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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Berry Punch sat in the shallow lake water. She felt like she had been hit by a runaway wagon. Every muscle ached. She also felt pretty good all things considered. She leered at the pegasus bathing a short distance away. Once again, Berry had been dominated by the pegasus. And once again, Berry found that she didn’t mind.

Derpy was aware that she was being oogled by the earth pony and gave her something to look at, flicking her tail off to the side. She was recovering slowly. If she could ever perform a rainboom, this is what she imagined it might feel like afterwards. Everything was sore. She shook water from her wings and flapped a bit as she stood in the shallows. She was going to need to preen her wings. Some of her feathers were a bit ruffled and she was approaching what appeared to be a summer molt, which would be miserable.

Sitting silently in the water, Bucky watched the two mares as they bathed. Bucky felt fantastic. Today had been a wonderful day from start to end. The water was cool and felt pleasant against his skin. The sun was warm and soothing as it seeped into his bones.

“You know Bucky, your mane is starting to grow down the sides of your face. You are developing sideburns,” Derpy said as she squatted down in the water and wiggled her backside.

“I wonder if you will grow a beard,” Berry added.

Bucky shrugged but said nothing. He looked down into his reflection. He was indeed growing sideburns. His forelock was gone, burned away from around his horn, but it was growing back rapidly. His mane was long now, far longer than it had ever been. It flowed from his neck and spilled around his shoulders. The right side of his face was still hideous, he doubted that would ever change. The long gashes where the wolf’s teeth had scraped over his skull were still visible, and the spot where a chunk of skin had been torn away had left a concavity in his face. He craned his neck and looked at the scar below his jaw. Just a few inches over and his windpipe could have been torn open.

“Are you feeling sorry for yourself?” Berry inquired as she watched Bucky.

“Trying not to be,” Bucky answered with total honesty.

“You just had your brains screwed out and you are worried that you are ugly?” Berry asked, her tone slightly angry.

Bucky lifted his gaze and peered at her with one narrowed eye.

“Don’t test me Bucky. I’ll screw the self pity right out of you,” Berry threatened.

The stallion’s gaze softened and he slumped as he sat in the water. “I don’t recognise myself anymore. The inside and the outside are so different now,” he said in a low voice. “I haven’t even lived a quarter century yet and I can see grey hairs forming in my mane.”

“Those are silver, and they make you look distinguished,” Derpy interjected. “One day I am going to get some grey hairs. Will I still be pretty when I do?” she asked.

“Of course you will. I will always find you beautiful,” Bucky replied.

“And do you think that we somehow find you repulsive?” Berry asked.

“Well, no… but I know what I look like,” Bucky argued.

“I DON’T CARE WHAT YOU LOOK LIKE!” Berry shouted, her sudden outburst startling Derpy. Berry’s lip curled back into a snarl. “You look like the sort of pony that would protect my foals,” Berry growled.

Derpy nodded and began to draw her primary feathers through her lips.

Bucky looked down into the water at his reflection again. The face staring back at him was his own, like it or not. He sighed. “What if I scare my own foals?” he asked.

“Are you actually worried about that?” Berry replied in a gentle voice, her anger now gone.

“Yes,” Bucky said truthfully. “I don’t want to be the boogeypony.” He shuddered as he spoke, remembering the boogeypony in his own imagination.

“Foals are resilient. They will grow up knowing your face. You will comfort them. You will protect them. You will be a good father to them. I promise you, they will not see the face that you see looking back at you,” Berry patiently explained.

“We should be getting back,” Derpy said after she smoothed out a few more feathers. “Look, Bucky, I am more worried about how you hurt on the inside. I don’t care what your face looks like. If you can love my eyes, I can love your face,” the mare said.

“Technically, I loved his face earlier,” Berry quipped. “You loved the other end.”

 

 

The sun began to settle on the horizon and the sky began to turn purple and all of the shades of twilight. Dinner would be served soon and ponies were gathering in the dining hall. Bucky and his family were already gathered around a table, seated in their usual spots.

“Did you have a nice time?” Thistle asked. She was sitting next to Berry Punch.

“Yes Thistle, we did,” Berry replied. “I kinda wished that you were there with us.”

Thistle blushed at Berry’s words and then looked down at the table. The kelpie filly took a deep breath and then another. She smiled warmly and finally let out a nervous giggle. She didn’t say anything else and fell silent.

