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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After telling her everything that happened during his trip, Sentinel studied Moonbow’s face, looking for some kind of sign about her reaction, and as he watched, he could feel his stomach twisting up into knots. Diamond Tiara looked unsettled by everything she had heard, but also looked resolute.

Taking a deep breath, Moonbow looked Sentinel in the eye and began to speak. “You’ve finally learned what it means to be a lunar pegasus and why it is so difficult for us to retreat in battle. You’ve learned why your father went charging off to face his death. You have discovered what it means to be us. This is why our numbers have dwindled and died. This is our great strength but also our great weakness and what destroyed our colony.”

“Our rage?” Sentinel questioned.

“Not just our rage… any feeling. Any feeling at all. We feel everything more keenly. We are primal creatures Sentinel, Mistress explains this to us and tries to temper our powerful emotions to make us manageable. When we love, we love stronger. When we worry, none feel so worried as we do. When we are angry… the rest of the world trembles because a terrible strength is born from our rage. Do you see now how easy it is for us to charge into battle and completely lose our sense of self?” Moonbow explained, looking concerned, worried, and more than a little sad.

“Bon Bon was able to pull me out though,” Sentinel said, shaking his head in a slightly confused manner.

“Just as Mistress is capable of calming the blood song that fills our mind during battle, preserving our sanity and restoring us back to calm lucidity, keeping us tranquil,” Moonbow said in a low voice. “I have learned much about our nature during my studies.”

“I could see how this might be a weakness,” Sentinel admitted, his voice wavering slightly from fear.

“Do you? Do you really? Do you understand that the blood song that fills our mind can make it difficult to distinguish friend from foe and that if we go to far… we become mindless killing machines, no better than golems, pure chaos on a battlefield. This is our burden,” Moonbow responded, her eyes narrowing as she spoke. “Mistress tells me that we’ve killed more of our own kind than anything else in previous engagements. She’s had to work very hard to keep the world safe from us and keep us safe from one another.”

“I know she comes into my dreams… I can sense her from time to time,” Sentinel said, his eyes glancing at Diamond Tiara who had been rather quiet. “I suspect she is doing something to help me hold back or change me in some fashion.”

“No doubt she is,” Moonbow acknowledged. “It is what we do here. Harness that rage and make it a weapon that she can trust.”

“You know, I can’t think of a pony I trust more than Sentinel,” Diamond Tiara confessed suddenly in a pained voice. “I don’t even trust myself, even though my psychiatrist tells me I am getting better. I know that I am only getting better because there is something I want and I don’t know how I feel about that.”

“And what is it that you want?” Moonbow asked, her eyes locked on Diamond Tiara.

“Oh it’s silly… I don’t know if I can talk about it,” Diamond Tiara replied nervously.

“Spill your guts filly,” Moonbow demanded, her ears perking forward.

“I want Sentinel’s acceptance and approval. I’m changing because of something I want from him rather than something I want from myself and it bothers me,” Diamond Tiara blurted out, more than a little worried by Moonbow’s fierce eyes.

“You have courage,” Moonbow stated. “You are small, pink, and soft, but you have courage. I knew Sentinel would find brave ones.”

 

 

Standing nervously by Pinkie Pie’s bed, Cheese Sandwich didn’t know what to do. The Element of Laughter was around his neck, he and Princess Twilight Sparkle had tried everything they could think of, and Pinkie Pie had made no response at all to either of them, she simply continued to lie there with her eyes wide and open, unresponsive and broken. Cheese Sandwich was beginning to feel that he would never laugh again as he felt a crushing sense of despair settling over his back and pushing him downward.

“I just don’t know what we’re doing wrong,” Twilight Sparkle whimpered in frustration. “The Element of Laughter is supposed to help her… to fix her… it is what she is, it is her essence, but it isn’t doing anything.”

