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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Taking a big deep breath, the large white alicorn endured one of the most trying moments of the past five centuries and she felt the corner of her eye begin to twitch and spasm as she stared at her most faithful student, Twilight Sparkle. Celestia struggled to contain herself, drawing in another deep breath and suddenly feeling quite faint.

“This is most joyous news!” Luna bellowed, moving now from Bucky to Twilight, a broad smile upon her muzzle, her bright white teeth standing out in sharp contrast to her midnight blue pelt. “Please tell me that Princess Cadance and your brother Shining Armor’s plan worked out favourably,” the Night Princess begged excitedly. “Or did Bucky have you marry a griffon to cement his alliances? It was certainly within his right to do so, being a male he has every right to marry off his cousin for the purposes of diplomacy.”

“LUNA!” Celestia snapped during the middle of a sharp intake of breath, her breathing becoming increasingly strained.

“What?” Twilight responded, looking confused, first at Luna, then at Bucky, then at the griffons who had fled and were all waiting quite some distance away. “No! I didn’t marry a griffon… I married Flash Sentry and Rainbow Dash!” she hastily explained.

“So Cadance and Shining Armor’s plan did… wait a moment… Rainbow Dash?” Luna said, interrupting herself and then standing still in shock.

“I married two of my best friends, but not all of my best friends,” Twilight said, grinning sheepishly. “I made a very adult decision all on my own.”

There was suddenly a very loud thud that made everypony and everybirdy stop what they were doing and stare. Sprawled out upon the decks, Princess Celestia lay limp, her large white form unmoving.

“Please… somepony see that she is okay,” Bucky said with genuine concern in his voice, no sarcasm or snideness present as he leaned forward slightly in his chair. “She kept taking deep breaths until she started to hyperventilate.”

Princess Luna, lifting her sister in a midnight blue glow, peered around the deck and gave a smile. “We should probably get her someplace comfortable below and continue talking down there. This has ceased to be a simple welcome and I fear this will become a family quarrel.”

“I agree,” Bucky said, slipping from his chair and raising himself up on three wobbling legs, his cloak shifting and moving around him to cover him. Wrapped in the dark black expanse, he felt stronger out and away from the direct sunlight. “My bed is the only bed large enough down below… I am almost certain that Lugus is in his bed at the moment because he was feeling poorly earlier.”

“Buckminster, we will be needing a lift home… the ship you see is departing for the Shetlands and the Minnowrock Isles. One battleship and one hundred very eager Myrmidons, all of whom want to thank you for giving them something interesting to do on vacation,” Luna stated as she moved down the stairs and towards the door that led belowdecks. She paused as she drew near Ripple and eleven griffons, all of whom saluted her smartly. Each of the griffons bore the unmistakable marks of extreme violence, eyes swollen shut, scratches, lumps, bumps, and bruises. She flipped out her own wing in salute just before she slipped through the door and into the depths of the ship.

 

 

Cradling Harper in her forelegs, Luna sprawled out on the bed near her sister, glad to be holding her goddaughter. She had tried to take in everything Buckminster and Twilight had said, but it was far too much to take in all at once. She looked at Bucky, who was sprawled on the couch, and then at Twilight, who was sitting upon the floor.

“I can’t believe I fainted,” Celestia murmured, rolling over and pressing up against Luna for comfort. Celestia was unsure of where to even begin after being told everything. “Twilight… I am very happy for you, but this isn’t what I expected.”

“There is still a lot to sort out. My marriage is the least of our concerns,” Twilight said, sensing some lingering concerns on Celestia’s part in this whole issue.

“First things first… Buckminster, you must never use my sun as a weapon ever again,” Celestia said gently, her eyes closed, her brain thudding behind her horn in a fierce headache.

“Um, Celestia, that wasn’t Bucky,” Twilight Sparkle interjected in a cautious voice.

“What?” Celestia inquired, her eyes suddenly snapping open.

“I did that. While Bucky could, he has the right bloodline, it was me who called down the solar flares,” Twilight explained, suddenly feeling quite afraid.

“We cannot let this get out,” Celestia said in alarm. “How many ponies know about this? We need to make sure to protect your public image.”

“Only a few know and they are trustworthy,” Twilight Sparkle said in reply. “Bucky told me to say nothing about the details.”

“Oh thank you Buckminster… Twilight, we cannot have your public image sullied… you do not know what it is like to have the world fear you… it took me almost a thousand years just to have the world trust me again after what happened with Luna and Nightmare Moon. We cannot have this getting out… I… I will take the blame for this and make it known that I did it… you are far too much a valuable diplomatic asset to allow your image to be tarnished,” Celestia stammered, a pained expression spreading over her face when she mentioned Luna.

