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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“That unicorn… the one with no legs, do you think she might have been one of the nobles that was sent to the Hinterlands?” Applejack asked in a low whisper as the group continued down the hall, trying to ignore the bloody mess that Bucky had left.

“I don’t know Applejack, I hope not. As bad as they were, I don’t think anypony deserved that,” Twilight replied.

“It was nice of Bucky to remove the bodies and stuff them in that empty room,” Rarity said as she stepped over a puddle of blood, trying to keep her soiled hooves from becoming bloodied soiled hooves.

“Why do you think she cooperated with them?” Spike asked, unable to hold in his question, his voice screechy with fear.

“Because Spike… I’m certain that at some point, she just wanted to make the pain stop,” Twilight said in a strangled reply, her voice cracking at several points. Twilight suffered through a nightmarish thought of being forced to watch as another creature devoured your own leg, and other even more horrible images began to flood into her mind.

“We just left her there,” Spike murmured.

“We have enough to worry about as it is Spike… as awful as it seems, we need to try and get out of here alive. She was dead, Spike. We have enough to carry as it is,” Twilight said, trying to comfort Spike.

“We should be silent,” Lugus insisted, his beak clicking nervously, his claws tapping as he walked along the stone floor. The griffon sneezed as silently as possible, and a large number of feathers fell from his face, causing him to make a noise of avian irritation.

“Why are Sentinel and Bucky completely unaffected by the dust bomb?” Spike asked in a very low voice, his nervousness compelling him to speak, to say something, and he was filled with the desire to hear the voices of those he loved and trusted.

“Lunar pegasi are immune to most poisons and Buckminster… Bucky… Bucky is Bucky… I saw his eye watering. It bothered him, just not as much as it did us,” Twilight patiently explained in a low whisper as she carried Flash Sentry on her back and Pinkie Pie in her telekinesis field.

Falling silent, Spike leaned forward and rested the side of his face against the back of Ripple’s head, burying his face into her pale blue mane.

Several griffons came into the hallway ahead, moving through an intersection, and they froze when they saw Bucky, making no sudden or hostile movements. They were clearly terrified, and all of them assumed a submissive posture that was remarkably similar to pegasi.

“We mean no harm,” one griffon said in a low frightened voice. “We were fleeing… Prince Tannis told us to go find safety when all of this started… there were so many soldiers from Huginn… we don’t want any violence,” he hesitantly explained in a halting voice that hitched from nervousness.

“Fall in line with us, we will keep you safe,” Bucky said, his horn glowing a bright blue-green. A faint soft outline of magic appeared around the griffons. “If you betray us, you will die the moment you think a hostile thought.”

Twilight Sparkle, feeling confused, could not think of any harmony magic that would do what Bucky was claiming, and then she came to the slow realisation that it was a clever ruse. The griffons were probably harmless, and Bucky simply wasn’t taking chances.

She was forced to wonder if Bucky was really the monster that some thought him to be, and Twilight Sparkle could not longer tell where she stood on the issue.

“Thank you… thank you, you are very kind,” another griffon said, cautiously approaching Bucky with his head held low.

These were small griffons, even smaller than ponies in general, these weren’t eagles mixed with lions, these were more like sparrows mixed with cats. Twilight Sparkle pitied them, being forced to live among their larger brethren that only respected size and strength. She watched the one approaching Bucky, crawling along the ground, so obviously pleased that it was being allowed to live unmolested that it nearly broke her heart, even under the trying conditions of everything else that had taken place. She watched as it nervously touched the leg of Bucky’s armor in grateful appreciation, squawked, and then scrambled away to safety.

 

 

“Stay here,” Bucky commanded, moving ahead by himself as they neared the prince’s quarters. “WATCH YOUR BACKS!” he shouted, his voice a mechanical bellow.

Ahead, after Bucky vanished through a doorway, the companions heard screaming. Terrible screaming and the terrible cacophony of violence taking place. Wet splattering sounds, the sounds of bones snapping, the sound of bodies being crushed. Twilight realised that Bucky was killing them using brute force and not magic. She cringed, feeling nauseous, and nearly threw up when there was a particularly awfulsound of some vast quantity of something moist and wet being spilled out all over the stone tiles, it sounded like the night her mother, Twilight Velvet, had sneezed and dropped a casserole all over the floor.

“Sounds like a slobberknocker,” Applejack mused, seemingly unaffected by the sounds of violence coming out of the door. “Ooh, I bet that smarts,” she quipped when there was a loud series of whimpers followed by a shrill scream, and then there was only the sounds of Bucky’s spine tingling mechanical laughter, which made Applejack smile smugly. “Them there sons of bitches done learned themselves a little something I’d say. Whatta shame. I hope Bucky made it hurt.”

Twilight felt shocked by Applejack’s seeming cruelty, she felt something inside go numb, her brain not wanting to accept the reality of the world around her. She felt Flash Sentry shift on her back, and his laboured breathing frightened her a great deal.

A small part of Twilight regretted having Flash Sentry on her back during such awful circumstances, and a tiny flame of hope flickered to life that better circumstances for having Flash Sentry on her back would come soon. If she survived this, Twilight Sparkle fully intended to make up for lost time and try living a little.

“I’m so cold,” Rainbow Dash whimpered, laying limp over Lugus’ back. “Don’t let them hurt me Lugus,” she begged, her legs feebly clutching at Lugus’ body. “I could feel that griffon’s talon under my skin… he was trying to peel my scalp off.”

