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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Dawn. The coming of the sun brought light but little warmth. The dawn brigade, always so important for shaping a pony’s day, was silent. For some, the dawn was a time to wake up and face the day. For others, it was a time to go to bed. For a group of griffons, some who had laboured through the night, it was a time to heave a weary sigh and keep going.

For one little earth pony, who had studied into the wee hours of morning, it meant being woke up at her desk by a bright eyed and bushy tailed big sister. This little earth pony had a plan to change the world, and she was too young and perhaps too foolish to realise that the world does not change just because a pony wants it to.

Until of course, the world the does change for the whims of just one being.

For one pegasus, a mother to a smaller pegasus, now also a mother to a griffoness cub, and the mate to one very large griffon, the dawn meant sprinting from the bed to go throw up.

For one very bored unicorn, the dawn was just another time to make mischief, after having woke up in the wee hours of morning and being unable to return to sleep because of his dying diurnal nature, which was now standing upon its last leg, the other leg having been chomped upon by zebra foal.

 

 

“Behold, the majestic and regal alicorn species. See how she broods, watchful of her loyal subjects, her most trusted guardsponies sitting at her sides. Look at how she yawns… see those fearsome teeth… teeth intended for just one purpose… destroying her most hated foe… chunky pureed carrots.”

Reaching over the table to get a biscuit, Berry Punch nodded. She split it open and began to butter it as she watched Bucky sitting in the kitchen window with Cadance, Harper and Peekaboo.

“See how she plots and plans… how she dreams of one day overthrowing her tyrannical father and freeing all of the foals forced to live under his heartless and brutal rule… foals like Piña, hitched to a sleigh and made to run to town for her father’s amusement.”

Berry Punch shook her head as she slathered jam on her biscuit. She heard Derpy laughing.

“Daddy.” Cadance’s face was stern. “Daddy hush.”

Mama,” Harper said, correcting Cadance.

“If you two are going to start that, I am going to talk about boring stuff,” Bucky said. “Tomorrow is the winter games. Three princesses, each confined to a tower, will have their armies do battle to change the fate of the world. Two princesses are going to be stomped and one princess will have the sort of insufferable smugness that I usually try to get away with myself.”  

“Numpty.” Cadance looked up at her father.

Harper nodded, her dark purple eyes flashing. “Numpty bumpty.”

Peekaboo’s wings fluttered. “Numpty.”

Derpy, her mouth full of biscuit, let slip a riotous laugh.

“Yeah, you three chuckleheads are a real barrel of laughs.” Bucky’s eyes narrowed from mock-hurt. “Just wait until you three start dating and I drag out the embarrassing foal photos.” Bucky, horrified by what he had just said, did a doubletake. “Scratch that. You three are never dating. I’m going to find some way to keep all three of you young and innocent.”

“Harper’s mane should scare most colts away for a while,” Berry said.

“Berry!” Bon Bon threatened Berry Punch with her spoon.

“On a good day the frizzy ball of fluff stands out over half a foot tall off of her head.” Berry ducked away from Bon Bon and her spoon.

“Harper sneezed one morning and her mane fell into her eyes. She started crying and shouting, “No see! No see!” and I had to come rescue her.” Lyra looked over at the windowsill. “I once tried tying her mane back with a ribbon. It got swallowed by her curls, and I never did see the ribbon again.”

“I am going to head back to the nursery to check up on Thistle,” Bucky said, feeling a little sad to leave his three fillies. He kissed them, each of them on the cheek, before he departed.

 

 

“One little filly to see you, sir,” Violet said standing near the library door.

“Let her in.” Bucky did not look up from the proposal draft from city planning.

“Apple Bloom… just have a seat right over there.” Violet reached out and stroked Apple Bloom upon the cheek.

Closing the folder, Bucky looked up from his paperwork. “Sorry that you had to meet me in my personal library, but I did not feel up to walking to the school office. I got nibbled.”

“This is nice,” Apple Bloom replied as she crawled into her chair. “Sorry you got nibbled.”

