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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“Fluttershy didn’t mean to hurt you,” Pinkie Pie said in a soft subdued voice. “She was scared. She went to you because she trusts you… you’re an animal she can trust.”

The words that Pinkie Pie spoke were direct, honest, true, and not intended to hurt or cause ill will, just a simple statement of Fluttershy’s point of view. Nodding, still trying to breathe, Bucky silently agreed, finding no fault in Pinkie Pie’s reasoning. He was an animal, a terrible beast and he knew it.

Bucky felt himself being lifted to his hooves by Rarity’s magic and he drew in a painful breath, the stars slowly clearing from his vision. He heard, but he could not see Twilight Sparkle’s soft concerned murmurings to both Rainbow Dash and Flash Sentry.

“This is my fault,” Bucky rasped in a scratchy voice.

“How is this your fault?” Rarity questioned in reply, her own breathing still deep and panicked from the events that had just taken place.

“I failed to find the secret passage. My wards were easily broken. My ability for defensive magic is lacking… and it placed all of you at risk. I am a fail-”

Something clamped around Bucky’s muzzle, cutting him off. He felt Rarity’s magic tighten around his snoot, a painful feeling of pressure that made the stars in his vision return, his vision now even worse. He jerked his head around reflexively, trying to be rid of the unseen cause of pain.

“That is enough of that,” Rarity said angrily. “Right now we do not have the luxury of self doubt, self pity, or self debasement… we are depending on you to get us to safety and rescue our friends… Tannis and Agnetha are out there somewhere and I for one am worried about them. Now if you will be a good and gentlepony, SHUT YOUR MOUTH AND DO WHAT YOU ARE SUPPOSED TO DO BEST!” The mare paused, a pouty moue appearing on her face, and she looked Bucky in his remaining eye. “We await your commands good sir.”

Bucky felt the force upon his muzzle let go; he opened his mouth and flexed his still aching jaw, glaring at Rarity with an expression of hurt and anger. He swallowed an angry retort filled with bitter words and instead went to his trunk. With a flick of his magic, he flipped it over onto the lid, bent his head down, touched the bottom of the trunk with his horn, and with a hiss, it opened, revealing a false bottom.

Dull black armor awaited inside the seemingly cavernous expanse, the inside impossibly large compared to the outside. Bucky began lifting out pieces one at a time and placing them on the floor around him, preparing them for wear. He checked everything. As he made preparations, Ripple, still blind, slipped on her war shoes with Sentinel’s help, and Spike stayed near the pair, his expression showing clear fright.

“My magic isn’t working right,” Twilight muttered. “I can do simple things, but I have been trying to teleport Rainbow Dash, Flash Sentry, and Fluttershy aboard The Scorned Mare,” Twilight reported, her voice quavering with fear.

“I am amazed you can do magic at all after your exposure to the magic poison,” Lugus said in reply, lifting Flash Sentry up on his hooves and steadying him.

“There’s no windows… just stone… too much… and everything still hurts,” Twilight whimpered, shaking her head. “How are we going to get out of here? What if Tannis and Agnetha are dead? Or was it just us?”

“I want us ready to go in just a few moments. Lugus, friend, I know you are unwell yourself, but I need for you to carry our wounded. You’re big and broad backed. Rainbow Dash and Fluttershy will both fit on your back just fine,” Bucky commanded. As he spoke, Flash Sentry toppled down to the floor, nearly hitting the ground, and would have if Lugus had not caught him.

“I’ll carry Flash,” Twilight said.

A low gurgle came from Flash, but no words. The pegasus stallion shook his head vehemently in protest, causing Twilight to glare at him furiously.

“What, because I am a princess, I can’t carry or rescue my own guard?” Twilight questioned angrily, her horn sparking wildly as she spoke, her eyes blazing with terrible fury from everything that had happened. “You threw yourself on top of me trying to protect me you stupid lovesick fool! What were you thinking!”

Unable to reply, Flash Sentry make a croaking gurgle and looked pleadingly at Twilight with red bloodshot eyes as Lugus held him up.

