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


70. 70

The doors of the dining hall slammed open and Bucky entered, leading a small group of ponies behind him. The room was full of ponies expecting to eat dinner, almost all of which looked very alarmed when the doors burst open.

“Keg Smasher, we have a broken leg here!” Bucky exclaimed. He glared at the occupants of a table and they all skedaddled in a big hurry. It was obvious the pony at arms was in a bad mood and it would be insanity to provoke him further.

Cautiously and carefully, Loch Skimmer was lowered to the table and laid upon it, on her side, the side with the bad leg facing upwards. She whimpered, now full of fear. The dining hall around them began to bustle with activity.

Ripple slid from Rising Star’s back and stood near her sister, silent, panicked, and confused.

“Get rope!” Keg Smasher bellowed. “And fetch Wildflower!”

“What happened?” Derpy asked, catching Bucky by surprise when she approached on his blind side.

“Rising Star, comfort your mare,” Bucky instructed, ignoring Derpy’s question for now. A pegasus had flown back into the hall with rope. “Derpy, I need you to go, take the foals and go,” Bucky pleaded.

“No,” Derpy retorted.

“Look, please don’t argue, this isn’t going to be pretty,” Bucky begged.

“No, we stay together,’ Berry argued. “The foals need to know how the world can be, it will be awful, but it will be better for them in the long run.”

“What she said,” Derpy added.

“What do I do?” Rising Star asked.

Loch Skimmer began to panic and squirm when she saw the rope, and little whimpers of fear spilled from her throat. She kicked a bit, and then shrieked when the rope was set down on the table next to her.

“No!” she cried.

“Just comfort her,” Bucky instructed.

“Tie her down,” Keg Smasher commanded.

Bucky took the rope in his magic and as gently as possible, began securing Loch Skimmer to the table. He secured her three good legs, and then her body.

Rising Star had moved to the head of the table and stood with his nose inches away from Loch Skimmer’s. He stared into her wide panicked eyes. “This will be over in a just a little while, be strong,” he soothed.

“No, please no,” she begged, struggling with her binds.

“This is all my fault,” Sparkler cried. “If I had trusted my mother, my parents, I get the feeling that my mother would have never allowed Loch Skimmer and Ripple to leave. How could I be so stupid?” Sparkler burst into tears, watching her new fellow-wife being tied to a table with the promise of terrible things to come.

Derpy pulled Sparkler in with her wings and hugged her, trying to calm the now sobbing filly. Another body pressed between them, and Sparkler realised it was Ripple. The three held one another, trying to deal with this troubling moment.

Rising Star continued to gaze into Loch Skimmer’s and talking in a low voice to her as the commotion continued all around them.

Berry Punch sat on her haunches a short distance away, Piña one side and Dinky on the other. Sentinel sat with a wing wrapped protectively around Piña.

“Looks like a fairly clean break. See, look, you can see the lumpy area where the break is,” Keg Smasher explained, pointing with a wing as Bucky watched. “Think you can use your magic to pull her leg straight?”

“Magic?” Bucky asked.

“Well, the alternative is we get a section of rope, tie it tight around her fetlock, and give it a good yank,” Keg Smasher replied.

Upon hearing Keg Smasher’s words Loch Skimmer began to wordlessly scream, her panic peaking. She struggled against her bonds, and urine trickled off of the edge of the table.

“Poor lass,” Keg Smasher muttered.

“Her own father did this,” Bucky snarled.

“Is he still alive?” Keg Smasher inquired.

“Yes,” Bucky hissed.

“You let that piece of shite live?” Keg Smasher said, shaking his head.

“Yes,” Bucky growled. “I’m not proud of it.”

“We’ll deal with your failure later,” Keg Smasher grumbled.

Bucky did not reply, but did wonder if he had made a mistake.

“You can feel things with your magic, right?” Keg Smasher asked. “Like touching?”

“Correct,” Bucky replied.

