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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“How goes the mead hall?” Agnetha asked Belisama. The smaller griffoness was shaking snow from her body and her feathers were fluffed out. Agnetha, curious about Odin, wanted Canterlot to have a mead hall as well.

“There were city regulation issues about building what the city council considers to be a tavern upon private property. Twilight Sparkle and Violet Velvet got everything sorted out though. Well, I suppose I had a part in it as well,” Belisama replied as she flapped out her left wing to shake more snow from it. “I’m getting music lessons from Lyra.”

“I know a little bit about Odin. Old stories. That’s the thing, I always thought it was just stories and nothing more… I didn’t know he was real,” Agnetha said in a low voice. “Belisama, are you happy?”

The smaller griffoness froze in the middle of shaking off her right wing. Her tail whipped from side to side after a moment, and then she turned her head around to look at Agnetha.

“Your marriage. I know everything was rushed. I know that you didn’t have a lot of say in what happened at the time. I just want to know that it worked out and that you are happy… you deserve that,” Agnetha said, explaining her question for the sake of clarity.

“I’m a very happy griffoness,” Belisama replied after a moment of thought. She turned her whole body around, her eyes locked on Agnetha the entire time. “I have my troubles, same as anybirdy. But I am loved. I know this.” Belisama fluffed out and her crest rose. “What about you? How are you and Tannis getting along?”

“We’re happy. We want cubs. We stay busy. I help Celestia with the daytime stuff and Tannis helps Luna with the nighttime stuff. Tannis spent a week in the Crystal Empire helping Shining Armor… I didn’t realise how much I loved him until I started to miss him,” Agnetha replied. “Big changes are coming though. Central Equestria is well managed because of Twilight Sparkle and Bucky. Celestia is considering offering us the west coast as our fiefdom.”  

“The entire coast?” Belisama’s eyes widened and she felt her heart beat a little faster.

“There are a lot of griffons in Vanhoover. The climate is quite similar to Griffonholm, cooler, lots of rain, and rich fisheries off of the coast. In time, we might have the whole region. Maybe come spring.” Agnetha shook her head to be rid of the snow piling up on her crest. “The little griffons are happy here in Canterlot. Government work, courier services, and working in the castle suits them. They feel appreciated, happy, safe, and secure. I think if we left, many of them would choose to stay here. Celestia finds them indispensable and she pays them well. Most of them have no idea what to do with their money.”

Belisama watched the snow piling up on her beak. Already there was a dusting of white flakes. “My little griffons have the same problem. They have money now and no clue what to do with it. Bucky tells them to hold on to it and he continues to provide for their needs.”

Sighing, Agnetha looked skyward and watched the falling swirling flakes. “It is going to be difficult for you little griffons to adjust to your new life. I would imagine that it is hard for you… I mean you, Belisama, to not only have to make all of these adjustments, to find a new way in life, but to be in a position of rule as well.”

“I’m managing. Violet Velvet is teaching me a lot of things. Bucky has taught me other things. Derpy has taught me about being fair even though she doesn’t know she’s done it… but I’ve spent a lot of time just watching her and how she does things,” Belisama replied.

“We have a chance to make something of ourselves here… in Equestria. We have a chance to show the entire world that we griffons can be peaceful. That we are good. That we are capable of doing the right thing and being good neighbors. Even more than having cubs, I feel that showing the world these things will ensure our survival,” Agnetha said, a tremour overtaking her voice halfway through her words. The larger griffoness shook her head. “If we fail at this task, if we are lax in our efforts, we do not deserve to go home when the time comes.”

“The better question is, how many of us will want to go home when the time comes?” Belisama asked.

 

 

“Applejack, are you going to let me go so I can go have fun with Dinky and Piña?” Babs asked, her growing frustration causing her to feel warm even in the blustery winter cold.

“I dunno,” Applejack replied. “There are a lot of strangers round these parts. I ain’t comfortable—”

“You let Applebloom go off alone with her friends and Rumble!” Whoops! Babs realised her exclamation was a bit more whiny than angry sounding. She saw Applejack’s eyebrow raising in the manner that it did when a line had been crossed. Babs cringed and then cast a pleading glance at Dinky and Piña, begging them for help without saying a word.

“Let her go.”

“What’s that Mac?” Applejack turned her head to look at her brother. Big Mac was standing next to Cheerilee, looking rather cross. His head was high and his nostrils were flared. His breathing came out in steaming snorts.

“I said to let her go. You’re being overprotective again.”

