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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Once more a shadow adrift upon the currents of the night, Bucky traveled at the speed of dark. He was refining this means of travel, shadow winking from place to place, moving several hundred yards in the span of an eyeblink. For unicorns, winking involved moving mass, which took a great deal of energy. For those adept in shadow magic, there was no mass, only shadowstuff. Remaining in shadow was quite taxing for most though. For Bucky, it was getting easier and easier. The shadow generator had done something to him, changed some fundamental aspect of his being. Bucky was starting to believe that he wouldn’t need dark magic as much as he first thought; he had found something that he believed, if properly explored, might be a suitable replacement.

He was further evolving as a lunicorn, which Bucky still thought was a silly name. While Sombra had been able to harness shadow magic, Bucky had become shadow magic. Even Luna, for all of her magical might and her ability to work in shadow, she was still a solar pony. Her eyes lacked slitted pupils, she had feathers, and she was as herbivorous as the next pony.

Bucky felt as though he was a sea captain, sailing uncharted waters, making new discoveries as he pushed ever onwards towards the horizon.

In the distance, there was a train winding its way through the frozen desert.

 

 

A shadowy figure in a black cloak moved through the door of the passenger car, walked down the aisle, and then sat down next to an older looking unicorn. Not much of the shadowy figure could be seen, but dull black metallic talons flexed in the faint light of the passenger car and there was a soft glow emanating from beneath the figure’s hood.

“I knew you would come… hello,” the older looking unicorn said. “I need your help.”

The black cloaked figure leaned over. “That is not the greeting I was expecting.”

“It hurts… it hurts so much… there are a million voices in my head all screaming to kill you… I can’t bear it anymore… he’s worse than Princess Selene… he’s inside of our heads, twisting our thoughts… he took her power and he warps us through our dreams… he’s become the dark… make the voices stop…” The older unicorn’s words faded into incomprehensible muttering, whispers, and grunts.

“I can make your pain go away,” the shadowy figure said in a whisper reminiscent of silk brushing up against silk. He leaned over a little more and raised his talons. “Dream of the light…” As the shadowy figure spoke, tendrils of shadowstuff drifted from his talons, crept over the older unicorn’s face, and began to burrow into the unicorn’s mind through any available orifice.

Whimpering, the unicorn went limp, then slipped into slumber.

 

 

In the hours just before dawn, a group of Myrmidons surrounded the train station in Appleloosa. They watched and waited as the passengers were herded off of the train and taken to safety. After the crowd was a safe distance away, a black cloaked figure emerged from the train with a unicorn levitated in a telekinetic field.

One of the Myrmidons stepped forward. Using her thumb and central wing knuckle, she snapped a magic inhibitor upon the unicorn’s horn. She then snapped out a salute to the black cloaked figure.

“Sir, what is to be done with him?” she asked.

“Treat him gently. He is of no threat to us and could be of great use,” Bucky replied. “I have been inside of his mind… he is not our enemy.”

“Sir?” The Myrmidon lifted up her faceplate, opening up her helmet and revealing her face. She gave Bucky an incredulous stare. “I am not at all doubting your claim, sir, but an explanation would be… helpful, sir.”

“He is a tired old stallion that cannot fight anymore. He watched his master, his teacher, Princess Solara, get murdered by Princess Selene when she returned as Nightmare Moon. He was there when the Night Stallion killed Nightmare Moon. His brain has been damaged… tampered with in ways I cannot even begin to comprehend. I need Shadowguard and others like her to begin triage right away. We need to save what we can, he is a potential asset. He was the Night Stallion’s second in command and primary advisor.”

The lunar pegasus mare’s eyes widened and she looked down at the unicorn held in Bucky’s levitation. He was old looking, wizened, and his pelt was a faded shade of purple.

“His name is Dusk Chaser and he has come seeking asylum.”

 

 

“It is like looking in a mirror,” Princess Celestia said as she looked down at the pony sleeping in the bed. She felt terrible for the restraints, but hoped that with time and trust, they could be removed. Her eyes lingered on the dark purple mane with few bright spots of colour, all tinged with strands of grey.

“It’s me.” Twilight Sparkle stepped away from the bed, shaking her head.

“Perhaps. One of the many possibilities of you.” Celestia looked over at Twilight and saw her former student trembling.

“Majesties, this pony’s mind is… damaged. His condition can best be described as schizophrenic. Whole sections of his mind have been blocked off to keep him from remembering certain things.” The lunar pegasus male adjusted his eyeglasses and looked at Princess Celestia. “He has been disciplined for having treacherous thoughts but it is clear that his intelligence was an asset. His mind is a mess.”

“Can he be saved? Healed?” Celestia looked down at the pony who lay slumbering, having what had to be the first untroubled sleep in a very long time.

“By Mistress Luna, perhaps. But he is beyond any of our abilities,” the lunar pegasus replied. “What is interesting is that we can go into his mind and see into his dreams. We can’t do that with other mirror travelers. He’s… done something to himself to leave his mind open. We don’t understand just what is going on, but we’re working on figuring it out.”

