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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The late afternoon sun shone into the window and the blinds were left open. The sunlight bothered Bucky. He could still be in the sunlight, but it left him feeling weak and kind of disoriented. On top of everything else, Bucky had to worry about getting enough vitamin D. He silently cursed his new physiology. The doctor had explained that the lunar pegasi, whom Bucky now resembled, got their vitamin D through the consumption of herbivores who collected vitamin D for them, meaning they did not need sun. Their thick shaggy pelts didn’t allow much sunlight to reach their skin. They were truly nocturnal carnivores with omnivorous capabilities. Bucky, formerly a diurnal herbivore, had an odd mishmash of the two systems now, and weaknesses from both.

He watched as Lyra moved around the room, placing books upon various available surfaces. Her coat gleamed and her mane had been cut into the style she favoured. Bucky could tell that she felt beautiful again, she strutted now, the way she had moved had changed. She moved with a certain confidence, poise, and grace. Bucky had not even noticed just how dull looking some of their pelts had begun to look upon the isles. He watched Lyra’s tail swish around, revealing little glimpses that left Bucky feeling intrigued.

“Enjoying the show?” Lyra asked.

“I’ll admit to looking, but I understand there is to be no touching,” Bucky replied, a grin spreading over his face.

Lyra moved close to the bed, her task done. She came to Bucky’s side and nuzzled him, and after a moment of bonding, gave him a swift peck upon his cheek. “Need anything?” she asked as she lifted her head.

“Actually, yes. I need to talk to you,” Bucky said, his grin slipping away and a nervous expression settling over his face. He reached out with an unsteady foreleg and touched Lyra’s face with his folded fetlock.

Derpy was gone, she had carried Sentinel to bed and had not returned. Bucky could hear her talking in the other room, the soft baby talk she used with Harper and Peekaboo. It made what he needed to do a little easier.

“Sit with me Lyra,” Bucky invited.

Lyra looked around, her eyes settling upon a chair, but then she changed her mind and hopped up into bed. She eased herself down beside Bucky and positioned herself so she could look him in the eye. Her tail thumped against the bed a few times as she shook it to spread it out. She knew full well that Bucky really enjoyed looking and she didn’t mind showing.

“Lyra, we need to talk. About some of our mutual interests,” Bucky began.

“Yeah?” Lyra said in a curious tone.

“Lyra, no more necromancy. Now look, don’t get upset just yet, give me a chance, necromancy isn’t dark magic even though it appears to be. It is actually something else entirely and I only just recently learned this,” Bucky said, enduring the stinkeye that Lyra was giving him.

“Well then, what is it really, Mister Warlock?” Lyra said with only a faint hint of sarcasm.

“Every time necromancy magic is used it allows demons to escape from Tartarus. Which is why it is such an easy magic to use. It aids the demons in their escape,” Bucky briefly explained. “This is why the spells just show up in your mind and why even type twos can become exceptionally powerful spell casters if they use necromancy.”

“Oh,” Lyra said dully as she looked like she was deflating. “But the potential to grow back limbs without having to suffer from healing magic,” she murmured, her eyes falling upon Bucky’s stump.

“Isn’t worth the price,” Bucky stated.

“No, I suppose it isn’t,” Lyra agreed, her eyes still lingering on Bucky’s stump. “Still tempting to think about. I must confess, the knowledge of how to do it has crossed through my mind several times.”

“During the trial I had the knowledge of a necromantic death spell pop into my head. It made me feel so happy… I wanted to use it upon my family,” Bucky confessed.

“We’ve both been changed by the darkness that has been our lives,” Lyra said, shaking her head sadly.

“Which is something I want to talk to you about. We need to work on those memories you have tucked away deep down and find out what has happened to you. I am going to speak with Princess Luna about it,” Bucky said.

“I can’t face it Bucky,” Lyra whimpered in reply. Her face contorted as though she was in pain. “You don’t understand… I don’t want to remember…”

“Lyra it is hurting you. Luna needs to be made aware of it,” Bucky said.

“What if she is already aware of it and is leaving me alone?” Lyra said as she closed her eyes and rested her head down upon the bed. “I am fairly certain that Luna had to have been poking around in my head after I was found at the train station. Maybe I was too damaged to deal with. Maybe she figured I was better off not knowing.”

“We still need to talk to her. Whomever did what was done to you needs to be dealt with,” Bucky whispered.

“I can’t talk about this anymore… where is Freezerburn? I need Bon Bon… I gotta go,” Lyra said in a panicked voice. She lept from the bed and hurried out the door, her hooves clicking upon the floor.

Bucky sighed and hoped he hadn’t done more harm than good. He wondered where Freezerburn was. The phoenix had slipped off once more. Bucky hoped that he wasn’t going to have to grant a royal pardon once again.

 

 

The sun retreated from the window as Bucky continued to read. The book was propped up on the bedside table that could be suspended over his stomach. He was able to turn the pages with magic, but it took a moment of concentration to do so, which bothered him.

