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


928. 928

He had to be quick. Bucky thought back to the Warp and his time spent there. Sure, it had been awful, but the unpleasant experience had given him a few gifts. Useful gifts. He raised a chronosphere around himself, in Tartarus, time passed differently and he needed a way to stabilise it. He had to make sure that not too much time passed while he was away. The last thing he wanted was to go there and discover that a thousand years had passed in the mortal realms.

In his previous excursions, others had adjusted time. Now, he was going on his own.

A somewhat clear liquid dribbled from his now empty eye socket as he cast other protections. There was work to be done, so much to do and so little time. Lifting his talons, Bucky focused his will and drew upon his magic. Not his unicorn magic, no, but something else entirely. The Warp had changed him. For better? For worse? Did it matter either way? The claws on the ends of his talon-fingers glowed with a faint throbbing purple-green light.

Extending his foreleg, Bucky cut a circle in the air with his talons—right away, he was blasted with a wave of heat and stench. With a thought, he drew his ancestral armor around himself, pulling it out of shadow. It was time to go. Tartarus was under new management, but it was still Tartarus, and as such, dangerous.

Pausing, Bucky considered what he was doing. Yes, it was necessary. He had a plan and he would see it through, no matter the risks. He ignored the throbbing pain in his head and the dull ache of his now empty eye socket.

Glancing at the door, he worried about Sunset. She was the most likely to force her way in. He had trained her too well, too much. She was as powerful as he… almost. He had trust in his wards though, his defenses.

Grimacing, Bucky stepped through his portal to Tartarus and vanished.



Sitting in the mud, Derpy reached out one filth encrusted wing, grabbed Sentinel, and pulled him closer. She got him into a headlock-hug of sorts, gave him a squeeze, and then let out a laugh. A few feet away, Harper was trying to shake and kick off a thick layer of mud that encased her entire body. The grey pegasus was now black with mud and the only discernible feature visible was her eyes. Her mane was now sharp black spikes of crusted mud.

Not far away, Diamond Tiara wallowed in the mud, glad to be alive, and thankful to still be drawing air. The mud was cold and she was shivering a bit, but she didn’t mind. Parts of her were still hot from laughter. She tried to pull herself free, but found that she couldn’t. Looking over, she saw Derpy hugging Sentinel, and Sentinel was hugging his mother back. Seeing it made her feel something, but Diamond Tiara couldn’t say what it was, but she felt relieved.

“Harpy not happy. Not happy at all.” The walking mudball made her way to the edge of the water, stuck in her muddied hoof, and then jerked it back out again, shaking her head. “BRRR!” She leveled her pouty gaze upon her older sibling, and, flicking her ears, dribbling mud, she stuck out her tongue at Sentinel. “Bad! Bad! Bad!”

“Harper, do you need a bath?” Derpy asked.

“Yes!” Harper snapped, not sounding like her usual happy self. “Harpy black. Not burple-blue!”

“If we go inside, we’ll track mud everywhere.” Sentinel had regained some, but not all of his maturity. Something almost resembling a smile could be seen upon his face beneath the caked on mud. “Wait… Bon Bon is home today… oh no…” The colt let out a worried sounding whimper.

“I have mud in places I didn’t know I had,” Diamond Tiara announced in a matter-of-fact voice. Reaching up with her front hooves, she sculpted the mud in her mane, turning it into a massive mud-mohawk. Black goo squirted from between her hooves as she smoothed her mane and made it perfect.

“If Bon Bon complains, we’ll give her a hug to make her feel better.” Derpy smiled, revealing white teeth that gleamed in contrast against the black mud slathered over her face. “You know, some ponies go to the spa and pay a lot of bits to get covered in mud. They’re stupid.” Reaching down, Derpy poked her hoof into the mud and it made a flatulent squish. Pulling her hoof out, she slung a blob over at Diamond Tiara.

It hit the mud covered filly and made a wet splat.

“Come on, let’s go and see if we can get cleaned up a bit before we go inside…”



Looking around, Bucky found himself in a vast, jagged plain. Bones were strewn about and strange creatures could be seen lurking. Overhead, a dull green sky shimmered. A noxious, nauseating light shone down from the sky, and cast everything in a diseased yellow tint. This wasn’t quite where Bucky had hoped to go, but he knew the general region. These were the Plains of Woe. Something misshapen, twisted, and too horrifying to describe flew overhead, but it left him alone, so he left it alone.

He wasn’t sure which direction to go. The geography of this place was ever changing, but the regions somehow persisted. He was on the central plane of dread in Tartarus. This wasn’t such a bad place, really. He breathed in the toxic, life-snuffing fumes that passed for air in this place and found that they weren’t so bad. This was the upper layer of Tartarus, it existed like frosting on a very rotten cake.

The ground around him was red and rusty looking, bleak, and there were lots of jagged rocks. He went still and let his senses focus as he tried to get his bearings. He heard the sound of running water after several long seconds of intense concentration. He took off at a trot towards the sound, hopeful that he might get his bearings if he was lucky.

After a short trot, he found himself near a river, but he didn’t know which one. He knew which way it was flowing though, and that was helpful. He needed to go to where the river ended, the Sea of Woe. He looked down at the rushing waters, wary of danger around him.

It could only be one of five rivers. The river Acheron was the river of woe, and the largest river in this region. The river Cocytus was the salty river of lamentation, and was said to be the tears spilled from the eye of every mortal who had ever lived. The river Phlegethon was the river of fire, and since the river in front of him wasn’t burning, Bucky deduced that it had to be one of the other four. The river Styx was the river of the unbreakable oaths, its waters had a binding effect, and swearing upon the river was said to create an unbreakable promise of magical compulsion. The last was the river Lethe, which held the waters of forgetfulness.

