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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“Does everypony remember the rules?” Bucky asked, his tone cold, harsh, and devoid of emotion. He stood impassively looking at Twilight and her friends.

“Yes,” Twilight replied. “Eat nothing. Drink nothing. Accept no gifts from the griffons. We only eat and drink from our own stores from The Scorned Mare where the food is safe,” she repeated.

“Good,” Bucky praised. “Lyra, Bon Bon, Yew, you will be staying aboard, minding the ship, looking after the little ones, and keeping everything ready to go at a moments notice. Make sure nothing gets aboard. I doubt anything will, but be mindful.”

“Aye aye, captain,” Lyra replied.

“Lyra, you dweeb, Bucky is not a captain,” Bon Bon chided.

“Oh… right… pony farts,” Lyra muttered. “Way to kill my fantasy about being a skypirate, Candy Cheeks,” Lyra retorted, feeling no small sense of self satisfaction in watching Bon Bon squirm and blush.

“We all stay together if possible. I understand that there are some places you will not want Lugus and I following you, like the little fillies room,” Bucky stated.

“I can’t go if somepony is watchin’,” Pinkie Pie interjected.

“Pinkie,” Applejack grumbled, rubbing her face with her folded fetlock.

“Well I can’t!” Pinkie Pie insisted.

“They want us to stay in a room in the castle, which I don’t agree with, but they seem to have gone through a lot of trouble for our hospitality. King Tanner has been working with Celestia for a while now, and he is the reason why we are here, so... very much against my own judgment and because Twilight Sparkle insists upon a gesture of trust and friendship, we will be staying in the castle at night,” Bucky announced, his expression one of grave concern. “But I would like to voice my opinion that this is a bad idea and it is tactically dangerous.”

“Diplomacy begins with trust, all of my books tell me that,” Twilight stated.

“Twilight, what do your books tell you about a mouse trusting a barn cat?” Applejack grumped, giving her dear friend a pointed look.

“Look, I’m not stupid, I know it is dangerous, but we have to do something to try and work out some kind of trust between our species… otherwise, this will end badly,” Twilight Sparkle said, her gaze locked with Applejack’s.

Looking away from Twilight, Applejack snorted. Her gaze fell upon Bucky and she pushed her hat back from her eyes with one hoof. “Why don’t you just get it over with and go on o’er yonder and sack that eyesore that has corrupted nature? I can actually hear the ground crying out to me to do something about it as it dies,” the farmer demanded, gesturing wildly with her hoof. “You… do the Lord of Winter thing and just bury this dead land under ice and snow. Give it a burial! Don’t you feel it Pinkie Pie?”

“I don’t know what I feel,” Pinkie Pie replied in subdued tones. “But I know I don’t like it,” she added, shaking her head sadly.

“Applejack, as much as I might like to do so, and as much as it would give me a great deal of personal satisfaction to do what you suggest, I am here to secure peace,” Bucky argued gently, looking into Applejack’s green eyes with his own Tainted orb.

“And that eye of yours is creepy,” Applejack said with a pronounced shiver.

“Applejack!” Rarity scolded as Bucky began to chuckle.

“Buckminster! Stop laughing right this instant!” Rarity snapped, scolding Bucky.

“What?” Bucky asked, his laugher dying from the shock of being told what to do.

“Applejack, his eye is from an unfortunate condition! You don’t laugh at the crippled and infirm!” Rarity said, getting in Applejack’s face and going snoot to snoot.

“Sorry Rares, geesh, look-”

“Sorry nothing! He took us on his ship. He carried us across the ocean. He’s lost sleep over our safety. He has been the epitome of charm and good graces even when I have not!” Rarity said hotly to Applejack, her ears swiveling forward and one hoof prodding Applejack in the chest repeatedly.

“That’s enough, both of you,” Twilight commanded. “We can’t start bickering between one another.”

“I apologise,” Applejack stated, looking around sheepishly. “I suppose I deserved that. Thanks Rarity… I think,” she added as she rubbed her chest where Rarity had prodded her.

“What about me?” Spike asked in a quiet voice. “I haven’t heard about what I am going to be doing,” he continued in a small fearful voice as he held his tail in his clawed hands and squeezed.

“You will be with me,” Twilight Sparkle replied. “As my number one assistant and my personal protector. Keep your firebreath well stoked Spike. If ever I am in any danger, or my friends, or your friend Sentinel, you hold nothing back,” she commanded in a motherly tone.

Spike, unable to believe what he was hearing, began to look a little teary eyed. He stood in place, still squeezing his own tail, and gave a little nod when no words would come out of his mouth.

 

 

Casting one last glance towards The Scorned Mare, Bucky entered the castle of Muninn, his trunk in tow behind him, floating in a field of blue-green magic. He hobbled on three legs, Twilight Sparkle at his side, both of them leading the way, and Lugus brought up the rear. Guards were everywhere within the entranceway, and commoner griffons had been cleared out for the entrance procession.

The air stank of pollution and filth. It burned the eyes and thoroughly violated the nostrils. Nothing white existed, having turned into a shade of sooty grey. Ash fell like snow outside, and the companions were glad to be indoors.

The floors were sooty, gritty, and dirty.

Coughing, Fluttershy struggled to breathe in the dank environment, and a raspy wheeze could be heard deep in her barrel. The air was chilly, not that the cold bothered her, but the dampness of the air and the pollutants irritated her lungs a great deal.

