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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“Say it!” Bucky positioned the edge of his right front hoof over Belisama’s belly.

“No… no… no…” Belisama batted at Bucky’s hoof with her hind paws.

“Say it…”

There was a yowl, it filled the room and caused several of the griffons present to go wide eyed. They watched the unfolding drama between Bucky and Belisama with raised crests. The ponies in the room, the few that took interest, were laughing.

“Say it,” Bucky said as he lowered his hoof down and dragged the edge over the still rounded curve of Belisama’s stomach.

Wiggling and kicking, Belisama resisted for all of a moment before her defenses melted. She went still, her legs going limp, and she closed her eyes as Bucky’s hoof trailed over her stomach, back and forth.

“I am your cute, cuddly, snuggle-wuggle goddess… you horrible tyrant,” Belisama said through a closed beak. She rolled over a bit, angling her stomach under Bucky’s hoof. “More there… no… there…. yes right there.”

One of the griffons watching was Boadicea. Wrapped in a cloak, she sat beside Lugus, who was rolling his eyes and fidgeting as he watched the display of affection between his friends.

Finally, Lugus could take no more. “This is undignified. Our queen should be a figure of respect and reverence. She is being treated… as though she is a pet.”

“But I like having my belly rubbed!” Belisama looked up at Bucky. “Don’t you dare stop!”

“Lugus, I get that you are trying to show Boadicea how to be a serious, honourable griffon… I get that, I really do… and I want her to see what we are really like. What is wrong with a little affection?” Bucky looked over at Lugus, down at Belisama, and over at Lugus once more.

“Lugus, what will you do when Peekaboo pounces upon you and Boadicea is watching?” Belisama asked. The griffoness reached up and guided Bucky’s hoof to just the right spot with her talons.

A loud frustrated squawk came from Lugus but he said nothing in reply. He flexed his talons and his eyes narrowed. He sat up, straightened out, bringing himself to his full height in the sitting position.

A pony burst through the door of the common room and came to a skidding halt on his hooves, almost stumbling into a table where Celestia, Raven, and Violet were playing cards with one another.

“Airship! Zebra airship! They’re here!”

 

 

Looking upwards, Bucky marveled at the airship’s design. The gasbag looked to be semi-rigid, appeared to be made out of aluminum, and was not the usual wide, bloated gasbag. This gasbag was narrow, skinny, meant to slice through the air, and had to be ten times as long as the ship itself. Bucky wondered how fast it would go, being as sleek and skinny as it was. It was a daring new design, something new that had appeared during these times of rapid changes and technological developments. War, while awful, had done much to advance the new designs of airships.

Airship tugs were deployed to help the zebra ship get moored.

The gasbag of the zebra ship was unpainted, left the faint silver colour of aluminum. Bucky, being the practical sort, wondered how many tons of paint would be necessary to paint it from end to end. Because of this, Bucky guessed that the ship might be more technological than magical. If weight was a concern, they may have gone with as few magical enchantments as possible.

Or, they might have hurried it out of the shipyards without a coat of paint.

Standing there, puffing, his breath coming out in great clouds of steam, Bucky was unaware that ponies and griffons alike were watching him as he stared upwards. Beside him, Keg Smasher cut an even larger and more imposing figure.

The only one missing to complete the Triumvirate was Princess Luna.

With an almost supersonic crack, Keg Smasher unfurled his wings, flapped few times, and then took off to greet the zebra diplomats. Bucky, never one to be outdone, shifted into the form of an owl and took off after Keg Smasher, hooting and screeching as he flew circles around the enormous pegasus.

One figure did not notice the airship, or Bucky and Keg Smasher, she did not see anything of those things. Wrapped in a cloak, suffering from violent shivering, one figure stared up at the sky with wide eyes, glad to see the blue above her once more.

 

 

“Bocor Oya, Grand Sorcerer Canterberry, haven’t seen you in a while. Welcome to my isles. We’ve been worried about you.” With a grace that belied a creature his size, Keg Smasher bowed, his wings extended.

