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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The Badlands. Below Bucky, there were as many grains of sand as there were stars overhead. He moved along as a formless, shapeless shadow adrift in the wind. He had started his journey as an axe beaked griffon, grew weary of that form, had slipped into others, and then had given up on physical forms altogether.

It felt as though some of his depressive funk had fallen away from him, and for this, Bucky was glad. He was in the right place, or so his senses told him, and he needed himself a physical form so he could announce himself to his guests.

It was such a pleasant experience that Bucky almost felt alive again. The birth of his foals had helped his mood considerably, but this, this was like icing on the cake. Bucky was in the mood to have a few more foals. Maybe a few more thousand foals. Bucky’s form shifted into something physical and practical; he turned himself into a nondescript pegasus.

Now drifting on the wind, he thought about his plan to father an army. There was a war that had to be won and Bucky was sick of others dying to make it happen. He needed a way to even the odds. He was willing to do what Princess Celestia, Princess Luna, and Princess Twilight Sparkle were unwilling to do, and that was win at any cost. There were no consequences to hold Bucky back, not as short as his life was now. Somehow, this war had to end before he did. He needed a way to reach out and strike his enemy.

Being the manifestation of war, Bucky had found a way. He could save others. He could save many. He would send his own foals off to war in the stead of others, saving countless lives. And all he would have to do is sacrifice his own offspring.

He just needed a willing mother, and he knew where to find her. He needed to make the hard choices, he needed to make the impossible decisions and bear the consequences upon his own back so others wouldn’t have to.

He was in the right place, all he had to do was wait.

 

 

Being patient paid off. Bucky watched as a wing of pegasi joined him, flying in formation. He knew what they were and their illusion was incapable of fooling him. One of the pegasi shimmered, consumed in green flames, and became a small changeling drone.

“Greetings, Lord of Winter, you are expected. Our Queen is prepared to meet with you. She has been looking forward to your arrival, though you did come sooner than expected,” the drone said in a somewhat chipper sounding monotone. “If you would just follow us, we will take you to her.”

The wing of pegasi banked and began to descend down to the sandy floor of the badlands. Bucky followed, not at all worried about things like traps or betrayals. Chrysalis knew better and Bucky had something she wanted. Something very important.

Her survival. With a laugh, Bucky looked forwards to seeing an old friend.

 

 

Several dozen changelings of different shapes and sizes milled about on the ground. More were arriving, landing in organised wings. Bucky watched as a large group dropped down and landed on the edge of the gathering. He heard buzzing, a happy sound, and then he heard laughter. Familiar laugher.

The crowd parted and Bucky saw a much taller figure approaching in the darkness that was illuminated by glowing green lights emitted from twisted, stubby horns. Bucky, now in his own body once more, grinned. He saw that Queen Chrysalis was doing the same.

“It’s been a while. You look like shit, wolfchow.”

Ah, there it was. The snide sarcasm and bitter wit. “How has life been? Hopefully no troubles worth losing your head over.” Bucky rose, his legs dissolving into shadow, and he hovered at eye level with Chrysalis.

“I see you got my message,” Chrysalis said. “We’ll talk about that later, I suppose. I have a lot of interesting things I could tell you about that encounter. Plus, I know where there is a mirror traveler in hiding. He’s not too far away. You’ll like him, he’s a sick, twisted, depraved psychopath. With a bit of luck, he’ll be like you someday.”

“Such flattery,” Bucky replied. He heard Chrysalis snort.

“You’ve upgraded. It pains me to admit this, but I can’t read inside of your mind like before. What a pity, you had such lovely thoughts. You also have changeling magic it seems… Luna has been busy. Too bad she screwed you over, but we’ll get to that later as well.”

Bucky looked into Chrysalis’ eyes. “We’ve exchanged pleasantries. If it is all the same, I would like to just get down to the issue at hoof. I suspect that you know why I am here, so let’s just deal with that, shall we?”

Chrysalis gave a faint half-nod. “You’re here because you are a pragmatist and I have something you desire.” She cleared her throat. “And you have something that I want.”

“Yes, about that… I will not cheat on my wives,” Bucky said in a low voice. “But I know there are other ways.”

“I don’t even need semen anymore. I was able to use Celestia’s genetic information to create the bug bombs that you saw in Las Pegasus. After capturing Cadance and Shining Armor and getting her eggs and his sperm, I had a couple of—”

Chrysalis’ words died off as Bucky’s talons reached out of shadow and clasped around her throat. Her eyes bulged. The pressure was agonising. She saw dark magic flames wreathing Bucky’s horn and a terrible glow was in his left eye. Dreadful purple mist wafted up from his glowing crimson and green eye. She felt herself growing weaker.

