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 dreamer lies dreaming… remembering a time long ago.

Celestia was such a large pony. Too large really. Impossibly large. Bigger ponies scared Bucky, with him being so small and slight. He was the smallest foal in his class, even smaller than most of the fillies. He was frequently mistaken for being in the wrong class for his age and skill.

Celestia, the giantess, was looking down at Bucky curiously, a pleasant amused look upon her face. “Do you know why you are here?” she asked in a radiant warm voice filled with gentleness.

“Do any of us know why we are here?” Bucky replied, his own question far more meaningful than a foal his age should ask.

The large white alicorn laughed softly, a musical laugh that caused her feathers to ruffle slightly. She reached out one wing and gently touched the side of Bucky’s face, cherishing the look of unabashed adoration coming from the tiny foal. “Do you know why you are here with me and we are talking? Do you understand what you have done?”

Bucky shrugged noncommittally. “I know I did something mischievous, and now I am starting to worry about my punishment,” he said in a small fearful foalish voice.

“Oh my sweet little Buckminster, you are not in trouble,” Celestia said reassuringly as she patted the foal on the head with her wing. “You should be in trouble, but I do believe that we will let that slide due to the nature of your accomplishment.”

The foal took a deep breath, puffed his cheeks, and let it out slowly.

“You have done something that even most adult ponies fail to accomplish. Even most of your teachers would have a hard time doing what you did. What you did today was most impressive,” Celestia praised. “Even I had some trouble looking at you,” she confessed.

“This is about the aversion spell?” Bucky asked.

“Yes it is, you mischevious little scamp,” Celestia replied.

“I just wanted to read undisturbed,” Bucky explained in a slightly frantic voice.

“Yes, you wanted to read your book about Star Swirl’s many enchantments. In alchemy class. When you should have been reading your alchemy book and taking notes,” Celestia stated.

Bucky slumped down in shame and his ears drooped down to the sides of his face. He found that due to his small stature, making himself look at pathetic as possible was a great way to get adults to feel sorry for him and go easy on him. He gave it his best effort. He even sucked in his stomach to make his ribs look more visible, making himself look almost skeletal. He became the embodiment of gaunt, scrawny, and miserable.

Celestia, observing his efforts, actually felt a twisting twinge of pain in her heart and she took a much needed deep breath. “Somehow, you’ve managed to master a difficult spell that allows you to hide right in plain sight, and makes it difficult for ponies to look at you. Your teacher said she couldn’t even see you, and every time she looked over at your desk, she found herself looking at the clock instead. She could not even speak to you to scold you, and she had to summon other teachers to try and deal with you. That is a very powerful enchantment laced with illusion that you have managed to master,” Celestia said, her voice filled with faint pride and praise.

Bucky lifted his head and there was a faint mischievous smile upon his muzzle, an impish grin that caused his teachers no end of alarm when it became visible. It was the look of a natural born troublemaker.

“Star Swirl’s talent was conjuration. He was also a gifted enchanter. He did extraordinary things with enchantment. But as good as he was, there was another. There was one pony who shared a friendly rivalry with Star Swirl, and this pony was a master of enchantment. He created the spell you used today. He too, was a troublesome prankster. Do you know who he was?” Celestia inquired.

Bucky struggled to recall the creator of the aversion spell. It had been on the tip of his tongue, but now it was gone. It was there in the book even, but Bucky couldn’t recall seeing it. He struggled to concentrate, and found his thoughts turning to other things. Like the black licorice in his saddlebags. Or the fact that Celestia smelled like vanilla and something spicy-sweet, and there was a tiny glop of frosting just below her nostril. The way the sun shone through the windows and created a dazzling array of colours on the floor. He could think of everything but the name of the pony who had created the aversion spell. And then, he had a troubling thought.

“Princess Celestia, is there an aversion spell on his name so I cannot remember it?” Bucky innocently asked. The look of shock and surprise on Celestia’s face told Bucky everything he needed to know. The giantess alicorn’s mouth was actually hanging open. Bucky felt a wicked sense of pride blossoming in his barrel. It wasn’t every day that a foal outsmarted his instructor, much less outfoxing an immortal alicorn.

“Luna’s stars Buckminster, I think you and my most faithful student Twilight Sparkle are going to go on to do such great things. Come, we need to talk, let us go for a walk in the gardens,” Celestia invited. Her horn ignited and she went to work, shoring up the mental defenses that were already beginning to buckle inside of the overly inquisitive and stubborn mind of her student.

