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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“Buckminster?”

The voice caught Bucky off guard. He looked around his office at the top of the tower, trying to spot the intruder that should not be there. His office was warded, protected, the door was closed, and a disturbance at this moment should have been impossible. He rose from his chair and looked around.

There was a small white pony near his desk. As he watched, it scrambled into a chair.

“Sorry if I startled you.”

“Shining Armor?” Bucky questioned in a whisper. “How are you here and why are you tiny? What are you doing in my office? How did you get in? Why did you leave the Crystal Empire?”

Getting comfortable in a chair, the small Shining Armor looked at Bucky. “I’m a projection. Part of me is also in Canterlot right now, speaking to Princess Celestia and Princess Luna. That’s why I’m so small. I wanted to speak to you.”

Moving towards Shining Armor, Bucky reached out and prodded the small foal sized stallion that appeared to be a miniature adult. Shining Armor was solid to the touch and definitely very real.

“I’m a projection, but I am a real projection. I can cast minor magic from this body should I so choose,” Shining Armor explained, smiling as he looked at Bucky.

Moving away from Shining Armor and back to his chair, Bucky sat down at stared at the small white figure in the chair in front of his desk. He took a deep breath and engaged the analytical parts of his mind.

“Buckminster, I really am sorry for what I said… the Collective fears you. It remembers what Sombra did. It remembers those fed to the tower. I know you know of Briarburner and how Sombra killed him. There were many more. You are the only living force on this planet that is an actual threat to the Crystal Collective… it fears you more than anything else. You cannot come near,” Shining Armor said in a subdued soft voice.

Waving his talons, Bucky nodded. “I understand. I’m not bothered by it. I take it we are still friends while you are away from home?”

“Of course Buckminster… we both have a duty. We have our obligations. I understand that now… I see it. You are necessary and vital to our survival… I just cannot have you coming near the engine of our protection,” Shining Armor replied.

“So you are capable of omnipresence,” Bucky observed.

Shining Armor shook his head. “Only on a very limited scale. At least for now. The system is still coming online. The latticework was badly damaged and corrupted. When it is repaired, I will be able to defend the whole of this empire. Not just the Crystal Empire, but Equestria. I do not yet understand everything… but with each minute that passes, with each bit of corruption that is cleared away, I gain more understanding and power.

Feeling a vague sense of unease, Bucky pondered Shining Armor’s new position, his new body, and his new purpose. Reaching up, he began to stroke his chin with his talons.

“Star Swirl and Sombra created the Crystal Empire as a defensive engine. Sombra twisted the city… as he grew more evil, he worked to change the purpose of the Crystal Empire and turn it into a weapon. Sombra believed that in time, it would be a weapon capable of destroying alicorns… even fey demons… a weapon of unspeakable destructive power. I am repairing it… fixing it. My shield magic has revitalised it, given it new life… it has remembered its old purpose and the living heart of the Crystal Empire has awoken… it seeks to become a defensive engine once more,” Shining Armor explained.

“Wait… the Crystal Empire is a living thing?” Bucky asked.

“The Crystal Heart was literally the heart of the massive golem that is the Crystal Empire,” Shining Armor replied.

OH FECK Bucky thought to himself.

“The crystal ponies are like cells in the body… the blood… the carriers of the life force. Sombra’s dark magic became like a cancer in the latticework… the body was weakened by the presence of dark magic… but when I merged with it, my shield magic gave it what it needed to defend the body against what it is weak against,” Shining Armor said in a low voice.

“So you have to purge the body of its sickness to restore it, that makes sense,” Bucky responded as he looked at Shining Armor, who glowed brightly. “So your shield spell functions like an antibody or something to that end.”

“You are correct. My shield spell is merging with the dark bits of corruption, purifying them, and making sure that the Crystal Empire will never know weakness again,” Shining Armor replied. He looked at Bucky and blinked. “I still feel so guilty… you gave so much to retrieve Cadance and even now, you look after her well being… I was made to treat you so poorly.”

“Oh hush,” Bucky grumbled as he made a dismissive gesture with his right front hoof. “Protecting the Crystal Empire and by extension, Equestria, is far more important than being worried about my personal feelings on the issue. I’m fine. I understand now.”

“Which brings me to why I am here Buckminster… there is a mirror traveler here in Ponyville. I can sense them. They are powerful… I can sense the threat they pose. They live in the shadow of the Sun and the Moon… there is a unicorn and he poses as a refugee. He is actually a spy… very much like the spies we had in the Crystal Empire. He has several townsponies under his mental control… he works to create strife as he gathers information on you, Twilight Sparkle, The Empress Cadance, and the Royal Pony Sisters. He has an apartment just above Quills and Sofas. The threat must be dealt with. I am telling Princess Celestia and Princess Luna the locations of other spies in other cities,” Shining Armor said in a now commanding voice.

“I guess I’d better go take care of our unwelcome tourist,” Bucky growled.

“Be careful Buckminster… please, dear friend, be careful,” Shining Armor urged.

“Thank you Shining Armor… I will go deal with the threat you have uncovered,” Bucky replied as he rose from his chair.

“I am the Shield… and you are the Sword of the Empire… I will aid you if I can, but I only have so much power available for now. Strike swiftly and try to catch him unawares,” Shining Armor said in a commanding voice.

Moving quickly, Bucky made his way to Sunset Shimmer’s door.

