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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It was almost evening when Princess Celestia burst into existence by the farmhouse. The crickets were chirping, frogs were singing, and Bucky was deep in his cups on the front porch, well on his way to becoming soused. Upon seeing Celestia, his horn flashed and he quickly approached the terrible state of being sober.

Already, his head was thumping.

Looking around her, Celestia’s gaze fell upon the school and the new towers that had sprung up only recently. Her head moved slowly, taking in every detail, her keen pegasus powers of observation manifesting, and finally she turned her gaze on Bucky.

“I am still very upset with you,” Celestia announced.

“She poisoned me,” Bucky said, his voice dangerously close to a growl. Only his love for Celestia kept him from being openly hostile towards the alicorn.

The alicorn slumped and looked grief stricken. “I know. My sister Luna told me.”

“I regret nothing,” Bucky grumbled, his expression almost but not quite apologetic as he spoke, his shoulders slumping and his body language was one of sadness more than anything.

“I am going to carve those words on a monument dedicated to you,” Celestia replied with no trace of humour in her voice. She recovered her composure and stood up straight. Her feathers remained fluffed out however, a clear indicator for anypony that spoke pegasus that her feathers were literally ruffled by the subject.

“You know, sometimes, I worry that you fail to understand just how much I have changed. Have you spoken with Luna?” Bucky inquired, his eye narrowing and his ears splaying out to the sides for moment.

“She has tried… she has tried to tell me things but I refuse to believe… I… we both know that you are troubled, but I believe that you can recover. You can get better… what you endured has been very trying for you and then coming home… having to face everything… but I know you can be restored if you will just-”

“Hold that thought,” Bucky said, daring to interrupt Celestia. “What if I don’t want to be restored? I have no intention of ascending. Becoming an alicorn will not fix me. Becoming an alicorn will only take everything already wrong with me and make it worse. Do you know what source the alicorn of war draws from? Do you?”

The big white alicorn stood there mutely, unable to answer, her eyes wide and unblinking, her ears folded back against her head, and her wings fluttered uncomfortably at her sides. Her ethereal mane and tail moved in an erratic pattern now that she seemed irritated and upset.

Bucky felt a twinge of pity when he realised that Celestia didn’t know. “The alicorn of war draws power from hatred Celestia. Just like Cadance draws power from love. You mean to tell me that you didn’t know? Just think about how much I HATE my mother and how much strength that would give me. Think about the conflict in the world right now. And hatred for unicorns. You know how loving Cadance gets around love, right? Well, imagine what I’ll become.”

“I believed that the alicorn of war would draw strength from defending others,” Celestia stated, her voice ragged with emotion. “Surely all of that energy can be redirected. Repurposed. We could find a way of keeping you focused as you kept all of us safe. The hatred might make you strong, but love would keep you balanced. Harmony would find a way.”

“I suppose you are here to talk with Rising Star,” Bucky stated, changing the subject.

“Yes, I am,” Celestia responded, drawing her head up higher and straightening out her long swan-like neck. “I do not understand you Buckminster… you have so much love but also so much hate. How can both exist in your heart?”

“I don’t hate you,” Bucky replied. “It is either or for me. Something is wrong with me. I don’t seem to have a middle setting.”

“So you love me,” Celestia responded.

“As much as you love me. Or so I would hope in a fair exchange. How are your wings?” Bucky questioned, raising his eyebrow and narrowing his surviving eye at Celestia, his ears perking forward. He thought about a different Sombra through the mirror and wondered briefly just how much love Celestia had for him and how far their love had gone. He worried if there was any lingering projected emotions that might be influencing her and how she viewed him. He hated himself for being as cynical as he was and immediately wished that he had not burned the alcohol out of his body to make himself sober.

“Sore.” The alicorn hesitated after speaking the lone word, her muzzle scrunching slightly as she looked thoughtful. “In a great deal of pain actually,” Celestia answered, being a little more honest once she realised that Buckminster understood just how much the wing slapping had hurt her.

“Rising Star is in the house. I think he’s in the library. We all just ate a while ago, and he likes to study after dinner,” Bucky said. “Just follow the scent of rotten eggs.”

 

 

Rising Star stared down at the floor, unable to meet Celestia’s gaze. Other ponies had been shooed out of the library, the door had been shut, and the pair were now alone with each other. His guts were clenching painfully from guilt.

“I know what happened.”

Squeezing his eyes shut, Rising Star’s whole body tensed. “It was only a kiss,” he whispered in a pained raspy voice. He felt a tightening in his dock and his ears drooped down to the sides of his face as his bottom lip protruded outwards. “It was so tempting… I didn’t see the harm in just a kiss, and the acorn seemed so harmless… I mean, Zecora uses them in potions so I thought they must be safe.”

“I have spoken with Zecora. I was visiting with her before I came here. She was worried for you,” Celestia replied as she watched Rising Star twist himself into knots. “She considers you a friend. You left quite an impression upon her.”

