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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“Prince Buckminster, or should I call you King Buckminster? Either way, would you dance with me?” Bocor Oya asked in a soft voice.

Bucky looked at the zebra and felt a sense of panic. He looked at Berry, a pleading expression upon his face. “I can’t dance.”

“Bucky, this is for world peace. Dance with the nice zebra. This is just step dancing,” Berry Punch said, doing nothing to hide the teasing tone in her voice.

Gulping, already feeling sweaty, Bucky got up from his chair. A moment later, there was a zebra mare deep within his personal space. She was standing neck to neck, chest to chest with him, and he could feel her breathing on his withers. He tried to take a step backwards, but she took a step with him. He stepped sideways, but could not escape as she followed. Without meaning to do so, he fell into a rhythm and Oya kept pace with him.

“I have always prefered slow dancing. While I can be a creature of action, I like soft, slow, steady movement. I am a drinker of tea. I like sedate activities like crossword puzzles. With you, I am getting the slow dance I crave… the others are far too rowdy.”

Bucky, almost paralysed with panic, thought about Oya’s words and relaxed a little. He felt one of her forelegs brush up against his own.

“In the Sea of Grass, we zebras dance together to show friendship. We dance together to mourn those we have lost. We dance to celebrate new life. We just look for a reason to dance.” Oya leaned a little more of her weight on Bucky, pressing her neck against his.

Sniffing, Bucky smelled anise, cloves, and oranges. And something else. Something that made his nose tickle.

“It is not perfume. I can hear you sniffing.”

“I’m sorry… I don’t know if I am being rude.” Bucky, feeling awkward, looked over at Berry, his eyes pleading for a rescue. “How do zebras feel about ponies sniffing them?”

“It is a protective poultice. It is kept in the little bag I am wearing around my neck.”

“It is?” Bucky asked. “Are you in danger?”

“I am always in danger, and therefore, prepared. It is how I have lived so long, killed so many, and I am still here to dance with you,” Oya replied.

“Does this poultice protect you against the plague or diseases or something?”

“No.” Oya’s voice was soft, pleasant, full of warmth. “This poultice protects me from dangerous nether creatures and their charms.”

“Do you run into those often? What sort of creatures are those? I’ve never heard that term. Is that a zebra term?” Bucky, now curious and with his mind engaged, forgot that he was feeling awkward.

“Nether creatures… like vampires. It is said they have a dangerous sexual appeal to lure in their victims. They are charming, supernaturally so.” Oya leaned against Bucky a little more and rubbed her cheek against his neck.

“Oh… those… while there are all kinds of supernatural creatures in the world, I don’t think vampires exist anymore. If they do exist, they're rare enough that nopony knows about them or they’re good enough at hiding that nopony realises they exist.”

“Oh, they are clever… wily creatures. They can hide themselves so well that they could be right under our noses, right now this very moment, and we wouldn’t even realise they were among us. I cannot help but wonder… if a vampire could be so well hidden that they might even be hiding from themselves. I am fascinated by their existence. I have studied them extensively.”

Without warning, Bucky sneezed, the tickle in his nostrils was now overpowering. It took a moment to recover. “Sorry about that.”

“It’s okay… we zebras believe that a sneeze can say so much more about a zebra or a pony than mere words. Sometimes, all we need to know about a pony or a zebra can be foretold from a single sneeze.”

“You should hear Berry sneeze… she’s a gunner, she’ll let go of five or six in a row, rapid fire,” Bucky said, relaxing a little and leaning against Oya. He sniffled, his nose still tickled.

 

 

“This is nice. Maybe I can dance. Just a little.” Bucky felt Thistle and Berry Punch pressed up against him. There was a shuffle of hooves as they moved together. Belisama was sitting on Bucky’s back, holding Bandua in a shawl.

“I like belly to belly dancing, up on the hind hooves, but this is nice too,” Berry said.

“Poor Lugus… he looks so nervous. He’s dancing with Celestia.” Thistle angled her head just a little bit to have a better look.

