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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Standing upon the deck of the Sol Sempiternus, Princess Celestia watched as part of the fleet made preparations to depart, to fly inland and begin the invasion into the mountains. This night was one of the coldest yet and everything was glazed with ice. Metal creaked, an unnerving sound that made Celestia’s groin tighten with alarm. It was snowing, a wild storm that had blown in from off of the ocean. Several dragons circled the fleet, some small, some massive, all of them servants of the Queen of the Sea Dragons.

Several tears had frozen upon Celestia’s cheeks; they glittered like tiny diamonds in the deck lights. Each breath came out as a cloud of steam and curled away from Celestia’s graceful nostrils in little wisps. She could warm herself if she wanted to, but she wanted to feel the cold. She heard the sounds of hoofsteps approaching behind her.

Without turning to look, Princess Celestia knew it was Twilight Sparkle. After a moment, Twilight stood beside her, Twilight Sparkle, the little filly that had grown up, become a beautiful mare, and was now a tall, gawky alicorn of unbelievable power. Bucky, who had reached the very limits of what a unicorn was capable of, and Twilight Sparkle, who was exploring new realms of alicorn magic, the pair were her champions. Her chosen. She felt a fierce feeling of pride for both of them.

“I don’t know how you do it.”

Twilight’s voice as wavering, uncertain, and fatigued. Princess Celestia felt a growing heaviness in her heart. The weariness in Twilight’s voice matched the weariness that Celestia felt in her spirit.

“Princess Celestia, I once criticised you for being a bad ruler because I was ignorant of everything that was really going on. I came down pretty hard on you… and then, you showed me a little more of the big picture. It crushed me, I’ll admit. Everything I thought I knew about the world was wrong.”

Silent, Princess Celestia did not feel the need to reply, but she noticed that Twilight had called her ‘Princess Celestia’ and was speaking in a somewhat foalish voice. Without realising it, Celestia smiled, and when she did so, one of the frozen tears upon her cheek fell away, falling down to the deck, at last doing what tears were meant to do.

“Now, I am stuck trying to get other ponies to see the big picture. Applejack is so stubborn. And I’m a little frustrated with Rainbow Dash because Rainbow keeps taking Applejack’s side and I’m a little jealous. Now that I’m thinking long term, now that I understand what this war really means, I realise, I don’t know what I’m doing. I want the world to make sense again… I want things to go back to how they were, when I was your student and you could teach me things and I would learn and everything would be okay. Nothing is okay now.”

Somewhere, out in the darkness, a foghorn blared. The snow was picking up and visibility was dropping. Princess Celestia listened to the sounds of the fleet and watched as flashing lights relayed messages from ship to ship. Saying anything to Twilight right now would be useless, Twilight Sparkle needed to talk... she needed to speak the words so she could listen with her own ears to what it was that she was saying so she could sort everything out. Celestia knew her student… perhaps better than Twilight knew herself.

“You held everything together all by yourself. You did the impossible. You kept Equestria together as a nation, held on to your throne, and you waited out the bad spell, knowing that Princess Luna would return and you awaited the possibility of her redemption. It was either a calculated move or the world’s most reckless gamble… and right now, I’m thinking it was a calculated move. You saved what was important, knowing that you could save everything else that had fallen down later. And then, somehow, even with your own empire crumbling down around you and your enemies plotting against you, you were successful with your Ponyville Project. Without the Ponyville Project, I would never have met my friends. The Elements of Harmony would not have redeemed Luna. And right now, the mirror travelers would be gaining a hoofhold on a world held in the embrace of night. I don’t know how you do what you do.”

“Oh, I get help from amazing students.” Celestia’s muzzle split into a wry, toothy smile.

“I want to be your student again. Not magic… but statecraft. All of this has been humbling. I used to think I knew everything I needed to know, but now I see how foolish I’ve been and I’ve come to the painful understanding that I know very little.”

Another frozen tear fell away from Celestia’s face. She thought about her students. During her long life, there had been many. She thought about her many bold gambits… and most of the time, it came down to her students. Her amazing students. For a moment, Celestia’s mind drifted away completely, and she remembered traveling upon an airship, meeting up with the most unlikely crew of misfits, and enlisting them to rescue one of her beloved students. Rye Mash had been quite charming, cultured, polite, and civilised. History had been unkind to him and his remembrance was less than flattering. The dreaded sky pirate, Rye Mash, the shotgun rapist. Celestia’s wry grin became an amused grin. She had fond memories of drinking tea with that little colourful character. Celestia knew what the history books had failed to mention; Rye was a bit prissy, prim, proper, and a teatotaller. Celestia had trusted the life of one of her students to him. The sound of Twilight’s voice jolted her from her memories.

“How we win this war is just as important as how we fight it. We have to be gracious winners and—”

Twilight’s words trailed off into a long yawn. A worrisome yawn that awoke all of Celestia’s instincts and urges for motherhood. “Twilight Sparkle, when was the last time you slept?”

Twilight’s ears fell down and she sidestepped away from Celestia. “I don’t know. There’s been so much to do.”

“Twilight Sparkle, you are a pregnant mare and you are carrying my godfoal in your belly right now.” Celestia’s voice was stern, but not angry. She turned her head and looked at Twilight. For a moment, Twilight Sparkle, the tall, gawky alicorn, was once more a tiny foal in Celestia’s eyes.

“But there is so much to do!”

