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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With a flick of his magic, Bucky made The Scorned Mare rise, pulling The Albatross with it. The thrum of the engines made the ship feel alive, and Bucky was glad to be moving again and away from the wreckage of the military base.

Some of the bodies had started to stink and there was a lot of dead things within the ruins. Most of the base had been picked over, scavenged, and anything remotely useful had been taken.

A warning indicator beeped incessantly, showing that the engines were operating above recommended capacity, and a little message popped up on the display that without direct sunlight, there would be reduced speed and power with the current load.

This alert made Bucky scowl fiercely.

Snarling, Bucky wracked his brain and immediately began to try to think of a solution, not sure what to do, but knowing that something needed to be done. He needed more power somehow. The Scorned Mare had a rather small gasbag filled with cloudstuff, and the electrical generation was sufficient for her own weight.

The Scorned Mare shuddered as it rose above the mountain peaks. The wind hit The Albatross, the gale force gusts tugging on the much larger ship, the forces of drag hard at work. The bigger ship had no engines to assist and was completely at the mercy of the wind.

As they flew away from the military base, Bucky reached out and touched the kegs full of gunpowder with his mind, igniting several kegs with a simple flame spell.

A moment later, the train parked in the tunnel exploded, collapsing the passage, the muffled roar of the explosion causing Bucky’s coffee cup to rattle alarmingly upon the little table it sat upon.

Setting a course south and west, Bucky turned The Scorned Mare towards the Hinterlands and began the journey that would eventually take them to the Sea of Grass.

 

 

Soaring high above the clouds for the most available sunlight, The Scorned Mare pulled steadily forward, towing The Albatrossbehind it. It was cold up at this altitude, but Bucky found that he didn’t mind the icy breeze that tried to slash through his shaggy pelt. He sat on the deck, looking forward, his nostrils puffing out clouds of steam that immediately got sucked away behind him. The air was thin up here, but Bucky found that he didn’t mind that either, provided he stayed still and didn’t move much. He was glad that he had sealed  the hull on The Albatross so the inside could be pressurised.

He yawned, finally feeling sleepy, and decided a bit of sleep might be a good idea. He rose to his hooves, wobbled a bit, and then took off at a three legged trot to the door that led below decks. Lyra was in the navigation cabin and everything seemed to be going according to plan, which worried Bucky somewhat, but he was currently too tired to care.

 

 

Entering his cabin, he saw Belisama asleep on the small sofa, partially covered by a blanket. She had been up for a good part of the night, keeping him company, and had made the pot of tea he had drank while while speaking with Twilight Sparkle. With a gentle touch of magic, he pulled the blanket over her, mindful to not let it snag upon her plaster cast, and he watched her sleeping for a few moments.

“That was very sweet of you.”

Hearing Bon Bon whisper softly, Bucky turned and saw Bon Bon’s head poking through the door. He grinned sheepishly and then crawled into the bed, wiggling under the blanket, and then tried to find a comfortable position to sleep in.

“I hate trying to sleep alone,” Bucky grumbled. “Come back to bed Bon Bon.”

“I can’t,” Bon Bon whispered. “There are ponies and some griffons to look after, Harper is being fussy, and I just woke up not all that long ago, so I am not sleepy.”

“Not fair,” Bucky grumbled in a low voice. “His Royal Highness demands his snuggly wuggly bed warmer.”

“You know, Bucky my dear, I think that might be the first time I have heard you invoke a royal command towards a member of your own family, and it is hilarious,” Bon Bon replied, raising her eyebrow slightly.

“Your sass isn’t warming my bed,” Bucky mumbled. “Get your sass over here so I can squeeze it and rub my cheek up against it. I demand you present to me your warm sass for my comfort.”

Giggling softly, Bon Bon departed from the room and shut the door, leaving Bucky all alone in the bed, grumbling wordlessly to himself, denied his snuggly wuggly bed warmer.

