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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“I have served but I don’t have a rank,” Rising Star said to Loch Skimmer, correcting her earlier statement she had made after he had thought about it for a while. “So you are not the only one without a rank.”

“Yeah, but you got a title, and you are now Lord Rising Star,” Loch Skimmer argued.

“Yeah, but I was considered too dangerous to be around other ponies in combat in case I flared or ignited,” Rising Star mumbled.

“And I am just a boring pegasus,” Loch Skimmer said, watching a butterfly go fluttering past, her eyes bright and happy.

“You are not a boring pegasus. Your sister is mastering the arts of war and you are Berry Punch’s perverted pupil,” Sparkler said, prodding Loch Skimmer in the ribs.

Above them was loud cry, and all three of them looked up. Above them, a dark figure popped into existence, and leathery wings could be seen fluttering.

“He’s too disoriented to fly!” Loch Skimmer said, her pegasus observation kicking into overdrive. Her wings whipped out. Rising up on her hind legs, her broken leg clutched to her barrel, she kicked off from the ground and shot into the air, her powerful wings creating a downdraft that kicked up debris all around her and her companions.

She was airborne in seconds and hurtling skyward.

“How did he end up outside of the ship?” Sparkler asked in a panic.

“Hold on Sentinel!” Rising Star shouted.

Loch Skimmer flew through the air, her legs folded against her body, her ears folded back against her skull, and she moved as fast as her physiology allowed. She was made for strength while her sister was made for speed, but in this instance, strength was needed. She maneuvered beneath Sentinel and then tried to adjust her speed to match his freefall speed so there would not be a painful collision. She had seconds, the ground was already too close for comfort.

There was no time for corrections, Loch Skimmer gritted her teeth, and braced for impact. Sentinel slammed into her hard enough to knock the wind out of both of them, and Loch Skimmer struggled to keep her wings flapping. For a moment, she lost her own orientation, and couldn’t tell which way was up or down. She saw stars in her vision, and there was a stabbing pain right between her wing joints. There was no time recover, she bucked her body, tossing Sentinel free from her for just one second, rolled over in the air, caught Sentinel again, clutched him tightly to her barrel, wrapped her body around him as best as she could, and then a moment later, she crashed withers and shoulders first into the ground, hitting hard.

“Loch?” Rising Star asked, the first to reach the crashed pair. “Sparky, go get help!”

Sparkler took one long look at her mate and her younger sibling, and then ran off shouting. She didn’t have to wait long, guard pegasi were already hitting the ground.

“Loch, talk to me, say something before I piss myself,” Rising Star pleaded.

“I finally did something heroic… ouch,” Loch Skimmer groaned. “Sentinel?”

“I’m good,” Sentinel said after sucking in a gasping breath. “Can’t see, sun blinded me.”

“Loch, is your leg okay? Did you bump it? Does it hurt?” Rising Star asked, his voice full of worry and concern. He pranced in place before darting forward and nosing both Loch Skimmer and Sentinel.

Loch cradled Sentinel in her embrace, and neither of them made any move to separate. They could feel each other’s hearts thudding crazily, and Sentinel rested his head on the crook of Loch Skimmer’s neck, where it met her chest.

“What happened little guy?” Loch Skimmer asked, extending her wings and making sure they were intact. They were sore, but seemed to work.

Sentinel did not respond. He shuddered, grunted, and wrapped his forelegs around Loch’s neck, squeezing her tightly.

“I know this is embarrassing Sentinel, but your little balls must be sucked right up inside of your body… are you okay? What happened?” Loch Skimmer asked, running her good foreleg over Sentinel’s spine and trying to comfort him.

Other guards were crowding around now, waiting, trying to see if the pair was okay. As they watched, Sentinel gingerly pulled himself away from Loch Skimmer, stood on wobbly legs, and staggered away. Rising Star helped Loch Skimmer get up on her hooves, and after an initial stumble, she too managed to walk a bit.

“Big brute mare wanted to stab me in my arse,” Sentinel said, giving himself a good shake.

“What?” Rising Star said.

“Grimglammer wanted to jab an enormous metal spike into my arse!” Sentinel repeated.

“Why?” Rising Star asked.

The lunar pegasus blinked a few times, trying to adjust his sun dazzled eyes. He shrugged in reply to Rising Star and then looked up at The Scorned Mare. “She wants to stab all of us in the arse. Are all mainlanders barbarians? And they call me a savage!”

