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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Half awake, Berry Punch stumbled into the kitchen a little earlier than usual, her sleep fogged mind following the scent of coffee. She stumbled through the archway and into the kitchen. She stood there and took in the scene. Three little foals, three bigger foals. The high chairs had been abandoned in favour of a small, low table that sat by the kitchen window. Sukari, Harper and Cadance were all sitting on one side of the low table. On the other side of the table, Dinky, Piña, and Sentinel were sitting, and each of them was helping to feed one of the smaller foals.

It took Berry Punch several blinks to realise that there was something off with Dinky and Sentinel. Both were… singed? Berry Punch flogged her brain to process the information. It had been a rough night for her, and she had not slept well. The twins had turned her uterus into a racetrack, a wrestling ring, and a trampoline.

“Why my babies burnt?” Berry asked in a confused voice.

“Luna set us on fire several times last night,” Dinky replied.

“Oh.” Berry took this information in. Dinky and Sentinel seemed okay with it. Just a little hair was missing, and there was no real harm done. Presented with a problem, Berry’s brain presented an answer: “Good for Luna.”

Yawning, Berry Punch went to the low table, grunted, and then eased her barn sized backside down to the floor so she could sit down with her foals. Breakfast this morning was… bowls of brown rice with heavy cream. The scent of molasses was heavy in the air. It made Berry’s mouth water.

“Semillon?”

“Yes Berry?”

“Any of that brown rice you made for the little foals left over?” Berry gave the cook a hopeful, pleading look.

“Only a little… but I can have a new batch out of the pressure cooker in a jiffy.”

“That’d be great. You’re like, the most wonderful cook ever.” Berry closed her eyes, thought for a moment, and then opened her eyes. She looked at Sentinel, the responsible one. “Why is there no Erebus at breakfast?”

“Because early mornings and Erebus don’t mix,” Piña replied. The pink foal shuddered. “One simply does not wake up Erebus for an early morning feeding.”

“Oh.” Berry Punch watched as Dinky slipped a spoon into Cadance’s mouth. Berry saw Cadance smile because the foal knew she was being looked at. Rice and heavy cream dribbled down her chin, throat, and barrel.

“Oh nuts… now I have to wash Cadance before school. The milk in her hair will stink.” Dinky shook her head and then loaded up another spoon. Dinky yawned, shook her head a little, and then gave Cadance another spoonful.

“So what happened last night?” Berry asked.

“We picked a fight with Luna. She set us on fire, attacked us with armies of snow ponies, zapped us with lightning, threw us around the yard, smashed us into snowbanks with her telekinesis, and she introduced Dinky to a magical feedback loop where she forced Dinky’s magic back down inside of her horn and almost caused Dinky’s brains to squirt out of her ears,” Sentinel replied.

“Look, it only felt that way… my brain wasn’t actually going to squirt out my ears.” Dinky, looking worried, hoped that her explanation would suffice. “Because I endured it so well, Princess Luna showed me how to cast that spell… I don’t think I’d ever use it on a pony unless I had to though. Because it really hurts and it’s mean.”

“Well I hope that you at least got a little revenge,” Berry said, waking up a little bit more. She yawned, covering her mouth with her hoof, and waggled her ears, trying to loosen up the muscles in her neck.

“Oh, we did.” Sentinel smiled, revealing many nightmarish teeth.

“I grabbed Sentinel in my telekinesis and I threw him at Luna. She was very, very surprised when Sentinel slammed into her. Knocked her flat into the snow. She told me that if I was ever in serious trouble, try throwing Sentinel at something I don’t like.” Dinky rubbed her singed cheek with one of her hooves.

“You listen to Luna and you pay attention during these lessons,” Berry said.

 

 

Grinning, Rainbow Dash contemplated the large, white alicorn sleeping in the bed beside her. The white alicorn that had long been a bed invader, but now was a welcome addition. As it turned out, the alicorn of the sun made a magnificent bed warmer, turning the temperature beneath the blankets into Ahuizotl’s sweltering jungles levels of heat.