Bucky looked around him and watched his herd members interact. Piña and Dinky were busy talking about something, Sentinel was chatting away with Ripple, and Lyra conversed in a low voice with Loch Skimmer. Bon Bon and Derpy were busy discussing something between one another. Sparkler was talking to a noble that Bucky recognised, but could not remember his name. Rising Star was quietly watching other ponies and looked thoughtful.

Bucky felt a tap from behind him. He turned and saw nopony.

“Hi.”

He lowered his gaze and saw a tiny yellow yearling pegasus with a curly brown and pink mane. The foal was looking up at him intently. “Who are you little one?” Bucky asked as he turned around to face her.

“I’m Wheatberry,” the foal replied. She stood up on her hind legs and balanced with her hooves on one of Bucky’s front legs. “Hold me?” she asked.

Bucky glanced around, looking for a worried parent. He scooped the foal up in his front forelegs and cradled her, raising his eyebrow in worry.

“You’re my daddy’s knight,” Wheatberry announced in a tiny squeaky voice.

Bucky looked down at the foal. “Who is your father?” he asked. He had a good guess already, but wanted to make sure.

“Eggy,” Wheatberry replied.

“Eggy?” Bucky inquired, feeling slightly confused but still fairly confident that he knew the answer.

“Eggy,” Wheatberry answered as she nodded.

“And where is Eggy?” Bucky answered. “Should you have slipped away from him?”

“Daddy told me to find you and wait for him,” the foal replied. “I’m a big filly.”

“You sure are,” Bucky agreed. He felt eyes watching him. He heard a snigger from beside him. He sighed and began to rock the foal back and forth gently. The little pegasus was looking up at him, and Bucky felt an odd sense of relief that his face didn’t seem to be scaring her. Of course, if she was anything like her father, he doubted that she would be afraid of much.

The foal squirmed in his embrace, kicking out her stubby little legs and trying to get comfortable. Finally, she was sprawled out and ceased to wiggle so much. She continued to look up at Bucky and watched him as he looked down at her. “You are Broody’s mate,” Wheatberry said.

“Broody?” Bucky asked.

Wheatberry pointed at Derpy. “Stormy. Sometimes Broody,” she quipped.

Derpy had stopped talking to Bon Bon and was now squinting at Bucky and the foal in his forelegs. “You found a new friend,” Derpy said in a teasing tone of voice.

Bucky nodded but did not reply. Wheatberry was looking up at him with absolute adoration.

“Daddy talks about you,” Wheatberry said.

“Does he?” Bucky asked.

“Daddy worries about you. He says you are going to be the one though,” the foal replied.

“The one?” Bucky inquired.

“The one that finally saves us from the wolves,” Wheatberry squeaked. There was some fear in her voice now. She squirmed a bit and rubbed the side of her face against Bucky’s neck.

Keg Smasher finally entered the hall and stood in the doorway.

“Eggy!” Wheatberry cried when she saw her daddy. She pointed excitedly.

The big pegasus moved through the hall, studying the mood of his subjects. He seemed pleased as he crossed the room, and his hooves thudded on the stone floor with each step. He moved to the head of the table and sat down.

“I do believe I have something of yours,” Bucky said as he turned himself around.

“I see that,” Keg Smasher replied. “She wanted to meet you,” the big pegasus stated.

The foal in Bucky’s embrace made no move to leave, no attempt to squirm free, and seemed content to be held. She giggled as she looked at the big proud pegasus that was her father.

“She came home with me. Her mother lives on another isle. Winter Wheat is in charge there. Her mother is worried about the wolves,” Keg Smasher said in a low strained voice. “Winter is too dedicated to her job to leave her post. She is very protective of her ponies. So Wheatberry is going to be spending time with her daddy.”

“I’m a yearling,” Wheatberry bragged.

“I can see that,” Bucky responded in a soft friendly voice.

“My mommy is an earth pony,” Wheatberry announced.

“Do you look like your mama?” Bucky asked.

Wheatberry nodded.

“Winter Wheat is everything an earth pony should be. As solid and reliable as a stone. Resolute,” Keg Smasher quipped.

“And she can make beautiful foals,” Thistle said, her compliment causing Keg Smasher to look flustered. Thistle watched Bucky as he held the foal and she was aware that Berry, who was sitting beside her, was also watching. She gave Berry a nudge.

