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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“Mistress,” Bucky said in a calm voice when he opened the door and saw the last pony he expected. “Do come in. I was not expecting you. Mistress, this is Sunset Shimmer. Sunset Shimmer, this is my Mistress, Princess Luna.”

“I know who she is and who she was, Twilight Sparkle told me,” Sunset said, bowing her head. “Princess Luna,” she whispered in a reverent voice.

“To be honest, I was expecting your sister,” Bucky stated in a subdued but disappointed voice. “I am however most pleased to see you Mistress.”

“She is no longer in her sun… so I suspect she is on her way,” Luna said as she tossed herself down into a chair and draped herself over the arms.

“You call her Mistress… Master, am I missing something?” Sunset Shimmer inquired.

“There is a chain of command… Minion,” Bucky said in a soft voice.

“So the pony who was once Nightmare Moon took on a warlock as an apprentice and now I’m the warlock’s apprentice… Equestria has changed since I left,” Sunset Shimmer said in a nervous voice as she smiled hesitantly at Princess Luna.

“There are terrors in the night that mere daylight dwelling ponies have not the courage to even acknowledge the existence of. A different sort of protector is needed, which is why Buckminster here is my Minion. And you… you my soft fragile little daylight dweller, you are being recruited to do battle against those terrors in the night,” Luna said in a voice that was as soft as satin as she studied Sunset Shimmer.

“I’m not soft and I’m not fragile!” Sunset Shimmer protested, bristling at Luna’s words. “I’ve made mistakes but I’m not soft!”

“When you saw me you screamed like a filly about to wet herself,” Bucky interjected.

“That’s because you look like you’ve been shoved through a wood chipper,” Sunset Shimmer retorted, the first hint of anger rising in her voice.

“What’s a wood chipper?” Bucky asked, looking confused.

“Never mind,” Sunset Shimmer said in a sulky voice. “You’re a walking horror movie… Master. The sun leaves the sky at night because it is clearly hiding from you, creepshow.”

Raising his eyebrow, his only eyebrow, Bucky’s lip curled back into a sneering smile.

“To be fair, he currently looks a little worse than he usually does… he was overseas and was shot in the head with a high powered rifle,” Princess Luna said in a dismissive voice. “Which is why his head is lumpy and misshapen… much like a zombie mutant potato.”

“What?” Sunset Shimmer blurted out. “How are you even alive?”

“Keep that in mind if you ever decide to challenge me Minion… I cannot be killed through conventional methods!” Bucky said in a voice that bordered on laughter.

“So that’s why your scalp is stapled together then… wait, I thought guns were banned here,” Sunset Shimmer said in a confused voice.

“They were. Things have since changed. They are still banned, but the methods of control need to be revised,” Luna said as she looked at Sunset Shimmer with an openly amused expression.

“Are you a lich?” Sunset Shimmer hissed, looking at Bucky with accusing narrowed eyes and deeply furrowed brows. “I don’t like the undead. At all. I had to go clean out an infestation with Princess Celestia once.”

“Not yet,” Bucky cackled in reply.

“Master, I must confess, you frighten me,” Sunset Shimmer admitted.

“Oh you would do well to be afraid. Your Master has one of the Demon Lords of Tartarus hard at work in a nearby forge, toiling away to aid the residents of Ponyville,” Princess Luna said, her eyes twinkling with barely suppressed laughter. “And be careful of the spell jars with the glowing purple aura.”

“What? Purple aura?” Sunset questioned, shaking her head in confusion.

“Never mind, not important now. Your quarters are up the stairs, the floor just below my office. There is a bed and a few things you might need in there. You can take meals in the house with my family if you would like. Feel free to roam the house as a guest, but this tower is your home. Twilight tells me that you have missed having a proper tower,” Bucky said in a soft voice, his surviving eye locked upon his student.

“I have actually… I don’t like houses to be honest, they offend my design aesthetic,” Sunset Shimmer admitted. “One of the worst parts of being banished beyond the mirror.”

