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


74. 74

The nighttime brought the horrible howling. It was present through dinner, lingered through the late evening hours, and as it grew darker, the howling grew worse and worse. Watching the effect upon the herd she was now a member of drove Lyra Heartstrings to distraction. She was silent through dinner, irritated afterwards, in a foul mood as evening turned to night until she finally lost it.

“Bucky!” Lyra barked.

Bucky looked up from the book about shadowy creatures he was studying and regarded his fellow unicorn and now fellow-wife.

“That damnable howling! How have you lived with it?” Lyra questioned, trembling and looking quite distressed.

“I’ve tried soundproofing. Nothing blocks it,” Bucky said patiently, aware that Lyra’s distress was causing distress in others around the room.

“Soundproofing won’t block that,” Lyra commented. “But I can block that. I think… you have to fight sound magic with sound magic. A pony named Vinyl Scratch taught me that when we were in Celestia’s school together,” Lyra added.

“The howling causes a terrible fear, and the wolves feed on the fear. It is wearing all of us down I think,” Bucky explained.

“It’s awful,” Piña agreed. “I’ve had accidents because of it,” she whispered in a small voice full of shame.

“Not your fault,” Lyra reassured. “It is the magic having an effect on you.”

“That makes me feel better… accidents are embarrassing and I’ve been feeling so ashamed,” Piña confided.

Lyra had a grim and determined look on her face. “This reminds me of something that I can’t remember,” she said cryptically, looking very puzzled and confused. “Shadows. Darkness…” Lyra muttered. Lyra closed to her eyes and began to concentrate, and her horn glowed gold.

Above her, a phantom lyre appeared, it was shining bright and golden, it radiated what felt like sunshine and filled the room with faint magical warmth. It began to make music, sweet beautiful music. The mint coloured unicorn scrunched up her face, looking irritated, and she began to mutter to herself.

“No, that’s not doing it, not even close,” Lyra mumbled to herself.

The music shifted, it was still beautiful, but now it was poignant and sad, and it made everypony in the room think of loved ones and lost ones. Lyra waited, still feeling the faint nagging magical compulsion brought about by the howling, and she shook her head in irritation.

The music changed dramatically, becoming a vaguely militaristic melody, something stirring that inspired courage and made the heart soar. Lyra felt a little better, and she studied the faces of those around her, all of whom were listening to her music and watching her.

Finally the music became almost like a lullaby, sweet and soothing, bringing with it a sense of relaxation brought about by magic. Lyra felt it. It vibrated through her being like a harp string. It was the perfect counter to the current magical spell.

The effect upon the ponies around the room was immediate and noticeable.

“I am really tired, I can’t keep this up all night, but I can give us a little rest,” Lyra offered. “Once I get rested and settle in, I can stay up all night and keep this going to protect us from the fear.”

“That’s weird,” Derpy announced.

“What’s weird,” Bucky replied.

“The heat from the fire,” Derpy said.

“What about it?” Bucky inquired.

“I can feel it. It is always so cold in here at night, you can stand next to the fire and still freeze, but I can feel the heat of the flames right now,” Derpy observed.

Bucky paused, learning a long time ago to trust in pegasus observations. He carefully considered everything his wife had just said. The room was always cold at night, and then warmed up rapidly during the day. He realised he could feel the heat from the fire. The room was warm. Cozy. Snug even.

“Lyra, stop the music,” Bucky commanded.

Lyra did as she was bid, tilting her head to the side and watching Bucky’s reaction. She too noticed a chill settling over the room.

“I don’t feel the hot heat of the fire anymore,” Derpy announced. “Now it only feels like faint faraway warmth," the grey mare reported.

“I’ll be damned,” Bucky spat. “Lyra, a little music if you please.”

Lyra brought her lyre back to life, filling the room with life affirming sound, and, after a few moments, with the sound came warmth.

“The cold is magical in nature,” Lyra gasped. “I’ve never heard of a magic that not only brought fear, but leached heat from the air as well. The howling is what is bringing about this unnatural cold.”

“Yes it is,” Bucky confirmed. “Dinky!”

“What daddy?” Dinky replied sweetly.

“Summon some bees… I have an idea,” Bucky instructed. He shuddered. He still didn’t like bees, but he had an idea.

Dinky did as she was instructed, bringing the bees into existence with ease. A small swarm moved above her, changing shape and mass as they moved about.

