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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Eyes watering, Derpy pulled Lyra Heartstrings a little closer, her lower lip almost, but not quite, quivering from emotions being held back. The waiting was the worst. The many long hours that had to pass until Bucky came home. Derpy was miserable and it showed.

Lyra Heartstrings, who was becoming the patient sort, due in no small part to motherhood, allowed herself to be held and be a source of comfort for the distraught grey mare. There was no longer a pressing need to squirm away, there was no longer any anxiety when she was being held close, there was no longer any fear, worry, or doubt.

That was, perhaps, the greatest gift given from motherhood. Lyra didn’t mind being grabbed now by some foal. Her muscles didn’t all clutch up from panic, causing pain. Lyra wasn’t bothered by a face full of oatmeal or any number of other things of the same vein happening. Lyra was now quite blasé about a good number of things that just a year ago would have pushed her over the edge and left her a panicked mess. Lyra had become quite good natured and laid back.

Sliding her head over, Lyra touched her lips to Derpy’s cheek, pressing them tight, and then leaving them to linger for a moment, knowing that little moments of intense physical affection were just what Derpy needed to snap her out of her funk, even for just a moment.

After a moment, Derpy responded, letting out a faint wickering sound, and pulling Lyra closer. The nesting pegasus was a creature ruled by instincts and the unicorn was a creature ruled by emotion. Lyra was kept safe in a fortress of grey fluff and Derpy got to feel protective.

The door to the bedroom opened, causing Derpy to lift her head, her amber eyes now wide, her ears pitched forwards, her tail swishing over the quilt. There was a faint flaring of Derpy’s nostrils, and then a smile spread over the grey mare’s face.

“Sentinel… are you just getting back? How is Apple Bloom?” Derpy watched as Sentinel lept up into the bed and then flopped down near Lyra.

“Apple Bloom is doing okay I think. We helped her write death notices and get all of the letters prepared. Dinky and Piña are going to be spending the night over at the Apple household, I was asked to give you that message,” Sentinel replied.

“So where have you been? You’re home a little late.” Lyra, held tight in Derpy’s embrace, looked at the colt she called her son, her orange-gold eyes glittering with curious delight.

“My nose was needed.” Sentinel’s sides expanded as he drew in a deep breath. “I got to witness a powerful act of forgiveness. I plan to write about it.”

“What happened?” Derpy asked.

Sentinel’s eyes closed as he reflected upon everything that had taken place, his ears drooped somewhat, and he adjusted his glasses with his thumb and central knuckle upon his right wing. “One of the refugees living in one of the little gourd houses… he’s kinda young. He’s been stealing produce… vegetables and such. It’s a crime that carries a harsh penalty.”

Lyra, hearing that Sentinel had fallen silent, waited for what felt like a half a minute, and then, with growing impatience, said to Sentinel, “Well, go on.”

“Sorry, I was thinking.” Sentinel shook his head. “This colt is living with a very nice filly. They’ve taken up residence together. She’s pregnant and he’s looking after her. The foal in her belly isn’t his, but that hasn’t stopped him from being good to her. He works any job he can get to make the bits they need, but it isn’t enough and she stays hungry. They were too proud to ask for help, and she didn’t know that he was stealing.”

“Oh. I see.” Lyra twisted her head around to catch a sidelong glimpse of Derpy.

“Anyway, everypony involved was rather good about this. Roma, she’s a good mare. When she found out the circumstances, she refused to press charges, but she demanded compensation. I got called upon to do my duty as a squire, which was nice,” Sentinel said.

“Duty as a squire?” Derpy lowered her head and rested it down upon Lyra’s neck.

“A tradition from the old times. Not a law so much as it is a tradition. I know about it from books, and somehow, Roma knew about it, and both Blossomforth and Raindrops agreed, and I was asked to dispense justice.” Sentinel’s eyes narrowed. “I was unsure of what to do. But we all sat down and discussed the matter.”

“So what happened?” Lyra asked.

“Well, we all agreed that taking away the filly’s primary caregiver was a bad idea. She’s having a rough pregnancy too, having to deal with low blood iron, a bit of anemia, and there is the whole not enough food thing. Jailing the colt seemed cruel and out of the question. Roma didn’t want that on her conscience.” Sentinel shook his head. “Roma was quite upset, but not about the stealing.”

“There are a lot of ponies with needs right now.” Derpy patted Lyra and she closed her bad eye so she could focus on Sentinel with her good eye.

“The colt agreed to spend the next year working for Roma as hired help, with fair enough wages considering the penalty involved and extra food as part of those wages.” Sentinel looked at his mothers. “Everypony got what they wanted out of the situation. It made me feel really good that I had a part in it. It also made me wish that this would happen more often, this was the ideal outcome to the problem, addressing the cause and smoothing everything over without cruelty or a feeling that justice had not been committed.”

