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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Surrounded by what Lyra considered ideal ingredients, Lyra drew in a deep breath and studied her canvas. It had been a hectic morning but now the house was beginning to calm down, and the calm was pleasant. The bread was crusty, with a hint of moistness that made it chewy, the crust was thick and rather flakey. Semillon had crafted an almost perfect baguette and Lyra had almost felt a pang of guilt as she had sliced it in half down the middle.

The perfect sandwich had thus far eluded Lyra. She had a copious volume of notes documenting her failures. Sandwiches that were too wet, sandwiches that were too dry, sandwiches that were bland and a chore to eat.

“Science,” Lyra muttered to herself as her stomach began to gurgle. “I do this for science.”

Sighing, reveling in the beauty of perfect bread, Lyra pulled open the baguette. She lay it out on a plate. To make the perfect sandwich, you needed perfect bread. This was perfect bread. Semillon, a Fancy pony, could make perfect Fancy bread.

The bread needed lubrication, some, but not too much. On the bottom, Lyra spread a layer of mayonnaise, homemade mayonnaise, not the icky stuff that came in a glass jar. She spread it thin, having learned the hard way about too much and too little. A little went a long way. On the top half of the bread, she applied a light coating of sweet, tangy yellow mustard.

And that was the base upon which Lyra would build. The unicorn’s eyes narrowed as she studied her foundations. Problems started during this stage. This is where everything could go wrong. Lyra checked her work, and saw that it was good.

To the bottom half, Lyra applied cucumber slices. Thin, but not too thin, the sandwich needed a cooling crunch. If you put the cucumbers in the middle, they tended to slip around and fall out of the sides, ruining your sandwich. Lyra tried to slide a cucumber around on the mayonnaise. It moved, but not much. Good… good, the mayonnaise was doing its job. It was a lubricant, but it was also a glue of sorts, a sandwich cement.

So far, so good, so what, Lyra thought to herself. She ignored the sweat beading up along the hairline of her mane. She lifted up a few tomato slices, tomatoes grown in the greenhouse. These tomatoes were ideal; they had some juice, but not too much juice. The tomatoes were small, not much larger around than the cucumber slices. These tomatoes were fleshy. She stacked them atop the cucumber, feeling anxious as her creation began to take shape.

The sweaty unicorn wiped her brow with a clean towel and then went back to work. She applied a layer of shredded lettuce. Cool, crisp lettuce, grown in the greenhouse. Baby lettuce, at a state when it was most tender. Not too much lettuce though, but just enough to make a foundation, like mixing straw and mud to make adobe.

Grinning, Lyra let out a soft, faint cackle as she loomed over a tub of her next ingredient; hummus. Bucky loved the stuff and ate it by the bucketful. This batch reeked of garlic and had been seasoned with roasted red peppers. A manic gleam appeared in Lyra’s eye. She began to daub the hummus to the sandwich, little pats applied to the lettuce, which formed a nice layer. A little here, a little there, but not too much. A little went a long way.

“Yes,” Lyra said to herself as she nodded her head. “This pleases Lyra Heartstrings.”

To the top of the sandwich adobe made of shredded baby lettuce and hummus, Lyra applied black and green olives, sliced. She pressed them down into the hummus, cementing them into place.

Next, Lyra added thin sliced portobello mushrooms. A manic giggle escaped her lips. So far, everything was perfect. She began to add some bits of purple onion. Then came a layer of baby spinach leaves. On top of the spinach, she added slices of pale white cheese, tucking each slice in, tessellating the triangles for maximum cheese coverages. The cheese, a source of friction, needed lubrication, but it had to be grippy lubrication. Lyra added more hummus and lamented the lack of avocado.

Perhaps, come summer…

On top of the hummus, Lyra added alfalfa sprouts. Lots of them. She pressed them into the hummus, which secured them into place. She then added rings of red, green, and orange bell peppers, grown in the greenhouse.

The sandwich was now thick. Lyra considered her work. She was even sweatier now and her mane clung to her neck. Her golden eyes glittered with manic energy. She folded the lid of the sandwich into place and then gave a gentle press to seal everything together.

The sandwich was pleasing to the eye. It had colour. The pale golden brown of the baguette. The colour of the peppers. The blushing labial red of the tomato peeking out of the sides excited Lyra. She felt a pleasing rush of heat flooding through her nethers. A good sandwich had similar characteristics to something else that Lyra liked. You needed a little wet, a little slippery, a little grippy… a rivulet of sweat ran down Lyra’s neck and she thought of Bon Bon… and then, much to her surprise, she also thought of Thistle.

“Need mango.”

Startled, Lyra let out a cry and whipped her head around. She saw Harper sitting on her haunches, looking up at her with wide, curious eyes. Harper’s frizzy mane was sticking out in all directions.

“Harpy, honey, while you love peanut butter and mango jelly sandwiches, this is mommy’s art. Mommy has impossible standards due to magically induced neurosis motivating me and filling me with desires that I cannot understand, but must labour towards anyway… and mommy thinks she has made progress towards the perfect sandwich.”

“Mommy silly.” Harper craned her head and eyed Lyra’s work. “Ew, crust. Blech!”

“This isn’t for you!” Lyra shook her head. “Bread should have crust, a perfect sandwich needs crusty bits… oh, why am I trying to explain this to you?”

“Nope. Yuck.” Harper, almost a yearling, made her argument in a precise and succinct manner. She screwed her face into a disgusted rictus of displeasure and stuck her tongue out at her mother.

“Harper… just… go! Go on, you little wooly booger, and let your mama enjoy her sandwich!” Lyra gestured at the kitchen door. She watched as little Harper blew a juicy wet raspberry.