Applejack turned in time to see Babs tense up, ready to scamper off while the scampering was good. “Don’t you dare move a muscle.”

“Babs, go off and play with your friends, dear,” Cheerilee said in a cool collected voice.

“Yes aunt Cheerilee,” Babs replied. She took one look at Applejack, saw fury in her green eyes, and decided it was time to depart in a hasty manner. “I promise I’ll behave and stay real close to Dinky and Piña.”

Applejack watched Babs hurry off, moving as fast as her short little legs would carry her. She turned and glared at her brother, her lip curling back from her teeth.

“Before you cuss me out,” Big Mac said in a soft voice as he gave his sister a stern look that only existed between siblings. “I want you to think about what you’ve done to Babs and if it was fair.”

Big Mac had just said more in a few moments than what was often said in a week. Applejack bit back her angry retort, took a deep breath, her tail swishing from side to side as she did so, and then she looked down at the ground, her body slumping into a submissive posture. She felt burning shame creeping up the back of her neck and her ears felt hot, even in the cold.

“Go find Silver Shill. He’ll be happy to see you. Go have a nice time with him. Last I saw him, he was off drinking hard cider and missing his wife,” Cheerilee said as she stared at Applejack.

“I gots me some apologisin’ to do,” Applejack said as she turned and left, not daring to look at her brother or her sister in law. “I gotta stop doing this…”

 

 

“Fall-some-more-tug-o’-war,” Loch Skimmer said, reading the small snow covered sign aloud. She smiled. “Oooh… this should be fun to watch.” She leaned over on Rising Star, who radiated immense amounts of heat, glad to have him near.

“There’s Sentinel,” Sparkler said. She blinked a few times, peering through the thick snowfall. “And that’s Moonbow. I didn’t know she was here. There is Diamond Tiara too. I think the three of them are going to be in a tug of war.”

Ripple gasped. “That’s not fair at all! Two lunar pegasi and an earth pony… that’s almost cheating!”

Sparkler nodded. “Yup.” She looked over at the crowd that had gathered and the ponies getting ready to go for a pull. It was difficult to see them through the snow, but one of them was big and red. She took a deep breath of cold air and felt her lungs tingle. “Is that Big Mac?”

Squinting his eyes, Rising Star peered through the sideways falling snow. “No, that’s not Big Mac, that’s the whole of the Apple family. One red, one silver, one orange.”

“Oh this is going to be good. Sentinel, Moonbow, and Diamond Tiara are going to clean their clocks,” Ripple said as she scooted closer to Rising Star and then looked over at Bittersweet. The donkey, who had a much thicker pelt, didn’t seem to be bothered by the cold or the snow in the slightest. Ripple, a pegasus, a creature well protected from the cold, could feel the bitter chill in the air. Looking at Bittersweet made her feel warmer though and a hot flush traveled up her spine, starting from her dock and creeping upwards.

“Are you kidding? Sentinel is a foal and so is Moonbow and Diamond Tiara,” Sparkler said, uncertain what to think about Ripple’s words.

“Foal or no, the lunar pegasi are strong,” Ripple replied.

“Earth ponies are more sure hoofed on slippery surfaces,” Sparkler said, feeling a bit of annoyance with Ripple because she feared that Ripple might be right. “Even with the ice, the earth ponies should have an advantage standing upon the stone surface of the paved courtyard.”

“I heard stories that Big Mac pulled a house through town,” Loch Skimmer said. “I think it was Berry Punch’s.”

Rising Star danced around in place, his hooves clattering on the frozen cobblestones. “They’re putting harnesses on everypony… this is gonna be good. Who has the roasted chestnuts?”

“Those are gone, Bittersweet and I ate the last of them,” Ripple replied.

Turning his head, Rising Star gave Ripple the stinkeye.

“Don’t you dare say anything about me stealing your nuts,” Ripple said, a wry smile spreading across her muzzle. She saw Rising Star scowl for a moment and then the corner of his mouth twitched, a ghost of a smile appearing.

Loch Skimmer closed her eyes and began to titter. When she opened them, she found herself nose to nose with Rising Star and she could feel his warm breath upon her snoot.

“What are you laughing at?” Rising Star asked, grinning a rakish grin.

Feeling coy, Loch Skimmer batted her eyes. “I dunno.”

“Hey, cut it out, both of you. They’ve got harnesses on everypony and they’re using a chain it looks like. This is going to get interesting,” Sparkler said.

