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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The last of winter clung to the land with a tenacious grip. Spring was coming and would not be denied. The winter had been harsh; brutal cold, heavy snowfall, it had come early and was staying late. The land had gone into a deep, restorative sleep and now, it showed signs of waking.

Tucked in his bed, the Lord of Winter snoozed, an occasional fitful snort escaping his nostrils as he lay sprawled upon his back, part of him piled beneath the other ponies (and one griffoness) that he shared the bed with.

In his bed, surrounded by those he loved, the Lord of Winter dreamed…

 

 

A long stone hallway stretched before Bucky. It seemed ancient, from a forgotten time, but also familiar somehow, as if Bucky held some memory of it. Suits of armor stood guard along the walls. The armor was old, crude, the only thing it had going for it was the fact that it was solid, heavy, and offered good protection.

Ahead, he heard voices as he approached a set of tall double doors. One of the doors was open, the other closed. The massive timbers were held together with brass fittings.

“The body is missing… Sombra has gone north.”

“North you say. Somepony should go after him.”

“The Lord of Winter is mad with grief… I hesitate to report this, your Majesty—”

“Please, dispense with the formalities.”

“Of course…” There was a long pause. “Necromantic magic was detected. We do not know what has taken place. We suspect that he has perhaps tried to contact her on the other side. One shudders to think of the other possibilities.”

Bucky froze outside the door, unable to take another step, his heart thudding inside of his barrel. He could make out Celestia’s voice on the other side of the door. Very little had changed in a thousand years.

“Majesty, the crime of necromancy is punishable by death… something that the Lord of Winter has enforced countless times—”

“I know what the penalty is!” Celestia snapped.

Standing outside the door, Bucky cringed. The sound of Celestia’s voice was unbearable. Pain, grief… fear.

“Sombra is too valuable of an asset to simply cast aside. He shall have to face consequences, but the empire cannot continue to function without him. We shall have to turn a blind eye to what has been done, whatever it is.”

“Majesty… if we allow for mercy, others will see this laxness and become emboldened, this is the first step down the path of ruin. We need to hunt Sombra down, place him on trial, and have him summarily executed—”

“BE SILENT HURRICANE! I AM IN NO MOOD FOR YOUR SERMONS ABOUT JUSTICE!”

“Very well, you bring this ruin down upon your own head.”

Bucky, standing outside the door, heard somepony stomping off, metal shod hooves rang out like bells against the stone floor. Unable to stop himself, Bucky began to wonder what might have been different had Sombra been hunted down, placed on trial, and put to death before his long slide into madness. The world might be a different place. He felt a heaviness in his heart. Celestia was making a terrible decision, one based upon love rather than reason. He didn’t believe for one moment that Celestia was doing this for the empire.

Stepping forward, Bucky peered through the door to see what he could see…

 

 

“You look troubled,” Bon Bon said as she leaned over and prodded Bucky, touching his neck with her hoof. “Is something bothering you?”

“Yeah,” Bucky replied, seeing no point in lying. “I had a dream that’s bothering me. I’m okay though.”

“Bucky, the past week has been wonderful, having you home, and having us all together, but I have got to go into town today and open up my shop.” Bon Bon frowned and then gave Bucky an apologetic glance.

“Bonnie, do you have to go?” Bucky turned his head and gave the earth pony beside him the saddest look he could muster. He knew he was doing a good job when Bon Bon turned away, biting her lip and blinking her eyes, perhaps blinking away a tear or two. Bon Bon was a lot easier to manipulate now that she was soaked through with pregnancy hormones.

“Bucky, don’t make this hard. That business is my life.” Bon Bon let out a sniffle and then drew in a deep, shuddering breath. “I want to be here with you. I want to be here to help comfort Derpy. I want to be here to play with Harper and the others and somepony responsible needs to be here to keep an eye on Lyra so she doesn’t invent another super lethal contraption.”

