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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There were hundreds of photographs laying upon the table. Princess Celestia looked down upon them in horror, her eyes wide. A fine sheen of sweat glistened upon her pelt. She had removed her jacket and cover, leaving them on the back of a chair. Many of the mountains were gone, collapsed into rubble, and the force of the explosion that had caused it was unthinkable.

“Buckminster, how could you?” Celestia looked into Bucky’s eyes. He hadn’t slept much, that much was obvious. His movements were spastic, jerky, and he started at her words. As much as she wanted to feel anger towards him, she found that she could not. Bucky would punish himself for this in a way that no other pony could.

“You asked for this…” Bucky replied, his expression almost glazed over, dull, and vacant. “You specifically asked me to come up with a counter for the unicorn battery issue, and I did… I… I… I did not realise it would be so effective.”

“Buckminster, I…” Celestia fell silent, shook her head, and then looked down at the photos on the table. Corpses and assorted remains dotted the landscape. Everything was black and charred.

“Princess Celestia,” Twilight said. The smaller alicorn swallowed and it sounded painful to all who heard it. Twilight Sparkle cleared her throat and blinked her red eyes. “Princess Celestia, this looks much worse than it really is. The destruction that you see in the photographs… it is my opinion that Buckminster’s spell, as horrible as it was, could not possibly be the only cause of the damage that we see. It is the opinion of myself and others who have examined the photographs that the widespread catastrophic devastation that you see had to be caused by multiple airships filled with hydrogen being sheltered in underground hangars.” Twilight Sparkle blinked. “It was the perfect set of circumstances to create what was potentially the largest explosion this world has ever seen.”

“And naturally, Buckminster, being who he is, he’ll get credit for it.” Keg Smasher looked down at the photographs upon the table and scowled. “This was necessary. As a return fire, this was completely justified.” The big pegasus looked up at Celestia, his expression weary. “I don’t know what it is that you wanted, but we are now in a position where we can win this little war.”

“What I wanted was to show the world a decisive victory after having the entire forward advance wiped out. I wanted to soften the blow. I wanted to tell them that we took incredible losses, but then we gave back as good as we got and everything is going to be okay. I wanted the world to see bravery, courage, determination, and resolution… I wanted to give them back hope and let them know that their future is secured,” Celestia said in a reedy, wavering voice as she held back tears.

“Aye lass… what we want and what we get are two very different things.” Keg Smasher extended a wing and patted Celestia upon the shoulder. “We don’t have the luxury of feeling bad about this just yet. We still have a lot of fighting ahead of us.”

“Yes, we do. This fight is far from over.” Twilight Sparkle took a step forward. “We have enemy combatants that fled further into the mountains and with each moment we wait they are resecuring themselves and re-establishing a hoofhold. Other survivors went down into the lowlands of Fancy, and will be soon preying upon the cities, villages, and little towns that dot the countryside.”

“We know that one city has already been overrun by a band of pegasi and a few unicorns. The city is called Le Pain and—”

“What a funny name for a city,” Keg Smasher said.

“It means bread, surprisingly.” Twilight Sparkle looked up at the much larger pegasus. “Le Pain is a city that serves a single purpose. They make bread for most of Fancy. Or did, before the mirror travelers stole most of Fancy’s grain reserves. Much of the city of Le Pain was abandoned. There were a few thousand holdouts that stayed there in the city. Now, the city is taken over by mirror travelers.”

“This doesn’t sound good.” Celestia looked up from the horrible photographs and her gaze focused upon Twilight Sparkle.

“No… Le Pain is an earth pony city, and they are in need of rescue.” Twilight’s feathers became ruffled as she spoke.

“Send in the Shadowbolts.”

“What?” Celestia’s head turned to look at Bucky.

“Send in the Shadowbolts. Demoralise and destabilise the enemy. If we go in there in a full assault, too many civilians will be killed. Send in the Shadowbolts and let them do what they were made to do. This is an ideal opportunity to test them.”

“I dunno about this.” Keg Smasher’s brow furrowed. “Don’t get me wrong, I believe in what they are capable of, but this… this is a lot of lives at stake.”

“All the more reason to do this.” Celestia wings fluttered and fidgeted at her sides. “We need to win this war and this is more than just winning battles. We need to regain the public trust. We need to have all those involved in this war have their faith restored in our cause. I have met with the Shadowbolts and I believe them capable of great things.”

“If they fail, the public will forever hate them,” Keg Smasher said.

“Even if they win, the public still might fear them. A few augmented creatures going into a town occupied by a large number of enemy troops...” Twilight Sparkle shook her head. “We made them to fight under extreme circumstances. They are living weapons of war.”

“If they succeed, and it is my opinion that they will, we present them to the public as superheroes. We keep them mysterious but we assure the public that the Shadowbolts are there for the public good.” A tired looking grin spread over Celestia’s muzzle. “We have to give the public something to believe in. If we give them heroes, but keep the details sparse, the public will create the legend of the Shadowbolts and have faith in them. That little spark of hope can make a difference.”

