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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Another whimper. Another pitiful whimper. Cadance hadn’t been acting right and Berry Punch was starting to worry. She was fussy, almost at the verge of tears, and would not calm down. Berry began to wonder what might be wrong. Constipation? Tummy troubles? Did she swallow soapy bathwater again? The foal was pacing back and forth on her stumpy little legs, her stubby wings flapping at her sides.

And then, all of a sudden, Cadance took off at a wobbling run for the front door. Just before collision, her horn flashed and she winked out of existence. Seeing this, Berry Punch panicked.

“LUNA! Something is up with Cadance!”

 

 

With a frustrated huff, Luna burst through the front door and began to look around the yard, checking the snow for signs of pink. She spotted Cadance right away. The foal was running around in a circle, crying, making pitiful mewling sounds as a long string of snot dribbled from her nose.

“Cadance, what is wrong?” Luna lept down the stairs, her hooves crunching in the snow. She began to approach Cadance. “Something has you spooked… Cadance, try to tell me what is going on… I know for certain that you have more mental awareness than you let on.”

The foal threw back her head and let out a shrill shriek. The sound was deafening and Luna’s ears pinned back against her skull. Cadance let out another scream. Luna advanced, a look of worry upon her face.

“Come on Cadance,” Luna said as she scooped the foal up in her telekinesis.

Shrieking, Cadance kicked and wiggled in the telekinetic bubble, and then her horn flashed. There was a forceful thud that made the house rattle and Luna was sent flying backwards, her body tumbling through the snow when she landed. Luna’s telekinetic bubble burst and Cadance dropped into the snow.

Seeing that she had hurt Luna, Cadance began weeping, an agonising sound. The little filly, now standing in the snow, wailed as tears streamed down her face. She turned her head and began looking off towards the east, and then looked at Luna once more.

Standing on the porch, Berry Punch let out a panicked bleat of worry.

Luna rolled over and got to her hooves. She flapped the snow out of her wings, shook her head, which caused her ears to flop around, and then she looked at Cadance with an expression of both fear and sympathy. “Cadance, let me help you… Cadance, please, try to speak!”

“DADDY!”

Luna shook her head as she felt her blood running cold. For a moment, Luna worried that Cadance was feeling the approach of her own death, but she shoved that fear out of her mind. It would accomplish nothing. Bucky would never do such a thing, there was too much at stake.

“HURT! PAIN! HATE! HATE HURT!”

There was a rustle of wings and Sentinel landed in the snow not too far away from Luna. Other students were coming out of the school to see what had happened. Cadance’s shockwave had been felt all over. Other figures were now arriving. Scorch, Odin, Heifer Aestus, and Loki were all moving through the snow.

Trembling, Cadance lost control of her bladder, turning the snow around her hind legs a faint shade of yellow. She let out a keening wail and then took off running towards the east, stumbling through the snow.

“Sentinel, something is wrong with your father, I do not know what though. Cadance senses something. Something has gone amiss. I am leaving, and I am taking Cadance with me. Look after your mothers and try to reassure them!” Luna ran forward after Cadance.

As Sentinel stood watching, Luna spread her wings, snatched up Cadance, wrapped the foal in a protective bubble of magic, and then went streaking upwards, straight up towards the sky. He craned his head backwards and then heard the sonic boom as Luna broke the sound barrier. Everything around him shook. Luna was picking up speed and a dull roar filled the air. A silver blue contrail streamed out behind Luna as she accelerated straight up.

Looking up, Loki asked, “If she’s heading off to find Bucky, why is she going up?”

“Speed,” Sentinel replied, shouting a bit to be heard over the roar. “She’s going to break atmosphere and go where there is no air or friction so she can get the most speed. Once she’s where she needs to be, she will come back into atmosphere.”

“How do you know this stuff?” Loki turned his head and looked at Sentinel.

“Lunar pegasi can shadow dive and break atmosphere for a while, flying at incredible speeds. Well, some of us. Luna thinks I’ll be able to learn how.” Sentinel narrowed his eyes. Luna was a faint dot now, but her contrail was long. A dull rumble still filled the air.

“I don’t like that she took Cadance and did not consult us,” Scorch said in an irritated growl of a voice. Scorch sighed. “Might have been for the best though. If this is the sort of emergency I think it is, time spent arguing might have been disasterous.”

“Father will not ascend. He gave his word. He loves Cadance and all of us too much.” Sentinel, staring upwards, gritted his teeth. “But something is wrong. Cadance was not well. She was terrified.”

Standing upon the porch, Berry Punch whispered, “I hope Bucky is okay.”

 

 

Resting her head upon Harper, Derpy, overcome with worry, sobbed. The other little foals were piled into bed with her, Sukari was holding her sibling, Bell Heather, in a tight embrace. Lyra paced the floor by the bed, her tail swishing around her hind legs. Berry Punch sat in a chair, rubbing her temples with her front hooves. Thistle stood in the nursery doorway, unmoving, a pained expression upon her face.

“I wish Bon Bon was with us,” Lyra said in a low raspy whisper. “I know that she had to be at the candy store today though.” Lyra ceased pacing and stopped to scratch one front leg with the other.