“Doing well Thistle?” Keg Smasher inquired, his voice now serious. “Are you happy lass? Your mother wanted you happy. I worry about you like you were one of my own… you know that right? I love you as much as I love my little Wheatberry there,” the pegasus confessed.

Thistle blushed and looked down at the table. Several times she started to say something, stammered, and then fell silent.

“We’ve accepted Thistle into our herd,” Bucky announced to Keg Smasher. “I’ve been meaning to tell you. Things keep happening. And you’ve been in and out.”

Keg Smasher grinned broadly. “I guess you’ll be needing me to marry the lot of you,” Keg Smasher offered.

Derpy swiveled her head around sharply and stared at Keg Smasher.

“She looks like a hoot owl when she does that,” Keg Smasher observed.

“She is in but we need to wait a bit for the marriage,” Derpy said in neutral tones.

“Why the wait?” Keg Smasher asked.

Thistle glanced around in worry but said nothing.

“Because. We want the cabin on the ship finished. I want Thistle to be taken to a place we can actually call home on her wedding night,” Derpy explained.

Thistle heaved a sigh of relief and leaned on Berry.

“You’re going to spoil my kelpie,” Keg Smasher said in a low voice.

“I intend to spoil my kelpie until she is absolutely rotten,” Derpy replied.

“I’m spoilt,” Wheatberry quipped.

“I bet you are,” Bucky replied. “And Thistle is my kelpie,” he commented.

“Meh, what’s mine is yours and what’s yours is mine,” Derpy said with a shrug.

“Thistle honey, I do believe that you are going to be fine. I hope you understand just how lucky you are,” Keg Smasher said solemnly. “That’s a load off my shoulders. Can I have my foal back?”

Bucky lifted the foal in his magic, causing the foal to begin giggling as she felt the tingles coursing through her body. He deposited Wheatberry into Keg Smasher’s embrace. The big pegasus hugged the foal for a moment and then gently sat her down on the table beside him.

“How long?” Keg Smasher asked.

“Hmm?” Bucky replied.

“How long till yon ship is fit to be a home?” Keg Smasher asked.

“I should have it airborn in a week,” Bucky said. “Hopefully the cabin will be done by then. By the way, I am going to need a lot of pegasi. I am going to need clouds. Lots of clouds. And I will need them all super compressed into the gasbag.”

“I will see that it gets done,” Keg Smasher answered. “And then I can finally put my head to rest about Thistle.”

“You really love Thistle,” Bucky stated rather bluntly.

“What gave you that idea?” Keg Smasher replied with heavy sarcasm.

Thistle blushed even deeper as the two stallions talked. She wrapped one foreleg around the curve of her belly and rubbed in a circle. She looked up and and over at Bucky with a shy expression upon her face and felt something deep within her barrel. Her gaze shifted to Keg Smasher. The two males were eyeing one another and the filly supposed that there was a lot of unspoken communication between the two. She felt a foreleg wrap around her withers and she rubbed herself against Berry Punch, who was holding her.

“I will see that she is loved,” Bucky said.

“Good, because I don’t just want her looked after,” Keg Smasher said as he wrapped a foreleg around Wheatberry and pulled her close. The tiny foal squeaked in alarm as she was squeezed. “Why is dinner taking so long?” he bellowed. He banged a hoof down on the table, causing Wheatberry to meep with fear.

Berry, still holding Thistle, looked over at Bucky. “That foal absolutely adored you,” Berry stated. “Do you actually think you need to worry about your face?”

Bucky slumped. There it was. Berry Punch’s final parting shot on the issue. He raised his foreleg and rested it on the table and sighed in defeat. The earth pony always had to get in the final word. She was always nipping at his heels. She was always pushing him forward. And he was thankful.

Finally, the doors opened at the first carts full of food were rolled into the dining hall.

 

 

Bucky yawned. Today had been a very long day by any standards. There was a bale of compressed peat crackling in the fire. He yawned again. He wasn’t going to get much done tonight. He was already in the bed, and had laid down before the others. Lyra’s lyre was soothing and smoothed out the unsettled thoughts of his mind. He was going to bed early.

