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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The dining hall was packed with ponies as the group entered, and Bucky was immediately approached by Keg Smasher. The room was filled with the sounds of happiness and laughter echoed up to the rafters.

“What is going on?” Bucky asked, looking at Keg Smasher, and still feeling more than a little resentment.

“New foal has been born. Unicorn. The family is being moved to the castle to keep them safe. That night when the wolves attacked us, the way they went after you… I am worried they will go after the foal. I’ve been on patrol several times since that night and nary a peep from those damnable monstrosities. They avoid us,” Keg Smasher explained.

Derpy was already gone to look at the new foal, taking the others with her. She and Keg Smasher were not on speaking terms, and the grey mare made it known that she generally despised the pegasus laird. This left Bucky by himself with Keg Smasher.

“So the wolves go after unicorns you think,” Bucky asked.

“Seems that way. It is what my gut tells me… look, I wanna talk to you for a moment, I have something that needs saying,” Keg Smasher said to Bucky as he reached out a wing and rubbed an ear.

“I’m listening,” Bucky answered, assuming a defensive posture that was almost pegasus-like, a near copy of how Derpy might of reacted. All he lacked were the wings.

“I want to apologise… really, I did a bad thing and I see that now,” Keg Smasher confessed.

“Look, I know what my wife did, and if you are trying to humour me, Princess Celestia help you because she will thrash you again if you upset me,” Bucky warned.

“I ain’t trying to humour you,” Keg Smasher returned. “I really do feel bad. Yon grey mare was right. I wanted all those who saw what happened to be afraid of you… they’re already afraid of me and I didn’t want to make it worse. I didn’t want to deal with the fallout from the lashing myself, because I have plenty of other things to answer for. I heard about what it did to you, and I was wrong to force your hoof on the issue. I made an error in judgment. I screwed up. I stepped in the horseapples,” he explained.

“I accept your apology,” Bucky said in a soft voice.

The big and burly pegasus heaved a sigh of relief and looked down at the floor. “I wonder sometimes if I am fit to lead now… things are changing. We need to do more than just survive, we need to move into the future. So much needs to change. Sometimes I ain’t sure if I am the one to do it. Making the mistake like I made with you doesn’t sit well with me. Fills me with doubt. I understand that a message had to be delivered, but I chose the wrong messenger, and that reflects poorly on me,” Keg Smasher confessed as he kicked at a bit of straw on the grey stone floor.

“I forgive you,” Bucky stated as he sat down on the stone tile.

“Thank you… I mean it, coming from you that means something,” Keg Smasher replied as he took a seat himself.

“So you think the wolves are targeting unicorns?” Bucky asked.

“I do. That night went we went out, the wolves came at us and they came at us hard. They wanted you. I’ve never seen anything like that. Usually, the wolves avoid the patrols, but sometimes we catch them out in the open and get a good fight started. We kill a few. Mostly, the wolves avoid the patrol though. It bothers me how canny they were that night. Too damn smart for rough beasts. What they did was outside the normal scope of intelligence for their kind, whatever in Tartarus they are, ye ken?” Keg Smasher said in a low voice, speaking to Bucky and trying not to disrupt the ponies celebrating in the room.

“So what are you saying? Are you saying that something is controlling them Keg Smasher?” Bucky questioned, his tone quizzical.

“Aye, you believe me, I can hear it in your voice. Most of my advisors think I’ve gone barmy and paranoid,” Keg Smasher replied in relief. “I am a lot of things, and I might be a little bit crazy, but I have lived as long as I have for a reason.”

“I am inclined to agree with you. I shall have to spend some time assessing this idea,” Bucky said to the pegasus. “Also, I have a new weapon in the war on the wolves. Lyra Heartstrings. She can make music that counters the fear effect. It also counters the heat leaching. The terrible cold at night is caused by the wolves howling. That’s why the fires give no heat,” Bucky explained.

Keg Smasher grunted. “Of course, why didn’t I think of that, seems so obvious now,” the pegasus growled.

“Keeping everypony in a state of fear, wearing down their minds, their will, keeping them from a good rest, I think some of the ponies behave the way they do because of the effects of the fear spell and all that goes with it,” Bucky explained.

“That makes some sense,” Keg Smasher admitted.

“Lyra is an extremely clever pony… who is also now one of my wives,” Bucky mentioned as he shook his head. “She and Bon Bon came so far just to be with my family.”

“A stallion is only as good as the wives he has supporting him,” Keg Smasher said sagely. “At least that is what I believe. Most round here only see mares as a source of extra labour or a resource.”

“That needs to change,” Bucky quipped.

“Aye,” Keg Smasher replied. “You have a small army of mares now, ye mind me asking how it feels? Celestia told me a bit about you, and how you used to be, seems to me you’ve changed.”

“I have,” Bucky confessed. “I draw my strength from them. All of them. All of them have something I am missing, something I need. All of them are somepony I can go to for different things. All of them want different things from me. All of me is appreciated, if not by one, then by another.”

“As it should be,” Keg Smasher agreed. “I need to go… do me a favour, when you get back to the mainland, do what you can to restore herds. Equestria is going to need them.” The pegasus rose, bowed his head slightly, and then departed out the door, several of his guard following him.

Bucky sat in silence, pondering the pegasus’ words.

 

 

The room was warm. Almost too warm. The ponies in the bed sleeping had no blankets and had sprawled out comfortably in peaceful slumber. The howling could not be heard at all, and Lyra was enjoying her victory against the wolves immensely.

The same could not be said about her chess game with Bon Bon. The unicorn could not bear another loss. She stared down the board and scratched the back of her head with her forehoof.

