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 debate about Labyrinthia started off with a few quiet words and then a few angry exclamations. Bucky heard several opinions, some he agreed with, others he disagreed with, and a few that made no sense to him. Much to his surprise, almost everyone in attendance agreed it was time to get involved, even if it was reluctant involvement, but no one could seem to agree on what to do.

Leaning over, Bucky kissed Berry Punch upon the cheek, bent his head down, gave Cadance a gentle kiss, and then he pulled Spike close and gave the nervous as well as bewildered dragon a reassuring hug.

Glancing over at Luna, Bucky tried to figure out what was going on with Spike, Twilight, Celestia, and Luna. Twilight had known that she had a false egg, or at least, she had known. She did not know that Spike was immortal. Her reaction to being told was disturbing, alarming, even worrisome. Twilight had told him that she knew that Celestia was keeping the information from her. This was right before Griffonholm and the events that took place there.

Distracted, thoughtful, Bucky began to wonder if Luna had done a little trimming of Twilight’s memories to ease the burden of Griffonholm and everything that had taken place there. It was just what Luna did. She had done it to him, but no longer. For good or for ill, Bucky remembered everything.

There was now a boring debate about the historical significance of Labyrinthia. Try as he might, Bucky could not be bothered gaining interest. It was far more interesting to speculate about how much Luna had cut away from Twilight’s mind to stabilise her mind after Griffonholm.

“So what could actually justify the eradication of an entire city?”

The question, asked in a moment of heated passion, seemed pointless. Bucky could think of a lot of reasons that a city deserved obliteration. As a pony with experience in razing cities, Bucky thought for a moment that he might have something to say, but then he lost interest.

He allowed Spike to squirm away and watched the dragon go over to Twilight.

“We have one of the guns. This is one of the guns used in the assault upon the royal palace. It is of a design that is not of this world or this realm.”

Slipping off of his chair, Bucky took to his hooves and trotted off to the front of the room where the table was. The gun, which had was set out upon the table for display. He heard murmurings of surprise as he passed through the crowd. He heard Celestia saying something about sitting back down, but that was easy to ignore.

Approaching the table, Bucky smiled at Scorch and then looked down to examine the gun. It was unlike anything he had seen before and he had no frame of reference from which to begin to draw conclusions.

“This is rather unusual,” a tall bipedal creature made of ice said as he peered at Bucky.

“Can you think of any being more suited for understanding a weapon made for war?” Scorch asked.

“No,” the ice creature replied.

“Is it unloaded?” Bucky asked. After a moment, Bucky saw Scorch nod.

Bucky lifted the gun in his levitation and began to examine it. He turned it about, flipped it over, and studied it from every angle. “You know, I know of somepony that might be able to tell us more about this.”

A creature that was a long snake with a strange looking head eyed Bucky intently. “Do you now? I would like to know more myself.”

Nervous about his answer, Bucky felt a little reluctant when he said, “My apprentice may have a little knowledge.”

There was a loud pop and Sunset Shimmer appeared. She was sleeping. Bucky glared around the room, daring somepony to be rude, and then approached Sunset. With a gentle prod, he tried to wake her.

“Sunset, wake up. Wake up and try not to panic,” Bucky said.

One eye opened. Bucky watched her whole body tense for a moment. He couldn’t imagine what she might be feeling, but he knew this would be disorienting for her.

Once more, Bucky gave Sunset a gentle pat to help her wake and to reassure her. He watched her yawn and then he stepped back as she rose to her hooves.

“What is going on?” Sunset Shimmer asked as she began to look around the room. She reached up with one front fetlock and rubbed her bleary eyes, first one, and then the other.

The time for gentleness was now over. Bucky cleared his throat. “Minion, I need for you to have a look at this gun. If you know anything, if anything seems familiar, I need for you to tell this council what you know.”

“You’re a naga,” Sunset Shimmer said when she saw the snake with the funny head. “Half snake and half human… it feels weird to see a human face on this side of the mirror.”

Grinning in a sheepish manner, Bucky prodded Sunset once more and then gestured at the gun. “Minion, if you please.”

Bowing her head, Sunset Shimmer nodded. “Of course Master.”

“How endearing,” the naga said as she watched Bucky and Sunset.

Bucky took a deep breath as Sunset Shimmer lifted the gun and began to examine it. She looked it over from every angle, squinted her eyes as she tried to read something written upon it, and then finally, she set it down upon the table.

“I don’t know a whole lot about guns, but I have watched a lot of movies. This is called a submachine gun. Typically, a submachine gun is fully automatic and it just sprays out bullets. This one says it is made by Krammler and Klein and it is a twelve point seven milimetre submachine gun. I remember this company from beyond the mirror… they made very powerful guns and there were lots of advertisements in magazines about how well made they were and how powerful they were. The selling point was something like ‘bigger is always better’ and they boasted that they didn’t use small ineffective rounds,” Sunset said.

“Fascinating,” the naga remarked as she slithered over to have a closer look.

