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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The early morning had gone by in a blur for Sparkler, less so for Rising Star. She had pulled Rising Star aside and spoken to him about her intentions, and then she had approached Bucky and told him that she was ready.

And Bucky had agreed.

Now, Sparkler simply waited. Bucky would get around to doing what needed to be done on his own time. There was a lot to do, and Sparkler understood that. As she performed her role as a teacher, her mind was in other places. Distant places.

The bell could not be unrung.

Distracting thoughts filled her mind. What if the Royal Pony Sisters decreed that what had been done to her was an abomination? A gross violation of the natural order? What would happen to her? Sparkler tried to quell these things, trying to reassure herself that the Princesses were reasonable rulers. As a unicorn, she had heard stories of asylums where they sent unicorns who had gone bad.

Sparkler didn’t feel she was going bad. She wasn’t sure what she felt or how to justify it. She simply felt that she was securing the power she needed to provide a better future for the ponies around her. Sure, she would also benefit from the change, but Sparkler felt that she was doing this for the right reasons.

She thought about Loch Skimmer and Ripple, especially Ripple. She felt a surge of protectiveness spiked with worry. How could she protect them if she fell into trouble for what she was about to do?

And what of Bucky… She wondered what might be done to him. Her muscles tensed with worry. She wasn’t even a type three yet and already the mental strain was alarming she realised. The burden of responsibility.

What if she did this, helped to eradicate the wolves, and then went home and faced some unimaginable punishment for her actions? Sparkler paced around the dining hall, occasionally looking down at student projects, horribly distracted from her work. Her brow furrowed.

There is the option of not going home she thought to herself.

The foals working around her, seeing her scowl, worked even harder, worried that she was scowling at them, not knowing just how distracted the filly was. Ripple, knowing just how much was riding on her own back, doubled down and struggled to write out her test sentence flawlessly, worried that Sparkler would be cross with her.

As with so many other things in life, it was simple misunderstanding. To see one thing and make assumptions based upon your own perceptions.

She moved closer to Loch Skimmer, hoping to draw some comfort from being close to her mate, but Loch Skimmer seemed nervous and distracted about something. The filly was hunched over the table with a crude pencil held in her mouth, scribbling away on a crude sheet of transmuted paper that Bucky had made.

Loch Skimmer was terrified that Sparkler would see her work and be disappointed. She scratched away with her pencil, trying to rewrite her sentence, seeing several errors. Having Sparkler hovering so near made her nervous. And Sparkler looked kinda grumpy, so today was not a good day for slacking off and going only halfway on schoolwork.

Sparkler drifted away, unable to find comfort, her general feeling of worry increasing. All around her she could hear the scratching of pencils, a sound that Sparkler now associated with things being right in the world. It was rather soothing.

 

 

Bucky took a long pull from the jug of blackberry wine and then smacked his lips. He belched loudly, something his previous self would have died from embarrassment from, wiped his mouth, and then looked around him.

He was sitting upon the top deck of the ship that was now called The Scorned Mare and watching the world around him. The hull was now completely repaired. Bucky had created sections of wood to fill the holes and then he had fused them into place, simple common unicorn repair magic. It was something that almost any unicorn could do with enough time and practice.

As he drank and watched the world, he tried to control the gemstone in his eye socket. He could make it flicker now, and light up, but controlling the intensity of the glow was going to take a bit more work. And he had other ideas that would come later he supposed. Now that the gem was there, embedded in a casing of fulgurite glass and connected to his thaumaturgical nerves, the possibilities were endless. He might even be able to see again. But that would be forbidden magic… much like what he planned to do with Sparkler and Rising Star later.

Radical self modification with magic was right out, and for good reason. There were all kinds of stories of unicorns who had pushed the barriers of what they could be, found themselves lacking, and then found a way to shore up their weaknesses. There were always crackpot hedge wizards looking for some way to get a leg up.