In the corner, Dinky and Piña were huddled together, and Dinky had a bee summoned. He wasn’t sure what Dinky was doing, but he was proud to see her working independently. Dinky was the sort of foal who treasured self study. She was motivated. She had drive. He watched as she yawned. The yawn was contagious and Bucky felt himself yawn again.

Sparkler and Rising Star seemed no different, but Bucky knew that they had been changed. He wondered how long it would take before the noticeable changes might manifest. The pair were on a sofa with Loch Skimmer sandwiched between them, trying to get the pegasus to smile.

Lyra looked a bit tired but Bucky knew she would keep watch through the night. She had a brush and was trying to work out the tangles from Sentinel’s mane. The colt have given up protesting and now endured in the most stoic manner he could muster, glowering silently as he sat still for Lyra.

Derpy approached the bed and then vanished into his blind side. He didn’t need to turn his head to see her. Bucky knew that she was going to lay down by his side, right in the spot she had claimed as her own. He felt her warm soft body eased up against him and he relaxed a bit.

“I love you… and thank you for the nice time earlier,” Derpy whispered into his ear.

He felt the mare cuddle against his side and then he felt the reassuring weight of her head coming to rest upon his withers. It was an almost perfect end to a perfect day.

Berry approached the bed next. Eased onto the bed carefully and took her usual spot, pressing into Bucky’s other side. She folded her legs beneath her and pressed her head against Bucky’s neck.

“Where do I go?” Thistle asked.

Bucky turned his head to look at her.

“We might not be married just yet, but that doesn’t stop me from wanting my fair share of you,” Thistle stated in a small voice that was filled with just a hint of fear.

Bucky nodded.

Thistle squeaked as she was lifted into the air and dropped onto the bed before Bucky. She was sprawled out lengthwise in front of the three ponies. Thistle tried to get herself situated, pulling her legs under her and trying to shift her body into a position where her back didn’t hurt. She felt a weight resting upon the small of her back. She turned her head and saw that Bucky was using her as a pillow.

“There, now you have a spot,” Derpy murmured.

Thistle could feel Bucky’s neck against the curve of her expanded sides and along the swell of her belly. A moment later, she felt another weight upon her withers and realised that Berry was also using her as a pillow.

“Mmm, so soft,” Berry muttered before letting out yawn.

Thistle settled into her spot and realised that she could get used to this. It was comforting. She felt almost a little too warm and it made her feel sleepy. “Thank you,” she said in a small voice.

“For what?” Berry asked.

“For this. For taking me in. For making sure I have my own little part of Bucky,” Thistle said.

“What about me?” Berry replied. “Don’t you want a little part of me? My little parts are fun to play with,” Berry teased in a sleepy voice.

Thistle felt a hot flash travel through her body and a fire ignited between her hind legs. It burned with a low steady heat. She squirmed, rather enjoying the sensation. She heard a sniff from Bucky and felt him shift slightly.

“Mmm, perfume,” Bucky breathed in a drowsy voice. It was the last thing he said as he drifted off to sleep at the end of a perfect day.

 

 

A blizzard swirled all around him. Bucky had trouble remembering how he had gotten here. He vaguely remembered a long walk. He looked behind him and could see hoofprints in the snow, hoofprints that were already vanishing. He could barely see, but there was light ahead, something large and well lit loomed in the distance.

It must have been his destination. The cold must be getting to him. Surely it was his destination. He could see the trail behind him. He felt disoriented and confused. He leaned into the wind and pressed onwards, heading toward the light in the distance.

After what felt like a small eternity of walking, fighting for each step as he walked into the gale force winds, he reached a large gate. It was a city, and the gate was made of crystal. In the distance, he could see a tall tower. All around the tower was the city, full of short buildings. Nothing was tall enough to even begin to threaten the supremacy of the tower.

Snow swirled all around him as he worked his way down the snow covered streets between the buildings. The tower seemed to grow larger and larger as he drew closer. There were no ponies to be found. Nopony came out to greet him, or to welcome him. He crossed through another gate and reached the large double doors at the base of the tower.

The doors opened and a blast of heat flooded outwards, and the sudden rush of heat made Bucky’s legs wobble. He began to sweat almost immediately.

He went through the massive doorway and the doors shut behind him. He was in a hall made of crystal. Magical lamps shone brightly. There was only one direction to go and Bucky trotted down the hallway, his hooves causing the crystal floor to ring out with each step.

