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 day spent recovering, Bucky felt the overwhelming compulsion to get back to work. The snows were melting. The cold had been somewhat problematic to the crops of the isles, but the snow had brought much needed water to the somewhat parched ground. There had been rain, but there hadn’t been enough rain. Now, much of the ground was a sodden mess and everything was muddy.

Bucky needed a boat. Keg Smasher had told him of several hulks left aground in the harbour city, which was perfect because Bucky didn’t need the boat to float. Not on water anyway. It was his intention to walk to the harbour and return with what he needed.

The need to get things done was overwhelming. There was so much to do. Construct an airship. Forge armor. Turn Rising Star and Sparkler into type threes. Create more spell jars and fill them with spells. Prepare for war. Protect ponies.

And finding some time to win Thistle’s heart had to be squeezed into all of this as well.

For some ponies, their work never ended. Bucky sighed and resigned himself to his lot in life. He packed his saddlebags with a few treats from the trunk, a few cold fried oatcakes, a few gourds full of water, and he thought about bringing a book to read while he walked.

“Can I come with you?”

Bucky turned and saw Piña looking up at him with big pleading eyes. Her ears were back against her head and she was working him over with everything she had. “Shouldn’t you be in school right now?” he asked.

“I got permission to go and pee,” Piña admitted. “And I knew you were here, getting ready to go. I overheard you talking earlier… I just want some time with you.”

“I have a very long walk ahead of me. I have to walk to the harbour city and then walk back to the castle,” Bucky stated.

“I am a big filly. I can walk that far,” Piña insisted. “I just want you all to myself for a while,” she whined.

Bucky sighed and looked down at Piña, who was looking up at him with big blue eyes. He felt a twinge of pain in his barrel. It was almost too much to bear. “Okay, you can come. But we are going to tell the others so they will not worry about you,” Bucky said in defeat.

“But if we tell the others, Dinky will want to come too… and while I love Dinky very much and I don’t want to be a selfish brat, I want some time with you,” Piña complained.

“Piña, if Dinky asks, I will let her down gently and explain that we are going to have some personal time together today. Dinky will understand,” Bucky said to the foal that was still working him over. “Piña darling, I have a lot of mares and fillies that need my time. If you are ever feeling left out, you need to tell me. Just tell me and I will make some time for you. You are so quiet and well behaved that sometimes it is easy to overlook you. You need to speak up and make some noise sometimes,” Bucky prompted.

Piña nodded. “I can do that,” she said in reply.

Bucky packed a few more treats into his saddlebags and decided that a book wasn’t necessary to fill the time. Piña was already bouncing around and being boisterous. A stabbing pain shot through his skull and he winced. The glass was still fusing with his skull. He could hear it crackling and popping as it worked its way deeper. He could hear it inside of his head.

Using his magic usually caused these moments of fusion, like right now as he used his telekinesis to move objects to his bag. His magic came easily to him now. Effortless. All he had to do was think and the reaction was near instant. No summoning of the will and trying to direct energies through his horn. Magic flowed out of him and the focusing effect of his fulgurite horn was noticeable.

Bucky suspected that there were no limits to what he could do now, and today was going to be a good test of his abilities.

 

 

“My legs are getting tired,” Piña panted.

Bucky smiled but said nothing. The foal was working hard to keep up but she was starting to lag behind. He scooped her up in his magic and placed her on his back. She wiggled around, trying to get comfortable, and finally sat up. She scooted herself forward and rested her chin on the back of Bucky’s head as he walked.

“I am a big filly,” Piña stated. “I could have kept going,” she insisted.

“It is okay Piña, I don’t mind. I like having you close to me,” Bucky said to the foal as she cuddled against his neck and the back of his head.

“Does it hurt?” Piña asked as she got an up close look at Bucky’s new horn. “It looks like it hurts.”

“It hurts Piña,” Bucky admitted. “But it needed to be done. It will get better in time.”

“I guess being adult means having to do things that hurt you?” Piña asked.

Bucky took a deep breath. A book certainly wouldn’t be needed. “Sometimes Piña. I guess that is true. It certainly is for mares,” Bucky replied.

