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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“Crescent Moon Isle. Named so because it is actually shaped like the crescent moon. There is a colony of lunar pegasi here and they wish to speak with you sir,” Deadspin reported. “During the day of course, which may be awkward for all parties involved. A forward messenger has been sent, they understand the danger of being on deck at night time.”

“Squire Sentinel, you seem to be squirming,” Lugus said as he settled his haunches down upon the deck.

“I want to see the colony,” Sentinel admitted.

“I planned to take you with me,” Bucky said. “Actually, it was requested that you come along.”

“Thank you!” Sentinel gushed in an uncharacteristically excited voice. He threw his forelegs around Bucky’s neck and squeezed. He froze, mid embrace, and then slid away looking guilty. He cringed, now looking mortified. “Forgive me sir. We are not in private and I allowed my feelings to get the better of me sir,” he apologised as he hung his head in shame.

“Sentinel,  I am not in my armor and we are in a moment of downtime. You are free to be a colt,” Bucky said soothingly to Sentinel, who seemed to perk back up a bit from Bucky’s words. Bucky gestured around the deck. “Right now, everypony that is awake is relaxing and having a bit of rest. And everypony here knows how seriously you take your duties. So stop beating yourself up.”

“Yes si- ...er, father,” Sentinel replied haltingly.

Bucky yawned and looked longingly at the cabin door. Even if he could not sleep, there were other things he could be doing in bed, even if he might feel slightly guilty about waking his mares to do so. He pushed the thoughts from his mind, they needed their rest.

“We’ll be at the settlement soon Knight Captain Bitters,” a pegasus reported.

 

 

They lived in caves, Bucky realised as he approached. He could see the caves. He could smell rotten eggs from a nearby hot spring. There were crudely made rabbit hutches. And off in the distance, there was a small freshwater loch. Sentinel was right beside him, nearly bouncing with each step, scarcely able to contain himself.

And then, the lunar pegasi themselves came into view. Only a few of them were awake in the daylight hours to greet him.

“Greetings honoured guest,” a male stated as he moved forward. “I am Wave Breaker, he who fishes in the ocean. This is my colony.”

“Salutations Wave Breaker. I am Buckminster Bitters, scourge of wolves,” Bucky said graciously in reply and making up something right on the spot. “How fares your colony?”

“This is all of us,” Wave Breaker replied, gesturing with his wing and looking sorrowful.

Bucky counted three mares, one filly, seven lunar pegasus stallions, and one solar pegasus stallion. He looked around in confusion. “This is all of you?” he asked.

“We are all that is left. We have fought the wolves. Finally, for whatever reason, they have stopped coming to our island. We used to be over one hundred strong,” Wave Breaker said in a now stony voice.

Bucky wheezed as he inhaled sharply, trying to think of something meaningful to say. He could think of nothing. This colony had endured such heavy losses. He turned to look at Sentinel, and saw the colt’s eyes were glassy with tears that were barely being held in check. He felt a stabbing pain in his barrel as Sentinel sat down roughly in the dirt, his hind legs giving way as his emotions threatened to overrun him.

“Why didn’t you tell Keg Smasher it was this bad? Send a messenger?” Deadspin said in stunned disbelief.

“And what would have been done? We would have had to flee our home. Give up our way of life. Run away as cowards. We would rather die,” Wave Breaker grunted in reply.

“And you have,” Deadspin said flatly.

Wave Breaker bared his teeth at Deadspin and there was clearly tension in the air.

“That’s enough, both of you, we have a common enemy to fight,” Bucky said diplomatically as he moved between the two of them.

“We are abandoning our colony,” Wave Breaker said in a strained voice. “Our home has become a place of graves now. The caves are tombs where our dead slumber. We no longer sleep within them.”

“I am sorry,” Bucky offered. “I am purging the wolves as we speak, perhaps something can be done to save this place?”

Wave Breaker shook his head. “Our numbers are too few. We wanted to meet you and tell you of this place before we left.”

