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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Hidden Hollow Fortress seemed to be a much larger place than Luna remembered it being. It was difficult being smaller. It was difficult being without magic. It was difficult being without strength. She glanced up at Bucky. He was now larger than she was. He was stronger than she was. He now had more magic than she did.

While she had borne some resentment for this not long ago, a more recent feeling of strong affection had replaced it and she felt it now, she felt it in every fibre of her being now as she walked beside him through the corridors of the underground bunker.

These past few days spent with Buckminster and his family were some of the happiest days that Luna had known in her entire long life. She felt welcomed, wanted, loved, she had everything she had ever wanted. The experience had softened her heart, and Luna knew it.

It made it somewhat more difficult to make an army of abominations.

“Ready Buckminster? The docket for tonight contains two.”

“I’m good for it,” Bucky replied as he turned his head to glance at Luna.

“Deus should prove interesting and Moonless Night I have high hopes for. These are two of our best three fighters, the heavy hitters, the big brutes that will help keep the others safe, the last of which is—”

“Storm Blitz,” Bucky said, finishing Luna’s spoken thoughts. “Storm should prove interesting. Been reading through Fever Cure’s file… he has become utterly immune to poison because of his transition. He was only very resistant before. Storm Blitz has an exceptional lightning resistance, even by pegasi standards.”

“The researchers tell me that Fever Cure’s blood has become antivenin of the highest quality. His liver has gone through profound changes and has almost doubled in size. His thaumaturgical glands have changed, grown enlarged, much in the same way that yours have. While the change to his cutie mark was worrisome, he seems to have become a weapon against poison, disease, and contagion.”

“This could not come at a better time… we know for certain that the mirror travelers are making diseases in the old world countries,” Bucky said to Luna as the continued down the hall together.

Luna nodded as she trotted at Bucky’s heels. “Twilight Sparkle wishes to send him to aid our allies as soon as he is cleared for release.”

“Weaponised diseases bother me.” Bucky scowled and his face darkened. “Anthrax is an awful disease for us equines and it is decimating the minotaur population.”

“With Fever Cure, we have the means to make new vaccines as well as antivenins. For treatment, we’re going to need a lot of blood plasma for the anthrax.” Luna could see the door, their destination, at the end of the darkened hallway.

“We’ll need public support to wage war on disease then. I know of a league of earth ponies that plans to donate blood, but they’re not enough.” Bucky’s scowl became a smile, a roguish grin that made his eyes twinkle. “But they can set an example. We’ll have Fever Cure begin producing a means to treat the new strains of anthrax while he waits here in Hidden Hollow.”

“We will need to get a sample of the new strains of anthrax so Fever Cure can begin his work,” Luna said as they approached the door. “Already, the Shadowbolt Initiative has been shown to be a sound decision. For this, I am glad.”

Now standing at the door, Bucky’s grin grew ever wider. “It is a good night for mad science.”

 

 

“There both of you are… how are you both?” Twilight asked as she rushed forward. She wrapped her wings around Luna and gave the smaller alicorn a hug. After a moment’s embrace, she turned to Bucky, grabbed him, ignored his protests, and gave him a squeeze.

“Ready to get work done. Are you certain this can be done with just Bucky?” Luna replied.

“Positive. I have made adjustments to the machine. Bucky is now packing his own chaos magic so that should also stabilise the system, at least from his end of input.” Twilight Sparkle gave Luna a reassuring smile. “Fever Cure’s self diagnostic seems most promising and our doctors are confident that he is well.” She turned to Bucky. “Which reminds me, how is your condition?”

“The cream helps the itching but I am still having stomach issues,” Bucky replied, his ears drooping down in embarrassment. “So, fair warning about working in confined spaces with me.”

“We had broccoli and other vegetables dipped into fondue for dinner,” Luna said in a cheerful voice.

“Look, I live at home with three pegasi and a dragon. Nothing, and I mean nothing that the two of you might do could scare me.” Twilight’s mouth pressed into a straight line and her eyes narrowed. “Tonight’s test subjects are ready to go.”

 

 

As the silver ring was placed over Bucky’s horn, he had himself a good look at Deus and Moonless Night. Deus had curled horns like a ram and Bucky studied the cambion. Bat winged and far larger than most normal ponies, he wasn’t quite the oversized bulk of an actual lunar pegasus. As for Moonless Night, Bucky wasn’t quite certain he was looking at. It was equine, but it was also lupine, the best guess being that Moonless Night was part diamond dog. Moonless Night was drooling with excitement, his long tongue hanging out as he panted. Unlike Deus, Moonless Night was just as big as many male lunar pegasi.

“Is everypony ready?” Twilight Sparkle asked as she headed for the protective control booth, glancing over her shoulder at the test subjects as she cleared the area.

“Yeah… I cannot help but notice that Luna and I are sitting here in the open, exposed to the energy fields… are we being bombarded as well?” Bucky asked.

Before stepping through the heavy steel door, Twilight stopped and nodded. “Yes. And no doubt, the continued exposure to is making your shadow magic stronger Bucky. I take it that Luna didn’t tell you about phase two of this operation?”

“No… she did not,” Bucky replied as he turned to look at Luna.

“Solar ponies grow strong in the sun.” Luna shrugged. “Lunar ponies grow stronger in the moonlight. But lunar ponies also seem to grow far, far stronger with exposure to radiant shadow energies. Phase two of this program is to start exposing the lunar pegasi to the field generators on a regular basis to make them stronger… bigger… faster… and have more shadow magic.”