“Good, feel around, press on her skin, see if there feels like any broken off shards of bone. It looks clean but we need to check,” Keg Smasher instructed.

“But that will be agonising,” Bucky protested.

“Aye, it will. She’ll feel it,” Keg Smasher admitted. The pegasus took the end of a rope in his feather tips and gently placed it in Loch Skimmer’s mouth. “Bite down lass,” he said in a shockingly gentle tone, his angry bellowing now replaced with the voice of a concerned father.

Loch Skimmer squealed around the rope and stared into Rising Star’s eyes.

At that moment, both of them experienced the creation of a bond that would endure for the rest of their lives. They did not know it, or understand it, but it was a bond forged in the fires of fear and pain. It was the sort of bond that endured, as Loch Skimmer could clearly see Rising Star’s own pain from watching her. It was a powerful subtle moment, the sort of moment where life changes.

And then, when Bucky applied a little pressure to feel with his magic, the bonding moment was gone and replaced with a different moment.

Loch Skimmer’s howls filled the dining hall.

Bucky probed, trying to feel for splinters or broken off bits. He didn’t feel anything, but he could feel the sharp edges of broken bone just under the skin. He took her whole leg in his magic, applied a gentle pressure, and pulled until the leg was straight. Loch Skimmer’s frantic gagged screams pierced his ears, and he too, without realising it, had a bonding moment, one that would alter his relationship forever with Loch Skimmer, and he had no way of knowing that one day she would treasure him as her father and trust him completely.

For now, in this moment, there was only screaming.

Rising Star gently pressed his snoot against Loch Skimmer’s and murmured words of comfort that could not be heard over the commotion.

Other foals in the room were crying now, and so were many adults. Pain such as this was entirely too common and even with all of the sufferings, there were still so many tender hearts that were so easily wounded.

Bucky carefully twisted the leg until it looked straight, hearing a terrible grinding sound over the screaming as he did so. He felt sick, but dared not allow himself to lose control. Panic rose in his mind, and he crushed it down with his recently found sense of iron will.

“Ah, Wildflower,” Keg Smasher announced.

Bucky turned his head, focusing his left eye on the new arrival. There was a very old unicorn, her mane mostly gone, and patches of her pelt were missing. She had one white milky eye. She had a pony femur as a cutie mark. She teetered along slowly, and it was obvious she was nearly blind as one of the guards led her along.

“Poor dear,” Wildflower said. “I can feel so much pain right now… and from you too… whoever you are.”

Bucky didn’t care about his own pain for a moment.

The old unicorn sat down on her haunches, her spine crackling as she did so, and began to pull stuff out of a battered bag. A large bowl, a metal container, and rolls of gauze.

Water was brought to her, which she placed in the bowl, and she dumped in some white powder. She hummed to herself as she worked, which had an amazing calming effect upon all those around her, and she stirred and mixed the pasty white mixture in the bowl.

She touched Loch Skimmer with her magic, feeling her way around the broken leg, and gently lifted it and held it up in the air.

Loch Skimmer was still bawling with pain.

She dipped the gauzy cloth into the white paste, pushed it around, nodded to herself contentedly, and then began to wrap the white pasty cloth around Loch Skimmer’s leg. She moved quickly, adding more strips of cloth to the bowl, soaking them, and then applying them, and a simple white cast quickly began to form around Loch Skimmer’s leg.

Bucky watched, committing every little detail to his memory, believing this would be a good skill to have.

Eventually, the old mare was done, and the cast was drying.

“I want to go now, I don’t like crowds,” Wildflower announced. “Take me back to my room,” she instructed. She began to pack things back into her bag, leaving the bowl out. It was encrusted with the old plaster of countless casts, and the current damp layer would dry and form another layer of history for the bowl.

Eventually, the elderly mare teetered off with a guard.

