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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Saddle Arabia was behind them and the inland sea was ahead of them. The train moved with surprising speed once it was finally moving. Overhead, the supply frigate kept pace and the Myrmidons circled around the train, keeping a wary eye on threats.

Mostly, the trip was boring. The most difficult thing Bucky faced was boredom. Twilight had her snoot buried in a book. Bucky had his snoot in a book as well, but he was too distracted to pay attention. He lifted his head and looked out the window, hoping Mustangia would come into view soon. Something. Anything. All around was savanah, an endless expanse of grasslands that seemed to stretch in all directions, and all of it the most boring shade of dull brown. There were no clouds to look at. The island sea was close, they would reach it sometime today, and travel along the coastline until they reached Mustangia in a day or two, where they would take on fresh water and coal for the train.

Focusing his attention on the table, he drew upon his cold magic. In moments, he had himself a chunk of ice formed, and he shaped it carefully, making a tiny little ice pony mare in perfect exacting detail. He gave her wings and a horn, deciding the ice pony deserved to be an alicorn. His horn flashed brilliantly for a moment and the ice pony began to dance upon the table, a miniature ice golem for his amusement.

The ice pony seemed alone as it paced along the table. She wandered around, her little ice wings fluttering, her little icicle horn glistening. She looked up her creator and cocked her head.

Bucky felt a twinge of guilt. He knew better than to attempt to give his creations a personality. It was one of the great unspoken rules of enchantment. He felt a pang of shame for his first golem, a tiny automaton made of ice that he made for his own enjoyment.

She would melt soon, unless Bucky cast powerful permanency spells upon her to keep her animated. Realising she was alone and her life was limited, Bucky decided to do the right thing. Calling forth another burst of cold and drawing in water vapour, he made another chunk of ice. In no time at all, there was another little ice alicorn running around on the table. He made this one a stallion.

He watched his icy creations sniffing one another and then they chased one another around the table, their little hooves clattering. Bucky became aware that Twilight was no longer reading, but watching, her mouth open in awe.

As Bucky watched, his little ice ponies caught one another and sure enough, the male mounted the female and began rutting her senseless. Their lives would be short but enjoyable.

“Ugh, that’s perverted,” Twilight grumbled, turning away.

“That’s what ponies do Twilight. Including your parents. Twice at least,” Bucky replied.

“Ugh. Ugh. UGH! NO! Blargh!” Twilight grumbled. “Why must you be so awful?”

“Just think about the faces your friend Applejack probably makes when she and Silver Shill do what ponies do,” Bucky teased as the ice ponies continued their rutting.

“NO!” Twilight cried, covering her face with her hooves. “Why must you be such a pervert!”

“Heh heh heh,” Bucky chuckled.

“You have such talent, you just made ice golems with no real effort, and you had to be a pervert about it,” Twilight complained.

“So, ever thought about riding the pony making bone with your pen pal?” Bucky inquired.

Saying nothing, Twilight glowered at Bucky, her eyes narrowing and becoming pinpricks of furious rage. Her nostrils flared and her ears splayed out sideways. She felt an embarrassing quiver in her wings and it only made her angrier.

“You look upset, I’m sorry. I am coming to the awkward conclusion that you have never rode the pony making bone at all,” Bucky said, his tone genuinely apologetic.

Twilight’s expression intensified for a moment, and then began to soften. “I’ve never done anything of that nature,” she admitted. “Just the thought of it scares me.”

“I was once like that,” Bucky said. “And then Celestia sat down and had a sex talk with me. She said the word “clitoris” and I just about died. I had the mother of all sex talks from the mother of all ponies.”

“Oh by the moon and stars that sounds awful,” Twilight whispered.

“It was, but she set me straight. Gave a spell book full of sex magic. She wrote most of the spells herself it seems,” Bucky said as he lifted his head to look Twilight in the eye. “Really kinky sex magic. If you ask her nicely, I know she would give you a copy.”