“We ran into one of those wild storms that blow off of Griffonholm,” Canterberry replied as he clung to his tall conical hat with his magic to keep it from blowing off in the stiff razor edged wind. “Was exciting! Got the blood going! A lot of experienced sailors were puking in their racks!”

Looking disgusted, Bocor Oya snorted. She turned to look at the owl perched on the railing of the ship. “That is the ugliest owl I have ever seen.”

The owl screeched and began to dance upon the rail, hopping from one set of talons to the other as it flapped its wings.

“Er, lass, yon owl is—”

“I know full well who it is. I didn’t become a bocor by allowing myself to be fooled by shapeshifters. But that is the ugliest owl I have ever laid eyes upon.” Bocor Oya continued to stare at the owl, which now sounded as though it was laughing.

“How have you been Buckminster? I wanted to thank you face to face for the golems you have provided us… many lives have been saved…” Canterberry seemed distracted for a moment as he tried to keep his hat on in the gale force winds. “I’m thinking about retiring my position and coming to Equestria… maybe Ponyville.”

The zebra lifted her head high. “It is with deep regret that I must tell you that we cannot stay long. We are carrying supplies that are needed in other places. We have plague victims to look after, the nation of Fancy is suffering from a terrible feather flu, and Germaney has a case of horn and mouth disease that is causing quite a panic.” She shook her head. “We can stay one night at most and afterwards, we must depart.”

“Aye, I understand necessity. How about we cut the pomp and circumstance so we can get right down to business?” Keg Smasher asked.

“That would be marvelous,” Bocor Oya replied.

 

 

The dining hall of Keg Smasher’s castle was packed. The room, so full of bodies, was stifling, hot, stuffy, and many found it difficult to breathe. Celestia, looking radiant, sat upon a cushion at the head of a table. On her left sat Bucky and on her right sat Keg Smasher. Next to Bucky sat Canterberry and next to Keg Smasher, Oya sat sipping a cup of tea.

Almost unnoticed, tucked away on Bucky’s cushion, Belisama and Bandua sat with Bucky.

“Here on the Shetlands, we don’t deal with many pretty words. We’re ponies… and griffons of action.” Keg Smasher was forced to pause as a loud cheer rose up from the gathered ranks. He waved his hoof at them to get them to quiet down so he could continue. “Here, we state our case and be done with it. There is too much to do to spend hours saying something and painting it with pretty words. Can we please keep this in mind as we move forward and deal with this historic moment?”

Celestia, nursing a mug of pale ale, lifted her mug, took a sip, grimaced in such a way that it gave her a chance to smile to make up for it, and nodded. “There’s a lot of hops in that.”

“Aye lass.. one o’ Bucky’s that he brought with him. We tapped its bung just for this occasion,” Keg Smasher said. “I suspect there’s been quite a bit o’ bung tappin’ for this occasion.”

From somewhere in the background, Berry Punch guffawed.

“I call it ‘Diplomatic Dregs’ and I’m proud of it. Came out to about nineteen percent alcohol.” Bucky leaned forward on the table, lifted a mug in his talons, and took a swallow.

“Crivens,” Keg Smasher muttered as he lifted up his mug.

“The first order of business… Keg Smasher, for your service, for everything you have endured, I am honoured to officially bestow upon you the title of ‘Prince of Equestria.’ As Prince, you will be made the ruler of the United Isles—”

The room filled with cheering, which drowned out Celestia’s voice. The regal alicorn was forced to wait for the cheering to subside before she could resume speaking. She took this opportunity to take another drink.

“Let the big dame finish, ye knobs!” Keg Smasher’s bellow echoed through the room. “All of ye are numpties! Where’s yer feckin’ manners ye gits? Yer a disgrace to yer mother’s bloody holes!”

When the room quieted a bit, Celestia cleared her throat. “These isles will become a bold new experiment. A shared territory between two nations, a common ground where both can meet in the middle. A place protected by both and a bridge between nations.”

