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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As Princess Celestia said a few words, Glass Slipper wrapped her legs around Bucky’s neck, leaned against him, and closed her eyes. “Mama got scared.”

Sitting in a chair, Bucky patted Glass Slipper on the back with his talons. “I got scared too.” Bucky lowered his head, inhaled, and took in Glass Slipper’s scent. She smelled a bit like Twilight Sparkle. Old books and fruity scented soap. “Are you ready to start school in  the spring? Your mama says you’re old enough.”

“No. Mama needs me. She can’t save the world without me,” Glass Slipper replied.

“Oh. I see.” Bucky gave a sidelong glance to Twilight Sparkle, who was sitting beside him. “It’s probably for the best. If I had you in my clutches at school, I might decide to keep you for myself.”

Glass Slipper began to giggle, while Twilight, overhearing what Bucky had said, began to growl.

“...and Buckminster, if you will come and say a few words about our situation?” Celestia looked over at Bucky with an expectant glance, her eyebrow raised.

“That’s my cue. Sorry Slippy.” Bucky lifted the foal in his magic and then passed her over to Twilight, who snatched her and then squeezed her. Bucky got out of his chair, his cloak settling around his legs, looked at Belisama, who was sitting in a chair, and then made his way to the podium.

Princess Celestia stepped aside to give him room, bowing her head and giving the gathered command a nod of her head.

“I am sure that all of you know by now, the entire forward advance is gone,” Bucky said in a low voice to the many creatures in the room. “I am trusting that all of you have read my brief report and understand why we must make changes to our tactics. Are there any questions?”

Bucky’s abruptness was unexpected. The gathered crowd was silent. After a long period of sitting there and blinking, a zebra mare stood up and asked, “If he is using unicorns to make batteries, isn’t he weakening his own forces? I mean, he can’t have that many, can he?”

Heaving a weary sigh, Bucky lowered his head closer to the microphone. “Let me explain our enemy. He is never going to run out of unicorns. He is plundering other whens, other wheres, stealing resources, food, guns, technology, and even other ponies. There are a million other worlds and potentially an infinite number of unicorns he could steal to aid his plans.”

“But how is this possible? Isn’t the whole point that his magic works here and not in other places? How is the unicorn magic working here?” a griffon commander asked.

Reaching up with his talons, Bucky rubbed his nasal bridge and tried to think of a way to make everyone understand. “These are weak unicorns. He isn’t using them for their magical prowess. A unicorn, no matter which world it comes from, has mana. A thaumaturgical liquid produced by a series of organs in the body. Now, magical power itself has to be fine tuned to work throughout different worlds. In this world, I’m fairly powerful, as far as unicorns go, but in another world, I might be very weak. But I would still have my mana reserves. Think of it as blood, or lymphatic fluid in a body.” Bucky cleared his throat. “He is taking these unicorns, subduing them, and then milking them for raw mana. Basically raw fuel. Think of it as lamp oil. You can use a lot of different types of oil for lamp oil, peanut oil, vegetable oil, even naphtha can be used, but the one thing all these have in common is that they will burn and power a lamp. He’s not using these unicorns for magic, but for fuel to power his magical devices, which are attuned for this world.”

“That’s horrifying,” a zebra stallion said.

“I agree,” Bucky said into the microphone. “We face a very different sort of enemy.”

“How do we fight such a foe?” a tall female diamond dog asked.

“I don’t know yet,” Bucky replied, being honest. He heard gasps from around the room and he raised his talons. “I have ideas though. We present less of a target for one. The Night Stallion is used to dealing with big powerful threats. That is his talent, that is what he does. We keep the fleet back and we go on hoof and on wing and we push forwards again. Smaller groups. Small groups that don’t seem as threatening. We give his talent as little as possible to work with. Once we get an idea of where our enemy is hiding, we send in the Myrmidons and use them as high altitude bombers, but we keep them spaced out and not in a herd. We are not going to have any success using airships in a conventional, old fashioned sort of way.”

“This seems sound,” the diamond dog said.

“It is planned to send griffons along with the Myrmidon bombers. If wings of enemy pegasi try to deal with the Myrmidons, the griffons will have firearms to help even the odds. But there are so few griffons for this purpose.”

“Knight Commandant, there are a lot of smaller diamond dogs,” the tall female diamond dog captain said.

“There are only so many firearms. Many of our ranks will be using crossbows and spell jars to deal with incoming threats, if this even works.” Bucky looked at the diamond dog and nodded. “I will keep what you said in mind. If the little dogs want to make a difference, they will be given the opportunity.”

The diamond dog captain looked around the room and then said, “Clan Dachshund are some of our most fierce fighters, they will be glad to be given a chance to prove themselves. On land or in the air.”

“Death from above or below,” another diamond dog said. “And what of the ground?”

“We hold back on a direct invasion on the ground until after we find out how successful an air campaign is. We draw the enemy out. We test their strength. We continue to plague them from the air as long as we can, provided that these ideas work,” Bucky replied.

“We bocors know a few things about guerrilla tactics. We have long fought the evil griffons of the Hinterlands and Griffonholm. We could tell you much,” a zebra stallion said.

“Well, I’m listening…” Bucky replied.

