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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A small wiry griffon with an axe like beak landed on the deck of the ship and looked around. Behind him, a massive warrior griffon landed, carrying a smaller griffoness cub upon his back.

The small griffon, hideous and scarred, looked about. As tiny as he might be, there was something dangerous about him. His pelt was tan, almost tawny, and he had black and silver feathers. One claw almost looked like it was made out of some dark metal.

“Damnation, I was having a nice vacation,” the ugly griffon said in a hissy voice.

The enormous griffon, standing on the deck, adjusted his massive hook-axe. He grabbed the smaller griffoness cub by her cloak and pulled her close, looking her in the eye.

“Do nothing foolish cub. You are here to learn how to be a proper griffon. You stay out of the way and you stay out of danger.” The giant warrior griffon gave the cub a gentle shake.

“I will keep my eyes and ears open.” The griffoness cub flexed her talons. “I await your further commands.”

“Lugus?”

“Yes? What is it my friend?”

“It occurs to me that your axe is wasted here. You need to be airborne to use it well and you need lots of room.”

“Hmm… I do believe I’ll manage somehow.”

“Oh, I know that you will, I was just being tactical out loud.” The ugly griffon took off, moving over the deck planks with surprising speed.

Lugus, following after Bucky, looked around. “This is a minotaur made ship. Notice the tall doors that are wider at the top than at the bottom… so horns can pass through. Funny, everything looks okay from where we are.”

“Not from where I am,” Bucky said. He tapped a talon upon the deck. “Blood. Frozen. Brown. Not sure how old.”

His feathers whipped around by the wind, Lugus lifted his head and sniffed.

“Going belowdecks. Cover me.” Bucky made his way to the door. He paused. It showed signs of having been forced open. It was now shut again. The smaller griffon shifted, shimmered, and warped, becoming a unicorn.

The door glowed in a soft blue green light. Bucky waited, his eyes closed as he concentrated. The door opened. “It’s not trapped at least.”

 

 

Bucky stood at the top of the stairs looking down. There was blood on the stairs, dried and somewhat frozen. His horn glowed with a soft light. As he descended the stairs, Lugus and Boadicea followed after him.

The sounds of water dripping could be heard. Water… or perhaps blood. It was too soon to tell. Bucky sniffed. The scent of decay was in the air, faint, the decay had been slowed because of the cold. Snorts of steam puffed into the air from Bucky’s nostrils as he breathed.

At the bottom of the stairs, Bucky found a worrisome object. A gun. He did not recognise the design. It was not a revolver, and it was not a muzzleloader. Some sort of strange pistol. It said “Krammler & Klein” on the barrel, but he was unable to read the strange letters. He thought of Sunset Shimmer and the meeting of immortals. This gun wasn’t from this reality. Looking at it, Bucky realised that he had an instinctual knowledge of how it worked. He also also sensed something… something of his own.

He pointed the gun at his head and pulled the trigger. A stream of confetti came streaming out. A faint mad sounding cackle escaped from Bucky’s thin scarred lips. He pulled the trigger again and the air was filled with snowflakes. His horn flashed and the gun vanished.

Bucky lifted his head and looked down the hallway. It was short, dark, and ended in a fork. On one side, there was a door, on the other side, stairs going down. Bucky moved, not a sound was made, his hooves were not touching the floor as he became somewhat less than substantial. Drifting like some dreadful apparition, Bucky moved to the door with the two griffons right behind him.

“He’s creepy,” Boadicea whispered.

Lugus’ voice was a low hiss. “Shush!”

“Sorry… King Creepy.”

His feathers ruffling, Lugus shook his head.

Pushing open the door, Bucky stuck his head inside. The room was dark and it was full of shadows from the pale light that shone from his horn. Broken crates and barrels were scattered around. The room had been ransacked. The room itself was not very large and had a cargo door that opened to the back of the ship. If it was meant to be a small cargo hold, there had not been much cargo. The room was almost empty, only a few broken crates and barrels remained.

“Found something,” Boadicea said as she picked something up.

“Give that to me.” Lugus held out his talons.

Boadicea shook her head. “Mine. My shiny! I found it!”