Seeing that Fluttershy was struggling, Rainbow Dash lifted Fluttershy and placed her upon Applejack’s back, and Fluttershy was grateful for the gesture of comfort and affection. She placed her forelegs around Applejack’s neck, squeezed lightly, and tried to cough as politely as possible so she wouldn’t disturb anypony or anybirdy.

They were lead down a long dingy hallway, full of many disorienting twists and turns, and torches burned every few yards to light the way. There was no electricity, no windows, and no other sources of light, the torches and their greasy flickering flames that left black sooty smudges on the stone walls.

The guard eventually led them to a small room, with too few beds, bowed slightly, and then he departed, closing the door behind him.

The room was rather cramped, but comfortably furnished. There were bookshelves along the back wall, and four bunk beds filled the room. In the center of the room was a small table, there was one single overstuffed chair in the corner, and there was a chaise lounge in the front corner, near the door.

There was no window, and Bucky saw a collection of familiar looking buckets in an otherwise unoccupied corner. Groaning, he realised that there was going to be some issues for the mares… the bedding situation was going to be troublesome.

“Well, looks like we’ll be sharing beds,” Twilight announced.

“I call dibs on Twilight,” Rainbow Dash blurted out.

“There are not enough beds. This is not how you treat diplomats,” Rarity said, her muzzle contorting into a fashionable well practiced pout. “No matter what we do, there is no way to be comfortable.”

“There are eleven of us and eight beds,” Applejack muttered.

“Twelve!” Spike corrected.

“There are twelve of us and eight beds,” Applejack repeated, raising her eyebrow.

“So some of us have to share a bed, so what?” Pinkie Pie remarked. “My knee keeps going pinchy pinchy,” she muttered.

“Look, the griffons are trying to throw off our guard and get us to bicker,” Bucky interjected. “They want us to squabble, not be well rested, and for us to be uncomfortable so they will have an advantage.”

“How do you know this? What is your line of thinking for this accusation?” Twilight questioned, raising her eyebrow at Bucky.

“Diplomacy is just as much a part of war as combat and killing,” Bucky replied. “I just… I just know things. I don’t know how I know them, but right now my head is filling full of knowledge about the situation. Stuff I know I’ve never learned before.”

“I understand,” Twilight said in reply, her voice low. “I started experiencing the same thing just before I became an alicorn… it got really strong. I knew what to do for my friends, and when all of our destinies got messed up, I just sort of knew how to fix them somehow… you’re getting premonitions,” she explained as she continued.

“Well, that’s creepy,” Applejack announced, dropping Fluttershy off into the only chair in the room. The orange earth pony mare peered around the room and then spied the buckets. “They ain’t got no indoor plumbing.”

“Oh come on Applejack, for a long time, neither did you,” Rainbow Dash teased.

“Grr… ‘Bow, unless you want to eat your own teeth, I’d advise not pushin’ my buttons right now,” Applejack grunted. “I ain’t in no mood to deal with any further aggravations. I’m worried sick about Fluttershy, I’m scared about what is going to happen because of Pinkie’s pinchy knee, and more than anything else, I want to be home and babybuckin’ with Silver Shill.”

“I’m sorry Jackie,” Rainbow Dash rasped. “I didn’t mean anything by it, I was trying to lighten the mood… still friends?” she asked, one hoof extended.

Nodding, Applejack bumped Rainbow Dash’s offered hoof with her own, but said nothing. The two mares looked at one another for a moment, and then in an almost unheard of move, Rainbow Dash threw her forelegs around Applejack’s neck and squeezed tightly. After a moment, she let go and backed away.

“Apology accepted,” Applejack said in a low slightly embarrassed voice.

“I have some snacks in my trunk if anypony gets hungry. DO NOT touch the spellbooks bound in black leather. Yes, they are leather, as horrible as that sounds. They are icy cold to the touch and if you touch them for too long, they will hurt you… I am the only one who can touch them safely,” Bucky announced. “I don’t wish to see anypony hurt. And for the record, I claim the chaise lounge. I’ll sleep on that. I’m small and it’ll fit me nicely.”

“Sombra’s books?” Twilight inquired in a low whisper.

“Some of them, yes. A couple are from Star Swirl and his more… darker experiments. None of them are safe Twilight, do not let your curiousity get the better of you,” Bucky warned, his face full of genuine concern. “No matter how much you might want to know about your ancestor, I assure you, you will not survive the reading. You cannot even read the text unless you are focusing dark magic or are Tainted.”

“Oh… eeew… okay, I get the picture, the books are dangerous. I’ll try to curb my curiousity,” Twilight responded, looking somewhat afraid and squirmy.

“Are there any spellbooks with practical combat in there that I might read?” Rarity asked in a wavering unsteady voice. “Nothing with any sort of dark magic for me thank you, I’ve had my fill.” Rarity recalled a rather unfortunate incident involving a dark magic spell book and she blushed, her cheeks feeling far too hot.

“Actually,” Bucky replied as he opened the trunk with his telekinesis. He rummaged around inside, moving things around, lifting bags of compressed bean curd protein snacks, and then he finally pulled out a thin wooden bound book. “I was hoping that you would ask me that. Here, read this. This was intended to be one of Dinky’s primers for an introduction to combat casting. She’s grown past it long before she got it, but Celestia meant well. This is a schoolbook from about five hundred years ago, back when Celestia’s school still taught combat magic to foals, so be careful with it. The spells are stunningly effective, simple, and versatile to any unicorn with a creative mind, like yourself.”

“Why thank you,” Rarity replied, accepting the book. “I shall take good care of it and return it to you in good condition.”

“I can’t pee in a bucket with everypony watching,” Pinkie Pie chirped.

 

 

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