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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“Don’t make any plans this weekend,” Violet Velvet said to Sentinel in a low voice. “I’m calling in your debt to me. I am going to need both you and Ripple. I am going to want both of you in fine form.”

Sentinel, who had made plans for the weekend, held back a groan. He had wondered when Violet was going to call in his debt for the winter games. “I will tell Ripple that we are needed.”

“There is going to be a big fundraiser for the Veterans of Distant Conflicts at the bowling alley. I am going to need you and Ripple to make certain that some very important invitations make it to the right ponies. All of them live in both Ponyville and Canterlot. There shouldn’t be any problems.” Violet gave a very prim smile to Sentinel.

“We can do that,” Sentinel replied.

“One of those ponies is Sapphire Shores… you and Ripple should have a lot of fun convincing her to come…”

 

 

Saddened, Lyra looked at the remains of her fantastic device. Not long after Bucky came to the rescue, it had melted as though it was made of candle wax, collapsing into a puddle of molten metal, right after Bucky had teleported it outside. The metal had been cooled and then pried out of the dirt. It now sat inside of the Winterworx foundry.

Lyra was forbidden to work on the project again without following proper safety protocols. It was a tough, but fair, judgment call. Already, she was working on improvements. A cooling system. She had found other magnets. A long cylindrical magnet and several spheres. The spheres were bearings that had come out of airship engines and then turned into powerful magnets by Lyra’s magic.

Staring at the mess, Lyra thought of other ways to power her coil cylinder piston engine. Perhaps abusing teleportation was a bad idea. Maybe steam could push the magnet up the coil cylinder and then gravity could allow it to fall again… but Lyra wasn’t certain how to make steam without finding other means of power.

“Perhaps I could dig a deep hole in the ground, tap into the place where the ground is hot, superheat water into steam using the deep earth, and have the steam lift the piston… or not… that’s just a crazy idea,” Lyra said to herself.

Heaving a sigh, Lyra wondered how to fix the energy crisis. She heard the clatter of metal and then the sound of banging. They were working on some pretty awesome stuff here in the foundry.

“Queen Lyra?”

Turning, Lyra looked down and saw a dirty, greasy, soot covered griffoness. She beamed, trying to put the nervous griffoness at ease. “Gertrude… how are you?”

“Hard at work.” The griffoness sat down upon the floor and her crest rose. “You remembered my name.”

“Well, your name is Gertrude. It sort of stuck out in my memory. Ready to get to work on the portable electro-cannon?” Lyra flexed her knees and bounced in place. “And just call me Lyra. We’re friends, right?”

The griffoness looked baffled from hearing Lyra’s words. “Yes Lyra, of course. We’ve made a few improvements to your design. We built stator plates with copper tubing that allows liquid mana to flow around the stator plate while the rotor is spinning. It more than doubles the electrical generation output. We’ve had to place banks of supercapacitors to hold the charge.”

“Sounds good.” Lyra grinned.

“There are some serious drawbacks though,” Gertrude said in an apologetic voice.

“Sounds bad.” Lyra frowned.

“The gun has a very limited range. Beyond one hundred and fifty feet or so, it becomes useless. It is very slow to fire.” Gertrude began to tap her talons upon the floor. “It is still a very useful weapon though. It should be able to blast through most unicorn shields in a shot or two. Rising Star believes this gun has a future on the new gyrocopters we are building.”

“Wonderful.” Lyra looked happy once more.

 

 

Sitting in a comfortable chair, Bucky watched as Sunset Shimmer packed a few things into her saddlebags. Little things, things not even intended for survival. There was a photo that Bucky caught a glimpse of, it had Sunset Shimmer, Trixie, and Bartleby all sitting together. A brush was tucked away, because for whatever reason, a brush was somehow necessary.

Sunset Shimmer’s quarters had changed a great deal. The stone walls were covered in all manner of things; research notes, photos, and maps. A quaint little kitchen had been constructed. There was a functional bathroom now. The space was open though, cozy, and inviting. Bucky found that he liked it a great deal. All kinds of plants hung from the ceiling, drying out. Jars of alchemical ingredients lined tall shelves. An alchemical station had been constructed.

The space was intended to be everything. A study, a bedroom, a kitchen, a dining room, and a place to entertain guests. It was a curious, magical place, and Bucky knew that Sunset Shimmer brought promising students here for private lessons or even just a place of quiet study. More and more, it appeared that Sunset Shimmer would one day be a good replacement as the head of the school after he was gone.

“Are we taking the airship, Master?” Sunset asked as she turned around to look at Bucky. One eyebrow was raised and she looked hopeful.

“No, Minion, we are not. The Scorned Mare is about to undergo a major retrofitting and will be getting a new solid bodied aluminum gasbag. One of those big, long, skinny nacelles. We will be flying with Luna… so have a means of flight in mind and make certain it is fast,” Bucky replied. He looked at his apprentice and felt a warm sense of fondness. “How is your detection spell research going?”

“Some days it goes splendidly… other days we start right back at the beginning.” Sunset Shimmer shook her head. “Discord has been of considerable help and we are looking into a study of harmonics.” Turning around, Sunset Shimmer continued packing things into her saddlebags.

“Sunset, we’re going to have to go into the south into the Badlands at some point. I suspect that things are going to be quite bad. I will not force you to go with me—”

“Bucky, there is no way that you are going alone… don’t even start with that noble, self sacrificing crap with me,” Sunset Shimmer snapped.

“I just wanted to give you a means to back out.” Bucky’s eyes narrowed. “We’ll be dealing with the undead.”

