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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With a grunt, Loki pulled Sentinel’s limp body up out of the sewer. He dragged Sentinel away from the ponyhole, and Shaquah was still strapped to Sentinel’s back. Limping, Loki returned to the ponyhole to help his fellow Raptors out.

“Get help!” Gofannon shouted to the ponies that stood there and stared, blinking, confused about the griffons crawling up out of the sewer. “Get help now! We need to get to a hospital!”

Loki lifted Freyja, his long time antagonist and competition. She was limp in his grasp and for a moment, Loki feared that she wasn’t breathing. He dragged her over to where Sentinel was and laid her down upon the street. He returned to the ponyhole cover just in time to help Callum pull out Flench.

Most of Flench’s beak was missing and the pudgy looking griffon’s breath whistled out of a horrific looking hole in his throat. Flench was now missing an eye and his crest had been burned away.

“I can get you to the hospital!” an earth pony shouted as he pulled up with a wagon full of cabbages and rutabagas. “Get in!”

A helpful unicorn mare came over and lifted up both Sentinel and Freyja. She placed them in the wagon, on top of cabbages and rutabagas. She then lifted Flench and set him in the wagon. The other Raptors began to climb aboard, with Loki being the last.

Once Loki was aboard, the earth pony took off at a swift run.

 

 

When Sentinel opened his eyes, he saw Lugus. Sentinel blinked a few times, confused about being in a bed, and he couldn’t remember how he had gotten here. He tried to sit up and found that he couldn’t. Nothing wanted to move.

“Things went poorly,” Lugus said in a soft voice as he moved to Sentinel’s bedside. “Stay still. Everybirdy made it out and everybirdy is still alive… although it is still touch and go for Flench.”

“Everything went wrong,” Sentinel said in a weak, wheezy croak. “How is Loki alive… I saw him die… I saw him ripped in half after part of him was melted… how?”

“Loki will not die until Odin releases him from service, at Loki’s request,” Lugus replied as he reached out and touched Sentinel’s face to comfort the colt. “Loki tells me that you used yourself as a shield to save your troops. That was admirable. Many commanders would use their troops to shield themselves. You took dozens of shots all over your body. The doctors assured me that you would not live, yet here you are, already recovering. Lunar pegasi… the lot of you are impressive creatures.”

“I messed up so badly… I messed up and my father’s griffons got hurt,” Sentinel said as he closed his eyes, unable to look at Lugus any longer.  “I made so many mistakes.”

“Maybe. I do not know. I do not know everything that happened. I do know that you wisely chose to retreat and that it was your leadership that got everybirdy out. I do know that you made all of the right decisions when it mattered. Gofannon and Loki gave me detailed reports. Both of them mentioned that some mistakes were made.” Lugus sat down upon the floor by Sentinel’s bedside and heaved a sigh. “Not everything can always go right. Sometimes, it is how we deal with our failures, or losses, that matters. Things could have been a lot worse. There are many who might have sacrificed others to make certain they escaped.”

Sentinel kicked and struggled to make his legs work, but all he managed to do was twitch and thrash about a bit. “I need to see that the others are okay… Lugus, help me, I can’t move!”

“Stay still.” Lugus kept his talons off of Sentinel, there was no place left on the colt’s body where he could be touched and comforted. “Sentinel, please, stay still.”

“I want my mama,” Sentinel whimpered as he struggled to get his legs to move.

 

 

“Lugus, honey, how is Sentinel?” Yew Wood asked as she sat down beside her husband. She sat in a chair, and Lugus sat upon the floor. There were no chairs in his hospital large enough for Lugus.

“The doctor sedated him.” Lugus slumped down and looked down at the floor. He saw Peekaboo craning her head upwards to look at him. “Everybirdy is listed as stable, even though Freyja and Flench are in intensive care.”

“Are you okay?” Yew asked, reaching out and touching the much larger griffon with her hoof. “Lugus, there was no way that you could fit down there, so I hope you aren’t beating yourself up over this. And there was no way of knowing that it would be this bad.”

“Why hasn’t there been a reply? We sent that telegram hours ago. What is the point of having long distance communication if no one replies?” Lugus shook his head. “What if the message didn’t make it?”

“You didn’t answer my question.” Yew gave her husband the look.

“I’m dealing with… all of this,” Lugus said in a faint voice that seemed far too small coming from a creature of his size and bulk.

As Yew Wood reached out with her wing to give Lugus a hug, the whole hospital shook. The entire building shuddered, as if it had been hit by something. Ponies cried out and one nurse shouted “Earthquake!”

Lugus, reaching down with his talons, snatched up Peekaboo and crushed her to his girth, hunching over her with his body as she squealed in terror. He glanced around, trying to figure out if the whole building was about to come down. He looked at the window and wondered if he could fit through it as a means of escape.

“DRAGON!” a nurse shrieked as she went running down the hallway. “DRAGON!”

Lugus turned to Yew Wood at the same time that Yew Wood was turning to look at him and speaking at the same time, they both said, “Bucky.”

 

 

“WHERE IS HE?” a voice bellowed. “WHERE IS MY SON, SENTINEL?”

Yew Wood, light on her hooves, scrambled around the corner on the slippery tile, running towards the sounds of terror. As she came around the corner, she saw Bucky, his black cloak billowing out behind him, and his horrible Taint filled eye oozed purple mist. Beside Bucky, there was a small jet black foal with a pink mane, green framed glasses, and a frightened expression.