“Klein, one of the founders of the company, was on the news a lot. He said guns were useless if they ran out of bullets, so all Krammler and Klein guns came with something called ‘infinity-fire’ or something. They featured greatly extended magazines. You couldn’t keep shooting forever, but you could keep shooting for a very long time. Their guns were made to be very easy to reload, very fast, and their television commercials showed a housewife demonstrating the ease of use,” Sunset said as she turned to look at the naga.

“These… commercials on… what was it? A television? Are these commercials common beyond the mirror?” the naga asked.

“Guns were everywhere beyond the mirror. There isn’t much in the way of magic in that world. People wanted to feel safe. So they built nuclear bombs that split atoms, bombs that spread diseases and germs, and they built a lot of guns so they could feel safe,” Sunset said.

“That is… incomprehensible,” the naga replied.

“They have something called ‘mutually assured destruction’ beyond the mirror. If one country fires off a nuke, then everybody fires off a nuke and everybody dies. They claim it keeps the world safe. Everybody is kind of paranoid and crazy on that side of the mirror. But yes, guns are everywhere. They are common. Some of them are very cheap. And almost everybody seems to have one. They have a big problem keeping guns away from kids… sometimes a kid will bring a gun to school and just start shooting their classmates,” Sunset said.

“How horrifying,” somebody gasped from within the crowd.

“No worse than me turning into a terrible she-demon,” Sunset Shimmer said as she hung her head in shame and heaved a sigh.

Giving Sunset Shimmer a stern glare, Bucky wondered how long it would take before Sunset noticed that he had two eyes once more. “Minion, now is not the time for self pity.”

Bowing her head, Sunset Shimmer closed her eyes for a moment. “Yes Master, of course. My apologies.” When she had finished speaking, she raised her head and opened her eyes.

Scorch rose from his seat and moved towards the table. “So we have civilisation of imbeciles bent upon their own destruction and now their weapons are crossing into this realm. This is the sum of all of my fears. This is part of why I loathe guns as much as I do. We need to send a clear message that anyone working with the mirror travelers and trading in off-realm weapons faces obliteration. Not a stern warning, not a promise of punishment, just a response of outright annihilation for anyone dealing with off-realm firearms.”

The hall filled with the sounds of murmuring and a few loud cries, but there were no objections. Bucky looked around. He saw what he thought were angry faces. Fearful faces. Worried faces. He could feel the fear in the room. He could smell the fear in the room.

“Lord of Winter… I know that you still possess the firearms that you took from the griffons. There is something I want from you,” Scorch said in a voice that echoed through the cavernous room.

Realising that refusal was not an option, Bucky turned to face Scorch and waited.

Scorch cleared his throat, rubbed his hands together, and then he nervously patted his own stomach. “It is my desire that you begin to research and develop firearms. I want them safe. I want them to have no possible chance to harm innocent bystanders. I want non lethal rounds that incapacitate. I want you to research lethal rounds as well, but only for the most dire of circumstances. I want for you to continue your research into neutralising chemical based projectiles that are used in guns.”

Bowing, Bucky nodded. “I will do what is required of me.”

“Now… about Labyrinthia. I am still willing to spare the city if it is completely evacuated and the residents surrender their arms. Celestia, you will make the announcement that you previously planned to make. Warn them. Let them know what is coming. Complete destruction without mercy,” Scorch said.

“Such action, while regrettable, is necessary,” Clotho said as she drew near the table.

“They will not surrender. You will encounter resistance when you go to Labyrinthia,” Lachesis added.

“While this might be enough to intimidate a majority of those rebellious against this new sense of world order, there will be those who resist, and there will be mirror travelers who will use their magic to instigate rebellion wherever they can. There are too many species vulnerable to magical influence,” Atropos finished.

Scorch nodded. “Which is why we are going to take the fight to the mirror travelers. This is why I am having the Lord of Winter research new arms. I do not like the idea that diamond dogs, minotaurs, and griffons are mostly powerless against the mirror travelers. They need a means to defend themselves. I am filled with self loathing at the very idea of guns being created by my command, but there is too much at stake. We are going to hunt down every stronghold, every hidden place, we will root out the mirror travelers and give them no quarter. They are every bit as vulnerable to guns as we are. I do believe it is time that we made them afraid of the very thing they have brought into this realm to plague us with. I say that we let them feel the perverse fury of the Lord of Winter and his terrible imagination.”

“And what of the nations that refuse to ally themselves with us?” someone asked.

“That depends. If they choose to remain neutral and stay peaceful, we leave them be. If they side with the mirror travelers, if they offer them aid, if those rebellious to global harmony are sheltered within their borders… they forfeit all rights to exist peacefully and we do what needs to be done for the safety and security of us all,” Scorch said.

“So we have slipped from a state of non involvement to an active position of ruling the world,” the naga said in a flat monotone.

“What else could be done?” Clotho asked.

“Celestia and Luna rule Equestria. We three sisters, the Fates as you call us, we are the de facto rulers of the Sea of Grass. Some of us have already taken up active positions in trying to preserve the world and prevent our own end. What we are doing now is no different than what is already being done,” Lachesis said.

“Only now, we have your support,” Atropos concluded.

“Unless there are any serious objections, this meeting is over. We have much to do and some of us have a world we need to govern,” Scorch said.

 

 

 

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