Lugus heaved an impatient sigh. “Corvids.” He waited, his talons still extended. After a moment, Boadicea gave up a small thick bladed sword she had found.

“You took my shiny.” In the darkness, Boadicea’s voice sounded hurt.

Looking down at the floor, Bucky studied a trapdoor. There was a big rusted ring protruding from the edge. The stairs also led to the floor beneath them, but who knew what might be lurking down below, waiting for something to come down the stairs.

“That was my shiny… I found it.”

In the darkness, Bucky grinned. His fangs glowed with a faint luminescence. There were terrible things that lurked in the darkness, and Bucky was one of them. This ship was full of darkness.

Reaching out with his telekinesis, Bucky gave the rusted metal ring a tug. After a few yanks, the trapdoor opened. It was just large enough for a big barrel to be lowered down. Bucky stuck his head down, peering into the darkness. He floated down halfway, not quite real, more shadow than anything else, one terrible Taint filled eye glowing in the dark like some eldritch cyclopean horror.

Bucky was hovering in a kitchen. He could make out a large stove, electric, a sink, some counters, and a large griddle. He dropped down, a swooping spook, a silent shadow with glowing, grinning fangs. The kitchen smelled bad. In the corner, Bucky saw a side of some carcass hung on a hook. Closer examination revealed it to be a pig. It was mouth wateringly awful, as Sentinel might have said had he been present.

“Come on down.” Bucky’s voice was a silken whisper, the hissing dread that could only be found in darkness. It was the voice under the bed, the alluring call that beckoned you towards the closet, the suggestive whisper that came from the shadows. It was the voice that caused little foals to leap into bed from the middle of the room rather than risk a leg by climbing into bed.

Lugus dropped down first, his talons making soft clicking sounds. For a creature so large, he had an amazing amount of stealth. Behind him, Boadicea dropped to the floor.

There was the soft scrape of steel as Boadicea picked up a meat cleaver. “Ooh… new shiny.” She held it up and held it close to her face to examine it.

“Put that down.” Lugus’ command was almost impatient.

“But… shiny…”

“Put that down. When we get out of here, I shall give you a spoon.”

There was a clunk as the meat cleaver slammed into a wooden cutting board a short distance away. It quivered. Lugus stared at it for a moment and then turned to look at Boadicea.

“Imagine if that was something’s skull,” Boadicea said in a soft feminine voice.

In the darkness, there was a raspy chuckle from Bucky.

Drifting though the room, Bucky headed towards the only door he knew that led out. There was a walk in freezer. After a moment of hesitation, he reversed his direction and headed for the freezer. Using his telekinesis, he pulled the door open.

The smell of rot assailed his nostrils. The food was all spoiled and the freezer was hot with decay. It was small, not very large, and several sides of pig carcasses hung on hooks. Boxes and crates were smashed and broken. Some one had looted this freezer, but left behind the meat.

Curious.

With nothing worthwhile to be found in the freezer, Bucky shut the door.

“Phew.”

“Corvids talk too much.” Lugus’ voice sounded somewhat irritated.

This time Bucky headed for the door. Upon reaching it, he stopped. He placed his ear against it. Hearing nothing, Bucky pulled the door open. There was a small common room which doubled as the dining area. The tables and chairs were in a state of disarray. Some had been overturned.

In the middle of the room, there was a body. With Lugus right behind him, Bucky crept forward. There was a pony. An earth pony. Floating above the body, Bucky dropped his head down for a closer look. There were dozens of stab wounds all over the body. More stab wounds than were needed to kill him. His throat had been slashed and there was a large pool of dried blood. Both ears had been cut off.

The earth pony had been killed with uncommon cruelty and hatred.

Feeling troubled, Bucky wanted to embrace Berry Punch, or Bon Bon, or squeeze the stuffing out of Piña, whom he loved. He heard a creak, a faint sound. He lifted his head and both eyes narrowed. Bucky sniffed.

“Whoever did this was barbaric,” Boadicea said in a low dry whisper. She hissed.

“Vermin.” Lugus’ voice was a soft growl.

Bucky took off, a shadow creeping forward, gliding through the darkness and generating a dim light for Lugus and Boadicea to follow. From somewhere down below, there was a loud thump and a crash, the clanking of metal.

