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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Things were going well—that is to say that everything was going along with very little signs of trouble. But this didn’t mean things were boring, no, far from it, Rising Star was learning a great deal about Equestria at large. By listening and paying attention, Rising Star was able to make a bit of a divination into the future, which kept him thoughtful and occupied as the day continued.

The two big problems, as Rising Star saw them, were water and power. Water was in short supply in a number of places, like Las Pegasus, which was rebuilding after both the collapse and the devastation visited upon it from the massive explosion which had leveled well over half of the city.

Power might be taken care of one day, with Lyra’s endless loop generators, but even that was questionable. Corporate interests being what they were, businesses that sold power would complain that it was the end of their business, and would protest the loss of their livelihood. But in the meanwhile, there were some real issues. There just wasn’t enough to go around and both coasts of Equestria were feeling the power crisis.

A number of ponies had raised concerns over how much authority Cloudsdale had over water distribution, being a flying reservoir that moved water from one place to another in Equestria. Cloudsdale decided who got rain, which farmers got the most rain, and quite a number of ponies were protesting that Cloudsdale was indifferent to their needs, a problem that had been going on for years, a problem that had existed pre-collapse.

There were even accusations of a shady network that rigged the water system, with communities that had higher membership in the guard getting more water than peaceful, pacifist communities that had almost non-existent enlistment ratings. The evidence was certainly compelling, and Rising Star couldn’t deny that there seemed to be a connection.

How to distribute everything in a fair and reasonable manner seemed to be the pressing question and Rising Star had no answers. He and his fellow stable members were responsible for finding some answers though. It was going to be a tricky issue to tackle—too much regulation and Crown interference and ponies would begin shouting “the government that governs least governs best.” However, not doing enough would bring accusations of the government doing nothing at all, or cries of laziness and favouritism.

As the morning stretched on, Rising Star had no idea that he was about to be caught up in a tempest in a teacup…

 

 

The midmorning break was both welcomed and pleasant. Servers rolled little trolleys about, serving hot tea, hot coffee, soda, and snacks to tide them over until lunch, which looked as though it was going to be a little late today, as they were behind on the agenda.

Rising Star took an offered soda, a bottle of water, and several donuts from Donut Joe’s, both sprinkled and unsprinkled. As he began to eat his treats, Twilight Sparkle rang the bell to announce that the press could begin asking questions in a neat, orderly manner.

To ask a question, a member of the press had to raise a sign with an assigned number written upon it, and then wait for their number to be called by Twilight. The system, while not perfect, was well ordered and Twilight did her best to be fair.

“Number fifteen,” Twilight said as she leaned forward and addressed the awaiting press.

A bespectacled pegasus grinned, adjusted his fedora, and pushed his thick, heavy glasses higher up his nose as he stood up. He waved at everyone present, cleared his throat, and said, “Majesty, if you will allow me a most trivial question, I and my fellow members of the press would all very much like to know about an issue of personal preference.”

Twilight’s eyebrow raised and she gave the pegasus a cool stare. “Do go on…”

“We members of the press would very much like to know… tea or coffee?” The pegasus lifted up his notebook and held his pen in his primaries, waiting for Twilight’s reply.

“Really?” Twilight looked around at the gathered members of the press. “You could ask me or the assembly anything and you want to know about that?

The pegasus, number fifteen, gave an eager nod.

“Oh fine,” Twilight Sparkle replied, rolling her eyes. “While tea is nice for socialisation, I much prefer coffee and I find…”

Twilight’s words trailed off as several shocked gasps filled the large room. The members of the press, the audience, and quite a few representatives were all staring, wide eyed, in shock from Twilight’s words.

“What?” Twilight said in a nervous voice. “If you don’t like the answer, why did you ask the question? I’m allowed to have a personal preference.”

For a moment, the only sounds in the room were the sounds of breathing, of pens scratching away on paper, and the sounds of paper rustling. Twilight shook her head, hoping to dismiss what she felt was such a frivolous question.

“Twilight Sparkle, I am surprised and shocked by your statement.”

More gasps filled the assembly room and ponies looked up at Princess Celestia’s balcony. Rising Star chewed his donut and watched as the drama unfolded. He unscrewed the cap from his water bottle and took another bite of a donut with pink frosting and bright blue sprinkles.

“Honestly, Twilight, I thought after all those years of study at my side, you would be more of a traditionalist.” Princess Celestia looked down from her lofty balcony, shook her head, and clucked her tongue.

Swallowing, Rising Star was having trouble telling if Princess Celestia was being serious or just teasing her former student. He looked upwards, trying to see if Princess Celestia was smiling or not, but he couldn’t see her face well enough to tell.

“Coffee is the drink of rabble rousers, anarchists, and ne’erdowells. There is a reason the cafes and the coffee shops are all watched over for signs of insurrection and dissidence.”

There was a gasp from the crowd as Princess Luna spoke after appearing from out of nowhere. Rising Star turned and looked at the blue alicorn. Had she been here all along, unseen, waiting for a moment to reveal herself?

“Coffee is the very drink that causes malcontents to grow bitter,” Princess Luna added.

“Sister, that is harsh.” Sitting up in her balcony, Princess Celestia looked down upon Princess Luna, who had seemingly materialised out thin air upon the dias where Twilight Sparkle was sitting.

“Why not both?”

More gasps as Buckminster, the Lord of Winter revealed himself, pulling his hood away from his face. He was sitting beside Princess Celestia and he glowered down upon the audience below.

“I find myself enjoying both. Tea is nice, but coffee is enjoyable… I rather like both.”

“Speaking of bitter malcontents,” Luna muttered as she looked upwards.

