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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A group of shadowy figures lurked within the deep dark of what appeared to be endless woods, old growth forest that stretched on for miles and miles, as far as the eye could see, from horizon to horizon. The trees were naked, bereft of cover, and skeletal in appearance.

The lurking shadowy figures watched a group of ponies gathered around campfires, all of them safe, secure, and quite some distance away. The camp, made in a small clearing, had more than fifty ponies all huddled and miserable in the snow. Some were in crude shelters, others huddled around small campfires. It was foolish to make campfires when you were hunted, but freezing to death wasn’t very pleasant either.

“Is that him? Is that the one that burned you?” Tainy asked as she held her scoped crossbow out to Storm Blitz, still pointed in the right direction. She held it up to the big pegasus’ eye, squinted, and then made adjustments, hoping that her scope was still focused on the same pony.

“That’s him… I got a real good look at him before he flash fried me,” Storm Blitz said as he peered through the scope.

“Auroramancer. Real dangerous for us,” Moonless Night said in a low growl.

“He cooked me with a flare,” Storm Blitz said in a low whisper.

“Nopony messes with us.” In the darkness, Deus smiled a terrible fang filled smile. The cambion was hunched down low to the ground. “I think we’ve let them run long enough. Tonight, it ends.”

Lifting her crossbow, Tainy contemplated the enemy camp. “There are a number of unicorns, abilities unknown. Maybe a dozen unicorns and the rest of the camp are pegasi. Gonna be a real ugly fight.” The hippogriff peered through her scope. “Stormy is still wounded and we are running low on supplies. I don’t know about this.”

“What we need is fear… delicious fear,” Moonless Night said in a low guttural growl. “If they succumb to fear, Stormy can heal… and we can feed.”

“You enjoy that aspect of our nature too much,” Black Briar said in a soft, gentle voice that was little more than a whisper in the dark.

“We need to finish them off. We’ve been picking off the weaker ones for a long time now, their numbers have gone from over two hundred down to all that is left around those campfires. I want out of these woods. I want a hot shower again,” Deus said, making his opinion known.

“Well then, let’s do this.” Tainy lifted her crossbow. “Black Briar, come here darlin’, I need a good mount.”

The rotund earth pony shuffled through the snow and stood in front of the hippogriff, his legs braced. As he stood there, Tainy rummaged around in her quiver, looking for one very specific quarrel, knowing that she had one left. It was a powerful bolt of disenchantment, made by Bucky himself, designed to bring down magical shields and pierce through augmentations. The only thing that could stop this quarrel was alicorn magic, and Tainy took a smug sense of satisfaction in this fact.

“Any more poison?” Tainy whispered into Black Briar’s ear.

“No, I’m sorry, we’re out,” Black Briar replied.

“Well, ain’t that a crying shame.” Tainy laid her crossbow down on Black Briar’s back. “That’s what I like in a pony. Steady… hold it, right there, don’t move.” Tainy brushed her paw over Black Briar in an affectionate gesture and then began to calculate the complexities of her attack. There was wind. There was extreme distance. She peeped into the scope and steadied her breathing.

Around her, her companions tensed. All of them were a bit overprotective of their sniper and their medic. Tainy would get one shot, and then the camp would erupt into chaos. After that, all bets were off, and nopony knew what would happen next.

A light snow began to fall, the flakes drifting down through the skeletal branches, the ice crystals glittering in the faint moonlight, filling the air with millions of diamonds. Almost holding her breath, Tainy adjusted a brass knob on her scope. This was going to be a fiendishly difficult shot. Her crossbow had two hundred and fifty pounds of draw, the target was a little over one hundred yards away, and she was shooting a four hundred grain weight quarrel. She adjusted the knob a little more, hating that she was having to guess. She figured that there would be a good thirty to thirty five inch drop in the quarrel as it flew. That was a sloppy guestimate and five inches might mean the difference between a good hit and a miss. She twisted another knob, trying to bring her target into better focus. He was hunched over a fire, trying to get warm. Unicorns were more susceptible to the cold than pegasi. He wasn’t moving and that suited Tainy just fine.

At least Black Briar was rock solid and unmoving. That would make the shot easier. The stocky little earth pony was the best damn mount that any sniper could ask for. Even stones weren’t as steady as Black Briar, and something about her chubby little companion steadied Tainy and made her feel more confident.

When she thought she had the perfect shot, Tainy pulled the trigger.

“Did you get him?” Black Briar asked in a low whisper.

Peeking through her scope, Tainy tried to see what was going on. There was a flurry of activity in the camp. Around her, her companions tensed, waiting to see if the camp would rush out to attack them. The camp began to pull closer around the campfires, and an alarm was sounded.

In her scope, Tainy finally caught a glimpse of her prey. “I got him in the neck. He’s not dead. I can see him kicking and thrashing around with the quarrel sticking out of his neck. There is a lot of blood.”

“He’s not dead?” Storm Blitz shook his head. “Damn.”

“Oh, I don’t like this. He’s suffering… you’re supposed to kill them clean, Tainy, why ain’t he dead?” Black Briar asked in a soft, almost whimpering whisper.

“I’m sorry, I took the shot… I’m surprised I even hit him at all.” Tainy patted the distraught earth pony standing in the snow in front of her. Tainy’s ears could hear the cries of alarm and the panicked cries, and then she felt an electric tingle flowing through her being.

Fear.

All of them felt it, it was revitalising and nourishing to them. As the camp began to collapse into terror, the emotion of fear became a tangible force for the gathered Shadowbolts. Even Black Briar, for all of his kindness, drank deep of the fear, allowing it to replenish his mind and body.