“Dinky… make the bees buzz with Lyra’s music. Make them sing!” Bucky instructed.

“Ooooooh that’s a good idea,” Dinky agreed as she set herself to her task. The little unicorn went to work, trying to will what she wanted to the bees, and the bees responded.

At first, there was no effect, but eventually the buzzing became almost kazoo like, a faint thrumming sound. Dinky was lost in her magic, conducting to her chorus of bees, one foreleg raised and moving as a guide.

“Wait… wait, I’m feeling something,” Lyra announced. “Keep doing whatever it is you are doing Dinky, music is a special magic all of its own… I am going to have to teach you some music theory.”

“Sing your bumblebye,” Dinky demanded of her bees.

Bucky could feel something happening all around him. Not one, but two sources of music working in harmony. Harmonious magic working together with another harmonious magic was a mysterious subject and there was still much that wasn’t known.

The fire released a roaring heat now, the compressed peat bale in the fireplace radiating so much heat that it made sweat bead up on the pelts of several ponies that were too close.

Bucky felt elated, feeling a distinct sense of triumph. There was a weapon now against the wolves. A feeling of hope flooded through the room, washing away fear and doubt. Muscles relaxed. Tension fell away. Bucky realised that Lyra couldn’t keep it up all night, but the reprieve, however brief, renewed strength. He felt the pain in his body subsiding a bit, and his head didn’t feel so swimmy.

“My Lyra’s beautiful music is a weapon,” Bon Bon quipped, feeling a fierce sense of pride for her mate.

“The fear is what kept me from having total control over my magic on the night I went out,” said Bucky as a pained expression settled over the visible part of his face. “I couldn’t keep my light spell going properly. The fear gnawed at me like a living thing,” he confessed.

“It is meant to,” Lyra answered. “I find it amazing that you could use magic at all… the willpower needed to focus even just a little under direct exposure of this spell is unimaginable.”

Bucky took solace in his fellow unicorn’s words. He laid his head down upon the bed, feeling the soothing warmth of the fire, and oddly enough, missing the cool air upon his many seared places. The warmth felt good to his injured muscles, but the cool felt good to his still too tight skin and the many cauterised places, which were healing nicely. He would remain hideously scarred, just like Keg Smasher and so many others all around them, but he was starting to become proud of his marks. He had survived, and the scars were undeniable proof of being a hard case.

“I feel warm again,” Piña announced.

“I’ve never seen such magic,” Ripple said, entranced. She came over to sit down near Lyra, and then she looked up at the magical lyre plinking away overhead. “So beautiful,” Ripple breathed.

One by one, Dinky’s bees blinked out and Dinky heaved a disappointed sigh. “I can’t keep going, this is very tiring,” the little unicorn foal complained.

“I can keep this up for a while longer, but I am exhausted,” Lyra said to reassure everypony. The mint unicorn smiled at her herdmates, feeling a new sense of empowerment, knowing that she was needed, that she had a place in this herd. A meaningful place. It moved something deep within her equine being, and soothed her troubled mind slightly.

Loch Skimmer felt inspired by the music, and courage flooded her pegasus heart. She looked at Rising Star, her husband, and felt a longing deep within her, a need to show her appreciation and her growing affection. She hadn’t kissed him properly since their marriage. Oh, there had been little pecks on the cheek and chaste kisses he had planted on her.

She moved swiftly and without warning, the music flooding her body with courage. Her wings snapped out, wrapped around Rising Star’s head, and dragged him in for a brief kiss… Loch Skimmer’s first real kiss, and she didn’t know what she was doing.

The colt froze for a moment, not fully registering what was happening, but then rapidly took control once he felt Loch Skimmer’s lips against his own. He gave her a nibble, the same way he nibbled Sparkler’s lips, as though he was pulling in a sugar cube or something sweet with his lips, and the tilted his head to the side to achieve a proper seal for better suction.

Finally, after one very long and sloppy inexperienced kiss, Loch Skimmer pulled away with a breathless gasp, fanning her flushed face with her wing. Her backside fell to the floor and she sat there panting, her eyes closed in from the sort of bliss brought about by one’s first real kiss.

“Aw, that was sweet,” Sparkler said as her thoughts raced. At first, she worried that she would feel jealous when this happened, and her thoughts turned to Apple Cobbler, the earth pony filly back in Ponyville that had set her off. But there was no jealousy. There was a genuine feeling of joy that her fellow-wife felt loved and secure in her relationship. There was relief that the kiss had finally happened, finally revealing the true nature of Sparkler’s feelings for her herdmate.

