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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Old world Ponyland seeks new union, change of name, unification of nations,” Berry Punch read to herself in silence. Clearing her throat, she continued out loud. “Diamond dogs, minotaurs, other species demand place in unification, uniting against our common threat.”

Berry Punch took a moment to take all of this in. “I’ll be damned. Something good came out of this war. If the old world unifies into one country, they’ll be a nation to rival Equestria or the Sea of Grass.”

She opened the paper to the next page, her ears perked to the sounds of the dining room just behind her. Comfortable in the living room, Berry Punch wanted to avoid the early morning hubbub in the different dining areas. She just wanted some quiet time to read and hug her own belly. The next page of the paper had a large editorial praising Princess Twilight Sparkle’s efforts to heal the wounds of war and an outline of the Princess of Friendship’s post-war plan to rebuild the shattered global economy and trade foundations. Equestria and the Sea of Grass were going to assist with careful advancement and modernisation of many nations in the old world, bringing them into the modern age and gifting them arcano-tech. Berry found herself nodding in agreement, it seemed like a reasonable thing to do. Everybody knew that having the have-nots looking and longing at those who have-much was the cause of almost every major conflict. At least, everypony in Clan Pickled knew that anyway.

“Berry?”

Lowering her paper, Berry Punch looked and saw a black feathered figure in the doorway. The earth pony smiled and patted the couch beside her. “Come and sit with me.”

“No, that’s okay,” Boadicea replied as she entered the room proper. She stood in the middle of the floor. “I talked with Sentinel last night. I followed your advice. I said everything on my mind, no holding back, and was totally honest.”

“Oh?” Berry Punch felt a growing sense of intrigue. “How did that go?”

“Just like you said it would. Sentinel listened to what I had to say, and he was very reasonable and up front in return. He respected me.” Boadicea sat down on the floor and her black eyes locked on to Berry Punch’s eyes, maintaining contact.

“Boadicea, I have found, while there is a time for playful games, there is also a time for being blunt and direct. Males are never mind readers and a sense of mystery only goes so far.” Berry Punch’s lips puckered up and  then popped. “So… if you don’t mind me asking, what did the two of you talk about?”

Boadicea, realising that Sentinel was in the dining room and was probably listening to all of this, shook her head. “Sorry Berry. That’s private. I just wanted to say that your advice worked and probably saved me a lot of heartache. It also allowed me to have a very straightforward conversation with Diamond Tiara that put the two of us on even pawing. Hoofing. Footing?” The griffoness cub’s head tilted off to one side as she spoke.

“Well, glad I could help.” Berry Punch’s brain began to calculate and plot out the most likely options of conversation, thought about the long talk with Sentinel a while back involving his urges, and the nose-dive into adolescence that Sentinel, Diamond Tiara, and Boadicea were experiencing. “One last piece of advice?”

Boadicea lifted her head, her crest rising, then lowering, then rising again in interest.

“Don’t hide yourselves away from one another.” Berry Punch lowered her voice, becoming quite solemn and serious. “You and Sentinel should not hide yourselves away from Diamond Tiara. It isn’t fair to her. Sooner or later, Diamond Tiara is going to see how you and Sentinel really are. Better for her to see that now, talk to her therapist, get it sorted out, and make peace with it now, rather than later.”

“Are you suggesting letting Diamond Tiara watch us hunt?” Boadicea asked in an almost inaudible whisper. Boadicea shook her head. “No… no… she’s a pony.”

“A pony that plans to marry into a group of snarly meat eating hunters.” Berry Punch tossed her paper aside. “Look, all I am saying is, it took me some time to adjust to Thistle and Bucky and their eating habits. I’m still sorting that out in my head. Sooner or later, Diamond Tiara is going to watch you bone crunching carnivores go at it and she’s going to be thinking that she’s food. I know I still think I’m delicious food when I watch Bucky eat something that once had a face.” Berry Punch cleared her throat. “I’m not saying let her see a bloody hunt… just saying, ease her into the experience slowly. A little at a time. She’s a tough filly and she’ll be fine… just soften the shock somehow.”

