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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“I call it Chieftain’s Fury," Bucky announced in a low sonorous and solemn voice as he set the massive hook-axe down upon the table before Lugus, now in its finished form. “There are some sunstones embedded in it, they will provide light in the darkest of places and times. It will cleave through steel or stone effortlessly. I have made a sheath for it that will hold the blade, it would cut through a regular steel and leather sheath upon contact. You must take serious care to never touch the edge of the blade, it will cost you parts of your body that you will miss.”

Lugus looked at the axe and felt quite humbled. This far exceeded any expectations that he had. It was black steel, just like Bucky’s armor. There was no shine upon the metal. It looked menacing. The axe blade was shaped like the crescent moon, and several stars secured the crescent into place. The hook on the other side was wicked looking, and had a barbed tip.

“It is feather light, but will strike with the force of a hurled mountain. If you throw it, it will teleport back into your talons. Eventually, this magic will run out and it will need time in the sun to recharge. Each throw it will take a little longer for it to return. The portion of your blood I took from you has bonded the weapon to you. It will only function in your grasp. After much debate, I have decided against making it hurt strangers, that would be too risky, but if any try to use it, it will fumble from their grip and be quite unmanageable,” Bucky explained.

“Thank you my friend,” Lugus said in a small humbled voice.

“Think nothing of it,” Bucky said. “Ripple, come here,” he commanded.

Ripple, who had been sitting quietly this whole time, came forward, approaching the table. She smiled a soft smile and her hooves clicked and clacked upon the stone floor.

“These are yours,” Bucky stated as he placed four war shoes upon the table. “They are articulated, the metal plates are hinged to allow for some movement. There is bound to be a little restriction, but they will bind your fetlocks and keep them safe from breaking. The guards will keep your cannon bones from harm. Like Lugus’ axe, they are feather light and enchanted for striking. They have been enchanted with cold, my cold, a portion of my own essence, a bit of my life force. Your foes will feel the chill of the grave. Even the wolves, if I did everything right. The cold will slow your enemies, maybe even freeze some smaller weaker enemies solid. Striking them a second time will make a frozen enemy shatter like glass. With your blood, I have bonded them to you. They will grow with you, and will always fit. They also have sunstones embedded in them. In the presence of dark foes, they will ignite and light your way.”

“Thank you father,” Ripple said. She bounced in place for a moment, unsure of what to do, and then she pounced, wrapping her forelegs around Bucky’s neck and planting dozens of kisses all over the good side of his face.

Bucky patiently waited for her burst of enthusiastic affection to end, smiling faintly. It was worth every minute of effort placed into the shoes. When she finally worked her need to be affectionate out of her system and sat back down, Bucky took a deep breath and cleared his throat. “Keep Rising Star safe Ripple. He has powerful offense, but I worry. I have debated about taking time to make another suit of armor, and Rising Star doesn’t have the fine level of magical control needed to handle powered plate. And I don’t think he is strong enough to move around in standard plate. It has been a troubling decision that I hope I do not regret later. I still remember our war council… everypony was worried about keeping you safe.”

“Those sideburns that are taking over your cheeks make it difficult to kiss you,” Ripple said, and then she let out a fillyish giggle of happiness. “They’ve crept down your muzzle now and are almost to the corners of your mouth.”

Bucky rolled his eye. Fillies.

“So, Lugus’ axe has a name, but my shoes don’t?” Ripple asked.

“Oh, the weapon has a name,” Bucky replied.

“It does? What is it?” Ripple inquired.

“I call her Ripple,” Bucky answered.

 

 

“Bucky, I dunno about those sideburns,” Berry Punch said as she reclined against Bucky.

“Everypony keeps talking about them,” Bucky muttered.

“They tickle the inside of my thighs,” Berry stated, making everypony in the room go completely silent. Even the foals fell quiet. “What, they do…”

“Berry Punch,” Derpy sighed in exasperation.

“Berry is right, they do tickle the inside of my thighs,” Thistle said in a low coquettish voice as she began to blush.

“Well this is going in my journal,” Sentinel muttered.

“Sentinel, no! Be a good colt for mama!” Derpy begged.

“Derpy isn’t complaining,” Berry Punch wickedly observed.

“Well, I like being tickled,” Derpy confessed. She paused for a moment and then realised what she had said. “Berry! Shush! You are Berry perverted!”

“This whole conversation is just awkward,” Sparkler stated.

“Sure is,” Loch Skimmer agreed.

“I dunno, there have been worse conversations,” Ripple interjected.

“We all have to stay up all night,” Rising Star muttered.

“We made it though last night,” Piña said, poking Rising Star in the side. “You’re getting thinner like daddy,” she observed.

“Been using a lot of magic at the forge,” Rising Star said as he gently prodded Piña back. “You used to be pudgier… what is your excuse?”

“I dunno,” Piña replied while shrugging.

“We’re all a little thinner,” Dinky said as she looked up from her book.

“Stress most likely,” Berry said dismissively.

“Harper has gotten fatter,” Lyra said.

“She has,” Bon Bon agreed.

“Foals should be pudgy,” Derpy said as she pulled Thistle closer.

“I dunno, I kinda like my mares a little pudgy,” Bucky stated.

“Bucky!” Derpy scolded.

