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


118. 118

The entire herd sat in glum silence, unsure of what to make of Bucky’s words. He had told them everything that he knew, which was very little. The foals were frightened, and clung to one another for comfort. Even Sentinel seemed unnerved and leaned gingerly upon Ripple. Wheatberry was sandwiched between Piña and Dinky, looking quite frightened.

“It would take a type three to raise even one reanimated corpse. But to raise an army of the undead like that, all at once, and make everypony sick?” Lyra asked of nopony in particular and breaking the silence. “That’s like a type four or even alicorn level magic.”

“It scares me that you know this,” Bon Bon murmured as she squeezed Lyra gently.

“I wish I knew how I know this. I just remember coming around on the Ponyville train platform and my head was full of things I shouldn’t know and I don’t remember learning,” Lyra replied.

“So if we get bitten, will we become zombies?” Sparkler asked timidly, not wanting to look stupid.

“No,” Bucky stated flatly.

“No Sparkler, you need a lot of magic to reanimate even one dead body. There’s no known way of just randomly reanimating the dead. The energy required to move a body under magical motivation is immense and has to come from somewhere. What you see in those lousy movies isn’t based on solid magical theory or science. If reanimation was based on bites, the energy would split upon the instant of the bite, and be halved, with one half remaining in the host, and the other half going to the pony bitten. And you would have two very weak undead,” Lyra explained.

“And further bites would continue to weaken them,” Bucky continued.

“I see,” Sparkler said.

“Does taking off their heads work?” Rising Star asked. He had seen a lot of zombie movies, and he realised that everything he knew was probably worthless.

“No Rising, think of the dead body as a golem. It is animated. It does not require a brain. Destroying the head merely keeps it from biting and devouring. The undead do try and eat others, converting flesh into energy to keep going. Fresh fed undead can move very quickly while undead that haven’t snacked on anypony for a while continue to operate in a sort of low energy mode,” Lyra answered.

“Total obliteration is required. Most reanimated corpses regenerate over time. Slowly but surely. They’ll have to be dismembered to stop them from fighting and then burned,” Bucky explained.

“So how are we doing this?” Sparkler asked.

At Sparkler’s words Derpy let out a low growl. She wasn’t happy about this at all, but hadn’t said anything so far. She snatched up Piña, Dinky, and Wheatberry and began to squeeze them in her forelegs, kissing each of them on the head.

“Rising Star burns them. I freeze them solid. Lyra unloads lightning on them, which will probably set them on fire due to electrical burns. And you will find a way to deal damage, of this I am certain,” Bucky said  to Sparkler with a grim smile. “Nothing too flashy though. We don’t know what we are dealing with, and we don’t want to burn out right away. We’ll need to conserve our energy and let loose in controlled outbursts. Fire will be most efficient. Once they start burning, they should keep burning,” Bucky stated.

Rising Star nodded. “I guess this is good practice,” he said in a strangled voice.

“Lyra can’t go alone,” Bon Bon announced.

Bucky scowled.

“She can’t. If she has a panic attack, I am the only one that can calm her down. And you as well Bucky,” Bon Bon retorted. “I protect what is mine. I have need of you for my future plans. I’m going.”

As much as he didn’t want to, Bucky nodded in agreement.

“I know a spell that will allow us to track the undead,” Lyra said sheepishly. “I don’t know how I know it,” she muttered quietly.

“So we hunt them down, hit them hard, and then make it home before the sun sets,” Rising Star said, summarising everything. “What if everything doesn’t go as planned?”

“We cut our losses for a day, we come home, and we set out again the next day. As bad as it might be leaving those… thingswandering around, we are the ones best suited for stopping them. We cannot place ourselves at risk. We will leave several hours before the sun actually sets to give ourselves plenty of time to return home. Soon, our time will come and we will strike back against the darkness. Now is not yet that time though,” Bucky replied.

“That’s awful. What sort of sick depraved psycho unleashes a horde of zombies on an island where there is nowhere to run?” Berry Punch asked, looking very disturbed.

“It does seem cruelly effective,” Thistle replied. “Bucky, no getting hurt. Please. I think I speak for all of us when I say that you have more to fear from us than you do from those reanimated corpses. Don’t do anything stupid,” the kelpie begged.

“Yeah, no playing the hero. If you come home all bitten and chewed up, I don’t think I can take it,” Derpy said as she squeezed the foals in her forelegs again.

“Which one of you has been giving Thistle lessons?” Bucky asked.

Berry Punch and Derpy Hooves looked at one another and then glared at Bucky in unison. Bucky slumped under the withering stare of the two mares.

“I bet that this is what you were doing when you all got together today… how to wrangle your husbands,” Bucky muttered.

“None of your beeswax,” Derpy replied.

“Oh by Luna’s stars, that is what you were doing today… having some big mare get together and explaining to the fillies how to lead us around by the nose! Ugh!” Bucky exclaimed.

Derpy continued to hold her foals but now looked even more unsettled.

“I am not a filly,” Thistle insisted, her face contorting into a pout. “I am a mare. And don’t you forget it Buckminster Bitters, or I will make your days miserable and your nights even worse!”

“Ugh, she was so sweet and innocent,” Bucky muttered. He cast an accusing glance at Berry Punch and she looked back at him smugly. Bucky knew how to wipe that smug look off of Berry’s face and silently resolved to do so the first chance he got.

“You’re stubborn and pig headed and it takes an army of us to keep you in line,” Thistle quipped.

“I feel unsettled by this revelation,” Rising Star muttered.

