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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“My Bucky.” Derpy squeezed the stallion in her forelegs and then pressed her lips to his ear for a kiss. “No more creepy eye.”

“It’s not fair. He’s hardly even sick.” Berry Punch’s mouth curled downwards into a frown.

“Sentinel got stinky burps, Erebus had horrible farts, Bucky had the trots for a while… lunar ponies… it isn’t fair.” Lyra shrugged, took a sip of tea, and then looked at Bucky. “I might be the only one, but I am going to miss his creepy eye. It was Bucky’s calling card… the visual indicator that he should not be messed with.”

“Lyra’s right. The intimidation factor was useful,” Bucky said in a low voice as Derpy squeezed him once more. “Which is why I am going to cook up a persistent illusion to make me appear how I was. The world was terrified of me as I was, but now I look like some half baked draconequus.”

“What about dark magic, Bucky?” Lyra asked.

“I am going to try and not use it unless I have to. Some things can only be done with dark magic, I’ve learned that, but I was becoming too reliant upon it. I think… I think I was using too much of it and it was doing bad things to me. I don’t know… I need to think about it,” Bucky replied.

“If you give yourself the Taint again I will be very disappointed with you… I love you… I can’t bear to see you in pain.” Bon Bon reached over and patted Bucky on his hops plant.

“Dark magic… you need pain to power it… the more pain you have the stronger it is. The more dark magic you use, the more susceptible you are to pain. Pain hurts more, but it makes your magic even more powerful… horrible way to become strong.” Lyra lifted her teacup and inhaled the steam. “This is nice. Having tea in bed. Together.”

“My bum is sore.” Thistle reached back and rubbed her backside. “That was horrible.”

“It happens almost every year. Some years, the flu isn’t so bad. Other years, it’s just awful.” Berry Punch rolled over onto her back and lay spread eagled. “Still hot back there.”

“It’s like having my old Bucky back, the one I bumped into,” Derpy said, rubbing her face against Bucky’s neck.

“I didn’t think I was coming back from this one,” Bucky said in a low voice.

“What do you mean?” Derpy asked. She blinked, her eyes flooding with tears, and she shook her head. “No, never mind. Don’t tell me, I don’t want to know. I’m just glad you’re back and that is all that matters.”

“Baba?”

“Oooh we have a visitor… and she looks better!” Lyra’s horn ignited. “Get up here!”

Sukari was dropped on the bed. She looked around for a moment, her eyes wide and fearful, and then with careful steps she wobbled over to Bucky and collapsed against him. “Baba.”

“Sukari.” Bucky nosed her.

“She’s started calling all of us mama. Even Magpie.” Berry reached out her foreleg and touched Sukari. “Magpie is trying to get Sukari to call her ‘nana’ though.”

“My sweet little zebra… mama loves you,” Thistle said, crawling on her belly to get a little closer.

“Our multi-species family is causing a bit of a problem for Twilight Sparkle,” Bucky said as he pulled Sukari closer to him and gave Thistle a teasing look.

“And why is that?” Berry asked.

“Because there is a little diamond dog puppy named Tinta that was in the papers. She was abandoned by the guard station in Canterlot—”

“I saw that news story… the paper is trying to see if the mother can be found… the paper named her Tinta because she was blue-black and inky,” Berry said, cutting Bucky off. “Wait, what does this have to do with Twilight Sparkle?”

“Twilight was telling me on our trip that Flash Sentry wants to adopt her. Flash seems to think that the Princess of Friendship should open her home and her heart to species other than equines… like we have,” Bucky replied.

“Griffons… griffons everywhere,” Bon Bon said with a half smile.

“Bringing home my sweet little kitten Belisama was one of the smartest things I’ve ever done… and mostly, I do really stupid stuff.” Bucky cast a sidelong teasing glance at Belisama.

“If you want me as your pet you better buy me a nice collar.” Belisama lifted her head and batted her eyelashes at Bucky.

