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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As Bucky paced, Belisama made a retching, gagging sound. The griffoness coughed for a moment, nodded, and then Lugus passed her a spoon that had been bent and now almost resembled the spout of a pitcher.

Opening her beak, Belisama reached in with the spoon, scraped the spoon along her bottom beak, and then held the spoon over Bandua as the little newborn griffon cub lay there peeping, begging for food.

“At this stage, she is a stomach and a body,” Belisama said, her voice coming from deep within her throat. Having a beak full of food did nothing to impair her speech ability. “Bucky, everything will be fine, I promise you.”

Feeling a rush of emotion that made her eyes begin to water, Belisama tilted the spoon down the throat of the griffoness cub that carried her dead sister’s name. Belisama watched as the head bobbed up and down, drawing food down into the gullet. Tiny membranous wings flapped, looking nothing at all like the usual wings that would bear feathers.

Magpie, stepping around Bucky, approached the table with her head bowed low. “Little griffon cubs spend the first year or two completely helpless.”

“Year or two?” Bucky asked, his pacing coming to a halt.

“Well, for some, it is a year, for others, two. Hard to say why. Her eyes will open in about fourteen to twenty one days from now… maybe a little longer, maybe a little shorter. I suspect that it has to do with nutrition and good health,” Magpie replied. The hunter griffoness froze when she felt Bucky’s talons wrap around her leg. The metal was cool and Bucky did not bear down upon her.

“Good health?” Bucky asked.

Magpie, feeling Bucky’s talons slip from her leg, nodded. “Little cubs do most of their development outside of the womb. Belisama was right to say that at this stage, they are basically a stomach. You stuff them full of food every so often. If they peep, you feed them. Little ponies seem so much easier. They grow so quickly and do not stay helpless.”  

“Do they?” Bucky cocked his head at the statement and then looked around the room.

“Buckminster, little yearlings can survive with no parents. They go mustang, become little feral foals, but they do survive. At six months… roughly Harper’s age, a little foal does not need their parents as much as the common pony might think. They have survived… life goes on, as they say,” Celestia said as she shoved a pile of blue cloths into a laundry chute.

“A griffon at the same age would have no chance of survival. They would die.” Magpie, feeling brave, reached out her wing and stroked Bucky across the back. She felt him jump, his muscles bunching up as he was startled, but then he calmed as she trailed her feathers over his back. “A little griffon cub takes until about the age of three or so to reach the same level of development as a pony yearling… and then the griffon accelerates its growth. But they all start out so fragile… even Lugus was once tiny and helpless.”

“Even with the slowed development, it is easy to see how griffons can build up their numbers so quickly… one hundred and ten days in the womb and then off they go to be raised by a griffon like you, Magpie.” Bucky eased his backside down to the floor, sitting by the bed. He rested his chin on the mattress and stared at his cub.

Bandua’s back half was a tawny tan colour, very much like his own pelt. Her front half was pink… just skin. She had been cleaned up and was now gunk free.

Magpie, who took a seat beside Bucky, also stared down at Bandua. “She is aggressive.”

“How can you tell?” Bucky asked, his eyes narrowing as he looked at this cub, watching as Belisama poured another spoonful of food down her gullet.

“Some cubs are shy feeders, others are aggressive feeders. The shy ones, you tap their beak nubs and they open up. Aggressive feeders attack the spoon or their mother’s beak.” Magpie watched as Bandua’s head bobbed, the cub wiggled, and then lay down and went still.

“What’s wrong with her?” Bucky asked, becoming panicked. He stood up and the tapping of his talons on the floor could be heard.

“She’s full of food and she is going to sleep so her body can digest all that food,” Magpie replied, using the same soft voice that she used to comfort little cubs. “The food is thicker and more solid than milk. She will either be awake and begging for food, or asleep and digesting food.”

Belisama set the spoon down on the bed beside her, reached around with her talons, and rubbed her back. “I am very tired… I would like to sleep.”

“Of course,” Violet said, nodding her head. “Bucky, carry her back to your cabin.”

“Bandua is too small to go into the crib with Bell and Cadance.” Bucky, still staring at Bandua, lifted his head and then with great effort, tore his eyes away from his cub so he could look at Belisama. “You’re going to have to sleep in the crib with Bandua. All of you should fit.”

“I can sleep in the crib. I don’t mind.” Belisama arched her back, flexed her spine, and then reached up with one hind leg to scratch her neck.

“She’s cold.”

Dropping his head, Bucky came eye to eye with Tourmaline, who looked worried.