 

 

“Silver Shill, what are you doing up here on the deck, it’s freezing.” Applejack looked at her husband and hoped that her hat wouldn’t blow off. She shivered and then pressed herself up against the tall silver pelted stallion beside her.

“I’m hoping that more come back,” Silver Shill replied, his eyes scanning the horizon. “They can’t all be gone… they just can’t.”

“I reckon I don’t know.” Applejack rubbed herself up against her husband and tried to keep her teeth from chattering. “Bucky’s fast from what I hear. Twilight tried to explain it to me how it worked, but I couldn’t make no sense of it. If others do come back, it might take them a while. If their ship is gone and they somehow survived the fall, they might still make it back.” Applejack lost her struggle and her teeth began to chatter together.

“What are the others doing?” Silver Shill asked in a soft voice that was difficult to hear over the roar of the wind.

“Cheese and Pinkie are singing to the troops in that little makeshift officer’s club. Spirits are high, I reckon, given the situation and all. It’s impossible to be depressed around those two.” Applejack rubbed her neck against Silver Shill’s, glad for his warmth. “Rarity and Coco are taking nursing lessons. Rarity’s real good at stitching, and she might be doing a lot of it real soon, but not on no fancy dresses. I figure she’ll be stitching our troops back together soon enough. Coco is the strong sort. She’ll be real useful for holding a body down and making them stay still, whispering a comforting word in their ear while Rarity sews them back together.” Applejack closed her eyes. “Fluttershy is taking care of Tranquility and Lunacy with Rainbow Dash, who has turned into a big sap. Discord is working with Twilight to extend the range of the magical sensor doohickies so they can try to detect teleporting ships from a longer distance away. And Bucky… Bucky is being Bucky. He’s probably thinking of something real evil to do for revenge, and bless his hooves, I hope he thinks of something awful.”

“Bucky isn’t a bad sort,” Silver Shill said.

“You ain’t seen Bucky in one of his bad moods Silver. You weren’t there in Griffonholm. All I can say is, I’m glad he’s on our side.” Applejack opened her eyes. “Silver, come on. Let’s go to our cabin. I need ya to warm me up with that handsome body of yours. I’m cold and I’m in need of comforting.”

“Anything for you, dearest…”

 

 

“Fluttershy, do you really believe that everything happens for a reason?” Rainbow Dash asked as she rubbed her cheek against Tranquility’s velvety ear.

“Yes,” Fluttershy replied. “I have come to believe that.”

“My rainboom that brought all of us together. That led to this. I dunno, it’s kinda overwhelming to think about.” Rainbow Dash looked over at her oldest friend. “It’s been a long, strange journey.”

“It has.” Fluttershy nodded and felt her heart melting. Rainbow Dash was laying on her stomach, sprawled over the bed, and both foals were cradled in Rainbow Dash’s forelegs. It made Fluttershy want to hug something every time she looked at the heart warming scene.

“And then Tranquility is born just when she’s needed. Look how calm Lunacy is… she’s sleeping and she’s so sweet. Hard to believe that she’s the same foal from when I first met her.” Rainbow Dash looked down. Lunacy was still wearing a muzzle, which Fluttershy refused to remove. Lunacy was sound asleep, pressed up against her sister’s soft, fuzzy, yellow body.

“We’ve both come such a long, long way,” Fluttershy said in a soft voice as she landed on the bed beside Rainbow Dash. She curled up against her friend’s side and rested her head against the slight swell of Rainbow Dash’s side, just behind her ribs. “You just wanted to win a race that day. That’s what started all of this. That is quite possibly the most chaotic thing I can think of, and believe me, lately, I’ve been thinking about all kinds of chaotic things.”

“What’s it like being a draconequus?” Rainbow Dash asked, turning her head around to look at Fluttershy.

“I don’t know… it isn’t so bad. I’m still the same pony I was on the inside.”

“No… you’re not. You’ve changed. You’ve gotten braver. You’re more outspoken.”

“Maybe I have changed. So what… change is necessary. Things change or face stagnation.” A gentle smile spread over Fluttershy’s lips. “You’ve changed.”

“I know.” Rainbow Dash sighed and then rolled her eyes. She gave the foals in her embrace a little squeeze. “Twilight teases me about it all the time.”

“Twilight has changed.” Fluttershy rubbed her head against Rainbow Dash’s side.

“She found a grey mane hair the other day. She freaked out. I mean, total meltdown. She pulled it out and then sealed it away for study. I don’t know what she plans to do.” Rainbow Dash had to hold back a giggle, Fluttershy’s fuzzy wuzzy muzzle nuzzles against her sides were ticklish. “Twilight is too young to have grey hair.”

“One day, we’ll all have grey hair,” Fluttershy said.

“No Shy… you won’t… you’ll never have to worry about that.” Rainbow Dash looked at her oldest friend and the ticklish feeling was now gone. She felt her eyes watering. “I’m gonna break your heart, Shy. We all are. We’re going to continue to get old and grey and you are going to be young and pretty forever.”

Fluttershy flopped forwards and wrapped her forelegs around Rainbow Dash’s neck. She gave her friend a squeeze and then remained there, not letting go. Rainbow Dash did nothing to squirm away or break free.

“Just try not to tease me when my rainbow gets a bit of a silver lining in it, okay?”

 

 

 

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