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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Bucky winked away in a burst of cold and teleported himself down to the ground. He reappeared in a burst of snowflakes, a side effect to his spell that he had no control over. Around him, several ponies shivered and then smiled at him. The hull was almost finished, covered in resin to revitalise the wood. He glanced upwards at The Scorned Mare and felt a strong sense of appreciation. Soon, it would be time to construct the gasbag.

He moved through the crowd. Some were helpers who were resting, while others were simply observers. Ponies bowed their heads as he passed, and he felt a moment of annoyance each time.

He felt that his long conversation with Rising Star had gone well. He reflected as he walked, realising that there was a time in his life that he could never have had the conversation he had just had.

But things had changed.

Well, some things had changed. Bucky was every bit as insecure as he was before, and in light of recent revelations, he was once again forced to self evaluate what he was and try and make sense of all the broken pieces. And there were many broken pieces. He was all too aware now just what his weak points were after last night. He cast a glance over his shoulder at the ship behind him. He would not repeat Sombra’s mistake. He would keep his family close and keep them as safe as they could be given the situation.

His legs stopped working as he suffered a flash of memory and he froze in place. He wasn’t just gaining back his memories, he was gaining Sombra’s memories. Whatever the fell shadow had done to him was now merging the remains of Sombra’s mind into his own, but Bucky took consolation in the fact that his mark had remained unchanged. He was still himself. Once again, he had endured, and he was stronger for it. He reminded himself that at one point, Sombra had been a good pony. A powerful defender. A guardian. If he was to continue Sombra’s legacy, if he was to be Sombra’s heir, he would follow in Sombra’s stead, continuing the good that Sombra had done and not repeating Sombra’s mistakes.

And his mind was filling with Sombra’s many mistakes.

Bucky rarely made the same mistake twice, and always took time to learn from his errors. And now he had the rare opportunity to gain a wealth of knowledge from somepony else’s mistakes.

Bucky willed his legs to begin working again and he took off limping.

He pushed the troubling thoughts from his mind and other thoughts rushed in to take their place. He was imbued with shadow essence now, which is how the fell shadow had worked its way into his mind. Sombra had done much the same a long time ago, infusing shadow essence into his horn when he created his replacement.

A whole new realm of magic now stretched before him. He had infused his horn with shadow to make his spells more effective against the wolves, not fully understanding what would happen when he did. Bucky was going to have to spend time with Sentinel and attempt to study shadow magic so that he could find out what he was now capable of. Shadow diving was certainly possible. Dream magic? He had taken Sentinel’s shadow essence, and he theorised that he should be capable of anything that Sentinel was capable of.

His mind raced with ideas and new possibilities. New magic. New discoveries awaited. New power. Harmony magic, dark magic, and now shadow magic. Sombra had learned much about shadow, and ideas trickled through Bucky’s mind as Sombra’s memories slowly surfaced in his consciousness.

In his mind, there was one major difference between him and Sombra’s fallen shadow. The shadow wanted to continue Sombra’s worst work, preserving the pony race in crystal. It was all the fell shadow could think about. It as an obsession. Crystals was the only thing the fell shadow could think about. Bucky shared no such desire. No, he wanted foals. The word had branded itself into his brain. It was all he could think about. Not just his foals, or making foals, but all foals. He would keep them safe. He would treasure them. He would see them safely into adulthood. He would protect his species as Sombra had once done.

The unicorn shivered as he walked, a strange mania settling into his brain. Celestia had wanted him to teach. She had said that he would make a good teacher. It was Celestia who had made him Dinky’s tutor. She had set him on the path. How much did she know?

She had said the same words to Sombra, begging him to call off his war, to settle down, and become a teacher.

Bucky gritted his teeth. When this was over, he would let go and let the war end. He would teach. He would settle into a quiet life with his family, head a school, be a father, and brew beer. And he would let the war end.

He cringed, feeling another mental barrier break. He felt the corner of his remaining eye twitching. More memories flooded into his mind as they had been doing all day. He had kept himself contained somehow, functioning even as he was breaking down.

Memories of being a foal and having bad dreams about two red glowing eyes, two glowing coals in a bed of sickly green and a glowing hazy purple aura. A black shadow with a red horn. It had showed him things. Bad things. The awful nightmares.

Bucky staggered, his legs failing him once again. Ponies were looking at him now. He stood on wobbling legs, trying to reassert control.

Celestia had shone her light into his mind and had banished the shadow. She had blocked out other things as well. So many other things. A small part of his mind wanted to hate her for it, but that was a dark corner that hated the light.

Bucky struggled, trying to force his legs to work. He heard himself cry out even though he was not directly aware of doing so. He could feel his new fangs pressing into his lips, he opened and closed his mouth, mindful of his new teeth, and sheathed them behind his lips, carefully hiding them. He could feel the points of his upper fangs peeking out.

Bucky nearly fell, one front leg buckling. Several pegasi guards emerged from the gatehouse and drew near.

“Lord Bitters?” one asked.

Bucky struggled to reply. More things began to break down. It was like a dam springing a small leak and then the water pressure slowly building to make the break larger and larger. He felt a piece of himself break away.

He had a terrible memory of desiring Dinky and the terrible truth of that fateful day settled into his mind, overwhelming him. He painfully recalled smashing his head into a wall repeatedly to assert his will. The overpowering need he had felt for Dinky. It was also when he had realised how much he loved her. He had held off most of the city of Ponyville that day. He had cracked his horn… the first major event in a long string of events involving his destiny occurred that day. He had used dark magic.