“I can’t deal with this,” Twilight Sparkle blurted out. Cringing, she ran out of the room, her wings fluttering at her sides. She let out a pained cry as she cleared the door, almost stumbled over her own hooves, recovered, and took off at a run down the hallway.

“Look after our guest,” Princess Celestia commanded. “I am going to look after Twilight Sparkle.”

 

 

Bucky awoke, feeling confused and disoriented. He had been half in and half out of a dream state on the train ride, something that had taxed his mind far more than he cared to admit. While his shadow powers were growing, his ability to dreamwalk was limited. Luna was still the undisputed master of such activities, and Sentinel was far, far better at it than Bucky was.

He felt lips against his cheek, a wet sogginess. He opened one eye, felt the sting of daylight, and then opened the other eye.

“Go back to sleep… you’ve only been asleep for a few hours. It’s not even noon,” Derpy said as she cuddled up a little closer to her mate.

“Have there been any messages?” Bucky asked in a groggy voice.

For a moment, Derpy wanted to lie; she wanted to say no, hoping that Bucky would go back to sleep, but she was too tender hearted to be dishonest. “Yes. Several messages have been delivered. Now go back to sleep. It can wait.”

Tensing, Derpy felt Bucky’s body as he began to stretch himself. She bit her lip, feeling more than a little angry and hurt. Closing her eyes, she made a choice. “You’re not getting out of this bed in one piece. Don’t even try it. Get some sleep.” She opened her good eye and glared at Bucky, pressing her muzzle up against his.

Much to Derpy’s surprise, Bucky kissed her, a soft gentle kiss. She blinked and opened her other eye. She felt her heart thumping inside of ribcage and her pulse quickened.

“Oh, I could think of a few reasons to stay in the bed,” Bucky said in a low voice to the grey pegasus mare. “And when I’m done, I think we’ll both go to sleep.”

 

 

Twilight Sparkle took a sip of her coffee. It was bitter, cold, and tasted terrible. She did not notice the flavour however. She felt heavy all over, her mind felt dull, and she was somewhat hungover. The party that Rarity had thrown had been amazing. She had gone expecting a bunch of snobby dullards. Fancy Pants and Fleur Dis Lee had both been there to work the crowd over.

Looking up, Twilight Sparkle saw Princess Celestia standing in the doorway, carrying fresh, steaming cups of coffee. Twilight blinked and she could feel her heavy eyelids almost scraping over her dry, irritated eyes.

“It seems that I was your faithful student,” Twilight Sparkle said in a dull, flat voice. “Dusk Chaser, faithful student of Princess Solara, Royal Archivist, Scholar, and who knows, probably the pony that figured out how to sever Nightmare Moon’s immortality.”

“Twilight—”

“His cutie mark is the sun though, and mine is a star… perhaps his cutie mark is what made him Princess Solara’s most faithful student. It was his destiny to serve the Sun. He never became an alicorn though… nope. He had to watch his most beloved mentor get murdered by her sister.”

“Twilight, please, stop,” Celestia said in a pleading voice.

“That pony in there is one of the many versions of me.” Twilight Sparkle made a gesture with her hoof. “When I look at him, I feel weird. Is that what it was like for you when you saw your own counterpart on the other side of the mirror?”

“Yes, Twilight, there was some discomfort and a peculiar feeling,” Celestia replied.

“So what do you think is going to happen when Dusk Chaser wakes up and sees you? His beloved teacher, now back from the dead… how much do you think that will hurt him? Confuse him? How much damage will it cause his already addled brains?” Twilight set down her cold coffee and picked up a hot, fresh, steaming cup.

“Twilight, I do not know.” Celestia’s stony expression cracked and her features became pained. “He looks so much like you. But older. And male of course.”

“What do we do with him?” Twilight Sparkle asked.

“What do you mean, Twilight?” Celestia replied as she picked up a cup of coffee.

“There is a second me running around… I am having a very difficult time taking this in… I am me. I am unique. I am special. Or at least, I thought I was. And then I met a draconequus version of myself that is madly in love with Bucky, who is also a draconequus. I have heard other rumours of my various selves. And there is a male version of myself lying sedated in a bed. This is my reality and I am feeling quite possessive of it right now.”

“It is not easy Twilight.” Celestia closed her eyes. “I have met an evil version of myself. Also met Cadance’s mirror counterpart, the Alicorn of Lust. She was horrible beyond compare.”

“And Sombra. Even I was charmed by Sombra. He was… good.” Twilight watched Celestia’s eyes open.

“He was very much like the Sombra I remember. The good Sombra that I loved. But Good King Sombra was too good. The Sombra that I fell in love with was a good pony, but he had a thing for fighting dirty when it was necessary and he had a laundry list of bad habits that made him a horrible, disreputable pony. He was a drunkard, he was a pervert, and he was a boorish jerk.” Celestia paused and looked at Twilight. “Keep this in mind, no matter how much he might look like you, or even be similar to you, he is not you. Beneath it all, he is a different pony. Just like Good King Sombra was a different pony.”

“Thanks… for some reason, that actually makes me feel better,” Twilight Sparkle said.

 

 

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