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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“Night Stallion, we seem to have lost control of the embodiment of war. His minions run amok inside of our base. Do you have any advice?” Commander Thundervolt looked at the small glowing wisp of energy that existed between two pillars.

“Thundervolt… you disappoint me.” The voice was chilling and it filled the room with dread. “Are you admitting weakness? Has one of my commanders failed me? Only those strong enough to serve may continue to serve…”

Thundervolt began to sweat, knowing that he was in a dangerous spot. He looked around the room, eyeing any potential attackers. If somepony had a mind for a promotion, a fight might happen. Showing any sort of weakness was just asking for all manner of trouble.

“Night Stallion, he had help escaping. We have an invader with unbelieveable alicorn levels of magic running around. She is killing us without effort. Most of the ponies in this installation are researchers and tech types, not warriors and combat ready wizards.”

“If the researchers cannot defend themselves, if they cannot fight, what use are they to me? I expect strength without weakness. There can be no room for failure. The weak, the chaff, will burn away in the fire, the dross must be removed, and only the strongest may serve me.”

“Sir, she has alicorn levels of magic… potentially equalling your own. You are the strongest of us all and none of us could dare stand against you. We are powerless against her as well—”

“Silence, cease your mewling, you pitiful welp.”

Thundervolt fell silent. The Night Stallion sounded furious. He could feel eyes staring at him. He wondered when the attack would come. While he was sleeping? Eating? Perhaps in the middle of fight? Somepony would want his spot, a chance to prove that he or she was strong enough to serve the Night Stallion.

“Sir… warriors do not always make the best researchers and researchers do not always make the best warriors. We need both if we are to be successful,” a unicorn said in a flat monotone, revealing no fear or emotion.

“Only the strong may survive. Even the lowliest scholar must prove he can fight if he wishes to continue to serve me. All weakness must be purged until only the very strongest survive if we are to continue to exist against so many powerful enemies. Even as you soft spineless wretches get to live in the lap of luxury on a living green world with sweet, pure air and abundant food, we continue to scratch out our existence here, besieged by demons and eldritch abominations. We fight an endless battle to protect our last city and ourselves. And our numbers GROW! Those who survive now are better than those who have fallen. The weak almost magicless unicorns are nearly extinct now. We have purged their failure! And the pegasi born now are warriors, fighters true to their breed. We have eradicated the failings in their tribe!”

“PERFECTION THROUGH PAIN!” a pegasus barked, raising his wing in salute.

“PURITY THROUGH PURGING!” another cried, also raising his wing.

“If any more scholarly types die, it is of no real loss. Perhaps their mothers should have cast them aside after birth. It is unfortunate, but sometimes weakness cannot be detected until a pony is much older, after they have consumed needed resources and weakened us all with their infirmities. Leave them to fend for themselves, have all of your available troops focus on guarding the portal. I am powering it up from my side and soon I shall step through. Do try to survive until I can come and rescue your pitiful and disgusting flesh.”

There was no need to issue an order to recall all troops to the portal room. Most of them were already here. The weak were already being purged and left to fend for themselves.

“No doubt you have lost control of the portal control rod. When I arrive, I shall have reclaim it from this… alicorn imposter that you all seem so terrified of.”

No doubt, much weakness would be purged because of this debacle. Thundervolt began to wonder if this was even worth it. This world was alive, green, the sky was blue, there was more food than a pony could imagine, more food than an army could control, and it was getting harder and harder to justify the fighting to take all of this.

Thundervolt was certain that if they had simply come and asked for aid, the ponies of this reality would have helped them. Maybe even given them land. There would have been enough food and medicine available for everypony. Maybe the fighting could have ended. Maybe the madness required for their survival was no longer needed. They were all mad now… so very mad. One day, Thundervolt had woken up and as he stood feeling the sun upon him, he realised that at some point, they had all gone mad, himself included.

His eyes wide with surprise, Thundervolt went cross eyed as he looked down at the thin metal point protruding from the front of this throat and extending out beyond his muzzle. It was bloodied. He felt his front knees knocking together and he struggled to draw breath. He hadn’t even heard it coming. Grinning, he realised his poor hearing was about to be purged and he hoped that his replacement had better hearing.

As the poison burned through his blood, Thundervolt said his final words. “We’re too weak to survive on this world… we’ve forgotten how to be ponies… these equines will be the... end of us all.” He gasped, gurgled, and then dropped dead.

“I do believe that Commander Thundervolt has been relieved of duty. Commander Hailstrike has stepped up to lead us,” a voice said.

“Commander Hailstrike, orders?”

“Prepare for the Night Stallion’s arrival. Gather a few of our more inexperienced troops and begin organising a relief convoy for our research base in Saddle Arabia. Gather whomever is left and get them out of here. Perhaps they will learn from the failures made here and will go on to become better, but I doubt it. All nonessentials are to be evacuated with the convoy. Once we have this base resecured, we will bring the nonessentials back to continue our work here.”

Commander Hailstrike stepped over the convulsing body of Thundervolt and watched as the glowing nexus of energy between the two pillars began to grow larger.

“Throw as many of the very weakest among us at this alicorn imposter. Let her burn through her reserves and foolishly tire herself. She will be easier to subdue when the Night Stallion arrives. Release the thralls.”