“I will speak to them and have them get ready,” Bucky said. He looked up at Celestia. “I’m sorry, for whatever it’s worth. I knew it would be bad, but I didn’t know it would be this bad. I didn’t tell you about it because I knew that you’d never agree… but I also knew that we needed this victory at any cost. I take full responsibility for what I have done.”

“Buckminster, we shall talk about this later… go and get some rest, you look terrible.”

 

 

“So much has happened since we all got together and put a stop to the big meanie-head, Nightmare Moon.” Pinkie Pie looked at her friends, her riotous pink curls being tugged on by the breeze. The pink pony smiled.

Standing beside Pinkie Pie, Rainbow Dash extended her wing and put it over Pinkie Pie’s back. Rainbow Dash was quiet, she seemed somewhat subdued, and her multi-hued mane was whipped around her face by the wind.

“Once this war is over, our work will begin,” Rarity said, raising her voice a little so she could be heard better. “There are fences to mend and nations to bring together.” Rarity had a scarf tied around her head to hold her mane down and keep the wind from ruining it. She was experimenting with a new fashion that involved heavy goggles to protect the eyes.

“I don’t see what the big deal is. Bucky took the practical approach. He blew them up and boy howdy, he blew them up good. Everypony involved is making too big a deal over this whole thing, and they ain’t nothing but backseat generals running their mouths about how they could win this scuffle in a day.” Applejack’s green eyes watered from the wind.

“Applejack, what he did was awful,” Rarity said.

“But that is what Bucky does… and I don’t care that it’s awful. I have a family at home that I want to see again. And I want them safe. I ain’t got no concerns about Bucky using this new spell of his on unicorns from this world… but even if he did, then I’d say they had it coming. Bucky’s real easy to understand and to deal with. Don’t be a shithead and you ain’t got nothing to worry about.”

“Applejack! Language!” Behind the goggles, Rarity’s eyes went wide. “I swear, some ponies… especially those from outlying rural locations.”

“Applejack is right.” Fluttershy, clutching a shawl around her neck, drifted closer to Rarity. “Also, Applejack, there are little tender ears present. Please don’t swear. If you don’t mind, that is.”

Annoyed, aggravated, Applejack blew a raspberry but said nothing.

“It’s easy for you, Applejack dear… you are an earth pony. I myself, on the other hoof… I am a unicorn. While I love Buckminster a great deal and I would, and have, trusted him with my life, I must confess, it concerns me… this… unpleasantness.

A single eyebrow raised as Applejack took a deep breath. “And this is what we don’t need. Drama for the sake of drama. Rarity, do you think for one moment that Bucky would ever hurt you? Do you think that he’d ever allow harm to come to you?”

Rarity began to stammer. “Well, no, I… that’s not the point—”

“Look… Bucky has a thankless job. He’s like an outhouse basement scooper outer—”

“OH, EEEW!” Pinkie Pie shouted.

“—and he didn’t ask for this job of outhouse basement scooper outer. He’s stuck with it and it ain’t fair to him. He’s gotta live with it and it’s a shit job and a shitty situation—”

“Applejack! Tender little ears!” Fluttershy squeezed the two tiny bundles in her shawl as she pleaded for softer language.

“—made even shittier because not only is he stuck cleaning out outhouse basements, he’s got a bunch of thankless morons complaining about how he smells and shunning him from society… for doing a job that has to be done and nopony wants to do. And I swear on my ma and my pa, if I hear one more reporter on this ship talking trash about Buckminster, I am going to open up a can of good old fashioned country asswhoopin’ and I’m gonna make them eat their camera and their notebook.”

Rainbow Dash blinked and then looked around. Rarity was staring down at the deck. Pinkie Pie was chewing on her lip. Fluttershy was cradling the two foals in her shawl. Applejack looked mad enough to spit.

“Well, that certainly puts a new perspective on things,” Rarity said in an almost breathless whisper.

“Jackie, if you don’t mind me asking, but what’s come over you?” Rainbow Dash dared to ask. She took a step closer to Applejack, her ears pinned back in a submissive manner, hoping that she wouldn’t set Applejack off.

“He done did right by Apple Bloom. He’s done did right by Babs Seed. I don’t always agree with what he does, but I don’t need to agree. I buck apples and he does… whatever it is that he does. That’s how the world is,” Applejack replied.

“That would be kinda frustrating, being forced to clean out outhouses—”

Applejack looked at her fellow earth pony. “Pinkie.”

“—because outhouses are so messy and just imagine how scary and it would be to be down in the outhouse basement doing your job when somepony came in and used the outhouse—”

“Pinkie!” Applejack stomped her hoof.

“—or imagine trying to do your job and you’re using a shovel but somepony comes along and tells you that using a shovel is wrong and gives you a spoon instead and makes you use that just to make your job worse—”

“PINKIE!”

“What Applejack?” Pinkie, serious faced, looked Applejack in the eye.

Applejack rubbed her face with her hoof. “You know what, Pinkie, you actually make a good point with the spoon thing… you just keep going if’n you feel the need.”

 

 

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