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 fourth day dawned, bleak and grey, and The Scorned Mare had remained unmolested through the night. Deep within the bowels of the ship there was life, the huddled masses thankful to have lived another day, the lovers thankful they still had their loves, and one unicorn who was busy trying to make sense of everything that was going on in his life.

Lugus, who had woke up not long ago, loomed patiently near a much smaller griffon, a griffon that was practically bite sized compared to him, and he watched Bucky with a weary eye while giving a gentle nudge to the smaller griffon.

Bucky, who had been awake through the night, stared blearily at Lugus and Belisama from over the top of a large cup of coffee. Lugus, who was looking at him defiantly, staring him in the eye, and Belisama, who averted her gaze and stared at the floor. One of her hind legs was in a plaster cast and slung to her body with an expanse of fabric.

“Are you well?” Bucky inquired in a low gentle voice, looking down at Belisama in concern. “You have rested I hope… in a little while we are going to get food before we continue our… diplomacy… in this place.”

“My king, I am well,” Belisama replied.

“Don’t call me that,” Bucky requested.

“Yes, as you command, Majesty,” Belisama answered.

“Oh no, not that either,” Bucky begged.

“Of course, Highness,” Belisama returned, her eyes still averted.

“No titles of royalty,” Bucky stated, a simple command.

“Yes master,” Belisama said obediently.

“No, don’t say that either,” Bucky requested.

“Yes my keeper,” Belisama replied.

“You… you are wearing on my last nerve,” Bucky grunted, a hint of anger in his voice. “No more titles. Call me Bucky or call me nothing.”

“Yes, as you request... Nothing,” Belisama responded, causing Lugus to chortle faintly in the back of his throat.

“Lugus,” Bucky growled.

“Yes my king?” Lugus replied.

“I see what is going on here… griffons do have a sense of humour,” Bucky stated in an irritated voice.

“I don’t know what you mean, Sire,” Lugus said, still looking Bucky in the eye.

Sighing heavily, Bucky tried to collect his thoughts. He rubbed his cheek with his stump, closed his eye for a moment, and then took a drink of coffee. “I have been up all night thinking about you griffons and your leadership situation,” Bucky said, opening his eye and causing a thick purple mist to spill out.

Lugus, suddenly very serious, lifted his crest and stared at Bucky intently.

“If I might say so, the griffons want you for their king. You and Tannis. I have spoken with many, and the feeling is shared. We need a warrior king to protect Tannis… he is our best hope for survival… Tannis the Kind will give us the kind of life we want,” Belisama said.

“Where is Tannis, by the way?” Bucky asked.

“I woke him up,” Lugus replied. “He said he was coming, the events of everything that happened press down upon his spine and crush him.”

“Well, while we are waiting… Belisama, to be honest, I do not know what to do with you… and I do not wish you insult you, but I don’t feel right about owning you,” Bucky said to the small griffoness.

The griffoness looked up at Bucky for a moment, bravely looking him in the eye, and then she averted her gaze once again. Her wings fluttered and there was a ruffle of freshly cleaned feathers.

Hearing the sound made Bucky suddenly miss Derpy, a painful aching sense of longing creeping into his barrel that made his heart feel cold.

“In my life… I have had several masters. None of them have been particularly good. None of them have been mindful of my safety. The only kindness ever offered was that they kept my sister and I together and none of them raped us. I have always been left to fend for myself. I have lived my whole life in fear. And then you came,” Belisama said in low raspy voice.

Lugus, moving suddenly, snatched Belisama without warning, wrapping his talons around her small body, lifting her up, and then he carefully set her down upon the table so she would be at eye level with Bucky so Bucky could see her.

The griffoness panicked and started to leap off of the table, but Lugus snapped his talons once in warning, causing her to freeze in fright.

Bucky studied her, taking her in, seeing how different she was now that she was cleaned up. Her cat half was calico, a mix of reds, golds, and oranges mixed with black and white patches. Her feathers were brown with orange hints. Her eyes were large and luminously green. Her beak was a tawny gold colour, almost tortoiseshell.

“I am taking control over my own fate and I am choosing a better master. I have given myself to you in the hopes that I might have a better future. You saved me and took revenge upon my sister’s killers… you have provided me a service I have no chance of ever paying for,” Belisama explained.

“You don’t need to pay me for anything,” Bucky replied.

“My last master was King Tanner… he gave me and my sister to his guard to reward their loyalty… you saved me… and you killed the king, making me either your property or part of your pride,” Belisama whispered, daring to look Bucky in the eye again. “I was part of his pride, but he never… took me… for a time, he found me useful.”

“What is it that you do?” Bucky asked, leaning forward and drinking some of his coffee.

“I am a skilled alchemist and a bit of a musician,” Belisama answered, lowering her haunches down to the table and sitting down carefully, mindful of her leg.

“Wait, that is a valuable skill, why would he throw you away like that?” Bucky inquired, his ears perked forward.

“Because… I overheard him talking about what was being planned for you and I called him a monster. I told him he was condemning us all to death. I called him a bad master… and a worse king,” Belisama answered in a wavering voice.

Bucky recoiled as if he had been slapped. He fell back in his chair, slumping down, his head falling back so he could stare at he ceiling. “You’re very brave,” he whispered, looking upwards, his guts churning painfully. The little griffoness was not as submissive as she appeared.

“Thank you sir, that is very kind of you to say,” Belisama murmured.

“What do I do… Lugus, I don’t know what to do,” Bucky grumbled as he sat up straight again. He stared at Belisama, then at Lugus, and realised that Belisama was just as brave and fearless as Lugus was even at a fraction of his size.

