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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Heaving a sigh, Sentinel eyed the warning sign and then groaned. “No spell casting in the alchemy wing. Violators will be toad.” Something about the sign irked him. The place where his eyepatch rested upon his face itched, it rubbed something awful against his skin while his pelt was growing back in. He had some fuzzy, stubbly growth, but he had a long way to go before he was a shaggy pony again.

Hurrying along, Sentinel got moving again so he could make his way out of the alchemy wing. He wanted things to settle back into whatever passed as normal again. Yesterday, his father and Sunset Shimmer had beaten the stuffing out of one another, and had done so as foals.

There was a demon roaming around the school, a demon by the name of Dee. Word had it that if you left your notes unattended, they would be alphabetised. Unattended rucksacks would be organised. Papers mysteriously had spelling mistakes corrected around him and mathematical formulae corrected itself under mysterious circumstances. Sentinel had met him twice now, and he found that he rather liked Dee, who was a little shy, quiet, and oh so very polite.

As he went down the hallway, he passed Sweet Pea and Growler, who were inseparable. Growler had grown a bit, it seems that everybody had grown a bit. Spring was in the air and there was a rampant race for maturity going on for many of the students. He waved at Growler with his wing, and saw Growler wave back with his paw.

Continuing down the hall, he saw Daylight Shadow and Written Sound having an animated discussion with an earth pony and a diamond dog named Neon Blitz. The earth pony wasn’t actually an earth pony. Sentinel wasn’t quite sure how he knew, but he knew that the supposed earth pony was actually a unicorn named Mask. The four of them were having a muted discussion about the proposal for a scaled down version of the Stable of Representatives for school and having the students learn democratic processes through action, rather than just a textbook. There was something of a debate over just how much say students should have over the governance of their school.

“Sentinel?”

Hearing the shrill, somewhat squeaky voice of Cloudstreaker, Sentinel came to a halt with a sigh. He turned to look at her, having to turn his whole head so he could see her. She was wearing glasses, and it was clear that she had been crying.

“Yes?” Sentinel replied, now feeling a little worried.

“I, uh, was just, uh, wondering something,” Cloudstreaker said in a low voice as she took one shy step closer.

“And that is?” Sentinel could sense that something was wrong. He turned his whole body so he could focus his right eye on the pegasus filly, and not have to twist his neck around.

“Has anybody teased you about having just one eye?” Cloudstreaker asked in a voice that was nothing more than a breath with faint, soft, hardly spoken syllables. The little filly’s head dropped and she stared down at her front hooves. As she did so, her glasses slid down a ways on her muzzle.

Sentinel blinked. Poor Cloudstreaker had such a big crush on him. He felt a genuine pang of sympathy for her. It was hard being a pegasus and having bad eyes. No doubt, she had been getting teased and was now looking for comfort. His stomach gurgled, it was lunchtime, but that would have to wait it seemed.

“Who teased you?” Sentinel asked.

Cloudstreaker’s head lifted and she looked at Sentinel. “Nevermind, it was a dumb question—”

“Don’t you dare walk away from me.” Sentinel’s ears pitched forwards. “Who teased you? Cloudstreaker, I want you to tell me.”

“Oh, he’s already been dealt with.” Cloudstreaker cleared her throat. “My brother is in more trouble. I think he’s going to be suspended. Rumble broke his jaw.”

“Oh.” Sentinel, feeling irritated, took a deep breath and tried to calm himself.

“Why must some pegasi be so mean?” Cloudstreaker asked. She shook her head and her eyes turned shiny with tears. “Some of them are just so mean… it… it makes me not want to be one!”

Reaching out his wing, Sentinel adjusted Cloudstreaker’s glasses for her, and then patted her cheek. “Don’t say that. You should never say that. Cloudstreaker…”

“Yes?”

“As tough as it might be, you need to be the sort of pegasus that you wish that others would be. Lead by example.” Sentinel realised that Cloudstreaker was wearing perfume. She too, had joined the swift race towards maturity, or at least was taking those first few perilous steps.

