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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Nervous, Bucky paced back and forth. It would be time soon. They had made good time in getting here, too good of time, and now, it was time to do bad things. Bad things for good reasons? Bucky shook his head. He hated the jitters that usually arrived before a battle. There was resistance below in the city of Labyrinthia. Knowing what was to come, Bucky tried to find it within himself to feel pity for them, but had trouble finding anything that even began to resemble pity.

“Relax,” Scorch said.

Luna tore her eyes away from Belisama and Erebus to look at Bucky. “If we follow the plan this will only take a few hours. We raze the city and then we return to the ship. Afterwards, we fly home, which should take about thirty hours. After that, all this will be over. We go on with our lives after we do what must be done.”

“At least I’ve learned not to go about this the hard way… there are better forms suited for mass destruction than that of the simple squishy pony. I do miss my armor a bit sometimes.” Bucky stopped pacing when he heard Erebus make a squealing sound. He turned and looked. Belisama was tickling him with her wing and the colt was trying to escape Belisama’s grasp. Unable to stop himself, Bucky smiled.

Laughing, Luna watched little Erebus’ struggles and felt her heart warm. “Alas poor Erebus… you are probably eagerly awaiting rescue from your mother… too bad I find this amusing.”

The griffoness pulled Erebus close after ceasing her tickle attack and the colt let out another echolocating noise, this one softer and full of clicking. Reaching up with her talons, she gave one tufted ear a gentle tug and then pressed Erebus’ head to her shoulder.

“Well then, it is about that time. I get the feeling that we are delaying our task,” Scorch said in a low soft voice. “The excitement in this room is palpable.”

“I have not done this for a such long time… the last time was with Sombra… Sombra took the form of a massive ice titan and I became The Electric Death. We pushed the griffons out of what is now known as Fancy and Germaney. We had driven them from Equestria, chased them across the ocean, and then we slaughtered all those who dared oppose us.” For a moment, Luna’s eyes became unfocused as she was lost in her memory.

“As we talk, I am reminded of my children.” As he was speaking, Scorch shifted into the form of a large powerful looking alicorn.

“Children?” Bucky asked, sensing that there was a story here, a bit of history that he wanted to know.

Hearing Bucky’s question, Scorch turned his head to look at Bucky. “A long time ago, when the world was young and still on fire, Rhea and I thought it would be a good idea to have a few offspring. Things were volcanic back in those days. Lots of lava… anyway, Rhea and I made some beautiful babies together. Creatures made of earth and fire. Creatures ideally suited for living on a volcanic world with oceans of lava. We got busy and we made quite a few of them—”

“You’re talking about dragons!” Bucky’s exclamation caused Erebus to snort in alarm.

“My children… perfectly suited for war,” Scorch said. He scowled, shook his head, and then looked at the door leading out of the room. “We should do what we have come here to do. I wish for this to be over so we can return to peaceful endeavours.”

Bucky agreed. “I concur.”

“Be good for mama… be a good colt Erebus. Mama will return in just a little while…”

 

 

Bucky closed his eyes as he fell away from the hatch that he had lept out of. Labyrinthia was below him, far below, and the lights twinkled like glowing jewels in the night. There was no longer any fear, no concern, Bucky had moved beyond such petty concerns about things like gravity. The laws of nature could not be enforced upon some beings.

His horn tingled as he felt the magic flow through him. He tapped into nearby ley lines. Bucky could feel the old familiar surge. This was power. As the magic flowed through him, his form shifted, growing larger, gaining mass, and losing frailty.

Bucky turned himself into a dragon. Almost a hundred feet in length, powerful, armored, impervious to all but the most powerful magics; this was not the form of some adolescent dragon or some minor drake. Bucky felt massive and powerful in this form, no longer little or scrawny.

As he watched, Luna and Scorch shifted as well… and then Bucky felt… diminished.

Luna was an enormous blue dragon that was three times the size of Bucky, and Bucky realised that no matter what form he was in, he was stunted and scrawny. He sighed, releasing a cloud of cold from his sword-filled maw.

It was Scorch that made Bucky realised how insignificant he was though. Scorch, the father of all dragons, dwarfed Luna, making her look ridiculously tiny by comparison, and Bucky didn’t even want to think of his own form in contrast to Scorch.

Scorch had to be a thousand feet in length. The ancient wyrm was large enough to completely block out the stars and the moon, the entire sky above them. Seeing Scorch in this form actually made Bucky feel a tiny faint spark of pity for the residents of the city.

The three dragons circled overhead, descending in a slow, almost lazy manner. Luna’s body crackled with electricity along its length and Scorch spat out sparks with every breath. As they drifted down upon the city, the faint sound of an alarm klaxon could be heard below.

“LAST CHANCE! FLEE THE CITY!” Scorch said in a voice amplified by magic.

The only response from below was a burst of gunfire. Bucky heard Scorch sigh.

Rolling over in the air, Scorch dived.