“Oh shush,” Loch Skimmer said timidly to her husband. She looked apologetic even as she said it. She reached out a wing and touched Rising Star gently. “We love you and want to look after your better interests. I don’t think you’re headstrong like Bucky, and I said so today that all we have to do is nudge you in the right direction,” she said softly. She became aware of what she said a moment later and realised that several mares were now staring at her. “Oh bother,” she squeaked.

“Oh that’s it, Rising, we’re going to have our own secret meetings,” Bucky snapped.

“There are far more important things to be discussing,” Sparkler said forcefully. “Yes, mom tried to give us some helpful advice and we all talked about the males in our lives that we love and how to keep them safe. We have more pressing issues.”

“Yes,” Bucky agreed. “Lyra, we are going to need you well rested for tomorrow. If you are well rested, that means letting down our guard and dealing with the cold. And waking up feeling unsettled and afraid. Also, I am worried about Keg Smasher. I don’t know how to help him. The cold and the fear will not be good for him in his condition,” Bucky said.

“We can’t help him Bucky… it pains me to admit it, but I don’t see a way of doing it,” Lyra said. “And if you want me awake and aware for tomorrow, you’re right. It means me sleeping tonight. Which means no magical enchanted lyre to keep the fear away,” Lyra replied. She looked sad and defeated.

“I can do it,” Dinky said from her mother’s arms.

“Dinky?” Bucky asked.

“My bees can make music, remember? I’ve been practicing sometimes. Ask Piña,” Dinky answered.

Piña nodded and squirmed in Derpy’s grasp. “We’re little, but we’re not helpless,” she insisted.

“Staying awake all night and keeping my magic going might be tough,” Dinky said.

“We have a few hours before sundown,” Derpy said. “You could get a nap and we could wake you,” she said, her voice filled with maternal pride.

“Dinky, if you can do this, it will be a big help for all of us,” Bucky said solemnly.

“I know,” Dinky said. “I’ll need some help though. If I start to nod off I’ll need somepony to poke me,” she added.

“I will aid you my sister,” Sentinel said.

“I know you will,” Dinky said.

“I’m in,” Ripple announced. “Sentinel isn’t the only noble pegasus around here. If he can do it, so can I,” she stated.

“We should let Dinky sleep now,” Derpy said.

“Problem is, I am not sleepy,” Dinky said.

“I can fix that,” Bucky offered.

“Oooh foal raising is going to be nice with a unicorn in the house,” Derpy said. “There is still some junk food in the trunk. I think Dinky will need the extra sugar to keep her going to through the night,” the mare suggested.

“That seems wise,” Bucky agreed. “Dinky, I want you to understand something. By doing this, you are potentially saving the lives of other ponies.”

Dinky blinked a few times and struggled to take in her father’s words. She looked very confused and a little bit frightened. “So if I fail that means…”

“You will not fail,” Bucky said soothingly. “You’ve been learning what I have to teach you, right? Control? Do you remember your lesson after I was mauled by the wolves and I told you what I did wrong? Did you take it to heart Dinks?” he inquired.

Dinky nodded. “I think about it all the time,” she answered. “I had to stop being such a foal after that.”

“Dinky, being a type three means that certain expectations are placed upon you. It isn’t fair. We can either run from what is expected for us or we can rise to the challenge,” Lyra said to Dinky.

“But it isn’t that different from other types of ponies. Among us earth ponies, the biggest and the strongest of us are expected to pull the heaviest loads. Being gifted means giving more of yourself in return,” Berry said with a nod to Lyra.

“Or in the case of being a pegasus like Keg Smasher, being the biggest and the strongest means that you are expected to hold the line and defend everypony smaller than you are, and everypony is smaller than Keg Smasher,” Bucky said.

“Daddy’s big,” Wheatberry said sadly. Her ears were folded back against her head and she looked frightened.

“Your daddy is a giant,” Derpy said. “And a hero,” she said to the distraught foal.

“We need to let Dinky sleep. Dinky, you and I will spend a bit of time together when you wake up,” Bucky promised. “I’m proud of you.”

“Sentinel is going to be a monster when he grows,” Ripple said.

“Then I shall have to protect everypony smaller than I am,” Sentinel stated.

Bucky lifted Dinky away from Derpy in his magic and carried her to the bed. He set her down gently, kissed her on the head, and then touched her gently with his snoot. A moment later, Ripple was in the bed. She lifted her head and exposed her cheek to Bucky, waiting for a kiss, which Bucky gave her.

“I probably will not make it through the night, but it doesn’t stop me from trying,” Piña said as she jumped into the bed after working free from Derpy’s embrace. “We sisters have to stick together.”

“Yes we do,” Loch Skimmer said. She hobbled to the bed on three legs and settled in with the foals. “I’ll take first watch in keeping Dinky awake. And then somepony else can take over. We’re bound to have a busy day tomorrow, and the rest of us will need to function,” she stated.

“Good idea,” Berry said. “I’ll relieve you.”

“And I’ll take the last watch,” Derpy said. “That’s what, three hours each?”

“About that,” Berry answered.

“Nine hours of keeping my bees humming,” Dinky said, her voice full of honest foalish fear.

“I’ll give you some tips,” Lyra promised. She approached the bed and gently kissed the fillies each in turn.

“Don’t be afraid,” Bucky said. “You were meant for greater things. Now sleep,” he said, his words carrying magical compulsion.

Dinky tried to say something in reply but found that the darkness was impossible to resist. Her fear melted away and the last thing she was aware of was Loch spreading her wing over her, making her feel safe and secure.








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