“Your Master is an insufferably evil warlock, watch out for the stairs. It is a manifestation of pure unbridled evil that runs in his family bloodline. Winking will not work in this tower,” Luna warned, sounding somewhat bored as she spoke.

“I fixed the stairs. I merely want to punish my students… or my Minion if she is insolent,” Bucky said, sniffing in disdain at Luna.

Sunset Shimmer scowled, her muzzle scrunching. It felt strange to have four legs again and to have a muzzle once more. It was strange to be around other ponies who spoke so casually of such powerful magic and sensitive subjects. She had come home to a very different Equestria. She had returned to be a student to a very different sort of teacher, a teacher that she was genuinely afraid of.

“If you need anything, just ask,” Bucky said in a low kind voice.

“Will I be able to contact my friends?” Sunset Shimmer questioned in a worried tone.

Nodding, Bucky smiled at his student. “Twilight and I both agree that you will send regular correspondence to your friends as part of the conditions of your probation,” Bucky answered.

“Thank you for-”

Sunset Shimmer’s words were cut off by a light rapping upon the door and the three occupants of the room turned to stare at said door, with Luna being the only one with presence of mind to open it. A tall white figure stood in the doorway looking in, and even in the dim light, it was easy to see that she had been crying.

“Master,” Sunset Shimmer cried out, darting across the room and falling down at Celestia’s hooves, prostrating herself before the alicorn. “I’m so sorry… what I did was wrong, I am begging for you to forgive me.”

“Please, my former student, do get up,” Celestia said in a raspy pained voice. “I cannot bear to see you so.” When Sunset Shimmer did not move, Celestia lifted the sobbing unicorn in her magic and carried her over to a chair, where she carefully sat Sunset Shimmer down. She looked at Sunset Shimmer for a moment, trying to blink back tears, and then she turned to stare at Bucky.

“I brought you something to cheer you up,” Bucky stated in a soft soothing voice.

“What have you done?” Celestia asked, her voice barely a whisper.

“Twilight Sparkle and I both felt that it was time for this to end. Too many mistakes have been made. Neither one of us could bear to see you hurting… and as you like to tell so many, the only way to make your problems go away is to face them directly. So… Twilight Sparkle and I might have worked together and pushed our authority to the very limits to bring Sunset Shimmer back so you and her can patch things up and make things better… rip off the scab and let the infection out so to speak,” Bucky explained in a patient careful voice.

“So you thought that you would make me take a dose of my own medicine?” Celestia inquired, now moving towards Bucky slowly, her eyes affixed on the short unicorn stallion gazing up at her from his chair with an utterly fearless expression as she approached.

“Yes, something like that,” Bucky responded as Celestia came snoot to snoot with him. “I could not bear to see you hurting and I fetched the means to remedy the situation.”

With her ears drooping down beside her face, Celestia closed her eyes and kissed Bucky on his nasal bridge. “You have been a good friend,” she said as she opened her eyes. “After some of the things I’ve done, I am forced to wonder if I deserve your friendship and your devotion.”

“Look, you and Sunset Shimmer have a lot of catching up to do. Luna and I are going to go away now and leave you two alone for a while. I will be back later with refreshments and a nice snack or maybe even a meal or something… we shall see,” Bucky said, his eye never leaving Celestia’s gaze.

“Splendid idea… I have foals to play with and a Sentinel to tease,” Luna announced as she slipped out of her chair. She stretched, made her spine crackle, and she moved beside Sunset Shimmer. “Good luck,” Luna whispered.

Having said what needed saying, Luna made her way to the door and Bucky joined her. The pair stopped at the door and looked at one another, Bucky’s hood falling back from his face as he looked up at Luna.

“Age before beauty,” Bucky stated, making a gesture at the door with his stump.

“Ah ha… ha ha ha ho ho ho… very funny Minion,” Luna responded, looking down at Bucky while bringing herself to her full height.

