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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There was no school today and Ripple was quite pleased. She eyed Lugus for a moment, who was preparing her targets, and then she tossed her head back as she was overcome with excitement.

On Ripple’s back sat Freyja, and Ripple could feel the griffoness’ hind legs pressing into her sides just in front of her wing joints. Freyja was holding a long lance, an intimidating six foot long spear with a wicked looking tip, and today’s experiment was pony mounted cavalry.

The other Raptors were gathered around to watch what was sure to be quite a spectacle, and quite a few of the school students were also sitting and watching from a safe distance away. A bit closer to the action was Rising Star, Loch Skimmer, and Bittersweet. All three of them were watching with great anticipation and Ripple was keenly aware of every eye looking at her.

The targets were burlap sacks stuffed with straw that were sitting atop wooden posts that had been driven into the ground with Rising Star’s magic, Ripple had watched every step of preparation so far, and she was quite nearly ready to burst with excitement.

“You know Ripple, I’m not sure I understand what we are doing here,” Freyja said.

Ripple felt the griffoness wiggle on her back and the griffoness’ tail twitched against her croup. “Can you actually fly with this big long lance? Or run with it?”

Waiting for an answer, Ripple finally heard Freyja say, “No, I suppose I can’t.”

Prancing in place, Ripple gave the griffoness a reason to hang on. “No, you can’t fly with this big lance, but you can hold on to it, brace it in place, and stay on my back. Might need a saddle though.”

“I don’t like the idea of you wearing a saddle,” Ripple heard Freyja say.

Bouncing around a bit, Ripple could feel Freyja clutching at the base of her mane to keep holding on. “I’m not bothered by a saddle… I’m not your beast of burden, I’m your companion and fellow sister in battle. We have to work together to crush our enemies.”

 

 

Semillon Bordeaux trotted down the narrow winding path to one of the best kept secrets in the Canterlot-Ponyville region, her saddlebags bouncing against her sides. The White Tail Woods. The autumn sunshine was warm enough, but the breeze was cool. Semillon was grateful her knitted shawl.

At her age, one tended to notice the chill a little more.

Overhead, Semillon noticed the sun peeking through the now naked trees and the path ahead was a beautiful sight of light mixed with overlapping shadows from the skeletal branches.

“Wait, who approaches?”

Coming to a halt, Semillon looked around her. She had heard the voice quite clearly, but did not see. She knew the camp had guardians. She could feel a slight cold prickle along her back, creeping up her spine from her dock. “Hello?”

“You don’t seem like the sort that causes trouble.”

The voice again. It was deep, commanding, it was a voice that brooked no trouble. Semillon pulled out her best smile and looked around. “I came to buy spices. I am the Lord of Winter’s cook and my name is Semillon Bordeaux.”

“Oh… well then, that would make you our honoured guest. I am Forest Watcher, guardian of this outpost and these ponies. I welcome you.”

As Semillon peered through the trees, a lone dark green figure came forward, limping slightly on one hind leg. He had a long thick neck and somewhat unkempt looking golden locks. Semillon knew she was getting up there in age, but she wasn’t so old yet that she didn’t respond to handsome when she saw it. She felt her heart flutter. Hello handsome!

“Did you bring bits?” Forest Watcher asked.

It was a very practical question and Semillon understood the purpose for asking it. Bits were useful, but impractical. She cleared her throat, blinked fetchingly, applied her best feminine charms, and then said, “I have brought a few bits. In my saddlebags are some medicines, antibiotics, some sugar, and some of Barley O’Blivion’s finest whiskey.”

“That’ll do.”

 

 

Loch Skimmer sat watching as her little sister prepared to tear stuff up. There was a griffoness on her back, Loch Skimmer couldn’t remember the griffoness’ name, but she was holding a long lance with a scary looking tip. Leaning over, Loch Skimmer spoke out of the corner of her mouth to Rising Star and said, “This is gonna be awesome. By the way, your lance is impressive.”

Leaving the innuendo to linger, Loch Skimmer burst into a wide mouthed grin. “Go Ripple!”

“You know Loch, seeing Ripple like this, watching her snort and kick, seeing her so aggressive, it kinda gets me worked up,” Rising Star said.

Prodding Rising Star in the ribs, Loch Skimmer turned to look at the unicorn beside her. “Perv.”

“Fey,” Loch Skimmer heard Rising Star say defensively, as though this excused everything. She giggled and then turned her head around to look at her sister. It did excuse everything.

The sound of the now gathered crowd was getting louder, more insistent, and more impatient. The crowd wanted action, and Loch Skimmer understood. “Oooh… I think something is about to happen…”

 

 

The camp was larger than Semillon remembered and the middle aged mare realised that some of the refugees had settled here. New cabins were being built, the communal kitchen was now larger than Semillon remembered, all of the signs of growth existed.

“These are useful trade goods.”

The unicorn speaking to her was slight looking, grey, and quiet. Semillon looked down at her opened bags, the various goods spread out on the table before her, and then back up at the unicorn. “I figured it was practical.”

“Right now we have a lot of saffron… the crocuses in these woods finally bloomed in the cold weather… autumn bloomers are always nice. Also, we have truffles. Lots of truffles.”

“Pepperjack, right? That’s exactly what I came here for. Well, and maybe a few other exotics, should you have them,” Semillon said as she studied the unicorn who was eyeing the whiskey.

