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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“Sister?” With cautious hesitation, Princess Luna pushed open her sister’s door and peered inside her room. There was a light on, a single candle burned on a low table near the bed, casting shadows on the walls. Luna saw that her sister was awake and wasn’t too surprised. “I take it that you have not had much sleep.” From where she stood, Luna watched Celestia shaking her head.

Standing at the door, Princess Luna kicked off her shoes, her vestments, and tossed away her crown. It landed with a muffled, almost silent thump in some thick carpet. Luna stared at it for a moment, a look of intense dislike upon her face.

Erebus was asleep in Celestia’s bed, curled up beside Tourmaline, also asleep. Celestia lay beside them both, watching over them, her expression one of forlorn sorrow. Luna moved to Celestia’s side, saying nothing, and eased herself down beside her sister, pressing up against Celestia’s side.

“Buckminster was here,” Luna said in a low whisper, “he thought himself clever. He arrived as a thief, unseen, unnoticed, and only stayed for but a short while.”

“Did the guards tell you?” Celestia asked.

“No.” Luna shook her head and then leaned against Celestia, glad for her sister’s warmth and taking comfort in her closeness. “He eluded the guards. I noticed him through other means.”

“I feel like I should be bothered by this.” Celestia turned her head somewhat to look at her sister, who was still getting comfortable, scooting and kicking her legs around, trying to fold them beneath her. “I suppose I should blame you. No doubt, you have taught him well.”

Luna did not reply. Instead, she closed her eyes and took several deep breaths, calming herself, drawing much needed reassurance from being near her sister. Luna felt her troubled mind soothing just a little. This in turn allowed her to think about what it was that she wanted to say.

“Sister, I know that something needs to be done with Sentinel, but I do not know what. I believe I have made an error. You know of what I speak.” Luna, when finished speaking, drew in another deep breath, held it, and then released it, also trying to let go of her stress with it.

“I have been musing over the same issue,” Celestia said to her sister. “For many turns of the seasons while you were away, I got to know the lunar pegasi. I kept your traditions, I stuck with what worked, and what few there were served me well. They were always some of the most loyal, most devoted associates that I had. But I was always troubled by their bestial savagery. They are not like us, but can be made to mimic our behaviour.”

“Sentinel shows so much promise. I have been debating with myself the whole of the night. After collecting my thoughts, I attended my duties and did what needed to be done. I had him on my mind the entire time. At first I believed that I had made a mistake, believing him to be more than what we saw, but after much thought, I believe the change I desire will not be so sudden. Sentinel is a good first step. He is more than his bestial nature, but it is still strong within him.” Luna went still beside her sister, having found a comfortable position.

Saying nothing, Celestia waited for Luna to continue.

“I do not want to take Sentinel away from his family. He is what he is because of his family. They are his motivation. I do not wish to break him down and condition him because I fear it would destroy his rather unique nature, the very thing that makes him special. I am at a loss for what to do, Sister.”

“So then, we try something new,” Celestia said in a soft whisper.

“But what?” Luna asked.

“We have other friends and allies now… instead of just trying our own methods, how about we ask for help?” Looking down, Celestia saw Luna’s head coming to rest upon her foreleg and she could feel Luna breathing on her.

“Who could help?” Luna yawned and then closed her eyes as she snuggled closer to her sister.

“We should ask Fluttershy—”

“Fluttershy?” Luna’s eyes opened and she glanced upwards.

“Yes, Fluttershy. She has been helping Buckminster learn to meditate. To control his anger. Bucky has been made a better pony because of her assistance. No doubt, Buckminster is probably holding together during this crisis because of what Fluttershy has taught him.”

“So we get Fluttershy to help Sentinel learn to hold back the beast within?”

“It cannot hurt.” Celestia paused and was thoughtful for a few seconds before continuing. “If she is unsuccessful, we can try other methods. At some point, new things must be tried. Sentinel is as good of a starting point as any.”

