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 stretched out in all directions all around him. This was a short trip, as far as trips went. The Scorned Mare, being such a small vessel, was quick to slice through the open sky, and was even faster now with it’s new blade-like nacelle.

There were bugs on deck, changelings had landed upon the ship and were now guiding it to an ideal location, a hidden canyon not far from Guano Grotto. The canyon, a fissure in an elevated plateau, would hide The Scorned Mare from view when it dropped down into the crack in the earth and would protect the ship from high winds.

A single ship, not even a warship, but an ancient caravel by design, flying alone towards a hidden canyon. This looked nothing like the beginning of a battle, but it was. It was, potentially, the beginnings of the most important battle yet against the mirror travelers. A tiny ship, a small crew, it appeared to be more of a private party on a vessel that had flown out to enjoy the desert.

The ponies, as a species, were not particularly gifted at war. They were gregarious, gentle natured, and most were not violent sorts. There were a few that were gifted though, and history remembered those that were. Bucky was among them—he was War.

But Bucky was not the ideal avatar of war. He clung to himself and his frail body, refusing to ascend. He maintained his conscience, he struggled with his fractured, broken sense of right and wrong. He was far less than what he could be. He had severe weaknesses, holding himself back and refusing to let go of his fragile equinity.

With the simple act of ascension, with but a flexing of his will, he could restore himself to a perfect equine form, both terrible and beautiful, he could fix his twisted, malformed body, and he could become the living embodiment of war and hatred. In that form, he could pass into the homeworld of the mirror travelers and obliterate them without even breaking a sweat, then move on to other places, other whens, other wheres, he would go into all of the places where the Night Stallion had previously gone and finish them off, growing ever stronger.

Instead, Bucky clung to his sense of self and only had a fraction of his true power and what he was capable of. What little power he had was a terrible thing. One would not think it to look upon his miserable, twisted, misshapen form that he was so dangerous, so awful a foe.

Also, when looking upon the terrible majesty of the nascent alicorn of war, one would not think of him being such a silly creature…

 

 

The Knight Commandant, Admiral of the Endless Fleet, stood upon the deck of The Scorned Mare waiting for Queen Chrysalis to land, and Princess Twilight Sparkle stood beside him, her face contorting as she made a valiant struggle not to snigger.

Bucky was wearing a ridiculous admiral’s hat that was about five hundred years out of date, covered in ostrich plumes, and he was wearing it sideways. On Bucky’s back, Belisama was wearing her pickelhaube that she had been given during the winter war. She also had two bloody big revolvers strapped to her body.

Cadance patrolled around her father’s legs, lamenting the lack of a bathtub large enough for her boat and all the adventures she could have. Myrmidons stood like statues upon the deck, unmoving titans covered in plate steel. Upon noticing the incoming changeling swarm, Cadance let out a shrill squeal of alarm and fled the deck, going down belowdecks to find Sunset Shimmer or maybe Auntie Disco.

Queen Chrysalis landed with a thump, took one look at Bucky, rolled her eyes, and let out a reluctant laugh. More changelings dropped around her, the deck becoming rather crowded, and Chrysalis strode forwards to greet Bucky.

“Did you bring Crisis?” Chrysalis asked.

Bucky, surprised by Chrysalis’ request, stared up at her from beneath the floppy brim of his hat, peering out from between ostrich feathers. “No I did not.” Some emotion flashed over Chrysalis’ hard to read face. Was it disappointment? Sadness? He could sense it too, almost, but she was trying to hide it. She was trying to flood his senses with garble.

“I… was… I was hoping to see how she was developing, that’s all.” Queen Chrysalis let out a snort and drew herself up to her full height. “No matter, shall we get down to business?”

As Chrysalis spoke, more changelings landed. They looked like ponies, but Bucky knew they weren’t ponies at all. He was looking at how Crisis would be when she grew up. Large, stocky, powerful, the white ponies flew on the wings of dragonflies. When they landed, the dragonfly wings vanished into nothingness and the changelings were indistinguishable from unicorns. They had Crisis’ odd shovel shaped teeth. Looking at them, Bucky knew that they were the perfect warriors, made for war, created from the essence of War. He felt a strange sense of pride upon seeing them.

“Things have changed a bit,” Twilight said, stepping forwards. “I’ve been doing some spying and trying to get an accurate count. I don’t think we’re going to get hundreds or even thousands of earth ponies from the caverns, I think we’ll see ten thousand or more.”