“Can you ‘splain that to me?” Piña questioned.

“Well, having a foal hurts. But if mares didn’t have foals, there would be no more ponies. Sometimes, we have to do something and it hurts us. In the case of becoming pregnant and having a foal, you get rewarded for having to endure the pain,” Bucky explained.

“And making them is fun. My sister said that,” Piña said.

Bucky felt a hot flush travel up his neck and through his face. “Yes Piña, making them is very rewarding,” Bucky answered.

“I overhead Berry saying that you were pretty good at it. She and Derpy were talking. Dinky and I were eavesdropping,” Piña admitted. “And now my sister is pregnant and I wish that she was actually my mother but she is going to have foals and everything is going to become even more complicated because I want them to be my brothers and sisters but instead I guess I will be an aunt or something and it is all really very frustrating. Dinky and I talk about it sometimes.”

“Piña, if you want to call them your brothers and sisters, there is nothing stopping you,” Bucky said as he walked, his hooves squelching in the mud.

“I don’t remember my real dad. I can’t even remember my mother. All I can remember is Berry taking care of me,” Piña said.

Bucky did not reply. He could feel Piña’s breathing quicken, her breath warm upon his ears.

“And you are the only father I know. But you are my sister’s husband, which I guess would make you my uncle,” Piña said.

“Piña honey, you are making this far too complicated,” Bucky insisted.

“We earth ponies try to keep track of our families. It is what we do. And my family tree is all weird now,” Piña replied.

“You are my filly. That is all that matters to me. You are mine. You might not be my flesh and blood, but you are one of the foals of my heart, which is just as important. I choose to love you. I have claimed you as my own. Just like I have claimed Dinky and Sentinel,” Bucky explained.

“And when Berry gives you foals that are your flesh and blood, will you still love us just as much?” Piña asked.

Bucky heaved an exasperated sigh. “Piña, are you actually worried about that?”

“Yes!” Piña cried in a wavering voice. “Which is why I wanted to spend time with you today so I could endear myself to you before it is too late,” Piña confessed.

“Piña, I don’t even know how to begin. You are one of my foals. Mine. I treasure you. And when Berry has foals, you will still be loved and you will still be mine,” Bucky said.

“Are you sure?” Piña asked in a worried voice.

“Look, Piña… I am married to several mares. Do you think one is loved less than the others?” Bucky asked in a soothing gentle tone.

Piña did not reply right away. She sat on Bucky’s withers, her chin still resting on the back of Bucky’s head, and thought about what Bucky had said. Her muzzle scrunched as she tried to think about deep thoughts, the sort of thoughts that pushed the very limits of her maturity. “So you really love them all equally?” she asked in a soft voice filled with uncertainty.

“Yes Piña. But I do love them in different ways. I love you and Dinky in different ways, but I still love you both. And I don’t love either one of you any more or any less than the other,” Bucky explained.

Piña sighed with relief and reached up to stroke one of Bucky’s ears with her fetlock. “I have some very troubling thoughts sometimes,” Piña confessed.

“It is difficult being smart,” Bucky replied. “Berry Punch is smarter than I am.”

“Maybe. You are pretty smart though,” Piña answered.

“Piña darling, as you grow up, you are going to discover that it can be very difficult to find happiness as a smart pony. Ignorance really is bliss. Fools flounder in continual happiness, but smart ponies… idealist ponies, they have the least amount of happiness. Those that hold themselves to standards and make sure they hold themselves accountable for what they do,” Bucky explained.

“Sort of like how I can’t seem to have fun when I know what I am doing is wrong. Some of the other foals I know actually have fun getting into trouble. I act like I am having fun, but usually when I get up to no good, I feel miserable. I just want to tell somepony what I did and get it over with rather than worry about getting caught,” Piña said as she stroked the side of Bucky’s neck.

Bucky smiled. “It only gets worse as you get older. Well, if you keep your sense of goodness. Sometimes smart ponies lose that sense of goodness. They’re smart enough to justify what they are doing, they can make excuses to make it seem okay,” Bucky said in reply. “Do you understand what I am saying? he asked.

