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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“Sire, I know you are a very busy pony in the mornings recently with the school opening, but I felt that you should know,” Magpie said as she looked over at Bucky and then back down at the limp body in the bed. “Whitewing was almost seventy years old. She lived a very long life and saw much of our recent history. Somehow, she survived, even in her old age, and last night before she passed, she spoke a little bit about how happy she was to be free and living here. She had quite a collection of younger griffons and griffonesses around her bed. Her last clear words before she went delirious and started raving was about how lucky we all are and how we need to be patient so we can return home someday.”

Looking at Magpie, Bucky saw a very miserable looking and sad griffoness. Her feathers drooped, her tail was limp, and it seemed as though every inch of her body radiated grief. He turned to look at Belisama beside him, who also looked sad.

“What are the funerary customs? What do we do?” Bucky asked as he reached out and gave Belisama a gentle nudge.

“We griffons return our dead to the sky. Or we did before we started grinding up our dead and feeding them to the living,” Magpie replied, nearly choking when she spoke her second sentence. “We burn our dead on funeral pyres and give them back to the sky.”

His breath forming clouds of steam in the early morning chill, Bucky nodded and looked over at the Raptors, who had gathered. “You… all of you. This day you get to be honour guards. You help Magpie construct a proper pyre and give her all of the aid she needs to do what is proper for your dead,” he instructed.

“Aye aye sir,” Grunion responded as he whipped out a wing in salute.

“We are so few… the loss of even one hurts us all. As we mourn death, we must remind ourselves that we are obligated to make new life,” Magpie said in a low voice.

“Very well said Magpie,” Belisama stated as she looked up at the larger hunter griffoness.

“Majesty, forgive me for being so direct, but perhaps if you bore young… it would be a good example for your subjects,” Magpie bluntly suggested as she gave a pointed stare to Belisama.

Looking very nervous, Belisama said nothing in reply, but gave a worried look to Bucky. She made a mental note to schedule some private time to speak to Bucky about the issue.

“I want a memorial of every griffon and griffoness that dies while you are all away from home. I don’t know how Tannis and Agnetha are handling any deaths they may be experiencing, but I don’t want one single griffon forgotten. Make a lasting reminder. I want every death remembered. When the time comes for all of you to finally go home, you can carry the memory of those who died away from home with you,” Bucky said to his subjects, making an impassioned plea as he looked at different little feathered faces all around him.

“What of you, when your time comes… how shall you be remembered my king?” Magpie asked as she stared at Bucky.

“Make it known that I died away from home and that it was my dream that one day all of you would return, rebuild, and restore Griffonholm to its once majestic glory,” Bucky replied as he looked Magpie in the eye.

 

 

Standing in her ground floor room, waiting, Sweet Pea stood with her ears perked, hoping to hear the sounds of her companion. Unsure, doubtful, but hopeful, she impatiently began kicking the stone floor with one front hoof.

“Sweet Pea?”

The voice. That voice. Slightly growly, somewhat raspy. The voice of her new friend. A smile broke across Sweet Pea’s face and she felt relief flood her body.

“We have to go to class,” Growler said in an urgent voice. “Sorry I’m late… I hope you didn’t think I wasn’t coming… Growler is a good dog.”

Giggling, Sweet Pea felt the tickle-touch of a paw upon her side. “I’m very happy to hear you… you came for me.”

“Blitz gave me a stern talking to about duty,” Growler explained. “Come. If we hurry, we won’t be late for class.”

 

 

Looking at his students, Bucky smiled at his class. “Today class, in An Introduction to Dangerous Magics we have two more instructors. This is Witching Hour and Tiddlywinks,” he said, introducing the class to his two fellow Black Cloaks, both of whom looked a little nervous. “Tiddlywinks never speaks, but you should pay attention. He has much to show you.”

Squirming in her chair, a unicorn filly rubbed her hooves together for a moment, looked fearful, and then raised her hoof, waiting politely to be called on, her eyes never leaving Bucky the whole time.