Hearing Twilight’s words, Queen Chrysalis let out a hissing sound. Her upper lip curled back into a horrid sneer. “Well, this information might have been more useful had I heard it sooner. I can muster up more drones to move the earth ponies and evacuate them, but it means pulling drones from guard positions and places that concern my interests.”

“How many do we have for the invasion?” Bucky asked, getting down to the business at hoof. “What are we sending in to do our dirty work?”

The scowl upon Queen Chrysalis’ face vanished and her body stiffened. “Five thousand,” she replied. “Five thousand flutterponies await you. There is also another five thousand drones of different types. Infiltrators. Assassins. Bug bombs. Firebugs. Even got a few of the new glowbugs ready.”

“Glowbugs?” Bucky asked.

“Experimental design,” Chrysalis replied in a low voice. “Radiation emitters. They glow with harmful levels of gamma radiation once they activate. Living things around them will die in a short time. If they get killed, their bodies will still be radioactive and very difficult to deal with. Thankfully, we changelings are immune to gamma radiation due to my clever designs.”

“I don’t like this.” Twilight’s eyes narrowed and she looked at Queen Chrysalis.

“I give you my word, I have no intentions of ever using my glowbugs against ponies. I don’t even have any eggs left, I’m sending them all through the portal. Look, I’m not stupid and I don’t want Lord Ugly killing me for unleashing new biological horrors.” Chrysalis’s face contorted into a sneer as she stared back at Twilight. “He wanted a deadly army, he got a deadly army.”

“That’s enough, both of you.” Bucky’s talons began tapping upon the deck. “Have you modified the parasprite designs as I suggested?”

“Yes, you horrible, despicable, degenerate monster. You have a really messed up imagination, you know that? Good thing you had me make them… I doubt your best ponies would have been up for this task.”

Twilight looked alarmed. “Parasprites? What’s going on? Why wasn’t I informed about this? Parasprites are dangerous!”

Clearing his throat, Bucky looked at Twilight. “Because you didn’t need to know, Twilight.” Bucky heard Twilight let out an angry snort and he pushed his oversized, ridiculous hat back upon his head so he could see better. “The parasprites have been modified to go after high magic targets and devour them. Arcano tech structures, unicorn batteries, tanks full of mana extracted from unicorns, unicorns themselves, the parasprites have an unsatisfiable hunger, a ravenous appetite for all things magical. Once they eat enough magical matter, instead of reproducing and creating more parasprites, they will act as thaumaturgical bombs and explode.”

Twilight Sparkle’s mouth fell open and she stared at Bucky.

“He’s sick in the head, isn’t he?” Chrysalis asked of nopony in particular.  

“Twilight, forgive me, but I am playing to win,” Bucky said in a low voice. “There is too much at stake. We have to make the most of this opportunity. There is no going halfway here.”

“I… agree,” Twilight replied, her ears drooping. She looked at Bucky, her eyes glimmering with tears. She took a step forwards, hesitant, then another, then she extended one wing, she wrapped it around Bucky’s neck, drew him in, and gave him an affectionate kiss on his left cheek, looking very much like her mentor Princess Celestia looking after one of her little ponies as she did so.

“There is much to discuss. The sooner we get started, the better. There is a lot to do.” Queen Chrysalis, holding her head high, looked down upon Twilight Sparkle and Bucky, basking in their affection for one another. “Come with me. There are things I would like to show you.”

 

 

“Scared.” Cadance, trembling, looked up at Discord, her lower lip trembling and her stubby wings fluttering. She was suspended in the crook of Discord’s lion leg, clinging to the befuddled draconequus.

“Oh, you poor dear,” Fluttershy said as she came closer to Cadance and Discord. “It will be okay. Are you scared for your Daddy?” Fluttershy watched as the pink alicorn foal squirmed in Discord’s gentle embrace. Cadance did not reply, but closed her eyes and pressed her face into Discord’s neck.

“Dearest Fluttershy, I do believe it is our current guests that are bothering her.” Discord squinted one eye at his mate and a rare serious expression was upon his face. “The poor little thing is shaking.” Discord angled his body to give Cadance something to rest against and watched as Fluttershy fed both Tranquility and Lunacy. “I don’t get it. Cadance gets along so well with Tourmaline and she’s coming around as far as Crisis goes.”