“Twilight Sparkle… sleep.” Celestia’s command carried with it the impossible weight of magic. Twilight Sparkle toppled, her body going limp, her eyes rolling back into her head as her eyes closed. Celestia caught her before she hit the deck.

Turning, Celestia trotted across the deck to return Twilight to her quarters.

 

 

Pushing open the door, Celestia saw a blue pegasus raising her head from her pillow. There was a moment of sleepy aggression as the blue pegasus, not quite awake, protected the two smaller lumps in the bed with her. The rainbow maned defender of the bed blinked and Celestia could see intelligence creep into her eyes.

“Hey!” Rainbow Dash blinked again. “Hey, is Twi okay? What’s wrong with my Twilight? Why is she all limp?”

“She is fine. She is asleep. She needs sleep. Rainbow Dash, when she wakes up, she is to stay in the bed. I do not care what you need to do, but you are to keep her in the bed for a while. See that she gets rest. Am I understood?”

“Yeah, now gimme my egghead!” Rainbow Dash’s voice was squeaky with worry.

“How is Tourmaline?” Celestia lay Twilight down in the bed and watched as Rainbow Dash pulled a blanket over her.

“I have bad news… I don’t know if I should be the one telling you this,” Rainbow Dash replied in a low whisper.

“Tell me.” Celestia made her request as soft and as gentle as possible.

“Tourmaline found that she can heal… and I don’t just mean that spit stuff either… she… she… she was low on juice and she was really upset because she couldn’t do her job and then she did magic, and the unicorn started healing and Tourmaline started screaming like a dragon was eating her and it scared everypony… she has that… I can’t remember what the doctor called it, I’m sorry.”

Celestia could see the apologetic expression on Rainbow Dash’s face. “Empathic healing. She feels the wounds that she heals.” Celestia felt her heart sink and a crushing weight settled over Celestia’s back. “I will leave her in your care.” Reaching out her wing, Celestia patted Rainbow Dash on the cheek. She then lowered her head and kissed each pony in the bed, starting with Twilight Sparkle.

“You don’t have to leave… there’s enough room in this bed for you if you want to stay…”

 

 

“And how is daddy’s little Tartarus-spawn?” Discord lifted up a foal wrapped in a blanket. “Hi Tranquility…. oh how your mommy stares at me…” Discord began to giggle.

“Discord, don’t call her that,” Fluttershy demanded in a hushed voice.

“Sorry Tranquility, I can’t call you by your name anymore, you adorable little Tartarus-spawn—”

“Discord, I love you, but you try my patience something awful sometimes.” Fluttershy looked up at the tall serpentine figure.

“You should be more specific.” Discord allowed his suggestion to hang in the air as he grinned and waited for a reply. He heard Lunacy grunt and then the little nightmare began to snuffle as she grew upset, wanting her sibling returned. He scooped up the other blanket wrapped bundle and held the two foals together.

“I’m cranky, the foals won’t let me sleep… I have had a very, very long day. You deal with them for a while.” Fluttershy snapped her paw.

For a moment, Discord wasn’t sure what Fluttershy’s paw snap had done, but then he noticed a very peculiar sensation travel through his body. Holding the foals, he looked down and realised with growing horror, he was no longer a daddy, but more of a mommy.

“There… now you can feed them. Lunacy can gnaw on your teats for a while.” Heaving a sigh, Fluttershy threw herself down upon the bed, closed her eyes, and was asleep in seconds.

“Well… I am a thoroughly modern parent… I should be open to new experiences. I did rather enjoy pregnancy.” A mischievous grin spread over Discord’s long face. He snapped his tail and the terrible grin widened. Fluttershy was going to wake up with some new bits on her anatomy… that would teach her. Him. That that would teach him.

Cackling, Discord fled his cabin to go off and spread a little chaos.

 

 

Needing a rest, Bucky looked up from his work, the enchantments he was burning into Fleshrender’s rifle. He glanced over at Belisama, who was cleaning her revolvers yet again. Beside her, her sword was immaculate, and her crossbow gleamed with a mirror finish.

The little griffoness was a killer, of that there could no longer be any doubt.

“Belisama? Would you play me a song?”

The griffoness closed the cylinder on Huginn and then looked at Bucky. “Give me a minute.” The revolver was at least half the length of Belisama’s body and the barrel’s maw loomed black and terrifying, like a train tunnel into the abyssal planes of Tartarus.

“We’re going to go up the mountains on the back of an elephant… that should be fun.”

With reverence, Belisama placed Huginn into its holster, nodding as she did so. “It’s gonna be a bloodbath.” The griffoness’ crest rose. “In the tunnels, down below Fromme… something changed for me Bucky.”

Bucky raised an eyebrow.

“You know how ponies get cutie marks that tell them what their destiny is?” Belisama picked up her autoharp. “If I was a pony, I would have a cutie mark now… down there, in the tunnels, I knew my place in the world… as the bodies began to pile up from the gas and the bullets, all of my fear and all of my doubt fell away from me… sitting on your back, I felt like a queen. I was Odin’s talonmaiden, I was your wife, and I felt so empowered…” She cradled her autoharp to her breast. “I am going to raise Bandua to be a fierce warrior.”

“We did good in those tunnels, you and I… we didn’t lose a single bocor.”

“And we took General Vertigo alive. I’d still like to scatter his brains for what he did…”

 

 

 

 

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