“Sadly, perfect solutions rarely happen. You were lucky today, Sentinel. I would not expect this to happen every time you encounter this problem,” Lyra said in a soft, pained voice. “Even though this is how the problem should be fixed. A lot of ponies are petty and would have wanted that colt tried to the fullest extent of the law, and they would not have given a second thought to the needs of that poor filly.”

“I keep thinking about it. The law I mean. I don’t know how I feel about all of this. On one hoof, I feel good about what happened, but on the other hoof, I feel unsettled because I know how the world really is, and these kinds of happy outcomes are not what I can expect. It makes me sad,” Sentinel said.

“I’m sorry, Sentinel.” Derpy looked at her son, feeling a fierce sense of pride.

“Bucky says the law is useless… that good ponies don’t need them and bad ponies don’t follow them anyway.” Lyra offered Sentinel a sage smile. “You should talk to your father about it when he comes home.”

Sentinel nodded. “I think I will.”

 

 

The sun would be rising soon and the night had been long and cold. It was a night of ritualistic discipline, part of a long standing tradition stretching back to a time long forgotten, an ancient practice preserved through the ages.

A night blue figure stepped before a gathering of grim looking guards, approaching a pale white figure that had been required to stand guard over an apple throughout the night. The apple was not important, it was useless, which was the point. This was ceremony that was about to become theatre.

Seeing the night blue figure approaching, North Star snapped to a perfect state of attention, eyes forward, wings folded in a perfect manner, his lips pressed into a regulation straight line, ears forward.

“Your Mistress is most displeased with you,” Luna said in a soft, almost hissing voice.

“Forgive me, Mistress—”

“Did I say that you could speak, you insignificant wretch?” Luna’s wing whipped out, slapped the much larger lunar pegasus across the muzzle, and the night’s silence was split by a whip-crack sound. “You have disappointed me… failed me.” Luna’s eyes narrowed.

North Star did not reply. He did not acknowledge the slap across his muzzle. He did not move. He was a statue, a flesh creature that could be mistaken for pale white marble.

“You have another Mistress!” Luna screeched. She brought herself to her full height and in a low, growling voice, Luna gave the command, “Grovel!”

North Star dropped to the deck, prostrate upon his belly, his head pressed down to the wood of the deck. He snaked out his neck and kissed one of his Mistress’ silver shod hooves.

A faint, difficult to see smile crept over Luna’s muzzle. She lifted her kissed hoof, raised it high, and then bought it down upon North Star’s neck, applying light pressure. “Traitor… do you have anything to say in your defense before I have you drawn and quartered?”

“Mistress, please forgive me,” North Star said in a low, submissive voice. “I am still your slave, the meat that moves my armor still belongs to you, I am an insignificant worm, Mistress, punish me, flog me, debase me, for my flesh has known weakness—”

“You disgust me!” Luna bellowed. She looked around at the other Myrmidons, some of whom were brave enough to be smirking rather than looking serious. Luna heaved an internal sigh, knowing that she was going to have some words with these slackers later when this was all over. “All of you disgust me, and I am made nauseous by your stench!”

Luna climbed up, stood upon North Star’s back, and then pressed one front hoof down upon North Star’s neck once more, applying gentle pressure. “You are unfit for service. You have betrayed me.”

“No, Mistress!” North Star pleaded. “Mistress, I am begging you, do not cast me away!”

“Bring out the cause of this wretched worm’s weakness!” Luna commanded.

The surrounding crowd parted. A short, slight unicorn wearing a flowing black cloak slipped through the ranks and there was a small black griffoness riding upon his back. Her eyes were wide and it was obvious to any observer that she was overwhelmed by everything around her, this gathering of giants. There was gruff, guttural laughter from several of the gathered Myrmidons, and the black cloaked unicorn was grinning, his sharp teeth glinting in the faint light.

“Greetings Kiara.” Luna looked down at the tiny griffoness, small even by little griffon standards. “Dismount.”

Kiara did as she bid, dropping down to the deck, she took a look around, and then came forward. Reaching out, she patted North Star on the muzzle.

“Just as I suspected. North Star has another Mistress,” Luna said in a voice of haughty ridicule and mock-mockery. “Have anything to say for yourself, you worthless mass of congealed dragon shit?”

“Mistress, I implore you, have mercy, please, I am worthless and weak and my meat is unfit to wear the armor,” North Star said in a low voice, his eyes now locked upon Kiara.