“There is an image I didn’t need, Celestia…” Twilight froze, her eyes clenched shut, and she shook her head from side to side wildly as though she had just eaten something incredibly sour. “How could she? I mean, why? I can’t imagine her… doing things…”

“She’s still a pony. At some point, she was in love. She did things. I don’t think she’s doing those things now, but Luna certainly is,” Bucky said as he turned his attention back to the wildly rutting ice ponies on the table.

“They're both sterile you know. Side effect of immortality. They can still experience phantom heats, but they can’t have foals,” Twilight said in a sorrowful voice. “This is why Celestia takes on personal students and Luna takes on Myrmidons. Did you know that the Myrmidons call Luna mother when they are hurt? Luna really loves her Myrmidons. They're her murderous, freakishly-devoted-to-their-mother foals. I’ve been there with her a few times now when “a new foal is born” and Luna starts working on their minds to make them into Myrmidons. I was there when Moonbow went through the rituals. She was older than usual, but she handled herself quite well.”

“Luna is the former bearer of the Element of Loyalty,” Bucky stated.

“I know… she told me that love is the strongest and purest form of loyalty, and all of her Myrmidons love her. It scares me how loyal they are to her. Luna wants me to take on a few Myrmidons but I’ve refused. I don’t think I’m mature enough for that sort of responsibility or love,” Twilight admitted. She squirmed and looked at the ice ponies who were still rutting. She quickly turned away, her cheeks as red as tomatoes, and closed her eyes.

“I do believe I may have passed some of my own desire on to my creations,” Bucky stated.

“Oh gross,” Twilight fussed. “I’m trapped on a train with a horny warlock.”

Unable to help himself, Bucky began to snigger uncontrollably.

 

 

The inland sea was beautiful. The water sparkled and was a deep azure blue in the sun. The train was slowing down, a difficult task, and Mustangia was just ahead over the horizon. The sea was clear of ships near the coastline and there was nothing but flat land all around.

Some of the Myrmidons had flown ahead to secure the train station in the great city-state of Mustangia. It was a port city on the inland sea and located on the train line, making it a major trade center and a focal point of transport.

Mustangia was protected as an asset of Equestria and governed by Saddle Arabia. Ponies of all sorts could be found there, but it was primarily an earth pony city. Saddle Arabians lived there and so did many zebras, or so Bucky had heard. Friendly griffons settled there as well, fishing from the great inland sea to get the meat they needed in their diets, most of them refugees from Griffonholm.

Out the window, Bucky could finally see the city in the distance. Several zeppelins and airships floated over the far off horizon. The train was slowing, and he could hear the squealing of the brakes and smell hot metal from the locomotives.

And he was two miles away from the engines. Up close, the sound must be deafening.

 

 

“Everything seems secure, Knight Major Bitters,” the Myrmidon reported, snapping out a wing in a smart salute. “The teams work to load coal from the supply ship in the harbor quickly. There is a chute to feed it into the cars directly. The water tanks have already been refilled. Will we be spending the night in Mustangia?”

“No, we will not,” Bucky replied, his words slow and drawn out.

“We’re going to begin the climb through the Badlands Foothills and into the Macintosh Hills in the dark sir?” the Myrmidon questioned.

“If an attack is going to happen, it will happen night or day. The Badlands are our biggest concern, and you lot are stronger at night. We’ll have reduced visibility, but I feel that is a worthwhile tradeoff,” Bucky said, explaining his reasoning.

The Myrmidon, a male, looked thoughtful for a moment and then began to nod his head. “I concur, sir. This course of action seems wise and well thought out. By dawn, we should be heading downhill towards Appleloosa then into Equestria proper. We’re making good time and we are ahead of schedule.”

“The engineers who calculated the loads and speed made a few mistakes and things are working out in our favour,” Bucky stated.

“Sir, we are unhappy about Princess Twilight Sparkle leaving the train and flying around. Her safety is our priority. Sorry to be forward, sir,” the Myrmidon reported.

“She can look after herself. I hope… she is doing her job,” Bucky replied.