 

 

Lugus carefully affixed the sharpened steel tip to the wooden shaft, finishing off his javelin. He had several completed and sitting by his side on top of a sheet of canvas he planned to stitch into a quiver for his javelins. Near him was Peekaboo, who was prowling through the grass and chasing after bugs. The morning was cool still, and the grass was damp. He examined his work and found it pleasing. There were mindless deer in the hills nearby, and he had a taste for venison. Flying through the dense wooded forest was a sure way to break a wing, so Lugus had set about making a few javelins to assist him in his hunt.

He could throw a short spear with enough force that it would travel right through the body of one of his fellow griffons, so he figured using them to hunt deer would be practical.

He set down his javelin and then snatched up Peekaboo carefully in his talons. The foal began to giggle and he carefully smoothed out her wings with his other set of talons so her feathers would not get mussed. He kept her plumage immaculate, and it would reflect badly upon him if she went around looking unkept. He settled back on his haunches and cradled the foal in his forelegs.

In these moments, his brain always had the most disturbing thoughts, thinking of things to torment him like why must food be so adorable? and this softness of character you are experiencing is most troubling but he shoved those thoughts away. He had a peculiar feeling of affection for the tiny foal, and if something was to ever ruffle her feathers, he would do terrible things to them. He was more than capable of unspeakable cruelties upon those deserving of such torments.

“You and I have a family now. A tribe. A place where we belong. And you will be able to grow up with some of your fellow ponies,” Lugus said to the foal in his embrace, his beak clicking a few times as it moved. He did not have lips or soft tissues, and his words were entirely formed in the back of his throat through highly adapted vocal cords.

“I see ponies kissing their young, smooshing their soft fleshy faces up against them in rituals of affection. I do not understand these practices, and I regret that I cannot kiss you in the manner you deserve,” Lugus said apologetically. “We griffons do not kiss of course. We have beaks. We have our own rituals of affection though, regurgitating food with one another and our young. I do not think you would enjoy that.”

Peekaboo looked up at the griffon and blew a raspberry, her orange tongue slipping out and flinging slobber everywhere.

“Alas, the flatulent lip vibrations, we griffons cannot do that either. Why is it that you do that?” Lugus asked, knowing that there would be no answer but he did not care.

“I have been watching you with her… you are so gentle with her.”

Lugus bristled at the sound. He clutched Peekaboo close and looked at his visitor. He saw a chestnut brown pegasus mare. As he watched, she sat down and fluffed out her wings in an “I’m not threatening manner” at him.

“You might even be larger than Keg Smasher and she is so tiny. I’ve been watching you for a couple of days now, every chance I get, especially when you have her with you,” the pegasus admitted.

“Why?” Lugus asked in a flat voice.

“I’m curious,” the pegasus responded. She sat with her head cocked and staring at Lugus with one eye, and she reached up to brush her mane out of her vision. “I am with Lord Buckminster’s Ball Buster Brigade. My name is Yew Wood. And I might just be the most curious pegasus who has ever lived.”

“There is nothing wrong with curiousity,” Lugus stated. “My kind prize inquisitiveness and bravery.”

“All it has ever gotten me was in trouble,” Yew replied. She shifted her body and lifted her head, trying to get a better view of the foal in Lugus’ arms.

“I lost my foal,” Yew said in a strained voice.

“I am most sorry,” Lugus offered in return.

“I lost everything. My husband, my foal, and my sister, all in one night,” Yew said as she pushed her mane out of her eye again. “It is really nice seeing you so kind and loving to that foal. My husband was not the affectionate sort. He wouldn’t let me love on my foal, kept telling me to not get attached to it, it was probably going to die or get taken. I wish I hadn’t listened.”

Lugus felt a stinging pain in the back of his throat as everything tightened. “I too was told not to development an attachment to anything. That it would make me strong. If I had nothing I feared losing, then I would have nothing to fear,” Lugus replied in a strained voice.

The pegasus took a deep breath and she moved just a little closer.

“This entire time, you have sat with one side of your body turned away from me. Are you trying to hide something? Your posture is most peculiar,” Lugus observed.

“Sorry… I… er…” Yew fell silent.

“Look at me,” Lugus said. “What are you hiding?”

