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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As Bucky exited the doors into the courtyard, he was mobbed by a herd of bloodied muddied mares who surrounded him on all sides, most of them grinning crazily. Some of them had eyes swollen shut. A few had cauliflower ears. Some were limping.

“Your Lordship!” one called.

“We beg an audience with you!” another shouted.

“Just a mere moment of your time!” one promised.

Bucky halted and looked around him, and he could not help but notice the looks of adoration coming from the mares. Some of them were fillies, but he suspected that he would be in world of hurt if he gave voice to that fact.

“I have a moment,” Bucky announced.

“We need a patron!” one of the mares exclaimed. She was a pegasus and one of her eyes was swollen shut.

“A patron?” Bucky asked.

“Lord Wrecker said our brigade needs a patron. He said we should come to you!” an earth pony mare responded.

“I don’t understand, what does a patron do?” Bucky inquired.

“A patron looks after their brigade. Makes sure they are outfitted and fed. A patron sometimes drinks with their brigade. We’re gonna protect your foals, so can you sponsor us as a patron?” a mare answered.

Bucky’s remaining eye narrowed as he suddenly realised the potential in the situation. Thoughts began to rapidly fill his mind as he thought about all of the ways he could use this for a means of social change.

“We’re already planning on a banner… your hops plant mark!” a mare announced.

“Where is Sour Mash?” Bucky demanded.

“I am right here sir,” Sour Mash responded as she moved forward.

“I will consider being your patron. But I will expect a few things from you,” Bucky said in a loud clear voice that carried through the courtyard.

“You want some of us as wives? We’ve already discussed that, we have volunteers!” Sour Mash said cheerfully. “Their faces are still kinda messed up, but they’ll heal. They’re bruised but pretty! We’re not very submissive though.”

Bucky choked on his first attempt to reply and his words got caught in throat. He wheezed and coughed, and as he did so, Sour Mash gave him a friendly clubbing with her hoof to try and help him breathe. He staggered from the force of her enthusiastic concern for his well being.

“No more wives,” Bucky wheezed, certain that his ribs were now forever bent.

Several mares cried out and many looked disappointed.

“We wanted unicorn foals,” one protested.

“Raise ‘em to fight!” another shouted.

“I will be your patron, but there are some conditions before I agree completely,” Bucky announced as he lifted his head as high as he could. Several of the mares were actually taller than he was and he felt mildly annoyed with his short stature.

“Well, let us know what we need to do, we expect to earn it!” Sour Mash bellowed.

“First off, I want all of you to spend some time talking to my wife, Berry Punch. I want you to learn from her and listen closely to what she has to say. Second, no more violence against males. If there is violence visited upon you, behave defensively and protect yourselves. Subdue, but do no harm. Third… and perhaps the most important… I want you to go out and gather more mares. I will give you one week. If you can triple your numbers, I will be your patron,” Bucky promised.

“That’s it? Buggery and spitfire, We can do that!” Sour Mash shouted.

“That’s it?” one mare questioned in disbelief.

“That’s it,” Bucky repeated in reply.

“Usually patronage involves going out and hunting down some horrible wee beastie, like slaying a hydra or killing some monster… Wrecker thought that maybe you’d have us hunt down wolves,” one mare said in a halting voice.

“I feel kinda let down… you ain’t going soft on us because we’re mares are you?” one asked in a somewhat angry voice.

“No!” Bucky shouted. “I have no idea what I am doing… I-”

“How dare you ask that? You’ve seen how he is with his wives and his foals!” Sour Mash bellowed, cutting Bucky off as he floundered.

“I’m sorry I-”

“Oh shut up!” Sour Mash commanded the apologetic mare.

“Ma’am, yes ma’am,” the mare responded.

“A couple of us have gone wolf hunting. We’ve even killed a few already. We lost a few of us though,” a mare announced.

“We remember our fallen!” a mare shouted.

“Hunt me down more willing and able bodied mares!” Bucky bellowed, trying to recover the situation. “And one more thing… every single one of you is going to learn how to read and write,” he commanded.

“What?” Sour Mash asked.

“Well, I won’t be here forever, and I will want some means to communicate with you once I am gone,” Bucky explained.

“Oh… uh… we can learn to read and write, can’t we girls?” Sour Mash asked her brigade.

There was a murmur of confusion from the crowd. None of them expected this. Ears perked forward, wings fluttered, and tails swished.

“In the future, I will be making you responsible for educating foals, teaching them to read and write. You are going to guard the future of these isles!” Bucky shouted.

“That doesn’t sound so bad,” Sour Mash said. “I want smart foals.”

“Do this and I will be your patron,” Bucky promised.

“You have a deal,” Sour Mash said, extending her hoof.

Bucky raised his own and bumped it against Sour Mash’s. As he did so, there was a cheer.

Bucky felt a strong sense of satisfaction in knowing that he had just secured something of a better future for the isles and made Keg Smasher’s life just a little easier.

 

 

“Crush, I need supplies. I am about to be a patron for a new brigade. I want them outfitted in armor and supplied well. What is it going to cost me? How do I go about doing this? How do I secure your services and see that they are looked after?” Bucky asked of the big mute earth pony, so lost in thought that he forgot that Crush couldn’t answer.

Crush pointed at the pile of steel ingots.

