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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“I don’t know what I am doing here,” Rarity said as she looked around the laboratory. The amount of raw magic and electricity in the air was causing her mane to frizz out. Her hooves clicked upon the smooth stone floor. She saw scorch marks along one end of the room, a worrisome sign. “Honestly, darling, I am not like the rest of you. I know very little about advanced magic.”

“Rarity, think of it as tiny sequins that need to be sewn onto a dress. You’re the best telekinetic I know, you can do things that Bucky and I can’t.” Twilight, who moved beside her friend, did her best to sound reassuring. Feeling something brushing up against her leg, Twilight looked down and saw a sleepy looking Glass Slipper yawning up at her. “Somepony didn’t nap today.”

“Sorry.” Glass Slipper looked up at Twilight, smiled, and yawned again.

“There is a nice comfy chair over there. Go curl up in the chair and see if you can sleep. I’ll leave a soundproofed bubble around you,” Twilight said to her adopted filly.

“Okay.” Glass Slipper trotted away, doing as she was told, hopped up into the chair, turned around a few times, yawned yet again, laid down, curled up, and then watched her mother through heavy, sleepy looking eyes that had trouble staying open.

“There are a lot of little… spider thingies running around,” Rarity said as a group of glass golems scurried around her.

“Don’t mind them,” Sunset Shimmer replied, “you get used to them. They’re super helpful and necessary to our work.”

Standing next to a heavy stone table, Trixie began unrolling sheets of paper covered in schematics, notes, and arcane diagrams. Discord, who was standing beside her, looked down and studied the papers, one eyebrow raised and a curious look in his eye.

“You know, I could just open a portal to where we need to go,” Discord muttered.

“Too much chaos,” Twilight replied, turning her head to look at Discord. “Star Swirl’s portal control rod also did too much damage… we need to find a harmonious blend of magic that opens a rift but doesn’t do serious harm to the fabric of our local space-time continuum.”

“I suppose you are right.” Discord slumped, looking a bit disappointed. “Seems we are doomed to do this the hard way. Going to be a lot more work. Well then, let’s see what we have to work with.” Leaning over, Discord looked down at the sheets of paper that had been spread out over the table. He reached out his griffon talons, extended a talon finger, and touched a diagram with his claw. “This is clever… who came up with this?”

“Trixie did.” Sunset Shimmer came over to the table and looked at Trixie. “Her research returned a number of improvements to both Star Swirl’s and Twilight Sparkle’s designs. This portal won’t be a mirror, but a protected image that will allow us to see where we’re trying to reach. Just step into the image and you’ll land in the spot you are looking at. Trixie is quite gifted at illusion.”

“I see that.” Discord lifted his head and looked at Trixie, who was blushing, her face having turned a brilliant shade of reddish purple. “So how are we going to power this thing? Star Swirl’s rod was a single unicorn device, most mirror portals draw in power from the ley lines, but this, this has some significant power requirements.”

“It needs an alicorn battery,” Bucky said, a scowl spread over his face. “We’ll need to draw off of Twilight’s power to operate it. Which means if something goes wrong, Twilight will not be part of the defense, she’ll be vulnerable and weak as she tries to keep the portal open.”

“It’s the only way—”

“I accept that, Twilight, but I don’t have to like it.” Bucky shook his head. “I don’t like putting you at risk. That’s my job… I take risks. You’re supposed to remain safe and secure, someplace far away from the danger.”

“I’d like to know how somepony figured out extra-dimensional viewing.” Discord, his eyes narrowed, peered at Twilight Sparkle.

“The mirror traveler that Bucky found, he had something called a quantum radio that worked through spooky action. It gave me ideas, it gave me direction, it made me think of things that I would have never thought about before.” Twilight’s eyes, wide, full of curiousity, blinked in rapid succession a few times and then she stared at Discord. “I saw ways to improve it. Make it better. Using crystalline projectors, I can project both sound and visuals… I have plans for Equestria.”

