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 have no intentions of going easy on you.” Princess Luna’s voice was colder than the night air and as she spoke, tendrils of steam curled away from her lips. “The only way either of you will learn is to know the fear of failure… this will hurt you.”

Offering no warning, Luna’s horn flared to life and a dart of silver light burst forth. Sentinel rolled out of the way, his body causing the snow to make crunching sounds as he evaded the blast. Several more silver darts flew through the air, chasing him, coming closer and closer.

Recovering, Sentinel got to his hooves and a black bubble appeared around him. It absorbed several of the silver darts and then burst. Sentinel sprang away, almost cat-like, and one of the silver darts homed in on him.

Another shield, this one purple, sprang up around his body. Her teeth bared with concentration, Dinky stood stiff legged, raising a simple spell shield around her brother. The silver dart struck Dinky’s shield, popping it right away.

“Sometimes an enemy is impossible to fight… you will face off against a foe whose might is greater than yours. All you can do in such a situation is evade until such a time that escape is possible, or you find an opening to attack.” Luna’s horn flared once more and several of the snow ponies in the field shuddered to life.

The snow ponies began to shuffle towards Dinky and Sentinel.

Instead of running away, Sentinel snapped his wings out, lowered his head, and charged, going right for the lead snow pony. He slammed into it, but the snow pony did not fall apart as Sentinel had expected. Sentinel was grabbed, flipped around, and then smashed downwards into the snow. He snarled, kicked, and cried out in anger as the snow ponies began to pummel him.

“Sentinel!” Dinky summoned several fiery darts and then launched them at the snow ponies assaulting her brother. Hearing the crunch of snow behind her, Dinky found that she was under attack herself. Controlling her fear, Dinky winked, teleporting away seconds before being kicked by a snow pony.

Realising that his sister had the right idea, Sentinel shadow dove and then shadow winked away, reappearing several yards distant. His lips pulled back from his teeth and he snarled.

“So far, this has been foal’s play.” Grinning a terrible, maniacal grin, Luna continued her assault, calling forth more snow ponies and forming a snow army.

“Two can play at this game!” Dinky cried. She took cover behind Sentinel, closed her eyes, and concentrated. The night sky blazed with light, illuminated by a horde of bugs that Dinky had summoned. “Go forth my fire beetles, attack!”

“Conjuring!” Luna spread her wings as her eyes went white, glowing with power. Several large flaming toads appeared in the snow, and they began to devour the flaming beetles.

One of the toads breathed a gout of flame at Sentinel. The colt summoned an umbrakinetic shield, blocking the flames, protecting both him and Dinky. Things were getting complicated.

“Look after yourself Dinky!” Sentinel shouted as he dove forwards, slipping into shadow. Toads were such simple creatures. He became a tendril of shadow and slipped into the toad’s mind. A second later, he had control of the creature. He belched out a large fireball at the snowponies, and then, just to be flippant, he belched out another fireball at Luna. He slipped out of the toad’s mind, feeling the fatigue of his efforts, and landed in the snow, standing on his own four hooves, his sides heaving from his exertion.

“Dirty pool!” Luna screamed, rolling out of the way of the fireball. When she got back upon her hooves, her eyes narrowed. “No mercy for you!”

While Luna was recovering, Dinky was hammering the remainder of the snow ponies with fiery darts and flame whips, while the remains of her fire beetles kept them at bay. She didn’t know what to do about the fire breathing toads. Just to see what would happen, she launched a telekinetic bolt at one of the toads, boring a hole through it. A second later, the toad exploded into a massive fireball that was so large that it singed Dinky’s pelt in several places, turning her face black and leaving her ears sooty.

“Toadsplosion!” Sentinel cried as he rolled around in the snow, trying to put out his smouldering pelt. There was a second fireball, then a third, and then Sentinel realised that the first exploding toad was causing the others to explode. He shadow dove and winked away, hoping that Dinky would be okay somehow.

Flames burned all around Dinky and she hoped that her spell bubble would hold. She took the moment of standing there in her bubble to rest and collect her thoughts. Any moment now, Luna was going to wreak even more havoc, releasing the next wave of torment. Dinky could feel the heat of the flames through her spell bubble, and she worried that the bubble would burst at any time. It would burn away her pelt and leave her blistered.

