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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“Buckminster… what in Equestria have you done to yourself? What are you?” Luna asked as she stopped and stared at Bucky in a most unprincessly manner. Bucky was some sort of long snake like creature that had chicken legs in the back and long membranous bat wings. Luna had never seen anything like it.

“Master has changed himself into a zilant,” Sunset Shimmer said to Luna. Sunset Shimmer herself had chosen a more practical form. A long bodied and sleek dragoness. “Master says he rather likes this form. I think Master looks hideous.”

“I concur.” Luna drew back her head and shook it as a sign of her disapproval. “Buckminster… as always, you are an eyesore.”

“I like this form,” Bucky said in a hissy voice. “I can breathe a cloud of gas that causes uncontrollable laughter and hysteria. In this body, I can be dangerous but not lethal.”

“Hmm.” Luna peered down at the strange zilant creature and tilted her head to one side. “I suppose that is a benefit.” Luna flared out her wings and gave them a flap. “Ready to go? We have a long, long way to go this night. We are heading to the Crystal Mountains. Once there, we will need to locate a group of mountains known as Sombra’s Teeth. The whole area was infested with—”

“Trolls, giants, and dragons,” Bucky said, interrupting Luna as a strange new memory bubbled up to the surface of his mind. “Sombra and Commander Hurricane led an army into these mountains. They killed most of the monsters who lived there. The smart dragons fled and headed off to the utter east, the dragon homeland.”

“You know, it’s kinda funny… dragons were content to gobble up earth ponies and pegasi, but once the unicorns got involved and made it known that pony poaching was a crime punishable by extermination, the dragons decided to go and live on the other side of the world.” Sunset Shimmer shook her head. “I have nothing against dragons… this is just something that bothers me.”

“Most dragons are harmless. The Queen of the Sea Dragons has long been a friend to ponykind. There are rogue elements with every species though.” Luna looked up at Sunset Shimmer, who was in dragon form. “Trouble is brewing in the utter east though. The mirror travelers have attacked the dragons. Now, the dragons are demanding compensation for the breaking of the old treaties. They refused to listen to reason and do not accept that the ponies attacking them are from another realm. They just know that ponies are attacking them and that the treaties have been violated. I fear conflict in the future. Dragons have been seen in the skies over Stalliongrad.”

“Why can’t Scorch control his children?” Sunset Shimmer asked.

“Not all offspring respect or obey their parents. Dragons are a fierce, independent lot. Especially the ancient wyrms. Many of them are powerful necromancers just for the sake of study and nothing that Celestia can say to them will dissuade them from the forbidden arts,” Luna replied. The alicorn continued to stretch her wings and she started pacing. “For some, the allure of forbidden arts is just too much. They don’t care about the consequences. Many of the ancient wyrms know full well what necromancy does to this world. Demons are of no real threat to them.”

“Master’s foals obey him—”

“The foals I have now sometimes do as I say,” Bucky corrected. He stretched out his long serpentine neck. “I suspect that there will be utter anarchy soon.”

“We should get going. We’ll need to set up base camp outside of the tower.” Luna gestured at the Myrmidons. “They look impatient.”

“Princess Luna, before we go…”

“Yes?” Luna turned and looked up at Sunset Shimmer, meeting her reptilian gaze.

“I’ve been wondering. Where do I fit in with the Myrmidons? I know they follow you and Master with an almost zealous fervour.” Nervous, Sunset Shimmer began to wring her two front claws together.

Smiling, Luna glanced over at her Myrmidons and then back at Sunset Shimmer. “Minion’s Minion, if you could, please, give the command for us to leave.”

 

 

“You again.” Sentinel looked at the black griffoness lounging on his bed. She had made a nest out of his blankets and his pillows. He stood in his doorway, wondering and somewhat worried about whatever it was that Boadicea was up to.

“I made a promise to be well behaved.” Boadicea’s feathers fluffed out. “But I never promised to be on my best behaviour.” She tilted her head to one side and watched as Sentinel went to the chair by his desk, pulled it out, turned it around, and sat down. “I hear you’re going to be busy this weekend.”

“Yeah… I am.” Sentinel inhaled and then let it all out in a huff. “I had plans with Diamond Tiara too.”

“Actually, you had plans with Diamond Tiara and I. We were going to surprise you.” Lifting her head, Boadicea folded one foreleg over the other and her tail swished around behind her. “Why don’t you sit on the bed with me? I’ve made us a nest.”