And then there were the celebrated crackpots who were actually remembered, if not by name, then by what they had done, like the unicorn that had made himself an alicorn of sorts, giving himself a pair of mechanical wings powered by arcano-tech. He had fused the mechanical wings directly into his own body and then exposed himself to the world, calling himself prince something or other.

Bucky took another long drink and didn’t bother to try and remember that particular unicorn’s name. There was no good reason to do so. Every foal in school had heard about what that unicorn had done though.

As Bucky watched ponies go by, he came to something of a realisation. He could no longer technically be called a crackpot hedge wizard. Not any longer. There was no doubt, he was an archmage now, if he was anything at all, and he had doubts about that as well. The notion lingered in his mind that if he submerged himself into the depths of the ley lines, he could be anything he wanted to be. An alicorn even. A wellspring of infinite potential.

He didn’t want that though. He just wanted the means to keep his fellow ponies safe. Even now, he could feel the energy of the ley lines coursing through him, filling his head with knowledge. Ever since his new horn had taken root, he had been feeling this strange new sensation. The ley lines were a spellbook. Perhaps the spellbook. Every spell ever cast by a unicorn could be found in the collective memories contained in the ley lines.

This was the key to Twilight Sparkle’s power as the Element of Magic, or so Bucky reasoned. The reason why she knew so many spells. He suspected that she too could tap into the ley line, even if she didn’t realise she was doing it.

As he took another drink from his jug, he had himself a curious thought. What if they both could tap into ley lines because of something they had in common? He wracked his brain, trying to come up with something reasonable that he and Twilight Sparkle might share. He could think of nothing. Perhaps it was coincidence. Or a fluke.

As the Element of Magic, Twilight essentially had an infinite number of spells at her disposal, the talent of every unicorn that had ever existed. He thought about Twilight’s musings on being able to cast the gem finding spell of her friend Rarity.

To have access to the spells that made unicorns unique and special. Now that was a talent. Bucky belched again. He cursed his tolerance for alcohol that he had developed. Most of the jug was gone and he was only lightly buzzed. Enough to be thoughtful and creative, but not enough to truly comfortable. His legs were bothering him after yesterday.

He reached down and rapped on the deck of The Scorned Mare and then looked down at the now shiny wood. “I have yet another mare in my life. Will you keep my foals safe and secure?” he asked of the ship.

There was no answer of course, but Bucky was confident that she would provide. He had a knack for finding mares. His slightly buzzed brain began to drift into more abstract thoughts.

Mares are a bit like hops he thought to himself. You have to blend them to get the best results. He scowled. His analogies needed work he realised, feeling a bit disappointed with himself. The idea held promise though. He had a fine blend of mares. Including the one he was sitting on currently.

He leaned over a bit, farted, and hoped that the mare he was sitting on wouldn’t mind. He smiled for a bit, and then he chuckled faintly simply because he could. He certainly wasn’t the pony that he was long ago. Or the unicorn for that matter. He patted the deck again in apology for his crass actions and peered out over the meadows.

He watched as ponies chased one another. The young and even some of the somewhat older ponies were out. Something seemed to be happening down below him and all around him. While there were a few colts chasing fillies, the reverse seemed to be more common. Fillies were out running down colts. He blinked his remaining eye a few times. Already, things seemed to be changing around him. Something was in the air. Something wonderful.

Keg Smasher’s proclamations seemed to be having an effect. No more forced marriages. No more trading mares as goods. Arranged marriages were fine, but all parties involved had to agree.

And now it seemed, nature was correcting the situation. The shoe was on the other hoof. The now freed fillies and mares were out finding their own mates. And with the sweeps done and over with, there was a powerful need to make foals. The height of summer was approaching and Bucky realised that for many mares, they would have their heat during that time. Come spring, there would be a lot of new foals. With all of the earth ponies around, a mare could potentially become pregnant during any time of the year, but heats caused an almost unstoppable sexual desire that ensured that the equine race would continue, a period of super-fertility.

Bucky froze up for a moment, shuddered, and felt a twinge of absolute terror. At some point, he was going to be surrounded by mares in heat. He took a long drink from his jug, felt a cold chill run down his spine, and took another drink.