The corners of her mouth curling upwards, Rainbow Dash lifted the black marker up and let out a tiny, worrisome fiendish giggle. Mid laughter, Rainbow Dash heard a voice say in a whisper, “Rainbow Dash, what are you doing?”

Turning her head, Rainbow Dash saw Twilight Sparkle’s terrified face. Twilight was shaking her head ‘no’ and there was a pleading look in her eyes. Rainbow Dash shook her head ‘yes’ and gave Twilight a wink.

“No!” Twilight pleaded in a loud but hushed whisper, full of urgency. “No!”

“Come on, Twi, just a little mustache…” Rainbow Dash popped the cap off of the marker. The blue pegasus was overcome by her giggles.

“No, we can’t, she trusts us to guard her in her sleep.” Twilight, horrified, reached out and grabbed Rainbow Dash around the middle with her forelegs, and tried to pull Rainbow Dash away.

With a grunt, Rainbow Dash dropped the marker. Twilight Sparkle was bigger, and stronger now. She felt herself pulled into an embrace. The pegasus wiggled and squirmed, trying to get free.

“Hold still, you are going to going to wake her up, Dashie, I can’t believe you’d try to do this,” Twilight said in a low whisper. “Bad pegasus… so very bad.”

Both mares stopped when they heard giggling. Twilight lifted her head, trying to look over Rainbow Dash, and then, Rainbow Dash gasped as she covered her mouth with her hoof.

“Glass Slipper… how could you?” Twilight Sparkle looked at her foal. The damage was done. Glass Slipper had the magic marker in her mouth and there was an elaborate curlicue mustache upon Celestia’s upper lip.

“Yeah, Slippy, how could you? That was my prank.” Rainbow Dash grinned at Glass Slipper, who was crawling away from Celestia and over towards where Rainbow Dash was being held by Twilight. She still had the marker in her mouth and Rainbow Dash could not help but laugh. She held out her legs, inviting Glass Slipper to come and get a hug.

Waking up, Tourmaline looked around, her head popping up from out beneath the blanket, looking a bit like a bewildered groundhog trying to determine if spring had sprung. She did not have her glasses on and was unable to see anything.

“Is it wrong that I am sort of proud of Glass Slipper?” Twilight Sparkle asked.

 

 

“Tembo? You doing okay?” Bucky, standing on the edge of the platform, looked down at the massive elephant bull beneath him.

“Fine. Fine. I can keep moving at this steady pace all day, uphill or down.” Tembo’s voice was booming, resonant, and confident. Tembo was a creature that did not know fear.

Or fatigue it seemed. Bucky marveled at the endurance of the elephants. They were magnificent creatures, tireless, brave, gentle, kind, they made for wonderful friends, but one had to be mindful of the trunks and an elephant’s playful nature around watering holes. He stepped away from the edge of the platform and sat back down upon his cushion. The platform rocked a little with each step, and it tilted backwards a bit because of the incline of the slope.

“How long can they keep running?” Belisama asked.

“Until they run out of supplies or stamina,” Bucky replied. “When we get to them though, we’ll have an army of well rested and well fed unicorns, as well as everything else. They’ll be worn out from running up and down the mountains and trying to flee. Let them keep running and wearing themselves out. They’ll die tired.”

“I’m tempted to trample a few when we meet them.” Tembo’s voice held a great deal of anger and his words were made all the harsher by the fact that the elephants were known pacifists. They abhorred violence in any form.

Bored, Belisama pulled out her autoharp. It was a powerful weapon of war, her autoharp. It slew boredom, battled low morale, lifted flagging spirits, and made the long march bearable. She began plucking the strings and almost right away, she could feel the curious itchy tingle of magic flowing through her claws.

On the next elephant over, a diamond dog named Dominic joined in on his flute, and it wasn’t long before it could be heard from one end of the marching masses to the other. Tired hooves moved a little faster. Tired paws picked up the pace. The army, several thousand strong, moved along in time to the music. Even the elephants joined in, humming through their trunks, making a low resonant droning sound that was like an army of trumpets.

