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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“Help. With homework. You know, because the school doesn’t feel like they’ve tortured us enough during the day, so they send us home with schoolwork. Which is a real problem. Each of my teachers seems to think that an hour or two of homework a night isn’t a big deal, and they say we’re whining if we complain about it, but I have six classes during the day. Including a math class, so I have a good understanding of two times six.”

Bucky’s eyebrow raised. Dinky was getting some powerful snark as she grew older. It would be her birthday again soon. It would be everyponies’ birthday soon—well, the foals born during the spring, which were many. There was a plan to condense many birthdays into one big celebration.

Looking at her father, Dinky noted his dull, vacant stare and his raised eyebrow. He didn’t look awake and he didn’t seem like he would be much help. Her mother, Derpy, wouldn’t be much help. Not only did her mother Derpy not know the subject matter, but she was busy. Lyra was busy. Lyra, a great source of help with biology homework, was too busy helping care for the newborns. Berry Punch was gone. Bon Bon was gone making candy. Thistle had no understanding of complex biology.

Feeling frustrated, Dinky began to think that there was no help to be had. Her lower lip began to protrude in a very foalish way and she stared at Bucky, her frustrations rising, almost to the point where she felt as though she wanted to cry. Between being punished, which she admitted that she deserved, and the newborns, Dinky felt as though she was being ignored, left out, she felt neglected. It had been a hard day in school, she needed help with her homework, and it felt as though nopony cared.

“I can try to help… talk to me, Dinky, you look like you’re having a bad day.”

Now, the need for tears felt even stronger. Dinky sniffled, her lower lip quivering, thankful that somepony had noticed. She pulled herself together, shuddered a bit as she tried to control her breathing, climbed up into a chair, and sat down at the kitchen table.

“I have to construct a theory for biology class, the better the theory the better the grade, and I have to make it convincing and I don’t know how to do it.” Dinky opened her bookbag, pulled out her biology textbook, a notebook, a pencil, another notebook, this one battered and full of notes, then looked at her father, who was drinking coffee. He appeared as though he had just woken up. At least he was trying, and for that, Dinky was grateful.

“I’ll do my best, Dinky… it was a long night last night.” Bucky looked down at the table at his slice of pie, which was uneaten and sitting next to his coffee. Egg custard, extra thick and creamy, which was a recipe for intestinal distress. “So, what is your theory?”

“Pegasi are more prone to accepting what we call animalistic behaviours because of preening, which makes them more animal-like than the other pony tribes—”

“What?” Bucky blinked a few times, trying to take in everything that Dinky had just said. He leaned forwards, wondering for a moment just what was going through Dinky’s mind. A unicorn had to be careful calling pegasi animals. He watched as Dinky spread more of her homework out on the table. “Say again?”

“We’re animals, but we try not to act like animals because of social conditioning,” Dinky said as she tapped on her biology textbook. “We’re told that displaying animalistic behaviours is wrong and from a young age, we’re taught not to do animal stuff because it’s gross and wrong. Like bathing, if we were animals, we would lick each other clean and other gross, grody stuff like that. So we have bathtubs and scrubbing brushes and soap and all of the stuff that distances us from the animals so we can say that we are civilised.”

Lifting his coffee, Bucky took a sip and looked into Dinky’s eyes to show interest.

“Except for pegasi… they have to preen their wings. If they don’t, the feathers get all yucky because they have special stuff in their spit that keeps the feathers healthy. So the complex social rituals of grooming don’t apply to pegasi in the same way that they do to other ponies, pegasi still lick one another and preen each other’s wings and my theory states that pegasi are far more accepting of animalistic behaviours because of this. Just look at all of the burping and farting and stuff that pegasi do compared to unicorns, unicorns who try to be more civilised and distance themselves from animalistic behaviours because of a conditioned fear to be seen as an animal.”

Just what was she learning in her advanced biology class and just how did I end up with a foal so smart? Bucky thought to himself as he stared at Dinky.

“You used to be a civilised unicorn but now you’re more animalistic than domesticated. You’ve broken your social conditioning to be more in touch with your primal equine behaviours as well as your adapted predatory behaviours.” Dinky looked at her father and hoped that he was keeping up. He had a peculiar look upon his face. “It’s just a theory…”

“I see.” Bucky set down his coffee cup. Not all that long ago, he had woken up and scratched behind his ear with his hind leg, using the hard edge of his hoof to attack the itchy place. A behaviour that would have left him agast back when he was still a proper unicorn. Now, when he scratched behind his ear, he received advice from Derpy on how to do it better. She had impressive skills on how to get the most out of a good scratch without damaging delicate skin or leaving marks. “Dinky, I would say that this is a sound theory… I find it intriguing.”

“Really?” Dinky lifted up her pencil and she felt the corners of her mouth turning upwards. Her fears, worries, and doubts faded away and she felt her confidence soaring. Her daddy believed in her and her theory.

“Tell me more about it… try to sell me on it.” Bucky lifted up his fork and slid his slice of pie in front of him. “I’ll do whatever I can to help.”

