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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“Oh, this is just great. Just what we needed… more flu.” Sparkler shook her head, glanced at Rising Star, who seemed just fine, and then looked over at the bed where Ripple and Bittersweet were huddled together, shivering under a blanket. From the bathroom, the sounds of Loch Skimmer vomiting her lungs out reached Sparkler’s ears. Just the sound of vomit splashing into the bowl made Sparkler feel queasy.

“Eh, at least it isn’t like that stomach flu that was going around.” Rising Star shrugged.

“Stupid sexy fey pony… you don’t even get sick like we do,” Sparkler said to her husband. “It isn’t fair. It just isn’t fair. I don’t feel so good. I feel kinda cold and clammy.”

“You look sweaty, and not in a good way.” Rising Star prodded Sparkler with his hoof. “Get in the bed. I’m not going to work today, time to look after all my pretty mares… time to be a superhero… time to be… Captain Wonderful Husband!” Rising Star took a deep breath and then flexed his muscles.

Lifting up the edge of the blanket, Sparkler first looked beneath the blanket, saw Ripple looking at her with unfocused eyes, and then crawled in, allowing the blanket to fall upon her. She cuddled up against Ripple, forming a Ripple sandwich with Bittersweet. She heard the sounds of more retching in the bathroom, a chunky sounding splash, and then a cry of alarm.

“You know, they never tell you about these moments before you are married,” Sparkler heard Rising Star say. She poked her head out from beneath the blanket and realised that Rising Star had gone into the bathroom.

“I’m so sorry,” Sparkler heard Loch Skimmer gasp.

“Think nothing of it… there should be creative moments of bonding in a marriage. Like barfing all over your mate. This was a barfing of affection. I love you too, Loch Skimmer, I can’t wait until we can bond again.”

Even though she felt queasy, Sparkler giggled at the sound of Rising Star’s words, and beside her, she could feel Ripple shaking with weak, suppressed laughter. Sparkler rested her head down upon a pillow, the cotton fabric felt cool against her cheek.

“Such is the reward for trying to hold back a filly’s mane while she daintily tosses her cookies… Captain Wonderful Husband is dauntless in his task!”

“You startled me… I didn’t know you were coming… wait, I’m gonna… -URGLEFLURGLEFLURF!-

Still giggling, Sparkler could feel the contrast of the cool pillow against her cheek and Ripple’s warm body against her belly. She felt the muscles along her ribs contracting in a painful spasm, which ended her giggling, and the purple-pink filly closed her eyes as she waited for the spasm to pass.

“It feels really nice to lay on clean sheets,” Ripple muttered beneath the blankets, oblivious to her sister’s suffering in the bathroom. “No more dirty, crusty, stinky, stab you in the sides sheets.”

Caused by Ripple’s words, Sparkler felt a stab of guilt. She cringed, feeling the muscles along her spine contracting and tensing, a sensation not caused by her Shivers. “Ripple, honey, have we been doing better? Is there anything that you are not happy about that you are not telling us?”

“Well, there is one thing,” Ripple replied.

“Tell me,” Sparkler commanded, giving Ripple a little squeeze.

“We never stock enough popcorn. I’m tired of going to the cupboard in the mood for popcorn and then discovering we have none. It can be a little frustrating.”

Sparkler forced her muscles to relax and she let out a little sigh, not even aware that she had started holding her breath or had tensed up every muscle in her body in anticipation of some much greater problem. “Rising Star is a pig. Rather than eat a sensible meal to restore his magic, he just eats popcorn.”

“I asked him to share his popcorn and he was a jerk about it,” Ripple said.

“What?” Sparkler lifted up the blanket and looked down at Ripple. She could see Ripple’s light blue mane. It looked kinda sweaty, clinging to Ripple’s ears and head.

“He made me dance for popcorn. I was hungry and he made dance around before he gave me a single piece. And when I asked for more popcorn, he told me to keep dancing.”

“Whatta jerk.” Sparkler felt the corners of her mouth tug upwards and she lowered the blanket back down on Ripple’s head. She rubbed Ripple’s shoulder and felt Bittersweet shift position a little, the donkey rolled over a bit and then snuggled back up against the pegasus in the middle. In the bathroom, Sparkler heard the sounds of the shower being turned on.

