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 front room was crowded. Some of the ponies and griffons present had spilled over into the kitchen and the dining room. Some gifts had been exchanged, but there were still gifts under the tree and left on shelves. There were candies, cakes, little pies; there were all manner of holiday treats left out on trays, plates, and platters.

In the kitchen, Ripple was singing with her Raptors, all of whom were accounted for, with the exception of Gofannon, who was in the dining room, flirting with Helia, who teased him with coy rejections.

Lugus, sprawled on the living room floor, watched as Peekaboo and Harper both played with new stuffies and each other. Beside him, Yew Wood, also laying upon the floor, sipped hot cocoa and watched the foals play.

Sentinel sat staring at the window, watching the falling snow, which was blowing in sideways once again. There was very little visibility and of the sun there seemed to be no sign. The colt sighed ever so often and seemed distracted.

Rising Star, crammed onto a sofa with Loch Skimmer and Sparkler, was having a moment with Bell Heather, talking to her, and holding her between his forelegs as he lounged on his stomach. Loch Skimmer was cooing at the kelpie foal and Sparkler rested her head upon Rising Star’s back.

Derpy, who had her bad eye squinted shut, was reading a story about the founders to Dinky and Piña, speaking in a low voice, and sometimes looking at Berry Punch and Lyra, who were sitting on either side of her. Lyra insisted on reading Princess Platinum’s lines and using a high falsetto.

Thistle lay upon a pile of cushions on the floor near the fire and Bon Bon was kneading her spine, trying to make the kelpie feel better. Thistle, able to move around once more, was a much happier pony.

In the dining room, Violet was watching Helia fend off Gofannon’s advances while having an animated discussion with Lugnut and Spanner, who had brought their two cubs, Sprocket and Cog. Scorch, also a part of this discussion, argued on the side of rapid modernisation versus slow and gradual change, while Barley insisted that slow and steady was the only way to go, that it took ponies time to get aclimatised to ‘new-fangled’ contraptions.

Bucky, in the living room, was in an armchair with Belisama piled on top of him, stretched out over his back and an unwrapped present held in his magic.

 

 

“What’s this?” Belisama asked as she eyed the package.

Bucky, glad to have Belisama’s warm body pressed against his spine, smiled. “A gift.”

“You didn’t have to get me anything… I have everything I want… I have your cub in my belly… this wasn’t necessary.” Reaching out her talons, Belisama ran them through Bucky’s mane, smoothing it out as she spoke.

“You sound like Dinky and Piña, both of whom proclaimed that they got what they wanted this year with the addition of a new sister… you’ve made the speech to make yourself sound humble and worthy, now have a look at my package...” Bucky felt a tug on his mane and heard a faint giggle from Belisama. He propped the box up on the front of the chair cushion.

Extending a claw, Belisama swiped at the ribbon, slicing it in one pass, and then began to peel off the paper, doing so in a slow methodical manner. From inside the box, there was a clunk. Belisama’s crest rose.

“This is heavy,” Belisama said as she pulled off more wrapping paper.

“I tried making it lighter, but for reasons I cannot explain, it affected the recoil,” Bucky replied. He watched as Belisama continued to unwrap her gift.

“Recoil?” Belisama asked. Curious, she abandoned her careful approach and began to tear away at the box. Once free of the paper, she pulled the box open and then gasped when she saw what was inside.

“You gave me a weapon… a crossbow… it’s beautiful.” Belisama lifted it free from the box and held it in both front talons, propping it against Bucky’s back as she examined it.

“Rising Star made it… that credit goes to him. I enchanted it and made the scope. The bolts are not affected by gravity. They will fly to the horizon and then some. They’ll hit with the force of a mountain too. It reloads by pulling the lever on the side, but you know that already from using the crossbows that the Raptors have. The scope is a real piece of work… it took me forever, but the scope allows you to see past the curvature of the earth. Provided that your target doesn’t move, you can hit something from miles and miles away,” Bucky said, unable to stop his own pride from creeping into his voice. “This is the perfection of my art… a near perfect killing machine. Use this to keep us safe.”

“Bucky, I don’t know what to say…”

“Belisama, I love you enough to arm you… that’s saying quite a bit…” Bucky paused and looked at the clock on the mantle. “Sorry Belisama… but I gotta go… look at the time.”

“Must you leave?” Belisama asked.

“There is a chore that I must do… I still have a few more gifts to give.” Craning his head around, Bucky gave the griffoness a kiss on the side of her neck. “There is something I want from you… I want you to teach Bandua how to shoot. Hopefully she gets your talon-eye coordination.”

 

 

It was cold enough in the coach house to see his breath. There were several wagons in here of different shapes and sizes; families needed wagons. A single pony might get by with saddlebags but families demanded the movement of goods in large number. Have a family. Have a house. Have a wagon. Raise foals. Bucky was now encumbered with the trappings of adulthood.

One of the wagons had been converted into a sleigh with steel runners. Bucky made sure there were plenty of wool blankets piled into the back, a few heating stones with full charges, and storm lanterns, also with a full charge.

The sleigh, a large vehicle, was far too large for Bucky to pull. Even when Bucky was still whole of body there was no way he could have pulled this. But as always, Bucky came prepared.

Half a dozen spider golem mark XIII combat models paced around the coach house, their long spindly legs tapping upon the concrete floor. Almost the size of a pony, these new models were quite unlike his previous models. They were not little. They were not harmless. There was nothing about them that could be considered ‘cute’ and for this, Bucky was glad. He had made them with intimidation in mind.

Shining Armor had ordered a gross of them to use them for perimeter protection in the Crystal Empire. Once the holidays were over, Bucky’s glassworks would become a very busy place. Golems were needed for the anti-gunpowder effort, for the military, everypony wanted the very latest in automation and protection.

