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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Sleepiness finally overtook Bucky. He carried himself and those he loved back to the bed. He carefully settled both himself as well as Derpy and Sentinel into the bed, easing in gently so he wouldn’t disturb anypony. He reveled in their warmth and the sounds of their breathing.

As Bucky drifted off to sleep, his mind reflected upon all of the changes that he had endured, and it occurred to him that with his coming struggle against the wolves, protecting his skin with a suit of armor would not have been enough.

He needed Sombra’s sense of steely resolve, a means to armor his insides. For all of the terror he had endured, the fear of losing himself, the fear of losing his family, he had gained something he needed. Something he was lacking. He had come away from the nightmarish experience a greater pony.

He could feel the steady rise and fall of Thistle’s warm body beneath his head as sleep came to claim him and pull him into the slumbering realms. He felt Berry shift and push herself against his side. He could hear the voices of Bon Bon and Lyra, and they sounded distant. He could hear their happiness. Even amidst all the darkness, they were happy.

The last sensation he felt was a rush of gratitude, thankful to no end that the bodies around him were warm and breathing.

 

 

An all too familiar expanse of grey stretched out all around him and Bucky knew right away where he was. Tartarus, on Sombra’s purgatory plane. An odd sense of calm settled over him as he peered around, looking for two figures that would be wanting to see him.

He didn’t have to wait for very long. He could see them in the distance, drawing closer. He thought briefly about a thousand years trapped in this place, with nothing to do but walk around and talk. He wondered if they had ran out of things to talk about long ago.

He also thought about the love that must sustain them.

He trotted off in their direction, eager to meet them, to talk to them, a hopeful feeling permeating through his bones. These were his grandparents. His family. And family was all one really had in the world along with friends, who were really just the family members that you chose to have, rather than the ones given to you by blood.

“Are you free yet?” Bucky asked as they drew close.

“Not yet,” Sombra replied.

“We are hopeful though,” Platinum stated in a musical sounding voice.

Bucky’s ears dropped. “I kind of knew the answer, but I was hoping that with the recent nightmarish sequence of events that something might have changed,” he said disappointedly.

“Nopony has ever come this far. Most have slipped into darkness long before reaching this point,” Sombra said as he raised his head proudly.

“I fell into darkness as well,” Bucky said in shame.

“You used dark magic… you tapped your inner darkness. But you have not failed. Not yet,” Platinum said encouragingly.

“We saw everything. Just as we have always seen everything. Forced to watch as soul after soul falls away into darkness. It has been difficult to endure,” Sombra explained in a pained voice.

“I need to know, what would have happened if I had killed myself in the dream?” Bucky inquired in a low strained voice. “I need to know, please tell me,” he pleaded.

Platinum made a pained groan in the base of her throat and squirmed. Her eyes closed and she struggled with some great internal conflict. She reached out with a foreleg, wrapped it around Bucky’s neck, and pulled him close. She held her distant grandfoal for several minutes, saying nothing, wrestling with some great inner pain.

“Had you killed yourself in the dream,” Sombra began.

“Sombra’s shadow would have claimed your body. That was his plan. What made you what you are, what made you you would have died and he would have seized your body. And when your body woke, it would have been his body. And he would have been free to continue his rampage,” Platinum continued.

Bucky reeled from the revelation and felt his hind legs give way. His backside hit the grey expanse and he felt Platinum holding him ever tighter. She was sitting now as well, and she pulled him closer.

“I miss holding my foals. I loved them dearly. I was such a spoiled little princess… I was a terrible noble. My foals taught me so much and made me a better pony,” Platinum said with a sniffle.

“You were unbearably stuck up,” Sombra agreed.

Platinum turned her head and shot her husband a dirty look. “You do not need to agree so readily,” she snapped.

“Sentinel saved us all,” Bucky murmured, ignoring the banter between the couple. “He might have saved all life in Equestria.”

“Hmm?” Platinum inquired.

“Sentinel. He saved us all, didn’t he? When he came into my head and pulled me out? If I would have killed myself and that fell entity would have taken my body, he… he would have killed them all upon waking, wouldn’t he?” Bucky asked in a trembling voice that dripped with fear.

Sombra and Platinum both looked terribly sad, their momentary squabble forgotten. Platinum nodded slowly, and then she pressed the side of her face against Bucky’s.

“He had one chance at taking you over, and now it is gone,” Sombra said.

“So he can’t try again?” Bucky asked as he leaned into his grandmare’s embrace.