“Yuck sandwich. Need mango. Sandwich need colour orange more,” Harper insisted as she walked away.

“Harper, wait,” Lyra stepped forwards and then lifted Harper in her magic. She pressed her snoot against Harper’s cheek and gave her filly a kiss. “Mama loves you… mama loves you like she loves her sandwiches… it's a weird love I can’t put into words.”

“All ponies love Harpy.” Harper giggled as her mother smooched her again and her ears wiggled.

“Want me to fix you a sandwich?” Lyra asked. “I can make it perfect, just for you…”

 

 

“Still getting lectured?”

“Eeyup.” A pause. “You?”

“I am now composed of ninety percent arseholes, because Princess Celestia keeps ripping me a new one,” Bucky replied. He slumped down by the deck rail.

“Fluttershy just saved me from Twilight’s most recent attempt.” Applejack shivered for a moment in the chill wind. “Twilight is still kinda peeved with me.”There was a thoughtful silence and then Applejack mumbled, “I’m kinda upset, Bucky.”

“About?” Bucky turned his head and saw green eyes.

“Has anybody even bothered to lecture Belisama?” Applejack grinned as she took a step closer towards Bucky and peered over the rail. “She cracked his head like a walnut.”

“She did.” Bucky let out a miserable huff.

“You know what galls me… we’re healing that bastard. We have him hooked up to life support and Celestia wants him healed. Bucky… that just… bothers me. He should have been tossed over the rail and dropped into the ocean below. We’re wasting perfectly good medicine healing him and making him better… and it makes me so mad that I can just spit.”

“Princess Celestia is trying to think long term… she wants to show the mirror travelers that we can live together. That they can lay down their arms, surrender, and be treated with mercy,” Bucky explained.

“I don’t see that working,” Applejack said in a voice that dripped with bitter sarcasm. “But maybe it's ‘cause I’m just some dumb as dirt earth pony that isn’t worth spit to these invaders.”

“Don’t say that Applejack—”

“I’ll say whatever I feel like… it’s true, ain’t it?” Applejack snapped.

“Just… don’t say that. I have earth ponies at home that I’m missing and I can’t bear to hear you say words like that.” Bucky closed his eyes and rested his chin on the rail.

“I’m sorry, alright? I didn’t mean to make ya upset.” Applejack pressed up against Bucky’s side and then shivered from the cold. “Well I’ll be damned, will you look at that, I gots me an airship… Rarity and Coco ain’t the only sex pots with airships.”

Opening his eyes, Bucky watched as a smaller craft did a flyby. On the bow of the ship was a perfect painting of Applejack in mid-buck, kicking the snot out of a dark blue-grey pegasus. Bucky lifted his head and unable to help himself, he smiled. The image was almost cartoony, and there was a ring of apples and stars around the pegasus’ head along with a stupid look upon his face.

“WOOOO!” a group of pegasi on the deck of the ship shouted. “MEET THE APPLE BUCKER, MOTHERPLUCKER!”

“Well damn, I’m flattered,” Applejack said, her eyes watering.

Almost laughing, Bucky could not see this sitting well with Princess Celestia or Princess Twilight Sparkle. The pegasi on the passing ship continued to hoot and holler, as well making loud whistles. Beside him, Applejack was waving and smiling.

“Bucky, what kinda ship is that?” Applejack asked as she waved. “Did I get a warship?”

“That’s a… I think that’s a mobile kitchen ship… it isn’t very big and you can smell the hot grease from here—”

“WOO DAMN! I gots me a kitchen ship! A pony’s gotta eat! It’s food that wins a war!” Applejack stomped her hooves down upon the deck. “Bucky, can you carry me over there? I want to talk to them… cheer ‘em up a bit, raise their morale, you know, do what I was sent here to do.”

“I can do that… hold on…”

 

 

“So, how about that hospital food?” Cheese Sandwich asked. He grinned as he pronked about the bandaged masses. “You’d think that they would want you to get better!”

Some of the ponies in bandages laughed, while others were silent but grinned. A few moaned in pain as they tried not to laugh.

“And the nurses… the nurses! Oh my, some of the nurses. Nurses who say they want to be your friend…”

“Yeah Cheesy, with friends like that, who needs enemas?” Pinkie Pie began to giggle-snort at her perfect punchline delivery. She could hear the laughter all around her. Good laughter. Healthy laughter. Medicinal laughter.

“Oh, that’s just dreadful,” Discord grumbled to himself as he rubbed his face with his paw. He was grinning, but it was against his will, and he hated his face for betraying him. There would be harsh words with his face later, heated words spoken into a mirror.

“At least they are nice enough to move the food from the bedpan to a plate… it’s all about the presentation and the little piece of parsley is—”

“Coco!” Rarity’s mouth fell open and Rarity shook her head. “Coco, how could you?” Rarity had to raise her voice to be heard over the riotous laughter and she realised that some of the ponies were laughing at her. Flustered, Rarity lapsed into silence but grinned, knowing it was important.

Squeezing his accordion, Cheese Sandwich began to sing: “Eat it... eat it... eat it... eat it… If it's gettin' cold, reheat it… have a big dinner, have a light snack… if you don't like it, you can't send it back!”

Working his squeeze box, Cheese sang his heart out and Pinkie Pie danced around the room, tossing confetti as well as streamers, trying to bring a bit of cheer to the wounded. As she whirled around the room, she grabbed Rarity, and then Pinkie Pie began to dance with the stuffy unicorn, ignoring Rarity’s protests and pleas to be put down.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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