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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A dark shadow descended upon Canterlot sometime after the midnight hour. It moved without form or substance; it simply winked into existence in the sky near Canterlot castle and then slipped from one spot of shadow to another patch of darkness, approaching the castle, completely unseen.

As it slipped through the castle courtyard, the shadow paused near the central fountain, dropped in a small extra dimensional sphere filled with over one hundred pounds of soap, a cackle was heard, and then the shadow slipped away as the sphere dissolved into the water, releasing the soap into the ostentatious fountain.

Almost immediately, the courtyard began to fill with bubbles.

 

 

Inside of the castle, Bucky moved around carefully, not exactly hiding, he was welcome here, but he didn’t want to attract too much attention. He was nearly in the school wing now, rapidly approaching Celestia’s personal office.

As he passed them, the Lunar Guard saluted and barked, “All hail the Lunar Court.”

Indeed, Bucky thought to himself. The Lunar Court has its own way of dealing with treachery. No good misdeed went unnoticed or was left unappreciated. Celestia’s little popcorn trick was impressive, but it lacked zing.

Tonight, Bucky planned to go into the history books.

 

 

Celestia’s office was more or less as it always was. Protected by measures that any school age student could defeat with time, effort, and study. Celestia clearly considered her office an acceptable sacrifice to test those that might have potential.

Such a foolish sentiment really and one that Bucky was willing to exploit.

Now inside of Celestia’s office, Bucky began to carefully prepare the whole room and everything in it. Pranks were never funny if something was actually damaged, harm was done, or if something actually bad happened. Bucky had learned this the hard way. He went all over the room waterproofing everything so it would not be water damaged. Papers, furniture, the carpet, the desk, the chair, the antique wooden filing cabinets and all of their contents, everything, including the walls.

Once finished, he went to work changing gravity in the room. Securing his own hooves, anchoring himself for his own safety, he completely suspended all forms of gravity within the room, creating a space that was completely cut off from outside sources of gravity. Tricky, difficult, but not impossible.

After that was accomplished, Bucky added a new source of gravity, the back wall, the one furthest from the door. He created a powerful gravity well, but nothing too powerful. Something that was just strong enough for his purposes.

Backing out of the office and into the hallway, Bucky watched as two lunar pegasi strolled by on patrol. Both of them saluted, and Bucky raised his talons in a friendly gesture.

Business as usual.

With gravity now on the back wall, the office was now a container that was thoroughly watertight, with the top opening being the doorway. Perfect. Bucky summoned up some ice, filling the room completely with one massive block of ice, and then, with a smile, he touched his horn to the ice and transmuted it into water.

Bucky stood back and had a look.

In the doorway, water rippled and splashed a little bit. From where Bucky stood on the carpeted floor, it was like standing above a tank of water and looking down. The office was completely flooded, but no water came out through the doorway and into the hall.

Celestia would get quite a surprise when she opened the door to her office.

Reaching out, Bucky touched the surface of the water with his talons, saw it ripple, heard a splash, and then he grinned to himself. Cursing his lack of foresight, Bucky realised that he should have brought some goldfish so they could be dropped into the office and allowed to swim.

His work finished, Bucky closed the door and carefully finished up the trap.

 

 

The night was young and Bucky knew he had things to do, but he couldn’t resist a little visiting while he was here in Canterlot. He passed into the secret vault, the royal archives, a place where few were allowed to go, a place hidden deep beneath Canterlot castle.

Almost immediately, he heard a shriek followed by silence.

He came into the chamber where Clover the Clever’s crystal was kept, saw Clover, and then saw somepony else, or at least a painting of somepony else. He stood, frozen, staring up at the large portrait of Princess Platinum that was staring down at him, glowering angrily.

"Buckminster Bitters, foal of my loins… you CAD!"

For reasons he could not explain, Bucky found himself cringing, he slumped down, foal-like, his ears drooping, his tail was now pulled up between his hind legs, and he found that the voice somehow made him feel guilty. Oh so very guilty. This was a terrible feeling, being scolded by a parent that actually loved you, and Bucky didn’t like it one bit.

Daring to look upward, he could see Princess Platinum glaring down at him, her nostrils flaring, her eyes flashing, her lip curled back into a very unladylike snarl. She looked furious.

“Platinum, please, leave him be. You know they love one another—”

“Clover! A griffon! The ENEMY!

“Oh hush Platinum. The servant griffons were victims. These griffons that your son now rules were never our enemies.”

Clearing his throat and then lifting his head a little higher, Bucky said, “I didn’t do this to spite you… I remember what I said to you then… I love her… dearly. I’ve learned to see past both tribe and species. I’m sorry, coming here was a mistake, I should go—”

“Don’t you dare go. You sit down on that couch right now you naughty little foal!”

Clover’s words were commanding, compelling, her voice was filled with such depth and gravitas that Bucky found he could not resist. He slunk over to the couch, sat down upon it obediently, and then meekly looked over at Clover’s crystal. He could see Clover’s ghostly image floating inside and Clover was now glaring up at Princess Platinum’s portrait.

Princess Platinum had turned away, the back of her head was now visible, and she had gone silent, which was, perhaps, for the best.

“Buckminster Bitters… it is good that you love her. Never mind what Platinum is saying. There is bad history here which I will not go into. Never doubt your love for any of your wives. You have done the right thing.”