“You disgust me... this admission of weakness, it sickens me. I should have you strung up to feed the crows, you despicable coward!” Luna pressed her hoof down into North Star’s neck. “You are no longer fit to serve me. Your heart knows a weakness that I cannot mend. You leave me with no choice. Do you have any final words?”

“You will always be my Mistress and I shall always worship and adore you,” North Star said as he closed his eyes and awaited his fate.

The crowd parted once more and a tall but slender figure stepped forwards, a proud, white, regal figure. She stood beside the black cloaked unicorn, a wide grin upon her face, making no attempt to look serious. “I do so love a good bit of theatre.”

“You worthless little slug, you are useless to me. So I am forced to give you away to another Mistress. Say something to her… NOW!” Luna stomped down one hind hind hoof upon North Star’s backside.

“Mistress, I adore you!” North Star cried out to Kiara.

Kiara, still confused about all of this, looked up at Luna, her beak open, and her crest raised. This was military tradition that she did not understand, but she did know that it was important. Her gaze dropped to North Star, whose head was as large as her body.

“Mistress Kiara… we find ourselves in odd times… I am giving you one of my toys, one of my playthings… one of my most perfect weapons. You must understand, you have to keep a strong sense of control over this brute. He has stopped being a pony long ago and has since become a weapon of war. He must be commanded and made to obey!” Luna poked North Star in the neck with her silver shod hoof.

Kiara, not knowing what to say, nodded.

“Little griffoness, make him submit!” Luna barked, jumping from North Star’s back. “Make him do your bidding. Tell your machine made of meat and metal to do as you command!”

Kiara looked around her and saw many grinning faces. Something was expected from her, some show of force. Some sign of dominance. She turned and looked at North Star, who was staring at her with an expectant expression.

“Roll over and show belly!” Kiara demanded.

North Star rolled over onto his back, his legs kicked up into the air. There was snickering now, harsh guttural laughter coming from North Star’s peers. He waited, not knowing what humiliation awaited him next.

Kiara lept up onto North Star’s barrel, sat down, and began to preen her wings.

“Perfect. This is one who understands.” Luna grinned and looked down at the griffoness. “Usually, I give Myrmidons away to other Myrmidons, making the weaker submit to the stronger.”

“Hey, remember when the Solar Mistress made Grimglammer submit to Furious?” a raspy, growling voice asked.

“Ah, that was fun,” the tall white figure replied. “Poor Furious. He knew that he was going to get it later. And he did. He got exactly what he deserved.” The tall white figure turned her gaze to the tiny griffoness preening herself while sitting on a dangerous piece of military equipment.

Luna’s horn flared and a spoon on a silver chain popped into existence. “Somehow, this is a fitting symbol of your affection.” Luna dangled the spoon in front of North Star’s face. “With a tug, when she yanks your chain, this spoon will change your size, allowing the two of you compatibility with one another.”

North Star looked up at the spoon, eyes wide.

“You will obey your new Mistress, and you will show her every bit of affection, devotion, and protection that you show me, do you understand?” Luna lowered her head and stared down into North Star’s eyes. She saw him nod. “You have disappointed me once, you wretched puddle of boil squeezings, and you have been disciplined accordingly. Never disappoint me again… do you understand?

“Yes Mistress… forgive my weak flesh, Mistress. I will never disappoint you again Mistress, and I will worship her as you have commanded, Mistress,” North Star replied.

Now looking solemn, Princess Luna slipped the chain over North Star’s head. Bending her neck, Luna dropped down and placed a soft, affectionate kiss upon North Star’s cheek, and then she lifted her head away from him. She then looked at her sister and spoke:

“Sister, you have done a good job raising this one up during my absence. This one pleases me. Thank you for looking after my foals of the night.”

“Think nothing of it.” The tall white figure bowed her head and both wings dipped down in a curtsey. Raising her head once more, the white figure said, “This one was a good foal and I spent as much time as I could spare educating him after seeing his potential. Kiara, look after this one, he is very dear to me.”

Kiara’s wing slipped from her beak and she looked up at the tall white alicorn. “I like him too. He’s pretty special.” The griffoness looked up at Luna. “Thank you for the shiny and the big dangerous weapon. I plan to have lots of fun with him.”

“Both on the battlefield and in the bedroom, I am certain.” Luna smirked and gave the griffoness a wink. “Now, I do believe it is time that we get to the customary drinking that is a central part to this ritual. Who will raise a mug of strong drink to honour their Mistress?”

The gathered Myrmidons roared, and the night air was filled with terrifying hooting and hollering as many hooves stomped upon the wooden planks of the deck as the group prepared a celebration that would last well into the burning day.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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