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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Smiling, Dinky took a sip of soft cider. She was caught up in the moment. She felt special. She was the Maiden of Spring. She was sitting on Sparkler’s back, drinking cider, and watching as a group of ponies performed a complicated step dance just for her. They kicked, knocked their hooves into the wooden platform, pounded out a complex rhythm, and they did it all for her.

It was a fantastic feeling, one that Dinky had no idea that she would enjoy so much. She watched the dancers, mesmerised, sitting astride her big sister’s back. Sometimes, Dinky felt angry, even jealous about her big sister, wishing they had more time together. But Sparkler had grown up and had her own family now. She had a job. She had school. She was a young adult. Deep down inside, Dinky felt proud, even if she had trouble expressing it at times.

She glanced over at Piña, who was sitting on Thistle’s back. Beside Piña and Thistle stood Rising Star, who had Singsong and Brass Note sitting on his back, his adopted siblings. She could not find Sentinel no matter where she looked; it appeared that Diamond Tiara and Boadicea were gone as well.

Turning her head again, Dinky looked at her family, off some distance away. Her mother, Derpy, was laying on a blanket and Berry Punch was beside her. The newborns were all in a pile under a blanket. Cadance kept poking the blanket and Berry Punch kept trying to keep Cadance’s little hoof away, which caused Dinky to laugh. Harper was playing pattycake with Lyra, trying to keep up with complicated hoof bumps. Lugus was feeding Peekaboo baby carrots.

Everypony was happy. It wasn’t that long ago that they had all been attacked and their home had been invaded. Dinky shoved those memories from her mind, determined not to let them ruin her wonderful, fabulous day.

Things had become a little dark, but then got better, and for that, Dinky was grateful. She reached out and stroked Sparkler’s mane, noticing the quivering muscles. She hoped that her sister and her disease could get better somehow. She leaned forwards, getting closer to Sparkler’s ear and asked, “Are you ready to be a Mommy?” She felt Sparkler startle beneath her and Dinky grabbed Sparkler’s sides with her hind legs to keep her balance.

“I hope so… Dinky, I hope so. I think being your big sister gave me a lot of practice. How do you think I’ll do?” Sparkler replied.

“You’ll be fine.” Dinky spoke without a second of hesitation and there was no trace of doubt in her voice. “Where is Loch Skimmer anyways?”

“Loch Skimmer is off at that tent that Zecora set up. She’s getting big belly pictures painted on her stomach, like so many other pregnant mares. Zecora is doing some kind of zebra tribal fertility art. I can’t wait to see it.” Sparkler turned her head so that she could see Dinky out of the corner of her eye. “I can’t believe how well behaved the crowd is.”

“You’re working right now, aren’t you?” Dinky asked.

Sparkler nodded. “I’m always on duty. I take my job seriously. This town must be kept safe. It is my home.”

“And this is why you are the best big sister ever…”

 

 

Frustrated, Boadicea looked at Sentinel, huffed, and fluffed out her feathers. The colt was just not acting like himself as of late. Things had been different for him, and Boadicea knew why. Killing never really bothered her, she supposed it was because she was a hunter griffon, or maybe it was because of how she had grown up. She tilted her head when she heard Diamond Tiara begin speaking.

“Sentinel, you need to talk to us.” Diamond Tiara’s voice was firm, commanding, one of authority. “You can’t always just hold things in. If you do, you’ll end up sick like I was. Or worse.” The pink filly reached out with her hoof and gave Sentinel a good hard poke. He was tough enough to handle anything she could dish out. Sentinel didn’t respond well to ‘gentle’ as Diamond Tiara had found out. Now, she tried to act a bit more like a lunar pegasus might. Much to her relief, Sentinel responded. She saw him looking at her, right in the eye, which was a good start.

“I can’t keep them safe,” Sentinel said, his voice a pained whimper. “I’m supposed to keep my siblings safe. I can’t… Sombra is just going to keep coming… I see him in my dreams. He’s taunting me. Luna knows about it, she’s trying to make it stop, but I’m connected to all of this because I went inside of Father’s head. Father used my shadow essence to graft shadow nature into himself when he replaced his horn. Sombra doesn’t just want Father… he wants me too… he wants me… he wants a dedicated servant. I don’t know what to do.”

“Well… he can’t have you. You… you’re mine.” Diamond Tiara’s barrel puffed out. She didn’t know what else to say and shot a glance to Boadicea.