“Pony scalps of rare colours are valuable trade goods,” one of the smaller griffons said in small frightened voice. “Not that I would ever do such an awful thing!” he squeaked, cringing back away in fear.

Sighing, Lugus reached out with his talons, grabbed the smaller griffon, who screamed pitifully, and then held him close and gave him a hug. It was an entirely ungriffon-like thing to do, and the smaller griffon was paralysed with panic. After a moment of fear, the smaller griffon went limp, not knowing what else to do. Lugus set the smaller griffon down and patted him gently.

“Thank you… sir?” the little griffon squeaked, scurrying away from Lugus.

“Prince Tannis is secured,” Bucky announced as he came through the door, Tannis just behind him, the griffon covered in blood, his armor was crusted over with crimson. “He had barricaded himself into his room… his bodyguards are all dead. We must go find Agnetha and see if she lives.”

“Prince Tannis the Kind,” one of the smaller griffons mewled, running forward towards the prince, his wings flapping. “You live! I was worried!” The smaller griffon stopped a respectful distance away from the prince, flexing his talons nervously, his tail swishing.

“I hope my father is okay,” Tannis said fearfully. “And not in league with Fleshrender,” he added in a low growl. “Thank you for your concern,” the prince remarked, looking down at the smaller griffon before him.

“We must be going,” Bucky commanded.

 

 

Agnetha’s quarters were a fair distance away, and even from far down the hall, it was clear that something was wrong. Tannis started to bolt forward, was grabbed by Bucky’s magic, and dragged backwards.

“Do nothing foolish. You are useless to Agnetha and the rest of us if you are dead,” Bucky growled. “NOW STAY!” he commanded.

Nodding, but saying nothing, Tannis submitted.

Bucky moved forward cautiously, stepping over the first of many bodies. The floor was slick with blood, and vast puddles had formed. Corpses were piled up like cordwood around the door, and Bucky stuck his head into the doorframe, looking into the room, the green spotlight from his visor flooding the room with light. There were dozens of dead griffons, and one living griffon near the door at the back of the room.

“Goshawk?” Bucky said, stepping over a griffon that had two knitting needles jutting up out of his ruined eyes. The griffoness was in bad shape. Her lower beak had been torn away, one wing had been hacked off, and she was missing two talons from her left front leg. “Goshawk? Speak to me,” he repeated, watching the griffoness writhe on the ground.

“You…” Goshawk groaned. “Knight… I… I beg a favour from you,” the griffoness moaned, her voice coming from down deep inside of her throat and spilling out of her ruined mouth.

“Anything within my power to give you is yours,” Bucky offered, lowering his head down near the mutilated griffoness.

“Agnetha still lives. She is behind the door. I held them off… I protected my cub. I didn’t let... them hurt my young,” Goshawk gurgled.

“You made a good accounting of yourself,” Bucky replied, coming to understand the terrible truth of the situation, realising he was looking at Agnetha’s mother. “You did what any good mother would do.”

“See that she is bound to Tannis… I want… I want you to do it. I trust you… with my cub after seeing you with yours… a marriage… like in the storybooks. Please do as I ask,” Goshawk pleaded, reaching out feebly with her existing talons and wrapping them around Bucky’s leg. “Now please… end me… I am in agony and I don’t want to cry out and shame myself when I see Agnetha… she must not know... that I am her mother… it will hurt her too much… keep her alive, please, keep our kind alive, do not hate them… some of us are good,” she panted.

“You want me to end your suffering?” Bucky inquired, his voice a cold thrumming whine coming from inside of his helmet.

“I drank… a potion I had saved… to make me a better warrior… I should have died already… end this… please,” Goshawk begged, looking up at Bucky, her eyes wide, the green light of Bucky’s visor illuminating her face.

Nodding, Bucky agreed to her request. “Any last words Goshawk? I will end this swiftly and without pain.”

“I have one... further request... of you noble... knight,” Goshawk answered in a soft halting screech.

“Anything,” Bucky replied, his head bowed.

“Be there for her…” Goshawk gasped. “Be the father she deserves… like in the storybooks… not like Fleshrender.”

“I will,” Bucky promised.

“I’m ready,” Goshawk grunted.

With a flick of his telekinesis, Bucky broke Goshawk’s neck, causing her to go limp and still immediately. He watched the light fade from her bright orange eyes, her stare becoming dull and vacant. He pulled his leg free from her now limp grasp, gently lifted her away from the doorway, and then set her down on a small sofa a short distance away.

“Farewell Goshawk,” Bucky said in a low voice as he forcibly ripped the door from its hinges. He heard screams from the other side, and then saw Agnetha. She panicked for a moment, and then realised she was being rescued.

“Is it safe? Does Tannis live?” Agnetha questioned.

“He lives,” Bucky responded. “Not exactly safe, but you are in no immediate danger.”

“Goshawk,” Agnetha said sadly, seeing the body upon the sofa.

“I am now your guardian,” Bucky informed the griffoness before him.

“Mother chose you?” Agnetha inquired, tears trickling from her eyes.

“You knew?” Bucky asked.

“For a long time… I figured it out. I know why she didn’t tell me…” Agnetha whispered as she approached her mother’s body. She touched it, gently, stroking her mother’s bloodied crest for one last time.

“Come. Tannis will be happy to see you,” Bucky said, turning around and making his way to the door, and then peering out into the hallway to look at the others.

“Thank you, mother,” Agnetha murmured, saying her final goodbye.

 

 

 

 

 

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