There were tall crystals along the sides of the hall and he paused to look at one as he passed. It flickered with an unearthly light. Bucky studied the structure, and, as he watched, he could see a face on the inside of the crystal. A ghostly form was inside. It was a pony, a pegasus pony. Bucky could still see her wings. Her eyes were large and pleading. Bucky touched the crystal with his hoof and the apparition inside the crystal touched the inside of the crystal, trying to touch his hoof. He felt pained when he realised he could do nothing to help her, nothing to free her. He backed away from the crystal in horror. She didn’t even have a body anymore. She was a ghost of what she once was, preserved in crystal.

And the long hall was full of crystals. Bucky recoiled in mortal terror.

He forced his legs to work, trying to reach the double doors at the end of the hall. Even with the heat, Bucky felt a cold chill in the air. Now that he was aware of them, he could not stop looking at them. He saw faces in crystals peering out at him.

Finally, he reached the double doors and they opened.

Bucky’s heart sank when he saw what was on the other side of the doors. A black and shadowy figure sat upon a throne. He had a red crystalline horn. He was wearing armor of ancient make. To his left, chained to his throne, was Princess Luna and strange black crystals grew from her horn. To his right was Princess Celestia and she too had black crystals growing from her horn. Twilight Sparkle was chained to the floor directly before him and she had been incapacitated as well. All three of them looked bloodied and beaten, but not broken. Each of them looked defiant. Angry.

“At last, my heir returns,” the shadowy figure announced.

Bucky was not in the mood for pleasantries. He curled back his lips, bared his teeth, and snarled. It was the only appropriate response he could think of.

“You do not even have your proper teeth yet,” the figure said with a chuckle. “But you have been busy. You have survived and reclaimed your horn. You have kept your magic.”

“Where is Cadance?” Bucky growled.

“I am so glad you asked,” the figure replied.

A door off to the side opened and a golem emerged. It was a large bipedal figure and it dragged the chained pink alicorn behind it.

“Do you know who I am?” the figure asked. “This one,” he said, pointing at Celestia. “This one tried to rob you of your destiny. She meddled with your mind. She held you back, tried to prevent you from becoming what you were meant to be. She kept you from remembering me.”

Bucky’s mind flooded with images. Nightmarish images. He recalled everything all at once. The bad dreams. The magic surges with cold. Celestia entering his mind, filling it with warm soothing light, and making all of the bad dreams go away. He recalled the rush of gratitude that he had felt. He had begged her to make the nightmares go away, the shadow that lurked in the dark.

The boogeypony.

More importantly, Bucky remembered meeting the real Sombra down in Tartarus.

“You are a fragment of what you once hoped to be and you aren’t even worth remembering,” Bucky said defiantly.

Shadow Sombra snarled and leapt down from his throne. He landed with the clank of armor and glared at his heir. The air around them crackled with energy.

“You are a failure!” Bucky shouted.

“So are you!” Shadow Sombra retorted. He began to laugh maniacally. “You have already embraced the darkness. You are becoming what you were always meant to be. Look at yourself,” the fell pony hissed.

“Let them go,” Bucky demanded.

“No,” Shadow Sombra said. “After all, this is what you wanted. What you see here is what your heart truly desires. This is a world of your making.”

Bucky felt the cold tingles of confusion linger in his spine. “I do not want this,” he growled.

Shadow Sombra pulled Cadance to him with his magic. Cadance cried out in fear and then summoned her courage. After her brief lapse into fear, she restored her fighting spirit. She kicked and pulled against her bonds.

Bucky realised that she was pregnant. He could feel it. He didn’t know how he knew, but he could feel the life within her.

He saw her lifted and then hurled across the room. She was impaled on a spire of crystal. Bucky felt his heart leap into his throat. Rage boiled inside of him. Blood began to pool at the base of the crystal and Cadance writhed uselessly.

Before Bucky could even release his magic, he was blasted with a black blast of dark energy, and it sent him sprawling to the floor. He struggled to move and found that he could not. Pain wracked his body. The pain was terrible, but he had endured far worse, and he found that he could deal with the pain.

“Agonising, isn’t it?” Shadow Sombra asked.

