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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Lifting her hoof, Piña Colada pointed at Sour Mash and Berry Punch, then prodded Larch, who was sitting beside her. “It’s funny, how family can be. Those two ain’t seen one another in a while and they only met last summer, but look at how they are. That’s how it should be.”

“Huh?” Larch, who was having a slow moment, blinked a few times. “How what should be?” The little colt had missed something and he gave Piña a sheepish quizzical look, hoping that she would explain.

“Family,” Piña replied. “More and more, I think about it, how important it is, and what it means to me as an earth pony.” Piña scooted over the grass to get a little closer to Larch. “I also think about how important it should be to you. You’re an orphan.”

Larch glanced at Babs, who was reading a book, and then over at Piña. “Maybe not much longer. Violet Velvet has asked me if I would like to be adopted. I don’t know how to respond.”

“Just say yes, silly.” Babs spoke without even looking up from her book.

“She’s middle aged… I don’t want to say she’s old, but she’s… uh—”

Piña silenced Larch by placing a hoof over his lips. “She’s not that old. She’s nice. She would be good to you. She can be a little bossy and you have to watch out for the newspaper, but she would be good to you.”

Larch sighed around Piña’s hoof and looked thoughtful. After a moment, he brushed Piña’s hoof away and then he placed his hoof over Piña’s lips. “I’ll think about it. I promise. I mean really think about it.”

Reaching up, Piña grabbed Larch’s hoof, held it in her folded fetlock, and gave it a squeeze. “Look, I know you don’t want to be hurt, but not everypony is going to abandon you. Violet is a good pony. She wants to adopt you. You, Larch. She could adopt some cute little fuzzy newborn but she’s willing to adopt somepony older and not nearly as cute.”

“I’m not cute?” Larch asked in a squeaky, worried whisper.

“Well, I think you’re kinda cute,” Babs replied, “but compared to a teensy weensy little fuzzball, no contest. You’re just not that cute.”

“Thanks a lot, Babs.” Larch turned his head and gave the reading earth pony filly a sullen stare. “Really, thanks.”

“Babs Seed, proud daughter of the Apple Clan, follower of the honest earth pony way.” Babs paused and looked a bit confused for a moment, her eyes glassing over. Her mouth moved but no words came out. After a second, she recovered. “The earth pony way is a good way.”

“You okay, Babalooloo?” Piña asked in a hushed, worried whisper.

“I’m fine… I had one of my spells, that’s all. They’re getting better. My brain doesn’t shut down sometimes like it used to and I’m not getting the migraine headaches anymore. Which is great.” Babs reached out with her hoof and shut her book. “That’s enough of dairy practices and standards for today. I plan to be an astronomer, I don’t get why I have to learn about the ethical treatment of dairy cows and our obligation to house them and protect them.”

“We have to be nice to cows.” Larch’s brows furrowed. “They’re like us, but not like us. They can talk, but they’re kinda dumb. They give us milk and in exchange, we give them housing and safety.”

“It’s a weird arrangement,” Babs replied. “I’ve talked to the dairy cows that Applejack has. They seem happy enough… I guess… I dunno, I just try not to think about it too much Ponies need milk, butter, and cheese. Cows need a place to live. They’re like… like… they’re like minotaurs that failed to become minotaurs and stayed cows.”

“When I grow up, I want a farm. Like this one.” Larch looked all around him, at the school, the lake, the farmhouse, the dormitory towers, the houses and cottages tucked into the woods just past the treeline. “I’ll probably have a job, some kind of important job, given my talent, but when I come home, I want to come home to a farm. This is a great place to cultivate life. I don’t like the city. I don’t even like Ponyville.”

“Ponyville isn’t bad,” Piña said in reply to Larch’s words. She looked over and saw ponies working in the fields. She saw Dandelion Fluff and Pinto working side by side, tending the new growth. Their oldest daughter, Honeysuckle, was working on the irrigation system, while Lima Bean and Butter Bean were planting seeds in the next field over, tucking the seeds down into the black dirt. Citrus Summer was playing in the dirt near her parents. Even from where she was sitting, she could see how happy they were.

There were griffons in the field as well, prowling for bugs and vermin. Piña shivered, thinking about how the little griffons would eat the field mice, the moles, the shrews, and the voles. It was awful, but necessary. Turning her head, she looked at Sour Mash and Berry Punch and she could hear them laughing. Thistle was sitting with little Berry Pinch and Bell Heather was exploring the grass around her mother. Brandywine was sitting up on her own, watching the world all around her with wide, curious eyes. Little Barley was sitting with older Barley, who was resting in the sun. Each of the foals had been bathed and groomed. They looked shiny and sleek.

Piña understood why Larch would want a place like this. She turned to look at him. “You know, Larch… if you stayed with me… if you were my special somepony, one day, you could live on this farm with me. We could be happy here.”