“She’s cold. It hurts.”

“Oh.” Bucky lifted his head and with a flick of his telekinesis, he covered Bandua. He watched as Belisama lifted the cub in her talons and hold it close, trying to warm it. He glanced back down to Tourmaline. “Is that better?”

Nodding, Tourmaline blinked. “I think so. She doesn’t feel much of anything… she’s blank. But she felt cold.”

“I’ll keep that in mind… she’s only got a pelt on one half of her body.” Bucky, reaching out his foreleg, pulled Tourmaline closer and gave her a hug.

 

 

“The queen has birthed a powerfully ugly cub.”

“She is queen, she deserves those bragging rights.”

“We must get a picture with one of those camera things.”

“Yes, yes we must get pictures!”

“For our history… we can keep track of our history now without fear of reprisal.”

“She is a hippogriff… and she was born with powerful ugliness… it is a sign.”

“Of course it is a sign you twit… Odin walks among us once more. He came back.”

“Odin’s Herald will grow to become a large powerful warrior. She might even rival our protector, Lugus in size. Odin has promised us that his Herald will defend us.”

“She will have to be huge if she is to defend Lugus. Odin promised that his Herald would protect us all. Lugus is one of us.”

“Lugus is a warrior griffon… he is not one of us.”

“He most certainly is.”

“Is not. He is a griffon, but he is not one of us. We are small. He is large.”

“He is one of us. He protects us. He is kind to us. He brings our little ones chocolate covered bugs and tells them stories. One of us! Odin would not promise us a protector, a herald, and then not protect all of us.”

“Our king is one of us but he is not a griffon.”

“Well of course our king is one of us. He has a brand. He’s a slave. He knows our pain.”

“And Lugus does not? Lugus fought beside our king to liberate us. He was wounded. He BLED for us.”

“Fine… Lugus is one of us. To shed blood is to show dedication.”

“Ow! You stabbed me with a claw! I am bleeding!”

“I was testing your dedication.”

“Will you two cat-brains stop that? We should not being drawing one another’s blood.”

“I have a bird-brain… I am no idiot cat-brain!”

“Then act like it… ugh.”

“Bandua must never know want… if she is to grow to become our protector, Odin’s Herald, we must make sure that she has every single advantage we can give her. Our future is at stake.”

“She will need many bugs, like Lugus needs many bugs.”

“We will need more bugs. More bugs will need to be farmed.”

“We will have our warrior defender that will watch over us while we work and keep us safe! We will never know fear again, or want, or need.”

“We have that now, more or less. Our king gives us that.”

“And we will have it in the future. Our cubs will never know the suffering that we have had to endure.”

“Our cubs will know a future of worthy work, much food, and music.”

“As it should be.”

“Yes, as it should be.”

“Bandua will need followers… helpers to do her bidding if she is to protect us.”

 

 

“Do you hear that?” Celestia asked.

Raven, reading a book, looked up from her novel, her ears perking up so she might hear better. She heard… something, but she had no idea what it was. “Is that the wind howling?”

Celestia shook her head.

“It sounds like… I don’t know… what is that?” Raven asked as she set her book down.

The large white alicorn began to turn a bright shade of pink.

“Should we sound an alarm?” Raven stood up from her chair, stretched, and one eyebrow raised in concern.

“The little griffons are celebrating I think.” Celestia’s eyes darted around the room.

“You mean… that sound… is the sound of little griffons… doing—”

Celestia nodded.

“All of that hideous keening and yowling?” Raven snatched up her book, her satchel, and hurried for the door of the common room. “I’m going to be in my cabin. It’s getting louder. Come and get me if you need anything.” Moving at a rapid trot, Raven departed.

Now alone, Celestia stood in the common room, thinking about life and all that went with it. She thought of Tourmaline, tucked away in her bed and sleeping. It had been a long day and Celestia felt a bone deep sense of exhaustion.

More than anything, she wanted to be in bed beside Tourmaline. Turning off the lights, Celestia headed for her own cabin, thankful that the long day was over.

As the darkness crept through the room, Celestia gave thought to her sister, Luna, who had been left to rule Equestria during Celestia’s absence with Shining Armor, Tannis, and Agnetha to help her.

 

 

In a far away place, in a realm inaccessible to most, the Lord of Fire paced about in a bipedal form, his arms folded behind his back, his brow furrowed with worry. Pausing mid-step, Scorch turned to look at the little griffon sitting upon his throne.

“You’re sitting in my chair,” Scorch said in a low resonant rumble.