“Great, the last thing we need is television and radio showing up in Equestria.” Sunset Shimmer snorted, rolled her eyes, and tossed her head back. “Twilight, I’m telling you, television made people stupid. They stopped reading books. The humans on the other side of the mirror are brain damaged.”

“We’ll just have to project smart stuff through the viewer,” Twilight replied, resuming a now stale argument between her and Sunset Shimmer. “I miss the television on the other side of the mirror… and now I’ve found a way to do it better. Television was flat… I’ll be able to project three dimensional images and anypony will be able to use it… not just unicorns.”

“Already, all of this talk of this… television is destroying our fragile unity.” Bucky snapped his talons and a dozen spider golems all turned and focused on him. “Pay attention, I need you to make fine crystalline latticework structure just like you’ll see on those diagrams. Do you think you can do that?”

One golem scurried forwards, its little legs tapping on the stone floor. “Yes, we can do that. What you ask is simple.”

“Good… good… I’ll let you get to that, then,” Bucky replied.

“They talk now.” Discord clapped his talons and his paw together. “Sure, plenty of golems talk, but it’s all prerecorded responses… Bucky, you’ve made them smart.” A mischievous grin spread over Discord’s long face. “Bucky, have you thought about stepping beyond the boundaries and creating actual life?”

Turning to face Discord, Bucky made a reply that silenced the room. “It’s in the planning stages. I’ll probably need your help.”

 

 

“I’m getting pudgy.” Loch Skimmer turned sideways and looked at herself in profile. She tried to suck in her gut, failed, sighed, and let her stomach hang out. “You know, I look really, really good lately. My legs have gotten longer, I think I’m a little bigger, hmm, yep.”

“You’re becoming a really hot mare.” Rising Star looked up from his book, blinked a few times, and gave Loch Skimmer a roguish smile. “In all seriousness, I think pregnancy has been good for you.”

“Thanks!” Loch Skimmer turned her body around a bit more and checked out her backside in the mirror, looking back over her shoulder. “I’ve gotten wider. I really do look good. I like how I look.”

Bittersweet came strolling past, staring at Loch Skimmer’s backside in the mirror. The donkey pursed her lips, whistling as she passed, and waved with one ear while making a saucy wink. After crossing the room, she flopped over onto the sofa where Rising Star was reading, got comfortable, and planted a kiss on the unicorn’s cheek.

Rising Star turned his head towards Bittersweet and saw that her ears were moving. He paid attention, knowing how important it was for Bittersweet to feel like she was being heard. She was pretty, her long eyelashes were distracting, but somehow, Rising Star stuck it out.

“I’m worried about Ripple,” Bittersweet said, using ear language. “She seems stressed out. She’s worried about the Raptors being accepted.” The donkey paused, her ears going still for a moment, then continued, “I’m worried about you as well. Spring session starts soon. Are you going to be up for it?”

“I’ll be fine,” Rising Star replied, making careful motions with his lips and rather clumsy movements with his ears. He was trying though, and that counted. “I have Spitfire watching my back and a whole bunch of friends.” Lifting his head, Rising Star bumped snoots with Bittersweet, then his ears perking forwards, he gave her a quick peck on the lips. After pulling his head back, he resumed his careful communication. “Ripple has a lot of expectations. I think everything will be fine and Ripple will succeed, but she is going to sweat it out and worry about it as though she was going to fail.”

“I wish I was as motivated as my sister, but all I can seem to do lately is eat potato chips and creamy garlic dip.” Loch Skimmer moved away from the mirror and headed for the sofa where Rising Star and Bittersweet were resting together.

Rising Star watched as Loch Skimmer approached. At some point, not long ago, his feelings had changed for her. She had become more than an object of lust and a means to work out his frustrations. She was carrying his foal. Now, he had complex feelings for her that he had trouble expressing, but he loved her in a most profound way.

“Are you ready to be a daddy?” Loch Skimmer asked.

