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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“Well Bucky, what do you think they are going to do?” Twilight asked, looking over at Bucky, whose mane was whipping wildly in the wind. The alicorn felt her stomach churn… her nerves simply couldn’t take much more stress and she badly needed some alone time in her library, which would be immediately closed to the public upon her return.

Adjusting his torque, Bucky turned his head to look over at Twilight, who was sitting on the deck beside him. “Finch said that the decision, whatever it might be, will be returned before noon today. He had an update of sorts from Bocor Oya. The news of my capture has thrown the Sea of Grass into a state of civil unrest it seems.”

“Oh no Bucky… that’s not good,” Twilight replied, her voice tight and strained with worry. She shook her head forcefully. “That is not good.”

“Grand Sorcerer Canterberry issued an official statement to the public stating I had emancipated the griffon slaves. It set off a firestorm,” Bucky said, still looking at Twilight.

“What? I don’t understand,” Twilight muttered. “Please explain.”

“Finch tells me that the Council of High Sorcery wants my incarceration. Not all of them, just most of them. Enough that it is a problem. Canterberry tossed my name into the court of public opinion and told the public at large exactly what I did and that I am now the Slave King of Slaves. Seems that word of my own status as a slave has been leaked out. So now there are a whole bunch of zebras and ponies who are very angry and demanding that their government release the Slave King. So there is trouble on the homefront,” Bucky explained.

“Word that you are a slave was bound to leak out sometime… I still don’t know how I feel about that whole issue,” Twilight remarked in a flat voice. “At one point in my life I had a very good working knowledge of right and wrong. I knew the difference between black and white. At some point, the world made sense.”

“And then life happened?” Bucky replied, raising his eyebrow.

“And then I met other ponies. I came down out of my tower and I lived in Ponyville. Then there was my first adventure, dealing with Nightmare Moon. And then, after that, other things happened and everything that used to make sense stopped making sense,” Twilight admitted, her voice dry and raspy. “When did you notice the change?”

“When I bumped snoot first into Derpy and she chased me. Not much has made sense since then. And I’ve had to just sort of bumble along through life making stuff up as I go,” Bucky answered, his gaze dropping down to his right front hoof.

Lifting his head, Bucky saw Twilight was gazing longingly at Flash Sentry, who was sitting upon the deck of The Scorned Mare. His remaining eye narrowed, showing only crimson, and his mouth twisted into a horrible grin. “You know Twilight…”

“Yes Bucky?” Twilight replied.

“Pegasi need to know you are interested,” Bucky stated.

“I don’t understand… what are you talking about?” Twilight answered.

“Flash Sentry is over there. You should fly over, drop in on him, reach out, very gently stroke his cheek, and then take off running or flying,” Bucky suggested.

“What? Why?” Twilight replied, her cheeks turning bright red. “Oh… NO! Are you saying what I think you’re saying?”

“Just go and do it… life won’t make sense, but at least you will feel better about it,” Bucky said, his words turning into a soft chuckle.

“I can’t do that… that would be awkward!” Twilight protested.

“You know what else is awkward Twilight?” Bucky responded.

“I am asking myself inside of my own head repeatedly if I am going to regret this, but what?” Twilight answered, her eyes narrowing and her brows rising.

“Hot sloppy wet messy rutting Twilight. That’s awkward. Waking up stuck to the bed and having to peel yourself away from the sheets-”

“GAH! SHUT UP THAT IS SO HORRIBLE AND GROSS!” Twilight shouted, closing her eyes and covering her face with her wings.

“Yeah, but it feels good, so it is kinda a worthwhile tradeoff. And worth the awkward moments,” Bucky said in an amused voice.

“I keep getting traumatised by sex… first it was my brother and Cadance, then it was walking in on my parents and watching my dad raise his eyebrow at me while I stood there stupefied, and now… you… you horrible warlock,” Twilight shrieked.