“Yes? Your name please,” Bucky said, calling upon the squirming filly.

“My name is Silver Brush,” the filly replied. She blinked a few times, swallowed, and then looked over at Witching Hour and Tiddlywinks. “Both of you are Black Cloaks.”

“Yes WE are,” Witching Hour replied as one eyelid twitched nervously.

“Can we become Black Cloaks?” Silver Brush inquired as her nervousness vanished and a very serious look crept over her face.

“Well, being in this class will certainly help you towards that goal, should you desire it,” Bucky responded as he looked around the classroom at his students.

“Being a BLACK Cloak is not EASY,” Witching Hour stated as one ear began to spastically rotate. “Constant danger all the TIME is very trying UPON your NERVES.”

“When Witching Hour is nervous, she has some communications issues. When she calms, it gets better class… please, give her the respect she is due,” Bucky requested.

Looking curious, Rumble raised his hoof.

“Yes Rumble?” Bucky said, calling upon the pegasus colt.

“What if a non unicorn wanted to join the Black Cloaks?” Rumble asked as his ears splayed out sideways in curiousity. “Uh, I mean a pony or even a griffon that isn’t a unicorn.”

“It is my hope that such a thing is possible… there are those that disagree with me, but I hope to silence them in time,” Bucky answered in a soft voice as he looked Rumble in the eye.

“I agree with BUCKY. Unicorns tend to become SUSPICIOUS about other unicorns. We can SENSE others with magic. OTHER unicorns that IS. Having non unicorns MIGHT be an asset,” Witching Hour said, offering her opinion to the class.

“So like spying?” Rumble questioned as a very shrewd look came over his face.

“Spying is such an ugly word… I don’t like it,” Bucky interjected, shaking his head in disgust. “Intelligence gathering. Information collection. Espionage… being watchful… there are so many better terms one might use instead of that one ugly word.”

“My sister Rarity calls it pony watching,” Sweetie Belle announced. “She even uses binoculars sometimes to dig up the really good dirt…” The foal paused, realising what it was that she was saying, and then began to look panicked. “I… uh, I’ve never joined her on any of her pony watching expeditions,” she stammered.

“We have a RESPONSIBILITY to be watchful,” Witching Hour stated, looking visibly calmer now. “Safety requires constant vigilance. One must always be watchful.”

“Any further questions about vigilance before we begin today’s demonstration?” Bucky inquired as he turned towards the chalkboard and levitated a piece of chalk. “No? Good…”

 

 

“Look… just relax, okay? He’s really not that scary and he rather likes earth ponies,” Violet Velvet said in a somewhat softer than usual tone. “Dirtbound, right? I know this is overwhelming for you, everything you have had to deal with all at once, and learning about Mister Rich, but I assure you, there are nothing but nice things planned for you.”

“Uh… okay,” Dirtbound replied in a low slow uncertain voice.

“You seem bright enough. You certainly clean up well… you have nothing to worry about,” Violet said in a reassuring voice. “Would you like anything? I know that Bon Bon and Lyra both are very generous.”

“Are you sure that Buckminster wants to meet me?” Dirtbound fearfully questioned. “I mean, I’m a nopony and he’s… he’s kinda important.”

“Buckminster told me to make sure you were here and I have done as he asked. He wants to meet you,” Violet responded as she sorted through a couple of papers. “Could I get some coffee?” Violet asked.

“Sure thing Violet,” Lyra responded as she ducked behind the counter to pour a cup of coffee for Violet. There was the sound of liquid trickling, a fwooshing sound, and then Lyra trotted out from behind the counter with a cup of coffee that had a frothy foam that covered the top of the cup. She set it down upon the table and then trotted back behind the counter.

“Lovely,” Violet said. “Thank you.”

“So I have a sister,” Dirtbound said in a low voice. “When do I get to meet her?”

“After you speak to Bucky,” Violet replied as she lifted up the enormous cup of hot coffee and sniffed. She looked over at the colt that was on the verge of adulthood and then took a careful sip. “So what do you plan to do for a living Dirtbound?”

