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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Standing in the wet spring grass, her hooves and her fetlocks soaked with morning dew, Berry Punch watched as the frigate descended. On the side of the ship was Keg Smasher’s cutie mark; three stacked barrels. Not far away from Berry was Barley O’Blivion, who was bleary eyed and half awake, and near Barley, held by magic, was Berry Pinch, who had been given a mild sedative for the event. The little filly was eating the dewy grass and her teeth were stained green. It was the sort of thing that civilised ponies tended to frown upon, as there were better, more civilised things to eat.

At least the frigate wasn’t very big and it wouldn’t take too much effort to fill it up for the return trip to the Shetlands. Berry Punch glanced at Barley and wondered if they were doing the right thing. Doubts plagued her and she had been second guessing herself for days now. She looked at Berry Pinch and felt bad for the little unicorn filly. Berry thought of her potential, not just as a pony, but as a unicorn. She thought about the Shetlands… and while things were getting better, things were improving, there was a long ways to go before things were good. There was going to be a magic school up there and a military school as well. With the military school for foals there would also be a military academy for soldiers.

Berry felt a shaggy body rub against her and without turning her head to look she knew that Bucky was with her. She leaned against him, glad for him, thankful that he was there. This was one of the most difficult things she would ever be expected to do.

Startled for no apparent reason, Berry Pinch let out a bleating cry and took off running. Barley reacted on reflex, grabbing her with his magic, and pulling her back. She began to kick and writhe against her magical restraints, all while letting out heartbreaking mewls of terror.

Ripple, who had been out for a run before school started, slowed down, trotted over, and came to a stop not far away from Barley. The pegasus filly was sweaty, her legs were wet with dew, and her feathers glistened with water droplets.

The frigate dropped a few tethers, several griffons rushed out to grab the tethers, and then went to work connecting the tethers to stakes that had been driven deep into the ground to ensure that any tethered airship would be secured.

“This isn’t how I wanted this to end,” Berry muttered to herself in a low whisper through thick lips that quivered with all of the different emotions she was feeling. “I feel like I’ve failed.”

 

 

Sour Mash wasn’t quite as Berry remembered her. The mare was a little rounder around the middle. It would be a long while before Sour Mash gave birth, and Berry guessed that the foal in her belly was made during the long months of winter. It was as good of a way as any to pass the time. Berry wondered if it happened during a certain pink moon.

“Cousin!” Sour Mash cried as she charged forwards, her hooves pounding divots in the grass.

A second later, the two mares collided with a solid thump, sat down in the grass together, and started hugging one another. Kisses were exchanged, and Berry Punch ran her foreleg along Sour Mash’s belly.

“How ya been, Sour?” Berry asked.

“With all the boring peace, I’ve done a lot less soldiering and a lot more teaching. Been teaching little fillies and colts how to march, how to wear armor, and how to fight dirty.” Sour Mash gave Berry a ferocious squeeze. “Also been learning how to use a rifle. It’s a little tricky for us earth ponies, the griffon remnants have been modifying guns to make them easier for us earth ponies to use, but we have to be standing on our hind hooves.”

Sour Mash, seeing Berry Pinch, disentangled herself from Berry, got to her hooves, and took a few steps towards the filly. Berry, watching her cousin, also got up, sucked in a deep breath, and waited. Bucky, who was feeling just a tiny bit jealous about not getting a hug from a pleasantly pregnant mare, sat in the grass, looking impassive, and wondering what was about to happen next.

“Aw shucks, she’s a little feral,” Sour Mash said in a low voice.

Letting out soft whinnies, Sour Mash approached Berry Pinch, keeping her head low. Berry Pinch watched with wide, curious eyes, but made no move to do anything; she just stood staring. Barley stood nearby, one eyebrow raised, and he kept a good magical grip on the filly.

“Stop with the magic,” Sour Mash said to Barley.

Biting his lip, Barley figured that the worst that might happen was that wee Pinchy might get a little run before he or Bucky caught her again. His magic ceased to flow and Pinchy went free.

The foal panicked and let out a shrill bleating cry. She looked around, ready to run, and Sour Mash let out a loud wicker. Berry Pinch’s eyes narrowed and the little filly stood there, confused, scared, and she too, let out a loud wicker. Sour Mash drew closer, and Berry Pinch bared her teeth. Sour Mash bared her teeth right back.

Berry Punch tensed, fearing the worst. Shetlanders were rough and tumble sorts. Mainlanders had a hard time understanding the ways of the Shetlanders'. But even Berry was appalled by what took place. Berry Pinch’s head lunged out and she delivered a quick, painful nip to Sour Mash’s leg, and in return, Sour Mash’s head shot downwards, her teeth locked on to Berry Pinch’s croup, and the hardy mare savagely bit the filly in the tender place just above her tail.

There was a startled gasp from Bucky, and Berry Punch had to control herself, lest she go over and deliver a savage beatdown to her cousin. Barley looked shocked. Ripple stood with her mouth hanging open.

To make matters worse, Berry Pinch bit Sour Mash again, this time, drawing blood. Sour Mash let out a pained grunt as she went to return the bite. This time, she bit Berry Pinch on the neck, clamping her teeth down upon the filly, and not letting go. The foal squealed in pain, kicked and thrashed, and then let out a bleating cry of submission. Sour Mash let go of the filly, who then darted down beneath Sour Mash and began to peer out between the mare’s legs.

Berry Punch felt as much anger as she did confusion. She didn’t know what had just happened, but she knew that it was important to swallow her anger so that she could learn something. She had learned long ago not to rush to judgment, a lesson both she and Derpy had shared in depth. Something important had taken place here. Wee Pinchy, after having a look around, was now eating grass again and acting as if the savage exchange of biting had never happened.

