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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“How could somepony your age already be spoken for?”

Sentinel looked at Diamond Tiara, who still had her forelegs around his neck. She had stopped trembling and was now looking at him curiously in the dim light. Her face showed confusion and maybe a little bit of hurt. Sentinel felt awkward all of a sudden. There was no place to run, no place to go.

“Arranged marriage. Lunar pegasi are few in number. I have obligations. I have a duty to continue my species. I am also supposed to find other wives for a herd,” Sentinel replied in a cautious manner.

“You’re strange. I mean that, you’re really strange. And I kind of like that in a weird way,” Diamond Tiara confessed.

“So why are you here with me?” Sentinel asked.

“You’re the first colt that has been nice to me. The only colt. And you are so nice to your sisters. So patient and kind. I… uh, it is kind of embarrassing actually,” Diamond Tiara said, a stammer coming into her voice.

“What?” Sentinel said with mild insistence.

“I had my first heat this summer. It was a very confusing time for me. I… it was very difficult to go through. Afterwards I just wanted a colt to talk to. To get to know. Somepony that wasn’t my father. And I sort of got rejected by everypony. Even the new colts in town. Stories spread about how I was and then everypony just sort of teases me and I never get a chance,” Diamond Tiara whispered, closing her eyes as she spoke.

“And I didn’t send you away or mock you?” Sentinel inquired.

“Yeah,” Diamond Tiara replied.

“So you acted scared to see Luna, which really hurts her by the way, just so you could try and get close to me?” Sentinel questioned.

“Maybe?” Diamond Tiara responded.

“Please go apologise to her. Tell her the truth,” Sentinel commanded.

Looking mortified, Diamond Tiara pulled away and her ears splayed out sideways… “I guess you hate me now too. I messed up. I did it without thinking. I’m sorry,” she said as she stood up. She took a deep breath, held it for a moment, and then let it out slowly.

“I’ll come with you if you’d like,” Sentinel offered.

“Why? I just did something awful,” Diamond Tiara murmured.

“Because you are afraid. Honestly afraid. I can smell it now,” Sentinel explained.

Turning a much darker shade of pink, Diamond Tiara began to chew her lower lip nervously. As she bumped up against the door, she began to tremble, for real this time, and she realised that Sentinel really was as alien as he seemed. There would be no secrets around him she realised. No subtle manipulations to get her way. He could see right through her. And something about that comforted Diamond Tiara for some reason. There would be no slipping back into old behaviours by accident.

Rising up on his own four hooves, Sentinel arched his back and stretched. “Come on, hit the latch so the door will open. I’ll go with you so you don’t have to be afraid about facing this alone.”

Nodding her head, Diamond Tiara turned around a bit, and popped the latch with her hoof. The door opened slowly. And then she saw the two dark blue forelegs. She immediately felt sick with fear. Real fear. As much as she wanted to, she couldn’t move.

“How long have you been there?” Diamond Tiara asked in a small foalish voice filled with fear.  She lied down upon the floor and tried to make herself look as pathetic as possible.

“Long enough,” Luna replied.

Looking back at Sentinel, Diamond Tiara blinked a few times in shock. “You knew she was out there, didn’t you?” she asked.

Saying nothing, Sentinel nodded.

“I’m sorry,” Diamond Tiara apologised.

“We’ve all done stupid things to get the attention of a colt,” Luna admitted. “Or a stallion.”

Very much against her will, Diamond Tiara felt herself being pulled out of the closet under the stairs by an invisible force. She dropped her legs and tried to reach the ground. A moment later, she was gently set down and she saw Dinky and Piña. Her face burned with shame.

“I screwed up again. I just don’t think sometimes,” Diamond Tiara said.

“Dinky does that all the time,” Piña quipped. Her words got her slugged from Dinky, but Piña didn’t care, being the stout and stocky little earth pony she was.

“Jerk,” Dinky muttered to Piña. “We’re still friends. That hasn’t changed,” she said to Diamond Tiara.

Emerging from his cubby, Sentinel blinked in the bright hallway light. “I don’t understand girls,” he said as he stood there waiting for his sensitive eyes to adjust.

“Come on,” I’ll take you home,” Derpy offered as she stepped into view.

Turning to Sentinel, Diamond Tiara looked at him pleadingly. “Are we still friends?” she asked in a low voice.

“Why do you think I offered to help you tell Luna the truth?” Sentinel questioned in reply.

“You’re a gentlecolt,” Diamond Tiara stated. “Thank you. I’m ready to go now.” She turned and began to follow Derpy to the front door. She turned her head and gave Piña, Dinky, and Sentinel a final glance. After watching Dinky wave, she turned to Luna. “I really am sorry. Will you let me make it up to you somehow?”

“We will speak later,” Luna replied.

 

 

Bucky stood next to Sentinel in the cool dark of the night. The moon was overhead and the song of the night was in full force. Frogs and crickets fill the night with sound. In the distance, Sparkler also filled the night with frog song, loudly belching out various vowel sounds, sweetly serenading those she loved, and Rising Star, Loch Skimmer, and Ripple were her adoring audience.

Princess Luna found the whole thing quite amusing.

“I know Sentinel can shadow dive. Buckminster, I am going to pull you into shadow. Forcibly. We don’t have time to have you figure this out on your own. Once I pull you into shadow, your body will rapidly adjust to it and you should be able to do it again on your own. Any questions?” Luna said, looking at her two students.

“My horn… it will go with me? I mean, it isn’t a natural part of me…” Bucky asked slowly.

“It will. It has absorbed your essence. Your nature. You infused the fulgurite with shadow, but you have also developed your own natural shadow essence and have further infused the material,” Luna replied.

