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 streets of Las Pegasus were filled with trash. Yellow cabs had been abandoned in the streets, a traffic jam had plagued the city, no doubt when everypony had tried to flee. There were dead ponies on the ground, both flies and carrion birds were feasting upon the corpses. Several buildings had burned and their blackened hulks were all that remained.

Overhead, a flock of pegasi flew past and Bucky realised that he was probably going to have some company soon, a thought he wasn’t happy about. All around him, the shops and buildings had broken windows and ripped open doors. Looters had been hard at work, scavenging whatever they could to survive.

Making his way west towards the bright lights in the distance, Bucky found that he could feel the magical signature of the foal with no effort. So much power. He wondered for a moment if it was perhaps Sombra’s blood that allowed him to feel the way he did or just the fact that he was sensitive to ley line energy.

Ahead of him in the streets, he saw a few earth ponies, a unicorn, and a couple of pegasi. They looked at him, watching him carefully, and Bucky stopped to look back at them. There was a silent exchange of threat assessment and then the group of ponies ran off, wanting no trouble with the black armored figure.

Bucky let them  go. They were dangerous, but not dangerous to him, and the various bandits and raiders of Las Pegasus could be dealt with later. He was here on other business. He resumed his mechanical march down the street, making his way between cabs and debris in the road, stepping over the occasional corpse as he continued towards the glow.

 

 

The city around him was different. Older construction. Instead of steel and glass, the buildings here were stone and the area felt wealthier. There were a lot of apartment buildings here, middle height buildings made out of brick or blocks of stone. There were lights in some of the windows, flickering orange lights, and Bucky could smell smoke.

A unicorn mare stepped out from behind a brick wall and looked at Bucky, staring at him intently. She had been burned recently, patches of her pelt were missing, and one ear was half gone.

“You’re not here to kill us all, are you?” she asked in a low fearful voice.

“No,” Bucky replied. He stopped in place and turned to look directly at the mare, a red light flashing on his display. The mare clearly wasn’t well.

“We’re just trying to survive. You’re not one of them are you?” she questioned.

“Them?” Bucky responded.

“The others. The other ponies. They’re like an army. They’re all over the city and they keep hunting us. Some of us have been trying to fight back,” the mare explained. “Like me. I’ve been in a couple of fights already. Even killed one.”

“Hunting you?” Bucky inquired.

“I’ve seen them… the pegasi, they capture ponies with nets and subdue them. Then they haul them off to that big hotel they’ve taken over. Lost a lot of friends,” the mare answered.

“So… let me guess, you came out here to defend your neighborhood from me?” Bucky questioned in a low voice.

“Yeah… that’s right. I did. At least I thought I’d see if you were going to be trouble and buy time for the others to run away,” the mare replied, giving a nod of her head.

“You’re very brave,” Bucky stated. “I mean you no harm. You say they are in a hotel? Can you tell me more?”

“The big hotel. The tall one. Called ‘The Golden Sands’ and it has a big fountain out in the front but it doesn’t work any more. Water is real hard to come by unless you are a unicorn, we can conjure it up from deep underground,” the mare answered.

Bucky could see other ponies coming out of hiding to have a look at him. Almost all of them showed a red dot on his heads up display, which worried him. He looked back at the mare. “Seen any bugs?”

“Changelings? They’re everywhere. Might even be here with us. We don’t know. Sometimes, we see them battling the other ponies, the mean army ponies. They use spells to make the bugs look like bugs again. A few days ago, there was a swarm of bugs that attacked the old government offices where some of the mean ponies have holed up. We don’t know what they are doing there,” the mare replied, now genuinely trying to be helpful now that her fear was gone.

“Do you know what happened?” Bucky asked, hopeful for more information.

“The bugs won the battle. We saw them dragging out a bunch of captured pegasi and unicorns. Those army ponies… only the pegasi and unicorns are soldiers. They really hate earth ponies, I mean really hate them, and we’ve seen them using earth ponies as slaves. When they capture pegasi, they cut the wings off and use them to pull wagons and haul stuff. Like I said, they are a really nasty bunch,” the mare answered, looking disturbed as she spoke.

“Do they capture unicorns?” Bucky asked.

“Yeah they do, but we never see them again,” the mare responded.

Bucky felt a terrible feeling of apprehension creep through his guts. There were plenty of uses for captured unicorns. Milking them for raw magic of was one of many uses. Powering magical machinery was another. Ponies that kept slaves kept slaves for all kinds of purposes.

“Are you going to fight them?” the mare asked.

“Perhaps,” Bucky replied and not elaborating any further.

“Who are you?” the mare asked.

“Nopony of consequence,” Bucky answered.

“I know who you are,” a stallion called out. “I’ve seen you in the papers. I know that armor… I know who you are… You’re that warlock!”

Sighing, Bucky said nothing but continued to look around, checking over the crowd. He even saw a few foals, all of them in heart breaking condition. Ribs were visible, their pelts were patchy, all of them looked malnourished and weak. Most had red dots, and there was nothing he could do about it.

“You’re the Lord of Winter, Sombra’s heir,” the stallion said, shaking his head in disbelief. “You’ve come to pick a fight with those horrible slaver ponies that have some sort of army”

“I need to get going. I have much to do. Flee the city. Get out. You should have left long ago,” Bucky commanded, looking around at the crowd as he powered up his armor for movement.