“Do you think father is okay?” Ripple asked in a small, almost squeaky voice.

“Shining Armor showed up and said something… I wish I knew what,” Sparkler replied.

“They haven’t told us.” Ripple’s head popped out from beneath the blanket and flopped down beside Sparkler’s on the pillow. “Either there is nothing to tell us or something bad is happening and nopony is saying anything.”

“You had your mane trimmed again,” Sparkler said, changing the subject. “You always keep it so short. I love your mane, it is such a pretty shade of sky blue.” Sparkler inched her head forwards over the pillow and then kissed the back of Ripple’s neck, planting her lips down upon Ripple’s charcoal grey pelt, right beside the hairline of her mane. “It is one of my favourite things about you.”

“Gosh, thank you, Sparky.” There was a long pause. “My mouth keeps going dry and then floods with drool. I think I’m going to be sick, I need to get to the bathroom…”

 

 

“Why is everypony staring? Did somepony draw a mustache on me while I was sleeping again?” Princess Celestia looked at the different faces staring at her. “By the way, Rainbow Dash, you are a class act for blaming that prank on a foal… a foal… and if you think you can get away with that, you are in for a surprise. Nopony blames a foal on my watch. Just you wait.

“But I… I didn’t… I—”

“Princess Celestia, I think I’ve figured out why Bucky’s gunpowder golems failed,” Twilight Sparkle said as she cut off a stammering Rainbow Dash. “Well, that is to say, the golems didn’t fail. They worked exactly as intended, neutralising dangerous caches of weapons and gunpowder.” Twilight Sparkle blinked, cleared her throat, and then continued with her report.

“The mirror travelers seemed to have worked up an enchantment that made their ammunition invisible to the golems. A counter-enchantment. I’ve been studying the weapons we’ve seized. So Bucky’s plan worked. Bucky’s efforts worked. He has, in fact, made the world much safer, and he should be credited for that, I have an appointment with a senior reporter to pass some of this information along. Anyway, the mirror travelers have kept functioning guns and weapons because of counter-enchantments. This brings up an interesting problem, in that we can, in fact, keep the world safer from guns, but we cannot keep the world safer from unicorns. I’ve been giving this a lot of thought, in the event of an armed uprising, a group would need to secure the services of a unicorn, paying them for enchantments. By themselves, rebels of a non-magical species would pose no threat with guns. It comes down to magic… I guess it always comes down to magic.” Twilight Sparkle let out a frustrated sigh and then slumped, going into a defeated posture. “I don’t know how to fix this problem, and trust me, I’ve been giving it a lot of thought.”

“Hmm,” Princess Celestia hummed. “That is quite a pickle you have there, Twilight Sparkle.” The white alicorn lifted her head high and then scratched the side of her head just below her ear with her wing. “Walk with me, Twilight Sparkle.”

“Okay,” Twilight replied in an eager voice.

“But not you, you mustache drawer and foal blamer,” Celestia said to Rainbow Dash.

“But I… but you… but Glass Slipper!”

“For shame, Rainbow Dash, for shame. Off with you, go on, go check on Bucky. Maybe talk to him and see if he’ll wake up if he hears your voice. You troublesome trouble maker types have a way of speaking to one another… bad pony speak.” Princess Celestia made a dismissive gesture with her wing and heard Twilight Sparkle giggling.

“Fine!” Rainbow Dash trotted away with her head down and her tail tucked between her legs.

 

 

Princess Celestia walked at half pace, while Twilight Sparkle walked double time to keep up with the much larger alicorn. Princess Celestia radiated a cool calmness, and as she passed the busy ponies around her, she brought a state of peace. Frazzled nerves soothed a bit, short tempers smoothed out, and overworked nurses found a second wind. As she walked past many beds in the open common ward, she brought a sense of reassuring comfort to the wounded. Soldiers in their beds looked up at her as she passed, many of them smiling.

