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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After a long day of democratic processes, Rising Star was hungry. He had ordered the couscous with savory vegetables and lentils, while his companion, Elm, had peas, cheese, and rice. Rising Star’s wives had gone to the castle to be with family, leaving Rising Star alone to talk with his guest.

The restaurant was small, cosy, and several other representatives could be seen. The press were required to stay outside, away from the representatives, who wanted to eat, and not be photographed.

Rising Star glanced around the table, eyed the breadsticks, and his eyes fell upon his glass of water. There was also a tall glass of iced strawberry lemonade, untouched, as Rising Star was trying to wait for his food to arrive before he drank it.

“So what made you change your mind?” Rising Star asked of his guest.

Elm lifted his head, looked thoughtful for a moment, and the earth pony’s ears splayed sideways. “I got into politics because the world needed change and I found myself with two options—be a changer or be a bitcher. My father raised me on the values of hard work… if there was something I wanted, anything, I had to work hard to get it. I guess you could say we’re conservative traditionalists. I don’t agree with everything my father says and does though. He’s a bit too hard.”

“And this made you change your mind?” Rising Star leaned forward a little.

“My mother was a big believer in what she called ‘fair compromise.’ There had to be a little give and take. Nothing good happens when an earth pony stands out in the field and refuses to budge because things aren’t to his liking.” Elm’s ears stood up. “I want to champion the cause of traditional family values and to be honest, times are a changin’. My fellow compatriots refuse to budge on anything. For them, there is only one way forward. I don’t see that working out very well.” Elm blinked. “If you don’t mind me being blunt, I do not agree with what you are doing, Representative Star, but I admire you for being true to yourself and what you believe in.”

“If you don’t mind me asking, just why is it that you think what I am doing is wrong?” Rising Star’s voice was low, soft, kept down so as not to create a disturbance in the restaurant.

“Herd marriages wrecked everything. We’ve already seen that they don’t work. They are hotbeds of jealousy and weaknesses. They lead otherwise good ponies down a path of sexual depravity, deviancy, and murder. We are learned ponies, Representative Star, and we both know what the history books have to say about herds.” A crinkled frown appeared upon Elm’s muzzle.

Rising Star sighed. Biased history. He suffered an inwards cringe and felt the muscles in his neck tensing. And the appeal to his intellect, a bit of flattery… ugh. Rising Star lifted up his glass of strawberry lemonade and sipped through the straw.

“I do believe that if you sorted through all of the sordid details leading up the collapse, it is quite safe to assume that the herd marriages and everything that took place were the direct cause of the fall of Canterlot and the collapse of our government. It took centuries, but I think that any reasonable pony should be able to put the pieces together.”

Rising looked at Elm. And what about the slave trade? The illicit deals? Equestria’s class and caste system based on tribe? What about all of the corruption? There was so much that Rising Star wanted to say, but he held his tongue with the hopes of being diplomatic.

Instead, Rising went with another approach. “And what about all of the mares that don’t get a husband? What is to be done with them? There are an awful lot of mares who want to start a family and there is a real shortage of stallions.”

Elm’s head bobbed up and down. “About that… life is a competition…” Elm shifted in his seat. “There are winners and losers. Try as we might, we cannot make life fair. If a mare wants a family, it is up to her to work hard. She has to make herself appealing. She has to make herself a worthy catch. She has to be the sort of mare a stallion wishes to marry. A stallion has a lot of choices, which is how it should be, and it is a mare’s responsibility to be the sort of mare that gets chosen.”

After taking a deep breath, Elm continued, “Just like with everything else, it is a competition and the prize is progress. Life goes on. A husband shouldn’t have to endure a frigid wife or a wife that refuses to look after his needs. Mares like that don’t deserve to have families. By having a large population of mares available, it ensures that a stallion has choices and always has options—a mare failing to keep up her end of the social contract that is marriage can be replaced with one who will. This keeps both parties happy, both the husband and the wife, this freedom to choose. Herd marriages threaten to destroy this happy balance… if the market grows smaller, with fewer mares available, a husband might have to endure a less than desireable mare that might not be as attentive to his needs as she should be. An unstable family leads to unstable, unhappy foals who grow up and become unstable unhappy adults, and they follow their parents’ example… they settle. By settling for less than desireable traits in a mare, we breed in laxness, laziness, and lackadaisical behaviour, ultimately hurting ourselves in the long run.”

Wide eyed, Rising Star stared at his companion, not even knowing where to begin to reply to everything that was said. He felt sick, queasy even, disgusted by what he had heard.

“My mother has a lot to say about this… she’s erudite and well spoken. She’s had a good education and she is very proud of the fact that she is the sort of mare that is chosen. She worked very hard to gain my father’s attention and my father’s father’s attention… grandfather told my father that my mother was worth catching.” Elm chuckled. “My father was still on the fence, but after hearing an endorsement from his own father, there was no way he could say no. Turns out, Grandpa was right… my father and my mother have been married for thirty two years. I just turned thirty one. My father and my mother are proof that the system works and rewards those who work hard.”

