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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Holding the one she loved, Derpy could barely even remember why she had been angry. She clutched him tightly, holding him close to her as they lay in a bed together, listening to the soft sounds of Bucky’s breathing. The ship had docked and things were happening, but Derpy didn’t care about those things. She pressed her lips against Bucky’s still swollen nasal bridge and kissed him softly, which caused him to murmur wordlessly in his sleep.

The pegasus had only met Belisama briefly, and not much had been said yet, other than a friendly hello. There had been long warm hugs with Bon Bon and Lyra, long lingering hugs, and Bon Bon had tried many times to say “sorry” until Derpy had shushed her.

And now, there was only Derpy and Bucky, alone with one another, Bucky had finally succumbed to sleep, easing Derpy’s mind and making the mare feel better. The long trip to Canterlot had been worth it, Derpy had flown here earlier during the day when she had received word that Bucky would be home between midnight and dawn.

Heaving a mighty yawn, Derpy also succumbed to sleep.

 

 

In the rosy light of dawn, Bucky found himself surrounded by griffons in one of the vast courtyards of Canterlot castle. Of the three hundred and five griffons, one hundred and forty one griffons chose to follow Bucky home, their devotion evident in their wide eyes that were filled with adoration. The rest chose to stay in Canterlot with Tannis and Agnetha.

The one that surprised Bucky the most was Magpie the nanny, the rather large hunter griffon that Bucky had rescued from the nursery. Since drinking the restorative healing elixir, the griffoness’ demeanour had changed considerably, she was very calm, affectionate, and quiet. She stood with the rest, huddled over the smaller servant griffons protectively, her eyes darting about as she took in everything around her. Half of the young had been left with Tannis and Agnetha, to be raised as they saw fit, and the other half were now with Bucky, leaving him with sixteen cubs that he was responsible for, plus Sprocket and Cog, Lugnut and Spanner’s cubs, which made for eighteen total.

And for some reason, all Bucky could think about was poor Bittersweet, who was bound to be a nervous wreck around so many griffons. Bucky hoped a raise in pay would be enough to convince her to stay.

Next to him, Derpy looked out at the group, yawning occasionally, a confused look upon her face as griffons kept addressing her as their queen. It was too early in the morning to figure out what being a queen meant, but the parts of her brain that were awake told her that this was trouble of the worst kind.

Through most of the night, Belisama, a creature that leaned towards being a nocturnal being, had sorted through the griffons and griffonesses, making a list of all those who wanted to remain with Bucky. She now sat a short distance away, looking exhausted, her tail wrapped around her body and her eyes struggling to stay open.

“Bucky… what are we going to do with all of these griffons?” Derpy inquired, giving a narrowed eyed stare to her husband, her voice sounding somewhat concerned.

“We care for them… we look after them. Look, love, I know it seems overwhelming now, but just think. We need help finishing the school and then we need help staffing the school. We need caretakers and teachers. We need carpenters and labourers. Rising Star could probably use help in his forge to make stoves for the winter,” Bucky responded, looking out over his subjects.

Her eyes falling upon a few small griffon cubs, Derpy’s heart softened a bit. “Rising Star has help. Scorch is there helping to make those little cast iron stoves and stove pipes. A lot of gourds have been grown and they're turning them into cute little houses,” Derpy said, her ears splaying out sideways. She rose, stretched her spine, and then walked towards Magpie and the cubs, the crowd parting to get out of her way as she passed.

The grey mare sat down amidst the cubs, studying them, hearing their curious peeping and low frightened voices. Reaching out a foreleg, she snatched up a small male cub in her fetlock and lifted him gingerly as she sat back upon her haunches. She cradled the cub in her forelegs, looking him over, her bad right eye squeezed shut so she could see clearly. She rocked the cub to and fro and she began to hum, her motherly instincts taking over, and she found she really didn’t care what species she mothered… young were young and her instincts were fierce as well as overpowering. Compelled by a force she could barely comprehend, she suddenly felt very protective of the brood of griffons. She looked up at Magpie and the pair exchanged a knowing nod.

“This one needs a bath,” Derpy announced.

“Yes he does, Your Majesty,” Magpie agreed.

“My name is Derpy… Do you like being a nanny?” Derpy asked as she looked down at the cub she was holding, which was small, brown, had gold feathers, and had a beak like an owl. “He’s very sweet,” Derpy said, extending out her forelegs and offering the cub to Magpie, who carefully accepted the foal and cradled it.

“You are one of my queens, and I will address you with the respect you are owed,” Magpie said. “Your husband did a kind thing for me. He saved me and had my mind healed. I owe him and his pride my life… I could do no less, and me honour demands so much more. I will guard your young with my life.”

Unsure of how to respond, Derpy blinked a few times. “Thank you,” she said in a low subdued voice, planting her front hooves upon the ground. “Bucky, where will we house them?”

The Albatross will have to do for a while. It is warm and secure against the weather. It has a massive stockpile of food… enough food to see us all through the winter quite comfortably and then some. Come spring and beyond, we’ll figure out something better,” Bucky answered, all to aware that his subjects were all hanging upon his every word.

“By any stretch of the imagination, housing them in The Albatross is quite generous, most of us in the servant caste live in closets and cupboards if we have anyplace to call our own at all. You have been unbelievably kind… my husband,” Belisama said, struggling to hold her head up in her exhausted state.