“Princess Twilight Sparkle flew off to look at various birds that live on the prairie. She was not looking after the train sir. And we had to send a detachment to go and look after her, a detachment that should have been guarding the train, sir,” the Myrmidon said in a nervous voice.

“I will have a word with her. She’s a curious sort of pony. I am positive she was keeping an eye on the train even though she might have been looking at a few birds,” Bucky responded.

“She was busy reading a bird watching field guide, sir,” the Myrmidon reported.

“Oh dear,” Bucky muttered. “Still, she is a master of divination. I am positive that she had everything under watch. She takes her duties very seriously.”

“Of course, sir,” the lunar pegasus grunted. “And when my Myrmidons landed and scared her, causing her to scream in terror, I am certain her awareness was focused upon the train.”

“Oh bugger,” Bucky swore. “I will have a word with her.”

“This is why we are under your command, sir,” the lunar pegasus said in a low voice.

“I’ve never gone to officer’s school. If you think I know what I am doing you are sorely mistaken. I just make stuff up as I go and hope things work out,” Bucky blurted out, his words loud enough that several Myrmidons turned to look at him.

“Mistress trusts in your ability to make stuff up as you go and have things work out. You are an experienced field commander by all accounts. You treat your troops as equals and think of our needs. We will follow you. Into Tartarus if necessary,” the Myrmidon said, his tone reassuring.

“I want this train moving within a half an hour of the last piece of coal falling into place,” Bucky commanded.

“Aye aye, sir.”

 

 

The sun was beginning to settle upon the horizon. The past few days were uneventful, boring even, but Bucky had a nagging sense of worry now. The Badlands were a confirmed battlezone, filled with changelings, cultists, covens, monsters, and all manner of horror. There were troubling reports of necromancy. There were rumours of vampires. Luna had briefed him on so many possible things.

Bucky stood atop the train, armored and ready. His sense of danger was highly attuned now, and everything just felt wrong as the train chugged up the steadily increasing grade of the hills and mountains up ahead. Beside him, Twilight also stood, her feathers ruffling in the wind, her mane and tail whipping around her. Twilight looked afraid.

A Myrmidon landed upon the train, saluted them both, and then turned to Bucky. “Sir, as suspected, we have company incoming. Changelings from the east and bandit raiders are moving slowly in from the southeast. Mostly pegasi with a few chariots and some unicorns. The changelings are a considerable threat. They are mobilising as we speak, sir,” The Myrmidon reported.

“I have a plan,” Bucky announced. “Here is what we are going to do. You are going to airlift the engineers out of the locomotives and secure them on the frigate. The frigate is going to go home at full speed. Keep a few Myrmidons aboard the frigate for security. The rest of you are going to engage the enemy and buy us time,” Bucky commanded.

“What about the train?” Twilight asked.

“I’m getting to that,” Bucky replied. “You and I are going to run this train. How much heat and pressure can you give me Twilight? You’re a pyromancer.”

“The engines will explode,” Twilight argued.

“No, not if I hold them together and leach off the excess heat. You can run the engines. We’ll both use our telekinesis to hold the train on the track. We are going to run this thing at top speed until we make it to Ponyville,” Bucky explained.

“You’re mad,” Twilight gasped.

“Yes, I am,” Bucky agreed. “Can you make the engines burn and produce extreme pressure and steam?”

“Well yes,” Twilight replied. “Theoretically. You’re going to supercool the outside of the locomotives and keep them from exploding? You’ll have to be right on top of them!”

“Yes,” Bucky answered.

“It will be like riding on top of a bomb!” Twilight cried. “If something goes wrong I’m not certain your armor would save you!”

“We’ll need to load in coal and keep the heat going full tilt. I’ll be able to coat the engines with ice and keep everything cold. I will keep everything from going critical. I’ll need you to fly over the train and keep the train on the tracks with me. The end of the train will behave like a whip. Pay special attention to it and keep it on the rails,” Bucky instructed.

“This is utterly mad,” the Myrmidon said.

