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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Rising Star took himself a bit of break. He had been working all morning, stopping only when Bucky had goosed Berry Punch and then had led her on a merry chase. He stared down over the rail and looked at Loch Skimmer.

She was preening her wings as she lay in the grass, something he enjoyed watching. It was something she did more frequently now, she had become far more mindful of her appearance. Rising Star couldn’t help but feel a bit closer to Bucky. There was something certainly intriguing about a preening pegasus.

“Enjoying the show?”

Rising Star nearly jumped out of his skin when he heard Berry Punch’s voice.

“She’s a pretty little filly, isn’t she?” Berry asked.

Rising Star nodded and gave a sheepish grin.

“Pegasi are different than you and I,” Berry stated. “They have wings, but it is more than that. Scent glands Rising Star. They have special scent glands under their wings. So when they go off and do one of their plumage displays, they know how to get the attention of everypony around them. Derpy did it to me by accident. She has Bucky completely under her control because of it. And Loch Skimmer spends so much time rubbing her wings all over you and Sparkler.”

“It might explain a few things,” Rising Star replied.

Berry chuckled. The earth pony mare was in an odd mood. She couldn’t quite make out what it was that she was feeling, other than the odd need to bond with all of her herdmates. She supposed it was the need to strengthen family ties. It was a powerful compulsion and Berry was more than content to simply go along with her instincts.

“About what you and I talked about a while back,” Rising Star said as he continued to watch Loch Skimmer preen her feathers.

“What about it?” Berry asked.

“I am still scared,” Rising Star admitted. “I really want to keep them happy. Every day I am afraid that jealousy will creep into what we have. I don’t want to fail. I don’t know what I am doing. I am still young. And stupid. What if I make a mistake and ruin everything?”

Berry pursed her lips in a straight line and looked Berry serious. “Do you think Derpy is jealous that Bucky goosed me today instead of her?” the mare asked.

“I don’t know,” Rising Star replied.

“Stuff just happens in the heat of the moment. Bucky saw an opportunity and Founders bless him, he took it. Then, a bunch of stuff happened and now he is spending a bit of quiet time with Thistle, who isn’t even a member of our herd yet. Do you think I feel jealous?” Berry inquired.

Rising Star squirmed and his ears drooped down near his face. “Do you?” he asked.

“No,” Berry replied honestly. “As pent up and frustrated as I might be, I understand I am not the only one in this relationship. We chose this. And now, it is looking like Derpy might relent and allow Thistle in, and soon there will be one more pony vying for Bucky’s attentions and affections. And I am okay with that. Because it isn’t just Bucky I should paying attention to. If I can’t get his attention, I can always go to Derpy, and soon, I think I will be able to go to Thistle. Or I can spend time with Bon Bon and Lyra. I have options. The point is, I have ponies I can go to. If I feel jealous it is because I am excluding the others and not reaching out to them. It is my own failing. It isn’t about just Bucky and I,” Berry explained.

Rising Star struggled to understand the mare’s words.

“If Sparkler and Loch Skimmer are spending some time together, it isn’t a time that you should feel excluded or left out. It is an opportunity for you to spend some time with Ripple and get to know her. And you need to spend some time with Ripple. I don’t know if you realise it, but that poor frustrated filly has been trying to get your attention. I know it is bound to be complicated with her, with her being young and you being a colt and she’s a filly, and there is all of the usual mess that goes along with that, but she wants your attention. She wants to know that she pleases you. She wants your approval. Look at her. Even now, she is aware that you are watching her sister and she is trying to preen her own feathers to get your attention,” Berry said to Rising Star and informing him of what he was missing.

“Everything is so complicated with Ripple,” Rising Star admitted. “I don’t know how to deal with her. Loch wants her treated as a foal, but Ripple doesn’t want to act like a foal.”

“Rising Star, that poor confused filly is still trying to sort out her sexuality. You could do her a world of good if you just let her know that you love her and that you think she is pretty. Even if you two never do anything, it doesn’t stop you from being good to her and letting her know that you find her attractive. Look at Bucky and how he is with Bon Bon and Lyra,” Berry said as she watched Ripple preening.

“That whole situation confuses me,” Rising Star stated.

