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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The helmet was massive and thick. It hit the table with a loud clang which reverberated through the smithy. Lugus peered down and tapped upon the thick glass visor and then ran a claw over the faux fangs along the muzzle extension.

“That helmet has to weigh a good twenty pounds,” Lugus muttered as he tapped on it once again. “It is so decorative. So beautifully crafted. You can get away with such detail because you can make this feather light.”

Bucky nodded. “Yes I can. And I plan to do so. When I am done, it should maybe weigh two to four pounds or so. Maybe less. The steel is very dense, very solid. There is only so much I can do. Wood is much easier to enchant for lightness.”

“Good steel takes heat,” Lugus remarked.

Rising Star squirmed awkwardly at the griffon’s words.

“Yes it does. Rising Star’s efforts are invaluable. I can’t make anything that hot with out a lot of effort, and it would deplete me quickly trying to maintain it. Rising Star can do it with hardly any effort at all. Look at him, he’s not even trying,” Bucky commented with a wry grin.

Crush nodded in approval of Bucky’s words and then lifted the helmet on his hoof. He looked at the horn hole, examined the glass visor, the faux dragon snout, and the decorative frills that would cover Bucky’s ears. He set the helmet back down and nodded once again.

“The back plates are impressive, the chest plate seems solid, and each day more pieces come together. And this has been infused with the blood from that orb?” Lugus inquired.

“Yes,” Bucky replied.

“Can you make my hook-axe infused with that?” Lugus asked.

“I could. After its creation, you would never need to sharpen it. Nor could you. The metal would heal,” Bucky answered. He levitated the helmet to his head and carefully tried it on. His horn went through the hole and the helmet glowed in a faint blue green haze as it powered up.

“The helm, like the rest of the armor, is magic reactive. Contact with my horn powers it. The armor will connect all of its pieces together in a powerful magical field, sort of like how two magnets will cling together,” Bucky announced. The helmet changed his voice. His usual sonorus and regal voice was now replaced with something horrifying, something demonic, something fear inducing, and even Lugus felt unnerved by the sound of Bucky’s voice. “I see the fear spell is working. Mwahahahahahah!” he cackled, he then watched the results in an almost sadistic glee as every pony in the room trembled and the big griffon fluffed out his feathers in fear.

“Was that wholly necessary?” Rising Star inquired in a fearful squeak. “I… I… I very nearly pissed myself!”

Crush nodded and then left the smithy, stepping out the door for what seemed the most obvious reasons, snorting as he left.

“Entirely necessary,” Bucky replied in a demonic growl. “I might have to fight more than wolves. This gives me an edge. If I project the Voice through his helmet, I could even the odds a bit if I am outnumbered,” he explained.

“Oh stars, the Royal Canterlot Voice would be awful!,” Rising Star whined as he cringed away from Bucky and his horrible helmet. “Please, take it off,” he begged.

Bucky lifted the helmet from his head and set it down upon the table. The faint blue-green glow faded as it powered down. “Still needs a few more enchantments and then it will be finished.”

“Do you think it would stop bullets?” Lugus asked.

“Without a doubt. Not many guns around after the global firearms ban ultimatum,” Bucky answered. “Would stop cannonballs too. Kinetic dispersal is the ultimate trump card when it comes to armor creation. I am really glad I took the highest level of enchantment training in school.”

“So if Crush or I were to smash the helmet with that big hammer, what would happen exactly?” Lugus inquired.

“The hammer would shatter like glass and every bone in your upper body would probably explode into tiny fragments as the resulting shockwave flowed through you,” Bucky replied. His horn lit and a thin beam focused on the helm. A symbol was carefully drawn along the top ridge of the muzzle extension, a stream of smoke rising from the metal as the magical glyph was burned into place.

“How are you able to enchant it if it is magically resistant?” Rising asked.

“Ah good, a question with the opportunity to instruct with the answer. Magical attunement Rising Star,” Bucky said in reply.

“Magical attunement?” Rising Star inquired.

“You will notice how the armor powered up when it touched my horn. It is attuned to me and me only. If you put the helmet on your head, it would hurt you quite a bit, you’d have a horn-ache for hours. It is attuned to my magical signature, this means that the spells I cast on it always work. It won’t resist me. As the creator of the armor, my magic is permanently infused into the metal, and because of that, it will always respond to me and me only. This is why so many unicorn relics are useless after their creator dies,” Bucky explained.

“What about those war shoes you are making for Ripple?” Rising Star asked, looking at the four shoes sitting on a rack in the corner.

“Those are different. Those aren’t powered. They’re enchanted. But yes, I plan to attune them to Ripple. She will be the only pony who can wear them. And because of this, those shoes will always fit her, even as she grows. I plan to include a number of useful enchantments and enhancements. She’ll never need to worry about breaking her legs while wearing them, provided she hits something hoof first,” Bucky replied as he continued to add glyphs to the helmet.

“To make such extravagant gifts for your foals,” Lugus said. “Among my kind, nothing is ever given, it is earned or taken by force. If you are not strong enough to keep something, you do not deserve to have it,” he added.

“So why did your king ask you to kill his son?” Bucky asked.

Lugus grunted and then squawked in surprise, his beak falling open in shock.

“Sorry… delicate subject I guess,” Bucky apologised.