Drifting towards an open door, Bucky peered though, looking ahead. There was a hallway and a flight of stairs that led up. Ignoring the stairs, knowing already where they led, Bucky went down the hall. Lugus followed and Boadicea was behind him.

Another body. Bucky came to a floating halt and had a look. Laying face down was a minotaur. He had been stabbed, run through with something, probably a sword or a dagger. There was one entrance wound in the back, below the ribs, near the kidney. Bucky could see that it angled upwards. Skill had done this, avoiding the ribs but stabbing upwards towards the vital organs, the lungs, the heart, major blood vessels.

“This is confusing,” Bucky said in a soft whisper.

“It is?” Lugus asked.

“The gun suggests mirror travelers… it is from another world. The mutilated earth pony is also evidence of mirror travelers. But this…” Bucky shook his head. “Mirror travelers are ponies. Ponies don’t use swords. If a pegasus had a leg blade, it would have stabbed downwards.”

“You’re right. Something seems off. Maybe a unicorn?” Lugus stared down at the body.

“No… the mirror unicorns are too skilled to resort to something as crude as a sword or a dagger. He would have been killed by magic… this is not right.” Bucky reached down and touched the minotaur with his talons. “Something feels off to me and I don’t like it.”

“There is another body up ahead.” Boadicea pointed down the hallway with her talons.

Bucky drifted off, floating away on unseen currents, a writhing mass of shadow. Lugus remained behind to continue looked at the minotaur. He rolled the body over and then began to grumble.

“I need more light,” Lugus said.

“Sorry.” Bucky’s horn flared and he became solid, standing upon the floor. He stared down at the two bodies in front of him and felt confused.

There was a diamond dog and a minotaur. The two had been fighting. Both were dead. From the looks of it, the diamond dog had stabbed the minotaur, or perhaps the minotaur had stabbed the diamond dog, it was impossible to tell, and then one had fallen over on the other and had landed upon the other’s weapon.

Bucky could not make heads nor tails of it.

Perhaps he had made a mistake. Perhaps these were not mirror travelers after all, but common pirates perhaps, pirates who had been lucky and got themselves ahold of an off world gun. Maybe the earth pony had been a mouthy individual that had driven someone to rage… Berry Punch had that ability.

“Find anything Lugus?” Bucky asked.

“Nothing of importance,” Lugus replied.

“I found a shiny but somebirdy took it.”

Bucky, smiling, looked down the hall and saw stairs leading down. He moved towards them, cautious, slipping back into shadow. The stench of death was getting stronger.

“This is all your fault.”

Bucky stopped when he heard Lugus’ accusation. “What?”

There was an angry huff followed by an angry puff. “You gave her too much candy.”

“That is a pretty serious accusation you have made, Lugus. Towards your king, no less.”

“I am not speaking to you as my king.” Lugus’ crest rose and his talons tapped upon the wood as he glared at Bucky. “She has had too much candy and now she is… she is… she is hyper. Yes… that explains her insolence. This is your fault.”

“Fine… Lugus, you can give my foals candy until they bounce off of the walls. Fair is fair.” Bucky began to float down the stairs and he heard Lugus and Boadicea following after him.

“Hello?”

Bucky froze.

“We thought we heard something. Please help!”

Dropping out of shadow, Bucky became solid. His horn ignited into a bright light. Realising this might be a trap, he didn’t care. The voice sounded weak and frightened.

Whatever it was, if it was a trap, it was trapped on a dead airship with the bogeypony.

“Don’t be alarmed or afraid… we’re here to help,” Bucky said as he moved forward. He raised a spell shield. He took a few more steps and stopped dead in his tracks.

There was an enormous pile of bodies. Minotaurs were stacked upon one another like cordwood. There were a few ponies too, unicorns, and pegasi. Diamond dogs also were tossed into the pile.

“Please help us!”

“Hold on, I’m coming.” Moving around the bodies, Bucky peered ahead. He saw bars… there were a few cells up ahead. A brig. In one of the cells, Bucky saw two figures, one small and one smaller.

Approaching the bars, Bucky heard the terrified scream of a foal. He paused, knowing this could be a trap, but unable to deny his own instincts. He moved towards the bars and peered inside.