“Try not to kill too many ponies or changelings,” Bucky commanded.

“Excuse me, sir? Changelings-”

“Might be ponies under a curse or something. We don’t know. Slow them down, give us time to get this train moving, keep them busy for a while, and then disengage. That’s an order,” Bucky interrupted.

“Sir, yes sir,” the lunar pegasus responded.

 

 

This was going to be a long ride home. Bucky stood on the first locomotive, secured into place, covered in ice, and trying to keep everything together. Beneath him the metal glowed cherry red and the ice sizzled and popped as more formed. Ten locomotives burned with supernatural power. Each smokestack had a column of fire that rose over a hundred feet into the air and black smoke poured out into the night.

The entire train was covered in two magic fields, one magenta, the other blue-green. The locomotives  were all covered in ice and steam. The sounds of metal fatigue filled the night. With the fires of Tartarus shooting out of the smokestacks, visibility was surprisingly good.

Bucky figured they had to be going several hundred miles an hour and it was raw magical brute force keeping everything together. The train, the rails, the fragile laws of physics, he and Twilight were somehow managing so far. All bets were now off. The throttles were all thrown open to the maximum. Bucky was pulling in as much water as he could from deep below the ground to make ice and keep the tanks on the engines filled. Twilight was moving coal with her telekinesis.

The boilers screamed with pressure.

The wheels and the tracks glowed red in the night and the entire train was an eerie terrifying sight to any who witnessed. It moved with impossible speed. And then, everything shifted as they crested the marker for the highest peak in their climb. Everything would be mostly downhill from here, with few changes in grade along the way.

As the engines crested the hill, Bucky realised they would be picking up speed.

Unbeknownst to him, the denizens of the Badlands and the hills were all fleeing away from the train, as nothing sane would even think approaching the nightmarish sight of the runaway locomotives.

 

 

Bucky was feeling surprisingly energetic as the train continued downwards. The metal beneath his armored hooves seemed almost soft. He could feel it move sometimes. He leached as much heat as he could and dedicated his will to leaching even more. His own armor was completely encased in ice.

Much to his terror, he realised they were coming up on a curve. The straight track was over and now it was time to test just how much magic he and Twilight really had. He had no idea just how many tons the train weighed, but they were going to have to hold it to the rails somehow.

 

 

As an alicorn, Twilight was used to doing impossible things, but this nearly broke her fragile connection to sanity. The train was going around the gentle curve with the wheels on one side completely lifted off of the track at the height of the curve. It took everything Twilight had to hold the train and keep it from tipping over. There was over four miles of train to hold on to. Buckminster was doing all he could to keep the engines from exploding and it fell upon Twilight to keep the train on the rails.

Behind them, the rails exploded and tore away from the earth after the train passed, all of which would have to be replaced. The steel rails curled and twisted from the heat and the pressure, turning into giant curlicues and coiling up like ribbons.

Twilight came to one terrifying conclusion. She didn’t know how to stop the train. She hoped that Buckminster had a plan. She wasn’t certain that he did. Her brain ached and her wings burned with exertion as she struggled to keep up with the runaway out of control train.

 

 

The hour was uncertain when Bucky saw lights in the distance. It took several moments of thinking to realise it was Appleloosa up ahead. His brain was full of confusion. Rivets were popping off from the locomotives all around and him rocketing off into the night, glowing white hot, looking like shooting stars as they arced through the night air.

Bits of metal had been flying off and Bucky strained to hold everything together with ice. Magical ice that was as hard and as dense as he could make it. But the ice kept burning away no matter what he did and he had to constantly create more. He knew he could kill the fires completely, but they needed the fires to keep the engines running and keep the train moving.

 

 

The residents of Appleloosa fled the town, running off into the desert. Off in the distance, a demon train approached, belching flames that rose a hundred feet into the night sky. A fiendish glow came from the locomotives, and a horrible sound could be heard for miles around, the screeching of the damned. The train was clearly filled with the denizens of Tartarus and it was approaching Appleloosa, which is why the alarm had been sounded.