“What just happened?” Berry asked in a low voice, hoping that she wouldn’t spook Berry Pinch.

“You’ve been away from the isles for too long, Cousin,” Sour Mash replied.

“Maybe I have,” Berry said, heaving a sigh as she spoke. “Mind explaining to us what just took place?”

Sour Mash’s face split into a wide grin, revealing that she was missing a few teeth. Her tail swished around behind her, and the place where she had been bitten dribbled blood. Sour Mash looked about half feral herself. Her mane was mussed, uncombed, and her pelt was unbrushed and matted.

“The little one here was scared and looking for an alpha. She needed a pony in charge to protect her, so she could relax a little,” Sour Mash said in a voice that was filled with bubbling laughter.

“You mean to tell me… that if’n I had just bitten her back, she might’ve behaved her wee little self?” Barley gave Sour Mash an incredulous stare.

“It all goes back to how we used to be,” Sour Mash said to Barley. “We have a lot of ferals and half ferals on the isles. You can see how the little wee mobs talk to one another. Lots of biting and kicking until one of the little foals makes it clear that they’re in charge. After that, peace takes over.”

“Life is too dangerous to risk injuries with continual fighting in the herd,” Berry said, feeling stupid. “Why didn’t I think about this? I took psychology and studied herd behaviour in university.” Berry Punch sat down in the grass and facehoofed.

“I dinnae get what is goin’ on.” Barley also sat down in the grass and he watched as Berry Pinch nibbled the tender greenery around Sour Mash’s hooves.

“Well, the little pink fetlock biter can’t come right out and say ‘I’m scared’ or ‘I don’t know if I trust you’ so she speaks with the old language—”

“Herd speak,” Berry interjected, trying to be helpful.

Sour Mash nodded, and then continued, “She can’t come right out and say what she wants. When she challenges you like that, she’s trying to see if you’re tough enough to keep her safe so she can relax her guard and let you do the protecting. In a wild, feral herd, a few keep watch while the others eat.”

Barley blinked and his shaggy eyebrows drooped, right along with his old, saggy ears. He glanced at Berry Pinch. “But… that’s an awful thing to do, biting the sass right out of her.”

“It’s not as abusive as letting her stay terrified and not knowing if she’s safe,” Sour Mash replied.

“But yer hurtin’ her something awful,” Barley retorted.

“Well, so were you… how long has she spent being scared out of her mind, not knowing if she was in a safe herd or not?” Sour Mash reached beneath her with her foreleg and gave Berry Pinch an affectionate pat, which made the foal let out a happy sounding bleat from around a mouthful of grass.

“I… I… oh, sod it.” Barley’s head drooped and his neck bent. “Feckin’ Tartarus, life gets complicated sometimes.”

“So… to keep her feeling safe and happy… we have to… we have to show her that we’re tough enough to lead?” Ripple asked.

“Is that so hard to understand?” Sour Mash replied as she continued to stroke Berry Pinch, who made no attempt to bite, kick, or flee. “If she comes home with me… with everything else going on…” Sour Mash blinked a few times and her gaze focused upon Berry Punch. “I’ll do my best to look after her, that’s what family does, but she’s probably going to find her way into a foal gang. In time, she’ll learn enough through mimicry that she’ll know a few words, and her curiousity will lure her into being with other, not to so wild ponies, but she’s gonna grow up as a feral. I’m sorry, I have so much going on at home. I mean, I will do everything I can, but I have a lot of other little foals to look after that are just like her. It’s part of what we do in Buckminster’s Ball Buster Bitch Brigade. He wanted us to look after orphans and we do.”

Berry Punch looked at her husband, Bucky, then at Barley, and then, with a heavy heart, she looked at Berry Pinch. She thought about the time that Sukari almost bit right through Bucky’s fetlock. Sukari was half feral but she had come around. Berry Pinch was almost all feral and Berry thought about Sour Mash’s words, that Berry Pinch would come around in time.

That time would be a whole lot longer if she grew up in a feral foal gang. She would grow up in a mob and spend the rest of her life being half crazed, half feral, and any sort of domestication she had would come along later, when the need to be with a herd of ponies drove her to find new herds as she grew.

Berry Punch had been so confident about this course of action, so sure of herself. She had convinced herself that this was the right thing to do, but now, she was having some doubts. Some serious doubts. She thought about her own foals, she thought about Sentinel, Dinky, and Piña. She thought about Harper, Cadance, Peekaboo, and Sukari. So many foals, all of which needed so much care and attention. Little Sukari had come around. She was still coming around. Doctor Mawu had talked about behaviour specialists and doctors and therapeutic foster care and all that other complicated minotaur shite. Sour Mash had brought Berry Pinch under control with just a few bites—she had used the oldest language of equines to reach Berry Pinch and speak to her. The old primal language that had somehow kept existing through the ages.

The thoughtful mare looked at Bucky, her husband. Berry liked it when he was rough, when he established his dominance. When he got a mouthful of her mane and gave it a tug. It awoke something deep within her, something primal, something that had its own voice. She shivered and the dewy grass she was sitting in tickled delicated places; her nethers, her teats, she could feel the wet, moist fronds brushing against her dock. Berry realised that what she needed right now was a good shag or some strenuous physical activity to clear her head so she could think straight.

“If Sour Mash can make wee Pinchy keep behaving herself, maybe we should all go inside, get comfortable in the kitchen, and maybe have some tea or coffee,” Barley suggested. “I for one, would like to get to know my distant cousin, Sour Mash.”

Berry Punch, who found herself in agreement, nodded.

 

 

 

 

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