 

 

Lyra, alone in the navigation cabin, was giving a lot of thought about how to fix the energy issue. She had something of an idea of how to fix it, but lacked the means to implement it. The Albatross currently produced far more electricity than it needed. A ship’s engines were the primary drain on the power system. The Scorned Mare was not producing enough power under the current load.

What was needed was a means to get the electricity flowing between the two ships.

Snatching the microphone from the stand, Lyra lifted it to her lips. “All crew members are to be belowdecks unless you have specific clearance to be on deck,” Lyra announced in a clear voice, broadcasting to the entire ship. “We are now passing into the Hinterlands. We are still under general quarters and will remain that way, but if there is trouble, there will be an announcement. Also, for anypony or anybirdy listening, your pilot is thirsty and could use a drink.”

 

 

The Hinterlands were little more than barren rock, sand, alkali flats, and in the southeastern expanses near the Sea of Grass, a vast marsh that covered thousands of square miles. It was a lawless place, a terrible place, a no-species land of exile. Slavery still happened here, nothing had ever truly gained control of the Hinterland, and this was the dumping ground where every other nation on the planet banished its undesirables.

Even dragons avoided this place, except to fly over while looking for food.

Griffons, the particularly bad griffons, had long since inhabited this land, preying upon all those who lived here. Trolls roamed the rocky reaches. Hideous creatures called fomorians lived in caves here, massive bipedal giants that ate anything smaller than they were. Chimeras of all kinds roamed the wastes, collections of all manner of horror mixed into one body. Cockatrices were said to roam wild here, and in great numbers. The marsh was full of cragadiles, some of them as long as The Scorned Mare if stories were to be believed, and the cragadiles were preyed upon by giant hydras.

The Hinterlands were considered to be a truly awful place and Lyra loved to read books about everything that was said to go on there.

 

 

“This part of the trip seems too uneventful,” Lugus stated, only his front half fitting into the navigation cabin. “This design seems impractical,” he complained.

“Hey, don’t jinx it… and what seems impractical?” Lyra replied, looking over at Lugus.

“Having the navigation cabin here on the rear deck that can only be reached by walking over the deck. At this altitude it is impractical,” Lugus explained, the icy wind blowing over his backside.

“This is the POOP DECK!” Lyra corrected as she burst into laughter. “This deck covers the rear cabin. Just below us is the commander’s cabin and Bucky. And there is a second control room for the ship, but I don’t like that one.”

“There is a second control?” Lugus questioned, his head cocking off to the side.

“Yes,” Lyra replied. “Down deep in the ship. No windows. Well protected. In the event of an intense battle, there is a second navigation center down in the bowels of the ship where everything can be controlled and you don’t have to sit in a cabin made of glass that rises from the very rear of the poop deck.”

“Ah, I see,” Lugus responded.

“But I don’t like it, and I want to see the battle if it happens,” Lyra said with a grin. “Like the battle over the griffon military base. That was awesome. I had the control ring over my horn and I was jacked into the ship. I could control the electro-cannons with my mind. Merging with The Scorned Mare is like the greatest feeling ever Lugus.”

“Unicorn technology frightens me,” Lugus said in a low voice as he watched Lyra bounce around in her seat from her pent up excitement.

 

 

Yawning, Bucky looked at the projection map, stuffed into the command chair with Lyra. He rubbed his belly, looked around, and with a grunt, realised that the late afternoon almost evening hour was entirely too early to be up.

“Something really big happened here. Two crashed ships below us, one of them one of the big griffon gunships… look at it Bucky, the big one is blown in half… it looked like something ripped it apart… do you think dragons might have done it or did something like a zebra warship blow it up?” Lyra questioned.

“The firepower to do that would be immense,” Bucky grunted, not fully awake. He stared at the projection image blearily, and as he did so, he felt one of Lyra’s forelegs wrap around his withers. “I wonder if the zebras got tired of the firearms ban and the Council of High Sorcery authorised the use of projectile weapons like cannons… there is a really big hole… there, right there, do you see?”

