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 door opened with a creak and Bucky shone his light within, ready for anything that might be inside. There was a pitiful sounding squawk, many screeches, and wordless whimpering, all at once, and the overall effect made Bucky’s heart feel as though a shard of ice was being stabbed through it.

The lone aggressive squawk came from a solitary small griffon who stood in front of the others, wings out in defiance, his beak open in challenge. The little griffon’s tail twitched and he raised his talons in a threatening gesture.

“I am not here to harm you,” Bucky announced, looking in on the pitiful group locked in the room.

“Your king is here to rescue you!” Belisama shouted, moving into the doorway, hovering over Bucky. “King Fleshrender is dead, and so is King Tanner… King Buckminster has saved us.”

A deafening silence came from the stunned griffons and griffonesses who all stared at Bucky and Belisama, eyes blinking rapidly, little crests rising in curiousity. The lone defender of the group sat down suddenly, and his wings fluttered as he tried to process what had been said.

“King Tannis the Kind also rules. We are going to a new land where we can be happy and free. We are no longer slaves, but free to choose good masters!” Belisama announced.

“We are free?” the little defender asked, cautiously approaching Bucky with his head low and his body crouched down. “Our wings have been clipped. We are starving and many of us have died. How can we trust you?”

“Because I have this!” Belisama shouted. She raised the rifle, pointed it upwards, and then pulled the trigger. The sound was thunderous in the room and it sent the little griffons scattering. Flying forward through the gunsmoke, Belisama looked down at the griffons cowering against the walls and in the corners. “If I was not free, how could I have this?” she asked, holding the rifle out before her, presenting to her fellow griffons and griffonesses. “And my leg… my leg has been mended… I have been severely wounded and not used for food!”

Twilight watched all of this with a confused sense of awe, noting just how different these griffons acted compared to the much larger griffons. They stuck together, moved together, and one particularly brave griffon had moved forward to defend the others. Twilight Sparkle had never seen anything quite like it before.

“We have a new king,” the little protector said, crawling forward to Bucky.

“Don’t you dare give yourself to me as gifts!” Bucky warned, backing away, not trusting the devoted little griffons in the slightest. The last thing he wanted or needed was more fanatical minions like Belisama.

“But we are yours!” the little protector shouted. “You have saved us… we belong to you! You have armed one of us and given her power! You are worthy!”

Bucky groaned and shook his head, hating Belisama just a tiny bit for what she had done to him. “No, really, that isn’t necessary!”

“Too late, what’s done is done,” Belisama said, turning around to look at Bucky, still hovering, her white plaster cast glowing green in Bucky’s visor light.

“Belisama, lead them out of here. We have another door to open. Keep them in the hangar, safe, and look after them. We will work on feeding them soon. Make note of the wounded so we can get them patched up,” Bucky commanded, taking charge of the situation.

“Master, they have clipped wings. They are helpless. They cannot fly,” Belisama reported.

“Just keep them together and make them comfortable for now,” Bucky stated. “And stop calling me things like master! It is annoying!”

“Yes my king,” Belisama replied, bowing her head slightly. “Follow me. Carry the wounded and those too weak to walk if you can. Show our king what we can accomplish together and that we are worthy servants!”

Watching the griffons and griffonesses file out, Twilight looked at Bucky, wishing she could see his face. “You know Buckminster,” Twilight started.

“Please, call me Bucky, I grow weary of everypony and everybirdy calling me everything but ‘Bucky’ and it wears my patience down,” Bucky interjected.

“Bucky… I do believe that Princess Celestia will approve of what has taken place here. I know that you will be a good king for the griffons,” Twilight Sparkle said in a low voice as the griffons continued to exit the room.

“And why is that, Twilight?” Bucky replied.

“Because you don’t want to be king… you see it as a duty, but you don’t crave power,” Twilight Sparkle reasoned. “You actually worry and fret over them. You do all of the things that Princess Celestia said that I do that makes me a good princess.”

“Thank you Twilight,” Bucky responded in a low mechanical voice.

“Maybe you running from your coronation was a good thing Bucky… maybe you just weren’t being offered the right crown. He Who Should Not Be Named in present company did awful things. This is your chance to make up for his mistakes I suppose. I think I understand what you mean now, about not being able to save Griffonholm. The strong preyed on the weak… we should have done more to save them, long before this happened. Princess Celestia says we can’t solve all of the world’s problems but I think I am starting to disagree. Saving these griffons was a good thing. I can’t imagine being locked away like this,” Twilight Sparkle said, her voice low and full of emotion. “You have your little griffons, I have my little ponies.”

“My little griffons,” Bucky grunted.

“Let’s go open the other door,” Twilight suggested as the last griffoness stepped out of the room, leaving the pair alone as the group followed Belisama.

 

 

Wasting no time, Bucky tore away the second door and was greeted with screams of terror. Equine screams of terror. He backed away from the door and looked at Twilight, made a gesture with one armored leg, and then continued to back away from the door.

“You’re safe!” Twilight shouted over the hullabaloo. “I am Princess Twilight Sparkle and you are safe. If just one of you could come forward and give me some information so we can help you, I would appreciate it,” she commanded.

