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


81. 81

The compressed peat bale in the fire popped and crackled, causing Bucky to lift his head. Most of his family was in the bed, sleeping peacefully, warm, content, and secure. Lyra’s spell kept the effects of the horrible howling away.

It was an odd arrangement, having both Bon Bon and Lyra as wives, but not as lovers. Still, Bucky didn’t mind. He loved them both, a conclusion he reached after a great deal of inner reflection. There were different types of love, and Bucky was open to experiencing them all.

The firelight twinkled in his remaining eye as he took his letters into his magic and pulled them closer. One ear twitched slightly as he heard Bon Bon and Sentinel talking very quietly to one another. Lyra giggled softly at something Sentinel said, but Bucky didn’t quite catch what was spoken.

Bucky drew forth a letter and saw that it was from Princess Luna. It had a wax seal upon it, the parchment was ivory coloured and it was written in indigo ink. He carefully opened the folded paper.




Dearest Buckminster,


I know what you fight. I wish there was more that I could do to help you, but I have only recently became aware of the shadow wolves. Powerful magics have been placed to block my perceptions and prevent scrying. I hope you will believe me when I tell you that my sister and I had no idea just what was going on out there on the isles.

I wish I could come to help you, however, I have come to the same understanding as my sister, and that is that you must face this with your herdmates. Keep your wits about you. I have sent several books to help you, and I am trusting you with powerful spells that very few are trusted with.

Do not disappoint me.

Princess Luna.


Bucky sighed and read the letter again. Luna clearly wasn’t one for mincing words. He heaved another sigh and set the letter down on the sofa beside him.

“You look and sound tired, you should get some sleep,” Bon Bon coaxed. “Look over there on the bed, there is a spot for you right there between Berry and Derpy, doesn’t that look inviting?” she inquired.

“My mind is full of thoughts,” Bucky admitted.

“I could imagine,” Bon Bon whispered in reply.

“There seems to be more at stake than I am aware of,” Bucky stated. “What if I fail?” he asked in a soft wavering whisper. “What dreadful consequences await us all? Failure is bad enough when it is just me experiencing it, but I am afraid that if I fail now, all of us will suffer the consequences in some way… part of me wishes that I had simply stayed alone and not brought anypony into my apparently screwed up destiny,” Bucky explained.

“Shut… up!” Lyra snapped in angry quiet voice.

“Lyra!” Bon Bon hissed.

“You… moron!” Lyra began. “Don’t you understand, if you had been alone, if you had stayed alone, that would have been failure… don’t you get it?”

“Lyra, you have no right to talk to him like that,” Bon Bon chided.

“She has every right, leave her be Bonnie,” Bucky interjected.

“But…” Bon Bon said in a faltering voice.

“But nothing, I value Lyra’s honesty and straightforwardness. Just like I appreciate Berry giving me a kick to get me moving in the right direction,” Bucky stated. “And  you are right Lyra. Still, I don’t like the idea that all of you are probably going to suffer for this somehow if I fail.”

“So then we suffer,” Lyra said, blinking her eyes slowly as she did so, her golden eyes reflecting in the firelight. “But remember, all of us chose this life. We chose to be with you, every single one of us. Sometimes having an extraordinary mate means having to endure some extraordinary circumstances, isn’t that right Bonnie?”

Bon Bon nodded, thinking back to the broken state in which she had found Lyra. She felt the hot sting of tears working their way to her eyes, but she held them back with a repressed shudder.

Sentinel removed himself from the sofa with Lyra and Bon Bon, crossed the small gap between sofas, and settled in next to Bucky, sitting close but not touching. He said nothing, but silently stared at Bucky, his eyes wide and his slitted pupils narrowed from the flickering firelight.

“Well, this has become somewhat awkward. I am going to go back to reading my mail,” Bucky whispered.

“Do not dismiss us or the effort we have expended in being here for you,” Lyra insisted, a faint hint of anger still in her voice.

“Look, Lyra, you are right. Absolutely right. Can you forgive me?” Bucky begged.

“That depends,” Lyra replied.

“Lyra, what has gotten into you?” Bon Bon asked.

“Alright, what do I need to do to be forgiven?” Bucky inquired.

“Stop being a dunderhead,” Lyra demanded.

“But I am a dunderhead Lyra,” Bucky said in his own defense. “For all of my own cleverness, I am a  few slices short of a pie.”

Lyra cracked a wry smile.

