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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“Hello North Star… pleased to meet you.” Rising Star watched the guest in his workshop as North Star wandered around, looking at everything from new armor sections to advanced prototypes of prosthetic legs. “Welcome to Winterworx.”

“This place is amazing,” North Star said as he looked at the skeletal frame of a gyro prototype. North Star, a Myrmidon, was just another piece of military hardware now looking at other pieces of military hardware.

“I am honoured to have a Myrmidon in my workshop.” Rising Star grinned. “Do you mind if I ask a question that is probably kinda top secret?”

“I might answer,” North Star replied.

Rising Star nodded, his enthusiasm bubbling up from inside of him. “How do you Myrmidons get in and out of your armor? It’s all built as a solid suit to reduce the number of weak points. There are no gaps… and so very few weak places. Just the wings.”

“Oh, the answer is so very simple… it might surprise you.” The big white lunar pegasus grinned. “Here is a hint. It is dark inside the armor.”

Scowling, Rising Star tried to figure out the cryptic reply. He cocked his head to one side and began concentrating. After a few moments, he shook his head. “I still don’t see how you get in and out.”

“Inside the armor, we can shadow dive. Once in shadow form, we slip out. Usually through a wing hole or the eye slit. To put the armor on, we store it inside of a dim room. We shadow dive, slip inside the armor, and become solid again.”

“That… that is beautiful simplicity.” Rising Star nodded as he began to understand how practical that was. It allowed for complex armor to be put on without having to strap a lot of pieces in place. It was fast and easy. “So… do you understand your mission and why we are here today?”

“Yes, yes I do. I’m going to help you design the next generation suits of armor. Mistress said you would be using that moon-silver stuff… super light, super strong, armor that can only be made by fey smiths. It isn’t magical in the sense that it can be dispelled, but it is magical because it is made from moonbeams.”

“I can’t actually say what it is made from. But yes, there is some magic in its making.” Rising Star stepped forwards and then pointed at a small sheet of shiny, reflective metal that looked like a mirror. “That is one of our test pieces. We’ve fired bullets at it… the twelve point seven millimetre rounds left behind some tiny dimples and a few scratches, but did not crumple or pierce the metal. You still wouldn’t want to get shot though, the vibration carries something fierce. I blasted the metal with flames while a griffon had his talons pressed to the other side… he remained unburned. Princess Luna and Princess Celestia both used to have their armies decked out in this stuff… but the fey are gone… and I am one of the few smiths alive that can now make this stuff.”

“Impressive. So Myrmidons suited up in this stuff are going to be unbreakable—”

“I wouldn’t say that,” Rising Star said, cutting North Star off. “That kind of arrogance is dangerous. Heavier rounds will probably be able to punch through, or exotic materials. You will still be vulnerable to magic, although moon-silver is magic resistant and some spells are known to bounce off of its mirrored surface.”

North Star bowed his head. “I understand.”

Rising Star unrolled a scroll sitting on the table. “Our job is to make the best suit of armor possible. We also want to be able to carry one passenger… have a cargo delivery system… hmm, that’s a funny way of describing a bomb dispenser… explore the possibility of having a mounted gun system on the hindquarters that can be operated by the rider. Hmm, looks as though they want a mobile weapons platform, like with the gyros, only powered by meat rather than a motor.”

Both stallions turned their head when a griffoness entered the room. She was small, sleek, and black. She sashayed through the room, spread her wings, lept from the floor to North Star’s back, and then sat down while making herself comfortable.

“Kiara… glad you could join us,” Rising Star said.

“Sorry, I got held up… some very curious cubs wanted to hear stories of me and North Star and how we fell in love.” The griffoness puffed up, her feathers sticking out in all directions. She reached out and gave North Star an affectionate pat. “Well, where do we start?”

“I’d like to start by saying that the danger has changed… the bullets come up from the ground. Our old armor designs are all about top and side impacts. When they were designed, high powered projectile weapons were not taken into consideration,” North Star said.

“Hmm… I say we pull apart the old armor design and see what works. It is a proven design. But let’s see if we can improve upon it.” Rising Star summoned up a sketchbook and a few pencils. “We have a suit of Myrmidon armor in the testing room.”

 

 

Hearing the sound of Cadance squealing, Bucky cringed. Some sounds were still difficult for him to deal with. A squeal of happiness sounded too much like a squeal of pain or fear. He felt a bad case of the shakes coming on and he took a deep breath to try and deal with it. The cause of Cadance squealing was Shining Armor, now foal sized.

