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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Bucky was enjoying a quiet moment with Belisama. After a relaxing shower with one another, Bucky and Belisama had retreated to their room so Belisama could work Bucky over with a curry comb and a hairbrush. Belisama enjoyed brushing ponies, and Bucky enjoyed having a brush ran through his thick coat.

Belisama was mid stroke when Luna burst into the room. Luna, in a panic, was carrying Erebus with her. Luna’s eyes were wide with fear, her barrel was heaving, and she lay down Erebus in front of Bucky upon the bed.

“He’s having trouble breathing!”

With a well practiced sense of calm, Bucky tried to ease Luna’s fears. “I need details Luna. Tell me every little detail you can think of. Even if it seems minor. Settle down and try to think of everything.” He cocked his head to look up at Luna for a moment, and then his gaze dropped to look at Erebus.

“He was crying a lot earlier… and then he quieted a bit but stayed fussy. He kept grunting and making little whimpers. Now he is having trouble breathing and he keeps making sounds like he is hiccupping,” Luna said.

“Oh.” Bucky dropped his head to Erebus’ belly and pressed his ear to the colt’s stomach. He moved around to several different spots, listening for telltale gurgles or rumbles. With a careful well practiced movement, Bucky rolled Erebus over onto his belly and then pressed his ear to the colt’s back and listened once more.

Reaching out with his talons, Bucky flexed them, testing their movement, and then pressed his talon index finger and his talon thumb into Erebus’ back, just above the colt’s hip bones. He rubbed, mindful of how small and fragile Erebus was. He made little circular motions with both digits. He looked over at Luna, she was prancing in place, her expression was one of frantic fear, the fear of mothers everywhere when their offspring aren’t breathing right.

The colt let out a gurgle, lifted his head, and then he let out a tiny stifled sounding belch.

“What’s wrong?” Luna asked.

Using his most soothing voice, Bucky replied, “It’s just a little bit of colic. He’s very gassy. Perhaps the changes in altitude or maybe a bit of stress.”

“Gas?”

Luna’s face was one of terrible fear and pain and Bucky wished he knew how to comfort her. He continued to rub Erebus to try and work the gas bubbles out. “Just gas. Colic. Harper gets like this if you recall. Cadance too. You can feel how hard Erebus’ stomach is and you can hear the gurgles.”

“But his breathing,” Luna said.

“Luna, ever eat a big meal and have trouble breathing because you feel so full?” Bucky asked. As he watched, Luna’s teal eyes blinked in a rapid manner and her wings fluttered.

“Yes… yes of course. That makes sense. I must confess I am having some trouble thinking straight in my current state of panic. How did you learn all of this?”

Sighing, taking a deep breath of his own to calm his faint sense of panic that he had been holding back, Bucky let it out in a slow exhale as he said, “I learned it from Derpy and Berry Punch. Derpy is like a walking encyclopaedia of foal knowledge.”

“I do not like how this makes me feel… the feeling as though I have lost all control and composure. This fear, I find it most disagreeable,” Luna admitted.

Bucky nodded. “I think every parent feels that way.”

“So many parents have bad dreams about their foals and a sudden loss of breathing, I have always dismissed it as a mindless irrational fear… but this is awful.”

Luna began to calm and Bucky felt himself relax a little. Erebus belched once and then began to make little squeaky grunting noises as Bucky kept rubbing. Saying nothing, Luna shoved Bucky and Belisama over in the bed. Ignoring their protests, Luna crawled into bed beside them and then laid her head down near Erebus, letting out a worried sigh as she sprawled out.

“Where is Scorch? I haven’t seen him. Did he go off somewhere?” Bucky asked. He looked over at Luna and waited for her reply.

“He is here, but he has gone into his cabin to isolate himself.”

With careful caution, Bucky began to knead his talons along Erebus’ spine, moving between the colt’s wing joints and hip bones. There was a gasp from the colt and then another belch. Glancing at Luna, Bucky asked, “Is he upset about what was done?”

Bucky heard a sigh near his ear.

“Scorch is upset, but not because of what we have done. He faded away out of the world for a while after he was convinced that a policy of not getting involved was a good idea… to give the world time to balance itself. If extreme forces were to become involved it was feared that the balance would just continue to falter. Scorch wishes that he had interfered earlier before it came to this.”

Allowing Luna’s words to sink in, Bucky thought about them in silence for a moment. He felt Belisama shift next to him and then he felt the soothing scrape of the curry comb along his neck.

Just as Bucky was about to say something, he heard Luna say, “Scorch intends to rebuild Labyrinthia. Not as it was, but he said he plans to give the city a foundation and then help the new residents build a city.”

Luna’s words were punctuated by Erebus finally releasing some gas. It started off low and slow, rising in pitch, and ended as an almost ultrasonic squeak.

His muzzle crinkling, Bucky pulled his head back. “That’s been in there for a while. Before being cut, that cheese was aged in the cellar.”

Luna, who had once been The Element of Laughter, began to titter at Bucky’s joke.  

“I bet he feels so much better though,” Belisama said.

“If he ever gets fussy like that again, try rubbing his back or his belly. Just put your ear up against him and listen for wherever the gurgles sound the loudest.” As Bucky spoke, he pulled Erebus a little closer and when he had finished speaking, he kissed Erebus upon the head.