“Nope… I’m good. You’re not crying or hurting in any way that I can see so there is no need to go over, comfort you, and embarrass myself,” Sentinel replied.

Boadicea’s wings fluttered and she made a trilling sound deep in her throat, followed by a warbling sound. She flexed her talons, shifted her body, and kicked out both of her hind legs off to left. She was sore from working out. “Queen Belisama sent me here.”

“What?” Sentinel’s eyebrow lifted. His growing nervousness caused him to start sweating. “Am I being conspired against?”

“She wants us to talk about what you might want from me if I was to serve as your queen.” Boadicea lifted her left talons and began to polish her claws against the dense fur on her breast. “Lugus wants me to have goals. Queen Belisama wants me to have direction. Both of them want me to get sorted out and start living up to my potential.”

“Um… I have no idea what to say.” Sentinel shook his head. He sat up straighter, adjusting his posture, trying to feel more like what he was supposed to be. A squire—and also a future leader, both of which relied upon protocol and good posture.

“Belisama is discovering her way. She is learning politics in Ponyville while working with Violet Velvet. She is learning alchemy so that she might heal her subjects and care for them. She is becoming an accomplished musician and a skald of some renown… and on top of all of that, she is a celebrated war hero that has earned herself a knighthood. Soon, she begins combat lessons… the hard way. Lugus is going to show her the same kind of love and affection that he shows Ripple and me. Lumpy love.”

Throat dry, Sentinel swallowed. “My heart tells me to tell you to protect Diamond Tiara at all costs. Out of all us, she is the weakest. She has no wings. I don’t want you to take this the wrong way or think I’m playing favourites—”

“Hush Sentinel, and be calm.” Boadicea held up her left talons and held out one finger talon to silence Sentinel. “I understand, and that is already a given. The pink one is soft and vulnerable. She is my very best friend. If something was to hurt her… I would have to fetch my piano wire.”

Sentinel felt his pulse quicken and discovered that Boadicea was suddenly a good deal more attractive, but he couldn’t say why. Her sleek black feathers glistened and she was well groomed. Sentinel realised that she had filled out. She no longer had bald patches and she wasn’t as thin and pinched looking. She was plump in certain places, sleek in others, and she was pretty. Sentinel sighed. She was pretty and she was dangerous, like thunderheads on the horizon with the setting sun behind them.

“Go with your strengths, whatever those are. Discover yourself and what you are good at.” Sentinel gulped, trying to swallow the tight feeling in his throat. His body was betraying him and so was his mind. He wanted to go over to Boadicea, roll around in the nest she had made, and mark it. It was his bed, his blankets, and everything was marked with his scent already.

Too late, Sentinel realised that he didn’t just want to mark his territory, he wanted to mark Boadicea, much in the same way he liked to mark anything he was affectionate towards. But Diamond Tiara got special attention. Resolute, Sentinel decided that he was going to stay in his chair.

“Well, if I must say, I’m getting pretty good at making nests. I keep practicing. Could I count that as a strength? Do you think you could help me practice?” Boadicea said in low voice.

Sentinel gulped and hoped that he had enough willpower to make it through this conversation.

 

 

Frustrated, Dinky scratched out a few notes. Trying to levitate objects as she drifted off to sleep was not going as well as she had hoped. The biggest problem was knowing when Dinky was asleep or almost asleep. Piña had trouble knowing. Then there was falling asleep with the burden of performance anxiety. She worked by the dim light of her horn. Tonight was not an experiment night. Dinky was far too agitated to even try.

“Dinky?”

Dinky paused when she heard Harper’s soft voice. Harper was supposed to be asleep. Dinky turned her head and looked over at her sister. Dinky felt a prickle crawling up the back of her neck. Something seemed off with Harper.

“Harper?”

“Harpy no feel good,” Harper said in a low voice.

“Harper, what’s wrong?” Dinky set down her pencil and abandoned her notebook. She slipped out of bed and heard Piña’s blankets rustle.

“Harpy have tummy troubles. Hurts. Real bad hurt.”

Dinky could hear it in Harper’s voice. The foal was almost panting. Dinky went to Harper’s bedside and pulled back the blankets. She looked down at Harper and Sukari, who were in bed together as they always were. Dinky reached out her foreleg and touched Harper. The foal looked bloated, her stomach was distended, and was rock hard to the touch. Harper whimpered when Dinky touched her, causing Dinky to jerk her hoof away.