“Lyra’s lightning cannon is an amazing invention and the griffons have spent the past week pulling it apart and putting it back together to see if they can improve it.” Bucky grinned and looked over at Berry Punch, who was half awake. She was eating granola and milk. Berry had not even bothered using a spoon, her muzzle was down in the bowl and she was just sucking everything in.

Bon Bon’s sniffles ceased. “Look, I am none too pleased that Lyra built something that is only practical for killing things. It doesn’t serve any other useful purpose. I’ve always tried to keep Lyra’s creative energies focused on candy creation… this just… bothers me. She made something unbelievably dangerous.”

“Bon Bon, you’ve been upset about this for days… I think mommy hormones are—”

“IT ISN’T MOMMY HORMONES!”

“Woah, okay… never mind. No sign of mommy hormones here.”

Trembling, her cheeks bulging as she held her breath, Bon Bon glared at Bucky, her face taking on a purple tone as she tried to swallow her angry retort. She could feel a blood vessel in her temple throbbing like a second heartbeat. She watched as Bucky leaned over in his chair, coming closer. She wanted to shove him away. She wanted to be angry. She wanted to lecture him.

She felt two lips pressing against her own, and then there was a soft kiss that she found that she was powerless to resist. She felt a foreleg wrap around her neck and then, the kiss intensified into something that made Bon Bon want to throw Bucky down on the floor. But not because she was angry. Bon Bon resented that Bucky had weaseled his way out of this.

She clamped down on his lower lip with her teeth and summoned up the will to resist him. She glared down her muzzle, his eyes inches from her own. She could see mischievousness in Bucky’s eyes. Bon Bon’s anger fizzled away. Letting Bucky’s lip slip free from her teeth, Bon Bon reached out, grabbed Bucky around his middle, and then pulled him into her lap, cradling him in her forelegs. He was smaller than her, about the same size as Lyra, and she began stroking his neck with one foreleg.

“You really are bothered by this… I’m sorry,” Bucky said, looking Bon Bon in the eye. He slipped a foreleg around Bon Bon’s neck and gave her a little squeeze. “Is there anything I can do?”

“You’re already doing it,” Bon Bon replied. She heaved a sigh. “Lyra inventing that lightning gun… it’s like watching Sentinel when he succumbed to blood lust. Or knowing that you are off killing something. It just bothers me. I feel like I have failed or something. I feel like it is my job to keep things peaceful… and safe.”

“I think I understand, actually. Some sort of earth pony feeling to keep the herd around them stable and calm—”

“Yup… I think so too.” Milk dribbled from Berry Punch’s muzzle as she looked at Bon Bon and Bucky. “Keep the herd from fighting. Keep everypony pacified, happy, and working together to maintain stability.” Berry Punch let go of a thunderous, gurgling belch and then returned to eating her granola, stuffing her muzzle down into her bowl.

“I’m going to kiss you now and maybe grope you a bit.” Bucky nuzzled Bon Bon’s muzzle with his own. “If you would like, I could send you to work with a smile. There is a kelpie around here that I could work out my own frustrations on.”

“No, Bucky, that’s okay. If that happens, I’ll never leave the house. You’ll find other ways to keep me here.” Bon Bon, feeling Bucky’s muzzle moving against her own, felt a shiver go down her spine. She gave him a squeeze.

“That’s the idea, Bonnie…”

 

 

Violet Velvet watched as Apple Bloom got comfortable in her chair and Diamond Tiara was already reading through the folder of information, the pink filly’s eyes squinted through her reading glasses. The royal seal of Princess Celestia was emblazoned upon the front of the folder.

“So what do I need to do exactly?” Apple Bloom asked. She glanced over at Diamond Tiara, then back at Violet. “Where is Bucky? Isn’t he supposed to be here?”

“Bucky is finalising some adoption papers for a filly named Firelock and welcoming her into the nation of griffons,” Violet replied. She gave Apple Bloom a smile. “This is very, very important to him.”