“They’re all in danger. Father keeps saying that he should have been the last of his bloodline… he hasn’t told anypony else that I know of. He’s so afraid that Sombra will go after his foals. Father can’t stop Sombra… the cultists and others are just going to keep coming. The farm is going to be attacked again, I just know it… and I can’t stop it. I don’t want to kill again. I’m not like Father, I don’t have his strength. I just don’t—”

“Sentinel, stop.” Boadicea reached out with her talons and gave Sentinel’s left ear a tug. “We’ll get through this together somehow. All of us. You’re not alone. You have me… and you have Diamond Tiara… and while I don’t know Moonbow, I suspect that if she was here, she’d slap you for being mopey rather than coming up with a plan to do something.”

Sentinel’s eyes widened and he recoiled from the griffoness. After a moment of sitting in shock, he nodded. A second later, Boadicea launched herself at him and he felt himself swept up in a fierce, reassuring hug.

“Bucky is who he is because of who loves him,” Diamond Tiara said in a low whisper. “Sentinel, you are no different. You’re going to be strong just like he is because of who loves you… and make no mistake, we love you.”

 

 

Belisama, always watchful, sat staring at Princess Celestia. The large white alicorn was offering ‘princess lessons.’ She was walking with exaggerated steps, looking rather silly, and a line of little fillies trailed out behind her, trying to mimic Celestia’s comical walk.

Princess lessons were serious business.

“Belisama, would you please just let down your guard and enjoy yourself?” Derpy asked in a soft voice.

“No,” came Belisama’s stony reply. The little griffoness scanned the crowd, her crest raised and her muscles ready for action. Having the newborns out in the open unnerved her. Those were her foals too. She reached up and patted Bandua, who was tucked away in a shawl around Belisama’s neck. Belisama loved each and every one of her foals, from the smallest, which was without a doubt little Bandua, to the largest, which was Rising Star.

Heads would roll before she allowed harm to come to any of them.

“Helia is going to pop any day. Gofannon is beside himself,” Lugus said to Belisama.

The little griffoness looked up at the much larger griffon beside her. “Gofannon is going to pluck out all of his own feathers if he does not relax.”

“The same could be said for you,” Lugus replied.

Belisama bristled and her eyes narrowed. “I have had things try to kill my husband. Things I have trouble comprehending. Vermin—” Belisama let out a loud hiss after spitting out the word ‘vermin’ and then continued: “— tried to harm my offspring.”

“My beloved Queen Belisama, I meant no offense.” Lugus bowed his head and held out another carrot for Peekaboo to eat.

“Vermin!” Belisama hissed through an open beak.

“I think somebirdy needs a hug,” Derpy said as she pulled Belisama into an embrace.

The griffoness fluffed out, her fur and her feathers puffing out to make her look twice as large as she really was. Her tail tufted and slashed the air. He talons flexed. Her crest rose straight up and her eyes narrowed as she glowered. But she did not resist the grey mare. Derpy headed the pride and Belisama was subject to the pecking order. If the grey one said it was time for hugs, then the grey one’s word was law. Hissing like a teakettle, Belisama allowed herself to be hugged, stroked, and petted. She felt Derpy trying to smooth out her ruffled feathers.

“You know, for being no bigger than Dinky or Piña, Belisama sure is dangerous looking,” Berry Punch remarked in a Berry serious voice. “I’m glad she’s on our side.”

“Vermin need to be exterminated,” Lugus said in a low voice as he looked down at Peekaboo. He felt very protective and he looked over at Yew Wood, who had Brennus in a shawl around her neck, following Belisama’s advice. “Peekaboo, what do we do with vermin?”

“We smash them until they brains go squirt out their butts,” Peekaboo replied, blinking and looking very serious. “Then we smash again and again until we sure they dead.” The foal’s wings flared out from her side. “Vermin.” She looked around, trying to find anything that might resemble vermin, so she could smash it and make her Daddy proud. After a moment, she found an acceptable vermin substitute.

Snarling, Peekaboo lept upon and then savaged Lugus’ tail with her little flat teeth.

 

 

“Hi hi.” Hearing these words, Derpy turned her head and saw Bucky. He was swaying. He was swallowed by his cloak, but the parts of him that she could see looked sweaty. His voice wavered. Derpy could only reach one conclusion.

“Are you drunk?” she asked.

“No,” Bucky replied. “But I feel like it.”

“How is Cheerilee?” Derpy looked at her husband as he sat down upon the blanket.

