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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Nearly overwhelmed with curiousity, Twilight watched Bucky work, assisted by Lyra and Belisama. He was doing something with guns and magic, and she had no idea what it was, but she sensed strong deep magic all around her, which is what had brought her to the deck in the first place. She stood in the midmorning sun, blinking as her eyes adjusted to the bright light.

She approached cautiously, not wanting to disturb Bucky or endanger herself.

“Greetings Twilight… come to investigate?” Bucky inquired from his chair where he sat wrapped in his cloak.

Nodding, Twilight tried to peer under Bucky’s hood. For a moment, she thought she saw a skull and she shivered, the chill wind in the air intensifying the shuddery sensation. “What are you up to?”

“Solving the gunpowder crisis,” Bucky replied as he looked up at Twilight. “Tell me Twilight, what do you know of my prefered weapon, the humble spell jar?”

Her mind shifting to a more analytical mode, Twilight immediately brought up all of the relevant data she knew. “Enchanted glass. Ultra-efficient means of magical storage. Your prefered method of spell delivery as a magical combatant so you don’t get tired during prolonged engagements. Deemed safe by any standard after I gave them a thorough examination. The glass won’t break and release the spell except for extraordinary circumstances. The orbs are safe to use around innocents and non combatants. Purpose driven enchantments and transmutations, specifically targeting only those who have hostile intentions, triggered by exceptionally powerful mental detections that are only available to grandmaster level enchanters, in this instance, you, as you are probably the most skilled non alicorn enchanter alive. The chances of an innocent being harmed by one of your spell jars is practically nil, which is why I will enthusiastically recommend them to Celestia and Luna as part of our new defense initiative,” Twilight recited, offering up what she felt was a brief summary of relevant information about Bucky’s spell jars.

“Bucky works very hard on purpose driven magic,” Lyra said, turning around and looking at Twilight with a proud gleam in her eye. “He’s pioneering a whole new field of magical study… nopony has ever refined purpose driven magic as much as he has, even Celestia and Luna have largely ignored this aspect of enchantment.”

“I concur,” Twilight agreed with a soft nod. “As magical studies go, it has largely been ignored.”

“I am going to render all gunpowder non-hostile,” Bucky announced casually.

“How?” Twilight inquired. “I mean, I know you have golems planned… I know you have something already ready to go… but what?”

“The first phase of the plan is to give the public a good scare. Make a couple of twenty foot tall multi-ton glass golems, fill them with fire, get photographs of them, and get those in the paper. Let the public see what they think they will be dealing with. Scare them into surrendering,” Bucky replied in a low calm voice.

“Okay, I get that, but that doesn’t fix the problem… what do you have in mind?” Twilight questioned, sitting down upon her haunches and making herself comfortable.

“My plan is to make more spell jars and affix to them small arcano-tech motors… with propellers. Simple mechanical golems. Small. Efficient. They will draw power from the ley lines and fly all over the globe autonomously, seeking out gunpowder. When they find it, they will detonate and contaminate the gunpowder with a transmutation spell I am still refining,” Bucky explained patiently, making a gesture with his stump.

“And that will make the gunpowder useless?” Twilight asked, her eyes narrowing in concentration.

“No,” Bucky replied. “Gunpowder gets used in other applications, like fireworks and mining. Blast powder. What this will do will make the gunpowder enchanted, so it is purpose driven like my spell jars. If any kind of hostile intent is detected, the transmutation takes place and something truly magical happens.”

“What exactly?” Twilight inquired, peering at Bucky curiously.

“Belisama, gun please,” Bucky instructed. He waited as Belisama loaded Fleshrender’s rifle with fresh shells and then took the gun when she was finished. Looking at Twilight, he allowed his hood to fall back from his face. “I want you to shoot me,” he commanded.

“NO!” Twilight protested, rising up on her hooves and backing away.

“Twilight, come on… trust me. Belisama and Lyra have both already taken potshots and everything is okay,” Bucky said reassuringly. “I refuse to move forward with any sort of magical alteration unless I personally know that it is safe and I test it upon myself first.”