“He is the only one large enough… it’s either him or Keg Smasher, and Keg Smasher is getting a chance to spend a moment with some of his wives,” Bucky said. “What is Boadicea doing? I can’t see her from this angle.”

“She is being a good cub, sitting in the corner, and behaving herself. Right where Lugus left her. I think if the world ended right now, that poor cub would keep sitting right where Lugus pointed,” Berry replied.

“Poor dear… she wants to impress Lugus so badly.” Thistle, still looking over at Lugus and Celestia, thought about how she had wanted to impress Derpy, in what felt like such a long time ago.

“I don’t trust her, but I do trust that she wants her honour back. For now, I willing to trust in that,” Bucky said.

“Honour is all she has. Everything else has been taken from her. I don’t know if I trust her either, but Bucky, be nice to her. If she can be won over, she will be a good protector for us little ones. I’m thinking she will make a good Raptor.” Reaching out her talons, Belisama gave a little yank on Bucky’s mane.

“I bet Bell is getting hungry… and Cadance might be too,” Thistle said.

“If you make your escape, I am coming with you.” Bucky rubbed his foreleg against Thistle’s foreleg and eyed the door. “We can dance our way to the door and nopony or nobirdy will notice.”

“It is too hot in here… and I want to sit my big cushy plot down in a comfortable chair. Let’s make our way towards the door.” Berry, being the earth pony of the group, began herding the other two towards the door.

 

 

Ahead of them, Bucky heard the sounds of singing and merriment. Laugher. Coming around the corner, Bucky saw that there was a large collection of ponies spilling out of a room and into the hallway. The door to their own room was open. Tourmaline was trying to dance a jig, watching an older unicorn as his hooves clattered over the stones.

“Our king!”

Bucky shook his head. “Oh no… Keg Smasher is now the rightful ruler of the Shires.”

Broom stepped forward. She bowed her head. “We’re free ponies… and we’ll recognise our own kings, thank you very much. Yer little griffons are wonderful musicians!”

Beside him, Bucky heard Berry Punch giggling.

“I want to play my autoharp,” Belisama said, squirming on Bucky’s back.

“That pony over there, the dancer, that is me brother, Door. He had to stand stock still for hours opening a door whenever the masters came near. Now he is free to dance. That one over there, the one playing the glockenspiel, his name is Hat Rack. When he was made submissive, something went wrong… or something went right, I guess it depends on how you look at it. He lost his voice. But he can still play music!”

Hat Rack was banging away on a large wooden framed glockenspiel. Several little griffons sat at his sides, strumming away on stringed instruments. Smoke drifted from a wooden pipe that hung from Hat Rack’s lips.

The slow creeping realisation that he had escaped from one party and stumbled into another made its way to Bucky’s brain. He sighed. He felt another tug on his mane and Belisama’s legs kicking into his sides, which gave him an odd urge, a need to start walking.

Thistle headed for the door to their room, laughing to herself as she left, and after a moment, Berry Punch took off with her. Magpie met them at the door, hugged them both, and pulled them in.

“We have made these ponies one of us,” Lugnut said as he approached Bucky.

“One of us?” Bucky asked.

Lugnut sat down on his haunches and looked up at Bucky. “One of us.”

“Yes, one of us,” Spanner said, coming forward to sit with Lugnut. “One of us or not one of us. These ponies are now one of us.”

“I see,” Bucky said, not understanding anything that was going on.

“We little griffons are all part of a greater flock. You are either one of us or not one of us. In Griffonholm, we only had each other. Hardly any of the bigger griffons were one of us. We had to help each other survive,” a little griffoness said as she stepped forward. She waved talons at the ponies around her. “These were slaves. Like us. They know our pain. They are one of us. Now we will look out for one another, provide for one another, and our flock will be stronger.”

“Is this why you protected the pony slaves from the griffon military depot?” Bucky asked.

The griffoness nodded. “They were slaves. One of us.”

“I see.” Bucky looked down at the griffoness and watched as she began to squirm. “What am I?”

“You are one of us. You and Tannis both are the first kings that are one of us. The others were not one of us.” The griffoness began to wring her talons together and averted her gaze down to the floor.

