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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“Shining Armor, pop up one of your shields. That should help. The chariot is enchanted and fairly well protected, but you are still going to feel significant force pulling on your bodies. Bucky already knows what this is like and I think he’s crazy enough that he enjoys it,” Twilight Sparkle said to her brother, offering a little instruction about what to do for the coming trip and trying to be helpful.

“Okay sis… no stunt flying,” Shining Armor replied. He turned and looked at Bucky. “You enjoy this? I mean, you’ve done this before? You’re a unicorn… I thought we liked to keep our hooves on the ground.”

Offering a disdainful sniff in reply, Bucky made a dismissive gesture. “I happen to like the feeling of freefall. And Twilight once put me through a spin that increased the effect of gravity by a magnitude of six.”

Shining Armor’s ears drooped down to the sides of his face. “I don’t mind flying on airships, but chariots scare me. I like to feel something solid beneath my hooves. I’m going to regret this. I’m going to give Cadance one last kiss goodbye.”

 

 

Moving in a bashful clumsy fashion, Trixie pressed her snoot against Sunset Shimmer’s and planted a tender kiss. She lingered for a moment, moving her head so she and Sunset were standing cheek to cheek, and then she pulled away and stepped back.

“You saved me,” Trixie whispered.

A fiery red glow settled over Sunset Shimmer’s cheeks and her nostrils flared. “I just thought about all those times that I wished that somepony would save me… and then about the few times that somepony did.”

With a flutter of wings, Bartleby landed upon Trixie’s back. He folded his wings carefully and made himself comfortable. Saying nothing, he began to braid Trixie’s mane while humming a little tune to himself, his feather tuft tipped tail tapping in time to the music against Trixie’s side, near her cutie mark, which made the mare quiver from the slight tickle.

The strong scent of cloves, anise, and black tea filled the room. A cone of sandalwood incense burned in a small brass brazier; it produced a lazy trail of smoke wafted around the room. There was a plate piled with little sandwiches, something that Semillon had whipped up.

“What are we to one another?” Trixie questioned as she backed away towards the table to pour herself some tea. “I mean, things have changed between us. Coming out the closet has been good for Trixie I suppose.” As she neared the table, she shivered, feeling Bartleby’s talons trailing along her neck and the little tingles that they left behind.

“All I know is that I have two mares that I have grown very fond of serving,” Bartleby admitted. “Beyond that, I do not know how to express what I feel towards the both of you,” he added as he continued to braid Trixie’s mane.

“Trixie has the same feelings towards you that she has for Bucky… I find it confusing,” Trixie admitted. “He is my friend now though, and I understand that he is out of reach.”

“I know how that is,” Sunset Shimmer huffed. “I still carry a flame for an old crush from back in my school days.”

“Will you ever tell me who?” Trixie asked.

Sighing, Sunset Shimmer trotted to a chair and took a seat, sitting down and plopping her front hooves down upon the table. “When I was in Celestia’s School for Gifted Unicorns, I carried quite a flame for Shining Armor. I wanted him so badly. I guess a part of me still does… but I’ve grown up. Now, more than anything, I just want to see him happy. I’m glad he found Cadance. I really hope that Cadance is still Cadance where it matters. I really hope that Master’s plan works and that it buys Shining Armor time to be with the one that he loves. Shining Armor deserves to be happy… I’m glad that I didn’t get what I wanted… because now, I think I’ve found what I needed… what you want and what you need are often two very different things.”

“You need Trixie?” Trixie questioned.

As Sunset Shimmer’s ears pinned back against her skull, she poured some tea into a teacup. “Yes… yes I need you. You understand me. You’ve been there… with everypony turned against you. You know that pain. And it feels so nice to be able to talk to somepony that understands… that’s felt that hurt. Ponies can be so patronising sometimes… even if they don’t mean to be… pretending to be understanding… saying they understand, offering sympathy… they mean well and I don’t hold it against them, but I really grew to hate hearing it. As for you Bartleby… you just listen. You’re attentive. Kind. You look after me when I do a poor job of looking after myself. Having you as a friend… it was like suddenly having something that you didn’t know that you were missing and feeling whole again… well, with both of you.”

“Both of you give my life meaning. I like being a servant. I like knowing that what I do is of value to others and that I am appreciated. I like knowing that my hard work is valued. And both of you have been so appreciative… so gracious. You both treat me as a valued and well loved servant… one who is needed. You never demean me nor degrade me. I do not feel taken for granted,” Bartleby said as he twisted and worked Trixie’s long mane into one long Fancy braid.

“Are you making me your pretty pony Bartleby?” Trixie questioned.

“Yes, and when I am done braiding, I will brush you until your coat shines like a diamond,” Bartleby replied in a soft voice. “This is as close as I can get to preening you since you do not have feathers.”

 

 

Craning her head to look backwards at her backside, Babs Seed’s eyes narrowed as she made the effort to get a better look at her cutie mark, an apple tree under a patch of starry night sky and the moon. “What do you think it means?”

Applejack heaved a sigh and looked over at Babs. “I said I dunno the first dozen times you asked me.”