 

 

Bucky came in hard and fast, swooping over the eastern edge of the city. As he drew near, he felt a faint stinging sensation, it was like being caught outside in a hailstorm. He realised that the minotaurs and whatever else below him was shooting at him with their guns. He inhaled, filling his lungs, and then he belched forth his ice breath, freezing everything below him as he passed overhead. Stone buildings shattered from the intense cold. The gunfire ceased. Entropic ice breath made everything go still. Flapping, Bucky rose upwards, gaining altitude, and watched as Luna’s long lithe body dived over the city. Lightning crackled from her gaping maw. Below her, things exploded. Bucky could hear the sizzles and the pops of things being cooked by high voltage.

Something stung his scale covered hide and it filled Bucky with a peculiar sense of rage. He was aware that when he was shapeshifted, he was prone to feeling the sort of emotional reactions of those whose forms he took. This was an angry arrogant rage.

Bucky roared as he rolled over and dived once more. He saw a large mob of insignificant specks below him trying to flee from Luna’s strafing run. He inhaled with a sudden quickness, allowed pressure to build, and with another roar, he exhaled.

Frozen death rained down upon the city. Stone buildings shattered. Living beings became freeze dried powder. A city that was centuries old, a timeless city, an almost immortal city, was now dying because of the hubris of its residents.

Gaining altitude once again, Bucky watched as Scorch dove upon the heart of the city. Fire shot from Scorch’s maw and nostrils. Below him, buildings melted into boiling liquid. Scorch’s passing turned the center of Labyrinthia into a white hot glowing lake of molten stone, glass, and metal.

The rising heat made Bucky feel stronger. He basked in the warm glow of the dying city. Luna made another pass, spewing lightning upon the defenseless creatures below as she dominated the skies overhead.

The sounds of gunfire were quieting.

Below him, up on the roof of a building, Bucky saw a determined group of defenders. He could see the flash of gunfire and felt the faint sensations of bullets bouncing away from his scales. There was an annoying itchy feeling along his wing. He dove.

Not even bothering to breathe, Bucky slammed into the building, grabbed it in his claws, ripped it free, and then flew high up into the air with it. At the apex of his flight, he dropped it. He heard tiny screams as the chunk of building dropped out of the sky and plummeted hundreds of feet to the ground below.

Scorch had landed near the lake of molten stone and was tearing the city apart with his claws and tail. Bucky could see bursts of gunfire in the night, bright flashes of fire that made them all too convenient targets. Banking, Bucky turned about to fly wing to wing with Luna.

He saw Luna look at him; Bucky could see her teal eyes in the lurid red glow that was coming up from the city below. They were gliding now, borne upon powerful updrafts rising from the lake of fire in the center of the city. He heard Luna inhale and he did so himself.

Together, their breath attack scrubbed away entire blocks of stone, glass, and concrete buildings. Things shattered, popped, and exploded as they passed. Even the paved road buckled and split. No living thing survived the onslaught from above.

This could not even be called a battle.

The lake in the middle of the city grew larger as Scorch breathed his terrible firebreath, venting his fury upon the residents of Labyrinthia. As Bucky watched, a skyscraper that had to be fifty stories tall melted like a candle in flame, drooping down, bubbling, and with rapid progression, it transitioned from being a solid to being a liquid.

Watching the high rise as it melted away, Bucky wondered what Celestia would be like as a dragon. He scanned the surrounding city, looking for pockets of resistance. In the distance, on the horizon, he saw bright flashes and explosions. The invasion had begun and the camps were being liberated.

The chatter of gunfire got Bucky’s attention. Swooping down, he once more ripped a building from its foundation, flew upwards, and then dropped the building into the center of the molten lake. It sank in, melting as it did so.

Bucky realised that Scorch, being the methodical being that he was, intended to render down the entire city with fire and leave behind a puddle. On the west side of the city, Luna made another strafing run, and Bucky could see from watching her that she was herding the rebels towards the city center where the lake of fire awaited. It was easy to understand why Luna was known as ‘The Electric Death.’

With a roar, Bucky breathed, his freezing breath shattering buildings as he passed overhead. More and more of the city fell. The bursts of gunfire grew fewer and fewer. Dozens of city blocks had just been reduced to ice coated rubble in one pass.

Most of the city was already gone. The lake in the city center grew larger and larger. Luna was blasting away at the outer edges of the city. The fight was over, more or less, now it was just clean up.

Scorch breathed a massive gout of flame and a vast section of the city melted into a glowing white liquid that boiled and seethed. He crushed and he smashed with his claws. He used his tail to topple entire blocks of buildings.

The city looked as though an angry god had visited it, which Bucky supposed was the point of why they were here in Labyrinthia. There was a terrific crash as another block of buildings toppled and fell into the ever growing lake of molten fire.

Bucky learned a terrible lesson, understanding now just how much he had failed in Griffonholm. Had he done more to study magic, had he practiced his craft, he could have laid waste to the city and spared Twilight Sparkle the burden she now carried. As the city continued to boil away around him, Bucky pondered upon his many mistakes and things he wished he had done in a different way.

The city of Labyrinthia would not survive to see the dawn…

 

 

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