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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“Where have you two been all day?” Rising Star demanded, finally finding his missing wives. He raised his eyebrow and glared at them with what he hoped was gentle anger. He really didn’t want either of them afraid of him.

“We went flying for a while. And then we landed out in the middle of an island in another loch that can be found a fair distance from here. After that, we had a sisterly talk. So there,” Loch Skimmer replied. Feeling saucy, she cautiously stuck out her tongue, worried that Rising Star might take it wrong. She had seen Sparkler do it, and Sparkler got away with an awful lot for a female.

“You scared me,” Rising Star stated. He was secretly pleased that Loch Skimmer had stuck out her tongue. It inflamed his desire for her. “So what did you talk about?” he asked in a soft voice.

Loch Skimmer, taken off guard by Rising Star’s lack of anger felt a little more emboldened. “Sister stuff!” she said with a snort. “What sort of day have you had?” Loch Skimmer asked, changing the subject.

“Yeah, sister stuff,” Ripple repeated.

Rising Star rolled his eyes. “Keg Smasher thanked us for destroying the undead. I earned a title and now I am Lord Rising Star apparently. Which makes both of you a Lady through marriage. Sparkler earned a title too, and some kind of promotion. Keg called her a Buck Sergeant. I don’t even know what that is or what it means, but I am so proud of Sparkler right now,” Rising Star reported.

“So Sparkler got a title and a rank, you just got a title, and you’re happy for her?” Ripple asked, looking more than a little confused. Her muzzle scrunched.

“Yeah, she did. Why is that a big deal?” Rising Star asked.

“But you… you’re male. She’s a female. She got something and you didn’t. And you’re not angry? Jealous?” Ripple inquired.

“Why would I be any of those things? Sparkler was scared out of her mind. And you didn’t see her…. she just charged. At that moment, she was never more beautiful. She didn’t want anypony else to die. She deserves a little extra because of how hard it was on her,” Rising Star explained.

“I’m having some trouble taking this in,” Ripple said.

“I am too,” Loch Skimmer admitted.

“So because I am male I should be angry because Sparkler got a rank in the military and I didn’t?” Rising Star asked in confusion.

“Well, I dunno,” Loch Skimmer said.

Ripple started to reply, made a half hearted squeak, and then fell silent.

“But now she’s a Buck Sergeant and you are not,” Loch Skimmer muttered.

“Hey, I get to shag a Buck Sergeant,” Rising Star pointed out.

Loch Skimmer began to giggle nervously and then she slipped into guffaws that were free of any sort of apprehension. She stood on three legs and laughed with her eyes squeezed shut.

“My sister sometimes,” Ripple quipped. “And Sparkler, she has rank now, as bossy as she is, she is going to be impossible to live with,” she added.

Loch stopped laughing suddenly. “Oh my gosh you are right Ripple,” Loch blurted out. “Rising Star, my sister and I talked. Quite a bit of it was about you. About what we did. About me getting my filly ribbon busted. How gentle you were. I’ve been worried that she is the way she is because of fear… after a number of things that have happened she has a right to be afraid. I was trying to tell her she has nothing to be afraid of,” she explained.

“Oh… I see,” Rising Star said, now blushing a bit.

Ripple looked at her sister and advanced on Rising Star, drawing close. “Thank you,” she stated in a timid quavering voice.

“For what?” Rising Star asked.

“For making my sister better,” Ripple said.

“I, uh, oh, er, I…” Rising Star stammered.

“Please never betray my trust,” Ripple begged. “It is fragile and so easily broken. I want to trust you like my sister does, because I want to be happy,” she said.

Unable to say anything, Rising Star wrapped a foreleg around Ripple’s neck and hugged her close. He held her for several minutes, she was tense at first but relaxed slowly, and once he felt her relax he buried his face into her pale blue mane.

Loch Skimmer, watching this, smiled and hoped that her sister would one day share her happiness.

 

 

Bucky prepared himself for what was sure to be a long night. There was a lot of work to do, and he was going to be doing it alone. Other ponies were beginning to settle into the bed and Bucky could hear soft voices still talking about the events of the day, murmurs of Piña having magic and the talk of two sets of twins.

The two sets of twins made what he was about to do even easier.

Bucky needed to live, needed to survive impossible odds. He needed a trump card, and after much planning, he believed that he had one.

“You look well rested for once,” Bon Bon said.

“I feel rather well rested,” Bucky said.

“It is easier for us to be awake at night,” Sentinel announced.

“I think you are right Sentinel,” Bucky agreed. “And the night should fear us.”

Sentinel nodded slowly, his face flashing with emotion for a brief instant before going blank. “Did Lyra brush away the itchies? Are you going to be able to work?” Sentinel asked.

“I think so… and thank you Lyra,” Bucky replied.

The unicorn smiled at Bucky. “Thanks for being sweet to me,” she said in reply.

“Look after our foal,” Bucky instructed. “And try to comb her mane, it kinda sti-”

“There is nothing wrong with her mane!” Bon Bon snapped in interruption.