“I do Bucky, I see it,” Lyra said, leaning down over the projection.

“The sun will be setting soon and we’ll be under reduced power,” Bucky grumbled.

“I have a solution Bucky, but I don’t know how to implement it,” Lyra announced.

“Do tell,” Bucky stated.

“We need a way to share electricity between the two ships. I don’t know how to do that though,” Lyra answered, shrugging as she spoke.

Both unicorns froze in the command seat as the console made a faint beep. Both turned and looked at the map, noticing the ten blue dots now moving rapidly towards The Scorned Mare, two of which were really, really, really big.

“We’ve got friendlies,” Lyra grunted. “Incoming fast. They’re moving! Magical signatures detected, probably unicorns. Should we meet them? Should we drop altitude?”

“Drop altitude and prepare to meet them,” Bucky answered, slipping free of the chair. “My best guess it is the zebra fleet. We should let them know what happened.”

 

 

Much to Bucky’s surprise, he saw a familiar figure on deck. He hobbled forward towards the grinning figure, now smiling himself. “Finch… Pelican… Skua, how are you?”

“Knight Major, so glad to see you… we’ve heard disturbing things. Perhaps you could tell us what is going on?” Zebra Finch greeted, the zebra pegasus raising a wing in salute to Bucky. “Where is Princess Twilight Sparkle?”

“She is coming,” Bucky replied. “So what have you heard?”

“Some kind of powerful magical force manifested over Griffonholm. Our wizards tried to scry on the city and saw that it is covered in a blizzard. And we know from the griffon warships that we have captured that there is some kind of major panic,” Finch replied, looking at Bucky pointedly.

“The griffons attempted to murder us in our sleep. We managed to escape with our lives, but not without injury. I started a war and both kings of Griffonholm are now dead. The griffons are no longer a threat,” Bucky explained.

“And what of the new griffon kings?” Finch inquired, now looking very serious.

“Not a threat,” Bucky stated.

“And you know this how?” Finch questioned, now increasingly agitated and nervous.

“King Tannis is belowdecks. He is the new king, by my backing, and I give you my word that he is not a threat to you. He desires peace,” Bucky replied in a patient voice.

“There are always two!” Finch said in fear.

“It’s complicated,” Bucky began, taking a deep breath.

“What is going on?” Twilight demanded, now on decks, and having heard only part of the conversation. She approached rapidly, her much longer legs making her stride quite quick. Her wings fluttered and her tail whipped in the breeze.

“We were discussing the new kings of the griffons,” Finch said, trying to calm himself and bowing his head to Twilight Sparkle.

“Bucky is now king of the griffons,” Twilight Sparkle blurted out, trying to assert control over the situation, her scabbed over and still blistered face looking serious.

“Oh dear… I began to suspect as much when he started to explain… I must offer my apologies, but as king of the griffons, I must ask that you surrender at once and submit to our authority,” Finch said in a nervous squeaky voice.

“WHAT?” Twilight bellowed.

Skua and Pelican moved closer to Finch, the stalwart pegasi guards eyes narrowing as the situation suddenly became quite tense.

“Look, I must ask that you surrender so we can sort this out. The griffons have a lot to answer for, and I have before me the king of the griffons… please, don’t make this difficult,” Finch begged. “I am obligated to do what must be done.”

“NO!” Twilight snapped.

“I surrender,” Bucky said in a low voice.

“What?” Twilight growled. “NO!”

“Twilight Sparkle, stand down this instant,” Bucky commanded in an icy voice.

“Why should I?” Twilight snarled.

“Because the zebras are our friends, and betraying a friend’s trust is the fastest way to lose a friend… forever,” Bucky said in a calm commanding voice.

“I am certain we can sort something out… I need to get in touch with the Council… there is a mirror we can use to communicate. I offer you my word that while you are our prisoner, you will be treated with the utmost respect and care. There has been enough bloodshed and death, and we have no desire to continue it,” Finch said solemnly.

