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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“I’m so glad you changed your mind, Twilight!”

Sighing, Twilight looked at Spike and gave a half smile. “You can thank Buckminster. He pointed out that he is bringing along his own son on this trip, and the least I could do was bring my assistant to help me out.”

Spike bounced up and down in place as the ship rose higher and picked up speed. He clutched the rail and looked down. Already, the farm looked quite small beneath them.

“You are to stay with Sentinel or myself at all times, do you hear me? If I call for you, you come running. I want you safe… Spike, you are very dear to me… you might be the most precious thing I have,” Twilight stammered.

“I know… I get it… mom,” Spike replied, rolling his eyes. He let out a grunt when Twilight hugged him suddenly, and without saying a word, he hugged her back.

 

 

Bucky studied the projection map that rose out of the crystal console. Huginn and Muninn were highlighted and blinking and The Scorned Mare’s arcano-tech magi-nav system knew which way to go. The twin cities, the capital of Griffonholm. The ship was fully automated like most modern vessels and would carefully plot the most efficient course, avoid bad weather, give warning of threats, and if need be, defend itself.

Bucky thought about his crew and felt a pang of worry. There was Twilight and her friends; Applejack, Pinkie Pie, Rarity, Rainbow Dash, and Fluttershy. Plus Spike. And then there was his own tribe; Lugus, Yew Wood, Peekaboo, Ripple, Sentinel, Bon Bon, Lyra, and Harper.

This of course, filled Bucky with some worry. Yew Wood, Bon Bon, Lyra, Harper, and Peekaboo would be spending most of their time aboard The Scorned Mare, keeping an eye upon the ship and staying safe.

He growled. If he had his way, he’d keep Twilight’s friends on board, but Celestia wanted Twilight and her friends on display. He couldn’t understand Celestia’s reasoning, their friendship wasn’t a display to griffons… Lugus called it a buffet, reminding him that some griffons prefered the magical tongue tingling of unicorn flesh, some liked the chewiness of earth ponies, others like the meat of pegasi, and Twilight, being an alicorn, would secure the ultimate in bragging rights as a meal of alicorn flesh would be a rare treat enjoyed by few griffons in history, and the temptation to secure those bragging rights would be great.

Very dark thoughts settled into Bucky’s mind what would happen if somehow the griffons managed to subdue and capture Celestia or Luna. Once rendered magically inert, the griffons would probably keep carving chunks of meat off of the immortal sisters and have a never ending feast of flesh.

When he noticed the ice covering the inside of the navigation cabin, he forced himself to think of something else, or tried to, as Sombra’s memories pushed into his mind, showing him flashes of old battles, where the Royal Pony Sisters had actually engaged the griffons who had invaded the then fledgeling nation of Equestria.

He clutched at his head with his remaining foreleg and his stump when he saw Celestia impaled on a spear, it had gone the entire length of her body, a massive griffon even larger than Lugus skewering her with a magical weapon, and then the griffon’s claws wrapped tightly around her throat to strangle her. The griffon exploded, Luna’s fury knew no end, and then he saw all to clearly that Sombra and Luna both had to endure the agonising task of pulling the spear out. Celestia’s cries rang in his ears and he tumbled over, falling out of his chair, the sound of her plaintive whimpers echoing through time in his mind.

“ENOUGH!” he bellowed, writhing on the floor. He could feel the soft touch of Celestia’s legs clinging to his neck… no… Sombra’s neck, and he could hear her voice begging him to make the pain go away. Laying on the floor, Bucky kicked and snarled, trying to force the horrifying images out of his brain, his rage boiling over in his mind as he learned something he had never wished to know.

In that moment, Sombra had communed with Celestia, sharing her pain, their minds touching in the most intimate way possible, he had felt the spear in his own body, and he had done everything he could to comfort her as the spear was tugged out inch by agonising inch, pulling and tearing at her organs and scraping over bone as it was extracted.

The knowledge of why Sombra was Celestia’s most devoted and dedicated servant came at a terrible price, and Bucky’s mind struggled to deal with what he now knew.