Acting on reflex, knowing that her father had just left, Dinky scooped up Harper in her magic and took off at a quick trot. Dinky flung open the bedroom door, ran down the hallway, and then shot down the stairs taking them three or four at a time.

Behind her, Piña was a pink blur, her blue eyes wide.

“Hey! HEY! Something is wrong with Harper!” Dinky shouted.

 

 

Frantic, Lyra feared that she was living her worst nightmare. She held Harper in her magic, not knowing what to do. Harper was panting now, having a lot of difficulty breathing, and the foal was soaked with sweat. She felt hot and feverish. Her stomach seemed almost twice its usual size and was as hard as a rock.

“Lyra, be still.” Lugus extended his talons and looked Lyra in the eye. “I’m going to fly you to the hospital. But I need for you to be calm and brave, and Harper needs for you to be calm and brave. You can’t help her if you are falling apart.”

Lyra, her vision blurry with tears, nodded. She felt something brush up against her side and knew it was Bon Bon without even looking. Lyra felt some of her strength and her courage return. Bon Bon would make everything better. Bon Bon always made everything better.

“Everypony, out of the way,” Sentinel said, his soft voice cutting through the panic like a sword. He glanced at Boadicea, she was sitting in the corner, staring with wide, fearful eyes and holding Sukari, much to Sentinel’s surprise.

“I’m ready to go,” Lyra said in a quavering voice.

“I can carry you and Bon Bon. Come outside with me and I will lift you in my talons. I give you my word that you will be safe.” Lugus gestured at the door and his crest rose.

“I’m coming… somepony, look after Peekaboo, she’s panicking.” Yew Wood lowered her head down and kissed Peekaboo. “Mama has to go, Peekaboo… I know you want to be with Harper, but I need you to stay here and look after Sukari. She’s going to need a brave little pegasus, just like you. Can you do that for Mama?”

Peekaboo, looking up into her mother’s single remaining eye, nodded. With an attempt at a dutiful salute with her wing, she marched over to the corner where Sukari and Boadicea were sitting, trying to be brave, but it was clear that she wanted her mother.

“Here, pack Harper up in a blanket. It’s cold outside and might be chilly in the hospital,” Derpy said. She pointed at the big wooden wardrobe. “There are spare blankets in there.”

“Good idea.” Broom flung open the wardrobe doors and grabbed a cheerful looking orange, yellow, and pink blanket that Berry Punch had knitted. She unfolded it, gave it a few shakes to get it unfurled, and then began wrapping it around Harper with Lyra’s help.

“I’m coming too,” Sentinel said. “Father would shame me if something happened to Harper on my watch.”

“We go,” Lugus said. He looked down at Sentinel. “Lead the way, Squire Sentinel.”

 

 

Flapping his large, powerful wings, Lugus sliced through the frigid night air, moving with the sort of swift speed that seemed impossible for a winged creature of his size. He held Lyra in his right talons and Bon Bon in his left talons. He had them around their barrels and Lugus hoped they weren’t too uncomfortable.

As fast as Lugus was, Sentinel was faster still, leading the way, navigating through the dark, cloudy sky with ease using his echolocation. Lugus felt a strong sense of pride for Sentinel. Sentinel was not his offspring, but that did not change what Lugus felt for the colt. Sentinel could be at home right now, with his mothers, with his sisters, Sentinel could be safe, snug, and secure in his warm bed. But Sentinel chose duty. And, truth be told, Lugus was glad for Sentinel’s company. The night was dark and cloudy. It was difficult to see, even for Lugus’ eagle eyes. Sentinel didn’t need his eyes to fly in total darkness. Sentinel could fly at breakneck speeds through dense trees with a blindfold and never once hit anything.

“If I go faster, can you keep up?” Sentinel asked in a loud shout so he could be heard over the rushing wind and the sound of flapping wings.

“You can go faster?” Lugus replied, also shouting.

“At night, I am much, much faster… I’m only going at half speed because I didn’t want to leave you behind!”

Lugus gave his speed some thought and after a moment, he realised that he had a little more left in him. He glanced over at Yew Wood, who flew beside him. He saw her nodding. “Go faster!” As Lugus watched, he saw Sentinel’s already fast flapping wings double their strokes. Sentinel zoomed ahead and for a moment, Lugus was afraid he might not keep up. He heard a fearful cry from Bon Bon. He tucked the two mares a little closer to his body, pulling his front legs as close as possible, and then he began to dish out an aggressive assault upon the air with his wings, carving his way forwards.