Several racks of glowing orbs were lifted out of the trunk and Bucky smiled a grim smile of satisfaction. He lifted the lid, revealing a layer of glass spell jars, all filled with a dreadful unmistakable purple aura. Throwing open the lid on the second rack, a layer of glass orbs filled with a pulsating black aura were revealed. Bucky chuckled to himself, an odd sound, something he could not repress.

“Are those?” Twilight gasped, looking at the glass orbs and suddenly knowing what they were, the horrible knowledge filling her brain. “Those are… those are… wait, what are the black ones?”

“The black ones are a dark magic variant of mine… I call it ‘hate it kill it’ and I suspect it will be quite effective. Ladies, I want you to take a few of these,” Bucky replied, offering some instructions as he did so.

“What?” Rarity breathed, her word almost inaudible. She watched Bucky lift a glowing purple orb, and she knew from reading the newspaper exactly what they were. “Are they fragile?” she asked.

Dropping the orb on the floor caused a few panicked screams. It bounced a few times, making clinking sounds as it did so, and then Bucky lifted it once again, holding it aloft in his magic for all to see.

“Purpose driven magic,” Bucky explained. “These will not break unless you will them to break. If you throw them at an enemy, they will know. They will break and release the spell within. I want you to take a few of these, they will be useful in keeping you safe if we are ambushed again. The spells inside will not hurt or affect ponies or Lugus or anything friendly towards us.”

“I think I’d rather have a few of the black ones,” Rarity said in a hesitant voice.

“Rarity!” Twilight snapped.

“What? The purple ones… that particular shade doesn’t match with my mane. And black is always fashionable,” Rarity retorted. “All I have to do is toss these with my magic?”

“Yes,” Bucky replied, looking at Rarity as she lifted three glowing black orbs and held them in her telekinesis. Nodding in approval, Bucky waited for others to take a few.

“I agree with Rarity,” Applejack said, grabbing a few black orbs and stuffing them under her hat. “Black is fashionable and proper for a funeral.”

“Ripple, can you see anything yet?” Bucky asked, worried about his beloved little girl and her magenta eyes.

“I can see a little, light and dark mostly,” Ripple reported in reply, still wiping her eyes. She had Spike on her back, and his forelegs were wrapped around her neck. “Spike is going to be my eyes. Good thing I’m a precog. I fly through the storm, not above or below it.”

“That’s my girl,” Bucky praised as he lifted his helmet. He took a deep breath. The armor always changed him. He wondered briefly if his armor was like a substitute for wings, an outward manifestation of the inner alicorn of war. When the helmet struck his horn, it slid into place and other armor pieces flew to his body, finding their place.

The armor had changed slightly. Gone was the large keg that held whiskey, replaced with heavy armored saddlebags that would hold concentrated calorie dense protein packs and his collection of glass orbs. He began loading his saddlebags, teleporting things inside of them, as there was no openings. He felt himself suspended, held inside of a gentle magical field, and various magical systems hummed as they came online.

There had been a few upgrades. Looking around, the glass visor covering his eye told him the pulse and respiratory rates of his companions as he looked at them, flashing a red indicator of alarm at those too weak protect themselves. Fluttershy triggered this, as did Flash Sentry and Rainbow Dash. Much to his surprise, the red blip flashed when he looked at Pinkie Pie.

“Keep an eye on Pinkie Pie,” Bucky announced in a mechanical growl. “She isn’t well and she will need to be looked after.”

“I’m okay… I think,” Pinkie Pie said in weak voice. “Just scared.”

Bucky kicked the lid of his trunk shut and then flipped it over. Touching it with his horn again, it began to glow with an odd light. “Emergency protocol failstate. Return to roost,” Bucky commanded.

A set of eight spindly legs sprouted out of the trunk and it rose, shaking itself off, and then stood in place waiting.

“Be ready… I am opening the door. Is everypony and everybirdy ready to go?” Bucky asked, looking around the room.

“How will your trunk get back to The Scorned Mare?” Twilight inquired.

“It will walk to a location where it can teleport and return. The battery will be dead most likely at that point,” Bucky replied, offering brief explanation as his companions made ready. “I hope the rest of us are okay,” he said in a low worried voice, revealing his concern.

Prepared for the worst, Bucky opened the door.