 

 

Twilight looked at Bucky when he entered the large room that served as dining room and a communal gathering place to simply hang out. She noticed that he looked unsettled, upset about something, he was trembling and sweating. She watched as he went to the water cooler, got himself a cup of water that shook and splashed in his telekinesis, and she eyed him as he tossed his head back and swallowed.

Sighing, Twilight realised that Bucky, even in his happy moments, never quite looked right. Whatever he had endured on the isles had changed him, taken something from him, and Twilight felt a genuine sense of concern for him. She noted every silver hair in his mane and tail now, and, if she looked carefully, was certain she could see grey hairs in the thick shaggy tan pelt of his. Her gaze shifted and fell upon Lyra and Bon Bon. How many years did he have left? With the necromantic death spell, the strain upon his body, the magical artifacts he had created, the axe, Ripple’s war shoes, the horrible orb with the still beating demon heart, and now the orbs of undead compulsion, Twilight came to the throat tightening conclusion that Bucky probably had more years behind him than ahead of him. He would be lucky to even see his foals, still in their mother’s wombs, married or finding love.

Already, Twilight felt herself mourning the loss of her friend.

 

 

“Hello Yew.”

Looking up, Yew saw Fluttershy. Yew smiled at the yellow pegasus and patted the seat beside her on the sofa in invitation.

Smiling in return, Fluttershy sat down upon the sofa and settled in, laying down and pulling her legs in beneath her, and she faced Yew, eyes wide. “I hope I’m not interrupting.”

“No, I was just sitting here wondering what to do for the whole trip,” Yew admitted.

“I was hoping we could talk,” Fluttershy stated in a very low voice.

“You wanted to talk to me?” Yew asked.

“I was hoping that we could,” Fluttershy replied, her eyes narrowing slightly and her ears splaying out sideways from her head. Her soft pink mane spilled over her eyes and she did nothing to brush it away.

“I always have a time for a friend,” Yew replied.

“You are very kind,” Fluttershy whispered. “This is… this is very difficult for me to talk about and I wanted some perspective…”

Her brows furrowing, Yew studied Fluttershy as the pegasus beside her became very quiet. Reaching out a wing, Yew gently touched Fluttershy in silent encouragement, her feather tips trailing over Fluttershy’s cheek.

“We have something in common,” Fluttershy started, her tone soft. “We both love very dangerous creatures… some ponies might even call them monsters, not that I would ever think that Lugus or Discord is a monster… oh I’m sorry this is all coming out wrong...” she continued, her voice faltering and then she fell silent.

“I understand,” Yew said, scooting over the couch to press up against Fluttershy and comfort her. “Do keep going.”

Taking a deep shuddering breath, Fluttershy looked Yew in the eye, her eyes barely visible from behind her mane. “I wanted to know what you see in him... for me… I feel safe with Discord. He’s a big scary… well, he is a monster but he is my monster and when he holds me, I feel very safe and secure, like nothing bad in the world could possibly hurt me. I don’t feel so nervous. Like when Applejack or Rainbow Dash hug me only better… oh please don’t tell them that.”

“My first husband wasn’t one for affection. Lugus is learning how to be affectionate and loving. He’s very kind to me and Peekaboo. And yes, Lugus makes me feel safe. He’s big, he’s scary looking, and he is four times my size, but I love him a whole bunch. The very first time we fooled around was very difficult because the size issue. So Discord helps you deal with being afraid?” Yew responded. As she spoke, Fluttershy had scooted up against her, and now both of them were side by side, and pressed up against one another.

“I am always so afraid. I’m afraid of everything. But I get along with animals. Beasts. I don’t know why. Animals are easier to talk to than ponies. And Discord feels more like an animal to me. He’s easier to relate to. He’s not a pony… and I have problems with ponies. Even though he is currently in pony form… my mind still sees him for what he is, which isn’t a pony. It makes it easier to get close to him. To be open… like with you right now, I am really struggling to talk about this, but I want to talk about it because you have Lugus,” Fluttershy said in a voice as soft and silky as rose petals. “Would you like to learn how to knit?” she asked, her question randomly coming in out of the blue. “I taught Berry Punch… we could all knit together and talk.”

