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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“Give him back!” Luna’s words echoed in Bucky’s ears as he made a swift escape with Erebus. The colt, currently more lunar pegasus than unicorn, giggled and waved at his mother as Bucky hurried away.

“Come back with my colt, or so help me, I shall make it rain blood as I wreak your ruin upon the stones below Canterhorn peak! Do not make me destroy you, insolent, malformed, misshapen creature of chaos!”

“Bah, raining blood… nothing more than a bit of advanced transmutation!” Bucky retorted as he evaded Luna and gave Erebus a tickle. “Discord showed me how to make it rain chocolate milk!”

Princess Luna came to a skidding halt, blinked once, and looked at Bucky as he went scampering away. “Really?” She watched as he drifted to a halt and her ears perked at the faint sound of laughter.

Both Luna and Bucky turned their head to look at the source of the laughter. Sentinel, propped up in a chair with pillows, was laughing, his whole body was shaking. Beside him, Diamond Tiara and Boadicea both stood, wearing starched paper nurses hats.

“He’s laughing,” Diamond Tiara said as she blinked in surprise.

“He does that on occasion.” Bucky lifted Erebus up a little higher as the colt flapped his wings and made happy gurgles. “You feeling okay, Sentinel?”

“I feel fine.” Sentinel struggled to lift his head up from the pillow upon which it was propped. “I have good looking nurses.”

Luna’s eyes darted to one side and gave Bucky a sidelong glance. The corner of her mouth twitched and a sense of merry mayhem glittered in her eyes. Horn glowing, she plucked Erebus from Bucky’s magic and held the colt up to her face as she let out a crow of triumph.

“Hey!” Bucky protested as the door opened.

Lyra walked in, a tray held in her magic, Bon Bon followed behind her, along with Piña and Dinky. Lyra strode through the large, open room, smiling, gave a nod to both Diamond Tiara and Boadicea, and then set the tray down upon a table near Sentinel’s chair.

“Root beer floats, as requested, Prince Sentinel.” Lyra bowed her head. “Good call using caramel ice cream. Good stuff.” Lyra lowered her head down near Sentinel’s, moved forwards, almost touching, and asked, “How is my little guy feeling? No pain? I’m worried, Sentinel.”

“I feel fine… I just wish I could take the bandages off,” Sentinel replied.

“You leave those on for now.” Bon Bon turned around and watched as Luna took off at a trot, holding Erebus over her head, with Bucky chasing after her. She rolled her eyes. Some ponies.

“Where is Lugus?” Sentinel asked.

“He went home,” Boadicea replied, “he was missing Yew and Brennus.”

“I was hoping he would tell me another story.” Sentinel let out a sigh of disappointment and glanced over at the root beer floats. “More than anything, I’m just bored. I can’t hardly move… all I can do is sit here.”

“The painkillers that Queen Chrysalis produced impair nerve function. Keeps away the pain, but also restricts movement, making the healing process more efficient. Just try to be patient and wait it out, Sentinel.” Bon Bon watched as Lyra put straws into the root beer floats and listened as Bucky tried to steal Erebus away from Luna once more.

Bon Bon was unsure of what to think. For being so tragic, these were happy times.

 

 

Loch Skimmer sucked in a deep breath as she looked at the newborns. She loved fawning over them, seeing them awoke something deep inside of her, some important part of her inner pegasus, perhaps some deep, instinctual instincts of motherhood. Brandywine, the largest of them all, was serving as a pillow for the rest of her siblings, who were all piled around her. Little Barley Bitters let out a squeaky yawn, rolled over, and showed his belly. Dizzy, who struggled against sleep, was making a brave, valiant effort, but was losing, of this there could be no doubt. Ditzy was giving Loch a peculiar stare, or at least Loch Skimmer thought Ditzy was staring at her. With both Dizzy and Ditzy, it was hard to tell, as their eyes tended to point in random directions.

Loch Skimmer didn’t mind, it made them adorable, and she loved them a great deal. She was interrupted by a nose against her belly, hot snorting, there was a tongue that flicked over her teats, followed by rough shoving and an angry sounding gurgle.

