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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Bucky watched as the small corvette dirigible approached. It was a small ship, smaller than The Scorned Mare, and was clearly built for speed. It was a rigid gasbag design, sleek, modern, and fast. It bore the flag of the Zebra empire, a white flag with green palm fronds. He peered carefully, squinting his eye, his vision greatly improved in the dim light of twilight as the sun began to dip over the western horizon behind him.

He levitated a small cracker loaded down with hummus and a slice of stinky cheese to his mouth, took it in with one bite, crunched thoughtfully, and continued to keep an eye on the corvette.

“We have company,” Lyra announced, lifting one hoof over her eyes so she could peer off into the distance, her golden eyes now narrowed.

“That we do, love,” Bucky replied, loading up another cracker with hummus and a small slice of cheese. He growled when Lyra stole a cracker, did the same, and then grunted when Lyra slugged him gently in protest. “But you stole my cracker,” he grumbled, feigning hurt about being slugged.

“I feel like an airship pirate,” Lyra quipped around a mouthful of cracker, spraying crumbs everywhere as she spoke.

“I don’t… I have no booty to plunder,” Bucky deadpanned.

Making “snerk” noises, grunting, and nearly choking, Lyra was forced to swallow her cracker to keep from spewing it out everywhere. She burst into laughter and clutched her stomach with one front leg.

“At least you’ve seen some action this trip,” Bucky muttered.

Blushing, Lyra looked away, her cheeks blazing. “Look, I said I was sorry about dry humping you in my sleep and leaving a wet spot on your back. I thought you were Bon Bon.”

Grinning rakishly, Bucky prodded Lyra with his stump and offered her a cracker loaded with hummus and cheese. “It’s okay Lyra, I’m not upset.”

Accepting the cracker, Lyra popped it into her mouth and crunched it up, daring to glance over at Bucky. Swallowing, Lyra leaned over and kissed Bucky on the cheek. “You know, if the idea of being with a stallion didn’t cause me to have panic attacks, and I wanted to be with a stallion, it would be with you.”

“I know,” Bucky replied in a soft humble voice. “And every day I hope I never break your trust. It is one of the few things I care about… I mean, I’ve done a lot of horrible things, but I never want that to be one of them. I am open to all manner of other horrible acts though.”

“I see pegasi… we have company,” Lyra announced.

“I know, I’m not worried,” Bucky responded.

 

 

On the deck before Bucky stood a strange creature. A zebra with wings. Clearly, it was half pegasus, half zebra, and he wore a uniform jacket with openings for his wings. He had two pegasus escorts standing on either side of him, both wearing light but functional armor of fine design, and war shoes of exceptional make.

“Knight Major, we received word you would be traveling by this way. I am very pleased to meet you, I am Captain Finch… yes, Zebra Finch, I’m aware of the opportunity for a laugh here. My companions are named Pelican and Skua.”

“Please, call me Bucky. This is one of my wives, Lyra Heartstrings, and Princess Twilight Sparkle will be on deck in a moment,” Bucky said, introducing himself and Lyra in reply.

“Just Bucky?” Finch said incredulously. “You address a prince by his rank or by calling him by royal title,” the striped pegasus said nervously, his wings fluttering at his sides, and his long corded tail whipping about.

Rolling his eye, Bucky sighed. “That might be so, but I don’t want to be a prince. It is quite a headache and a bunch of ponies seem to forget that you are just a pony and can make mistakes.”

“Oh my… well, that actually seems most reasonable,” Finch replied, looking nonplussed and stepping one step backwards. “This is a most marvelous ship,” he complimented, changing the subject.

“That is a lovely little corvette you have,” Bucky said, looking over at the ship keeping pace with them. “Quite a number of weapons. I don’t recognise some of them.”

“Oh, experimental designs from the school of high wizardry in Tradewinds. Obnoxious weapons, keep failing, the designs are faulty. When they work, they shoot fire and ice. When they work. There is nothing quite like the reliable electro-cannon I say,” Finch replied, grinning broadly. “The wizards guild is quite annoying I must say, sticking their noses into everything, trying to improve things that work just fine and fixing things that aren’t broken.”

“Greetings.”

Every head turned to look at Princess Twilight Sparkle. She was wearing a small tasteful gold diadem and her tall form moved with as much grace as she could muster. She approached the group, both Sentinel and Flash Sentry just behind her, and she extended one wing in a soft salute. After her salute, both Sentinel and Flash Sentry whipped out a wing as well, both looking forward, standing at attention.

“Captain Finch, Pelican, Skua… this is Princess Twilight Sparkle, my squire, Sentinel, and Communications Specialist Flash Sentry of the Solar Guard,” Bucky said, introducing the group to one another.

“Charmed I am, it is a pleasure to meet you, Princess,” Finch returned, bowing his head slightly. “I’ve heard so many stories, it really is a pleasure and a privilege to finally meet you. If it isn’t too much to ask, before we part ways, might I get a picture with you?” the striped pegasus politely inquired.

“It would be my honour,” Princess Twilight Sparkle answered, giggling slightly and blushing. “I am guessing that you were sent here to greet us.”

“Well, a bit more than that I am afraid,” Finch replied. “Begging Your Majesty’s forgiveness, but I do have some grim news to impart, and it pains me greatly that I must distress you, your ladyship,” he said apologetically.

“Please, tell me,” Twilight said, her smile vanishing and she suddenly became quite serious, her wings becoming still at her sides and she drew herself up to her now considerable full height.