“More steel? I can do that. I need the practice anyway. I’ll make you a stockpile of steel. To sweeten the deal, I’ll even enchant you a hammer to help you forge it,” Bucky offered.

Crush raised his eyebrow and looked down at Bucky. He then looked at his helpers, the smallest of which was a foal that couldn’t be more than two summers old. The big earth pony looked thoughtful.

“Are you worried about the earth pony way? I understand that, I do, but your forge doesn’t get hot enough to work the steel properly. But I can make you a hammer and maybe even an anvil that will help,” Bucky offered.

Crush looked down at Bucky once again, studying the unicorn carefully. Slowly, he nodded and then looked to see the reactions of his helpers and apprentices.

The other ponies in the forge all nodded and a few even looked excited.

“Well then, now that we have that out of the way, let’s get back to work,” Bucky announced. The stallion felt immensely pleased with himself and the mischief he was making.

 

 

Bucky looked over the refugees assembled in the courtyard. He had been summoned from the smithy by a guard, and now he saw before him the frightened and battered survivors from the shipwreck.

Keg Smasher was sitting quietly upon a cushion, his eyes glassy with pain, the day had been far too long for him in his condition. The big pegasus was silent and letting Bucky deal with the influx of new ponies.

He cleared his throat nervously, licked his lips, and then tried to deal with his rising sense of panic as he addressed the crowd. “Before anything is said, I would like to know what is happening in Equestria and why you were fleeing the mainland,” Bucky said in his commanding sonorous voice to the crowd.

There was a murmur from the crowd as they all talked in low voices to one another, and after several minutes of talking, a mare with her mane drew up into a bun walked forward.

“My name is Gardenia, and I can tell you what I know,” she offered.

“I would be most appreciative,” Bucky said.

“I know who you are… I mean, we all know who you are… you’ve been all over the papers, you and your wife, Berry Punch. You’re heroes,” Gardenia said in reverent tones as she shyly approached Bucky. “You do look a little different now…” she added, her words trailing off as she spoke.

“Please madam, spare me the flattery. I am unaccustomed to it and it makes me uncomfortable,” Bucky said pleasantly.

“Of course, I’m sorry… anyway, you’ve been in the papers. Berry Punch’s kick was the kick felt around the world. Her act of war started it all. And she did it for love of you, which is so romantic. After you left, the government collapsed shortly after. There was rioting. The earth ponies revolted completely in many places, demanding better treatment and equality, calling Berry Punch their hero. Every day there were more and more stories in the paper about government corruption and scandal. High ranking members of House Avarice went into seclusion… into hiding. The courts were all shut down, the banks all closed. Many of the earth ponies refused to farm or grow food, demanding that House Avarice be brought to some kind of justice. Vanhoover followed Ponyville’s lead and broke away, declaring independence. The earth ponies and the pegasi that lived there formed their own government and things started to get scary for unicorns when the secret police were formed and started hunting down unicorns with ties to House Avarice or that were suspected of “unicorn superiourity” and many unicorns just disappeared. I’m from Vanhoover,” the mare reported.

“That sounds very disturbing,” Bucky acknowledged. “Please continue,” he asked.

“They started finding bodies of unicorns… they were all dried out looked like mummies from the museum. They had no cutie marks, but nopony knew why. It was awful… I can’t believe the secret police would do that. I don’t understand how they could do that. Somepony committed arson and set the government grain silos on fire in the Unicorn Range. There were already food shortages. Some of the unicorns in Canterlot demanded that Princess Celestia use her magic to bring the earth ponies back under control and force them to grow food. Princess Celestia refused. These weren’t unicorns from House Avarice, but there are other noble houses that are just as bad. They formed a confederacy and declared war on Princess Celestia,” Gardenia explained.

“Oh my, that sounds bad,” Bucky groaned.

“And at some time during all of this, some horrible monster escaped from Tartarus. They call him Tirek, and he’s been rampaging around Equestria sowing chaos and havoc. There are all kinds of stories and rumours about him, but I don’t know what is true. And that is when we left,” Gardenia said as she gestured to the ponies behind her. “I started in Vanhoover, crossed the country with a few friends, made my way to Manehatten, met the others, and we all got together and stole a boat. A ship. None of us knew how to sail. We wanted to go to Tradewinds, the big city on the edge of the Sea of Grass and start over. There was a storm and we had no idea what we were doing, so we were really off course, and now we are here,” she continued.

“Thank you for telling me all of this. I am sure that it has been a very trying day,” Bucky said graciously.

“So what is to be done with us? All of us? I want the griffons treated well… some of the pegasi were a bit rude to them,” Gardenia asked. “The griffons had wings and they saved many of us… they could have flown away and saved themselves,” she added.

“I apologise and I will have the guard spoken to. There is much that you need to know before the sun sets. It is not safe to leave the castle once it is dark. There are monsters here, let how I look be a testament to my words. Especially for the unicorns. You must not leave the castle after dark, no matter what. You will be devoured. More will be explained shortly, but I am sure you are all very tired and in need of sustenance and rest. You will be looked after, but do not be surprised if you are put to work. Ma’am, if I might ask, what is your profession?” Bucky asked of the earth pony mare.

“I am a schoolmarm,” Gardenia replied.

 

 

 

 

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