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 stateroom was small but comfortably appointed. Bucky looked around and felt Belisama’s talons clutching tightly at his mane, and he felt her shift slightly upon his back as they entered, her cast resting upon his ribs. Tannis and Agnetha stood close together, both clearly afraid, both of them staring at Finch.

“I was hoping we could talk. That is if you wanted to speak with me,” Finch said in a low worried voice. “If you wish to remain silent to protest your capture I understand.”

“I will speak with you, but I am thirsty,” Bucky responded, turning around to look at Finch, a smile upon his muzzle.

Sticking his head out the door, Finch barked an order to a guard and then pulled himself back into the room. He watched as Bucky levitated Belisama to a bed and then sat down in well cushioned chair.

“I really am sorry about this,” Finch apologised in a raspy worried voice.

“Finch, stop apologising. It does not become you,” Bucky said in pleasant tones.

Tannis settled onto a small sofa and Agnetha sat down on the bed beside Belisama, picking up the smaller griffon and stroking her gently. A five way glance was exchanged among the occupants of the room.

“We knew the griffons had cannons,” Finch began, looking around nervously. “But then a few days ago, they started attacking with rifles. We encountered heavy casualties and there was ship to ship fighting. The new rifles the griffons had are unlike the old designs of the past. We’ve seized many. We have also mounted several cannons on our ships to help combat the griffons. It seems the firearms treaty has ended.”

“I suppose that it has,” Bucky agreed, nodding his head as he spoke. “And you were wise to arm your ships. Electro-cannons, while powerful, have limited range. Projectile cannons are powerful and useful.”

“And I cannot help but notice that your servant was armed when you surrendered,” Finch said, looking over at Belisama.

“My most devoted servant is very protective of her king. I must ask that you forgive her overzealousness. But yes, she was carrying two revolvers of a new design. They are fearsome weapons,” Bucky responded, looking Finch in the eye.

“We have courier ships returning to Tradewinds with several of the new rifles and some of the new bullets. The black powder appears to have changed as well. Does not produce as much smoke. Our unicorns were quite vulnerable to being shot, their shields did not hold up for very long,” Finch reported, looking pained.

The door opened and a unicorn entered the room, holding a tray in his magic. He set the tray down on a small table, bowed his head, and departed, saying nothing. On the tray was a large pitcher and five glasses.

Lifting the pitcher, Bucky poured himself a glass and then levitated it over to himself. He took a drink, made a curious face, took another drink, and then smiled. “This is wonderful. What is it?”

“Coconut milk. Quite refreshing. We drink a lot of it,” Finch replied, smiling in appreciation.

“Master, you should have let me try that for you… to see if it was poisoned,” Belisama said in a soft worried voice, staring at Finch.

Finch gulped.

“Belisama, Finch is my friend. Friends trust one another. We are their guests for now, and we must trust them if we want the future to be better,” Bucky patiently explained to the little griffoness.

“Why thank you… sir… I feel awful for having taken you captive,” Finch said.

“I am not captive. I came willingly. I am your guest,” Bucky corrected, his tone was almost fatherly, nearly the same sort of voice he used to speak to Sentinel, Dinky, or Piña.

“Your Majesty, you are being shockingly gracious about this,” Finch said in a low voice as watched Bucky drinking coconut milk.

“I am trying to set an example for my two wards… Tannis and Agnetha. Their parents set dreadful examples for them. I had to kill both kings and being bad parents is among the worst of their crimes, at least in my own opinion. They failed to provide a good example for their offspring. Now it rests upon my shoulders… it is my responsibility… to make sure that they are prepared for leadership,” Bucky replied in a slow measured voice as he gazed at Finch.

“So Huginn and Muninn are no more?” Finch inquired, looking at Bucky and then the griffons.

“They are gone, now buried under a massive blizzard that will last for centuries until the land has been cleansed. It is better to not ask about details. Suffice to say, the griffon threat to the world has been largely nullified. There are remnants to be sure, but those can be dealt with. Their factories are no more. Their seat of power is gone,” Bucky answered.

“So what happened?” Finch asked, his brow furrowing.

“The griffons planned to abandon their homeland. They planned to poison the water supplies in Equestria, crippling Equestria’s ability to respond, and then they planned to invade the Sea of Grass to secure it as a new homeland. They had factories that made countless new rifles every day, more bullets than you can imagine, and gunpowder manufactured at an industrial scale. This grand plan failed,” Bucky responded as he poured himself another glass of coconut milk.

Gasping, Finch reeled from Bucky’s words, not wanting to believe what he had just heard, but knowing that Bucky wouldn't lie to him. He closed his eyes and took a deep breath, squeezing his wings against his ribs in a self-hug to make himself feel better.

“My father was a monster,” Tannis murmured, his beak clicking.

“So was mine,” Agnetha said in a gravelly growl. “And now they are both dead. Are we to answer for the crimes of our parents?”

“I do not know,” Finch said. “The Council will want to speak to you.”

“The griffons also had the support of some of the minotaurs and diamond dogs,” Bucky said after he took a long drink of coconut milk.