“How do I do that?” Cloudstreaker asked.

“Well, see, that’s the tricky part,” Sentinel replied, “it is different for everypony. This is something you have to discover for yourself. The pegasi flocks as we know them, they’re not perfect. They have some problems, but that is true for any group or gathering of ponies.”

“I think I’m starting to hate them,” Cloudstreaker admitted.

“That’s wrong,” Sentinel said in a gentle voice, not wanting to disturb the upset filly.

“I know, but I can’t help it.” Cloudstreaker began to sniffle, almost lost control of her feelings, but then pulled back just before the tears formed a flood. “I can’t imagine what it must be like for your mother. She has bad eyes.”

Sentinel nodded. He was well aware of this issue. His little sister, she too, had bad eyes. He tried not to think about how other little pegasi were going to tease her.

“Why do we react the way we do?” Cloudstreaker asked in a voice that was shrill with emotion. “When Rumble got angry, when my brother did what he did, Scootaloo got all worked up too. When he went diving in to defend me, Scootaloo went right in after him. I dunno what’s going to happen to her. She put Cyclone Surge into a headlock so Rumble could punch him better.”

“Oh… bother...” Sentinel was about to say more, but swallowed his words. With the two of them together, this became Raptor business. He was going to have to have a long talk with Table Scraps and Leftovers. They both should have known better. Sentinel decided the best tactic was a diversion. “Cloudstreaker, would you like to come and have lunch with me? I’m supposed to meet up with Boadicea and Diamond Tiara… I’m sure they won’t mind if you join us.”

“Really?”

“I’m positive.”

“Thank you, Sentinel.”

Sentinel watched as the filly’s lower lip began to quiver. It made him feel squirmy and uncomfortable. “Come on, let’s go. If we’re any later, they’ll be out of chocolate milk.”

 

 

Folding in her wings, Ripple held her head high and had a look around the junkyard. Beside her, Lugus was sorting himself out. Ripple was in a fantastic mood—she had been excused from her classes so she could take care of business.

She looked around the junkyard with a budding sense of optimism. She heard Lugus let out a groan beside her and Ripple, being in a good mood, laughed. Ripple’s task was simple; she had to secure an airship. But there were restrictions, which was why Lugus was groaning. There was a budget and they were not allowed to turn the airship over to Rising Star so it could be turned into a technological marvel.

The airship was to be constructed, maintained, and serviced by the Raptors. Ripple had met the challenge with a sense of eagerness—Lugus had met the challenge with a loud squawk.

All around the pair were rusting hulks. Some were scrap heaps from the winter war. Some of the hulls had massive holes in them. Most were missing gasbags. All of them were junk. Ripple scooted off, hopeful that she would find a diamond in the rough. Lugus stood where he landed, his beak open, and a defeated look was upon his face.

Bounding along, almost pronking, Ripple stopped at the first hulk she came to. No gasbag, several large holes in the hull, it had three levels, a galley, and spacious crew quarters according to the sign. It also needed an engine and an overhaul of the electrical system.

The sign also said it cost eighty thousand gold bits.

Ripple let out a wordless whine. She had not expected junk to be so expensive. The scrapped hull was a little smaller than The Scorned Mare. She peered through the gaping hole in the hull and into what appeared to be a common room. There were tables and chairs bolted to the floor. Eighty thousand bits for this hunk of junk? It was time to move on.

The next ship over was torn in half. The front half and the back half both sat side by side to one another. There was no gasbag. Ripple could see by looking into the open end that this ship had four levels, was roomy, spacious, and was a real fixer-upper. She eyed the sign and her mouth fell open.

One hundred and ten thousand gold bits. This sign promised all of the spells were still intact.

Ripple turned her head and looked at Lugus, who hadn’t moved. This was just a little bit out of their price range. The budget couldn’t be stretched that far. This was going to be harder than she thought.

“Need some help, little lady?” a pleasant voice asked in a slow drawl.

