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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Lugus was taking this rather well, or so Bucky thought. The big griffon was now at a level of furious that Bucky hadn’t seen in a while and his feathers were fluffed out, making him look almost twice his size. Yew was taking this a little better, she was calm, cool, and collected while she held Brennus, her cub. Boadicea stood slumped over, looking miserable, her tail down, trying to look as pathetic as possible.

“I don’t see what the big deal is,” Yew said to Lugus, her words causing the big griffon to fluff out even more. “There are lots of things to be angry with her about, but this isn’t one of them.”

“How can you be so calm?” Lugus asked, his left eyelid twitching as he spoke.

“I’ll admit, I’m kinda curious.” As Bucky spoke, he glanced at Boadicea and felt kind of bad for her, but only a little. It was too early to be angry and Bucky was tired. He hadn’t slept. At least his visit with Night Light and Twilight Velvet had been productive. He had been told to come back at any time, hugged, and sent on his way.

The whole experience had left him with a peculiar feeling.

Yew Wood cleared her throat, her own feathers fluffing out, and she stared her much larger mate right in the eye. “I was married the first time when I wasn’t much older than Boadicea. If she wishes to sleep with Sentinel, I just do not see what the problem is. I understand that things are different on the mainland, but even with all that has happened, I feel that I can still trust Sentinel and Boadicea together.”

“Trust?” Lugus lifted his right talons and clenched them into a fist. “Trust? You mean you still trust them after… after… after everything that has taken place?” Lugus shook his head, looking incredulous. “How, my love, how is it that you have this trust?”

Shrugging, Yew Wood yawned, smacked her lips, and then looked at Boadicea. “She did something bad but her heart was in the right place. She did the wrong thing for the right reasons. I will not fault her for doing what she did, what she did took courage, she went off to be beside her chosen mate—”

“I thought we discussed this… she is far too young under the standards which we live!” Lugus’s clenched talons opened and he pointed his extended talon finger at Boadicea.

Reaching out a hoof, Yew Wood shoved Lugus’ talon away. “Don’t you dare point that meathook at family members, you big oaf,” she demanded. Yew Wood took a deep breath, eyeballed her flustered husband, and her ears pivoted forwards. In the shawl hung around her neck, Brennus began peeping. “I still feel that Sentinel and Boadicea can be trusted together. If she wishes to sleep with him, we need to make it very clear that no funny business is to take place. I agree that Boadicea needs to be punished for what she has done, but I will not be cruel to her by separating her from her chosen mate. How can you be so heartless?”

Lugus deflated, his feathers and crest drooping. He closed his eyes, shaking his head, his tail went limp and fell to the floor with a thump. For a moment, it appeared as though Lugus was going to say something, his beak opened, moved, his girth rose and fell, but no words came out.

“Boadicea, can you be trusted with Sentinel?” Yew asked, looking at the griffoness.

“It’s going to happen eventually,” Boadicea replied, being honest.

Pursing her lips, Yew Wood nodded, appreciating Boadicea’s honesty. She waited for a moment, looking thoughtful, before she made her reply. “But it isn’t happening right now. We can cross that bridge when we come to it. Right now, I don’t think you need anymore trouble in your life. I know that you are hurting right now and I am trying to give you some sort of comfort.”

Lifting her head, Boadicea looked up at Lugus, then at Bucky, and then at Yew. “I give you my word, I’ll be good. No funny business.” She reached up with her talons and smoothed back her crest feathers. “I was scared… I snuck down to be with Sentinel because I had a bad dream. He tried to send me back upstairs and I refused to listen to him. He tried to do the right thing.”

Just as Lugus started to say something, Yew Wood interrupted, giving her husband a warning. “Watch your beak or else I’ll kick you out of my bed. Be the good, gentle, loving sort that I know you can be.”

Yowling with frustration, Lugus glared at his mate. His claws clicked upon the wooden floor and his tail now swished from side to side. The big griffon looked troubled. He looked at Boadicea. “You and I are going to have a nice, pleasant talk, but not here. Grab your bow… there is a chimera that has been seen prowling the Everfree. You and I are going to make it see reason to leave little ponies alone and if that fails, we are going to kill it.”

“Sir, yes sir,” Boadicea replied.

“Oh, and Boadicea…”

“Yes Bucky?” The griffoness looked up at Bucky, still looking fearful.

“You ever break into the armory and steal a firearm ever again and I will turn you into a cute, fluffy, adorable little woodland creature and lock you into a room with curious school foals,” Bucky replied.

