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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Sparkler flopped over in the grass, both breathless and exhausted. Sour Mash had been working her over repeatedly and every bone in her body ached. Sparkler had never been very athletic, and she couldn’t understand how the earth pony kicking her plot could continue so tirelessly. She was immensely grateful for the chance to rest.

As she lay on her side gulping in huge lungfuls of air, she watched Ripple. Ripple was soaked with sweat, glistening, her mane clinging to her neck and her tail clinging to her hind legs. She felt a small spark of attraction for Ripple. The pegasus filly was on her hind legs, well balanced, beating the stuffing out of punching dummy, the third punching dummy of the day because the previous two shattered from her blows, much to the shock and amazement of many of the soldiers who watched her.

Sparkler was glad that Rising Star was in the forge… this many males watching Ripple would have pushed him dangerously close to being angry. Her colt had developed a possessive streak recently, and Sparkler loved him for it, even if made her worry somewhat.

“...and this is for beating my mother…” THWACK! “...and this is for beating my sister…” THUMP! “...and this is for beating me just because I got underhoof when I was scared…” CRUNCH!

Sparkler winced as she clutched at her heaving sides. There went another punching dummy. The post had shattered near the base and the dummy fell over. She watched Ripple drop down on all fours and flex her wings out. She was covered in sweat, but Sparkler somehow knew that her cheeks were wet with tears.

“...AND THIS IS BECAUSE I FECKING HATE YOU! I HAVE A REAL FATHER NOW!”

As Sparkler watched, Ripple bucked out her hind legs and connected solidly with the fallen dummy. It exploded into splinters and lengths of rope. She could not help but notice that Ripple’s buck had connected with the groin area on dummy. Still struggling to draw breath, Sparkler rolled up on to her hooves and went to Ripple’s side.

Approaching cautiously, she sat down beside Ripple and gingerly placed a foreleg over Ripple’s withers. Sparkler pulled her close, and Ripple sat down and leaned into Sparkler’s embrace. Sparkler felt Ripple’s face pressed into her neck and then she felt the small filly break down into uncontained sobs. Sparkler squeezed and planted a kiss on the top of Ripple’s head, just between her ears and wrapped her other leg around Ripple’s neck, pulling her close.

Sparkler felt two more legs wrapping around both her and Ripple, and she felt Ripple panic. Sparkler realised it was Sour Mash that was hugging both of them. “Don’t worry Ripple, it’s just Sour Mash, she’s family, she’d never hurt you,” Sparkler whispered soothingly, not wanting to see Sour Mash turned into a broken punching dummy.

Ripple relaxed after Sparkler’s words and Sparkler was grateful for Sour Mash’s strong embrace. The two fillies and the mare clung to one another, saying nothing, quietly bonding. One had hooves as hard as stone, one could become stone, and the last was as resolute as a stone.

 

 

Crush eyed the thin piece of steel. It was curved. It was black. And it was not the least bit shiny. It seemed to absorb the light. He raised an eyebrow and then stared at Bucky as he blew out a flatulent raspberry of disbelief with his lips.

“Look, just smack it as hard as you can with your hammer, trust me,” Bucky insisted.

Crush raised his hammer, his big hammer, the one that was half the size of Bucky’s body. He raised it high and brought it crashing down upon the steel. There was a screech of metal and the steel crumpled under his blow. Crush snorted in disgust.

“Wait for it…” Bucky breathed.

As Crush watched, the crumpled steel slowly returned to its original shape. After a few moments, it showed no sign of damage and Crush grunted. His ears perked forward and he looked at Bucky, who looked entirely too smug. He snorted an indignant snort and looked away. Unicorns were such snobs sometimes. Heaving a sigh of irritation, he smashed the steel plate once again so he could watch it slowly recover its original shape.

“It is miraculous,” Lugus whispered. “For a suit of fine heavy plated mail… to self repair… unthinkably valuable.”

“That was only the test plate. The actual armor will be much thicker, magically reinforced, magically hardened, and then made feather light through heavy enchantment. I will also augment the plate for kinetic dispersal,” Bucky stated.

“What is that?” Lugus inquired.

“The energy of the blow will be redirected elsewhere. In this case, a solid blow against the plate will be returned to whatever strikes it, meaning that if you struck it with a sword, the redirected energy would shatter the sword and probably break your claws as well as the bones in your forelegs,” Bucky explained.

“And this is why your kind rule the world,” Lugus said.

Bucky shrugged. “I don’t want to rule anything. I just want to get drunk and screw.”

“If only life was so simple for all of us,” Lugus replied.

“I like getting drunk and screwing,” Rising Star announced in what he hoped was his most adult voice. When he said the word “screwing” his voice cracked and it came out as a shrill squeak, which put the colt into a sulky mood, knowing that he had just blown his chance to fit in with the much older adults.

Lugus turned and studied Rising Star, studying him carefully. “You need to be more confident. It is not done by words, but by deed. Be polite, be discreet, have a plan to kill everything you meet,” the griffon said in a helpful instructive manner. He turned and looked at Bucky. “Like this one. He plans.”

“Be polite, be discreet, have a plan to kill everything you meet,” Rising Star repeated to himself. “I like that. Everything burns if I think about it hard enough, so I have that covered.”

“So, any name for your pegasus filly?” Bucky asked, changing the subject as he began to shape liquid steel as though it was clay using his magic.

“I do not know of any names yet. How are ponies named? There is so much about your culture that I just do not understand. Like your matriarch and her game of hiding and revealing her face. I do not see the purpose of such an act,” Lugus replied.

