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 small, crystal studded device  hummed from a residual power drawn from the ley lines, and looked to be very, very portable. Bucky, exhausted, looked around the lab. The sun would be coming up in a few more hours and he was the last one awake. Sunset and Trixie had gone to bed. Discord had returned to the farmhouse to be with Fluttershy. Twilight Sparkle, also exhausted, had gone to the farmhouse as well, taking Glass Slipper with her, and was no doubt sleeping in a guest bed on the third floor.

Rarity had been instrumental to the portal projector’s construction. Bucky’s golems had created the fine crystalline latticework needed to make a frame for the device, Rarity had placed each and every teeny tiny focusing crystal with the precision that only the seamstress had. Each of them had used their magical talents to aid in the construction of the device. Bucky enchanted it, creating spell matrices unique to the item. Twilight Sparkle imbued the portal projector with powerful divination magics to help it find suitable targets to open a portal to. Trixie provided useful illusion spells, aided by Sunset inlaying the spells and granting them permanency. Discord had provided much more than a touch of chaos, but also offered an explanation for extra-dimensional portal protrusions, allowing both Bucky and Twilight a greater understanding of portal mechanics, which in turn allowed for more fine tuned spellcrafting.

Even though he was tired, Bucky found that he still had a bit more left in him. He took a swig of wine right from the bottle as his golems swarmed over the portal projector device, covering every inch, taking measurements and getting the exact specifications. He swallowed, the wine was rich, red, and a little sweet, with the strong, tart taste of cherries.

He needed a portal projector as well, but not for travelling to other dimensions. The test run for the portal projector had proven most interesting. Twilight had opened a portal to Canterlot, stepped through, said hello to a very surprised Princess Luna, and then had returned. Bucky reasoned that powering up a portal that reached through this dimension wouldn’t require alicorn level magic, his own magic, which was quite powerful, should do just fine. Of course, he had said nothing about his plans to make a copy of the portal projector to Twilight.

Such a device could be handy, useful in emergencies or extreme situations. It could, at least in theory, allow Bucky to go anywhere, at any time, to just about any location on Granum. Which meant that future problems would get a surprise visit from the Lord of Winter… and then cease to be problems. Of course, Bucky would never use the device unless it was an extreme emergency. He didn’t want Twilight knowing that he had it and using it even once would be a dead giveaway. He reasoned that it was better to have a portal projector and never need it than to need a portal projector and not have it.

It would be a little difficult to duplicate the spells from the finished portal projector, but Bucky was confident that he could manage well enough to suit his own needs. He took another long pull of wine and felt warmth blossoming in his barrel. His ears perked to the sound of hooves on the stairs.

Looking up, Bucky saw Clotho entering the lab. She looked weary, tired, her ears were drooping and she had a defeated look about her. He took another drink of wine and then set the bottle down upon the table.

“Come to lecture me about what I’m doing?” Bucky asked.

“No,” Clotho replied as she entered the room, her eyes focused on Bucky, “what you are doing is necessary. Continue, if you please.” The earth pony mare crossed the room and then stopped when she was just a few feet away from Bucky.

“So what brings you here?” Bucky looked at Clotho, lifted up his wine bottle, and then emptied it with a few large gulps. He smacked his lips and enjoyed the pleasant feeling of gentle warmth filling him.

“Try as I might, I have been having difficulty seeing a future where I have found a cure for you.” Clotho looked sad, her tired eyes closed for a moment and she shook her head. “The best future that I can see is weakening your disease, but not curing it. I can make you as you were before… still vampiric, but only in a mild, very weak sort of way.” Opening her eyes, she looked at Bucky, giving him an apologetic glance.

The wine bottle was set down on the table with a thump and Bucky’s talons tapped upon the floor. “If this is the best that can be done, so be it.”

“You’re not upset?” Clotho asked.

“No, should I be?” Bucky replied.

“I’ll be honest, I don’t know what I was expecting.” Clotho took a deep breath and heaved a sigh. “I’ll get to work soon. I know the ingredients I need.” Clotho looked Bucky in the eye, her expression one of sympathy. “This will weaken you a great deal. As awful as it sounds, the vampirism has made you strong. As you are, you are a much greater threat to our enemies. Lachesis and Atropos do not want me to cure you… I have had no help from them with this problem.”

“I understand that it is useful, but I do not wish to keep living this way… don’t get me wrong, any sort of power is useful, we need every weapon we have… but I can’t keep going on like this.” Bucky reached up and rubbed his shaggy chin as a look of regret crept over his features.

“So, for once, you are being selfish and looking out for yourself,” Clotho said.

Looking sheepish, Bucky nodded. “I suppose I am.”

“Good for you.” Clotho let out a halfhearted chuckle that sounded more sad than happy. “You need to look out for yourself… Bucky, you are killing yourself by degrees.”

“I know… but what else can I do?” For a moment, Bucky’s composure broke and his face showed the pain that he had inside, but then he became stony, his face becoming hard, unfeeling, his stare flinty. “It isn’t like it matters. I know when I die… I keep having that dream… the big battle in the sky… the shadow that looms everything… if I join that battle, the alicorn of war dies… but I can’t run away. I know the battle will claim my life, but I can’t run away and leave others that I love to fight that battle.”

Clotho drooped, her ears going limp. “My vision blurs… I know of the battle of which you speak, but I can see nothing beyond it. I do not know the outcome, and neither do my sisters. We fear it.” Clotho stared into Bucky’s eyes, her own becoming misty. After a long time staring, she drew in a deep breath then said, “I’m going to go bother that horrendous eyeball plucking, intestine slurping, heart devouring bird of yours for a feather. I’m going to need it for when I brew up your elixir. Try to get some sleep, Bucky. You look awful.”