Boadicea’s eyes went wide and she stared at Bucky as her tail tucked up between her hind legs. After a moment, she nodded, then gulped. Her beak fell open but no words came out. With swift movement, she ducked behind Yew Wood and peeked out from behind her at Bucky.

“Lugus, you be nice to her while you are out hunting, I mean it. I’ll know about it if you don’t.” Yew gave her mate a stern look. “For now, there needs to be a truce.”

“Yes Yew, I understand.” Lugus glanced at Boadicea and then at Bucky.

“Shouldn’t I be in school?” Boadicea said in a low voice.

“Nope.” There was no hesitation in Yew Wood’s reply. “You’ve already missed a few days. I have all of your missed assignments waiting for you. A few more can’t hurt. You can catch up. For now, I think some time with your father would be good for you. And good for him too.” She looked at her husband. “Don’t fail me, Lugus.”

“You lucked out.” Lugus looked at Boadicea and sighed.

“I’d say you lucked out as well,” Boadicea replied, looking at Lugus.

Crest rising, Lugus lowered his head to look at Boadicea at eye level.

Seeing Lugus’ response, Boadicea looked as submissive as possible. “She’s your mate… you lucked out getting her. We both did… I don’t think we’d be much of a family without Yew.”

Lugus stared at Boadicea for a moment, tilting his head to one side, he glanced at Yew Wood, and then, with impossible speed, his talons shot out and he grabbed Boadicea. He ignored her panicked squawks and yowls as he pulled her closer. He gave her a hug and tried to calm her. After a moment, when she realised that she wasn’t about to be mauled, she returned the hug, throwing her forelegs around Lugus’ neck.

“Good luck you two,” Bucky said to Lugus and Boadicea, “have fun and be careful. If you’ll excuse me, I have work to do in the kitchen.”

 

 

It was important to have hobbies. Bucky had long stressed this fact to Dinky, telling her to keep herself busy, and he was glad that she had taken his advice to heart. Bucky himself had been keeping busy, preparing for the invasion, assembling golems, designing new weapons, and making kitchen appliances.

Semillon was glaring at him, the kitchen was her domain, and she was the undisputed master. Bucky continued his work, wondering, waiting, knowing that Semillon had something to say about all of this.

“I’m a unicorn… I don’t see how this is necessary. Broom and I manage just fine.”

There it was...

Bucky had a speech prepared. “Semillon, you and Broom have the kitchen well managed, and it is because you are both unicorns.” Bucky continued twisting the screwdriver as he mounted the ocular sensor to the wall above strange looking mechanical arms that ended in mechanical hands.

“What?” Semillon stood near the fridge, watching as Bucky worked.

“You and Broom are unicorns. Other ponies aren’t so lucky. There are plenty of ponies out there that need some helping hands in the kitchen.” Bucky pointed up at the two golem arms. “Which is why I am working on this. Earth ponies and pegasi have to work very, very hard to get anything done in the kitchen, stuff that we unicorns can do effortlessly. These will help mix stuff, chop veggies, and will make a number of kitchen tasks automated.”

“But they are ugly.” Semillon’s voice was almost a whine. “Sir, please, if you must continue to populate my kitchen with mechanical abominations, at least try to make them fit in with the decor.”

Bucky sighed, knowing there would be more work to do. It wasn’t enough to make functioning golem arms and hands, no, he had to make them look good somehow. It was all the more frustrating because Bucky knew that if these were to be a successful product, they would have to look good so ponies would want them in their kitchen. He lowered his screwdriver and scratched his cheek with his talons. It was time to test.

Testing made everything better.

Looking up, Bucky examined the two arms and the ocular sensor. Rising Star had done wonderful work on the prototype. The arms were slender, long, Bucky thought they looked fine, but matte grey steel wasn’t everypony’s cup of tea. The wrist joints were a marvel of engineering and the elbows weren’t bad either. The hands, modeled after a minotaur’s, were dexterous and capable.

“I’m going to leave you to your work… I think I’ll play cribbage with Broom,” Semillon said to Bucky as she turned to leave the kitchen. “It is a noble goal, trying to help the earth ponies and the pegasi. I can live with that.”

As Bucky listened to the sounds of Semillon’s hooves tapping on the the floor, he began pulling out a list of ingredients required for the testing. He raided the fridge, the cupboards, and the pantry, getting everything he needed to make oatmeal molasses cookies.

