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 hidden room within the library was quiet. Twilight Sparkle, who looked tired, glanced at her guest, blinked, looked away, and then began to rub her weary eyes. Her stomach was bothering her, she was hungry, she was cranky, and she was in no mood to talk. Yet talk she must.

“I think it was a mistake to come here… you need rest,” Celestia said in a low voice to her former student. “Twilight, a mother needs rest.”

“And a country needs ruling,” Twilight snapped, feeling irritated that yet another pony had brought up her pregnancy to try and coerce her into doing something. “The spring session is coming up for the Stable of Representatives. I’m going to be officially recognised as part of the new Triarchy. I have the Aurora Guard to look after. The spring ceremony is coming up. And there is the matter of that spell from the book given to me by the Observers.”

“What do you think will happen when you cast it?” Celestia raised her eyebrow, feeling curious about the spell. The spell itself was beyond her own comprehension—Celestia’s student had surpassed her, which made Celestia feel proud.

Twilight rubbed her nasal bridge and one ear twitched with each stroke of her fetlock over her nose. “The spell is an advanced harmonics spell. It’s supposed to purge an area of negative emotion. Over time, negative emotions and feelings can leave behind traces of themselves, making an area worse and worse… or in our case, Canterlot.” Twilight blinked her dry, irritated eyes. “Taking Bucky to Canterlot for medical treatment was an eye opener.”

“Indeed.” Celestia shook her head. Upon returning to Canterlot after the battle of Pinto Creek, the dreadful, baleful red glow had returned to Bucky’s grey eye and he had been overcome with a terrible bloodlust. Just being within the city had made him terribly ill and had almost killed him. Once again, Celestia had been thankful for Cadance.

“The very rock that Canterlot is built upon is tainted with about a thousand years of hate. The sickness that the nobles had… it poisoned the land. It has an effect upon everypony that lives there, it finds a way in, gets inside your head, and does something to your thinking.” Twilight Sparkle leaned back in her seat and folded her front legs over her barrel. “I suspect that it is the cause of so much magical neurosis. Now that I have spells to sense it, I’ve been studying it. I still don’t know what to think.”

“And you plan to do this before the spring session?” Celestia asked.

“Well… look what keeps happening with our Stable of Representative sessions,” Twilight replied. She freed one foreleg, reached down, and rubbed her stomach. “I suspect that whatever it is that has poisoned Canterlot is trying to worm its way into our stable reps. Canterlot is absolutely toxic with negative emotion. It’s… going to destroy our budding democratic processes.”

The white alicorn nodded. “Do you have any idea what this might do to Bucky?”

“I have no idea.” Twilight closed her eyes and went limp in her chair. “If I can purge Canterlot, there will be a lot less hate in the world. Once I see what the spell does to Canterlot, I’m taking my friends and we’re going to Fillydelphia. That city still has a sickness.”

“I concur… purging Fillydelphia would be prudent.” Celestia, thinking about what Twilight had just said, focused on Twilight’s face and wished her student would open her eyes. “Friends? Making this a group effort?”

Eyes opening only half way, Twilight nodded. “Each of them have been touched by advanced harmonic magics, not to be confused with harmony magic. They’re all bearers of the Elements of Harmony. I’ve been learning about them. They exist on many worlds, many wheres and whens.” Twilight thought of the Element of Obedience from the mirror travelers and shuddered. “Those who have been bearers of the Elements of Harmony retain a connection to the elements… I can’t actually cast any of those spells in that book by myself. I need my friends. It’s complicated.”

“I see.” Celestia wondered about her own connection to the Elements of Harmony. Twilight had grown, become powerful, and had exceeded every expectation that Celestia had for her. Twilight was now delving into a whole new school of magic, Twilight was exploring uncharted territory. And Celestia was proud. Twilight deserved to be the third ruling head in the newly established Triarchy. A tiebreaker for those times when Luna was just being unreasonable.

Not that Celestia would ever be unreasonable.