“Thank you, Daddy.”

 

 

“Welcome back.” Lyra Heartstrings looked at Berry Punch, Barley O’Blivion, and Piña Colada, all of whom stood in the entryway. Sprawled over Berry’s back was a small pink unicorn foal that looked a little bit like Piña, but was a unicorn. She wasn’t moving. At all. In fact, the little filly looked almost dead, sprawled out the way she was over Berry’s back. “What’s up with the filly? Is she sleepy?”

“Heavily sedated,” Barley replied as he turned his tired looking stare upon Lyra.

“What?” Lyra blinked. “Why?”

“Because she’s more than half feral, violent, and a wee vicious little brawler that took a huge chunk out of the social worker, then took another huge chunk out of the nurse, she left the doctor with multiple lacerations and bites, and she would’ve bit me but I pushed her away with magic. She’s a bloody savage.” Barley turned his head, looked at his other niece, then looked at Piña, and then he heaved a weary sigh. “We had to keep her drugged just to get her home. Before leaving, she broke free and we had to hunt all over the Haint just to find her again. Had to tie the little wild thing up with ropes to haul her back and when the doctor tried to sedate her, he got mauled again.”

“How… how does this even happen?” Lyra asked.

“Severe neglect. Leaving a foal on their own to look after themselves.” Berry Punch’s eyes narrowed. “Abuse, plain and simple.”

“Aye… and now, before she wakes up again, we need to figure out what to do with her. She’s not safe to leave around the other foals… I dinnae wanna risk it. Or the adults for that matter. The wee pink psychopath needs to be locked up—”

“Barley, that’s a horrible thing to say,” Lyra said.

“Aye, it is, and if’n I had my druthers, I’d’ve pissed on Berryshine’s grave before I left the Haint. That coont lived in a squallour ye cannae imagine, no food in the house, if’n ye could call it a house, naught but cracked corn to make more ‘shine. No bed for wee Pinchy. No toys. No nothing. Not a thrice damned thing. I dinnae think I’ll e’er be the same after seeing what I saw.” Barley grimaced, his scowl intensifying. Saying nothing else, he moved closer to Berry Punch, lowered his head, pressed his muzzle against Berry’s cheek, and gave his niece a kiss.

“I’m gonna go find Dinky,” Piña said, her expression troubled, “and my Daddy… I need them both.”

“They’re in the library, working on Dinky’s homework. They fled the kitchen because it got noisy.” Lyra, who felt as though she was in shock, didn’t know what to say, how to feel, or even how to respond to this.

“Berry…” Piña paused before taking off to the library.

“What, Piña?” Berry Punch looked down at her sister.

“Thank you… for everything…” Piña, her eyes glazing over, took off running down the hall, heading for the dining room so she could get to the library.

Standing there, watching Piña go, Berry realised how different things could have turned out. She looked around the farmhouse. It was clean. It had food. A year ago it had been an abandoned mess, left to rot, forgotten, her parents had done nothing to care for it. Berry Punch felt overwhelmed. Barley’s kiss had left her with warm tingles running up and down her neck. Berry stared at Lyra, her eyes wide, unable to speak, unable to make words, and she felt Berry Pinch’ wet breath on her back.

“We need to figure out what to do with wee Pinchy… and you… you my sweet lass, ya need to go be with your foals.” Ears drooping, Barley lifted the pink foal from Berry’s back in his telekinesis. “We’ll need to lock her up in a room, as awful as it is.”

“If she’s gone mustang, that’ll be the worst thing we could do to her,” Lyra said, sounding as though she was almost choking. “Wild things don’t like being penned up.”

“What else can we do?” Barley asked.

“I dunno,” Lyra replied. “I’ll head out and see if I can find Doctor Mawu.”

“Aye, ye do that, that’ll be a good start.” Barley pulled the comatose foal closer to him, held aloft in his magic. “I’m gonna put her in the storage room out in the carriage house—”

“Barley, no… you can’t do that!” Berry Punch gave her uncle an incredulous stare.

“Do you want her here, in this house? Screaming and shrieking like a banshee? What’ll it do to the other foals, the wee newborns? Do ye wanna put our other wee bairns at risk?” Barley felt his heart growing heavier with each question.

“No.” Berry Punch drooped, her ears sagging down against her face.

“I’ll stay with her. Send somepony out to make the storeroom a bit more comfortable, I’m old and that room is a bit bare.” Barley sighed and then rubbed his cheek against Berry Pinch. “We cannae let Bucky see her like this… he’s a damn fool… he’ll try to win her affection and she’ll end up biting him like wee Sukari did.”

“And he’d let her,” Lyra said, agreeing. She turned her head. “You’d better get going. Piña’s probably telling him all about it. Just try to keep him away.” The green unicorn mare’s face wrinkled with worry. “After I get Doctor Mawu, I’ll see if I can get Rising Star to help move everything out of the storeroom and move some furniture in.”

 

 

 

 

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