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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Walking down the hallway, Celestia gave thought to the trip up to this point. Try as she might, she could not recall being this happy for a long time, perhaps even going back as far to the point of being a filly once more, exploring the world and going on adventures with Scorch.

Unable to focus on a particular moment, Celestia concentrated, trying to think of when it went wrong, when at least one thousand years of unhappiness set in for the long haul. Her hooves clattered on the stone floor.

Tartarus, Celestia thought to herself. The retrieval of the Elements of Harmony. She came to a stop and shuddered. The hook…Thinking sunny thoughts, Celestia tried to banish the dark thought from her mind.

“Mama?”

There is a source of happiness, Celestia thought to herself. For a moment, she thought of Erebus and felt a pang of longing for him, missing him. “Tourmaline, I am okay… I… I was just thinking of something and I had a bad memory.”

“I felt it.” Tourmaline’s voice was small and afraid. When Celestia began to walk again, Tourmaline followed along behind her, moving doubletime.

This trip was almost over and it made Celestia feel a little morose. It was almost time to go home… home to play the winter games. Home to face Luna, who would be unbearable and smug after her victory. Luna, who would gloat and tease.

Luna, who needed a comeuppance, but Celestia did not know how to make it happen.

“Oooh… warm fuzzies.”

Turning her head to look back for a moment, Celestia saw Tourmaline walking with her eyes closed. Love must be in the air. Knowing the door she approached, Celestia wondered what sort of love might be in the air.

Reaching the door, she knocked.

After a moment, there was a “Ssh!” followed by a soft “come in.”

Pushing upon the door after she hit the latch, Celestia entered. She felt Tourmaline dart past her legs. The almost unnoticeable scent of mare musk still lingered, but whatever had taken place in here had been cleaned up.

On the bed was a pony pile. Thistle was sprawled out, laying on her belly, her head held high. Bell Heather lay between Thistle’s forelegs. Bucky, laying on his side, had his head resting upon Thistle’s back. Curled up against Bucky’s stomach was Berry Punch, her large pregnant belly pressed up against Bucky. Against Berry Punch’s back a small pink foal was snoozing, flopped out on her back with four legs kicked out into the air. On Thistle’s other side, Belisama was napping, her head placed over a shawl.

“I came at a bad time,” Celestia said in a low whisper.

Thistle shook her head. “No… they’ve been napping for a while. It will be dinner time soon. If you would like, you could join us.”

Before Celestia could respond, a lithe black form lept up into the bed, scooted over the blanket, and dove into Thistle. Celestia watched as Tourmaline planted a smooch on Thistle’s cheek. She moved towards the bed, her hooves clicking, and she eased her way into the bed. Scooting closer to Thistle, Celestia folded her legs up beneath her and settled in. Stretching out her long neck, she leaned over and nosed Bucky, who snorted in his sleep.

 

 

Canterlot was burning. Smoke rose through the air and flames rose from rooftops. Not knowing what was going on, Bucky followed after Sombra. Above, through the smoke, the sun seemed to grow pale, going dim.

“What is going on?” Bucky asked as he sidestepped falling rubble. “Sombra, stop, wait, tell me, what has happened here?”

In front of him, Sombra shifted, shimmered, warped, and changed shape. Bucky saw himself in alicorn form, only he wasn’t a foal, he was full sized. For a moment, terror seized him.

“No… now is not the time for fear. Fear will be your undoing.” Older Bucky lifted his head high and looked solemn.

Bucky himself, appearing as he always seemed to appear in these dreams, was small, almost foal-like. He flapped his wings, hating them, and looked up at the taller version of himself.

“The Night Stallion makes his most crippling strike so far. The Sun is dying, the connection severed. Even now, his darkness approaches Canterlot. Some events are already written in stone, some of these events will happen, some of these events might happen, and some of these events have already been avoided.” Older Bucky spread his wings and took off.

Foal Bucky flapped a few times and found that he could fly. He took off after Older Bucky, struggling to keep up. The skies around him were filled with lunar pegasi and solar pegasi and they appeared to be fighting alicorns.

No… not alicorns… unicorns with wing spells.

There was the stuttering chatter of gunfire. Some of the pegasi had guns mounted to their armor. The Solar and Lunar Guard were taking heavy losses, but they appeared to be winning.

Older Bucky seemed to be flying away from Canterlot and Foal Bucky followed. Beneath them, Ponyville smouldered. Smoke rose from the city and some of it was burning. The air was too hazy to see details.

