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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Slumping over the table, Bucky tore into his breakfast. He ate with famished intensity, scarfing and gobbling down everything on his plate in moments, he wolfed down his oatmeal, and then he went to work on the fruit bowl in the middle of the table.

The city did not survive to greet the dawn. Below them, the city of Labyrinthia was now a white hot puddle. Not one building continued to stand. Nothing of the city remained. In the distance, visible from their zeppelin, smoke rose from the now liberated camps. The Fancy Foreign Legion had waged a successful campaign and a troop of diamond dogs had come in from Germaney to assist them. Minos, now liberated, was now free from the tyrannical grip of the rebels that had seized control.

Other airships were coming in now to aid in the relief effort. Medical frigates came in convoys. Order was on its way to restoration. Many in the camps were now saved; ponies, minotaurs, captured prisoners of previous conflicts, now all free.

As Bucky savaged an apple, he pondered upon the fact that he now felt a strange feeling of weakness, almost a feeling of malaise. He tried to dismiss it as the fact that he felt tired, exhausted, but deep down, he knew the real reason. A major source of conflict in the world was now eradicated in a rather permanent fashion. He had just destroyed some of his own power.

The world was now a better place with less conflict.

 

 

“Bucky?”

Belisama felt Bucky’s slow steady breathing into her neck. There was no answer. Bucky had gone still and was now asleep. Reaching out with her left talons, Belisama stroked Bucky’s ear with a careful, gentle, well practiced movement, mindful of her claws. She saw his eyelids flutter for a moment and then he went still. She ran her talons through his mane, smoothing it out a little bit. There was silver in it now, whole streaks of it, and Belisama worried at how fast it had changed.

Mindful of Bucky, Belisama shimmied free from his embrace and then with careful grace, slipped out of the bed. She froze when Bucky snorted. Her tail twitching from side to side, Belisama watched for signs that Bucky might wake. The decision to leave caused her more than a little guilt; Bucky’s only desire was to have someone  hold him when he went to bed. Belisama had slept through most of the night and was now wide awake.

There was a strange feeling of gratitude about being Bucky’s equal. Belisama reared up on her hind legs, balanced on the edge of the bed, and then brushed Bucky’s mane out of his face. She was free to leave the bed if she wanted. There had been a point in her life where if a griffon wanted her as a pillow, it would have been wise to stay in the bed and continue to be a pillow. She had been Bucky’s servant, then his wife, and now, she was his wife and lover. She pulled the blanket up to Bucky’s chin and then tucked it around him. One more, she reached out and touched one fuzzy tufted ear, feeling the thick hairs brush up against her fleshy talon finger pads.

When Bucky snorted once more in his sleep, Belisama’s eyes went wide with concern.

Lowering her head, she leaned in, placed her beak close to the top of his head. After a long pause, Belisama inhaled, taking in Bucky’s scent. Remembering that Bucky was treacherous even in his supposed sleep, Belisama decided not to press her luck. She dropped away from the bed and scurried out the door, her tail held high over her back.

 

 

Erebus crawled and explored the floor while Luna lay on a chaise lounge. Luna watched him with keen interest, her ears perking up as the colt sniffed and tried to make sense of the world around him. He was getting curious about things, and learning how to get around on his own.

Unable to sleep, Luna thought about what she had done.

She had not obeyed the plan. She did not follow through with simple instructions. Luna hoped that what she had done would not come back to haunt her later. Perhaps motherhood had changed her more than she realised.

Luna had let some go. During one of her strafing runs, she had seen one lone minotaur leading a group of calves out of the city. The image was still fresh in her mind. There had been one lone minotaur that had realised the futility of their actions and had moved to do the right thing.

Unable to kill them, unable to cut them down, Luna had teleported them out of the city. Sure, there would be teleportation sickness, but it was better than the alternative. Luna hoped that the group was okay. She hoped that they had learned their lesson. She hoped that none of them would come back later as hardened killers and future problems.

It was a troubling prospect. Luna’s lips pursed as she became even more thoughtful of her actions, more aware of the changes that motherhood had wrought upon her, more contemplative on the many changes she had made.

There had been a time where she would have just cut them down without mercy. They were the enemy. Except now, things were not so simple. As she had inhaled and made ready to obliterate them, to turn them into burned husks, she thought of Tourmaline and Erebus. She thought of Harper, of Dinky, of Piña, and of Peekaboo. She also had thought of Sentinel and the disappointed look he would have given her if he had ever learned of what she had done.

Luna now understood Bucky’s position on foals… they helped to keep one honest.

With a shrill squeak, Erebus sneezed, which jolted Luna from her thoughts.

“Erebus?” Luna asked.

She heard a wet snuffling, a snort, a sniffle, and a grunt.

“Mama?”

Feeling her heart warm, Luna smiled. “Come to mama, Erebus.”

Watching Erebus’ reaction when he heard her voice, filled with eager anticipation,  Luna waited for Erebus to come to her. He took wobbling steps, his legs still unsure of their ability, and moved with careful slowness over the floor. It took a while, but when Erebus reached the chaise lounge, Luna lifted him up and placed him beside her. He settled in and made himself comfortable. As Erebus snuggled up against her, Luna realised that soon, he would be running away from her, embarrassed when seen with his mother, as most colts tended to be.

