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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Pressing his ear against Derpy’s ribs, Bucky could hear her heart beating. Her front legs were wrapped around his head and his neck. He was sweating, cold, shivering. He felt cold on the inside. Derpy’s pegasus pelt was warm, her body radiated the sort of heat that Bucky craved.

“Just a bad dream… a nightmare.”

Bucky squeezed his eyes shut. Derpy’s words brought no comfort, there was no solace to be found. He wrapped his right foreleg over the curve of Derpy’s stomach and could feel the twins moving inside of her. He drew in a deep breath, almost sobbing, his whole body trembled and he could not make himself go still.

“What time is it?” Bucky asked, his voice dry and raspy.

“Almost noon. You were asleep for almost nine hours, which you needed.” With slow careful movements, Derpy stroked Bucky’s head and wished that somepony was here to comfort her.

The grey mare was terrified. There was something attacking her husband that she could not protect him from. There was no good defense. She was powerless to stop what was happening.

“Bucky, you’re very wet… you’ve been sweating. You should go take a shower or a bath, otherwise the salt will make you start itching,” Derpy said, smoothing back one of Bucky’s notched and tufted ears with her fetlock.

“I don’t want to be alone… rats… rats everywhere… I can still feel Mignon’s pain… it is like a thorn in my brain… why can’t Luna just pull this out of my mind… make it go away.” Bucky pulled Derpy closer, pressing up against her, he was shivering so hard that he feared chipping his own teeth again.

“I don’t know Bucky… she said something has changed inside of you. You can’t be made to forget things now… she can’t make the things that hurt you go away anymore,” Derpy replied in a low voice. “Take me with you Bucky, I’m all sweaty too… lets go. We’ll have a nice shower together. Or a bath. A bath might be nice.”

“Yeah it would.” Bucky opened his eyes. The light stung, burning like a cruel brand, and for a moment, Bucky was certain that he could hear squeaking. “One good deed… one kind act… it is enough to unravel a pony…”

 

 

Hunched over the kitchen table, Bucky yawned. His mouth tasted like copper, cotton balls, and something so vile that it was indescribable. In front of him was a cup of jasmine green tea and honey, something soothing and hydrating. Something warm.

Derpy, who sat upon a big soft cushion, was beside him. For this, Bucky was grateful. He was in no mood to be alone, but he wasn’t in the mood to talk either. Not much had been said in the shower, but not much needed to be said.

“Father?”

Bucky heard the sound of small hooves clattering over the floor. It was calming but Bucky was unable to explain why. It was a sound that he was glad to hear. “What is it Sentinel?”

The lunar pegasus colt climbed up into a chair beside Bucky and made himself comfortable. Sentinel looked at his father, adjusted his glasses, and then sat up straight. “About the trip to the Shetlands… I’ve been thinking.”

“Yes?” Bucky was glad to see Sentinel. Sentinel was sturdy. Solid. Sentinel was always unwavering, resolute. Sentinel could always be depended upon. Sentinel would never fail him.

Sentinel kept away the rats.

“You made it my choice to go with you or stay… I’ve given it a lot of thought. I intend to stay… I’m needed here. With you gone, my help will be needed. I have to look after my sisters, all of them, including Harper and Bell Heather.” Sentinel’s ears splayed out and he looked at his father, hoping to see some sign of approval.

Bucky heaved a sigh of relief. It would be one less thing to worry about. Sentinel would keep Bell Heather and Harper safe. Sentinel understood. Sentinel had seen. Sentinel had seen what the rats could do with his own two eyes. Sentinel had been with him in Vanhoover.

“I don’t know what I would do without you, Sentinel. You’re my squire and my son.” Bucky reached out and touched Sentinel’s cheek with his right fetlock. “Keep my girls safe.”

“Yes sir, I will do so, sir,” Sentinel replied. He peered at his father. “Not to be disrespectful, but you don’t look well.”

“I’m feeling better than I was when I woke up.” Bucky lifted his teacup and took a long drink when he had finished speaking, almost emptying his cup.

Sentinel relaxed a little, no longer sitting up as stiff as a board. He could tell that his father wanted a bit of quiet time, but Sentinel wasn’t ready to leave just yet. Reaching out a wing, he grabbed the bowl of dried apple chips and pulled it closer, pinching the rim of the bowl between his thumb and central knuckle.

“I wonder when school will be back in session,” Derpy said, looking out the window and thinking out loud.

“When the snow lets up,” Sentinel replied around a mouthful of apple chips. He watched as his father poured another cup of tea.

The trio lapsed into silence, the only sound was Sentinel’s crunching.

 

 

Lost in her music, Belisama hugged her autoharp to her chest, her neck nesting on the smooth wood. Her talons, ideal for plucking, moved with swiftness and skill over the strings. Her other talons pressed down upon the buttons, coaxing music from the strings with careful pressings.

The autoharp, almost as large as Belisama, seemed almost too much to handle in Belisama’s embrace, but the griffoness managed to play it well. She could feel the vibrations coursing through her rounded belly, and the cub she held inside of her seemed to move in time to the music.

Bucky’s cub.

Bucky was not the only creature in the house with a developing obsession.

All of Bucky’s foals were her cubs. Belisama, overcome with some new manic need to defend her nest, discovered a ferocious new sense of aggression within herself. Not far away from Belisama was her crossbow and a quiver of bolts. Much like Lugus’ hook-axe, it was something that was now a part of the background, a constant presence, and everypony, everybirdy, was mindful of Belisama’s new companion.

