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


141. 141

“I swear Buckminster, they’re like foals. I don’t know if I am their leader or their father.”

Bucky studied the battered pegasus sitting at the table across from him. Lunch was over and most of the ponies had cleared out. A few had lingered, and were talking to one another, just like he and Keg Smasher were doing.

“Today I saw one of my best and brightest get taken apart by a mare. I mean, she beat Deadspin bloody right in front of his own troops. On one hoof, I want mares treated better. But on the other hoof, not at the expense of the stallions… I married them, which is what they seemed to want. And then I laid down the law that there would be no further trials by combat, and that Sour Mash had secured a mare’s right to serve… but there is going to be so many new regulations to create and enforce now. I had to tell my troops that they had to see the pony serving beside them as their brother or their sister. I don’t know how to deal with the change,” Keg Smasher said, letting everything out.

“There are going to be bumps in the road along the way. Mistakes are going to be made. I guess that sometimes, harsh examples must be made,” Bucky admitted. “But I don’t like the idea of ponies being hurt,” he added.

“I know Buckminster, I know… and I thought about that the entire time I was out there. I thought I was going to have to flog her… and maybe that is what I should have done, for equality’s sake. She was a mare that had committed assault. I don’t know if I did the right or wrong thing… nothing is simple anymore!” Keg Smasher grumped.

“Think you might have had trouble flogging a mare?” Bucky asked gently in a low voice.

“Of course you twit! I want to foster a feeling that mares are to be loved, cherished, and protected, not beaten, subdued, and traded. But now the shoe is on the other foot damnit,” Keg Smasher grumbled in reply. “And I’m a bloody hypocrite!” The big stallion smacked his forehoof into the table in frustration.

“How did the troops take all of this?” Bucky asked.

“When everything was said and done, they followed my lead and accepted. They understood that there was to be no further trials by combat. And there was a sense of camaraderie, I could sense that. Something might be salvaged from this fustercluck. Those shite-bucket headed morons might fight like cornered bears if they feel that their sisters are being threatened,” Keg Smasher growled. “I fought a cave bear once… a right grumpy wee beastie.”

“So, while the event was terrible, and we can both agree on that, do you think the end result will be worthwhile? Do the ends justify the means?” Bucky asked.

“Damnit, I don’t know lad… I haven’t drank enough today to be a philosopher. What do I do if one of them is fat with foal? Does she serve? Do I drum her out? I see a tough future looming before me!” Keg Smasher shouted in frustration. “My foals are making me crazy!”

“I kinda like it when my foals are making me crazy,” Bucky confessed.

You would,” Keg Smasher sneered.

“Foals making you crazy are better than dead foals,” Bucky quipped.

“Aye, That’s true,” Keg Smasher replied morosely. “Earth ponies. Harrumph!” he shouted as he changed the troubling subject.

“The most troublesome of all of your foals?” Bucky asked.

“You married two of them! You should know better than to ask that question,” Keg Smasher retorted.

“Oh, I dunno, Berry Punch is kinda sweet when she isn’t starting a war or starting trouble. She’s had her moments. When I’ve hit some of the lowest points of my life, she’s been there to pick me up and carry me… and don’t even get me started on Bon Bon. She’s… something,” Bucky replied as he lifted his cup and drank a bit of wine he had left over.

“I feel sorry for Deadspin… Sour Mash is going keep him in line and take no guff. Our earth ponies hold us accountable, don’t they Buckminster?” Keg Smasher asked.

Bucky nodded but said nothing, thinking about how afraid he was of Bon Bon’s disappointment or Berry Punch disapproving of something he had done. For Bucky, it was a profound thought, and he suffered a twinge of regret knowing that Sombra never knew the pleasures of being married to an earth pony. Things might have gone very differently had Sombra had an earth pony wife or two.

“Violence is all my foals know. It is the only language they understand. We are barbarians,” Keg Smasher grumbled. “And for the longest time, they used this as one of the many excuses to justify taking our foals. How do I make it end Buckminster?” Keg Smasher said in a soft pained voice.

“Begin the slow process of change and stick to it,” Bucky replied. “Allow little slip ups like this one on occasion, bring down your hoof on other occasions where it is needed, and try to learn from any mistakes when you can… hard to say for sure,” Bucky answered.

“So much is at stake. So many little lives that are going to be born about a year from now that need this to be a better place. We owe it to them,” Keg Smasher said in melancholy tones.

“The best that you can hope for is that mares like Sour Mash have some foals that learn from both of their parents… they get Deadspin’s sense of chivalry and her sense of empowerment, at least I am guessing she feels empowered. It isn’t perfect, but it is a start,” Bucky answered.

“Sour Mash refused to even leave the field when it was all said and done. She immediately set about teaching Sparkler and Ripple how to fight… and fight dirty, or so I hear, if the report I got about an hour ago is to be believed,” Keg Smasher groused.

“Oh bother,” Bucky grumbled.

“And you will be proud to know that Rising Star apparently has a mean left hook,” Keg Smasher reported. “Wrecker was impressed, said that Rising Star is fit to serve and to wear armor.”

“I know this is an odd question, but what sort of ponies did Wrecker marry?” Bucky asked inquisitively.