“He’s still kicking,” Tainy said as she peered through her scope. “Still dangerous. If he’s breathing, he can still cast most likely, as we’ve seen from those other unicorns that we hit with bowel bombs.”

“That was awful… I feel bad for tossing that bowel bomb down into the underground cave  where they were hiding,” Black Briar said in a pained voice. “All that screaming.”

A low chuckle escaped from Moonless Night. “I wonder if anypony drowned.”

“Has he died yet or is he being a drama queen about this?” Deus asked in an impatient whisper.

“Oh, he’s being a drama queen,” Tainy replied. “Lots of spurting though. I lost a lot of force on the quarrel during flight. It punched through his neck, but didn’t pass through clean. It’s lodged in his throat by the looks of it. I can see the shaft sticking out front and back and he’s thrashing around. I hope it hurts.”

Black Briar began to sniffle. “That’s awful, just awful. I hope they’re giving him something to bite on.”

“Nope.” Tainy’s eye was locked into her scope. “They just yanked the quarrel out. Big mistake. Now he’s spurting geysers of blood everywhere. Everypony is getting soaked in the blood fountaining out of this drama queen’s neck. Oh, that looks messy. One of the pegasi just slipped and fell in the blood.”

“Nopony has come looking for us,” Storm Blitz grumbled.

“They’ve learned,” Deus replied. “That’s how we’ve killed so many of them. Nopony is leaving that camp. Tainy, you think you can lob in another quarrel? They’re all massed together, you are bound to hit something.”

“I have one last spell jar left—”

“You said we was out,” Moonless said to Black Briar.

“I don’t want to use it, it’s awful.” Black Briar’s ears drooped.

Tainy, reached down and opened up Black Briar’s false leg. She had herself a good look around. There were glass vials, a few tiny jars, some ampules of healing goo, and down near the hoof there was a faint purple glow. “Oh… hello.”

“I can’t look,” Black Briar said as he squeezed his eyes shut. He felt the compartment upon his leg close. “I don’t like this part… I don’t like this part.”

“I’m sorry Briar, I’ll make it up to you when we get home. I’ll sing ya a song,” Tainy said in a low reassuring whisper.

“You owe me a lot of songs.”

“I’m good for them.” Tainy patted the earth pony on the neck with her paw. She could feel the earth pony trembling as she said, “So, who is going to fly over and drop this?”

“I say we wait a bit. Leave them stewing in their fear,” Deus said, offering up his opinion. “I’m enjoying this.”

“I’ll drop it,” Storm Blitz offered. He glanced at Tainy. “How is our drama queen?”

Squinting, Tainy pressed her eye to the scope and then reacquired her target. “Being dramatic. Still thrashing around. Damn, he has a lot of blood.”

“Unicorns have thaumaturgic liquids too… unicorns leak a lot.” Black Briar shook his head. “You might have punctured one of the thaumaturgic vessels that lead up to his brain—”  

“Damn, good shot Tainy,” Moonless Night said.

“Quiet, all of you, Black Briar is really hurting. Moonie, you cut him off. That was rude.” Tainy gave the large wolf-like equine a disapproving glare in the dark.

“Sorry.” Moonless Night tucked his tail between his legs.

“Don’t mention it.” Black Briar turned his head and looked at Moonless Night. “You’ve saved me a dozen times. I know you’re my friend.”

In the dark, Moonless Night grinned, revealing far too many pearlescent teeth that shimmered in the faint moonlight. He reached out and patted Black Briar with a massive paw.

“Stormy, get ready to drop that jar. I’m going to ready myself right here. If any of them come running in this direction, I’ll shoot them. We’re going to stir up the camp and make their lives exciting,” Tainy said.

“Gotcha.” Storm Blitz held the spell jar with his hoof, spread his wings, and then was gone. He flew on silent wings for a short distance, and then slipped into shadow, vanishing from sight, nothing more than a wisp of shadowstuff in the darkness.

Tainy readied a quarrel and then pulled back on the lever three times, loading her crossbow. She took to the air, hovering behind a tree, waiting. Below her, long black spikes sprouted from Black Briar as he became his namesake. The stout little earth pony was a defensive sort who stuck around and kept Tainy safe.

Moonless Night began flexing his claws and his tail swished. The fear was getting rid of the hungry ache in his guts. He glanced at Deus and gave a nod. The contest was on, a contest measured in bodies. Deus stretched his neck and made himself ready to headbut something.

The tension in the air was palpable, electric. Faint screams could be heard from the camp. Real terror had set in, and the camp huddled together, waiting, knowing that everything they were afraid of in the darkness was real and was waiting for them. Just like in their homeworld, there were demons lurking in the darkness, and their best hope of fighting them lay dying.

High overhead, Storm Blitz dropped a glowing purple spell jar that seemed to pop into existence from out of nowhere. It plummeted towards the camp where fifty or more of the enemy were gathered. Storm Blitz turned and began to return to his companions as the bomb fell.

The glowing spell jar landed in the middle of the camp, shattering. At least half of the ponies visible glowed with an eerie, lurid purple light. A loud frenzied scream filled the night, and then another, followed by another. The camp exploded into an orgy of violence as a sexual frenzy overcame the occupants.

Peering out from behind her tree, peeping through her scope, Tainy watched as her long hunted prey began to tear each other apart as the terrible enchantment overtook them and robbed them of their minds, turning them into rampaging beasts filled with lust.

Tainy knew that by dawn, her prey would be no more and they could rest in some dark place, secure, knowing that their task was done, and that they could return to the fleet to report a victory.

 

 

 

 

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