He remembered Celestia’s warning just before he was married about what his mares would do to him. He still had that book. He had even studied it a bit when he had the time. He smiled a self satisfied smile and some of his fear subsided.

“Poor Rising Star,” Bucky muttered to himself. “He doesn’t even know what he is in for,” he continued with a chuckle.

Of course, Bucky didn’t know what he was in for either.

 

 

The morning was gone and now the afternoon stretched before them. Rising Star felt a twinge of nervousness. Sparkler had been distracted all morning, leaving him to do most of the work teaching in their improvised school. He didn’t mind. He would do whatever was required of him without complaint.

He walked alone, needing to stretch his legs and clear his mind. He thought of the time he had spent with Berry and Ripple. A much needed talk had taken place.

The meadows around the castle were filled with ponies, but Rising Star ignored them, lost in his own thoughts. He was so focused inwards that he was oblivious to all of the sparks of first time infatuation all around him.

More than anything, Rising Star simply felt confused. While he had some worry for what would take place later, it was not his primary concern. He couldn’t even figure out what his primary concern was anymore. There was simply too much of everything.

He was a married colt that was somehow maintaining his virginity, a thought that confused him a great deal. It was okay to do things now, but none of them had actually tried anything. It was frustrating and Rising Star actually felt as though he was somehow less than what he should be for remaining what he was.

Sparkler could be had at any time. She was willing, she was ready, and had stated as much. Loch Skimmer would be far more difficult after everything that had happened to her. Things with Loch were complicated. Loch had moments where she thawed out and opened up to him, and then moments where she iced over and pushed him away.

More than anything, he wanted to know how to reach her.

He paused mid stride and kicked the grass. He snorted loudly and resumed his walk. He was determined not to touch either of them until both were ready and he cursed himself for making things more complicated than they needed to be.

His hormone flooded brain tried to let him know that the rest of him had needs and that he needed to do something about those needs.

And then there was the matter of his own self worth. Bucky, his example, had proven himself time and time again. Bucky stoically continued onward. Rising Star wanted some kind of meaning in his own life. Some sort of greatness. Not fame, not fortune, none of those fleeting things, but greatness. He wanted to make a difference. He looked towards the ship in the distance. There is greatness he thought to himself. If faced with the wolves, Rising Star realised he would have collapsed completely. He probably would have died. But Bucky had somehow survived and was now gearing up for all out war. He was making bombs late at night. Bucky had a plan.

And Rising Star couldn’t even figure out his own marriage or his place in the world.

He hoped that what took place later would give him what he so desperately wanted. The power to make things change. Like Bucky, he wanted to keep other ponies safe. Unlike Bucky, he had no idea how to begin. Bucky had everything figured out and he never seemed to doubt what he was doing.

Bucky had everything sorted out and understands his place in the world he thought to himself.

Which wasn’t true at all, but Rising Star believed that it was.

He turned his head to look back at the castle. Keg Smasher, as rough as his life was, also had things figured out. Keg Smasher had simply gone and seized what he wanted from life, forcibly taking it and now he was Laird of the Isles. That was something. It certainly had more meaning than something like Rising Star, The Beat Poet. Everything he used to dream of now seemed so empty and meaningless.

Squire Sentinel, servant to Buckminster, the knight.

Rising Star ground his teeth together in frustration. He was only Rising Star and nothing more. His name implied some sort of greatness. He wanted his mares to be proud of him. To adore him. To look at him and worry and fuss over him. He wanted his life to have meaning that they would approve of and would fawn over him for.

The power to make things change was very alluring.

Rising Star turned around and headed back to the castle, He was ready for this to end. The future loomed before him and he was ready to make something of himself.

 

 

“Every great thing we do we do as a family,” Berry Punch announced. She looked at her fellow herdmates. Everypony was there, even Bon Bon, Lyra, and Sentinel were up and about. “We are one. We are different sorts of ponies, but in this herd, we are one and we must stick together,” she continued.

