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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“Okay… lots of little faces looking at me. Hi! My name is Surprise and I’m going to be your flight instructor today,” Surprise announced as she looked out at all of the griffons looking at her and waved with her right front hoof. “I saw a lot of you in Baltimare and you are all fine fliers, so this will be a cakewalk for sure. Is everypony… uh… everybirdy ready to have some fun?”

Surprise welcomed the roar of the crowd assembled in the field by the lake, all except for one rather sleepy looking little griffon that was yawning. The griffon wasn’t much larger than the others, thin looking, scrawny, but had an axe-like beak. Feeling a bit of concern, she approached. The griffon was tan in colour, almost tawny, with black and silver feathers. One side of his face was hideously scarred, half of his beak was jagged, misshapen, and he was missing an eye. The left front talons were oddly metallic looking.

“Lord of Winter?” Surprise asked in a shocked voice.

“Shapeshifters need flight licenses too,” Bucky replied in a sleepy voice.

Beside Bucky was a much larger flamboyantly orange griffon with crimson and gold feathers who sat preening her wings clumsily and occasionally glancing at Bucky with a worried look of concern, her dazzlingly oversized crest protruding upwards like an outrageous volcanic eruption.

“Well… this is a surprise… for little ol’ me,” Surprise tittered as she began to prance around the crowd to get a closer look at the griffons she would be working with. “We’re just going to get started with the basics. The simple rules of sharing the sky.”

“Why am I so small? Why can’t the transmutation spell give me a larger body?” Bucky squawked as his wings fluttered. His feathers fluffed out as he began to sulk in his half awake state.

“Master… you’re like the rest of the little griffons… so cute and adorable!” Sunset Shimmer crooned. Reaching out with her talons, the flamboyant flame coloured griffoness gave Bucky an affectionate pat upon the head.

“Shut… up… Minion… how you got a hunter body… ugh!” Bucky retorted in an exasperated huff as he jerked away, his one eye glaring angrily.

Giggling, Surprise flared out her wings. “Pay attention… we’re about to begin!”

 

 

Feeling oh so terribly curious, Dinky Doo Hooves prodded her father with a hoof and then watched as his eye opened and peered at her. She prodded again in a different location, wondering how he could be a griffon.

“Where is your horn?” Dinky asked as she gave one final prod and then sat down upon the grass beside her father. “How do you do magic to turn back?”

“Dinky… this body isn’t real. My real body still exists, it is tucked away inside of an extra-dimensional bit of fold space, suspended outside of time and space of this existence. This body is a construct, made of random matter and various odd bits, with a body created to conform to a general likeness of how I was. Which is why my left talons look metallic and I only have one eye,” Bucky explained patiently. When he was done, he snatched Dinky carefully and pulled her close, giving his foal a squeeze.

“What if this body gets hurt?” Dinky questioned as she snuggled into her father’s embrace and closed her eyes.

“This body can be damaged. It isn’t real though. It can take a lot of damage but my real body stays safe. If this body takes enough damage, it vanishes and my real body pops into existence. Which might be bad. Really bad, depending upon the situation,” Bucky answered.

“So shapeshifting allows you to keep your body safe in dangerous situations while your fake body takes damage?” Dinky inquired, her eyes still closed, the foal carefully trying to take in every word her father said.

“Yes… but this body, even though it isn’t real, still feels pain and pleasure. I feel all of the things I would feel in my actual body. I can taste things and smell things and have all of the usual sensations,” Bucky replied, glad to have a moment with Dinky.

“So this body is just a projection of shaped thaumaturgical energy and magic… could I shapeshift?” Dinky asked, now curious about shapeshifting.

“Maybe. It is possible for type threes, but very difficult. It requires the utmost in-”

“Concentration, focus, and will,” Dinky recited as she interrupted her father. “What about Piña? Could Piña shapeshift? She can’t do distance spells, but she is starting to be able to cast spells from her hooves, so could she?”

“If she has the thaumaturgical system to support it, she might be able to do so,” Bucky responded as he wrapped a wing around Dinky. “Some helpful advice for you Dinky Doo... shapeshifting is easiest when shifting into a form that you most associate with. For me, that’s predatory creatures. For you… I’m thinking that you should try bugs.”

Opening her eyes, Dinky stretched out her neck and kissed her father below his eye and just behind his beak. “I’m glad you can feel that,” she remarked when she was finished. "I think Surprise is getting ready to teach again. I think your break is over.”

 

 

“How is Babs?” Berry Punch asked as Applejack took a seat upon the porch. She watched as Applejack watched Babs carefully, looking nervously in Babs’ direction and how Applejack nervously clutched at the arms of the chair.

“She’s better. She’s getting better,” Applejack replied in a distracted voice as she watched Babs slowly wandering around the yard and watching the griffons flying overhead. “She wanted to watch the griffons flying… we could see ‘em from our farm so I thought I’d be neighborly and walk over to say howdy do.”

Nodding faintly, Berry Punch looked over at Babs, knowing the full truth of everything that had happened. She saw Babs and Piña sit down together and begin talking. Berry knew everything… but she said nothing. She also knew the reason why Babs had recovered so quickly, and that reason was currently playing in the front yard with Glass Slipper.

“It’s nice having her home. She’s adjusting. She’s… grieving her lost sister and she’s a little troubled by the time she lost,” Applejack said in a soft voice as she tried to be conversational. “But she’s safe and well and whole of body that is all that matters to me.”

“You seem a little nervous,” Berry Punch stated as she turned and raised an eyebrow at Applejack. The plum coloured earth pony studied Applejack and immediately began to catalogue all of the things said by Applejack’s body language.