“Oh.” Apple Bloom sat back in her chair. “That is important.” She cleared her throat and then leaned over to read over Diamond Tiara’s shoulder. “So I have an official royal duty that I must attend to. What am I supposed to do?”

“You have to choose the Maiden of Spring. The Lord of Winter must surrender the season and the Maiden of Spring must announce the coming of spring.” Diamond Tiara continued reading and her eyes darted from side to side. “Each year a new Maiden of Spring is selected to symbolise renewal and the tender new growth of spring. Ideally, the Maiden of Spring should be a young, fresh faced filly.” Diamond Tiara groaned and tossed the folder down upon the table. She looked up at Violet, her face becoming pinker by the moment.

“What’s wrong?” Violet asked.

“The Maiden of Spring is to be innocent of the knowledge of colts.” Diamond Tiara swallowed and cleared her throat. “Not even a kiss. The Maiden of Spring must know purity and innocence.”

“Well, that rules out most of the fillies I know,” Apple Bloom said.

“Oh dear.” Violet sat down in a chair.

“Diamond Tiara, you’re right out… I mean, you were just trying to eat Sentinel’s face in the school hallway the other day—”

“APPLE BLOOM!” Diamond Tiara slumped down in her chair, her ears limp against her face. She covered her face with her hooves and let out a long groan.

“Piña… I know Piña has been smooching Larch. Not big, wet sloppy tongue wrasslin’ kisses like a certain pink filly I know, but still kisses.” Apple Bloom’s eyes narrowed and she looked over at Diamond Tiara.

“It was a dare, okay? There was a lot of peer pressure and I’m still struggling to fit in and gain acceptance… don’t judge me!” Diamond Tiara shrank down even further into her chair while trying to hide her face.

“Wait, who dared you to do that?” Apple Bloom asked. One eyebrow raised and she leaned closer to Diamond Tiara. “Don’t make me pull rank as a princess.”

“Scootaloo… it was Scootaloo.” Diamond Tiara squeezed her eyes shut.

“I’m gonna have to have a long talk with Scoots.” Apple Bloom shook her head. “Sorry if Scoots made you uncomfortable… she’s going through a phase of some kind. I don’t understand that pegasus.”

“Well, that doesn’t change the fact that I wanted to do it,” Diamond Tiara said in a squeaky whisper. “Scoots didn’t have to try very hard.”

“This is all very endearing, but we need to discuss the issue at hoof.” Violet Velvet looked at the two fillies, her expression stern. “Playground politics, while very important to you two, is best left on the playground.”

“Right. Sorry Violet.” Apple Bloom sat up straight and folded her front hooves together on the edge of the table. Beside her, Diamond Tiara was doing much the same.

“So we need a young filly that hasn’t kissed a colt. What about kissing other fillies?” Diamond Tiara asked.

“The spirit of the tradition remains.” Violet’s eyes narrowed and she shook her head. “We need a young filly, innocent, fresh faced, no kissing.”

“This is going to be hard.” Diamond Tiara leaned over the folder, adjusted her glasses, her seriousness overcoming her embarrassment. “We’re going to have to search the lower grades.”

“I have an idea.” Apple Bloom reached over and poked Diamond Tiara. “We can get Dinky to do it.”

“Dinky?” Diamond Tiara blinked as the idea registered in her mind.

“Dinky… Dinky isn’t in to colts. She skipped out on the dance. As far as I know, the only colt she has kissed is her brother, Sentinel, and I don’t think that counts.” Apple Bloom looked over at Violet and then began to tap one hoof upon the desk.

“Dinky and Twist have been spending a lot of time together… if we want her to do this, we might need to have a chitchat with her about waiting until after the welcoming of spring.” Diamond Tiara lifted her head and looked at Violet. “All of this seems like such a big deal over nothing.”