“Tourmaline is a gentle presence that would never hurt anybody and Crisis is a little cuddlebug who has only hurt one pony so far and that was when she tried to chew off Queen Chrysalis’ face.” A lopsided smile appeared upon Fluttershy’s face. “Both of them are good and they draw upon love passively. Queen Chrysalis tried to suck the love out of ponies. She’s greedy and takes too much. She’s drained ponies… killed them.”

“So… Tourmaline and Crisis understand that there is more than enough to go around while Chrysalis keeps trying to take as much as she can?” Discord looked thoughtful and he rubbed his chin with his tail tuft.

“Poor Chrysalis has been stuck trying to survive for too long. She’s food possessive, like a hungry little badger or a bossy little budgerigar.” Fluttershy licked her buck teeth with her orange tongue, looking thoughtful. “Little Cadance is sensitive to things that affect love.”

“She make Daddy bad,” Cadance mumbled into Discord’s neck.

“Hmm.” Discord looked down at the pink alicorn foal in his embrace and continued to stroke his chin with his tail tuft. “I suppose she might bring out the worst in Bucky, with her being the way she is.”

“Cadance, sweet thing, your Daddy seems to be bringing a little good out of Queen Chrysalis. She’s helping ponies. She’s making changes. She’s trying to do good things. But it takes time to make changes. It took Discord time, but look at him now.” Fluttershy paused and smiled. “He’s a good draconequus.”

Rolling his eyes, Discord moaned in a dramatic manner, squirmed, and then let out a crazed sounding giggle. “It just took an act of kindness to reach me. I wonder what it will take to make the bug queen turn around?”

“A come to Bucky moment,” Fluttershy replied. “Either that, or Princess Celestia will slowly win her over with time and patience. That’s my guess. If I was her, I’d rather come to terms with Princess Celestia.” Fluttershy fell quiet, thought of Bucky in Griffonholm, and the memory made her shiver. “I feel bad for your Daddy, Cadance. He doesn’t want to be like this.”

“He can be good,” Cadance murmured. “He save me.”

“Yes he did.” Discord gave the alicorn foal in his embrace a squeeze. “Armed with his own overblown sense of sanctimonious self righteousness and a sense of duty the size of the Equestrian continent rammed sideways up his backside, the Lord of Winter marched into Tartarus, demanded your return, and he would not be refused.” Discord paused and one bushy, grizzled eyebrow arched. “I hear the waiting room down there is atrocious.”

“Discord…” Fluttershy glared at her husband and watched as Cadance lifted her head away from Discord’s neck. The yellow no-longer-a-pegasus was forced to swallow a smile as little Cadance glared upwards at Discord, an expression of pink fury upon her face.

Looking down, Discord gave Cadance an apologetic stare. “Oh, that’s right. You don’t take jokes about your father very well. My apologies. I was kidding… if Bucky was here, he would laugh at it.”

“Bad noodle monster,” Cadance grumbled as she continued to stare upwards at Discord, her eyes locked onto his. “You his friend. He do it for you too.”

Discord slumped, defeated by Cadance’s words. “I suppose he would. I must confess, I’ve grown very fond of him.” Discord, now looking melancholy, gave Cadance a gentle squeeze. “I only tease him because I like him. It’s difficult having friends.”

Mollified, Cadance closed her eyes and buried her face into Discord’s neck once more.

Discord, feeling the little pink foal snuggling up against him, cuddled her closer while looking at Fluttershy and his two offspring. Tranquility was a shared effort between him and Fluttershy, but Lunacy was a good bit more confusing. Discord realised that he and Bucky were parents together—Discord had in fact had his own part in bringing Lunacy into the world. Little Lunacy, the love of his life, had very confusing parentage. He and Bucky both were her Daddies. Well, it could be argued that since Bucky birthed her that he was her Mommy too, and Princess Celestia had her own touch of essence tossed into the mix, as did Fluttershy. Which made Bucky very much like a… well, Discord wasn’t sure. What did one call the Mommy-Daddy of one of your babies in an extended family relationship? Discord realised that this was probably the reason why the draconequus as a species was not given over to thoughts of family or foal rearing. Discord worried about whether or not he should get both Bucky and Celestia anniversary gifts or perhaps flowers on that one pesky holiday that he could never remember.

Lowering his head, Discord kissed Cadance and continued to think his confusing, chaotic thoughts.

 

 

 

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