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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Pausing just outside the farmhouse library doors, Bucky took a deep breath and prepared himself. He wasn’t certain that enough time had passed for everypony involved to have cooled off, but it was time. He took another deep breath, filling his lungs and trying to clear his head. The number of adults in the room had been limited at Berry’s insistence, something she had said before leaving. It was important to make sure that the foals didn’t feel like they were being ganged up upon or intimidated, although Bucky had trouble seeing how a little intimidation could hurt anything.

Standing just outside the door, Bucky could hear the muffled voice of Twilight Sparkle and then Rainbow Dash. The little ones were waiting for him to arrive, no doubt sweating, and the adults were also waiting. The past few days had blurred together, so much so that Bucky had trouble remembering everything that had taken place, most of it boring stuff that he had to endure.

Breathing deep once more, Bucky pushed the door open and entered. The first thing he noticed was the sharp contrast of black and pink. Boadicea and Diamond Tiara were huddled together in the middle of the room, sitting with one another on the floor, in the middle of the circle of judgment. Sentinel, much to Bucky’s surprise, was sitting next to Dinky, looking both afraid and protective. Sentinel met Bucky’s eyes for a moment as Bucky entered, and then looked away, ashamed, and unable to meet his father’s gaze.

Apple Bloom, Sweetie Belle, and Scootaloo all sat together, looking pensive and concerned, Apple Bloom most of all. Bucky stood still for a moment, an outsider looking in, and he saw Apple Bloom give him a little nod, as if she was letting him know that she accepted this.

“Hello,” Bucky said to his guests, “would I be correct to assume that you had a lovely time in Canterlot?” He stepped into the circle, climbed into his chair, and got comfortable, his eyes lingering on Rarity and Applejack, who were sitting together on a loveseat.

“Oh, it was marvelous,” Rarity replied and then fell silent, a thoughtful expression upon her face. She blinked a few times, staring at Bucky, and then she shook her head. “I was about to regale you with meaningful moments from our excursion when we’re here to decide the fate of some troublemakers.” Rarity’s lips pressed into a moue and her eyebrows arched.

“Well, after we get done here, you and I could go into the kitchen and you can tell me everything over tea, perhaps,” Bucky offered, feeling a genuine interest in knowing more about what had happened in Canterlot.

“Oh, that would be lovely, thank you, darling.” Rarity clapped her front hooves together and gave Bucky a smile. She cleared her throat and then looked around at the others. “So, how do we proceed? Do we call this meeting together or this court in order?”

Hearing the word ‘court,’ Sweetie Belle’s ears drooped as she gulped. A three way glance was shared with Apple Bloom and Scootaloo. The Crusaders, who had stuck together through thick and thin, found themselves together in a thin moment.

“We want to make sure that this punishment is fair for all involved,” Twilight said, looking uncomfortable and upset. Her ears twitched and her nostrils flared as she looked at the foals sitting in the middle of the room.

“Yes, everypony gets to suffer equally… even though Sentinel has been saying that he’s willing to take everypony else’s punishment—”

“You what?” Apple Bloom demanded, interrupting Lyra and looking at Sentinel.

“I—” Sentinel began.

“Oh no you don’t,” Apple Bloom said, sounding angry. “That’s not how it works. You don’t just get into trouble and then face it all by your lonesome. We got into this together and we’re gonna finish this together. We done got ourselves into a whole heap o’ trouble and trouble is like hard work, best done in large groups. That’s what friends do, you dunderhead, that is what makes friendships meaningful, it isn’t just the happy times, it is the miserable times when you stick it out together that give meaning.”

Applejack and Rarity exchanged a glance with another. Twilight Sparkle and Rainbow Dash did the same. Sentinel sighed and nodded his head, then bowed his head at Apple Bloom. Sitting in a chair beside Bucky, Lyra smiled, a smile that Sentinel did not see, and she reached over to touch Bucky, her hoof brushing up against him.

“A very important friendship lesson,” Twilight said in a solemn voice, “which is why we had planned to punish all of you together. For the spring, while school is still in session, you can expect light work, but come summer, there is going to be heavy labour. Applejack and I have plans for you. I’m sure that Bucky and Lyra also have plans.”

Scootaloo sighed, slumped over, and nodded her head. “Pretty much what I thought was going to happen.”

“Oh, Scootaloo… if only you knew.” Bucky grinned, one ear twitching, and his lips pulled back from his teeth. “On top of all the hard labour, Buck Sergeant Sparkler and Private Loki are working on a new conditioning program to help you get into better shape. You too, Boadicea. Next time you go on an adventure, we want you properly conditioned and in perfect shape.”

“Oh no,” Scootaloo groaned.

“As soon as the road to Canterlot is fixed up again, Sparkler and Loki were discussing a little march up to Canterlot under a full load. From what I understand, Ripple is very enthusiastic about the plan and wants to make all of the Raptors march.”

“Oh… fudge,” Scootaloo whined, shaking her head, “they’re all going to hate me… I’m never going to hear the end of this.”

“That’s the idea, Squirt. You’re a tough little pegasus and we had to find some way of hitting you where it hurt.” Rainbow Dash leaned forwards in her chair and looked at Scootaloo. “I think we’ve done that… I think the Raptors are going to make you miserable in ways that we can’t even think of.”

“A march up to Canterlot? Under a full load? That’ll wear my claws off.” Boadicea slumped down, her feathers fluffing out, and her beak clacked together. “That seems fair. I can’t complain.”

