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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Nuts and bolts governance. The stuff that nopony cared about. The real boring stuff that made up a majority of Rising Star’s work. While some ponies might be bored to tears about dealing with this stuff, Rising Star could appreciate it for what it was—the necessary glue that held society together. Ponies depended upon the postal service. The trains needed to run on time. Equestria as a whole needed a reliable means of communication from coast to coast.

The entire morning had been nuts and bolts stuff, along with a whole lot of vote trading to get stuff done. Vote trading was the currency of this market; something that Rising Star wasn’t too fond of, but he had accepted that it was necessary, otherwise, nothing would ever get accomplished. Things had to be accomplished. Progress had to be made.

Much progress had been made this morning. Now, as it began the long slog till noon, Rising Star expected more of the nuts and bolts stuff. He felt Bittersweet squirm against him, she was getting uncomfortable, no doubt. The donkey was becoming a supreme lip reader, able to read Twilight’s lips all the way from up here where they were sitting together, and Twilight, perhaps sensing this, always sat at an angle where her lips were could be seen by Bittersweet.

“Next on the agenda…” Twilight Sparkle shuffled some papers around and peered down her muzzle through her reading glasses. “Oh yes… something that needs to be addressed. The Equestrian age of adulthood.”

Rising Star blinked and felt his mouth go dry. He couldn’t remember this being listed on any agenda he had read. He glanced at Twilight, who was still sorting through her papers. He could hear a low murmur from the spectators, or what Glass Slipper, Twilight Sparkle’s adorable adopted crystal pony foal, called the potaters—and the place they sat she called the potater bin.

“Yes, I am aware that this wasn’t on the agenda… it was decided by the ruling heads that this issue would be brought up as a surprise. We didn’t want a lot of backroom deals and vote trading being tied to the issue, it is far too important. I encourage you to vote based upon how you feel… and not for what you might be able to get in return.” Twilight Sparkle set her papers down upon her table and then she had a good long look around at the room at the gathered representatives, many of which were staring at her.

“As many of you know, my best friend Pinkie Pie left home when she was young, moved to Ponyville, and became a baker's apprentice. It has been a longstanding Equestrian tradition to leave home once you have your cutie mark and to make your way in the world.” Twilight cleared her throat and once more, she looked around the room at the assembled representatives. “I understand that this is a delicate issue… one steeped in tradition…” Sighing, Twilight folded her forelegs in front of her and leaned against her table.

“Why does the Crown feel the need to meddle in this issue?” a representative named Keen asked. The somewhat older pegasus looked rather grumpy, his half-moon glasses were crooked on his nose, and he had a thin, droopy mustache. Keen, a member of the newly formed Tea Party, glowered from his lofty perch.

“Representative Keen, have some common sense,” an earth pony replied. “We can’t have foals just leaving home and going out into the world. The world is a dangerous place. A foal might meet a bad end… there are predators out there just waiting for the opportunity.”

“Representative Flower Power… I am aware of these so called predators, but we cannot simply do away with a time honoured institution because of them. Life must go on.” Keen turned his glower upon the earth pony sitting a few rows down from him.

“Oh yes… the tradition must continue… fat lazy bakers need foals that they don’t have to pay to do menial labour and chores… it is the backbone of our economy… have we learned nothing? Are we still addicted to slave labour even after the collapse? Is that what we want to be the lasting legacy of this country—”

“Representative Weather Feathers, will you not be inflammatory!” Keen’s barrel puffed out and he was about to say more when he heard Twilight’s hoof striking wood. The entire assembly quieted and Keen, realising he had spoken out of turn a few times now, gave Twilight an apologetic glance.

“This is why this issue must be addressed.” Twilight Sparkle peered at the assembly through narrowed eyes. “While many foals like Pinkie Pie left home and found a very kind, loving family to apprentice with, there are those who end up in less than fortunate circumstances. Bad things happen. We need to determine the rights of individuals at various stages of life, but to determine those stages, first we must figure out what adulthood is.”

Twilight cleared her throat and continued. “We had all manner of laws that created a confusing hodge podge. We had a legal drinking age of twenty, which seems silly to me. For a pony to suddenly be mature enough to drink at the stroke of midnight on their birthday just seems preposterous to me. Previous to this point, a pony was old enough to serve in the guard, have a job, buy a house, own property, enter contracts that are legally binding, but they were not mature enough to have a drink.”

There was a collective murmur from the crowd, a low, quiet sound, and many of the representatives also had quiet exchanges between one another.

“Even worse, the law was not well enforced. In small towns, the law worked out well enough. Everypony just sort of knew everypony else and the shopkeepers knew who was on the level. But in the big cities, that sense of familiarity was lost. So the law did nothing but exist on the books in an attempt to make the Crown appear as though it was being responsible and addressing some pressing social issue.”