“Do you think this made a difference?” Belisama asked.

Confused for a moment, Bucky looked at Erebus and then twisted his head around to look at Belisama. “Come again?”

“What was done… the complete destruction of Labyrinthia… do you think it will make a difference in world politics… will other creatures run to Celestia petitioning for diplomacy and peace?”

Bucky heard Luna sigh.

“Only time will tell. From my readings into history, I would say this will only help for a time. After several generations, the fear will fade and the world will once more need a reminder of why they need to behave,” Luna said.

Rolling Erebus over, Bucky began to rub the colt’s stomach. He thought of what both Belisama and Luna had to say. Both came from very different perspectives. Both held different viewpoints. Belisama was mortal and her perspectives came from being a slave for most of her life. Luna was immortal and royalty, which had a way of changing one’s own views.

Belisama inhaled and Bucky felt the curry comb halt its soothing strokes.  

“While this was a good first step, to ensure peace, we have to make the rest of the world want to work with us. We can’t just have them submit from fear, we have to give them a reason to want unity and global harmony.”

When Belisama had finished speaking, Bucky once more felt the comb working through his pelt. The slow steady strokes made his ears want to droop.

“We must trust my sister for that. I know she is planning something, but I am not sure what. Celestia has always believed in enticement and reward… I will not fault her for that, but I prefer a more direct approach. I am convinced that we have done the right thing. Now, we restrain ourselves from further action, we remain patient, and we allow my sister to work her magic,” Luna said.

“So no more airborne destruction?” Bucky asked.

“Not if we can help it. If further incidents take place, we allow them to play out peacefully if at all possible. The world now realises that what happened in Griffonholm was not a fluke, Labyrinthia shows the world that, and an appropriate response was made for the massacre that took place on the Shire Isles. The world is now aware of the consequences of such actions, examples have been made, and I do believe that before further actions are taken, a moment’s pause will be had to think of the consequences.”

Luna’s words hung in Bucky’s ears and caused him to start thinking. Griffonholm was gone and now so was Labyrinthia. Bucky, connected to the strife and hatred in the world, was already aware of the difference made. He began to doubt that further actions would be necessary. His own power was waning, while he suspected that Cadance’s power was waxing.

“So much has happened it seems. Violet tries to explain all of these world events to me, saying that as a queen I should know them, but everything that has happened in just the span of this year… the fall of the noble houses in Equestria and the rise of democracy… Griffonholm was laid to rest so that the land might heal and we little griffons were liberated. The Shetland Isles were freed from a dark shadow. The maps now all need to be redrawn to include the United Isles. The unicorns of the Shire Isles were freed from a slavery every bit as bad as we little griffons faced in Griffonholm. The historic mutual assistance pact between Equestria and the Sea of Grass, which now includes the Old World Alliance countries. So much change has taken place in so little time,” Belisama said.

As Bucky pondered Belisama’s words, he came to the realisation that Erebus had gone still. The colt was sleeping on his back and his belly was much softer now. The hard tight skin was now soft and felt loose. He pulled the colt to him and cradled Erebus in his forelegs.

“Funny how life is. I came in here with the fear that Erebus was dying… a reminder of the sanctity and value of life. I wonder how many ponies… beings… experience this, gain a momentary respect for life, and then in no time at all, go about their day to day lives and never give a second thought to the other lives around them,” Luna said.

For a moment, Bucky thought about Luna’s words and then he thought about the city he had just razed. Just as he started to say something, he heard Belisama beat him to a response.

“We tend to only think about those lives that are of value to us. I know I am guilty of this… I think about all of my subjects. Several of them are pregnant now. I find I value those future lives, I obsess over them. I lay awake in the bed wondering if they are going to be okay. I think about every foal that I am now a mother to and the pride I find myself a part of. However, I do not really spend much time thinking about something else on the other side of the world and how those lives might apply to me.”

Bucky thought about the three lives around him. One was cradled in his forelegs, one was pressed up against his side, and the third was sitting on his back and combing him. All three of them were tangible, visible, they were with him in the here and now. Other lives were elsewhere, out of sight, out of mind, and Bucky supposed that the problem was a lack of connection. He could think of creatures in Ponyville and the Shetlands that he loved, beings he had a connection to, beings he had feelings for, but beyond that, Bucky had trouble making himself have some strong emotion one way or the other.

Perhaps there was a lesson to be learned here, something that he could teach in his school. He took a deep breath, thought about saying something, but then chose to remain silent instead.

“When you are an immortal, it is easy to lose your understanding of just how short, fragile, and valuable mortal lives can be. To us, they pass in the blink of an eye. They die so easily. Their bodies are so fragile. They pass by so quickly… they are so aware of time and its passing... having Erebus around has made me reconsider everything… Barley too…” Luna said, her words growing soft and fading out.

“When you are a slave, all you can think about is living and keeping those you love alive somehow… every day matters… you tell yourself, ‘just one day’ and then you do everything you can, anything you can, no matter how degrading or disgusting just to get one more day for yourself and those you love… and when the next day comes, you do it again,” Belisama said.

All too aware of just how little time he had, Bucky had nothing to say.

 

 

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