“You did what?” Bucky asked, his voice a snarl.

Chrysalis gagged and held back her drones with a mental command.

“Do not toy with a father’s emotions… if you have something that belongs to the treasure of my heart, you had better give it back… or I will end you,” Bucky said.

Chrysalis, unable to reply with her throat being crushed, kicked and writhed as the terrible grip of Bucky’s talons grew worse. She was lifted up off the ground now and she suspected that what was about to happen next was going to suck.

She was whipped around with terrible force and her body slammed into the sand with with a splat. Yep, this sucked she thought to herself as she was lifted again and then hurled downwards. She had messed up, made a mistake, and she had called down the whirlwind. It was time to ride out the storm. She would survive this, as she survived everything else.

The black glow from Bucky’s horn surrounded Chrysalis’ body and he watched as she squirmed and tried to free herself. “I know how to kill you… I know how to put an end to your existence and unravel your life. It’s easy Chrysalis, because I’ll do what Celestia and Luna won’t.”

Her whole body now consumed by black flames, Chrysalis let out a choked scream.

“Let me explain something to you,” Bucky said, his voice taking an on eerie calm. “Let me explain how this is going to go down. I have one of your drones… and I’ve made him special. After a whole lot of dark, questionable magic, I’ve turned him into a soul trap. He’s not activated and he’s kept in stasis. I keep him in a little glass orb, tucked safely away.”

Chrysalis, like most of Bucky’s enemies, began to feel fear. Real fear. Right now, she feared for her own existence. And she could feel Bucky drinking from her, gaining strength from her fear. Her chitinous plates crawled. It wasn’t pleasant at all being on the other end.

“Once he’s activated, the next time you die, you get sucked into his body. Slurp! And after you are sucked into his body, my pretty little Sparkler turns you and that body into a nice statue. A real nice statue. After that, I drag you down to Tartarus and I find out what the going rate for a changeling queen is. I’m certain that somebody will want to buy you… you’ve made enemies.”

Letting out a pained, frightened gurgle, Chrysalis blinked. Her eyes were playing tricks on her. Behind Bucky there was a pale white earth pony stallion wearing a black cloak. He had a manic, crazed grin on his face and his head was bobbing up and down with great enthusiasm. His eyes gleamed with a craziness matched only by Bucky.

“Let me make this clear… you are my bitch. Do you understand?” Bucky asked. He relaxed his grip on Chrysalis’ throat. “Even if I don’t kill you, Celestia is making long term plans to undo you. Your days are numbered. You need to make some friends if you want to survive. You need to start earning some trust. And you need to give me back anything that belongs to Shining Armor or Cadance… or else I will become very, very angry. I will not be calm and gentle like I am being right now.”

Bucky stared into Chrysalis’ eyes. “Do you want to survive?”

Coughing, Chrysalis sucked in air after Bucky let go. Her legs buckled beneath her and she dropped down to the sand, all too aware of the fact that it looked as though she was kneeling before Bucky. It galled her. Behind Bucky, the pale stallion had vanished. Chrysalis was glad that the hallucination was gone.

“You are such a bastard,” Chrysalis said, speaking through one of her drones. “I have what you want, but it isn’t as easy as giving it to you… there is something I need from you… your cold… it’s unique… it’s complicated.” Chrysalis sucked in a big, wheezing gasp. “I respected you… I could have just taken one of your hairs from you in Las Pegasus and I would have an army bred for war… I respected you.” Chrysalis’s head dropped to the ground and she coughed.

“Why?” Bucky demanded.

“You and I are not so different!” Chrysalis replied, speaking through one of her drones. “You have a crazy love… and you’ll do anything to keep those you love safe and secure. I’m no different. We’ll both do bad things, terrible things, we’ll do every dirty deed available because we’re pragmatists.”

“And just who do you love, Chrysalis? What motivates you to do what you do?” Bucky lowered his head. The dark magic flames along his horn vanished.

“ME!” one of Chrysalis’ drones yelled. “I love ME! And I will do anything to ensure my own survival. I’ve made it this far!”

“You’ll not survive much longer. After the mirror travelers are dealt with, you’re next. Even if I don’t kill you, and you know I can, Celestia will undo you. She is making many long term plans. We’re studying how you make drones and we’re working on ways to undo the magic on your pseudo phylacteries. No more slavery.”