“Look, I say really stupid stuff all the time. I do really stupid things. This is why I need all of you. For a pony who is supposedly intelligent, I do some really stupid things. I always have, and I probably always will,” Bucky explained.

“Then I guess I will have to forgive you because you are feeble minded,” Lyra acquiesced.

Bucky snorted and gave a soft chuckle as he lifted the next letter, this one from Celestia. He set it down and lifted Twilight’s letter instead.

Bon Bon looked confused and bewildered, this was a side of Lyra that she really hadn’t seen before. She looked at Bucky, who was opening his mail, and then looked at Lyra who was looking back at her.

“What?” Lyra asked.

“Parts of you remain a mystery to me,” Bon Bon admitted.

“And I remain a mystery to myself,” Lyra returned.

Bucky noticed that Sentinel was even closer to him on the sofa now, peering up at him, looking at him and his mail curiously.

“You are enamoured by royalty and nobility, aren’t you?” Bucky asked of his squire in soft voice.

“Yes sir, I am sir,” Sentinel replied. “Meeting Princess Cadance today will likely become one of my fondest memories.”

“You will be seeing her again,” Bucky said to Sentinel, his words soft and kind. “And before all of this is over, you will probably meet all of the other princesses as well.”

“I would like that very much,” Sentinel admitted.

“The idea of service really is deeply ingrained in you, isn’t it?” Bucky inquired.

“Yes sir, it is,” Sentinel answered. “For my kind, what little I know of my kind, service is our highest honour. It is what we do. We were made to serve. To have honour. I wish I knew more about my kind. I feel like I know so little. But the things I do know I hold to very closely, because it is all that I have that makes me what I am.”

“You are well spoken,” Bucky stated.

“I was being groomed for service sir, so when I was taken I would have a good chance of being taken on as a guard,” Sentinel replied.

“I know that,” Bucky returned. “But all of the grooming in the world doesn’t help a pony that isn’t meant to be well spoken.” Bucky paused for a moment, cocked his head to one side, and focused his gaze upon Sentinel. “You were clearly meant for better things. It seems to me that everypony in this herd was meant for better things,” Bucky stated in a matter of fact sort of voice.

“I think I understand sir,” Sentinel answered. “I have always hoped I was destined for better things. I want to leave these isles. I want a life of meaning and of service. Keg Smasher once told me that he got to where he was because he serves others.”

“There is some truth to that,” Bucky agreed. “Keg Smasher took it upon himself to return home to his roots and take on an impossible task that offers little thanks in return and leaves a lot of ponies upset with him. We have our differences he and I, but I do respect him a great deal. We understand one another.”

“When you and I return to the mainland, will you help me find others of my kind so that I might learn from them? I know there are others like me here, on the isles, most of them are on Crescent Isle, but I worry that we might not be as well connected to our history here. There are so few of us, most of us leave. Very few of stay to continue our practice of herding. The lure of the mainland and the call of service is so strong,” Sentinel said in a quiet whisper filled with regret.

“Yes, I will help you Sentinel. You have done so much and have asked for so little in return,” Bucky responded. “How are you doing in school?”

“I am doing fine. I can write my name even better than before, I can read entire sentences, I can write entire sentences but I am slow at it, and Sparkler even has me helping her teach the other foals. Mostly I show them how to write the alphabet,” Sentinel replied.

“Very good… as my squire, it will be one of your duties to help me with my correspondence,” Bucky said with a faint smile.

“That would be a privilege sir,” Sentinel replied, a soft eagerness creeping into his voice.

“Like these letters here,” Bucky said, nodding his head at the letters on the sofa beside him. “Do you think you could read my mail to me?” Bucky asked.

“You want me to read letters written to you by the princesses?” Sentinel asked, his voice a faint whisper full of awe.

“Do you think you can read that well? This is a very important task,” Bucky replied. “This is why it is so important to pay attention in school. I might even ask you to compose a letter for me… important correspondence to the princesses. And then ask you to deliver them for me personally to make sure my messages are safe and securely delivered,” he added.

Sentinel’s eyes went wide and the colt remained completely silent, unable to reply. He trembled, and his ears fell down to the sides of his face.

“Flying from Ponyville to Canterlot might take you a few hours. You would have to be swift and strong. And when you get there, Celestia might be a very busy pony… you might be requested to take a letter for her as well,” Bucky explained. “She might also want you to read it. And you wouldn’t want to screw up in front of her would you?”

