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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Rubbing his chin with his talons, Bucky perused the reports that were given to him. The scales on his foreleg had become hardened, stiffer, it was similar to a griffon’s avian scales, but also different. The scales had an odd metallic feel to them, almost like dragon scales.

“And I suppose this is your opinion upon the matter as well?” Bucky asked Shining Armor.

Shining Armor nodded. His projection flickered for a moment and he seemed to be looking at something far away.

“I concur. Clean service records for those that have died. Their honour has been restored. As for the others, well… give them the probationary rank of Horseapple Head. After a year, they will be up for review and can be promoted to Horseapple Head First Class. After the second year, they can earn the title Private.”

There was a snort as Shining Armor’s entire face contorted. More snorts escaped. Deep wrinkles appeared on Shining Armor’s muzzle. One of Shining Armor’s eyes narrowed as the other went wide. One ear began to twitch and Shining Armor’s ribs heaved a few times.

“Something funny, Emperor?” Bucky asked.

“No… nope. Absolutely nothing funny at all,” Shining Armor replied in a strangled voice as he choked back laughter. “We, the Emperor, find nothing at all amusing.”

“Think they will hold a stable rep meeting tomorrow?” Bucky asked, changing the subject.

“Yes. It is planned. A number of ponies, Rising Star among them, have demanded an emergency meeting. The citizenry demands that the meetings take place. Will you be here?” Shining Armor replied.

“No.” Bucky dropped his talons to the table. “I am going home as soon as possible and I am taking Luna with me. After what she endured… the quiet stability of the farm is probably just what she needs.”

Shining Armor’s expression softened into worry. “She insists she is fine.”

“We both know she isn’t.” Bucky closed his eyes. “Her body was so broken… and now she can’t feed Erebus or care for him.” Leaning back in his chair, Bucky reached up and rubbed his withered, scarred cheek with his talon finger tips. Tilting his head, Bucky looked at Shining Armor. “One unicorn Shining… just one unicorn. One unicorn did all of this. He infiltrated the city, warped minds, created chaos, spread fear, derision, dissent, stirred up old hatreds, look at everything that has happened.”

“Summoned a demon, created undead, and used powerful necromancy to strike down one of the Princesses of Equestria.” Shining Armor shook his head and his cheeks huffed out as he sighed. “At least he is currently a statue. We have nothing to worry about as far as he goes. I take it you have plans for him, but I have no desire to know what those might be.”

“I have plans… but not what you might think. Luna taught me a valuable lesson about the need for revenge a while ago. I will not allow myself to indulge in my inner darkness and potentially risk Cadance.”

“Thank you, Bucky.”

 

 

“Sister, we have this information, but what do we do with it?” Luna asked as she tried to squirm away from Berry Punch, who was brushing her mane.

“We let the public hear it. I have pulled the memory from your mind… we have every word that he said to you. I can project it with magic. We let the public hear everything,” Celestia replied as she glanced at the crystal rod that held Luna’s memory of the event.

“Even the really bad part at the end?” Berry pulled Luna closer and attacked the tangles in the filly’s mane with a brush.

“OW! Stop pulling!” Luna’s eyes narrowed as she squirmed. “We let them hear everything. Hold nothing back. Let them know what our enemy is like.”

“Luna, this is… very private… he said awful things.” Celestia’s voice became a husky strained whisper. “He was going to… he planned to…”

Luna’s eyes glittered with a rage that seemed too large for her small filly body. Her lower lip trembled and she went still against Berry Punch. Her forelegs wrapped around the earth pony foreleg surrounding her middle. “Tell them! Let our subjects know that they were played for fools and my body almost paid the price for their idiocy!”

Setting down the brush, Berry Punch wrapped her other foreleg around Luna and crushed Luna to her barrel. With a sniffle and a grunt, Berry Punch began to cry.

“Why are you crying? Why are tears happening! What is going on!” Luna asked.

“Shut up and let me hold you!” Berry Punch replied.

 

 

Feeling a pride he had trouble containing, Bucky looked at his older foals. So close to adulthood, yet so far away. Bittersweet was eating a meal of salad and carrots, chewing with a contented smile upon her muzzle. Ripple, who was still medicated, sat in a chair beside Bittersweet, leaning up against the donkey. Her eyes were half closed and she was smiling. Loch Skimmer was sitting on a sofa, looking at her sister and Bittersweet, her expression was thoughtful and her green eyes seemed both sad and hopeful at the same time. Beside Loch Skimmer, Sparkler lay on the couch. her front leg wrapped in bandages and hung from a sling around her neck.

“We killed a greater demon.” Sparkler’s face lit up with a dopey grin. “I got hit with a train.”

For a moment, Bucky felt his heart sink. He closed his eyes and tried to push that image out of his mind. The pain was too much, the image was still too vivid.

“It was weird not having a body. It was like that moment when you teleport and at the time, you’re not real, but your consciousness exists, only it stretched out for several minutes. For those minutes, I was the entire Canterhorn mountain. It was an amazing feeling.”

In the back of Bucky’s mind, he wondered and worried if Sparkler was immortal. He thought of Luna’s broken, ruined body and he felt his stomach churn. It was a horrifying thought.