“A majority of them are earth ponies,” Keg Smasher sighed. “And Wrecker taught them all how to fight when he was still capable of such a thing. He’s survived more assassination attempts than I have. His wives are loyal and brutal. They’re fanatical in their defense. They’re all over this castle. You see them everywhere. One might be bringing your food or another might be scrubbing the floors, which are odd jobs for a lord’s wife, but they are hidden in plain sight all over and if something were to happen that would put Wrecker’s life or my life  or your life at risk, trouble would immediately come at the instigator from all sides,” Keg Smasher replied. “They act like the meekest most spineless mares you ever did see, all eager to please and soft friendly words.”

“So beware of the meek well mannered earth ponies,” Bucky summarised.

Keg Smasher nodded and flexed his remaining wing, giving a pained expression as he did so. He exchanged a knowing glance with Bucky, and there were no words that needed to be said between them.

As the pair sat in silence, a group of guards came bustling through the door, all of them looking very serious. One broke away from the group and approached Keg Smasher and Bucky, bowing low and saluting both of them.

“Sir, situation to report sir,” the guard announced as he stood at attention.

“Do tell,” Keg Smasher said as he leaned on the table.

“There has been a shipwreck sir. The survivors have been gathered and are going to be transported here, to the castle. They were trying to flee mainland Equestria sir. They hit the rocks along the Narrows, in the Inlet of Teeth when they tried to sail between isles,” the guard reported.

“Oh shite,” Keg Smasher exhaled.

“Flee Equestria?” Bucky asked in alarm.

“There are a fair number of earth ponies, some pegasi, a few unicorns, and there are several griffons sir… the soldiers want to know what is to be done with the griffons sir,” the guard stated.

“They are to be brought here unharmed of course!” Keg Smasher snapped.

“But sir… there are griffons that come to our isles on occasion and… hunt sir,” the guard said in a low angry voice.

“And these griffons are from mainland Equestria most likely, do you think they’d be hunting there with Celestia and Luna looking over their ponies you big dumb brain dead dolt?” Keg Smasher shouted bellicosely.

The guard stared straight ahead stupidly and blinked a few times. “I don’t know sir,” the guard replied.

“You don’t know!” Keg Smasher sneered. “GET OUT OF MY FACE!” he bellowed.

The guard scurried away in a hurry and Keg Smasher was left stewing in his own rage, breathing heavily and thumping his hoof down upon the table.

“My foals are dumb as rocks,” Keg Smasher growled.

“That one might have rode the short wagon to school,” Bucky grumbled.

“What?” Keg Smasher asked in confusion.

“Oh, never mind,” Bucky muttered. “We have more foals to look after. The mainlanders are going to need a place to stay. I suppose you plan to keep them here in the castle somewhere?”

“Shite, I don’t know. I guess I’ll have to stuff them in somewhere to keep them safe. And then I don’t know what to do afterwards. Things must be pretty bad in Equestria if ponies are fleeing,” Keg Smasher said, saying what Bucky was busy thinking. “I hate to ask you, but I might need you to lean on them just a little bit. You’re a noble… the right sort of noble… and you might have some authority over them that I might not have.”

“No,” Bucky replied flatly.

“No?” Keg Smasher asked, raising an eyebrow.

“I refuse to acknowledge myself as a son of Avarice any longer. I might be a distant son of Platinum, but I want nothing to do with my old house other than burning it all down to the ground. I will not lord myself over them and use my names and titles to keep them in line. I just won’t,” Bucky argued.

Keg Smasher sighed. “I suppose it was wrong of me to ask. Forgive me,” Keg Smasher stated. “I did something stupid once and almost lost you as a friend. I’ll never make that mistake twice,” he added.

Bucky felt a strange rush of emotion creep through him. “I forgive you,” Bucky grumbled, finding it difficult to speak.

“We could use more unicorns,” Keg Smasher said in a hopeful sounding voice. He lifted his head and smiled. The guards had cleared the room and the two were left mostly alone, there were only a few other ponies in the hall.

“I rather like being Knight Captain,” Bucky admitted.

“Really? I mean, you have much better titles lad,” Keg Smasher said.

“But I earned this one. I wasn’t born with it,” Bucky replied.

“Well, you were born an armiger, that makes you something of a knight,” Keg Smasher said in return.

“Well, maybe, but with the title ‘captain’ I feel like I have done something meaningful with myself,” Bucky confessed.

“You really are pleased about it,” Keg Smasher said solemnly.

“It acknowledges some meaning for my suffering,” Bucky admitted in a low whisper. “I am ashamed to admit it, but titles do matter. I hated my titles and my peerage. But I have been beside myself since getting the new title. Rank. Whatever it is,” he explained.

“Yer an odd pony,” Keg Smasher grumbled at his friend.

“It holds promise… one day I might be Knight Commander… or even Knight Brigadier,” Bucky said in an uncharacteristically cheerful voice. “I can finally move upwards… rather than just be some snobby noble stuck with what I was born with.”

“In my last communications with Celestia, before she went silent, I pledged to give up my titles and peerage,” Keg Smasher announced.

“What?!” Bucky exclaimed.

“She has offered to make me Governor over the isles once we integrate. For life,” Keg Smasher responded.

“She went silent?” Bucky asked.

“I’ve tried to send her a message a few times. No response. I even sent a lone brave pegasus messenger who was ballsy enough to cross the sea. No reply,” Keg Smasher replied.

“This is worrisome,” Bucky said in a strangled voice.

“You’re telling me. The big dame is pretty good about replying right away,” Keg Smasher said as he shifted his body to a more comfortable position.

“When we take off for Equestria, I hope it doesn’t turn into a rescue mission,” Bucky said gravely.



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