 

 

Bucky once again found himself somewhere outside of his own body. He stood in a field of stars, stretching around him infinitely in all directions. He could see galaxies and all sorts of heavenly bodies. He also saw a tall alicorn stallion staring down at him, and Bucky realised he was in his alicorn foal form. The large alicorn was grey, and his mane was full of galaxies.

“Greetings,” the alicorn said, his voice almost unnaturally soft in the void of the universe.

“Who are you?” Bucky asked.

“Some names are better not known little one,” the tall alicorn replied.

“I suppose you have something to tell me,” Bucky said, looking around. “Why else would I be here?” he added, wondering what it is what he was standing on, which seemed solid but was invisible. He looked up and studied the tall stallion, trying to figure out what he was seeing. For a moment, the stallions pelt turned white, and then, for a single blink of an eye, his pelt had turned black. His mark was a set of scales, and they moved, shifting constantly.

“What do you know of balance little one?” the grey alicorn asked.

“I know that it is an impossible ideal, something you chase after but never can catch,” Bucky said, watching as a star supernovaed and exploded, ripping apart a small galaxy.

“Astonishing, I did not expect for you to make that answer,” the alicorn said in a deep warm voice, the ultimate fatherly voice.

Bucky turned to watch the stallion again, no longer looking at the universe around him, and for a moment, the stallion became a mare. She flicked her tail during that moment and a new galaxy went whizzing off into the void.

The alicorn, now a stallion again, smiled and his horn ignited. A small sun appeared, but it was not a star, it was the symbolic representation of Celestia’s mark. It floated around Bucky’s head for a moment, and then came to rest in front of Bucky’s nose.

“This is light. By itself, it means nothing. It needs to shine somewhere, that is its purpose,” the alicorn explained. He spread his wings and snorted. From his horn more magic came, and a floating image of Luna’s mark whirled around Bucky’s head, before settling close to Celestia’s mark. “This is darkness. Also meaningless without something to define it. These two were meant to exist in balance. And for a time, they did. They coexisted and my offspring did as I intended for them to do. In time, I gave them bodies because other forces came into play that wanted to destroy the balance. The very heavens had been wrecked, the sun, the moon, and even the planets were all torn from their celestial mounts during the war that nearly ended all things. Celestia and Luna brought harmony back to the sun and the moon, and they made the planets move and follow order. It was not perfect order though, the fine machinery of the cosmos was broken, and due to the chaos curse, the planet itself was locked in place. So the sisters have to juggle the sun, the moon, and the other planets around it in a careful dance, making sure nothing ever collides, ensuring that life goes on.”

Bucky watched as a tiny model of the solar system appeared before him, the planets moving in impossible orbits around a small green and blue planet that did not move.

“All of this requires two sisters,” the alicorn said. “Without both of them, the system fails. Chaos introduced a new foe, but it was not Discord. This time, the sisters were turned against one another, and one was forced to hold up all of this, all by herself, an impossible task that took all of her energies. Somehow, through impossible odds, she endured after losing her sister. Celestia suffered for a thousand years, enduring an unspeakable amount of mental anguish and pain. She had to keep all of this moving, and run an empire. To say her attention was divided is an understatement,” the alicorn explained.

“How did she manage?” Bucky asked.

“Extraordinary ponies like yourself gave all they had to help her. She held herself together, somehow enduring the thousand years it took to manifest a new balance,” the alicorn stated. As he spoke, a new star was born, and Bucky recognised it as Twilight Sparkle’s mark. It moved, zipping around, before finally settling near Celestia’s sun and Luna’s moon. “Twilight is where light and darkness exist together in balance. It is harmony. Twilight Sparkle restored the much needed darkness, the world was dying without it. She restored Luna, rebirthing her though the Elements of Harmony, returning her in a diminished state as a foal, so Luna could grow up and learn a few much needed lessons once again.”

“So that is why Luna came back as a tiny filly? I remember her, I saw her a few times,” Bucky said, sitting down upon nothing and stretching out his wings. He reached up and wiped his eyes, trying to fan away the purple mist oozing from his corrupted orbs.

“Celestia and Luna both are still trying to repair the damage done during Luna’s absence. Not only to the world around them, but the celestial mechanics as well. Even magic was breaking down, and would have died, ending all life upon this tiny planet. Twilight Sparkle became necessary in more ways than one. She is magic. Should she choose to remain mortal, eventually her body will be returned to the ground like a seed, and new magic will grow. Should she choose immortality, in time, she will embody and control all magic in the local cosmos. So now, there is the sun, the moon, and magic, all working in balance, keeping the celestial mechanics moving,” the alicorn said, touching Bucky with his wing.

“Why are you telling me this?” Bucky asked.