Sentinel left his father’s side and slowly approached Wave Breaker, his posture submissive. His ears were folded back, his wings, drooped, his head was held low, and his tail was pulled between his hind legs as he slowly approached.

“I always wanted to come here, to see where it is I came from,” Sentinel said in a low whine. “I wish I had something meaningful to say. I seem to only find meaningful words when I am writing.”

“I know you…” one of the mares said as she limped forwards. “You are Bloodweather’s colt. I’d recognise that scab coloured mane anywhere. Come here to me, colt,” she commanded. She was much larger than Wave Breaker, as were the other mares here.

“Who are you and how did you know my father?” Sentinel asked as he moved slowly forward. He lifted his head hopefully, looking at the mare for answers.

“I am called Shadow Glide and at one point, I hoped to be your father’s mate. But he fell in love with a feather wing and I wanted his happiness more than my own,” Shadow Glide said in reply. She looked down at Sentinel and after a moment, touched him with her wing tip. “You look exactly like your father. I heard that he died. What is your name?”

“I am called Sentinel. And yes ma’am, he died,” Sentinel answered with a soft nod.

“And this small stallion here? Who is he to you?” Shadow Glide asked.

Sentinel became painfully aware that everything around him had gone silent. He looked around him and saw every eye on every pony all around focused on him. He swallowed, trying to down the lump that had formed his in throat.

“This is my father now. He has been good to me. I have become his squire, but I am his son first and foremost,” Sentinel said, his voice cracking and becoming an embarrassing squeak.

“Ah, Bloodweather and his honour lives on,” Shadow Glide said in a bittersweet voice. She leaned down and nuzzled Sentinel. “You could have been my colt, and I would have been proud of you. Go and do good things.”

“Yes ma’am,” Sentinel said, his voice still cracking.

“Perhaps there is still hope for us,” Wave Breaker said.

“Take shelter with Keg Smasher for a while. Rebuild your numbers. We have griffons now that I know in time will be welcome among your number. And when you are strong again, come back out here and reclaim your homes,” Deadspin said.

Wave Breaker looked around at his clan, then looked at Deadspin, studied Sentinel for a while, and then, he finally turned to Bucky. He peered at the stallion, as if trying to read him.

Bucky, aware of certain pegasus non verbal communicators, was aware that he was being sized up. He turned his remaining eye upon Wave Breaker and stared back, his face neutral.

“I want a better life for this filly. Her parents are gone,” Wave Breaker said, breaking his long silence.

“Oh shite,” Deadspin breathed very quietly to himself, which might have worked around normal pegasi, but his lunar cousins heard his words. Several heads turned to look at him pointedly.

“Let us speak plainly. What do you want?” Bucky demanded. “Don’t mince words. Just be out with it. Do you want us to take her with us?”

“In a sense, yes. I would like to arrange a betrothal,” Wave Breaker said as he looked directly at Bucky.

Bucky choked. He hacked and he heaved for air, trying to reclaim the breath that had fled his lungs. He coughed violently and finally hacked out a wad of phlegm. He sat down and thumped on his own barrel, trying to clear his airway.

“She has nothing. Nothing at all. Soon she will not even have our home. I want her to have something. I have nothing to give her, but by giving her to you, I can offer her a better future and our kind, which has always been few in number, will continue if she is bonded with Sentinel,” Wave Breaker patiently explained.

“We have heard stories. Even on the mainland, our numbers are too few,” Shadow Glide interjected. “This is about the survival of our kind. We have lost too many fighting this pointless fight to keep our homes.”

Wave Breaker turned and gave Shadow Glide a scathing hateful look and the pair locked eyes, trying to assert dominance over one another.

“It is not our way to run from a fight,” Wave Breaker snarled.

“It does not seem to be part of our way to survive either… but now that we are too few, you have us run!” Shadow Glide snapped.

“Please stop!” Sentinel cried.

The two adults looked down at the colt and glared at him. Then, they resumed looking hatefully at one another, a fight that became apparent to any observer had been going on for quite some time.