He placed the big metal mixing bowl on the counter next to the eggs and paused when he heard something behind him. Turning, he saw four pairs of eyes looking at him. Harper, Peekaboo, Sukari, and Cadance had all come into the kitchen and were now sitting down, looking at him, watching him. He could see the hopeful expressions upon their faces.

“Things have been a little nutty around here, haven’t they?” Bucky asked.

Four little heads bobbed together.

“You’ve not been getting as much attention with the newborns around and the trouble that Sentinel has caused. I’m sorry.” Bucky set about his work, arranging the ingredients on the counter.

“Is Sentinel a bad pony?” Peekaboo asked.

“Yes,” Bucky replied, nodding his head and smiling, “little Sentinel is a bad pony. Don’t do like Sentinel does, or I’ll stand you in the corner.”

“Senty stand in corner?” Harper seemed concerned about this development.

Bucky picked up a long, thin pink crystal, grinned, and slid it into place into the arcano-tech reader. The crystal held the instructions to mix up cookies. The crystal glowed, the arcano-tech reader hummed, and the arms came to life.

“Standing Sentinel in the corner isn’t a bad idea, but I bet the little cuss would enjoy the chance to have a good think,” Bucky said to his audience as the arms went to work, mixing the dry ingredients together in the big steel mixing bowl.

“Are you mad?” Peekaboo asked, looking at Bucky with wide, curious eyes.

“Yes, I am mad at the little hooligan,” Bucky replied as the arms began to measure out molasses. “But I can sympathise with him. Do you know what sympathy means?”

“No,” three voices said together, the only one silent was Cadance, who was giving Bucky a queer look.

“I understand why Sentinel did what he did… but that doesn’t excuse him.” Bucky turned away from the kitchen counter and looked at the four little foals who were watching him with rapt attention. He noticed Cadance’s peculiar stare. Bucky’s eyebrow raised, he didn’t like the look that Cadance was giving him.

“You a bad pony, sometimes.” Cadance looked up at her father, her ears drooping as she spoke, and her expression was now apologetic. “Who stands you in corner?”

Bucky heaved a sigh, turned his head, and watched as the two golem arms laboured to make cookie dough. They cracked the eggs with surprising skill, tapping them on the flat of the counter rather than the edge of the bowl. Cracking them on the bowl tended to get eggshell fragments into the egg. The arms worked with smooth mechanical precision. So far, everything was working.

“Cadance, that’s a good question,” Bucky replied. He had no answer. He had no means of answering her question. Maybe he needed some time in the corner himself, he had taught Sentinel some awful habits and maybe, just maybe, some of what had happened was his fault. He felt unsettled and a bit disappointed with himself. He thought of Dizzy, Ditzy, little Barley, and Brandywine. What would he teach them? How could he be a good parent, how could he teach his foals right and wrong when the line had become so blurred for him? He didn’t even know what right or wrong was anymore, only what got results. He was about to do something he knew was wrong, everypony and everybirdy involved knew that he was about to do something terrible, but he was going to do it anyway.

It occurred to Bucky that being a parent had a dangerous level of hypocrisy involved. He didn’t like it, it made him feel depressed and bitter. He was going to punish his son and try to impress upon Sentinel the lesson to do what was right, and Bucky was about to do something that was the opposite of right. The thought settled upon Bucky with a crushing weight.

“Sad?” Sukari asked.

“Yes, Sukari, I’m sad.” Bucky looked over at the zebra and saw the empathy in her wide, blue eyes. Sukari didn’t say much, but she didn’t need to. She said more with a look than most ponies said with a dictionary’s worth of words.

“When sad?” Harper looked up at her father, her muzzle wrinkled with a quizzical expression, her dark purple eyes almost not visible under the mass of curly, frizzy, poofed out mane that stuck out in all directions.

Bon Bon and Lyra had stopped trimming it back and now insisted that it grow out, gain some length, and Bon Bon insisted that with some length, the extra weight would make Harper’s mane behave. So far, Bon Bon was horribly wrong. Harper’s mane had swallowed up her ears, most of her eyes, and her horn was now all but invisible, so much so that others mistook her for an earth pony. Harper’s excessive static electricity did nothing to help the situation.

“Harpy, I don’t know that I could explain it. I’m just sad. Thankfully, I have you four to keep me happy.” Bucky gave the foals a smile. “Are you four going to give me a lot of trouble? Are you going to be rotten like Sentinel?”