Bucky gave Shadow Sombra what he wanted. He groaned in agony and Shadow Sombra looked pleased. Bucky struggled to restore control to his body. He summoned his force of will, which was his strength. He could hear Cadance’s dying gurgles and it stoked the fires of his rage.

“You have done everything you were intended to do,” Shadow Sombra said. “You have survived to this point. You are worthy as my heir.” Shadow Sombra pulled out a spellbook from behind his throne and Bucky recognised the sigil of Star Swirl the Bearded. The fell unicorn began to read to himself and the remaining three alicorns struggled against their bonds.

Bucky writhed in pain. Real pain. He wasn’t acting, hoping to buy himself an advantage against Shadow Sombra. Something was happening and he didn’t know what.

“You have nothing left to fight for. Even now, you are killing those you love, removing the last vestiges of your weakness. The chains that this one manipulated you into wearing are breaking one by one,” Shadow Sombra said, pointing at Celestia as he spoke. There was a flash from the red horn.

It was as though something had been torn from Bucky’s soul. He screamed in agony.

“Look, even now, the change takes hold,” Shadow Sombra said.

Bucky felt his head being forcibly turned by magic and he was forced to look at his own haunches. His cutie mark was gone, replaced by a spire of crystal. There was pain in his mouth followed by a strange numbness. Something sharp dragged over his tongue.

“You took shadow essence from that pathetic mewling wretch you call your son,” Shadow Sombra whispered as he loomed over Bucky. “Do you even understand what you have done? What you have done to yourself? The change you have brought about in your own body? You infused it into your horn, just as I hoped that you would do and you left the door open for me. You were so easy to manipulate. In your fear and desperation you foolishly turned to magic that you did not even understand. And now, as I have you in my thrall, you are destroying everything you hold dear as I claim your body.”

Bucky raised his head defiantly. He glared at Shadow Sombra balefully. Magic surged through his body. His remaining eye turned red, and the white of his eye turned a sickly green. A hazy purple aura drifted from his eye, and black flames wreathed his fulgurite horn. The dark magic came easy for Bucky now, there was nothing left but pain and rage. It flowed from him like a river. Bucky saw a glint of surprise and fear in Shadow Sombra’s eyes.

He unloaded everything he had on Shadow Sombra and sent the fell unicorn flying. The throne room shattered all around him and reality fell apart.

And Bucky fell into blackness in more ways than one.

 

 

The bed was cold. There was no fire in the fireplace and the room was dark. The air was frigid and stung his skin. Bucky realised with growing horror that Thistle’s body was cold. He raised his head and prodded her with his snoot. There was no warmth in her body. She was stiff and lifeless.

Bucky wanted to feel something, but felt only emptiness. He could feel other cold bodies pressing up against his sides. He was in a bed full of dead ponies. He did not shout, he did not scream, he did not want to disturb the dead. He ignited his horn. A short distance away, he saw Lyra and Bon Bon slumped over on the sofa. Sentinel was with them. The room was covered in ice.

He had done this. His control had slipped. He lifted himself out of bed, the horror of the situation settling into his bones. He heard the howling of the wolves. He stumbled through the room in shock, unable to deal with what he had done. All that remained of Bucky’s equinity was a fragile spark and it flickered as it neared extinguishment. He made his way to the door. He pulled the door open and realised the wolves were in the castle.

The hallway was dark and cold. The walls were coated in ice. In the distance, there was a dead pegasus. Bucky stumbled forward, hoping to find the wolves. He intended to let them finish what they had started.

There was no point anymore. No reason to continue. No reason to push forward through the pain. It was over. There was no point to anything. Bucky felt dead inside, and his heart felt as cold as the ice coating everything around him. He turned his head and looked back at his haunches, and saw that his mark had indeed changed, the hops plant now gone and replaced by crystal shards.

His mouth felt funny and he ran his tongue over his teeth. He had fangs now. Much to his dismay, he had become what he was meant to be. He turned towards the door of the room that he had called home during his stay here. There were only dead things in there now, including Bucky. He realised that the room was his grave. Whatever he was, it had died in there.

He turned again and then stumbled away.

The wolves winked around him but made no move to attack. They bowed to him and Bucky realised that he was their master now. There would be no escaping by throwing himself into their jaws. There was no end.

He could still take his own life. He contemplated the act. He wondered how, which way would be easiest. A shard of glass over this throat would be easy. Self immolation. He committed himself to this course of action and then once again, turned back towards the room he had left.