“In the past day, we’ve officially gone to war with the griffon empire. We will no longer tolerate their predations. Princess Celestia does not agree or condone our actions, but we feel that we have no choice. I must ask that you suspend your trip… we are begging you to not negotiate with these… these… animals and I was sent to convince you to join our cause, to beg for Equestria’s aid in this war,” Finch said nervously, having some trouble looking Twilight in the eye.

“What happened?” Bucky inquired in a low commanding voice. When he spoke, Twilight stepped back and nodded, leaving him standing alone to deal with Captain Finch.

Looking around, Finch slowly came to the realisation that Princess Twilight Sparkle and Prince Buckminster Bitters both shared authority, but clearly had their own separate duties. He turned to face Buckminster and so he could address him directly.

“About a week ago, in the far east expanses of the Sea of Grass, we intercepted a couple of slaughterhouse ships. Make no mistake, they are exactly what they sound like. Griffon raiders preyed on settlements on our distant borders, north, near the Hinterlands. They move in, capture any zebras or ponies they find, imprison them, kill some, slaughter them, pack them on ice, and keep the rest as slaves. They then head home with fresh meat and slaves, or back to raider camps in the Hinterlands. We’ve already been pummeling the raider camps. The wizards and zebra alchemists have developed a new kind of bomb that specifically targets griffons and causes a severe case of beak rot. We’ve been bombarding the Hinterlands and we plan to push further north to Griffonholm soon,” Finch reported.

Looking grim, Bucky nodded. “I understand your efforts. We must continue this trip and try to work for peace. I must ask you that you do not attack Griffonholm for a while. Try to give us a chance to work towards a peaceful solution. If that fails… while Princess Celestia might not aid you, I will consider doing so-”

“Buckminster!” Twilight snapped, interrupting Bucky mid-sentence.

“I will consider joining you and aiding your efforts,” Bucky continued, ignoring Twilight’s vehement word of protest.

“Buckminster Bitters, you do not have the authority or the backing to do such an act,” Twilight Sparkle warned, stepping forward and getting in Bucky’s personal space.

“I can think of nopony that could stop me,” Bucky remarked, turning away from Twilight to look at Finch. “The right thing must be done. The Sea of Grass has long been our allies, friends, and staunch supporters. It is time that your loyalty be acknowledged. If I will it, I can make things happen. I don’t have a large army, but I can muster up quite a few Myrmidons. I have a warship… and with The Scorned Mare being under Princess Luna’s protection, if they fire upon my ship, Princess Luna will get involved in the war, no matter what her sister Celestia says.”

“Buckminster!” Twilight grunted, sounding quite irate. “Stop this at once!”

“No,” Bucky replied. “You are only my superiour as a Black Cloak, and back home as a higher ranking member of the royal family. Here, on this ship, under Princess Luna’s executive order, my word is law. You will fall in line Princess Twilight Sparkle, and recognise my authority as the commander of this vessel.”

Snarling, Twilight stomped her hoof down, closed her eyes, stomped again, and then stormed away, leaving the air reeking of ozone and the smell of something burning in her wake. She strode to the door leading belowdecks and slammed it shut behind her.

“Oh my… permission to be excused, sir,” Flash Sentry requested.

“Go after her,” Bucky grunted in consent. He turned to watch Flash go, and then turned to look at Sentinel, who looked quite disturbed and distressed.

“I take it that your actions will not be popular at home,” Finch said, watching as Bucky turned around towards him again. “I do appreciate your support, and the Sea of Grass thanks you as well.”

“I will deal with whatever happens. I have my own way of doing things. I don’t think it will make me popular,” Bucky responded, looking troubled.

“I wouldn’t be so sure about that Bucky,” Lyra said reassuringly, nudging her husband. “Some might be upset with you, but I think a lot of ponies at home will appreciate you taking a hard stance on the issue and coming to the aid of our zebra friends.”

“More than just zebras… ponies forget that there are a lot of ponies in the Sea of Grass as well. Zebras, ponies, all of them equines. And it isn’t right to leave them to the predations of the griffons while we sit across the sea in relative safety,” Bucky said to Lyra.

The visiting pegasi squirmed, Captain Finch looking both relieved and quite stressed at the same time, and the trio all looked around, trying to figure out how to deal with the situation that had just happened.

“As I have previously stated, give me time to try and coax the griffons into a peaceful solution. I will attempt to get them to call off the war they have with you, but by all means, keep pounding away on the camps in the Hinterlands. If negotiations fail, you will have my support in the coming war,” Bucky said, trying to reassure Captain Finch.

“Thank you, sir, I must be returning to my ship soon. My crew becomes quite nervous without me,” Captain Finch stated, bowing his head slightly.

“I wish you good luck and good fortune, from one commander to another,” Bucky said, his tone heartfelt and sincere. “And I do apologise that you did not get your picture with Princess Twilight Sparkle.”

 

 

Heading belowdecks, Bucky found himself ambushed by Twilight, who approached him slowly and cautiously. He bowed his head and readied himself for her angry outburst.

“I wanted to apologise,” Twilight offered.

“What?” Bucky asked in stunned disbelief.

“I wanted to apologise,” Twilight repeated. “Flash Sentry came and spoke to me. He calmed me down and said some very logical things. Rarity and Applejack overheard. And my friends reminded me that friends stick together. And the zebras have long been our friends. If something happens, I don’t know that I can support you, but I will not oppose you, and will try to protect you from Celestia if she gets a bit angry if I can.”

“Thank you,” Bucky said, lifting his head to look Twilight in the eye.

“What are friends for?” Twilight replied in a low voice.

 

 

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