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’m nervous Bucky, I can’t do this without Bon Bon,” Lyra said in a low whimpering voice. “How can I be away from Bonnie? I’ll have a break down. I’ll fail and leave us all in a bad spot… I’ll make mistakes and it will cost everypony their lives… I’ll hmmmph-”

Cutting Lyra off with a soft kiss, Bucky leaned in and make sure he did a proper job. When he pulled away, Lyra was breathless and didn’t look so nervous. “Lyra, I’ll make sure that Freezerburn is with us. If I concentrate, he shows up. Now steady yourself.”

“Yes Bucky… thanks,” Lyra replied, her eyes narrowing into a shy expression. Lyra took a deep breath. “Those kisses of yours are something else.”

“I’ve had a lot of practice. Thinking back to my old life, never thought I’d say that,” Bucky said as he looked around the small room he and Lyra were waiting in. “Do my kisses bother you at all? I worry about it sometimes and I never want to hurt you for any reason.”

“No Bucky, I’ve grown quite fond of them. You know, I wouldn’t hate you if your kisses became a little more intimate. Sometimes. Occasionally. As a once in a blue moon special sort of thing just as surprise. I think I could handle it. I don’t know. I’d like to know if I was okay with it,” Lyra said in a nervous half whisper. “I know Bon Bon keeps thinking about it. We talk a bit.”

“I miss you and Bon Bon in the bed with us,” Bucky said.

“You needed the extra room because you’ve been recovering. We haven’t been sleeping well apart from you and the others,” Lyra admitted as she reached out and gently touched Bucky’s face with her folded fetlock. She reached up, grabbed an ear in her fetlock, and gave a tug.

She lowered her foreleg when she heard the shuffling of hooves just outside the door. She turned, watched the door, and waited, aware that Bucky was doing the same. This was something of a realisation of a dream for her. She had only heard stories about this sort of thing, but to find out they actually existed, that made the dream real. And now she was being asked to join them. What was left of them anyway.

The door opened and two figures slowly entered together, touching one another as they moved, brushing up against each other. One was dark blue, almost the same shade as Luna, and she had a clock cutie mark that was visible for a moment. Her mane and tail was a dark purple-black. The other, a stallion, was orange-yellow in colour, and his mane and tail was cream coloured. The stallion’s blinking was out of synch. One eye blinked, and then a second later, the other blinked. Both had frantic manic looks upon their faces. Fear burned in their eyes. As they moved through the door, the stallions cutie mark became visible for a moment, seven stars, trailing in a line, going from smallest to largest.

Both of them stared at Bucky, their faces serious as they studied him.

The stallion went to work, prowling around the room, his horn glowing as he peered into every corner, checked over the ceiling, and studied every inch of the furniture.

“You can never be too careful,” the mare said. She waited, watching the stallion work. Finally, when he gave a nod, she sighed in relief.

“I am Witching Hour. This is my husband Tiddlywinks. Marriage was forbidden in the black cloaks, especially to a fellow black cloak. But we’re alive and THEY'RE ALL DEAD!” she said in a frantic wavering voice. She shook and  trembled in place and seemed to calm slightly when Tiddlywinks returned to her side. “Alive. Alive. Somehow alive. I watch him and he watches me and we are still alive.”

Tiddlywinks nodded.

“You have to forgive my husband. He never speaks where other ponies might hear him. Justifiable paranoia. Somebody might steal his voice and do terrible things with his words,” Witching hour explained. “The last group of assassins we killed called out to us in our friend’s voices to try and get us to lower our guard. And they said my husband was crazy for not speaking…”

The door slammed shut behind them and then glowed with a bright aura of magic.

“Warlock,” Witching Hour stated as she turned her gaze upon Bucky.

“I suppose I am,” Bucky said.

“Luna said you can be trusted. I only trust Luna. I use dark magic too if I have to. Hope I never end up Tainted. Taint is lethal poison for most, or so I hear. But you, you are special,” Witching Hour said with manic zest. She fell silent for a moment, studied Bucky, and then cackled.

