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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The dawn broke and Lyra’s hurricane had eased off to allow griffons to escape from Muninn castle. Smoke rose from Huginn castle where Bucky was visiting. Survivors continued to flee from Muninn, and Twilight had personally escorted several groups of the smaller griffons up to The Scorned Mare, including a group of tiny females that Lugus had spotted, his vision now much better.

The group of little females were terrified of Lugus, but Ripple managed to calm them, soothing them with carefully spoken words of reassurance.

Ripple was in the middle of organising the griffons on deck and letting them know that they would be kept safe when there was a blinding freezing flash on the foredeck, covering everything in ice.

Turning, Twilight saw over two dozen griffon cubs and one relatively large griffon female. Immediately, the vomiting started, teleportation sickness setting in. “I need fresh drinkable water!” she barked, issuing a command as she approached the group.

The griffoness, still puking, was terrified as Twilight approached, her eyes wide with fear as she gagged. She was sick all over the deck, and then feebly crawled away from her own puddle of vomit.

“You are safe,” Twilight said, looking down at the griffoness.

“He killed all of the older fledglings!” the griffoness shrieked once she stopped gagging. “He said we could live… I begged him for my life… I’ve only ever wanted to be a nursemaid… the hallways have rivers of blood and it runs down the stairs in a flood!”

“Fleshrender brought this down upon himself,” Twilight said coldly.

“I don’t care who the king is, I just want to keep the cubs safe,” the griffoness said, gagging again when she was done speaking.

“And this is why Buckminster let you live,” Twilight stated.

There was a sudden loud explosion and Twilight nearly jumped out of her skin. She whirled around, seeing a massive mushroom shaped cloud rising up from Huginn castle, one section of the castle was now crumbling away into the sea as a massive fireball plumed upwards towards the sky.

“What is he doing?!” Twilight cried out in fear.

“That would probably be the gunpowder stockpile going off,” the griffoness answered in a strangled raspy voice.

“What?” Twilight asked, turning an angry burning stare upon the griffoness.

“The castle has a massive stockpile of gunpowder and an armory of the new types of bullets. The new rifles use a bullet with a shell casing-”

“WHAT?” Twilight roared.

“The new rifles-”

“WHAT NEW RIFLES?” Twilight shrieked.

“The factories… they churn out hundreds of new rifles every day… and thousands and thousands of bullets. The new rifles aren’t like the old muskets. They have a lever and hold a dozen shots so you don’t have to reload. The bullets are in little brass shells filled with gunpowder and whatnot,” the griffoness explained.

“Where is the gunpowder stored in the city?” Twilight demanded to know, trying to restore her calm sense of order and mostly failing. Things were worse than she thought. Much worse. Autoloading rifles were pretty much the worst thing Twilight could think of.

“The big conical buildings,” the griffoness replied. “I hear the castle staff talking about it while I look after their cubs.”

“That look like beehives?” Twilight said, trying to contain her rage.

“Yes ma’am,” the griffoness replied helpfully, glad to be alive and willing to do anything to remain that way. She started collecting the cubs, pulling them close to her, fretting over them as they recovered.

“Gunpowder… rifles… the factories all making rifles… guns for war… what if they invaded the Sea of Grass… or Equestria…” Twilight moaned backing away from the griffons.

“We have averted a major crisis,” Lugus said, speaking in a low voice to Twilight Sparkle. “An army of griffons with guns invading Equestria would have been terrible. The death toll would be catastrophic. The Royal Sisters would have stopped them eventually, but they would have gained a foothold.”

“I know Lugus,” Twilight agreed. “We got here in time to stop this awful future, but Buckminster… Bucky... can’t do this alone… Oh by Luna’s stars they’re probably shooting at him!”

“He’ll be fine. That armor could stop a cannonball,” Lugus said, no trace of worry in his voice.