“Every other piece of advice you have given me has worked.” Boadicea nodded. “I will do as you say. Thank you, Berry Punch.”

“Don’t mention it.”

 

 

“Is something wrong, Fluttershy?” Bucky asked as Fluttershy bounced Cadance up and down. He could see the worry upon Fluttershy’s face. Worry… and something else.

“He… he just made me a little angry. There is nothing wrong,” Fluttershy replied. The no-longer-a-pegasus stopped bouncing Cadance and cradled her instead, delighting as Cadance cooed.

“What happened?” Bucky reached up with his talons and brushed his long mane out of his eyes, pushing it away from his face. He then adjusted his torque and his snowflake pendant.

“He took off Lunacy’s mask and didn’t tell me. He left her with Tranquility… it scared me.” Fluttershy hugged Cadance closer and closed her eyes.

“I am assuming that Tranquility is unharmed.” Bucky rubbed his muzzle, blinked, and then studied Fluttershy’s face. “So… you are upset that Discord did the same thing to you that you did to Princess Celestia when you helped me.”

“No… that’s not… it… at… all.” Fluttershy deflated in her chair and her ears drooped. She slumped down, shaking her head. “Yeah. I guess that sums it up.” Fluttershy heaved a sigh, still shaking her head, and then raised her eyes to look at Bucky. “I suppose some apologies are in order.”

“It seems that way.” Bucky smiled a toothy smile. “Fluttershy, try not to worry about it too much. The way I see it, we’ve all become family because of everything that’s happened. It is in our best interest to forgive one another. We need each other.”

“Bucky, if you don’t mind me saying, you’ve been very different since you woke up from your long nap,” Fluttershy said in a voice as soft as slippery silk.

“I feel different. Happier somehow. I don’t know how to put it.” Bucky leaned back in his chair, crossed one hind leg over the other, and began to scratch his chin as he contemplated. “More than anything, I just want to go home, be with my family, and make booze.”

“Well, you certainly made a strong batch of whatever that was after that really weird wedding for North Star and Kiara,” Fluttershy said to Bucky, recalling the cider that had laid so many low. “What did you do?”

“Freeze distillation. I took weak apple cider, froze the water, removed the water, and kept freezing until all I had left was high test alcohol.” Bucky made a dismissive motion with his talons. “Foal’s play, really. Alcohol brought a lot of ponies together. Made new friendships. Made a lot of ponies and griffons and diamond dogs and minotaurs dance. And I feel good about it.”

“Bucky, there is something weird about you…” Fluttershy squeezed Cadance even tighter. “Right now, I can feel it. As you were talking, I felt it.”

“I feel different, Fluttershy. Like some great weight has been lifted from my back,” Bucky replied.

Fluttershy cleared her throat. “Well… we should work on what Twilight wanted us to work on. Me teaching you how to meditate. How to control your stress. Bucky, I want you to begin thinking calm thoughts. I am going to give you Cadance and she is going to be your calm anchor that will keep you from going adrift in the seas of stress. Okay?”

“Okay,” Bucky said, leaning forward, paying attention, and becoming a bit more serious. He waited for Fluttershy to let go of Cadance so he could take her.

“Once you have Cadance, I want you to focus upon the sounds of my voice,” Fluttershy said as she passed Cadance over to Bucky. “I want you to feel sleepy and calm… go into your happy place…”

 

 

Pacing the deck, Princess Luna, bleary eyed and still a bit intoxicated, thought of home. More than anything, she thought of Erebus. Erebus and Barley. How good it would feel to sleep in a bed with Erebus and Barley. The back of her skull ached. Bucky, being a clever archmage, had made high test liquor out of weak apple cider. Bucky had done what few could. He had laid many Myrmidons low and there would be much bellyaching and complaints of hangovers later.

