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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Shooed away from Berry Punch and Thistle, both of whom were far too busy to be messed with or teased, Bucky instead went about with his original plan. He headed for the foundry with Scootaloo bouncing along beside him, feeling very unsettled and disturbed. On one hoof, he felt good about spending some time with Scootaloo, on the other hoof, there was an ocean of thoughts that he didn’t want to think about lurking on the horizon of his mind.

“I’m not so sure it’s a good idea to pull me out of class,” Scootaloo said to Bucky as she followed him. “I mean, I’m already a little behind already because of the mission.”

“You’ll be fine,” Bucky replied, “you’re smart and focused. And I know you wouldn’t let anypony down.” He glanced over his shoulder at the foal. “Besides… consider this a special lesson.”

“So what are we doing?” Scootaloo asked.

Grinning, Bucky said nothing as the huge double doors of the foundry opened up and the autogyro was rolled out. He heard a gasp from Scootaloo and then she fell silent. Lugnut and Spanner were already geared up, wearing helmets and goggles. Safety was important. At Winterworx, safety was paramount. Except when it wasn’t.

The autogyro design was still being dialed in, but the current model was the one. From here on out, it was all about refinement and finishing. Bucky paused for a moment to take it all in. The craft had a shiny aluminium skin with no paint, to save weight. There were two seats in the front, surrounded by a molded and reinforced aluminium body. The right seat was for the pilot and the left seat was for the gunner. The gunner had a one hundred and twenty degree angle of fire available, with the front, the left side, and some of the left rear all accessible. There was a single rear seat in the back, then the engine and mechanical, then the airscrew. The rear gunner seat was the ground pounder seat. With the airscrew in the rear of the craft, the rear gun had been angled downwards, to shoot targets on the ground as the craft flew over.

It had been a difficult design choice. A fourth seat, for the right gunner had been considered, but it made the craft heavy and put too much weight on the forward section. So the gunning was stuck at some odd angles.

On this model, no guns had yet been mounted, but the mounts were there for mock ups so more testing could be done. The testing was important. There had been so much testing done already and the craft had never even left the ground.

“That’s amazing,” Scootaloo whispered.

“You’re going to fly it.” Bucky reached out and nudged the little orange pegasus filly beside him. She was growing up so fast. Twilight, Rainbow, and Flash wouldn’t have her for much longer. “I’m going to sit in the gunner seat in the front and I’ll be able to take over the controls if I need to.”

Scootaloo did not reply, but just stood there, open mouthed.

“We call this particular prototype ‘The Shootaloo.’ She’s built for speed and maneuverability and with her heavy gun mounts, she’ll provide blistering offense.” Lugnut reached out and patted the well polished aluminum skin. “She’s part of the Crusader class of autogyros, which were made with a crew of three in mind.”

“There’s others?” Scootaloo asked.

“Well, there are others still in prototype stages. ‘The Shooty Belle’ is our arcano-tech model, she has blend of magic and tech. And then there is ‘The Apple Doom.’ She’s our bomber and cargo model, built for work and a heavy load.” Spanner adjusted his goggles and then climbed in the rear gunner seat. Reaching out his talons, he helped to pull his mate, Lugnut, up and into the seat beside him.

“Helmet and goggles. I don’t want your parents killing me,” Bucky said to Scootaloo. After cracking a half crazed smile, he added, “Or you, for that matter. I have a lot of hopes and dreams for you as a pilot. I need you around for my plan.”

“Plan?” Scootaloo asked as she ran over to the pilot seat, stood up, and peered over the edge.

“In time. That’s serious stuff. We’ll deal with that later. Now is time for fun stuff.”

Scootaloo put on her goggles and then plopped the helmet down upon her head, smacked it into place with her hoof, and then scrambled over the side of the aircraft into the pilot seat. She settled in and began to familiarise herself with the controls. Pedals, a flight stick, a few levers, some gauges, and a few buttons. All simple. As she did this, Bucky sat down beside her in the gunner’s seat. There was a padded divider separating them and it was also a place where seatbelts were anchored. Not needing to be told, she strapped herself in.

