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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“I think that is the last of them.”

Ripple looked around her at the sounds of Lugus’ words. The woods around them was festooned with dead spiders everywhere. There were spider legs kicking and twitching all over the ground, there were dead spiders skewered onto protruding broken tree branches, spiders cleaved in half by Lugus’ axe, and crushed spiders pounded into spider jam from Ripple’s war shoes. Ripple was covered in foul sticky ichor, webbing covered her from ear to hoof, and her mane and tail was plastered to her body.

“I don’t think I’ll ever feel clean again,” Ripple muttered.

“That was a lot of spiders. We must have killed hundreds,” Lugus said in a nervous voice, his beak clicking together in agitation as he spoke. “Nice work with the spider queen by the way. Did you get bit?” the griffon asked, concern now filling his voice. “If you did, don’t try to hide it out of bravado. These are poisonous.”

“I’m good. I have a few scrapes and slices from the claws some of them had on the end of their legs. Only one laceration I’m worried about, it’s bleeding freely. I hope it will close,” Ripple replied. She craned her head around to look at her hind leg and focused on her slashed open gaskin. “Looks pretty bad actually. I am surprised I’m not woozy.”

“Battle nerves. We should get you home before shock sets in,” Lugus said as he brought his axe down upon a squirming spider that wasn’t quite dead yet.

The glade was silent save for the two voices, one griffon and one pony. Not long ago, it was alive with chittering sounds and the rustle of thousands of long hairy legs. There were bodies wrapped in webbing here, many bodies of creatures from the surrounding Everfree, captured by spiders and wrapped up in silk to be preserved and consumed later.

Having a quick look around, Lugus found one pony shaped silken mass. He approached it slowly, reached out with his claws, and tore it open. Inside was a mare he did not know. Her eyes were white and colourless. Two holes could be seen on her neck. Her body was slightly dessicated.

“We did not save her,” Ripple said, sounding distraught.

“We could not have saved her. She has been here for a while. We are not to blame, we did what we could, these things happen. But never forget Ripple. This is why we do what we do. By destroying this spider nest, we are preventing future tragedies like this one. I will take her back to town so some grieving family can finally know of her fate. I want you to go home, get cleaned up, and have that gash looked at. Do as I say,” Lugus said, turning  his head around and giving Ripple a glance.

“Yes sir, of course sir, but I do wish I was going with you to return the body,” Ripple answered, whipping out a goop and webbing encrusted wing in salute. “Oh yuck. This is an offense to my girly sensibilities.”

 

 

“NO NO NO! YOU ARE NOT COMING IN THE HOUSE!”

Ripple backed away from Derpy and jumped backwards down the front porch steps. Her ears splayed out submissively and her head dropped low.

“You’re bleeding!” Derpy cried. “LYRA! First aid!” The motherly pegasus whinnied in concern and then nickered nervously as she walked in a circle around Ripple, checking over her injuries.

A few seconds later, Lyra came bursting out onto the porch. She looked around, saw Ripple, looked both disgusted and worried, and immediately conjured up the first aid box as she trotted down the stairs and approached Ripple.

“Turn the hose on her,” Derpy suggested.

“Good idea,” Lyra agreed, her horn flaring brighter for a moment. The hose came to life  and moved in a serpentine fashion in Lyra’s telekinesis as the spigot turned with a squeak.

Ripple gasped when the cold water hit her and began blasting away the green gunk and webbing she was completely covered in. The water was exceptionally icy and it felt good and sort of hurt at the same time. It shocked her senses and spiked her adrenaline, making her feel jittery and jumpy once again.

“My sweet little filly,” Bon Bon fussed, coming out the front door. “Something hurt my filly… it had better be dead.”

There was a loud squawk and two phoenixes appeared, one orange, one blue, both of them flying through the yard and then landing upon the porch rail. They watched with curious interest, cocking their heads off to one side, then other, and Philomena made concerned cooing noises.

Finally mostly clean, Ripple stood dripping water into the grass below. She was breathing heavily, her barrel heaving, and she gave her wings a flap to shed excess water. She shivered a bit and then had another look at hind leg. Blood was coming out in a steady trickle. Now free of filth, she saw a small flap of flesh hanging away from the gash. She hissed when she saw it, realising it might need to be stitched. She didn’t look forward to finding out.

There was a flash of orange and Ripple felt two prickly pokey claws on her back. They didn’t dig into her skin, but they tickled a great deal, causing shivers up and down her spine, and she realised that Philomena was perched on her withers, just between her wing joints. There was another soothing flash of orange and Ripple felt herself grow calm, her breathing slowed down and she started to think that everything was going to be okay.

There was an exceptionally bright flash of orange and a burst of intense heat. Not burning heat, but pleasant heat, like laying on a hot rock on a summer day and feeling the soothing warmth radiating out into your skin. Ripple gasped. The gash on her leg had closed considerably, and blood was no longer dribbling out. It wasn’t completely healed at all, but it no longer looked like it needed stitching. Ripple felt a small head rub up against the back of her neck and feathers tickled her through her pelt. She giggled, feeling like a small filly foal once again.

“Thank you, Philomena,” Ripple said, her tone gracious.

With a squawk, Philomena spread her wings and flew off, heading back towards the hollow tree where she had made her nest. In a moment, there was a flash of blue when Freezerburn flew off after her. Ripple watched them go, thankful for their presence, even if Philomena’s morning crowing was more annoying than any rooster.

Yawning, Bucky emerged through the front door. “What happened?”

“You need your sleep,” Derpy grumped.