He chose to die with those he loved.

He returned to the room, his steps heavy and his hooves dragging. He stepped through the door slowly, and his horn flared brighter. He made himself look at what he had done. They all appeared to have died in their sleep, except for Bon Bon, Lyra, and Sentinel, who had died huddled together. Reaching out with his magic, he closed Lyra’s eyes. He couldn’t bear her looking at him.

He approached the bed, torturing himself, wanting to suffer for what he had done. Derpy’s wing was askew, not quite folded in as it should be. He must have disturbed it when he had fled from the bed. Using his magic, he tenderly tried to put it back the way that it should be. It was stiff and lifeless. He reached out and gently stroked her tail, wanting to feel it for one last time. He touched Berry apologetically, wishing that the earth pony was still alive to put him in his place.

“No sense putting this off,” Bucky said to himself. He turned towards the window and prepared himself for what came next.

“Father?”

Bucky froze. He could actually feel his blood chill and he lost control of his bladder. His good eye clenched shut. Now he was being tormented for what he had done. His sanity wavered, a fragile thread that could break at any moment.

He heard the door slam shut. “I had to sneak past the wolves and oh shite…”

The voice trailed off and Bucky heard a gagging sound. He forced his eye open. Sentinel stood at the door, blinking in horror at the bodies around him. Bucky gibbered wordlessly in fear and panic.

“This is a dream,” Sentinel explained in a frightened voice.

“How are you here? You're dead!” Bucky said accusingly. “How do I know if you are real?”

“I am dream walking… I didn’t know I could do it. You started thrashing in the bed. You kicked Berry. The room got cold. Real cold. And then Lyra started shouting about dark magic and there were black flames coming off of your horn and it was Lyra who realised that something was trying to take your mind. You blasted a big chunk out of the ceiling. Right now Lyra is containing your magic while the others have you pinned. Bon Bon told me to get inside your head and save you or I was going to be in a world of pony shite and I don’t want to be in a world of pony shite with Bon Bon and she looked really angry like she meant business and-”

“Sentinel, is that really you?” Bucky interrupted.

“I really hope that you are you. I ran into another pony I thought was you. It was dark. He had a red horn. He’s running around inside of your mind. He hurt me… I had to run away,” Sentinel replied. The colt looked terrified. “You don’t look right…”

“How did you get your name?”

Sentinel blinked. He looked up at Bucky. “I watched over your foals and-”

“I made you my squire, Sentinel,” Bucky sobbed, his emotions finally breaking down. His hind legs gave way and he sat down on the cold floor with a thud.

Sentinel hurried forward. He plowed into Bucky and wrapped his forelegs around Bucky’s neck, squeezing tightly. “We need to get out of here. We need to break the spell.”

“How?” Bucky asked.

“I don’t know, I didn’t even know I could dream walk, the gift is rare among my kind,” Sentinel replied. “So many bodies…” the colt said fearfully.

“I thought I had killed you all,” Bucky said. “I love you so much Sentinel, I never want to lose you.” Bucky wrapped one foreleg around the colt and held him close.

“We need to wake you up,” Sentinel said.

“I thought I already woke up,” Bucky replied. “I woke from another dream and saw all of this.”

“Trickery and treachery,” Sentinel explained. “All of this shadow. Bad shadow. I’m scared.”

“And you are hurt,” Bucky said, noticing the singed hair and burned skin.

“The other pony hurt me,” Sentinel said, repeating what he had said previously.

“None of this is real,” Bucky said, mostly to himself.

“I have an idea,” Sentinel said.

“What is it?” Bucky asked.

“I need your forgiveness sir, for what I am about to do,” Sentinel begged in a pleading voice.

“Forgiveness? For wha- DAMN!”

As Bucky spoke, Sentinel clamped down on Bucky’s leg, sinking his teeth down until he felt them strike bone. Realising it was not enough, Sentinel gnawed. He felt sicked and ashamed for what he was doing as Bucky’s screams filled the room. Sentinel let go of Bucky’s leg, spitting out blood and hair as he did so.

And then, reality fell away from both of them.

“Forgive me,” Sentinel cried as the blackness rushed to claim both of them.

 

Author's Note:

Chapter 100.

Sentinel's true purpose within the herd finally revealed.

 
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