“There is nothing wrong with enjoying both,” Bucky said as he made a sweeping gesture with his talons. “It was Berry Punch that really introduced me to coffee and I’m glad she did.”

“And anarchists…” Luna shook her head and clucked her tongue in much the same way her sister, Celestia did.

“Hey… I’m a coffee drinker…” Twilight drew herself up to her full height and looked at Luna. “What does that make me… a rabble rouser or a ne’erdowell?”

“I would not presume to know, Twilight Sparkle. You tell me… what mayhem have you been up to lately?” Luna tilted her head off to one side and something almost like a smirk appeared upon her lips.

“The problem with tea drinkers, as I see it, is that they are all a bunch of stuffy traditionalists, far too embedded in tradition and ritual, and unable to move forward or make progress as the times change. Tea takes too long… it takes forever to serve and you can waste upwards of an hour or more serving tea the ‘proper way’ and doing everything right! It’s wasteful, frivolous, and inefficient, just like the so called traditionalists who serve it! Coffee is hot and in the pot and ready to be poured into a cup and drank at any time…” Twilight paused, cleared her throat, and narrowed her eyes at Luna. “Coffee is the drink of ponies who wish to get things done, we don’t always have the time to waste an hour or more of our day talking about the good old days and how things used to be. Tea is the leftover ritual of the upper classes, flaunting all of their spare time and the fact that they didn’t have to work all day from sun up to sun down, all while enjoying a smug sense of superiourity.”

The assembly filled with startled gasps, including one from the balcony high overhead. Princess Celestia sat in wide eyed shock, staring down at her former student, and beside her, the Lord of Winter shook with silent laughter, wrapped in his cloak, and clutching his sides.

“Nephew, cease your laughter,” Princess Celestia said in a whisper that still somehow carried through the room loud enough for everybody present to be able to hear. She poked the little pony beside her with her hoof, shook her head, and then rolled her eyes in disgust as her nephew continued to chortle.

Twilight, who appeared to be a little shocked by her own words, was now slumped in her seat, not looking at Luna, and trying to figure out how everything had just gone wrong. She had somehow just lambasted the traditionalists present and already, she was worried about the repercussions.

Sometimes, it was hard to know what just went wrong.

Leaning over, Rising Star gave Bittersweet a smooch on the corner of her mouth, also stealthily removing a dollop of maple frosting, and his ears perked as he heard the sounds of a developing uproar. For a moment, he envied Bittersweet, who would be unable to hear all of the shouting that was about to take place.

 

 

“Piña, do you think things will ever be normal again?” Diamond Tiara asked her fellow pink pony. “At some point, life got strange… I don’t know what happened. The ponies I used to torment became my best friends. My dad changed… profoundly… so much so that it was almost like I no longer knew him, and he became a stranger to me.” Diamond Tiara fell silent and said nothing about her father’s death, but took solace in knowing that her father had done a great deal of good in the time before his passing.

“Define normal… if all of this stuff keeps happening, this is the new normal,” Piña replied. “One day, I’m a perfectly normal foal and the next day, puberty. Now, everything is weird. I have to shower more because I smell funny. Things are growing. And I have weird dreams.”

Saying nothing, Diamond Tiara nodded, having herself experienced everything that Piña had mentioned. She turned her head and looked at Sentinel, who was being fawned over by Lyra. Sentinel wasn’t normal. He kept laughing, his mood had changed, and he was almost a stranger. Diamond Tiara wondered if it was the drugs or if his brush with death had changed him. She hoped that he had changed, if only just a little bit. She liked his laughter.

“It’s strange, going through puberty,” Piña said in a low voice. “That first sign that you are growing up. It’s confusing… at first I thought that I’d need to get rid of my toys and my stuffies and all of my playthings.” Piña drew in a deep breath and watched as Lyra teased Sentinel with a maraschino cherry. “I still like my stuffies… and when I hug them, I feel different now… I don’t know how to describe it, but something has changed.”

“The feeling of motherhood,” Diamond Tiara whispered as she turned and looked at her friend. “That feeling of being protective, that feeling of fierce love, of holding on and never wanting to let go. I get that way too, sometimes.”

“Huh.” Piña’s head bobbed as she considered Diamond Tiara’s words. “Do you think it is because we’re earth ponies or do you think every filly goes through this? I wonder what it’s like for others…”

Shrugging, Diamond Tiara turned and looked at Sentinel again. “I dunno, but I feel it when I look at him. There are times when he is close to me that I really want to hold one of my dolls while he stands near, being all protective in that way that he is. It’s like… it’s like this ache I have in my heart and I just want us to be together.”

“That’s really sweet, Diamond…” Piña leaned over against Diamond Tiara and sighed, feeling thankful for her friend. “It’s like when I play  Oubliettes and Ogres with Babs and Larch”—Piña’s barrel heaved as she let out a forlorn sigh—“I never want those games to end because I want to be with them more than anything.”

“I think it is because we are earth ponies.” Diamond Tiara shifted and then leaned up against Piña. “I think it is in our nature to be this way. I’ve talked with Apple Bloom a bit… she knows what she wants, but for Sweetie Belle and Scootaloo, they’re not quite as serious about everything as Apple Bloom is.”

“Yeah, but is it because Apple Bloom is an earth pony or are Sweetie Belle and Scoots just not as mature? I mean, there are other reasons… it’s so hard to tell what are earth pony feelings compared to just plain old pony feelings. I get confused sometimes.” Piña squirmed around, her thoughts unsettled, and she let go another sigh, missing Larch and Babs.

“I miss my other friends… I want to go home… I want all of us to be together,” Diamond Tiara said as a bit of a sniffle escaped her nose.

Piña nodded. “That has to be an earth pony feeling… keep the herd together…”

 

 

 

 

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