“Maybe we misinterpreted the signs,” Cheese Sandwich said gently. “Maybe this… this was never meant for me.” Reaching up with a hoof, Cheese Sandwich reverently removed the necklace from around his neck. He held it in his hoof and stared at it for a moment, unable to say anything. “I hate seeing her like this… her mane is all flat and lifeless and her colour is gone,” he continued as he stood up on his hind legs and leaned over Pinkie’s bed. He placed the Element of Laughter around her neck, gently lifting her with one foreleg, and clasped it together behind her neck with the other.

“Are we giving up? We can’t give up,” Twilight said in a frantic voice.

“Princess, Pinkie Pie is more than my friend… I love her… but I don’t know what else to do,” Cheese Sandwich responded as he dropped down to all fours. “We’ve been here for hours and nothing has changed. Nothing has happened. The Element of Laughter does nothing for either of us. The one I love is gone,” he stated in a heartbroken voice.

“Are you giving up?” Twilight said, swiping at her eye with her wing and trying to stop the tears from escaping.

“No,” Cheese Sandwich replied, shaking his head. “I would never give up. I’m just letting go.”

As he spoke, a soft blue light emanated from the Element of Laughter around Pinkie Pie’s neck. The blue balloon shaped gemstone began to glow, a pale light that filled the hospital room with a ghostly glow. Twilight Sparkle began to back away, watching as the blue light began to surround Cheese Sandwich.

“I feel funny,” Cheese Sandwich said and then vanished, gone in a flash of blue light.

Watching the Element of Laughter go dim, Twilight Sparkle began to worry about what had just taken place, and hoped that Cheese Sandwich would return from wherever he had vanished to. She looked at Pinkie Pie, and saw a faint blue twinkle in her eye, which caused Twilight Sparkle to feel a glimmer of hope.

 

 

Cheese Sandwich found himself in a very strange place. A rock farm. A tall silo was in the distance and a little run down looking house stood beside it. The fields were all grey dust and piles of rocks were everywhere. A mailbox was rusting on the post and there was a wagon with a broken wheel sitting by it. The landscape was bleak and desolate.

There was also an earth pony standing by the front door of the house, an earth pony that Cheese Sandwich didn’t know, but looking at her made his cheesy sense tingle alarmingly.

“Hello?” he cried out.

“Do come closer,” the earth pony invited.

Trotting towards the house, Cheese Sandwich drew closer towards the earth pony that made his cheesy sense go crazy. She was female, kind looking, but something about her was also terrifying and as he drew near, his feeling of apprehension grew stronger.

“Who are you?” Cheese asked, looking at the earth pony female.

“To know my name is to know hardship and sorrow,” the earth pony replied, shaking her head. “And your purpose here is not to learn my name, but to bring back the one you love. Tell me Cheese Sandwich, foal of Loafer and Gouda, how far will you go to bring back the one you love?”

Lifting his head high, Cheese Sandwich looked stern a solemn, his eyes narrowing as his ears splayed out sideways and his nostrils flared. “What do I need to do?”

“What nopony else but one who loves her will be able to do,” the earth pony replied, looking sad and weary as she spoke. “And it will not be easy.”

“Just tell me what I need to do,” Cheese Sandwich stated, screwing his courage to the sticking place and staring at the strange earth pony. “I’m an earth pony. We don’t quit when things get hard. We’re just getting started.”

Looking at the door of the house, the earth pony mare raised her eyebrow. “First, you must know your enemy. Go through the door. Steel yourself Cheese Sandwich. Pinkamena Diane Pie is a dangerous foe. Hidden within the embodiment that is known as the Element of Harmony is a bound spirit of disharmony and madness. Once, it gave laughter some strength, but it has since grown too strong and far too powerful. Now, you must face it, know what it is, and when the time is right, I will give you a choice to make.”

“Pinkie Pie has gone mad?” Cheese questioned, trying to understand what was going on, his words hesitant and unsure.

“No,” the earth pony mare replied. “Pinkie Pie is madness, but a good madness. Or was. She was the fulcrum of balance for the Elements of Harmony. You need just a little bit of chaos for a system to function and stay healthy. But not too much. Pinkie Pie carried with her a spirit of disharmony and madness. It kept the other Elements of Harmony rounded out and balanced. Now go. Go on, through the door,” the earth pony commanded.

