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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For a time, Bucky wasn’t sure that the long night would end. He was exhausted, but couldn’t sleep. The events of the day before played through his mind endlessly and he wondered if he did the right thing. At one point, Bucky seemed to know what the right thing was, but now, given everything that had happened, the right thing seemed elusive somehow, just out of reach, an impossible ideal.

As he lay in bed, he listened to Discord’s heavy and laboured breathing as the draconequus slept. Bucky’s own lungs felt soupy, the medication he was on was causing a great deal of mucus build up in his sinuses and lungs. All things considered, he was feeling much better and even had a tiny bit of strength.

For all the good it would do him.

There was a soft knock at the door and then a gentle voice said “it is time.”

Bucky heard Shining Armor enter and there were two unicorn guards with him. He saw them come into his field of vision and he sighed, preparing himself for what was to come.

“Are you ready?” Shining Armor asked.

“Does it matter?” Bucky said in a fatalistic reply.

“Buckminster, if it is any consolation, both Night Light and Twilight Velvet are happy… exceedingly so. My father told me that he is happier now than he has even been during his life. He and my mother have been working as school teachers with the refugee foals. They have meaning and purpose in their lives now. Ponies love them. My father told me he is glad that this happened, but the trial was the scary part. I hope that the council of alicorns find a punishment suitable for you. I don’t actually know what is going to happen anymore. All four of them went into seclusion last night after the events of yesterday. Cadance and Celestia are talking again, and not as monarchs, but as family… I heard them speaking before they went into seclusion, both of them sharing a mutual concern for you,” Shining Armor said in a nervous wavering voice.

Bucky managed to give a faint nod. “So how am I to be presented on trial? I notice that there is no armor this time.”

“You will be propped up in a comfortable chair and wedged into place with pillows. You will be made comfortable for the events. If you need water or a drink, you have but to ask, and I will make sure that you get what you need. Are you ready?” Shining Armor inquired.

“I am,” Bucky groaned.

“Buckminster…” Discord said in a half awake mumble. “Buckminster, good luck. Celestia has always been surprisingly fair in her judgments. When I am better, I’ve heard rumours that she plans to sentence me to a life with Fluttershy… and no possibility of parole.”

Realising there was no sarcasm, merely a clumsy attempt at comfort and kindness on the draconequus’ part, Bucky felt a moment of kinship with Discord. “I hope we will talk again. I do not know what fate awaits me. If we do not speak again, I hope your time with Fluttershy goes well.”

“Are we friends?” Discord asked.

The sudden question and the timing shocked Bucky and he didn’t know what to say right away. He felt his tongue sitting uselessly in his mouth and he didn’t know how to respond.

“I’d like to think we are friends. We understand one another. That is what friends have in common right? I’d like to think there is another pony besides Fluttershy that truly understands me,” Discord said in a soft whine. “What we will endure for love…”

“We are friends,” Bucky said as he felt his body lifted with magic. “Goodbye.”

 

 

The small stone room had no windows. There were four thrones along one wall, a small wooden table, two chairs, and a little boxed in area filled with cushions. On the four thrones sat four alicorns, and in the boxed in area, Bucky saw some of his family. His foals were not present, save Sentinel, who was sitting there looking sorrowful. There was no sign of Ripple or Loch Skimmer. Moonbow was absent. Bon Bon and Thistle were not there, and that made Bucky sigh with relief, because it would make what he was about to do easier. Bon Bon would never approve of what was about to happen.

He felt himself placed into a high backed chair and several pillows were placed on either side of him to prop his head up with. His stump was carefully placed on an elevated surface, perched upon a pillow, so the blood wouldn’t run down into the end of it and cause problems.

“Are you satisfied with your legal representation? Do you feel he is biased against you in some way?” Twilight Sparkle inquired.

“No, I do not feel that he is biased against me,” Bucky replied.