“Foals think that peekaboo is the greatest thing ever. Harper will play peekaboo right up to the point of passing out and falling asleep if you keep going,” Bucky explained.

“But this peekaboo… what does it accomplish?” Lugus asked.

“It’s fun,” Bucky answered.

“I do not understand,” Lugus stated in a flat voice. “Fun is learning how to sharpen things. Fun is learning how to throw knives and darts. Fun is swordplay, or spearplay, or axeplay. Fun is bloody combat and learning about what you are capable of. This peekaboo… it strikes me as a waste of time.”

“Foals like it,” Bucky said with a smile as he worked the steel he was manipulating into a smooth curved shape.

“Is it vital to the healthy development of a foal?” Lugus asked.

“Yes,” Rising Star replied.

“How so?” Lugus inquired.

Rising Star hemmed and hawed, standing in place and looking thoughtful, and began to feel nervous when he saw Lugus tapping one claw upon the floor. “Well, a foal has to have fun, or they turn out like how Bucky over there used to be… which isn’t good at all.”

Bucky nodded as he continued to shape the steel into a dome like structure.

“I do not know how Buckminster was, so I have no means to make judgment,” Lugus stated in a low voice. “I find myself missing her when I am away. She is very dear to me already. I find myself very protective of her and her tiny soft little body. She is little more than a morsel or a snack but she is worth so much more.” The griffon paused for a moment when he saw the three ponies looking at him in horror. “Oh no no no, I would never do such a thing… it was a mistake of words. I would never harm her I assure you… I have never polluted my honour by eating pony flesh, nor would I,” he said assuringly.

“Mistakes happen,” Bucky said gently. “When different cultures bump into one another funny things happen. It is better to try and understand than to be angry.”

“I think I love her,” Lugus admitted. “Is that possible already?”

“Why wouldn’t it be?” Bucky asked as he continued to work.

“We large griffons rarely raise our own young. We are far too busy. We place them into rookeries… nurseries, and then leave the rearing of our cubs to the servant class, the smaller physically weaker griffons unfit for a life of glory and honour. We are taught to avoid emotional attachment to anything,” Lugus explained.

“That’s awful,” Bucky said in a pained voice.

“I have been affectionate with her… I have tried to do what I have seen the servants doing. I stroke her, touch her, and even cuddle her. She cries sometimes no matter what I do and I don’t know how to fix that,” Lugus said in a worried voice.

“She misses her mama most likely,” Rising Star said. “I miss mine.”

“I vowed to look after her, but I worry if I will be a fit guardian,” Lugus admitted.

“I worry if I am going to be a fit father,” Bucky groused. “The things I’ve done,” he muttered as he stared at the glass orb that swirled with rainbows and darkness.

There was a loud series of clangs as Crush began to hammer away on a set of door hinges under construction and Bucky fell silent, not sure what else to say.

 

 

Life just wasn’t fair Piña reflected. Derpy’s startled squawk still rang in her ears and the stinging wing slaps over her muzzle had left her feeling sore. Neither Derpy nor Berry had accepted Piña’s announcement that she was no longer a fecking foal and now, she was in time out, sitting in the corner and staring at the wall with nothing to do.

She could hear the angry breathing of her big sister behind her on the sofa.

She balanced on her haunches and tapped her front hooves together, wishing that this was over. Her big sister had given her such a look. Berry said those words all the time and Piña could not understand why it was okay for Berry to say them but she could not.

“Stop tapping your hooves,” Berry commanded in a low voice so the sleepers in the room would not awaken.

Perhaps it was a bad idea to tell my sister to go feck herself Piña decided. That may have been a slight mistake. Asserting her newfound adulthood had gone terribly wrong and now she was getting an undeserved foalish punishment that she absolutely hated. Nothing was worse than being bored. She clacked her teeth together for the lack of anything better to do.

“Stop clicking your teeth together. And don’t you dare sigh either,” Berry demanded in a voice filled with warning.

Piña sighed away.

“Fine, sit there a little longer,” Berry announced.

Piña sighed again. Hoping her sister wasn’t looking, she turned her head around and stuck out her tongue. Thankfully, Berry wasn’t looking and Piña reveled in private smug satisfaction.

“I heard that,” Berry said. “Keep it up. I don’t know what has gotten into you, but I have half a mind to wear you out like Bucky did Dinky. Maybe a few hours of pulling a wagon will allow you to think. It’s the earth pony way.”

“You have half a mind to begin with,” Piña grumbled. She gloated in smug satisfaction once again when there was no reply. The room was filled with silence, and Piña celebrated her moment of victory over her sister. The silence became oppressive and Piña began to feel uncomfortable.

And then, she heard it. The unmistakable sounds of her big sister, the pony she considered her mother, sobbing. Piña slumped in shame. She had gone too far. She felt tears coming to her own eyes. “I’m sorry… I was stupid… can I please come out of the corner and give you a hug? I’m sooooo sorry!” Piña whined.

All Piña heard in reply was sobbing, soft quiet sobbing. She thought about leaving the corner and she fretted, stuck in the horrible corner while her sister, her mother was crying. “I’m such a gobshite,” Piña whimpered.

“You stay in the corner,” Berry said in a shuddering voice and then went back to sobbing.

Piña hunched over and covered her own face. Unable to hold back any longer, the foal began to sob herself. She cried until a long dribble of snot dangled from her nose and then she cried some more.

And over on the sofa, unseen by Piña, Berry Punch smiled to herself as she continued to make sobbing sounds.

 

 

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