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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“Bucky, you are hopeless,” Lyra cried in exasperation. “We’ve spent the past two nights trying to pound a little spellbreaking into that thick skull of yours. I don’t know what to do with you. In a serious fight with a credible wizard, you’d be screwed!”

“I would not!” Bucky argued.

“You would so! I could totally take you out!” Lyra crowed. “I have the defensive means to hold you off long enough to wear down the defensive enchantments on your armor. I would work through your protections. Dispel your enchantments. While you were busy trying to bash your way through my defenses, I would be carefully undoing all of yours! Time would be on my side and eventually, I would crack you like a walnut!”

Bucky glared at Lyra but said nothing, knowing that every word she said was true, and painfully so. He hated Lyra just a tiny bit in that moment, but he also loved her fiercely all the more.

“I don’t understand, you had trouble holding back Bucky’s magic the night of the dream,” Bon Bon stated, looking with confusion upon both Lyra and Bucky.

“That was different. I was trying to hold back his magic and keep all of you safe. If we went at one another, I’d let him cut loose with his magic and exhaust himself against my defenses and then I’d pick him apart piece by piece and lay him low,” Lyra explained.

“Oh,” Bon Bon said. She looked away from the pair, off into the late afternoon sky. The sun would be setting soon. She turned back to Lyra and blinked several times. “Really, you two should kiss a bit and make up. I think you hurt Bucky’s feelings.”

“I needed my feelings hurt. I am still a Canterlot unicorn somewhere deep inside. I have too much pride. Lyra is right with everything she has to say,” Bucky admitted. He heaved a sigh and dropped his head down in shame. He stared down at the deck where he was sitting and began to trace over the whorls in the wood grain with his eye, looking for some kind of pattern or meaning in the wood.

Bon Bon placed her hoof under Bucky’s chin and lifted his head. She kissed him softly on the nose and then patted him on his neck. “You are getting better with your pride. There is hope for you yet,” she whispered, and then kissed him again.

 

 

“The isle below is unnamed. It is uninhabited mostly, but it has a few buildings and a place to rest for flying pegasi who are traveling from isle to isle. And ships. It is small. One half is flat, the other half is like a big mountain that has been cut in half, leaving a cliff on one side and a jagged slope on the other. Passing ships have reported hearing howls on the isle at night sometimes. Keg Smasher guesses that if the wolves swim, they might be stopping by here to get some rest and hide from the sun,” Deadspin reported.

“There is something awful here,” Lyra said as the ship was brought to a halt. “I’ve been feeling it as we’ve been drawing closer.”

“I feel it too,” Bucky said in a low mechanical voice that reverberated from his helmet.

“I don’t detect any shadow wolves though,” Lyra said in a voice full of worry.

“That’s because they’ve probably all been called back,” Bucky said.

“That seems likely,” Deadspin announced.

“Tonight you get to try the little cakes I made of compressed oats, corn, and dehydrated fish. They are heavy and dense. I’ve packed them inside of some folded canvas. Tuck them between you and your armor somewhere, like along your side. Magic some out when you need a bite to eat. They smell awful to me, but you will probably like them,” Berry Punch said as she gestured to a small folded bit of canvas on the map table.

The canvas vanished with a flash of blue-green light and Bucky gave a nod of thanks. Suddenly, he didn’t want to jump over the side of the ship. He didn’t want to face whatever evil was down below. He could feel his inner equine give a whinny. He wanted to be in his cabin, screwing Berry Punch until her eyes crossed and her tongue was hanging out. He wanted to hear her bleating. He wanted to climb over her back, grab her around her middle, and have a go at her. Or to even be her victim, where she took him down and had her way with him. Either way, his inner equine whinnied, snorted, and gave a few nickers to let him know that there were still things worth hanging around for. He smiled a smile that nopony could see and thought about everything he had to come home to.

 

 

Bucky moved along a ridge, flashing his eyelight ahead of him. He could sense what he was looking for, somewhere ahead of him and maybe above him in the darkness. A cold sense of dread made his testicles draw up into his body and sent painful contortions down his spine.

The inside of his armor had the mouthwatering scent of fish. It was difficult to believe that at one point he had been physically repulsed by that smell. Now, he was drooling uncontrollably, trapped inside of his armor with delicious fishy smelling cakes of oatmeal and corn.

There was a trail here, it had been used by many animals, and it was relatively near the shoreline. As he stomped along, he heard owls hooting and other creatures of the night making noise, probably scolding him for stomping up the side of a mountain while wearing heavy plate. He could hear frogs croaking somewhere in the tidal marshes off in the distance. If not for the overwhelming sense of evil, this would be a tranquil place.

Bucky had the curious notion of wondering what frog might taste like, and he resolved to ask Sentinel about it sometime. Given everything else Sentinel ate, including things like slugs, he suspected that Sentinel would know. He loved his son dearly, but Sentinel had odd eating habits. Anything could potentially be food.

He realised that he was paying attention to little details again, things he had tuned out before because he had always seen them as distractions. He found that he actually cared about frogs croaking and owls hooting. He cared about them because they weren’t distractions, they were reminders that he was still alive. The idea brought him a small measure of comfort, and he promised himself that when this was over, he would spend a little more time being distracted.