“And you are getting better at hopping around on three legs,” Rising Star commented, which made Loch Skimmer blush.

“About time that happened,” Berry observed. She leaned back on the sofa and realised that for the first time since coming to the Isles, this room finally felt like home. It was full of warmth finally, and life. The bed was going to be horribly crowded, the room was beginning to feel crowded, at least to Berry… she was aware that families much larger stayed in little stone cottages and cabins much smaller. This room felt like a sanctuary, a place where the horrible world outside couldn’t reach her, at least at the moment. She missed Thistle, who had returned to her watery home.

It was in this moment of peace and comfort that Berry felt a strange feeling, something nagging at her earth pony sense, the odd psychic nudges that all earth ponies had to some degree. Berry struggled to make sense of her feelings, brought about by an odd mixture of magic and biology. She had a vibrating feeling deep within her frogs, and she did not know it, but special hormones were flooding through her body. She had a powerful urge to run her hooves all over her husband’s body and to draw him close. Berry realised it wasn’t so much a sexual urge, but it was a very powerful compulsion. She abandoned her sofa, crossed the room, mounted the bed, and gently laid a hoof on a spot that wasn’t cauterised. The dreadful sunburn had faded, but his skin was still sensitive. She pushed him down and began to rub him along his spine, her hooves kneading deep into his flesh, and Berry noticed that her frogs felt oddly sweaty.

Bucky melted under Berry’s touch, some of his pain fading away as she rubbed his back. He felt a flood of emotions. There was the need to protect, but it felt stronger. He was filled with a sense of love for her, for all of his herdmates at the moment actually, and he felt strangely drunk even though he hadn’t been drinking for hours.

Bucky had no idea that he was being doped to prepare him for fatherhood, all he knew was, what Berry was doing felt really good. He heaved a sigh of contentment, feeling very much in love with Berry right now.

Derpy watched the interaction with interest, and her instincts, her powerful instincts that governed so much of her life, told her that what was happening was vitally necessary. She shifted her position, trying to get comfortable. Her teats had been a bit sore lately, and she attributed it to not being able to stay as clean as she liked. The dirty pelt of her legs rubbed and chaffed  everything that was delicate.

Derpy was desperate for soap, so desperate that her cutie mark itched.

“I want to go to bed while the music is still playing,” Piña begged while giving Derpy a prod with her small hoof. Derpy reached down and pulled Piña up into her forelegs, cradling the foal.

“I think we can do that,” Derpy crooned. She cuddled Piña for a while, kissing her on her head and squeezing her, offering comfort for the foal who had been so troubled lately. She rose into a hover, carrying Piña with her, and carefully crossed the room to the bed. She eased herself down, settling into her spot, and kissed Piña once more for good measure.

Dinky bounded to the bed, jumped over Bucky and Berry with one spectacular leap, and landed next to her mother and Piña. She squeezed Piña violently, as sisters tended to do, and Piña squeezed back, briefly engaging in a contest of wills, and finally they both let go after Dinky farted, Piña proudly flashing a victory grin.

Bon Bon, yawning, approached the bed sadly, not sure where her spot was. Derpy patted the bed next to her, on the other side of the foals, and Bon Bon quickly settled in. There would be just enough space for Lyra if the unicorn was extra snuggly between Bon Bon and the edge of the bed.

Bucky crawled along to his spot next to Derpy, settling in beside the grey mare, and then he felt Berry sprawling out next to him. Sentinel, who tended to go to whatever spot he was welcomed, was pulled in by Berry who claimed him for the night. He squirmed a bit as Berry smooched him, but did not protest.

Lyra continued to play, but settled in next to Bon Bon, and a blanket was settled over the ponies on one half of the bed, held in the blue-green glow of Bucky’s magic.

On the other side, Sparkler settled into her spot, Rising Star beside her, and then Loch Skimmer settled in next to Rising Star, moving gingerly because of her cast, and this night there was no hesitation to curl up against him. Ripple eased in next to her sister, and flopping her body down caused her to poot noisily, which made several foals hidden under a blanket giggle. Loch Skimmer used her sister as a prop for her bad leg, and Ripple did not mind. Rising Star pulled a blanket over his herd, and there was much squirming as the edges were tucked under different bodies to keep out the cold.