“Ready or not, I already came,” Rising Star replied, causing Loch Skimmer to titter.

 

 

The house was quiet. It was late. Thistle moved down the hall, glad for the quiet, but wishing for a certain somepony to be home. Bucky would be home later, and maybe she would surprise him. Work had been long, much longer than she had thought it  would be. A long walk that stretched from one location to another, all of them Ponyville’s many water sources. All of them, which were considered clean, were deplorable. How or why ponies called them clean was beyond Thistle. Most of them had junk in the bottom. Some of them, the water had gone mucky and was full of algae. Worst of all, this was after a major effort to clean everything up, which meant that everything had been worse at some point.

It baffled the mind, it did, and Thistle had trouble taking it all in. How could anypony treat something as precious as water as their garbage dump? Nearing the end of the hall, Thistle turned and went into the nursery. It was dark and she heard the sounds of soft breathing. It seemed that Bell Heather had gone to sleep at last. A while ago, when Bell had been put to bed, she had been somewhat fussy.

Thistle left the nursery and went back down the hall, heading for the living room. She could hear the muffled sound of voices. Fluttershy and Bon Bon sounded as though they were talking. Something about foals, Thistle couldn’t quite make it out, and yarn. Something about foals and yarn.

It seemed that everything was routine now, sure, there was the new job, and that was good, but everything else was more or less the same, and Thistle didn’t know how she felt about that. She had come here at the end of last summer, and had come to the mainland for a time before that. Everything had been magical then, everything was special, shiny, and new.

Now, everything was routine and commonplace. The shine had worn off. At some point, electric lights had ceased to be magical and had become humdrum. Mundane. The feeling, the sense of wonder was gone, never to return, that sense of almost foalish wonder that existed along with the feeling of appreciation for living among such magical things.

All gone. Now, Thistle flicked the hall light on and off with her nose and never gave it a second thought. While the flushing of the toilet still bothered her, she still saw it befouling water, it no longer caused her fits of worry.

She was no longer quite as special either. Before, ponies would be enchanted, they would be in awe of her and her lake weed mane. Her ability to shapeshift. As a kelpie, she had been a source of curiousity and fascination. Now, she was just another pony very much like any other. The new had worn off and the fascination that others held for her had faded. Bell Heather got more attention than she did, but that was because Bell Heather was impossibly cute.

As much as she did not want to admit it, Thistle liked being the center of attention. She liked having others be in awe of her. Now, she was like everypony else and she had to find some other way of being special, some other way of standing out.

But she didn’t know what. A water inspector seemed boring, but she did like the job. Bon Bon got a lot of attention being a candy maker. Bon Bon was interesting and ponies wanted to know more about her. Both what she did and who she was as a pony.

It was at that moment that Thistle had something of an epiphany. She was growing up and she wasn’t sure who she was as a pony. It was more than wanting attention, it was figuring out who she was other than just a kelpie. She was a pony, but what sort of pony? Before, being a kelpie was more than enough, but now, it seemed that she had to develop some sort of personality. She had to grow up, she had to mature, Thistle realised that she needed friends. Not just her family members, or acquaintances, but friends.

She knew Fluttershy, but she didn’t know Fluttershy. Fluttershy and Berry Punch were close friends. They both knitted and did stuff together. Fluttershy and Bon Bon were friends and had been for a long time. Thistle paused just outside of the living room. For Thistle, Fluttershy was just a pony that she talked to when Fluttershy came over. They laughed together sometimes, but they really didn’t know each other.

It was a hard realisation for Thistle to make. Standing in the doorway, Thistle looked into the living room. Fluttershy and Bon Bon were talking. Belisama was holding Bandua, and Thistle could hear faint peeping. Lyra was dozing in a chair, exhausted from a long day of being a mother.

“Hi there,” Fluttershy said in greeting, “why don’t you come and sit with us?”

Thistle nodded, feeling glad, prancing into the living room. “Don’t mind if I do…”

 

 

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