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 new miniature sun blazed, shining down upon the dull brown grass of the plains. The beings teleported out of the mines were teleported once more, now sent miles away. The sun pulsed, and the entire earth trembled. A soft hum could be heard, a low frequency rumble.

The small collection of shacks below exploded into splinters.

The ground below began to ripple like a pond. The earth moved like liquid. Overhead, clouds began to gather, swirling, forming a vortex. Lightning flashed and struck the earth. Orbs of light sprang into existence around the new miniature sun. They circled, moving in orbit, and then one by one, they zoomed off and struck the ground with terrific force.

A jet of magma spewed from the ground, it fell back down and bubbled, spreading out over the grass, becoming lava. More magma fountained upwards and the earth below began to bubble. The air filled with the stench of rotten eggs.

The miniature sun blazed ever brighter.

The ground below became a burning caldera as the mine below collapsed in upon itself and the stone melted. Smoke rose up into the air. The grass began to burn. Above, the clouds flashed with lightning, thunder crackled through the air, and it began to rain.

“AND SO WITH DEATH THERE MUST ALSO BE NEW LIFE.”

For miles around, the ground shuddered. A beam of glowing white light struck the land below the miniature sun. The ground exploded, shifting, boiling and bubbling, it split open, revealing a deep fissure that went down far into the depths of the earth.

Water flooded upwards, boiling when it hit the lava, which began to cool. The air filled with steam and the clouds grew thicker. Rain came down in torrents. Lightning streaked down out of the clouds and struck the earth, creating new mineral deposits as the lava churned everything together.

“I HAVE RETURNED THESE BODIES TO THE EARTH, SO THAT THEY MAY BEGIN ANEW.”

A boiling lake formed and the ground continued to cool. The caldera was now flooded with water, forming a new lake. Clouds continued to give water back to the earth in the form of rain. Some of the clouds parted and rainbows could be seen in the pale grey winter skies.

After quite some time, the lake ceased to boil.

The miniature sun dimmed just a little.

The clouds ran out of rain and turned into fluffy white clouds.

Sunset Shimmer, flapped her wings made of fire and dove down to to the earth. She landed near the lake. The ground was warm and the air felt like spring. Singed grass crunched and crackled underhoof.

“FLAME CLEANSES. THE OLD MUST BE CLEARED AWAY SO THE NEW CAN GROW.”

Sunset Shimmer lifted the griffons from her back and then set them down upon the ground. She turned and smiled at them, her eyes blazing like the sun, and then she turned to Bucky.

“YOU HAVE A DISEASE. IT IS LIKE A THORN IN YOUR BRAIN. YOU USE YOUR SICKNESS AS A WEAPON. IT IS NOT A WEAPON WORTH USING AND ALL IT WILL CREATE IS RUIN. FOR YOU, FOR THOSE YOU LOVE, FOR THE WORLD YOU HOPE TO SAVE. YOU BELIEVE IT IS YOUR BEST WEAPON, YOUR STRENGTH, BUT IT IS A WEAKNESS. YOU ARE NOT SO DIFFERENT FROM THE NIGHT STALLION.”

Sunset Shimmer lifted Bucky into the air. She blinked and Bucky burst into flames. Howls filled the air. Sunset Shimmer’s smile never ceased. She stepped forward, closer to Bucky, and her ears folded back against her skull.

“YOUR BEST WEAPON IS YOUR GENTLE SPIRIT, BUT IT IS DYING. I CANNOT ALLOW THAT TO HAPPEN. FORGIVE ME, MASTER, BUT I MUST BURN AWAY YOUR WEAKNESS AND RESTORE YOUR STRENGTH.”

As Bucky was consumed by fire, he continued to howl, to screech, his cries filled the air. Loki and Boadicea clung to one another, terrified, wide eyed, frightened of the flaming sight before them.

“YOU LOSE LITTLE BITS OF YOURSELF, BOTH YOUR BODY AND YOUR SPIRIT, AND YOU REPLACE THEM. YOU FILL THEM WITH COLD, LIFELESS REPLACEMENTS, AND EACH DAY, YOU BECOME A LITTLE LESS EQUINE AND A LITTLE MORE SOMETHING ELSE.”