 

Saying nothing, Bucky began hitching them to his sleigh.

“Master?”

Startled, Bucky turned and saw Sunset Shimmer coming down the stairs. He wondered what she was doing in the living space above the coach house where many of the griffons now lived.

“Master, are you going out?” Sunset Shimmer asked.

“I have a gift that needs delivered.” Bucky did not elaborate further. “What are you doing here? How is Bartleby and Trixie?”

“We were upstairs… there’s a party… I heard noises down here and came down to look,” Sunset Shimmer replied. “Trixie still has some sniffles, but she’s better and no longer needs to wear the magic inhibitor… unicorn flu is awful. Bartleby is fine.”

“Good to hear.” Bucky secured a harness to one of the golems and hitched it to the sleigh. He lifted another harness and opened the clips as he held it near one of the spider golems.

“Master, I know you will be fine, but I cannot help but worry… there is no visibility and it is below zero outside. Master, it is very cold… surely this can wait until this storm blows over.”

Bucky shook his head. “Minion, this storm isn’t blowing over any time soon. This is important. I promise you, I will be fine. Look after my griffons.”

“Yes Master, I will do as you ask,” Sunset Shimmer replied.

After securing the harness, Bucky stopped what he was doing and looked at Sunset Shimmer. “Sunset Shimmer…”

“Yes Bucky?”

“Have a nice holiday cousin. Drink some nog. Have a nice time. Make some good memories. We have a lot of dirty work come spring. No doubt there’ll be killing.”

Her hooves scrabbling over the concrete, Sunset Shimmer rushed forward. When she reached Bucky she kissed him on the cheek and then took a step back. “Have a nice holiday Bucky… I’ll be by later to see the foal. Please… be careful!”

 

 

The Lord of Winter was undaunted by the blizzard raging around him. Guided by magic, aided by golems, he did not need to see where he was going. Much to his surprise, there were in fact other ponies outside in the storm.

As he approached the edge of Ponyville, he saw lights, powerful magical lights. He had the pleasant surprise of finding out that helpful unicorns were aiding their neighbors so they could move about, so friends and family could be seen.

Moving through the town, Bucky gave several brave ponies a lift, helping them get to where they needed to go. Other ponies were none too keen about getting a ride on a sleigh pulled by giant glass spider golems being driven by the black cloaked Lord of Winter.

Extending his will, Bucky told his golems to slow down as he approached his first stop.

 

 

Extending his talons, Bucky knocked upon the door, mindful of the wreath made of evergreen boughs. He heard a surprised cry from inside, the clatter of hooves on tile, and then the door was pulled open.

“Buckminster!”

“Hello Rarity… how are you this Hearth’s Warming?”

“I’m fine darling… and a bit shocked to see you. How is your family?” Rarity replied. “Do come in!” Not waiting for a reply, Rarity used her magic to drag Bucky inside and then slammed the door behind him, fighting against the wind.

Looking around, Bucky smiled at Sweetie Belle when he saw her. He turned back to Rarity. “Family is fine. Thistle just gave birth. Look, I’ll make this brief because there is much to do and little time to do it. It took me an hour and a half to make from the farmhouse to Ponyville, and when the night comes, the temperatures are going to plummet.”

Rarity raised her eyebrow. “Is there something you need? Just ask darling.”

“I have a very lovesick and forlorn little colt pining away for his lost love,” Bucky said.

“Funny you mention that… we also have a lovesick foal… a filly… who is upstairs in her room, sulking and having a good cry right now as we speak,” Coco said as she stepped out of the kitchen and into the main room.

“I do not wish to break up your family during the holidays though… so what I would like to do is invite all of you to come and stay with us for a few days. We have the room,” Bucky said.

“That would be lovely… Coco?” Rarity turned and looked at the earth pony mare standing beside her. “The poor dear thinks she’s dying.”

“I’d like to see Bell Heather,” Coco replied, nodding her head, her mane bobbing around her eyes as she did so.

“Well, no sense picking all of you up right now. But get ready. I have a few more ponies to check on… and when I have that taken care of, I’ll swing back by to pick all of you up. I should be back within the hour if all goes well. Sun will be going down sooner than I’d like. So be ready if you can.”

“I wanna go! I wanna go… are we going?” Sweetie Belle asked in an excited squeaky voice as she bounced up and down. “New foal!”

“We’re going Sweetie… just calm down,” Rarity replied. She looked at Bucky. “We will be ready… oh this is a pleasant holiday surprise. Diamond Tiara has been beside herself.”

 

 

The sleigh slid over the ice and snow, which crunched and crackled beneath the runners. Bucky moved through the quiet residential neighborhood at a slow creep, surprised by the number of foals playing outside, bundled up in heavy coats, scarves, and hats. Parents had formed protective circles so their foals could play without the fear of them wandering off into the storm.

He came to a skidding halt in front of a small house covered in snow. He lept from the seat, landing in the snow, and then trudged up the walkway. Golden light streamed from the frost covered windows. He could hear music inside. The sound of a foal laughing.

Reaching the front door, he gave it a thump with his talons.

A moment later, a stallion opened the door.

“Galaxy Guide… how are you? How would you like to see your son and his family on Hearth’s Warming?” Bucky grinned a wide grin.

Standing in the doorway, his mouth open in shock, Galaxy Guide stared at Bucky. Flurries of snow billowed around the pair standing in the doorway. Galaxy Guide blinked and then kept staring.

“Come stay with us for a few days. Grab your wife, Singsong, and Brass Note. I have heavy blankets and heaters in the sleigh. Bundle up. Rising Star misses you and he was quite torn about spending time with his wives and spending time with you. He really wants to see you.”

“Honey!” Galaxy Guide called out. “How do you feel about a little trip?”

 

 

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