“I have high hopes, Sister… I want to save the lunar pegasi… I want to save them from extinction… and from themselves. I have such high hopes that the Shadowbolt Program will allow converted ponies to breed with lunar pegasi and mix in some much needed fresh genes. If the lunar pegasi are to survive, they need genetic diversity. Their family trees do not fork nearly enough. They need an infusion of fresh blood.” Luna yawned once more and closed her eyes.

“And maybe a new way of doing things,” Princess Celestia said as she felt Luna’s breathing slow down and become shallow. She looked down and saw that Luna had lapsed into slumber.

Turning her head, Princess Celestia flicked the candle with her magic, causing the room to go dark. Weary, she welcomed the darkness, she was exhausted, but she knew there would be little sleep for her. It would be dawn soon and there was much to do.

 

 

Opening her eyes, Piña Colada looked around her hospital room. Light was shining in through the windows, but she knew the light was an illusion, and so was the window. The hospital was deep under the ground, down in the bowels of the castle. She rolled over, feeling a bit disoriented and confused. Yesterday, she had been given some happy looking little bright orange pills to help her. She yawned, smacked her lips, and tried to focus her vision.

Dinky was in the second bed of the room. Piña could see a tube sticking up out of Dinky’s muzzle, going down into her nostril. Gauze was wrapped around Dinky’s muzzle to hold everything in place. As Piña moved, a stabbing pain lanced through the base of her skull, down near her neck. Her whole body tensed. She had put entirely too much of herself into Dinky, trying to help fortify Dinky’s mind when the Hag had started pushing in. Now, Piña was paying for it. She went limp in her bed, no longer wanting to move.

“Piña?”

Ears perking, Piña almost lifted her head, but then went very, very still, knowing how much it would hurt if she moved. Piña heard hoofsteps on the floor approaching the bed. “Bon Bon?”

“Yes, baby, it’s me. Somepony had to come. I just got here a little while ago. Lyra is here with me. Right now, she’s off getting some coffee.”

Piña felt the bed move a bit, then she felt herself being embraced. Something in Piña’s hazy, fuzzy brain told her that something was wrong—she hadn’t been able to sense Bon Bon’s presence. Just thinking about it made Piña’s brain ache something awful. Something had happened, but Piña was in no shape to piece it together. She felt herself being squeezed by Bon Bon, who was half in and half out of Piña’s bed.

“I’m so proud of you… you did something amazing,” Bon Bon whispered.

“How is Sentinel?” Piña asked. The dull pain in her head intensified and for a moment, she could hear the sound of voices murmuring. “Sentinel, is he okay?”

“Sentinel just went back into surgery again. I don’t know what they’re doing exactly. I was told that he is stable,” Bon Bon replied as she held on to Piña. “You mean so much to me… I know I’m hard on you sometimes, and I’m sorry for that… but you are a very special little filly and I expect more out of you because of that.”

Closing her eyes, Piña nodded. She felt a sniffle coming, and the pressure behind her eyes made her feel like crying. She was really, really glad that Bon Bon was here. She felt her body being rubbed by Bon Bon’s forelegs and Piña basked in the glorious feeling of love and affection.

 

 

Now fuzzy headed and feeling sleepy, Piña looked at the doctor, her vision blurry and out of focus. The pills she had swallowed earlier had made her head feel better. Yawning, Piña felt like going back to sleep.

“I’m not sure what to do, this is a bit outside of my expertise. I’m afraid I know very little about psychic trauma. Being exposed to powerful mental magics from both the Hag and the Hearthfire, something is clearly going on, but I don’t know what.”

“Doctor Libretto, is there somepony who might know about psychic trauma?” Lyra asked, her brows wrinkled with concern.

“Nopony in the hospital staff,” the doctor replied. He shrugged and looked at Lyra. “My best guess would be a bocor. The zebras are more advanced in the psychic sciences than we are.”

“The voices in the Hearthfire haven’t gone away completely,” Piña said in a somewhat slurred voice. “I can still hear them… I heard them right after I woke up. But I’m not hearing them now.”