“Good, then this council of alicorns comes to order,” Celestia said in a soft voice. As she spoke a magic quill began to move over a scroll and record every word that was being spoken.

“Do you understand the seriousness of the charges against you?” Luna asked.

“I understand,” Bucky said in reply.

“The charges against you are grave. Dark magic. Corruption of a foal using dark magic. Over a thousand counts of creating magical weapons of mass destruction, some of which were created by your accomplices. The creation of a weapon that causes magically induced rape. The summoning of demons. Several counts of creation of artifacts of dark magic. Reckless experimentation upon your fellow ponies, also your accomplices. Using dark magic to sterilise and prevent the ability to procreate. Using dark magic to block the natural use of magic. Using your power as an armiger to overrule the punishment placed upon the head of a convicted criminal and abusing your authority for the gain of your house. The list goes on and on, so for brevity’s sake, I will cut this short,” Twilight Sparkle announced.

“Do you wish to make a plea? Or invoke any inherent rights as a noble?” Celestia said, her lips pressed into a thin flat line.

There it was, the trap. Bucky knew this moment was coming and was waiting for it, and he lept for it willingly. He took a deep breath, shuddered, and then drew in another deep breath.

“I invoke my right as a highborn noble to claim my family as property,” Bucky said in a raspy cry. “According to the laws I am being tried under, as a noble whose family once raised the sun, I have the right to claim the lesser tribes as property and keep them for my leisure.”

“Do you now?” Luna said, leaning forward, looking very serious and mildly angry.

“Yes, I am invoking my right to claim them as property. All of them. They cannot be held accountable for what they’ve done because they’ve lived in fear of what I would do to them if they resisted me,” Bucky said.

He started to hear an angry retort from Berry but then there was silence. Bucky could see the magical field around the boxed in area. He could see the look of anger and confusion upon his family’s faces.

Shining Armor cleared his throat. “We have an whole room of witnesses who can testify that Derpy Doo Hooves said, and I quote, “He protects what is his.” This clearly implies a relationship of possession. This was said yesterday during the signing of the treaty.”

There was a soft sad sigh from Cadance, who could not hide her feelings as well as her aunts could hide theirs. Tears began to trickle down her cheeks.

“Do you understand the seriousness of your confession?” Luna asked.

“Do you truly see them as objects? As property? Is that all they are to you?” Celestia inquired, her voice an emotionless deadpan.

“A collection of lesser unicorns, a few servile pegasi that I keep as guards, and a couple of filthy mud ponies I keep for my sexual amusement when I get bored,” Bucky said in a strangled voice. He couldn’t even bear to look at his family, not now, and he couldn’t see their reaction.

“Rising Star is not your family,” Cadance said, her voice hitching slightly.

“I muddled his mind using my ability to commune. He is a weak minded simpleton with low self esteem and all of the needs of a horny teenage colt his age. I poisoned his mind and gave him Sparkler as a sexual gift to bind him to my will,” Bucky replied.

“And Sparkler Doo Hooves just went along with this?” Luna asked.

“Sparkler wanted a father. I withheld my affections from her and toyed with her emotions to also bind her to my will. I made her do things to earn my affections. She so desperately wanted a father that she was willing to do anything to earn my doting attention. I also held her in check by keeping her mother subjugated and her younger sibling in my thrall. The younger sibling that I corrupted with dark magic so I could break Sparkler’s will and make her completely submissive to me. Sparkler was acting out of confusion and a need to protect her family and self interests,” Bucky explained. “I had also undermined her will and her judgment through regular communing. I made sure that both of she and Rising Star were lovesick with one another and then threatened one to make the other do as I desired.”

“This is a very serious confession,” Twilight Sparkle said, scowling as she spoke.

Huddled together, Bucky’s family couldn’t believe what they were hearing. They clung to one another, trying to make sense of what being said, except for Sentinel, who had buried his face into Derpy’s neck and clung to her, weeping bitterly.