“We are never going to hear the end of this.” Loch Skimmer waved her hoof around. “I got hit by a train… I helped kill a greater demon… I am the hardest hardarse that has ever lived…

“Shut up, Loch!” Sparkler made a face at Loch Skimmer and stuck out her tongue.

“Without Sparkler, Twilight and I might have been wailing on him all night… or I might had have to turn to dark magic. Twilight Sparkle is not powerful enough to cast a banishment spell yet, but I have no doubt, one day, she will be.” Bucky leaned over the table and rubbed his aching head. He felt sick and queasy.

“Why didn’t Celestia or Luna just banish the demon?” Loch Skimmer asked in a low worried voice.

Rubbing his snoot, Bucky looked at Loch. He took a moment to think of the right words to say. “They could have. And the demon would have been right back in Tartarus. And then Celestia or Luna, whomever cast it, would have been weakened, without magic, and defenseless during a time of crisis. Celestia was watching the castle and the school. Luna kept the city from burning down and her magic kept a lot of ponies alive. It was a matter of priorities Loch Skimmer… Twilight Sparkle and I were trusted to find a way to deal with the threat.”

“You should have turned into a dragon and ripped him apart.” Loch Skimmer looked at Sparkler and saw Sparkler’s thoughtful expression.

“And then, who would have saved the city from me? As it was, there was so much collateral damage. But a dragon… rampant destruction of dragonbreath, and my size… sure, I would have been a good match for the demon. I would have been bigger than he was. But who would have protected the city from me? My tail?” Bucky’s stomach lurched and he felt an almost overpowering sense of nausea wash over him.

“Would a dragon been able to beat him? I don’t mean burning him, he’s immune to fire, but I mean, by, say, eating him a piece at a time?” Loch Skimmer asked.

“I don’t know,” Bucky replied as he reached down and clutched his stomach. A cold clammy sensation crept over his skin. His brain showed him images of Sparkler being smashed and Luna’s broken body. He thought of his grief at seeing Twilight Sparkle hurled through a wall.

“Daddy, you don’t look well,” Sparkler said.

“I don’t feel well.” Bucky closed his eyes and hoped that the sick feeling would pass.

 

 

The world was a very confusing and awkward place at times. And this happened to be one of those times. This was the sort of moment that could drive a pony to distraction, having to deal with two foals in the most peculiar of all situations that one might encounter in life.

Nearby, Luna wept bitter tears as Erebus suckled. Erebus, who has behaving, wasn’t nipping, and for this, Berry was thankful, but he was a hard feeder with a lot of suction. The first few goes there had been nips and Berry had shoved him away, confusing the colt and causing him to cry. But now, he had learned some manners.

“This hurts so much!” Luna wailed as she fell over on the bed and closed her eyes. She kicked her legs and broke into a full blown tantrum, rolling and thrashing about. “I am his mother!”

Heaving a sigh as she extended her foreleg, Berry Punch hooked her hoof around Luna’s middle and hauled her closer. She wrapped both forelegs around Luna, grabbing Luna’s legs, and Berry Punch restrained the filly from thrashing about. After a moment of struggle, Luna went still but continued to sob, her face buried into the blanket upon the bed.

“Hush, it’ll be okay,” Berry Punch said in a soothing whisper. “Princess Celestia said you’ll be fine in month or three—”

“His life is so short! He will stop suckling soon! He will be growing up and I am missing these precious moments!” Luna’s squeaky voice was filled with grief and rage. She tried to kick and thrash again but was powerless to break the earth pony’s protective embrace. Unable to do anything else, Luna threw back her head, screeched, and slammed her head down into the bed.

Berry Punch reached a conclusion that very few ponies would understand; Luna had been hurt in the worst way possible, the very worst way that one could imagine. Something had been taken from her that could not be given back, could not be replaced, could not be made better. Realising this, Berry Punch felt the sting of tears and she closed her eyes.

In a small crib in the corner, Cadance snorted and then began to babble, letting everypony know that she was now awake.

 

 

With the farmhouse in view, Bucky heaved a sigh of relief. It was good to be home. Around the sky carriage, a wing of Myrmidons flew. Rising Star and his herd were still all together in Canterlot, but Bucky had returned with Berry, Cadance, Luna, and Erebus.

A wing of griffons joined them in the air and looking out the window, Bucky could see the cleared space in the field where they would be landing. It was the place they had launched the gyrocopter, which would be brought back home under the cover of night at some other time.

The carriage banked and began a sweeping curve as they lined themselves up with the makeshift landing strip.

Away from the carriage, but close enough to be seen, Rainbow Dash and her class of fliers flew in formation, streaking through the air, rolling, diving, climbing, and banking.

“Probably going to be a hard landing,” Berry Punch said as they drew closer to the ground. She blinked, looked out the window, but did not seem concerned.

“What will Barley say?” Luna asked as the carriage gave a lurch.

Hanging her head, Berry felt a pain her heart as she realised there was another short life that mattered a great deal to Luna.

 

 

Stepping out of the carriage, Bucky saw a grey pegasus hobbling through the snow to greet him. He grinned, feeling better, and lifted his head high. “Hiya beautiful… guess what… this time I brought home two foals!”

“Bucky!” Derpy looked for stunned for a moment. She stood there, blinking, and the wind whipped her mane back. “We talked about this!” A confused expression crossed over the grey mare’s face. “Can I see them?”

 

 

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