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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With the new dawn came more preparations. The Scorned Mare was due to have her repairs finished today, the hole in the hull filled in with new wood by a few unicorns held in place by helpful pegasi. Work had already been partially completed.

Provisions were further being loaded into the holds, and even in the early dawn hour, pegasi lifted heavy loads from the ground and carried them skywards, to crews waiting on the deck. Earth ponies pushed and pulled cargo around on deck and secured it down into the hold. Lugus worked tirelessly, directing the flow of traffic and making sure there were no airborne collisions, while Yew stood on the ground and gave clearance to go up.

A falling crate could be fatal for any pony unfortunate to be underneath it when it fell.

Help was scheduled to arrive today, and departure for home was scheduled for tomorrow, with little time for rest for the arriving pegasi.

 

 

Laying in bed, Bucky stared at his phoenix egg and tried to recall the strange dreams he had been having. The egg was sitting in a simple wooden stand that Lyra had crafted, and it filled the room with cold. The blue tints in the shell swirled and waved as Bucky watched. It was mesmerising, soothing, and calming. It was like watching a lava lamp, something Bucky enjoyed a great deal.

His wives were bundled under blankets, asleep, and Grimglammer loomed protectively over him. Bucky had only been awake for a while, he was full of morphine from the shot that Grimglammer had given him a while ago. The blue on the egg rippled and swirled, always moving, ever shifting. Bucky could remember staring into the shell as his life hung by a thread, down there in the darkness, after having delivered ruin to his hated enemy.

Am I free?

Bucky struggled to move his head, to see who was speaking. He couldn’t move, his head was propped up on a lumpy cushion, and his eye darted around trying to see who was talking.

You ended the nightmare… can you free me?

Again, Bucky heard the voice. He whimpered, trying to alert Grimglammer, but all she did was stroke him gently and make a wordless sound of comfort.

I can feel my strength returning… I am no longer a chick in mind, but I am trapped in this shell… free me and I will help you… I must be reborn!

Bucky struggled to move, tried to make his legs work, tried to do anything he could to communicate that something was going on.

I can’t go on like this.

Bucky wondered if there was more than morphine in that shot. The egg was alive right now, different shades of blue dancing over the surface of the shell, and he could see it vibrating slightly.

He turned my shell into a prison and then he drained me… he never stopped taking from me… if you help me, I will help you, I will willingly give you what he took!

Having nothing else to fall back on, Bucky tried to summon up his magic. Nothing happened at first, but he persisted, trying to flog his drug addled brain into functioning. The warm haze of morphine dulled his senses and robbed him of his willpower. He felt a painful pressure building up behind his fulgurite horn, the pressure building to such a point he could feel it pressing against the back of his eye.

I give you my life willingly… you ended the nightmare… I will bond us and you will live!

The voice in his head was soothing, comforting, and it made the horrors still fresh in his mind fade. It overpowered the terrible voice of his grandfather telling him that his foals had died, and all of the other terrible things said. He could see the egg vibrating now, bouncing around expectantly.

I will cleanse your body with fire!

Bucky’s horn finally ignited, his magic taking a great effort to make happen. He touched the shell with his will, and could feel the dark magic binding it. The blue-green aura around his horn faded, and black flames quickly leapt up to replace it. The dark magic came easy, it took no effort, no extensive focusing of will, the dark energy flowed from Bucky’s body. He broke the seal on the egg even as Grimglammer was giving off a panicked cry of alarm.

The egg exploded, filling the room with bone chilling cold, coating the walls with ice, and filling the room with snowflakes. Blue flames rose up from the egg, a burning funeral pyre that gave no heat, but burned with freezing intensity. The blue flames streaked through the air and enveloped Bucky’s body, the primal magic lifting him from the bed.

The room filled with worried cries as Bucky began to burn.

The pain was agonising, Bucky could feel it all, but he welcomed it. It coursed through his body, making every nerve scream with agony, restoring and repairing as it rippled through him.

He became aware of the sound of his own breathing.

After several agonising moments, the pain faded, and a soothing feeling of cold settled over his body, overpowering the fevered agony he felt, cooling even his feverish thoughts, easing his delirium. The burning pain in his stump faded into nothingness. He felt himself drop onto the bed and bounce, his stump hitting the mattress, and there was a final spike of cold that traveled through his brain and out his horn, sending shivers and convulsions up and down his spine.

Bucky heard a faint squawk and the fluttering of wings, and then he knew no more.

 

 

Grimglammer eyed the phoenix warily, not sure what to make of the bird perched on the unicorn’s horn. She shivered, still feeling a cold that had even pierced her thick shaggy pelt, and tried to make sense of what she just saw.

Both the phoenix and Buckminster had just been burned in blue freezing fires.

Now, there was an adult phoenix sitting guard and trying to nip anypony that got to close. She had seen it for a moment when the egg had exploded, it had been a chick, but then it had caught fire and burned, taking Buckminster with it.

She needed to check on Buckminster to see if he was okay, but the phoenix seemed to have other plans. It was blue and white, much like its shell had been, and burning continuously with chilly azure flames that defied all sense of logic. Fire was supposed to be hot.