One foal, one griffon cub.

There was another panicked scream.

“I’m sorry, I know I’m ugly… but you have to trust me!” Bucky waited at the bars, hoping for some calm. “Lugus, stay back!”

With a click, Bucky unlocked the door and stepped back. The cub and the foal made no move, but stayed where they were. Bucky sat down and tried to look as harmless as possible. He pulled the door open.

“My name is Bucky. I’m here to rescue you.”

The foal, an earth pony with a soft green pelt, lifted her head. She studied Bucky with curious eyes. She blew her lavender mane out of her eyes with puckered lips. “My name is Garnet Targe and this is Rowanne. She’s shy. She doesn’t talk much.”

“Can you tell me what happened here?” Bucky asked. “Just a brief explanation. I can get more details later, but I’d like to know just a little bit about what happened here. If you tell me, I will take you aboard my ship, give you food, and get you out of here.”

The sage coloured earth pony looked at the griffoness cub. After a moment, the cub nodded and prodded the earth pony. The earth pony filly took a deep breath and looked at Bucky.

“Rowanne and I were stowaways… we got found. The minotaurs were were really nice to us actually after they found us… they didn’t do anything perverted or anything—”

“Well I should hope so,” Bucky said, shaking his head. “How old are you? Neither one of you look like you’ve hit your first decade.”

“I’m fourteen!” Garnet snorted and her eyes narrowed.

Bucky raised his eyebrow and looked down at the foal. “I don’t think so.”

“I am so! I am a ariegeois pony!” Garnet stood up on wobbly legs and scowled a fierce looking scowl.

“A ariegeois pony?” Bucky asked.

“A dwarf pony.” Garnet lifted her head high and snorted out a haughty sniff. “We live in caves and mines. We like digging. We come from the mountains south of the Sea of Grass.”

“You are a long way from home.” Bucky offered the foal a soft close-lipped smile. “So what happened?”

“We got boarded. A group of really mean ponies came on board with some really nasty griffons and diamond dogs. The griffons and diamond dogs all had glowing eyes and acted funny. They wanted something… something called ‘Star Swirl’s rod of portal control’ or something like that. They knew it was on the ship… the unicorns had it with them I guess. They were heading to Equestria. We all were.”

“I see.” Bucky nodded. “So these hard looking mean ponies… they left you and Rowanne in this cell together?”

“They laughed about it… they said that when Rowanne got hungry enough, she’d peck my eyes out, tear the tongue out of my mouth, and eat me.” Garnet frowned. “Rowanne is my sister. She’d never do that.” Garnet let out a sad sounding whimper. “A few days ago, I told Rowanne to go ahead eat me when I heard her belly growling. She got mad at me and we had a squabble.”

“Hmm.” Bucky lowered his head. “I bet you’re both pretty hungry. Think it it is safe to come with me? Princess Celestia is on board my ship… you could meet her.”

Garnet gave Bucky and incredulous stare. “Princess Celestia? I dunno if I should trust you… you sound like a liar.”

“And you’re a dwarf pony—”

“I AM A DWARF PONY!”

“A feisty dwarf pony. That is fourteen years old.” Bucky winked at the foal.

Reaching out, Rowanne grabbed Garnet by the ear and yanked her head down. The griffoness cub whispered something into the earth pony filly’s ear. After a moment, Garnet frowned.

“Rowanne said you smell like a daddy—”

“I do?” Bucky asked, his ears perking upwards as he looked at the filly and the cub.

“She said you smell like milk, foal powder, and foal shampoo.” Garnet stuck her head out and sniffed a few times. “I can’t smell it, but she says that you have foals and that since you smell like a daddy, you can be trusted.”

“Well then… how would you like to come aboard my ship and meet Princess Celestia? I’m certain she would love to meet an ariegeois pony such as yourself.” Bucky lowered his head. “My friend Lugus is a really big griffon. A really big griffon. He’s a daddy too… and he can be trusted. He’s going to carry you over to my ship and we’re gonna get you some food and get you away from all of these dead things.”

Garnet nodded and shrugged. “Okay.”

“Good… Lugus, come over here, step into the light, but do so slowly…”

 

 

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