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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“Violet?”

“Yes Bucky, what is it?”

“The book was a nice touch… I was not expecting that. But did you have to throw it so hard? I mean, I have a lump now… almost a second horn… there was no warning.”

Violet snickered.

“Violet, you like causing pain too much.”

“And you like being in pain too much, Bucky.”

“Violet?”

“Yes Bucky?”

“It feels wrong manipulating her like that. I feel bad. I feel ashamed.”

“She manipulates you all of the time.”

“I know… Violet… well, I am becoming aware of it anyhow. But it feels wrong to manipulate her back. I just feel bad about it.”

“This was your idea.”

“And I feel bad about it… Violet, everything in the universe keeps trying to screw her without even getting her a drink first.”

“Was anypony actually hurt by this Bucky? Celestia had her emotions invoked, which is how you get her to take action, Keg Smasher is going to be made a Prince of Equestria, and nothing but good will come out of this. We did nothing for personal gain. Everything came out to somepony else’s benefit… so again I will ask, was anypony actually hurt by this?”

“Yes Violet.”

“Who?”

“Me. It hurts inside. In my heart. Like… like… like I just kicked one of my own foals in front of an oncoming wagon… plus I have a lump on my head.”

“Under all those scars, after all of the horrible things you’ve done, you’re still a big softy.”

Bucky shrugged.

“Bucky, this was your idea.”

“I know… and I am ashamed for having it. Being treacherous and manipulative with Twilight Sparkle when we hoodwinked the zebras was fine. We fooled everypony involved and good came out of it. But this is different… this is wrong... I did a bad thing Violet.”

“Because she is family?”

“Yes.”

Long silence.

“Violet?”

“Yes, what is it Bucky?”

“I’ve been a bad pony… I think I am going to go think about what I’ve done. How can I teach my own foals to be honest and open when I allow myself such acts of treachery?”

“You are making far too big a deal of this… everything came out okay. Politics took place. There is a happy ending for all.”

“Not for me.”

 

 

Lugus’ claws scrabbled over the stone stairs as the big griffon tried to avoid a tumble. He was far too large and the stairway was not made for creatures his size. Oil lamps lit the way with weak feeble flames that sputtered and flickered. He could hear the sound of metal scraping on stone, the sound of his friend right behind him.

“Have a nice day?” Lugus asked.

“Yes… even with some things that were less than pleasant,” Bucky replied. “What about you? How was foalsitting?”

“I like Tourmaline. She talks a lot. Asks a lot of questions. Funny little filly.” Lugus flexed his front talons, squeezing the edge of one of the stone stairs. It was slick with moisture. It was damp and dank down here.

Lugus felt relief when the last of the treacherous stairs was reached.

Continuing ahead, Lugus moved through a wide open area, through an arch, and saw two pegasi guards. Sitting with them at the table was an older unicorn with a peculiar circular scar on his forehead. Lugus felt his feathers ruffle at the sight.

“Knight Lugus… Knight Buckminster,” One of the guards said, not getting up but saluting with a jaunty wave of his wing. “Here to see the demon in chains?”

“She can’t be that bad, she’s a cub,” Bucky said.

All three of the ponies at the table snorted and snickered.

“Oh come on… she’s a cub… how bad can she be?” Bucky asked.

“Ripple is a filly… how dangerous can she be?” Lugus replied.

Blinking, Bucky jerked his head back. “Fair point."

“She’s a scout. One of them Hinterlands griffons. Living in the sand makes them hard.”

“Keg Smasher should have lopped off her head. But he’s soft about the fact that she’s young… he seems to think that she has some sort of redeemable quality other than being a murderous Tartarus spawned tabby. She’s tried to kill him several times… stabbed him good once. Used a sharpened spoon she hid.”

“Oh my.” Lugus turned and looked at Bucky.

“We have her trussed up and waiting for your visit. We tossed a satchel of zebra sleeping dust into her cell and tied her up for your safety. Untie her at your own risk.”

“She hasn’t told a soul her name. So call her whatever.”

One if the pegasi pointed to a door. “Just lift up the wooden beam and let yourself in. If you will excuse us, we don’t want to be anywhere near here when that door opens. Please, give us a chance to get out of here.”

