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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Entering the navigation cabin, Bucky squeezed into the command chair beside Lyra, shoving her aside and paying no heed to personal space. Looking at the projection, his lips pressed into a straight line, his eye narrowed as he gave a nod of satisfaction.

“The griffons returned to us from the Sea of Grass have an idea Bucky,” Lyra reported as she wrapped a foreleg around Bucky’s withers.

“An idea for what?” Bucky grunted as he continued to stare at the projection map.

“For the electrical issue. They’re all a bunch of little technicians Bucky… and so adorable,” Lyra replied as she gave Bucky a squeeze.

“They can fix the power troubles?” Bucky inquired as he continued to study the map.

“Well, they’re all master technicians and mechanics. The griffons were using them to repair ships and keep the fleet in order. The zebras and ponies from the Sea of Grass rescued them, which was really nice of them. They told me that it might be possible to string a high voltage electric cable along one of the tow chains, connected to The Albatross’ storm generator at one end and The Scorned Mare’s engines at the other,” Lyra answered.

“That is brilliantly simple,” Bucky remarked as he pulled up a map file on Tradewinds.

“Lugnut and Spanner are amazing little griffons. They immediately tried to give themselves to me, begging me to keep them together, saying they would do anything for me,” Lyra reported.

“Lugnut and Spanner?” Bucky questioned, now ignoring the map and giving his full attention to Lyra. “Explain.”

“Lugnut and Spanner are a couple Bucky,” Lyra answered with a broad smile. “Through impossible odds they have somehow stayed together. It is really very touching,” she sighed.

“And they gave themselves to you?” Bucky asked, raising his eyebrow.

“They tried to. I told them they belong to the new king, and that their status as a couple was safe,” Lyra said, her ears splaying out sideways.

“So we have a married couple among the captures from the Sea of Grass,” Bucky stated, shaking his head. “Noted. Not sure what the big deal is.”

“Bucky, they’re gay,” Lyra sighed, staring off out of the window with a dreamy expression upon her face. “I’ve talked with them for quite a while. They love one another so much. And they're doing something that is almost universally reviled in their own culture.”

“Oh… I see,” Bucky grunted in a strained voice. “Oh… oh my, that is something that might demand my attention I suppose.”

“They’re so lucky that one of them wasn’t eaten or killed just to cruelly torture the other and break his spirit,” Lyra said with a far away look in her eye. “So romantic. Impossible odds. Their secret only recently got out.”

Extracting himself from the chair and giving Lyra a kiss at the same time, Bucky squirmed for the navigation cabin door. “I gotta go Lyra. Need to go create trouble among my subjects.”

“Have fun Bucky,” Lyra said in parting as Bucky slipped out the door.

 

 

Bucky was barely even set down upon the deck of The Albatross when he immediately made his way for the door that led belowdecks. There was a crowd of griffons and a few zebras on deck, chatting quietly amongst themselves, and they watched Bucky with interest. Lugus, folding his wings, landed behind Bucky after setting the unicorn down upon the deck, his claws clicking upon the decking as he fell into pace behind Bucky.

Belowdecks, Bucky found himself in one of the vast cargo holds that had been converted into a community space. Everybirdy in the room had stopped what they were doing and a few brave griffons looked at him directly. Bucky saw the nanny griffoness from castle Huginn, she was still tending to her brood of cubs, and he smiled broadly at her.

“I need Lugnut and Spanner front and center,” Bucky said in a loud clear voice, his gaze now travelling over the crowd.

There was rush of sound as two griffons came forward, both small, one mostly black and the other mostly grey. They moved together, looking scared, neither one of them meeting Bucky’s gaze as they approached. Finally, they stood before Bucky and sat up on their haunches, bowing their heads respectfully.

“I understand that you two are an item,” Bucky said in a loud clear voice that echoed through the cavernous hold.

“Yes sir,” the mostly grey griffon said in submissive voice.

“In the mood to make a deal?” Bucky asked in a very direct fashion.

“Deal sir?” the black griffon questioned in reply. “Please be merciful, Your Majesty!”

“You fix the power situation between the two ships and I will appoint you as my Royal Mechanics. Both of you will be under my protection and I will recognise your union. I understand that neither of you can fly right now, but you will have Lugus here to help you move from ship to ship. What do you say? The Crown wants something from you, and I’m guessing you want something from the Crown. Fair trade?” Bucky offered.

The black griffon immediately hugged the slightly smaller grey griffon tightly and both let out a squawk. They both stood before Bucky for several moments, shaking and shuddering, and it took a while for Bucky to realise that they were both crying.

“I want to make it clear, right now, this minute, the Crown has no issues with same sex couples. And if there is any harassment or unpleasantness in the ranks, the consequences will be dire. Do I make myself clear?” Bucky announced, looking out on the crowd, and Lugus looking very stern behind him.

“We are your most devoted servants, Your Majesty,” the black griffon with a crow like beak said. “I am Lugnut and this is my mate, Spanner.”

Spanner, somewhat smaller, grey, speckled, and with a somewhat more owlish beak, looked up at Bucky with a gaze of pure unabashed worshipful adoration. “You spoke with Lyra?”

“Yes I did,” Bucky replied, sitting down upon the floor and lowering his head to get a better look at Lugnut and Spanner.

“She is like us,” Lugnut stated in a low voice, his eyes darting around the room nervously.

“Yes she is,” Bucky agreed. “And that is one of the many things I love about her. Tell me, are there others like you?”

Both of the little griffons shrugged and Lugnut looked down at his feet.