“And what of Lyra Heartstrings?”

“Another weak minded lesser unicorn that I bound to my will. I kept her in check through her mate Bon Bon, whom I held in my thrall. When Lyra began to resist me, I found the golden opportunity to cement my control over her when I tore Harper from her mother’s belly and gave her to Lyra as a gift. Lyra is confused, weak minded, and needy. When I gave her the foal, it broke her completely, she lived in fear what I might do to Bon Bon and Harper if she resisted me. She was easy to break, as she has already been broken,” Bucky answered, offering up an explanation. “I had to work with somepony’s sloppy seconds.”

 

 

“Why is he doing this?” Lyra whimpered, now trembling violently and holding tight to Berry Punch. She wailed, clinging to Berry Punch and tried to make sense of everything being said.

“He loves us,” Derpy said, wrapping her forelegs tighter around Sentinel. “He loves us and he intends to make sure we can go free and have one another. He doesn’t mean what he is saying. He would never say anything like that and mean it,” she cried as she buried her face into Sentinel’s mane. “They’re just words. They don’t mean anything. Don’t listen to your father Sentinel… don’t listen! He’s lying!”

Berry Punch struck the shimmering bubble around them, beating it with her hooves. Unable to do anything, she fell back into Lyra’s embrace and began to weep, unable to hold it in any longer.

Rising Star and Sparkler clung to one another, painfully aware that their potential freedom was going to come at a terrible price. Both of them collapsed against Derpy and Sentinel, and they felt Derpy trying to wrap her forelegs around all of them to draw them in.

 

 

“So you contend that you had victims, not accomplices. Do you understand what you are confessing to and the seriousness of these crimes?” Celestia asked. Her face was stern, serious, and her eyes blazed with barely contained intensity.

“Do you have any regrets? Do you feel any remorse?” Twilight asked.

“I regret nothing. And why should I feel any remorse for making lesser creatures useful to my purposes?” Bucky said in a snide bitter voice. He choked and began to struggle to breathe.

The four alicorns studied the unicorn propped up in the chair before them, all of them sitting silent for a moment and giving Bucky a moment to compose himself.

“Your mastery of dark magic is damning. A little curious dabbling is one thing, and I intended to forgive you for your lapse into dark magic when you saved Dinky Doo Hooves after giving you a stern warning to never do it again. Now you sit before me as a master of the dark magical arts, marked with the Taint. You have delved into all manner of forbidden magic, the worst of which was corrupting a foal and making her conjure a swarm of demon insects from Tartarus to do your bidding. Summoning a single demon is enough to have your head removed from your neck, but you summoned an army of hundreds of thousands of demons, corrupting a foal’s harmonious magical talent to do so. Your crime is disgusting and vile. You also summoned a demon for the purpose of creating artifacts of unspeakable indescribable evil. Do you have anything to say for yourself?” Celestia said in an icy voice.

Bucky gave Celestia a defiant look, his nostrils flaring and his lip curling back to expose his fangs, and his remaining eye locked into place with hers. “I regret nothing.”

“You are the last titled noble in Canterlot who has not yet faced punishment. Your crimes are many and you show no remorse or regret. This court cannot recommend mercy or leniency,” Luna announced.

“This is your last chance,” Twilight warned.

“Do you wish to retract anything you have said or wish to plead for mercy before we pick apart your testimony and the arguments you have presented?” Celestia inquired. “We are well prepared to tear apart everything you have said and discern the truth. Once we have done that, we will begin to examine the others, Rising Star, Sparkler Doo Hooves, and Lyra Heartstrings.”

“No… I would rather invoke one last right,” Bucky wheezed.

“And that is?” Cadance asked.

“My right as highborn noble whose family once raised the sun that my word is divine, thus inviolate and irrefutable. I demand that this trial ends and that you cease your questioning of me at once, this very instant,” Bucky demanded.