“I dunno… I thought about being a stunt pony for a while.. but getting busted up ain’t no fun. I tried racing… but getting hurt ain’t no fun and neither is all the pressure. I’m fast, real fast as a runner, but racing ain’t my thing,” Dirtbound replied as he stared out the window.

“You seem rather laid back,” Violet observed.

“Oh I try to be. I don’t like pressure,” Dirtbound said in a low voice.

“You seem intelligent enough… you should do something meaningful other than running,” Violet suggested after she swallowed some coffee.

Looking away from the window, Dirtbound glanced at Violet. “Like what? I dropped out of secondary school… I don’t have any big plans.”

Bon Bon and Lyra both cringed at the soft subtle sounds of a newspaper being rolled up and Bon Bon suddenly remembered something very important in the back room, departing with a swish of her tail as she vanished through the doorway.

THWAP! THWAP! THWAP! THWAP! THWAP!

“Hoo ooo hey oooOOOwie!” Dirtbound shouted as he ducked away from the rolled up newspaper and cringed in submission, his ears drooping down beside his face.

“Ouch,” Lyra remarked. “That was a fiver.”

“You idiot! Bad pony! Dropping out of school! Bad!” Violet scolded as she shook the rolled up newspaper threateningly at Dirtbound. “You’re going back to school! Do you understand me?” she demanded.

“Yes ma’am! I’m sorry ma’am! I’ll sign up and get myself back in school right away ma’am!” Dirtbound replied as he fearfully ducked away from the newspaper hovering overhead.

“When Bucky arrives YOU WILL speak to him about getting back in school and you will cure yourself of this dreadful idiocy!” Violet commanded in a frigid imperious tone.

Nodding, the colt whimpered wordlessly for mercy.

“NO EXCUSES!” Violet shouted.

“You’re worse than my mama,” Dirtbound whined as he watched the newspaper settle down to the table. “I’m right sorry ma’am… that stings… my tender ears... I’ll be a good colt and I’ll go back to school,” he promised.

Looking up from her coffee, Violet smiled an icy smile. “Ah, here he is now,” Violet announced as she watched a griffon land in front of Bon Bon’s shop. There was shimmering and then a black cloaked figure appeared in front of the store. The door opened and a bell rang.

“Mister Bitters I wanna go back to school!” Dirtbound cried as he fearfully covered his head with his forelegs. “I did something dumb and I’m SORRY!”

Pausing in the doorway, Bucky looked around, confused by the greeting. He looked at Violet, his eye glowing within his hood, and then he slowly made his way to the table and sat down. He lowered his hood and blinked a bit as he looked around the shop.

“I strongly suspect that Violet just smacked the stupid out of somepony,” Bucky stated as he got comfortable in his chair and saw the still rolled up newspaper. “Hello Dirtbound.”

“Hello Mister Bitters,” Dirtbound replied in a low fearful voice.

“Call me Bucky,” Bucky requested in a soft voice.

Behind the counter, Lyra poured another cup of coffee while Bon Bon peeked out of the doorway to the back room. The earth pony smiled when she saw Bucky.

“Really, I wanna go back to school,” Dirtbound repeated in a voice that carried a bit more resolve. “I made a mistake… my mama was right.”

Moving swiftly with a cup of coffee held in her telekinesis, Lyra dropped it off carefully at the table, kissed Bucky on the cheek once, then once more because she wanted to, and then the unicorn mare departed so she wouldn’t interrupt.

“So, as I am sure you know, you have a sister. Her name is Diamond Tiara. She is currently experiencing quite a bit of personal difficulty in her life but she is getting better,” Bucky said as he lifted up his cup of coffee.

“I’d like to meet her,” Dirtbound replied as he began to relax a little bit. “Family is important. And going to school.”

“Good colt,” Violet remarked as she lifted her coffee cup up to her lips.

“Well I am glad to hear that. I want to talk to you a bit about all of this and what Mister Rich had hoped for when you and Diamond Tiara meet,” Bucky said as he relaxed into his chair.

 

 

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