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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Derpy watched as her husband kissed Dinky upon the head, seeing how he lingered, his muzzle pressed to into Dinky’s mane. She could see  the look in his eye. This time, the goodbye was different. Goodbyes had always been the most difficult time for Derpy, knowing that there was a long waiting period of not knowing. But this time, it felt different. Bucky was calm, almost too calm, and didn’t seem reluctant to go at all. Bucky seemed… resigned perhaps, or maybe just accepting. As Derpy stood there, watching, Belisama gave Dinky a hug. The breeze blew Derpy’s mane back. Maybe Belisama was the difference. Bucky had somebirdy with him that he loved and trusted. Little Belisama would be there for him.

Little Belisama, who was already being called the one of the two greatest griffoness queens that had ever lived. Little Belisama, who had bragging rights for giving birth to the ugliest cub ever. Little Belisama, who was armed to the teeth, er, the armed to the beak in this instance.

A painful ache throbbed in Derpy’s pelvis, standing here was getting worse and worse by the second, but Derpy was determined to see this through. She gritted her teeth and smiled as Bucky stood before Sentinel.

“You are in charge, Sentinel. Look after your sisters. Make certain your mothers get any help they might need. Look after Cadance and Luna. When I come home, I want to see a marked improvement in Boadicea and Scootaloo. They will be needed more than ever now, so I want you involved in their training. Do you understand me?”

“Sir, I understand.”

“Good colt.”

The grey mare sighed. Bucky was being a good daddy, as always, giving Sentinel a sense of purpose as well as keeping the colt occupied, so Sentinel would not mope so much during his absence. Derpy felt a stirring in her heart and watched as Bucky moved on to Piña.

The ache was becoming almost unbearable. The longer she stood, the worse it became. It was getting harder to breathe now. The warm tingle of magic wrapped around Derpy’s body, but this wasn’t Bucky’s magic, Derpy could feel the difference. This was full of static, a bit zippy zappy, and Derpy knew it was Lyra’s magic. A pleasant tingle worked its way through Derpy’s body as she was lifted a few inches off of the ground.

“You poor thing,” Lyra whispered into Derpy’s ear. “I’m so sorry I didn’t notice sooner.”

“Piña, you make certain that you help Apple Bloom in any way you can. Keep up with the blood and plasma drive. Earth pony blood is needed more than ever.”

The little pink foal wrapped her forelegs around her father’s neck and Derpy felt a tightness in her throat. Each of her little foals were dutiful in their own way and Derpy felt a sense of pride. The tiny foals were a different issue of course, but not much was expected from them. Derpy’s sensitive ears heard Piña snuffling as she let go.

“Rising Star, there is a lot for you to do. The prosthetic project will be more important now than ever, I suspect that when we come home, there is going to be a high demand for replacement limbs. Keep cracking on the mechanical fingers for ponies. And whatever you do, do not neglect your family. Try to find a balance.”

“Yes, Bucky, I understand.”

“Ripple, work with Sentinel. You are also being assigned to look after Bittersweet. She is very precious to me. See that she remains well guarded.”

“Daddy, you’re very silly.”

“But I am being serious… out of all you nincompoops, I don’t have to worry about Bittersweet flaking out or acting like a spaz, Bittersweet is the reliable one.”

“Hey!”

“Hey yourself, Loch Skimmer.”

Unable to stop herself, Derpy began to laugh. Ripple’s expression was priceless, Loch Skimmer was giving Bucky a sour look, and Sparkler was going to strain something with how she was rolling her eyes. She watched as Bucky ignored all of them and kissed Bittersweet upon the cheek. Bittersweet returned the kiss, and patted Bucky with her ears as she did so. It was an endearing sight to witness, and Derpy felt better for having seen it.

Bucky had moved on to Thistle, and Derpy turned her head just in time to see a tender kiss between the two. Thistle had a done a lot of growing up, in both the emotional and physical sense. She hadn’t grown much taller, but she had filled out quite a bit. Thistle leaned forwards and whispered something into Bucky’s ear that Derpy could not hear, but whatever it was, it made Bucky smile.

Bon Bon was next, Bucky gave her a quick peck, but Bon Bon seemed unsatisfied. She gave him a warm lingering kiss, pressing her muzzle against the corner of his mouth, and holding herself in place there with her eyes closed. There was a long hug, and then Derpy watched as Bucky rubbed himself along Bon Bon’s side until his head came to rest against the sides of Bon Bon’s stomach, his ear pressed into her soft flesh.

Then came Lyra. Neck to neck, the two of them hugged one another and Derpy felt her heart warm. Lyra, who had always been a bit shy, a bit reserved, and a bit skittish was now quick to return affection. Lyra had let go a bit and trusted her herdmates.

“Bucky, don’t do anything stupid,” Lyra said as she stared into Bucky’s eyes.

“Lyra, I’ll do what I can to play this one safe,” Bucky replied.

“I’m in the mood to do something stupid, it is a real pity that you are leaving, Bucky.”

“Berry Punch, the soul of wit.”

Grinning, Berry Punch grabbed Bucky around the neck with her foreleg and hauled him in for a wet, sloppy kiss. Derpy had been wondering what mood Berry would be in for this goodbye, depressive, moody, or happy. The earth pony was giving Bucky quite a sendoff.