Bucky could see Clover looking at him now, her face was stern but kind. She blinked, slowly, occasionally, and Bucky realised that she didn’t need to blink but was doing it anyway. He wondered why. Unsure of what to say, Bucky tried for basic conversation. “So… how have you been?”

He saw Clover’s crystal grow brightly for a moment and Clover pressed herself up against the sides of the crystal, her nose touching the side. He saw her smile and then he heard her say, “These are delightful times… Luna visits and she brings Erebus. It is so nice to have a newborn to fawn over. And Tourmaline… sweet little Tourmaline. Thank you so much for saving her.”

Suddenly overcome with a very awkward feeling that Bucky couldn’t identify, he grinned a shy grin and looked down at the couch cushions. “I was just doing my job.”

“Your job of rescuing changelings?” Clover asked.

Bucky looked up and stared Clover in the eye. “She was a foal. In trouble. I rescue foals. Or other young of other species if I can. It is what I do. That is my job. Even if it means going to Tartarus or razing an entire city, I will do it.”

“I know you will… you are so headstrong and impetuous. Just like Sombra.”

“Yes he is.”

Glancing over at Princess Platinum’s painting, Bucky saw the back of her head, but he had heard her words, he had heard her agreeing with Clover and her voice sounded calmer.

“Bucky… does she make you happy? Is she good to you? Does she look after your foals? Can she really be trusted not to peck out their eyes?”

Stupefied, Bucky was not sure how to answer Platinum’s questions.

“Do not ask… I told you there was history here, there is a grave that we should not disturb,” Clover said before any other word could be spoken.

Licking his lips, Bucky searched for the right words as he saw Platinum turning around in her portrait to look at him. She looked fearful, worried, for a moment, Bucky was certain that he saw something… pain? Bucky did not know. “Belisama is wonderful with foals. She is fierce. She is protective. Not only of foals, but of me and my other wives. Belisama has lost too much in her life. It has left her with scars and empty places. I do believe she has become determined to never lose anyone else again without a fight. She lost her sister in the worst way you might imagine to griffons that did unspeakably cruel things. Bandua died badly. Belisama lives in fear of being hurt, and she lives in fear of hurting others… she is so mindful of her claws and her beak. When she holds Cadance or Harper, you can see her fretting… her worry…”

The portrait of Platinum went still, the painting shifted and seemed to lose its shine.

“She’s gone,” Clover said.

“Will she be okay?” Bucky asked.

“Are any of us ever truly okay after the things that wound us and our spirits?”

Flailing around for an answer and finding none, Bucky slumped down, feeling defeated that he had nothing wise or meaningful worth saying. “I don’t know. I suppose not.”

“Are you okay? Do you still feel the hook?”

Without even thinking about it, Bucky clutched his sides from just hearing Clover’s words and his lips pulled back into a rictus of pain.

“No… I suppose not. The hook is still embedded deep inside of you, where it will remain until your death. Old hurts don’t always go away Bucky, no matter how much we want them to. Platinum still remembers the griffons how they were. When Sombra liberated the slaves and brought them home, it was Platinum and so many others that had to nurse them back to health. She saw too much. Felt too much. She remembers every scar, every eyeless socket, every back that had seen the lash, and she remembers every story told to her by the survivors brave enough to talk about what had happened,” Bucky heard Clover say as he closed his eye fell over onto his side on the couch.

Struggling for words, Bucky said the only thing he could think of, which was the truth. “The little griffons were slaves… I am still healing their hurts. Some of them are missing eyes. Some have been mutilated. There is one… Freyja… she was tortured because she wouldn’t be submissive… she was held in front of of steam release and horribly scalded to teach her a lesson. She is withered, just as I am… they’re not so different than how we were way back then I suppose.”

Opening his eye, Bucky could see that his words had an effect upon Clover. The mare had her forelegs folded over her barrel as she drifted around within her crystal confines.

“In the end, after all of these things, some of us are made stronger. Let us speak of more pleasant things. How is Cadance?”

For a moment, Bucky thought of Clover’s words and then he thought about her question. He reached up, rubbed his nose with his right fetlock, and then he said, “Cadance is fine. She is speaking now. A little bit anyway. The late night crying seems to have gone away. She’s a cuddler, she has to have somepony or someone around to cuddle or she’ll start to cry. She isn’t the sort of foal you can leave alone by herself.”

“I remember Cadance when Celestia brought her here… she was such a sweet little filly foal. She became an alicorn at such a young age. Cadance could never deal with being left alone. Poor thing. She’d break down and start sobbing if she was left alone for too long, and even as she started to grow up, she never dealt well with being lonely. At least she found Shining Armor. I remember when they started courting. Celestia spent so much time talking about it. She was so proud.”

Carefully considering Clover’s words, Bucky realised that a creature so tied to love needed to feel it constantly, and he tried to imagine for a moment what it must feel like to suddenly not have the one thing you need most.

“You know Bucky… at some point, if Celestia will allow it, you should bring your foals, a few at a time, and allow Platinum to speak to them. Maybe not here… I don’t think Celestia wants too many ponies aware of my existence, but somewhere where the lot of you can talk.”

Pulled away from his quiet reflection, Bucky found himself in agreement. “I think that would be nice.” Pausing, Bucky considered his next words, and then chose them carefully. “I’d like to know more about Sombra… from somepony that loved him… his mistakes, his triumphs… where he went wrong…”

 

 

 

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