One by one, they drifted off to sleep, and Lyra waited as long as she could, fighting off the need to nod off, keeping her lyre going for as long as she could to provide comfort for the herd as it drifted off into sleep. The unicorn felt a grim sense of resolve, and she would reclaim the night from the wolves, no matter what it took to do so.



The morning was one of failure, but that was okay. Bucky expected failures. He had been in the brewery again, trying to perform complex molecular assembly from raw materials, trying to brew beer from the raw materials needed without equipment.

It had been Star Swirl and some other unicorn that Bucky could never seem to remember that had created most of the transmutation spells and passed them along. Creating an entirely new transmutation spell was rare, but sometimes new ones did appear due to accident or chance. Star Swirl was a unicorn that would not be denied his creature comforts, and had left behind an entire library of transmutation spells.

So Bucky didn’t feel too bad about what it was that he was doing. His cutie mark had itched promisingly today, and he had produced something that was almost something that might resemble beer as it might be served in Tartarus and even had a noticeable twang of alcohol… but it tasted indescribably awful.

He swam through the water, he and his herd now in the loch, Derpy trying to do everything she could to get clean. Bucky paddled through the water, moving slowly, out past the shallow edge of the water. Thistle was swimming nearby, ready to snatch anypony that went under suddenly.

She was beautiful in her mer-pony form, half pony, half fish, and her scales were mirror-like. They shimmered like diamonds when she surfaced. Bucky could no longer deny feeling an attraction for her, especially now that Derpy had sent a subtle indicator that it was okay for him to do so. She was delicate and graceful moving through the water, and there was a noticeable bulge around her middle, a bulge that Bucky found himself distinctly attracted to and protective of.

Off in the distance, there was fierce muffled cry of accomplishment from Sentinel. He was lugging back a monstrous trout, a catch that would have to have been seen to believed, and it was slapping him in the face as he brought it to shore. He emerged from the loch, shook his shaggy coat free of excess water, and then proceeded to beat the fish to death against a rock for nearly slapping him senseless. He let out a small roar of triumph and then savaged his prize, ripping into it as it still wiggled somewhat.

The roar was an indicator of what he was and what he would be. It wasn’t so scary now, but when he was older and had gained several hundred pounds of solid muscle, it would be a sound that would even make a manticore think twice before doing anything stupid.

Bucky was counting on the roar being well developed by the time Dinky and Piña reached the age where they took an interest in dating.

“Look,” Piña said from the shallows, pointing up on shore at Sentinel.

Bucky craned his head, trying to see what Piña was pointing at. The others were looking as well. Derpy was out of the water, shaking herself much as Sentinel had done, and was peering at the lunar pegasus with one eye.

“Sentinel,” Derpy announced in a proud sounding voice, still shaking water from her wings. “Sentinel, there is something different about you."

Sentinel paused and lifted his head from his yard long catch. He was chewing fish flesh, bones and all, and his tufted ears perked at Derpy’s voice. His slitted eyes were wide with excitement.

“That’s a brown trout,” Thistle observed, gesturing at Sentinel.

Sentinel looked down at his catch, froze, and then slowly turned his head to look at his own rump when he registered that everypony was staring at him. His tail twitched once as he turned, and then he saw the mirror image of the fish he had just caught mirrored on his backside, a brown trout.

“You have your mark,” Thistle congratulated. “A worthy reminder of such a memorable catch. To drag in such a monster… so succulent looking…” Thistle licked her lips.

Sentinel beamed. “Do you want some?” he asked Thistle. “I ate lunch in the castle, I could eat all of this but I would be miserable,” Sentinel explained.

Thistle was on dry land in a moment, joining Sentinel in his catch, and Sentinel oh so sweetly offered her the head, which she gobbled down in apparent ecstasy, keeping her eyes on the ponies in the lake as she chewed.

Derpy watched as the pair ate, and realised that Thistle was needed in this herd for other reasons. Eating was a social activity, and a meal like that would be a lonesome activity for Sentinel. She sighed as she took another step closer toward Thistle’s acceptance. She was also immensely proud of Sentinel’s cutie mark.

Bon Bon floated on her back, drifting in the water, and Lyra was sitting in the shallows, watching the fisherponies work their nets way off in the distance. The pair were quiet, still settling in, and where clearly relieved to be among their friends once again.