Turning, Ripple saw a greasy looking earth pony. She smiled, trying to be polite, and introduced herself. “My name is Squire Cornet Ripple. I’m in need of an airship.”

“I know who you are,” the earth pony replied. “My name is Goober.” The earth pony spat out a glop of chewing tobacco juice. “I done seen you in the papers. My pa is real fond of you and yer husband and that Buckminster fellow.”

“Why thank you,” Ripple said, being as gracious as possible even though she was somewhat disgusted.

“So you need an airship?” Goober gave Ripple a shrewd look. “I done reckon I have what yer lookin’ for. She ain’t much, but she’ll probably fit yer budget. How much you got?”

“I have a purchasing budget of ten thousand gold bits to secure a craft.”

“Oh.” Goober spat out another glop of tobacco juice. “Oh, well, that ship I had in mind, that’s not gonna work for ya. Yer gonna need something else, but I think I can still help you. Miss, if you don’t mind, follow me.”

 

 

“Now, I can’t give this ship away, but I’m a patriot, yes I am. I do what I can for my country, just like every good, honest, kind hearted earth pony should.” Goober came to a stop in front of a craft.

Ripple stopped and took it all in. The ship in front of her was a skiff. It was a flat bottomed ship that had no belowdecks. It was a deck and not much else. The deck was solid, sturdy looking, and much to Ripple’s surprise, it was plate steel below with battered, beat up wood above. There was a deflated gasbag all wadded up behind the craft. Near the back, there was a wooden cabin, well, it was more of a wooden shack that was trying to pass as a cabin. There was a prop engine in the rear that appeared to be electrical.

“Now, she don’t look like much, but her enchantments are sound. She needs a new battery bank, the old ones were all fried and leaking. She has a forty eight volt system. The gasbag is functional, but it requires that clouds be stuffed in by the crew. She’s thirty nine feet long and fourteen feet wide. She’s faster than she looks because there ain’t much drag for a skiff. She still has her old weapon mounts, but the lightning cannons were stripped off when she was scrapped.”

Ripple raised her eyebrow and looked at Goober. She watched him spit again and almost shuddered in disgust. She waited, wondering how much he would ask for. A part of her wished that she was prettier, she might get a better deal.

“I’ll tell you what,” Goober said to Ripple, “‘cause I’m the patriotic type, I’ll let this go for eight thousand gold bits. I don’t want my pa whippin’ my backside ‘cause I tried to take advantage of the good ponies helping us and looking after us. I can’t go any lower… honest. The ship has a listed value of seventeen thousand.”

Ripple became aware of Lugus right beside her and she was so startled that she almost jumped out of her skin. The big griffon was stealthy, too stealthy, and Ripple hated when he crept up on her unawares.

“That’s a decent deal,” Lugus said in a low voice as he studied the craft.

Ripple nodded. “I thought this would be more difficult.” She looked at Goober. “I think we have a deal. I’ll arrange to have the payment delivered.”

“There’s some paperwork to draw up. You’ll need a licensed pilot to sign the papers and you’ll need to pay about a thousand bits to register the craft to get it off the lot. That money don’t go to us, I’m sorry… we ain’t trying to cheat nopony, that’s just Crown regulations.” Goober gave Ripple an apologetic glance.

“I understand,” Rippled replied. “So, Lugus, what do you think?”

“I think it will serve our needs. This will move the Raptors around. We’ll need to rebuild the cabin, but we have woodworkers. The wood needs a lot of work, but we can fix that.” Lugus turned his head and looked at Goober. “Thank you.”

“Aw, shucks, don’t mention it. Nopony else would ever buy this hunk of junk. Skiffs just ain’t popular, even though they’re practical. I’m just glad to get rid of it. I’ll get to work on it and see that she gets a good once over before the purchase is made final.” Goober grinned, revealing tobacco stained teeth, and his lip bulged tight around the wad in his jaw.

“Thank you, Goober!” Ripple grinned and her wings flapped against her sides. “I’m gonna call her The Bittersweet Sparkle!”

Lugus, who covered his eyes with his talons, let out a groan.

 

 

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