“I couldn’t see the stars in Manehatten. The sky just looks all purple like,” Babs said in a thick Manehatten accent. “Do you think my cutie mark is because I’m living in the country now? I mean, I can see the stars in the apple orchard.”

“Hmm,” Applejack hummed. “That sounds meaningful. The stars are right pretty… I likes me some applebuckin’ at night when its cool and the stars are out. We’ll go with that. I got my mark after I came home from Manehatten and returned to the Apple family orchard. We’ll just take this as a sign that you belong out here with us Babs.”

“I like the sounds of that,” Apple Bloom said as she leaned on the dinner table.

“Oh my gosh!”

“Cheerilee?” Apple Bloom asked in concern after she heard her aunt gasp in shock.

A stack of papers fell out of Cheerilee’s hooves and landed upon the dinner table, half on and half off of her plate. The earth pony mare sat there in stunned silence, her eyes wide, her mouth hanging open, both of her front hooves clutched to her chest.

“Cheerilee… say something,” Applejack urged as she leaned over and gave Cheerilee a poke with her hoof. She watched as Cheerilee’s mouth moved but no sounds came out.

“Consarn it, she’s gone addleheaded!” Granny Smith grumbled from her spot near the stove. She scowled at Cheerilee and wrinkled face became more wrinkled from worry.

“This is my contract… I just saw my salary,” Cheerilee said, her voice a flat monotone of dull shock. She blinked once, then twice, and after a long pause, she blinked once more.

Snatching up the papers, Applejack had a look. She read through the print quickly, her eyes darting from side to side. Halfway through the page, Applejack grunted, reached up, pushed back her hat, and then allowed the papers to fall to the table in front of her.

“That’s a lot of bits,” Cheerilee whispered to Applejack.

Nodding, Applejack replied; “That sure is.”

“I don’t know what to say,” Cheerilee mumbled.

“We ain’t ever going to have to worry about losing the farm ever again,” Applejack responded as Big Mac picked up the papers and had a look.

“Eenope,” Big Mac agreed after having a look.

“I’d say we owe Buckminster yet another debt of thanks,” Silver Shill suggested.

“Eeyup.”

 

 

Feeling only slightly concerned, Bucky watched as Shining Armor threw up yet again. At this point, Bucky had lost count. The white stallion was laying on the floor of the chariot with his head hanging off the edge of the rear end, his eyes were closed, and Shining Armor could not stop trembling.

“It was only a little roll. We’re secure in here, we can’t fall out, it was fun…”

Bucky cringed as Shining Armor’s response was launched off of the back of the chariot.

“My brother once barfed on a ferris wheel!” Twilight shouted, her voice only audible because of magic because they were traveling faster than sound. “He was in the seat above me with Cadance… I was with my mother… it was horrible!”

Unable to help himself, Bucky guffawed with laughter, falling back against the curved wall of the chariot, he clutched his right hoof to his chest and laughed until he started coughing.

“Funny… our ancestor the horse, they are incapable of vomiting… We, the minima forma equus sapiens developed the ability to puke our guts out as a survival mechanism in case we ate bad food. The Saddle Arabians funnily enough are incapable of puking. They’re more horse than we are,” Bucky mused as Shining Armor continued to display his evolutionary advantage.

The sun had set a while ago and the stars of night began to twinkle overhead as they hurtled towards the Crystal Empire at speeds that would make most pegasi green with envy. Meanwhile, Shining Armor was just plain green.

“We’re like some kind of vomit comet… soaring through the heavens,” Bucky quipped.

 

 

Twilight Sparkle, a passable flier, was not so good at landings. They came in for a skidding halt out past the railroad depot that was just outside the Crystal Empire. They landed under the cover of night, not wanting to be seen, and Shining Armor’s terrified screams were silenced by Twilight’s spell.

Immediately after landing, Bucky began casting powerful aversion spells on the three of them, and Twilight Sparkle stood chugging down as much water as she could. Shining Armor, glad to be back on solid ground, laid down in the dirt on his side and did not move.

“I will lead the way… the darkness is my friend,” Bucky whispered.

“But how can you know were we are going?” Shining Armor asked in a weak raspy voice.

“I have been here. I have walked these streets a thousand times. I was once the Emperor of this city… I was its Master. I made the Crystal Spire that is the focal point for the power that this city produces. I grew most of this city from the raw minerals found in the ground below. This is my city,” Bucky answered in a strange voice that filled Twilight with alarm.

“Bucky… Sombra! Is that you?” Twilight questioned as she felt her bladder nearly contract from fear.

“You have nothing to fear, distant daughter of my brother. Finally, I can give this city the defender it rightly deserves, instead of the monster that I became… finally, I can offer up an act of atonement, even if it is a minor one. I will free this city of my taint… I will purge the shadow that I have left here. I will make amends for the terrible mistakes that I have made. Come, we must hurry. My time is short… my presence is taking a price upon my son’s body, but he is a willing vessel… prepare yourself Princess Twilight Sparkle, we have powerful magic to perform,” Bucky said in a voice that was definitely not his own as he began to head off for the city.

“I can’t believe that I am about to assist Sombra, the most evil pony in all of history… I knew this was going to be a strange trip,” Twilight muttered as she lifted up her brother in her magic and took off after Sombra.

 

 

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