“That’s dangerous!” Twilight retorted, still stunned by Bucky’s request.

“Fine,” Bucky muttered. “Belisama, shoot me!” he commanded, handing the griffoness the rifle using his telekinesis.

“This is bad!” Twilight cried in panic.

Raising the rifle to her shoulder, Belisama took aim.

“Aim for the head… just in case there is an accident,” Bucky ghoulishly suggested, an insane rictus spreading over his muzzle.

“I can’t look!” Twilight squealed as she squinted at Bucky. She heard an ominous click and a loud “CRACK!” rang out. Twilight screamed bloody murder as Bucky was pelted in the face by a giant snowball.

“Gah! That’s chilly… it went up my nose!” Bucky shouted, shaking the snow from his face with a feeble nod of his head.

“How?” Twilight asked in a low voice of utter awe.

“Earlier I got butterflies to come out of the gun,” Lyra reported.

“Butterflies, snowballs, confetti and streamers, and there was the anomaly,” Bucky announced in a disgusted tone of voice.

“An anomaly?” Twilight inquired.

“Dung of unknown origin,” Belisama replied, clicking the safety on the rifle and then setting it down. “Thankfully that hit a floating spell target.”

“The flying spell jars will transmute the gunpowder into a humorously non lethal spell that also changes any projectiles such as bullets or shrapnel. The world will find that attempting to go to war using gunpowder will be quite hilarious,” Bucky said, a cackle creeping into his voice.

“This is amazing… Bucky… I don’t even know where to begin,” Twilight stammered.

“You can begin by helping me! I can’t do this by myself. I am going to need thousands of tiny arcano-tech motors and propellers. I am going to attempt to automate this process as much as possible, and I don’t know how to do that… so I am going to need all the help I can get if I am to pull this little prank off successfully,” Bucky said, peering at Twilight intently.

“You’ll have the full backing of the Bureau of Thaumaturgy and I know that Princess Luna will gladly kick in funding from the defense budget… so these little flying golems will fly around, hunt down gunpowder through magical tracking, detonate, release the spell, contaminate the source of the gunpowder, and then if it is used in a hostile fashion, will render it completely harmless?” Twilight responded.

“That is the general idea… if everything goes as well as I hope it does. In time, this will simply end guns as a threat against sapient lifeforms. If they want to kill each other, they’re going to have to do it the hard way,” Bucky said as he pulled his cloak tighter around him.

“Bucky, as your friend, I must beg of you to never point a gun at yourself ever again or have somepony or somebirdy else do it either… I know you believe in product testing, but I couldn’t bear to see you hurt again,” Twilight requested.

“I refuse to use magical ordinance unless I know that it is safe,” Bucky retorted, punctuating his words with a snort. “And it isn’t safe unless I test it upon myself. I stand behind everything I create and trust my own life to my creations.”

“You’re a madpony,” Twilight grumbled.

“Ponies keep saying that… I’ve never tried to deny it!”

 

 

Stepping out into the late afternoon sun, Lugus carefully moved his immense bulk through the door and immediately saw a scene of carnage upon the deck. In the middle of it all was his squire, Ripple, who was preening her wings casually. All around her were eleven griffons sprawled out in various states of misery. There was some blood on the deck, and the griffons bore signs of furious bloody combat. Eyes were swollen shut. Feathers were ruffled and bloody. There were loose feathers stuck to the blood drying on the deck.

“Squire Ripple… what has happened here?” Lugus demanded, moving towards the group slowly, his side clenching up in pain with each step.

“Sir, we had a live combat exercise and there was a fracas, sir,” Ripple reported, snapping to attention when she heard Lugus’ voice.

“A fracas?” Lugus inquired as he eased his bulk down to the deck and sat down upon his haunches.

“Sir, Cornet Sentinel called it a fracas, sir,” a griffoness reported.

“Sir, I think fracas is a fancy word for scuffle, sir,” a griffon said as it rolled over, clutching his side as he did so.

“Sir, there was a combat exercise and everything was going splendidly sir, that is until Loki picked up another griffon then used Callum as a weapon against Freyja. After that, things got out of talon, sir,” a griffon explained.