Grinning sheepishly, Bucky backed away towards the door.

“You’re in no position to talk you scruffy little hairball,” Bon Bon grumbled.

 

 

The lab was dark. Bucky saw no reason to light any lamps or use any candles. His emerald eye glowed green and filled the room with a light that was easy on his remaining eye, bathing everything in a soft green luminescence that was strangely relaxing.

Bucky carefully laid out the salt into a perfect heptagram with his magic. The floor had been scrubbed and carefully prepared. Bucky had pulled the spells from Sombra’s memories. He felt ready. Tonight, Bucky was going to make a bold gambit and he hoped that it would pay off.

He understood that what he was doing was considered wrong by other ponies, but Bucky wasn’t sure if he considered what he was doing wrong. It was unicorn cleverness and a means to get a leg up on what was sure to be a terrible foe.

There was simply too much at stake to risk a chance of losing.

Bucky closed his eye and summoned his magic. But not his harmony magic. When he opened his eye, it was a glaring red colour and the white of his eye had turned a pestilent shade of green. Black flames wreathed his horn.

Using his magic, he sliced open his leg, cutting deep, needing blood. Sometimes, magic meant suffering. He shook his leg over the center of the heptagram, sprinkling blood in the center.

Terrible words came out of his mouth, ancient guttural words, more growls and grunts than anything, words now mostly forgotten, lost in time. The air around him crackled. Motes of black energy floated all around him. A soft purple glow formed around the heptagram.

And then, Bucky was not alone in the lab.

A small fell creature stood within the heptagram, a strange looking monstrosity, it looked like it was part ape and part hippopotamus. In blinked a few times, and then stared down at the blood on the stone floor, licking its lips.

“Think of it as a peace offering,” Bucky growled. “For your cooperation,” he added.

The creature began to greedily lap up the blood and then looked at Bucky hungrily. “What do you want?” the creature croaked.

“I want information imp, and in payment, I offer you freedom,” Bucky replied.

“Freedom?” the imp inquired, scarcely believing its good luck.

“I give you my word, I will free you,” Bucky offered.

“What sort of freedom?” the imp asked in lawyerly tones.

“Freedom from your suffering. I will release you from your bondage,” Bucky said in his most authoritative voice.

“I see…” the imp stated. “What do you want to know?” it asked, looking hopeful.

“I need to create armor for a battle. I will be fighting corrupted shadow creatures. But they are the least of my concerns. Fighting their master worries me. I have seen signs of necromancy and strong dark magic. I need to know how to defend myself. I’ve heard that the blood of demons infused into metal will grant considerable protection against dark magic,” Bucky replied.

The imp nodded enthusiastically. “Oh yes, the blood of demons would help you. If you would like, for some more of your blood, I could give you the name of a very powerful demon you could summon. With his name, you could control him. Bleed him dry. Make him screech,” the imp croaked.

Bucky pondered the imp’s offer and peered at the imp thoughtfully. “Harvesting the blood…” he asked. “Your kind are almost functionally immortal on this plane. I could say, cut off your arm, make you bleed, harvest your blood, and your arm would grow back, am I correct?”

The imp began to look nervous. “Yeah… my arm would grow back,” it replied.

“So long as the heart exists, you continue to live. A big dangerous demon would have a heart that is very difficult to get to, so I would have to do a lot of chopping to wear him down and subdue him. Meanwhile, he would be healing rapidly and using his own magic against me. I assume that at some point, he would break free of the heptagram,” Bucky reasoned.

The imp nodded, his nervousness now gone, replaced by a gleeful expression at the idea of violence against other demons.

“So if the heart was say, ripped free from the body, what would happen?” Bucky asked.

“We would grow a new body so long as the heart survived intact,” the imp answered.

“And the heart would continue to bleed?” Bucky inquired.

“Yes,” the imp said evilly. “Much suffering. The big nasty demon would feel the pain of having to grow back a body. So much pain. Pain. PAIN! Delicious! I could tell you his name!” the fell creature said excitedly.

“And with this big demon, what if I found a way to keep the body from growing back, but kept the heart preserved? What would happen?” Bucky questioned.

“Then the big nasty would suffer and suffer and SUFFER!” the imp singsonged. “A pain unimaginable by mortals! Endless agony. So beautiful…” it shrieked gleefully. “Hey… you think like us… you’re not so bad for a pony,” the imp complimented.

Bucky smiled broadly, revealing his fangs. He took a perverse pleasure in watching the imp study him appreciatively.

“You know the value of suffering,” the imp said in a serious voice. “Power in pain. You are like us. You have seen beautiful misery. You have felt agony and the rush of power that it brings. You’re like us. You’ve seen enlightenment!”

“I have,” Bucky agreed. “And now, our conversation is nearly over. I must confess, when I planned this, I assumed that what I would do would free you from your suffering, but it seems that I am wrong. For this, I am glad. I want you to suffer,” Bucky hissed. “How many of my kind have you tormented?”