“We’re not moving,” Bucky said with a teasing smile on his muzzle.

“Right.” Scootaloo nodded. She began to look at the labels for the buttons and levers. “Contact!” she shouted as she pressed the broad ignition button with her hoof. Nothing happened, but there was now a buzz. “Contact?” She waited, not knowing what was happening, and then, with a shudder, the autogyro came to life.

“The engine had to heat itself,” Lugnut said in a loud voice, speaking over the engine, offering an explanation, “so that the cylinders would be ready for fuel. Give it a moment and we’ll be ready to go. The blue handled lever is the brake.”

“Gotcha!” Scootaloo replied in an excited voice.

Waiting, wondering if Scootaloo would be able to get the craft to take off, Bucky’s nerves made him jittery in a most enjoyable way. While other ponies might not enjoy being in mortal peril, or risking life and limb, Bucky, and Scootaloo as well, both shared an appreciation for danger.

The engine smoothed out and Scootaloo watched as the engine temperature gauge rose. Beside it, another gauge labeled ‘Available Voltage’ also rose, rising from red, to orange, to yellow, and then with agonising slowness, into the green. The autogyro was far quieter than Scootaloo expected. The arcano-tech gyros were loud, buzzy things, and pony powered autogyros were deafening, clattery things.

Realising that she was being tested, that Bucky was seeing what she could do, but not telling her anything, Scootaloo released the brake lever. The craft began to roll forwards over the grass and the overhead rotor began to spin as air flowed around it. The craft picked up speed at an alarming rate and she adjusted her steering.

The craft had more power than she expected and it was difficult to keep it going in a straight line. The control sticks were touchy, twitchy affairs, the slightest movement had a major impact upon the craft. She forced herself to calm down so she wasn’t so jerky and the craft reflected her action—it smoothed out and moved straight ahead, picking up even more speed. The overhead rotor was making a wooshy sound as it grew faster and faster. It was now spinning fast enough to generate some lift, and the craft felt lighter as the wheels bounced over the grass. Each bounce felt as though it went higher than the last.

And then, after building up speed for quite a ways, the autogyro bounced but did not touch the ground. Startled, scared even, Scootaloo pulled back on the sticks and with a droning buzz, the craft rose up into the air, the overhead rotor tilting and the lift produced by the spinning blades lifted the craft into the sky.

Her vision blurred and Scootaloo knew that her eyes were brimming over with tears. She tried to blink them away and get herself under control. Crashing would be bad. The craft lifted and picked up speed, no longer held back by rolling over the grass.

She leveled it out just over the treeline and with a slow, graceful in flight curve, she turned the craft towards Ponyville. She marvelled at her own abilities, surprised by how well she was doing, amazed at how natural everything felt. Passing pegasi kept their distance. Scootaloo wanted to wave, but kept a tight grip on the controls with her fetlocks wrapped around the flight sticks.

The trees zoomed beneath them and when Scootaloo looked down at her instrument cluster, she saw that they were doing about forty one knots, with the gauge reading ninety knots as the top speed. The air smelled like the hayburger place, the mouth watering scent of fryer grease. Now, both Scootaloo’s mouth and eyes were watering.

In but a few minutes, they were over Ponyville, a long walk reduced to mere moments. More pegasi were flying around them now, but giving them plenty of room. With a toothy grin upon her face, Scootaloo buzzed over the rooftops, heading straight for the library.

As they flew past the library tree, Scootaloo watched as Bucky cast a spell. In mere seconds, the library was covered in a thick, blinding fog and a poofy white cloud appeared over it. It began snowing, which covered the ground and the tree at a surprising speed.

Pulling away, Scootaloo realised that she had to keep Bucky out of trouble. She veered away from the library, but it was too late. Something lavender streaked out of the fog and in no time at all, caught up to them.