“Word got out. During the big battle when the zebras took the ship, we both thought that we were going to die. The engine room was on fire. We were locked into that section of the ship and told to fix the engines by the bigger griffons. When we thought we were going to die, we comforted each other and our secret got out. And then, by sheer fortune, we were rescued by the zebras and a nice unicorn who kept us all from burning to death,” Lugnut explained, staring at his feet the whole time.

“We don’t know if there are others like us,” Spanner admitted in a raspy sounding whisper, wringing his talons together as he spoke.

“If there are others like you, they need to know that it is now safe for them to come forward and be open about who they are,” Bucky announced in a loud clarion voice that echoed through the hold. “And to this end, I am appointing Bon Bon and Lyra as your special… uh… nuts, what’s the word I want here… anyhow, I am appointing Bon Bon and Lyra to look after your special interests. If you have troubles, you can come to them. If you are being harassed, you can come to them. If you just want to talk, you can come to them. If you are gay and feeling scared and confused, any of you can go to them for help. And all I want from you two in exchange for all of this, is to fix the electrical problems we are having. Can you do that?” Bucky said in a commanding voice.

“We can fix it I think… we just need the cable,” Spanner replied.

“We have the cable. I secured a massive coil of it wrapped around a giant wooden spool in the rear hold,” Lugus announced.

“Good. Then I will consider this problem fixed. Lugnut, Spanner, when you have completed your task, report to Lyra, Bon Bon, or myself and you will be reassigned quarters upon The Scorned Mare. The Royal Mechanics are valued assets,” Bucky stated in a matter-of-fact voice. “I need to go. It was a pleasure speaking with you all.”

 

 

Once Bucky was again aboard The Scorned Mare, he was immediately accosted by Twilight Sparkle, who quickly pulled him aside. The alicorn was frantic and looked somewhat panicked, her whole body twitching nervously.

“Bucky, Finch sent Skua over with a message from Tradewinds. Bad news,” Twilight reported, her ears flapping crazily in the strong wind.

“Twilight, it is barely even noon… why must bad news come so early in the day?” Bucky replied, shouting to make his voice heard over the wind.

“I can’t help when bad news comes!” Twilight retorted, narrowing her eyes at Bucky.

“So what it is now? Is Celestia going to give us a lunar vacation? Is my right to rule the griffons being challenged? Does somepony from the Sea of Grass demand to marry me to strengthen diplomatic relations?” Bucky questioned.

“Minos has collapsed into civil war Bucky… the minotaurs are killing one another and the new griffon rifles are being used in the conflict,” Twilight snapped in frustrated anger.

The alicorn’s words struck Bucky like a slap across the muzzle. His mind reeled from the news and Bucky struggled to come up with a suitable response. He stared at Twilight with a vacant expression upon his face.

“The merchants guilds, the banker’s guilds, and the manufacturer’s guilds have formed a coalition with one another,” Twilight reported.

“And they’re fighting the government?” Bucky asked, trying to understand what was going on.

“Ugh, didn’t you pay attention in civics class?” Twilight angrily demanded.

“No!” Bucky retorted.

“Minos is run by guilds. There is no central government. Everything is done by guilds voting and agreeing upon an issue. There are merchants guilds, financial guilds, industrial guilds, educational guilds, science guilds, there are a lot of different guilds for every aspect of society. The guilds most suited for dealing with certain problems within society handle the bureaucracy of that particular issue. It’s been a surprisingly stable system for a long time,” Twilight explained. “But there is no central government.”

“So a collective of guilds have gone rogue and now there is civil war? I’m guessing word got out about the griffons' failed gambit and now somebovine doesn’t want to face the consequences,” Bucky responded.

“Yes Bucky,” Twilight replied. “The guilds have armies of trained mercenaries. It appears that this has been planned for a while. The guns left Griffonholm some time ago and were already in place, probably in preparation for when Griffonholm poisoned Equestria’s water supplies and invaded the Sea of Grass.”

“Oh bugger,” Bucky grunted, feeling panicky and worried.

“How many kingdoms did the griffons give guns to Bucky? Just think about how bad this might be. There are a number of species with hands, all of them with questionable history as far as living in peace goes,” Twilight stated, looking Bucky in the eye.

“Worse than that Twilight, that means the new gun design is known by other species… who knows who might be manufacturing them right now as we speak? Minos has a manufacturing guild. I know there are industrialised diamond dog nations. Now that the design is known and probably known to be effective, there will be no stopping it,” Bucky said, shaking his head in disbelief.

“This can’t be undone, can it?” Twilight asked, looking at Bucky pleadingly.

“No Twilight… guns were created, they were banned, but they were not forgotten. Something that powerful simply does not go away. I strongly suspect that destroying the noble houses of Equestria has created a massive vacuum of power. We are seeing the far reaching consequences of the fall of the noble houses. They didn’t just control Equestria, they had the whole world in a stranglehold. Now that they are gone, others wish to rise up to their former positions of prominence,” Bucky patiently explained.

“And guns will give them the means to do that I suppose,” Twilight said in a defeated voice. “Something with a destructive power that rivals magic. Bucky, I’ve been studying the new cannon designs… the zebras were showing me earlier this morning. These aren’t the old cannons that fire a big round cannonball. These new cannons are just big versions of the griffon guns. They use a massive brass shell packed with powder and a big bullet that is jacketed with brass or copper over the soft lead. The big guns are accurate, powerful, and can be loaded very quickly. Thankfully, there were only few griffon ships that had them.”

“That is worrisome,” Bucky admitted.

“Bucky, as powerful as your armor is, believe me, I’ve examined it, I do believe that one of these guns would overcome the enchantments and rip right through it on a direct hit… how do we stop what is happening? How do we fight against these sorts of weapons?” Twilight questioned.

“I don’t know Twilight… but I’ll admit, we might be in trouble,” Bucky answered.

 

 

 

 

 

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