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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“I bring good tidings! Bucky is well, the war is over, the fleet is coming home, Belisama has been granted a knighthood—and now I want my sweet little Erebus!” Princess Luna shouted as she burst through the front door of the farmhouse.

She began to hear the start of what was sure to be a commotion as several voices cried out in reply. Looking into the living room, Luna saw nopony. She turned and looked into the kitchen, saw Semillon, waved with one hoof, and then, with a wide smile upon her face, she began to make her way up the stairs, heading for Barley’s bedroom.

“Luna, what are you doing back?” Lyra asked, shouting down the hall from the back of the house where the master bedroom was.

“I had to return to Erebus! I left him! I am a terrible mother and I must make amends!”

“Are you certain that Bucky is okay?” Berry Punch asked.

“Positive!” Luna shouted in reply as she neared the top of the stairs.

In the hallway, Luna turned left, heading to the end of the hall where Barley’s bedroom was. She thumped down the hallway, her head high, and she heard a familiar squeal. It was Erebus’ happy squeal, one part foalish squeak and one part echolocation.

“Ach, crivens!”

And that would be Barley, Luna thought to herself as she flung open the door. Barley had been lazing about in the bed. He was wearing a thick flannel robe, and had hot water bottles on each of his hind knees. Beside him in the bed was Erebus, and it looked as though Barley had been reading to the colt.

“Aye, lass, yer a sight to make eyes sore,” Barley said to Luna.

“Barley, for that, I intend to be a nagging wife…” Luna shook her head, looking serious for a moment, and then her muzzle split with a smile.

“Mama!” Erebus began to bounce on the bed, causing Barley to grunt in pain.

Shutting the door behind her, Luna then joined those she loved in the bed.

 

 

“Stargarden?” Dinky approached her teacher’s desk and her inquiry was made in a soft voice, so the others in the class would not be disturbed.

“Yes Dinky, my prized pupil?” Stargarden replied, smiling a broad smile, her voice also low and soft. “Is there something you need?”

“I wanted to talk about my project.” Dinky looked into her teacher’s eyes, blinked, and then looked down at the floor. “I might have been a bit over ambitious.”

“No progress?” Stargarden didn’t look disappointed at all, but deep concern began to show on her face. “You chose a very difficult project, wanting to show that levitation is possible during sleep.”

“I know… and now I’m afraid I’m going to fail,” Dinky said in a huffy, almost pouty voice. “I… I can’t take the thought of failure. It fills me up with so much worry. I’m having trouble dealing with it. I think my neurosis is affecting my mind.”

“Dinky, you are getting very good at spotting the early warning signs. For a foal your age, you have a remarkable handle on your state of mental well being.” Stargarden reached out, placed her hoof under Dinky’s chin, and lifted the foal’s head, making Dinky look up so Stargarden could peer into the filly’s eyes.

“I’ve been wanting to play pranks. Not just any pranks, but mean pranks. All this stress… with my father gone… all my schoolwork… all my studies… Apple Bloom’s grandmother just died… I can feel the pressure building and now I’m freaking out because I don’t want to fail this project.” Dinky struggled to look her teacher in the eye.

“Dinky, all I can tell you is that sometimes, how we deal with failure is just as important as how we deal with success. Don’t be afraid to fail. If all we do is succeed, when do we learn? We need mistakes.” Stargarden’s expression softened. “I don’t think that you will fail though. You are the most driven little filly I have ever met, and you have something that other fillies don’t.”

“I do?” Dinky asked, blinking, confused, and wondering what she had.

“You have Piña, and Piña is a powerful asset. She is your friend, your sister, and if you will let her, she will gladly carry your burdens. Piña is your strength.” Stargarden smiled and hoped that Dinky felt better. Sometimes, all a foal needed was a pep-talk to re-ignite their confidence. A pep-talk and a reminder that there was always help to be had.

“Thanks… I’ll keep trying. I’m just feeling really discouraged,” Dinky said.

“Maybe try having a little fun for a while and ease up on your studies,” Stargarden suggested in a soft voice. She gave Dinky a nudge. “Now go sit down. Class is going to be a long one today.”

 

 

“Defensive charms and protective cantrips,” Daylight Shadow said as he wrote his words down upon the chalkboard. “And in keeping with the theme of safety, spells that can summon help.”