Bucky saw a familiar sight… a rainbow coloured contrail. Rainbow Dash was flying ahead of a group of Wonderbolts. A bloodied Spitfire was held in Rainbow Dash’s forelegs.

Below Bucky, he saw a large dragon down in Ponyville, a brown and black dragon.

As Bucky tried to study the scene, it shifted. It was as if everything turned to sand in an hourglass and began to slip away. Bucky could hear a buzzing sound, a droning sound, and then the scene was gone.

Around him, a new scene formed. The sun, now even more dim, flickered in the sky overhead. Below Bucky was a desert, but he was not sure which one. The sky was filled with thousands of airships, airships of every size and shape imaginable.

Ahead of him was a dark shadow, Bucky could not make it out, but it was huge. It was of an impossible size and it loomed overhead, moving with a terrible slowness, creeping north. How Bucky knew the direction, he did not know.

Fire lanced from the dark shadow and airships exploded into massive fireballs. Wreckage and debris plummeted down to the ground below. The skies were filled with an uncountable number of enemy pegasi that had guns mounted to their armor. Unicorns with wing spells provided magic support. As the dark shape crept forward, the airships around it were blown out of the sky. Myrmidons filled the skies, solar pegasi, Bucky recognised Equestrian armor, but this was a losing battle.

In all of Bucky’s life, he had never imagined battle on a scale like this. The fight stretched from one horizon to another. Massive explosions ripped airships in half. The skies rained blood.

“This battle is coming… there is nothing that can be done to stop it. However, the outcome is uncertain.” Older Bucky watched as a fleet of dragons surged forward.

There was a thunderous sound from the dark shadow that dominated the battlefield. Fire lanced out from the darkness. Several of the dragons fell, blown to bits by whatever had shot them.

Older Bucky pointed and Foal Bucky peered through the flames.

“This is a battle that you cannot win, but you can influence. You can counter the enemy threat… the pegasi with guns are terrible foes, but they can be countered. The unicorns who take wing will be some of the strongest foes that Equestria has ever battled. But you can even the odds.” Older Bucky looked off in the direction of the coming dark shadow. “The real shame is, you caused this battle to happen.”

“I don’t understand.” Foal Bucky watched as the battle raged.

“Had you ascended, this battle would have been against you. The world would have fought to save itself. But you rejected that future… so another future had to come along and replace it. So this is all your fault. You made this happen. Your rejection of your destiny forced the universe to attempt to correct itself.”

Foal Bucky could see a familiar ship charging though the smoke and fire.

The Scorned Mare was on fire and massive hole had been blown through the front of the ship. The gasbag had been upgraded, changed, it was now long and silver, bladelike, and the ship sliced through the air with incredible speed. It was running at the dark shadow at full steam, and Foal Bucky felt his blood run cold as he watched himself make a suicide run.

“You have a choice. If you enter this fight, it will cost you everything you have, but your actions will save countless lives. It will improve the odds of survival for all but yourself.”

As Older Bucky spoke, a nearby airship exploded into a massive fireball.

“If you enter this battle, it will be your undoing. This is a fight you cannot win.” Older Bucky gestured with his hoof, pointing to the distant horizon. “This was supposed to be the fight against you, to bring about your end. All of this destiny swirls around you. If you enter this fight, you will meet your end here. The universe will correct itself somehow, and if you find yourself in the middle of all of this, you will be obliterated as part of that correction.”

A massive globe of light entered the battle. It was radiant, huge, it drove back the darkness. Foal Bucky looked at it, almost blinded, and watched as it approached the darkness.

The light and the darkness squared off, prepared to do battle with one another. Overhead, the sun flickered, threatening to go dark. The sky was filled with smoke, fire, and death.

“You have time to prepare, but not much time. Use it wisely.”

Foal Bucky looked at himself. “How do you know this?”

“Alicorn precognition. We are part pegasi… we sense the danger and know that it is coming. It allows us to fly through the storm, untouched by the lightning that rages within.” Older Bucky turned and watched as an airship was assaulted by a group of enemy pegasi and winged unicorns.

“But I am not an alicorn,” Foal Bucky said, shaking his head as he watched the carnage around him.

“You cannot stop what you are becoming. Your body prepares for the inevitable. Your divine nature screams, begging for release. Already your body has changed and will continue to change. Have you not become brutish? Do you not feel the protective urges of your inner pegasi nature? Have you no concern for life? Do you not crave the feeling of life as your inner earth pony manifests? Do you not feel your other natures as they manifest?”