“She’s not crazy.” Bon Bon leaned forwards in her chair. “Look, I know hearing voices is a sign you are crazy, but Piña isn’t crazy and I want to make that clear. She knows stuff… she has magical abilities that we don’t understand yet.”

“Ma’am, rest assured, I do not think your foal is crazy. I’m taking this seriously.” The doctor gave Bon Bon a patient smile. “Put your mind at ease, Ma’am.”

“Piña’s teacher… um… um—”

“Miss Stargarden?” Piña, trying to be helpful, tossed out a suggestion to Lyra.

“Yes.” Lyra nodded. “We should see if Miss Stargarden can come and talk to Piña. She’s a powerful mentalist by all accounts. She’s been helping Dinky and Piña study and understand their gifts.”

“Unconventional, but a good idea. We have to start looking for answers somewhere.” Doctor Libretto rubbed his goateed chin and then adjusted his brass framed spectacles.

“I feel sleepy,” Piña said, then yawned. “Sorry, gotta sleep.”

 

 

“I’m scared, Bodi,” Diamond Tiara said to her companion. Reaching up, Diamond Tiara rubbed her eyes with her foreleg and took a deep, shuddering breath. “I just want to see him. I feel sick—”

“Hold up, Monday, we can’t have you getting sick and having stomach problems.” Boadicea’s eyes narrowed. “You pull yourself together. You’re no good to Sentinel if you get sick. You’ll both end up in the bed and I’ll be stuck looking after you. Look, love goes a long way, but I can only deal with so many bedpans.”

“That name you gave me is so silly.” Diamond Tiara sniffled a bit, snorted to try and clear her nose, and gave Boadicea a smile. The griffoness was pacing to and fro in front of a window, her tail swishing back and forth, her claws clicking upon the stone floor.

Sitting in a chair by the window, Diamond Tiara turned and looked out upon the city below. Canterlot was a different city now. It felt different. As an earth pony, Diamond Tiara could sometimes feel the ground beneath her hooves, and the ground beneath Canterlot felt different. When she had crossed the courtyard to come into the castle, as scared and as sad as she was, she had felt her spirits lifted as the ground beneath her hooves had sang.

The door to the room opened and Boadicea stopped her pacing. Her claws tapped upon the floor, her muscles tensed, and her tail became a feline exclamation mark, sticking straight up into the air.

“Do you intend to pounce me, little one?” Lugus asked as he stood in the doorway.

“Maybe,” Boadicea replied. “Sorry… I’m jumpy.”

“I’d rather have you jumpy than careless.” Lugus strode forward through the room, his large, lithe body moving between the furniture with an almost careless, lazy ease. The big griffon lept up onto the bed, turned around in a circle three times, and then laid down, the bed creaking beneath his bulk.

“Lugus?” Boadicea approached the bed, looking small and submissive.

“Yes?” Lugus’ crest rose and he looked down at the floor where Boadicea stood.

“Do I have your trust back? I… well, I… it means a lot to me,” Boadicea stammered, looking away, her gaze dropping down to the floor. “My friends mean a lot to me. At some point, I’m probably going to end up in trouble again. I want to be there for my friends, but I also want to make you proud.”

“Come here, little one,” Lugus said, waggling his talon finger at Boadicea. “Come up here and sit with me.” Lugus heaved a weary sounding sigh. “Of course I am proud of you.” The big griffon looked over at Diamond Tiara. “You… get over here.”

Lifting her head, Boadicea looked Lugus in the eye as she heard the sound of Diamond Tiara’s hooves hitting the floor. She bowed her head, then lifted it high, her breast swelling with pride. Just as Boadicea jumped up onto the bed to be with Lugus, the door opened once more. Both Applejack and Silver Shill stepped into the room.

After clearing his throat, Silver Shill said, “Sentinel is out of surgery. He appears to be stable. That’s all I know… Diamond Tiara, Boadicea, I wish I could tell you more…”

 

 

 

 

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