The doorway that led into the hallway opened and Sentinel stepped inside of the room. He looked around at the mares in various states of misery. “Semillon is fixing tea for all of you and will be bringing you some snacks. Is there anything I can do for you?”

“Come here to me,” Derpy said in a strangled voice. “I need you…”

Head high, Sentinel walked through the room, heading straight for the bed. He lept up and then laid down beside Derpy, careful not to smoosh Sukari and Bell Heather.

Looking over at his mother, Sentinel said, “Don’t worry, everything will be okay.”

 

 

Standing in the snow, Belisama looked all around her. There were bodies everywhere. Holes were being dug down into the snow to try and find survivors. She looked at her husband, her heart in her throat, and then she looked up at the Myrmidons gathered around her.

It was time to make decisions. Hard decisions.

“Get Bucky back to the fleet. I think he’ll be okay, but he needs to be put back together. He’s a bloody mess and he has injuries that we can’t treat here. We need the fleet to come here with all haste, every hour matters. We have many, many wounded. Try to carry as many of them back as you can.” Belisama lifted her head higher. “I am in charge. Do you dispute that?”

The nearest Myrmidon shook his head. “No, Queen Belisama. You are the recognised authority. Your word is law. I await your orders.”

“We need to look after the slaves. Take me to them. It pains me to be separated from my husband, but I know I am needed here. We need to get organised. Set up some triage and start looking after the injured. Get what few support ships we have in order. We need hot food and warmth. I want every able body we have to keep digging.”

The Myrmidon snapped out his wing in salute. “As you command.”

Her heart racing, the blood in her temples pounding, Belisama approached her husband. He was wrapped in his black cloak. Blood pooled in the snow around him. His body was covered in horrific gashes and blood oozed out through the black as night material of his cloak.

“Bucky, I am going to send you back to the fleet.”

“No… there is still much to be done,” Bucky gasped in reply.

“Not for you, beloved. You have obliterated our enemies. Your work here is done and now my work is beginning.” Belisama took Bucky’s talons into her own. She looked down into his eyes. Odin’s eye peered back at her. She stroked Bucky’s blood encrusted mane with her other talons. “I hope I am the queen you think I am.”

“All that and more.” Bucky coughed and red spatters fell upon the snow. His fangs were pink with blood; his own. “You brought me back… I wanted to become the ice. I wanted to go cold and not feel anything.”

“Bandua needs her father.” Belisama felt her heart beating in her throat. “Don’t ever leave me, beloved.” She listened to Bucky’s wet breathing, it sounded like bubbling soup in a pot. She touched him once more, patting his cheek with her talons. She looked at the Myrmidons who had gathered around. “Get him to the fleet and be as swift as you can.”

 

 

The slaves were a miserable lot. From what Belisama could see, there were a number of earth ponies, some pegasi, some unicorns, a griffoness that didn’t look like she was going to live for another hour, and a few diamond dogs. Belisama moved among them, feeling pity for them.

Except for one. Something seemed off. The other slaves averted their eyes when she looked at them. They were fearful and submissive. Except for one, a pegasus. He glared, angry, defiant, something about him seemed wrong somehow.

“All of you are safe now… you will be treated well. We are going to move you to where we can help you. You will be fed and you will have a chance to get warm. But before we go…” Belisama looked around at the slaves. “I strongly suspect that one of you is not a slave. They can’t hurt you now… if you could just give me the confirmation I need…”

Belisama watched as the group moved away from the pegasus, whose lip curled back as he snarled. Belisama glared at the pegasus, getting a better look at him. He was wearing a collar, but his pelt was not worn away in the slightest from the too tight device.

The pegasus’ wings flared outwards, snapping out with an almost supersonic crack. Belisama was just as fast. Muninn’s throaty cry rang out and echoed off of the mountains. A gaping wound appeared just below the base of the pegasus’ neck. He staggered backwards, spat out a gob of blood into the snow, his eyes narrowed into a fierce gaze, and then he fell down, pitching forward into the snow.

Belisama stood on three legs, her revolver still held out, and a long curl of smoke rose from the barrel. She flipped the gun around and slid it back into its holster. “Bastard. Hiding behind slaves.”

She looked around at the slaves. She could see them trembling, and she knew it wasn’t from the cold. “I was a slave once. I lost hope. I gave up. But I was rescued. Now, I am rescuing you. You will recover. You will be looked after. You see these nice ponies around me? They will help you. If you ask them for something, they will try to get it for you.” Belisama sat up on her haunches. “We will try to remove the collars if we can, but if we can’t, be patient. Help is coming. Trust me, those collars will come off one way or another, but we want to do it without hurting you. No doubt, you have suffered enough already.”

The griffoness heard the freed slaves murmuring. The pegasus lying in the snow twitched. Faster than the eye could follow, Belisama drew her sword, darted forward, and slashed. A severed head rolled through the snow and Belisama stood with her sword ready, her sides heaving as she panted. She stood next to the bloodied, steaming neck stump and let out an angry squawk.

“I am Belisama, the queen of the griffons, and all of you are under my protection…”

 

 

 

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