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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“I’m done with being pregnant.” Berry Punch struggled to roll over and get off of her back. “This was supposed to be this wonderful, magical experience. It was supposed to be this fantastic moment that defined my life.” Scowling, Berry grunted as she managed to get to her side and then began to kick her legs so she could get off the bed. “Nothing is fantastic, wonderful, or magical… I have heartburn… with every burp I can taste yesterday’s lunch… I’m constipated one minute and have the squirts the next… I can’t even reach down between my hind legs to scratch my own itches!” Panting, Berry Punch fell off the bed, sliding over the edge, and almost did not land upon her hooves, all of her cat-like nimbleness gone. She stumbled around until she got her balance and then walked away with her head held high, trying to regain her dignity.

Watching Berry go, Derpy heaved a sigh. At least Berry Punch didn’t have her whole bottom half go to sleep sitting on the toilet, only to succumb to pins and needles once trying to get off of the toilet. Berry Punch was still walking, and Derpy felt a bitter twinge of jealousy. Inside of her belly, Derpy could feel the twins kicking around and then she felt the most peculiar sensation, the warm tingly feeling of magic. Reaching down with both of her front hooves, she grasped her stomach as she could feel the magic inside of her. It was a new feeling, something she had never experienced, and Derpy regretted that she was alone while she was feeling this, with nopony to share this moment with.

Smiling, Derpy realised she had a little unicorn inside of her, a little teeny, tiny version of Bucky. She closed her eyes and thought of Bucky, missing him, and enjoying the odd feeling of magic tingling inside of her. It was little moments like this one that made this whole experience worth the suffering she had to endure.

 

 

Rumble was certain that he was going to die. Panting, he pushed himself a little harder and ran as though his life depended on it. His life did depend on it. He lept over the barrier, didn’t quite make it, and then scrambled over.

“MOVE IT YOU LITTLE RUNT!” Flitter shouted at her colt. “Move it or else you’ll get a wing across your backside again!”

“No!” Rumble begged, struggling to even spit the word out as he ran.

Watching this as it happened, Sentinel, who was sitting with Diamond Tiara, turned to Loki and said, “I had no idea that Flitter was like this… she’s going to run poor Leftovers into the ground.”

Nodding, Loki watched the mother pegasus fly after her colt. “She’s already ran him until he’s puked. He’s still got a lot of run in him though. He’s got endurance, I’ll give him that.”

“How long can Rumble keep going?” Diamond Tiara asked, feeling a strange mix of both concern and awe for the pegasus colt. She watched as Flitter dove and swiped the empty air around Rumble’s head, scaring poor Rumble and causing him to cry out.

“Rumble can still talk, can still cry out, can still communicate. So he’s got a fair bit left in him. If he can talk, he’s nowhere near done,” Loki replied. The griffon turned his head and looked over at Scootaloo and Boadicea. The pair were trying to pull a full sized pony practice dummy filled with sand through the snow and get it to safety.

“Why is this so important, anyway?” Diamond Tiara asked as she watched Rumble train. “I mean, he doesn’t want to be a soldier, so why the hard training? He’s a pegasus, so why the running?”

“What if he is in a place where he can’t fly and needs to chase a suspect? There are very capable criminals. Rumble needs to run faster then them. Be harder than they are. Have more endurance. With this sort of training, he’ll be stronger, faster, and tougher than anypony else out there,” Sentinel replied.

“Do you train like this?” Diamond Tiara looked at Sentinel and watched him shake his head at her question.

“All of us would die from exhaustion trying to wear Sentinel out,” Loki said, his crest rising. “His kind are born and bred for war. He trains in other ways though, which are just as difficult as what the other fledglings must endure.”

“Ow, mama, I need to sit on that!”

“I spent over thirty hours in labour with you, you little troublemaker! I couldn’t sit down right for over a month! Now get moving!”

Giving Sentinel a sidelong glance, Diamond Tiara couldn’t help but think about how big he was going to be when he grew up. He had already grown a little bit since she had met him, becoming bulkier, but she knew that he would get a growth spurt sooner or later that would turn him into a hulking monster. A hulking monster that would no doubt have hulking monster foals.

“When you crowned, I screamed so hard that I lost my voice for two weeks!” Flitter shouted as she hovered over Rumble, trying to motivate just a little more speed out of her son.

Diamond Tiara’s attention turned to Scootaloo and Boadicea, who were now lifting the dummy over as well as under a series of barricades and barriers. Her eyes glanced over to the small hourglass that Loki was holding, and then back at her friends. Scootaloo was, without a doubt, the stronger of the two and doing most of the heavy lifting, while Boadicea was doing most of the dexterous manipulation of the dummy, using her talons. They made a good team together, making the most of the their strengths and working together to overcome their shortcomings.

For some reason, it made Diamond Tiara feel hopeful for the future, a future that now seemed haunted by the shadow of war.