“Look, just be a pony for a while. Go on over there and give him the invitation,” Bucky cajoled, trying to coax Twilight into action.

Licking her lips, Twilight swallowed loudly. “But I’m not pretty right now… Part of my mane is gone. I am still covered in blisters from that waxy goop. I have bald patches.” she squeaked in a low voice. “I can’t.”

“TWILIGHT SPARKLE! He dove into a mob of griffons to save your life, not out of a sense of obligation to you as a princess but out of love you horseapple head! I am one hundred percent certain that he doesn’t care what you look like,” Bucky retorted angrily.

“Okay,” Twilight replied in a shrill squeak. “What do I do?”

“Just go over there, touch his cheek lightly, and then fly away,” Bucky instructed.

Spreading her wings, Twilight Sparkle took flight, and Bucky watched her go. It was clear to Bucky that she was still trying to get used to her new body proportions, including her larger wings. Feeling a strange sense of pride, Bucky watched her land near Flash Sentry, shyly approach the pegasus stallion, and with agonising slowness, she reached out to touch his cheek.

When contact was made, Twilight Sparkle turned tail and flew away.

It took Flash Sentry all of an eyeblink to get airborne and go after her.

Smiling, Bucky sighed, glad to have corrupted Twilight Sparkle just a little bit more. He hoped that Rarity and Applejack were still working their end of the job. Straining to see, Bucky hoped more than anything else that Twilight Sparkle was happy.

 

 

Sighing, Bucky was formally carried through the air back to the deck of The Scorned Mare by Skua and Pelican, and Finch flew with them. The deck of his ship was covered with many griffons, a few ponies, quite a number of zebras, and in the center of it all, there was a table with a familiar silver mirror sitting upon it. Beside the table, Tannis and Agnetha were already sitting.

When he felt his hind hooves touch the ground near the table, Bucky noticed the first twinges of nervousness. Whatever was about to happen would be historical, and Bucky found himself in the middle of it. A banner of the Lunar Court hung from the gasbag above them all, and there was an explosion of flashbulbs as Bucky was set down beside the table.

The mirror flickered to life and two projected heads appeared, Bocor Oya and Grand Sorcerer Canterberry, both of whom were smiling. And for good reason. The Sea of Grass had been pushing for a stronger treaty for a long time, and seeing them smile made Bucky feel hopeful. He watched as Twilight approached the table, she was wearing her diadem and her face was stern and solemn.

“Greetings Your Majesties,” Oya said, looking at Bucky, Twilight, Tannis, and Agnetha in turn, her head moving around to acknowledge each pony and griffon at the table.

“I do hope all of you are well,” Canterberry said, his ears folding back. His projection was missing the tall conical hat he had been wearing before.

“I hate to sound impatient, but I’d like to skip the pleasantries and get down to the details,” Bucky announced, squinting as more flashbulbs went off. He wasn’t sure when the press had arrived, but he noticed that there were quite a number of small fast personal airships around.

“This seems reasonable given the circumstances,” Oya agreed with a nod of her head.

“Yes,” Canterberry also agreed. “There is an angry mob positioned around the Academy of Sorcery and the sooner I can tell them good news the better. Or maybe I should let the angry mob in to speak with my colleagues… I have grown weary of my associates. There is no justice like angry mob justice.”

“Where is the little one? Belisama?” Oya asked.

“I am here,” Belisama replied from her perch on Bon Bon’s back.

“Do come here,” Oya instructed.

Slowly, cautiously, Belisama took wing and flew over to the table. She landed in between Bucky and Twilight, settling down carefully so she wouldn’t disturb her broken leg.

“Buckminster Bitters, the Council of Bocors recognises you as one of the rightful kings of the griffons. You have killed their previous kings and emancipated them from the terrible slavery they have existed under. We recognise you officially under the formal title ‘The Shackle Breaker King’ in our own nation. The Bocors have officially drawn a distinction between the slaves and their masters, and the little griffons do not deserve to suffer for the sins of their species,” Oya said in a loud clear voice that carried over the crowd.

