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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Derpy settled over her foals and family, spreading her wings and trying to touch all of them at once. Lyra was sleeping, as was Bon Bon. Dinky and Piña were cuddled together, both asleep, and Sentinel was in the straw with Harper. Rising Star and Sparkler held one another as they slumbered. On the sofa, a short distance away, Loch Skimmer was fidgeting nervously and kept eyeing the bed as she clung to Thistle. Ripple was beside Derpy, doing her best to mimic the larger pegasus.

Once again, the pegasus mare felt broody. She wanted all of her family in one place, and some were missing. Berry Punch had returned to the kitchens, determined to get more work done, and Bucky had gone off after eating most of the fish from the basket. Derpy supposed that Bucky must be building up some kind of magical endurance. He was pushing himself for longer and longer. He had said that there was simply too much to get done now that the pleasantries had been exchanged.

“This feels kinda nice,” Ripple admitted as she settled her body over Bon Bon and Lyra, sliding into place into the narrow gap that existed between the two bodies below her. “I like this. It feels… satisfying,” she added.

“Yes it does,” Derpy said softly. She leaned over and kissed the filly just below her ear in appreciation, and then snoot-bumped her when Ripple turned to look at her.

“Right now I feel like I could fight bears… I don’t feel scared anymore,” Ripple said as she continued to settle over those she loved. She fluffed out her wings to make herself look larger than she really was and her ears perked forwards aggressively, the small filly trying to copy the larger pegasus mare’s body posture. “I could totally take a bear,” the filly growled.

“If we ever encounter a bear, I’ll go for the groin, you go for the eyes,” Derpy instructed, feeling pleased that she had a little pegasus that wanted to learn her ways. She struggled to push all of the terrible thoughts from her mind and focus on what was important. Her family.

“Why does this feel so soothing?” Ripple inquired.

The older pegasus mare shrugged. “I dunno.”

“I kinda want to fluff myself out and then go and lay on Harper,” Ripple whispered.

“So do I,” Derpy admitted. “But she is safe with Sentinel. He’s a pegasus too, and I think he’ll turn out like us,” she added as she adjusted a hind leg to a slightly more comfortable position.

“My mothers never did anything like this,” Ripple said in a low voice.

“No?” Derpy replied in form of a question.

“They piled us together and then one stood watch usually a short distance away. I have really hazy memories of being piled into the grass and watching the grownups fishing,” Ripple answered.

“Not all pegasi are like us. Some are watchers, some are brooders. Watchers make good guards. You need both in a herd,” Derpy explained.

There was a soft rap on the door and both brooding pegasi turned their heads sharply. It was perhaps one of the most terrifying responses ever in nature, an almost perfectly smooth mechanical movement that was known to unnerve things like dragons and large apex predators.

It was Loch that eased herself from the couch and hobbled on three legs to get the door. She opened it slowly, and there was a low stereo growl from the two pegasi on the bed.

In the doorway was a guard, a giant griffon, and on the griffon’s back was a tiny pegasus filly. Loch smiled at the filly and then stared upwards at the griffon.

“Matriarch, please forgive my intrusion,” the guard said in a stiff voice. “But your services are needed,” he explained.

“My name is Lugus… and I am told that there is no safer place for foals than in this room. I am in need of a guardian. This filly, I do not know her name, I plucked her from her mother’s grasp after the shipwreck. I had quite a few foals already and could not save both her and her mother. I promised the mother to look after the filly before she slipped beneath the waves. I need a place to leave her for a while while I go and hunt the wolves,” Lugus said, introducing himself and explaining his needs. “I have to know that she is safe… it is a matter of honour. I gave my word. I do hope you understand, but I cannot leave her care and safety to just anyone.”

“Lord Bitters displayed several den locations on a map. We’re going to root out survivors and strike while there is daylight. We plan to pour bog oil down into the dens and then set them on fire,” the guard mentioned.

“And I am going along because I am honour bound to be gracious and helpful to those that offer me hospitality,” the giant griffon added.

“We can look after the foal,” Loch said as she cast a glance at Derpy.

“She talks a little bit. I think she is about a half a year old. I am not sure,” Lugus said in a worried voice. “I have to feed her by claw. She hasn’t figured out how to feed herself just yet. She keeps asking for her mother…”

“Aw, poor thing,” Loch Skimmer gushed.

“Once I am done turning wolves into fertiliser, I will return for her and be indebted to you for your graciousness,” Lugus stated.

“We will watch over her,” Derpy said in a warm inviting voice. “You may bring her in.”

Lugus entered the room slowly, well aware that even though he was invited, there was not one, but two brooding pegasi upon the bed and several of the most powerful unicorns he had ever seen in his existence. Sudden movements would be suicidal and foolish, and he was a griffon that wanted to live for a very long time.

He approached the bed with his head held low and kept his claws from clicking on the floor. When he stood near the bed, he shimmied, slipping the foal from his back, and he let her slide down his wing. She landed on the bed and bounced.

The smaller of the two pegasi moved with blinding speed, snatching up the foal in her forelegs and pulling her close. The larger of the pair looked disappointed, and Lugus swallowed his chuckle.

