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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Watching as The Scorned Mare was being loaded, Piña Colada felt a thought nagging at the back of her mind. Food was being loaded into the ship, whole crates of it, not just for ponies, but for griffons as well. Piña sighed and watched her breath drift away from her as tendrils of steam in the cold winter air. She looked up at Thistle, who was also watching.

“Thistle, is there enough fish in the lake to feed all of the griffons?” Piña asked.

The kelpie, who seemed surprised by Piña’s question, turned to look at the curious foal. “No Piña, not at the moment. I’ll need to farm more fish but even then, it is going to be troublesome. Bucky had to order frozen fish from other places.”

“And there is only a few griffons now.” Piña’s brow furrowed and turned to watch as a large crate was being loaded. “Thistle, what happens when the griffons increase in number again? What if they become like us ponies now that they are peaceful? And the diamond dogs? And the meat eating minotaurs? Where will they get enough food? In school, we talked about how growing food in the clouds will fix the problem with world hunger, but how do we keep them from going hungry? If they become like us, have large numbers, how do we feed them?”

“I don’t know,” Thistle replied, feeling a bit unsettled by Piña’s inquiry.

“I know the griffons eat dumb animals… it bothers me but I know they have to eat something, but what do we do when there are millions of griffons like there are millions of ponies in the world, how do we have enough animals and fish for them to eat? I know that some of the griffons can eat other stuff, but then there are griffons who are like you and eating other stuff makes them sick. You have to eat several pounds of fish in a single meal. How do we feed everyone that isn’t a pony?” Piña asked, becoming quite animated as her mind began racing, filling up with all kinds of thoughts on the subject.

The kelpie shook her head. “I don’t know, Piña, I don’t know.”

 

 

“I’ve never seen Bucky like this,” Derpy said as she settled onto the sofa so she could watch out the window. “It kinda worries me. He’s too calm lately.”

Berry Punch, sitting on the sofa and also watching out the window, nodded. She heard a sigh of relief from Derpy as the big grey mare got comfortable, followed by lots of heavy breathing. There was a lot of heavy breathing as of late, from both mares. The twins were big, the twins were heavy, and the twins were healthy.

“Spring can’t come soon enough,” Derpy said as she rolled over onto her side and then rested her head upon Berry’s ribs. “Berry, do you have troubles breathing?”

“Sometimes,” Berry replied as she watched the griffons loading crates onto The Scorned Mare.

“I can’t even fart right,” Derpy said, complaining just because she could. “I feel backed up and stopped up all the time. When it finally does come out, it feels soooo good.”

“Fart?” Harper asked, looking up at the pregnant mares upon the sofa. She began rearranging her letter blocks upon the floor and then pointed down at them with a proud look.

Looking away from the window, Berry Punch looked down at Harper’s blocks, not certain what she might see, and was shocked by what she saw. “FERT.” There it was. Plain as daylight. Berry felt a quiet sense of awe. “Harper… you know how to spell already?” Berry watched as Harper’s brow furrowed.

“Sentinel show letters. Letters talk. Letters make letters.” Harper shrugged and stared down at her blocks. “What words why happen.”

Confused, Berry Punch had no idea what Harper was trying to say, but she began to understand that Harper was smart. Sentinel had been spending a lot of time with his little sisters, trying to get them to repeat stuff on flash cards. It was for the most part, amusing, something that everypony laughed at, but Berry wasn’t certain it was funny anymore. Sentinel’s endless effort and hard work now had results.

“Harper, has Sentinel taught you how to spell your name?” Berry asked. She watched as Harper got to work, sorting her blocks out and rearranging them into a word. She was slow, her movements were careful, and then after a few minutes, Harper pointed down at her blocks. Berry Punch felt Derpy gasp.

Hrapr.

It was close enough. Berry Punch’s ears perked forwards. “Can you spell your mama Lyra’s name?” Berry waited as there was no response from Harper other than an intense look of concentration.

After a moment, Harper’s expression became quite serious. “Sentinel no show what Lyra…” The foal went to work, trying to sort her blocks out as she said the word “Lyra” over and over. “Laa la laa la,” Harper said, trying to sound out the beginning of the word.