“No,” Bucky protested. “No, I do not agree… if you are just now gaining back the world’s trust after Luna’s fall, we cannot have you fall out of favour. That will hurt my plans too much,” he added, glaring fiercely at Celestia.

“Well, who then? Me?” Luna questioned. “I suppose I can take the blame. Nopony likes me anyway and that is never going to change it seems.”

“No,” Bucky answered. “Me.”

“NO!” Twilight shouted, causing Celestia to flinch in pain. “No… you’ve suffered enough! No Bucky… I won’t allow this!”

“Silence Twilight, this goes beyond either of us. The world has to be able to trust alicorns, including you, and not cower in fear of their destructive power. We want the world to come together in a spirit of trust, not cower in fear… one more act of villainy on my part… Celestia can be made to look like the hero for scolding me publicly and yanking back on my chain like the vicious dog I am,” Bucky explained patiently.

“Buckminster, it pains me that you understand this all too well and are willing to suffer for it,” Luna said in a voice thick with emotion, her eyes glancing first at her sister and then down at Harper.

“I don’t want this,” Twilight cried, the first tears beginning to fall, and there had been far too many tears as of late.

“It was this lack of trust that forced you to stand down as House Avarice bound the world in an iron grip, isn’t it?” Bucky asked, looking at Celestia.

“Yes Buckminster, it was,” Celestia replied, nodding her head softly. “Ponies… the world… they were all so terrified after what Luna did… realising I could end all life on the planet. I had to secure myself inside Canterlot and hide myself away. I had to stop using my magic to perform great miracles, because when things are that afraid of you, those miracles only serve as a reminder that you can also perform terrific disasters. I had no choice to but to step into the background and act as meek and powerless as possible to earn the world’s trust again.”

“We cannot have that happen to Twilight,” Luna stated. “I am still greatly feared, ponies love my sister but the world still has trust issues, so it falls upon you and Cadance to be our public faces,” the Night Princess explained to Twilight Sparkle.

“So it falls upon me to take this upon my shoulders… I will take responsibility for the utter annihilation of Griffonholm. I’ll need to be publicly condemned of course, we can’t have the public thinking for one second that you approve of what I have done,” Bucky said, looking around the room and trying to form a plan.

“This is the most awful thing I’ve ever heard… this is going to be Bucky put on trial all over again… I won’t allow that,” Twilight said in a soft voice, her barrel hitching as she tried to choke back her sobs. “You… you wanted him to ascend. You put him up to this, didn’t you? You sent me and my friends over to Griffonholm and put us in danger so he’d become enraged and sprout wings… and now all of this is happening. If you only understood what the alic-” Twilight was suddenly cut off by a powerful fit of coughing and she doubled over, whooping and hacking, clutching at her barrel with one foreleg.

Saying nothing, Celestia went limp, her head falling to the bed, her face burning with shame from Twilight’s words.

Luna, sensing that everything was in danger of turning into a truly ugly family spat, took a deep breath and cleared her throat. “The world is a much safer place now than it has been for a long time. Even with the civil wars breaking out in Minos and several diamond dog kingdoms going to war with one another, we are closer to peace than we have been for centuries. The griffons were a major source of strife in the world, rousing their neighbors against those who want peace. There has always been tensions between those with hooves and those with fingers and claws and the sharp teeth they bear.”

“Let us not say anything we will regret later,” Bucky stated, looking first at Twilight and then at Celestia. “Luna… your words are wise.”

“So the alicorn of war did not manifest, but the world was brought just a little closer to peace,” Luna said in a subdued voice.

“Look, we know about your three sisters,” Twilight said in a strangled voice. “Bucky has known for a long time… and I know what compels you… and he… she… IT… whatever it is, it is wrong!” Twilight snapped, her words practically a gurgle as she used sheer force of magical will to overcome the forces holding her back from speaking.

“Twilight, refrain from speaking about what you cannot possibly begin to understand,” Celestia said in a cold voice.

“NO!” Twilight growled.

“Twilight… please, when things have calmed down, I give you my solemn word that we will have a discussion about this later,” Celestia responded in a flat voice.

“HOW ABOUT NOW!” Twilight bellowed, the first hints of the Royal Canterlot Voice manifesting in her voice, which caused Harper to begin crying.

There was a bright flash of golden light and then there was one less alicorn in the room, Celestia vanishing from sight. Twilight, infuriated that she was denied, coughed once more to clear the phlegm from her throat and then sighed, taking a deep breath to calm herself down.

Trying to soothe Harper, Luna cooed at her goddaughter, trying to quiet Harper’s cries. Luna bounced and cajoled the foal, kissed her softly, and even resorted to making funny faces and sticking out her tongue, all of which Harper ignored.