“Bucky understands that he will never be rutting Bon Bon or Lyra, but that doesn’t stop him from being intimate with them. I’ve been watching him with them. And talking to Bon Bon. Lyra is rapidly becoming Bucky’s indispensable lab assistant. She’s been helping him with those spell jars and whatever else he’s been working on down there in the dark. Each of us has a purpose, a need that Bucky requires from us. And your mares will all have different needs that they will require from you Rising Star,” Berry said to the colt as he now watched Ripple.

“There is more to life than sex, I get that,” Rising Star said as his cheeks turned red. “There are other rewards to be had for spending time with my wives.” He cleared his throat. “It is probably going to make Loch a bit nervous, but she is just going to have to trust me. I am going to invite Ripple on a walk. Just us. So we can talk,” Rising Star stated. “Actually, to put Loch’s mind at ease, do you think you could come with us?”

“I’d be happy to,” Berry replied. “I’d love to spend more time with my foals.”

 

 

Derpy arched her back and stretched. She flexed her wings and kicked out her legs. It has been a long and productive morning, even with the little interruption. She glanced around. Berry was gone and so was Rising Star. Sparkler was still busy. Dinky and Piña were with Loch Skimmer who couldn’t do much because of her leg. Bucky was still off with Thistle.

She took to the air and gained altitude rapidly, closed one eye, and peered around her. All seemed well and she felt content. She soared, tucked in her wings, swooped, rolled, and at the last moment unfurled and caught an updraft.

She circled overhead and looked down. She could see Bucky and Thistle if she squinted. She spotted Berry Punch. She was with Ripple and Rising Star, and seemed to be off walking together. She could see a squad of pegasi training off in the distance.

With a flick of her tail, she took off, becoming a grey blur.

She landed on the wall and carefully folded her wings. She sat down upon the grey stone and peered down at the pegasi performing their combat drills. Several of them stopped and looked up at her. After a general cry of alarm, all of them stopped and saluted, which made Derpy feel a little bit weird, but also made her feel good. She understood why they were saluting. She was Bucky’s matriarch. Everywhere she went she was acknowledged, saluted, and appreciated. Nopony dared say anything about her eyes. She was given something she had always wanted from her fellow ponies.

Respect.

Here, Derpy’s nurturing sense of motherhood was respected, even revered. There were countless hopeful offers and proposals of marriage. Fathers came to her and asked her to consider allowing their fillies into her herd. She was always given flowers by hopeful young fillies and mares. Concerned mothers even tried to arrange a deal, hoping that Derpy would allow one of their fillies into her herd so they could leave the isles.

All in all, it was overwhelming for Derpy.

To go from the bottom of the social ladder and rise so quickly to the top. In Ponyville, she was a mare with bad eyes that her fellow pegasi pitied but tolerated. Derpy understood that she was loved, but there had been no proposals of marriage. Her inclusion was due to the fact that the flock looked after its own.

But to suddenly be so wanted. So desirable. It was almost intoxicating for the grey pegasus mare. It was also embarrassing. But Derpy enjoyed it. And she felt sad knowing that when she left the isles, she would be returning to how life was.

She smiled broadly down at the pegasi below her, beaming at them. Many smiled back. All of them looked young.  She peered at them carefully with one eye. Many of them looked a bit rough already. She saw scars. Missing eyes. Missing ears. These were not like the pegasi back home. Even at their young age, most of them looked like hardened killers.

She watched as they formed pairs and began sparring with one another. There were no punches pulled and no holding back during kicks. She saw one bloody nose and the combat had only just begun.

“Greetings madam.”

Derpy turned to look at pegasus approaching her. He was grizzled, missing an eye, missing a wing, and missing a leg. He walked slowly and purposefully on his three remaining legs. It took him a few moments, but he finally drew near.

“Do you mind if I join you?” he asked.

“Be my guest,” Derpy said politely, nodding her head at the wreck of a pegasus who sat down beside her.

“I am Lord Wrecker,” he said, introducing himself. “And you are Lady Derpy, Lord Buckminster’s matriarch.”

“Is this going to be about another marriage proposal?” Derpy asked, getting right to the point. She smiled sweetly, trying not to be rude, as Lord Wrecker did seem to be awfully nice. And she felt bad for him.

Wrecker chuckled. “Nothing of the sort madam,” he replied charmingly. “Though I would be open to such acts of diplomacy. I have a filly Sentinel’s age.”

Derpy raised an eyebrow. That was a new approach. Not marriage into her herd directly, but an offer of arranged marriage for one of her foals. She scowled and Lord Wrecker cringed at her expression. She listened as he cleared his throat and her scowl relaxed into something a bit friendlier.