Cadance slumped and began to sob, covering her face with her hooves.

“Do you know what you are doing to yourself?” Luna said, a look of stunned shock upon her face. Her ears were folded back against her head and the corner of her lips quivered.

“I will go to Tartarus in a manner of my own choosing!” Bucky snarled at Luna.

Twilight Sparkle, unable to keep her emotions in check any longer, fell apart and began to sob bitterly, leaving only two alicorns capable of meting out justice.

“Since you show no remorse and continue to abuse the law to your benefit, we have no option to offer up the worst penalty we can offer short of death,” Celestia announced.

“You will suffer for your crimes, make no mistake,” Luna said in a voice utterly devoid of any emotion.

“Rather than banish you, we sentence you to a life of slavery. As of this moment, your status as an armiger is revoked, all of your privileges and inherent rights as a noble are withdrawn. You will pay restitution for the family you have traumatised and toyed with,” Celestia said, her eyes blazing. She turned to look at Bucky’s family, and the shimmering bubble around them vanished.

Bucky could hear the sounds of their weeping and more than anything else, he wanted to die rather than face this moment. The inner turmoil he felt was agonising. He felt sick to his stomach and nausea threatened to overtake him.

“Derpy Doo Hooves. You showed a remarkable amount of charity and forgiveness yesterday during the signing of the treaty. Can you find it in your heart to forgive him for the crimes he has committed against you and your family?” Luna inquired.

Derpy sniffled, her family pressed in tight all around her, huddled together in grief. “I don’t understand what is going on,” she whined, still clutching tightly to Sentinel. “I don’t understand any of this.”

“We wish to make the punishment fit the crime. A slave needs masters. This stallion has wronged all of you. We wish to teach him humility and to make him bow his overly proud neck,” Luna explained. “He is unrepentant and proud. We intend to break him so that he might learn his lesson.”

“Once we have him properly subdued, we wish to know if you would like custody of him as compensation for all of the terrible things he has done to you, your foals, and your herd. The laws we gathered to place him on trial him make this issue very clear. Victims have a right to demand compensation,” Celestia said in a flat voice.

“He will be required to obey your every command and do all that you ask of him. If he is insolent, we will take steps to make him obedient, such as a geas,” Luna said, her gaze falling upon Derpy and her eyes glittered with repressed anger.

“What do I do?” Derpy asked.

“You assume ownership of him. As the alpha of your herd, the Matriarch, we are offering to give him to you as property. Do you want him or does the very sight of him disgust you?” Celestia inquired.

“I want him!” Derpy cried out in a strangled sob. “I… mean I want him to learn to from the wrong he has done,” she said in a confused whimper.

“Guards, please prepare for the procedure,” Luna commanded.

Several guards approached Bucky as one guard exited the room. Bucky was lifted from the chair and placed upon the table and held in place by the guard.

“If you resist, if you struggle, you will only make this worse. If you use magic, the consequences will be dire. My advice is that you take your punishment willingly,” Celestia said in a dead icy voice.

Bucky heard his family cry out and begin shrieking.

“We prepared for this outcome, fearing that Buckminster would abuse the law and twist it to his whims, just as his family has done for a century of centuries. We have prepared a branding iron in the shape of your destiny mark, and now he will be marked as your property,” Luna said to Derpy as her gaze fell upon Bucky, was sprawled out over the table.

The branding iron was in the shape of several bubbles gathered in a cluster.

Derpy watched as Bucky squirmed upon the table and she felt the faces of her family being pressed in all around her, damp cheeks and muzzles pressing into her from all sides. She alone held her head up and watched. She felt her resolve slipping and Derpy started to close her eyes as she watched the hot iron drip sparks as the unicorn guard approached.

And then she saw Bucky’s tainted eye staring at her, looking at her pleadingly. She wanted to comfort him, to rush to his side, to hold him and somehow make this better. She squinted one eye closed and looked at Bucky with her good eye, bringing him into sharp focus, forcing herself to maintain eye contact. She owed him that and so much more.