“Oh they were shooting at him,” the griffoness reported. “Shot thousands of rounds at him. The hallways were filling with brass shells. He was force feeding rifles down griffon throats. Well, some of them. Some griffons got rifles shoved up their backsides and he’s even been using the rifles with his magic to shoot and kill griffons. Mad crazy bastard. Wouldn’t stop laughing… more of a cackle really. Shivers me skin!”

“So Bucky was okay?” Lugus asked.

“He took time out of his busy day of killing to talk to the little ones… he froze over the door with a massive wall of ice. Even took off his helmet and his armor for a while. He told the cubs a story… something about some knight that killed a crystal lich. I sat in the corner trying not to piss myself,” the griffoness replied. “I offered him some tea to drink and he kindly refused me. Don’t blame him. Probably thought it was poisoned.”

“So he took a break?” Twilight asked incredulously.

“Conjured himself up some clean water and a cup made out of ice. Had a bit of a sit down. Made it snow indoors for the cubs. He started asking questions. He got the younger cubs to go and sit in the corner, and the older fledglings to sit in a different corner. Started asking about peculiar questions about stuff and made me leave. He locked me in a closet and I couldn’t hear anything. When I was let out, the older fledglings were all in a different room, dead, and the little cubs were in a different room, safe and secure. And he had his armor on again. And then it got really cold and we were here,” the griffoness said, explaining everything that happened.

“I am guessing the older fledglings were probably well indoctrinated,” Lugus said sadly, slumping down.

“Oh they start the education young,” the griffoness replied. “I don’t agree with it. It’s awful.”

“What happens?” Twilight asked.

“Oh ma’am, you don’t want to know… that Buckminster fellow didn’t want to know either when I told him,” the griffoness replied.

“Tell me,” Twilight demanded.

“Well, I don’t rightly know about the other nurseries, but I know there in the castle… once a fledgling reaches the decade mark, they get their loyalty test,” the griffoness explained hesitantly, assuming a very submissive posture, slouching down and her wings drooping.

“Loyalty test?” Lugus asked.

“I don’t agree with it, I think it’s horrible!” the griffoness cried. “It’s cruel and horrible and it damages their little minds!”

“Tell me,” Twilight demanded.

“About a month before the loyalty test, the fledglings get moved to a special nursery… I’ve never been to one of these… never! I swear, he even used magic on me to make sure I was telling the truth… but they move the decade mark fledglings to special nursery where they live with a group of little pony or zebra foals. For a whole month they live together and make nice. They become friends. After a moon cycle, the fledglings are ordered to kill their friends… awful business. Terrible business… the fledglings that obey get to go to a victory dinner and those that refuse are killed. The victors then dine on a fine meal of pony flesh and griffon meat… I’m sorry ma’am but I tried to tell you didn’t want to know, you look poorly,” the griffoness said.

“So he killed those who passed their loyalty test?” Lugus inquired.

“I suppose he did, I was too shocked to think much about it,” the griffoness replied.

Twilight ran over to the rail of the ship and puked over the side, heaving out bile because her stomach was empty. Her dry heaves continued, and her mind was unable to take in the kind of barbarity she had just heard about.

“Thank you for telling us everything,” Lugus said.

“I’m not like the other griffons… I try to only eat fish when I can, if I can get them, I just wanted to be a nanny… I was good at what I do which is why I was protected and allowed to live even though I had some funny ideas,” the griffoness said, looking up at Lugus with wide frightened eyes.

“You have been spared,” Lugus stated reassuringly to the griffoness.

“We’ve got incoming!” Lyra shouted from the navigation cabin. “Some blips on the projection map! Big blips, flashing red and moving towards us with speed! Are you sure dropping my storm was a good idea?”

Coughing, Twilight Sparkle lifted her head. She turned around, scanning the sky, and in the distance, she saw several large airships, big ones, dreadnaughts. Warships that shouldn’t exist, but did.

The alicorn’s rage boiled over.

Spreading her wings, Twilight Sparkle took flight, and as she took to the air, she ignited, blazing brightly, flames trailing from her feathers. Her elemental form burned away the last bits of magic poison in her system, purifying her, like a phoenix reborn in fire.