The trio departed, heading up the stairs, all of them muttering and grumbling as they left, leaving Bucky and Lugus by themselves The pair looked at one another.

“I’ll go in first,” Lugus offered.

Bucky nodded, his horn glowing with a faint blue-green light.

Lifting the beam, Lugus opened the door. He peered inside the dim room. “She’s not here… what the… is she gone?” He stepped inside the room to have a look around.

A dark shadow dropped from the ceiling with a shriek. “I’ll peck out your thrice damned eyes!”

Lugus, moving with a speed that belied his bulk, sidestepped the falling shadow, reached out his talons, grabbed the shadow by the neck, and moving at a blur, he slammed the figure down into the stone floor head first.

Yawning, Lugus stood on top of the black figure’s neck as she let out a pitiful pained squawk. “She was clinging to the ceiling with her claws. She got untied somehow. We should tell the guards she is getting a resistance to the sleeping powder.”

“Lugus?” Bucky looked at his friend.

“Yes?” Lugus felt the griffoness cub squirming beneath his talons, making a feeble effort to get free.

“Lugus, please… don’t stand on her neck. I find it very distressing… I don’t like seeing her hurt… please?” Bucky lowered his head and looked down at the griffoness cub pinned beneath Lugus. She was sleek, black, and had a head like a raven or a crow.

“No funny business, do you hear me cub?” Lugus asked as he lifted the griffoness cub up by her neck and looked her in the eye.

She came to life, swiping at Lugus with her talons, kicking with her hind legs, and hissing with an open beak. Lugus, unconcerned by all of this, slammed her once again into the stone floor with bone jarring force. She went still and quiet.

“Lugus… please… I can’t deal with this right now,” Bucky said, giving a pleading look to his friend.

Lugus sat down upon the stone floor and jerked the griffoness cub into sitting position, his talons still wrapped around her neck. She reached up and with a feeble effort, tried to pry Lugus’ talons from her throat.

“She can breathe just fine. But if she misbehaves one more time, I’m squeezing until her neck snaps or her eyes pop out, whatever comes first,” Lugus said.

Feeling angry, Bucky scowled but understood that Lugus was just trying to keep both of them safe. Leaning forward, but not coming too close, Bucky studied the griffoness cub.

Opening her beak, she gave a hiss. “Murderer!”

Bucky lifted his head and looked her in the eye. “And what makes you say that?”

“We took you in… we gave you shelter… we gave you hospitality… we trusted you… and you attacked us in the night, murdering us in our sleep, you razed our cities, and you took what few survivors there were into slavery!”

“Did I?” Bucky asked.

The griffoness cub reached for Bucky, her talons coming scant inches from his face. Lugus slammed her down beak first into the stone floor with a sickening thud.

“Lugus! Let go of her this once! Do you think she could actually hurt me?” Bucky looked at his friend and tried to convey just how furious he was with an expression.

Chastised, Lugus let go of the cub and stepped back.

“Blood traitor…”

Lugus’ crest rose but he made no other response to the griffoness cub’s accusation.

“You’re bleeding.” Using his magic, Bucky lifted the cub into the air, keeping her out of reach. “Lugus, you split open the side of her face. How could you?”

“She wanted to tear your face off.” Lugus said nothing else in his own defense.

Bucky set the cub down in a chair, and, holding her very still, examined her. He could see the hate festering in her eyes. Blood trickled down her neck. She was thin, nothing but bones. “They’re starving you… that’s not right.”

“No, she refuses to eat. They’ve been bringing her food. She throws it at them or soils it with her own waste,” Lugus said, correcting Bucky in a soft voice.

“Do you really think I am a murderer, as you claim?” Bucky asked.

Giving Bucky a hate filled stare, the griffoness cub nodded.

“We were sleeping in a small cramped filthy room with not enough beds. We thought we were safe. A group of griffons came in through a secret passage and attacked us, bent on rape and murder. They had scarcely even begun to subdue us when one of them actually tried to rape one of my dear friends. The griffons had a plan… a grand plan to weaken Equestria by poisoning the water supplies and then invading the Sea of Grass to claim it as a new homeland because Griffonholm was completely defiled and befouled by pollution.”