“Thank you,” Bucky stated in a soft gracious voice.

“Furthermore,” Oya continued. “For the larger griffons, mercy will be granted if they willingly submit themselves to your rule and the rule of King Tannis, whom we also recognise. For those who resist your rule, we offer no mercy and we will hunt them down to the ends of the earth for what they have done to our nation and our citizens.”

There were a few gasps from the crowd and a couple of cheers.

“We have drawn out a very simply worded treaty, the guarantee of assistance in times of crisis, a bond of good faith. The last treaty we had with Princess Celestia was over one hundred pages long and was indeed, an act of lip service,” Canterberry said in a deep voice.

“But there are a few provisions that we must demand before we can allow the treaty to be signed,” Oya stated, shouting a bit to be heard over the roaring crowd.

Looking around him, Bucky realised that there were hundreds, maybe thousands of ponies and zebras on the decks of the airships around him, all waiting on this moment. He suddenly felt a stabbing pain of panic go lancing through his insides, which made him shudder. “What are your demands?” Bucky inquired.

“Two things,” Canterberry announced.

“And those are?” Bucky replied.

“The first is simple. We want your sworn spoken word that you will look after these former slaves as you might your own offspring, that you will love them, be gentle with them, and give them the sort of life that they deserve… we want this oath from Tannis as well,” Oya explained, looking at the two kings.

“Tannis,” Bucky invited, making a gesture towards the young griffon.

“I no longer know my own titles,” Tannis said nervously.

“King Tannis the Peacebringer,” Canterberry suggested, raising his eyebrow.

Bocor Oya’s projection nodded at Canterberry’s words and smiled broadly.

“I, King Tannis the Peacebringer, offer you my solemn word as king that I will look after these former slaves to the best of my ability, that I will love them, I will be kind and patient with them, and I pledge to dedicate my entire existence to giving them the sort of life they deserve,” Tannis swore, looking at Oya as he spoke, his talons flexing from nervousness.

Clearing his throat, Bucky realised that there were what had to be thousands of eyes focused on him, the entire deck of The Albatrosswas covered in griffons. He felt a tense pain in his chest and tried to will it to go away.

“Uh, I am Bucky Bitters, the Shackle Breaker King. Speaking as a father, I fully intend to treat my subjects as my children, because in a sense, they are. So I give you my word as a father, rather than a king, but feel free to have both. I will do my best to teach them, to lead them, to lead them down the path to freedom. I offer up my word that as the War Chief of Equestria, I will do anything and everything in my power to protect them, defend them, and keep them from the predations of those who exploit them for bad ends,” Bucky said, somewhat less eloquently than Tannis and his oath.

For a moment, the crowd remained silent, too silent, and Bucky felt the icy chill of fear running down his spine. And then the crowd around him exploded with a deafening roar of approval and the thunderous stomping of hooves.

It took several minutes for the crowd to quiet down enough for Oya and Canterberry to continue, and the bocor had to shout a few times to get the surrounding audience to behave so she could proceed.

“And this brings us to the second condition,” Canterberry stated in a commanding magically projected voice that carried over the crowd.

“We demand that the enslaved griffons have a say in their future,” Oya announced. “To this end, we demand that the griffoness known as Belisama be married to Buckminster Bitters and be made queen.”

The crowd erupted in thunderous silence.

“What?” Bucky grunted. “I mean, this was discussed, well, sort of, as something in the future,” he said in a wavering voice.

Twilight Sparkle facehoofed, realising that their ploy for diplomacy had just been masterfully countered and the game was now cutthroat.

“We require a marriage… now,” Oya stated patiently.

“But I have wives at home and there are complications,” Bucky argued.

“I do hope they are very understanding wives,” Canterberry deadpanned.

Scowling, Bucky realised that he had very little choice in the matter. He looked down at Belisama, who was petrified with fear, her eyes closed, her wings wrapped tightly around her body. The little griffoness was clearly terrified.