“You are here to talk to me about some things you need for a big science project?” Bucky pulled out a different folder, flipped it open, and began reading. “Your previous science project was impressive… even if the data collection was a little incomplete. The thought behind the project was enough to get my attention. Animals get smarter when living in close proximity with ponies… your studies of Fluttershy’s animals were good, but you needed a better sample size and a better control group.”

“It had some flaws,” Apple Bloom said, her ears drooping down.

“Apple Bloom, the fact that you had the idea in the first place is what is important here. Don’t stop getting these ideas… even if they don’t always pan out just the way that you hoped.”

The earth pony filly smiled, a hopeful smile and her eyes brightened.

“In another science project you built a steam powered tractor from a model kit and you made modifications to the engine to make it more powerful. Those modifications worked.”

Apple Bloom slumped down in her chair, looking defeated. “The company that makes steam powered tractors said my work was a failure. It would double the cost of a steam powered tractor to produce my modifications and the tractors would only get another five percent more power at best.”

Bucky flipped a page. “But Apple Bloom… these are still good ideas. Don’t stop having them.” Bucky closed the folder. “So… you have quite a list of special supplies and needs.”

“I do.” Apple Bloom nodded.

“I can help you. You will get everything on your list. Including the lockable room with a key. You need a place to keep your project safe and secret. I understand. Kind of confused by the need for clouds, but I am certain you have your reasons.” Bucky lifted up another sheet of paper, held it rigid in the air, and signed his name to it. He floated it over to Violet.

“I forgot one thing on my list…”

“And what is that?” Bucky asked.

“A lab coat might be nice…”

“Done.” Bucky looked at his majordomo. “See that our budding scientist gets a lab coat. A real one. Not a costume. Also, goggles. Just in case. We have to protect our eyes.” He paused and looked at Apple Bloom. “You take a lot of notes.”

“I do.” Apple Bloom nodded.

“Note writing takes too much time to do by hoof or by mouth. See that Apple Bloom gets a self writing pen that does dictation. Time spent writing is time lost to research.”

Nervous, Apple Bloom rubbed her front hooves together.

“Also, Violet, see that she gets a camera. This process needs to be documented. Nowhere in her list of supplies and materials was a request for a camera. What kind of science program are we running here?” Bucky looked troubled.

Violet’s face sank at Bucky’s question. She did not have a suitable answer. “We’re making this up as we go, sir. Everything is still being sorted out and settled. The school still smells new.”

“In the old school house our science program was usually a wagon full of potatoes and we were told to make clocks,” Apple Bloom said in a low voice.

“Yes… well, we are trying to change that.” Bucky looked at Apple Bloom, his expression thoughtful.

“Headmaster Bitters?”

“Call me Bucky.”

“I have a question.”

“Shoot.”

“If my cutie mark is some kind of apple, can I still grow up and be a scientist?” Real fear spread over Apple Bloom’s face. “I keep having nightmares about being a farmer. I like farming… I really do… I’m proud of being an Apple… but I don’t want to spend my whole life applebuckin’ trees.”

“My cutie mark is a hops plant. Sentinel has a brown trout. Piña Colada has a palm tree. Nopony has any idea what Piña Colada’s cutie mark means. While your mark might have some influence on who you are as a pony, what you become is still up to you… at least that is what I believe.” Bucky’s voice was soft and it filled the farmhouse library with sonorous sound.

“But… if I get an apple… I’m stuck with apples.” Apple Bloom wiggled in her chair and her narrowed. “It scares me.”

“Lyra Heartstrings has a lyre. She works as a candy maker with Bon Bon. She also works in magical law enforcement when the situation demands. She is a mother, a wife, a prankster, and right now she is working on the perfect sandwich theory.” Bucky smiled. “She is also a musician when she finds the time.”

“Oh.” Apple Bloom relaxed a little bit. “Perfect sandwich theory?”

“A sandwich is a combination of wet and dry, a tomato is wet and bread is dry,” Bucky replied. “There are also lubricants, like mayonnaise, but these are contrasted with friction. Like cheese. It clings to your teeth and makes you work to chew it. Lyra believes she can figure out the perfect ratio of ingredients and create a scientifically perfect sandwich.”

