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 moon and stars stretched endlessly above Bucky and the chilly night air blew his mane back from his face. The breeze ruffled his bushy sideburns and his ears were tugged backwards by the occasional strong gust. His thick shaggy pelt was coming in even thicker for the winter, and the tuft of hair upon his chest had grown surprisingly long. Long tufts of hair had sprouted from the tips of his ears, and he was beginning to look like Sentinel.

The Scorned Mare and The Albatross were a short distance away, surrounded on all sides by the Sea of Grass fleet in a protective formation.

“You called me your friend.”

Turning to look at the source of the voice, Bucky’s gaze fell upon Belisama, who was a short distance away and cowing submissively.

“That was very kind of you. It is much easier to be property when your master is kind,” Belisama said in a low voice, looking up at the stars overhead.

“But I don’t want you as property. This part of our relationship bothers me Belisama,” Bucky said to the little griffoness as his own gaze returned skyward.

“But I want to be property. Just like all of my kind. We can’t help how we are. We are what we are. We were made to be this way I think,” Belisama said in a low voice, watching as a cloud passed before the moon.

Clearing his throat slightly, Bucky tried to understand what Belisama had just said, trying to understand that servant caste mindset of willing servility. “What would it take to free you? What would it take to convince you that you are free?”

“What if I don’t want to be free?” Belisama returned, her feathers ruffling. “Freedom is a very scary thing. Some freedom is good. Freedom to live is nice. But total freedom? That scares me.”

“I don’t understand,” Bucky stated, shaking his head.

“I’ve told you. We just want enough freedom to practice our art and what we do best. We want to paint, dance, sing, make art and music, make clay pots and be better potters, we want to be the very best at what we do, but to do that, we need masters to look after us and care for us,” Belisama explained patiently.

“Yes, you’ve told me this,” Bucky responded, shifting his body from a sitting position to a ‘pony-loaf’ position. He grunted softly from the pain in his hind legs and was glad to fall into a more comfortable position. “I just don’t understand.”

“Begging your pardon for the intrusion,” Finch said apologetically as he moved closer. “But I do understand.”

“Do you?” Belisama asked, turning her head completely around backwards to look at Finch as he approached.

“I didn’t mean to eavesdrop but I overheard. I am terribly sorry… I’ve freed a lot of slaves. Those taken into slavery are very different than those born into slavery. Those taken into slavery know how to be free… it takes them some time but they sort themselves out and after a while, they are okay. But those born into slavery, especially those born into slavery that has lasted for generations…” Finch said, his words trailing off as a sorrowful look crept over his face. “Those born into that kind of slavery are never truly free. The best they can hope for is a kind caretaker that understands their needs, provides for them, and treats them kindly while they work.”

“So what you are saying is, the current griffons who are alive… the little ones… most of them will never fully adjust to being free, but their offspring have a chance of breaking out of the mindset?” Bucky responded in a curious voice.

“Well, yes,” Finch replied to Bucky’s question. “But the cubs would need somepony or somebirdy to teach them how to be free… otherwise, their parents might teach them to be servile.”

“Oh,” Bucky grunted, his remaining eyebrow settling over his surviving eye.

“Tradewinds is full of freed slaves. Zebras and ponies that used to be slaves. The streets are filled with thousands of beggars who can’t think for themselves, can’t function in society, they just don’t grasp that they are free. They need somepony watching over them, telling them they are good, or I suppose somepony punishing them, but I don’t want to think about that… but they need validation,” Finch mused, his tail whipping around his hind legs at nonexistant flies.

“I think you do understand. Maybe more than you realise,” Belisama said in a sad voice. She wrapped her wings around her body and sighed, looking miserable.

“There is a lot I don’t understand,” Finch stated. “You have firearms. The ultimate in freedom. With those, you would never be taken as a slave ever again. You could live and die by your own terms Belisama… but you choose servitude.”

“I need a master,” Belisama admitted in a strangled voice. “But I have… enough freedom… to choose a better master and I have made my choice.”

“If I may say so, you have done a fine job with finding the right master,” Finch stated, turning to walk away. “You know Your Majesty, if I might be so bold as to suggest this, the kind thing to do would be give her the kind of validation she desires. She might never be free, but her cubs could be,” the half zebra half pegasus said as he walked away, his hooves tapping on the deck as he departed. “A mother can always know freedom through her offspring. Trust me… I know this from my own mother and my father who looks after her.”

Turning his head around, Bucky watched Finch go, and Bucky’s nostrils flared with emotion. He took a few deep breaths, tried to collect his thoughts, and then turned his gaze back skywards, looking at the twinkling stars.

 

 

The dawn broke on the seventh day, bringing with it a feeling of infectious hope. During the night, the freighter carrying the ninety seven griffons had arrived and in the cold light of dawn, the griffons were being ferried over to Albatross to be with the others.