“Thank you for letting me know,” Rising Star said appreciatively. He relaxed a little, took a deep breath, and then kicked his hind legs around beneath him trying to get comfortable on the sofa. He was sitting in the ‘pony-loaf’ position as Berry Punch called it, laying on his belly with all four legs tucked in beneath him. He was supremely self conscious around Celestia and he didn’t want to take a chance at certain things peeking out or any embarrassing reveals around the princess. Plus, he didn’t want to look at his own hooves.

“Twilight Sparkle will be bringing you a book about fey unicorns. As you have discovered, they are not old pony tales or fairy tales. There used to be a fair number, but they met a bad end about eight hundred years ago when they attempted to seize power from me, believing they could control the sun better than I could. The cloven hooves were all exterminated, something I did not want to happen. Are you at all familiar with the coven trials?” Celestia said, her eyes narrowed and her expression curious.

Rising Star shook his head and waited for Celestia to continue.

“House Avarice sent out their armigers all over the land. The cloven hooves, even the innocent ones, they were all hunted down and exterminated. There were public trials, all of which were shams. They blamed the cloven hooves for all kinds of things. Famines, bad water, plagues, diseases, foals that died in their sleep, there was a lot of panic. And it all started off because just a few decided to challenge my rule. There was very little I could do. I was beset on all sides by enemies, I had lost my sister, I could not be everywhere at once, and a variety of other factors kept me from trying to deal with the terrible situation.”

A terrible prickling feeling began to creep up Rising Star’s spine. He didn’t like what he was hearing. Not one bit. A cold sensation crept up his croup and then went galloping up his spine, up his neck, and then it sent shudders through the back of his skull that traveled through his whole body. He snorted and tried to compose himself.

“You are going to notice some changes. One of the most important to be mindful of is that ponies, females in particular, are going to be attracted to you. Twilight Sparkle will be giving you a spell you need to learn to curb this irresistible attraction. Husbands will become quite jealous and possibly even violent if their wife begins to fawn over you or show that she finds you desirable. And I do not want you hurt, Rising Star.”

Nodding silently, Rising Star remained quiet. He had a suspicion this was one of those occasions where it was more important to listen than it was to talk.

“Certain types of monsters will be, and I hesitate to use this word, friendlier towards you. Ursa Majors and other zodiac animals, being fey, will tolerate you far more than the average unicorn. They will see you as one of their own. But I really do hesitate using the world friendly, Rising Star. The term is subjective. They are violent dangerous monsters, but now, you are one of them. So how they treat you is bound to be different.”

“I don’t understand the difference between fey and fae,” Rising Star admitted.

“Fae creatures are nature spirits or manifestations of natural concepts. Dryads are f-a-e creatures. Linked to trees, they are gentle nature spirits who serve harmony and keep the balance. Pyrodryads are f-e-y creatures. Nature spirits, but otherworldly nature creatures. Creatures who serve harmony, but have a touch of chaos and have infernal natures. Extra dimensional beings who connect to another plane. Like you. Once the connection to the primordial plane of fire was established for you, you were sucked down to the source. Make sense?” Celestia explained.

“So like everything else, there is a balance. Light and dark, fae and fey, heat and cold, it is all part of a self balancing system,” Rising Star replied. “I draw my power from an otherworldly source, making me an outsider. A dryad draws directly from this worlds source and as such, belongs on this plane of existence.”

“A very astute observation,” Celestia praised.

“So infernal doesn’t necessarily mean evil, at least in this case, so I am not an evil denizen of Tartarus or anything,” Rising Star said, seeking confirmation.

“Other than some changes, you are still Rising Star. You can still choose to do good things or bad things. How you look does not make you evil, even though certain ponies might think otherwise. Your magic has a touch of chaos to it, but that does not make you evil. Do keep in mind that your fires will now burn anything if you exert your will and make it happen,” Celestia replied.

“I already can burn rocks and stuff,” Rising Star stated.

“No, I mean chaos driven fires will burn anything. Even the demons of Tartarus will feel your fires if you so will it. Why do you think Scorch is one of the Demon Lords of Tartarus?” Celestia responded. “Scorch could burn this whole planet into non existence if he so willed it. But he remains curious about life and some might even say he values it in his own way.”

The realisation was like a slap on the face, and Rising Star did not know how to put it in context. He slipped his front left hoof free, extended it a bit, and had a look at it, examining his cloven hoof. He found that he could flex his hoof and pinch the two halves together. His cloven hoof was black, hard, and strangely shiny. He could see swirling shadows moving just under the surface, and found it mesmerising.

“I am trusting you Rising Star, because I believe you are a good pony,” Celestia said in a trembling voice. “Keep my little ponies safe. Buckminster, for all of his darkness, I know he will keep my little ponies safe, and I want to believe that you will do the same.”

Not entirely sure of what to say, Rising Star nodded. He took a deep breath and settled for what for appeared to be a long conversation.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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