“Oh… I need to talk to Lyra.” Apple Bloom’s face lit up into an excited smile.

“Apple Bloom?”

“Yes Bucky?”

“I want some results from this project of yours. I am giving you a lot of resources. I expect good things from you. I have some papers showing me that you are one smart little pony.”

“Yes sir, I will do my best.”

“I know you will. You come to me if you need help. Your list said that you might need some magical assistance. If Dinky can’t give you the magic you need, you come to me.”

“Yes sir,” Apple Bloom replied, shaking her head.

“You’re free to go.”

“Thank you!”

 

 

The cold winter air and the high altitude of Canterlot worked together to create an almost inhospitable cold. The only ponies not too bothered by this cold were the pegasi, who had long lived on tall mountain tops. But Canterlot was not known as the city of pegasi.

The unicorns of Canterlot relied on magic to keep warm, and then over time, many coffee shops, tea shops, and other little nooks to duck into and get warm. Canterlot in the wintertime depended upon little oases of warmth.

It was in one such oasis that two griffons found shelter from the cold.

“I think that went well,” Callum said as he settled into a soft cushioned chair.

Freyja nodded as she bounced into the seat across from Callum. The booth was cozy, the seats were soft, and air smelled of fresh baked bread.

“Princess Celestia was very surprised by our delivery.” Callum reached down and began to adjust his armor and his doublet, trying to maintain his dignity as a Raptor.

“Princess Luna said nothing. I worry how she will take our message.” Freyja’s eyes narrowed.

Both griffons were too small to be sitting in a booth meant for ponies. Both of them only just almost were able to peer at one another over the table. Neither of them seemed to notice the awkward situation however.

“Freyja?”

“Yes Callum?”

Callum peeped and his crest went up and down, unable to decide if it should be down or up. “You love me, right?”

Freyja’s eyes narrowed in a predatory manner. “You pull my tail and I pull yours.”

“But is it love?” Callum’s eyes darkened. His talons began to tap upon the table.

“Do you see me with anybirdy else but you?” Freyja said in a voice that was now bare of all of its hard edge, a soft feminine voice.

“But do you love me?” Callum looked down at the table.

“Don’t be a cat brain… I—”

“Is it so hard to say?” Callum asked.

Freyja’s feathers ruffled and she fluffed out, appearing to be almost twice her size.

“I loved a griffoness once… back home. She played hard to get with me. I loved her… I mean, I really loved her. But she played games. She never said she loved me… she never got a chance to say she loved me—”

“Callum… please, don’t finish that.” Freyja’s eyes softened.

“I know why you have all those scars Freyja… all those burns. I know what they did to you… I know what was done to you and for some reason you still let me pull your tail—”

“Callum, shut up,” Freyja said. “I never became too submissive. And I’m not going to let what happened then spoil what I have now.”

“So you do love me?” Callum asked.

“I don’t want to say it, okay?” Freyja replied.

“Why?” Callum asked. “Who did you lose?”

“Doesn’t matter. They’re gone. They’re dead. Just like it is for you. She’s dead.” Freyja’s beak clicked and then she let out a pained peep. “Saying it feels like weakness.”

Callum shrank down in his seat.

“I’m not weak. I am Freyja. Never again will I allow one I love to be taken from me. I will kill and leave a bloody swath of bodies before I ever submit or give up one I love.”

The waiter, standing beside the table, cleared his throat. “Sir, I do believe the griffoness favours you quite highly. Sometimes, love is not said in word, but is conveyed by action.”

Callum looked at the waiter, swallowed, and looked back at Freyja. “Marry me Freyja… please? You’re the one griffon I can’t live without and I can’t go another day without letting you know how I really feel about you.”

Freyja’s hard exteriour melted away. “Oh… we can do that. I… I would kill for you.”

The waiter sighed. “Ah, love is in the air. I love being so close to the palace. The guard are always coming in here and confessing their need to kill for one another… there is no better life to be had. And my parents were disappointed when I got my cutie mark as a waiter.”

 

 

 

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