Bracing himself, Cheese Sandwich pulled open the door and stepped inside, unsure of what he would find beyond, but willing to do anything to help Pinkie Pie.

 

 

There was a table and around the table there seemed to be a tea party. Seated at one end of the table was Pinkie Pie, but not Pinkie Pie. Her mane was straight and long, her eyes were wide and manic, and her pelt was faded and touched with grey. At the other end of a long table was another Pinkie Pie, this one had a head full of curls and she radiated a pink glow. She was also bound with rope and gagged, which alarmed Cheese Sandwich a great deal and made him feel more than a little afraid.

“Let her go,” Cheese Sandwich said politely, looking at the straight haired Pinkie Pie.

“No,” Pinkie Pie screeched. “Sit down. Have some tea. Stay with us for a while. We’re having a party.”

Doing as he was bid, Cheese Sandwich sat down next to a pile of rocks and looked around the table. Next to him was a bucket of turnips and across the table was a pile of lint and a sack of flour. “This isn’t much of a party,” Cheese stated in a low voice.

“What do you mean?” Pinkamena inquired, her eyes narrowing into dangerous slits.

“Well, this party seems rather dead and lifeless. I bet if you let her go, she could liven this place up a bit,” Cheese Sandwich suggested, gesturing to Pinkie Pie, who looked at him with wide pleading eyes.

Cackling, Pinkamena laughed evilly at the suggestion, throwing her head back and guffawing while banging her hoof upon the table. After a long moment of laughter, she recovered herself and began to speak. “This is what she did to me for all those years. Kept me bound and locked away in the back of her mind. We are a part of one another, she and I, but she was cruel and heartless, keeping me locked away in the basement like some unwanted orphan.”

“But you are killing her,” Cheese Sandwich said in a pleading voice. “She’s dying.”

“She deserves it!” Pinkamena screeched.

“But you will die too,” Cheese reasoned, trying to reach out to the troubled spirit.

“I don’t care! We’ll go together. All of us! Rocky, Sir Lintsalot, Mr. Turnip, and Madam le Flour. That’s what we’re doing. We’re waiting for the end,” Pinkamena whined in a petulant voice. “We hate her for what she’s done to us!”

“I need for you to let her go,” Cheese begged. “She has friends and family that love her… and by extension, you as well, please, please reconsider,” he pleaded, resting his hooves upon the table.

“Even if we wanted to let her go, we cannot,” Pinkamena murmured, now seeming distracted. “The madness… it grew. Gained power. We heard War laughing and we tasted of his madness. We drew in the madness of the griffons. We have grown too large for Pinkie Pie to contain. She cannot keep us held in anymore. So now we wait for the end.”

“But why?” Cheese questioned, looking around the table when he realised that Pinkamena had said “we.”

“Because if we set her free now, it would be the cruelest joke of all,” Pinkamena said, snorting with laughter as the tears began to fall down her cheeks. “We didn’t want it to end this way. But it has to end this way,” the spirit said and then began to gibber, now cackling and weeping.

“Are you trying to do what is right?” Cheese inquired, looking at the spirit with some concern, wracking his brain to figure out what was going on.

“Who is to say what right or wrong is,” Madam le Flour stated in a cultured voice.

“We are a spirit of chaotic disharmony, we are not concerned with right or wrong, only what is or is not,” Sir Lintsalot said in a sophisticated voice.

“Ain’t no going back,” Rocky said in voice that sounded as though it came directly out of upper Manehatten. “We won’t let Pinkamena leave. We’re keeping them both here. We had to make Pinkamena an offer she couldn’t refuse.”

The bucket of turnips said nothing but somehow stared blankly at Cheese Sandwich, causing the earth pony stallion to squirm in his seat. Cheese Sandwich had endured many things during his life, but being stared down by a bucket of turnips was new.

“There is nothing that can be done,” Madam le Flour stated in a defeated voice. “Alas, all things come to end. We have become too large for Pinkie Pie to contain.”