“The law has failed us,” Celestia announced. “There is no justice. Now that the last noble has been tried and the noble houses are no more, I want every law erased from the books so that we may start over fresh. I want the books collected and kept as relics of a failed system. Twilight Sparkle, Shining Armor, your punishment as part of your parents house was never announced, but I am about to do so now. You are to lay the foundations of new laws so we may build our society anew.”

Celestia made a gesture and the guard readied himself, his face a stoic mask of grim resignation as he drew near Bucky to do what must be done.

“I regret nothing,” Bucky whimpered, looking Derpy directly in the eye and his nostrils flaring. “Nothing at all!”

Derpy watched and felt her whole body tense. She felt sick, but she forced herself to keep her eye open and not blink, trying to be there for Bucky the only way she could as the branding iron was pressed into his leg, just below his own hops plant mark. There was a loud hissing sizzle, the stench of burning hair and flesh filled the room, and Bucky’s ragged scream echoed from the walls. Sentinel’s shill cry pierced her ears and made her head throb painfully. But she never broke eye contact, holding onto Bucky the only way she could, and she felt every moment of his pain as he was branded with her mark.

“Have him removed from this room. The sight of him disgusts me,” Celestia commanded. “I want him isolated in the hospital wing for a while so he can reflect upon his crimes. See that he is treated with the compassion he failed to offer others.”

“This trial is over. The last noble has been dealt with and the very law itself has been placed on trial here this day. Ultimately, our law has failed us. Let us throw it out and find a better way,” Luna said in a clear clarion voice. After she fell silent, the magical quill that had transcribed the trial went still and fell over.

“I regret nothing…”

 

 

Bucky lay in a bed, alone, by himself in a small room. His side ached where he had been branded. A soothing ointment had been applied, which had dulled the pain slightly, but his flesh was still taut and full of agony from the branding iron that had been pressed deeply into his flesh.

He still had his family and his life. He regretted nothing. It was a small price to pay. He had struck down his house and he had forced all of the laws from the books, allowing the system to be reset. He sighed, thinking about what he had just done.

The door opened and Bucky heard hoofsteps approaching his bed. He could hear weeping, and he struggled to lift his head to see who it was in his blind spot.

Much to his surprise, he felt another pony crawling into the bed with him, and as he felt himself being picked up and nearly crushed, he realised it was Celestia as he was pressed against her barrel and cradled between her forelegs. He had always felt so small compared to her, and this was no different. He was like a foal again.

Her weeping turned into agonised wails of anguish and he could feel her hot breath above his ears. Her whole body spasmed with sobs as she let out one keening wail after another. Bucky, unable to deal with his own emotions any longer, began to weep with her, and the pair wallowed in misery with one another.

 

 

“I hope you will forgive me.”

Celestia’s voice was raw and could barely be heard. Bucky could not reply, he tried, but only a strangled sound came out as he choked on his own mucus.

“I am so sorry… I feel so terrible.”

Bucky wanted nothing more than to comfort the still weeping mare. It felt like they had been huddled together like this, pressed up against one another, for hours, and Celestia had not stopped sobbing. He didn’t know what to say or do.

“That was every bit as bad as having to banish my own sister…”

Bucky could hear the anguish in Celestia’s voice and his crying turned once again into sobs. Overcome yet again, Bucky cried like a foal in his mother’s arms.

“I am so proud of you. I love you so much… I feel so bad for what I was forced to do to you. I feel even worse that you understand why it had to be done,” Celestia said, almost hiccuping from her sobbing. “I hope you will forgive me… nephew.”

“I forgive you. I trusted Luna and I trusted you,” Bucky whimpered, his voice a rasping scratchy sound that could barely be heard.

“The nightmare is finally over and now we can truly rebuild from Luna’s fall.”

 

 

 

 

 

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