Shocked, Loch Skimmer, who was laying on her side, rolled over onto her back. Craning her head, she looked at Derpy, and saw a worried look on the pegasus’ face. She felt two little lips latch onto one of her teats and began to suckle, even though there was nothing to be had. It was certainly an odd feeling.

“Sorry, Loch… she’s just hungry… I think. She doesn’t know that you don’t have milk. Little Crisis has odd instincts. I don’t think it’s even about the milk, but the feeling of love and closeness.”

Lifting her head, Loch Skimmer looked down at the foal trying to suckle. “What does she eat, anyway? I mean, she likes milk, but what else?”

“Let’s see… we’ve let her nurse, and she likes milk… Bucky gave her a spoonful of ice cream and she liked that and then she ate Bucky’s spoon. She likes yogurt, Berry got her to eat some. She likes soft stuff.”

Beside Loch Skimmer, a diaper crinkled as it was being filled. Loch’s nose wrinkled and her eyes watered. She turned her head, ignoring Crisis, and looked over at the pile of newborns. “Somepony made a stinky.”

Sniffing, Derpy nodded. “That’s Barley. He’s not bad… he’s nowhere as near as bad as Ditzy.”

“How do you do that?” Loch asked.

“Do what?” Derpy replied.

“Tell them apart like that… just by… the smell of the poop?” Loch Skimmer rolled over and gently pushed away Crisis with her hind leg. “I mean, it’s gross, but it’s kinda amazing.”

“A mother knows?” Derpy, who did not know how she did it, shrugged.

“We have to catch the train in a little while… I’m nervous.” Loch Skimmer reached out her foreleg, snagged Crisis, and pulled her close as the strange filly made snuffling noises. “Come here, buggy baby.”

“You have all of your schoolwork ready to take with you?” Derpy asked.

Loch Skimmer nodded as she hugged Crisis, who now seemed happy and was rubbing her cheek against Loch’s foreleg. “I feel bad not doing my job of orchestrating the dawn, but Rising Star needs me. We’ve been focusing on being a family a lot more rather than a horny pile of teenagers living together.”

“Are things working out okay?” Derpy asked.

“I think so,” Loch replied, lifting her head and looking at Derpy, “it’s funny, but I think this foal is bringing us all together. Berry said that unwanted or surprise foals can tear an unprepared family apart, but sometimes, when the stars shine right, a little surprise can do a lot to bring a family together.” Loch Skimmer dropped her head down upon Crisis, using her as a pillow. The foal chuffed beneath her, let out a squeak of protest, but made no other effort to protest her treatment.

“I think you’ll be a good mom. You’ve got all the support you need. But if you slack off in school, I swear on the stars above, Berry and I will take turns whacking lumps onto your skull. We’ll let you get away with almost anything, but school remains a priority. Are we clear?” Derpy’s eyes narrowed as she gave her fellow pegasus a meaningful stare.

“As the blue sky,” Loch replied in low, foalish sounding voice.

“I’m going to be a grandmother… I’m not ready. I’m too young for this to happen.” Derpy shook her head. “How could you do this to me?”

“Well…” Loch let out a giggle and rubbed her chin against Crisis, “it started off with Rising Star whispering in my ear—”

“Nope… don’t wanna know… nope nope nope.” Derpy shook her head. “Do not want to think about my foals doing that. You can talk to Berry about that, but I don’t wanna know.” Derpy rose, gave herself a shake, and her muzzle wrinkled. “Come on Loch, it’s time for you to change a diaper.”

“Eeew… okay… I guess?”

 

 

“Hey.” Bucky plucked up Piña from off of the floor and sat her down beside him on the sofa. He looked down at his filly, brushed her pink mane away from her eyes, placed his talons under her chin, and tilted her head up so he could look into her eyes. “How’s my little pink pony?”

“I feel okay, Daddy,” Piña replied.

Nodding, he pulled Piña closer and Bucky was glad to have her beside him. He glanced over at Dinky, who was playing with Erebus, and wondered where Tourmaline was. No doubt, she was probably studying. Piña said that she was okay, but Bucky continued to worry—hearing voices was a troubling thing and Bucky could not help but to feel concerned.

