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 lunar guard looked frantic as he stood at attention before Luna, every muscle on his face quivering. He trembled nervously, his wings twitched, and his tail whipped from side to side as if he was swatting at invisible flies in his nervous agitation.

“What happened?” Luna demanded.

“Your Majesty, there has been a spree of murder. In the Crystal Empire. Some of your guard and the solar guard have been killed. One of the foals has been taken,” the guard reported.

“WHAT?” Luna bellowed.

“One of the special foals was taken. The ones we guard. The entire family was slaughtered during the attack. A group of unicorns did it,” the guard said, looking Luna in the eye as he spoke.

“And somehow they just escaped?” Luna demanded angrily.

“They fled to a safehouse they had established. They used a one way portal generator and fled the city. The portal exploded, killing several of the pursuing guards. Shining Armor was injured, but he will recover,” the guard explained.

“Special foals?” Bucky questioned, looking concerned.

“There are crystal ponies that act as living focusing crystals,” Luna replied, her expression troubled. “They amplify the energies of the ley lines around them. One of Sombra’s projects. I know that you know of it.”

“I do,” Bucky responded in a gruff voice.

“Do you know where they fled?” Luna asked her guard.

“Las Pegasus,” the guard answered. “A massive surge of thaumaturgical energy was detected there. We suspect that is where they went. We don’t know for certain.”

“Damn everything,” Luna swore, gritting her teeth in frustration after she spoke.

“Twilight Sparkle has already departed to the Crystal Empire to begin her investigations. She left not long after the message arrived at Canterlot,” the guard said helpfully.

“The last time we made an incursion into Las Pegasus we lost several Myrmidons… rouse the guard. Get ships in the air. I want every Myrmidon we have in armor-”

“No,” Bucky interrupted.

“NO?” Luna bellowed.

“No,” Bucky said patiently. “Send me instead. You planned to do it anyway, we discussed this very thing. The Myrmidons are a precious resource and shouldn’t be squandered. We need a small fast ship, drop me outside of the city, and I can go in to take care of business.”

Scowling, Luna considered Bucky’s suggestion for a moment before snorting. “Your head is still stapled together. You are unwell… you just got back and are still recovering.”

“I am well enough,” Bucky argued calmly. “I am well rested, having just woke up not long ago. If we hurry, if we do not waste time arguing, we can be there by nightfall and I can move in under the cover of darkness. I can recover the foal and move to an extraction site by dawn hopefully.”

Shaking her head, Luna snorted again. “No. If necessary, I will move in my self and make the recovery.”

“Luna, forgive me for being blunt, but there are still large sections of Canterlot that are mysteriously absent from your last display of power,” Bucky said in a soft voice.

“He is correct, Princess Luna,” the guard stated in a trembling voice.

“We must not put the foal in danger,” Bucky said in a cajoling voice, looking up at Luna pleadingly. “This is one instance where you really should trust me.”

Snarling in frustration, Luna nodded. “Very well. Be prepared to go. Hurry. I will open a shadow portal and we shall  go to Canterlot.” She turned and faced the guard. “You. Go to Ponyville, to the library, and inform Princess Celestia of everything that has happened.”

“Yes Princess Luna,” the guard replied, immediately taking wing and flying off.

“I am certain the solar guard has already informed her, but I like to be thorough,” Luna stated, regaining some of her calm composure. She turned to look at Bucky. “Be careful. This is dangerous. Be clever Buckminster. Do what you do best.”

“Yes, of course Mistress,” Bucky acknowledged, bowing his head slightly.

“You go get ready. I am going to speak with Witching Hour and Tiddlywinks,” Luna commanded as she took off for Witching Hour and Tiddlywink’s tower.

After Luna departed, Bucky went back inside of the house to say his goodbyes to his family and to get into his armor.

 

 

The ship was small, light, and fast, a scout ship made for missions where speed was necessary. The deck was small and cramped. Several Myrmidons were on board and they nervously paced the deck around Princess Luna and Bucky.

Bucky, in his armor, felt his muscles twitching in anticipation. The sun was setting in the west and Las Pegasus was just now becoming visible on the horizon. His new talons fit inside of his armor just fine, he simply had to make a fist first before sticking it into the hoof cover. He watched Luna twitch and gnaw her lip.

“They’re getting bolder,” Luna stated as she stared off at the distant city.

“They need to be taught to fear,” Bucky growled in a mechanical voice.

“Buckminster… I know how you feel about killing ponies, but it might be necessary. Are you prepared to do what must be done? I hate that it might come to that, but I think we both understand how things can happen,” Luna said in a soft pained voice.

“I will do what must be done, my Mistress,” Bucky replied.

“We know that the mirror travelers and the changelings have been fighting a war down here in the south. Las Pegasus, the southern reaches, the desert, even the Badlands. The fighting has been bloody and brutal. The mirror travelers have been holding their own and we know that they are killing changelings to turn them into undead spies. The orbs you’ve created have already proven quite useful I might add,” Luna explained, telling Bucky the situation.

“Anything else I should know?” Bucky asked, looking at Luna.