“My good lady, I understand that Lord Buckminster is planning to exterminate the wolves. I have seen the ship outside the castle. I understand what he plans to do with it.” The old stallion gestured down into the courtyard at the training pegasi. “You will need a crew. I wanted to make sure that you knew that there was aid to be had should you need it,” he offered.

“Thank you,” Derpy said graciously. “I shall tell my husband.”

“Your husband is a damn good pony if you don’t mind me being blunt,” Wrecker stated.

Derpy blushed and felt awkward. She had some trouble trying to reply, but never got the chance.

“Ponies are starting to hope again. To see him recover after what happened. And we’ve seen him and his new horn. There’s been talk. We know he was the source of the blizzard a few days back. And now, there is a ship being restored just outside the castle. Ponies are starting to believe that Lord Buckminster is actually here to save them. And belief is an important thing my good lady… it has given them hope once again. They are starting to believe that anything is possible,” Wrecker explained.

Derpy focused her one good eye on Wrecker and studied him.

“There have been other unicorns that have come to these isles. Some good, some bad. I’ve seen both. There is strange magic here. Some come here to make a name for themselves. They hear stories and come here for adventure. To test their mettle. And the isles chew them up and spit them out. Most die. A few live and go limping away with their tail between their legs. A couple have simply vanished. Probably eaten by the wolves. There is strange magic here. Strange creatures. Pookas. Kelpies. Banshees,” Wrecker said. “But Buckminster came here, got chewed up, and now he is stronger for it. Now there is a unicorn that knows which way his horn points,” Wrecker stated.

Derpy was surprised to learn that other unicorns came here for the sake of adventure. A meaningful thought slowly filtered through her mind. “Do unicorns from House Avarice come here?” she asked.

“All the time. During the sweeps. They led the government agents. Found hiding places. Used their magic to locate and find foals. But if you are asking if any of them stayed after the sweeps were finished, then yes. Some stayed behind, drawn by the lure of the strange and powerful magic here. The locals hated them of course, there is nothing like your most hated enemy living among you. Something bad always seemed to happen to them, and I don’t mean that in the sense that the locals killed them,” Wrecker replied.

“What happened?” Derpy asked. “If you don’t mind telling me,” she added.

“Well, the last incident was just a few years ago. Not too long ago. Almost a decade maybe. Some fellow came out here. Said he was looking for something, but he wouldn’t say what. He started off okay. He was sane when he came here. But he went downhill rapidly. Stayed here as Keg Smasher’s guest. He actually tried to help us. He had some small success against the wolves. But he deteriorated. Starting raving. Talked of bad dreams. Of a shadow with burning eyes that followed him. His magic started getting weird and he complained that his horn wasn’t working right. Keg Smasher arranged for a transport so the unicorn could go home. He never made it home. He vanished from his room in the castle. We found him about a week later up in the Hydra Teeth. He was completely drained of colour. Dried blood was all around his ears. A banshee got him. There were no worms, no maggots, and nothing at all disturbed the body or ate it after it had laid there so long. Still no clue how he vanished from out of the castle. His horn was also broken,” Wrecker said, explaining everything in detail.

Derpy felt cold chills creep through her flesh. She knew that the battered pegasus wasn’t lying to her and this wasn’t some sort of ghost story.

“And before him there was another unicorn. A few years back before this happened. Also had a broken horn. He died in the castle dining hall as we all watched helplessly. Funny how that seems to keep happening. My father told me lots of stories about how it seems to keep happening. Funny thing about us pegasi and how we notice details,” Wrecker commented.

Derpy nodded and felt a lump in her throat.

“And then there is Buckminster. And his new horn. We pegasi have noticed that little detail as well. And now we gather as we realise that something has changed. Something is about to happen. Please don’t look so distressed my good lady, I didn’t mean to upset you,” Wrecker said, ending his words with an apology.

“I… I am okay,” Derpy stammered.

“Well, we need you to be okay,” Wrecker said supportively. “You are Lord Buckminster’s matriarch. If there is anything you need, anything at all, ask for me by name. Troops. Supplies. Advice. We live to serve. We are yours to command my good lady,” Wrecker offered.

“Thank you,” Derpy said weakly, feeling stunned from everything she had just heard.

“No, thank you. You’ve given us our hope back,” Wrecker replied.

 

 

 

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