“Sentinel would be upset if somepony stole his closet… that’s his hidey hole,” Derpy said, looking at the cubs who gathering around her and staring up at her with wide curious eyes, their little crests raising as they studied the grey mare. “Where is Sentinel anyway? I haven’t seen him.”

“I suspect he and Spike are spending time together before Spike has to head off to Ponyville with Twilight Sparkle,” Bucky responded, greatly enjoying seeing Derpy brood over the griffon cubs. As he watched, the grey mare picked up a small female cub and hugged her, which caused the cub to peep loudly in alarm, as she had not been fast enough to escape.

“You know… you are still in plenty of hot water Bucky… but this kinda makes up for what you’ve done… just a little tiny bit,” Derpy said as she lovingly squeezed the peeping cub and kissed it upon the head. “Don’t expect any mercy. Angry.” Derpy swiveled her head around and glared fiercely at her husband.

Gulping, Bucky said nothing, he had hoped that Derpy had forgotten about whatever trouble that lay ahead. He ducked his head down low and slouched, his eye narrowing sulkily as he began to plan on how to distract her.

 

 

In a nearby garden, Ripple and Sentinel stood at attention, both of them staring straight ahead as Princess Luna looked them over. A short distance away, Flash Sentry also stood at attention, and the soldier was absolutely statuesque in his stance.

It was just chilly enough to see the breath of every pony in the garden during the early hours just after dawn. Princess Luna began to pace around, her head held high, and she paused to examine her lunar guard. She stomped away, seemingly satisfied.

“I will keep this brief. I am exhausted and need sleep. Flash Sentry, you have handed in your resignation papers and have requested a discharge. It is a real shame to lose one of your valour. From what I am told, you saved Princess Twilight Sparkle’s life. So… I refuse to see this as a discharge. As of this moment, I consider you as Princess Twilight Sparkle’s full time protector. As such, you are relieved of active duty and may be officially discharged on the record, but off of the record, I intend to hold you responsible for her happiness and safety, and the safety of her consort, Rainbow Dash. At ease,” Luna said, her tone commanding and proud.

Other than a deep breath, Flash Sentry made no acknowledgement of Princess Luna’s words, and he remained at full attention, his eyes wide and watchful.

“Cornet Sentinel, Cornet Ripple… both of you have gone above and beyond the call of duty during this trip. I have heard reports of your actions and I am impressed. From this moment forward, both of you are of the rank Cornet First Class and when my sister returns, Princess Celestia will likely give you a medal, Sentinel, for your brave efforts in bringing down your father’s would be assassin. You have done well Squire Cornet Sentinel, and I am very proud of you,” Princess Luna said, her gaze affixing upon Sentinel as she spoke.

With a loud crack, Sentinel whipped out a wing in salute, his whole body somehow becoming stiffer, and his ears swiveled forward.

“Squire Cornet Ripple… your Raptors are officially recognised as a patrol under the Crown of the Lunar Court and will have all of the duties, obligations, and privileges of the guards within my court. I want them worthy of my inspection. I have no intention of telling you when I plan to inspect them. Make them ready. Make the most of their talents and their ability to grasp weapons,” Princess Luna commanded in a regal voice.

“Ma’am, yes ma’am,” Ripple barked in reply, one wing snapping out in a salute.

“Make the most of their strength. The griffons have much to offer us… it is my command that you show the world that the little ones are to be feared just as much as the big ones. Do not disappoint me,” Princess Luna demanded, her snoot inches away from Ripple as she spoke. “Are there any questions?”

“Ma’am, what is a patrol, ma’am?” Sentinel inquired, his eyes still locked forward.

“A patrol is specifically a small group, sometimes called a platoon, but the term patrol is more commonly used for scouts,” Princess Luna explained.

“Ma’am, is it your intention to use them as scouts, ma’am?” Sentinel questioned.

“Are you being clever, Squire Cornet Sentinel? Trying to discern a clue for their purpose?” Princess Luna barked, moving over to give Sentinel a good shouting as she moved muzzle to muzzle with the colt.

“Ma’am, yes I am, ma’am,” Sentinel confessed. “I thought myself very clever. My father told me to be clever.”

“It is my intention to see if they make good scouts. They are small swift fliers. I believe they will be good for search and rescue operations and scouting enemy positions,” Princess Luna announced in a clarion voice.

“Ma’am, am I to understand that you plan to use them as spies, ma’am?” Sentinel asked, his eyes still locked forward.

“Make them ready!” Princess Luna shouted, giving a command. “As of this moment, for your cleverness, consider yourself a Raptor young Sentinel. Welcome to Lunar Intelligence. If you thought the regular ranks had exacting standards, just wait till you see what you are in for now.”

Swallowing with a gulp loud enough to be heard throughout the entire garden, Sentinel kept a brave face on and continued to stare straight ahead, the only sign of his distress was a trickle of sweat running down from behind his ear.

Saying nothing else, Princess Luna strode off, her guard following closely behind her, all of them laughing and chuckling amongst themselves as they departed. As Princess Luna trotted away, Sentinel’s ears drooped, Flash Sentry finally relaxed, and Ripple took a deep breath and held it for a long moment.

“You big dope… you just had to ask questions,” Ripple said as she let her breath out.

 

 

 

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