“I think I will be heading back to the castle for a nap,” Lyra announced, breaking her silence. “I plan to pull an all nighter,” she added.

“I’ll come with you,” Bon Bon offered, paddling around, still on her back.

Sentinel gulped down a large bite of fish. “I’ll come with… I’ll stay up all night and keep you company,” he said after his mouth was emptied. “Here Thistle, finish this, I gotta go keep Lyra and Bon Bon safe,” he added, offering the remains of his catch to Thistle.

Derpy felt a smile creep across her face as she heard the colt’s words.

Thistle kissed Sentinel on the cheek in thanks, and then tore into the fish in such a way that only a pregnant carnivore could tear into such a meal, devouring it with much slurping and gnawing.

Lyra and Bon Bon emerged from the loch, together, and then they shook the excess water in their pelts out. Lyra surprised her mate with a kiss, leaving poor Bon Bon gasping, and the unicorn trotted off along the trail that led to the castle.

“It is like he barely even noticed,” said Bucky to Derpy as he approached her side. “He earned his mark and then went about his business, I don’t understand.”

“He already knows his purpose,” Berry replied in a thoughtful tone. “His talent in to catch fish. Really big fish. That fish was longer than he was. His purpose is something else entirely, something of his choosing.”

“Shouldn’t we be celebrating?” asked Bucky, cocking his head to one side so he could see Berry better.

“Maybe, but I get the feeling they don’t celebrate that here. Haven’t you noticed that most of these ponies don’t even have marks?” Derpy said with a deep sigh. “I am very happy that he has it though.”

“We never did get around to celebrating Dinky’s,” Berry quipped.

“At the time, I didn’t want to celebrate mine,” Dinky replied in a soft sad sounding voice.

“But you like your cutie mark now, right Dinkeridoo?” Piña asked.

“I’ve learned to like it, daddy has shown me I can do good things with it,” Dinky replied as she scrubbed a sticky spot on her barrel with a hoof.

“This is a land were few ponies realise their great potential,” Bucky said philosophically.

“Think I’ll ever get a mark?” Ripple asked.

“Sure you will,” Sparkler replied in a gentle encouraging voice. “Just be brave enough to dream a little… try new things. You never know when it will just pop up. Mine showed up when I was reading my geology textbook.”

“I don’t remember getting mine. I woke up in Las Pegasus and there it was,” Berry muttered.

“Sometimes a mark is just a mark and nothing more I guess,” Rising Star said as he drew near the group at the water’s edge.

“What do you mean?” Sparkler asked.

“Look at Bucky’s mark. To look at him you’d think he was a unicorn with a knack for brewing perhaps,” Rising Star stated. “But if you assumed that, you’d be wrong. Look at what he has done. What he has taught us. He’s a devoted father, a husband, our teacher, but what does any of that have to do with hops?”

“Or bubbles… everypony knows my mother’s talent is putting the mother back into smother,” Sparkler added.

“Oh hush Sparky,” Derpy tittered in embarrassment.

“Sometimes a cutie mark isn’t the final destination of your journey, it is merely a sign post… a landmark to help you find your way as you travel towards your destiny. At least, that is what I believe,” Rising Star stated as he waxed philosophical. “Once, I wanted to be famous. Now, I don’t know. I have three stars on my backside that are supposed to be meaningful. Recently, I realised I have three wives… my bright shining stars. Three lights to guide my way. The meaning I’ve been looking for in my life. I want to be a good husband. I can make three lives better… I hope,” he finished.

“I think you already have,” Sparkler said, a tear forming in the corner of one eye as she spoke.

“I feel like I should say something but I don’t know what to say,” Ripple admitted, swirling a hoof in the water and looking down at the ripples.

“Don’t feel bad,” Piña said as she stroked Ripple. “I feel like that all the time. Sometimes there are no words… there are only things like hugs and kisses the little things that say everything that words can’t,” Piña explained.

“While we still have plenty of daylight, I want us to spend some time communing,” Bucky announced as he pulled himself out of the water. “There is much I want to teach you, and I have a special lesson planned for today. Piña’s words have given me a bit of inspiration.”

Bucky gingerly shook the last of the water from his hide and prepared to teach what he hoped would be a valuable lesson.



Author's Note:

I really wanted to showcase the real value of musical unicorns. So I did.

More has been revealed about the nature of the wolves.

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