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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The note Bucky had received burned brightly, turning to ash and blowing away in the faint breeze. It was a simple note delivered by a helpful pegasus, a note from Twilight Sparkle letting him know that Sunset Shimmer was now on the Equestria side of the mirror. He felt a dreadful feeling of apprehension about the coming meeting. So much was riding on what took place this evening, including luring Celestia out of her hiding spot.

There was a lot of pressure on Bucky, as was usually the case.

“You look nervous.”

“Of course I’m nervous!” Bucky said, replying to Derpy, who had just spoken with him and was now brushing up against his side. He pressed the good side of his face against his wife and rubbed his cheek against her.

“I don’t understand everything that is going on, but I understand that it is important. You’ll do fine,” Derpy said in a reassuring voice. The grey mare could feel her husband fidgeting against her and felt a strong sense of worry when she realised just how tense he was about this situation. “This is one of those impossibly complex situations, isn’t it?”

“Yes,” Bucky gasped, feeling somewhat panicked. “So much depends on what happens here tonight. We need more Black Cloaks. Celestia needs to come to terms with some of the mistakes she’s made so she can begin to heal. So many things depend upon this one event and how it turns out.”

“It’ll be okay,” Derpy said just before she planted a soft kiss on Bucky. “You always pull through these situations and they turn out okay in the end, even if they fall apart in the middle.”

“Where are Belisama and Berry?” Bucky inquired.

“They’re off talking about stuff,” Derpy answered. “Any word on your griffons?”

“The ones in Canterlot are doing okay I suppose, I haven’t heard anything,” Bucky replied, now feeling even more apprehensive, but saying nothing.

 

 

The sky was a deep dark purple and full of stars. The night air was chilly now, not that Bucky noticed, but others certainly did. Once the sun had begun to set, Dinky and Piña quickly found their way indoors where it was warmer. Barley was moving slower than ever on creaky knees.

Rising Star was still hard at work in his forge and Bucky could see an inviting orange glow coming from the windows. Scorch was in the forge as well to help Rising Star make the many wood burning stoves needed for ponies to survive the winter.

As Bucky wandered the grounds, he saw that much had been done during his absence. The school practically looked finished. It only needed a few finishing touches. Off in the distance were some small but comfortable houses for his groundskeepers and any staff he might hire. The dormitory towers were nearing completion and there were several more than he remembered from when he had left.

And then, he felt a shadowy presence on the very edges of his perception, and it wasn’t Sentinel. He lifted his head and looked skyward, looking for signs of visitors as he hurried off to his tower. He had a first impression to make and he hoped that he wouldn’t screw it up too badly.

 

 

Waiting on the ground floor room, Bucky sat in a chair, impatiently tapping his stump against the arm. He could sense them, and more importantly, he could hear them, there was a clatter outside as a chariot landed. He took a deep breath and tried to ignore the sweaty feeling of his frogs.

The front door opened and the big female Myrmidon entered first, and as she came through the door, Bucky realised that something was dreadfully wrong. Slung over her armored back was Sunset Shimmer, bound in shackles and with a black sack secured around her head.

Bucky was out of his chair in a moment and as he slid from his seat, the male Myrmidon came through the door and saluted. The pair stared at Bucky expectantly and Bucky stared back, wondering why Sunset was shackled and sacked.

“Is there a reason for these restraints?” Bucky inquired in a soft voice. He heard the muffled whimpers from Sunset from under the black sack and the unicorn squirmed.

“When we returned, we shackled her and placed an inhibitor upon her,” the male reported, looking at Bucky with a blank stare.

“Why? Did she resist?” Bucky questioned.

“No. When we found her, she was in the company of her friends. We explained our purpose and told her she was coming with us. She requested the chance to say goodbye and we granted that. Once through the mirror, we secured the criminal as was protocol,” the male responded as he stood at rigid attention.