“While I have you here, now that I am one of the ponies in charge, there is a list of things I want to bring up and discuss with you,” Twilight said to Celestia in a soft, but commanding voice. “Changes need to be made and this is going to be a difficult discussion… but I suppose that is the reason why you came…”

 

 

Apple Bloom, enjoying the pleasant spring sunshine, looked over at her friends and thought about the long winter. She thought of the rats, shuddered, and then thought of better times. Happier times. She thought of her coronation gala. She thought of dancing. And then, without meaning to, she thought of Granny Smith. The filly’s smile faded for a moment, becoming a frown, but then she shook her head and her smile returned, even though it was a bit sad. The spring ceremony was coming soon, and with it, the announcement of the Maiden of Spring. Dinky seemed okay with it, understanding the necessity of it, and Apple Bloom was looking forward to the day.

It was spring now. They were all another year older. But out of all of them, Scootaloo showed it the most. Pegasi seemed to mature both early and rapidly. The orange pegasus filly had Sweetie Belle pinned in the grass and was making the unicorn filly beg to be released. Sweetie Belle was blowing raspberries of defiance while struggling to fight back.

Not far away, Babs was off reading a book on astronomy. Apple Bloom, proud for Babs, was glad that Babs was getting a chance to go to Canterlot over the summer and study astronomy with Princess Luna.

Apple Bloom was distracted by Rumble clearing his throat. She turned to look at the silvery grey pegasus. He was smiling… he looked nervous… and he was blushing. He was clearly up to no good. Apple Bloom wondered what he was up to.

She watched him squirm, his face turning darker and darker, and then, he grinned. It was that confident and cocky grin that he always had. His composure returned. He waggled his ears and Apple Bloom heard him say, “Apple Bloom…” He seemed as though he was going to say more, but no more words came out. Apple Bloom saw his foreleg lift and after a second, she felt a soft touch on her cheek.

Then, without warning, Rumble ran away. Apple Bloom, stunned, realised what was going on. Her body was frozen. She wanted to run, she wanted to give chase, but all that seemed to be happening was that she had been set on fire. She felt a burning blush that started in her dock, shot up her spine, through her neck, and then set her face ablaze.

“Run after him, you big dummy!” Scootaloo shouted. “We’ll help!”

That seemed to break the spell. Apple Bloom found that her legs moved once more. She was on her hooves in an instant, and she took off after Rumble. As she ran, Sweetie Belle fell into place on her left, and Scootaloo ran beside her on the right.

This felt good. Something about this felt right. Apple Bloom poured on speed and the springtime sun shone on her back. Her heart thudded in her chest and her lungs stung from the need for more wind to fill them. Winter was over. Spring was here. It was a time for hope, of new beginnings, it was time to begin anew. It was a time to chase.

It was time to run Rumble down, to laugh, and be happy. At some point, the chase would shift and it would be time for Rumble to run after her. Life was like that, sudden changes and dramatic turnabouts. Apple Bloom’s hooves tore divots in the orchard grass as she ran beneath the apple blossoms. Beside her, Scootaloo was laughing. Sweetie Belle’s excited squeals rang in Apple Bloom’s ears.

Apple Bloom knew there were troubles to be worried about, but those were future troubles. They could be worried about later. Right now, she was too happy to give them much thought. She could be Princess Apple Bloom later; right now she was just a filly madly in love and chasing after the object of her affections.

 

 

Applejack, who stood watching her younger sister go tearing off around the orchard after Rumble, heaved a sigh. Her back ached and she was getting fatter. It would have been nice to have had a spring foal like the others, but Applejack wasn’t due until the end of summer. Cheerilee was going to pop any day now—somehow the rotund and very pregnant mare kept up with her duties as a teacher and as Provost of Bucky’s school.

Heaving a sigh, Applejack realised that she probably wouldn’t be able to do much applebucking. She had school to worry about herself. Twilight wanted Applejack to teach at Grove University. Applejack didn’t know if she was up for being a teacher, but she was free to teach her own way. Which meant lots of hooves on learning. It also meant that Applejack would have a lot of ‘students’ to help her here at Sweet Apple Acres.

Almost daydreaming, her mind wandered to Diamond Tiara, who would be coming to live with them soon. The pink filly was excited about the whole thing and was looking forward to ‘getting an education as a proper earth pony.’

The chase shifted abruptly. It was Rumble doing the chasing now, and Scootaloo ran at his side, hot on the heels of Apple Bloom and Sweetie Belle. Applejack, feeling a little sad and not knowing why, turned to look at Babs, who was sitting all alone. It was too nice a day to be sitting all alone.

