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 three ships hovered over a sea of swirling death and darkness. Far below them, the hurricane raged. It had made landfall and was now ravaging the land, destroying Horseshoe Bay and Baltimare, which was far, far below.

Powerful magical spotlights were used to illuminate the hurricane. Only small parts of it were visible at any given moment, but the projection map on The Scorned Mare’s arcano-tech display showed that the storm was indeed over one thousand miles wide, completely swallowing the Horseshoe Bay, Baltimare, and many of the surrounding areas.

Bucky knew that there were old family estates here and he wondered what had become of them. He had never asked. No longer were they home. He hoped that they were either rotting or repurposed.

Peering over the rail, he felt a sense of hopelessness, a feeling of despair, and the agonising pain of his guilt. He had caused this. His magic had contributed to this. Below him, a city was being scrubbed off of the map because he had tried to reset the balance.

“This is terrifying!” Yew Wood shouted, trying to be heard over the wind.

They were far above the storm, but the rising winds still buffeted the ship, giving them all a good shake. The moon shone down, but offered little light. The ponies on the deck were panicked, the howling wind spreading fear, and the bitter cold bit through through even the thickest pegasi pelt.

“I don’t think I can fly in these conditions!” Lugus announced, his words nearly swallowed up by the shrieking wind. “And I mean above the hurricane… the ship feels like it will fly apart!”

“She’ll hold!” Bucky shouted in reply.

“We’re getting gusts over one hundred miles per hour, even all the way up here… trust me, I know!” Rainbow hollered, her raspy voice struggling to be heard over the wind. “I can fly in these conditions, but it is tiring!”

“Master, this cannot be stopped. Even the alicorns working together would find this impossible,” Sunset Shimmer shouted, her thick black cloak fluttering softly around her. It glowed with a faint purple aura and was barely bothered by the gale force winds. A radiant heat flowed from the unicorn and her garment.

“An attempt must be made!” Bucky shouted. The stallion stood at the rail, his black cloak draped over his body. He turned to look at his companions and then he turned back around to peer over the rail.

Saying nothing, Bucky lept over the rail and then plummeted from view.

“Master!” Sunset Shimmer shouted, springing into action. She ran forward and then with a frightened equine cry, threw herself over the rail, her crimson and gold tail vanishing from view as she plummeted downwards with a piercing shriek of terror.

Rainbow Dash whipped out her wings, but Lugus grabbed her foreleg, gently tugging upon it. The griffon looked at Rainbow Dash with wide eyes.

“We must trust him. He wouldn’t have lept over the rail if he didn’t know what he was doing,” Lugus said, leaning close to Rainbow Dash’s ear so he could be heard.

“We’re several miles up over a hurricane! He’s a unicorn! He can’t fly!” Rainbow Dash shouted in reply, trying to tug her leg free. “He’s crazy! He’s nuts! He’s… oh my gosh!” The pegasus fell silent, only a gurgle of fear escaping her lips.

A terrifying black shape rose out of the darkness beside the ship. A massive horned head appeared over the rail, the deck lights illuminating the terrible visage of a dragon. Several screams could be heard over the shrieking wind. Large dark wings flapped and came into view. A long foreleg extended and gently set down a bright orange unicorn upon the deck. The talons were oddly metallic looking, almost appearing to be made out of metal. Half of the dragon’s face was a terrible mass of scars and it only had one eye.

“BAD MINION!” the dragon thundered and then shook his talons while making a sneer of disgust, his lips curled back from fangs that were several feet in length.

Then, the dragon dropped from out of the sky, disappearing from view.

“I pissed myself when Master snatched me…”

 

 

The dawn broke, revealing a swirling sea of grey below the ships. The air had become bitterly cold. Nopony on board knew what was going on and Bucky had not returned to the ship even once during the long night. The hurricane seemed to stretch from horizon to horizon, the writhing mass of stormy grey stretching in all directions below them. Much of the wind had died down, the massive updrafts had mostly gone dead.

Lugus watched, waiting, trying to see if he could see anything down in the turbulent depths of the storm. Ice was crusted all along the gasbag and the deck of the ship. Beside him, Sunset Shimmer was also peering over the rail.

“He was huge Lugus… monstrous,” Sunset Shimmer said in a low voice.

Reaching over, Lugus patted the still terrified unicorn upon the back.

“Death on black wings… the sort of dragon that is rumoured to live in the utter east where the lands are still wild… for a moment I thought he would swallow me whole… why would I think that Lugus?” Sunset Shimmer stammered. The unicorn’s eyes were still wide with shock.

“Never jump over the rail. I think it has affected your mind,” Lugus said dismissively. “When Bucky does something questionable like jumping off of an airship several miles up in the air, you should not follow him. He would be worried if he saw you the way you are right now.”

“He told me that he was going to make the hurricane suffer heat death,” Sunset Shimmer said, shaking her head. She peered over the rail and shivered, but not from the chill in the air.

The big griffon said nothing. He had no idea what heat death was.