 

 

“Loki, we have trouble incoming!” Sunset Shimmer hollered out a warning as she redoubled her shield. “Minotaurs, griffons, a few diamond dogs!”

“Don’t kill them… see eyes… sparkle… release them,” Bucky said in a low groan.

Sunset Shimmer fired off a powerful cone of dispel magic down the hallway. The incoming horde stopped, blinked, looked at one another, and then looked at the flaming unicorn. Reaching an unspoken consensus, all of them turned around and ran the other way.

“Poor wretches… I would have actually felt bad about killing them,” Loki said. He stood on all fours, his girth heaving, his ribs flexing in and out like bellows. “Something is up. There are no more patrols in the halls. We have either killed most of them or they are pulling back.”

“I sense… something… wrong,” Bucky said, blood trickling from his lips as he spoke. “Strange energy. Can you feel it, Minion?”

“I feel something, Master it is very hard to feel anything with this amulet,” Sunset Shimmer replied.

“We must… we must be going… He is coming,” Bucky said, each word a wheeze.

“Master, you wanted to destroy the portal,” Sunset Shimmer said.

“Minion, if he is coming… and he hurts you… I might do something… I would regret. We must go,” Bucky said. He started coughing once more. “Revenge is too dangerous… I will not risk my beloved—” Bucky’s words were cut off by coughing.

Loki shrugged. “Let’s go.”

“I have a plan,” Sunset Shimmer said in a low voice.

“So… lets do it and get out of here,” Loki replied.

“Master insisted that I study the geological survey maps. I understand why he had me do it now… just in case we needed options. These mines are full of halite, as well as other mineral deposits.” Sunset Shimmer began to smile an evil smile and her eyes burned even redder.

Loki shook his head.

“Get on my back, Loki, and sit with Boadicea. I am going to put a shield around us.” Sunset Shimmer drew in a deep breath and began to concentrate. “I am going to draw upon the chlorine deposits in the earth all around us and flood the mine with chlorine gas.”

“What about the portal?” Loki asked as he hopped up onto Sunset Shimmer’s back.

“I have a plan for that too,” Sunset Shimmer replied.

Bucky, still coughing, which caused him horrible pain, which made him start laughing, a maniacal cackle, and his laughter caused more coughing. Caught in a dreadful cycle, Bucky vomited up more blood and let out a pitiful sounding laugh.

“As I am conjuring up chlorine gas, I will be flooding the mine with hydrochloric acid. These mines are full of salts I need.” Sunset Shimmer summoned a crackling aura of energy around her. “The portal is on the levels below us I think.”

The unicorn closed her eyes. On her back where two griffons who sat amidst the flames she generated, but they did not burn. Bucky was in a protective bubble beside her with alicorn grade shields wrapped around him.

“So much power… endless power… this is even better than tapping into a ley line and getting buzzed from the harmonic resonance. I could do so much more… I could crush our enemies, burn them from the earth—”  

“Minion…”

“I am aware of every single hydrogen atom in the air around me. It was so difficult to touch them before. It would have taken every bit of power I had before to fuse a few together…”

As Sunset Shimmer spoke, bursts of heat and light began to pop around her. The air crackled with a strange energy.

“But now… I can reach out and touch them all—”

“Minion, listen to me…”

“I can move hydrogen atoms around like Luna moves stars. I could make new stars! I could make a new star right here in this mine and that would destroy the portal… just start smashing hydrogen atoms together… like banging flint and steel—”

“Minion!”

Sunset Shimmer blinked and shook her head. She opened her eyes. The red in her eyes dimmed a little. Her expression contorted into one of pain. “No… no, love is more important than power… I need to remember what I am fighting for. The amulet does not control me, I control the amulet. It is a tool… a tool that whispers lies and offers power but it does not offer love.”

Flaming wings sprouted from Sunset Shimmer’s sides and the red in her eyes faded away. Her eyes, now opal once more, blinked. Smoke began to rise from the stone where her hooves touched.

“I am a being of love and light. It is through harmony that I draw power. That power is to protect, to defend, to preserve harmony.”

Sunset Shimmer spread her flaming wings. Her voice was booming and it filled the hallways. Bits of rubble sprinkled down from the ceiling. Reaching out with her mind, Sunset Shimmer touched every living thing in the mine. There were many black minds here, she ignored those, looking for those that could be saved.

Reaching through rock, stretching her will through tons of stone, Sunset Shimmer teleported a number of beings to the surface.

“This power is not for personal gain, but for the betterment of the world around me.”

Sunset Shimmer began to blaze with a searing intensity. The stone around her began to glow. She closed her eyes and shook her head, a sad expression upon her face.

“The earth has been corrupted here and I almost foolishly poisoned the land. I almost made a terrible mistake. The land must be healed. While harm is sometimes unavoidable, this power should be used to heal.”

Flooded with power, Sunset Shimmer lifted her head high. Her legs grew longer, her body increased in mass, her neck lengthened, and now she glowed like the sun. Her horn lengthened. Around her, the rocks began to liquify.

“I UNDERSTAND WHAT MUST BE DONE. I SHALL NOT MAKE AN END, BUT A BEGINNING.” Sunset Shimmer’s voice boomed like thunder through the hall and bits of the ceiling began to cave in.

There was a flash of fire and Sunset Shimmer vanished.

 

 

Author's Note:

In this chapter... we see two very different alicorn minds.

 
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