 

 

Within a comfortable room located within the Sol Sempiternus, a gathering was taking place. A number of ship’s captains had gathered. There were unicorns, pegasi, and even a few earth ponies that could be counted among their number. The captains had settled into the comfortable chairs and sat watching an empty podium. Near the podium, Bucky stood waiting and Belisama was sitting upon his back, and now amongst the crew there was now some jokes about Bucky being the griffon queen’s seat of command. Bucky had his hood down and his face was visible. More scales had grown in, covering the withered scars upon his face, and he was an imposing, if somewhat small figure. Out of all of the stallions in the room, he was the smallest.

Her face stern, Princess Celestia stepped through the door. Her crown was gone and so were her vestments. She now wore a somewhat old fashioned black admiral’s coat with stylised suns on the lapels along with a simple garrison cover upon her head that also had a blazing sun. Her ethereal mane waved in and out of the hat’s matte black fabric.

Princess Celestia as a friendly regent was approachable, kind looking, her beaming smile only added to her regal manner. But Princess Celestia in service garb was intimidating. Imposing. The black coat and cap made her look taller. More threatening. The hard glint in the eyes that peered out from beneath her cover were filled with fierce determination, as well as anger.

As Celestia approached the podium, she gave a nod to Bucky. “Knight Commandant.”

Bowing his head, Bucky replied, “Solar Empress.”

Standing on the platform, now behind the podium, Celestia looked out on the crowd, looking at the many faces that now stared at her, giving her their undivided attention. Her eyes narrowed and a fierce expression came over her face. She cleared her throat and made herself ready to address the crowd.

“Our enemy is strong. Unicorns are dangerous foes. Wars have been fought before between unicorn nations. I am old enough to remember these wars and the horror that they caused. We are dealing with a foe that was trained under the conditions of total war. I have seen images, I have seen memories of what it is like for our enemies where they exist under a constant state of siege. It makes them strong. It makes them capable. Make no mistake, they will give us a fight, so it would not become you to be haughty or arrogant about our odds.”

Celestia allowed herself a moment’s pause, took a deep breath, and then continued:

“These unicorns have been warped, changed, made stronger, better, and more capable. Their knowledge of combat magic is great. That alone makes them fierce. They also have pegasi troops, who no doubt, will be augmented by the unicorns' magic. Many of you have not dealt with augmented or enhanced troops. Imagine if you will, a pegasus with skin like steel and hooves that can strike with the force of a falling meteor. A pegasus with supernatural speed that can punch through the steel hull of an airship and get inside. That is the sort of enemy we face.”

There were murmurs from the crowd and Celestia waited for them to become silent once more, her wings fluttering at her sides.

“We are dealing with thousands of unicorns and an unknown number of pegasi. We are assembling a large army with a lot of assets. Make no mistake, they have assets as well. Fancy and Germaney both have reported that quite a number of airships have been stolen and then have vanished into the mountains. Minos had some of its shipyards plundered by invaders. So we know that they have a fleet.”

More murmuring and soft hissing of concern. Celestia lifted her head a little higher.

“We move towards the rendezvous. We will be assembling a massive fleet with other airships from other countries. Keg Smasher will be joining us with the Northern Fleet and the Griffon Remnants Fleet that are loyal to him. Fancy is sending everything it can muster. Germaney has a small fleet, but they are very advanced and highly technical. Far to the north and the east, the Stalliongrad Progression Bloc Republic is sending everything they feel they can spare. They are still battling their enemies, the Chimerae Empire. Once this is settled, we will be sending aid to the Stalliongrad Progression Bloc Republic as part of the new Era of Cooperation.”

A lot of the faces looked worried, even fearful. Celestia glanced at Bucky and Belisama and then looked once more upon the audience.

“An army of over fifty thousand has been assembled and there will be over four hundred airships at the rendezvous. If we are not careful, chaos will become a far more dangerous enemy to us than the invading mirror travelers. I am expecting all of you to be the best captains and commanders that you can be. Some of you have experience in combat, some of you do not. Some of you are merchant fleet captains or you escort merchant vessels… but all of you have a great deal of experience in some form or another. Each of you are highly respected and considered good at what you do. Help one another. Keep the lines of communication open. Be open to helpful suggestions and please, remember that we are all in this together.” Celestia turned once more to Bucky and gave him a nod. “Knight Commandant, you have the floor.”

Bowing his head once more in acknowledgement, Bucky then turned to the crowd. “For the sake of efficient communication, a number of griffon volunteers will be working as couriers. They desired to help, they wanted to do their part, but combat is not their way.” Bucky cleared his throat. “I will have them treated well. They can be easily intimidated and many are skittish. Be kind when addressing them. Do not take your frustrations out upon them. Do not berate them. They are there to help you and to assist in communications. Please, treat them well, keep them out of danger, and see that they are protected. Do not betray my trust. That is all I have to say.”

“We will now begin the question and answer portion of our meeting… are there any questions?” Princess Celestia asked.

 

 

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