“I was not expecting it,” Lugus stated as he regained his composure and smoothed out his ruffled feathers. “He found his son disgraceful. When I found out everything that happened, I of course refused to kill his son. I fled in disgrace as a coward.”

“What happened?” Rising Star asked softly.

“There is the ancient practice we griffons have, and it disgusts me. I do not find it honourable. We call it The Hunt. A pony or a zebra is prepared for quite a long time, it is conditioned for speed, it is taught to hide. It is given hope by being constantly told that if it can survive The Hunt, it shall go free. The practice is supposed to be outlawed as outlined in the current treaty, but the nobles still continue the practice of owning slaves and holding Hunts. Anyway, nothing ever survives The Hunt. Afterwards, when the prey is caught, it's skinned carefully, with all attempts made to keep it alive during the skinning. It is a horrible practice, done entirely for bragging rights. After the skinning, if it is still alive, it is carefully skewered on a spit, and, if done with skill and care, kept alive through the impalement. Then, it is roasted alive until it dies, and the flesh is eaten. It is a barbaric practice of cruelty,” Lugus explained. He fell silent, clearly suffering from a burst of emotion.

“That’s horrible,” Rising Star gasped, his eyes wide in shock.

“The king’s son refused to take part in the practice. He fled and crossed the river, finding sanctuary with the other king. I was ordered to cross the river and kill him… as if I was some common assassin! The GALL!” Lugus said, his word ending with a roar. “To be able to swear fealty to a worthy king. A chief. A laird. To find a noble cause”

“Swear fealty to Bucky,” Rising Star suggested.

“What?” Bucky and Lugus said in unison.

“Bucky has created a new tribe. We are a tribe. Bucky is the chief of our tribe. We’re small, but we’re good sorts,” Rising Star explained.

“Rising Star, we’re a tribe of ponies,” Bucky said.

“Who make no distinctions. We have horns, wings, and fins. Why should we discriminate against griffons? Why not add beaks to our list? He’s raising Peekaboo, and Peekaboo spends all day in the room with Harper. Why can’t we be a tribe of sapient creatures that make no distinctions?” Rising Star questioned.

“You’re absolutely right,” Bucky answered as he turned to look at Rising Star. Bucky blinked his remaining eye several times as his brain tried to register this new idea his beliefs and his ideals. “We should be a tribe of similar hearts and minds. Bodies shouldn’t matter, only what we believe,” he said in a low emotion filled voice.

“Well?” Rising Star said somewhat impatiently.

“Would you join us Lugus? I don’t mean joining my herd directly, but my tribe… we could lead by example. Show that peace is possible… that we can coexist,” Bucky invited.

“And it would be good for Peekaboo,” Rising Star quipped.

Lugus reached up and scratched his feathered crest with his claws as he studied Bucky. He made a confused sounding squawk and then began to look around the smithy. He sat down and his wings began to fidget as he tried to concentrate.

“Our cause is noble and our way is just,” Rising Star stated.

“It would be an honour to have you among our number,” Bucky said to Lugus in a low regal voice. “I am a deeply flawed individual, but I do have vision. I have ideas. And Rising Star is right. We need to live our message. If you want peace between our kind, we need to show that we can live together.”

“I lived in Equestria and I was always treated as an outsider. I was never truly welcomed. Even after my story became known, ponies treated me with suspicion. There was a zebra in the town where I settled, and he was treated poorly as well. It always bothered me that I was never welcomed,” Lugus said in a pained voice.

“Well, allow us to make it up to you,” Rising Star offered. “Let us prove that not all ponies are xenophobic jerks. All we have is each other. Do you think they will be any kinder to Bucky with how he now looks? Sorry Bucky, but it is true and I know you know it.”

Bucky nodded, fully aware of the consequences of his appearance.

“He is marked with honour, his scars are his proof of survival after battle… why would your kind reject him after the great service he has performed for them?” Lugus inquired.

“Because ponies are stupid,” Rising Star answered, stating the obvious.

The comment should have been funny, but there was no laughter. Three serious faces all regarded one another solemnly. Bucky reached up scratched the deformed side of his face. Lugus raised his talons and drummed his claws upon the table. And Rising Star realised that he had actually shown some real adult maturity and depth.

“I would join you if you will have me,” Lugus said.

“Great!” Rising Star exclaimed. “Hey, Bucky, you know that snowflake that you drew? You should turn that into a pendant. I’d wear one. Put it on a chain around my neck. It could be our tribal marking.”

Bucky nodded slowly. “That might be interesting,” he said to Rising Star. “Lugus, I will accept your service. I require no complicated oath, only that you place family and tribe first, and that you are a good father to your foal, which I know you will be.”

“I swore to Peekaboo’s dying mother that I would look after her foal. I would not break such an oath. I give you my word that I will uphold your ideals and your values, they do not seem in conflict with mine. I will defend you, all of our tribemates both now and in the future, and I will defend your family with my life if necessary. All I ask in return is that if I fall, that you look after Peekaboo. She is very dear to me,” Lugus said, speaking his vows and baring his soul.

“I could do no less,” Bucky replied. “You have my word,” he said as he extended his hoof.

Lugus made a fist with his talons and bumped it against Bucky’s hoof.

“Rising Star, you have sworn witness to this event,” Bucky stated. “Do not forget this day. In this smithy, we have forged a new alliance and have grown our tribe.”

 

 

 

 

 

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