“I do not think so,” Sombra said. “You know too much now, and your mind is far too aware. To try and take you now would be foolish, and would only be done out of desperation. You would be far too difficult to take now,” Sombra explained.

Bucky took comfort in the words spoken by Sombra as Platinum continued to squeeze him. She was humming something, and it sounded like a lullabye of some sort. It was soothing and it settled his mind.

“I have so many questions now that I am aware of so much more,” Bucky said.

“Like what?” Sombra asked.

“Do they actually love me?” Bucky inquired.

“I am not sure what you mean,” Sombra replied as he sat down next to Platinum.

“My wives… do they love me because they want to love me or do they love me because Celestia manipulated them into loving me?” Bucky asked in a strangled voice. “She crafted so many chains to bind me… he showed me everything.”

Sombra sighed and leaned on Platinum. “Lies can be found in truth and truth can be found in lies. Love does not work that way. You cannot create something from nothing, you will end up with poison that will rot the soul,” he answered. “Celestia had to have something to work with. The seeds were already planted. She simply cultivated them… she created the perfect opportunities for growth. And Cadance fertilised the soil, so to speak. It has been difficult on Celestia, watching so many fall into darkness. This time, she listened to my advice, and played to win. She may have cheated a bit, but can you fault her?” Sombra asked.

“It is only cheating if you get caught,” Platinum muttered. “I much prefer to call it “unicorn cleverness” because cheating is such an ugly word,” she added distastefully.

“What of Thistle? Celestia has had no influence upon her, and she loves you a great deal. Do you doubt that?” Sombra inquired patiently.

“I’ve figured out how to communicate with the living through paintings made of me, and that isn’t cheating, I am merely bending the rules just a little bit,” Platinum grumbled.

Sombra rolled his eyes and wrapped a foreleg around Bucky. “What of Sentinel, who loved you enough to brave the darkness of your mind and endures such agony even now? He is completely free of Celestia’s influence. He did what he did of his own volition,” Sombra stated.

“Sentinel is far more worthy as my heir than those sniveling little snots calling themselves my foals,” Platinum muttered in disgust. “I plan to tell Celestia that too,” she groused.

Bucky took a deep breath and let it out slowly.

“You are loved because you are worthy of being loved,” Sombra insisted.

“So what do I do now?” Bucky asked.

“Continue on as you have been doing. Play with your foals. Drink strong drink. Indulge yourself in hot wet mareflesh every chance you get and - OW!” Sombra recoiled mid-sentence as Platinum whacked him over his head with her hoof. “Learn to evade,” Sombra suggested. “I swear, you hit like a pegasus, where did you learn how to do that?”

“Pansy, you nitwit, or have you forgotten all the times she had to set you straight?” Platinum replied. She glared at Sombra fiercely. “You unleashed that oaf Hurricane on her and he read to her the most horrible poetry to try and win her affections. You deserved every lump she put on your skull!”

Sombra slumped in shame.

Platinum cleared her throat and continued. “Deal with the wolves Buckminster. Smite them. Destroy them. Free the isles. Keep to your oath… do not bring harm to another equine. Be the guardian you were meant to be. Go home and aid Celestia. Serve the empire,” she commanded.

“You said that Celestia would restore my memory in time, when I was ready… but I have my memories now. I have them but I am not ready for them, am I?" Bucky inquired.

Sombra shook his head sadly. “It was a cunning blow to attempt to undermine your strength. You have endured somehow,” the elder stallion stated.

“Unicorn cleverness,” Bucky muttered, causing Platinum to give him a sour look.

“No dear, that was cheating,” she corrected. “Dirty fighting. The act of a coward,” she said with a haughty sniff.

“It isn’t cheating when we do it?” Bucky asked, his head cocked to the side quizzically.

“Well of course not. When we do it, it is unicorn cleverness,” Platinum said dismissively. She rolled her eyes and gave Bucky a squeeze. “How did you make it as far as you have? You are so thick headed,” she said in a lovingly worried voice.

Bucky blinked a few times. “I am too stupid to quit?” he offered.

“Perhaps,” Platinum replied. She kissed Bucky on his cheek and stroked his face with her fetlock. “You just continue being stupid and I think you will be fine. It softens a mare’s heart knowing she has to look after a soft headed nitwit,” she said as she cast a meaningful glance at Sombra.

“Seeing both of you like this…” Bucky said, not knowing what else to say.

