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 forge was cold as Bucky entered. Luna had gone to bed, a rare thing for her to do at night, and Bucky was left to his own devices. In his magic, he held a strange looking device he had been working on, shadow and demon blood infused metal that he had been conducting experiments upon.

It looked a lot like a griffon claw that was made out of dull black metal.

Lugus had teased him a bit about wanting to add sharpened claws: it was an impractical idea, Bucky would never last in close quarters combat with anything remotely threatening. Tonight, he planned to finish. He had the fulgurite connector already made, it just needed to be fused with the metal, and then fused to his leg. The thumb had been reworked several times, along with the other talon fingers. The first design had only allowed the fingers to bend and flex in one direction, the second design allowed a bit more flexibility with ball and socket joints, and this version was now highly refined, but the thumb needed a bit more work. His intention was to add a slotted groove where the thumb attached, allowing the digit to slide from one side of the talon hand to the other, allowing it to become a right hand or a left hand on a whim. and allowing for greater range of movement and flexibility. Soft rubber grips had been prepared for the talon tips to allow for grip while walking and to not mar the floor. These tips would have to be replaced on a regular basis as the rubber wore down.

 

 

Sweating, Bucky slid the thumb from one side of the groove to the other using his magic, tested its flexibility, checked its range of motion, and smiled. The forge was warm, almost unpleasantly warm, but Bucky was sweating from exertion. The air around him was ice cold as he drew in heat to power his own magic, not even realising that he was doing it.

He brought the claw to life with magic, feeding it raw essence, raw crackling magic to give it power. The talons flexed, moved, clenched into a fist, then opened, and then each talon finger flexed downwards to touch the talon thumb. The magical movement routines were smooth and efficient, this would be like a wearable golem.

Holding the claw in his telekinesis, he grasped a large stone in the flexing talon fingers. Not using his magic, but rather the claw’s own magical prowess, he began to close the fingers around the stone, willing the claw to exert pressure. There was a creak of metal, then a popping sound from the stone, and then a loud screech.

A moment later, the stone crumbled into small fragments and dust, causing Bucky to cackle from his own overwhelming feeling of self satisfaction. He marveled at the mechanical might of what he had created. A golem talon with enough strength to shatter stone, but still gentle enough to pick up a foal. A useful tool of manipulation should he ever be in a situation where magic might be ill advised or avoided. A fearful weapon. Not to mention a symbol of the griffons which was about to be fused to his own leg.

He admired his creation, three talons, one talon thumb, all made of the same dull black metal of his armor. The upper half was black fulgurite glass, perfectly fused to the metal, also infused with demon blood and shadow. It could be walked on, it could be dipped into liquid steel to grab something, and perhaps most importantly to Bucky, it could be used for intimidation. As far as prosthetics go, Bucky found it functional and stylish. The fulgurite glass would amplify the signals that powered the claw from his own thaumaturgical system, making it exceptionally powerful, the strength only limited by his available mana reserves, like his armor but far, far stronger since it would be directly connected to his body and the raw mana his body created.

He was able to pull it into shadow, making it insubstantial, and it had distinct magical signatures that Bucky could feel radiating from it, the strongest being Lyra’s. She had made the fulgurite glass for him and he could feel traces of Lyra’s magic lingering in the impossibly black glass.

A nervous cackle escaped Bucky’s lips. The time was drawing nearer. While it was dark and there was nopony around to stop him, there was one final thing to do…

 

 

His office was dimly lit by the stars and moon shining in through the glass dome. Bucky checked over everything once again. Some fluids, some of Barley’s strongest corn squeezings, his claw, and a blanket spread out over the stone floor. The soundproofing spell was in place, which was important.

No doubt there would be plenty of screaming in just a little while.

As Bucky was about to commit himself to his task, there was a very troublesome knock upon the door. Growling, he used his magic to throw the door open and saw Sunset Shimmer, she was red eyed and bleary, half awake, and rather worried looking.

“Master?” Sunset said quizzically, looking at Bucky.

“Go back to bed, dear Minion,” Bucky urged in a soothing voice.

Sunset looked around the office, taking in everything, and her eyes rested upon the claw and then upon Bucky’s perfectly shaved stump. “Master… no… what are you about to do?” she questioned in a soft worried voice. “I cannot allow you to bring harm to yourself.”

“Minion, go back to bed. I am repairing what has been broken, restoring that which has been lost,” Bucky explained, focusing his eye upon Sunset Shimmer.

“What is going on?” Bartleby asked, appearing on the landing near Sunset Shimmer and standing just outside the door with her. The griffon blinked sleepily, looked up at Sunset, and then glanced at Bucky.

Feeling frustrated, Bucky struggled to keep his patience. “Go back to bed, both of you,” Bucky instructed, his voice soft but commanding. He thought about teleporting her away, but Bucky didn’t want to do that, not yet anyway.