Feeling a sense of worry, Bucky began to wonder if eating all the bean and barley soup he had eaten was a good idea. He could feel his stomach sloshing when he moved. And based upon Sentinel’s expression, Sentinel was having a similar issue.

“Father, this will be disorienting. Seeing in all directions at the same time is confusing,” Sentinel warned.

“Couldn’t possibly be worse than winking for the first time,” Bucky muttered.

Raising her eyebrow, Luna gave Bucky a cold glare. “So confident.”

“Uh oh,” Sentinel groaned.

“Brace yourselves,” Luna instructed.

Taking a deep breath, Bucky tapped into his inner resolve and waited for whatever came next. He felt a curious sensation all over his body. He could hear a faint lullabye, but it was inside of his head, in between his ears somehow. A sort of soothing hum. The world lost its sharp focus and became hazy.

And then, everything went wrong.

Bucky could see in all directions all at once and his mind had no frame of reference to fall back upon for this sort of event. He wanted to breathe but he currently had no lungs. He felt as though he was strangling. He needed air but there was none to be had. The memory of his lungs needed air he realised. He forced whatever was left of his mind to cast that memory aside. As he tried to look around him, he saw white flakes, little flurries of snow swirling around.

The need to be in a body again was overwhelming. It was like an ache. It was like being underwater for too long and needing to come to the surface, but unable to reach the surface.

Bucky realised it felt an awful lot like dying.

And then he was solid again. He landed in the grass on his side and, hitting hard, and he lay there gasping for air. Each lungful of air burned and caused exquisite agony. This was somehow worse than winking for the first time. For a moment, he thought he was going to be sick.

“That was unexpected,” Luna announced as Bucky writhed on the ground. If she felt any concern for Bucky at all, she didn’t show it. Luna coughed and backed away from Bucky, taking Sentinel with her in her magic.

“My nose burns,” Sentinel muttered, wiping his nostrils. He sneezed a few times and spat.

“You okay? You should be okay,” Luna said, real concern in her voice for Sentinel. “As a shadow creature, you should be alright. Anything else would be dead right now.” She looked into Sentinel’s watery eyes and studied him carefully.

“What happened?” Sentinel asked, his eyes red and bloodshot. Tears streamed down his cheeks. “Ugh, I feel awful.”

“Your father became a freezing cloud of poisonous shadow mist,” Luna said. She coughed again and wiped her nose. She lowered her head down to the ground, wiped her nose along the grass, and then snorted a few times to clear her nostrils. “Anything not like us would be dead. All of the toxins your father has absorbed in his life have returned to haunt us.”

A long runny ribbon of snot dribbled from Sentinel’s nose and he snorted to free himself from it. It went flying off in an parabolic arc and landed in the grass some distance away, shimmering moonlight reflected upon the shiny surface of the mucus missile.

“So I shouldn’t shadow dive around other ponies?” Bucky groaned, still trying to recover.

“No,” Luna replied. “You’d kill them. Or make them wish they were dead, like Sentinel and I are feeling right now.”

“The cold wasn’t so bad… but the stink. The STINK!” Sentinel complained.

“I know. That was almost pure hydrogen sulphide. Ugh,” Luna remarked.

“Rotten eggs!” Sentinel shouted. He had recovered enough to begin running away, his wings flapping as he ran.

“I regret nothing,” Bucky muttered.

“Foul smelling knave,” Luna retorted. “I desire that we become better strangers!” Taking off after Sentinel, Luna left Bucky sprawled in the grass. “The scent of War is most undesirable!”

Chortling, Bucky felt pretty good about himself all things considered. One more weapon in his arsenal, though he would never be able to use it around ponies.

“Luna?” Bucky asked in a quizzical tone.

“Yes?” Luna replied, now a safe distance away.

“I was thinking earlier… where are all of these powerful unicorns coming from that have killed off the Black Cloaks and are running around down the Badlands? The nobles from Canterlot don’t seem to be the cause. Something doesn’t add up,” Bucky said, revealing this thoughts.

“I had hopes that you wouldn’t figure this out just yet,” Luna said.

“You have a blind spot. A group of ponies you can’t track. Can’t see into,” Bucky stated.

“I do,” Luna admitted.

“So are they unicorns from another part of the world? Trottingham? The Old World?” Bucky questioned. “And why can’t you sense them, find them, go into their dreams, discover their motives, etcetera?”

“My sister and I don’t know. But we are aware of them,” Luna said. “We know they move among us.”

“Changelings?” Bucky asked.

“No… we know too much about changeling illusion now. I’ve been inside of Shining Armor’s mind. Chrysalis left behind too many secrets of how their magic works. Shining Armor saw everything, even if he doesn’t remember it. I was able to study everything in detail. The changelings are no longer much of a threat,” Luna explained. “Plus, I have been studying Slate. He dreams. I’ve been inside of his mind. He loves. And I’ve seen him for how he really is in dreams. He is still a bug, but his body is no longer full of gaps or holes. Love has healed him. Real love, given to him by Lily, Roseluck, and Daisy. Difficult to go into Slate’s head for dreams, but it keeps getting easier. As time goes on, he becomes more and more like a pony. His dream self, what he truly is, is changing. He is becoming a pony on the inside.”

“So the changelings are ponies?” Sentinel asked.

“Maybe. Under some curse perhaps. Curses are funny things. My sister has high hopes that Dinky will be able to unravel the mystery. Perhaps love is what heals of them of their affliction,” Luna replied.

“I think I am ready to try again,” Bucky said.

“And I think that Sentinel and I will stay over here this time, thou foul smelling malodorous miscreant,” Luna responded.

“Knave of noxious vapours?” Sentinel hesitantly quipped, looking up at Luna.

“Oh very good… I like that one,” Luna said, her voice full of praise. “Come. Both of you. There is much to do this night. Let us begin in earnest.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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