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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Frustrated, Bucky pulled open the front door to greet the pony that he had been told was here to see him. A courier that would speak only to him. Scowling, Bucky stared at his visitor, making it clear that he wasn’t in the mood to be bothered. He wanted to be in the bed with Berry, feeling her hooves rub him all over his body. He glowered out from beneath his hood.

“What?” Bucky’s single word was terse. Under normal circumstances, he was far more polite. He saw the pegasus on his front porch shuffle. Bucky paused, sniffing, and came to the realisation that something was wrong. His visitor didn’t smell like a pegasus.

Horn flashing, Bucky grabbed the not-pegasus, jerked him inside, and slammed the door behind him, saying nothing, and offering no apologies for being rough.

 

 

“The gig is up… what are you?” Bucky demanded, still holding his visitor. He gave the not-pegasus a little shake, a gentle shake to let him know that more shaking was forthcoming, maybe even violent shaking of the fatal variety.

“So rude,” the pegasus said in Queen Chrysalis’ voice. “What will Crisis learn from you? So hostile—”

“Shut up.” Bucky gave the not-pegasus another shake. “How did you make it this far into central Equestria? We have spells to detect you… Shining Armor has the means to find you.”

“We change, we evolve, we adapt,” the changeling said in Chrysalis’ voice as green flames consumed its body. It became a small changeling drone and it stared at Bucky with strange, insectoid eyes. “Your methods no longer work. We adapted to them long ago and we already have new revisions waiting based upon the direction we’re certain you’ll take next. We allow you to spot us on the fringes of your borders so you will be convinced that your methods of detection are still working.”

Bucky did not like what he was hearing. He set the drone down upon the floor, his scowl intensifying, and looked the drone in the eye. “Okay, Chrysalis, what brings you here? I doubt this is a social visit.”

The changeling lifted its head and its eyes flashed. “I heard about Sentinel. I dispatched a messenger to offer help. As you know, I have powerful healers. For eons we changelings have been hunted, attacked, injured, and have suffered badly at the hooves of your kind. Our knowledge of medicine is vastly superiour.”

Talon claws tapping upon the wooden floor, Bucky stared at the drone, understanding at once that word had spread fast. No doubt, Chrysalis had drones everywhere, investigating everything, and he also understood that she was taking a risk revealing herself and her machinations like this. He did not trust her, he was no fool, but she could be useful.

“Aren’t you busy with the preparations?” Bucky asked.

“A little, but as you can see, I can be in multiple places at once,” the drone replied.

“Do you really think you can help Sentinel?” Bucky asked.

The drone nodded. “I can weave tissue the same way a weaver makes fabric. I can grow and shape bone like a gardener can shape the growth of trees. His eye is long gone, those are complicated, necromancy has taken that, but I can do a better job of fixing his face than those clumsy butchers that Celestia has working on him.”

Gritting his teeth, Bucky turned away and saw that Derpy was standing in the hallway, staring, her amber eyes wide with fear and concern. He wished that she wasn’t there, she would make this emotional, she would impede the decision making process.

“Can you help my son?” Derpy asked.

Hearing her voice, Bucky winced. He might have been able to tell Chrysalis to go away, he might have avoided becoming beholden to her, he knew what was going on, she was digging her hooks in, she was manipulating him in the worst way possible.

“I can help your son,” the drone replied in Chrysalis’ voice.

“How much of your surgical knowledge was gained by using unwilling victims? How many cruel dissections have been done so that you could learn? How much of your learning was gained through the suffering of others?” Bucky focused his gaze upon the changeling standing in front of the door.

“Does it matter?” the changeling replied in a bored sounding voice.

“Bucky, I know she’s awful, but she can help Sentinel… please don’t send her way,” Derpy begged, her eyes shimmering with tears destined to fall, and soon. “Bucky, please, please listen to me.”

“The words of a heartbroken mother are potent motivators—”

“Silence,” Bucky hissed, “or so help me, I will hunt you down and end you. I will not be toyed with. One more impertinent remark and you invite your own destruction. Just try me.”

The drone showed no outward sign of emotion and had no visible reaction. It stood there, unmoving, unphased. After several long seconds of silence, it made a strange gurgle and spoke.

“A little bit of playful antagonising was a bad idea.” There was a pause that lasted long enough for the silence to become painful, and then the changeling continued, “My offer still stands. I can help you. I have the ways and means. All you have to do is ask.”

“Bucky, please… I don’t care about all of the other stuff… I know she’s bad… but she can help Sentinel. Please?” Derpy stepped forwards with a pleading expression on her face.

“You know, I’m not being sarcastic, but I am curious about how Crisis will turn out with such a loving mother.” The drone took a step back from Bucky. “And a loving father, too. That’s important, I suppose.”

Defeated, Bucky hung his head. “I’ll take whatever help you can give me.”

“Good, give me just a few minutes and I’ll be there. The next step is asking Little Miss Goody Four Shoes if I can come to Canterlot.” The drone flashed and became a pegasus again.

 

 

The day, which had started off pretty bad, had gone to worse. Bucky, who desperately needed sleep but was unable to close his eyes, rubbed his head and thought about how to break this to Celestia. Derpy was walking around the house, looking mopey and sad, which wasn’t helping anything at all. And then there was Cadance. Cadance, who didn’t much care for Crisis, and was not happy at all with more changelings in the house. She had given Bucky such a piercing look of disappointment that it had caused him physical pain on top of all of the guilt and emotional pain he was experiencing.