“This is weird,” Lyra said, shaking her head.

“Belisama likes it and she’s happy. The griffons have a pet culture. It means they are prized… valuable. Wearing a collar was a means of protection from other nastier griffons.” Berry rubbed her belly and twisted her head around to look at Belisama.

“How do you learn this stuff?” Bon Bon asked.

“I talk to the griffons… and I talk to Belisama. For a griffon, becoming a pet was a symbol of status, of power, of value… and every little griffon wants to feel value. Ask Branwen about it, the albino griffoness… her keeper was zealous in her protection. She had bodyguards. She’s sad now because she no longer has a keeper,” Berry Punch replied.

“I don’t understand,” Bon Bon said as she turned to look at Belisama.

Belisama gave a squeeze to the bundle tucked away in her shawl. “Branwen never had to worry about rape… her keeper was too afraid of damaging her. She was kept safe. She got to live in a nice room with a soft bed and all she had to do was look pretty and keep her wings preened. And all because she was an albino.”

“I wish Derpy would get me a collar… she’s supposed to… the ponies in Saddle Arabia said so.” Bucky buried his muzzle into Sukari’s mane, inhaled, and burned Sukari’s scent into his memory. He heard a soft weak giggle and smiled.

Bon Bon closed her eyes for a moment and tried to see things from Belisama’s perspective, then tried to imagine herself as a pet, and then realised that it just wasn’t her thing. Opening her eyes, she blinked a few times, looked at the griffons, saw how happy Belisama was, and then gave a mental shrug. Reaching out her foreleg, she grabbed Lyra and pulled her close.

“I am so happy to see your grey eye again… I don’t care if it is slitted, at least its grey,” Derpy said, her good eye focused on Bucky and nothing else.

“Derpy?”

“Yes Bucky?”

“I was wondering… I was in a pretty bad state of mind while I was away… I hit a pretty low point in my life… and I was curious, how did you get your name and what does it mean?” Bucky asked.

“I know the answer to this,” Berry said a smile creeping across her muzzle.

“My great grandmother Ditzenburg named me. Our family has roots in Germaney.” Derpy turned her head and looked at Berry. “And only my bestest friend knows my real name.”

“Oh… I see how it is… I’m not your bestest friend—”

“Shut up!” Derpy gave Bucky a squeeze.

“Her full name is Der Panzer. Her great great grandfather was named Plattenpanzer, and he was part of the infamous Black Iron Armored Sky Brigade.” Berry grinned and rolled over onto her side. “The most dangerous pegasus division that ever existed. Most of them could prove their ancestry to the old Germaney tribes and some of them could show ancestry to Commander Hurricane. What few survivors that existed after a visit from the Black Iron Armored Sky Brigade developed a psychological condition known as panzerschreck, or armor fright. The mere sight of a pegasus in armor would sent then into fits of panic. I learned about it in university.”

“I was born dangerous,” Derpy said, giving Bucky a sheepish grin.

“That explains so much.” Bon Bon stared at Derpy with wide eyes. “Der Panzer… destroyer of city hall—”

“That was an accident,” Derpy said before Bon Bon could say anything else. “I am going to name one of my foals Ditzenburg after my great grandmother. She was good to me. She was always so kind. She told me to be fierce in my protection of those I love and life would work out for me. She was right.”

“It is important to keep names alive,” Belisama said, thinking about her sister. “Sometimes it is all we have to remember the ones we love.”

“One of us needs to make certain that part of Bucky lives on,” Derpy said, looking at the other mares around her.

“No, that’s not necessary.” Bucky shook his head.

“I dunno, I named the colt in my belly Barley Bitters… it has a nice ring to it.” Berry patted her belly. “Two stallions that I love.”

“I want my name to die with me—”

“Shut up Bucky!” Berry demanded.

“No, my name, my house, it needs to die with me,” Bucky buried his face into Sukari’s back and closed his eyes.