“Most of us are type ones and type twos… can’t summon help,” a filly said.

“Sure we can.” A small colt adjusted his glasses. He cleared his throat, coughed, smiled, and then recited, “Whenever I am all alone and I am too scared to think, whenever I need some help, I flash my light and blink.”

“That will summon help,” Daylight Shadow said to his class. “That is a most excellent example and it has a long and storied history. But this is not a history class.” He turned back around and began writing on the chalkboard again.

A unicorn to light my way, a pegasus to watch over me, and an earth pony to shoulder my heavy burdens.

Daylight Shadow turned to look at his class. “This is the Founder’s Prayer. Each and every day you probably pass by this in the halls. It is inscribed everywhere throughout this school. It also contains helpful advice. Can anypony tell me what it is?”

Sweetie Belle raised her hoof.

“Sweetie Belle, go ahead,” Daylight Shadow said.

“Light.” Sweetie Belle sat up a little straighter in her seat. “Light clears away darkness, allowing us to see. It provides comfort and gives us courage. It is the first step towards regaining control when a situation goes bad. Powerful light can keep away shadow creatures and even lesser demons. Unicorns bring light to the darkness, allowing pegasi to fight and earth ponies to see where to plant their hooves.”

Nodding, Daylight Shadow smiled. “Very good.” He took a deep breath. “Anypony in here know any basic charms?”

A colt, not waiting to be called on, blurted out, “I know how to cast a grounding spell. My sister is electrically aligned and she keeps zapping everypony in the family because she can’t hold back her magic.”

“Ah yes, static discharge.” Daylight Shadow smiled. “A common problem for little unicorns with electric talents. Who taught you how to cast that charm?”

The colt smiled and his ears splayed out sideways. “My mother.”

“Nothing to be embarrassed about. Little unicorns should learn spells from their parents. There is no shame in that. Home educated unicorns can be just as useful and just as powerful as their contemporaries that are taught in the finest schools.” Daylight Shadow’s face became solemn and serious. “A good education should begin in the home.”

“I learned how to make myself fire resistant from my father,” a filly said. “Daddy worries all the time that everything is going to burst into flames and he is always checking to see if somepony left the stove or the oven on. Sometimes he wakes up in the middle of the night and goes downstairs to check and see if the stove is on. He doesn’t want me burning.”

“Anypony else?” Daylight Shadow asked.

“Just this winter I learned how to make my hooves not slip on the ice,” a filly replied.

“That is the very essence of a good defensive charm.” Daylight Shadow lifted his head high. “It is a spell that is cast and then forgotten about. It prevents injury and keeps you safe.”

“I learned how to magically lock a door to keep my big brother out of my room,” Bloo said, a wide grin on her face. “A locked door keeps you safe. He can’t noogie me.”

“A locked door is always a good start in a crisis. Bright lights, a locked door, these are little things you can do to keep yourself safe when trouble happens.” Daylight Shadow looked at his class and smiled as he waited for further suggestions.

 

 

“Hello little sister… how have you been?”

Startled, Princess Celestia whirled about, her horn glowing as bright as the sun. In one’s private quarters that were locked and protected, one did not expect to hear voices. Standing in her room were two visitors. One was an earth pony, pale, pink eyes, and a black cloak. The other was a unicorn with a tired, weary expression.

“Atropos… Thanatos. I did not expect to see you. You scared me.” Princess Celestia lifted her head and then studied her visitors as her horn dimmed. “What brings you here?”

“You sent a message. In the name of good family relations, we answered. Sorry, but Clotho and Lachesis are very busy making certain that nothing interferes with the unification of old world Ponyland,” Atropos replied. The unicorn sighed and shook her head. “There is going to be heavy resistance in the unseen realms. You have made enemies. You are destroying the granaries of Tartarus and leaving a lot of hungry, angry demons.”

“They can piss off,” Celestia said, feeling no need to be prim or proper in private. There was no decorum to observe here. “I sent the message because I was worried about—”

“My little brother.” Atropos scowled, her timeless face becoming wizened with wrinkles. She shook her head. “I’ll be honest with you. I don’t know what Father was doing with War. I can’t get inside of War’s head at the moment and his string has become very difficult to see. Father must have awoke from his nap just long enough to screw with us… I loathe him.”