 

 

“Babs, why are you sitting out here all alone?” Applejack asked.

The filly looked up from her book and blinked a few times. “I’m doing my homework. It has to be perfect. I’ve made a reputation for myself.” The dark orange filly stuffed her bookmark into her book to mark her page and then closed her schoolbook.

Smiling, the pregnant mare eased herself down and sat beside Babs. The filly had an odd drawl mixed with a Manehattan accent. Applejack watched as a buzzy buzzy bumblebee went droning past, off to do his bee errands.

“Maybe you could be doing yer homework with that nice colt you like,” Applejack suggested, turning to look at Babs with one raised eyebrow. She saw that she had Babs’ attention. The filly was staring at her now, and not in the way that Applejack had hoped for.

“Are you going to start something? Are you going to freak out again?” Babs asked.

“No.” Applejack let out a huff and a puff as she tried to find some way to sit that didn’t make her back hurt. “I’ve… made peace with it. Larch is a good colt.” Applejack paused for a moment and then grinned. “But that Piña, I tell you what, I might have to put my hoof down because of her.”

“You keep going back and forth… you tell me it’s okay that I’m with Larch, but after I spend time with him and come home, you’re all freaked out and you ask so many questions. I don’t know how to deal with it,” Babs said to Applejack as the pair watched the chase happening in the orchard.

“I’m still messed up on the inside because of what happened to you, that’s all. You got hurt. You lost yer sister.” Applejack took a deep breath. “The idea of losing you or something happening to you scares me something awful. Babs… you and Bloom both… yer like my own fillies. I feel like yer mama, do ya understand?”

Babs heard Applejack’s words echo inside of her head. It was time to put Applejack’s words to the test. It was time for a mother-daughter moment. “I kissed him… and Piña too.”

“I’ve seen,” Applejack replied as she let out a heavy sigh.

“No, not those little smoochies like you saw at the coronation gala.” Babs smiled and her eyes became like mischievous glittering emeralds. She could see Applejack’s breathing increase. “I was kissing Piña actually... and she surprised me by opening her mouth and touching the tip of her tongue to mine. It was pretty gross.” Babs looked up at Applejack and looked the earth pony mare in the eye. “So I had to give Larch a little kiss like that. Fair is fair. I didn’t want him feeling left out.”

Squirming, Applejack nodded. “Fair is fair. If’n yer all dedicated to being with one another, it’s important to keep it fair.” Applejack reached up and tilted back her hat. “I still don’t see the appeal of herds, but it makes ponies happy and ponies have a right to be happy.”

“I think we’re happy,” Babs said as she watched Sweetie Belle chase after the other three. “It’s just the three of us. We get to have fun together. We get to play games and be silly. We’ll sort out whatever is going to happen when we get older later.”

Leaning over, Applejack placed a foreleg around Babs’ withers. “I love Silver… I don’t think I could share him. I done reckon I’d kick whomever touched him. I has me a jealous bone, or so I figure. But I understand the reasoning at work… I suppose. Had Ma and Pa been part of a herd, I might still have parents. I might have been sad to lose them the way I did, but I might have still been happy with my other parents, had I had them. It might have been easier to keep the farm and keep up with all the hard work. Big Mac and I were foals when we had to take over and keep everything running. It was awful for us. I suppose my feelings are complicated. I’m okay with you and Apple Bloom doing yer own thing though. Even if sometimes it seems like I ain’t.”

Riotous laughter could be heard from the orchard. Babs watched as the chase ended and became a mudslinging match as the whole group began to wrestle in a mud puddle. Poor Sweetie was getting the worst of it, her white pelt was splattered with black, goopy, runny, sticky mud.

“Moments like this is when I miss Granny Smith. Somepony has gotta yell about getting out of the mud and when to stop wallerin’ like a hog… but she ain’t here. She’s gone off to her hard earned rest. So I suppose it falls on my shoulders to be the one with common sense and tell them to stop slingin’ mud every whichaways.” Applejack heaved a sigh. “I ain’t in no mood. Let ‘em go a wallerin’.”

“I think… I think I’ll pack up my homework for now and go for a walk. Would you like to join me?” Babs asked.

“Sure… maybe it’ll help me get this cramp out of my back,” Applejack replied.

 

 

 

 

 

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