“Stupid bloody bird!” Grimglammer swore.

“It is so beautiful,” Lyra said, wiping sleep from her eyes. The phoenix turned to look at her, and she smiled at it, trying to be friendly. She could see the bird’s talons clenching Bucky’s horn. There was still a faint blue glow around Bucky’s body. “Grim, stand down. The phoenix is sustaining him. I think. Look how easy Bucky breathes now.”

The phoenix squawked and bobbed his head, looking around the room, and the fires radiating from its body flared for a moment in a display of defense. The chill in the room grew even more painful, and then began to ease off as the phoenix seemed to understand there was no threat.

“We’re his wives, he needs us,” Lyra said soothingly. She approached on the bed slowly, reaching out her hoof. “We’ve been keeping him alive. I must confess, I am surprised to see you’ve hatched, but you are a phoenix… can your kind even be killed?” She stopped in place when the bird made a cooing noise, and she bowed her head. “Don’t move, let me handle this,” she whispered.

Lyra waited, eyeing the phoenix warily, waiting for some sign that it accepted her. “You and Bucky… he saved you, so you are saving him?” she asked.

There was a trilling sound from the phoenix and it bobbed its head.

“Look, I am no threat at all… I am his mate. I have no desire to harm you,” Lyra said soothingly. She panicked for a moment when she heard the flutter of wings and then gasps from the mares all around her. She squeezed her eyes shut and waited for the blast of cold that was sure to come.

Instead, she felt a weight on her horn and a chilly feeling on her forehead. She looked up at her horn, now crosseyed, and saw the phoenix sitting there, preening a blue flaming wing. It was cold, but not unbearably cold. She felt a soothing calm take over her body and all of her worries and fears fell away. It was like Bon Bon’s touch, only stronger. She felt herself going limp, and her body eased down to the bed beside Bucky’s. She felt like she could go back to sleep. She felt safe and secure. She felt her eyelids growing heavy.

And then, the phoenix fluttered off, returning to roost upon Bucky’s horn, and Lyra was left feeling sleepy and discombobulated.

“Lyra?” Bon Bon asked, worry in her voice. She clutched Harper to her, little Harper who did not seem to be afraid at all, but laughing and cooing.

Lyra did not respond, but slipped off into a blissful slumber, her mind free from its usual troubles, a smile still upon her lips.

“You’re just like Philomena,” Grimglammer breathed. “Well, you look different, but you are capable of drugging overly neurotic unicorns, aren’t you? You had me worried.”

“Philomena?” Berry Punch asked, shaking some snowflakes free from her ears and shivering against Derpy.

“Princess Celestia’s phoenix. She uses the phoenix to dope students that are too far gone into neurosis. She doesn’t like having to use pharmaceuticals more than absolutely necessary,” Grimglammer explained.

“Bucky has a phoenix?” Derpy asked.

“It seems that way,” Grimglammer replied. “I am sorry bird, but you did give all of us a pretty good scare,” she said to the phoenix, who was still eyeing her warily.

“Will it help his mind?” Derpy asked.

“Look what it did to Lyra. She went down like she was hit with a wagonload of chlorpromazine hydrochloride with a diazepam chaser… she is even drooling and smiling, the sweet happy smile of the chemically calmed,” Grimglammer answered, looking down at Lyra.

Derpy slowly approached the phoenix, her head low and her ears back. Her wings fluttered nervously, and Berry Punch’s hoof trailed along her side. “Thank you,” Derpy said in a low voice as she drew nearer. She froze when the bird turned its head to look at her. Its eyes were glittering black orbs and they stared at her, meeting her gaze. She saw the beak open and the bird bobbed its head, bouncing around on Bucky’s horn, dancing from one set of talons to the other. She watched as the wings flared out and the phoenix presented its tail to her.

She did not know how respond. “You… whatever fates brought Bucky to this horrible place and put him through these trials… you are here to help him recover,” Derpy said, struggling to put into words the complicated thoughts running around in her mind. “You’re here to make things better… to make things right.”

The phoenix shrugged and then turned its head upside down to look at Derpy.

“Did that phoenix just shrug?” Berry asked.

“It appears so,” Grimglammer said. “Philomena is pretty smart. She plays pranks on ponies. Guards who screw up have to guard her and she makes their lives miserable.”

“Hi birdie,” Thistle said, looking at the phoenix, but not daring to approach.

Derpy pushed forward, reaching Bucky’s side, and leaning in close. The bird made a warbling sound, but did not stop her as she leaned down and gently kissed Bucky on the cheek. She raised her head and looked at the phoenix, and not knowing what else to do, snoot-bumped it.

The feeling was unique. Cold, but comforting. A brisk sensation coursed through her, like eating a big bite of strong peppermint ice cream. She felt a wing brush up against her cheek, and the worry of many days melted away from her body, all of her fears and concerns melting away, her muscles finally relaxing.

“Everything is going to be okay,” Derpy said, a single tear sliding down her cheek.

 

 

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