The imp panicked and its eyes went wide. It began to claw at its throat as invisible bonds tightened around it. It tried to speak, but no words came out, only a guttural utterance that sounded like “glurk” if such a word as “glurk” actually existed.

“You’re tiny and pathetic, but as long as I keep your heart beating, you should provide me with what I need,” Bucky said as he went to work. Tendrils of dark magic writhed along the imp’s body and Bucky enjoyed watching the imp squirm.

The magic cut deeply into the imp’s flesh and Bucky began to pull him open. After ripping open the filly in the farmhouse, this was shockingly easy. He had felt bad for the filly, it grieved him know what he had done to her body, and he was going to spend the rest of his life making it up to her by raising her foal. But he felt no such guilt as the imp was slowly torn asunder.

“For too long, your kind has preyed on my kind. You feed on our fear. You keep hate in our world. You reach into the dreams of ponies and feast upon their suffering. You plant horrible thoughts into the minds of my kind. You are the source of so many tears upon the cheeks of foals,” Bucky snarled as he worked.

AND YOU SHOULD BE AFRAID,” Bucky roared.

The imp looked down and watched as its chest was rent open. It could feel every cut, every slice, every careful stroke of magic. It was beautiful and even the imp felt impressed somewhere deep inside. As he watched, his heart was carved from his chest along with a giant lump of gristle and other meaty bits. As he tumbled over backwards, his body going limp, he watched his still beating heart spurt a little dribble of blood. He reached up weakly with one nine fingered hand, wanting to put his heart back into his chest where it belonged.

Bucky impaled the heart on his horn, stabbing it through the meaty chunk of gristle so the heart itself would not be damaged. Moving swiftly, he phased the still beating heart inside of the glass globe he had so carefully created the night before. It passed through the artifact glass and then Bucky gently shook it free.

He stood back and waited, his ear to the glass. He began to worry, fearing that his attempt had failed. And then, he heard it. A faint thumping sound as the heart thudded inside of its glass prison, now held in stasis.

He turned away from the horrible artifact he had created and surveyed his mess. The body would need to be disposed of. He relaxed his will and ended the spell that had called the creature forth into this plane. In moments, the body faded and fell back into Tartarus. He used the salt to clean the blood from the floor, and then he carefully collected the bloody salt and placed inside of a container. Using a pen, he marked the container carefully, labeling its contents, and then checked for any further signs of mess. Everything looked fine.

Using a scrap of cloth, he wiped the blood from his horn and then, when he could contain himself no longer, he went to the glass globe with the still beating demon heart and gave it a gentle shake with his magic.

Inside, there was a faint sloshing sound as it began to fill with liquid. Bucky chuckled to himself. He had his trump card. He placed the orb back into its stand. With time, he would have the demon blood he needed to enchant his armor.

His work finished, he looked at the door. He was tired, what he had done had taken a lot out of him. He decided to call it quits for the night.

 

 

Bucky settled himself on the sofa beside Sentinel and smiled at those who shared the night with him. Sentinel’s back was healing and the foal was looking much better. Bon Bon crawled onto the sofa beside him and he leaned into her. His muscles relaxed as Bon Bon stroked him.

“Lyra has named the foal,” Bon Bon whispered.

“Oh really?” Bucky replied.

Lyra, hearing Bon Bon, nodded. “She’s obsessed with my enchanted lyre,” Lyra said in a low soft voice. “I’ve named her Harper Heartstrings,” the unicorn said joyfully in a low whisper.

“Might I hold little Harper?” Bucky asked.

Lyra blushed and lifted the foal up in her magic, passing it to Bucky.

Bucky leaned against Bon Bon a bit more and then cradled Harper in his forelegs. She cooed and burbled a bit, spitting and drooling everywhere, and Bucky treasured her warmth after the cold act he had just endured. “Hi there Harper. You have a name now. You should feel special, most foals around here don’t get a name for a very long time,” he whispered as he pressed his snoot against the foal.

Harper responded by gumming the edge of Bucky’s nostril and flapping her lips, soaking Bucky in slobber.

There was a time in Bucky’s life where he would have had a meltdown following such an event, but now he felt comforted. Harper’s eyes turned to look at the floating golden lyre and her little legs kicked as she squirmed in his embrace.

Bon Bon, being the sharp eyed earth pony that she was, saw the gash on Bucky’s foreleg and the dried blood. She looked at it curiously, wondering how Bucky had suffered such an injury in the lab, but said nothing, hoping not to spoil the precious moment.

 

Author's Note:

Ugh, I hated writing so much of this chapter. I knew it was coming, I've been dreading it now for a long time, and writing parts of this made me feel physically ill. The only consolation I have is revealing Harper's name at the end.

As stated, the orb is something of a grave. Bucky's. It was painful writing that, knowing I was killing off something I can't quite put into words. I feel really bad right now.

 
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