A keening wail escaped from Bucky’s mouth, a sound that could be heard miles away.

“IF YOU KEEP BECOMING WHAT YOU ARE, YOU MAY WIN THE BATTLE AND LOSE THE WAR. THERE IS A SICKNESS DEEP WITHIN YOU THAT I CANNOT CURE, BUT I CAN BURN AWAY EVERYTHING ELSE… FORGIVE ME MASTER.”

Burning, shrieking, Bucky writhed.

“ONE THOUSAND PHOENIXES HAD THEIR SOULS STOLEN TO MAKE THIS AMULET. LIFE, DEATH, REBIRTH. THE CYCLE MUST CONTINUE. THEY HAD LIFE, THEY SUFFERED DEATH, BUT THEIR REBIRTH WAS INTERRUPTED.”

There was a flash of brilliant light, a sphere of rainbow hue appeared around Bucky, growing brighter, flashing, and then exploded. The lake rippled from the force of the blast.

“THROUGH THE FLAMES BE BORN AGAIN.”

The flames around Bucky’s body turned pink, turned blue, turned purple, turned green, turned violet, and for a moment, they even burned black. Then, white light flared. The flames vanished and Bucky was set down in the grass.

Standing beside him was Sunset Shimmer.

The wings were gone now, along with the amulet, but Sunset Shimmer was still tall. Her legs were long. Her neck was long, graceful, and slender. Her horn retained its length.

“Minion… what have you done to me?” Bucky’s voice was soft, weak, feeble, but no longer raspy.

“Master, I have given you back yourself,” Sunset Shimmer replied. She looked down into Bucky’s eyes. One was still the eye of Odin, but the other was grey and had a slitted pupil. “Oh Master, if you could see yourself right now.”

“How did you do this?” Bucky asked. He crossed his eyes and looked up. The black, jagged length of horn was gone. His horn was still misshapen, bent, odd, but it was no longer fulgurite. It was made of horn casing, but twisted. It was tan, like the rest of his pelt.

There was a peculiar sensation coming from his talons. Bucky raised them and had trouble believing what he was seeing. His mechanical prosthesis was no longer metal, but flesh and bone. Black scales grew down the length of his talons and blue-black claws extended from his talon tips. He flexed them, forming a fist, and then unclenched them.

“How?” Bucky held his talons up so Sunset Shimmer could see them.

“I released the phoenixes from their torment. All of that energy had to go somewhere.” Sunset Shimmer leaned her head down and nosed Bucky. “Can you stand?”

Bucky looked down and both of his hind legs. There were still a few scars on his left leg, but his right leg was whole and untouched. He reached for his ribs and began to pat them, touching his side with his now flesh and bone talons. He was whole again and the pain he lived with had subsided a great deal.

“Minion, what did you do to me?”

Sunset Shimmer shrugged.

“Minion… you’ve changed… you’re like… you’re like an alicorn without the wings.”

“I touched the inside of the amulet. Saw past all of the torment. Saw past the destruction and the need for violence. I heard the voices inside… when I touched them, I don’t know what happened, but something broke… or something. All that destructive power started to come out and I had to channel it somehow. I purged the ground, I made a nice lake, I listened to all the voices in the ley lines, and I heard thousands of dead alicorns whispering in my ears. I don’t know how I knew they were alicorns, but I just did. I just let go and let everything happen.”

Bucky got to his hooves and his legs wobbled like a newborn foal. He looked himself over. Many of his scars had faded a bit. He waggled his tufted ears, licked his fangs, and tried to figure out what he was.

“Sorry Master, but the Taint is gone. You’re bound to notice sooner or later.”

“WHAT?” Bucky stood there, stunned, and panic appeared on his face.

“Don’t worry Master, it will be okay. Somehow. It was a powerful weapon, but it was a bad weapon. Not one worth using. It was destroying everything good about you. In time, it would have been your ruin. Trying to bring about world harmony using dark magic is like bombing for peace or screwing for virginity. Sounds good in theory, never works out in practice.”