The book was all about dark magic. In particular, dark enchantments. Fear spells of different varieties. Mind magic of different sorts. Dark command spells that were indeed dark, and not just in the sense they were dark magic, but were dark in purpose, including a spell that filled the target with an overwhelming need for suicide.

Had anypony else looked at the book, they would have wondered why Bucky was reading a blank tome. The book was written with ink that could only be seen when under the influence of dark magic, and Bucky’s Taint filled orb allowed him to easily read the spidery letters that were found upon the pages.

He ignored the spells that could potentially harm or kill other ponies and instead focused on spells that were debilitating, like the one that filled the target with an overpowering feeling of hopelessness. More advanced versions of the Horror spell that he had once used, fear spells capable of working on even the strongest of minds. Bucky understood that he was going to have to be careful. Ponies could die of fright. The book was full of dark abjuration spells as well, powerful magical defense spells, including one that would make the caster immune to necromancy based attacks. He found several notes from Luna appended to these pages, written on fine stationery in her smooth script and tucked into the book, commanding Bucky to study these spells in depth. Magic resistance. Magical immunity. Magical vampirism, the ability to draw magic from a target and recharge one’s own mana reserves to keep fighting during prolonged battles.

Bucky suspected that many of these spells had been created by Sombra because as he read them, he had vague recollections and memories come to the surface of his mind about their uses. These books were powerful and dangerous, and he realised that Luna was trusting him with a level of power that was beyond anything he had even dreamed existed. Bucky resolved not to let his Mistress down… the deal was that he got to be with his family. All he had to do was serve willingly and protect the empire, something he was willing to do anyway.

There were no depths that Bucky would not traverse to keep his family and the ponies that he loved safe.

 

 

Not long after slipping into slumber, Bucky found himself in a now all too familiar grey plane and he saw two faces lined with worry waiting for him. He barely had time to get himself oriented when he was tackled in a fierce hug and then his face smothered in kisses. His small foal sized body was easy prey for Princess Platinum’s affections. He quietly endured until Princess Platinum wore herself out and settled down to sit beside him.

“We get to watch you almost all of the time now,” Sombra said.

“Were you punished?” Bucky asked.

Platinum squirmed. “We shan’t talk about that.”

“Very well,” Bucky said. “But I want it said, whomever is hurting you had better leave you alone. I have no compunction about coming to Tartarus and holding them accountable for hurting you. Nothing harms my family,” he hissed.

Sombra looked terrified for a moment and his eyes darted all around him. He wrapped a foreleg around Platinum and pulled her closer.

“Be careful what you say, dear,” Platinum warned. “I know you mean well.”

“You were quite merciful with Goldflake,” Sombra said, changing the subject.

“That was more for Derpy’s sake. I followed my wife’s example. He seemed… regretful,” Bucky stated in slow measured words.

“Dear, you keep following the examples of your wives,” Platinum commanded in a gentle loving voice. “I have spoken with him… Goldflake… I have tried soothing him and telling him that he has done well.”

“He is consumed by guilt. He came to it late in life, but the regret he is experiencing will make things easier on him when he passes and comes here to this place,” Sombra said in a solemn stately voice. “He does not have long.”

“We absolutely adore watching your foals… we’ve come to love them all. Watching them makes the time spent here bearable. I… I actually do not wish to leave. To cross over I mean. I want to watch them grow. I want to see them face life,” Platinum said as she studied Bucky’s new body. “Seeing you as you are… an alicorn foal. It makes my heart feel hopeful.”

“This is only what I am on the inside… I hope you understand, but I will never ascend,” Bucky said in a pained voice.

“Don’t worry about us and do not feel guilty. Buckminster, Bucky, you live the life you feel you need to live. I am having second thoughts. I am not so sure that your ascension is what will set us free,” Sombra said.

“You say that as though you almost have made yourself believe it,” Bucky replied, looking at Sombra and studying his face.

Sombra’s expression sank. “I don’t know what to believe. I want to believe that what you were meant to do still lies ahead and you just have not done it yet. And once you have, we will go free.”

“In the end, it isn’t about us. We will endure. It is about you. And we are proud of you. You are my son. I am willing to scrub away a thousand years of bad history and say that you are my foal. You are the son of Sombra and of myself. I have spoken with Celestia about giving you the Platinum Crown. You have ideas in your mind that I find myself enamoured with. Follow your dream. Found a new tribe. Bring ponies together. Make them believe again. Many are hurt after everything that has happened. The tribes are divided. Equestria cannot survive with the tribes not trusting one another. Be an example to them,” Platinum said as she leaned upon her husband.

“I will never wear a crown,” Bucky grumbled.

“You are a prince,” Sombra stated.

“I am a slave,” Bucky retorted.

“You can’t run from your destiny forever,” Sombra said in a patient voice. “It will catch you.”

“I’d like to see it try,” Bucky said defiantly. “Celestia said I could out stubborn an earth pony. I’ll never stop running. Never. I’m happier being a slave. Isn’t that what a good father is? A devoted servant to his family? I will never wear a crown. I will never ascend. I will do my other duties, I will protect the ponies that are now my responsibility to protect, but my only obligation is to my family. That’s it. No more, no less. I chose slavery and servitude. I do not choose wings or a crown.”