Seeing Princess Luna, Princess Celestia stopped mid-step, almost causing Twilight Sparkle to bump into her backside. The noble alabaster alicorn extended her wing and pointed at the night blue alicorn sitting at a pony’s bedside. “Look Twilight, I have not seen her like this for an entire age.”

Peering at Luna, Twilight Sparkle’s eyes narrowed as she tried to see whatever it was that Princess Celestia was seeing. She tilted her head off to one side, then the other, and then her ears pitched forwards as she studied Princess Luna feeding the bedridden soldier.

When Twilight realised that she didn’t know what to look for, she looked up at Princess Celestia and said in a low whisper, “I’m afraid I don’t know what you mean. I’m sorry, Princess Celestia.”

“Look at her Twilight Sparkle. See how she smiles? She is smiling… look at how patient she is. See how she spoons the food off of that poor pony’s chin? Do you see how she is looking into his eyes, she is being warm and kind to him,” Princess Celestia said, revealing what it was that she saw. “My sister is always seen as being cold and rather distant. She shows kindness to her beloved lunar pegasi, but very few ponies see that affection. Now look at her… she has changed… perhaps because of Erebus, perhaps because of her regeneration, but make no mistake, she has changed. It is almost like looking upon a stranger compared to how Luna has been in recent memory.”

Watching, studying, Twilight realised that she could see Princess Luna’s doting affection. She could see warmth. Luna’s eyes were twinkling and there was something about Luna’s smile. She saw Luna lean forward and whisper something into the pony’s ear as she wiped his muzzle. Twilight then realised that there was a lot that she didn’t see; chief among what she did not see was Princess Luna’s haughtiness. Her cold arrogance and her lofty superiourity. She heard Luna’s soft laughter as Luna laughed about something, whatever it was, Twilight had not heard it.

“Perhaps stranger is too harsh a word.” Princess Celestia continued to watch her sister. “Luna was the Element of Laughter at one point… seeing her now reminds me a little of how she was way back when. She was jovial and jolly in the right company. She was fond of teasing Star Swirl to the point of utter distraction. She would leave behind bladders filled with air beneath cushions and when ponies sat down, there would be horrific flatulent noises. Luna’s laughter would echo up and down the halls of our old castle. The constant battle changed Luna though. She became lachrymose… and then became withdrawn. She grew distant. Her heart grew hard.”

“That’s awful.” Twilight couldn’t imagine Princess Luna leaving behind a whoopee cushion under a pony’s seat. “Wait, Princess Celestia, they had whoopee cushions back then?”

“Twilight Sparkle, my sister Luna invented the whoopee cushion. It took her hundreds of attempts and different kinds of bladders before she got it correct. I suppose it sounds awful now, using animal bladders, but those were different times back then. They make them out of rubber now… which is a pity. The rubber whoopee cushions lack the charming sound and the realism of a properly cured bladder with a well puckered and slightly lubricated sphincter.”

Stunned, Twilight Sparkle’s mouth fell open.

“I miss those days. Princess Luna teleported one of her greatest experiments beneath me just as I was sitting down in front of a group of zebra diplomats. It caused total bedlam to break out. Of course, Luna totally embarrassed me, but the end result was positive. The zebra diplomats laughed. Because of this shared laughter, we became friends. It led to very positive relations with the Sea of Grass.”

“She did that?” Twilight Sparkle stared at Luna with wide eyed disbelief. Luna’s eyes were closed and the night blue alicorn was laughing about something with the pony in the bed. Twilight wondered what sort of story Luna might be telling him, or what joke she might be saying.

“Luna and Sombra together were actually far, far more chaotic and dangerous than Discord even during the height of his powers. The pair of them left behind paranoid, terrified victims that checked their cushions, minded their beds, guarded their telescopes, and checked their hats for large, hairy spiders before putting them on.”

“Luna… Luna did that?” Twilight Sparkle shook her head. She shivered.

“Princess Luna left a coiled serpent inside of Chancellor Puddinghead’s hat.” Celestia paused. “To Luna’s credit, it was harmless.”

Twilight Sparkle squeaked and then backed up a step. “Now that’s uncalled for.”

“I have long missed my sister… but now, I fear her return.”

 

 

 

 

 

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