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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Alone in his small cramped cabin, Bucky began to examine his torque for lack of anything better to do. The braided silver coils were beautifully crafted, the wolf heads were in perfect detail, it always stayed strangely warm to the touch, and it gave off a faint dweomer of magic.

He looked it over, eyeing it carefully, looking for visible glyphs or sigils, and found nothing. He cast a few simple spells to detect magic and detect the nature of the enchantment. Suddenly, the torque was no longer a mystery. It thrummed for a moment, and made a sound like a bell being struck.

A faint glow came from the wolf heads and a projected image of five mares appeared before him, five mares he recognised all too well. Five mares that he was missing a great deal right now.

“Behave yourself!” they all said together as they stood waving, their tails swishing, looking up at him longingly, broad smiles upon their faces. Derpy was waving with her wing. Bucky felt a lump growing in his throat. He missed them all terribly already and was wondering how he was going to sleep without them.

The torque was nothing more than a moving image and a message, and it made Bucky feel better to hear their voices again. It was quite possibly one of the most thoughtful gifts that anypony could have possibly given him.

“I helped to make that.”

Looking up, Bucky saw Twilight in his doorway.

“The door was open. Usually that means a pony wants company, unless I am mistaken,” Twilight stated as she came in. She sat down on the only other bit of furniture in the cabin, a chair. Curling up, she made herself comfortable.

“Do you love somepony?” Bucky bluntly asked.

Twilight blushed and her ears splayed out sideways. “Maybe,” she admitted.

“Either you do or you don’t,” Bucky replied. “Make up your mind. Are you a tease or something?”

“It’s complicated,” Twilight muttered, her ears now framing her face, completely limp and dangling down as she glared at Bucky. “I have a penpal. Who I like a great deal and we’ve been getting to know each other through letters,” she confessed in a guarded monotone.

“And here I thought it was Rainbow Dash,” Bucky stated.

“Rainbow? Really? You think that? Why does everypony think that? We’re just friends,” Twilight answered, looking confused. “I’ve never understood this accusation.”

“Maybe I’m making a mistake when I watch her speak pegasus towards you,” Bucky said dismissively. “I am pretty good at reading Derpy’s signals, but I admit, Rainbow Dash might have different signals. I’m probably wrong.”

“I don’t understand,” Twilight said in a confused voice.

“Nevermind, it is probably nothing,” Bucky said.

Twilight shifted her body into a comfortable pony-loaf position and looked at Bucky. She studied him, watching his Taint filled eye ooze a purple haze out around his head, the vapour trail drifting back into his long shaggy mane. She swallowed nervously and then decided to speak her mind. “It is difficult to see you the way you are. I mean, your eye. Sombra was a difficult foe. It makes me recall a lot of bad memories.”

“Bad memories? Have a lot of horrible hideous things try to kill you?” Bucky asked.

“Well, no,” Twilight replied.

“Been mauled? Savaged by creatures who don’t even wait for you to die before they start chewing off pieces of your flesh and swallowing them? Or tied down to a table and had hot irons pressed into your flesh to make the bleeding stop? Or had somepony dig around inside of your eye socket to scoop out the remains of your ruined eye? Or-”

“I get it,” Twilight said squeamishly. “But you’re not the only one who has had it rough.”

“I’m sure plenty of your enemies have tried to talk you to death,” Bucky stated.

“That’s not fair… Discord turned my friends against me,” Twilight snapped.

“I’ll admit, that’s probably just as painful as having hot irons pressed into your flesh,” Bucky said in a low voice.

“Are you being serious or is that sarcasm?” Twilight asked in guarded tones. She glared at Bucky, her ears folded back against her skull, her nostrils wide and flaring. Her tail swished once, and then she pulled it back in and tucked it against her side.

“I would find having my family turned against me most unpleasant. I’d find a way to kill whomever did it of course,” Bucky said in a low voice. “Slowly and unpleasantly. I might even resort to necromancy to keep them alive long enough for some real satisfaction. I would want them to admit to their mistake you see, before I finally granted them the mercy of actual death.”

Feeling a chill in the air, Twilight slumped her head, feeling genuine fear. She chose to ignore Bucky’s terrifying little rant. “Doesn’t change one thing that is true. Most of my enemies have tried monologuing me to death. Nightmare Moon came back from the moon feeling chatty and sociable. Discord put us in a hedge maze and played with our minds. Chrysalis… well, there was an actual scuffle during the invasion of Canterlot… wait, what were you doing during the Canterlot invasion?” Twilight asked, coming to a swift realisation.

“Acting as a school prefect. All of the students were hidden away in the emergency bunker. I hadn’t actually graduated yet,” Bucky admitted. “There was uh, some disciplinary issues that prolonged my graduation.”

“You and your pranks,” Twilight muttered.

“No… actually I was going through a personal crisis due to my parents and I sort of fell apart. I became exceedingly antisocial and withdrawn. Celestia came down hard upon me,” Bucky answered, looking away from Twilight, a pained expression on his face as his focus was turned to the empty corner. “So, uh, what about Sombra?”

“He was scary, but he didn’t do a very good job of trying to kill me. His love of stairs nearly did though. What a jerk. Stairs everywhere,” Twilight groused, her tone bitter. Her ears perked forward. “You haven’t done anything evil involving stairs have you? I mean, one could see it as a warning sign.”

“I have no idea what you are talking about,” Bucky deadpanned, immediately thinking of the stairs in his own tower. They were steep and twisty for a reason.