“Bucky!” Yew cried. “Calm down… over here… be quiet, this is a hospital!”

As Yew Wood watched, Bucky didn’t walk towards her so much as he just drifted in her direction, his black cloak flowing and rippling around him. It made her skin crawl to look. The lights flickered and the hospital around her felt cold. Behind Bucky, Tourmaline hurried along as fast as her legs could carry her.

“Master, I have found his location!”

“So have I, Minion.”

Sunset Shimmer came into view and Yew Wood heaved a sigh of relief. Sunset had a way of getting Bucky to calm down. It would make things easier. When Bucky drew near, Yew wrapped a wing around his neck, kissed his cheek, and and then pointed off in the direction of Sentinel’s room.

 

 

It was unbearable to hear Bucky whimpering as he paced and Sunset Shimmer felt a sharp stabbing pain in her throat every time she heard it. She cleared her throat to get Bucky’s attention and said, “Master, the city still needs to be made safe. Sentinel is safe and recovering, but sedated. I know this is a frantic time for you, but nothing can be done for Sentinel right now. Tourmaline can do a lot to help, but somepony needs to help her keep her secret.” She watched Bucky freeze in place.

“Yes… I am being foolish. Thank you, Minion,” Bucky said in a pained voice.

“I am going to go clear the sewer.” Sunset Shimmer turned and headed for the door.

“Wait! Minion, wait! Too dangerous!” Bucky whirled around and grabbed Sunset Shimmer with his telekinesis. “I won’t let you go! I already have spider golems and rotocopter golems going into the sewer.”

“Master… I will be fine. I am far too large to fit in the sewer with this body. I plan to shapeshift into a cockatrice and petrify the lurkers.” Sunset’s hooves skidded over the tile floor as she was dragged closer to Bucky. Leaning down her head, she kissed Bucky on his nasal bridge. “Now let me go. This is a real danger to the city. I’ll be fine.”

With a hesitant whimper, Bucky let Sunset go. “Be safe… don’t do anything stupid, Sunset.”

“Bucky, I promise, I’ll be fine,” Sunset Shimmer replied. “There could be something down there that the golems can’t handle and we have to make certain that the ponies of Baltimare are safe.”

 

 

When Sentinel awoke, his room was dark. He struggled to turn his head and his gaze fell upon a small cot beside his bed, the sort of fold out bed that hospitals kept for guests that needed to sleep somewhere. On the cot were two small bodies curled together under a blanket. He sniffed, there was the strong hospital smell, the smell of his father lingered in the air, the scent of Sunset Shimmer, there was one filly, and one changeling filly. Sentinel relaxed when he recognised the scents of Peekaboo and Tourmaline under the blanket.

There was no point in waking them up or scaring them.

Light flooded into the room as the door opened and Sentinel saw his father. The colt almost cried with relief, but held everything in so he wouldn’t wake Tourmaline and Peekaboo.

“Sentinel?” Bucky’s voice was a low whisper, a ripple of velvet in the darkness.

“Daddy…” Sentinel’s voice was a restrained coltish squeak. He watched his father come closer and he struggled to lift his forelegs.

“Sentinel, I can’t hug you,” Bucky said in a low voice as he stood a short distance away. “There are wounds all over your body. Tourmaline ran out of spit. She’ll have more in the morning, hopefully.”

“Was Tourmaline able to help the others?” Sentinel asked in a faint breathy voice.

Bucky nodded. “Flench has his eye back. His beak will grow back with time. Tourmaline had trouble getting it to grow. Freyja is doing much better.”

“I messed up and others paid for my mistakes,” Sentinel said in a groggy whisper.

“Just don’t make the same mistakes twice.” Bucky sat down in a chair by the bed and looked at his son. “You had no way of knowing what was down there. None of us did. You answered the call and you did your duty. Normally, sewer lurkers aren’t this dangerous.”

Sentinel’s mind felt disconnected from his body and he had trouble making anything move. He blinked, swallowed once, and realised that he was thirsty. He looked up at Bucky and blinked. “Father, I need a drink.”

“Of course,” Bucky replied as his horn flared.

Lifting up a plastic cup, Bucky poured ice water into it from a pitcher sitting on a table by the bed. He poked a straw down into the cup and then held the cup by Sentinel’s lips. With a flick of his magic, he guided the straw into Sentinel’s mouth, and the colt began slurping down the cold, refreshing drink.

“I’m proud of you,” Bucky whispered in the dark.

Sentinel stopped drinking and spit out his straw. “Why? I failed.”

Frowning, Bucky stuffed the straw back in between Sentinel’s lips. “You got everybirdy out. You ordered Gofannon, Angus, and Grunion to pick you up and continue using you as a shield to protect the others as you made your retreat. You made hard choices. And for this, I am proud of you.”

Once more, the straw was spit out. “I saw Loki die.”

Yet again, the straw was stuffed back in. “I know. That was probably very confusing. Loki chose a life of service. He will live for as long as he desires to keep living, such is the power of his oath. When he grows tired of life, he will ask Odin to release him and Loki will be free to die in a painless, peaceful sort of way. Perhaps in his sleep.”

Feeling full of water, Sentinel stopped sucking on the straw, allowed it to slip from his lips, and he closed his eyes. He took a deep breath, held it, and then let it out as a slow, measured exhale. “Father, I need your help once more… water has gone in, and water must go out…”

 

 

 

 

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