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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As Bucky stepped out of the carriage, he was greeted by Scorch, who appeared to have been waiting. Bucky stepped down into the snow with a crunch and Scorch, who was in a large, hulking bipedal form, grabbed Luna as she came out. Luna squealed as Scorch cradled her in his arms.

The carriage, pulled by lunar pegasi, took off once more, and Bucky watched it go, being pulled off into the night sky as the lunar pegasi returned to Canterlot. After a moment, he returned his attention to Scorch, who was hugging Luna and kissing her on each cheek, and Luna who was returning Scorch’s affections.

The pair had a long history; Bucky knew this, he was one of the few that was privileged with this information. Scorch had taken care of Celestia, he had been her nanny, and there had been many occasions that he had been the primary caretaker of Luna as well.

“Bucky, I have some information for you… from my guest,” Scorch said in a voice that held a great deal of amusement. “More information is coming, I assure you, but this is what he spilled after a few… gentle… introductions from my associates.”

The words had Bucky’s attention. His gaze locked onto Scorch and Bucky stared upwards. “I’m listening.”

“First things first. Sombra is your most readily available form to immortality if you ascend. Absorbing him will put an end to that pesky mortality that would get in the way of your plans. It would also change how you operate, allowing you to draw strength from a lot more than hatred and conflict. Other things would be added to your divine portfolio, primarily, negative emotions would give you power and strength. If Sombra’s remains were destroyed, it would put an end your readily available means of ascension to an immortal form. Others would be available, but those would be a bit trickier and a bit more difficult to come by, with varying degrees of success.”

Luna, wide eyed, looked down at Bucky from Scorch’s arms. She saw fear. Her heart felt a pang. She resolved that Sombra’s remnants needed to go, and soon.

Scorch began radiating heat to keep both Luna and Bucky warm. The snow began to melt around him as he leaned down his head once more and kissed Luna just behind her ear. “The odd crystal unicorn shaped by necromancy is not alone. There are others like him. He was the one responsible for plaguing Canterlot and Ponyville. There is another in Vanhoover, one in Baltimare, one in Fillydelphia, and there are others who roam the world.”

“So they are crystal ponies?” Bucky asked.

“Sort of," Scorch replied, almost shrugging while still holding Luna. “But they hold none of the crystal ponies inherent harmony or goodness. They magnify negativity, disharmony, they are like a focusing crystal built specifically for necromancy. They are powerful. Their bodies are remade with alchemy and necromancy. He’s almost a lich, only instead of a phylactery, a part of his essence went into Sombra’s fell shadow, giving them a weird connection that we haven’t worked out yet. I can tell you this… you will not be able to kill these abominations until you put down Sombra’s shadow for good, at least I don’t think. I mean, it might be possible, but it would be difficult. Killing Sombra’s shadow should kill these pseudo-liches outright. I think.”

“Oh bother,” Luna said, closing her eyes and shaking her head.

“Sombra is getting closer to full revival. Should he revive, he will continue with his old plan for domination. He still views you and your sister Celestia as being the greatest threat to himself and he will try to cast you into the moon and the sun in an attempt to restore them to what they once were when they moved under their own power. He will also come for our little Buckminster here, with the hopes that Bucky will ascend if he’s provoked enough. Sombra’s shadow figures a few gruesomely murdered foals should be enough to push Bucky right over the edge, and then Sombra’s essence can be absorbed. Should this happen, I can safely say, the world will be, by and large, screwed.”

“So why not just find out where he is right now and put an end to him?” Bucky asked.

“Not that simple,” Luna replied, opening her eyes. “Curses are complicated things. Celestia could go north right now, we suspect that we know where he is… and Celestia could give him a good thrashing.” Luna shook her head. “But that would not kill him.”

“It has to be someone that his shadow looms over.” Scorch gave Luna a gentle squeeze to comfort her and make her calm back down. “Family is a funny thing. All of your foals could do it. Rising Star fits the requirement, but I wouldn’t send him. Rising Star has the resolve, but he is not a fighter, not in his heart. He is a creator, an artist, and has a fragile, temperamental soul. His strengths lie elsewhere. Sentinel could do it, but I don’t think he’s ready. Dinky and Piña, both might be able to do so someday, but they aren’t ready now. And we don’t have time for them to grow up and learn what they need to battle Sombra. I know it was planned for Sentinel to put an end to him, but we don’t have time. Sombra’s shadow could revive within the year.”

“Then how? I can’t do it… we can’t get near one another,” Bucky said, shaking his head.

“Sunset Shimmer shares a direct blood link. Her ancestors, Starjammer and Cerise Velvet, give her unusual ties to the past, which is why Celestia believed that she could be the one for either. She has ties to both Star Swirl and Sombra.” Luna rested her head against Scorch’s chest and sighed.

“Blood is important, but how does Sentinel fit into this?” Bucky asked.

“Family is more than blood. Some ties, some ties are stronger. Emotional ties create bonds. Sentinel went into your dream and rescued you from Sombra’s shadow. Because of love, because of his proximity to you, he has proven himself as your colt… make no mistake, Sentinel is your son. There are bonds stronger than blood, even if we do not understand them,” Luna replied.

“Sombra’s shadow knows that he could hurt you just as badly by harming Sentinel as he could by harming one of your flesh and blood foals, like your unborn twins or Bandua. And make no mistake, the corrupted crystal unicorns are aware of your unborn foals and your family. For now, they are biding their time, waiting for their Master’s return, and making plans.” Scorch shook his head and looked angry for a moment, his eyes blazing like cherry red coals.

“But I love Celestia… she… she is very much like my mother now,” Bucky said. “I’m confused.”

