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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Strapped to a makeshift saddle, Kiara the griffoness hung on to her mount, a young male lunar pegasus Myrmidon named North Star. Far below them were mountains. Mountains that might or might not have enemies. Kiara’s scarf whipped in the wind and the fabric of her coat rippled. She reached out her talons and patted the armor plating around North Star’s neck.

“It’s cold, how are you holding up? I see ice on your wings.”

“I’m fine,” North Star replied. “Has that potion the zebra gave you kicked in?”

“I think it’s starting to… I’m starting to see more in the darkness.”

“So what is the Lord of Winter like?” North Star asked.

“He’s been good to me. Good to all of us little griffons. I would give my life for him.” Kiara peered down at the ground and she started to notice more details of the terrain far below.

“I’d like to meet him… Moonbow, an initiate I know, she speaks fondly of him.”

The world took on a silver hue and Kiara realised that she could see everything. Far below, trees stood out in sharp contrast. It was like moonlight had become daylight, and everything was bright and well illuminated in the silver light.

There was a strange metallic clunk followed by a pained cry from North Star. Kiara, almost panicking, tried to figure out what was going on. She looked around, her eyes wide with fright, and  then she heard North Star say, “Something hit my side.”

Looking down, right behind her leg, she saw a jagged hole in his armor. She twisted her body around, clambered along his armor, noticed that he was favouring his right wing, and then got her head down below his wing. There was another big hole in his metal armor. Blood poured out of the wound, the droplets vanishing in North Star’s slipstream.

“I think it grazed my ribs,” North Star said.

“You’re bleeding pretty bad.” Something whizzed past Kiara’s head, she could feel it, just inches away from her. She felt her urethra clench in fear and her bowels gurgled. “Pull up, pull up as hard as you can! Give us some altitude!”

The griffoness reached inside of her coat, fumbling around in her pockets. “I imagine it hurts, but can you keep flying? I have some blood stopper around here somewhere.”

“I will not shame my Mistress!”

Pulling out the first of two ampules, Kiara broke off the end, tried to peer inside of the hole down low on North Star’s side, and then, using her thumb, she jammed the ampule through his armor, stabbing the injection point into the wound. She pulled herself back up into the saddle, steadied herself, and pulled out the second ampule. She broke off the end, tossed it, and then repeated the process she had done with the first hole, jamming it in and stabbing North Star.

“There’s a bit of painkiller in the blood stop stuff,” Kiara said. As she spoke, something whizzed past them again. She noticed that North Star was still favouring his right wing, and his flapping was not as strong as it was on the left.

“We’ve got company,” North Star said as he continued to climb.

Looking around, Kiara swiveled her head around backwards and saw several pegasi flying in formation, coming right up for them. “Well, I think we’ve found the enemy!”

“I think you’re right!”

Reaching back into her jacket, Kiara pulled out the ten milimetre pistol, one of the new designs. She had fourteen shots before she needed to reload. She hoped that she had enough. She had a magazine full of incendiary rounds, another magazine of cryo rounds, and a half a dozen magazines of standard rounds. She twisted her body around on the makeshift saddle and watched as the incoming pegasi began to spread out. She realised that while they were still somewhat clustered together, she had a marvelous opportunity.

She raised the pistol, peered down the sights, and breathed out as she pulled the trigger. She let out caw as one of the pegasi jerked backwards and then began to plummet towards the ground.

“They’re going to come and try to knock you from my back,” North Star warned.

“Let them come!” Kiara reached down and cinched the straps connecting her a little tighter, restricting her movement, but keeping her a bit more secure. She raised the pistol and began to pray to Odin that her aim was true and that she wouldn’t miss.

“Cowards, they’re wearing helmet mounted lights,” North Star said.

“I don’t see any lights.”

“You drank that potion, you can’t see this bright light, if you did, it would blind you,” North Star explained as he tried to pick up speed.

One of the pegasi came in hard and fast; North Star tucked in his wings and rolled in response. Kiara felt the blood rush to her head. She gripped her pistol in her right talons and the straps holding her to the saddle with her left. North Star, being a lunar pegasus, had marvellous maneuvering abilities. When he leveled out, the pegasus was still coming in hard and fast, just to North Star’s left.

Dizzy, but confident, Kiara raised her pistol. She fired and the pegasus jerked. Still flapping, still flying, the pegasus began to roll away. Kiara took a second shot, missed, and then fired again.

This shot connected with the pegasus’ neck. Kiara could see the blood spurting out in the strange silver light that illuminated everything she saw. The pegasus, now limp, began to plummet to the earth.

Another pegasus was already incoming, followed by a second. North Star banked, and as he did so, the second pegasus flew where North Star was rolling. Kiara feared for a midair collision, she felt a feathered wing brush up against her, panicked, she lifted the gun and fired blind.

There was an explosion of blood and feathers, the wing of the pegasus that was too close was severed. The remaining pegasus took advantage of Kiara’s distraction and scored a grazing kick.

The griffoness cried out in pain as several of her ribs broke. She gasped, struggling to breathe, and raised the gun, her talons trembling. She pulled the trigger. The pegasus, flying away, was still close. The bullet struck him in the hind leg, which was almost severed. It hung from a few tattered ribbons of flesh and blood spurted out into the night sky.

“You okay?” North Star asked.

“No.” Kiara’s voice was raspy with pain. Each breath she drew in filled her lungs with fire. “I’m not good at all.”

“I’m getting us out of here, hang on, I’m gonna shadow wink… it’s gonna be real weird for you!” North Star shouted.