“Yes ma’am, name is Pepperjack. We do have a few other things… we have a fair bit of brassica juncea, or mustard to the common laypony if you are interested.” Semillon waited as the unicorn paused for a moment, she saw a thoughtful expression creep over his face, and then she heard him continue: “We has us some chervil too. Might have some sumac left.”

“Wonderful. Just the sorts of things I was interested in. I can see what you are interested in. Let’s see if we can both get what we want,” Semillon said.

 

 

Ripple’s hooves tore divots as she thundered along the course filled with targets. As Rising Star watched, the lance hit another target, splitting it open, causing the burlap and straw to explode, the terrific force of impact sending ruined debris flying through the air.

The charcoal grey pegasus filly had her head low, Rising Star watched her every movement, and he could see the griffoness clinging to Ripple’s back. Ripple was all fine muscle, her lean body was in peak physical condition, at some point Ripple had stopped being the mostly starved scrawny skeleton with skin hanging off of her bones and had transformed into something else entirely.

One target was missed as Ripple pounded around a corner; Rising Star flinched and felt a pang of sympathy for her, knowing that Ripple was going to be upset about that later. Glancing over at Bittersweet, Rising Star noticed that Bittersweet was watching Ripple with every bit of intensity that he was. He gave the donkey a little friendly nudge, paused, thought about his actions, and then leaned down and gave her a little kiss on the cheek. Afterwards, he turned his head back to watch Ripple.

A moment later, much to Rising Star’s surprise, Bittersweet had her forelegs around his neck and was kissing him right on the lips. It was a peck, but it was a very warm and friendly peck that seemed to hold the promise that warmer and friendlier pecks awaited him. The donkey pulled away with a wet sounding smack and then settled back down beside Rising Star.

“Both of you are so adorable,” Loch Skimmer said as she continued to watch her sister.

Ripple was running full tilt down a long straightaway now, grass and dirt flew up from behind her, her tail, short as it was, was flowing in her wake, and a ragged bloodthirsty scream could be heard as she charged forward.

Target after target was impaled and shreds of burlap now clung to the tip of the lance. Freyja had it tucked under her right foreleg and wing, her left talons were clenching Ripple’s mane at the crest of Ripple’s neck, and Rising Star hoped that Freyja wasn’t pulling too hard on Ripple’s mane. They were approaching the final target now, a large body sized burlap sack stuffed with straw and strapped to an old mostly dead tree.

Suddenly, as they drew near, Freyja let out a blood curdling ear piercing war cry, hefted the spear in her right talons, and somehow, the little griffoness was strong enough to hurl the long lance. It flew straight, true, Rising Star stared, now transfixed, his mouth hanging open; with a loud -thud!- the lance embedded itself into the tree, piercing the target, it protruded, sticking out, quivering, as Ripple and Freyja went streaking past.

The gathered crowd let out a deafening cheer as Ripple turned about and began to slow down after her triumphant run while Freyja was waving to everypony and everyone that was watching.

Rising Star, now rising from where he sat, bolted forward, his cloven hooves striking the earth, his long whip like tufted tail waving behind him, and he headed for Ripple, now oblivious to the crowd around him.

When Rising Star reached Ripple, he approached her slowly, he could see her barrel was expanding and contracting with each heavy breath she took. She was a little sweaty, her mane was clinging to her damp brows, and striding forward purposefully, saying nothing, Rising Star lowered his head and kissed Ripple on the top of her head, between her ears. He then took a step back, smiled, and said, “You were wonderful. You’re so beautiful when you run.”

The filly became flustered, Rising Star noticed every detail of her, her long eyelashes, her magenta eyes, how they flashed, the way her lips moved but no words came out, the way her left foreleg lifted, rubbed against her right foreleg, and how she turned away, looking down at the ground while stammering. Finally, Rising Star heard Ripple say, “Gosh… thank you. I like knowing that you think I’m pretty.”

Ripple’s voice was tiny, squeaky, nervous; Rising Star took a deep breath and then he realised that the griffoness on Ripple’s back was staring at him. Letting out his breath, he said, “If you can get away from Lugus, I’d spend some time with Bittersweet. I think she likes seeing you sweaty.”

Ripple’s giggling response was music in Rising Star’s ears.

 

 

Cautiously approaching Ripple, Bittersweet peered all around her to make sure that everything was okay. The world was a silent place, she couldn’t hear incoming danger, all she had was her eyes, which were sharp. Rising Star was backing away, Ripple looked flustered, and Bittersweet felt her own heart skip a beat. The griffoness on Ripple’s back took wing, flew away, and Bittersweet watched her go for a moment. These griffons were good griffons and she no longer feared them. Lugus was a short distance away, examining. the spear lodged in the tree, and the big griffon’s presence actually made Bittersweet feel safe out in the open. She didn’t have to worry here, everything around her knew that she was deaf; they all looked out for her, kept her safe from danger and harm.

As she approached, she saw Ripple’s lips move, but since she had been distracted, her eyes elsewhere, she didn’t catch everything. “—tersweet, did you like what you saw?”

Nodding, Bittersweet let Ripple know that yes, she did like what she saw. Bittersweet liked it a great deal. The muscles along her face, neck, and head convulsed as her ears began to twitch out a message while her lips also silently formed her unspoken words.

“I liked what I saw… but seeing is not enough. Let us go find a spot where I can spend some time touching what I saw.”

 

 

 

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