Like a statue unmoving, Bucky thought about the river that washed away memory. He could do things with such waters. Terrible things. Justifiable things? Perhaps. If his enemies couldn’t remember what they were fighting for, perhaps they would stop fighting. He sighed and knew that Celestia would find such a solution monstrous. Or would she? He didn’t know.

He began moving, trotting along beside the river, watching as it flowed over rocks and ancient bones. After a few minutes, Bucky realised that walking was for chumps. Wings of black shadow sprouted from his sides and in seconds, he was borne into the air.

The hideous creatures around him gave him a wide berth. Bucky didn’t know what they were, nor did he care. So long as they left him in peace, he would leave them in peace. Some might attack them, thinking anything so gross and twisted had to be evil, but Bucky understood, perhaps better than others, that appearance did not make one evil. He too, was now misshapen and twisted. He wasn’t quite a pony any more and he thought he looked a little more draconequus than anything, but he knew that appearances were deceiving. He wasn’t a draconequus either. He wasn’t an immortal creature of chaos.

He was a creature of consequences, at least, that is what he told himself.

Flapping his wings, Bucky saw a vast sea in the distance, far, far on the horizon. He could see the delta, the place where the five rivers poured into the Sea of Woe. Seeing this soul shriveling sight gave Bucky strength, and he hurried forwards.



He touched down on a beach so terrible and alien that it could only be called a beach by broad definition. It was a beach of cooling slag and bits of razor sharp glass-like fragments. The waves that washed up upon the shore were bubbling, boiling iron and other metals. The five rivers drained into this sea of churning, demon blood infused liquid metal. Even more terrible, things lived in this sea, and Bucky could see their monstrous forms porpoising through the waves.

A massive serpentine head broke the surface of the sea, roared, then chomped down upon some indescribable mutant horror. It snatched it up, made a few bites, then dragged its meal down below the boiling, churning depths. Bucky watched all of this with no reaction.

He looked upon the sea of resources and pondered its glory. Here was a vast sea of magically infused iron. With a little study, he would learn its secrets, know its strengths, and with it, he would make weapons. He would make armor. He would turn the tides of war.

Before he could do that though, he needed some samples. He needed to be able to show that this was a good idea, a worthy idea, one worth pursuing. With this sea of boiling iron, he could make guns, he could make swords, axes, maces, he could make armor, he could make bullets… he could make golems of unbelievable power. Unstoppable juggernauts.

“Buckminster Beauregard Bitters—”

Oh noes, she had used his full name, including the middle one… Bucky paused, feeling sphincter-clenching terror course through his body.

“—I demand to know, what are you doing here?”

Cringing, skulking in his armor, he turned to face the white alicorn behind him, wondering how she had known he was here and how to find him. He thought he had been thorough in covering his tracks. He thought about his options, he could try running, but that never worked out well. She had him, fair and square.

“Hi, fancy meeting you here—”

“Do not even try.” Celestia narrowed her eyes.

Deflating a little, Bucky felt his tail tucking between his legs. He ducked his head like a scolded foal and did his best to look as pathetic as possible, hoping for mercy. As the waves of boiling iron crashed against the black slag beach, Bucky let out a whimper. He was caught.

“I am not buying it,” Celestia said in a firm voice.

“I was sightseeing?” Bucky offered.

“After you tore out one of your eyes?” Celestia replied.

“Um… I—”

“Choose your next words carefully,” Celestia said, offering up a warning. “And stop looking so pathetic. It is just awful.”

Knowing he was busted, Bucky decided that telling the truth was the way to go. He would start at the beginning, outline his plan, and make every attempt to be rational, reasonable, and sane sounding, as tricky as it might be in this situation. Taking a deep breath, he made ready to tell Celestia everything.



Eyes narrowed, Celestia stared out upon the boiling sea, her ears angled forwards over her eyes. Bucky looked up at her, trying to read her face, not knowing, not able to tell, and it drove him crazy. He had spilled out everything, everything, and she had not made any reply. Not so much as a sigh even. No reaction at all.

“You wish to treat Tartarus as a mine.”

That was the gist of it. Bucky nodded. “Yes, yes I do. The mirror travelers, they made a mistake. They made a deal with the demons in their Tartarus, but they made the wrong deal. I suspect the metals here have fantastic properties just waiting to be discovered. There are resources here we can exploit. And I don’t mean reckless exploitation, I mean careful study.”

“I understand what you are saying,” Celestia said in a low voice as she stood unmoving.

“The mirror travelers are adapting science and technology to aid them. I say that we should go with our strength… magic. They want our world because it is so strong with magic. We’re sitting on a massive stockpile of magical might. This might be our salvation.”

“I am inclined to agree.”

“Look, I am positive that I can convince you if you give me a—what?” Bucky paused and shook his head.

“I am inclined to agree. Begin studies at once. You and Rising Star are to make this a priority.” Celestia’s statuesque form rippled with motion as she looked down at Bucky standing beside her. “Keep me informed of any developments as they happen. This is one of your better ideas, Buckminster. I wish that you would have come to me before doing what you did.”

“I thought you’d say no,” Bucky replied.

“At some point in the recent past, I might have.” Celestia turned her head and once again, she looked out upon the stormy sea. “But I have grown tired of losing. I have grown tired of playing nice, of playing fair. I have grown weary of being reasonable. There is too much at stake. Warmaster, make weapons of war fit to match my glory. I know I will not be disappointed.”

Nodding, Bucky couldn’t believe what he was hearing. “For you, anything.”






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