Growling with frustration, Bucky lifted Sunset Shimmer off of the big female’s back and gently set her down upon the floor, standing her on her hooves. He glared at the two Myrmidons as he did so, glowering at them fiercely, as fierce as one can be when one is as small as Bucky and you are glowering at two creatures that completely dwarf you.

Without further ado, Bucky yanked the black sack off of Sunset Shimmer’s head.

Which Bucky immediately regretted. Upon seeing Bucky, Sunset’s first reaction was to begin shrieking at the top of her lungs as she tried to get away. She tripped over her shackles and fell down, but this did not stop her. She flopped and kicked across the floor, trying to be away from the terrifying figure in the black cloak.

“Stop… we mean you no harm,” Bucky said in a commanding voice. “These chuckleheads made a mistake… this is a misunderstanding. You are in no danger.”

“You’re Tainted!” Sunset Shimmer cried as she continued to flop away. She thumped into a wall and went still, realising there was no where else to go. She stared up at Bucky with wide terrified eyes and she panted with fear in between screams. “You are the most hideous creatures I’ve ever seen, all of you! But especially you!”

“Flattery will get you everywhere,” Bucky deadpanned.

His words caused Sunset to fall silent and she peered at Bucky, still terrified, but now curious. She went still and tried to compose herself, her nostrils flaring with fright as she tried to take everything in.

Unable to manipulate the inhibitor with his magic, Bucky grunted in frustration and cleared his throat. “Would you please remove her bindings? This is entirely unnecessary.”

The male moved to obey Bucky. He fished out a key from somewhere on in his armor, pinching it in between his grasping digit and central knuckle. He unlocked the shackles and then slid the inhibitor from Sunset’s horn. Saying nothing, he placed both in a saddlebag and then turned to look at Bucky.

“Both of you are dismissed,” Bucky stated.

“Apologies, Lord of Winter,” the big female said as she made her way to the door, the smaller male following close behind her.

Bucky watched them clear the door and he shut it behind them. He then turned to Sunset Shimmer and helped her up onto her hooves, keeping his distance and trying to be as non threatening as possible.

“Why am I here?” Sunset asked. “Why am I in the company of somepony who is clearly a warlock? Has Equestria fallen? They told me you were a prince and that you demanded my return.”

“I am a prince, but don’t call me that. I am a warlock. I do in fact have the Taint and I’m a bit surprised that you know what it is. Equestria still stands, but much has changed. As long as I draw breath, I keep the empire going,” Bucky responded.

“You’re hideous!” Sunset Shimmer exclaimed.

“We’ve established that,” Bucky retorted as he glared at the unicorn who was backing her way along the wall and trying to keep as much distance as possible.

“Why am I here?” Sunset inquired as she eased herself into a chair, watching Bucky’s every move as she did so. “What are you going to do with me? You have fangs.”

Heaving a sigh, Bucky sat down in a chair and made himself comfortable. “You are here because I have need of you. Equestria has faced a crisis that nearly destroyed us from within. We need powerful unicorns and you, you are a powerful unicorn. A type three, a very gifted type three, with pyrokinetic abilities that fall into the type four range. You were being trained as a spellbreaker but you never graduated. It is my intention to take you as my student and allow you to earn your position back in our society.”

“Where is Twilight?” Sunset asked in a fearful voice.

“In Ponyville, nearby, and she told me to tell you that you are the last pony to judge by appearances and to remind you what you looked like as a rampaging she demon,” Bucky replied, looking Sunset Shimmer in the eye. He saw her flinch from his words and she shrunk down in her chair, unable to meet his gaze.

“She knows I’m here?” Sunset Shimmer inquired in a wavering voice.

“She approves of this plan,” Bucky stated in reply. “It is by our authority that your status as a banished exile has been revoked but you are not free by a long shot. You will however, be able to earn your freedom.”

“How do I do that?” Sunset responded, her ears folded back against her skull in fear.