“So Father was doing something with Bucky while he was under. Luna could not enter his mind and she tried everything.” Celestia looked at her older sister and raised an eyebrow. “Is Bucky a threat to us?”

“Well of course War is a threat to us, you blithering ninny! He’s the thrice damned Destroyer of All Things!” Atropos shouted. The unicorn shifted, shimmered, and warped. She became an alicorn, one of an even larger body than Celestia. Her cutie mark was a ball of twine. “His power has been greatly weakened though. With the end of the conflict, he has lost much of what he draws power from. I wish I knew what Father’s game is. Each day that passes I grow to hate him a little more. I despise him for driving a wedge between us—”

“Atropos, I really am sorry for everything—”

“Hush… it isn’t your fault. He gets inside of a pony’s head and he messes with everything… he made his own foals hate one another. You know, I’d like to end him!” Atropos’ wings flared out and she smacked Thanatos in the face by accident.

“Morta, you need to relax,” Thanatos said as he stepped away from his sister.

“Look here you contemptuous, necromentia impaired, festering, maggot ridden, prolapsed, thrice buggered undead asshole, now is not the time to start shit with me!”

Celestia’s mouth dropped open from the ear blistering profanity that spewed from Atropos’ lips and she took a step backwards while shaking her head in disapproval.

“Sister, Atropos, forgive me… I spoke in jest.” Thanatos bowed his head.

Atropos’ eyes narrowed and she glared at her brother as her lip curled back from her teeth in an uncertain snarl. After a moment of sullen staring at her brother, she returned her attention to her little sister. “We don’t know what Father did to War. Has he shown any bizarre or otherwise disturbing behaviour?”

“Well, Bucky has been unusually happy. Well focused. He has been sleeping better. He has not flown into a blind spitting rage for a while. It scares me,” Princess Celestia replied.

“This is pathetic. War seems genuinely happy and we’re all cowering from paranoia. This is why I hate Father with every fibre of my being. For all we know, he might have made War happy just to dick with us. Get us paranoid. Make us lose our nerve and our focus.” Atropos glowered at nopony in particular and her wings rustled at her sides.

“War did fulfill his function—well, sort of... during his rampage as a titanic ice elemental, he killed thousands. It isn’t ending all life as we know it, but that has to satisfy the itch a bit.”

“Thanatos, that is a horrible thought... but you might have a point,” Atropos said to her brother. “War might be experiencing some kind of orgasmic afterglow, as horrifying as that might seem. Still doesn’t explain why his mind has been sealed off.”

“Bucky is still a gentle sort… deep down. I refuse to believe that he would feel such elation from killing thousands.” Princess Celestia tossed her head back, snorted, and then looked at her siblings. “Must we always assume the worst of him?”

“Yes!” Atropos snapped. “I have a genuine feeling of love and affection for War… he has endured much. But I know what he is capable of. You and Clotho both have soft hearts… the two of you should speak more.”

“Which reminds me… Celestia, you will soon be an aunt. Clotho is with foal,” Thanatos said to his sister.

“What?” Celestia blinked in surprise. “Who is the father?”

“Clotho won’t say.” Thanatos shrugged and offered a sheepish smile to Celestia.

“Clotho has populated the world with the thousands of earth ponies she has squirted from her womb. I wonder what she will do with this one.” Atropos heaved a sigh and looked at Celestia. “Knowing Clotho, she will keep it for a month or two, grow bored, find a decent enough family, and then be rid of it. She likes the screwing, she likes the pregnancy, she likes the birthing, but she is not at all fond of the foal rearing.”

“Lachesis will be wanting another foal… you mark my word,” Thanatos said.

“Lachesis’ many foals are the reason why zebras have magic.” Atropos looked at Celestia. “Did you know that?”

“I have always wondered,” Celestia replied.

“We should get together more often. Talk more. This is nice.” Atropos took a deep breath, held it, let it out in a slow huff, and then her ears pivoted forwards. “We must keep up the momentum we have. The world approaches an era of peace that I would have thought impossible. We must continue making progress towards this end and we must drive the mirror travelers from our world. If we can do this, perhaps Father will relent and let us continue. Perhaps he can be convinced to go away and leave Granum in our care, even in its broken state, it is our home. We must continue to strive towards peace.”