“Once this treaty is signed, we will immediately dispatch several captured griffon dreadnaughts to the Shetlands to secure that region and we will ask that Princess Luna send troops to aid us,” Oya announced in a clarion voice.

Bucky saw Twilight Sparkle staring at him, her face pinched in concern.

“This was not in the plan,” Twilight Sparkle whispered.

“Bon Bon, Lyra, I need you,” Bucky called out.

The two mares came forward slowly, Bon Bon confidently and Lyra shyly, and both stood near Bucky, taking their places on each side of him. Bon Bon stared at the projections intently, her face neutral, while Lyra looked frustrated.

“What do I do?” Bucky asked his two wives in a low voice.

“Well, for starters, asking Belisama what she wants would certainly help,” Bon Bon replied, her voice patient.

“What I want is meaningless,” Belisama squeaked.

“No,” Bon Bon returned, shaking her head forcefully. “Belisama, you and I have talked about this. For once, you need to say what you want. You need to be open, honest, and direct,” the earth mare commanded.

“I was open to the idea of marriage… I didn’t expect it so soon,” Belisama said in a small frightened voice.

“You were certainly curious this morning,” Bucky grumbled.

“You… were… awake?” Belisama stammered in terror.

“Your mistake was grabbing my lip where I still have a lot of feeling,” Bucky stated, realising that everypony and everybirdy was looking at him strangely. “Look, long story, can be summed up with the words ‘curiousity killed the cat’ and that’s all I am saying about the issue.” He glared daggers at Tannis, who looked like he might start laughing.

“I want what is best for my fellow griffons,” Belisama announced.

“That isn’t enough,” Agnetha said gently, looking down at Belisama. “You also need to do what is best for you.”

Shaking with fear, Belisama buried her head under her wings and hid, her whole body trembling, and she collapsed into a small ball of fur and feathers upon the deck, even pulling her tail up out of sight, trying to make as much of her disappear as possible.

Lyra, still scowling, sat down and her horn ignited. She levitated Belisama upwards, lifting the miserable ball of griffoness, and gently took Belisama into her forelegs. She gave the griffoness a comforting hug and stroked her back, smoothing down some ruffled feathers. “I can’t promise you that things will be easy, because they won’t be, but I can promise you that it will be worth it,” Lyra whispered into Belisama’s ear.

“And this is what I hoped to see,” Oya’s projection announced. “Healing.”

“I want… ” Belisama said in a strangled voice, her face still hidden under her wings. “I want what is best for me… I want to be loved and know that I am valuable. I am willing to call my master husband instead.”

“I can’t imagine how difficult it was for you to say that,” Lyra whispered, still stroking Belisama softly. “You and I are going to be special friends Belisama.”

Reaching out her talons, Agnetha snatched Tannis’ talons and held them in her own, her eyes tearing over as she watched the unicorn and the smaller griffon together.

“We need some kind of answer,” Oya urged. “We need to know that the griffons have a secure future as equals, and not as servants and slaves. Having one married to Equestrian Royalty will ensure a much better future, because let’s face it, Equestria looks after its own.”

Starting to sniffle, Lyra gently placed Belisama down on the ground, helping her to sit up, and she wrapped one foreleg around the griffoness to steady her.

“Belisama, if you want it, I will be your devoted servant,” Bucky offered.

“He certainly will,” Bon Bon said reassuringly. “For all of his faults, Bucky is a wonderful husband and a devoted father.”

Leaving the crowd, Sentinel trotted to the table and sat down near his father. His bold move inspired others and Lugus moved forward, Ripple beside him, and Ripple’s eleven griffon guard moving behind her.

Reaching out, Lugus placed his talons upon Bucky’s withers and gave a gentle squeeze, mindful of his claws. He wrapped his immense wings around all those he was sworn to protect and pulled the whole group closer, crowding the whole family together.