“Just don’t want to lose her again… it scares me real bad like,” Applejack admitted.

“If you are worried about keeping her safe, don’t smother her. Just bring her over here and let her play with our foals. Trust me, Dinky and Sentinel can keep her safe from just about anything you might think of that could hurt her,” Berry Punch suggested as she tried to put Applejack at ease.

“That’s true… I… I… I trust Sentinel. He’s a good colt. And I know what he’s capable of… I saw it with my own two eyes what he can do,” Applejack said. She took a deep breath and let it out slowly. “Babs couldn’t get much safer than being with Sentinel. And having Dinky around is just icing on the cake. No offense… I just don’t know what Dinky is capable of… but I’ve seen Sentinel in a slobberknocker.”

“Dinky is more than capable of using lethal force when necessary, but I think Dinky would prefer using non-lethal force if it came down to it. Bucky has taught her some dangerous magic that even adult unicorns typically don’t know. Dinky has shown herself to be remarkably responsible and mature for her age. She has moments where she gets a little foalish, but when it comes to magic, she can be counted on to be responsible. If something was to try and bring harm to her playmates, Dinky would do to them what she did to those shadow wolves,” Berry Punch said in a proud voice. “The war was hard on her. She had to grow up before it was time. Now she’s readjusting,” she added after a thoughtful pause.

Applejack sighed wearily. “I’m right sorry… been so worried about Babs I done forgot what you and yours have been through. That actually really does put me at ease. Y’all know how to deal with trouble when it comes… I won’t smother Babs… I give ya my word… I’ll just send her over here to play. Just keep her safe for me… I… I worry… this has been hard on me and Silver Shill.”

In the yard, Berry Punch saw a group with powerful potential. Sentinel and Diamond Tiara were off talking quietly. Tourmaline and Glass Slipper were playing together with Dinky, bouncing a ball off of their heads or their backsides and trying to keep it from touching the ground. Piña Colada and Babs were sitting together and watching the ball being bounced. Friendships were being forged… Berry Punch hoped that the bonds would be strong. She knew from Bucky that tough times were ahead for the world, and good friendships made tough times easier to bear.

“I can’t believe how much Diamond Tiara has changed. Big Mac is actually real excited to take her in. He don’t say much, but he’s happy in his own way. He’s a lot like pa was… kinda shy and sweet and quiet but also real good with foals. Not every stallion is good with foals,” Applejack said as a hint of bitterness crept into her voice. “Makes you really appreciative of those that are.”

“I know what you mean,” Berry Punch replied, knowing exactly what Applejack was talking about. She pushed the dark thoughts from her mind and shook her head. She watched as Babs’ head bobbed as she and Piña were talking, Babs was clearly fascinated by the griffons.

“Could you do me a favour?” Applejack asked in a low drawl.

“Sure Applejack… anything you need,” Berry Punch offered in reply.

“Give Bucky an extra big smooch for me. Tell him that the Apples always pay their debts and we owe him big. He knows why,” Applejack said in return as she turned to look at Berry Punch. The orange earth pony took a deep breath. “So… about that proposal you had about wanting to buy up all of our extra corn… I’m guessing that you wanna turn that corn into hard liquor… I gots me some business to discuss with ya if yer willing to hear me out.”

“I’m always willing to listen to business,” Berry Punch replied as she glanced at Applejack and smiled. “And I’ll give Bucky that smooch for you.”

 

 

“Bucky is a much better flier than I thought he would be,” Derpy remarked as she watched out the window. “Only having one eye makes it tough to fly though.”

“He is managing,” Lugus replied as he too stared out the window.

“Is the attic finished?” Derpy asked as she felt Peekaboo rubbing up against her leg.

“Just about. Yew is coordinating the decorating. It is now fully insulated, the balcony with the big window doors has been finished which makes it real easy to get in and out, and the big open space up there agrees with me. It is… cramped down here in the rest of the house,” Lugus responded as he lay down upon the floor and rested his head near Cadance and Harper.

“I could imagine. It must be difficult to be as big as you are,” Derpy stated in reply.

Turning to look at Lugus, she saw the big griffon covering his face with his wing and hiding for a moment, only to pull his wing away and peek out at the three foals. Peekaboo giggled when she saw Lugus playing peekaboo, Harper covered up her face with her front hooves, which caused her to lose her balance, which made her fall over with a thump upon the floor, and Cadance lay on the floor looking absolutely enchanted by the whole event, her eyes blinking slowly as she watched Lugus’ face vanish and reappear.

“Peekaboo,” Lugus said in a soft voice rarely heard by those outside of the tribe.

“Daddy!” Peekaboo cried as she covered up her own face with her front hooves.

Looking over in the corner, Derpy saw Lugus’ axe leaning against the wall. Things had changed since Cadance’s arrival. The axe was sheathed, but its presence was impossible to ignore. Lugus was clearly ready to deal with trouble the moment it arrived, if it arrived. Shaking her head, Derpy felt a moment of genuine pity for whatever might show up unannounced and create trouble on this farm. There was no shortage of powerful protectors gathered into one place. Ripple, her Raptors, Sunset Shimmer, Bucky, Lugus, Lyra, Rising Star, Sparkler, Witching Hour and Tiddlywinks… anything that showed up to cause trouble would be given the business and would die in any number of horrible ways depending on who or what reached them first. One thing was certain. The end would likely be painful and messy. Fire, lightning, ice, petrification followed by shattering, dismemberment, being bludgeoned to death by Ripple, or disemboweled by an angry giant griffon wielding an axe. The thought made Derpy smile a serene smile, the smile of a mother that knows that her foals were safe.

“Peekaboo… I see you…” Lugus said softly.

 

 

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