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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“Your Majesty, your griffons are ready to return home. The ship carrying them will be towed here this afternoon,” a pegasus in the Solar Guard reported.

“Seems awfully soon,” Bucky grumbled, shaking his head.

“It has been a week since your return, sir,” the guard pegasus said in a helpful voice.

Looking at the guard, Bucky reflected upon the guard’s words. Had it been that long? He supposed it had been. The guardspony was trembling slightly as he stood on the porch before Bucky, and the guard’s eyes darted around nervously.

“Sir, might I ask you a question, sir?” the guard asked timidly.

“You just did,” Bucky replied, cracking wise and smiling slightly.

“Are what the papers saying really true… that you… that you used Princess Celestia’s sun to burn away the city of Griffonholm? I mean… you killed so many… I’m having trouble taking in the numbers, yet somehow you found it in your heart to grant mercy, saving just a select few. How?” the guard questioned.

“Yes,” Bucky hissed. “It’s true. I used the sun to burn away the city of Griffonholm,” he said in a well practiced sneer, hoping that Bon Bon was nowhere within earshot because he wasn’t in the mood to be slapped around during a moment of earth pony loving correctional affection. “Do you take issue with my actions?” Bucky inquired, glaring at the guard with a withering stare that would have caused most ponies to flee his presence.

“No… sir… no, not at all,” the guard stammered in reply. “I think it was a good idea and my opinions are highly unpopular with the other guard.”

“Do you now?” Bucky responded.

“The way I figure it, you probably saved a countless number of lives. At some point during the conflict, the griffons would have probably organised a retreat from the city, taking civilians and military with them when they fled. The conflict would have spread and it probably would have dragged on and on, spreading to other places like a fire. Killing things as abruptly and as swiftly as you did… it was like pouring a big bucket of water over a fire and putting it all out at once in one go,” the guard answered, explaining his views in a nervous voice, his armor clanking slightly as he trembled before Bucky.

“I suppose it was,” Bucky agreed, his words causing the guardspony to relax somewhat.

“Not everypony hates you for what you’ve done sir… we are a minority, but we defend your actions. My great great grandfather was killed in service… a griffon with no combat experience that had a musket took out a pony with less than five years to go before retirement, a seasoned veteran of many conflicts who had a great deal of experience,” the guard pony said, trying to stand a little straighter as he spoke. “Some of us remember the threat that our old enemies pose.”

“Thank you,” Bucky said in a surprisingly warm and gracious voice, one that bore no sarcasm or malice.

The pegasus snapped out a wing in salute and snapped to attention. “We also look forward to creating bonds with new allies.”

“Dismissed,” Bucky said in a low voice as he looked up at the much taller pegasus.

 

 

The school classroom was packed far too tightly and Sentinel waited for the the time to hurry up and pass. Beside him, Spike was scratching out a math lesson, trying to help a pony colt named Truffle with the difficult subject of math. In front of him, Dinky slowly worked out her equations, her horn glowing as she slowly moved her pencil, and directly behind him, Diamond Tiara sat with a smug look on her face, her assignment finished.

Sentinel was nowhere near done, but didn’t want to ask for help. Dinky, in a lower grade, had a different math assignment than he did. Diamond Tiara, in a higher grade, could easily help him, but he was too proud to ask. Fractions completely eluded him and he had no idea what he was doing.

There was no sign of Rumble in school, nor would there be for another week.

Thankfully, there was no sign of Steeplechase either.

In the corner, he saw Ripple erasing yet another problem upon her paper, which caused it to tear. He flinched when he saw the anger upon her face and looked away. Somehow, school was no longer exciting for Sentinel, but he was determined to endure. It was important to endure, to continue through a task even if you didn’t like it or what to do it, because this is how the officer’s manual said that character is built, and Sentinel wanted character.

“You know Sentinel, if you spent more time looking at your paper and less time looking around, your math scores would improve,” Cheerilee chided.

Slumping down in his seat, Sentinel let out a defeated groan.

 

 

“My king, this is a worrisome sign,” Lugus said in a low voice as he peered at Thistle and Belisama and then turned to Bucky.

“Indeed it is,” Bucky agreed, his eye narrowing.

“Thistle and Belisama speak in low whispers and there is much giggling between them. I fear they are conspiring against you,” Lugus said in a low voice with his crest half erect and the feathers along his neck fluffed out.

“This is a good thing though… really,” Bucky said as he turned to look at Lugus.

“How so?” Lugus inquired brusquely.

“They are friends. Derpy and Berry are an inseparable pair, Lyra and Bon Bon stick together, and now it seems Thistle has an accomplice,” Bucky mused in reply.

“They are discussing Belisama’s curiousity and the time you trapped her,” Lugus reported in a low voice, aware of the fact that if he could hear Belisama, she could hear him.

Chuckling, Bucky nodded at the memory and gave Lugus an affectionate pat with his stump. “That was funny… she was being so inquisitive… Tannis and Agnetha, all of them… I miss Tannis and Agnetha.”

“They are already busy… Princess Luna has put them to work as agents of the Lunar Court and Princess Celestia has both of them shadowing her to learn what they need to know. They will be at the first meeting of the Stable of Representatives with both Princesses and Princess Celestia plans to ask the Stable to allow Tannis and Agnetha limited powers of co-rule,” Lugus said, his voice now serious and solemn. The big griffon shifted his weight and his crest went flat upon his head.