“Yes I do,” Piña said in return. “I’ve done it,” she admitted in a sad voice.

“What did you do?” Bucky asked.

“I stole a few bits from my sister so I could get ice cream. I told myself it was okay, because I had been such a good foal for quite a while and I deserved a reward because my sister was busy working and she had sort of ignored me and I was feeling kinda resentful. But after I took them, I realised that taking them made me a bad foal and I didn’t deserve ice cream. I never made it to Sugarcube Corner,” Piña replied.

“What happened?” Bucky inquired.

“I turned around, went home, and told Berry what I had done,” Piña answered. “She took me out for ice cream even though I kept telling her I didn’t deserve it,” she continued. “Taking those bits… I couldn’t justify what I had done. If I was a good foal like I thought I was, I would never took those bits in the first place,” she finished.

“But you did do the right thing,” Bucky said reassuringly. “And that is what matters.”

“I still think about it, what I did and why I did it. Usually when I get to thinking that I deserve something,” Piña confessed. “Hey, I just thought of something,” Piña announced.

“Hmm?” Bucky asked.

“How are you going to haul the boat back?” Piña asked.

“I plan to carry it with my magic,” Bucky replied with a chuckle.

 

 

Bucky didn’t venture into the harbour city, remembering how it had been flooded with sewage. Instead, he had veered over to the beach and had approached several hulks, beached vessels that were no longer seaworthy.

Most of them had holes in their hulls and it looked as though they had slammed into rocks. One was quite large, at one time it had been a cargo ship, a large wooden frigate. Too big. There were several smaller craft which Bucky felt were too small. Piña followed along beside him as he climbed over the wrecks and trotted through the sand. Some of the ships had been scavenged for wood or parts.

One vessel stood out. It looked to be a caravel, or something like that, Bucky had only a small knowledge of sea vessels. It had a gaping hole in the hull near the front of the ship. It was about thirty or forty feet in length and had a cabin in the rear. Part of the deck was also missing, revealing a decent sized space below the deck. Bucky knew that he could fix all of these things and wasn’t concerned about the damage.

“You know Piña, not only would this once proud vessel serve my purposes as a warship, but I think it could be used to get us home as well,” Bucky announced. The cabin in the back might be slightly cramped quarters, but it wouldn’t be any worse than the room that they all shared now. Provisions could be placed below the deck. The cabin could be secured against the wolves by keeping it well lit. Even if the wolves did manage to shadow wink onto the deck, they would be rendered helpless by the lights that Bucky planned to install. The foals could be safely secured in the cabin, away from danger.

“How are you going to get this home?” Piña gasped.

“I told you, I plan to carry it,” Bucky said with a manic grin, pleased to have found something so perfect. “And once we get it airborne, we have pegasi to pull it,” Bucky said.

“Nope,” Piña said. “Derpy is a strong pony, but even she can’t pull this. Too big,” the foal protested.

“Piña darling, you are forgetting something,” Bucky said.

“I am?” Piña asked.

“Piña, how do you think pegasi pull chariots and sky wagons through the sky?” Bucky asked.

“I dunno,” Piña replied.

“Unicorn magic,” Bucky answered. “This craft probably weighs 40 tons or more. But using magic, I can make it weigh less than you do,” Bucky explained.

Piña’s eyes went wide as she looked at Bucky and then at the ship. She looked back at Bucky again. “So why don’t we get that really big ship over there?” she asked.

“This one is stylish. It is smaller and will be easier to enchant. Easier to manage too. Besides, we don’t want to look pretentious,” Bucky replied. “This one will serve our needs just fine.”

“So you will destroy the wolves and we will finally be able to go home?” Piña questioned.

“Yes, I think so Piña. And with the troubles in the mainland, we will not need to have Celestia figure out a way to fetch us. We can return to her. Maybe even take Keg Smasher with us so he can sign this treaty that seems so important,” Bucky answered.

“When we get home, can we keep this boat?” Piña asked.

“I suppose we could. Might come in handy. Would seem like such a shame to spend time restoring it and then just be rid of it when we no longer need it,” Bucky replied.

