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 portal yawned before him and Bucky suffered a moment of doubt, not knowing how this might turn out. He glanced at Sunset Shimmer beside him on his right; she was wearing her golden armor, the armor that was the very symbol of her paladinhood. He was wearing his own armor, pulled out of the shadow and given substance. Queen Chrysalis stood upon his left, her eyes wide, a strange, curious smile upon her face.

The army began to move in using the right side of the portal, while those assigned to rescue moved in on the left. The portal was massive, a rift in reality that hung like a shimmering curtain. The portal generator was anchored in the sand of the canyon floor.

Overhead, Belisama circled to keep a watchful eye on everything. The canyon filled with the echoes of thousands of changeling hooves striking the sand. The event was momentous and with it came its own sense of magnificent drama. Several griffons, the crew of the The Scorned Mare, snapped photographs of the unfolding events, with all present knowing that history was being made.

Discord, who stood near Twilight, flexed his talons and kept an eye open for trouble. If things went wrong, he was Twilight’s protector, her guardian, her potential saviour. The draconequus had a strange look of seriousness upon his face. He cared about Twilight, she was his friend, and it unnerved him that his friends were at risk. Around both Discord and Twilight, a living wall of Myrmidons stood waiting. Woe to those who attempted to assail this living fortress that protected Princess Twilight Sparkle.

A vast troop of mindless spider golems scurried towards the rift, a small but terrifying army filled with all of the different colours of pain and despair. Some of them had a dreadful black glow, and looking upon them made the viewer feel a twinge of hatred. Others glowed with a pleasing blue-green glow, but looking at them filled the viewer with the urgent need to find a restroom. There was a large contingent of spider golems with a truly vile purple glow, but the less that was said about these the better, and no one wanted to look at them.

Sometimes, when swept up in the events of the present, one had to wonder if Bucky was the hero or the villain, and perhaps an argument could be made for both. He was a terrifying, dread inspiring figure standing next to Sunset Shimmer. The contrast between the two was startling. By comparison, Queen Chrysalis looked like a two bit villain in a low budget matinee.

For all of his resistance, for all of his reluctance, for all of the running from his destiny that Bucky did, there could be no doubt that he had embraced his role in this instance. The Knight and the Librarian working together were now protecting Equestria. The Guardian and the Scholar. Equestria’s military might and Equestria’s strategic knowledge were now working together in perfect harmony, the result of which was that a smaller, weaker force was now able to strike back against a vastly superiour enemy.

Overhead, the stars bore witness to this event, the moon shone down, and it seemed as though the very world itself tensed as it waited to see how these events would play out.

 

 

Passing through the portal was like being born; Bucky did not know how he made this association, but he did. It felt wet, heavy, like he was being pressed through jelly, but he also remained dry. There was a painful pressure in his ears and for a moment, he thought his body would be crushed.

Blinking beneath his helmet, Bucky realised that he was on another world. He had no time to enjoy the sense of wonder and accomplishment. Right away, he took stock of his surroundings and noted that Sunset was having some trouble recovering. Not everypony was lucky enough to resist magical energies.

Much to his surprise, Queen Chrysalis helped Sunset, holding her up in a green glow. There was a chaotic grin on the changeling queen’s face and Bucky felt a smile spreading over his own face.

“This is why your so called forces of good keep losing… you can’t even pass through a dimensional rift without your knees turning into jelly.” Queen Chrysalis steadied Sunset Shimmer and after a moment, the green glow faded. “Being pure, unadulterated evil takes a certain level of constitution and hardiness, which is why Bucky and I can’t be bothered by a little crushing magical force.”

Even more surprising to Bucky was the fact that Sunset laughed. He glanced at the changeling queen and his apprentice, feeling thoughtful, and wondering if perhaps, there was still some hope for Queen Chrysalis.

“I suppose it’s rough being the bad guy,” Sunset Shimmer replied as she stood up straight and began to look around, her glowing horn dispelling the darkness. “You have nopony you can trust to help you patch up your booboos. You just have to suffer through it all alone with no one to comfort you.”