“Nuts,” Bucky swore, scowling fiercely.

“I am willing to accept the fact that I must keep my public image unblemished and I hate that Bucky is going to have to suffer in my stead. But I do not accept just being brushed off about this issue,” Twilight grumbled, trying to calm herself.

“We do not get along with our sisters,” Luna admitted. “Celestia loathes them for waging war against our parent. Celestia hates them even more for abandoning the ponies and Zebras of the Sea of Grass and going into hiding, leaving the zebras and ponies to fend for themselves. I have my own issues with them, for offering Celestia and I no warning for what was to happen to me, or doing nothing to stop it… they could have stopped it… when the three of them work their magic together, they can bend reality to their whim. They have far more power than Celestia and I do… they could have easily thrashed Discord, their power to bend reality outranks his greatly. They could have stopped Sombra, but they did nothing. He… he… demanded that they step aside and they did, all of them bowed to him and allowed him to leave… it wasn’t long after that we lost him forever, the darkness consumed him completely and we had to go to war to stop him. We asked our sisters for help and they refused.”

“Perhaps they had their reasons,” Bucky said in a soft patient voice, worried about Harper’s cries, his eyes locked on a shock of poofy orange mane. “We need a way to reach Celestia… we need some way of gaining her trust again.”

“We need to make her listen somehow,” Twilight said. “At least listen to us and try to sort out this disagreement we seem to be having.”

“There is one that Celestia listens to… but I am forbidden to speak of her,” Luna said in a low voice, still trying to comfort Harper. “It seems that Celestia has gone off to sulk though… she currently sits in the middle of her sun, pouting. I am going to trust both of you with one of Equestria’s most closely guarded secrets.”

Bucky and Twilight both fell silent and became attentive, both of them looking directly at Luna, the Night Princess actually looking somewhat frightened.

“There is one that Celestia trusts and has seen her through these long years of ruling all alone. I suppose a bit of background is in order,” Luna began, her eyes going distant as though she was looking a thousand years backward in time. “It started off with Sombra and his idea to keep ponies safe… he had been experimenting, but his experiments were all failures. Celestia and I didn’t know he was experimenting. He was sealing the souls of lesser creatures in crystal, but most of his attempts were failures,” Luna said, shaking her head sadly, her expression becoming quite pained.

“I have some memories of this,” Bucky said in a low voice. “But they are hazy and Sombra won’t let me see them.”

“And for good reason,” Luna responded, looking over at Buckminster. “Sombra realised that he needed luck to make this happen. This was after Princess Platinum had died, and madness was overcoming Sombra more and more. He was obsessed with keeping things from dying, especially things he loved. And one of the things he loved was Clover the Clever, whose talent was luck. For a time, during a lucid moment, he took comfort with Clover after Platinum’s death. He had been with her previously, and he returned to her for a time, desperate for any sort of comfort or consolation. But Clover did not make the ache in his heart stop. Knowing she would wither and die, Sombra abducted her… using the foulest magics, he ripped her soul from her body and secured her away in crystal, and she was the very first success he had in transferring consciousness from a body into crystal. He learned a great deal from the process and refined it. It was no doubt Clover’s luck that allowed her to survive.”

“That’s monstrous!” Twilight breathed.

“Why do I suddenly know where this is going...” Bucky stated in a heartbroken voice.

“Clover went mad inside of the crystal. She went mad and Sombra locked her away. He was able to tap into her luck and used her as a weapon. It was part of the reason why he was so successful. Celestia and I found her in one of Sombra’s hidden research facilities not long before the end finally came for him. Clover was Celestia’s dearest friend, and Celestia could not bear to smash her crystal and free her,” Luna explained in an agonised voice. “Celestia rescued Clover’s crystal and kept it, and she and Star Swirl immediately tried to find a way to heal Clover’s mind. Neither of them could bear to end her misery and tried to help her. Many things happened, including my fall. About two centuries after my exile, Celestia was finally able to heal Clover’s mind and calm her, and Clover, being clever, made the most of being trapped inside of crystal. She was Celestia’s closest friend and confidant, was a fellow immortal for Celestia to spend time with and talk to, and Celestia was able to draw upon Clover’s luck, which is why my sister always has so many successful gambits.”

“Clover is alive?” Twilight gasped.

“Sort of,” Luna admitted. “And I think it is time that both of you talk to her. I know for a fact that she has long begged to speak to both of you, but Celestia has always said she never felt that it was the right time.”

“Well Twilight, perhaps we have an ally,” Bucky mused thoughtfully.

“When we return to Canterlot, I will take you to see her,” Luna promised.

 

 

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