“Really?” Larch asked.

“Really,” Piña replied.

Larch smiled. “What will we raise?”

Grinning, Piña pulled Larch closer, placed her muzzle next to his ear, and then whispered, “Why, foals of course.”

 

 

Berry Punch watched as Larch took off running, bounding through the grass, his ears pinned back against his skull as he went streaking away. It only took Piña a second to take off after Larch, her tail streaming out behind her, and Berry could see a manic gleam in Piña’s eye. And then, there were three. Babs took off and caught up to Piña, and then the two of them ran side by side after Larch.

“Looks like somepony got a wild hair in their tail,” Sour Mash said in a low voice as the two fillies chased the colt. “Piña’s at that age when a filly should settle down and get married.”

“Sour, you’d better not let Derpy hear you making jokes like that.” Berry Punch turned and looked at her cousin.

“Who said I’m joking?” Sour Mash said with no trace of a smile on her face.

Reaching out her hoof, Berry Punch prodded Sour Mash and then the straight faced mare began to snigger. The two mares shared a laugh, and Thistle joined in as well. Barley the elder, who lay sprawled in the grass, let out an indignant snort.

“My wee little niece is gonna grow up and do whatever she likes,” Barley said, grumbling as little Barley squirmed in the grass beside him. The old stallion looked over at Berry Pinch. “It’s high time that change came to the isles. I’m glad wee Pinchy isn’t going off to that alicorn forsaken place. I’ve grown fond of the wee nipper.”

“Change is happening, but it’s slow.” Sour Mash’s cheeks bulged as she sighed and exhaled through puckered lips. “The ponies of the isles try to resist the changes, but they are happening. Keg Smasher is trying to change the age of marriage, but too many farmers are in opposition. A filly having her first heat is ready to marry and past that point, she is just another mouth to feed. It’s hard trying to sort everything out.”

“Ach, crivens.” Barley had a scowl that only an old, irritated pony could muster. “My sister, Pinot, she was about eleven when she got pregnant—”

“Really?” Berry Punch asked, cutting Barley off.

“Berry Punch, don’t be a seethin’ bampot, ye numpty headed idjit! Take what you know and do the math!” Barley shot his niece a scathing glare and then closed his eyes as he shook his head. “Yer mother was hot to trot from the age of ten. I’m surprised she even lasted till eleven—”

“Barley, no,” Berry begged, “oh please don’t talk about my mother and how she was!”

“Yer mother would go around rubbing her crotch against fence posts trying to scratch her itch and colts and stallions would stop and have a sniff or a lick. She did it so much that she ended up with splinters in her snatch—”

“Oh nuts, Barley, please!” Berry pleaded. Berry Punch waved her front hooves around in a Berry frantic gesture, trying to get Barley to stop. But Barley’s eyes were closed and Berry’s gestures were wasted.

Lifting his head and opening his eyes, Barley squinted at Berry Punch. “Word has it that your mother went out and let the sheep bugger her for shites and giggles—”

“Barley! Ugh, stop, stop stop!” Berry Punch squeezed her eyes shut and covered her ears with her front hooves. “Look, we’re all perverts, I get that!”

Sour Mash, who was overcome with the giggles, waited for Barley to continue.

“Yer mother was fond of woolgathering, and I don’t just mean daydreaming—”

“Barley… just… ugh!” Berry shook her head and let out a long, wordless groan.

“So the little sheep shaggin’ minx met yer father, who was also a sheep shagger. The two little sheep buggerers fell in love, brought together by a mutual interest of what we Shetlander’s like to think of as safe sex.”

“Sheep buggery,” Sour Mash said and then collapsed with laughter.

“Word has it that your daddy practiced his radish hunting techniques on the sheep.” Barley ignored Berry Punch’s pleading whimpers and continued, “He never had to run the sheep down and catch them. He just showed up and the sheep ran to him. Quite a stud, yer father.”

Berry Punch fell over, her face covered with her hooves, her sides heaving.

“And this why I’m glad that wee Piña and wee Pinchy are growing up here, on the mainland, where I can keep an eye on them. I’d like to have at least one generation that grows up before I die that don’t know nuttin’ ‘bout the sweet taste o’ mutton.”

 

 

With a snort, Sentinel awoke. He had been dreaming about something, but he couldn’t remember what. He yawned, his fangs bared, and he realised that he was alone in his cubby. Sukari and Harper had left. Reaching out with his right hind leg, he scratched behind his right ear with his hoof, trying to get the itchies to go away, and then, after another powerful yawn, he decided to leave his cubby. He pushed the door open and stepped out.