“Yeah.” A manic grin appeared on Queen Chrysalis’ face as she nodded. “But, you get to be evil, so it’s not all bad.”

“The forces of good need tough bad guys though. Overcoming impossible odds and beating tough bad guys down into the dirt is what gives us, the forces of goodness, our insufferable, self righteous smugness.” Sunset Shimmer’s horn grew brighter and more of the cavern became visible.

Bucky did not have time to think about Sunset and Chrysalis’ exchange. He was too busy looking at the earth ponies that could be seen on the very edges of the light. They looked terrified, scared, and diseased. His heart ached for them.

Lifting his talons, Bucky drew in a deep breath, called upon his magic, and said, “Sleep.” Many of the earth ponies visible toppled over. He watched as changeling drones hurried over and began to fetch the now comatose earth ponies.

Healing them, restoring them was going to be so very difficult. Some of them appeared to be hairless and sightless. They had dwelled in the dark for far too long. A slow, simmering rage began to bubble within Bucky, he could feel the madness and the hatred of this place having an effect upon him. There was no love here. There was nothing good here. Before his emotions could get away from him, he thought of Fluttershy and her lessons.

The army poured into the cavern and the dim green glow of thousands of changeling horns illuminated the dreary, dank place. Bucky moved further in and cast another sleep spell, then another, and the bodies began to pile up. There was water down here, a cistern, Bucky could smell it. There were strange fungal growths everywhere, some of them glowing, and Bucky, who loved the darkness, shivered at the very idea of living down here in the deep dark with no sun, no moon, and no stars.

Up above, it was no better, with the sun, the moon, and the stars having passed away.

Using her telekinesis, Sunset Shimmer began to move the slumbering bodies of the earth ponies, collecting them into groups so that the changeling drones could carry them away to a better place.

Bucky, who had long been plagued with doubt about this course of action, who had suffered from the guilt of what he was doing, began to feel better. This felt right. Seeing the earth ponies in their wretched condition and the squalor in which they lived assauged Bucky’s heavy conscience. This was justified. Monsters who did this… the soulless monsters that had done this to their own kith and kin, they had no right to live, they did not deserve existence.

This change of feelings made Bucky eager to dispense justice.

He was doing his duty as the Knight; as terrible of a figure as he might be, as much as the darkness he had faced had twisted him, he was still acting to benefit equinekind. There were none as downtrodden and forgotten as this lot, and Equestria’s long prophesied Knight had come to save them. Bucky felt his spirits rise and something within him swelled as he acted as Harmony’s agent; he was doing what he was born to do and he felt a heady rush of power as he embraced his destiny, no longer resisting it.

Those who harmed the innocent and the defenseless must be made to suffer, and who knew more of suffering than one who had endured so much of it?

The drone army continued to flood into the cavern, moving with precision and incredible speed. Once inside, they would vanish, teleporting away and taking some of the golems with them. Bucky knew that the enemy knew that they were here, but there was a terrible battle being waged outside. He had known exactly when to strike. The fortress city was being hammered.

 

 

The earth ponies were being carried out by the dutiful drones and all was going well, or at least well enough. Bucky felt this whole process was too slow. He stood, waiting, watchful, conserving his magic as much as he could. His magic felt strong here, too strong, and Bucky knew why. This was a world were war and conflict never ended. He was terrified that he would be flooded with hatred in this place and ascend.

“Master, I am sensing some magic—”

Sunset Shimmer fell silent as a lone figure appeared in the cavern before them. An alicorn by appearance, the figure appeared to be tall and powerful. She was a dull, dusky pink and had a dark purple mane. The figure stood with her wings flared out and her head held high. Bucky noticed the war shoe on the mare’s front right hoof; in it was a bright orange gem that glowed with a pulsating inner light. Bucky knew right away who she was and what she represented.

“Lord of Winter,” the alicorn said in a booming voice, “you could not have picked a worse time to drop by. I must insist that you leave.” The alicorn’s horn began to glow with a blazing golden brilliance.