“I want… to be happy,” Belisama squeaked, her voice nearly a squawk.

“Where is Yew?” Bucky asked. “She should be here for this.”

“She is belowdecks, with Harper and Peekaboo,” Lugus responded.

“I agree to your terms of marriage,” Bucky said to the two projections.

“Belisama, are you willing to become queen and do what is best for your subjects?” Canterberry inquired, his tone gentle.

“I don’t know what I am doing, but I am willing to try,” Belisama replied, her beak clattering together from nervousness.

“You will make a fine queen,” Agnetha soothed, still holding Tannis’ talons in her own. She scooted a little closer to Tannis and trembled with excitement.

“Belisama, do you, of your own free will, offer yourself in marriage to Buckminster Bitters?” Oya inquired, her projection looking concerned. “I know this is difficult for you, but this is the first big step the little griffons need to take to be free again. Somebirdy needs to lead them.”

“I give myself willingly. I have chosen a better master and I’m willing to call him husband. I… want what Yew has told me about. I want what Agnetha has. I want what Bon Bon spoke with me at length about… I want to have hope and love… I deserve to know what those things are,” Belisama said with her eyes closed, her voice cracking with nervous panic.

“And what about you, Buckminster Bitters? Are you willing to give her and her future subjects those things she desires? Hope and love are precious things… can you give them to her?” Oya questioned, staring at Bucky with her projection.

“I will do everything within my power to keep her and her future subjects happy, safe, and secure,” Bucky vowed, his voice solemn. He reached out his stump towards Belisama, whom Lyra poked gently.

Bucky smiled when he felt Belisama’s talons wrap around the remains of his leg.

“I, Bocor Oya, do hereby recognise this new union of the griffon empire, and officially recognise King Buckminster Bitters the Shackle Breaker and Queen Belisama the Courageously Hopeful as the rightful leaders of their subjects. Let the griffon empire never again know slavery, with two slaves now as their appointed rulers,” Oya commanded, her magically projected voice reaching the entire crowd.

“Bah, stuff my titles in a closet,” Canterberry growled. “As a believer of civility and liberty, I bless this union and personally pledge the backing of the Academy of Sorcery to your future endeavours. The Council of High Sorcery recognises both of you as the rightful rulers of your empire.”

The crowd exploded with cheering which lasted for several minutes.

“The mirror is going to need to recharge… if you would please sign the treaty, I will immediately dispatch aid to the Shetlands,” Oya said, smiling at Bucky and Belisama as she spoke. She turned to look at Twilight Sparkle, her smile growing ever wider. “I look forward to working with you. I understand that you are quite progressive as a ruler and you have a zebra friend.”

“Zecora is one of my dearest friends,” Twilight replied as Bucky signed his name to the treaty. Twilight lifted a pen once Bucky was done. “I believe Zecora will be happy to know our nations have been brought a little closer together,” Twilight said as she signed her name. Twilight passed her pen to Agnetha and grinned eagerly at the griffoness.

Signing the paper, Agnetha’s crest rose and she felt a swell of pride as she secured a future for her people. Holding her head high, she passed the pen to Tannis.

Taking the pen, Tannis signed his name with an artistic flourish, the pen making scratching sounds as it moved over the parchment. Extending the pen to Belisama, he silently encouraged her to take it.

Fearful, feeling as though she might faint, Belisama took the pen into her trembling talons. She looked down at the paper. Princess Twilight Sparkle. Queen Agnetha. King Tannis. Bucky, who had simply signed his name as ‘Bucky’ with nothing less and nothing more. For a moment, her vision blurred over and she thought she was going to pass out for certain.

“Come on Belisama,” Bon Bon coaxed. “Just a signature. Do it for your griffons.”

With shaking talons, the griffoness placed the pen to the paper and carefully scribed her name, trying not to mess it up too badly, wishing she could stop shaking.

Queen Belisama, slave no longer, but servant to her griffons by choice.

 

 

 

 

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