It was during this moment of lifted spirits that the mountains on either side of the pass began to explode. Massive fireballs rose up into the sky and the sounds of the explosions were deafening in the narrow mountain pass. After many, many explosions, there was the terrifying sounds of ice cracking, stone shattering, and then there was the heart stopping roar of snow and debris sliding down the sides of the mountains on either side. Endless tons of rocks and snow rumbled down the steep slopes of the mountains that lined both sides of the pass.

Reacting quickly, knowing that he only had seconds, Bucky threw up a shield around Tembo and the elephant right next to them. Bucky knew that he couldn’t make too big of a shield, there was only so much he could do. The other unicorns would have to do their job, if they had the presence of mind to do so. Gritting his teeth, Bucky braced himself, ramping up his magic as much as he could with as little time as he had.

Other horns ignited and Bucky could feel his shield being reinforced. He dug a little deeper and gave it everything he had just as the sliding avalanche of snow and massive boulders reached the valley floor. He felt everything slamming into his shield and the pressure upon his horn increased to agonising levels. The whole world went dark as he was buried under tons and tons of snow, ice,  and rocks. He felt more and more weight slamming into his shield and he began to worry, fearful that it would not hold. He could hear screams all around him.

But he also heard music. Bucky felt a rush of love welling up within his heart. Belisama had never once faltered in her playing. She was still strumming, it was almost as if she played music in defiance of the life threatening situation they were in. Bucky drew in strength from the music and his love for the griffoness, now trapped in the dark with him, buried under what might be hundreds of feet of ice and snow. The mountains had been brought down upon their heads.

Bucky had the grim realisation that they were buried alive. He had no idea how much of the army had survived and he wasn’t certain how he was going to get out of this one. His shield, aided by at least a dozen other unicorns, was holding. But it would not hold forever. He needed to get topside to assess the situation.

The only light was the glow of unicorn horns and the eerie illumination of magic from the shield. The two elephants stood together, close, the platforms almost touching. Bucky was certain that the only thing keeping everypony from going mad with fear was Belisama’s music. And then, Dominic began playing his flute again, joining Belisama. His music wavered, it was clear that the diamond dog was terrified, but he played, doing his part.

“I need to get topside,” Bucky said in a commanding voice. “I’m going to open a tiny hole in the shield, and then I’m going to make a tunnel heading upwards. I don’t know how we are going to get the elephants out, but we’re going to. No one gets left buried alive.”

Opening a tiny hole, rocks and snow trickled in. Bucky shadow dove, drifted upwards, became semi-solid, and tapped a little used resource. He belched, forcing his clacker glands to bang together. A gout of flame erupted from his mouth. It burned a tunnel into the snow, the sides froze right away, turning into ice. Bucky braced the tunnel with his magic and began to head upwards, belching fire to clear away the snow.

About fifty feet or so later, Bucky was out of fire. He belched and nothing happened. There was no helping it, he was going to have to use his magic, a limited resource. Flames sprang forth from his horn and he continued upwards, not knowing when he would find the surface. He knew he was climbing upwards at a slight angle, because he could spit and the spit would drip down. As he made his way up the tunnel, he could still hear Belisama’s music.

After what felt like over a hundred feet of climbing, Bucky’s head popped up out of the snow. He had himself a look around. He could hear fighting. He looked up and saw the Myrmidons high overhead. He heard gunfire. Something struck the snow a few feet away from him, and then it happened again. There was a hissing sound as something whizzed past his helmeted head and struck the snow.

It dawned on Bucky that he was being shot at. This was an ambush. He ducked down inside of the tunnel and slid back down a ways. Most of the army was buried beneath the snow. He had no idea how many had died. Trying to dig their way out of the snow meant getting shot at.

Angry, desperate, overcome by grief, the Lord of Winter reached out for the only ally he had left at the moment. Around him, the snow began to rumble and come to life…

 

 

 

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