“I do my best,” Bucky replied, his voice snide and dripping with sarcasm, “you know, I can’t leave without the earth ponies. Surely, as the Element of Integrity, you must understand this.”

The alicorn mare sneered at Bucky and her eyes narrowed. “As the Element of Integrity, I must do what is right. I have been tasked with stopping you, Lord of Winter. The Night Stallion said that you are free to leave if you go right now. This is not an advantageous time to quarrel.”

“Oh come on, we both know that won’t be happening!” As Bucky spoke, he lunged and several icy missiles flew from his horn.

The battle started with a fierce cry from the enemy alicorn. To protect the drones and the comatose earth ponies, Queen Chrysalis cast a powerful shield bubble around the combatants and then tried to back away from the conflict as much as possible, so she could maintain her protective barrier.

Blazing as bright as the sun, Sunset Shimmer launched a wave of flame at the enemy alicorn. Her flames were blocked by a hastily cast spell mirror, and the flames slithered over the ground towards Bucky, who sucked them in as he made a dismissive wave with his gauntlet covered talons. Sunset went to work breaking down the Element of Integrity’s magical defenses, which were considerable already. With each spell stripped away, a new one sprang up to replace it.

Resorting to shadow magic, knowing that the mirror travelers sometimes made mistakes when it came to taking other forms of magic into account, Bucky cast a powerful terror spell upon the enemy alicorn, which he guessed was a pegasus wearing the Element of Integrity.

As the terror spell took hold, the alicorn let out a fearful scream that echoed through the cavern. Other drones had come to join their queen and they added their magic to the shield bubble as Queen Chrysalis scowled in concentration. If this magical battle escaped this shield area, everything that they worked for might be lost.

Sunset Shimmer began to cast a new spell, one she had only practiced with. Celestial Glory was a powerful, dangerous spell crafted by none other than Princess Celestia herself. Five glowing orbs appeared around Sunset Shimmer’s head, moving in swift orbit. The five glowing spheres grew in intensity, glowing brighter and brighter. The first orb burst and Sunset was covered in a powerful shield. The second orb continued to orbit, but was now flying around Sunset’s body, ready to act if a spell tried to strike Sunset. The third orb hit the ground and cast a ward spell, which covered the ground in an arcane sigil that would act to disrupt enemy spell casting. The fourth orb flew towards the enemy alicorn, struck her shields, and exploded. The fifth orb also flew towards the enemy alicorn and struck her.

“I CAN’T SEE!” Panicked, the enemy alicorn began to unleash a flurry of spells, which detonated all around her.

Worried, Bucky tried to counteract everything. These pseudo alicorns had great power, but not control nor understanding of their power. His own shields melted away and many of his protective wards were dispelled. His armor took a powerful blast and absorbed most of it, but Bucky knew that he would be feeling the backlash later.

Several things happened all at once. Bucky, using shadow magic, cast a globe of darkness around himself and the Element of Integrity. Queen Chrysalis’ spell bubble collapsed as the detonations spilled out into the cavern all around them. Sunset Shimmer was almost frantic as she tried to restore her own shields, which were getting blitzed by the panicked assault of the blinded, terrified Element of Integrity.

Using the darkness, Bucky slipped into shadow, winked, and then reappeared right as the Element of Integrity was casting a powerful dispel magic spell. Bucky became solid at the worst possible moment, right as part of his shadow essence was inside of the pink alicorn mare. He summoned all of his willpower as he became solid and real once more, hoping to hold himself together as their merged bodies intermingled.

The Element of Integrity gurgled as she looked down at Bucky and a dribble of blood trickled out of the corner of her mouth. Her eyes bulged as she looked down and saw Bucky’s gauntleted foreleg protruding from her chest, just below her neck.

When Bucky felt the beating heart of his enemy in the clutches of his gauntleted talons, he squeezed. The alicorn mare let out another gurgling cry and more blood trickled from her mouth. Bucky felt a moment of pity for her. In this form, she had immense power, she had immense strength, but she did not have the experience to use it, nor the willpower. His body had held true while her body had given way to his invading form. She had done nothing to shield herself from shadow attacks and had left herself vulnerable in the worst way. She had made a number of mistakes, and now, the dreadful consequences had manifested.