“Master, what you are about to do is dangerous… you did this to your horn and I know what you are up to. Master, I took an oath to face danger with you… I cannot allow you to do this on your own. I understand that you will go through with it no matter what I say, but if you send me away, I will run to the house and fetch your wives,” Sunset said in a firm voice, her eyes glittering in the soft light of the moon above.

“You wouldn’t dare,” Bucky hissed, feeling rather angry and betrayed.

“I would… try me,” Sunset Shimmer responded, her ears perking forward.

“Bad Minion!” Bucky snapped.

“Bad Master!” Sunset retorted.

“It appears we are at an impasse,” Bartleby stated, looking first at Sunset Shimmer and then at Bucky. “My king, I cannot allow you to perform something dangerous upon your body all alone. What if something happened? If there were complications?” he questioned.

“Fine, get in here and shut the door,” Bucky snapped in irritation.

“Yes Master,” Sunset Shimmer replied, bowing her head and stepping inside, Bartleby following behind her. She pushed the door shut with her magic and looked at Bucky expectantly.

Bucky studied his apprentice. She wasn’t the least bit afraid of him now, and he liked that. He liked it a great deal. She was a risk taker, she knew how to push limits, she knew when to obey and when to resist, she had a sharp tongue that Bucky valued, and she was not above being clever.

“Tell me Minion, what sort of parents did you have?” Bucky inquired, still looking at Sunset Shimmer, taking note of her eager expression. She was certainly willing to see this through. He could see her fear, he could smell her fear, but he could also see that she was holding that fear back, which made him admire her.

“Master?” Sunset replied, looking puzzled.

“What sort of parents did you have?” Bucky repeated, making a gesture with his bare pink stump.

“Master… I never knew my father. My mother was a mare named Blue Velvet,” Sunset Shimmer answered.

“That tells me nothing,” Bucky said impatiently.

“My mother was okay I guess… she died when I was young. There was a particularly nasty flu. It killed a lot of ponies. She was nice. She told me stories about our family,” Sunset Shimmer responded, dropping her gaze down to the stone floor and becoming thoughtful.

“What sorts of stories?” Bucky asked, looking hopeful.

“Well, we came from nobles, or so she claimed, but I cannot remember which house. But not in a meaningful way. Bastards, you know, being born on the wrong side of the estate gate,” Sunset Shimmer said bitterly.

“Who were they?” Bucky inquired, now curious and distracted from his original task.

“Funny story, they were on the run from their houses… or something… how did that go? There was a unicorn… his name was Starhammer or Starslammer or something like that, I don’t remember exactly what his name is, but he was a sky pirate. And he met this mare… something or other Velvet, I can’t remember. Blood Stained Velvet or something ruthless sounding like any proper sky pirate might have. Both of them came from noble houses. They had a foal together. My mother was always going on about how important we were, how we came from a pair of famous wizards, and that we deserved recognition and respect. She hated how poor we were and how little we had. When my raw magical talent was discovered… she was so happy,” Sunset said, her head cocked as she reminisced about the past. “She said the old noble blood was finally paying off… she was a miserable type two.”

“Fascinating,” Bucky remarked, looking at Sunset Shimmer. Starjammer of House Avarice he thought to himself, feeling a twinge of curiousity. It was the only name he could think of, a recent discovery of his own as he had decided to investigate the wordy wizard out of a sense of idle curiousity. He made a mental note to do a little genealogical checking up on Sunset Shimmer’s bloodline. “Well then,” he announced. “We should get started.”

“Yes Master, tell me what to do,” Sunset Shimmer requested, looking up at Bucky, her eyes wide and curious.

“How can we be of assistance?” Bartleby asked, his tail wrapped around his body.

“I intend to magically graft this mechanical claw onto my stump. Afterwards, there will probably be a lot of screaming and I might even piss myself if I am lucky,” Bucky responded in an unnerving cheerful voice.

“And what do we do?” Sunset Shimmer questioned.

“Well, I told you to go back to bed, but since you are here, when I recover, make sure you give me some fluid and plenty of booze to dull the pain,” Bucky instructed, looking Sunset in the eye as he spoke.

“Shall Bartleby take note of any new and exciting swear words that might escape your lips, oh gloriously vulgar Master?” Sunset Shimmer inquired, raising her eyebrow at Bucky.

“Look, I sneezed and sucked fine grain sand up my nose… it hurt! Would you have done any different?” Bucky responded in a sullen voice, glaring balefully at his apprentice.

“Master, you made Scorch, one of the Demon Lords of Tartarus, pause in his tasks and reflect upon your… words of wisdom,” Sunset Shimmer said, her sense of dry wit and her barely contained mirth exuding from her expression as she spoke.

“What does that have to do with anything?” Bucky demanded, his nostrils flaring in irritation from his apprentice’s words.