“We have nowhere else to go,” the mare said. “This is our home.”

“If you do not leave, this will be your grave,” Bucky retorted as he began to walk away from the group. Feeling frustrated and angry, Bucky forced himself to move along, there was nothing he could do to help these ponies.

 

 

Ahead, Bucky could see a group of unicorns massing together and he did nothing to avoid them. He moved towards them slowly, watching all of them as they formed ranks. Some fled, retreating to other positions, and he could see their horns flaring as they prepared spells.

Black flames danced along Bucky’s horn as he released a powerful fear spell. Several of the unicorns fell prey to the spell, the others resisted, and then they immediately began to cast spells to bolster the courage of their frightened companions.

Bucky immediately found himself under fire. He could feel the spells impacting his armor. Flames, ice, lightning, he laughed at their feeble attempts. Using even more dark magic, he reached out and seized control of one of the unicorn’s minds, turning him on his companions, and the mind controlled unicorn immediately began to undo his companions many wards and spell protections.

The unicorn’s reactions to this betrayal alarmed Bucky a great deal, as they made no attempt to free their mind controlled companion. Instead, they turned on him with everything they had, stripping away his protections and then setting him on fire, killing the mind controlled minion in just a few moments.

Bucky looked on in stunned surprise and the unicorns resumed their attack.

Not wanting to actually kill them, Bucky struggled to find some means of subduing them that would not be fatal. He released more fear spells, but the unicorns merely undid the fear effects when a companion fell prey to it.

Things got much worse when Bucky realised there was something wrong with his armor. As he tried to retreat, the walking routine had become jerky. A sense of worry washed over Bucky. It was getting warm inside of his armor, uncomfortably warm, and it shouldn’t be warm. There was a loud pop followed by a fizzling sound, and Bucky found that he was no longer suspended inside of his armor by a field of magic. He crashed down onto the bare metal, which was painfully hot now. He felt hot air blowing in from somewhere and realised that his containment field that held his armor together had been breached.

He tried to teleport, to wink away to safety, and nothing happened. Bucky realised that the area around him must be warded to prevent teleportation. Cursing angrily, Bucky came to the understanding that he was trapped inside of his armor and about to be killed. All of his previous enemies had been for the most part, melee combatants. Now facing an army of skilled unicorns, he thought about what Lyra had said to him on the deck of The Scorned Mare, telling him that she would outlast him and strip away his protections, her words were haunting and meaningful now as his skin began to sear on the metal. He jumped and bounced around, unable to move, unable to flee, and he forced his mind to work through the panic. He could hear his own skin sizzling now and the smell of burning flesh and hair was thick in his nostrils. His armor was being fried with electricity. He could feel it. He could absorb the heat, but soon, he would be electrocuted once the last of his protections were stripped away and dispelled.

The area was warded against teleportation, so regular magic was no longer an option. Instead, Bucky shadow winked, leaving his armor behind, hating this moment of failure, and hating himself for being unable to do anything to stop it from happening.

 

 

He popped into existence on top of a rooftop, several feet above the roof, and came crashing down painfully onto the cement, his talons clattering against the rough surface. He was still smoking, burnt, and more than a little angry. It occurred to him that he was alone, unarmored, and now injured in a place surrounded by hostiles.

Very much against his will, he began to cackle.

His respite was short lived, he could hear shouting, angry voices, and as he was trying to regain his senses, a unicorn teleported up onto the roof with him. Bucky had his own defenses slowly coming up, but they weren’t very good. The first spell hit him and he felt a tingling feeling of electricity, the next few shots would get worse and worse.

For the lack of nothing better to do, Bucky fired off the most powerful non lethal spell he could think of, but had not actually practiced much with, a spell from Sombra’s spell book. A blue-green bolt of energy struck the unicorn, there was a flash of bright light, and a moment later, there was a small potted petunia where the unicorn had once been.

“HA HA!” Bucky cackled.

His victory was short lived, already other unicorns were teleporting up onto the roof with him. He was already feeling fatigued from the powerful transmutation spell, but he was also feeling hopeful. His willpower had easily overcome the other unicorn.

Three unicorns looked down at the potted petunia and then at Bucky, and one curled back his lip and snarled in anger. He fired off a lance of fire at Bucky, which Bucky absorbed, filling the air around him with a bitterly cold chill.

Desperate, Bucky fired off another transmute body spell, there was another flash of light and one of the unicorns was now gone, replaced by a rather gaudy looking stuffed chair with tacky plaid upholstery.

“You bastard!” one of the unicorns cursed as he fired off a spell.

The stone floor beneath Bucky exploded from the stoneshatter spell fired by the unicorn. He felt the shock wave travel through his legs, along his belly, it felt as though it had nearly crushed his balls, and a large chunk of stone sliced open his side. He had no doubt that if he looked back at himself, he would be able to see a few of his own ribs right now. He was blown several feet straight up into the air by the blast, he was dizzy, disoriented, and in a lot of pain.

Not knowing what else to do, Bucky shadow winked, a blind long distance wink, and he hoped that he would not end up inside of some distant solid object or half in and half out of a wall somewhere.

 

 

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