Awake and thoughtful, Belisama quietly groomed Bucky in his sleep, running her talons through his mane to gently remove tangles. When he made a soft cry in his sleep, she gently stroked an ear, not knowing what else to do. The stallion grunted at the touch, kicked a bit, and then rolled over onto his back, nearly crushing Belisama, who was half of his size and had to scramble out of the way. Reaching out with her talon-finger, but mindful of her claw, she carefully ran the tip of her talon-finger over the many scars on the side of Bucky’s face, places were no hair had ever grown back. She could feel the grooves in his skull where teeth had scraped over the bone, peeling half of his face away. With her talon-thumb pad, she felt the smooth black glass that filled his eye socket and then touched the green emerald embedded in the middle.

Tannis was still asleep in the bunk above Bucky, his tail hanging down over the side.

In the bunk on the other side of the room, Agnetha was sprawled out, and much to Belisama’s chagrin, she noticed that Agnetha was awake and watching her.

“Belisama?” Agnetha inquired in the faintest of whispers.

“Yes?” Belisama replied guiltily, being caught in the act of grooming her sleeping master. She pulled her talons away from Bucky and lifted her head to look at Agnetha.

“Courtship preening is usually done when the one you desire is awake,” Agnetha breathed, her beak not moving at all.

“This wasn’t courtship preening,” Belisama whispered back, her voice barely perceptible, something that could only be heard by another griffon who was listening intently for the sound. “I am merely grooming master so that he might be presentable later.”

With a grunt, Bucky rolled over again and Belisama was forced to scamper out of the way. Her eyes wide, she crawled close and began to examine Bucky’s horn, trying to ignore Agnetha, who was watching everything Belisama did.

“You are awfully curious,” Agnetha said in a teasing whisper.

Ignoring the larger griffoness, Belisama reached out one claw from her talons and tapped Bucky on the horn. It was cold and the material was rough, not smooth like the fulgurite glass around his eye. She ran her talon-finger tip over the length of it, feeling the lumpy misshapen surface, the sharp edges, and the jagged protrusions.

“Inquisitiveness is our undoing,” Agnetha warned. “Curiousity kills the cat.”

“Satisfaction brought it back,” Belisama whispered in reply.

Twitching, fearful, Belisama reached out one shaky set of talons, extended one talon-finger as well as one talon-thumb, carefully pinched Bucky’s lip between them, pulled his lip away from his teeth slowly, her crest rising, and studied his teeth. With her other talons, she reached out and touched one of his bladed fangs, running her talon-finger pad over the sharp tip, feeling the pointiness and appreciating its simple perfection.

With a loud snort, Bucky reached out his foreleg and Belisama suddenly found herself snatched and pulled close, the much larger equine crushing her against his body. She yowled softly as she was pulled in, snapping her beak shut to try and muffle her involuntary cry. She found herself embraced tightly between his front legs and the stallion whickered in his sleep, making an equine sound of slumbering satisfaction.

“Help me!” Belisama whispered.

“I don’t think I can,” Agnetha whispered in reply.

The little griffoness realised she was in trouble and should have stayed in her own bed. She wiggled, trying to work her way free, her lithe feline form made for escaping from tight spaces.

“Snuggly wuggly,” Bucky grumbled in his sleep, smacking his lips together once as he spoke, one ear twitching, thumping upon his pillow. He pulled Belisama closer. “Fluffy.”

“Agnetha, you must help me,” Belisama whispered frantically.

“You got yourself into this,” Agnetha said in a nearly silent hushed reply.

“Master is aroused… my maidenhood is in danger.”

Agnetha’s eyes went wide as she grabbed her own beak and clamped it shut with her talons. The hunter griffoness slipped out of bed, her claws clicking faintly upon the floor. She crossed the room in a few steps, reared up, placed her talons upon the edge of Bucky’s bed, extended her wing, and using the tips of her feathers, tickled Bucky’s nose lightly.

Sneezing explosively, Bucky rolled over to be away from the tickle but did not let go of Belisama, who once again let out a faint yowl of fear as she remained trapped between Bucky’s forelegs.

“What is going on?”

Agnetha froze and she felt her heart stop for a moment. That was Tannis’ voice...

“Tannis, be silent,” Agnetha hissed softly. She looked upwards and saw Tannis peering down over the edge of his bunk, sizing up the situation. His crest was raised and his facial feathers were fluffed out in obvious amusement.

“Master is very very aroused,” Belisama murmured in fear as she tried to wiggle free.

“Give him a tickle,” Agnetha whispered in an almost imperceptible voice.

Her eyes going as wide as saucers, Belisama froze in fear and stared up at Agnetha.

“Really… males are ticklish there. If you give it a tickle, he might let go,” Agnetha breathed, her voice exiting her beak through her nostrils.

Still looking down, Tannis nodded, silently agreeing with Agnetha’s plan.

Closing her eyes, Belisama dragged her tail tuft along Bucky’s rigid length. She felt the stallion’s whole body go stiff for a moment, Bucky inhaled sharply, and then he giggled in his sleep. His grip relaxed slightly and Belisama wiggled free. She lept into Agnetha’s forelegs and nearly cried from relief as the bigger griffoness whisked her away to safety.

Agnetha set Belisama down upon her own bunk and stroked the little griffoness affectionately. “Is your curiousity satisfied?” she whispered to the frightened and disturbed looking griffoness.

Nodding, Belisama had nothing to say.

 

Author's Note:

Cats. Too curious for their own good.

 
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