 

 

The hall was empty, but Bucky heard the sounds of fighting in the distance. He turned his head from side to side, checking for everything, ready to kill anything that moved. He stepped out of the door, his armor moving at a slow mechanical gait, his tail swinging from side to side as he walked. Directly behind him was Applejack, then Ripple, Sentinel, and Spike, and the behind them was Rarity. Lugus followed her with Fluttershy and Rainbow Dash on his back, his eyes still streaming tears from the dust attack. Behind him was Twilight, bringing up the rear, with Flash Sentry thrown over her back like a sack of potatoes and Pinkie Pie at her side.

The trunk scurried off in the direction opposite of where they were going.

“Is it an invasion?” Applejack asked, hearing the distant shouts and screams.

“Seems that way,” Bucky replied in cold mechanical voice as he took off down the hallway, heading for Tannis’ quarters and hoping his griffon friend was okay.

“Applejack, you’re limping!” Rarity exclaimed.

“I’m fine,” Applejack retorted testily.

“No you are not… you're limping and leaving blood when you walk!” Rarity cried out in alarm, pointing down at the ground.

“I sliced open my frog on that last griffon’s beak, it is worse than it looks,” Applejack muttered.

“Applejack, this floor is FILTHY! The infection you might get could make you lose your leg!” Rarity said, lifting Applejack up off the ground.

“No Rares! Dangit, put me down!” Applejack protested as Rarity set Applejack upon her back. “I can walk!”

“Applejack, stay put,” Bucky commanded. “Don’t make me subdue you.”

“Fine!” Applejack spat, sitting astride Rarity.

“Where did you learn how to fight like that Applejack?” Rarity said in a low voice as they walked down the hall.

“Delivering pies,” Applejack said, lifting off her hat and fetching a glass orb filled with black horror and holding it ready in her uninjured front hoof. “I hope we meet more griffons. I gots me something for them. I’m gonna be just like Rarity here and I’m gonna be the goldurn spirit of generousity.”

“Hush up, not so much noise,” Lugus gently suggested as the made their way down the hall. “Now is not the time for idle chatter.”

“Lugus is right,” Twilight said from the rear of the group, nervously looking back over her shoulder as they made their way down the dimly lit hallway.

“Wait here… Twilight, shields up… I am moving ahead. There is fighting around the corner,” Bucky announced as he stomped off.

The group huddled together pressed tightly against one another, and a dark pink bubble appeared around them. They watched Bucky go, and then he vanished around the corner.

Shouting could be heard, squawks of surprise, and then the unmistakable sounds of violence reached the companions, causing all but Lugus to cringe.

“DIE!”

There was the dreadful sounds of shattering glass, followed by raucous laughter that filled the hallway, echoing up and down the passage, laughter that sounded more and more like a cackle as it continued.

Pinkie Pie, unable to bear it any longer, fell to the floor and curled up in a fetal position. “No!” she cried. “Laughter is something you do to make others feel good or protect yourself from fear… you don’t laugh while killing… no no no… NO!” she pleaded, her final word a shriek. As she whimpered and cried, her curls melted away, her hair going straight. Her eyes went blank and vacant, and then her soft cries ended.

“Pinkie Pie? Say something Pinkie!” Twilight shouted in fear as the violence around the corner went into full swing and Bucky’s horrible maniacal laughter echoed in her ears.

“I never want to laugh again,” Pinkie Pie moaned in a heartbroken voice and then went silent.

Twilight prodded Pinkie Pie and got no response. Gritting her teeth, Twilight screamed through clenched jaws, feeling powerless to anything. First Fluttershy going catatonic, then nearly killing Buckminster, and now Pinkie Pie, who had completely checked out. She prodded Pinkie again, shaking her, trying to rouse her friend. Pinkie Pie’s eyes were open, but the light was gone, and she looked a bit like she did when Discord had cast his spell upon her. Her curls were gone, limp, and her bright pink pelt now seemed strangely grey, as though the happiness, light, and life had been sucked out of her. Twilight couldn’t tell if it was the soot or some strange magic at work.

She lifted Pinkie Pie in her magic, holding her aloft, and Twilight wondered if any of her friends would ever be the same after this.

 

 

 

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