“Thank you Private Grunion,” Ripple barked.

“Ugh,” Grunion groaned, rolling over and laying on his stomach as he clutched his head, one of his eyes completely swollen shut.

Trying desperately to hide that he found this whole scene hilarious, Lugus attempted to stuff his feelings deep down inside so he could remain serious for this unit inspection. “So Private Loki picked up and used Private Callum against Private Freyja?”

“Sir, that is what started the fracas, sir,” Ripple replied, still standing as stiff as a statue, her expression stony.

“This is why the servant griffons have never been trained for service,” Lugus said in a stern voice, still trying to stifle the need to laugh, partially because the situation demanded seriousness, and mostly because it would hurt his side too much. “Private Callum, report.”

“Sir, I have a headache, sir,” Callum reported as he struggled to sit up and then fell over, his head thudding against the deck, which caused him to let out a pained peep.

“Private Loki?” Lugus inquired.

“Sir, permission to die, sir,” Loki replied, clutching his groin.

“Denied,” Lugus said through a clenched beak, now feeling a laugh tearing around his insides and trying to escape. “Somebirdy has sustained a groin injury.”

“Sir, I fight to win, sir,” Freyja grunted as she attempted to sit up, both of her eyes swollen shut and blood crusting over her feathers. She rose to a sitting position with great effort and then feebly raised a wing in salute.

“Freyja, everybirdy knows you are sweet on Callum,” a griffoness groaned as she flexed her wing and tried to work a kink out.

“Shut up you dirty little spy!” Freyja snapped. “Always sticking your beak into somebirdy elses’ business Kiara!”

“We’ve all seen you preening him,” another griffoness grunted as she sat up and looked at Lugus. Her white feathers were stained with blood and only one pink eye was visible.

“Shut up Branwen, you freak albino,” Freyja snarled.

“Silence, all of you,” Ripple barked, causing the group to fall silent.

“I am not impressed,” Lugus announced in a grim sounding voice. “Stand up and present yourself, I need to know what I am working with so I can help Ripple whip you into shape,” he commanded, glaring down at the much smaller griffons with a stern eye.

“Sir, I am Grunion, sir,” Grunion said as he tried to get up and failed. He flopped back down with a painful “thud!” onto the wooden deck.

“Sir, Private Loki, sir,” Loki said as he struggled to all fours, his hind legs shockingly bowlegged and his tail curled up beneath his belly. His scrotum was visibly swollen to twice its normal size and he moved gingerly, trying to not let anything bounce.

“They call me Gofannon,” a griffon who made no attempt to move said in a low groan.

“Sir, I am known as Angus, sir,” a griffon reported, rising up  and sitting on his haunches and feebly extending a sore wing in salute.

“Sir, I’m Shaquah,” a griffoness announced, making no attempt to sit up, remaining on her back. “Why is there so many Cornet Ripples?” she inquired.

“Kiara,” a black crow-like griffoness said, her lithe black body remaining still.

The albino griffoness extended a wing. “Sir, I am Branwen, sir,” she said, sounding off in a pained wheeze.

A remarkably fat looking griffon rolled over onto all fours and stood on wobbling legs as he looked up at Lugus, who towered over him. “Call me Flench.”

Still sitting and making no effort to stand, Freyja, unable to see, cocked her head to where she had heard Lugus speak. “I am Freyja, slave to  nobirdy no more.”

“Sir, I am Brigid,” a skinny long bodied griffoness announced as she lay on her back, clutching a somewhat bloodied foreleg to her chest.

Realising he was last, a final griffon made a startled peep as he clutched his head in agony. “Sir, Callum, sir,” he reported, his crest rising and falling as he spoke.

“You call yourselves raptors… all I see are chickens,” Lugus sneered. “Squire Ripple… I do believe you have gone too soft on these doves. We need hawks and eagles… not ducks and geese. Beat them into shape as I have done you and show no mercy,” Lugus commanded, still trying not to laugh.

“Sir, with pleasure, sir,” Ripple snapped.

 

 

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