“I will, I promise…”

 

 

Dawn would be here soon. Already, the sky was greying. Bucky, standing in the dewy grass, felt Freezerburn sitting on his back. The morning was cold, chilly, quite cold for the spring, but not to the point of frost. The breeze made it feel colder

“How’s fatherhood?” Bucky asked.

Freezerburn squawked, flapped his wings, and then lifted his head high. He opened his beak and let out a piercing cry that was no doubt loud enough to wake most of the ponies sleeping for about a mile around. Bucky laughed as he felt Freezerburn’s claws prickling his back through his cloak.

“And how is the missus?” Bucky looked up into the hollow tree, eyeing the hole where the nest was. Philomena was in the nest with the chicks, of which there were three. Three little orange chicks that looked like their mother.

There was another loud cry from Freezerburn, followed by incessant hooting. Derpy had once complained that Freezerburn’s hooting sounded like a constipated owl, a statement that caused Bucky no end of amusement.

“I wonder if you’ll be heartbroken when you have to toss your chicks out of your nest,” Bucky said as Freezerburn began preening himself. “Or will it be easier for you? It’s hard being a parent… paradoxical even… you want your offspring to be independent and capable of standing on their own, but you also want them to obey every word you say… I find it very difficult sometimes to deal with. When they don’t listen to me, I get upset, but I also get upset that I’m getting upset. I want my foals to be a little defiant. I want them to think for themselves. I want them to be free thinking… at the same time though, there are times when I desperately want them to do as I say.”

Lifting his head, Freezerburn shook himself, his feathers fluffing, and then he began grooming Bucky’s mane, using his beak to tug on the long strands of Bucky’s black and silver mane.

“There is a part of me that wants to strangle Sentinel for what he’s done,” Bucky said to Freezerburn. “He’s so much like me… I don’t want him turning out like me. Look what trying to be a good pony—” Bucky paused, falling silent. He shook his head, his ears splaying out. “Look at what trying to save good ponies has done to me. Look at me, Freezerburn, I am not what I once was… then again, I suppose you aren’t either, with you being a corrupted phoenix. Look at how life has twisted and changed the both of us.”

Freezerburn offered a sympathetic hoot to Bucky and then continued to try and style Bucky’s mane, tugging and pulling on long strands of hair. All the bird succeeded in doing was somehow making Bucky look even more disheveled than usual, which was quite a feat. Bucky looked like somepony had mixed nightmare fuel with the collection of hair, lint, and debris that could be found under couches, then had given it life in a manner most irresponsible.

“I don’t want Sentinel getting mangled and deformed like me. I’ve seen some of the lunar pegasi… it isn’t easy to kill them… it’s horrifying what some of them live through. It’s like they’re unbreakable.” Bucky drew in a deep breath, shuddering, and then let it out in a huff. “My example has condemned him…”

 

 

Creeping through the house, little more than a shadow prowling the darkened hallway, Bucky headed for the nursery. A faint light crept out from beneath the door, illuminating the hallway and part of the wall. He opened the door and stuck his head in. His nose crinkled. Somepony had made a stinky.

Thistle, half awake, was nursing little Barley. Lyra, yawning, was nursing Brandywine while changing Dizzy’s diaper. Derpy was nursing Ditzy, her eyes closed, and her head resting on a pillow. Bell Heather was standing near Thistle, looking fussy and a bit put out. Belisama was dribbling food down Bandua’s throat with a spoon. Crisis was sleeping on the floor next to Lyra, laying on her back, all four of her legs were stiff as planks and sticking straight  up into the air. She looked like a statue that had fallen over.

Entering the room, Bucky scooped up Bell and then retreated to the rocking chair. He sat down, pulled Bell from his telekinesis into his forelegs, and held her close. She snuffled a bit, still fussy, but glad to have her daddoo. She gave Bucky a slobbery kiss on the cheek and then continued to drool while pressing her nose against Bucky’s nose.

“I think this is my favourite time,” Derpy said in a sleepy voice. “I’m not quite awake, the foals are still kinda sleepy, everything is calm and quiet.”

“It’s the calm before the storm.” Lyra, who was now finished with Dizzy’s diaper, levitated the little colt over to his mother, Derpy.

“Which is why I am enjoying this time right now,” Derpy replied.

“Where is Cadance?” Bucky asked after looking around the nursery.

“Little Cadance didn’t want to sleep in the nursery last night. She wanted to sleep with the big fillies, so we tucked her into bed with Sukari and Harper.” Thistle yawned, letting out a whine, and her ears pivoted.

“I don’t want Cadance growing up… she needs to stop that,” Bucky grumbled. He gave Bell a squeeze, pulled her closer, and pressed his muzzle into her neck. He blew a raspberry, which caused Bell to squeal while kicking her legs.

“Daddoo, no!”

“Oh no,” Bucky said, shaking his head. “Not you too… you’re starting to talk and make sense. Stop that.”

Looking a bit bewildered, blinking, Bell Heather stared up at her father, not knowing how to react, not certain of what was going on. She squirmed a bit, sucked in some air, and then blew a massive spit bubble, which popped and left shiny drool droplets all over Bucky’s face.

“One day, you were a fuzzy little lump that mostly just laid there, looking cute, and you were fun to pick up and cuddle. Now you’re telling me no. Tomorrow, you’ll be sneaking out of the house to go on a date with some horrible colt that I don’t approve of.” Bucky shook his head. “I don’t like it, nope.”

“Ugh, I don’t like the sounds of that,” Thistle replied, shaking her head. She looked at Lyra and then at Bucky. “Both of you are unicorns… surely there is a spell to stop her from doing that, right?”

 

 

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