“I would love to learn how to knit,” Yew replied.

“Oh good, because I brought my yarn and I don’t like knitting alone,” Fluttershy said.

 

 

“I like this comic book.”

Spike looked up from his own comic book to look at Sentinel, his interest engaged. “You do?” he asked.

“I’ve read a few comic books… I didn’t like most of them. I like books better, more words, less pictures. But this, this has amazing art that I wish I could draw and it has good dialogue as well,” Sentinel explained.

“Hum Drum and I share a lot in common,” Spike muttered.

“How so?” Sentinel asked.

“Cause a lot of the time, I’m useless,” Spike answered.

“So make yourself useful,” Sentinel suggested.

“How? Twilight has her all powerful alicorn magic, her friends can all do amazing things… and mostly, I’m just in the way. Twilight was going to leave me at home so I would be out of the way,” Spike grumbled.

“Keeping you out of harm’s way and keeping you out of the way are two very different things,” Sentinel said to Spike in a low voice. “Father has to keep me out of harm’s way sometimes. Like during the battle with the shadow wolves. The light spells might have hurt me. I’m a shadow creature. Twilight loves you. She doesn’t want you to be hurt, but she is willing to take that risk and you are being brought along. Prove yourself indispensable. Make yourself necessary. Make yourself useful.”

“I’ll try,” Spike said, flexing his clawed fingers nervously.

“This is funny,” Sentinel announced.

“The comic book?” Spike asked.

“No. Us. This situation,” Sentinel said.

“I don’t understand,” Spike said, one eye opening wider than the other as he looked at Sentinel. “How is this funny?”

“I’m a squire, I want to be a knight, and you are a dragon. In the books, the noble knight always slays the dragon. I’ve found that it is much more preferable to be friends with one,” Sentinel explained.

“Gosh… thanks,” Spike said sheepishly. “It has always bothered me that knights have to kill the dragon. Why is there no nice dragons in stories?”

“I dunno. Ponies tell rotten stories about my kind as well. Call us vampires. Boogeyponies. I have met the boogeypony and I am nothing like him. But we’re scary and unwanted,” Sentinel replied.

“It’s hard being a dragon. The ponies around me… they have trouble relating to me. And they age so quickly. I grow so slowly. Twilight is going to die of old age before I’m even a dragon teenager unless she becomes immortal somehow. Celestia tells me I act very mature for my age as a dragon because of the ponies around me have affected my development,” Spike said, setting down his comic book and looking a bit glum.

“Yeah, but we have ponies that love us both,” Sentinel said reassuringly. “We might have some trouble fitting in, but we do have ponies that do love us. Twilight’s friends all love you, and Twilight, and that’s important.”

“I suppose it is,” Spike said. “It takes one century for me to have one of your decades. It isn’t fair. Everypony I love is going to be gone.”

“Celestia and Luna will be around. And you will have your duties to keep you busy,” Sentinel replied.

“Duties?” Spike asked.

“Who is going to look after Twilight’s foals, her foal’s foals, and all of her grandfoals when she is gone? She won’t be there to do it, and she is going to need somepony she trusts to keep her loved ones safe. You will be the most important big brother of all time. Or uncle,” Sentinel explained.

Spike sat there in stunned silence, his eyes wide, his mind blown. He wrung his hands together, looking fretful, and then he raised his gaze to Sentinel.

“You okay?” Sentinel asked.

“I’ve never thought about it that way. I have a lot of work ahead of me. I have to start planning now… I have to remember as much about Twilight as possible so I can keep her memory alive and what she is really like so her grandfoals and great grandfoals will know her and why she was such a great pony… I need to start writing down the amazing things she says and all of the hard work she did to become a princess. I need to catalogue everything there is that I know about her. I’ve been with her since the beginning Sentinel. NOPONY knows her better than I do,” Spike said, tapping the side of his head. “Dragons have long memories… and even longer lives… long after she is gone I can look after her family and make sure they stay safe and secure.”

“With a sense of duty comes direction,” Sentinel said, smiling at his new friend.

 

 

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