A lone zebra stepped into the green glow of Bucky’s visor lamp and peered ahead at Twilight, licking his lips nervously. He looked at Twilight pleadingly. “We are rescued?”

“Yes, you are rescued,” Twilight answered. “Where are you from?”

“I am from the Sea of Grass, as are many others, pony and zebra alike. The zebras and the earth ponies are okay… the pegasi have had their wings clipped or broken. They take away any unicorns they find and we never see them again,” the zebra answered.

Scowling inside of his helmet, Bucky drew one terrible conclusion. There wasn’t enough food on board The Scorned Mare for everypony. Gritting his teeth, he came to the painful realisation that he was in a bad spot.

“They kept us as slaves… those not strong enough to work were taken away. They took our foals from us,” the zebra said in a strangled voice. “Took wives from husbands and did terrible things. We want to go home.”

“And we want to take you home,” Twilight Sparkle announced in a loud voice, her own horn igniting and flooding the area with bright magenta light. She looked over the group and saw grief stricken faces, faces filled with fear, haunted faces that might never smile again, and it broke her heart. “I should warn you, we have griffons with us… good griffons… griffons who have suffered just as you have suffered. Slaves just like you. Please try to be mindful of them because we want to help all of you.”

“Are the little griffons okay?” a mare asked.

“They are fine,” Twilight responded, feeling somewhat surprised by the mare’s question and apparent concern for the griffons.

“Sometimes when they are out and working, they steal extra food for us because we don’t get very much with our rations,” the mare said. “The little griffons have been very kind to us, what will become of them?”

“You are looking at their king. They will be cared for and looked after. We are rescuing them as well,” Twilight Sparkle answered, pointing at Buckminster.

Bucky strode away from the group, heading off to his griffons and Belisama, seized with an idea. He moved swiftly, expending the extra energy, the idea bubbling in his head. The griffons were all huddled together in the hangar, and Bucky could hear them talking. They were cold, they were hungry, but they sound happy.

“I need your help,” Bucky announced, looking over his subjects.

“How can we help?” a griffoness asked.

“There has to be food around here… pony food. There were minotaurs around and the slaves have been getting rations. Where is the food? Can some of you show me?” Bucky questioned, looking around at his devoted flock.

“The minotaurs have the food that is used to feed the ponies. It is brought by airship from Minos. We have had to unload several ships, the minotaurs eat a lot of food,” the griffoness replied. “The supply depot is on the other side of this base, tucked away in a vast network of caves where it is cold.”

“Wonderful,” Bucky announced.

“Sometimes when things get busy, we are responsible for feeding the ponies. We filch extra rations,” the griffoness admitted.

“Good… good,” Bucky stated, looking around at the griffons looking up at him with wide adoring eyes. “Any other supplies which might be useful? Anything that we can use or take? Anything that you can tell me that is helpful?”

“We know that the fleet was taking heavy losses in the Hinterlands. The zebra fleet hit hard and many ships went off to do battle. A few days ago, the entire base went into a panic and we were stuffed inside of the room and forgotten,” the little griffoness reported.

“They raided a zebra medical freighter,” a griffon offered, coming close to Bucky and sitting down at Bucky’s armored hooves. “That was a while ago, just before the base went on lockdown. I don’t know where the supplies are, but I’m betting they’re secured with the food.”

“Very good,” Bucky said, looking down at the griffons who were looking at him now with unabashed affection. “Say… what have they been feeding you?”

“We eat rats and other vermin. We are responsible for keeping the other food free of pests. They kept the other meat for the warriors and hunters,” a griffon answered.

Sighing with relief, Bucky felt bad for the emaciated griffons, but thankful they had not been eating pony flesh.

“Bucky?”

Turning to look at Twilight, Bucky saw the alicorn leading a large group of ponies.

“Any ideas Bucky? What do we do? They’re starving. They haven’t been fed in a few days. I think when we started our attack on Griffonholm everything went bad here. How can we care for them?” Twilight Sparkle questioned.

“There is food here Twilight, and possibly the medical supplies from a zebra freighter. Hopefully the base is secured. We’ll need to look around and scavenge what we can. Our top priority is getting that big convoy freighter airborne so we have a place for the ponies, zebras, and griffons. After we have them stowed away, my plan is to fly over the Hinterlands towards Tradewinds and return the ponies and zebras to their homeland. Also, I plan to stop and see a few friends of mine to get purgatives for everypony and everybirdy,” Bucky explained.

“The plan is sound,” Lugus announced, landing a few feet away. “The ship will be comfortable enough. The cargo hold is vast and wide open, there are crew quarters that are somewhat adequate, and the water system functions. There aren’t very many beds though. Creature comforts will be scarce.”

“I’m sure we can make things work,” a stallion said, moving forward and looking at Lugus hesitantly.

“I will move to secure the base, Twilight, look after our rescues, Lugus, you are with me,” Bucky said, moving off to make sure the area was free of any hidden threats.

“Wait master, I am coming with you!” Belisama shouted, flying off after Bucky and Lugus, her wings buzzing frantically.

“Come Belisama, do try to keep up,” Bucky said as he neared the entrance to the hangar, turning to look over his shoulder at the group of ponies, zebras, and griffons behind him. “Twilight, keep the griffons and the ponies together. I think right now everypony and everybirdy could use a friend.”

 

 

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