Kiara started to reply, but then it was as if the whole world had become some strange black liquid. She could feel it flow around her. She struggled to breathe, and not just from the broken ribs she had. She was blind. She felt as though she was being sucked down into sludge and drowned. Kiara wasn’t certain how much longer she could bear whatever it was that was happening to her.

 

 

“Is she going to be okay?” North Star looked down at the nurse with wide, worried eyes. The lunar pegasus was not in armor, and his pale white pelt was visible. His side was wrapped in a bandage.

“You got shot in the bloody side, you’re supposed to be in bed, you halfwit!”

Lifting his head, North Star stared down at the solar pegasus mare. “I asked if my companion is okay. I’m not leaving until I know.”

“Aye, she’ll live. She has a few broken ribs, a cracked scapula, and two broken thoracic spikes. She’ll be going into surgery soon.” Fearless, the much smaller solar pegasus mare stared up at North Star. “Now, are you going to be a good colt or am I going to have to call for help to get your stubborn, cantankerous ass back into the bed where it belongs?”

“All it did was graze my ribs,” North Star replied.

“And punched through whole clusters of flight control muscles.” The nurse bared her teeth. “Last warning. I have special drugs for the likes of you. It’ll put you down just like a sleepy foal, up past its bedtime.”

“Fine, fine, I’m going to bed,” North Star said as he took a step backwards.

“Your friend will be okay, I promise. She was worried about you when they were examining her… she’s a tough little scrapper.” The nurse’s expression softened. “Don’t let me catch you out of bed again.”

 

 

“No losses, sir,” Wing Corporal Gofannon reported. He looked up at Bucky. “We took some injuries, some of our scouts were shot, Kiara got the stuffing kicked out of her, but no deaths reported and all scouts are accounted for. We’ve even got some reported kills for our side.”

“Fantastic news.” Bucky looked down at the maps spread over the table. “So we have a better idea of where they are.”

“Are you really going to do it, sir?” Gofannon’s eyes softened and he looked at Bucky.

“They’re golems.”

“Sir, golems with feelings, thoughts, even some sense of self awareness, sir.” Gofannon’s crest rose and angled upwards. “Sir, forgive me if my words are out of place, but I know what they mean to you. These are not your disposable drones.”

His ears drooping, Bucky nodded. “Sacrifices must be made. The golems made this decision, Gofannon. None of them are being forced to do this. They have free will, and they have chosen to be heroes.”

“Sir, that makes me a feel a little bit better, sir.” Gofannon looked down at the map. “So what happens now?”

“The golems go forward, find the enemy, swarm them, kill or cripple as many as they can, and make the enemy’s base of operations uninhabitable. Many will be carrying spells that will turn hard rock into soft mud. Once they find a way into enemy fortifications, these spells should be devastating. Others will be carrying infectious diseases created by the zebras for times just like this. Others will be carrying ordnance of a more horrendous nature…”

Gofannon gulped and his feathers fluffed out. He looked at Bucky and shook his head. Gofannon saw Bucky nod his head. Gofannon, feeling disgusted, knew exactly what sort of ordnance the golems would be carrying.

The door opened, bringing with it a great deal of sound from many voices. Keg Smasher and Lugus entered the room and then shut the door. Bucky looked up from the map and then looked at both of them.

“So, tomorrow night, we’ll have this war all wrapped up.” Keg Smasher grinned a reckless grin and looked down at the map. “All our scouts accounted for. I’m in a damn good mood.”

“The golem invasion will draw the enemy out. I doubt it will win the war for us,” Bucky said to Keg Smasher.

“It never hurts to have a good attitude.” Keg Smasher looked down at Gofannon. “Good to see you back in one piece, lad.”

“Others had some scary moments, I had a long boring flight,” Gofannon replied.

“War. Long hours of boredom followed by intense moments of shitting one’s self.” Keg Smasher looked up from the griffon and then focused upon Bucky. “So, you’ll be taking a fast ship forward, dumping off the golems, and then skedaddling out of there. Don’t you dare get no stupid ideas, or I’ll kick yer wee bony, scrawny arse and I’ll tell that grey mare of yours that you were a bloody idiot.”

“Bastard.” Bucky’s lip curled back from his teeth. “I must confess, I am worried about how far to go forward. I don’t know how much range they have for those teleporting ships.”

“If something starts exploding, you’ve gone too far forwards.” Keg Smasher reached out his wing and began to study the map. “Most of the attacks on our scouts happened here, around this area, where the valley is. There is a river there, abundant hot springs, and it’s a fantastic place to settle in and make a fortress.”

“My friend, I don’t like this. Please, let me go with you,” Lugus said.

“No.” Bucky shook his head.

Lugus’ feathers fluffed out and the big griffon let out an annoyed squawk of irritation. His beak opened as he started to say something, and then he fell silent. His wings fluttered at his sides, his tail swished, and then his talons began to tap upon the floor.

“Lugus, we have a shortage of good commanders. I need you here. And the last thing we need is for both of us to be together and then have something happen that kills both of us. We are fighting at a severe disadvantage here.”

Bowing his head, Lugus replied, “You speak truth. I will stay here and do what is needed.”

“Lugus, you know the plan. If something happens to me, you are to serve as steward until Sentinel is old enough. There are other things to look after than just this war. We must try to preserve the greater plan while we sort this out.”

Keg Smasher, having listened to the whole exchange, pointed down at a spot on the map with his wing. “Go no farther than here. Call it a gut feeling, but I don’t think they can come out this far, coming here should allow you some time to unload and then flee. This is just beyond the line we can draw where the forward advance all met their ends.”

“Thank you, Keg Smasher, I think I’ll do as you suggest…”

 

 

 

 

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