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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“Is the prisoner secured?” Celestia asked in a voice husky with pain and worry.

Bucky nodded as he cradled Luna’s head in his forelegs. His whole body trembled as he looked up at Celestia. “He is some kind of crystal unicorn… but not like the others. I’ve ruined his thaumaturgical system; he’ll never cast magic again.”

“What do we do?” Twilight asked, dancing around on her hooves.

The tall white alicorn closed her eyes and took a deep breath. “Twilight, Bucky, I need to ask both of you to leave. I promise you, Luna will be okay.” Celestia opened her eyes and looked upon the mess that was her sister.

“I’m not leaving!” Bucky looked up at Celestia with pleading eyes. “No…”

Luna gurgled and her body made a few feeble twitches. “Bucky… stay.” Luna’s words, almost inaudible, caused blood to dribble down her chin.

“I don’t know what is about to happen, but I’m staying.” Twilight moved closer to Celestia’s side. “I’m so scared… I’m so scared.”

“I promise you, Luna will be okay.” Celestia’s voice was gentle and soft, but also filled with pain as well as fear. “Be calm, both of you. Luna’s suffering will be over very soon.”

“Hold me… Bucky.” More blood frothed and bubbled around Luna’s lips as she spoke.

“Sister, how I hate to hurt you… are you ready?” Celestia’s eyes narrowed.

Unable to do anything else, Princess Luna blinked her remaining eye.

“Buckminster… hold tight to her. I promise, everything will be fine, but you must trust me. Twilight, please, try not to panic. I will shield both of you.” Celestia paused and looked down at the battered remains of her sister. “Luna, my beloved sister, I hate what I must do and I am sorry.”

A whimpering wail slipped out of Twilight’s mouth as the stress of the moment became too much. Fear and doubt settled over her. The stress of the night was sinking in and seeing Luna, a pony that she loved, in this condition was too much. She pressed herself into Celestia’s side and started bawling.

Lowering her head close to Luna’s surviving ear, Celestia whispered, “Hush now, quiet now, it is time to rest your sleepy head… hush now, quiet now, it is time to go to bed.”

When the last word left her mouth, Celestia burst into flames. A torrent of fire filled the room around her, but nothing in the room burned.

Except for Luna.

Flames devoured Luna’s body, searing away her pelt, burning away her flesh, in moments she was incinerated and Bucky felt the weight of her head in his forelegs vanish as she became dust. A choking sob escaped his throat as his teacher, his Mistress was burned away. Even her bones were consumed in the flame.

And then, the flames were gone. The bed, unburned, was full of ashes. Just as Bucky started to sniffle and weep, there was a loud pop. A small dark blue filly with light blue hair popped into existence and landed against Bucky.

Twilight Sparkle stood staring, her eyes wide, and after a moment, she managed to say, “She’s like how she was when the Elements of Harmony brought her back! She’s a filly!”

“Luna!” Bucky had his forelegs around the filly in a moment and lifted her. He squeezed, crushing Luna to him, and a few shuddering sobs escaped from his mouth.

“Let go of me at once! Release me, Minion!” Luna cried in a squeaky voice.

Crying, Bucky squeezed even harder and pressed his muzzle against the top of Luna’s now whole and perfect head. He ignored the Luna’s feeble kicks and her attempts to wiggle free. He rubbed his cheek against Luna and took comfort in feeling the warm fuzz of her small body against the side of his face.

“I think he marked me! Lunar ponies! Ugh, help!” Luna tried pounding on Bucky with her little hooves as Bucky sobbed. “I have no strength, no magic in this state! You’re smothering me! Stop! It tickles! No more fuzzy wuzzy muzzle nuzzles! This is demeaning and degrading! Remove your hooves from me this once! Talons too! Off! Off! Off!”

“I told you that Luna would be fine. We just had to burn away the old body so the new one would form. How do you feel, Luna?” Celestia smiled and her eyes were filled with tears.

“Tell him to release me, sister!” Luna looked up at Celestia with foalish pleading eyes.

“No. I think Bucky needs you. He’s had a hard night. Bucky, look after my sister. In this form, she is weak and helpless. It will be quite some time before she gets her strength and her magic back—”

“Ooooo, how dare you! You know how clingy he is with foals!” Luna cried as she continued to struggle. “He is wet! He is soiling my royal body with his tears!”

“Twilight, there is still much work to be done. We need to be going. Luna will be fine.” Celestia moved her muzzle close to Bucky’s ear. “When you recover, leave this room and go and be with your family. You have done enough this night, you have proven yourself, shown great restraint, and I am proud of you. All I ask is that you guard Luna in her current state.”

Bucky nodded and squeezed Luna even tighter as he sobbed.

 

 

When Celestia lowered the moon and raised the sun, a bruised, battered city celebrated the end of a long night. There was a tired cheer from the castle ramparts. Much of the city was in ruins. Not long ago, the rats had caused no end of chaos and the events of the long night had further damaged the city.