As Bucky watched, Harper gave him a noncommittal shrug, Cadance looked thoughtful for a moment and then shook her head, Peekaboo also shook her head, while Sukari stared fixedly at some non existent point on the ceiling. Bucky sighed. Sukari was going to be trouble, he just knew it. She never gave him much of an answer when he posed the question of being a good foal to her. It was always the quiet ones.

“Cadance, are you sure you’re not going to cause me trouble?” Bucky narrowed his eyes at Cadance, and he stifled a laugh when she looked worried. “I’ve heard some stories about you… you were quite a troublemaker.” Much to Bucky’s satisfaction, Cadance turned pinker and she looked alarmed.

“Aw, look at them all, they’re all so cute.”

Turning, Bucky saw Derpy and Belisama standing together in the kitchen doorway. He cleared his throat, feeling embarrassed that he hadn’t noticed them sooner. He gave them a sheepish grin. “How long have you two been standing there?”

“Long enough,” Derpy replied as she strolled into the kitchen, her bad eye squeezed shut and her good eye focused on the golem arms. She came to where the foals were sitting, opened her shut eye, and sat down with the fillies as Belisama also prowled into the kitchen.

“How are the newborns?” Bucky asked.

“Just got fed and now they’re all sleepy, except for Dizzy. Dizzy is sleepy but wants to stay awake. Berry is trying to sing him to sleep.” Belisama sat down beside Cadance, reached out a wing, and patted the pink filly.

“Sentinel is upstairs in his room, doing some of his school assignments,” Derpy said to Bucky, “or he was when I checked on him a while ago. Dinky and Piña both are also working on catching up. Dinky and Piña would like to speak with you when you get a chance. But if they ask to leave their room, the answer is no.”

“Got it.” Bucky gave Derpy a knowing look; he understood how the game was played. When mother said no, father had to say no as well. He watched as Belisama began preening Cadance’s wings and his ears perked when Cadance began giggling.

“Bucky, Bon Bon is of the impression that what has been done is an offense that deserves paddling. I don’t know how I feel about the issue yet, but she has brought up some good points. Berry Punch agrees with her. The threat of spanking has long been held over Piña’s head, but has never happened. Both Bon Bon and Berry think that it is time for a little demonstration of punishment, at least, that is how Berry Punch worded it.” Derpy gave Bucky a sad stare, her expression heartbroken and morose. “Berry seems to think that it is time that the foals learn that we will do more than just make threats. They need to know that the consequences are real.”

Inhaling, Bucky held his breath for a moment, his cheeks puffed out, and he was now all too aware of four little pairs of eyes all looking at him. He realised that Derpy had said what she had said in front of the little ones for a reason; they needed to learn about the consequences of disobeying as well. His held breath slipped out with a huff. “I agree with Bon Bon and Berry, but it kills me to say it. I’d like to find another way if possible… but I don’t want this to be over with a spanking. That’s over far too quickly and strikes me as lazy parenting. We’re going to have to commit ourselves to the hard work of punishing them.” Bucky heard Derpy take a deep breath and he worried that he had said the wrong thing. Was there a wrong thing that could be said in a moment like this?

“I agree. I was spanked when I was little. I didn’t mind the spanking very much, it was over and then I was free to go off and get into more trouble. It didn’t teach me very much. A few minutes of spanking was a lot easier than hours spent doing chores.” Derpy wrapped her wing around Harper and pulled the little filly closer. “My idea is to ship them off to Applejack’s and put them to work. There is a lot that needs to be done now that it is spring. Applejack could use the help, she’s pregnant and Cheerilee just had Cheery and right now, Big Mac and Silver Shill are trying to manage everything all by themselves.”

“Sentinel is a little brute, some time spent pulling a plow would be good for him.”

Belisama began to chuckle at Bucky’s words as she continued to preen Cadance.

Turning his head, Bucky realised that the golem arms had gone still. There was now a batch of cookie batter that needed to be put on a cookie pan and placed into the oven. The mess on the counter was minimal, the cookie dough looked fine, and overall, Bucky felt as though the test had been a success.

“You know, Derpy, I can’t help but wonder if I could make a mechanical foal paddler—”

There was a loud squeal followed by the pounding of hooves as four fillies fled the kitchen, leaving behind three amused looking adults. Belisama had a pink feather in her beak. Bucky had a chaotic grin upon his face, and Derpy smiled at her husband.

Giving Bucky a wink, Derpy ears pivoted forwards. “That should keep them all well behaved for a while. Nice job.”

 

 

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