Sentinel slowly shook his head no, a look of sheer terror spreading over his features, his ears bobbing slightly as his head shook from side to side.

“Just think about how embarrassing it would be to flub something in front of Princess Celestia or Princess Luna,” Bucky mentioned.

Sentinel gulped loudly, his eyes somehow went even wider.

“And then there is Princess Twilight Sparkle, the Princess of Books. She is the librarian of Ponyville, where you will be living. So you had better be paying attention in school,” Bucky added.

Sentinel nodded slowly and licked his lips nervously.

“Care to try and read Twilight’s letter to me?” Bucky inquired.

Sentinel emitted a high pitched squeak of fear and could not make a verbal reply. His wings fluttered at his sides and his forelegs trembled.

“Now now Sentinel, I have faith in you. Please read this for me?” Bucky asked.

“Yes sir, I will do as you bid sir,” Sentinel replied in a nervous whisper. The colt extended his wing and grasped the letter between his central knuckle and his opposable digit. He lifted the letter up, peered at the paper, and then cleared his throat.

“To Buckminster,” Sentinel began. “Hey, this isn’t so hard,” he said, interrupting himself, and causing Bucky to smile faintly in the firelight. “I know what is like to have des-des,” Sentinel paused and stared at the page, trying to sound out the word to himself. “Destiny,” he continued. “I know what it is like to have destiny thrust upon you. You and I do not know each other very well, but that will probably change when you come home. I wanted to take this op-op-op,” Sentinel stammered, and looked visibly frustrated. “I am sorry, I have failed. I cannot read this,” Sentinel admitted.

“Opportunity?” Bucky guessed.

“O-p-p-o-r-t-u-n-i-t-y,” Sentinel said, spelling out the letters.

“That is opportunity,” Bucky replied.

Sentinel made a few mental notes and then plowed onwards. “I wanted to take this opportunity to offer my friendship to you. When you return I get the feeling that you and I will be getting to know one another better. Princess Celestia has big plans for you when you return home vic-vic,” Sentinel paused, stymied by a large word.

“Break it down into smaller words,” Bucky said helpfully.

“Vic-tor- victorious?” Sentinel said slowly.

“Sounds right,” Bucky replied.

“When you return home victorious. There is a pleasant surprise waiting for you. Even with all of the trouble happening at home, we have managed to get a lot done. Please, stay safe. I have in-in-included some books for you to read. I think they will help you. Your friend, Twilight Sparkle,” Sentinel finished.

“You did very well,” Bucky praised.

“I made mistakes,” Sentinel protested.

“So what, you did well. And you handled your mistakes well,” Bucky said.

“Thank you sir,” Sentinel said, setting the letter down.

“There is still the letter I have from Celestia,” Bucky said, casting his gaze downward at the other letter.

Sentinel heaved a nervous sigh. “I feel very ashamed of the mistakes I made sir. I said that I was doing well in school and now I fear it looks like I have lied,” the colt said in a fearful voice.

“Sentinel, do not be like that,” Bucky soothed. “You did fine, you make a few mistakes. So what? I still stumble over words when I read outloud.”

“You do? But you… but… but you are educated sir,” Sentinel stammered.

“Doesn’t mean nearly as much as you think,” Bucky answered.

“But sir-”

“Hush Sentinel,” Bucky interrupted.

The colt fell silent and looked rather dejected.

“You did fine. And you will continue to do better with practice. Speaking of practice, how is your flying?” Bucky asked, changing the subject.

“I am getting better. Derpy is a very patient teacher. She’s given me a few lessons. We have different wings, and that makes things tricky,” Sentinel replied.

“You don’t start off as a perfect flier, and you will not start off as a perfect reader. Both things take practice. Just allow them to happen and don’t be so upset if you make a mistake. I was ribbing you just a little bit earlier about flubbing a word in front of the princesses to make you want to take your schooling a little more serious. You are to make your education your top priority,” Bucky stated.

“Yes sir,” Sentinel replied. “I will dedicate myself to education. And not to argue with you sir, but my first priority is Dinky and Piña’s safety and well being. But don’t worry, I have it within me to perform both duties,” Sentinel continued.