Quite unable to help herself, the sobbing Sunset Shimmer let out a giggle.

“You keep calling me ‘Minion’ when you address me Mistress,” Bucky remarked as he tilted his head back to look upward.

“Chain of command,” Luna deadpanned. “Now get moving Minion in Miniature!”

“You wound me!” Bucky quipped, dropping his gaze down to stare out the door and into the yard.

“Your accusation is baseless,” Luna retorted as she nudged Bucky out of the door.

“Are you suggesting I prevaricate?” Bucky demanded, turning his head slowly to look back over his shoulder at Luna. “Thou puking bat-fowling death-token!”

“No, but I would suggest you get a stool, thou fusty half faced cat loving miscreant!” Luna teased in reply as she shut the door behind her, leaving Celestia and Sunset Shimmer alone together.

“Are they always like this?” Sunset Shimmer asked as she wiped her eyes.

“I do not have an idea what has gotten into them. I suspect they were trying to ease our moods,” Celestia replied, looking at Sunset Shimmer with wide pained eyes. “There is so much I want to say.”

“Me too,” Sunset admitted, averting her eyes and looking down at the floor. “I’ve learned humility… it hurts as much as you said it would.”

“Sunset Shimmer, I have wronged you,” Celestia said in a strangled voice. “I can make mistakes too. I just made some terrible mistakes and I am still feeling very troubled about issues that I cannot talk about… some of which concern you. But you paid for my mistakes.”

“I had my own hand in making those mistakes,” Sunset Shimmer said, raising her hoof in a frustrated gesture. “Or hoof I guess,” she corrected, looking at her hoof.

“It feels so good to see you again… it broke my heart when you left,” Celestia confessed. “I am so unsure of myself right now,” she added, her ears twitching but not rising from where they drooped down beside her face.

“That’s two of us,” Sunset Shimmer whispered. Sniffling, the unicorn wiped her nose on her foreleg, leaving behind a shiny wet spot on her leg. “Can you forgive me?”

“I was about to ask you the same,” Celestia said, raising one front hoof and scratching her other front leg nervously, a gesture that any common pony might make when nervous.

“I wronged you… I staged an uprising. I brought spells against you and killed several guards. I killed several of my other teachers in a duel. Whatever you think you did to me… what I did to you and Equestria was far worse,” Sunset Shimmer murmured, her head down and her eyes closed.

“We both made mistakes. I pushed you into making yours by trying to turn you into something you were not meant to be. I pushed you and I pressured you and I saw all of the warning signs of your failure but I persisted because I was so confident in my course of action,” Celestia admitted, shaking her head sadly as she spoke, her cheeks becoming sodden with tears.

“Twilight Sparkle and I talked… about this… and everything that happened. She sort of put two and two together herself… but that doesn’t change the fact that I still made bad choices and stupid decisions. I still had choices in the matter, and I made bad ones,” Sunset Shimmer said in reply, her nostrils flaring with emotion.

“I also had choices… and I allowed those choices to be made for me… I cannot explain it yet… but it has hurt a lot of ponies that I love. And now, I fear I must make my own choices and I do not know what to do because I have always depended upon the opinions and the input of another,” Celestia confessed, looking fretful and twitchy. “You have grown up so much but your appearance has changed so little… you are practically the same age as when you left.”

“I’ve missed you… I’ve missed everything here. I didn’t know what I had until it was gone,” Sunset Shimmer said in a soft raspy voice. She puffed out her cheeks and blew her mane out of her face. “So about this Buckminster…”

“He will make a fine teacher,” Celestia responded, her face brightening. “He will give you the power that I was so hesitant to share with you. Things have changed. We need unicorns with strong offensive capabilities and Buckminster was wise to collect you as a resource.”

“And bring us together,” Sunset Shimmer stated.

“Yes, and bring us together,” Celestia agreed. “We have so much to talk about…”

 

 

 

 

 

 

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