Regretting his idea even as it entered his mind, Cheese Sandwich looked around the table. “If there is too much for Pinkie Pie to hold in… I offer up myself. Earth ponies work best to deal with heavy loads when we work in teams. It is our nature.”

“No!” Pinkamena hissed angrily.

“Silence,” Sir Lintsalot commanded and as he spoke, a zipper appeared over Pinkamena’s mouth, silencing her. The ball of lint turned his attention to Cheese Sandwich. “You would do this? Give us life again? You do understand the risks, do you not?”

“I don’t know that I do understand the risks, and I don’t know that I care. Dare to be stupid I say,” Cheese Sandwich replied, leaning forward on the table and trying to stare down the lintball. “We can be stupid all night.”

Behind him, the door opened and the earth pony mare entered. There was a collective gasp from the group and as she approached the table, she shimmered and warped, the air around her wavering like heat rising from the rocks on a hot day.

In her place stood an alicorn, tall, proud, and looking gravely concerned. She looked around the group, her eyes unblinking, and then looked at Pinkie Pie, her expression one of genuine sadness. On her backside was a cutie mark, a ball of twine.

“Cheese Sandwich, you now understand the burden that Pinkie Pie carries. This can no longer be done alone. She will become like War. This spirit is mischievous and playful, it does not wish to be malicious, but it could be made to be by those who can manipulate spirits. Will you carry this burden with her?” the alicorn with the ball of twine cutie mark inquired in a regal voice.

“Will it save her?” Cheese asked.

The alicorn nodded but said nothing in reply. Instead, she looked around the table at the party guests, eyeing each of them in turn and watching for their reactions, and she waited for silent consent.

“So what now?” Cheese questioned, looking up the alicorn. “I will do anything for my friend. She’s in trouble and I know she would do the same for me.”

“Well then… now, I bind you,” the alicorn replied as two threads popped into existence. One was pink and the other was golden yellow in colour, very much like cheese. The ends were frayed and split. Using her magic, the alicorn bound the two threads together, splicing the frayed ends with one another, weaving the two loose ends together, making one thread that was pink on one end, golden yellow on the other, and a blend of both in the middle. “What I have bound together cannot be broken. This is a bond stronger than marriage, this is the twinning of two souls.”

There was a loud pop and the party around the table vanished, leaving only Pinkie Pie and Cheese Sandwich. Pinkie Pie looked around her, looked at Cheese Sandwich, and then looked up at the alicorn.

“Do I get to throw a wedding party still?” she asked timidly, her eyes fearful and worried, but also hopeful and bright.

“Do as you will,” the alicorn responded, smiling tenderly as she spoke.

“I don’t feel any different,” Cheese Sandwich said as he scratched his head.

“Did we just get married?” Pinkie Pie questioned. “I think we did, but this whole thing has been confusing and I want to make sure.”

“You are bound,” the alicorn the said as she shifted back into an earth pony mare and looked at Pinkie Pie. The thread she was holding in her magic vanished with a loud pop.

“How do I get out of here? I’m dying to see my friends. I want to go home!” Pinkie Pie begged, looking at the earth pony mare. “I know you… I’ve seen you. You used to come and visit my Granny Pie and you were good friends with her.”

“I gave her my word to look after you,” the earth pony mare replied. “As for how to depart this realm, usually, a kiss is more than enough to wake the sleeping maiden.”

“Oh… I see,” Pinkie Pie stated. She looked around, waiting expectantly. When nothing happened, she pounced and glomped Cheese Sandwich, tackling him from his chair and taking him to the rough hewn floor boards, pressing her muzzle into his. After a long kiss, she pulled away. The earth pony mare was gone, leaving the pair all alone.

“I think I’m supposed to kiss you,” Cheese said and then planted a small kiss on Pinkie Pie’s snoot. As he did so, the realm around them began to fade away and Cheese Sandwich felt a curious sensation as the world around him turned blue. For just a moment in the corner of his vision, he saw a large tree, a familiar tree, and seeing it made him feel strong.

Earth pony strong.

 

 

 

 

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