“My sister tells me stories of family members who were sky pirates,” Piña said. “Clan Pickled became the terror of the skies for a while.”

Bucky laughed. “Nothing about Clan Pickled surprises me anymore,” he said. There was a crackle and a hiss from the base of his horn and Bucky winced.

“You alright?” Piña inquired.

“I am fine, just a bit of pain, that’s all Piña. It comes and it goes. Honestly, even with this pain, I feel better than I have in a long time. And there is so much to do. I don’t have time to stop just because of a little pain,” Bucky replied. “We should have lunch here. Together. On the beach. Are you enjoying our date?” he asked.

“This is a date?” Piña questioned.

“Fathers take their daughters on dates… or so I have heard,” Bucky explained.

“Oh…” gasped Piña. “I see. I have had a lovely day,” she stated. “Can we have a tea party sometime?” the foal asked.

“I don’t see why not,” Bucky answered as he began to unpack his saddlebag.

“Real tea. Not just water in a plastic cup. And tea cakes. In the Ponyville tea room,” Piña said.

Bucky focused his remaining eye on the foal. “I see. That kind of tea party,” he said in return. “Piña darling, that is for more of a genteel crowd. They might take issue with how I look.”

“What is wrong with how you look?” Piña asked innocently.

Bucky squirmed, not sure how to answer.

“Are you worried that some ponies might tease you because of how you look? I get teased for being so pink,” Piña said.

“No Piña, I am not worried about teasing. Piña, honey, I look kinda rough. The way I look might scare other ponies,” Bucky explained.

“So you can’t take me to the tea room?” the filly said.

“I could take you…” Bucky replied hesitantly. “But they might not let me in because I might make the other customers lose their appetites. I might cause other ponies looking at me some distress.”

“Well if they are going to be snobby about how you look they can take their teapots and stuff them up their too tight plothole,” Piña huffed. “And the crumpets too.”

Bucky’s jaw fell open and he stared at Piña. He sat in silence, totally agast, flummoxed by the foal’s words. He couldn’t believe what he had just heard coming out of the foal’s mouth.

“You look the way you do because you tried to help other ponies. You got chewed on because you wanted to help. You can’t help how you look,” Piña muttered angrily. She settled back on her haunches and folded her forelegs over her barrel, looking very cross. Her lower lip protruded in a pout.

For a moment Piña Colada looked exactly like her older sister and Bucky was reminded why he loved earth ponies as solid and steadfast companions. He had seen the same look on Bon Bon.

“We will have our tea party,” Bucky promised. “Either we will go to the tea room together or we will have it at home. Do you want to invite anypony?” he asked.

“Dinky would love to attend. I wonder if we can get Sentinel to come. And Ripple. And maybe Diamond Tiara. I wonder how she is doing. She doesn’t have any other friends. Or she didn’t when we left. I feel bad for her,” Piña said. “It would be ponies that are like how Diamond Tiara used to be that wouldn’t want you in the tea room, right?” she asked.

“Yes Piña. But even regular ponies, ponies who were not cruel but simply delicate in nature, they might be upset if they saw me,” Bucky replied as he set out a few oatcakes on the sides of his saddlebags. He had set his bags on the sand.

“It was very hard to look at you after you got mauled,” Piña said guiltily. “But I look past it now, there is only a pony that I love a whole bunch.”

“Thank you Piña,” Bucky replied.

“No, thank you for spending a bit of time with me,” Piña said in return. “A filly needs to know that her father loves her,” she said as she tore into an oatcake. “Berry said you need to set my standards really high about stallions. What did she mean by that? She wouldn’t tell me,” the foal said with her mouth full.

Bucky snorted, laughed, and then tried to figure out the best way to answer Piña’s question.

 

Author's Note:

Bucky has his warship...

And a means to keep his herd safe. Events are gaining momentum and now we begin to move forward in a meaningful way. We can also see that escape is possible.

We also see the future Lord of Winter spending some time with something precious to him, something that he holds dear to his heart. We also see a family dynamic at work.

 
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