Yew Wood’s wings flared out and for a moment, it seemed as though she might fly away. She then composed herself and folded her wings back to her side. “Look, I am sorry, I let my curiousity get the better of me again, I should be going. Sour Mash is gonna kill me if I don’t hold my own.”

Lugus gently placed Peekaboo in the grass. “I know your kind. Would you like to spend a moment with her?” he asked.

The pegasus looked torn, her expression one of conflicted pain. She started to move forward and then halted, still focusing on Lugus with her right eye. “That’s dastardly, using her as bait,” Yew muttered.

“You are hiding something. I suspect I know what it is. Do not hide yourself,” Lugus commanded in a gentle voice.

Yew Wood shyly stepped forward, took a deep breath, let it out with a shuddering exhale, and then moved forward. As she did so, she turned her whole face towards Lugus.

The pegasus’ left eye was missing and a long jagged scar ran down her face, a thin red line that went from scalp to the corner of her mouth. The eye socket had been burned shut and left to heal.

“I see,” Lugus said in a soft voice.

“I’m a bit shy about it,” Yew said as she slowly approached the griffon and Peekaboo.

“Why?” Lugus asked.

“Because I’m ugly,” Yew replied.

“I do not think so,” Lugus retorted, his beak clicking several times.

“My husband said I was ugly,” Yew responded. “He was an earth pony. They’re honest.”

“Your husband was an idiot and a liar,” Lugus growled.

Yew sat down suddenly and stared at the big griffon.

“Scars are beauty. They are tales of survival. Proof of endurance. You have lost an eye, but you have also gained a story. Scars are our written history upon our flesh,” Lugus explained.

Yew gaped and she looked perplexed as she tried to take in the griffon’s words.

“This is one of those moments that Buckminster spoke to me about where differences of perspectives becomes a challenge,” Lugus stated. “Here, hold foal.” He made a gesture towards Peekaboo.

The pegasus cautiously crept forward until she reached Peekaboo, feeling entirely too close to the griffon for comfort, settled back upon her haunches, and then lifted the foal in her forelegs to cradle it. Her body relaxed considerably when she smelled the foal.

Lugus leaned back a bit, lifted a wing, and raised his front leg. He reached around with his other front leg and pointed at a gruesome scar just between his wing joint and his shoulder. “This right here, this was done by a wild boar that was about the same size as you. His tusk went through my ribs, shattering them, and into my lung. I was impaled, lodged upon the boar’s tusk, and I could not get free. He savaged me. I was caught. I was a fledgeling still. I had been out hunting deer when I came across the boar and we entered our deadly dance with one another. Skewered on his tusk, I reached around and cut his throat with my claws. Eventually, my father found me, near death and still bleeding out, still pinned on the tusk of my prey. Took me forever to heal from this, but it made me stronger. I became Lugus the Boar Killer. And this was the proof of my deed. I was still a fledgeling, but I had the respect of every adult in my clan,” he explained.

“That’s awful,” Yew murmured.

“So what happened to you?” Lugus inquired.

“One of the giant eagles that live around here… back when I still lived near the scrags along the coast, the rocky cliffs, back when my husband and my family was still alive. It came upon our little community looking for food. When everypony else was flying away or running away, I flew right at it. There were earth ponies that I knew would get snatched up… I picked a fight. It cost me an eye but the eagle went away with a cracked beak and some broken bones,” Yew said as she cuddled Peekaboo.

“Yet a moment ago you were so timid,” Lugus said in a soft teasing tone.

“Well, I can be brave!” Yew snapped, her timid demeanour now gone.

“So you are a mare that would pick a fight with an giant eagle simply because it is the right thing to do,” Lugus stated.

“Well, I joined up with Sour Mash because it was the right thing to do. I was already full of piss and a need to prove myself. Now I can fight and fight to win,” Yew replied. “This foal is adorable.”

“I am quite in love with her,” Lugus confessed. “She confuses me to no end. You ponies, you fascinate me, with your soft squishy expressive faces, your funny little lips, your apparent softness that is tempered by iron wills.”

“You have a beak. I guess it would be hard to make a face that shows how you feel,” Yew said.

“My crest expresses my mood,” Lugus said, reaching up and touching the feathers on top of his head as he did so. While Yew was distracted, he reached out swiftly with his other talons and gently snatched her by her muzzle. He turned the scarred side of her face towards him so he could get a better look, and Yew trembled in his grasp. Lugus could smell her fear as he examined her scar. “You are beautiful,” Lugus stated.