“She’s fine. There was some tearing.” Bucky reached up and rubbed his face beneath his hood. “A colt. She had a colt. He’s a big one. Not as big as Brandywine though. It was really good that I brought Violet… the doctor that was supposed to be there for Cheerilee’s birth was off with another mare who was giving birth and he couldn’t be in two places at once.”

“It’s good that she’s okay.” Derpy let out a little sigh and looked over at Berry, who was napping in the sun. “You like being there when birth happens, don’t you?”

“Yes.” Bucky nodded. “Seen too much death. I want to see lives begin… not end.”

“I understand.” Derpy leaned over and gave Bucky a little peck on his snoot.

“Violet says that I’d make a good midwife.” Bucky grinned, revealing jagged teeth. “Also, I’ve learned that my little puffs of dragonbreath are great for sterilising stuff.” He puffed out his cheeks as he exhaled and then his grin widened. “I feel great. My dearest lady, if you will excuse me, I have a young lady to go and dance with.”

Derpy giggled. “Oh, do you now? Now that I’ve squirted out a few foals, I’m probably not as interesting… I see how it is.” She gave her husband a one eyed stare and stuck her tongue out. “Fine, go be with her. I’ll just be here, looking after your foals, you cad.”

Reaching out his talons, Bucky stroked Derpy’s cheek and then he strode away, grinning from ear to ear.

 

 

“Might I have this dance?” Bucky asked. He looked down at Dinky, whose face was stained with what appeared to be frozen custard. “I offer you my most sincere apologies for my sudden departure.”

“I dunno,” Dinky said in a low voice as she gave her father a wary look. “You went off and left me in the lurch. I had to listen to Princess Celestia complain about how you always find a way to escape. She went on about it for a long time.”

“Please?” Bucky gave his daughter a pleading look as he lowered his head. Reaching out with his right hoof, he prodded her. “Dance with me?”

“Oh fine,” Dinky sighed. She leaned over and gave Bucky a kiss, leaving frozen custard smeared on his cheek. She felt herself lifted in Bucky’s magic and she wrapped her forelegs around her father’s neck, reaching beneath his cloak.

Triumphant, Bucky led Dinky away to the wooden platform where others danced.

Holding Dinky close to him, Bucky swayed from side to side as he moved around the edges of the wooden platform. He moved with easy grace on three legs, or appeared to anyway, and had one foreleg wrapped around Dinky’s middle as he clutched her to his neck.

“You’re growing up so fast,” Bucky whispered.

“I know,” Dinky replied. “I’m scared. A lot of stuff is going on. Everything is changing.”

“You know that you can always come to me, right?” Bucky closed his eyes and listened as the band played some kind of waltz. For however many years he had left, he wanted to spend them doing something like this, dancing with his fillies, or spending time with his colts. “So… how did your special project in school go?”

“I was able to keep something levitated as I went to sleep. Turns out I’m not the first unicorn to have this idea. Not many unicorns can do it. They lack the mental discipline. But I can keep something in my telekinesis for a while after I doze off,” Dinky replied.

“I’m proud of you.” Bucky gave Dinky a squeeze. “You are going to grow up, you are going to be beautiful just like your mother, and you are going to have such a promising future…” Bucky fell silent, not able to bring himself to say that he wasn’t going to be there to see it. “Dinky, whatever you do, stick to your principles… hold tight to your values… and do your best not to compromise them. Once you do—”

“I know,” Dinky said, cutting in. “Once I do, I might start down a path that I can’t return from and then there is no choice but to keep going down that path.”

Bucky blinked a few times, something had gotten in his eyes, perhaps a hair or something. He was so overwhelmed at the moment, he felt so much love… he felt tipsy and emotional, as if he had been drinking. He had to hold it together though. Dinky deserved her special moment. He loved her so much. Without a doubt, she loved him. He could feel it. It gave him hope. There was no doubt and he felt more secure in the knowledge that Dinky really loved him.

“Daddy?”

“What is it, Dinks?”

“I’ve learned something very important from you.”

“And that is?”

“If I do have to compromise my values… if I do have to walk down that path, however scary it might be, I’ll keep going and keep doing whatever it is that needs to be done. There’s no point in going halfway. Sentinel and I talk about it sometimes, doing what needs to be done. You’ve taught me an awful lot about magic, but you also taught me about courage and how to keep going.”

“Thank you, Dinky.”

“No, thank you, Daddy.” Dinky gave her father’s neck a squeeze. “Thank you for everything…”

 

 

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