“You have brought us to ruin,” Shadow Glide accused. “You broke with the old way. You stepped in to lead with your honeyed words and impassioned pleas. Once there were more males than females, you broke our sacred matriarchal ways and seized power for your self! And look where it has gotten us!” The much larger mare bristled and puffed out her barrel, making her look quite intimidating.

Wave Breaker slumped. “I have. I did. I thought we needed better leadership. Shrike was no better though. Before she died, she revealed to me her plan to lead us all to glorious death in battle and have our colony come to a bloody and final end,” he admitted in a broken voice. “My pride and wanting to keep our home has been the end of us. Which is why I wish to send Moonbow away. Sentinel has a chance to learn a new way of life and I want the same for her. I am shamed by my failure.”

“First wise decision you have made,” Shadow Glide said in an icy voice. “And I did not know about Shrike’s plans. Wave Breaker, you should have talked to me.”

“You judge and second guess everything I say!” Wave Breaker snapped.

“Stop!” Sentinel cried. “Just stop being hateful to one another! A clan, a tribe, it all means family… just stop fighting!” he shouted as he ran back to his father’s side.

“I don’t know that I can do this,” Bucky interjected. “I don’t know how I feel about arranged marriage.”

“What about Thistle?” Sentinel inquired.

“That’s different,” Bucky answered.

“How?” Sentinel asked.

“It just is,” Bucky replied. He could see Wave Breaker beginning to bristle.

“He is still young and so is she. A bit too young for marriage perhaps. But she could go with you and they could grow together. And when the time is right, they could marry,” Shadow Glide said in a gentle suggestion. She moved closer to Wave Breaker and stood next to him. “In this matter, we are in agreement. Our species must survive. Our colony has failed, but we have hope. Seeds can always be planted elsewhere and life will go on.”

“I don’t know that I can force my son to go through with this… this feels wrong,” Bucky said. “I do not wish to insult you, and I am starting to understand that this is why you wanted me here, but I do not think I can allow this.”

Both Wave Breaker and Shadow Glide glared at Bucky now, trying to understand the outsider, fierce looks upon their faces.

“I cannot do as you ask,” Bucky said, looking down at Sentinel.

“Will nopony ask me what I want?” Sentinel asked in a quavering nervous voice.

Frantic, Bucky looked upon Sentinel, feeling frightened and worried. “Sentinel, do you understand what you are getting in to? If you agree to this and we took her with us, you would be obligated, do you understand me? There would be no backing out or changing your mind later.”

Sentinel licked his lips nervously. He looked at the filly, looked at Wave Breaker and Shadow Glide, and then finally, he looked up at his father. His ear itched terribly and he wanted to scratch it, but he knew that if he did, Lyra would somehow know and scold him.

“Would you actually make this decision for me and not give me a say?” Sentinel finally inquired, looking up at his father inquisitively.

Bucky swallowed and looked around, realising how he answered was going to have drastic consequences either way. He had no clue what to do. He looked at Deadspin and saw only a blank face. He looked up at The Scorned Mare up above him and wondered how many slaps he might have to endure. Finally, he looked at the filly in question.

“You there, your name is Moonbow, correct?” Bucky asked.

The filly raised her head shyly. She looked at Bucky with piercing eyes.

“Yes, you there. Come forward. Moonbow, that’s a pretty name. You are named after the rainbows that form around the moon before the weather changes, right?” Bucky said.

The filly nodded and she came forward slowly, slinking along, not meeting any other adult eyes as she passed. She walked in a servile crouch and approached Bucky. About ten feet away, she stopped and sat down, wrapping her wings around her body and her legs, trying to look very small and submissive.

“Moonbow, I want you to tell me what you want. And don’t be afraid of the adults. I am a unicorn you see,” Bucky said, gesturing up at his horn. “And I will know if you are being honest with me. You can be completely honest with me and I will make sure that nopony punishes you for telling the truth. Now tell me, what do you want?”

Moonbow took a deep breath…

 

 

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