Understanding that Luna would keep this going all night, Sentinel understood the lesson. As the flames began to die down, he saw Luna lighting up her horn. She was preparing for the next assault. He understood with perfect clarity the purpose of this lesson. Spreading his wings, he took to the air, swooped down, snatched Dinky in his forelegs, and then flew off as fast as his wings could carry him.

“Very good! You took the opportunity to flee a vastly superiour opponent and now both of you get to live and fight another day… I am so very proud of both of you!” Flapping her wings, Luna took to the air to follow after Sentinel. She extinguished the remaining flames, snuffed out the last animated snow pony, and banished the remaining bugs. “Are both of you okay? You are both smoking… land, and let me have a look at you.”

 

 

It seemed that there were no flat surfaces upon the mountains. Everything was a slope, a difficult angle. Far overhead, Myrmidons circled, keeping an eye upon the army that advanced up the mountains, pushing further up and in a little more each day. The enemy, such as they were, were on the run, pushing ahead and trying to avoid the bombing flights of the Myrmidons.

War was awful. There were a lot of long boring stretches of sitting on the back of an elephant, always pushing forwards. Ahead was the unknown and a retreating enemy. Above them were Myrmidons. Behind them were a few support airships that were crewed by as few as possible, fearful of a sudden teleporting surprise that might damage them, or a surprise attack by unicorns that might disenchant the ships and bring them down.

There had been a few battles, intense fighting had broken out, waves of enemy had stayed behind to buy time to allow the others to escape. Bored, spoiling for a good stand up fight, Bucky found himself in the most pathetic ambush he had ever seen.

 

 

A lone figure stood in the snow and the rocks ahead of them. A tiny figure. Blinking, Bucky saw what he thought was a foal. Wary, alert for trickery, he lept down from the elephant, landed in the snow, and began to approach, cautious, knowing full well that the enemy knew how he felt about foals. Belisama’s weight upon his back was reassuring. Just behind his head, he heard the sounds of two revolvers being made ready.

“Speak now and save your life,” Bucky said as he approached. As he spoke, several Myrmidons landed on either side of him and a zebra bocor stood ready just behind Bucky, a bag bomb ready to be launched.

“Help me.”

The voice was weak, faint, and squeaky. Bucky made no move forwards, but lifted his talons to halt the Myrmidon advance. Bucky could detect no magic, but he could detect the trace of magic. There had once been magic on whatever it was in the snow ahead, but it was gone now. Or, at least, that was perhaps the purpose of the trap, to make Bucky believe that everything was okay.

“I got away and I got my collar off… I’m so cold, help me, I’ll do anything you ask,” the miserable sounding figure in the snow said in a pleading voice. “I think I’m dying.”

They were far above the tree line. All that was up here was rocks, snow, and more rocks. The wind was like a razor. Anything left exposed to the elements would die in short order, or weakened to the point of their death.

Bucky crept forward, a shield raised around his body, ready to teleport away at the first sign of trouble. “Don’t you move… or I will kill you.”

“I surrender… I don’t want to fight… I hate violence, please, please don’t kill me.”

What Bucky saw in the snow made him gasp. Huddled in the snow was a small figure, dark, with leathery bat-like wings. It made Bucky think of Sentinel and for a moment, it was almost too painful to bear. He wanted to rush ahead and comfort the foal. But he held his ground.

“You’re a lunar pegasus… I thought the mirror travelers killed your kind on sight,” Bucky said, suspicious and now paranoid.

“I’m a what?” The voice sounded confused. “No… no… I’m a flower feeder—”

“What?” Bucky was now the one confused. He relied upon his other senses to tell him the truth. He reached out with his shadow essence… and sensed nothing. This was not a lunar creature at all, even though Bucky could see the bat wings and the slitted eyes.

“I’m a flower feeder pony… please, please don’t make me fight no more!” the figure huddled in the snow began sobbing.

Against his better judgment, Bucky moved ahead a bit more. He approached the side of the fallen colt and looked down. The small figure cowered in the snow. “You’re a foal—”

“No I’m not… I’m almost full grown… I’m so hungry and cold… I surrender… I’ll do anything you ask. I’ll tell you anything you want to know… just don’t hurt me,” the bat winged pony pleaded.