“Belisama, why don’t you tell me these things?” Bucky asked.

Peeping with nervous alarm, Belisama failed to make a reply.

“We don’t tell others about ‘one of us’ so we can stay safe,” Lugnut said, still looking up at Bucky. “If the big bads heard that we were working together to help one another, that we had ‘one of us’ and they were ‘not one of us’ they might boil us in oil or other nasty things to make us screech for their amusement before they ate us or did awful things to us.”

“We slaves and servants are more organised than most will give us credit for,” Broom said as she reached down and patted Spanner on the back with her hoof.

“Hmmm.” Letting out a curious hum, Bucky looked down at the griffons now gathering around him. He noted Tourmaline sitting with them. He looked at her.

“One of us,” Tourmaline said. “They took me in to protect me. I was made one of us.”  

“Fascinating.” Bucky felt Belisama hop from his back and there was the flutter of wings as she landed. He watched as she joined the group. “What about Berry Punch?”

“One of us. She doesn’t know she is one of us. She is kind.” Spanner sat up straight and flexed his wings.

“Derpy?” Bucky asked.

“One of us. Protector of us.” Lugnut reached out his foreleg and draped it over Spanner’s shoulders. “We revere the grey mare and admire her sense of flock.”

Bucky blinked and nodded. “Thistle?”

“One of us. Bringer of fish for all of us.” The little griffon female lifted her head and looked up at Bucky for a long moment before ducking her head back down.

“Bon Bon?” Bucky felt a faint smile pulling at his lips.

“One of us. She who makes chocolate covered crickets for all of us.” Spanner leaned over onto his mate.

“Hmm… Lyra?” Bucky was feeling an odd sense of curiousity now.

“One of us. We call her Storm Mother.” Lugnut began brushing crumbs out of Spanner’s feathers with his talons.

“Wait!” Bucky’s eyes narrowed. “Waitaminute… you call her Storm Mother… like you call Celestia Sun Mother?”

The little griffons looked spooked for a moment.

“You worship Lyra as a goddess, don’t you?” Bucky asked.

Spanner looked around him, saw the crests of his fellow griffons, and then looked up at Bucky and nodded, saying nothing.

“Some of us have built shrines dedicated to her. She brought the storm that struck down those not one of us. She makes music, beautiful music, and she taught our queen to make beautiful music. Plus, she helps Bon Bon make chocolate covered crickets,” one of the little male griffons said as he stepped forward.

Bucky dared not laugh, this was far too serious, but he did allow himself a soft smile. “I suppose it is safe to guess that Ripple is one of us… what about Lugus?”

“One of us… protector of us.”

Bucky nodded. “Loch Skimmer?”

“She of the funny jokes and helpful advice. One of us.”

“Bittersweet?” Bucky looked down at his griffons.

“One of us. She who makes Ripple, protector of us, happy.”

“Sparkler?” Bucky was starting to see a pattern here.

“Stone Mother. She brings gemstones up from the earth so we can make beautiful things, and then she lets us keep the beautiful things we make. We can make pretties and shinies and she doesn’t want them for herself.”

“Hmmm… Rising Star?” Bucky asked.

“Fire Father… keeper of the forge. One of us. Is kind to us, allows us to work in his forge and lets us keep the shiny things we make for ourselves. Because of his kindness, we have shared with him our secret knowledge of machines.”

“I am very pleased to hear this… I mean, that my family is kind to you.” Bucky’s talons began to drum on the stone floor. “So now that I am one of us, can you start sharing more of your secrets with me? And maybe stop being afraid of me?”

“We can try,” Spanner replied.

“Well, don’t just sit there… make some music and get back to what you are doing.” Bucky lifted his talons and waved at the griffons. He looked up at Broom. “Broom, I would be most honoured if you would see fit to dance with me. I’m not very good, but I’m willing to try.”

“Ooh, I gets to have meself a dance with a handsome feller,” Broom said, stepping forward. “I’d be honoured… but no getting fresh with me, or I’ll slap ye on yer bum!”

 

 

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