The freezing fog glazed his wings with a thin coating of ice. This was treacherous weather. Lugus, feeling a bit of worry, realised that he might not have as much control with iced over wings. He felt an odd bubble of warmth around his body and a soft golden glow surrounded him. The ice turned into droplets of moisture that rolled off his wings. Lugus looked down at Lyra. Even in Lyra’s frantic, panicked state, the mare had the presence of mind to look after little details. He did however feel a bit of worry for Sentinel and wondered how Sentinel’s wings worked in cold weather.

 

 

“I wish they’d tell us something.” Lyra, pacing, doubled back upon herself, turning around so she could go in the other direction. “I’m losing my mind.”

“Lyra, come here. Sit with Sentinel and I.” Bon Bon patted the seat beside her.

Shaking her head, Lyra kept pacing, her hooves clicking upon the floor. This was the worst part of motherhood. Lyra could live with just about everything else, but this was unbearable. She paused midstep, closed her eyes, and repressed a painful shudder.

“Lyra, come sit with me… I need you,” Bon Bon said in a soft, pleading voice.

Opening her eyes, Lyra took a deep breath and went over to sit with Bon Bon. As she sat down, a nurse that Lyra did not recognise opened the door and stepped out into the waiting room. Lyra felt Bon Bon’s foreleg wrap around her withers and pull her close and she could feel Sentinel pressing up against her other side.

“Is she okay?” Lyra asked.

“I have some good news and a little bad news... but it is nothing too bad,” the nurse replied. “First off, the good news. Little Harper is going to be fine. She was backed up… severe constipation. We gave her an enema and she is still evacuating her bowels.”

“And the bad news?” Yew asked.

“Has she been getting enough of the digestive aids that the doctor recommended?” The nurse looked at Lyra with a questioning expression.

“Every day she eats yogurt, we give her that special yeast stuff in her food, she has special cookies just for her that have the yeast extract stuff.” Lyra shook her head. “Why isn’t it working? How did Harper get like this?”

“We suspect that Harper’s enzyme deficiency might be worse than first thought… or it could be a more serious problem. The doctor is confident that it is an enzyme issue though. We wish to admit her to the hospital for the next few days for observation.”

Lyra slumped down in her seat, looking crushed. She almost fell over onto Bon Bon and Sentinel nudged her with his head to hold her up. “What do we do? How do we fix this? I don’t want Harper sick.”

“Not to worry.” The nurse smiled. “If this is an enzyme deficiency, you keep feeding her yogurt, you keep giving her the yeast extract that the doctor recommended, and we start giving her medication—pills to help her problem. There will be some trial and error until we find just the right combo. I feel I should warn you though, there are side effects and complications.”

“Like what?” Sentinel asked.

The nurse’s lips pressed into a straight line as she looked at Sentinel and then she took a deep breath. She cleared her throat, tossed her head back to get her mane out of her eyes, and then she replied, “Well, first and foremost, excessive, forceful, powerful flatulence. Depending on the pills, this might be accompanied by runny, loose stools. If this happens, she will need to take other pills to firm everything up, because nopony wants, well, to have troubling flatulence and diarrhea. She’ll also probably have to drink a lot more water or face severe dehydration. We also might have to fine tune her diet.”

“I can live with all of that.” Lyra looked at the nurse. “None of that seems that bad. I just want her well.”

“The doctor is certain that this is not a serious issue and that you shouldn’t worry. We can fix this. Usually, we have these problems with elderly ponies.” The nurse gave Lyra a smile. “I must be going. Can I get you anything?”

“When can we see Harper?” Sentinel asked.

“Oh, soon. As soon as she recovers from the enema and we get some fluids into her, we’ll be moving her to a private room and we’ll do our best to make you comfortable. We encourage somepony to spend the night with her. It’s scary for a foal that age to be sick and not have their parents or their big brother around.”

“Thank you,” Lyra said in a low, raspy voice as her eyes welled up with tears. Lyra managed to smile and she reached out to pull Sentinel even closer.

“Just wait a little while longer if you can.” Smiling, the nurse vanished through the doors and was gone.

 

 

 

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