“Twilight Sparkle, go fetch Tannis and Agnetha. Explain to them what is going on and tell them that I said to come along quietly,” Bucky instructed.

“If you would like, you may have one attendant come along with you to vouch for your care and wellbeing. We will keep you in a nice cabin, but you will not be permitted to leave,” Finch said nervously, watching Twilight Sparkle with a wary eye.

“The griffon empire surrenders,” Bucky said again, giving Twilight Sparkle a very pointed stare. “I will do anything you ask of me, but I must ask that you do not hurt my subjects. They have suffered enough. The surviving griffons are not a threat and their numbers are too few. They near extinction.”

“I don’t think a magic inhibitor is necessary,” Finch stated. “Your Majesty, we appreciate your cooperation and I do humbly beg your forgiveness for what is about to happen, but I am confident that an agreement and conclusion can be reached.”

“You are not taking him,” Lugus growled, his talons flexing and clicking upon the deck. “I will not allow you to take my friend. Have a clear shot Belisama?”

“I do,” Belisama chirped.

Looking around, Bucky realised that he couldn’t see the little griffoness anywhere. “I SAID STAND DOWN AND I MEAN IT! Lugus, do as I command!”

“We cannot let them take you my king,” Lugus said in a savage growl. “We finally have a worthy king and I WILL NOT ALLOW YOU TO TAKE HIM!”

“I think I find myself agreeing with Lugus,” Twilight said in a commanding voice.

“Has the world gone mad?” Bucky snarled. “I SAID STAND DOWN AND THAT IS AN ORDER! LUGUS, OBEY OR FACE BANISHMENT!”

Snarling, Lugus glared at Bucky, his talons flexing, his tail swishing, his wings flared out in a stance of aggression. The big griffon folded his wings in let out a roar of frustration. He turned his head away from Bucky and peered off towards the navigation cabin. “Belisama, stand down.”

In the distance, there was an ominous click.

“Finch, as I have stated, I surrender. I will answer for the crimes of my griffons,” Bucky said in a low gritty voice, his eye now focused on Lugus. “And I must ask that you forgive the actions of my loyal guard. They have not had a worthy king in a long while and fear losing their hope.”

Finch, who feared that his anus would never fully unclench, took a deep breath and wondered how close he had been to dying. “The Council… they are most reasonable. I am certain that this can be resolved peacefully.”

“If you harm him, if you do anything at all to harm him, consider yourself at war with Equestria,” Twilight Sparkle warned. “He might be the king of the griffons, but he is also a prince in our nation.”

“Twilight, that is enough,” Bucky growled. “On behalf of the griffons, I am obligated to attend to issues of diplomacy. We were sent on a mission for griffon diplomacy, and that is what I will do. I will do whatever it takes to secure a future for my subjects. Now go and fetch Tannis and Agnetha.”

“My king, I ask that you forgive me,” Lugus whispered.

“Later Lugus, now is not the time,” Bucky replied.

“My king, they intend to make you answer for the crimes of the griffons… there might not be a time later,” Lugus said in a low pained voice, his eyes wide and pleading.

“Enough Lugus, watch over Bon Bon and Lyra. Keep my foals safe. Look after my subjects. While I am gone, you are in charge of the fleet,” Bucky instructed.

“We give you our word that he will be safe while we figure out what to do about this situation,” Finch promised.

“But that does not include a promise of his safety after the fact!” Lugus snarled.

“LUGUS! Enough!” Bucky shouted.

“I am coming with you,” Belisama said, appearing on the deck, flying down and hovering near Bucky. “They said you may have an attendant. I am your servant, I am coming with you, master.”

“Very well. Disarm Belisama,” Bucky agreed.

Stomping away, Twilight Sparkle finally went belowdecks to fetch Tannis and Agnetha, grumbling as she went, her horn glowing menacingly.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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