Standing in the hallway, he sniffed. The stench from earlier was gone. He smelled soap and air freshener. His nostrils flared as he continued sniffing. The faint soft smell of milk reached his nose, a scent that he associated with the little ones. He stretched his leathery wings, arched his back, and flicked his tail. He smacked his lips, his mouth feeling dry after having woke up, and then stood there, trying to figure out what to do next.

Above him, on the stairs, he heard a heart beating, a steady, heavy thud. There was the soft rustle of feathers. Sentinel tensed, realising that he was being hunted, and that Boadicea was trying very, very hard to sneak up on him. Perhaps she didn’t realise how loud her heartbeat was, or all of the noise her pelt made when the hairs and feathers rubbed together.

Just as Boadicea was about pounce on him, Sentinel rolled away, having learned a great deal from thinking and recalling all of the times Moonbow pounced on him. As Boadicea scrambled to recover, Sentinel struck back, turning the tables, and pounced upon the griffoness.

He sat down upon her back and Sentinel allowed himself a self satisfied grin as he pinned the squawking griffoness down to the wooden floor. He could not help but notice how velvety her pelt was, and how much he wanted to stroke her, to feel that silky, slippery pelt against him. Realising what was already happening, Sentinel took a deep breath and focused upon control.

“How do you do it?” Boadicea asked in a frustrated voice.

“I can hear your heart beating as you approach,” Sentinel replied.

“That’s… just not fair! I’d peck out Old Hobb’s eyes to have that kind of hearing.” Boadicea writhed beneath Sentinel and tried to get free, mussing up her black feathers. Her crest rose and she let out an indignant squawk.

“Who’s Old Hobb?” Sentinel asked.

“I dunno,” Boadicea replied, “some old griffon. Mean. Horrible. Some old immortal that they still tell stories about. He’s the griffon bogeybirdie.”

“Like… the bogeypony?” Sentinel slipped off of Boadicea’s back and helped her sit up. He smoothed out her feathers and peered at her with his remaining eye.

“Yeah, and when a griffon wants to sound brave, they say they’d peck out Old Hobb’s eyes.” Boadicea, who refused to be smoothed over, fluffed out in irritation as she leveled her best beady eyed stare upon Sentinel. “It’s just an old saying. I don’t even know if Hobb even exists.”

“The bogeypony exists,” Sentinel said in a low voice.

“And his name is Bucky.” Boadicea’s beak clacked together and the griffoness huddled against Sentinel, her fur and feathers still ruffled. “Who is going to take over his job when he’s gone? Somepony has to be the bogeypony. It’s all part of some greater vital function that keeps you little ponies scared into the light.”

Sentinel scowled, his somewhat misshapen face contorting as he settled into deep thought. “Don’t ask me how I know this, but I think that Bandua will be inheriting that position from my father. She’ll scare both ponies and griffons back into good graces… she’ll work with Princess Luna.”

The griffoness scooted a little closer to Sentinel and using her beak, began to groom the shaggy hairs along Sentinel’s neck. There was a clacking sound as she worked, and her black, shiny eyes gleamed with affection. A little allopreening was a good thing, and she knew that Lugus wouldn’t get too mad just so long as she didn’t get too carried away. She ran her talon claws through Sentinel’s shaggy chest scruffle and felt a tingle of excitement surge through her.

Tilting his head off to one side, Sentinel exposed his vulnerable throat to Boadicea, allowing her to preen him. He did it without thinking about it and he quite enjoyed these moments of closeness. It was probably the closest thing griffons had to kissing, and Sentinel had noticed from observing a number of griffons that they loved grooming their mates.

Bartleby kept Sunset and Trixie looking immaculate. Gofannon the griffon groomed Helia the pegasus every chance he got. Lugus spent a lot of time grooming Yew. Belisama not only brushed and groomed his father, but his mothers as well. Armed with a hairbrush, it was a common sight to see a griffon grooming their mate, or mates.

“If you can find a brush or a curry comb, I’ll sit still so you can groom me,” Sentinel said in a low whisper.

“Really?” Boadicea’s words were full of breathless excitement.

“We can brush each other,” Sentinel offered.

“Yew bought me a brush and comb set as a betrothal gift… I’ll go get it.” Boadicea’s wings fluttered against her sides. “I’ll meet you in the living room. Go and sit in front of the big window, it’ll be all sunny and warm.”

Nodding, Sentinel smiled. “Okay, Boadicea, I’ll be waiting in front of the window for you.” Sentinel leaned over, pressed his lips against Boadicea’s neck, and gave the griffoness a soft kiss. He heard a low peep as he touched her.

And then, she was gone, almost flying up the stairs, the sound of her black feathers ruffling filling his ears. He watched her go, feeling very fond of her, and knowing that he had done the right thing agreeing to the betrothal.

Sentinel let out a contented sigh and headed for the living room.

 

 

 

 

 

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