“Keep going…” Derpy rolled over just a bit, angling her head so she could see better.

“Lyra?” Harper asked, pointing at her blocks, which spelled out the word “Lira.” Harper sat up straight and looked at her mothers. “Suki whats out letters too. Suki smart.”

“We need to have a talk with Sentinel,” Berry Punch said to Derpy.

 

 

On the deck of The Scorned Mare Odin watched as the cargo was being loaded, sitting on top of a sack of oats that were piled in a bin. Beside him sat several of the Raptors, along with one little blue griffoness named Gormlaith, whom Odin had grown quite fond of.

A short distance away, several griffons and a large minotaur worked to bolt a large cannon to the deck of The Scorned Mare. It was an odd looking device, with a large tank that had a stirling engine mounted on top. The barrel was made out of brass and there were gauges, dials, and indicators mounted on a display. Hoses and tubing were scattered all around, making a huge mess.

“We need to mount the air compression tank below decks somewhere and run a line to feed the compressed air cannon,” one griffon said to another.

“Yeah,” another agreed, speaking to the griffon holding a big wrench. “If the compressed air tank gets shot, there will be a big gooey kablooey.”

“Gooey kablooey bad!” the griffon holding the big wrench said, shaking his head. He looked at a smudged, dirty looking tiny griffoness that was covered in black grease. “I have an idea where we can put the compressed air tank. I’m going to need you to crawl through the ductwork so we can feed the lines from the main tank to the firing tank on the cannon.”

“Aye aye,” the griffoness said, raising a wing in a smart salute.

“There will be no gooey kablooey,” Odin said in a commanding voice, turning his head to look at the engineers mounting the cannon. “And make certain the compressed air tank and the air compressor are in an easily accessible place in the event of an emergency.”

Spanner came out of the door leading belowdecks, walking on three legs, using his right talons to secure a long heavy torque wrench over his back. He crossed the deck, getting out of the way of the cargo being placed on deck and the many ponies as well as griffons moving about.

“Lugnut sent me up here to tell you that the new turbine engine should produce about thirty percent more power. It is not the fifty percent increase that was demanded, but this is as good as it gets. You can only fit so big of an engine in a ship this size and we’re getting as much electricity as we can get out of the turbine that will fit. If we had more time, Lugnut and I could keep working on the new neodymium magnet designs for the electric motor. It would mean a smaller motor with more power.” The griffon looked annoyed and a bit frustrated.  

“Spanner, thirty percent will just have to do,” the griffon holding a big wrench said. “I think our king gives us impossible numbers to reach so that when we hit reasonable numbers, we look like miracle workers and we feel good about our jobs.”

“Maybe,” Spanner said, setting his massive torque wrench down. “Here, I got word that this was needed on deck.” He tossed down a bag of socket heads onto the deck beside the wrench and they landed with a metallic clunk.

“Lugnut’s compressed air cannon is a marvelous design,” Odin said, turning to look at Spanner.

The griffon squirmed and then reached up to smooth out his feathers. “Lugnut’s compressed air cannon was impractical and worthless. It didn’t generate enough power to launch any sort of projectile in a meaningful way until we realised it was ideal for launching glass orbs filled with spells.”

“But the idea was sound… you had just not yet discovered the ideal source of ammunition.” Odin leaned forward, his gaze becoming stern. “Sometimes, we have ideas before the world is ready for them. We must follow through with these ideas, so that way, when the world is ready, we can use them. Keep inventing.”

Bowing his head, Spanner nodded.

 

 

“Oh wow, that’s big,” Dinky said, craning her head to look skyward as an airship drifted down, pulled along and aided by lunar pegasi in heavy armor. Her smoking cap tilted back upon her head and her blonde mane spilled out from beneath it.

Several foals from the school were also outside, looking up as the massive airship was being brought down to the ground so it could be tethered. The airship was an awe inspiring sight, but it was not a warship. The white ship was a hospital frigate, the largest ever built, the hull stretching over four hundred feet in length, making it even larger than many of the current generation battleships and dreadnaughts.