“There is a lot you should know but there isn’t enough time. Be wary of bandits and raiders. We know they exist in Las Pegasus and we have intelligence reports of fighting in the streets, presumably between the bandits and the mirror travelers. Las Pegasus is a hot zone, we’ve completely lost control of the city and the area around it, and we currently do not have the means to push and take back the city. Our forces are spread thin… and somepony helpfully volunteered our armed forces to assist in overseas engagements, further thinning out our ranks,” Luna answered, turning around to give Bucky a raised eyebrow and a narrowed eye.

“I regret nothing,” Bucky retorted as he glared at Luna through his visor.

“I know,” Luna stated. “You did well Buckminster. In the long run, the new treaty will benefit the world. In the short term, a number of problems have been made worse.” The alicorn turned back around to look at the city. In one section, the section nearest to the coast, a lurid glow could be seen. “If you get into trouble, send a message via shadowlink. If you cannot do that and the dawn comes, if too much time passes, I will gather a swarm of Myrmidons and enter the city myself to find you.”

“That is a bad idea. We need the city intact for ponies to live there,” Bucky answered as he studied the strange glow coming from the farmost western edge of the city.

“I do not care!” Luna snapped, her tone angry. “Do you understand how important you are to me? Not as an asset, but as a pony? I am having trouble Buckminster, I can feel my personal feelings for you clouding my judgment and it disturbs me. It feels as though I am repeating the mistakes of my past,” she said in a frantic voice.

“I don’t know what to say,” Bucky responded, shaking his helmeted head.

“Just promise me that you will do nothing stupid and that I will be returning you to your family when the dawn comes,” Luna commanded.

“I will not make a promise that I might be unable to keep,” Bucky said.

“Damn you!” Luna cursed as she stomped away from Bucky, tossing her head around in frustration. As Luna stomped around, she whinnied and nickered nervously.

“Mistress, I hesitate to ask, but do you think the mirror travelers might have used this moment of weakness between you and your sister to their advantage? Forgive me for saying this, but this was the perfect time to strike. Celestia has been moody and secluding herself lately, things have been tense, and when both of you had your spat and fled Canterlot, this happened. Seems like more than mere coincidence to me. I know if I was planning a daring raid, this is the sort of moment that I would wait patiently for,” Bucky said as he watched Luna pacing back and forth, hoping to change the subject.

“I have been wondering the same thing,” Luna admitted, turning to look at Bucky.

“Should I try to capture one of them alive and bring them back with the foal?” Bucky inquired. “For the purposes of… interrogation. As much as it bothers me to do so, I am positive that I could get results. Information. Knowledge. I’ve learned a little bit about interrogation when I was in Griffonholm.”

Luna visibly shuddered from Bucky’s words, her nostrils flaring as she did so. “No Buckminster. Focus upon the foal. Her name is Glass Slipper. She will give off a distinct magical signature. Try to focus on what feels like the strongest ley line in the area and you should be able to find her.”

“So go in, pacify any threat, find the foal, extract myself, and then return to the pick up point. I can do that,” Bucky said as he looked at Luna.

“Buckminster, I know this is foolish, but try to avoid killing if you can. It would pain me to know that you broke your vow. I’m speaking from my heart and not my head, which is troubling for me,” Luna said in a worried voice as she looked pleadingly at Bucky.

“We near the drop off point. There is a railyard depot. It will be easy to follow the tracks into Las Pegasus,” a Myrmidon announced. “We’re going to lower the ship and hide it between the big warehouses. We’ll have good cover and be well hidden if our luck holds. Follow the tracks in, follow the tracks out, will keep things simple and easy.”

Looking over the edge of the deck, Bucky could see the railyard. It was surprisingly intact and a locomotive sat on the tracks, left exposed to the elements. Some of the glass windows in one of the buildings had been broken. There was a massive grain silo, several large water tanks, a coal storage bin, and a turntable to rotate locomotives. There was a rail line heading east, one heading north, one heading south, and one heading west into Las Pegasus.

“I wonder how Twilight is doing,” Bucky said, thinking out loud. “And Shining Armor. I hope he’s okay.”

“Shining Armor is a tough nut to crack. I am certain that he will be fine. Hopefully there are no enemy agents left in the Crystal Empire. If there are, I hope that Twilight Sparkle can handle herself,” Luna nervously replied. “Are you ready to go?”

“Yes,” Bucky replied and then lept over the rail.

 

 

As the sun was setting, Bucky moved along the railroad tracks towards Las Pegasus. For an abandoned city, it looked surprisingly lived in. There were lights visible in the city. Smoke rose into the sky from multiple locations. Ahead of him was the unknown, which left Bucky feeling excited more than anything else.

Las Pegasus. Berry Punch had been here and had stories to tell. It had once been a mining town but as the mines had been picked clean, Las Pegasus transitioned into a tourist trap and a playground for the wealthy nobles. It was the city of sin and vice, where anything could be bought if you brought enough bits. It had long had a problem with organised crime.

During the collapse, the city had ran out of water, which caused the residents to flee in droves, many of them now living in Ponyville, Vanhoover, or Tall Tale.

Taking a deep breath, Bucky prepared himself for the unknown.

 

 

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