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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“Sparkler isn’t back yet.” Ripple stood, watching, waiting, eyeing the darkness and looking for red eyes.

Rising Star, his whole body blazing bright, looked over at Ripple. “She’ll be back.”

Ripple shook her head. “Rising, she can run out of magic… she can grow tired. What if she gets trapped out there, out in the dark, and she runs out of energy? She’s been gone for far too long.”

Rising Star began to feel Ripple’s worry. “Maybe she went to Ponyville.”

“Maybe.” Ripple peered into the darkness, hoping to see a stony pony.

Trotting, a crazy grin upon her face, and Bartleby still on her back, Trixie approached Ripple and Rising Star. With each step, her ears bounced. Trixie appeared to be having the time of her life.

“Trixie has news to report… it seems the rat attacks are tapering off. Very few attacks have happened indoors as the defenses kept improving with each wave. Sunset Shimmer is growing tired, but she believes she can make it till the dawn. She is illuminating each and every foal inside of a globe of light spell. The rats have no darkness to leap to.”

“How can she keep so many lit up for so long?” Ripple asked.

Rising Star shrugged. “Type fours. We’re different.”

Ripple’s wings fluttered. “Trixie, your conjured thunderclouds on the outer perimeter made a difference tonight. A lot of lives were saved with those sentries. They let us know when something is coming.”

The showmare blushed and bowed her head. “Trixie was only doing her part. I have students to keep safe… Buckminster’s performance reviews are very strict.”

In the distance, there was a flash of lightning and a clap of thunder.

“One more dead rat!” Trixie, who was far too chipper for this occasion, trotted off.

On Trixie’s back, Bartleby waved.

Rising Star, watching Trixie go, raised an eyebrow. “You know, the students aren’t the only ones learning stuff here. Is it just me or has Trixie become kinda dangerous?”

“Love makes ponies dangerous,” Ripple replied.

“Make way!” a voice like a landslide bellowed.

Ripple’s wings sprang out and she went airborne for a moment, flying a little loop, flipping through the air, landing, and then running for Sparkler. When she saw Sparkler, Ripple froze, her mouth hanging open and her eyes wide.

“Move! I have Apples, I have Danvers, and I have Turnips!” Sparkler’s hooves thudded as she thundered past with dozens of ponies held above her in telekinetic bubbles. “Sorry it took me so long!”

“Speaking of dangerous ponies,” Rising Star said as he reached out and closed Ripple’s mouth.

“Move aside!” Sparkler stomped forward towards the school. “I have sick and wounded here! Outamyway!”

 

 

In Ponyville, the defenders waited. A few more rats came, but not the endless hordes that had come before. Griffons flitted about in the cold night air, stabbing rats when they were spotted, and the nervous ponies of Ponyville paced around burning fires, watching the shadows.

“Lyra… how did you manage to do… well… what you did?” Grimglammer asked.

Lyra, her horn glowing, turned and raised her head to look up at the massive lunar pegasus mare. “The rats… they’re… they’re like constructs. It took me a while to study them and figure this out. They’re not actually rats. I thought for a while they were conjured rats… like Dinky’s bees, I figured they would wink away after a while or their corpses would vanish. But they didn’t.” Lyra shook her head. “Really powerful magic conjured these… there is a touch of necromancy involved I think, but I didn’t cast a detect necromancy spell to check… because that would involve necromancy.”

“So what are they?” Furious asked.

“Nightmares… made flesh. I think. They have some odd magic tied to them. I don’t know for certain. I just know that they had ears and notes that resonated strongly with harmonious magic hurt them… so I blew them up,” Lyra replied.

“How?” Shadowguard asked.

“I severed their connection from the nightmarish energy they drew power from. It made their heads explode.” Lyra grinned.

“So these… creatures… were pulled out of the dreamscape and given bodies of flesh?” King Tannis asked.

“I think so… that’s why I think necromancy was involved. You take the essence of dream rat and then you use necromancy to give it a body… flesh and bone. Make it real. Just a guess,” Lyra replied.

“Mistress will know more. She was quite distressed by these creatures. She refused to talk about it.” Grimglammer looked up, craning her head to look at Canterlot.

In the distance, another whiskey bomb went off, sending a column of fire skywards. There was a gleeful cry of mayhem as the defending griffons and ponies cheered.

A lone griffon landed, approached King Tannis, and saluted. “My king… I have returned from the Whitetail Woods. The ponies living there have taken heavy casualties, but there are survivors. I spoke with a unicorn named Forest Watcher… he organised the defense of the Whitetail Woods dwellers. The pegasi airlifted the weak and infirm, kept them off of the ground, and the earth ponies and unicorns stood together against the rats.”

“So we have survivors incoming?” King Tannis asked.

“They make their way here now,” the griffon reported.

“Send reinforcements to their ranks,” King Tannis commanded.

“Sir, a pony named Pepperjack is leading the survivor convoy… he is… most clever. He made bombs from crushed mace seeds and other obnoxious herbs.” The griffon’s crest rose. “The rats do not like the dust bombs. It would be wise to speak to him, his dust bombs will be useful in driving the rats from cellars, holes, and other dark spaces, out into the light so we can kill them.”

“Let the vermin know no place of refuge. Have this Pepperjack brought to me when he gets here,” King Tannis said.

“Sir, I will do so, sir,” the griffon replied, and then snapped off a smart salute.