Berry held her head high as she looked upon her herdmates. Everypony was looking at her and Berry, being an extravert, was in her element. “We are earth ponies, we are pegasi, we are unicorns, and one of us is even a kelpie, but we are our own tribe,” Berry stated. “And we are here together for two of our own as they undergo a profound change.”

Rising Star and Sparkler sat together, Loch Skimmer and Ripple sitting a short distance away from them. Sparkler squirmed as she realised that everypony was looking at her and Rising Star right now.

“If there are consequences for this act, we will face them together. We will not abandon those we hold dear in times of trouble,” Berry said.

“If you mess with one of us you pick a fight with all of us,” Ripple shouted.

“The wolves messed with one of us,” Berry said in reply to the filly’s words. “And now to fight them we have to resort to extreme measures.”

Derpy sat up straighter, her spine stiffening, and her ears perked forward. Her wings fluttered slightly, and her tail swished behind her. Her lips were pressed tightly together into a straight line. She looked fierce.

“Things are only forbidden or wrong if somepony can hold you accountable,” Lyra quipped. Much to Lyra’s surprise, she saw Bon Bon nodding at her words.

“We are going to war together and we must be prepared. We are all probably going to give something up before this is over. Sparkler and Rising Star have offered up their very bodies for the cause, and potentially their futures back home. I want everypony here to remember what these two have done for us and be grateful for what they have to offer,” Bucky said, finally speaking up. His voice was a low throaty rumble. His emerald eye flickered a faint green light as he spoke.

“What can we do?” Piña asked. “We’re too little to fight,” she added.

“Be there to comfort those that do fight,” Bon Bon replied. “By the time all of this is over, those who have fought are bound to be troubled Piña. Be there to comfort them.”

Piña nodded solemnly after hearing Bon Bon’s words. “I will do my part,” she promised.

“I will fight,” Sentinel stated.

“No Sentinel, you will not,” Bucky replied. “You are a shadow creature. It will be dark when we are fighting. You will be just as vulnerable as the wolves. Some of our spells will hurt you just as much as they will hurt the wolves.”

Sentinel slumped, looking completely crushed at Bucky’s words. Tears welled in his eyes.

“Sentinel, we will need you with us,” Piña said to her sibling. “The adults are going to be fighting, we are going to need somepony to make us feel safe,” Piña said soothingly.

Sentinel sniffled a bit and nodded. “Of course. I will keep my master’s foals safe,” he murmured in a pained voice. “I am trusted to protect that which he holds most dear.”

“Sentinel, your time will come,” Bon Bon said to the troubled pegasus. “Be patient my foal,” the earth pony added.

“I intend to stay with the foals,” Thistle said. “I have faith in Bucky’s defenses, but if something does happen somehow, I have sharp teeth and the will to use them. Sentinel will need help in that situation. Should the worst happen somehow, we will be the last line of defense.”

“I’m still crippled, so I guess I am with the foals,” Loch Skimmer huffed in irritation. “I’d rather fight.”

“I will serve in your stead sister,” Ripple announced.

“Oh no you will not,” Loch Skimmer snapped. “You are staying with us, safe and secure.”

“No,” Ripple retorted. “No I will not. My entire life you have fought to defend me and I have always been the filly in need of rescue. No longer,” Ripple protested.

“Ripple, you listen to me you little-”

“That’s enough!” Derpy interrupted.

“Ripple, you will stay with Rising Star and I,” Sparkler interjected. “You will remain glued to our sides. If for whatever reason Rising Star and I are not present on deck, you will go to Berry Punch and she will keep you safe.”

Loch Skimmer looked angry but remained silent.

“Thank you. All I want is a chance to prove myself,” Ripple said, casting a glance at her sister. “I want to be a fighter like she is.”

Loch Skimmer’s eyes narrowed and she cast a glance at her sister. Her expression softened and her rigid posture relaxed a bit.

“There will be others to help us,” Derpy announced. “Lord Wrecker has promised troops. The deck will be well defended. If the wolves make it up there, they will be hammered into submission.”