“Scorch is very old. Very very old. And he was offended,” Sunset stated, shaking her head in disapproval at the memory.

“He was not!” Bucky retorted testily, punctuating his three word sentence with a snort of disgust.

“I believe it was the rhyming nature of your profanity… sir,” Bartleby interjected.

“Yeah… something like ‘filthy lecher and asshole stretcher’ along with a whole slew of the most vile words used in conjunction with one another that anypony could imagine,” Sunset Shimmer said, looking down at her companion Bartleby. “You offended one of the Demon Lords of Tartarus… for shame Master.”

“Silence Minion! We have a task! Not another word!” Bucky demanded, his eyelid twitching as he spoke. “Minion will be silent!”

“Of course Master,” Sunset Shimmer said, bowing her head.

“Now, if both of you are done trying to shame me, I have a dangerous and morally questionable body modification to perform upon myself,” Bucky snarled, glaring at his insolent underling and her dutiful and devoted flunky.

If Master did no wrong, then Master has nothing to be ashamed of Sunset Shimmer thought to herself, her eyebrow raising as she watched Bucky prepare himself.

“Life has been so much easier since my sense of ethics was mortally wounded,” Bucky announced as he made himself comfortable.

“Did your sense of morality survive that conflict or did it perish as well?” Sunset questioned as she watched Bucky get situated.

“You…” Bucky breathed, glaring at his apprentice with his Taint filled eye. “You just bought yourself a week of diaper duty when the foals come.”

Squirming, Sunset Shimmer silently protested the terrible punishment, realising she might have gone too far with her sarcastic remarks. If she was lucky, Bucky might forget about it by the time the foals actually arrived come spring.

“Sire, good luck,” Bartleby said as Bucky lifted the claw in his magic.

“Yes Master… good luck. I really hope this won’t be too painful,” Sunset Shimmer said in a soft voice to Bucky.

“Thank you… both of you,” Bucky replied, his horn glowing. He stretched out his stump, looked at it, and then he took a deep breath.

There was a bright flash of blue-green light as the claw winked out of existence and then snapped back into existence just a moment later, juxtaposed over Bucky’s extended stump, the teleportation magic fusing Bucky and the claw together.

Screaming, Bucky fell to the blanket and began to writhe, his body twisting and kicking around. He could feel the glass melding with the bone, merging, it was the same pain from when he had replaced his horn. He could feel the glass rooting itself inside of his body and outside as well, creeping upwards and displacing the skin. A burning brand of agony bore into the end of his leg bone as the glass merged with his skeleton.

Sunset, unable to bear watching Bucky writhe around, rushed to his side, sat down beside him, and picked his head up in between her forelegs, trying to comfort him. She stroked the good side of his face, she made soft cooing sounds, she did everything she could think of to try and comfort her Master. His ragged breathing pained her heart and she felt tears coming to her eyes.

Meanwhile, Bartleby hurried forward, a glass of water at the ready, his eyes wide with warm concern. Hearing his king’s pained cries was agonising, and there was nothing more the griffon could do.

Finally, Bucky went still and Sunset gave him some water, which Bucky greedily drank down, his throat parched from screaming. He remained limp on the floor, unable to move, and Sunset remained with him, holding his head up so he could continue to drink.

Feeling woozy, nauseous, his vision full of black and white stars, Bucky lifted his left foreleg and flexed his new talons. He could feel pressure at the end of his leg bone, strange pressure, painful pressure, and he began to wonder if there was something wrong. He realised he could feel the metal, there was no other way of describing it, but as he flexed his metal talons, he could feel them clicking against one another. The feeling of pressure increased, it felt just like magical pressure building up behind his horn.

“Get back!” Bucky wheezed, pushing Sunset and Bartleby away from him with his telekinesis just as his talons began to glow with blue-green eldritch fire. For a moment, Bucky thought his new talons were going to explode. He immediately raised a shield around himself, with his claw outside of the shield.

A bolt of raw thaumakinetic energy burst from one talon tip and struck the wall, tearing a chunk of stone free. A second later, eldritch lightning streaked from his claws and into the wall, burning it and blasting away even more stone. Bucky felt the pressure in his leg die down and the lightning turned into a shower of blue-green sparks.

With the pressure completely gone, the magical discharge ended, and Bucky flexed his new talons once more, feeling a bit drained. It dawned on him slowly that he now had a second means of magical manifestation and release upon his body, something other than his horn. The claw was directly fused into his body with fulgurite, and Bucky could only begin to imagine what had taken place, but clearly, he had another means to channel magical release, probably by the raw mana that flowed through his blood reaching the fulgurite mounting for the talons. He let out a pained cackle of triumph and looked  down at the melted rubber covers that were meant to protect the floor. As he watched, one of them flaked away, little more than ash.

“That was the most awesome thing I have ever seen,” Sunset Shimmer whispered.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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