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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“You are such a dweeb,” Sparkler said to Ripple in a teasing voice. “Such… a… dweeb. The Bittersweet Sparkle.” Sparkler’s eyebrow arched as she looked at Ripple. “This is going to be a little dangerous. I feel like I should come with you.”

“Sparkler, stop teasing me.” Flustered, Ripple gave Sparkler a bashful glance and then turned away as her cheeks darkened. “You have to stay here and protect the ponies of Ponyville. And look after my sister. And keep Bittersweet safe so I don’t lose my mind.”

“I will keep an eye on Loch and Bittersweet will be looked after.” Sparkler, using her magic, pulled Ripple closer and all traces of her teasing vanished. “Look, try not to worry, okay? Just go and do what you do best. Make me proud. Leave home as a squire and come back as a knight.”

“Aye aye.” Ripple extended a wing in salute.

“Just remember, you earned your title of ‘dragoon.’ That is a rare thing for anypony to have. You are Daddy’s little Destroyer. He loves you, and I love you, and Rising Star loves you, and we all love you, and we know that you are going to make us proud, so try not to be stressed, okay?” Sparkler looked into Ripple’s eyes. “You’re leaving the nest and that worries me. Try not to think of it so much as leaving the nest, but defending it. Equestria is a much bigger nest and all the little ponies are yours to protect. Those big fire ants are messing with your brood.”

Ripple nodded in acknowledgement.

“Have you thought about who you are going to swear fealty to as a knight?” Sparkler asked. “It’s a big decision… been doing some thinking?”

Again, Ripple nodded, and there was a visible lump in her graceful throat as she swallowed. Her tail swished around her hindquarters and her eyes widened for a moment.

“Who?” Sparkler asked. “Luna? Daddy?”

“I don’t want to say just yet,” Ripple replied.

 

Giving Ripple a gentle smile, Sparkler nodded. “I understand. You’re not going to fail. You won’t mess this up. This is your moment. This is your time to shine. When you come back in triumph, you can tell me then. Okay?”

A grin appeared on Ripple’s face and she nodded, her head bobbing with enthusiasm.

“Now, come and run with me for a bit. I need to stretch my legs,” Sparkler said as she bolted.

A split second later, Ripple took off, a charcoal grey streak in hot pursuit of Sparkler.

 

 

Fighting back a yawn, Princess Luna examined The Bittersweet Sparkle. It was far from what one might call finished, but it seemed serviceable. An A frame cabin had been built upon the deck and she was taking a good look inside of it. While an unusual design, the inside space of the A frame was being used well. Ponies and griffons could walk down the middle, in the tallest parts, and hammocks had been hung from the angled walls for the crew to sleep in. In the very back, against the rear wall, there was a bed big enough for a lunar pegasus, and Luna knew that was where North Star would sleep.

The cabin was well insulated, but still a little unfinished inside. The electric lights were stark bare bulbs. The walls were unpainted plain wooden plank panels. The outside of the A frame cabin was corrugated metal, which Luna knew from experience would be an absolute nightmare in bad weather and hail.

She stepped out of the cabin and continued her inspection. There were new mounts on the deck for guns; Luna approved. This was going to be a warship. It might not look like much, but Luna had expectations. This ship was a beginning; it was only the start of a story. In time, Luna knew that the Raptors would rise from their humble beginnings. Luna wanted them to feel as though they had earned it, worked for it, fought for it, and that nothing had been just given to them by virtue of who and what they were.

Turning, Luna found herself face to neck with North Star. She craned her head and looked upwards at the big white brute. He had always been a quiet one and it took a lot to sneak up on Luna. He wasn’t wearing his armor and there was no sign of his griffoness mate, Kiara.

“My sister’s favourite foal,” was Luna’s casual remark as she looked up at North Star. She watched with immense satisfaction as he turned pink. “How she fusses and frets over you. She constantly worries about the state of your marital bliss and we talk over tea about how you are adjusting to living with crazed, cat-bird creatures.”

North Star smiled and the gleaming tips of his fangs became visible.

“It’s the white colour… my sister specifically said it was because you were so white. She adored you, you know. And when I returned from my long exile, as you know, she wanted me to meet you. She was so impressed with you and your potential. She wanted to show me what she had done with my lunar pegasi.” Luna paused and eyed the stallion as he turned ever pinker. “And she was right to be impressed.”

“I try to please, Mistress,” North Star said as he bowed his head somewhat.

Taking a step back, Luna shook her head. “Call me Luna. You have earned it, faithful one. You have proven yourself time and time again. First as a Myrmidon, and now you will soon prove yourself as a Raptor. You are a living weapon of war that still somehow has a tender, gentle heart. A loyalty such as yours is to be treasured and rewarded.”

North Star’s wing whipped out and he saluted. He looked down at Luna, his eyes gleaming with a fierce pride, and he gave her a smile. The big white stallion looked away after a moment, blinked a few times, and then wiped his eyes with his wing.

“I have endured a powerful state of change, North Star. My values have changed. My ideals, my views, my prerogatives have all changed.” Luna extended one wing and caressed North Star’s scarred, over-muscled neck. “Look after Ripple, she is very dear to me as one of my godfoals. I am trusting you with something I hold very dear to my heart. North Star, it is my sincere desire that one day, Ripple hits the very top of the ranks. She would make for a very good high commander, wouldn’t you agree? Be honest…”

“I think that with time and maturity, she could make for a fine leader, but she’s going to need a lot of grooming to reach that point,” North Star replied in a low, gritty voice.