“I’m fighting,” Dinky announced.

“No!” Derpy cried.

Dinky turned and glared at her mother, standing in a stiff legged posture of challenge that any pegasus would recognise. “I am fighting,” Dinky insisted. “You are half blind,” she said to her mother. “I will stay on your back and watch your blind spot.”

Derpy scowled. She closed one eye and the other narrowed. She peered at her filly, fuming with anger. “No,” Derpy growled.

“Don’t make me prove what I can do,” Dinky threatened.

“Dinky, that is enough,” Bucky commanded.

“I might be little, but my magic isn’t,” Dinky argued.

“Dinky, enough,” Bucky repeated.

“Dinky you listen to your father,” Derpy insisted, trying to control her anger. The challenge to her authority had left her riled and the pegasus was now sorely out of sorts.

“Dinky should be able to fight,” Piña said in a small frightened voice. She sat with her eyes closed, unable to look at any of the adults around her. “She has so much strength. You keep telling her what a great gift she has and you are even making Rising Star and Sparkler to be like her and not letting her fight is like telling her that she isn’t worthy of having her gift,” Piña reasoned. She trembled in fear, afraid of repercussions from her outburst. She grabbed Sentinel and clung to him, burying her face into his neck. She felt his wings wrap around her and the foal felt a little a better.

“Dinky…“ Derpy began. The mare took a deep breath, held it for several seconds, and then let it out in a huff. “You are to stay with me at all times. If you slip away, so help me, you will not be able to sit down for a month because I will whip those bumblebees right off of your backside,” Derpy said.

Dinky cautiously approached her mother, her head down low now, her stiff legged stance now gone. She sat down at her mother’s front hooves and pressed her cheek against her mother’s leg submissively.

“Dinky is with us,” Bucky stated, settling the issue.

“Bon Bon, when trouble comes, will you be my noble steed?” Lyra asked, hoping her humour would defuse the tension that was thick in the air. “I can ride you into battle and we can make a good accounting of ourselves.”

Bon Bon rolled her eyes and heaved a sigh of exasperation.

Lyra let out a grunt of vindication as Bucky began to chortle, struggling to hold back his laughter.

“Lyra-”

“Now is not the time for jokes,” Lyra finished before Bon Bon could say it.

“That wasn’t what I was going to say actually,” Bon Bon said.

“What then? Refined your lecture?” Lyra asked.

“Lyra, after being together for as long as we have, you should know your place by now. I ride you,” Bon Bon said as she leaned over and glared at Lyra.

Rising Star sniggered but tried to hold back his laughter. Sparkler fell apart completely, guffawing with laughter. Berry Punch collapsed and made no effort hold back her mirth. Derpy, still upset, managed a half hearted chuckle and her aggressive stance softened. Sentinel blinked as he held Piña, privy to entirely too much information about adult activities. His face remained blank and expressionless. Thistle tittered and her cheeks turned a vivid pink. Loch Skimmer made a choking sound and covered her face with her wing. Ripple stared at the two mares with wide shocked eyes.

Bucky heaved a sigh of relief, thankful that the tense moment was over. He laughed and couldn’t help but feel a bit intrigued by Bon Bon’s words.

“Bonnie,” Lyra finally gasped.

 

 

The late afternoon sun hung in the sky and clouds drifted by overhead. Bucky was sitting with his coven of unicorns and the rest of the herd sat a short distance away. It was the final moment of quiet reflection before they all began. He had his eye closed and he settled his mind. He could feel Dinky clinging to his leg. Her breathing was slow and measured.

“Are we ready?” asked Bucky in a low whisper.

“Good to go,” Lyra replied.

“Ready,” Rising Star answered.

“I’m set,” Sparkler announced.

“Any time,” Dinky quipped.