“The worst danger I was ever in came from my friends. They killed me. Quite by accident,” Twilight said, looking down at her own folded forelegs distractedly. She sighed. “My life has been an adventure, but it hasn’t been all that exciting now that I look at it.”

“I was out of place for what I said,” Bucky said in apologetic tones.

“Everything you had to deal with tried to kill you,” Twilight replied in equally apologetic tones, looking Bucky in the face as she did so. “I guess that is the difference between the Scholar and the Guardian. Our experiences are different because our purposes are different. I wonder how things might have been if our roles had been reversed.”

“Would you want to be like me? Be honest, I will not hate you, cousin,” Bucky commanded in a gentle voice, a soft voice that he hoped would put Twilight at ease.

Her lips pressing into a flat line, Twilight hesitated to reply. She thought about the missing limb. The lost eye. Having the Taint. Her eyes lingered over all of Bucky’s scars. “No, no I don’t think I could handle it,” she finally admitted. “I can’t help but notice that you address me as family.”

“That is because you are,” Bucky replied.

“So I suppose you’d be on the warpath if something happened to me,” Twilight said. She watched Bucky raise his head and look at her. For a moment, his face became so distorted with malice that Twilight shivered. For just a brief second, he didn’t look at all like an equine, but something else entirely. She realised that Bucky wouldn’t be all that out of place in Tartarus. She shivered again and felt a cold prickly feeling in her hooves, which made her wonder if her earth pony physiology was reacting in some way. She made a mental note to ask Celestia if earth ponies could detect unbridled evil. For a moment, she wondered if she saw what seemed to scare Celestia so badly.

“So… who is your penpal?” Bucky asked, focusing his eye on Twilight.

“Oh, you wouldn’t know him. He’s from the Crystal Empire,” Twilight replied. “Oh wow… I just realised how pathetic and cheesy that sounds.”

“Does your brother approve?” Bucky inquired, a mischievous gleam in his eye.

“My brother is the one that got him to write the first letter,” Twilight giggled. “Oh my gosh I sound like a lovesick filly… how embarrassing,” she said as she pulled one front hoof free from beneath her and covered her muzzle. “Celestia made me write him back… she told me it went against protocol for a royal to not write back to a soldier that sent a letter. We owe them for their service, or so she claims.”

“So he’s a soldier,” Bucky said, seizing upon a detail.

“Ummm,” Twilight hummed. “Sort of. He’s a guard, but he’s actually part of the messenger division and the communication corps.”

“So he’s seen action,” Bucky stated.

“Are you teasing again?” Twilight snapped, suddenly defensive.

“No… I was reading in the paper how much danger the messengers were in during the collapse, especially the ones running messages to Canterlot when some of the nobles were at war with Celestia. They killed the messengers. Dirty pool, “ Bucky responded. “Dirty pool…” For a moment, he struggled to contain his anger, he couldn’t tell if he was upset about somepony hurting a messenger or somepony at war with Celestia.

“I was wrong I see… of course I should have known better. Of course the alicorn of war would have a soft spot for soldiers,” Twilight said in an embarrassed tone of voice. She squirmed and stuffed her front hoof back under her barrel.

“So does it ever become any easier? Being a royal I mean… the guilt is eating me alive. I went from being a noble full of self loathing to a royal full of self loathing,” Bucky said in a strained voice. He fidgeted and squirmed, now wishing he could take back what he said and say something else instead.

“Celestia tells me that being a noble is all about entitlement. Being a royal is all about enforced servitude and being a slave to the common good. We don’t have the option of saying no for example, when we were both asked to escort the longest train ever assembled,” Twilight responded thoughtfully.

“What do either of us know about rulership?” Bucky asked. “To be fair, we’re both very broken ponies… I’m speaking in a very honest and blunt sort of way.”

“Oh, I agree. I have some serious issues. I have some trouble dealing with feelings when I am busy sorting out facts. I think I hurt Celestia earlier when I was stating some facts. I didn’t take into account how it would make it her feel, I was just trying to be factual,” Twilight admitted, her eyes narrowing. She stared off into some non existent point point, looking troubled. “I suspect that I owe her an apology.”

“Neurosis,” Bucky muttered.

“Yeah, that too,” Twilight agreed in a huff. “But to be fair, you’ve progressed past neurosis and into deeply troubling and advanced psychopathy. You seem to only have a conscience when it suits you, which is a dangerous sign of-”

“There you go, stating facts again,” Bucky said in a dull monotone, interrupting Twilight.

“Oh… gosh I’m sorry,” Twilight said fretfully. She took a deep breath and made ready to offer a stronger apology, but she choked on her own breath when Bucky exploded into laughter. She remained silent for a time, feeling somewhat frightened by Bucky’s maniacal guffaws. For a moment, it was dangerously close to a cackle… but then it smoothed into a chuckle and Twilight found herself reluctantly joining in, her laughter more of a nervous giggle. It occurred to Twilight that she was laughing with a madpony. His rant from earlier came back into her mind and she began to worry slightly. Bucky was a good pony… he is just a little troubled, Twilight thought to herself.

Her reserved and nervous giggle died while Bucky’s laughter continued.

“In Saddle Arabia, they have these wonderful things called pita pocket sandwiches,” Twilight stated, hoping to change the subject and make Bucky stop laughing. Much to her relief, his manic laughter eased off. “They have this bean paste from chick peas that is fried into patties. The unicorn chefs they employ apparently created this dish. I think you’d like it.”

“Mmm, bean patties. Embarrassing social consequences be damned,” Bucky replied.

 

 

 

 

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