Still struggling to breathe, Chrysalis felt Bucky’s words crushing down upon her very soul. She lay in a heap, not knowing what to say, not knowing what to feel, both hating Bucky for what he was but also loving him for being such a clever, horrible, awful bastard.

“I have a right to exist,” Chrysalis said in a strangled whisper, speaking from her own lips.

“So do others,” Bucky replied, shaking his head. “Your rights do not trump theirs.”

“How do I save myself?” There was no point in beating around the bush any longer. Chrysalis got right down to the practical matter of survival.

“You start by working with me. And I give you my word that for as long as I am alive, I will allow for your continued existence. I will not move against you and I will speak for you on your behalf. I will be… your ambassador, if you will. I will explain it to Celestia that you are trying to work with us. That you are helping us. I will plant the seeds of trust.”

“And after you die?” Chrysalis blinked, trying to clear the stars out of her vision.

“At that point, you had better be on good terms. I promise you, Celestia is the most forgiving pony I know… of all of us, she is the greatest of us. She will help you, if you let her. She might even help you find a way to allow your continued existence if you will just stop using drones as slaves and wiping them, stealing away their rights as individuals.” Bucky lifted up Chrysalis in his telekinesis and set her down upon her hooves.

“Bucky, I can’t survive without my drones… you can’t just kill me,” Chrysalis said in a soft, worried voice. All of her cockiness was gone. She wobbled a bit as she looked Bucky in the eye.

“Death happens.” Bucky shrugged.

Feeling a cold chill, Chrysalis once more saw the pale white earth pony behind Bucky, staring at her, his pale pink albino eyes piercing into her soul. She blinked, and the earth pony’s image persisted. She blinked again, and he was gone. She had cheated death for so long. She was so close to actual immortality that it was frustrating.

“So… what happens now? How can I help you?” Chrysalis asked.

“I need an army. And I need it as soon as possible,” Bucky replied. A bitter grin spread over his muzzle. “Here is the hypocritical part… I need a drone army that is willing to take a one way trip.”

“What are you planning?” the changeling queen asked, now curious. Bucky was her equal when it came to devious plots. “I mean, how can I help you specifically? What sort of drones do you need?”

“Bug bombs. The big heavy armored drones. Fighters. Whatever it is that you can make from me. I need an army of thousands.” Bucky paused and licked his lips. He coughed, hacked up a wad of phlegm, and spat it out in the sand. “I’ve been planning to open up a portal to the mirror traveler’s home. We’re going to rescue some earth pony slaves. I want to leave behind a little present for the Night Stallion.”

“Oh… oooooh... oh, that is beautiful,” Chrysalis said, appreciating the plan in a way that few others would. “You are a crafty, devious bastard… the drones I could make from you.”

“Can we work together?” Bucky asked. He shook his head. “No, better question. Do you want to survive? I’m not leaving you with any choices.”

“Oh, I think we could work together,” Chrysalis replied in a husky, raspy, hoarse voice. “But I have a few of my own conditions.”

“You’re not in a place to be making demands.” Bucky’s grin vanished and his left eye narrowed. “But I am not an unreasonable pony. I will hear you out. Be mindful of what you ask.” His ears perked forwards.

“First off, I need resources. How about you give me those earth ponies?” Chrysalis noted Bucky’s murderous glare and backed away. “Hear me out… please… no more strangling foreplay or being a tease, not without buying me a drink first.”

“Fine, but if I don’t like what you have to say, you’ll be moving into a new body soon,” Bucky said in a sullen voice.

Chrysalis cleared her aching throat. “I’ve been making changes already. Doing things differently. In the place I call home… I have a group of ponies living there. Refugees. We provide for them. We shelter them. We keep them safe. Call it an experiment. They live a peaceful, sheltered existence and we get their love. It’s why I am so strong right now. You give me those earth ponies you rescue, and I will rehabilitate them. I will see that they are cared for. I will have my drones look after their every need and see that they are well cared for.” She saw Bucky rubbing his ear with his talons, his face thoughtful.

Hopeful that Bucky’s murderous impulses had been sated, Chrysalis continued with a great deal of caution. “I plan to make a hybrid… not quite a changeling, not quite a pony. The best of both. I’ve been planning this for a while. I want you to raise her. I want her to be raised with ponies. Should I fail somehow, or if something happens, the changelings that continue to survive beyond my end will need a new type of queen. A new leader.”