On the floor, Harper sat on her haunches, swaying back and forth as Belisama played the autoharp. The foal loved music of all kinds and was already trying to dance when the right mood struck her.

Lyra, also sitting on the floor, listened with a critical ear, but could find no flaws in Belisama’s playing, at least not now, not today. Lyra was holding Cadance up in a telekinesis bubble and Cadance was flapping her stubby little wings as hard as she could.

Sprawled out by the fire, Lugus lay on the floor in a half slumber, his eyes narrowed to slits. He was unphased by Peekaboo, who pounced upon him, climbed over him, and did her best to savage her father. Peekaboo, undaunted, would back away from Lugus, wobble around on stiff legs in a challenge, and then charge once more.

Barley, sitting in his chair by the fire, watched as the tiny pegasus foal attempted to subdue the massive mountain that was Lugus the griffon. The fire was warm, it kept the chill away, and the music was soothing. Barley wished that Lyra would summon her lyre and join Belisama.

Peekaboo let out a cry as she tumbled off of her father’s back, her hooves sliding along his sleek pelt. She hit the floor with a thump, bounced, and with her wings spread wide, she popped up onto her hooves, indignant at taking a tumble.

“GRAWR!” Peekaboo cried, launching herself at Lugus once more. “Take that, dragon!”

Lugus yawned. Knights in shining armor were not worth noticing for a dragon his size.

Unhappy with the lazy dragon, Peekaboo changed her tactics. She scooted away, hiding under the sofa, which was getting harder to do, because Peekaboo was getting bigger. She waited for a moment, and seeing that her father’s eyes were almost closed, she braced herself, prepared to charge.

She shot out from under the sofa with remarkable speed, shot past Lyra, past Harper, Peekaboo was a moving blur. She pounced, going airborne, landed on her father’s backside, pinned down his tail, and then clamped down upon it with her flat square teeth. She let out a ferocious growl.

Lugus yowled, immediately springing up off of the floor and landing on his feet. Moving much faster than any creature his size had a right to, he reached back with his talons, his body folding in half and doubling back in an almost boneless manner, and snatched Peekaboo, yanking her off of his tail. He lifted his foal and stared at her, snoot to beak.

Unafraid, Peekaboo was giggling. She reached out and beak booped her father, rapping on his beak with her hoof. She stretched out her little neck and kissed Lugus where she booped him.

Most ponies would have panicked seeing a griffon snatch a foal in the way that Lugus did, but this was almost a daily occurrence. Nopony or nobirdy batted an eye. Everyone knew that Lugus would never hurt Peekaboo, or any other foal for that matter.

The big griffon began to chuckle, his shoulders rising and falling. “I wish your mother was here to see that… you’ve gotten fast.” He set Peekaboo down upon the floor, patted her on the head, and then flopped down on the floor to lay by the fire once more.

“No more dragon,” Peekaboo said, climbing up onto her father’s back. She sprawled out, got comfortable, and nestled her head into her father’s neck feathers. She yawned and then snuggled down. “Naptime.”

 

 

Still sitting at the kitchen table, Bucky cracked open his book, feeling well enough now that he could concentrate. The book, Chemical Compendium, was a boring but necessary read. Peering down his muzzle at the page, Bucky lifted his teacup to his lips and took a sip.

He could hear the soothing sounds of Belisama’s autoharp coming from the living room.

As Bucky looked at the page, the letters on the page sprouted tiny legs, looking very much like little spiders, and then scurried off of the page, running off to hide in the bindings. He blinked, wondering if his eyes were playing tricks on him. He turned another page and as he watched, the letters all ran away, leaving behind a blank page. He heaved a sigh, closed the book, and took a sip of tea.

“Something wrong?” Sentinel asked.

“Dinky pranked me… I swear, I’m going to get her. Have a look.” Bucky shoved the book towards Sentinel.

Curious, Sentinel took the book, opened it, and watched as the letters scurried off. He looked up at his father, then down at the book, and then shook his head. “Dinky needs a comeuppance. The other day she enchanted my charcoal pencils… when I pressed one down to paper, it screamed like it was being murdered.” Sentinel pushed the book away.

“You brought this on yourself,” Derpy said. The grey mare let out a half hearted giggle.

“Why do you need a book about chemicals?” Sentinel asked.

“Research,” Bucky replied.

Sentinel peered through his glasses, looking owlish. “Research?”

Reaching up with his talons, Bucky rubbed his muzzle. This was beyond top secret stuff, skunkworks stuff, but if Bucky couldn’t trust Sentinel, who could he trust? Sentinel deserved his trust.

“Several ideas… all of them awful. One of them is a combustion gas gun. I think I can use hydrogen as a propellant rather than a solid fuel. Higher velocities will mean more damage from the projectiles.” Bucky stared at the book on the table. “As an airship mounted cannon, it would change warfare as we know it.”

“Sounds scary.” Sentinel brought his front hooves together and rubbed them, a nervous gesture. His father had a terrible imagination when it came to making new weapons. “Anything else?”

Bucky, aware of Derpy’s look of disapproval, decided to risk her wrath. “I’ve had an idea for a liquid methane based round. A bit of liquid methane in a projectile, held in a containment field. It would be devastating to airships and would cause horrible wounds to a living body.”

“That’s enough of that,” Derpy said, raising one eyebrow. “If you are going to talk about something awful, talk about how you are going to get revenge on Dinky. I’ll be glad to help you.”

 

 

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