“Come here, let me hold you. It has been so long since I have held a foal… my heart aches,” Platinum pleaded.

Bucky willingly walked over and allowed himself to be held. Platinum laid down and cradled him in her forelegs, smoothing out his wings carefully and then stroking his mane. He thought of Luna holding him in much  the same way, defending him from those that sought to do him harm.

“Seeing your eyes the way they are… it fills me with sadness,” Platinum said as she pressed her snoot into Bucky’s neck and breathed in his scent.

“Bucky, if it is any consolation… your great grandfather is here in this place. He will know suffering like few will ever know suffering. Had he ascended, he might have been one of the prisoners here one day, but since he failed, well, I understand they are creating new punishments to make him atone for his evil as a mortal. Those that have recently died are getting to listen to his wailing as a form of punishment. His cries are… unpleasant and I say this after enduring here for a thousand years,” Sombra said in a wavering unsteady voice.

Bucky felt Platinum shiver and shudder as she cuddled him, her mane tickling the side of his face as she shook. Her eyes closed for a moment, and when they opened, they were glassy with tears. He reached up and gently stroked the side of her muzzle, hoping to bring some small measure of comfort. He felt her head lean into the touch and a soft hum could be heard in the back of her throat.

Sombra watched as Platinum cuddled Bucky, and stood silently over the pair, a silent guardian now happy that he had something to guard once again.

 

 

It was several hours until dawn and the head editor for the Canterlot Trumpet opened an envelope bearing the royal seal. Inside there was a collection of papers secured with a red ribbon, and another smaller envelope also stamped with the royal seal. He opened the smaller envelope.

“Squire Sentinel, son of Buckminster Bitters,” the editor read to himself. His face turned thoughtful. “Wow, the kid is a natural born writer,” the editor quipped. “I should offer him a job.”

He pulled out the papers and began reading, his brow furrowing. “Enclosed is a copy of the original document, the original is of course something I treasure too much to give away,” the editor read to himself. His lips moved as he read and the big burly stallion’s face softened.

“I am an equine. Specifically, I am a pony. I was a citizen of Equestria, a loyal subject of the Royal Pony Sisters, but now I am no longer certain I am either of these things. I have things to answer for and my future is uncertain. I am a member of Clan Pickled. Of this, I have no doubt. I am welcomed and loved by my clanmates. I am the new Founder. I am the Father of my tribe. I lead a tribe of ponies. We will identify as ponies. We are all ponies. Ponies with horns or wings or even fins, but we are ponies first and foremost…” the editor read out loud to himself. He continued reading, now silent, clearly overcome with emotion, his eyes beginning to water as he read, blurring his vision. “We are one tribe…” the editor finally said as he neared the end of the document. He set down the paper and rubbed his eyes. “I am a pony with a horn,” he muttered to himself as he tried to compose himself.

He sat in his office, silent, aware that the paper needed a good story to place upon the front page. He picked up the other papers and started looking them over.

“My father’s words have affected me greatly. He wrote them out only a little while ago, but I have already been thinking upon their meaning. There is truth in his half awake ravings. I have never understood my place, but I think I do now. I am a pony with leathery wings. I am called a lunar pegasus by type, but my tribe is my father’s tribe. And in this tribe, we are ponies. Some of us fly, some of us walk, all of us have some kind of magic, some of us are grass eaters, a few of us are flesh eaters. Some are adult, some are young…” the editor read through the copy of the journal entry, rubbing his eyes fiercely as he did so.

He flipped over to a new page of carefully written script.

“My father, whatever his fate might be, has done one thing worth noting already. He has brought us all together and we do not squabble. We are as he said, one tribe. I’ve been learning history from Lyra and Bon Bon. Lyra told me how the unicorns used the pegasi to bully the earth ponies into growing food. Bon Bon and Lyra both told me that many unicorns still have this belief, that the other tribes should be beneath them. I have learned about horrible words like “mud pony” and even writing them down or thinking about those words makes me feel sick… Should those words ever be uttered around me, I will feed somepony their own teeth. I will not be little forever…” the editor read. He glanced nervously at the clock upon his desk. He continued to read, a lump in his throat, and tears stinging his eyes. He fell silent for a time.

“The words of my mother Bon Bon still bother me. She told me how she was taken from her home as a foal, snatched away and stolen from her family, how she was taken away on a ship filled with other foals, and brought to a city called Fillydelphia. She told me how they shaved her bald all over, shaving off her mane, her tail, and even her pelt, and how she was sprayed with something to kill lice and bugs, how they got it in her eyes, how it burned her eyes and her skin, and how she was blind for a month afterwards. She was kept in a freezing cold orphanage with no pelt as winter approached… Father is not the only one with a painful burden now upon his shoulders…” the editor read in a strangled voice. He glanced at his clock again.

There was still time. He could put all of this out in type in time for the morning printing. Even if the paper had to be a little late. He gulped down his coffee and scrambled out of his office, the sheaf of papers in tow.

He had a story to that needed to be on the front page, perhaps the most important story of his career.

 

 

 

 

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