 

 

“How is he doing?” Scorch asked, leaning over and whispering into Odin’s ear.

“I can see everything he sees,” Odin replied.

The fire elemental heaved an impatient sigh and shook his head. Scorch reached out his talons and gave the old griffon’s wing a tug. “Out with it.”

“What started out as a nightmare has become quite an enjoyable dream. The dozing Lord of Winter watches as those he loves defends themselves. While he was terrified when the dream started, he is now fascinated and maybe even a little amused. He no longer has the slightest fear for our safety but instead eagerly watches our efforts.”

Scorch heaved a sigh of relief, the sort of sigh that only a being billions of years old could sigh. “So this has blown up in Sombra’s face.”

“Indeed.” Odin looked over at the many injured ponies and griffons being laid out. He raised his talons and pointed. “Blood poisoning will be a problem.”

Scorch nodded. “Septicemia. Rising Star and I can take care of it.”

The old grizzled griffon shook his head. “Scorch, we must let them test their own strength. They have pulled through this admirably. Even Bucky is impressed, watching as he slumbers. We have held back thus far and our little mortals have done quite well for themselves, even those in Ponyville.”

“You and your birds watch everything.” Scorch rolled his eyes. “There will be too many cases for Rising Star to handle alone. I’ll follow along, act like I am teaching him something, and if I come across a bad case that Rising Star can’t deal with and can’t wait for nurses or doctors to tend to, I’ll just… make it go away.”

“Doctors must ply their trade and nurses must get practice… every tough case you pull away from them is an opportunity for learning lost,” Odin said.

Sulking, Scorch grunted.

“If you will excuse me, I need to go have a talk with a pony about a griffon named Loki. He is dying and I must go engage in an act of hypocrisy. I do believe that he has earned a better end than the one he is about to suffer,” Odin said, pointing to a pale pony that entered the room.

On the pale pony’s hip there was a wilted petunia that had fallen over and died. No one seemed aware of his presence, yet all felt his passing. Ponies and griffons shivered as he drew near, mothers hugged their foals, husbands scooted closer to their wives, and big brothers held tighter to their little sisters.

“Thanatos, a word with you if I might… perhaps we can make a deal?” Odin asked.

 

 

Sentinel moved, sniffing, trying to catch a scent with his nostrils. Beside him, Grimglammer, Shadowguard, and Furious were doing much the same. On the backs of the three bigger lunar pegasi almost a dozen little griffons in total rode, armed with crossbows and bows.

One griffon raised his crossbow, fired, and was rewarded with a squeak.

Overhead, griffons used their sharp eyes, looking for little burning red dots in the night.

His legs burned with inner fire and Sentinel did not feel well. He said nothing of course. Nopony felt well, they were all bitten and chewed up. His face had been chewed on, his ears had been nipped, and his legs were bitten all up and down their lengths.

Sentinel had even suffered one excruciating bite upon his scrotum, something he knew he would need to get looked at later.

There was another mechanical click followed by a squeak.

The rats were being hunted now. Griffons and rats were sworn enemies from a time long since forgotten. Hatred burned in every griffons’ beady little eyes. The lunar pegasi patrolled the streets, heads down, noses sniffing, and griffons sniped the rats who came out of hiding to run.

Sentinel’s ears perked. He could hear a heart beating. His hackles rose and he turned towards where a group of barrels were stashed. A long string of drool dribbled down from the corner of his mouth.

A low rumbling growl resonated within Sentinel’s barrel.

A griffon dived down from above, spear in talons, and disappeared behind the barrels. A moment later, it emerged with a giant rat skewered on the end of its spear.

There were things that lived in the dark that were far more terrifying than rats, and Sentinel was among their number.

 

 

There was a cheer when the first rays of dawn showed upon the horizon. The defenders of Ponyville had made it through the long night. The clocktower showed the time as being a little past seven thirty, but not quite a quarter to eight.

The streets were being patrolled now and unicorns paired with groups of earth ponies, pegasi, or griffons were moving door to door and clearing houses. The remaining stragglers, those outside the range of Lyra’s spell, were now seeking refuge, trying to hide from those that hunted them.

Lyra, already exhausted, was making ready to cast the spell again.

Ponyville would need to be cleaned up and windows would need to be replaced. The many rat corpses piled around would need to be disposed of. To the victors go the responsibility of cleaning up the mess.

Ponyville hospital was being cleared by Sentinel, Grimglammer, Shadowguard, and Furious, along with a small army of griffons. The underground spaces beneath the hospital were dark and almost labyrinthine. It was the perfect hunting grounds for lunar pegasi, who liked being inside of dark, cave-like spaces.

And so, it was during these moments, while the sun was rising, the ponies and the residents of Ponyville realised they were capable of saving themselves if they all stood together and worked with their neighbors.

Twilight Sparkle no longer seemed quite so important, at least at the moment, though this opinion was susceptible to change once trouble came again and the residents of Ponyville would cry out for Twilight Sparkle to save them.

When trouble came once more to Ponyville, which it tended to do, the residents of Ponyville would be right behind Twilight Sparkle and would work with her to save their city.

Standing on the edge of Ponyville, a lone zebra trotted into town, unconcerned by any potential dangers around her. On her sides were large wicker baskets loaded down with gourds, makeshift containers that held medicine that would be needed after the long night.

 

 

Blinking, Bucky awoke with a yawn. “I had the strangest dream… wait… why am I in the school cafeteria…”

 

 

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