In the distance, there was a faint rumble. Sunset Shimmer turned her head and looked skywards. She smiled. “We have incoming.”

 

 

Feeling very confused, Twilight Sparkle stared at a much taller Sunset Shimmer and one very different Bucky. She stood there, eyes wide and staring, as two griffons sat nearby skipping stones over a lake that hadn’t been there a few hours ago.

Twilight’s hind legs gave way and she sat down with a muffled thump in the scorched grass. She had heard everything Sunset Shimmer had said, she had listened to Bucky, but still had trouble taking it all in.

“I thought I lost you!” Twilight cried as she lunging forward, her wings flapping. She tackled Bucky, bowling him over, and she began to squeeze him. “When I watched them taking you away I thought I was going to lose one of my best friends… forever.”

“I was hoping for more killing,” Loki said in a sulky voice as he sent a rock skimming over the water. “But this is nice. I suppose. No… no… Fresh Meat, it is all the wrist. Flick, not hurl.”

“The portal is gone. We have the portal control rod. I think we can go home now,” Sunset Shimmer said.

“I need to destroy that,” Twilight said, letting go of Bucky after one final squeeze. She sat up and looked at Sunset Shimmer.

“We might be able to use it,” Bucky said in a low voice. “Twilight, if you and I studied it, we might be able to understand it better. We might be able to use it—”

“No Bucky.” Twilight shook her head.

“But Twilight… if we study it, if we understand it, we might be able to give it to Shining Armor. He might be able to do more than just detect mirror travelers… he might be able adapt his shields to block out interdimensional projections. I mean, he is going to keep growing in power… in time… in theory, he might be able to shield the entire world… nothing going in or out.”

Twilight’s eyes widened for a moment, and then her eyes narrowed as her expression became one of shrewd cunning.

“I will not lie to auntie Celery about having this control rod.” Sunset Shimmer extended one long foreleg and prodded Bucky.

“We could let her decide. We tell her that we can study it, maybe do something with it, repurpose it, and then use it for defensive purposes.” Twilight Sparkle looked at Sunset Shimmer and then at Bucky. “I wonder what Celestia will say when she sees Bucky.”

“I wonder what my wives will say.” Bucky fell over on his back and looked skywards. A few clouds remained. He raised up his right hind leg and looked at it. It was gone just a few hours ago. It had been gone. And now, he was staring at it. Miraculous magic, healing without ascension.

The Scorned Mare is in Mustangia. We should go there and then head home.” Twilight looked at the lake, taking in the beauty of the area. The grass was still burnt but life would return. In time, this place would become a sanctuary for all kinds of life.

“How will I fight without my dark magic?” Bucky asked.

Twilight shrugged. “It was powerful, I’ll admit, but it was my worry that it what was responsible for your increasingly erratic behaviour. Bucky, I’m sorry, but the gentle pony I know wouldn’t have dangled ponies off of a roof and dropped them. Your moods fluctuated wildly. There were times I didn’t know you.”

“My horn… its all funny and weird now… and no longer made of a focusing material. What if I’m not strong enough?” Bucky crossed his eyes and stared upwards at the gnarled growth that protruded from his forehead.

“You will have to rely on others.” Sunset Shimmer squinted at Bucky. “Your horn is funny. It started off tan and it is getting darker I think. Maybe the casing is curing?” Sunset Shimmer shrugged.

“You can still take advantage of your appearance… the fear it causes. Just use a little illusion. Make it look like you have the Taint still and scare your enemies. Maybe take harmonious magic and make it look like dark magic. You can look like the Bogeypony on the outside, but be the good pony that I know that you are deep down on the inside,” Twilight Sparkle said.

“Master… I know that you could probably still cast dark magic, but I am asking you, please don’t.” Sunset Shimmer looked Bucky in the eye. “You have been given a chance… please, take it. Explore shadow magic, harmonious magic is still powerful. Just… don’t make yourself sick again.”

Leaning over, Bucky kissed Sunset Shimmer on the cheek. He pulled back and looked into her eyes. “Thank you, Minion.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

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