“Which is why I am starting now.” Luna cleared her throat. “Tending to a life is like looking after a tree. You plant it, you watch it grow, and as it grows, you prune it, trim it, guide it, you cut away the dead bits, and with a lot of time, the tree reaches its full, beautiful potential. This is the primary advantage to immortality. We can cultivate from beginning to end; with gentle guidance and good stewardship, we can make trees grow to their fullest potential.”

“I understand,” North Star said to Luna.

“Ripple is my mighty oak. She’s still a bit of an acorn right now, but she has potential. I want her to come home. Am I understood?” Luna’s eyebrow arched.

“Yes… Luna,” North Star replied, “I understand.”

“You are my sister’s mighty oak. Do not break my sister’s tender heart. You are to come home as well. That is an order. Am I understood?” Luna’s eyebrow arched a little bit more.

North Star nodded his head up and down. “I will listen and obey.”

“Do not fail me… friend,” Luna said in a low voice.

Extending his wing, North Star saluted once more, his eyes now glimmering with tears that he could no longer hold back. North Star made a strange grunt, and then, unable to help himself, he reached out with both wings, grabbed Luna, and crushed her to his chest, squeezing her as hard as he could in a wing hug.

Luna, a changed pony, extended her own wings and returned the hug…

 

 

Piña Colada, sitting on the sofa and propped up with cushions, held little Berry Pinch in her forelegs. The little foal was quiet, a little sleepy, and she kept yawning but would not go to sleep. It had been a long day for Piña, school had been super difficult, and she had a lot of homework that needed to be done.

But priorities were priorities. Piña needed little sister time (little brother time would have been fine too) and wee little Pinchy was available. The other foals were nursing, being cuddled, getting cleaned, or were otherwise engaged somehow.

Being oh so very careful, Piña gave wee little Pinchy a bounce and then began rocking her back and forth. It was clear that the little pink foal was sleepy, but was making a mighty effort against the impending nap.

Holding Pinchy, Piña marveled that a pony could get a second chance. And that was what Berry Pinch was getting, a second chance. The little filly was happier now, she giggled, she was pleasant, and perhaps the most important thing of all, she didn’t try to bite. No more pinchy pinchy from wee little Pinchy.

Pinchy burbled and blew a spit bubble then went quiet. Piña smiled and gave her smaller sibling a squeeze. A warm, happy feeling filled Piña, and she let out a quiet, happy laugh.

“Berry is going to be such a good mother to you,” Piña said in a low voice to Pinchy. “She was to me. Sure, we’ve have our fights and our ups and downs, but she’s been there for me. She loves me and I know it. She rescued me. She didn’t have to look after her bratty little sister, but she did.” Piña went quiet and looked over at Sentinel who was trying to get little Barley to talk. After a moment of thoughtful reflection, she continued, “You had a rough go of things. You got a second chance. You also got really lucky, because now, you have Berry and I, and I want to be like my big sister Berry. I want to look after my little sisters and brothers because of what she did for me.” Piña gave Pinchy a little squeeze and watched as the foal closed her eyes. This time, they did not open and wee little Pinchy drifted off in Piña’s embrace.

 

 

Blinking his eyes, Bucky awoke. His vision was blurry, his mouth was dry, and there was a very different foal in his embrace than he expected. He yawned, his tongue feeling leathery, and then looked down at Bell Heather. She was looking up at him, having been awakened when he awoke. She looked a bit fussy and gave him what Bucky could only consider a cross look. Bucky saw all of the warning signs; the quivering lip, the shimmering eyes, the wide pupils, Bell was going to have a fit.

There was only one thing to do.

Before the worst could happen, Bucky pressed his muzzle into Bell’s tummy and blew a raspberry. There were several long seconds as Bell’s brain tried to process everything taking place. She was about to unleash a tantrum, she was fussy, she wanted to be sleeping and she had been woken up. But now, there was an unprecedented level of stimulation upon her belly.

There was only one thing to do.

Little Bell exploded with laughter, kicked her legs, and tried to get away from her daddy before it happened again. She let out a whoop, laughed even more, and then squealed when her father’s muzzle pressed against her stomach once more.

There was a ripping, flatulent sound and then Bell pealed with laughter.

There was a rustle of feathers and Bucky looked up, expecting to see Belisama. Instead, he found himself looking into the eyes of Magpie, the nanny. She had an amused expression upon her face; Bucky had lived around griffons just long enough to recognise it when he saw it.

“Hello, Magpie.”

“Hello,” Magpie replied. She fluffed out a bit and her crest rose. “Little Bell came home with her mother after a hard day of work. She was tuckered out and she squalled something awful until we put her with you.”

“Aw, she missed me,” Bucky mumbled in a happy voice.

“Daddoo,” Bell Heather said in a matter-of-fact voice. “Daddoo?”

“Thistle brought home a big fat fresh trout for you. I would recommend you get it before Sentinel does. He keeps opening the ice box and sniffing at it.” Magpie’s head cocked off to one side and her eyes focused on Bucky.

“That little fish filcher better not steal my supper,” Bucky said as he set Bell Heather down upon the floor. He slipped out of the bowl shaped chair, stretched his spine out, winced when he heard a loud crackle, and then laughed as Bell toddled away on stubby legs.

Yawning yet again, Bucky headed off for the bathroom, leaving Bell with Magpie.

 

 

 

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