“By becoming my apprentice and serving the empire as a dutiful servant,” Bucky said in a low voice. “In exchange, I will give you everything you ever wanted when you studied under Celestia. Power. Access to spells beyond your imagining. You must understand… I am a Crown sanctioned warlock.”

“I want nothing to do with dark magic… never ever!” Sunset retorted, closing her eyes and shaking her head. “I’ve been cured of my curiousity for that.”

“Oh, I would never allow you to do that,” Bucky said in a low soothing voice. “But I have destructive magics at my disposal. There is power here. But with power comes service.”

Licking her lips nervously, Sunset opened her eyes and looked at Bucky. “I would do almost anything to have magic again. To feel it coursing through me.”

“Our time grows ever shorter… I must confess, I am also using you as bait,” Bucky admitted, grinning a bit as he spoke.

“Bait?” Sunset asked, her muzzle scrunching. “This is all so confusing.”

“You will see soon enough,” Bucky muttered. “Anyhow… There is a room for you upstairs and a place for you by my side. All I ask of you is service. In return, you will have magic again.”

“This is overwhelming… I don’t know what to say or do here. You… you are certainly not what I expected and you seem nice enough for being a Tainted warlock… what happened to your… your… your face and everything else? From what I’ve seen peeking out from under that cloak you look like you were partially devoured by wolves or something,” Sunset stammered, her eyes locked on Bucky.

“I was,” Bucky stated.

“You were what?” Sunset asked.

“Partially devoured by wolves. They feasted upon me while I still lived. They tore away pieces of my flesh and swallowed them. They ripped me apart, tore open my throat, took my eye, and tore half of my face off,” Bucky explained in a calm voice.

“I’m so sorry… I… I don’t know what to say,” Sunset Shimmer whispered apologetically, her ears drooping down the sides of her face as she spoke.

“And then I lost my leg to an attack from a crystal lich,” Bucky said, raising his stump.

Her eyes narrowing, Sunset stared at Bucky, her analytical mind now kicking in. The young mare tried to take in everything she had just heard and the situation as a whole. She realised that she had no magic inhibitor on and that she was being trusted to behave. More importantly, she was being offered a chance to study again.

“I must confess… I would do almost anything to be able to study magic again,” Sunset Shimmer admitted. “The good sort of magic though. Believe me, my days of dabbling in dark magic are done.”

“Do I have your word?” Bucky asked as he fixed his eye upon Sunset Shimmer.

“Yes Master, I will do as you bid,” Sunset Shimmer said, bowing her head. “I’ve wanted to come home for so long… and to have magic again. I will do whatever you ask. I am ready and willing to submit to your demands.”

Feeling a bit peeved about being called ‘Master,’ Bucky’s lip curled back ever so slightly into a sneer. “Very well Minion… your first assignment. Prepare yourself. I strongly suspect that we will have a visitor sometime very soon, and it is my demand that you meet with Celestia when she comes. Steel yourself, she was not made aware of your arrival until after the fact, and she should be finding out about it any moment now.”

“Master… I will do as you ask,” Sunset Shimmer said, bowing her head. “I have long wanted to speak to my former Master and teacher. I have learned my lesson, I will submit and be dutiful,” the unicorn mare added as her gaze fell upon the floor.

“You are mine… make no mistake… Twilight has given me full authorisation to exploit your talents for destructive magics. She will be by to speak with you later, but she wants to give you time to settle in. You are free to come and go as you please… do I need to explain to you what will happen if you try to run?" Bucky asked, looking at his new student.

“I will not run… I have learned from my previous mistakes... Master. Plus, you have something I want,” Sunset Shimmer acknowledged in a submissive voice.

Both unicorns fell silent when they heard a loud pop from outside and Bucky’s eye went wide. He turned to look at the door, wondering if it would perhaps explode open or be softly knocked upon. He lifted his head high and calmed himself.

“She is surprisingly punctual,” Bucky remarked. “And so easily baited.”

Hearing a soft knock upon the door, Sunset Shimmer nearly jumped out of her skin.

 

 

 

 

 

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