 

 

Moving swiftly through Ponyville, Bucky made his way to the market district, followed by Sunset Shimmer, Witching Hour, and Tiddlywinks. They were all wearing black cloaks and they moved silently, moving from shadow to shadow, three of them running on legs while Bucky was little more than a shadow beneath Death’s Cloak.

As they entered the market district, they began to cast defense spells, wards, protective shields, activating protective charms. Three horns glowed with harmonious defensive magics, one horn burned with terrible black fire as Bucky laced himself with darkness.

“We hit hard and fast. We go up the rear stairs, check for traps, take down the door, and then we hit him with everything we have,” Sunset Shimmer whispered. “Hopefully, we catch him while he is sleeping.”

“He’ll be dangerous,” Witching Hour hissed in a magically muted voice. “We’ve fought these unicorns before… Tiddlywinks and I… be careful… they killed the Black Cloaks.”

“We have a warlock,” Sunset Shimmer confidently announced.

“Let’s hope that’s enough,” Witching Hour grumbled as the group approached the back stairs that lead up to the apartment.

From within the apartment, an alarm blared.

“Oh bugger! Something that detected hostile intent!” Witching Hour spat in anger.

A moment later, the door exploded open and a unicorn burst out, his horn blazing as brightly as the sun. A blast of magic streamed off for Tiddlywinks, who teleported out of the way. The blast left a massive crater in the ground.

Sunset Shimmer let go of a shield breaker spell as Witching Hour also began to try and strip away the unicorn’s protections. Bucky let fly with a beam of dark energy.

The unicorn panicked when it saw the dark magic, let out a cry, and immediately let go of everything he had in Bucky’s general direction. Bucky dove into shadow to get out of harm’s way, streaking off as tendrils of shadowstuff, only to reappear several yards away, cackling madly as his horn flared with black fire.

Again, the unicorn cut loose with a massive blast. Bucky dodged again and the blast struck the building behind him, causing the wall to crumble. Flames began to creep up the splintered wood.

With a whoosh of cold, the flames vanished and Bucky continued to cackle as he shadow winked from location to location, sending blasts of dark magic at the unicorn. The unicorn let out a startled cry as the stairs were blasted away from beneath him by Witching Hour. The mirror traveler screamed as he teleported just before hitting the ground.

Sunset Shimmer burst into flames with a cry and then set tendrils of seeking fire towards the unicorn. She began to cackle herself and then crowed in a moment of triumph as she saw a shield bubble around the unicorn pop as her fire tendrils snaked around their target.

Lights were coming on in windows now as ponies began to wake from the commotion.

Tiddlywinks scored a direct hit with a pierce spell, which took out another layer of defense upon the unicorn, who immediately cast a spell to create another shield bubble. With a frustrated cry, Witching Hour released a repeating pulse of telekinetic blasts, which slammed into the unicorn and made his shields spark and fizzle.

“Give up and we will let you live!” Sunset Shimmer shouted.

“Never!” the unicorn replied as his horn flared.

A crackling nova of energy expanded from the unicorn, radiating outwards. Suddenly, Witching Hour and Sunset Shimmer were completely defenseless, their protections now totally dispelled. The unicorn pressed his advantage and released a massive burst of energy which struck Sunset Shimmer in the face.

Sunset Shimmer went down with a pained cry and the smell of burnt flesh and ozone filled the marketplace district. Witching Hour quickly brought up a shield.

“Her horn’s been snapped off!” Witching Hour cried in panic.

Hearing those words, a dreadful fear filled Bucky. Something inside of him fractured… he felt it… something broke, something gave way, rage boiled… terrible rage. Everything around Bucky began to freeze over, ice began to creep up the walls, over the windows, and spread outwards over the ground.

Darting forward, more shadow than anything else, Bucky became just solid enough to use his magic. He fired a single dark magic blast, moving on instinct now, consumed by his rage. The blast struck the unicorn and sent him sprawling.

His body landed several yards away, skidding over the earth. His skin bubbled… it moved in a most peculiar manner... a strange gurgling cry escaped from the unicorn’s throat. His horn flared for a moment, which lit his body in a golden glow as he desperately tried to save his own life as the dark magic began to consume him from within.

A moment later, the unicorn exploded violently, sending meaty chunks spraying out in a wide radius. Blood and nearly liquified bits spattered all over the nearby walls and empty market stalls with a wet splattering sound.

Moving swiftly to his apprentice’s side, Bucky kneeled down, whimpering in panic, the thought of what he had just done had not even registered in his mind. Witching Hour came near and so did Tiddlywinks, both looked fearful and sad.

“Oh that’s not good,” Witching Hour murmured.

Half of Sunset’s horn was gone, sheared off. The marrow was dribbling out. Her face was burned, one ear was a blackened husk. Part of her mane was completely burnt away.

“She’s dying!” Bucky shouted in panic as he watched his apprentice struggling to draw breath. Cracked horns could be fatal, but this was no cracked horn, half of it was missing. Snarling, Bucky lifted Sunset Shimmer in his magic and turned his head in the direction of the hospital. Teleportation would kill her for certain in this state. Augmenting himself, he took off at a run with his apprentice borne in his magic.

“Hold on Sunset… please hold on!” Bucky shouted as he took off at a run, Witching Hour and Tiddlywinks hot on his heels behind him.

 

 

In Canterlot, Shining Armor, who had witnessed all that had just taken place, informed the Royal Pony Sisters of the fall of Sunset Shimmer, the death that Buckminster had caused, and the crisis in Ponyville.

 

 

 

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