Loch Skimmer’s cries were beginning to subside a little, and Bucky loosened the ropes. Rising Star sat down on the floor, leaned on the table, and took Loch Skimmer’s head gently into his forelegs. He kissed her softly just between her ears, and cooed at her that she had done well. A moment later he was joined by Sparkler, and then by Ripple, and the group had an intimate moment of bonding together.

“Come morning, I want her father brought here, to me,” Keg Smasher instructed to one of his guard. “No more of this shite, time for a change,” the big burly pegasus growled. He stomped off to his usual spot at his usual table, sat down, and waited for food.

“We’ll need to construct a sling,” Bucky announced. “Meanwhile, Sparkler, Rising Star, carry her whenever she needs to be moved. Rising Star, you did good.”

The colt straightened from the unexpected praise. “Really? I felt so powerless,” Rising Star confessed.

“You were there for your mare, that is all that matters,” Bucky stated.

Loch Skimmer was panting now, free from the rope, and she laid on the table, not moving much.

“Is she going to be okay?” Derpy asked.

“I think so,” Bucky replied. “How are the foals Berry?” he questioned.

“A little emotional, but they are managing,” Berry reported.

“Good, let’s eat,” Bucky said. “All of us, together. Rising Star, Sparkler, grab Loch Skimmer, let’s go over with Keg Smasher, and you two prop her up. Ripple?”

Ripple looked up at the unicorn addressing her.

“Are you going to be okay?” Bucky asked, reaching out and gently stroking the young filly’s cheek with his fetlock.

“I think so sir,” she sniffled in reply.

Bucky wiped away a few tears and a dribble of snot. At one point in his life, such an act would have sent him into paroxysms of neurosis, but now, he barely paid it any mind. “Squire Sentinel, make sure this one is looked after. She’s been traumatised badly. Make sure she stays comforted,” Bucky instructed.

“Yes sir,” Sentinel replied, snapping out a leathery wing in salute.

“Ripple, you are nothing but bones, when was the last time you’ve eaten?” Bucky asked.

“I had some grass earlier, I ate when I was walking home from here, just before we found out about the trade,” Ripple replied.

“When have you had a meal?” Bucky inquired.

“Been a while,” the filly replied, turning her gaze down to the floor.

The one-eyed unicorn heaved a sigh. “I want you to eat as much as you can tonight, do you understand me?” Bucky asked.

“Yes sir,” Ripple replied meekly.

Bucky watched as his herd gathered around Keg Smasher’s table. It had grown. There were a lot of lives that he was responsible for now, lives he had to protect. Lives he had to live for. Lives he had to improve. Derpy. Berry. Dinky. Piña. Sparkler. Rising Star. Loch Skimmer. Ripple. Sentinel. And probably Thistle at some point. It was a lot to live for.

“Our herd has grown,” Bucky said to Derpy, who was beside him.

“It has,” Derpy agreed.

“How are you taking this?” Bucky whispered.

“Hard,” Derpy admitted.

“Going to be okay?” Bucky queried.

“Eventually,” Derpy answered.

“Berry?” Bucky asked to the mare on his other side.

“What?” Berry replied, watching as food was being brought out.

“How are you holding up?” Bucky asked.

“I am fine,” Berry said. “A little shook up maybe,” she mentioned.

“Berry, they are going to need your help,” Bucky stated.

“I know,” Berry answered. “I’ll sit down with them and help them hammer out some ground rules for making it work. Personally, I think this worked out for the best.”

“How so?” Bucky asked.

“Sparkler wanted a herd. She formed one with members who are going to be very appreciative of being rescued from a bad situation. Going to be a powerful bond there, might even rival ours,” Berry said with a forced sounding chuckle.

Derpy’s ears perked.

“So how does this work?” Bucky asked. “Are we two herds or one herd?”

“One,” Berry replied. “One herd with extended family. One day, they might leave us, but for now, we are one herd.”

“I see,” Bucky quipped.

“The bed is going to be crowded,” Derpy announced.

Bucky nodded and eyed the food being set out upon the table. Tonight was sure to prove interesting.



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