Rising Star sat there flabbergasted and flummoxed, not understanding why a mare would do this to herself. He tried to think about how his own wives might react to all of this and the only thing that popped into his head was a mental image of Ripple going on a rampage, punching and kicking everything around her into sub-atomic particles.

“Again, I have to ask, why are you willing to work with me if I am seen as the enemy?” Rising Star’s eyes narrowed.

“Because we want the same things. We both share a sense of family values, even if your values are different than mine. And like it or not, herds are not going away, at least not until society collapses again. So, until that happens, I feel that I should make the most of what I have.” Elm cleared his throat. “A field is only as good as what has been planted upon it. It might have less than perfect growing conditions, the soil might not be the best, and the available fertiliser might be less than ideal. But a field is a field. Stuff has to grow. A worker makes the field produce something, anything, because having something is better than having nothing. A shirker just shrugs and walks away from the field and will have nothing to show for themselves.”

In an odd way, Rising Star found himself agreeing with Elm. You had to work with what was available. Hard work produced results. Elm was willing to work in less than perfect conditions. Rising’s brows furrowed. This was turning out be a fascinating look into the minds of the monogamist party. He wondered just how many of them were like Elm.

Much to Rising Star’s relief, the waitress brought their food and Rising Star planned to use the opportunity to change the subject, to talk about something else. Something that didn’t make his brain cells feel as though they were dying with every word. He eyed his plate of food, which was piled high, and his stomach rumbled.

“So, Mister Elm, what do you do for a hobby?”

 

 

“—and I come down from the roof in a powerdive, right for the Hag, only I didn’t know she was the Hag at the time… I just knew that she had to DIE!” Boadicea flexed her talons and then let out an angry caw.

Belisama, who had flown to Canterlot with Bandua to be with Bucky and her family, nodded with enthusiasm. This was an epic story and would make for an even more epic song. Something booming, with big heavy kettle drums, woodwinds, and a brass section.

“I followed Loki’s advice and strangled her… a unicorn needs to get their magical liquids in their body up to their brain and if you strangle them, it makes it difficult for them to make magic happen… only the Hag kept casting magic and there wasn’t much I could do about it. So I had to start stabbin’ her over and over to make the magic leak out—”

“And her blood, too… not having that makes magic difficult,” Dinky pointed out as Piña nodded in agreement beside her.

Boadicea nodded. “Oh yeah, there was lots of blood after I stabbed her in the neck!”

“Ugh, I don’t like this story.” Diamond Tiara looked at those around her with pleading eyes. “I can’t bear listening to how I almost lost my friends yet again. I think I’ll step out. Sorry, I don’t mean to be a wet blanket.” She gave her friends an apologetic glance.

Silence fell upon the room, a deep uncomfortable silence, the kind that grows worse with each second that passes, the kind of silence that grows harder to break the longer it endures.

Belisama, a skald, was all too aware of the dangers of silence. Silence could be a useful tool in a performance, but this silence was the bad sort. She glanced around, trying to think of what to do. Her eyes fell upon Bucky, who had just returned to the room and was walking over to sit down with them after heading off to the bathroom.

“Boadicea, we need to have you practice your mounted combat skills…”

 

 

“Boadicea, we need to have you practice your mounted combat skills…” As Bucky heard these words coming out of Belisama’s mouth, he felt Belisama leap upon his back. She made a perfect landing as she always did, and he felt her hind legs squeeze against his sides. He felt a tug on his mane as she got a talonful of it for grip.

“Yaw!” Belisama shouted, “Giddyup!”

Bucky felt a yank on his mane, two legs kicked against ribs, and there was an almost painful smack against his backside. Some invisible force compelled him to run, so he did. He bolted, letting out a snort and almost rearing up. He took off, his claws and his hooves scrabbling over the floor, and there was another smack right on his hops plant cutie mark.

Belisama was leaning against him as he bolted the length of the room, her talons clenching his mane, her hind legs hugging his sides. She leaned off to the right and he felt himself turning, once more compelled by invisible forces, some strange magic that he didn’t understand.

His ears rang with laughter, Applejack’s most of all. The earth pony mare had fallen out of her chair. He turned, veering away from the wall, having run out of room, and he felt Belisama’s legs kick against his sides. He bolted again, setting a terrible example for his foals by running indoors, but he couldn’t help it. Belisama was using some sort of strange compulsion magic against him and he was far too curious about the odd magical effects to fight back against it.

There was sharp yank on his mane, a hard pull backwards, and he heard Belisama shout, “Whoa!” He came to a skidding halt near the furniture and Belisama kicked him again while giving him another tug. He reared up, his front hoof and his talons pawing the air, he let out a bellowing whinny, and then dropped down on all fours. He felt Belisama patting his neck and he heard her say, “Good pony.”

Blinking, Bucky tried to figure out what had just happened. He let out a confused wicker and heard Belisama’s merry laughter. She had done something to him, something that was kind of amazing.

“Queen Belisama and her mount, the Pony of War… I suppose I’ll have to settle for Sentinel when he gets better. You have to show me how you did that!” Boadicea said in an excited voice.

Recovering, Applejack climbed back up in her chair, still laughing, and as she chuckled, she said, “You know, this gives me a right good idea about a rodeo…”

 

 

 

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