“I want one of my foals named Bitters!” Berry rolled over onto her belly and glared at Bucky with narrowed eyes. “Don’t you dare take this away from me, Buckminster Beauregard Bitters!”

“How… how did you know… how… how did you know that?” Bucky asked.

“A very drunk Princess Celestia whispered some secrets into my ear.” Berry smiled a berry smug smile. “That’s right everypony, Beauregard… it is how the Bitters family males kept track of individuals. Each of them had a different middle name. And Bucky here, is Beauregard.”

Bucky’s ears fell against the sides of his face and he let out a wordless whine.

“And the little filly in my big fat belly I named Brandywine Bitters because Bucky asked me for a foal named Brandywine and so I am going to give him one.” Berry’s smile turned into a straight line. “It is important for a father to name some of their foals.”

Lifting his head away from Sukari, Bucky looked at Berry and blinked away a few tears. “You remembered. I only barely remembered… I was so plastered.”

“Of course I remembered you halfwit, I love you, you dimwitted oaf,” Berry Punch said to Bucky in a low wavering voice that was almost overcome with emotion. “I don’t know how long I am going to have you… I want something to remember you by.” Berry reached up and rubbed her eyes with her fetlock. “Now shut up! I don’t wanna cry. My insides hurt.”

 

 

Alone in her room, Boadicea waited, not knowing her fate. Her room was a small room, but she didn’t mind. It was cozy. She had a comfortable bed, her own desk, and a cushioned bench in front of the window. A window that she dared not escape out of. Lugus would hunt her down, there was no doubt about that. Lugus was furious and Boadicea imagined all manner of punishments he might come up with. More than anything, Boadicea feared the lash, because she knew that she deserved it.

On Boadicea’s desk there was a picture of her and Diamond Tiara in a small wooden picture frame. There was also a small silver mirror, a silver brush, and a loop of piano wire with wooden handles.

She lept from the bed to the cushioned bench and then sat down. Outside, fresh snow was falling, a light flurry that dusted everything in white. Feeling a lump in her throat, Boadicea worried that Lugus might send her away. She worried that she might end up back in a cell.

Behind her, the door opened and Boadicea cringed.

“Lugus will see you now,” Yew Wood said in a low voice. “Go to him at once and do not dawdle.”

Feeling the sting of tears in her eyes, Boadicea slipped from her cushioned bench down the floor. She looked at Yew for a moment, feeling weak and ashamed, and then averted her eyes to the floor.

“Do not keep him waiting,” Yew said.

 

 

Boadicea could hear Lugus’s claws tapping upon the floor as she walked forwards. She dared not lift her head or look at him. She thought about their first meeting. He was fast, far faster than she was, and strong. He had slammed her down into the floor and subdued her without even breathing hard.

“Sir, I ask for mercy—”

“SILENCE.”

Boadicea fell silent, hoping to make this easier upon herself.

“You left home. You stowed away upon the private vessel of your king. You made Yew Wood sick with worry. She cried for you and I cannot bear to see her cry,” Lugus said in a flat monotone. “And with the stomach flu… she cried and it tore her apart. She was miserable and it is your fault!”

Boadicea shrank down and tried to look as small and pitiful as possible.

“Loki told me everything that happened. Everything.” Lugus’ voice was still flat and emotionless.

To terrified to say anything, Boadicea prostrated herself down before Lugus and realised that she should have gone to the bathroom before coming to speak with Lugus.

“Right now I am furious with you for what you have done… but I am also fiercely proud of you. You served your king. As your father, I commend you for what you have done.”

Boadicea felt talons wrap around her body. She peeped in fear, went limp, and squeezed her eyes shut as she was lifted. A moment later, she felt herself crushed against Lugus. Recovering, she wrapped her forelegs around Lugus’ neck.

“You are still in a world of shite young lady… don’t think this is over!" Yew cried.

 

 

 

 

 

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