“Because, you have claimed your spark of divinity, and the time is coming for you to make a choice. It is time to create a new balance. Or to destroy it,” the alicorn answered.

“I don’t understand,” Bucky stated, looking very confused.

The big alicorn became female once again, and a blue glow surrounded her body. From her breast, a blue crystal heart came forth, and floated in the void. It was alone, close yet distant from the others, the sun, the moon, and the star. “Love has been made manifest, during Luna’s long absence, love nearly died from the world, shadows remained free to roam, and they poisoned the hearts of many without Luna to hold them back. Hatred grew strong, so did apathy. The world rapidly approached destruction, the different species and tribes growing to resent one another. The unicorns, able to touch the universe directly through their horns, many of them suffered the worst of all. The cosmological decay hurt them in ways you can barely imagine. Then Cadance came and she held the rampant hatred in check. She battled apathy. She made the ponies and other species begin to care about one another again. She worked to make the tribes remember why they came together. But Cadance, like Celestia, is alone,” the alicorn explained, turning back into a stallion as it spoke.

“So I am here to balance Cadance?” Bucky inquired.

“Perhaps,” the alicorn answered.

“But I don’t want to be the alicorn of war,” Bucky said. “Do I have to do it?”

“No… you do not. In the end, the choice is yours. You will either bring balance or you will upset the scales completely. You get to choose how this ends,” the alicorn said.

“That’s an awful thing to lay down upon somepony’s shoulders!” Bucky shouted. “I know what happens if I become the alicorn of war… all life ends!”

The big alicorn looked sad for a moment, and then joyous. “The old machinery is cleared away, the wreckage removed, and a new machine will be created to replace it. Perhaps this time, the balance will be held.”

“No!” Bucky shouted. “Even if it is flawed, the old machinery should be allowed to continue! It doesn’t need to be perfect, it just needs to keep functioning! Perfection, while desirable, is impossible!”

The big alicorn became a foal almost the same size as Bucky and the pair studied one another. “New flaws will be introduced into the system. The current model is not sustainable. All that can be done is to introduce stopgaps to keep the celestial cogs from flying apart. An alicorn for love, to repair something that should have never been broken. Other systems will break down and others will have to step up to hold the machinery together. They will know unimaginable suffering holding together the cosmological machinery, just as Celestia has experienced.”

“So by refusing to do what I was born to do, I am condemning others to suffer?” Bucky asked. ‘“Either I end all life or I increase the suffering of those who live… what sort of horrible choice is this?”

“Yours,” the alicorn foal replied, now becoming a filly.

“So what happens if Cadance dies?” Bucky asked.

“Love dies with her. Eventually, another will rise to take her place, or she will choose a second ascension which will render her immortal,” the alicorn filly responded. “She will choose just like you must choose. You have freedom of choice, but you do not have freedom from choice.”

“So I become the alicorn of war or I do not become an alicorn,” Bucky said.

“Yes,” the alicorn answered. “You have two choices. Either or. In the end, it comes down to what you believe is right.”

“I do nothing but make bad choices! I am constantly being told how stupid I am! I have lousy judgment and do nothing but make mistakes… and now it falls on my shoulders to screw this up too?” Bucky asked. He watched the sun, the moon, and the star as they orbited around one another. “Why can’t love and war exist together? Where is whatever will bring balance between us?”

“It is not fated to exist. If it did, as the alicorn of war, you would know how to exploit its weaknesses, and would move to undo it. It would never survive your onslaughts,” the alicorn answered, now a full grown adult again.

“So after I end all life and destroy the celestial machinery, what then? What becomes of me?” Bucky questioned.

“There are always further forms of ascension,” the alicorn answered.

“Did something like me cause the chaos war that broke the planets and screwed everything up?” Bucky asked.

“You must choose. In the end, you will decide what is the right thing to do,” the alicorn stated.

“You did not answer my question,” Bucky said with surprising vehemence.

“There is no answer,” the alicorn responded.

“Screw you and your ambiguity!” Bucky snarled. “I bet if I ascended I’d know your weaknesses too…”

“Eventually,” the alicorn remarked, not at all concerned. “None of that matters. Like it or not, you are now one of my foals. I have Touched you as I have Touched others. And now, you must make a choice.”

Bucky stared at the representations of various alicorns floating in the void. He reached out with his hoof, and much to his surprise, he was able to touch the crystal heart that represented Cadance. He gave it a gentle nudge, and moved it closer to the sun, the moon, and the star. “The machinery might not be perfect, but I intend for it to continue,” he said as he kept nudging the crystal heart closer and closer to the triune cluster.

 

 

 

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