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


915. 915

Flying through the rain put the fires out. The Bittersweet Sparkle now soared high, leaving the storm behind them, and heading in the direction that the ants had come from. More ants were visible down below. Ripple was eager for victory. The plan was simple, dead simple. Flood the ant hill and blast the ants as they came out. As it turned out, the ants were far too big to make rafts with one another and drowned in deep enough water.

What Ripple did not know was, with the ants increased size, they also had increased tracheae, the holes along their abdomen which they breathed through. These larger holes filled with water, causing the ants to drown, which is why giant insects were a rare mutation indeed. Tiny ants had tiny tracheae, and when small enough, it was difficult for enough water to enter to cause drowning, but drowning could happen. From a biological perspective, the bugs were doomed from the start.

But Ripple cared nothing about any of this. She just wanted to exterminate the bugs. Now it was time to make it rain, drop high explosives, and savour a sweet, sweet victory. She wondered how Lugus, Yew, Callum, and Freyja were doing in the village. She wondered if any of the ants had made it there.

She ignored the throbbing ache where she had been impaled. It was already healing, even though it was still quite painful. She stood on the edge of the prow of her ship, feeling the breeze flowing over her feverish skin, enjoying this quiet moment of rest between battles. She wore no armor save for her war shoes, her armor having been damaged beyond the point of wearing.

Near the deck gun, Archer and Boadicea were collapsed together and having a break. Archer’s skill as a gunner was going to be the stuff of legend, Ripple knew it. Her uncanny aim with the twenty millimetre deck gun had to be seen to be believed. She hit moving targets while shooting at them from a flying, moving ship. Such a feat demanded respect, and Ripple intended to make certain that her skill was recognised when they returned home.

“Rest up, Raptors,” Ripple said, her words little more than a savage grunt.



Collapsing down upon the wet deck, Scootaloo curled up into a ball and just lay there. Her entire body ached. Being a pilot was tough work. Her back ached, her legs ached, she had wrestled with the ship’s controls for hours. All that time spent in physical conditioning had paid off. She felt a nudge against her neck, a soft, but prickly touch.

“You did good,” Gofannon said with a chirpy voice. “This ship is hard to control and somehow, you managed. Good work, Table Scraps.”

Exhausted, Scootaloo beamed. A warmth blossomed through her barrel, restoring her fighting spirit, and she knew that if she had to, she could keep going. She just needed a little rest for a while. She heard hooves clopping over the deck and then felt a warm body flopping down beside her.

Turning her head, she saw Rumble. She rolled over, flung out her forelegs, and put them around Rumble’s neck. She squeezed, pulling him close, and then kissed him on the cheek, not caring who saw. He deserved that kiss… and so did she. She had just done something awesome. Something so awesome that even Rainbow Dash would be impressed. Lifting her head, she looked him over, hoping to satisfy her curiousity.

“Have you noticed?” Scootaloo asked. She saw Rumble nod.

Rumble’s cutie mark was simple and easy to understand. It left no question about Rumble’s future or what he was good at. It was a shiny bucket of water being poured over a flame. As far as cutie marks went, it was serviceable, functional, and didn’t need any fancy interpretation. What you saw was what you got. There would be no navel gazing, trying to ponder its deeper meaning.

“You’re going to be a hunky firefighter when you grow up,” Scootaloo said to Rumble as she lay sprawled out on the deck beside him.

“You know it,” Rumble replied as he let his head drop down to the wooden planks.

Exhilarated, glad to be alive, her blood still singing the song of battle and thundering through her ears, Scootaloo went limp against the deck and stared up at the gasbag up above her. She felt hot and itchy all over, sweaty, Scootaloo felt as though she had accomplished something. She lifted one foreleg, stretched it, flexing her different joints, and then allowed it to flop over her barrel. It felt heavy against her, but she made no effort to rest her limb someplace else. Thunder rumbled and cracked, causing Scootaloo to shiver-shudder. There was something primal in the sound that made her current state of being react in a way that she did not understand.

“Hey Leftovers…” Scootaloo said in a weary, almost sleepy voice to Rumble.

“Yeah, Table Scraps?” Rumble replied.

“I have a fire you can put out.” Scootaloo felt supremely silly about her attempt to flirt and she began to giggle. She didn’t see how Rumble’s face reddened, or how his wings twitched. She reached up with her leg and wiped her sweaty, soaked mane out of her face. The breeze hit her just right and she caught a whiff of herself. She stunk. She didn’t care. She was thinking about Rumble’s firehose.

“Look alive, I think we’re about to find trouble!” Ripple shouted.



The Bittersweet Sparkle was blackened and scorched. The leaks had been repaired, but the gasbag still needed some attention. The engines were running a little rough, a little hot, and power was getting low. The deck needed scrubbing, it was covered in bug guts, legs, heads, antennae, and other debris from the battle. The rushing rain had washed away much of the ant pheromones.

The crew were preparing themselves for the next battle, Raptors scrambled to take up positions along the edges of the deck. North Star and Kiara were reloading for another bombing run. Archer was already positioned at her beloved deck gun, which she caressed and rubbed with her cheek in a most disturbing affectionate manner.

Beside Archer, Boadicea was checking over her pistol, making certain that everything was in perfect order. She was sitting on a half full crate of twenty millimetre shells, ready to resume her duty of keeping the deck gun loaded.

The ship hit an updraft, tilted, water sluiced over the deck, washing away the many ant bits, and dribbled off of the back of the craft in rivulets. No one aboard paid any attention to the ship lurching and it was business as usual.