“But I am just a unicorn…”

“NO! You have become so much more. You have become shadow and your very nature has changed. You have become something else entirely, something that wears the skin and appearance of a unicorn but is not. A shadow knows no body, keeps no form, has no set shape. Your shadow aspect absorbs all it touches, transmutes all it comes into contact with, and assimilates everything it can to give you strength. When Sombra’s fell shadow came to claim you, the shadow nature that already existed within you took a part of his strength and reshaped your body to prepare you for war.”

“I don’t understand…”

“Look how easily you change from one skin to another… you have perfected the transmuter’s art. You have touched chaos rather than embrace order. Everything you become leaves a little part of that form inside of you, a collection of chaotic parts. As you lose more and more of yourself, you claim the bits and pieces of other forms to fill those empty spaces deep within you. Have a look.” Older Bucky pointed.

Foal Bucky looked and saw himself. There he was, just drifting in the air, limp, motionless, lifeless. He was there on display.  He noticed that his talons were no longer made of metal, but flesh. He saw them flex for a moment, and he could see muscle and sinew within them. On his talon tips were claws. The skin was covered in fine scales. His horn was no longer fulgurite, but something organic. It was still twisted and warped, but his horn was now a living thing that was a part of his body.

Around them, the battle faded, blackness settled over them. The fires went dark. The world beneath them vanished. A sea of stars appeared, stretching in all directions, an infinite mass that appeared to have no beginning and no end.

“The harmony magic that drives your purpose has begun to spoil and now becomes something else. Change happens. It cannot be stopped. As you run from your destiny, the consequences of your actions manifest.”

As Foal Bucky watched, Older Bucky shifted, changed from, becoming warped and twisted as they drifted among the stars. For a moment, his other self was unrecognisable, but then the body took on an almost draconequus-like shape.

“Think of it like water flowing in a river,” Almost Draconequus Bucky said. “The water  must continue to flow. This is how nature is.”

The stars below became a river, a flowing river that trickled and moved along a bed also made of stars. Almost Draconequus Bucky pointed at them.

“All is fine so long as the river continues to flow. But if this happens…”

A dam made of stars appeared, blocking off the flow of the water. The river changed, becoming a lake. A flood happened. New rivers and creeks formed as the water searched for ways to keep flowing. After some time, it backed up enough that it began to flow over the dam.

“You cannot outrun your destiny. By refusing to change, you have dammed up the water. Now, other changes are taking place. You are changing. The world around you is changing. The universe is working to correct itself because you decided that you didn’t want to be an alicorn.”

“So what happens now?” Foal Bucky asked.

“You try to survive the raging torrent as the changes of consequence begin to take hold. The dam has already begun to overflow and crumble. The water is already finding new ways to flow. The universe, already broken, now begins to generate chaos as a means to heal itself… this chaos is like a storm and you… you are very much like a lightning rod.”

“This battle… this future… is there any hope?” Foal Bucky looked at himself.

“There is always hope. And there is all kinds of hope. You rely upon foolish hope.” Almost Draconequus Bucky drifted among the stars, watching as the river began to destroy everything around it.

“So if I join this battle, I guess I’ll die?” Foal Bucky asked.

Almost Draconequus Bucky snorted. “There are fates worse than death.”

“Will it force me to ascend?” Foal Bucky looked at  himself, feeling angry, and wanting answers.

“You sit here among the stars, demanding answers from yourself. How amusing!” Almost Draconequus Bucky began to cackle and rubbed his talons and his paw together. He threw back his head and mad laughter began to echo through the stars.

 

 

“Bucky… wake up… are you okay?”

Blinking, Bucky felt himself being shook.

“You were having a dream… you let out the most alarming cackle… a very worrisome cackle. Buckminster, unicorns should not cackle. Hearing you cackle frightens me… nopony wants to hear somepony that they love a great deal cackle.”

Shaking the sleepy from his head, Bucky felt Celestia continue to rock him. “I was having a dream… I don’t know what it was… I can’t really remember it but I don’t think it was a nightmare.”

The shaking stopped.

Bucky had the strange compulsion to look at his talons. He lifted them, saw the metallic glint, and he flexed them. “We are running out of time.”

“Running out of time?” Celestia asked.

“I don’t know… but sooner or later, the dam is gonna break,” Bucky replied.

 

 

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