“It isn’t good for our kind to cackle,” Lyra said softly.

“I know!” Witching Hour replied. “But I lived. I lived. I lived. And cackling is all I can do now. Cackle or cry. Cry. Cry.”

Bucky exchanged a glance with Lyra and he leaned over, pressing into Lyra’s side. He continued to study the pair of unicorns. After taking a deep breath, he started to think of the right words to say and how to deal with the obviously damaged pair.

“So, uh, what do you specialise in?” Lyra asked.

“Abjuration,” Witching Hour replied right away. She looked thoughtful for a moment. “Also in hexes and curses,” she whispered. “Bad things. Black arts. Only when I have to… Luna said it was okay. It was okay. It was all okay. I wasn’t a bad pony for LOOKING IN ALL THOSE BOOKS!”

Witching Hour calmed a bit as she sat down upon the sofa and Tiddlywinks sat down near her. The stallion wrapped a leg around the mare’s withers and she smiled a half sane smile. She shivered for a moment and closed her eyes, her face clenching up as she was probably reliving some horror. Then, she opened her eyes and looked at Bucky.

“Winky specialises in spellbreaking. He can peel through any sort defenses. He can strip away augmentations. He survived the Ritual of Sight and he is immune to most illusion, but it forever messed up his blinking. Poor Winky doesn’t actually do well with offensive magic. He’s a savant with spell stripping though,” Witching Hour explained.

“Between the four of us, I think Bucky has the offensive spellcasting covered. He’s lousy with defensive spells and can’t tear down defenses,” Lyra said bluntly.

“We’ve read his detailed file. To say he is good at offensive spellcasting is like saying LUNA LIKES LOOKING AT THE MOON!” Witching Hour said as her face spasmed from nervous energy.

Lyra blinked. Witching Hour seemed completely unaware of her shouting outbursts. Lyra took a deep breath and wondered what she was getting into. The pair had clearly endured trauma like few ponies could understand. Except for maybe Bucky and herself.

“We’ve read his file. Your husband is an enchanter and a transmuter. Makes magical toys to do his dirty work. Exceedingly dangerous, as all enchanters usually are, but Bucky is a special kind of “sick in the head” dangerous. The first pony ever on record to make a “rape bomb” to subdue his enemies. His potential for transmutation is still unknown, but his school records include a carnivorous potato. Needs training in offensive transmutation. Known equine pacifist. Entropic cold elementalist with unexplored “vampiric” abilities that Celestia is loathe to use but Luna is impatient to explore. Likes working with glass. Generated the largest disciplinary file ever in Princess Celestia’s School for Gifted Unicorns. Most of that disciplinary file is eyes only top secret. Under normal circumstances, Bucky is the sort of unicorn we would normally be hunting down to make him “vanish” so we could keep society safe,” Witching Hour recited in a dull monotone, as though she was reading off some invisible sheet of paper.

Tiddlywinks gave his wife a nudge and then snorted.

Bucky squirmed, raised his stump, made a dismissive gesture as he waved it around, and then he looked at Witching Hour. “I don’t know if I should be insulted or flattered. I don’t know how to feel about everything that was just said. I’ll be the first one to admit I’ve done some questionable things, but I’ve done them for the right reasons. Crystal liches don’t fight fair, and I don’t either.”

Witching Hour blinked a few times, her ears splayed out sideways, and her eyes darted from Lyra to Bucky. “We’ve all done questionable things. I’ve used dark magic to completely mindwipe a foal molester. There was nothing left of his mind to recover. I cleaned him out completely. Left him a vegetable. I had to be removed from active duty and placed on observation status. Luna went peeking around inside my head. In the end, it was determined that I was overcome with emotion and I was disciplined, receiving an official reprimand from the Crown for my actions. In private, Luna thanked me for doing what needed to be done. The pony I wiped had a sickness for which there is no cure. Luna said what I did was merciful,” Witching Hour said in a strained voice that wavered and cracked as she spoke.