There was an odd feeling shyness as Bucky approached. Derpy felt her heart going pitter-pat inside of her barrel. She batted her eyelashes at her husband and gave him a coy look. “You saved the best for last, I see.”

“Of course,” Bucky replied as he bumped snoots with Derpy.

“As alpha, it is my duty to make sure that the herd gets their needs looked after before my own… I will see to them while you are gone, Bucky. Just come back to us, okay?” Derpy could feel Bucky’s lips brush up against her own as she spoke, and then, just as she was getting ready to say something else, she was cut off by a searing, smouldering kiss that could make a mare weak in the knees. It was a good thing that Lyra was still holding her up. She lifted both front hooves, wrapped them around Bucky’s neck, and put some passion into her efforts. She wanted Bucky to come home, and she gave him a taste of what was waiting for him when he did.

“Eeew… gross… but also kinda sweet I suppose,” Piña said, not sure how to feel about what she was seeing. “Drool everywhere. Yuck!” The pink foal stuck her tongue out and shook her head.

When Derpy pulled away from Bucky, she noticed Belisama looking up at her. Reaching out, Derpy grabbed Belisama, lifting her up, and gave her a squeeze. “Keep him safe if you can.”

“If anything comes too close I’ll take their heads off, I promise,” Belisama replied. “I won’t leave his side… he’ll stay out of danger to keep me out of danger.”

“Hey! That’s dirty pool!”

“Tough luck.” Derpy eyed her husband for a moment and then looked Belisama in the eye. “Come back to us. We need you. I love you bunches, Belisama. You’re one of my best friends.”

Belisama pressed the side of her face against Derpy’s, the closest the griffoness could come to a kiss. The pair held each other for a long moment, until Belisama let go and then Derpy let her drop to the ground.

“Goodbye,” Derpy said to both Bucky and Belisama. “We’ll be right here, waiting on both of you. Come back to us…”

 

 

Wrapping her forelegs around Bon Bon’s sturdy neck, Derpy watched as the fleet grew smaller in the distance, her vision blurry from tears, her one good eye straining to focus on the smallest ship in the fleet.

“Barley, hold me,” Luna said as she began to sniffle.

Saying nothing, Barley lifted Luna with his magic and placed her upon his back. She wrapped her forelegs around his neck and buried her face into her mane. He stared at the departing fleet, wondering how many of them would return in one piece, or would even return at all.

“I had no idea that this would hurt this much,” Luna mumbled, her muzzle buried in Barley’s iron grey mane and her eyes squeezed shut. “I cannot bear this. To think of the pain I caused all of you by taking him away from you… I am so sorry.”

“Luna, lass, hush… it’s okay.” A pained expression caused Barley’s face to wrinkle. “This is just one of those things that ponies have to deal with.”

Berry shuffled a little closer to her uncle, sidestepping, and stretching out her neck, she gave Luna a reassuring nuzzle. “Luna, it will be okay. It’s hard to watch him go, but we’ve all come to understand and accept that he has things that he has to do. All we can do now is watch over what we know is important to him and wait for his return.”

“Bye bye,” Cadance said, waving with one tiny hoof, standing beside Loki and Gormlaith. “Cold.”

“Yes, we should get inside,” Barley said, looking down at Cadance. He scooped up Cadance in his magic, then Sukari, and then Harper. He took off, his joints creaking, and cast one final glance at the fleet as it departed.

“I think I’ll stay until I can’t see them anymore,” Derpy said as Barley headed for the house. “You can just leave me. I’ll be fine.”

“We’re staying,” Lyra replied, still holding up Derpy up. Lyra stood next to Bon Bon, her face now anxious and full of worry. “You know, something tells me if Derpy could fly well enough, she’d be following after the fleet.”

“Yep.”

“The hardest part is the waiting,” Thistle said as she scooted closer to Bon Bon and pressed up against the earth pony’s side. “But at least I can wait with all of you. We’re in this together.”

“I couldn’t think of a better group of ponies to wait this out with.” Berry Punch said as she pressed up against Thistle and gave the kelpie a cutie mark bump. “Piña, you holding up okay?”

“I’m fine,” Piña replied as she leaned on Sentinel. She closed her eyes and pressed her face into Sentinel’s neck and focused on her breathing, determined to be a big filly and not cry this time.

On the other side of Sentinel, Dinky lost her struggle and the tears began to slip down her cheeks. She kept her head held high, watching as the fleet grew smaller and smaller. Dinky didn’t feel very grown up at the moment, she wanted to cry out for her mama and bawl like a little foal. But she stood, resolute, her head up, feeling a fierce sense of pride for her father, her mother Belisama, and all of the others putting themselves at risk. Somepony had to go and fight wars so that others could stay safe at home.

“We have to hold ourselves together… tonight there is going to be a special gathering in the mead hall and Odin is going to honour those who have left home. There’ll be some music and some inspiring stories. There are a lot of very frightened griffons who need us,” Bon Bon said. She stood in the middle of all the others, like a rock for the rest of her fellow-wives to lean upon.

“Each one of us must play our parts,” Sentinel said, turning away from the fleet so he could look at his mothers. “I’m going to take Dinky and Piña inside. They’re shivering and cold and I think both of them could use some hot cocoa.”

Turning to look at Bon Bon, Lyra nodded. “That’s a good idea… the hot cocoa… once the fleet is gone, I think we should do the same…”

 

 

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