With a powerful jerk of his foreleg, Bucky yanked his talons out of the alicorn’s chest, and with them, her heart. Her wings flapped once and she blinked. Her legs wobbled and she fell over. Sprawled on the ground, her horn went dim and the gemstone in her war shoe ceased to glow.

Her body became that of a pegasus, her horn vanishing, and then, the Element of Integrity, which had taken the form of a war shoe, vanished. Bucky stared down at the dead pegasus mare, still holding her heart in his talons. Blood gushed out of the cavernous hole in her chest. All strength and power with no discipline, no understanding, no sense of nuance. Power without imagination or creativity was useless. A pegasus given a horn and made an alicorn without proper magical instruction wasn’t much of a threat, at least not to Bucky.

Saddened, Bucky tossed the pegasus’ bloodied heart down upon her body and shook his head as her wings gave one final twitch.

“Bucky… you’d better get over here!” Sunset’s frantic words made Bucky’s heart leap up into his throat and he turned to see what had gone wrong.

 

 

There was a stabbing ache in his barrel when Bucky looked down upon the ruined remains of Queen Chrysalis. Her hind legs were gone completely and her entrails had spilled out upon the cavern floor. A strange chemical stink filled his nostrils and made his eyes water.

“I’m not connected here,” Chrysalis said in a low gurgling whisper.

“We need to get her beyond the portal, now!” Bucky said.

“No!” Chrysalis thumped her foreleg against the ground. “No… listen to me… if you carry me over… everything we’ve worked for will be in jeopardy.” The bug queen paused and drew in a laboured breath. “When my consciousness resets in the spell matrices, many of the drones will shut down completely while others slow to a crawl. It takes several hours for the hivemind to reset itself.”

Bucky’s helmet vanished, becoming shadowstuff and then was absorbed by his body. He lowered his head down until he was snoot to snoot with Queen Chrysalis.

“I’m not scared anymore,” Queen Chrysalis whispered. “I feel good about what I’ve done… today, I was the good guy… I was fragile and weak… but I held the shield and kept others safe.”

“That you did,” Bucky replied in a flat voice as Sunset moved to stand beside him.

“Before I go… can I have a kiss?” Chrysalis asked, her voice somehow held a hint of teasing tone, even in these horrible circumstances. “Just a taste of your love…”

Bucky glanced at Sunset Shimmer and then looked back down at Chrysalis. Her forelegs twitched and more of her insides spilled out as he stood staring. Bucky was impressed that she was still somehow alive. “Is there nothing we can do to save you?”

“If you save me, the drones will shut down and many will be left behind.” Chrysalis coughed and her eyes shimmered in the faint light. “You were right, Bucky, the needs of the many—” Queen Chrysalis words trailed off into coughing and green spittle flew from her lips.

Bucky lifted Chrysalis’ head in his magic and looked into her eyes as he waited for the coughing fit to pass. Each breath she took was wet and soupy sounding. When the worst of the coughing had passed, Bucky touched his snoot to Chrysalis’ and he felt her trembling lips touch his.

He was then seized by powerful magic as Chrysalis got a good lip lock on him. Goo flooded out of her mouth into his, filling his lungs, going down into his stomach, he struggled for air, his body thrashing against the magical hold on him, but after a panicked moment, he realised that he didn’t need to breathe. He felt Chrysalis’ long tongue invade his mouth and the gooey kiss intensified into something terrifying and titillating at the same time.

Whatever was in his body was being absorbed and Bucky could feel himself changing; into what, he did not know. The powerful grip of magic let him go and Queen Chrysalis pulled away with a wet, syrupy, slurpy pop.

“They will obey you… the drones will obey your every thought, your every command.” Queen Chrysalis’ head dropped down to the stone and a long stream of greenish yellow slime trickled out of her nostrils. “I’m not scared any more… is anypony else seeing this weird albino earth pony?”

With a gasp and a cough, Queen Chrysalis breathed her last and went still.

 

 

 

 

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