“Is there a reason you did not tell me?” Bucky asked.

“Yes,” Luna replied.

“And that is?”

“We needed to observe you and your power levels. I needed a blind test. If you knew that you were being altered, if you became aware of what was being done, your knowledge of it might have skewed your actual abilities. If you came to believe you were stronger, you might have acted stronger and there could have been a placebo effect.”

“That makes sense.”

“You are not mad?” For a moment, Luna looked worried.

“No. There is no good reason to be angry. What you did was wise. But now our results will be biased by me knowing.” Bucky looked at Twilight and gave her a wry grin.

“Hmm… whoops?” Twilight muttered as she stepped through the doorway and shut the heavy steel door behind her.

“Excited!” Moonless Night said, his barrel heaving with anticipation and his tail wagging. Reaching up with his hind leg, Moonless Night began to scratch behind his ear, one eye narrowing as he scratched his itch.

“I must say, achieving perfection seems possible,” Deus said in a low dramatic whisper. The cambion brushed his mane out of his eyes and glanced at Luna. “This certainly beats being in a cell.”

“Prepare yourselves!” Twilight warned.

The room went dark and after several minutes, the humming thrum of machinery could be heard. The banks of crystals all around the room began to glow, a steady pulsing light. The floor vibrated.

“We’re looking good… Bucky’s got more than enough juice to draw from and we’re not spiking. This should be a nice, smooth transition!” Twilight Sparkle said through the intercom system.

Moonless Night began grunting, his wings jerked and his eyes twitched. He flexed his paws and his legs spasmed. He seemed to be becoming hairier and his body appeared to be growing in mass. His muscles bulged. His teeth grew longer and the pony that appeared to be half diamond dog threw back his head and howled. His cutie mark, a wolf in silhouette that was howling at the moon, glowed with a lurid light, and a dark cloud appeared around the moon. His equine aspect seemed to be diminishing and he took on a far more lupine appearance.

Through it all, his tail never stopped wagging.

Beside Moonless Night, Deus was also undergoing changes. His legs grew longer, thicker, and his body increased in mass. His off white pelt became sootier in appearance. His curled ram's horns became thicker, longer, and a sharp ridges grew in spirals around them. His skull shifted shape, becoming broader, flatter around the horns, and thick bony brow ridges formed over his eyes. His neck became broader and broader, thickening, and thick, corded muscles rippled beneath his flesh of his neck. His cutie mark, a blazing heart, remained unchanged.

“By the stars, they are beautiful,” Luna gasped, her eyes wide. “Look at them… becoming physical perfection… such beautiful offspring of the night…”

“Power level readings are good, I am going to allow the juice to keep flowing, everything shows signs of remarkable stability… this is gonna be something to remember!” Twilight announced over the intercom.

For reasons that he could not explain, Bucky felt giddy. Perhaps it was the exposure to the shadow generator. Perhaps it was because he had proof of good work right before his eyes.

Perhaps it was because Luna seemed so happy. She was prancing in place, her wings fluttering, and her eyes were as wide as a foal’s on Hearth’s Warming Eve.

Moonless Night continued to grow in bulk; his front shoulders were now almost as wide as most ponies were tall. His body tapered back to narrower rear hips. Tendrils of shadow writhed over his flesh and his eyes rolled back into his skull in what appeared to be ecstasy.

Deus’ muscles became more and more refined, some bulk was added, but not the absurd bulk that Moonless Night was developing. Deus became more ram like, and his cloven hooves began to look like they were made of onyx or obsidian.

“Moonie… you are drooling everywhere!” Deus said, unable to get away from the ribbons of slobber flying from Moonless Night’s slavering jowls.

The only response that Moonless Night could manage was to chase his tail and pant even harder.

“I think I am going to kill the power. Luna?” Twilight Sparkle knocked on the protective glass of the control both.

Luna nodded.

“Cutting power in three… two… one… we’re done!”

The hum of the machinery went silent and the strange tingling that Bucky felt in his horn went dead. He felt drained, but also felt contented.

“How do both of you feel?” Twilight asked. “Moonless Night?”

“I feel good… wanna go for a run… yeah… wanna go for a run and maybe chase rabbits… a run would be good. Feel good. Feel really good! Wanna run… bunnies!”

“He’s normally not like this… when he’s not hyper and worked up, my companion here is actually very intelligent,” Deus said, looking worried.

“I know that, Deus, I’ve read his profile,” Twilight replied, smiling through the glass. “Deus? How do you feel?”

“I have never felt better in my whole life. Is this what the feeling of perfect health feels like? I feel like a million bits. The only thing wrong with me is that I am hungry—”

“HUNGRY! FOOD! WANT FOOD, NEED FOOD, FOOD IS GOOD! FOOD NOW!” Moonless Night shouted as he continued to chase his tail.

“By the stars, Moonie has grown huge... he’ll be an unstoppable juggernaut...  Moonie, calm down before you go through a wall or something,” Deus said to his fellow shadowbolt.

Moonless Night continued chasing his tail and ignored Deus.

“Both of you should hit up the cafeteria. Food will be waiting. We know from Fever Cure’s transition that your appetite will be the stuff of legends,” Twilight Sparkle said through the intercom.

“I feel good about what we have accomplished here tonight,” Bucky said as he smiled.

 

 

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