“Celestia is immortal. You aren’t connected to her in the same way as you are Sentinel. Sombra could hurt her, but he cannot kill her. The fear of loss isn’t the same. Breaking a curse takes a special set of conditions… like you Bucky, ending the curse that hung over House Bitters and House Avarice. The last victim was Sunset Shimmer, which satisfied conditions. Her horn broke. Celestia’s most powerful divination spells show that Sunset Shimmer could take Sombra down, she meets the requirements,” Luna said as she cuddled against Scorch, glad for his warmth during this talk about the most ghastly of subjects. “She could end the curse.”

“So it has to be somepony that shares a bond of love where the consequences for failure are real?” Bucky asked, one eye wide and the other eye squinted almost shut in a quizzical expression of befuddlement.

“Yes, more or less,” Luna replied. “I still want that cup of tea…”

 

 

Steam rose from the spout of the teapot and filled the kitchen with a fragrant perfume. Bucky sniffed, felt his mouth water, and then looked over at Thistle, who was holding Bell Heather and bouncing her up and down in an attempt to comfort the foal.

Bell Heather was teething, growing in several needle teeth just like her mother’s.

“I still have no telekinesis,” Luna said, grumbling as she brought herself up to her full height so she could see over the table. Angling her head, she was able to sip her tea from her teacup, which sat on the table.

“Here, Bucky, take this… I do believe this is yours,” Thistle said as she extended her forelegs and held Bell Heather out to Bucky. “Mama is very, very tired.”

Bell Heather squeaked as Bucky took her. Using both his telekinesis and his forelegs, he took her into his embrace and held her to his barrel. He began to rock her back and forth, trying to keep Bell from crying.

“Has Erebus been behaved?” Luna asked.

“Erebus is fine just so long as he isn’t left alone,” Thistle replied as she slumped down onto the table, resting her upper body on her front legs. “He likes Cadance a great deal.”

“Mmmm, Bell don’t bite,” Bucky said in a pained voice as he tried to prise Bell Heather’s jaws off of his tender flesh.

Looking over, Thistle saw that Bell Heather had latched on to Bucky’s neck and was gnawing. The kelpie yawned. “She got ahold of one of my teats earlier. Drew blood. She also bit Derpy’s ear and she gave Bon Bon quite a nibble on Bon Bon’s snoot.”

After extracting himself from the tiny and adorable foal attempting to give him a good chewing, Bucky stuck one of his talon fingers into Bell Heather’s mouth. She savaged the talon finger, gnashing the needle teeth that had worked through her gums against it, but was unable to get through the tough scales. The kitchen filled with “om nom nom nom” sounds as Bell Heather attempted to chew her father’s talon finger off.

“Little lunar pegasi also need chew toys. Erebus nips and nibbles, but so far, he hasn’t been a terrible chewer upon the toys that he has,” Luna said. “Practical advice for raising the little monsters. If left unattended, they will chew on each other, sometimes even taking ears off. They are horrible little savages. Thankfully, Erebus only gets nibbly while he is feeding.”

“He’s been very gentle with Cadance,” Thistle said in a worried voice.

“Erebus is not a full lunar pegasus and he is only at his worst for one night, when the moon is full.” Luna’s muzzle was wet with tea and she licked her lips.

A low growl came out of Bell Heather as she chomped down upon Bucky’s talon finger. Bucky watched his daughter attempt to chew his finger off with an amused look upon his face. The scales were too tough to be pierced by her tiny teeth, and Bucky thought the sight of her chewing on him was rather adorable. Chewing on others would be frowned upon though.

“Does that feel better?” Bucky asked Bell Heather. He lifted up his teacup, took a sip, set it down, and continued to watch his foal gnawing away. “I think we’ll need chew toys for Bell Heather. Any suggestions Luna?”

“There is actually a seller of such toys in Canterlot. He doesn’t have a shop, but he sells to the lunar pegasi. I’ll send word to him and see what I can do for my bloodthirsty little niece.”

“I’m worn out,” Thistle said and then yawned. “Oh… Bucky, I read through those papers about the job… about water inspection. I’m interested. I don’t know what else to do with my life, but I would like to have a job. The best part is, I can take Bell with me and we can swim together… she could grow up knowing what to do… learn a skill… serve a purpose.” The kelpie yawned once more and then smiled at Bell Heather.

“How is Broom holding up?” Bucky asked, the concerns within his mind causing him to change the subject.

“Broom has cried a bit but she’s taking this so well. She was laughing earlier, telling us stories about Door. She and Semillon spent some quiet time together in the library… Bucky, I would be a mess if my brother died,” Thistle replied.

“We all deal with loss in our own way,” Luna said as she glanced over at Thistle. “Some mourn their losses, others celebrate the memories of those they once held close.”

“I miss my mother… I wish she was here to see Bell Heather. I wish she was here to see Bucky… my whole family… I just wish that she was here… I hate her a little bit for being so selfish… for what she did. She left me and I needed her.” The kelpie’s face darkened with a miserable frown.

“We all deal with grief and loss in our own way,” Luna repeated.

“She mourned the loss of her foals by abandoning the one foal she had left!” Thistle snapped, banging her hoof down upon the table.

Startled, Bell Heather whimpered and stopped gnawing upon her daddoo’s talon finger.

“I’m sorry… I’m tired… I should go to bed,” Thistle said in an apologetic voice. She pushed herself away from the table, shook her head, and slid off of her chair. “Good night.”

“Come here, let me kiss you,” Bucky said, leaning his head out in invitation.

The kelpie gave Bucky a sad smile as she went to him. She stretched out her neck, pressed her lips against Bucky’s, and gave him a wet smooch. Lowering her head, she kissed Bell Heather. She lingered, her muzzle pressed against her foal for a moment, and then she turned and walked away.

As she left the kitchen, Thistle turned her head to say, “I would never be so selfish.”

 

 

 

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