“Here here!” Rising Star said in support of Bucky.

“Rising!” Ripple scolded, sounding a bit like Derpy when she did.

“More cushion for the pu-mmmshing!”

“Oh that’s enough of you,” Berry said as she covered Bucky’s mouth with her fetlock.

Bucky pushed her leg away and turned his head to look at her. “You taste like Thistle,” he muttered.

Berry Punch turned a much darker shade of plumb all over her face and neck.

“She goosed me!” Thistle said in her own defense before anypony else could say anything.

Sentinel rolled his eyes and began to scratch away inside of his journal. Tonight looked as though it would be promising, and Sentinel was looking forward to practicing his wordcraft. He was surrounded by witty adults and printing down their words was sure to improve his vocabulary.

“Must have been a juicy goosey,” Derpy whispered into Thistle’s ear.

“Mom!” Sparkler protested.

“I dunno, how juicy was this goosey? I’m kinda curious,” Loch stated.

“Loch Skimmer!” Sparkler said, grabbing the pegasus next to her and squeezing her around her neck gently. “You do not encourage parents to talk about the disgusting things they do to each other!”

“But we do disgusting things to one another too,” Loch Skimmer argued.

“Oh this conversation has gone sour,” Derpy groaned.

“Sure has,” Sentinel agreed as he scritched and scratched away. “Juicy goosey. Ugh!” he said with a shudder of revulsion. “And my itchy healing ear is driving me crazy.”

“Don’t scratch at it my little cuddlebug,” Lyra said.

Sentinel set down his pencil and looked at Lyra, his face a blank expression. One nostril flared slightly, which spoke volumes in pegasus-speak. He picked up his pencil and went back to writing.

“What did I say?” Lyra asked.

 

 

Lugus settled down into the straw and pressed his head up against Peekaboo, who cooed in response. Beside him, Yew was laying on her belly with her head raised.

“Do you think he is ready?” Yew asked.

“Ready or not, he is committed. We act soon,” Lugus responded without opening his beak.

“I still find it strange you can talk without moving your beak,” Yew said.

Lugus did not reply, but delighted in the sensation of Peekaboo squirming beside his face. He could feel her stubby little legs kicking as she lay upon her back, fussing and fighting.

Yew leaned over and rested her head upon the back of Lugus’ broad neck, which was as large as her barrel. “This is nice… I mean, this just feels good to be near somepony, er, some other being as you lay down and go to sleep."

“It is nearly dawn. Try to sleep as long as you can,” Lugus said gently. “We must prepare to go forth at night and do our dirty work my little bird. There are vermin to kill, and I loathe vermin.”

 

 

Bucky looked over his armor, which was finished. The last addition was a five gallon keg, also done in black steel, designed to hold whiskey, and lots of it. Upon the keg were several racks to hold spell jars. It was an armor worthy of Sombra. Sure, it was modern, thoroughly modern and sleek, but Sombra could appreciate it for the finely tuned instrument of death dealing that it was.

The last and final enchantment had been on the tail, and it now sought out enemies of hostile intent when he swung it, pulling him towards whatever he was fighting. The self targeting feature was Rising Star’s idea, after learning that arrowheads could be enchanted to find enemies once fired. Bucky tended to be complex while Rising Star favoured a simple practical approach.

One thousand spell jars had been loaded on board The Scorned Mare.  Fifty racks of twenty each. Some were for the wolves. The rest were for their return home, just in case things got a little out of hoof. Keg Smasher had already told Bucky who he backed if the homecoming went sour, and while they were going to be away, the isles were going to be gearing up for an invasion, and the preparations were beginning now.

The Scorned Mare was loaded down with provisions for the long trip as well, dry goods mostly, and booze. There was a lot of alcohol on board. The crew quarters below decks had been finished and the fisherpony pegasi had woven netted hammocks for the crew to sleep in.

Summer would soon end and the fall would be upon them. Wolves had returned to the Isle of Groats. Dinky had thinned out their numbers a bit, but the wolves from other isles had been called back, going from one isle to another by whatever means they traveled.

Crush had a new hammer, a new anvil, and several surprising enchantments done to his smithy. All debts had been paid and then some. Bucky had found a clever way to smelt steel outside of his own magic, creating a rather simple solar foundry and a couple of overpowered sunstones. It could only produce steel in small batches, an ingot or two at a time, but it was functional. Armor was already being hammered into shape by Crush and his assistants. It was crude and simple, but of a time tested and proven design. Rising Star had offered a portion of his own life essence to help power the foundry and Bucky had carefully woven an enchantment worthy of Rising Star’s sacrifice.

 

 

Tonight, they would begin. The time of preparation was over. Several long weeks of making ready were now over and now was the time of proving. Bucky felt safe and secure in his plan. The Scorned Mare would be well defended high overhead. He would be safe inside of a moving fortress of magical might.

Lyra’s spells of detection and location would allow them to hunt down wolf packs and exterminate them with impunity. She was well attuned to their signature now, she would find them and Bucky would kill them all.

His family was asleep all around him, and Bucky found that he could not sleep. The room was darkened, the light from the window blocked out, and everything that he loved was all piled into the bed all around him, except for Berry Punch, who was in the straw with Harper.

Alone in the dark, Bucky continued his vigil.

 

 

 

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