“Ants down below,” Grunion reported as he pointed down with an extended talon finger. “I can also see that weird looking sand that you can find around anthills.”

“Bones too,” Shaquah said as she looked down where Grunion was pointing.

Ripple heard the sounds of wings. The worst of the storm was behind them, destroying the ants in a deluge. She scanned the sky, noting that more flying ants were near. There were cliffs in the distance, a painted plateau rose up from the desert floor, and there were signs of ants in the area. She looked down below, her sharp eyes trying to look for openings, for some sign of entrance into the ant colony. She saw nothing.

“Something doesn’t seem right,” Rumble said as he stood ready.

“Explain, Leftovers,” Ripple commanded in a hard voice.

“In school, we learn that ants have multiple tunnel entrances and that ants keep a garbage pile, called a ‘midden.’ With ants this big, and this many, there should be a huge garbage pile and there should be some big openings. We haven’t found any.” Rumble trotted over to Ripple’s side and began peering over the edge.

“So maybe we’re not in the right place.” Ripple began pacing and there was a noticeable limp in one of her rear legs. She had been impaled on her right side, right between her ribs and her hip bone, and now it was obvious to all who were watching that she was favouring her right side as she moved.

“Look though,” Kiara said as she pointed with her talons. “Look around. What do you see in the distance? Nothing. No ants. The ants are all here, below us, and you can see a line heading off in the direction of the village and our last battle. The line stops here.”

“But there is nothing here.” North Star turned his armored head and looked at the griffoness sitting on his back. “There is nothing down below. No tunnels, no openings, just swarming ants.”

“So we have evidence of the ant hill…” Archer swiveled her deck gun around, looking through the magnification sights, her sharp eyes looking for some clue. She and the deck gun moved as though they were one entity. “Why don’t we just poke the anthill?”

“Fledgling Kebab, cause a commotion!” Ripple barked.

Ripple’s command still hung in the air as Archer opened fire. Far below, an ant was blown in half with one well placed shot. Archer acquired another target in an eyeblink and fired again. Then again, and again.

Below, the ants began to swarm. The Raptors looked down, trying to see what was going on. Griffons and ponies alike stood near the edge of the deck, all of them trying to see what was going on down below.

“I see ants coming out of the side of that plateau!” Kiara shouted in a screechy, excited voice. “They’re just appearing from out of nowhere! Watch and you’ll see what I’m talking about!” She pointed with her talons at the point where she had seen ants just appearing.

Squinting, Ripple watched. Sure enough, ants appeared to be materialising out of solid rock and swarming out over the desert floor. She could see the place where ants were pouring out in a single file line. Something seemed off.

“Changelings built hives in this place a long time ago before we chased them off,” North Star said as he too, watched the ants come pouring out. “The illusion magic that hides the entrances might still be functioning. I think we’re right over the ant hill we’re looking for. You can see the sand that has been displaced and the bones.”

“Are we going in?” Angus asked.

“No,” Ripple replied, shaking her head. “We’re gonna flood them. They’re going to drown in a watery grave. This is a valley floor… look around. A long time ago, this used to be a lake and that plateau rising up used to be an island in the middle. We’re gonna make it a lake again.”

“We are to minimise environmental damage,” Brigid said in a low voice.

“Think of it as returning this place to its natural state for a while. We’re gonna bring the water back. How many more of those big storm bombs do we have?” Ripple stared down at the valley floor below, watching as the ants swarmed around their dead.

Belisama held her head up high. “We have nine more.”

“We pegasi are the ancient guardians of rain and storms. I think it is time to bring water back to the desert. It is time to make it rain again. Raptors!” Ripple’s voice was a raspy bark of pain when she shouted the word ‘Raptors!’ She made a sweeping gesture with her wing towards the valley floor down below. “Release the rains! Let the desert bloom with life even as these sons of bitches die!”

“Gofannon, get this ship as high as you can! We need altitude!” Belisama commanded. The griffoness let out a peep as the ship lurched. “We need more cloudstuff… Raptors, fetch more clouds and fill the gasbag!”

The griffons scrambled to their queen’s bidding and Ripple nodded in approval as she paced near the edge of the deck. Ripple was certain that she could gain forgiveness for any environmental damage caused once she explained the situation. Her side ached and her blood still burned, but she ignored it.

Something in Ripple changed as she became the pony that she was meant to be. Even limping, her movements seemed a little more authoritative and commanding. She moved with a regal, confident bearing. She was going to pass this test, her Raptors were going to be recognised as an official regiment, and when she got home, she was going to stop being so damned shy and bed herself one sexy, sexy donkey and maybe a smoking hot purple-pink unicorn as well. At the same time. She nodded, grinning a lewd grin. That sounded like a damn fine plan, provided that all involved were agreeable. She was going to get her knighthood, she was going to be the most kick arse knight that she could be, and her father and Lugus were going to treat her as an equal, rather than a pupil. Life was going to be glorious. The griffons would sing her praises in the mead hall and her enemies would soon learn to fear her shadow.

Sentinel wasn’t the only one who could charge into battle, Ripple was about to prove that, and she was about to come home in one piece. (Mostly) Ripple was about to make a name for herself… a reputation. She was going to be the most kick arse commander of commando catbirds that Equestria ever did see.

The ship was buffeted by strong winds as it rose and Ripple waited. Soon, everything below her would be a lake and the ants would be purged. Then they would fly over the desert and mop up anything wandering around. Give Archer even more practice with the deck gun. Then, it would be time to go home as heroes.

Ripple couldn’t wait.




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