There was also the worrisome changes that Bucky seemed to have gone through, something that left both Luna and her sister feeling quite alarmed. Luna paused, no longer pacing, and squeezed her eyes shut. She cursed her sister’s sun, and wish the night would hurry. The sun was setting, but it was not setting fast enough.

Luna’s alicorn senses told her that the sun should be rising over Ponyville. Erebus would be waking up, maybe, Erebus had a little trouble with mornings and preferred the night. Luna resumed her pacing along the deck, walking along the rail, the wind ruffling her feathers.

She wished the ship could go faster, but this big hospital frigate was slow. She had half a mind to commandeer the The Scorned Mare and head home in a much faster ship. Hooves thudding on the deck planks as she paced, Luna came to the slow realisation that any ship she took would be slow. She could be home in a few blinks and three shakes of a pony’s tail if she wanted to be. Home with Erebus. Home with Barley. Home with good news for her godfoals.

She wasn’t needed here. Luna knew that. Celestia had everything in hoof. Luna looked off to the west, feeling a powerful need to be home. It was a feeling quite unlike anything else that Luna knew or had felt during her long life.

With a supersonic crack, Luna’s wings spread and she lept over the deck rail.

 

 

Sitting beside the bed, Silver Shill looked at Applejack’s sleeping form. She lay on her side, her mane no longer held in place by its usual red ribbon, and it had spilled out all over her face, covering her closed eyes, and draping over her delicate muzzle. The blankets rose and fell with each breath.

Applejack had been devastated by the news of her grandmother’s death and there wasn’t much that Silver Shill could do for his wife, other than remain at her side. Silver Shill was puzzled by Applejack’s reaction to the news; the mare had not shed a single tear. At least, not yet. Silver wondered if she was holding them in until she was home. In grief, Applejack had turned to him and there had been much lovemaking, with Applejack saying over and over how much she needed him.

It left Silver feeling confused and a little worried. He realised that he was still getting to know Applejack, and that you really didn’t know a pony until you had watched them experience grief. They had dealt with the heartbreaking issues of Babs together, and there had been much grief in that situation, but this was different, Silver supposed. They still had Babs and any time that Applejack was feeling overwhelmed by what had happened to Babs, she could run and hug Babs until Babs pleaded and begged to be let go.

There would be no hugging Granny Smith. She was gone. Silver let out a soft sigh, feeling an odd feeling of contentment as his wife’s barrel rose and fell with each breath. He was glad to see her breathing. She was still very much alive, and so was the foal in her belly. Silver’s foal.

The impossible foal that shouldn’t have happened but did. Applejack, always the responsible sort, had been on the pill. Applejack, the athletic sort, had an athletic love of sex, always finding some good reason to have a go at it. It was good exercise. It was a way to relieve stress. It was a good way to get a little cardio in during the middle of a long walk. It was a good way to warm the bed when you first got in and the sheets were cold against the skin. It was the perfect way to pass a rainy afternoon. It was a good way to get somepony’s attention and have a little talk. It was the perfect distraction to deal with loss after the heartbreaking news of a death in the family.

Silver Shill came to an understanding about Applejack’s reasoning. Applejack had to be doing something physical if she wanted to engage in something mental, something he himself had to do. There were no fields to plow, no chores to do, no heavy labour. There was just this airship, a bed, and each other. Silver supposed that Applejack was sorting through her grief in her own way, but it still worried him that she had not cried. He had watched her cry about other things, so why not this? He didn’t know and it bothered him a great deal.

He watched as Applejack’s eyelids fluttered and then he caught a flash of the greenest green. There was a faint snort as Applejack tried to blow her mane away from her nose. He watched her ears twitch.

“Silver, get in this bed, I needs me a cuddle,” Applejack said in a low, raspy voice that was still thick and husky from sleep. “Hold me… I’m feelin’ powerful lonesome.”

Nodding, Silver rose from his chair and made his way to the bed.

 

 

 

 

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