Even the buffalo fled the area, trying to get as far from the fire belching monstrosity as possible. An old medicine bull announced that it was the end of the world and from that point on, there was only panic and fear as they stampeded into the darkness away from the harbinger of doom barreling down the railroad tracks.

 

 

Things weren’t looking good. They had lost several wheels from the locomotives. Bucky had replaced them with wheels made of ice and it was a constant struggle to keep everything from flying apart. The smokestacks were getting soft now, they had become slightly misshapen, and Bucky struggled to keep everything solid.

Things were moving way too fast now. The curves were murder. Bucky couldn’t even begin to imagine the strain Twilight must be under. They had passed the junction for Dodge City and the Ghastly Gorge awaited ahead.

 

 

Twilight welcomed the long straightaway ahead. All she had to do was hold the train together, and didn’t have to worry about struggling to keep an untold number of tons tipping over. They had passed the Dodge City junction and were making good time. Fantastic time. Twilight realised they would be in Ponyville sometime around dawn, and she tried desperately not to have the mental breakdown that wanted to follow that conclusion.

Her vision was blurry and her whole body was covered in soot. She was mentally and physically exhausted. She didn’t know how Bucky was doing. She worried for him a great deal. But he was doing his part, so she assumed that he must be alright.

She squinted and tried to see the magical projection map she had created that would allow her to see ahead from her position over the middle of the train. It was alicorn level divination magic. It gave her real time data of the conditions up ahead and let her know if there was anything to worry about.

Much to her dismay, there was something to worry about, and at the speed they were going, they only had to minutes to deal with it. Twilight screamed in horror as she dug a little deeper and made ready to do the impossible.

 

 

With a cry of terror, Bucky soiled his armor. His bowels turned to water. Ahead was the most terrifying thing he had ever encountered in his life, even worse than going down into the deep dark below the mountain. Ahead was the Ghastly Gorge, and there was no bridge. There was only a yawning chasm almost a mile wide.

They were moving far too rapidly and stopping the train in time was impossible.

Part of the bridge still existed, but the most important part, the middle part, was missing. Bucky wondered what to do. He supposed teleporting away was an option, but they were so close to home now. It would be dawn soon.

As he watched, a magenta beam of pure telekinetic energy appeared, spanning the bridge and connecting the two ends. A second beam appeared, but it flickered and fizzled. Bucky realised that Twilight was giving it her all. There was nothing left to give. He didn’t know what he had left in him, and he wasn’t sure his telekinesis could support several miles of train.

There was only one way to find out. He reached out with his magic and a blue-green beam appeared beside Twilight’s rail of energy. This was quite possibly the most insane thing he had ever done. His terror gave way to a thrilling feeling of being utterly alive. His fear melted away from him as something deep inside of his brain finally gave way, the strain finally too much for his mind to bear. He was free now, fear no longer hobbled him.

Maniacal cackling could be heard, his helmet amplified the sound and it filled the night, echoing along with the thunderous roar of the locomotives as they consumed themselves in fire.

He felt a shudder when the train hit the telekinetic rails and he could feel the strain inside of his mind, just behind his eyeball. He had to hold up over four miles of train by sheer force of will over an almost one mile gap. Good thing he no longer had a sense of fear. There was nothing holding him back now. At this point, death would be welcomed.

 

 

Somehow, Twilight was not sure how, she and Bucky had held the train up over the gap. Now there was an even worse problem for her. One of the sharpest curves on the whole line that would bring them into Ponyville. She pulled and tugged on the train as it began to take the curve, and the bend was several miles long. She could feel Bucky working with her, offering as much support as equinely possible. Somehow, he had formed the second rail on the bridge and for reasons Twilight could not explain, their magic was working remarkably well in synch with one another.

The entire train wanted to tip over along the curve, and she had to pull fiercely to keep it from derailing. Twilight dug deep and pulled, exerting her magical will, completely oblivious to the physical changes her body was going through.