“Even if it means allowing War to crush those who stand in our way into a fine greasy paste,” Thanatos said, adding to his sister’s sentiment. “We will use Father’s tools against him. He might have sent War to end us, but War has become our strongest weapon against Father’s machinations.”

“War has obliterated many of the short term threats to us and our long term plans. Magic is now laying out the foundations for our long term survival,” Atropos said to her brother, replying to Thanatos’ spoken observations.

“Are you willing to relent upon the gun issue?” Thanatos asked.

“No!” Atropos watched as Thanatos rolled his eyes. “I will never relent on that issue. Not after Rye Mash and the bloody swath that he carved across the continents!”

“There you go, bringing personal issues into this matter that should be dealt with using unbiased opinion and logic!” Thanatos retorted, his eyes narrowing.

“Enough! Both of you! I am sick of your bickering!” Celestia demanded.

“Atropos, like it or not, guns are a necessary evil. War has found ways to minimise the damage done to innocents. Firearms are our best weapon against the invaders. Let’s face it, the more distance between us and them the better.” Thanatos’ ears perked forwards as he waited for his sister’s reply.

“I will never relent on the gun issue.” Atropos shook her head. “But I will admit they have made a difference in this conflict. Once this conflict is over, once this threat has been nullified, I want them gone. All of them.”

“And what of future threats?” Celestia asked.

“Are you revealing where you stand on the issue?” Atropos demanded.

“Not at all.” Celestia let out a sniff. “I am being practical and asking the question that needs to be asked.”

“We will deal with future threats in the future, where they belong. Guns represent a threat to our long term survival. Has it occurred to either of you that guns might contribute to why Father believes this planet is irredeemable?” Atropos glanced at her sister and then at her brother.

“That is certainly something to think about,” Thanatos replied. “But the same could be said for magic in general. Same kind of threat, same sort of atrocities committed. I have collected far more souls killed by magic than by guns.”

“Look, let us not get into this issue,” Celestia said, butting in before Atropos could respond. “I am weary of fighting. I do not wish to bicker. If the two of you want to fight, please, go.”

Atropos sighed, shook her head, and relented. She looked at her sister and offered a submissive smile. “For your sake, I will cease my eons of squabbling with my brother, whom I love.”

“Thank you,” Celestia replied. The alicorn’s eyes widened as she remembered something she had intended to ask if the opportunity presented itself. “Atropos, tell me, do you know anything about griffons and cutie marks? Something has happened recently and it has left be quite puzzled.”

“The griffons abandoned their harmonious existence and gave up their place as the protectors of the equine species. They lost their cutie marks eons ago.” Atropos smiled a devious smile and her ears pitched forwards. “Recently though, griffons began to once more live a harmonious existence.”

“Griffons had cutie marks?” Celestia asked.

“All things that served the Greater Balance bore the mark of a harmonious existence,” Thanatos replied in a low voice. “Even before the rebellion, the marks began to disappear.”

“Belisama got a cutie mark.” Celestia looked at Atropos. “What do you know of this?”

“I know that a deal was struck with Odin and that now, we have begun to heal the wound. This is only the beginning. In time, who knows what will happen?” Atropos replied.

“But why Belisama?” Celestia asked.

“Fervent dedication,” Thanatos replied. “Love. Belisama obeys the ebb and flow of harmony. I told Odin that this might happen if Belisama followed her husband into conflict.”

“But why her?” Celestia shook her head. “I mean, she is a fine example of her species, but I just want to understand what is going on.”

“She secured a future for her species. She has assured the survival of the griffons. She has touched upon her original purpose and now others will follow her lead. The predator has found redemption and has returned as the shepherd,” Atropos replied.

“Stop being cryptic… I just want to understand more of what is going on.” Celestia looked at her sister and heaved an impatient sigh.

“Hmm… you know, I think I shall go and visit War, his bird of prey, and Love. I’m in the mood for a snuggle,” Atropos said, her body shifting and becoming a unicorn again.

“You are impossible… you are so frustrating.” Celestia scowled and rolled her eyes.

Thanatos nodded. “I’ve been saying that for tens of thousands of years now.”

 

 

 

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