“It is an old tradition that is being revived. It should be respected, even if we think it might be silly,” Violet said in a patient voice. “These traditions come from a time long ago. The Maiden of Spring would lead other fillies her age in a dance to celebrate the end of winter. It comes from an earth pony tradition. When the tribes united, there was a ceremonial transfer of power… the Lord of Winter, a unicorn, would surrender to the Maiden of Spring to welcome in the new season of growth. There was a Champion of Fall too. That comes from the pegasi, who would have their games once the hard work of the summer was over.”

“What about summer?” Apple Bloom asked.

“Princess Celestia became the embodiment of summer with her summer sun celebration. She brings the summer heat so that new foals can be born in the spring.” Violet smiled and looked at the two fillies. “Both of you have had your heats, so you know what that is like.”

“Are we going to bring back the Champion of Fall?” Diamond Tiara asked.

“Yes.” Violet nodded. “The winner of the Running of the Leaves might be a candidate for the position.”

“What about ponies in other cities? Other places?” Apple Bloom asked.

“Ah, I was hoping you would ask that.” Violet smiled and felt pleased. “Princess Celestia wants to revive the tradition here, in Ponyville. In time, she wants to expand to other places. One day Apple Bloom, you might have to go Vanhoover to pick a Maiden of Spring… or off to Baltimare to find a Champion of Fall.”

Apple Bloom took a moment to allow this to sink in. She looked over at Diamond Tiara, then back at Violet. The subtle implication here was that this was going to be a long term project that she was going to be responsible for. This was like planting a seed and then watching it grow. Apple Bloom’s ears pitched forwards. She was being made responsible for re-establishing old traditions.

“Violet, I want to begin preparations on next year’s selection of the Maiden of Spring. I don’t know what I’m doing just yet, but there should be some kind of pageant, some kind of competition to help select the next one.” Apple Bloom waited for any kind of reply, feeling butterflies in her stomach.

“Like a beauty pageant?” Violet raised her eyebrow.

Apple Bloom shook her head. “No… no, that’s all wrong. Beauty pageants are all about popularity and there are too many shy fillies that might get left out at having a fair shot. We don’t want that.”

“Well, then, what?” Violet peered at Apple Bloom through her quarter moon reading glasses and waited for Apple Bloom to come up with something.

“Some kind of essay,” Apple Bloom said, speaking mostly to herself, her words coming out in a low mumble. “An essay. Every little filly is in school, or should be, and essays are something we all can do. This would encourage better writing skills too.”

“So an essay… about what?” Violet asked.

“I don’t know yet. We’ll need to discuss that.” Apple Bloom looked at Diamond Tiara. “I’m gonna need your help… I can’t do this on my own.”

“You know I’ll help,” Diamond Tiara replied. “I’ll talk to Sentinel. He’s a writer. He’s bound to have a good, simple idea that will be easy to execute.”

“Good idea!” Apple Bloom’s whole face lit up. “We can gather up all the submitted essays, take the very best of them, and have Twilight Sparkle publish them as a collection. We can then take that book, sell it, and then all the money that is made from book sales can go towards a good cause. I don’t know what though.”

“That is some progressive thinking.”

Apple Bloom looked up and saw Bucky standing in the doorway of the farmhouse library. He was smiling, looking quite pleased. She watched as he entered the library and then sit down in his chair, the chair that nopony else sat in, with the exception of Sentinel and sometimes Harper. He picked up a ledger and began writing something down.

Apple Bloom thought of what Bucky had been doing, finalising an adoption, a filly going to two griffon parents. It gave her an idea. “Next year’s theme for an essay should be unity. Not just tribal unity, but all of Equestria’s new residents. Griffons, diamond dogs, donkeys, minotaurs, zebras… some kind of essay on the importance of unity, from the point of view of a little filly that is going to grow up and live in this future we have coming.”

“Apple Bloom, that’s a good idea.” Diamond Tiara lifted up a pen and began to scribble something down upon a notepad.

Apple Bloom saw Bucky glance at her, but she could not make out his expression. “And make certain that the Maiden of Spring is available to all little females that submit an essay…”

 

 

 

 

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