“Master, I have a question.”

“Yes?”

“The mirror travelers. They fear dark magic and shadow magic. Yet we know that some of them use dark magic and some of them practice necromancy, like the ones in Las Pegasus that made undead changelings to use as spies. I never understood this.”

Bucky's talons flexed into a fist. “Luna and I have spoken about this and I have interviewed a few of the prisoners in the nursery. There are competing ideologies within the ranks of the mirror travelers. It seems that while most are terrified of dark magic, some will use it. It makes sense… they did release the demons from Tartarus in their world to help fight Nightmare Moon.”

“That’s all kinds of messed up.” Sunset Shimmer turned to look at Bucky. “Competing ideologies… that would be like Princess Celestia having you and Twilight Sparkle going head to head and proving who was right and who was wrong in the only way that matters. It’s pure stupidity.”

“It is survival, Minion… ideas that work become stronger and lead to new ideas. Ideas that are weak are shown to be weak. Failure is usually fatal. I am not saying it is right, but I am saying that it seems to be working for them. They have survived.”

“Master, I do not like it… it bothers me in a way that I cannot describe…”

 

 

Flapping his wings, Sentinel came in for a soft landing beside Ripple. He folded his wings against his sides, lifted his head high, and then watched the four Fledglings running laps out out in the field. Archer was a tireless runner, Scootaloo was getting a reputation for speed, while both Rumble and Boadicea showed a little more toughness each day.

“Ripple, Violet is calling in her debt from the winter games. This weekend. We’ll be doing deliveries for her and flying to Canterlot,” Sentinel said as he watched Flitter and Cloudchaser heap abuse upon the four running foals.

“I think I can fly to Canterlot,” Ripple replied. She turned her head and looked at Sentinel. “Think you’ll be able to make it?”

“Yeah… I think so. I’m good at gliding.” Sentinel watched as Archer kept Boadicea from taking a tumble as Flitter swooped down and dive bombed them. Hearing laughter, he looked upwards towards the source. He saw Rainbow Dash and her students flying in a tight formation. “She’s going to be an amazing Wonderbolt.”

“I think so too.” Ripple, squinting, peered upwards. She watched as Rainbow Dash, flying at the head of a flying V formation, rolled through the air. Each one of her students joined her in the roll, each turning with near perfect synchronisation. “Scoots tells me that her parents don’t bicker as much anymore. I think they’re figuring everything out.”

“What about you? Have you figured everything out?” Sentinel asked.

Ripple nodded. “Yeah… we’re making this work. We’re all a lot happier now. I’ve joined the therapy group with Doctor Mawu… I get to talk with Diamond Tiara, Little Slip, and several others. It makes things easier for me.”

Silent, Sentinel did not know what to say. He watched as Rainbow Dash banked. She flew the the same way that poets wrote beautiful words. The bulge of her stomach was becoming noticeable. Lowering his eyes, he focused his gaze upon the Raptor Fledglings. Each of them had amazing potential. Scootaloo would be learning how to be a pilot come spring; all of them would learn basic flight skills, but Scootaloo would go on to advanced pilot training. Boadicea would be getting special combat training from Loki. Rumble was going to start learning law enforcement and combat training. Archer… special plans had been made for Archer. Scootaloo would need a skilled gunner.

“Loch Skimmer has changed, Sentinel. There are times when she is a completely different pony now and I feel like she is a stranger. There are moments when she’s still the fun loving sister that I know… and then there are other moments when she just grabs ahold of somepony and doesn’t want to let go. She has these moments where she is very, very serious. If she thinks that we haven’t been spending enough time together, Loch Skimmer… she cusses us all out and asks if we want a repeat of what happened the last time we let everything fly apart.”

“Maybe she’s scared it will happen again… what happened was pretty scary.” Sentinel took a step closer to Ripple. “Being in love does funny things to you, Ripple. Something threatens that love and it makes you crazy.”

“I think it’s different for us because we’re pegasi… I think about that a lot, Sentinel. I mean, how the different tribes approach love.” Ripple heaved a sigh, wrapped her wing over Sentinel, and pulled him closer.

“I dunno… sometimes, I don’t think we’re all that different,” Sentinel replied.

“Sentinel… don’t even try it. I’ve seen you flaunting your stuff in front of Diamond Tiara… your wings out completely, doing the whole ‘hey, check out my wingspan’ walk.” Ripple heard a snort and when she turned to look at Sentinel, she could see him turning a shade of beet red. “Unicorns can’t compare wingspans and neither can earth ponies.”

“No, I guess they can’t,” Sentinel squeaked.

“Rumble does it too when he goes parading around in front of Apple Bloom, Sweetie Belle, and Scootaloo… but Scootaloo is the only one who really responds to it. She starts blushing and then she tries to hide her own stunted wings any way she can.”

“That’s awful.” Sentinel looked over at Scootaloo, who was sprinting through the snow. “She’s gonna fly someday. And she’s gonna be awesome.”

“Yeah… she’s gonna be awesome. I think she has all of the right reflexes to be a great flier, we just need to give her wings.” Ripple’s ears swiveled forwards. She watched as Cloudchaser delivered what had to be a stinging wing slap upon Rumble’s rump in midflight. Laughter could be heard.

“Don’t you sass your mother!”

As Ripple and Sentinel watched, Scootaloo caught one across the backside as well.

“OW!”

“Don’t laugh at the misfortunes of the one you love!”

Glancing over at Sentinel, Ripple began to chortle.

 

 

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