More murmuring and a few voices could be heard saying that this was a criticism of Princess Celestia’s rule. Before things escalated, Twilight Sparkle rapped her hoof upon the wooden table, and an expression of irritation crept over her face.

“I will not have Princess Celestia condemned for this. This was never her fault. If you must blame somepony, blame the ruling houses that made the laws and enforced them. Princess Celestia had nothing to do with such an inane and banal law. Blame yourselves for allowing the ruling houses to continue to make such inane and banal laws. So many of you were content to sit and complain about your government, but very few of you did anything about it.”

“What could we have done against House Avarice?” a pony asked.

Silence filled the hall, real silence, a dreadful silence that gnawed upon the ears of all those who witnessed it. Rising Star shifted in his seat and looked around the room, his stomach gurgling and begging for food. Unable to stop his mind, a train of thought pulled out of the station, and he began thinking about Loch Skimmer and how she had eaten an entire chocolate cake for breakfast. Thinking about the chocolate frosted pegasus and the way she licked her lips left him feeling flustered.

“Some of those laws can be examined to determine a good starting point for the legal age of adulthood,” Twilight continued, getting the issue back on track. “For example, to legally join the guard one had to be fourteen. But there were provisions made for ponies even younger. Sometimes a colt needed to step away from a bad situation, or said colt might have got himself into a bit of trouble and his parents might want to send him off to military school.”

There was a collective groan from many in attendendance, with quite a few present having survived a stint in military schools, both academic and magical.

Twilight glanced up after seeing a light flash on her console. “Representative Keen…”

Keen, who held his head high, adjusted his glasses with his wing and put on his best grumpy expression. “It wasn’t just the military academies… for many, leaving home and seeking their fortune in the world was a way to escape abuse or a dead end life. While I will admit that some foals that left home might have found their way into trouble, for many it was a new life filled with new opportunities. Some went to big cities and found work. Many escaped poverty or unpleasant living conditions.” Keen paused, rubbed his chin, and then after taking a deep breath, he continued, “As I recall in the book that you wrote, your friend Applejack left home as a young filly and went to Manehattan to find her way. That was a pivotal moment of her life. She found her way as I seem to recall. Would you deny her, and others like her, a chance to seek out their destiny? Or would you place a restriction on it so that we’ll be stuck telling our fortune seekers and future hard workers, ‘not until you are fourteen.’ Drawing a line in the sand and making a hard number to determine adulthood would be detrimental to our way of life… we equines follow destiny. We obey our cutie marks. We go on whims. We follow our notions… your friend Applejack left home, traveled to the big city, discovered herself, returned home, discovered more about herself, and earned her cutie mark for the trip. Would you rob her and those like her of such an enriching life experience? Placing an age restriction would interfere with destiny. It will lead to chaos.”

Keen’s wings flapped a few times against his sides and the pegasus’ ears splayed out as he realised that his impromptu speech had gone on for a little longer than he had anticipated.

“I understand that the issue is complicated and that there are many things to take into consideration, but that doesn’t change the fact that we must face the issue. This is something that needs to be sorted out.” Reaching up, Twilight rubbed her temple. “I understand the necessity of trying to preserve tradition. I get that, I do. But there are issues with our current way of life… and failures in our current system that need to be addressed.”

Rising Star wondered how this would affect him and others like him. He was considered an adult now, but he was young. If a hard age was put into place, he wondered what it would do to young couples that had formed families. They existed and somepony would have to champion their cause. Not every teenager was a deadbeat—sometimes, when a filly found herself fat with foal, she and the father would do the right thing. Settle down and make things work. It happened and Rising Star had met with quite a few that had made it work. Earth ponies tended to marry young, not needing extended courtship times or some adventure, off searching for a mate. They tended to marry whomever was practical, available, and willing.

There had been a few hard numbers in place, but none of them had matched up. There was one age for one thing, one age for another, and yet another age for something else. A young colt might be in the guard, of legal age to be a soldier, old enough to kill, but not old enough to own property. And that was how things were. Now, it was time to make all of the numbers match up.

Rising Star realised that this would be a next to impossible task. He sighed, realising that lunch was going to be late today. He could not help but feel that this was a lot like school. One had to mentally prepare themselves to deal with boring things, boring issues, and one had to wait for the lunch break, sitting through the long hours of morning.

He thought about Thistle, one of the mares he called ‘mother’ and she was about the same age as he was. Was she an adult? She was a mother with a foal. She had a job. She was responsible and did her part for the family. He thought of Derpy, who had gone to work early, raised Dinky, had looked after Sparkler, and the grey mare had somehow made things work. Had she been an adult? Where did one draw the line?

As his stomach rumbled, Rising Star thought of a sleek but pudgy pegasus filly slathered in chocolate frosting and wondered if he was adult. He had his own foal on the way. He had a business. He had a livelihood. He was here, in this place, with no lunch break in sight, trying to help make laws that would determine who was an adult—and who wasn’t.

All of it felt quite overwhelming.

 

 

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