Ripple struggled to see through the falling snow, trying to see what was going on. She could see Diamond Tiara’s pink pelt standing out in contrast to the white snow and it appeared she was at the end of the rope as an anchor. “Diamond Tiara knows what she’s doing somehow… must be an earth pony thing. She has Sentinel and Moonbow stomping down on the snow and through whatever ice might be there.”

“Go Applejack!”

“Hey, that’s Rainbow Dash!” Loch Skimmer reached out and prodded her sibling with her wing. “There’s your hero.”

“She’s not my hero… she’s just my friend,” Ripple replied.

Chuckling, Sparkler looked over at Rainbow Dash and then back at Ripple. “More like your fellow competitor.” She craned her head back around to get a good look at the tug of war about to take place.

“Hey Applejack! You gonna let a bunch of foals beat ya?” Rainbow Dash shouted, her raspy voice just audible over the roar of the crowd.

Rising Star snorted, blowing snowflakes out from his nostrils, and realised that he had four mares pressing up against him. He also had ponies staring at him and not at the tug of war. For a moment, he worried that there might be a problem, but then he saw smiles upon the faces of those staring at him.

A bell rang.

There was a loud clank of iron, loud enough to make Rising Star’s ears perk. The ponies on both ends of the chain were already straining. Diamond Tiara had her hooves solidly planted, her legs braced, and she pulled hard on her harness. Sentinel and Moonbow were slipping, struggling to get their secure upon the slippery stones. On the other end, Applejack, Big Mac, and Silver Shill were leaning into their harnesses, their legs locked in place, and nopony was moving on either side.

It only took a moment for Rising Star to conclude that on dry ground, Sentinel and Moonbow would be dragging the Apples around the courtyard.

There was a creak of metal and the chain rattled a bit as Sentinel and Moonbow still struggled to get a proper grip. The crowd had fallen silent.

Big Mac, the anchor on the Apple end, lifted one hoof, a cautious careful movement, planted it down, lifted another, leaned into his harness, and managed to take one step. As he struggled to regain his grip, he was pulled backwards, his hooves scraping over the cobblestones.

There was another creak of metal. Rising Star began to feel some concern. It was cold and he began to worry about the iron chain. A loud screech filled the courtyard, the sound that metal made before it began to shear. Rising Star ignited his horn, trying to prepare himself to act, but it was too late. Just as his horn ignited, there was a loud -TING!- sound.

The chain shattered and Rising Star felt a surge of helplessness; a lot of ponies were about to get hurt and he hadn’t acted in time to stop it. He squeezed his eyes shut, braced himself, and threw up a shield, hoping to protect his herd.

There were many panicked screams followed by silence.

Rising Star opened one eye, expecting to see the worst. There was a glowing purple light. He opened his other eye. The purple light was almost blinding. The chain, all of it, now in several pieces, was surrounded in a purple glow. A large broken off link of it hovered near the back of Applejack’s head. Another piece floated near Big Mac. A several foot long section was inches away from Sentinel’s neck. Rising Star looked around, he could feel his pucker clenching up tight. He raised his head and tried to look for the source of the magic.

“Dinky!”

Sparkler took off at a run, her hooves scrabbling around on the frozen cobblestones. Rising Star watched her for a moment and then took off after her, his own cloven hooves had no trouble getting a grip on the stones, but it was not something he noticed in his current state of panic.

“Dinky, speak to me,” Sparkler said.

“I surged a bit,” Dinky replied, lifting her head up from the ground and rubbing it with one hoof. “I held it back though. It was wrong of me to panic. I almost screwed up and somepony could have died.”

There was a cacophony of clanking as several pieces of chain fell to the ground.

“You okay Dinks?” Piña asked.

“Horn aches, I’m fine. Feels like I gotta sneeze through my horn though. The pressure hurts,” Dinky replied.

Sparkler lifted her smaller sister up out of the snow and gave her a good looking over. One of Dinky’s eyes was bloodshot and a thin trickle of blood dribbled from her nostril. “We need to get you inside and get you looked at by a nurse or a doctor. Make sure you’re okay… oh this isn’t good.”

“I feel okay, I held it back, I didn’t let the magic get away from me,” Dinky said as she continued to rub her head.

Sparkler heard the flapping of wings and looked upwards. “Here comes mom. Oh meadow muffins, she is gonna freak out because of this.” She watched as Derpy landed. A second later, there was a flash of blue-green light and a burst of cold. Bucky appeared, bringing with him a flurry of snowflakes and ice.

“What happened?” Derpy asked, her eyes wide with fear.

“I had a bit of a surge,” Dinky replied. “But I feel okay. I’m fine, I think…”

 

 

 

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