“I heard a commotion. Hey, who hurt my Ripple?” Bucky asked, his voice becoming icy and dangerous.

“I’m fine, a spider just got lucky,” Ripple explained. “Lugus is in town delivering the body of a mare we found wrapped in webbing. Really, I’m okay, I just need something to eat more than anything.”

“You still need a proper bath,” Derpy retorted. “Come on Ripple, I’ll help you get scrubbed up and while you’re getting a bath, somepony will fix you something to eat.”

There was a flash and a pop as Lyra returned the first aid box to its location with magic, unsummoning it now that it was no longer needed. “Stupid spiders,” Lyra grumbled. She watched Ripple go inside with Derpy and gave Bon Bon a glance. “I hate seeing her get hurt.”

“I know,” Bon Bon replied, a sad smile on her face. “But this is the path she has chosen.”

“I just hope she doesn’t end up like me,” Bucky mumbled, not yet fully awake.

“I really hope that never happens,” Lyra whimpered. “I love Ripple.”

“Both of you are worry warts,” Bon Bon said, prodding Lyra with her hoof and then poking Bucky. “Come on, Bucky, you should go back to bed. I hope you had a nice time with your fillies earlier.”

“Too late for me I think. I’m awake now. Luna is going to deliver something tonight when she pays us a visit so I think I am going to head over to my tower and make sure everything is ready for later,” Bucky announced.

“Ooh, somepony is getting his orb back,” Lyra said in a voice dripping with anticipation. “I hope we can experiment together soon. I have ideas Bucky. Defensive ideas for our cloaks.” Lyra beamed with eager excitement and completely ignored the dark look she was getting from Bon Bon, who did not approve of the orb on general principles.

 

 

 

 

I wish I understood more of what was going on in the world around me. I live in momentous times, but I lack the wisdom and the maturity to fully grasp the events that keep happening all around me. General Iron Sky is being forced to resign due to scandal, something about adultery and divorce. He had a moment where he fell down, became unpopular, and then the whole herd turned against him to kick him while he was down. While his public popularity was low, ponies seized upon his many misdeeds and spoke of them publicly. There are a lot of young pegasus fillies who have foals that they claim are Iron Sky’s. I do not know if these statements are true, but the public believes them to be. I have become aware of the court of public opinion and the tyranny of herd mentality.

It is a good reminder to keep my own snoot clean and never stray from my duties or my obligations.

It is funny how the herd can turn on ponies. Diamond Tiara, who genuinely tries to be a better pony, has not been given a second chance. General Iron Sky will likely never be forgiven. This bothers me. A pony shouldn’t be shunned because of mistakes. Berry Punch says this is how herd psychology works. I struggle against my own inner nature and I am more than a creature that acts upon base instinct. We are capable of rising above our own inner workings. We should be able to rise above herd psychology. We are aware of it, why not strive against it?

I will be heading off to Griffonholm soon. I have some fear and worry. Father believes this trip will go badly, and I trust his intuition. I am not sure what he is up to, but I know he is preparing. I’ve seen the fine grains of sand lodged in his hairy hide, a clear indicator he’s been working with glass. I have a hunch that he’s doing more than making windows and glass domes. Late at night he is working with Witching Hour and Tiddlywinks. I have seen strange lights in the distance from my bedroom window.

I suspect that while Twilight Sparkle prepares for peace, my father is preparing for war.

I don’t think the griffons will be ready for my father’s style of diplomacy. I don’t want everything ending in bloodshed. I would like to see a peaceful resolution between our species. Lugus is an amazing individual, and proof that griffons can be noble, just, and true. He says their penchant for slavery comes from feline laziness and that he had to work hard to overcome his inner nature. He is industrious and has something he calls a ‘work ethic’ that he takes a great deal of pride in.

I don’t know if I have a work ethic. I am not sure I fully understand the concept.

My brother, Rising Star, is becoming increasingly popular. Even though his nature is somewhat questionable now, and he has even been quoted in the paper as saying “only a moron would trust a fey creature such as myself,” ponies seem intent to vote him into office. Lyra and Bon Bon say he has captured the public imagination and his daily visits with Barley have brought him into the public eye. There is a photograph in the newspaper of him pulling a cart with Barley sitting in the cart, and a caption stating that Rising Star is kind to the elderly. I suspect that Rising Star could do something incredibly stupid and somepony somewhere would find some way of saying something in a positive light about the situation. Barley is old, and getting older, and Rising Star was just being kind and pulling his uncle around to save his legs. Rising Star’s parents have been in the paper several times now telling stories about their son as a colt. Rising Star has become a figure of public adoration. I pray that the herd never turns on him.

My own writings go well. I have had several publications now, and I have a collection of bits growing in my secret hiding place. I have been in contact with the head of the Ponyville Gazette. She wants me to write some opinion pieces for her and she says that she might eventually hire me as a reporter if I was interested. She cannot believe I am as young as I am.

I could not help but notice that she seemed distressed about my appearance when we met.

I get a lot of looks when I go into town. Ponies stare at me, and some are openly afraid. Grimglammer, Shadowguard, and Furious will be moving to Ponyville soon, there has been some delays keeping them away, but there are no lunar pegasi here. I feel rather alone. There are no other ponies like me around. Ponies are genuinely afraid of me. I don’t like it, but I understand it. I’m different and I look scary. The herd wants everypony to look the same and conform. Ponies always talk about the three tribes. And my tribe isn’t even mentioned or acknowledged. I’m an outsider.

Luna will be coming tonight and there will be a lesson. I look forward to it.

 

 

 

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