He didn’t quite know what to do or how to even begin. Adding to his frustrations, Queen Chrysalis had arrived as Twilight Sparkle of all ponies. She had been hiding in plain sight as the Princess of Friendship. This was not going to endear Queen Chrysalis to Princess Celestia at all. More than anything, he just wanted to crawl into bed and make the world go away.

Ears perking, Bucky heard a curious sound coming from the nursery. He jumped up from where he was sitting, almost flew down the hall, and came to a skidding stop at the nursery door. Queen Chrysalis, now herself once more, stood looking down at Crisis, their noses almost touching. Trembling, he stood, feeling afraid without understanding why.

As Bucky stood there, Crisis changed. Her eyes flashed, becoming a much darker green. A low snarl could be heard in the back of her throat. Without warning, Crisis lunged, her maw opened, and her pointed, shovel shaped teeth clamped down upon Chrysalis’ muzzle. Green blood spurted and there was a crunch as Crisis latched on and refused to let go.

“Aw crap, get it off! Get it off!” Chrysalis tried to pull away but Crisis was chewing on the end of her snoot. “Aaaaah get it off of me!”

A drone, who stood there, unfazed, turned and looked at Bucky. “She designed Crisis to detect all dangers and deal with them appropriately. Crisis was designed as a bioweapon that analyses all potential threats and responds to anything that might be a danger with the appropriate response to the situation.”

More green ichor spurted as Crisis continued to chew. Chrysalis was trying to pull the hybrid terror away from her face without bringing harm to her. There was a horrid sounding crunch as Crisis’ teeth sawed through Chrysalis’ armored chitin.

“Ugh, giving her armor piercing teeth was a bad idea,” Chrysalis cried as she tried to pry the foal off of her nose. “Ugh, stop chewing! That’s just rude! Don’t just stand there, help me! Call her off! She’ll listen to you!”

Unable to help himself, Bucky started to laugh, a dangerous laugh that sounded an awful lot like a cackle.

 

 

Feeling a little better, Bucky waited. Violet, who stood beside him, waited as well, sipping a steaming cup of tea that filled the room with the scent of spearmint. Chrysalis had one of her drones repairing her muzzle. Not knowing what else to do, Bucky paced. Bucky hated waiting. He just wanted to sleep, but couldn’t. He had to wait. And then he had to escort Chrysalis to Canterlot. He made a mental note that when he returned home and had some sleep, he was going to spend some time cuddling with Crisis and telling her what a good foal she was.

“We are building an army of drones very much like Crisis,” one of the drone attendants said to Bucky. “She is unique in her design and construction. Her chitin is internal, and remains soft until time of crisis, where it will become hard and act as armor plating. She is designed to blend in. In time, when she matures, her coat will change colour. This new line of drones was made with your very essence and will have some precognitive knowledge of the weaknesses of their enemies. They will be fierce fighters.”

“At least the threat detection works,” Violet said in a dry voice. “I’m quite pleased with that.” The mare gave Chrysalis an icy stare and then took a sip of her tea. “I do regret that nopony thought to grab the camera and take pictures of this precious mother-daughter moment.”

“What about the other drones? Will they turn on her too?” Derpy asked.

“No,” one of the drones replied. “Crisis was made to be loyal to Bucky. The drones are being made to be loyal to both Bucky and our Queen.”

“Huh.” Derpy looked over at Chrysalis, shook her head, then turned tail and left the room, walking away with quiet, careful steps. It had taken forever to get the foals in the nursery calmed back down and quiet. Derpy was in no mood to give them a reason to start wailing again.

A faint hum filled the room and Shining Armor’s projection appeared. He stood, glaring, giving Queen Chrysalis a hateful, burning stare. His outline flickered and for a moment, his horn glowed with a fierce, dangerous looking glow.

“Ignoring my advice, Princess Celestia has agreed to allow you to come to Canterlot and help Sentinel.” Shining Armor turned and looked at Bucky. “Are you sure that you want to do this? She’s a threat to us and everything we hold dear. You should exterminate her, she’s vermin.”

“Oh, she’s certainly a threat,” Bucky replied, thinking about Crisis as he spoke. “Like it or not, we need her assistance, Shining Armor. She can be made useful to us. I understand that you don’t like it.”

“Princess Celestia doesn’t like it either, but like you, she is willing to set aside personal differences for the greater good.” Shining Armor bared his teeth. “I’m not that good of a pony. If I had my way, I’d be giving you orders to kill her and be done with it. I know that you have the means to give her a permanent end.”

“I do.” Bucky nodded his head and glanced over at Chrysalis, then back at Shining Armor. “And I still can, if the mood strikes me. I can get… emotional if somepony disrespects my auntie.”

“Well, here is to hoping that Queen Chrysalis is disrespectful.” Shining Armor, scowling, gave Chrysalis a baleful stare. “You are cleared to come to Canterlot. Sentinel awaits. He was scheduled for another surgery, but that has been postponed. You are to maintain cover and not reveal yourselves.”

“Oh, I think we can manage that,” Bucky replied. He turned and looked at Chrysalis once more. “Be ready to go. We leave in just a few minutes…”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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