Tiddlywinks nodded but remained silent.

“Tiddlywinks lost his marbles when we uncovered a slave labour mining operation down in the badlands. They had ponies of all ages chained up and forced to work. Many died. Winky lost his mind for a moment. He levitated a chain and beat the mining camp operator to death. Winky was disciplined. Funny… somehow, we lived through the extinction of our order, but those that mocked us for the bad things we did are now all dead. None of them were willing to fight dirty to stay alive,” Witching Hour said as she stared Bucky in the eye.

“Dare I even ask who owned the mine?” Bucky asked in an icy voice.

“Do I even need to answer?” Witching Hour replied.

Bucky let out a wordless snarl but said nothing.

Not liking her husband’s suffering, Lyra reached out to stroke Bucky, patting him softly, and then adjusting the torque around his neck, straightening it so the two wolf heads faced forwards. Somehow, they had moved off to one side. She smoothed out his mane and noticed a few more silver hairs had found their way into his long flowing locks. She reached out and smoothed out the swirling chest scruffle that Bucky had, since his pelt had changed he had a rather unruly spot that always managed to stick out.

“She loves you,” Witching Hour announced, ending the quiet that had settled over the room. Witching Hour cocked her head to one side. “As a unicorn, as a type three, it was very difficult for me to learn how to love, if I may be so open and honest.”

Tiddlywinks nodded enthusiastically.

“Winky here is a type three as well, even though his common magic never shows it. Like I said, he’s a savant. Love is the only reason we are still alive. Well, love and having no qualms about fighting dirty. Because of us, Twilight Sparkle and her new Bureau of Thaumaturgy, there is going to be an entire elite branch of cloaks that are married. Magic of friendship… and marriage. Twilight has a lot of changes planned,” Witching Hour said. The unicorn mare seemed much calmer now and her spastic outbursts had ceased.

“Changes?” Lyra inquired.

“Well, magical licensing for one. Twilight Sparkle believes that magic is a privilege, not a right. She’s got some plan for a different colour of cloak to enforce this new wing of magic control. She’s said that earth ponies and pegasi get by just fine without fancy unicorn style magic and unicorns can learn to get by as well. She wants some accountability and responsibility after everything that has happened,” Witching Hour answered.

“Oh that is not going to go over well,” Bucky muttered.

“Twilight Sparkle doesn’t care. If unicorns want to cast, they can get a license and then face consequences for irresponsible casting. Equestria has been gutted. There are cults running around. We have reports of the undead all along the southern expanses, like Dodge City. Las Pegasus was pretty much abandoned when the water went dry. Strange lights have been seen in the city and urban looters who have been plundering Las Pegasus have made all kinds of bizarre and scary reports after heading back north. Unicorns have formed covens and many have gone rogue. There is nothing holding back the darkness right now. The black cloaks are all gone. Luna’s Lunar Guard have taken heavy losses in trying to secure the south. The Myrmidons recently lost over a dozen of their ranks. They flew south and not a one has returned. No trace of them either. A search party was sent out and they were attacked by unicorns in the San Palomino Desert. The Myrmidons were forced to flee. Do you know what it takes to make the Myrmidons flee?” Witching Hour said to to Lyra and Bucky, making gestures with her hoof as she spoke to bring focus to certain words and key points.

“So what you are saying is, we are in some trouble,” Bucky summarised.

“No. Not saying that at all. I am saying that we are completely horned. Twilight Sparkle estimates that there might be a hundred to maybe two hundred known adult type threes. She has no estimate currently available as to how many of those might be suitable for combat roles or worthy of service. We don’t have the means to even begin rebuilding our magical defenses. There are a lot of foals though. There’s been a boom on little type threes being born in the past few years. Several hundred in Celestia’s school,” Witching Hour explained.

“Oh... shite,” Bucky groaned.

 

 

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