“How?” Lyra protested in a whisper.

Bon Bon did not reply but gave Lyra a smug look.

Sentinel studied the board, still trying to learn the game. His head was cocked to the side, and his wide eyes reflected the firelight. His thinking was interrupted when Bon Bon snatched him up suddenly to snuggle him.

“Urf!” Sentinel gasped as the earth pony squeezed him.

“You’re so squeezable,” Bon Bon whispered. “Your coat is so long and soft and shaggy… it isn’t like ours at all. And you are so warm,” Bon Bon gushed.

“Glad to be of service milady,” Sentinel said as he struggled to breathe. “I am glad I have the privilege of protecting you from the cold.”

“And so polite, nopony has ever called me ‘milady’ before,” Bon Bon said as she rubbed her cheek up against Sentinel’s tufted ear.

“I am Buckminster’s squire, a failure in my social graces would reflect poorly upon him and I would be shamed,” Sentinel explained as he was being snuggled to within an inch of his life by an overly affectionate earth pony.

“Oh I am going to like having you as a son,” Bon Bon admitted in a low squeak. The mare lifted her head away for a moment, looked down at the colt foal in her forelegs, and then kissed him in between his ears.

Lyra watched her long time mate squeeze the foal and felt a stirring in her heart. They had long discussed having foals but nothing had ever come from it. Now, they were the mothers of several foals, and Lyra felt a strange feeling of contentedness that she had never felt before. Seeing Bon Bon happy made Lyra happy in a way she had never experienced.

“Bonnie?” Lyra asked.

“Yes Lyra?” Bon Bon replied, still snuggling Sentinel.

“Who gets to be first?” Lyra asked.

“What do you mean?” Bon Bon replied in a confused whisper.

“To be pregnant. When we have foals. Because I think I’ve changed my mind. I think I’d like to see what it is like,” Lyra explained in a low voice. “I am still scared about what pregnancy might do to my mental state, but I am surrounded by family now, so no matter what happens, I know I will be looked after. I think I feel safe.”

Sentinel felt something wet splash on his ears. He angled his head upwards, saw Bon Bon’s eyes glistening in the firelight, then, even as he watched, a tear formed, rolled down her cheek, and then splashed on his snoot. He reached up slowly and wiped Bon Bon’s face with the side of his fetlock. A second later, all of the air whooshed out of his lungs as the mare squeezed him in thanks for the touching gesture.

“There is no reason why we can’t do it together,” Bon Bon whispered. “Like we’ve done everything else. We started this journey together, we’ll do this together, everything will be okay,” Bon Bon promised.

“Who will take care of us?” Lyra asked. “If were both pregnant, how will we take care of one another?”

“We’ll have to depend on others to look after us if it comes to that Lyra,” Bon Bon replied.

“I will aid you, you need not even ask,” Sentinel offered.

“See Lyra? We have this adorable colt to look after us,” Bon Bon declared in a soft whisper. The peat bale in the fireplace popped and crackled and Bon Bon rocked Sentinel back and forth in her forelegs. “How late do you think it is?” the mare asked.

“I’d say about three o’clock or so. Look at them, slumbering so peacefully,” Lyra answered. “It feels good to be useful,” the unicorn added.

“It sure does,” Sentinel agreed, resting his head against Bon Bon’s neck.

“I guess we’ll wait for breakfast and then go to bed for a while. Wake up, have lunch, spend a little family time if possible, and then get more sleep so we can pull an all nighter again?” Bon Bon asked.

“That is the plan Bonnie,” Lyra replied. “I am taking back the night.”

“I will stay with you,” Sentinel offered.

“What if Bucky needs you during the day?” Bon Bon queried.

“Then I will do my duties as expected before returning to bed,” Sentinel replied, still content to be held by the earth pony.

“Such a serious young colt,” Lyra stated.

“And adorable! Look at those tufted ears,” Bon Bon said in a rather loud whisper which earned her a scowl from Lyra. The mare quieted but shuddered from her barely contained emotions and feelings of adoration.

Sentinel sighed, resigning himself to be treated like a foal. Derpy did it too. So did Berry on occasion. He hoped that at some point, these mares would understand that he wasn’t adorable, he was scary. But for now, he supposed he had to be patient. He was a horrifying terror in the night, a fearsome predatory beast, and a squire to a proud and noble knight. He really hoped that someday, hopefully someday soon, these mares would stop nattering on about his tufted ears and how snuggly he was. It did feel nice to be cradled in the mare’s forelegs though, to be warm, sheltered, and secure.

“It is funny Bonnie, as miserable as this place is, this is the happiest I’ve been in quite some time. Our journey, joining the herd, finding purpose. I am finally doing something that matters Bonnie. I don’t know how to feel and it scares me,” Lyra admitted, the firelight reflecting in her golden eyes and making them glitter.  

“Lyra Heartstrings, everypony needs purpose. Bucky had to learn that lesson and it seems you do as well,” Bon Bon replied.

“You are Bucky’s bard,” Sentinel quipped. “He has a faithful squire, but a knight needs a devoted bard,” the lunar pegasus foal explained.

“I can be a bard,” Lyra announced. “I like the sounds of that,” she added.

“He is going to need more than a bard,” Bon Bon said. “I suspect that the time is coming where Bucky is going to go to battle for us, he is going to need you Lyra, he is going to need your strength.”

“I have no strength without you,” Lyra admitted, following Bon Bon’s policy of total honesty.

“Oh, I intend to be there with you,” Bon Bon said. “I am a cuss headed lass and I am spoiling for a good fight.”

 

 

 

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