Sol Sempiternus sent a message, and that message was hope. It was a flying hospital, meant to wage war on disease, on injury, a combatant that battled against death. Over four hundred feet in length from stern to bow, and over six stories tall in the middle. The hull was a gleaming, almost blinding white. The gasbag, a new aluminum design, was almost fifteen hundred feet long. It was long, sleek, and silver coloured. The ship had been built by Equestria and the Sea of Grass as part of the new spirit of cooperation between the two empires.

“How does that even stay up in the air?” Dinky asked. She watched as other airships began to drift closer to the farm, but those did not descend. The other ships were warships and more than a few were dreadnaughts. One ship in the fleet looked as though it might have been even larger than the Sol Sempiternus, but it was far away so it was hard to tell.

“This is the reason why Equestria is a major world power,” Sentinel said, looking upwards at the airships as they drifted closer. “There is enough firepower up there to scrub a city off of the map.”

“I like the hospital ship,” Dinky said, turning to look at her brother.

“Would you like to see it up close?” Sentinel asked.

“How?” Dinky blinked at her brother, hoping that there would be a way.

“I can carry you up there,” Sentinel replied, noticing his sister’s excitement.

Dinky bit her lip for a moment, she wasn’t too fond of flying, but she wanted a chance to stand on the deck of that ship more than anything. “Can you really get us up there without any trouble?”

“Yeah, I think so.” Sentinel peered upwards at the ship as it was tugged downwards. “They’re going to be loading some hospital supplies from Ponyville and a bunch of ponies are volunteering as helpers. They could probably use a hoof from somepony with experience in command. If you stuck with me and stayed out of the way, I could take you with me.”

Without a word, Dinky lept up onto Sentinel’s back and wrapped her forelegs around his neck. She squeezed her eyes shut and said, “Okay, I’m ready.”

Sentinel needed a running start with the extra weight, but he managed to get airborne without too much trouble. He flapped, gaining altitude, and felt Dinky squeeze even tighter. He circled, gaining altitude in a spiral, and then leveled out so he could approach the deck. As he came in for a landing, he saw a familiar figure, and he hoped that he looked presentable.

Flapping Sentinel came in for a gentle landing beside Princess Celestia, who stood near the bow of the ship. His landing wasn’t quite perfect due to the extra weight on his back, and he skidded a bit as he came to a screeching halt. Dinky’s embrace grew even tighter and he heard her whimper.

“Ensign Sentinel, how are you?” Princess Celestia asked, a sunny smile upon her happy face. “Dinky, are you well? Did you have a nice flight?”

Dinky sucked in a deep breath, held it, and tried to still her thumping heart. She opened her eyes, looked around, and relaxing a little, she began to loosen her grip upon her brother.

“Princess, I am reporting for duty. How might I be of service?” Sentinel asked, trying to offer the required salute while Dinky clung to him.

“Well, I can think of a few ways that you might be helpful Sentinel… as for you Dinky, I do believe that Tourmaline could use somepony to keep her company. She is belowdecks,” Princess Celestia replied.

“Princess Celestia, are you… are you going to war?” Sentinel looked up at the regal looking white alicorn, a look of stunned disbelief upon his face.

“Ensign Sentinel, I qualify as a nurse and I am skilled in medicine. Every available pony that can help is needed. And we both know that Tourmaline is a skilled healer. She is needed.”

“But… but… but who is looking after Equestria?” Sentinel asked, his voice becoming a shrill squeak from his nervousness. “I mean, I know Princess Luna is here, but she is little…”

“Emperor Shining Armor is quite capable of ruling in my absence, along with King Tannis and Queen Agnetha.” Princess Celestia’s smile broadened. “Plus, I know that I have you here, looking after everything for me.”

Sentinel began to cough and splutter. As Dinky slipped down from his back, she whacked him on his withers to help him get to breathing again. She straightened out her hat with her magic, gave her brother another whack, and then looked up at Celestia, who looked like she was about to say something.

“I shall take you to see Tourmaline, follow me…”

 

 

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