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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“Princess Luna?” Apple Bloom lifted her head high; there was a time to be submissive, but she didn’t feel that this was one of those times. She was, however, respectful, addressing the princess by her proper title. She saw Luna looking at her, studying her, and there was a faint hint of a smirk upon the blue alicorn’s face.

“Yes, Princess Apple Bloom?”

Clearing her throat, Apple Bloom kept her eyes locked upon Luna’s. “I don’t regret what I’ve done, not at all.” Apple Bloom swallowed and then dug deep to find the courage to continue. “I did what needed to be done. All of these events were meant to happen. I know I’m in some trouble, and I accept that, I do, but I refuse to feel bad about what I’ve done.”

Luna’s face remained statuesque for a time, and then one eyebrow raised as her eyes narrowed. “You sound entirely too much like Buckminster. He too, frequently regrets nothing. My sister, Celestia, will rue the day that she established Buckminster and Violet to be your instructors.” Luna sighed and her smirk became a little more noticeable.

“And what about you?”

“Me?” Luna asked.

“How do you feel about Bucky teaching me a practical approach to getting stuff done?”

Luna’s serious mein shattered and she laughed. Snorting, she brought herself under control, her sides heaving, her eyes were now wide and twinkling. “Me… why, I am proud of my student and what he does. The anarchy that he causes. The panic, fear and doubt. I could not imagine a quiet, peaceful state of rule. I am ecstatic that he is passing along his merry ways to an apt pupil.”

“You’re kinda sarcastic,” Apple Bloom replied, squinting one eye and studying Luna. “Bucky has taught me a lot already. He told me to try and believe in the good that ponies have while preparing for the worst that ponies have to offer. He told me to try kindness first, always, and when that fails, use force, and not just a little either. He told me to use every means at my disposal when force is necessary so that I get myself a reputation. Ponies will want to deal with me when I am kind and fair, because they will know what I’ll do if I’m pushed. He told me that when ponies choose to go about doing things the kind and easy way, that I should go out of my way to reward them for choosing to do the right thing, so I’ll have myself a reputation for generousity.”

Surprised, Luna looked down at the foal.

“Right now, I am trying to deal with you kindly.” Apple Bloom’s eyebrow raised.

The corners of Luna’s mouth turned downwards even as her heart swelled with pride. Apple Bloom had been learning from Buckminster and Violet. The foal had shown no sign of fear whatsoever when she had made her bold statement. Luna began to suspect that Apple Bloom was going to make a fantastic diplomat someday.

Luna cleared her throat. “Buckminster has done a wonderful job instructing you. I shall have a word with him and tell him so once we return. Go and be with your friends, we shall speak later, perhaps after we have returned and you have had a chance to settle in.”

“Okay.”

“Oh, and Apple Bloom,” Luna said.

“Yes?”

“I do believe that one day, you will make for a fine princess. Your loyalty to Sentinel is admirable and an asset. Continue to pay attention to Buckminster, he will prepare you for the future.”

“Thank you, Princess Luna.”

 

 

“You alright, Dinks?” Piña sat down beside Dinky and watched as the world went by. The Scorned Mare was flying low and the entire land of Equestria lay spread out beneath them. Dinky wasn’t alright. None of them were alright. They had returned to the ship and the good feeling that all of them had faded.

Then came the horror.

“I keep seeing it,” Dinky replied, shaking her head, “her guts all over the floor, it looked like… pink ribbons… how shiny and wet everything looked. I can’t eat anything and I just don’t feel right.”

“Yeah, it was pretty bad.” Piña leaned against Dinky and felt the wind blowing through her mane. “Everything happened so fast. I keep thinking about Princess Platinum… and love gone wrong.”

“A long time ago, I was a normal foal. I got picked on by the school bullies. That was kinda rotten, but aside from that, life more or less made sense. My mom delivered the mail. When I was good, I got ice cream and hugs. When I was bad, I got scolded and hugs.” Dinky sucked in a deep breath and then continued, “One day, everything changed. Mama met a nice pony. He was good to her. He was nice. He was nice to me. Nice to you. He was nice to us. He made mama happy.” Dinky paused and wiped her eyes with her foreleg.

Piña lifted a foreleg and draped it over Dinky’s withers.

“Mama used to cry herself to sleep sometimes… she was so lonely. I’d hear her and sometimes I’d go and crawl into bed with her. It’s hard when your parent cries… it’s hard to even be around them. It hurts… it hurt so much seeing her hurt and Bucky made the pain go away.” Dinky drew in a deep, shuddering breath as tears streamed down her cheeks.

“Then all the trouble started. Everything happened so fast. We got shipped off to the Shetlands. I had to grow up. I learned about the burden of magic…” Dinky thought about the day that Bucky had put her to work, feeling an odd mix of sadness and gratitude. “I learned an awful lot of hard lessons on the Shetlands. I learned that with the kind of magic that I have, I have to be all grown up and be responsible. Then we came home. Stuff continued to happen. Then this happened.”

Dinky turned and looked at Piña. “It’s been rough, Piña, this whole destiny thing. Sure, I have a daddy now, but I also got everything that came with him. It’s hard, Piña, it’s hard.”

“Sure, it’s hard, but think about all of the other good stuff. It’s gonna get better, Dinky… now that Sombra is gone, things can only get better.” Piña gave Dinky a sad smile of encouragement.

“Piña, everything hurts and I’m so scared. I want to feel the Hearthfire again… it was like the greatest feeling in the world. It was like the time I stole some of Bon Bon’s special eggnog and drank a cup… I felt so warm and happy… everything felt so good inside. I felt… I felt like I could do anything, anything at all.”

Dinky watched as distant mountains drew nearer. Equestria was filled with the green of spring. Birds were flying in formation around the ship. Everything was beautiful and sunny, although the wind felt chilly. It beat the frozen north any day of the week.