Guards patrolled the streets, some of them armed with orbs of undead compulsion. Reports of zombie ponies continued to filter in. There was a near state of panicked hysteria in the school courtyard camp. Canterlot’s hospital was overcrowded and the military hospital in Canterlot castle was dealing with the overflow.

 

 

In the hours just after dawn, Rising Star stood next to the Stable of Representatives building. Many of the buildings around it were rubble, burned down, and turned into blackened hulks. Lunar guards stood nearby, squinting in the sun, and a few other stable representatives had also shown up. A large crowd had gathered.

“We were supposed to meet today,” Rising Star said in a loud clarion voice. “Since we won’t be meeting today, I decided I’d start cleaning up this place. I came here to Canterlot to get some work done. I came here to be a public servant. I came here to serve you.” Rising Star looked at the crowd of ponies staring at him.

The crowd parted as a procession of donkeys as well as earth ponies came marching up the street, pulling wagons, and hauling equipment. At the head of the line was Sulky and she was pulling a wagon. She waved at Rising Star.

Stepping down from off of his pile of rubble, Rising Star went to Sulky and stood near her. “What brings you here?” Rising Star grinned at the donkey mare.

Sulky lifted her head high. “This is my city too. I live here. I thought I’d help you clean the mess up. I heard that some of the stable reps, you included, were having an impromptu meeting this morning. I brought some friends and a few wagons.”

“I am really happy to see that you are okay,” Rising Star said.

“I had a few close calls last night. I was saved by a really nice unicorn. He’s right over there. His name is Lint Trap and we’re going to go have drinks once all of this is over.” Sulky turned and smiled at a bespectacled unicorn hitched to a wagon a few paces behind her. She turned back to Rising Star and winked. “He’s kinda hunky.”

With a flutter of wings, Twilight Sparkle landed. She looked weary, exhausted, but she gave everyone present a weak smile. She stood, her legs stiff, and she lifted her head high. “Need some help? I see everypony else is helping out… I wouldn’t want anypony thinking that we alicorns are above lending a helping hoof.” She stood tall in the half melted, sooty, rubble strewn slush.

“Thank you, Twilight Sparkle,” Rising Star said.

 

 

“I don’t understand. I am unable to detect him at all. I can’t feel him, I cannot detect him as a threat, there is just nothing there when I try to focus upon him as a threat.” Shining Armor scowled and shook his head. “I have failed. I have you let you down. And in doing so, I have let Cadance down. I am sorry.”

Princess Celestia, who stood atop the gatehouse once more to keep watch, turned look at Shining Armor. “Shining Armor… you expect too much from yourself. Sombra is gaining power. Somehow, his agent has figured out a means to cloak himself from you, from Luna’s dream patrols, and from our own magical detection. I have never seen anything like him. He is not quite a crystal pony, but he is not quite a unicorn either. He is… weird. Something else.”

“I suspect he was transmuted into something akin to a crystal pony so he could focus more magic. After everything he has done last night, I would think he might be a type three or a type four. His whole body has been reshaped by necromancy.” Shining Armor watched as a wagon filled with injured ponies was pulled up the gate by a donkey. “I believe he is most likely responsible for the rats.”

“I do believe I agree with you. Those rats were brought about by strong necromancy.” Celestia watched a wing of royal guards pass over head. After watching them shrink and grow smaller in the distance, she turned to look at Shining Armor. “And what is the word on our deserters?”

“Of the seventy one deserters, twenty nine have turned themselves in this morning just after dawn. All of them were sooty, sweaty, showed signs of dehydration, and showed signs of intense labour to save the city. Eleven of their number died last night. Thirty one guards are unaccounted for, and the twenty nine we have confined to quarters once again said that the others have fled the city.” Shining Armor’s eyes narrowed and he looked up at Celestia. “What should be done with them?”

“Speak with Buckminster. What I would like to happen is to have all of them demoted to some form of probationary rank so that they might redeem themselves. We must trust in the inherent goodness of ponies. They could have flown off with their fellows. They chose to stay here. Eleven of them died defending this city,” Celestia replied.

“I don’t get it.” Shining Armor watched another cart approaching the gate, being pulled by a donkey. “Why are they helping? We treated them so poorly. All of this… mess… this trouble, it came about because of what happened yesterday and they were at the center of it.”

Celestia closed her eyes for a moment, turned her face to the sun to feel its warmth upon her, then turned back towards Shining Armor and opened her eyes. “Many, many donkeys came to this city to help make change. I invited quite a number of them here, even paid for the cost of train tickets, food, and lodging for the majority. I had hoped that a few stable members would take up their cause. Some did. I trusted in the inherent good of ponies. Now, the donkeys are rewarding me for my kindness, of this I have no doubt.”

Shining Armor blinked and looked confused. His brow furrowed.

“You look puzzled.” Celestia reached out her wing and patted Shining Armor. “You look exactly like your sister when you make that face.” The regal alicorn beamed and her eyes narrowed from her smile. “Shining Armor… go check up on your sister. See that she does not exhaust herself.”

“Yes… of course.” Shining Armor nodded and then vanished.

Alone, Celestia surveyed her surroundings and kept watch.

 

 

 

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