Bucky looked up at Bon Bon and Lyra sitting on the other sofa. Both were reading. He gestured at them. “They are bound to be lonely during their nighttime vigil. I know it is a lot to ask of you, but I want you to keep an eye on them as well. They are special and very dear to me. And I’d imagine that you are going to be a little sleepy in school during the day. So what I want you to do is to ask Lyra and Bonnie to help you at night when you are awake and aware. Lyra is a very good teacher and she enjoys teaching. You are to make your nights productive, do you understand me?” Bucky asked.

Sentinel nodded. “Yes sir. Very wise sir. With me being the only foal awake at night, Lyra will be able to give me one on one lessons.”

“Yes she will. And I will speak to her about this as well. But I know you will make her very happy if you ask her about lessons to help you fill the night,” Bucky whispered in a low voice. “Now, about this letter,” he added. Bucky cracked the seal using his magic and handed the letter to Sentinel, who took it slowly from Bucky.

The colt raised the letter so he could see it, peered at the fine print, and then looked at Bucky. “It is very short,” Sentinel said.

“Oh?” Bucky replied. “Read it.”

“Dearest Buckminster,” Sentinel started. “I have faith in you. You are one of my best students. I know things are very hard for you right now, but I know that you will not fail. Re-re-mem-ber what your new family means to you. I will tell you everything when you come home. I have sent as much aid as I could offer. Love, Celestia,” said Sentinel, who shrugged after reading it.

“That was short,” Bucky agreed. “I suppose it is the thought that counts,” he muttered quietly, a faint hint of annoyance in his voice.

“She was your teacher and she is a princess… how does she find the time?” Sentinel  asked.

“I don’t know,” Bucky replied. “She had Twilight as her personal student. I suppose she just made time. She also gave me some private instruction.”

“What was that like?” Sentinel asked.

“Oh, it was silly actually,” Bucky replied. “I was a foal. I was just starting to learn about my elemental connection to cold. I’d sneeze and it would start snowing in the room. I’d accidentally freeze liquids all around me. My instructors all tried to help me get control, and none of it helped. I don’t actually remember what Celestia did to bring me under control. She told me she used hypnosis. I can’t remember our sessions as at all. She did make the fear go away though, I guess that helped.”

“The fear?” Sentinel asked.

“I can barely even remember it,” Bucky replied. “When I came to the school, I had terrible nightmares. Really bad nightmares. One night, at school, I had a dream about the boogeypony. I really don’t remember it very well. A black and shadowy figure. Burning red eyes. And green. The whites of his eyes were green and sickly looking. And he had a big red horn,” Bucky struggled to recall old memories, and they seemed elusive and out of reach in his mind. “I can hardly even remember,” he admitted. “But the boogeypony scared me. One night, he scared me so badly that I encased my entire room in ice, and my roommates were all frozen. Celestia had to come and thaw them out using very powerful magic. I had nearly killed them. My instructors realised they couldn’t help me, and Celestia went into my mind. She made the boogeypony go away.”

“The boogeypony is a unicorn?” Sentinel asked.

“I suppose he was. At least for me. Doesn’t really matter, the boogeypony isn’t real. Just a figment of my imagination. And nothing to be afraid of. Celestia helped me to get rid of my fear and gain control. I will admit though, he used to scare me so bad that there were a few times that I thought I was going to wet the bed. Seems so silly now, being afraid of something that doesn’t exist.”

“A lot of ponies think my kind are boogeyponies,” Sentinel whispered. “I guess it is because we look scary and eat meat,” he added.

“Aw, you’re still a pony. And so is Thistle. Our differences make us special, but we are all fundamentally the same,” Bucky replied.

“Even if the boogeypony isn’t real, there are plenty of other terrors in the night. I hope that one day, I will get a chance to fight them. Buckminster, will you make sure I get combat training?” Sentinel inquired.

“You keep up with your schooling and I will make sure you get combat training,” Bucky promised.

“Thank you,” Sentinel replied.

“I am going to go to bed. You do as I have asked and talk to those two,” Bucky stated.

“Yes sir, I will,” Sentinel replied. “Sleep well sir.”

“Have a nice night,” Bucky said as he slid from the couch and made his way to the bed. As he crawled into bed, he shuddered for a moment, having only the vaguest memory of how much the boogeypony used to scare him as a foal. Most of the memories were gone, faded away with time, but the fear still lived on. Bucky understood the true terrors in the night, but he supposed the imaginary terrors were still somehow scarier. He smiled as he settled in between Derpy and Berry, glad that his foalhood fears were no longer anything to worry about.




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