That made these moments all the more precious.

 

 

Coffee. Coffee, the life giving elixir first introduced to the equine civilisations by the llamas that lived along the World Wall mountains. First given to the Saddle Arabians and then to the rest of the world, Bucky could not imagine a world without coffee.

Much to his surprise, there was fresh milk for his coffee. Not milk from some waxy carton, which he now detested, but actual fresh milk left behind just for him. There was only one mare on board that Bucky knew that had fresh milk to offer.

He added a little sugar, poured in a little milk, and them, overcome with curiousity, took a drink from the small pitcher. He did not swallow right away, but let it roll around on his tongue, feeling it in his mouth, tasting it, savouring it in a way that few could.

Sweet, creamy, thick, almost waxy like pegasi milk, frothy like earth pony milk, and with a faint tang like unicorn milk. As Bucky swallowed, his horn ignited, his magic flaring to life, which in turn caused the pitcher of milk to begin glowing. As Bucky suspected, the milk had traces of mana in it just as unicorn milk did, but in much higher concentrations.

Bucky swallowed and then took another drink.

Taking a moment to appreciate the gift, Bucky thought about Luna’s kindness. This was a thoughtful gift, meaningful, something that could only come from the self. Milk was a life giving liquid, something almost sacred to Bucky now. After taking one last swallow, Bucky placed the small pitcher back into the fridge and looked around. Even though he had eaten before going to sleep, he was peckish. There was hummus left for him, he grabbed that. Cheese… cheese was good, he grabbed that. Grapes were nice but cold grapes were better, so he took those. He opened a small plastic container with something unknown inside. Sniffing, it smelled like seafood. He held up the container and looked around. On one side, it had a label.

Crab and spinach dip.

It was half full and Bucky suspected he knew who had eaten the other half. He sniffed again, it smelled tangy, savoury, the scent of dill was present and Bucky was certain that it had sour cream in it. He heard his stomach rumble and felt his body tremble.

The cheese was different, pale, white, soft, kind of crumbly, with a strong smoky scent.

Rummaging around, Bucky found a knife with enough of an edge to cut the cheese, found crackers in a cupboard, and discovered a bottle of wine left in a separate smaller fridge. He grabbed that too and took off to the table with his meal.

Sipping his coffee, Bucky went to work, laying out crackers on a plate, making sure each cracker was just so. On some crackers, he placed a dollop of hummus and on others, a dab of dip. After carving off small pieces of cheese, he placed those on his collection of crackers. He opened the wine and allowed it to begin breathing.

After the creation of his meal, Bucky looked at his feast and then sat back to drink his coffee. He wondered where Belisama was. He was curious about how far they had traveled. His sense of time felt all wrong when he was on this side of the world.

Sniffing, Bucky smelled coffee, savoury herbs, and the tangy smell of blackcurrant wafted up from the wine bottle. The little kitchenette held the faint smell of disinfectant and cleaning solvents. The coffee was hot and it filled his body with warmth as it traveled down his throat. Bucky was not sure why, but there was something about hot and warm drinks that made him feel revitalised when he drank them.

The click of claws upon the floor made Bucky’s ears perk. Now he smelled griffoness. He watched as Belisama climbed up into the chair opposite from him and he found himself looking into her large almost luminous green eyes. Looking at her, Bucky recalled speaking to her, telling her not to use titles of royalty, and he told her to call him Bucky or call him nothing. She had called him Nothing. He felt a minor bit of annoyance as Belisama averted her eyes after looking into his for a moment. Bucky supposed it was a hard habit for her to break.

“You still turn your eyes away from me.” Bucky allowed his voice to be a bit more commanding than usual, he was curious to see what might happen. He waited.

“I am sorry, master.”

It took a moment, but as Bucky sat watching, Belisama realised what it was that she had said, a reply made in reflect. The griffoness fluffed out and slumped down in her chair. Bucky saw her eyes close and for a moment, Bucky worried about the pain she was feeling.

“It is still difficult for you sometimes, isn’t it?” Bucky asked. He saw Belisama nod in reply.

Taking a long drink of coffee, Bucky wondered what else to say. It had been quite some time since Belisama’s last slip up. He gulped and felt the hot liquid traveling down his throat, filling his body with warmth. Belisama was looking him in the eye now.

“This is going to sound funny, but it is easier for me when the others are around me I think. I did not realise it until just now. Or even Lugus. I suppose I feel braver,” Belisama said.

“So when we are alone you still have some fear?” Bucky leaned forward, resting himself against the table, and felt concerned.

“I guess I do. I don’t mean to be afraid. I’m sorry. I do trust you… it’s just… old habits are hard to break I guess. Please, I do not want you disappointed or angry with me.”

With his telekinesis, Bucky pulled a coffee cup out of the cupboard, set it down in front of Belisama, and then poured her a little wine into the cup. “Tell ya what. Once I get done eating here, I’m going to pull you into a shower with me, and I’m going to see what I can do to earn your trust.”

Bucky heard a soft peep and watched as Belisama’s feathers fluffed out. He smiled.

 

 

 

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