The griffon shrugged in reply, not caring that he was sitting in the Lord of Fire’s throne.

“Thank you, by the way,” Atropos said as she took a step closer to Scorch.

Scorch turned and looked at the trio of alicorns standing near him. “Thank you for what?”

“For giving us a safe place to make this exchange. Too many eyes in other places. As one of the supreme authorities, you are given a measure of privacy that very few have,” Lachesis replied.

“For all of my authority, I still answer to you,” Scorch said, bowing his head.

“For all of our authority, you still have ways and means that we lack.” Clotho stepped forward, moving in front of her sisters, and she bowed her head to Scorch.

“Which is why we are working together,” Odin said, leaning forward on Scorch’s throne.

“We do what we must.” Atropos turned away from Scorch and faced Odin. “I hope you have some measure of understanding of just what is about to take place. Very few have been offered the privilege we are about to give you.”

“If you abuse it, if you harm her, if you harm him, we will unravel you. We will be your undoing,” Lachesis said, also turning towards Odin.

“Oh don’t be silly… while some of the endings we have seen have gone badly, those are only the endings where something goes catastrophically wrong. Odin will do right and we all know that,” Clotho said as she reached out and smacked both of her sisters with her wings.

“We have seen many ends. We have seen where Buckminster has kept Belisama as his servant, his slave… we have seen Odin’s end, dying at Buckminster’s hooves, his last words a begging plea for help. And now, we see Odin’s rebirth, the beginning of his rise to power, and a foundation stone for world peace being set in place,” Atropos said as her horn began to glow.

“Now, Buckminster has allies… the right things were done… it is still possible to have a future of equals… of a world shared. Such a little thing, a simple twist of fate, to choose love or bondage can change the fate of the world,” Lachesis said as her horn also began to glow.

Clotho, stepping close to her sisters, formed the last part of the triangle. Her horn flared with light as she stepped into position. “This day we give the world a new defender.”

The sisters lowered their heads and a rift appeared between them. Odin, still sitting on Scorch’s throne, covered his face with his wings, shielding his eyes from the light. Scorch began to pace once more.

“A world shared,” Scorch said as the brilliant light burned brighter. “And it begins with moments like this one, sharing the power we have as the guardians of creation.”

The sisters called into being what appeared to be a simple strand of string, pulling it from the rift. The rift vanished, leaving behind the small strand of string. After a moment, the string glowed with a soft faint light.

“This is Bandua. It is all she will ever be. This is her life, her hopes, her dreams, her aspirations. This is the sum of her existence. We have pulled it from the weave, separated it, and we offer it to you, Odin.” Atropos lifted her head and began to walk towards Scorch’s throne where Odin sat. In her magic, she held the length of string. “We Fates will still control the beginning and the end of her life, but we are giving a portion of control to you in exchange for your promise of goodwill and your oath of service. Lead your griffons. Restore them to what they once were. Undo the damage done.”

Reaching out his trembling talons, Odin took hold of the string when it came within his reach. There was a flash of light, a moment of dazzling luminescence, and for a brief moment, the old griffon looked young again.

But that moment faded and Odin returned to appearing old.

The string vanished.

“So begins our deal. Do well and in time, we will give you more control over the fate of the griffons,” Atropos said as she took a step back.

“Bandua is your test and your reward. Do well, and in time, she could become like you. The griffons deserve a worthy pantheon. The bloodthirsty immortals of your kind shall remain locked away here in Tartarus with the hopes that they never escape,” Lachesis said as she recovered.

Clotho, blinking, shifted form and became an earth pony once more, reverting to the form that she found most comfortable. “In time, Bandua could become like Luna, a warden of dreams, a guardian of morality and virtue, scaring those who stray into darkness back into the light. It falls upon you to guide her. She carries a small piece of her father’s divine spark. Nurture it well and all of your griffons will reap the rewards.”

Odin slipped from Scorch’s throne, approached the sisters, bowed, and prostrated himself. “I will prove myself worthy, whatever it is that I must do to secure the future of my kind, it will be done.”

“Funny… I would have thought with the sharing of my power, I would have felt diminished. Instead, I feel stronger,” Atropos said, shaking her head at her own confusion.

Lachesis stepped forward. “Funny you say that. I was just thinking the same thing.”

Clotho eyed her sisters. “Perhaps there is something to be said for our brother’s funny ideas. At some point, we should go talk to him.”

Atropos nodded. “And perhaps arrange a little visit for Sombra and Platinum.”

 

 

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