This was puzzling. Almost full grown, bat winged, but still tiny like a foal. Slitted eyes, a nocturnal creature, but no shadow nature. It was all so very peculiar. Bucky wrapped the small pony in a bubble of warmed air, rolled him over, and then looked the small pony in the eye. “What are you?”

“I’m a flower feeder pony.” The small pony was terrified as it looked upwards.

“How did you end up with the ponies I am hunting?” Bucky asked.

“They came to our world… we thought that they were going to help us, but they took us and did awful things to all of us,” the pony replied.

“Why would you need help?” Bucky felt Belisama slip from his back and land in the snow beside him.

“The magic on our world was dying. The sun kept getting dimmer and dimmer and the nights grew longer. We used what little magic we had left to change ourselves, becoming flower feeders… but it wasn’t enough. We were dying out.” The pony trembled as it looked up at Bucky.

“If it was getting darker and darker, there couldn’t have been many flowers,” Bucky said. His eyes narrowed as he waited for a reply.

“There were moon flowers, big giant blossoms that opened up when the moon rose. There were too many of us and not enough flowers,” the pony explained.

Sitting down in the snow, Belisama pulled the head of the small pony to her breast, cradling him, trying to warm him. She stroked his ears, looked into his eyes, and began to examine him.

“Please, please don’t hurt me… I never wanted to fight, they made us do what they wanted by making us wear collars… they used me as a messenger because I am a swift flier… I’ll tell you everything,” the pony said in a pleading voice.

Lowering his head, Bucky lifted the pony’s chin and looked at his neck. There was a bald patch where the pony’s pelt had been rubbed away and the flesh was blistered. “You’ve been burned.”

“The collar burned me and punished me for taking it off… it talked, it kept telling me to be obedient and to obey and the pain would stop.” The pony reached out and touched Bucky’s leg. “I don’t know what you are, but I am not your enemy… please don’t kill me… they said that you would kill me… kill all of us… but you seem kind.”

“Tell me, little bat pony, what is your name? Tell me your name, and I will help you.” Bucky smiled, but kept his teeth covered.

“My name is Dipper.”

Bucky lifted his head and looked at one of the Myrmidons standing nearby. “You… yes you… you’re going to fly him back to the fleet. He is not our prisoner, but our guest. Treat him well. He is nothing but bones and I don’t think he’s a danger. Let Princess Celestia have her capture she can parade around for the papers. Let’s try to get some food in him…” Bucky paused, and then looked down at Dipper. “What do you eat?”

“Pollen, nectar, bugs, honey if I can get it, but I haven’t had honey in so long—”

“Mix up some sugar water and get some compressed bug bars for the trip. Get him bundled up or this cold will kill him. He’s too thin and he has no feathers for insulation.” Bucky watched as several ponies sprang off to do his bidding. He turned his attention back to Dipper, his ears perking as he heard Belisama singing some wordless warbling song. The griffoness’ voice was soft, soothing, and somehow made the air around them feel as warm as the spring.

“Dipper, you are going to see Princess Celestia. She is the Princess of the Sun. You be honest with her, you tell her everything she wants to know, you do everything she says, and she will be good to you. She will give you everything you need, she will shelter you, and she will be kind to you.”

“Thank you.”

For a moment, Bucky marveled at the tiny pony’s trusting nature, and then thought about how the little pony begged and pleaded that he didn’t want to fight any more. He felt a surge of anger when he thought about the mirror travelers taking advantage of such gentle natures. Inside, he seethed with anger, but on the outside, he remained calm and gentle.

“Dipper, for you, the war is over. If you do exactly as Princess Celestia asks, you will never have to worry about fighting ever again. When I return to the fleet, I will come and see you, and we shall talk some more.”

“Thank you, thank you so very much…”

 

Author's Note:

Dipper. Teeny tiny nectar drinking dwarf bat pony.

He was supposed to be introduced after the war, once everybody was home, with him becoming more of a character in the spring and summer arcs. But since I changed my plans and included scenes from the war, well, here he is, early.

And no, he's not a trap. For once, things worked out okay.

 
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