“Rising Star is a nervous wreck,” Bucky stated, thinking about the historic first meeting of the Stable. “He’s become so dedicated to his work.”

“Just like another that I know,” Lugus responded.

 

 

“They’re talking about us,” Belisama said to Thistle in a low voice, all too aware that Lugus could hear her.

“We have nothing to hide,” Thistle giggled as she wiggled on her back and tried to get comfortable.

“You are very large,” Belisama said as she placed the side of her head against Thistle’s large round belly. “Do you need anything? Are you hungry? Do you want food?”

“I’m fine,” Thistle huffed as she shifted her bulk. “How is your leg?”

“It mostly itches,” Belisama answered as she carefully rubbed Thistle’s belly with her talon tips, keeping her claws angled away from tender skin. “Does it ever worry you that you are different than his other wives?”

“Because of what I eat? Maybe just a little,” Thistle admitted in reply closing her eyes as she melted into the sofa cushions from the belly rub. “They never treat me differently though and I know that I am loved.”

“I don’t know how I feel about love,” Belisama said in a low voice.

“What do you mean?” Thistle inquired, her eyes still closed.

“For somebirdy of my caste, it is far more important to be useful. You are more likely to be kept around, allowed to live, it is more important to be valuable,” Belisama explained.

“I don’t like how that sounds,” Thistle said in a slightly angry voice.

“There is a griffon named Loki that is a member of Ripple’s guard unit. His master used him as a pit fighter for entertainment and as an assassin on occasion. Loki was taken care of very well because of his value. Branwen was kept as a pet because of her albino colouring. Kiara was valuable because of her exceptional hearing and she was used as a spy. Now I am in a very different situation and I keep wondering about my value in this new life,” Belisama said in a subdued voice.

“I value you as my friend,” Thistle said, opening her eyes and twisting her head around to look at Belisama.

“I need purpose, some kind of direction in my life,” Belisama whispered. “Mostly I just nap in the kitchen window and feel the sun upon my back.”

“You are still settling in. Stop worrying. You know, I too struggle with purpose. I used to think I’d just be happy having foals. But I’ve grown up a bit and learned a lot about life from Derpy, Berry, Bon Bon, and Lyra. Now I want something more, but I don’t know what just yet. I want to be something,” Thistle responded, still looking at Belisama. “Besides, you are queen now… which means lots of royal duties and responsibilities… once you settle in.”

 

 

Alone in her room, Sunset Shimmer quietly placed a few books into her bookshelf and heaved a quiet sigh. She had magic again. No more clumsy hands and aching fingers. No more unnatural walking on two legs. She had proper taste buds again and food tasted the way it should once again. She had a spellbook of her own and room for her experiments. She had a Master that had provided her with anything and everything she had so far asked for.

She had a black cloak hanging upon the hook on the wall.

Pausing to look at her cloak, Sunset Shimmer felt the pressure of responsibility settle upon her back and she hoped that she would not screw up this one chance she had to restore her standing. She felt a nauseating sense of worry about everything. She didn’t want to disappoint Princess Celestia. She didn’t want to let down Twilight Sparkle. And she certainly didn’t want to make Master angry, not after what she had learned about him.

There were too many things she wanted to learn, and Bucky was the only pony willing to teach them.

The past week had been exhausting. She had set up several laboratories, organised a growing library of magical research, helped Rising Star in his forge and had met Scorch, sorted through hundreds of books when she was sent to help Twilight Sparkle at the Ponyville town library… which was really Master’s kind way of allowing her time with her friends. Sunset Shimmer had met Twilight Sparkle’s new family and had been made to feel most welcome.

When the last of the books were put away, Sunset Shimmer placed her assignment sheets on the wall next to the bookshelf, sticking them in place with a sticky cantrip.

“Hello.”

Whirling around, Sunset Shimmer saw that she had a visitor. “Hello Lyra,” Sunset greeted, genuinely glad to see Lyra Heartstrings. She smiled, a beaming happy smile, and she moved towards Lyra, who stood in the door.

“The door was open,” Lyra said in a low somewhat nervous voice.

“I left it open,” Sunset Shimmer replied, still smiling a sunny smile.

“The griffons will be arriving soonish. The ship can be seen being towed from Canterlot. Bucky expects you at his side along with the rest of us when they arrive. I might have overheard Bucky talking with Belisama about allowing you to have a griffon assistant if one takes an interest in you, and I am certain that some of them probably will. Bucky is going to introduce you as his court wizard, and somebirdy is bound to offer themselves to you to curry favour,” Lyra said in a soft voice, trying to study Sunset Shimmer’s reaction.

“Oh… I see,” Sunset Shimmer answered, her eyes narrowing but her smile remaining unchanged. “I remember my griffon etiquette crash course that Master gave me. I would be honoured to have a helper… and a new friend.”

“Twilight Sparkle plans to request a library assistant. She feels it will be important to have the griffons in the public eye as much as possible to help garner trust and fellowship. Vanhoover has a large griffon population and the city has prospered. Anyhow, we need to get going,” Lyra said, now a bit more relaxed.

“Lead the way,” Sunset Shimmer requested with a nod of her head.

 

 

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