“I thank you,” Lugus said graciously as he backed away from the bed and approached the door tail first. He carefully made his way out the door and then waved goodbye to the foal.

“Stay safe,” Loch Skimmer said. “Please come back in one piece,” she begged.

“I will do my best ma’am,” Lugus promised.

Loch Skimmer waved politely as the pair departed and then shut the door. “I don’t understand why so many ponies hate griffons,” she muttered.

 

 

The last of the chains needed was now finished. The net was done. The chains would need to be secured to the ship and to the net, afterwards, the gasbag would need to be filled. The Scorned Mare would be airborne in just a few more days.

Bucky felt a gentle prodding by Crush and he smiled up at the big earth pony. Crush pointed at the wall where new diagrams had been drawn. Bucky, went to the wall, looked at the diagrams, and began to nod. The new design was different, and Bucky felt it was improved. His tail would be tucked into a long faux tail that extended from the body.

“The helmet design… I am not sure about it, but I get the sentiment,” Bucky said in apprehension. The new helmet design was lupine. There was something vaguely wolf-like about its shape and features.

Crush shrugged and then nodded at one of his assistants, and the assistant cringed.

“If we go with an animal motif, I say we go with dragon,” Bucky suggested.

Crush stared at his cringing assistant with narrowed eyes and raised one eyebrow, which caused the assistant to whimper.

“You suggested dragon didn’t you?” Bucky asked.

Crush nodded.

“I would have loved to see you pantomiming a dragon,” Bucky said with a wicked grin. “Make the tail a bit longer and a bit more dragon like. I can use it as a weapon by whipping my body around.”

Crush’s eyes went wide and he nodded, looking very thoughtful as he did so. The big earth pony went to the wall, picked up the charcoal stick in his mouth, and carefully scribbled claws onto the design.

“I like those… I like those a lot…” Bucky breathed. “So, serpentine body, dragon-like helm, claws, and a somewhat long tail that I can use as a weapon. Good thing I am skinny as I am, I can pull this look off. I’ll look like an earth dragon or a big scary looking lizard. Claws are good, but no spikes or blades on the armor. I’ll need to stand near my fellow ponies without injuring them,” the unicorn instructed.

Crush pointed at Bucky’s horn and looked very concerned. His ears splayed out sideways on his head.

“Yes, the armor will be powered by magic. I assure you, I will be able to walk around in it. It will be very light once I am done enchanting it,” Bucky said reassuringly. “Magical actuators and motivators will do all of the effort for me. All I will have to do is think about walking like I usually do and the armor will move under its own influence. So even if I am injured somehow inside of this, my armor will carry me back to safety,” he explained yet again, trying to comfort the overly protective and concerned earth pony.

Crush moved forward and gently patted the little unicorn.

“I swear, you’re just as bad as some of my wives, worrying about if I will be safe,” Bucky grumbled. “Earth ponies,” he grunted.

The big earth pony scowled and lifted his head high. He glowered down at Bucky, and extending his hoof, reached out and touched the withered side of Bucky’s face, followed by a gesture encompassing Bucky’s body. The mute pony made a faint annoyed grunt. Crush then touched his own throat, tilting his head back to expose every line of scarring.

“Yes I know how dangerous they are… I will not allow the same mistake to happen twice,” Bucky promised. “And saying that I might be injured was only in theory. I don’t see how anything will be able to hurt me,” he continued.

Crush sat down on the floor and swept Bucky up in a bone bruising embrace, smashing the smaller unicorn to his barrel as though Bucky was a foal. By size comparison, Bucky was a foal. Bucky squirmed and protested, all too aware of the looks he was getting from Crush’s assistants.

 

 

Bucky secured the last of the chains to the long anchor bolts on The Scorned Mare, teleporting the links into the round steel eyelets. He began to secure the large steel rings to the net that would secure the chains to the netting that held the gasbag in place. Once he was finished, he teleported the chain links and formed a connection with the steel rings. The connections now secure, all that was left was to slip the gasbag into place once it was full and the ship would rise.

He was tired, rapidly approaching the point of total fatigue, and felt as though he hadn’t eaten in days. His stomach growled painfully and he ignored it as best as he could. The events of the day troubled him greatly, and part of his mind wondered if he had done the right thing. Did the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few? He had intentionally channeled dark magic through Dinky and corrupted her talent into something terrible and perverse. He had channeled himself through Dinky’s talent and had made her function as though she was a type four.

This is why I created the alicorn amulet Sombra’s memories seemed to say to him as certain thoughts flooded into his mind. Certain talents become extremely useful when pushed to the next level. Bucky paused and mentally reflected upon the idea of what he could do with such an artifact. He shuddered and forced the unwanted thoughts from his mind, and tried not to think about how he could in fact create such an artifact himself now. With a shadow battery, an ethereal bridge, and an artifact of focusing, he would be unstoppable. He wouldn’t need to commune with the others to get things done. He could go out alone, and bear this terrible burden all by his lonesome, saving others from the torment of doing what must be done.

Bucky scowled, not liking his thoughts.

 

 

 

 

 

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