Feeling confident in her control, Scootaloo grinned and waved at Twilight Sparkle, who flew parallel to them. Twilight wasn’t waving—no, she wasn’t, not at all—but shaking her hoof in a threatening gesture at Bucky. At least, Scootaloo hoped it was at Bucky. He was the instigator, she was just the pilot.

“Good, we have her attention,” Bucky said to Scootaloo in a voice filled with laughter, “now, I want you to evade her. Do whatever you have to.”

“Evade her? What do you mean—” The words died in Scootaloo’s mouth as Bucky launched an icicle at Twilight Sparkle. Twilight dodged, her lips curled back from her teeth, and then, much to Scootaloo’s worry, she flew right for the autogyro.

Gripping the controls, Scootaloo poured on more speed, taking them up to seventy knots, and then she took evasive action as a glowing orb of energy went whizzing past her head.

“Mom’s angry!” Scootaloo shouted.

“Eh, she’s a bit miffed,” Bucky replied, his head bobbing with agreement.

“She shot at us!” Scootaloo cried as she made the craft roll over. For a terrifying moment, the sky was below them and Ponyville was above them. From behind her, she heard screaming and somehow, she knew that Lugnut and Spanner were groping one another in terror. As the autogyro rolled, the engine sputtered a bit, but recovered when the craft leveled out.

“If she shoots you, you’ll be mustached,” Bucky warned.

“But I don’t wanna mustache!” Scootaloo shouted as she glanced over her shoulder at the alicorn she called mom. When another incoming spell came streaking in, Scootaloo gave the controls a hard yank to the left and for a dizzying moment, they were flying backwards. She had a full view of Twilight, whose horn was glowing. Scootaloo pulled up, angling the craft skyward, and jammed down on the throttle.

With her head snapping back into the back of her seat, she shot over the top of Twilight, who had to loop around to give chase. Maniacal laughter filled Scootaloo’s ears and she knew, she knew that getting into an aircraft with Bucky had been a terrible mistake.

Next, she angled the craft downwards, evading another shot that now flew over the top of the overhead rotor. She turned right and buzzed the Ponyville clock tower. As she did so, she felt her stomach clench as gravity’s merciless tugging threatened to make her insides go squirting out. The ground was beneath Bucky and the sky was above her—they were flying sideways and falling for the ground as there was nothing to give lift at this angle.

She gave the controls a sharp yank, leveled out, and then hauled back with everything she had, which sent the autogyro shooting almost straight up. She felt her stomach threaten to go shooting out of her backside and her eyeballs were sucked back into her skull, she swore she could feel them squishing against her brain. She tried to remember what Rainbow Dash had told her about dealing with gravity’s tyranny. Most pegasi never flew fast enough or hard enough to be punished by gravity. The craft was suffering too, as the engine sputtered from a lack of fuel. At least the airscrew, powered by an electric motor, never stopped turning.

She pulled back even more and then they were upside down again, with the overhead rotors now facing toward the ground. She kept pulling, straining, the controls felt as though they weighed a ton, the creaking sound of metal being fatigued filled her ears, and the autogyro looped. After much struggle, fighting against the controls, the ground was beneath them once more and the blue sky overhead, just as it should be.

Without warning, Twilight teleported right in front of them, but left Scootaloo plenty of room to react. Yanking back on the throttle, Scootaloo dropped speed, which caused the autogyro to drop from the sky. She flew beneath Twilight, jammed the throttle to three fourths, and then began to ascend towards the clouds.

Looking to her right, she saw Twilight flying alongside her, keeping up with ease. She also saw Twilight smiling, and her horn was no longer glowing. Scootaloo relaxed a bit, realised that the time for frantic action was over and she could now enjoy the flight a bit.

“You did good,” Bucky said to Scootaloo, “you did real good under pressure. I’m impressed.”

Nodding, Scootaloo knew that Bucky wouldn’t have said anything like that unless he meant it. He was that sort of pony. Twilight was flying close, but not too close. She eased off on the throttle a bit, fell back to a sedate forty knots, and then turned in the direction of the Canterhorn. It was time to buzz Canterlot and see what Bucky might do.

 

 

 

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