“This archipelago is where the Founders of Equestria crossed over from the old world into the new when the world was covered in ice. It served as a bridge then, leading those brave souls into a new land, and it will serve as a bridge now, bringing our nations together. This is a new founding… a fresh new start. Right now, we are making a new world, just like the founders of Equestria did. We can learn from the mistakes of our past and I hope we do not repeat those mistakes as we go into this bright new future.”

Celestia looked at Bucky. “Well said, thank you for those words, Buckminster.”

“I do what I can.” Bucky raised his mug in salute.

“To aid this effort, I offer you the gift of education,” Celestia said. “I will pay, out of my own coffers, to help you get schools started. I fear we shall need to get teachers from the Sea of Grass though, Equestria still has quite a shortage.”

“We will help,” Oya said as she sat down her teacup. “Our gift to you is also education. This land is rich and full of resources. This would be an ideal place to teach alchemy… you already have many skilled brewers here, alchemy would be easy for them to learn.”

“The Lunar Court offers the gift of might.” Bucky looked around at the ponies gathered around the table. “A military academy will be built here. These lands are still wild. There are monsters here, dangers, Luna and I both feel that moving Equestria’s training grounds to the Shetlands would be a good thing. Having leave in Canterlot is making our soldiers a bit soft, if you will forgive me for being so blunt. I am also going to see what I can do about getting magical instruction here.”

“We can help with that,” Canterberry said. “This would be an ideal place for a tower of sorcery.”

Bucky nodded. “Perfect. Martial focus though, no namby pamby theorycrafting.”

“Yes… I do believe we shall leave the soft ones at home in the Sea of Grass… we have some hard flinty types that would do well in a place such as this.” Canterberry rapped his hoof on the table. “This is not a place for scholarly types.”

“In the paperwork here, I have outlined the homesteader’s act,” Celestia said, pointing at the pile of papers upon the table. “For those who wish to come here and settle, funds will be made available from the coffers of the Royal Pony Sisters. Very generous funding is being offered that will help cover expenses for up to two years.”

 

“We will match that… we will pay half,” Oya said, raising her eyebrow. “We can’t have it said that Equestria was gracious about this effort and that we were stingy.”

“Raven, dear, are you getting all of this?” Celestia asked.

Raven, who was sitting beside Violet, nodded. “Yes ma’am.”

“There is something I want,” Bucky said in a loud voice that startled the room into silence.

“Bucky, dear, this isn’t about getting what we want.” Celestia reached over and patted Bucky on the withers.

“Nevertheless, I shall have what I want… I want a memorial built here. A reminder of every life lost. Not just for those who died here, but for those that died in Griffonholm, for those who died in the Hinterlands, for the many that died that when the Sea of Grass was invaded, the loss of life in Labyrinthia, and the slaughter in the Shires. All of the events that have brought us to this point where we are now.”

“I think we can do that… good call laddie,” Keg Smasher said to Bucky.

Her head popping up over the edge of the table, Belisama looked around at the ponies gathered around her. “There is something I want… if you don’t mind.”

Frightened, realising that everypony present was looking at her, Belisama panicked. She ducked back down beneath the table and hid, shivering against Bucky.

Reaching down, Bucky pulled Belisama back up, ignoring her squawks and her protests. “Queen of the griffons, do tell us what it is that you want, so that we might help you.”

Belisama, wringing her talons together, looked around. There were too many faces, too many eyes, all of whom seemed to be looking at her. She closed her eyes, grabbed the table with her talons, and squeezed.

“I would like a mead hall built so the griffons here can sing and remember Odin.”

“What about ponies?” Keg Smasher asked.

“Odin doesn’t mind if ponies sing and drink to remember him… it is his fondest wish that some hippogriffs are born into the world. He calls them the heralds of change, like the birds that first return in the spring or the changing of the autumn leaves,” Belisama replied.

“It would go nice with the memorial I think,” Keg Smasher said, now looking somber and thoughtful. “What say you Bucky?”

“I think that would be a good thing.” Bucky wrapped his foreleg around Belisama and gave her a squeeze.

“So… can we sign these papers and get to celebratin’?” Keg Smasher asked.

“I think we can, if we are all in agreement,” Celestia replied.

 

 

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