 

 

The passage was wide, well traveled, sloped downwards, and was littered with the bones of small animals which crunched under his steel shodded hooves. He had found the cave entrance after climbing around for a while and shining his light around.

Nothing came to greet him, but he knew what lay ahead. He had with him several spell jars filled with shield busters that Lyra had created and he hoped they would work.

“Hello again Buckminster,” a disembodied voice said as he made his way down the passage.

“I know you were once a member of House Bitters. Who are you?” Bucky demanded.

“So clever. I remember you being born and wondering if the shadow would touch you as it had touched me,” the voice replied.

“Who are you?” Bucky demanded again, this time with more force. His voice echoed off of the walls.

“You were born and you ruined what little bit of happiness your father and your mother had. I must confess, they were so distraught, I thought about bringing you here as one of my special foals,” the voice said in a taunting fashion. “Not going to ask me who I am again?” the voice asked after several moments of silence.

Bucky growled inside of his helmet and a red haze filled his vision.

“I spent my life preparing this place and then old age caught up to me before I was ready. I had to improvise Buckminster. Just like you. Unlike you, I was only a type two, a shameful family secret. Now, there is no end to my power. I had to free myself from my worthless body that held me back, even though things weren’t quite ready. But I have been fixing things. I am patient. I am beyond concerns such as aging now, I have all the time in the world.”

“Are you my great grandfather?” Bucky demanded, trying to will the red haze away and keep his wits about him. He knew he was being goaded. It was a guess, but Bucky thought it was a good guess.

There was a long moment of drawn out silence before there was any sort of reply.

“You are clever. You might be one of the stupidest unicorns that has ever lived, but you have your moments when you are quite clever… did I leave behind a nice charred corpse?”

“My stupidity is matched only by my stubbornness… Celestia said I could out stubborn an earth pony. Know this… I cannot be stopped. I will come for you. And one way or another, I will kill you. And because of what you did to Lyra, I am going to allow myself to enjoy it,” Bucky said in acidic tones.

“Ah yes, the unicorn bitch. You do know she is a better wizard than you, right? Wait, of course you do. Does it gall you? Do you hate her? Do you wish to put her in her place? There is only one cure for a mare unwilling to breed you know… I had to use the cure on your great grandmother… If had not, you and I would not be talking. Funny how life is. She had a fancy for mares too. A pity she had to be broken, she was never quite the same afterwards,” the voice said and then broke into an obscene titter.

Bucky saw the red haze in his vision returning and it became hard to see. He stomped with enough force to crack stone as he made his way down the passage.

“I put a spike bitted bridle in her mouth and I had to use spurs secured on my front fetlocks. I had to break her spirit before I broke her in. I know what happened to Lyra… I tell you, she would enjoy you breaking her. It would not be the first time she’s been broken.”

“You are so dead!” Bucky yelled.

“I am beyond death,” the voice mocked.

“You fail to understand just how much I want to kill you. I will find a way,” Bucky snarled in reply, and then let out a wordless scream of rage. He charged forward down the dimly lit passage while mocking laughter flooded the darkness all around him.

 

 

He emerged into a cavern deep underground that was filled with a hazy purple glow. There were two crystal spires here, one red, the other blue. The voice had gone silent some time ago, and Bucky was breathing heavily from his rage. His body was already tired, exhausted, and his emotions had worn him out.

Several undead unicorns turned to look at him with sightless empty sockets. In the back of the cavern there was a large stone table, and on the table there were a collection of severed unicorn heads, all well preserved and their horns glowing with different magical signature colours. Some were adults, while others were considerably smaller. A few looked like the heads collected from infants.

“I have no intention of fighting you and wasting my energy here. I already know your strengths and weaknesses. I will not waste precious energy defending this place. It will be painful losing my focus nexus, but I will not be needing it much longer. I am so close to ascension. Perhaps when you come for me, you will meet me in my new form. If not, I will absorb you and then perhaps I will become what I was meant to be.”

After the voice spoke, the undead unicorns dropped to the stone floor, no longer animated. The horns on the collection of severed heads went dark. The crystals began to flicker and dim.

Bucky didn’t wait for them to go dark, he slammed into them with a powerful telekinetic blast, causing them to shatter explosively, flooding the room with raw magic. The explosive burst destroyed the bodies of the undead, sundered the table into several smaller pieces, and scattered the severed heads all over the chamber. They bounced, rolled, and burned.

Bucky felt cheated somehow after his enemy had simply withdrawn. He wanted a fight, and it had been denied to him. He wanted to take something from his foe, to lash out, to cause loss. Now he was left standing here, impotent with rage, and nothing to vent his fury upon.

He forced himself to calm down and regain his senses. He quietly resolved to not go rushing after his enemy. Time perhaps might not be on his side, or his foe could be lying, but either way, Bucky was determined to not go rushing in until he felt he was ready. There were still other isles to check. There were probably other crystal spires too, and he had to make sure they were destroyed.

After slowing down his breathing, he conjured a bit of fish cake into his mouth and chewed thoughtfully. They were quite good, and the bite of food helped Bucky calm down even further. He lifted his head and began to search the cavern. There was probably nothing here, but he would look anyway.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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