Alicorns drew strength from different sources, and Twilight was the alicorn of magic. As such, under extreme feats of magic, Twilight grew as an alicorn. Celestia had grown quite large holding up the celestial bodies of the cosmos, Luna was larger than the average pony for the same reason, and Cadance had borne witness to several acts of love that had physically altered her body. The night’s extreme use of magic had changed Twilight considerably. Her wings had grown larger, her legs had lengthened, and her neck had grown a little more swan like, all hallmarks of alicorn growth.

They were still moving at hundreds of miles per hour, and Twilight’s map indicated that Ponyville was just ahead. She still had no idea how to stop the train, but it was time to do so.

Hoping for the best, she let the fires in the locomotives go out.

 

 

The sun was just beginning to peep over the horizon when Bucky saw the lights of Ponyville ahead. They were moving way too fast. As if Twilight was reading his mind, he felt the fires in the engines go out. He began leaching as much of the heat away as possible and started crusting over the wheels in ice all along the whole length of the train. Steam rose into the heavens. Even with the fires out, flame and smoke shot out of the remains of the smokestacks into the sky.

More bits of metal were shooting away from the locomotives as the train began to slow. Bucky wasn’t even sure how much of the locomotives were left, he had replaced quite a bit with ice along the way.

They were moving far too fast as they neared Ponyville, and Bucky worried that the town was in danger. He applied more ice, trying to put everything into a deep freeze. Everything he loved was here. The train lurched and he could sense Twilight’s magic trying to pull the train backwards to make it slow.

Behind him, there was an explosion as one of the locomotives shattered and exploded. Bucky reached out with his mind and tried to keep the train from derailing. They were so close. Almost home. Another locomotive gave way as the cold bit deeply into it,  the boiler shattering into a million pieces.

Bucky realised that he was riding a bomb into Ponyville. He had no choices left, the train had to be halted, and he applied more ice, trying to freeze the train in place and make it slow down so it could be stopped. He uncoupled the boxcars behind the engines and made a tough decision. With a furious scream, he derailed the rest of the engines, tipping them over off of the track, and then teleported away from them as they plowed into the grass. Several more locomotives shattered and exploded, sending metal fragments everywhere.

Re-appearing on top of a boxcar, Bucky focused on making more ice to slow the train down. There were no longer any locomotives or tender cars. He could hear the muffled thuds of explosions behind them as the locomotives finally gave up the ghost, pushed far beyond their limits.

He saw Twilight Sparkle overhead, a flash of purple streaking past, and she was using all of her magic to push the train backwards and make it stop.

The entire town of Ponyville heard the explosions and the screech of metal, and quite a few witnesses watched as the train came to a lurching halt at the edge of town. Enterprising reporters were already hard at work trying to take pictures of what was sure to be a historic event.

The air was humid from all of the steam, and the stench from everything that was burning drifted into the town. The melting ice turned everything around the tracks into mud. The rails behind the train were all gone, curled up, twisted, distorted, and broken.

Twilight Sparkle crash landed into the grass and lay still, her body not moving.

When the train came to a halt, Bucky lept from his spot on the boxcars and went to Twilight’s side, hoping that she was okay. He could not help but notice that there was something different about her. He stood beside her and took off his helmet, his armor falling away, the plates falling to the soggy earth. He prodded Twilight and heard her groan. Bucky realised he was filthy from soiling himself. He fell into the grass beside Twilight and took a deep shuddering breath, thankful to be alive.

Already, a crowd was gathering. Dr. Stable and Nurse Redheart hurried through the growing mob, neither one of them dressed in their usual attire for work. Nurse Redheart’s mane was frazzled and uncombed. Dr. Stable had forgotten his glasses. Pegasi came streaking in from all around. Quick thinking pegasi grabbed clouds and positioned them over the burning wreckage over the locomotives, and the rain fell down upon the twisted metal remains, making them sizzle.

And in the grass, Bucky began to cackle like he had never cackled before in his life.

 

 

 

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