Crowing, Cadance attacked Shining Armor, her wings spread, and pounced upon him. Shining Armor’s projection, as solid and as real as any other pony, was bowled over by the alicorn foal’s assault. Cadance got ahold of Shining’s ear and began tugging, all while making happy little grunts.

Sukari, not one for rough play, scooted away from Cadance and Shining Armor. Bucky watched her go, her eyes darting from side to side as she retreated. As she left, Bucky heard her say, “Thistle?”

“Sir?”

Blinking, Bucky looked at Violet, giving her a befuddled stare.

“Sir, I asked you a question. Are you okay? You seem out of sorts,” Violet said to Bucky in a voice filled with concern. “You looked panicked there for a moment.”

“I’m fine.” Bucky raised his hoof and made a dismissive circular gesture.

“Princess Celestia wants you in Canterlot for the—”

“I said NO!

Bucky’s voice was loud enough to make Shining Armor and Cadance stop playing. Cadance, fearful looking, looked up at her father, her eyes narrowed and curious. She clung to Shining Armor, her wings twitching and her nostrils flaring.

“I can’t even listen to the sound of my own foals playing without freaking out… I can’t deal with some parade or some big celebration.” Bucky put his talons and his hoof to the sides of his head, placing them over his temples. “I don’t want to listen to ponies shouting… I don’t want to hear screaming or hooting or hollering. I can’t do it.”

“I understand… Bucky, I’ll send a message to Princess Celestia. Is that why you just zoned out minute ago?” Worry wrinkles appeared on Violet’s face. “Cadance, Bucky needs a hug.”

The words were scarcely out of Violet’s mouth when Cadance tore herself free from Shining Armor and threw herself at her daddy. She slammed into him full force and began rubbing her cheek against Bucky’s chest.

“Be happy,” Cadance said in a soft but chirpy voice.

“Are you going to be able to deal with the tower?” Violet asked, her brows furrowing. “Look, if you need time, I can forcibly clear your schedule and I can make other ponies listen to reason… you just need to tell me and be honest when you are having a problem, rather than tell me that everything is fine. When you tell me that everything is fine, I am obligated to keep you at task.”

“I’ll be able to deal with the tower… I just… don’t want anything to do with Canterlot.” Bucky slipped his foreleg around Cadance, lifted her, and held her close. He kissed her, gave her another squeeze, and then set her down upon the floor. He place a hoof upon her backside and scooted her towards Shining Armor. “Go and play… go on.”

Hesitant, Cadance peered back at Bucky, and then looked at Shining Armor. After a moment of internal debate, Cadance’s cheerful playfulness won out, and she launched herself at Shining Armor once more, tackling him, but this time doing so in near silence.

“Princess Luna wishes to resume the Shadowbolt program right away. We already have a list of candidates, mostly griffons. Sir, there is a name on the list that you should know about,” Violet said as she watched watched Shining Armor trying to get Cadance in a headlock.

“Oh?” Bucky raised his eyebrow and looked over at Violet.

“Boadicea is on the list. She wishes to follow the example of her queen,” Violet replied.

Reaching up with his talons, Bucky rubbed his face. He sank back into the cushions of the couch. “Does Sentinel know about this?”

“I have no idea.” Violet shook her head. “Do you think she is doing it to impress him?”

“She might be. I have no real issue with her doing this, but I want her to do it for the right reasons. This is a life changing decision… I still don’t know how I feel about Belisama doing it.” His talons falling away from his face, Bucky blinked a few times, his eyes watering, and then he let out a sour tasting belch. Home for a week and already the stress was getting to me, he thought to himself.

“Belisama is doing it to inspire her subjects… and so she can be a better warrior. She wants to be a good example for Bandua… and she wants to be able to train Bandua to better use her shadow magic. Princess Luna says that Bandua reeks of strong magic.”

Bucky nodded. “I know, Violet. Bandua could end up very much like Luna, doing for the griffons what Luna does for ponies. Odin and I have spoke about it. I just hope that Belisama doesn’t have another little cub that loves the sun and then we’ll have squabbling sisters and somebirdy will end up on the moon.”

“Sir, I found nothing about that funny.” Violet shook her head. “For shame.”

“Sorry I said anything… anything else that demands my attention?” Bucky asked.

“Well, the Royal Academy of Science has made a formal request of the griffon empire to examine the new portable lightning cannon,” Violet replied.