“I’m listening.” Bucky’s eyebrow raised.

“Not that I’m planning on failing… I just like having contingencies.” Chrysalis took a deep breath and steadied herself. The sight of the pale white earth pony had unnerved her and she could not say why. She looked up at the stars overhead, not wanting to meet Bucky’s piercing gaze. “Perhaps Cadance can show her a new way, a better way, and they can be friends together.” Chrysalis forced herself to look Bucky in the eye. “I don’t want to die. I’ve been thinking about it a lot. I know that if the mirror travelers are successful, they’ll find a way to undo me. No more running, I suppose. I’ve been running all my life. Death scares me. It’s why I did what I did.”

“It’s something else we have in common. We’re both running. We both know what it means to be chased. I can’t stop running either.” Bucky gestured at the world around him. “I don’t want for all of this to end.”

“Bucky, I’m sorry,” Chrysalis said.

“For what?” Bucky asked.

“For what was done to you. You were given changeling magic… no doubt through Luna’s tampering, but it was corrupted… and that bothers me. Fear is not a delectable emotion and in the long run, it will make you sick. Trust me, I know from experience. My first few incarnations relied upon feeding upon the fear of others. It almost killed me.”

Chrysalis could see that Bucky was staring at her with an odd, strange, almost bewildered expression upon his face. “It was very nearly my undoing. I had to completely undo my spell matrices and find another way. I focused upon love instead. It made me strong. It beat back death.”

“Fascinating,” Bucky whispered.

“You’re sick,” Chrysalis said.

“So they tell me,” Bucky replied.

“No, your lungs… you have a dreadful infection. Everypony probably thinks it is getting better, but it isn’t, trust me. It’s going to kill you. But I can fix it. Do you trust me?”

“I don’t know that I should trust you.” Bucky peered into the changeling queen’s eyes.

“Let me help you,” Chrysalis said.

“Very well then.” Bucky dropped out of shadow and stood upon the sand. He knew he was taking a risk, a terrible risk, but trust had to be established sometime. He needed an army and Chrysalis needed a chance at having a future.

Reaching out with her magic, Chrysalis lifted Bucky, being gentle, and held him up at eye level. She smiled, her green eyes glittering—then, with swift and sudden movement, she latched her muzzle on to Bucky, kissing him.

Only it wasn’t much of a kiss. Strange goo flooded down Bucky’s throat, filling his lungs, and for a moment he thought he was going to drown. He kicked and struggled, trying to use magic, but nothing happened.

“You were a fool to trust me,” Chrysalis said, speaking through one of her drones. “Stop fighting, let me fix you… stop struggling… I lied about your lungs killing you. You would have been fine, but this will clear out your infection and make you stronger. I am also changing you… making you more like us. Feeding on fear will ruin you. You deserve to know what feeding on love feels like. It will make you strong… it will give you the strength you need to protect my future… make no mistake, I am doing this for my own selfish preservation!”

Bucky, his lungs filled with goo, kicked and thrashed in the air. He felt the strong need to breathe, but it was getting weaker. He calmed himself, or tried to, and realised that the sensation was unpleasant, but it wasn’t killing him. He wasn’t suffocating. He wasn’t drowning. He made his limbs go still and fought against the instinctual urge to draw breath as Chrysalis’ strange lips lingered upon his.

“The love of your wives and your foals will sustain you… heal your injuries. Keep you strong. This will give you a fighting chance. Luna was a fool for tampering with my magic!” a drone said, speaking with Chrysalis’ voice.

“We have a mirror traveler to go and visit. He has a strange device that allows him to speak to his fellows back at home. Some kind of box that has voices coming out of it. I learned a lot from him. I allowed myself to be captured. I allowed myself to be tortured. I allowed him to have his sick way with me. I was kept in a cage and I listened to everything he said. I listened to the voice of this Night Stallion… he’s a creep. I gave them all kinds of misinformation as I was interrogated and then I had my immortality severed with a fancy magic show. He cut off my head after having one final go at the body I was in to satisfy his sick needs. He had plans to send my head to Twilight Sparkle as a message, to wear down her will and unnerve her. I was counting on you showing up.”

Chrysalis broke the long strange kiss and set Bucky down. He started coughing up the green goop in his lungs. She looked down at Bucky, confused by his appearance, finding herself wondering what he was exactly.

“Pull yourself together, wolfchow, we have work to do.”

 

 

 

 

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