The skies were black with swarming griffons taking flight from the dreadnaughts, and Twilight cast a powerful shield spell around The Scorned Mare behind her and herself. The air filled with the reverberating crackle of rifle fire, and Twilight sensed the bullets coming in at her. Reaching out with her telekinesis, she stopped them, plucked one out of the air, held it up before her snoot, and examined it slowly.

It was a little slug of lead covered in copper. The tip was sharp. She looked up at the reinforcements that had arrived. Tens of thousands of griffons were approaching her and swarming down to the castle… some were big griffons. Lugus sized griffons. They closed the distance rapidly. Hovering in place, Twilight Sparkle regarded them while thinking about her friends. The swarming masses drew closer. She could see faces now. Eyes. Each griffon was carrying a rifle as they flew, and the air was filled with tens of thousands of bullets, all bouncing off of her shield bubble. She watched as they would fire, pull the lever, and fire again. It was a smooth swift well practiced action. She studied the rifles and their high rate of fire, able to get off all twelve shots in less than a minute.

Twilight Sparkle ran the numbers of the algebra of survival through her head.

Equestria would suffer horrendously under such an army. Most unicorns would die from the initial onslaught of bullets, pegasi would be picked off by sharpshooters, and earth ponies would be been hunted down and exterminated. Even the lunar pegasi, as tough as they were, would die eventually if shot enough times, but they would make the griffons work to kill them.

All Twilight Sparkle could think about was ponies being killed, eaten, or taken into slavery. Or even captured and hunted for sport later. Seething fury filled her as she contemplated a future where most of Equestria was dead.

“NO!” Twilight Sparkle bellowed. Reaching out with the strongest magic she knew, Twilight Sparkle tapped into the sun itself, flooding her body with solar fire. She exploded with flames, sending a massive burst of fire out all around her. In one second, thousands and thousands of griffons died, instantly incinerated from her burst of flame.

And Twilight Sparkle was only getting warmed up.

Unleashing her rage, she called down a solar flare from the sun, the first of many, and a lance of flaming death struck one of the distant dreadnaughts. It exploded, part of it evaporating away into nothingness. She called down another flare, this time aiming for one of the big beehive structures.

A massive mushroom cloud over a mile high suddenly appeared over the city, and several apartment buildings instantly became dust. Windows and glass shattered everywhere. Buildings exploded and crumbled. Factories collapsed.

Twilight called down another, striking another gunpowder depository.

A second mushroom cloud sprouted over the city, this one even larger than the first. Twilight called down more fire, this time striking the mountain of coal on the edge of the city. A billowing cloud of flames erupted in the distance, consuming a dreadnaught that was flying to close to the coal pile.

More flares rained down, destroying the enemy airships and another gunpowder depository, causing a third mushroom cloud to erupt over the city. Twilight Sparkle turned the shipyards into a puddle of liquid steel and death, leaving behind a lake of steel glowing cherry red, boiling and bubbling as things that were not steel burned away.

And in the span of a few minutes, the once peaceful Twilight Sparkle had turned the death toll into a statistic, having killed multiple tens of thousands in the first opening shots of her war on Griffonholm. Whole sections of the city were gone, vapourised, turned to dust.

She struck another beehive shaped structure with a solar flare, triggering yet another massive explosion in the distance. A gigantic residential complex simply vanished, ceasing to exist in the blink of an eye, the residents now a statistic, one measured in dust.

The skies were cleared of all threats and Twilight Sparkle hoped that Bucky would hurry up and find Fleshrender. She wanted this to end, but this was only the beginning.

Twilight Sparkle screamed, an inequine sound, venting her fury as she called down more fire upon the helpless city below her. She blazed brightly, a second sun in the sky, and the last traces of Lyra’s storm had burned away.

The world needed to learn to fear alicorns again, and Twilight Sparkle intended to make them remember, turning Griffonholm into a lesson the world would never forget.

 

 

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