The griffoness cub stared at Bucky with a look of pure loathing, unable to do anything else because of Bucky’s magic. Every muscle in her body quivered, tensing, preparing for violence.

“I took the little griffons home with me. I set them free. They were slaves in their homeland. They are happy now. Well fed. Healing up. I protect them and keep them happy.”

“Liar!”

Lugus’ whole body jerked and his talons flexed.

“They are slaves in your country! You keep them on your plantation and you force them to labour! You prostitute them out for the perverted lusts of your kind!”

“Do you really believe that?” Bucky, who had conjured a towel and some water, began dabbing away at the split flesh on the griffoness cub’s face. “What if I were to prove you wrong?”

“I will believe none of your lies or your trickery! Slaver! Liar! MURDERER!”

“Has anypony here tried to rape you?” Bucky asked.

The griffoness cub did not reply, but continued to give Bucky a baleful stare.

“So you remain untouched, but believe we are a species of perverts out to sully your kind,” Bucky said in a low patient voice. He wiped away more blood and cleaned the cub’s face. For a moment, Bucky felt himself admiring the cub for her fearlessness, and he suspected that he saw what Keg Smasher saw.

“Tell me now, and be honest… if you lie to me, I will know. Have you eaten pony flesh? Or zebra flesh?” Bucky stood, resolute, and stared into the cub’s eyes.

She hissed.

“I cannot seem to avoid hypocrisy today,” Bucky said as he wrapped his talons around the cub’s throat. “Speak now and save your life. If the answer is no, I will let you live. If the answer is yes, this will be over very quickly and you will feel nothing, I promise.” He gave a little squeeze.

“Eating things that talk is dishonourable!” the cub shrieked, her eyes going wide with fear. She had looked into Bucky’s eyes and she had seen things.

Bucky let go. “Now we are getting somewhere. Griffon honour. That is something I understand. Lugus over there is full of it. In more ways than one.”

Lugus, emboldened, stuck out his wing and extended his central primary feather in the ancient pegasus symbol of war at Bucky. He saw Bucky raise an eyebrow. Lugus, frustrated, did not care.

“In the Hinterlands I survived on lizards and dune rats. I only ate things I caught myself, as is befitting a hunter. I knew what the others were eating. Disgusting.”

Bucky sat down on a wooden chair, trying to get himself comfortable. He tossed the towel down upon the table and looked at the cub. He had wiped away the dirty crusts from the corners of her eyes, the sleeping dust had covered her face and had clung to every surface.

“Now… about the little griffons—”

“The little helpless ones that owe us for their existence? The ones that we provide for?”

Bucky clucked his tongue. “And you accuse me of slavery. For shame.”

The cub gave Bucky a sullen stare and fell silent.

Reaching up, Bucky rubbed his muzzle with his talons and studied the cub, unsure of what to do next. “You seem smart. Can you read or write?”

“I will write down the details of your death in your own blood…”

“If I held her head down in a bucket full of water I could take some of the fight out of her,” Lugus said in a low hissing voice.

“Lugus, what is your problem?” Bucky asked.

“She has insulted my king, tried to kill my friend, and she has held herself in contempt of your honour by calling you a liar. I have killed for less.” Lugus, looking furious, stared at the cub, his tail swishing from side to side and his talons flexing.

“And she called you a traitor,” Bucky said, reminding Lugus of one more insult. “I think I see a major failing of the griffon species… your honour. The little ones don’t have this problem… but look at you… you are both at each other’s throats right now. This would be funny if it wasn’t so sad.”

There were scraping sounds as Lugus raked his talons over the stone floor, trying to hold back his fury. His beak clicked several times, and his crest stood straight up.

“Lugus, I have reached a decision,” Bucky said in a low voice, ignoring his friend’s anger.

“And that is?” Lugus asked through a beak clamped shut.

“Lugus, I want you to fetch my little griffons… and your queen. Princess Bandua as well. Also, see that food is brought… we can’t have little cubs that are hungry.” Bucky looked at Lugus with a half smile upon his scarred face.

For some reason, all Lugus could think of was Bucky and Harper. Some little cub was going to eat her dinner tonight.

 

 

 

 

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