His legs finally gave way and he fell to the ground. Pegasi were all around him now. “My room,” Bucky croaked. He had been going to see Sentinel and check on his colt, but now he realised that he needed Bon Bon. He felt himself being lifted and he felt dizzy. His vision faded in and out and he saw faces creased with concern.

“Go find his matriarch,” one pegasi commanded.

Bucky heard the flapping of wings as he was carried away.

 

 

Bon Bon frowned with worry as she rubbed Bucky. He had been carried back to the room in quite a state, and now he was slowly calming down under her touch. Lyra was dribbling cool water over his head and Sentinel watched with silent concern from nearby on the bed.

She couldn’t even tell if Bucky knew she was there. He was muttering about protecting Dinky and his remaining eye rolled around crazily in its socket as his eyelids fluttered.

“At least he isn’t dangerous,” Lyra whispered. “I do believe he is suffering some after-effects though,” she added with a concerned frown. Her horn flared with golden light and her magical lyre appeared. It began to play a soft tune and Bucky calmed slightly.

“Good thinking Lyra,” Bon Bon praised.

Lyra gave the earth pony a half smile and looked down at Bucky.

His eye closed and his twitching ceased.

“I’m putting him under,” Lyra announced. “Poor fella needs sleep. He’s been working too hard and then last night happened. Don’t worry Bonnie, I am confident that it is safe for him to sleep,” the unicorn whispered reassuringly.

Bon Bon leaned down and kissed Bucky behind his ear, which caused his body to start slightly and his ear flickered. “Sleep,” she whispered into his ear. “Your slumber is guarded by those that love you,” she breathed into his ear as she continued to knead his taut muscles along his spine. She felt his body relaxing and felt relieved.

Bon Bon and Lyra sat in silence and Sentinel quietly watched his father sleep. He crawled forward on his belly over the bed and settled in by Bucky’s side.

“Are you suffering Sentinel?” Bon Bon inquired in a soft voice after several minutes.

Sentinel did not reply right away, but after sitting in silence, he finally nodded slightly.

Lyra retrieved the small drinking glass she had been dribbling water over Bucky’s head with, uncorked the whiskey jug, and poured a jigger into the glass. “I feel funny giving him such strong drink,” Lyra admitted in a soft whisper.

“We have nothing else,” Bon Bon whispered in reply. “Sentinel, baby, you need to drink some water too, okay?” the earth pony urged.

Lyra extended her magic and held the glass out to Sentinel’s lips. The colt swallowed the jigger of whiskey in one gulp and grimaced, his body shuddering as he swallowed.

Lyra conjured up some water in the glass and was getting ready to give it to Sentinel when the door opened. She turned her head and saw a flash of grey.

“Is he okay?” Derpy said in a quiet voice as she entered.

“He’s sleeping. I don’t know what happened,” Bon Bon replied. “Lyra put him under.”

“Good, he needs rest,” the grey pegasus agreed. “How is my colt?” she asked, reaching the bed and touching Sentinel on the nose with her wing.

“We just gave him some more whiskey,” Lyra replied.

Derpy’s face remained impassive as she looked down at Sentinel. “We can’t have him suffering,” she stated.

“Dinky,” Bucky muttered in his sleep. “Safe.”

Derpy raised her eyebrow.

“Must keep all foals safe,” Bucky grumbled.

“When he was brought in he was muttering about foals,” Lyra said to Derpy. “And I remember last night…” the unicorn’s words faded out as she spoke.

“He’s dreaming already, how odd,” Lyra commented. “Usually when you go to sleep it takes a while to dream. Look, you can see his eye moving just behind his eyelid,” Lyra observed.

“He’s smiling,” Derpy said, obvious relief in her voice.

“He does look happy at the moment,” Bon Bon agreed in a low voice.

Lyra held the glass full of water to Sentinel’s lips and the colt drank greedily. She refilled the glass and Sentinel guzzled the second glass without protest. Afterwards, he laid his head down. In moments, his ears drooped, and not long after, he too went under, blissfully slipping away from his pain.

Derpy leaned down and kissed the now slumbering colt between his ears.

“He’s different,” Bon Bon whispered. “He’s clung to Lyra and I all day today while we slept. Usually, he’s squirmy and we have to smoosh him for his own good.”

“I woke up and he was crying his eyes out,” Lyra said in a low voice.

“He and I talked this morning,” Derpy said to the two mares.

“He told us,” Bon Bon replied.

“Called us both mama,” Lyra said. “My heart felt squishy.”

Bon Bon rolled her eyes at Lyra’s words but said nothing.

“Before the sun sets, I am going to cast one of those wards here in our room. It is going to take a lot out of me. I am going to need time to recover and I might need somepony to carry me to dinner. Last time I used dark magic I also sneezed for hours. I hope that doesn’t happen again,” Lyra announced.

Derpy closed one eye and focused on Lyra. “I don’t care what you have to do or what kind of magic you resort to. You keep him safe,” Derpy instructed.

“Got it,” Lyra replied. Her eyes narrowed. “I protect what is mine,” the unicorn said in a forceful whisper. One ear flickered and the corner of her mouth twitched slightly. She looked down at Bucky and then her gaze shifted to Sentinel. Her eyes lingered on the colt. And then she brought her gaze up to Derpy. “I want to be a mother,” Lyra whispered.

 

 

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