“No,” Bucky replied, shaking his head. “Not right away. The griffons in Rising Star’s foundry are still examining it. I’m sorry… but I want my griffons to have some recognition for improving the design… I know that Lyra invented it, but I want my griffons to have the credit for perfecting it, not a bunch of scientists working together in Hidden Hollow or someplace like that.”

“Sir, that is understandable.” Violet wrote something down upon her notepad and then looked up at Bucky. “Speaking of Lyra… she is working on another project and might need your help.”

“Oh?”

 

 

Feeling inspired after her success with the portable electro-cannon, Lyra Heartstrings had slipped into full blown mad scientist mode. The electro-cannon, while very good, would benefit from more power. The more electricity the better. And Lyra, being a clever unicorn, had an idea of how to make more electricity.

In front of her, she had a coil cylinder wrapped with iron and copper, as well as a large, round, magnetic ball. A powerful magnetic ball. Holding up a disc of metal with her telekinesis, Lyra Heartstrings pushed her hoof into the steel disc, touching a glowing, golden magical field.

Her hoof passed through the steel disc and vanished. Down on the table in front of her, she saw her hoof coming up out of the coil cylinder. Lyra smiled. She had a stable, active, step-through portal. It was a tiny thing, something that was held in place by a ley line trickle charge, but it would hold forever. She wiggled her hoof around. Anything dropped down the cylinder case would hit the portal in the bottom and immediately fall out of the second portal.

Which was the lid. Lyra pulled her hoof free and grinned,

Lyra slapped the lid down upon the cylinder case and began turning the screws to secure it, sealing off the cylinder. It was now a closed teleportation loop. She looked at the magnetic ball. The ball would fall into the teleporter at the bottom of the cylinder, get teleported to the top of the cylinder, fall, hit the teleporter on the bottom, be sent back to the top, and would fall forever, generating a significant amount of electricity on each pass.

Lyra scoffed at the laws of thermodynamics and thought of something that Bucky had said. Laws are useless. Good ponies don’t need them and bad ponies don’t follow them anyway. Lyra realised that she was about to violate all the known laws of the universe with infinite energy production. She took a deep breath, held it for a moment, and then teleported the magnetic orb inside of the infinite loop chamber.

Right away, she heard a whirring sound. A lightbulb began to glow. A large bead of sweat rolled down Lyra’s neck. Nervous, terrified of failure, Lyra looked over at the large battery and the charge indicator. She felt a queasy feeling in her stomach as she watched. Nothing was happening. Lyra began to wonder what she had done wrong.

And then, the needle moved. It was a tiny jump. The battery was charging.

Lyra wanted to scream, but somehow swallowed it and remained silent. The design had limitations, the most restrictive was the need for the portals. They could only be so big, arcano-tech was limited by ley line trickle charging. Lyra had pushed the very limits of what a stable step-through portal was capable of. She had no idea how much electricity her device would make… but Lyra supposed that it didn’t matter. It was infinite energy. Even if the machine was small, whole banks of them could be made. The magnets and the coil cylinders could be improved. Lyra’s mind reeled when she thought of what her new motor could do for the airship industry.

Other things began to trickle into Lyra’s mind… the world would no longer need to struggle, fight, or bicker for resources. With enough of these machines, even though they were tiny and their output was limited, the entire world could have electricity. Homes could be heated, cooled, have electric lights, coal would no longer have to be burned for cheap electrical production.

The full weight of what Lyra had done began to settle upon her. Lyra looked at the battery charger. The battery was already sitting at four percent according to the indicator, the needle resting just below the number five marker.

A longer coil cylinder would allow for more electrical production. Even if the portals could not be made larger than an opening the size of a foal’s rubber ball, the longer coil cylinders would allow for more electrical generation. Lyra lifted up a somewhat chewed up pencil and began jotting down her ideas on paper. The lightbulb burned with a steady, unwavering light. The whirring from the coil cylinder was soft, almost soothing.

Feeling warmth, Lyra looked down at her infinite loop motor. She placed a hoof near it. It was growing warm. This concerned Lyra somewhat, but she did not see it as a setback. If it got hot, heat was more energy to exploit. It could be cooled. The heat could be used to heat water for bathing perhaps. If it got real hot, perhaps it could be used as a boiler as well as a means of electrical generation. It was growing hotter by the minute. She pulled her hoof away and realised that her experiment was becoming a danger. She wanted Bucky to see what she had done… Lyra desperately wanted his approval again—so shutting her project down was out of the question.

“BUCKY! I NEED SOME HELP!”

 

 

 

 

 

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