Another figure entered the room, moving through the dim darkness, very few lights had been turned on and the windows were currently closed. Tannis approached, his posture submissive, his head low and spine hunched.

“I’m sorry,” Tannis apologised. “It was very difficult to move and get out of the bed.”

“Combat will do that to you,” Lugus said in reply as Tannis sat down at the table.

“Hello Belisama,” Tannis said nervously. He looked at Bucky, seeing his eye glowing in the dim light, and felt a chill. “Belisama and I know one another. I do not know her as well as I would like, but I do know she is trustworthy. I cared for her when I could, but it is considered bad form for a son to provide for his father’s pride.”

“Tannis was kind to me,” Belisama stated, looking for one brief instant at Tannis. “He brought my sister and I fish and occasionally he gave us purgatives when we weren’t being watched.”

“Sons conspire against their fathers… and a mindful king watches his family,” Tannis said nervously. “We are creatures of extreme paranoia. But I give you my word, Belisama will be loyal to you.”

“I’ll deal with that later,” Bucky interjected. “For now, there is far more pressing and practical matters at hand.”

“And those are?” Tannis inquired politely.

“I am now your guardian, and Agnetha as well. I am claiming you both as spoils of war, and keeping you as my wards. Goshawk begged me to be Agnetha’s guardian before she died. You are my children, both of you, and I look after what is mine. From this moment onwards, both of you are under my protection and care,” Bucky answered, his tone cold and commanding as he leaned forwards. “As my adoptive wards, I am responsible for your well being and I intend to provide for that.”

“Thank you sir, you are very kind,” Tannis said graciously.

“You are now a ward of the War Chief of Equestria, and I ask that you willingly submit yourself to me Tannis. I must ask that you unconditionally surrender all of your power, titles, and claims to land in Griffonholm. Do you understand what I am asking?” Bucky questioned.

“I do sir… and I, Tannis, now ward of Buckminster Bitters, do offer my unconditional surrender of everything I have and everything I am,” Tannis said in a strangled voice. “And I beg you for mercy for my former subjects.”

“Wait… hold on to that thought, don’t jump to conclusions just yet,” Bucky said reassuringly.

“I don’t understand sir,” Tannis said in a voice now cracking with emotion.

“Tannis, Huginn and Muninn are no more. I intend to bury them under ice and heal the land. You do not have a kingdom here, but you do have kingdom. You may not have lands, but you do have your subjects. I am appointing you as king, under my authority. I will take you back to Equestria and I will reunite you with your subjects who have found a home there. They will be glad to have a king again,” Bucky explained.

“But what of-”

“Tannis… about the second king. I am going to assume that title because it seems to be what the griffons want, am I correct in this?” Bucky asked, interrupted Tannis mid sentence.

“I… they… we… yes, sir, I have spoken to my subjects at length here on the ship trying to reassure them and give them hope, they revere you as their liberator,” Tannis replied, his eyes flooding over with tears and his voice becoming a pained screech.

“In a few days, when this is over, it is my intention to have you and Agnetha marry. I will do it here, on the deck of The Scorned Mare. You are not to touch her until we return to Equestria and that little problem of yours is fixed. But I already know that you will not betray my trust,” Bucky said and then finished off his now cooled coffee in one gulp.

“Of course not sir, I would never betray your trust,” Tannis squeaked, overcome with emotion. He wiped at his eyes and tried to regain his composure.

“Belisama,” Bucky stated.

“Yes my master?” Belisama replied.

Grunting with annoyance, Bucky glared at the unrepentant griffoness. “I am appointing you as my liaison to the griffons. I can’t personally deal with all of them, but I can deal with you. Some are going to want to follow Tannis, others will want to follow me. It is my first decree that they be allowed to choose. I need an army, but not for war. Put out the word that I want hard workers, artisans, crafters of all stripes, anybirdy willing to obey my commands willingly. Let it be known that I will provide for them, but tell them they must be willing to learn and adapt to a new way of life. It is my intention to show them a new way. A better way. I will try to preserve what I can of the old ways, but a new way is needed if you desire a better future.”

“Yes… master I will tell them,” Belisama replied. “And I eagerly await your new ways as your servant.”

“Lugus,” Bucky stated.

“Yes my friend?” Lugus answered.

Raising his eyebrow, Bucky took note of how Lugus had addressed him. Not as king, but as friend, and he felt a smile threatening to spread across his muzzle. It seemed he was back in Lugus’ good graces again.

“Lugus, I am appointing you as Defender of the Empire. You are now responsible for every single griffon and griffoness in my care that swears fealty to me. You will look after them, you will care for them, you will make sure the sick are tended to, and most importantly, you will protect them. These are now my children Lugus… DO NOT LET MY CHILDREN COME TO HARM.”

With a stunned gasp, Lugus nodded his head, his beak clicking, and he raised his right talons, flexing them into a fist. “I will protect them my king,” Lugus vowed. “My life for them if necessary.”

“When Sentinel awakes, inform him he has new duties. A prince has to get to know his subjects, and I want Sentinel to get his first taste of rule. He is to spend the day getting to know his subjects and earning their devotion and trust,” Bucky instructed.

“Yes my king,” Lugus answered in a solemn voice.

“In just a little while, I am going to take us to a place where we can get lots of fish. Bring as much as you can onboard and I will freeze them. My subjects must eat. Once provisions are secured, it is my intentions to find out where reinforcements came from. Twilight Sparkle and I have unfinished business. After we root out what is sure to be a hidden base, we move to the Hinterlands, explore a bit, do as much damage as we can, and then we will be off to Tradewinds to speak with the zebras and explain what happened. Also, I plan to stop by and speak to some healers I know… the last of the vile toxins from this wretched place need to be purged.”

 

 

 

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