dreary tilted her head and her muzzle scrunched up as she concentrated. “Pressing down would bend the spring, which in turn, would provide energy that would push back up. Yeah, I think I get it now…”

“This thing uses so little power for the knee joint that it will work on a ley line charger with no other need for an additional power source. Which means it will work for those who don’t have natural magic reserves to draw upon. Most of the energy in the leg is mechanical, which is why we used a curved spring made out of flexible composite construction,” Lugnut said, overcoming his nervousness and was now gushing out his enthusiasm and his knowledge. “This is going to change the world,” the little griffon boasted, his feathers puffing out and his crest rising.

Dreary nodded. “I suspect that this forge is going to make a lot of things that are going to change the world…”

 

 

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