Bucky’s new horn ignited effortlessly and a faint chill filled the air. He extended his will, reaching out and touching the minds of his fellow unicorns. He touched Lyra first, pulling her in. He heard her gasp as the magic overtook her and suddenly she was inside of his mind. He drew in Dinky next, feeling Dinky’s complex mix of emotions after what had taken place earlier when she had challenged her mother. He drew in Sparkler and he could feel her eagerness as he touched her mind. Finally, he he touched Rising Star and felt a confusing jumble of conflicting emotions. Under them was a strong desire for change. Rising Star wanted the change badly and Bucky could feel some of Rising Star’s many different emotions.

“We are one,” Bucky said out loud, his words also inside of his fellow unicorns’ minds. He tapped into the ley line. Knowledge and power flowed through him. He wasn’t the first unicorn to do this. Others had done this, and the knowledge had been lost to time. A vision of a white unicorn wearing a hat covered in bells flickered inside of Bucky’s mind. This was knowledge that had probably never been written down because of the very nature of what it is, a sort of accession to a higher level of power. It was the definition of what constituted forbidden magic and why some magic was taboo.

Bucky carefully controlled the flow of magic going into Rising Star and Sparkler, slowly increasing the amount being channeled. He intended to cause several small surges followed by a couple of massive surges. To keep everypony safe, he was channeling the excess magic back into the ley line, forming a loop. He was confident his plan would work, because the ley line had shown him that it would work.

That and so much more that was possible.

 

 

A short distance away, the herd watched as the unicorns communed. The air thrummed all around him and crackled with raw energy.

They watched as Bucky rose into the air, the others circling around him in orbit. There was a bright flash of light, it was almost blinding, and there was a thunderclap that followed.

“It is snowing,” Piña announced as she pointed.

Snowflakes could be seen around Bucky, just a few, and they swirled around him. The air took on a chill that deepened as the feeling of power filled the air.

“Lyra looks so happy,” Bon Bon said in a strained voice. “All I want is for Lyra to be happy,” the mare whispered. “And Bucky can make her happy.”

Berry Punch threw a foreleg over Bon Bon’s withers. “She does look happy,” Berry agreed. “I wonder what she is feeling…”

“Bucky always looks happy during these moments,” Derpy said, peering at the hovering unicorns with her one good eye. “He makes the same face that he makes when he…” Derpy giggled and her words trailed off.

“More gems to collect. Wow, Sparkler is shooting out quite a few,” Berry announced as she watched.

“And Rising Star is probably going to be burst into flames at some point. Don’t be scared girls,” Bon Bon said soothingly to Loch Skimmer and Ripple. “Bucky warned us, so don’t be alarmed.”

The two sisters clung to one another and watched as Sparkler and Rising Star continued to go through the change.

More snow filled the air now, falling around the group as they watched the unicorns. It melted as it touched the grass. Piña tried to catch the flakes on her tongue.

“It isn’t hurting them at all,” Bon Bon said reassuringly to everypony.

There was a rumble that came from the earth followed by a deafening roar of thunder. Globes of light swirled around the group of unicorns. All of them were surrounded in rainbow auras of light, but Sparkler and Rising Star weren’t as bright as the others. Bucky’s light was piercing and almost impossible to look at, while Dinky and Lyra shone with a steady intensity.

As the group watched, the auras around Sparkler and Rising Star grew brighter and brighter, beginning to match those of Dinky and Lyra.

“We can see the change as it happens,” Berry said, making the connection of what she saw.

“So beautiful,” Derpy said, tears now streaming down her cheeks. “I feel tingly all over my wings,” the mare stated.

“I feel it in my hooves,” Berry said.

“I can feel it inside of my belly,” Thistle said.

“Hooves,” Bon Bon breathed, her word barely heard by others.

There was a painfully bright flash of light and the group was forced to shield their eyes. It was now impossible to look at the unicorns.

Berry blinked a few times, seeing white spots in her vision. Finally, when she could see again, she peered in the general direction of the unicorns, trying to see what was going on. The light was gone and she could see limp bodies in the grass.

Derpy took wing to be at her husband’s side, the others right behind her, rushing to check on their loved ones.

Another bell had been rung.

 

 

 

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