Nodding, Piña understood how Dinky felt. The Hearthfire had been a wonderful feeling. She wanted it back as well, but understood that life couldn’t be happy and perfect all of the time. There had to be sad moments to make the happy moments happier.

“Piña, don’t ever leave me… I’m always gonna need you. You’re my best friend. Seeing Moonbow like that… it made me start thinking.” Dinky leaned over against Piña, resting her head against Piña’s head.

“Friendship through the ages… best friends really are forever, Dinky…”

 

 

“You doing alright, Scootaloo?” Twilight Sparkle looked at the filly that was eating a bowl of hot, buttery noodles mixed with vegetables. Twilight sat down at the table beside Scootaloo, her brows furrowed, her face worried.

Scootaloo looked up, a noodle sticking to her nose. She watched as Twilight lifted a napkin and Scootaloo felt her muzzle being cleaned. She swallowed her mouthful of food and looked into Twilight’s eyes, trying to determine what Twilight was feeling.

“I love you so much,” Twilight said, not waiting for Scootaloo to answer. She continued cleaning Scootaloo’s face. “I love you so much and it is very difficult for me to put it into words. When you left, I was scared. I was so angry with you. And then, when you took off across the frozen wastes, I was terrified. I’m not okay, Scootaloo… I’m not okay at all. I’m angry with you for scaring me and hurting me… but I still love you… I think I need to have a long talk with my own mother and give her a very heartfelt apology for being the sort of foal that I was.” Extending her wing, Twilight wiped her own face, leaving behind cheeks moistened with tears.

“I’m sorry… I wasn’t trying to hurt you… my friends were going… I had to go too… otherwise, what sort of friend would I be?” Scootaloo lowered her gaze and stared down into her bowl of noodles, staring at a bright orange slice of carrot.

“Scootaloo… I understand… sometimes, you gotta do the wrong thing for the right reasons. That doesn’t excuse what you’ve done… and we’re still going to punish you… oh, we are going to punish you, but I want you to know that I’m proud of you.” Twilight gave Scootaloo a quivering smile.

Slumping down in her chair, Scootaloo frowned and nodded. “Yeah, yeah, I get it. Even though you have to punish me, it doesn’t mean that you’ve stopped loving me.” Scootaloo sighed, her wings fluttering at her sides.

“I’m gonna talk to Bucky… hopefully he won’t decide to have you charged with airship grand larceny. But if he does, I’ll see if I can find a lawyer brave enough to stand up to Bucky.” Twilight’s sad smile widened, becoming a little happier, and she set down the napkin on the table.

“Gee, thanks.” Scootaloo, unable to help herself, smirked. She had a wonderful mental image of a lawyer melting like candle wax in court under Bucky’s withering stare. A giggle bubbled up her throat and slipped out before she had a chance to stop it.

“You know, if you went to him and asked him for his forgiveness, I think everything would be okay.” Twilight blinked away a few tears and tried to be happy with Scootaloo. “He’s got a soft spot for foals… that can be exploited. Just try to look small, helpless, and in need of rescue. He’s a pushover.”

“He’d steal me away and you’d never get me back,” Scootaloo said.

“You know, I bet you’re right,” Twilight replied.

 

 

“I guess this is goodbye,” Sentinel said, feeling as though his sense of grief was going to consume him. He looked at the massive Myrmidons on the deck and then looked at Princess Luna. He blinked, hoping that he wouldn’t cry, and then looked Moonbow in the eye. She was so much larger than he was now.

“I have to go and finish my training… once I’m done, we can be together.” Moonbow’s jaw clenched and she held her head high. “I will miss you… I love you, Sentinel. Look after Diamond Tiara and Boadicea… the pink one isn’t dealing with everything that has happened very well.”

Sentinel looked around the deck and then back at Moonbow. Diamond Tiara was below decks, crying, and Boadicea was with her, trying to comfort her. Diamond Tiara could not face saying goodbye, not after what had happened. She did not deal well with stress or high emotions.

Lunging forwards, Moonbow smashed her head into Sentinel’s, causing him to stagger backwards a bit. He recovered, braced his legs, and pushed back. Moonbow snarled, and Sentinel snarled back. The two stood together, growling at one another, expressing affection in the manner of their own kind.

“It hurt so much losing you… I don’t want to say goodbye,” Sentinel said in a low voice. He felt Moonbow nip him. He yelped, not from pain, but because the nip startled him.

“We have our duties and our obligations.” Moonbow’s voice was stern, hard even, and her eyes narrowed into a flinty glare. “No weakness Sentinel… we both know the risks. Either one of us could die at any given moment… you and I must throw ourselves into the jaws of danger… it is what we do… I, as a Myrmidon, and you, as a knight… don’t be a coward, Sentinel, I expect more from you.”

Bowing his head, Sentinel gave Moonbow a faint nod. “I understand. You are right, of course. Our lives are not our own, we have chosen to live in the service of others.” Sentinel looked up and saw that Luna was staring at both him and Moonbow. He returned his gaze to Moonbow. “I love you… five more years.”

“Yes, five more years.” Moonbow bonked Sentinel in the head again, slamming her skull against his. “I love you too… if you do something stupid again, maybe we can go off on another adventure.”

Luna began laughing and beside her, one of her Myrmidons snorted.

Sentinel, never the best at humour, made a valiant attempt at being funny. “Doing stupid things is a family tradition… just imagine what our foals are going to do someday—”

Choking, Luna stopped laughing, an alarmed expression settling over her face.

“—and we’re going to have to tell them stories about their grandfather and what kind of reputation they have to live up to… trouble is our family tradition. Berry Punch will teach them everything they need to know…”

 

 

 

 

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