“What?” Finch gasped in disbelief.

“It is true. When we found the military outpost in what used to be Donksylvania, there were diamond dogs and minotaurs present. The diamond dogs were supplying food and fresh water to the griffons,” Bucky answered in a solemn voice.

“This… this isn’t a war between nations… this is… this is… this…” Finch stammered in fear, his eyes blinking rapidly.

“This is a world war?” Bucky suggested.

“Is such a thing even possible?” Finch whispered.

“I do believe so,” Bucky stated, shaking his head sadly.

“I need to go make my report… I need to tell them everything you have told me… they need to know… I thank you for being so open and direct… and for saving so many lives. Dinner will be brought to you shortly, if you need anything, knock upon the door and ask,” Finch said, bowing his head as he spoke.

“Finch, I hope we can end this as friends,” Bucky said in a low voice.

 

 

“I’m scared,” Agnetha admitted, lifting her head. She had curled into a ball on the bed and now that she had lifted her head, she peered at Tannis, her eyes full of worry.

“Agnetha, there is nothing to be afraid of,” Bucky said in a soothing voice.

“But there is so much reason to hate us… and they are going to hate you by extension. My father tried to make war upon the entire world,” Agnetha whimpered, tucking her head back down against her chest.

“Agnetha, don’t worry,” Bucky responded in a soft voice.

“Easy for you to say, they will probably let you go. Tannis and I will be lucky to live. They have every reason to hate us,” Agnetha whined, her eyes closed tightly shut as she started to cry. “They are never going to let us go.”

“I’m not leaving without you,” Bucky soothed. “You are my wards. I look after my own. Now stop worrying. The zebras and the Council of High Sorcery probably want to know what is going on and if the current hostilities are over,” he explained.

“I finally have a chance to make things better and it feels like it is all over instead,” Agnetha sobbed in a hitching voice.

Tannis eased himself down upon the bed with Agnetha and curled up around her, trying to comfort the sobbing griffoness, stroking her crest with his talons.

“I am finally free… I don’t want to be a prisoner again,” Belisama said in a defeated voice. “I was foolish… I started to have hopes and dreams again. That was dumb.”

“Hush Belisama,” Bucky commanded. “Everybirdy just calm down.”

“Easy for you to say, you are in no real danger here. They will let you go free because you are a pony… a worse fate probably awaits us,” Belisama muttered.

There was an insistent knock upon the door, an impatient rapping of hoof on wood.

“I do believe that is the knock I’ve been waiting for,” Bucky whispered with a mischievous smile. “Do come in!” he said in a much louder voice.

The door opened and Finch came into the room looking flustered and rather angry.

“You didn’t tell me you had zebras and ponies from the Sea of Grass onboard that other vessel,” Finch said in an angry frightened voice.

“Well, in the commotion, it may have slipped my mind,” Bucky admitted. He huffed loudly, blowing his mane out of his eye and then adjusted his wolf head torque around his neck. He looked up at Finch and smiled broadly, revealing his fangs.

“Princess Twilight Sparkle refuses to relinquish our citizens while we are keeping you as our... guest… this… this is not easing any tensions between us right now,” Finch stated, barely able to look Bucky in the eye.

“Your citizens are safe and under the protection of my griffons, whom I have instructed to care for them, feed them, look after them, and keep them well. The little ones do like serving, and it made them immensely happy to have somepony in their care. It was these same griffons who stole food at great risk to themselves to offer your citizens an extra bite while they were prisoners of the much larger and nastier griffons. Your citizens and my little griffons are actually quite close. I dare say that if you were to go aboard that ship and do anything stupid, your citizens would become quite irate if you harmed one of the little griffons who are their caretakers,” Bucky said in a voice that dripped with smugness.

“Are you keeping them hostage?” Finch demanded, his whole body trembling with fear as he looked at Bucky.

“Are you keeping me and my companions hostage?” Bucky asked innocently, blinking in mock-shock from the accusation.

“So they are your guests,” Finch grumbled. “Point taken and message received. If you will excuse me, I have another communication to make.” The striped pegasus stepped out of the door and slammed it shut behind him.

“Master is treacherous,” Belisama whispered, staring up at Bucky with wide surprised eyes. “Forgive me for saying so,” she squeaked.

“Bucky… what are you doing?” Tannis asked. “Our lives are at stake… I thought our best route was cooperation and throwing ourselves upon their mercy. I thought that was your plan.”

“Oh, but I am cooperating,” Bucky stated, his mouth curling into a twisted smile. “I am also engaging in diplomacy. I tried to tell you all that everything will be fine. I am your king, your devoted servant, and for you, Tannis and Agnetha, I am practically your father now… you need to trust me. I am full of unicorn cleverness. It is the only way to play this game. Now we wait.”

“What is the plan exactly?” Tannis inquired, still stroking Agnetha.

“The plan,” Bucky stated. “Is to make them the unquestioned staunch allies of Equestria and the new griffon nation, whose name is yet to be determined.”

“Forgive me, but are you mad?” Tannis inquired.

“Yes actually,” Bucky cackled.

 

 

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