Yew ceased to tremble and she let out a confused whimper, she wanted to pull herself free from the griffon’s grasp but for some reason, she didn’t dare. She could feel the fine points of the claws on the end of his talon fingers. Nothing pressed into her soft skin or hurt her in any way. The griffon was in her blind spot and she could not see him. She felt something lightly touching her scar and tracing along the length. She began to tremble again, not entirely sure of what was happening.

“That is quite a story,” Lugus said as he let go of the frightened pegasus. “That went down to the bone and even deeper in places, gouging into your skull.”

Yew nodded as she turned her head to get the griffon back into her field of vision.

“I didn’t hurt you did I? I would never be able to forgive myself if I did,” Lugus said to the frightened mare.

Yew shook her head no and squeezed the foal she was holding a little tighter.

 

 

Bucky took a large bite of fish, chewed, and tried to remember his dream, trying to remember that day in the royal gardens. He was distracted by a flick of Thistle’s tongue as she licked away a bit of fish flesh on his muzzle and then by the sounds of her tearing off a bite.

Enchantment, like dark magic, was all about the force of will. The enchanter has to believe in the enchantment lest it fail, and when two wills struggled together, the stronger was the victor. As a foal, he had nearly broken one of Celestia’s enchantments upon his mind, having become aware of the aversion spell on Sombra’s name.

He leaned down and tore off another bite of fish.

Chewing somewhat before gulping, Bucky tried to make sense of this memory. He reflected upon his accomplishments and wondered how much of what he had done was from himself and how much was from Sombra’s memories. He certainly had the raw skill. He supposed that he wanted to know how much skill he actually had on his own and took a small measure of comfort that he had nearly broke Celestia’s enchantments on his mind.

“Bastard son of a bastard!”

Bucky raised his head and peered out, having once again forgot his goggles. He could hear splashing in the lake, the unmistakable sounds of Sentinel thrashing about.

“Mmm mmlug flug gleerglug! Muthlerplufflur!”

Sentinel was talking with his mouth full again. Swearing with his mouth full.

“Oh my, he’s got a monster,” Thistle said. She licked her lips after she spoke and looked out over the water hungrily.

Bucky saw Sentinel as the colt came into focus, wrestling with a fish whose length was thrice Sentinel’s own. He had the fish hugged to his barrel and his teeth sank into the fish’s spine. Somehow, the colt was dragging the fish ashore.

“Coshnosher!” Sentinel swore with his mouth still full.

“Sentinel! Your mouth! Do I need to stand you in the corner like Berry does Piña!” Thistle threatened. “No, don’t answer that, you beat that fish into submission!”

Sentinel slugged the fish a few times with his hoof and as Bucky watched, the fish flopped up and around, catching Sentinel’s ear in its maw. He heard Sentinel scream in pain and the colt fell over in the water, punching and kicking, still not letting go of his prize. Bucky could smell pony blood in the air. All thoughts of enchantment and breakfast forgotten, he started to move towards the water.

He was stopped by Thistle planting her hoof into his chest.

“No,” Thistle stated. “Let him fight. Do not rob him of his victory.”

There was another ragged scream from Sentinel and Bucky began to prance in place. As he watched, Sentinel got his own maw around the fish’s body, just behind the head, sinking his fangs into the gills. Sentinel wrenched his head back and tore the fish’s head from its body. He spat it out in the shallow water, blood trickling down the side of his face from his torn ear, his barrel heaving from his efforts.

The colt dutifully continued to drag the body ashore, and then dropped the carcass in the grass. He stood over his fallen prey, lifted his mouth open wide, and roared.

“That has to be at least one hundred pounds of trout,” Bucky whispered into Thistle’s ear.

“I wouldn’t know,” Thistle whispered back.

Sentinel stood bloodied over his prize for a moment longer, he then stepped aside, sat down, and wiped the blood from his face with one foreleg. Looking down in anger, he punched the dead fish once again, venting his bile upon the fallen enemy, and then he rubbed away more blood from his torn ear.

“Stupid ear biting fish!” Sentinel snarled as his head plunged downward, his fangs bared, ready to eat his breakfast.

“I cannot put into words how proud I am of our foal,” Bucky said to Thistle.

“Nor I,” Thistle replied.

 

 

 

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