“Celestia wanted you to see how we were in life. Previously we were on our best behaviour. We do not get visitors very often,” Sombra explained.

“Celestia was bound in chains… he said that what I saw in the dream is what I wanted. Is that true?” Bucky inquired, knowing that he was heading into dangerous territory.

“There may be a grain of truth there. The part of your mind that carries the dark taint certainly feels that way. You can free yourself of that however,” Sombra replied.

Bucky struggled to internalise the thought. Three princesses in chains and Cadance dead. He felt a now familiar lump rise up into this throat. “I do not want that,” he whispered in a strained voice.

“Then do not allow it to happen,” Platinum said soothingly into Bucky’s ear.

“I would rather be Celestia and Luna’s servant, a worthy protector to Cadance’s foal, and a guardian to Twilight the Scholar,” Bucky stated. “Cadance is pregnant, isn’t she?”

“I do not know,” Platinum answered as Sombra shrugged.

“How much does Twilight know about this?” Bucky inquired. “And if Star Swirl had trouble with friends, how did he have foals?”

“Twilight has restored her half of Star Swirl’s corrupted destiny spell and is even now as we speak further enduring her trials and tribulations. She is slowly learning her role in all of this. She is atoning for Star Swirl’s many failings. She will reclaim Star Swirl’s mantle of Scholar, just as we are feeling confident that you will inherit Sombra’s mantle of Guardian,” Platinum explained.

“But if Star Swirl was such a stick in the mud…” Bucky said, referring to his earlier question.

“My brother had wives. Several. He met with them once a year during their heat, got roaring drunk, indulged them, and then secured himself back in his tower,” Sombra answered.

Bucky cringed. “That’s awful,” he muttered. “So I guess I got the short end of the stick when it came to fate… when destiny decided my role in the universe,” Bucky said, changing the subject.

“What do you mean?” Platinum inquired.

“Twilight gets to be Princess Celestia’s personal student, is fated to secure herself in a library living a mostly comfortable life, but I get to go out to some wretched isles, get chewed on by wolves, branded with white hot irons, and I am haunted by my long dead however-many greats grandfather’s shadow. She gets sunshine, rainbows, and friendship, and I get darkness and pain,” Bucky complained.

“Very different things are expected from a warrior,” Sombra said solemnly.

“You got to keep both of your eyes!” Bucky snapped.

Sombra’s expression became pained and he squeezed Bucky close for a moment.

“I had something chewing on my face! CHEWING! And on my legs. It tore a chunk out of my side. And I can remember all too well the feeling of something scraping around the inside of my eye socket as they fished out the remains of my ruined eye when Keg Smasher tried to save what was left of my body. Those wolves didn’t wait for me to die before they started eating me. They drained my life,” Bucky snarled.

“And Twilight remains whole of body, secured in her library…” Platinum whispered, trying to calm her grandfoal’s nerves.

Bucky nodded.

“She has suffered as well. In a different way perhaps, but she has known suffering. Perhaps once all of this over, you two should sit down and have a long talk. It would be a wise thing to do, seeing as how both of you are meant to restore the balance. The scales must be corrected,” Platinum continued.

“The symbol of House Avarice is a set of scales,” Bucky commented, his flash of anger now cooling off.

“Yes it is. Perhaps it is time for them to take on a new meaning,” Sombra suggested.

“No,” Bucky replied. “When I go home, I am dismantling House Avarice. I will live to see their end. I do not plan to hurt them, but they cannot be allowed to continue to exist,” Bucky stated forcefully.

“Be careful,” Sombra warned. “This is how it starts. First the wolves. Then House Avarice. When does the war end Bucky?” the elder stallion asked bluntly.

Bucky flinched. “But I am meant to be a guardian,” he said in reply.

“And as guardian, is it now your place to dismantle your former house?” Platinum inquired as she lovingly stroked Bucky’s chest. She kissed him softly on his cheek and looked at him sadly.

“They are a threat to Equestria,” Bucky retorted halfheartedly.

“More than you know,” Platinum said.

“How am I to be a guardian if I don’t go out and battle Equestria’s foes?” Bucky asked in confusion, unable to process the seemingly conflicting ideals.

“If we are to ever be free of this place, you must figure that out,” Sombra said. “I have no answers for you. I failed,” he stated in a voice that trembled with raw emotion.

“I wasn’t there to place much needed lumps on his head,” Platinum said sadly.