“I was warned that his sanity was questionable… but he is utterly mad. He lept over the rail not even knowing if the spell would work. He’s never done a major body alteration spell before,” Sunset Shimmer mumbled as she continued to shudder.

“Seems like a good time to sort out all of the tricky bits,” Lugus remarked, shrugging somewhat dismissively. He had known Bucky for a long time and knew that his friend needed pressure to feel motivated on occasion.

As the pair watched, a massive dragon emerged from the clouds below. Long, dark, horribly scared in places, it rose on enormous leathery wings. It was spiky and horrible in the extreme. It circled around the ship, drawing closer, and then it came in straight towards the deck.

Mid-air, Bucky shifted, warping and shimmering, the dragon changing both shape and size. Now a unicorn, Bucky plummeted for the deck, looking at Lugus with a hopeful expression and waving casually with his right front hoof.

Spreading his wings, Lugus took wing, flapping several times to get airborne, and then he snatched Bucky out of the air with his talons. He circled beneath the gasbag once, banked, and then carefully set his friend down upon the deck.

 

 

Huddled in a chair, Bucky sat drinking a cup of coffee and having a bite to eat as he explained the situation. The heat was on in the common room and dining hall, somepony had turned it up to stifling levels, a near tropical level of heat.

“So you sucked the heat out of it,” Sunset Shimmer stated, looking at Bucky with one raised eyebrow, looking very confused.

“I flew through the hurricane and over the ocean. As I passed I leached as much heat as I could. I chilled the ocean. I didn’t try to make ice, just tried to use my entropic cold to suck in the heat energy. The storm slowed… it lost a lot of energy, but now we have a different problem,” Bucky explained after taking a gulp of coffee.

“Rain and flooding?” Sunset Shimmer asked, looking somewhat hopeful.

“Ice and snow. It worked a little too well. The rain fell for a long time, so I didn’t think I was having much of an effect. And then I realised I was dealing with a slow gradual change… I started to notice big fluffy white flakes. Now it is snowing. Heavily. There is a little freezing rain too. But the storm has been calmed. The initial hurricane landfall caused a lot of damage. Toppled buildings. Flooding. The storm surge leveled about half of the city from what I could see. And now everything is freezing over and getting snowed on,” Bucky answered.

Looking thoughtful, Sunset Shimmer nodded. “You know, this works out. We can deal with the snow. Melt it slowly over time to minimise flooding. We’re going to have to rescue a lot of ponies before they freeze. The power is out. So that means no heat. With a lot of buildings knocked over, shelter is going to be in short supply.”

“We’ll have an advantage in the snow… flooding means lots of mud and having to slog through water, but since most everything is frozen, it just means trudging through the snow. We can craft makeshift sledges for transport. We griffons have claws, the snow and the ice will not hamper our movement much at all. We’ll have to search the toppled buildings and try to find survivors before they freeze,” Belisama stated, looking at Bucky.

“I plan to unleash my horde of golems to do that. They will crawl through the area and then let us know when they’ve found survivors or ponies in trouble,” Bucky said around a mouthful of food he had crammed in. “We need to get moving. There are survivors in the rubble. An hour might be life or death. It is going to begin to warm and the snow will begin melting eventually. Might take a few days. Mud will begin thawing. We need to start evacuating ponies from the lowest parts of the city where the flooding will be the worst. We need to establish emergency shelters. I have traded one disaster for another. I think we can manage the winter weather better than a hurricane that rips the city from its foundations. The conditions are near white out through. So we need to coordinate our efforts carefully as it will be snowing for a while longer while the storm dissipates.”

“I agree that a winter storm is more manageable than a hurricane,” Sunset Shimmer said, looking thoughtful. “But both are destructive and life threatening.”

“Sunset Shimmer… I want you to gather up big piles of wooden debris. BIG piles. And I want you to set them on fire. Big roaring flames. The flames and the heat should draw in ponies. And then we can help them better if they are all herded into one place to keep warm,” Bucky commanded after he swallowed his food.

“Griffonholm has brutal winters. We have long lived in the frozen north. I think we griffons will actually be at an advantage here,” Belisama said, her crest rising in a hopeful manner.

“I think Agnetha and I will set up right about here,” Tannis said, pressing his talon down upon the map. “There is a big hospital in this area. We should tether the zeppelin somewhere around here and we should work to help the hospital. Ponies will be coming here looking for help. Plus, this is at the top of the crescent shaped hill that runs along the outer edge of the city. The storm surge probably didn’t make it this far, so the buildings around here should be in good shape. We’ll look for schools or other large buildings we can commandeer and use as shelters.”

“This seems tactically wise,” Lugus stated, offering his opinion.

“We need to seize any available strategic assets, like coal if they are available. We can burn coal in a stove for heat. If a building has a boiler system for radiators, the coal can be used to keep the boiler going. So we need to send out a few scouts to look for any kind of coal stockpile and then seize it,” Bucky commanded just before guzzling down some coffee.

“And what of the Cutie Mark Crusaders?” Rarity asked, her eyebrow raised.

“We put them to work,” Bucky responded, grinning broadly.

 

 

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