“Also, Apple Bloom, how do you feel about joinin’ the army? ‘Cause I done reckon that you and Sweetie Belle should get to be Raptors for a day.” As Applejack spoke, she glanced at Rarity, and the white unicorn was nodding with enthusiastic agreement.

“Yes, a princess should get to know those who work hard to protect her. I think this will be an excellent opportunity for all of you.” Twilight Sparkle smiled, drew in a deep breath, her barrel expanding, and then let it out in a slow, satisfied huff. “You know, this isn’t as bad as I thought it would be. I thought I’d be more upset, but I can feel my anger just melting away. This is wonderful.”

“Yeah, wonderful,” Diamond Tiara said in a weak voice as she leaned on Boadicea.

“I must say, this has been very cathartic,” Rarity said, agreeing with Twilight. “All of this has been very stressful and wrinkle inducing. I think when I’m done here and I’ve had tea with Bucky, I’ll go have a long talk with my mother. She’s been beside herself.”

“Thank you for being fair.” Sentinel lifted his head and his ears drooped, hanging down to the sides of his face. “I will do whatever must be done to make amends.” He paused, bowed his head, and then said to his companions, “Thank you, all of you, for sticking with me.”

Reaching out, Apple Bloom patted Sentinel on the withers. “Friends forever… we’ll get through this. Just like the Founders got through their troubles. We did something special, Sentinel, it was worth it.”

“Yeah it was,” Sweetie Belle said, her head nodding.

“Just to be able to feel the Hearthfire.” Scootaloo closed her eyes, remembering.

“It was the most amazing feeling in the whole wide world.” Diamond Tiara pulled Boadicea closer and gave the griffoness a squeeze. “I would give anything to feel it again. Maybe we should get into trouble more often.”

 

 

“I’m kinda relieved,” Sweetie Belle said to her companions, her words almost coming out as a sigh. “It was nice of them to let all of us spend some time together.” She looked over at the tray of sandwiches and drinks, then back at her friends.

“You okay, Diamond?” Apple Bloom asked.

“No,” Diamond Tiara replied as she curled up in a chair. “My stomach is killing me.”

Apple Bloom frowned and her ears perked forwards. After giving it some thought, it didn’t seem fair to punish Diamond Tiara in the condition she was in, but perhaps that was the point. Apple Bloom knew that she and others might have to pick up the slack and carry Diamond Tiara through this. That was what friends did, right? Once everything had calmed down, Diamond Tiara would be fine again. Apple Bloom watched as Sentinel climbed up into Diamond Tiara’s chair and then he pulled Diamond Tiara close to him. Seeing this made Apple Bloom’s heart warm and she thought of Rumble. The filly sighed and realised that Rumble would probably help out with the heavy workload without asking. He would be there with her because he was a good colt. Apple Bloom, thankful for her friends, knew that everything she had, she had because of her friends. Sentinel was no different. Apple Bloom knew that he was going to gain his knighthood because of this, not just because of what Sentinel had done, but because of the friends he had.

“You know, this doesn’t mean that we’re gonna have a bad summer. I know my sister and at the end of the day, when the work is done, I know we’ll all get to have fun together. There’ll be campfires and I know we’ll get a chance to go swimming. We’ll have plenty of chances to have fun together.” Apple Bloom watched as Sentinel pressed his muzzle against Diamond Tiara’s cheek and she felt her own cheeks growing warm. Sentinel was being sweet.

“Working together in Baltimare after we stowed away wasn’t so bad… it turned out to be pretty good for us,” Sweetie Belle said.

“I got my cutie mark.” Scootaloo’s head bobbed up and down. “I actually had a good time in Baltimare. Stowing away was totally worth it.”

Clearing his throat, Sentinel lifted his head, pulling his muzzle away from Diamond Tiara’s cheek. “We have Lyra to thank for that. Really, every single one of us needs to sign a thank you card for Lyra and we need to do something special for her.”

“There was some hollering in the back bedroom when this was being discussed,” Dinky said to the others. “Our parents don’t holler much, but what we did made them fight with each other. That hurts more than anything. My mother, Derpy, she wanted spanking to be a big part of our punishment. She didn’t want me sitting right for a week. If Berry was here, I’d imagine that there’d be a lot more fussing and fighting.”

“Big Mac was the same way, but Applejack held him off until our little trial.” Apple Bloom reached back and rubbed her cutie mark. “I have to say, I was kinda expecting a good switchin’.” Apple Bloom shook her head. “I think it would have been easier to get a switchin’, just having Big Mac look at me the way he was… it was awful.”

“It hurts when we disappoint our parents,” Scootaloo said as she traced little circles on the floor with her hoof. “But there are gonna be times when I don’t think we can avoid making them upset. Let’s face it, we’re gonna continue to do boneheaded stuff… we’re gonna do stupid stuff. It’s Gabby Gums all over again and then some. Like it or not, we’re adventurers and we’ve got ourselves caught up in something larger than ourselves.”

“Maybe next time we’ll just ask to borrow the airship and see what they have to say about it,” Boadicea said, not sounding the least bit sarcastic. “I have the feeling that Bucky would help us just to humour us or just so he could go off on a lark.”

“Yeah, he just needs a reason, an excuse.” Sentinel gave Diamond Tiara a squeeze. He placed his muzzle close to her ear and whispered in a low voice, “I love you so much, I’m sorry that you don’t feel good.”

Sweetie Belle puckered her lips and blew her mane out of her eyes. “If we got Bucky to go off and do something stupid with us, would he get in trouble with us? Would he get punished too?”

 

 

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