“I can hear him, you know… Sombra.”

Bucky’s eyebrow raised and he felt a cold prickle. This was the sort of nightmare scenario he worried about. Parts of Sombra no doubt lingered. Bucky wondered if he was actually gone, or if he would somehow return. He felt Piña’s hoof touch his cheek.

“You worry too much. Sombra’s become one with the flame… I can hear him saying he’s sorry… that part of him that became shadow… he has regrets.” Piña took a deep breath before she continued, “I can hear Platinum too… and Clover. All of the founders are here.”

Confused, Bucky shook his head. “But how?” He blinked, troubled, and kept his voice low. “How can you hear Clover or Platinum?” Bucky’s brows furrowed and he felt a growing chill.

“It’s an echo, Daddy,” Piña replied. “It’s not all of them, just a little teeny, tiny part of them. Many of the voices have passed through the gate and into Elysium. But they have left a part of themselves behind. I have some of their knowledge now because of my spirit.”

Frowning, Bucky tried to make sense of what Piña was saying, but was still troubled.

“For Sombra though, the shadowy part of him, he went wholly into the fire so Moonbow could be brought back. There is a little part of Moonbow in here now… I can hear her. So many voices.” Piña relaxed, shifted her body around, and cuddled up against her father. “Boadicea is special… she has become Hearthfire’s emissary. It is time for the griffons to be brought into the flame. It is time for griffon heroes.”

“The world needs heroes.” Bucky’s voice was little more than a whisper. “And you are well on your way to becoming one, Piña.”

“Dinky needs me. If it was just me on my own, I think I’d do other things, but Dinky is going to wear a black cloak. I can’t let her go into the darkness alone. Larch and I are going to go with her. So is Tourmaline and Glass Slipper. We’re going to be Princess Apple Bloom’s Black Cloaks.”

Shivering, Bucky somehow knew this wasn’t just wishful thinking or some foalish fantasy about the future. He closed his eyes, glad to have Piña with him, wishing that he could understand her. “Apple Bloom is going to need Black Cloaks… the world will always need Black Cloaks.”

“I had a strange vision.”

“Oh?” Bucky worried about how much stranger things could get.

“I was dreaming… it was one of those sorts of dreams where I knew I was seeing the future… something that might happen. Dinky was going into the darkness… she was leading us… but she shone like the sun. She had a black cloak, but she was also wearing golden armor… really shiny golden armor… like Sunset Shimmer’s.”

Bucky’s eyes opened. Radiant steel, the armor of paladins. He thought of Sunset Shimmer and how Sunset believed that Dinky would be a good candidate for paladin training. He felt a heaviness in his barrel, a father’s worry, an impossible weight indeed. He saw a tradition forming even now, before it even happened, paladins leading the Black Cloaks against the most terrible sorts of foes. The very worst sorts of foes. Foes like the Hag.

Heaving a weary, heartbroken sigh, he realised that Dinky, a foal that he loved dearly, was doomed to live a life as interesting as his own, a fate that he did not want for her. So was Sentinel. As for Piña, Bucky knew she would follow Dinky into whatever deep, dark hole awaited. He looked over at Dinky and watched as she tickled Erebus into submission.

Eyes lifting, he looked at Sentinel. The colt, bandaged, was still sitting in his chair. On the floor beside him, Diamond Tiara and Boadicea were playing cards. The horrible sinking feeling grew worse. Sentinel would remain at Dinky’s side as well and would serve Apple Bloom in much the same way that Bucky served Princess Celestia.

He was looking at the next generation of heroes. The sorts of heroes that the world needed and deserved. He felt a growing lump in his throat. They would never know peace or a sound night’s rest ever again. He thought about the trauma, the scars, both physical and mental that they would know. But he also thought about the world being a better place.

“It’s not such a bad thing,” Piña said to her father in a soft whisper. “I miss Babs. I wonder how she’s doing. Sentinel got his good looking nurses and all I got was a whole lot of nothing. I wish Larch was here.”

Bucky snorted after hearing what Piña had to say.

“It’s not fair.” Piña sniffed to punctuate her point.

 

 

 

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