“Oh little miss high and mighty… Princess of Perfection. Like your life was free of mistakes,” Sombra grumbled as he rolled his eyes. “Buckminster, unlike you, I had no choice in the matter. I had to marry her.”

“Ooooh you… thug!” Platinum squealed. “I was the best thing that ever happened to you! How could you?” she squeaked.

“You didn’t want to marry me, you had to be tied up in rope, drugged to stop your magic, and then brought to the marriage,” Sombra muttered.

“Pansy, Clover, and Smart Cookie did what was best for me,” Platinum retorted. “I learned to love you… I did love you! I still love you! I am here with you now you cretinous pudding snooted oaf!”

Bucky raised his eyebrow and looked at his ancestors.

“I even forgave you for our wedding night you creep!” Platinum shouted.

“Woah, wait, wedding night?” Bucky said, attempting to pull away from Sombra.

“I am sorry dear, it is not what it sounds like,” Platinum said, her tone softening.

“Funny story actually,” Sombra said, not relaxing his hold on Bucky.

“He never did anything untoward towards me,” Platinum explained.

“And it made her angry,” Sombra stated.

“Well of course it did! I was in bed with you, tied up, drugged so I could not use my magic, and you rolled over and tried to go to sleep you inconsiderate pile of dragon droppings!” Platinum shrieked.

Sombra slumped and looked guilty.

“I thought I was not worthy for him. There I was, tied up, helpless, probably the most desirable mare of the age, and he rolled over and tried to sleep. I had never felt more insulted in my whole life,” Platinum fumed as her voice softened.

“You begged me to not have my way with you,” Sombra grumbled.

“Well, I did, that is true, but then you just rolled over and ignored me,” Platinum said with a sniffle.

“I am very confused,” Bucky admitted.

“So was I,” Sombra announced.

“Did you want him to ra-hhmmmph!” Bucky’s words were cut off as a pearlescent white hoof was forcefully jammed into his mouth.

“Tut tut, no using such foul language around a lady and your grandmare,” Platinum scolded. She looked at Bucky, her eyes full of blazing intensity. “I was already his by marriage,  I figured I would make the most of it, and I expected him to at least attempt to woo me, or at least offer me some kind words and reassurance before he took me, but no, he had to roll over and try to go to sleep,” she explained. “So insulting,” she murmured, her hoof still planted in Bucky’s mouth. She pulled her hoof free, shook the slobber from it, and still feeling damp, wiped it on Sombra.

“She was inconsolable, and she bawled hysterically, making it almost impossible to sleep. So I untied her and then tried to roll back over and go to sleep, thinking she would escape out the door. At this point, I was ready to let her go… I could always hunt her down later, or so I figured,” Sombra said, smiling as he told the story. He seemed unphased by the slobbery hoof wiped over his chest.

“So very rude,” Platinum quipped, rolling her eyes.

“So she curls up against my back, sobbing, and asking me why I did not find her desirable. And she just would not stop. At some point, I felt sorry for her, even though I was rather irritated because I really wanted to sleep. So I rolled over and held her and tried to make her feel better,” Sombra said as he pulled Platinum a little closer and squeezed Bucky as well.

“At some point during all of this, I fell in love with the oaf,” Platinum interjected. “He was just holding me, nothing more, not taking liberties with my body, or anything untoward. He could have. It was his right to do so.”

“This is really awkward,” Bucky stated, feeling himself being pressed between the two. “Parents and grandparents should not talk about their wedding night with their offspring. Nope.”

“He waited for me until I was ready, he was patient with me. He told me I was worth waiting for, though he might have only said that to comfort me… and now I wait for him, here, in this place,” Platinum continued.

His grandmare’s words slammed into Bucky like a wagon full of bricks. He felt his mind reeling and his thoughts felt jumbled.

“Remember me for the good I have done,” Sombra rumbled into Bucky’s ear. “You draw near the conclusion of all of this. Return to Celestia in triumph. You have my memories, both good and bad. Do not repeat my mistakes! Eventually, all of my memories will come to you.”

“Tell my grandfoals that I love them,” Platinum said, tears springing to her eyes. “Oh to hold a foal again,” she whispered. “Tell Sentinel he is worthy,” she instructed.

“Will we talk again?” Bucky asked, realising that he was fading.

“I hope so,” Sombra said.

“But if we do not, it is because we have gone through the gate,” Platinum said. “So be happy for us!”

“I will,” Bucky promised as he continued to fade.

“Good luck,” Sombra said in parting as Bucky blinked out of existence.

 

 

 

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