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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Drifting within the astral realm, Celestia began to secure herself, fearful of intrusion. Something had spooked Tourmaline, something that did not need a body to move about. Something parasitic, something dark. A thorn within the mind.

With the force of her will, she caused Odin to manifest beside her. Celestia could see his alarm, his confusion, and his worry. Needing his help, Celestia said, “Odin, we face an unknown threat. My sister would be able to sort this out in moments, but alas, we do not have her expertise. I need you to help me. Please?”

“Of course,” Odin replied.  

“We need to sort through memories and find clues.” Celestia looked at the griffon and was grateful for his help. As of late, she had become more and more dependent upon Odin’s assistance. He was calm, he was meticulous. his cautious and careful nature was a powerful asset. “I suspect that Dusk Chaser was sent to us with something powerful imprisoned inside of him. I do not know what. I am worried that right now, whatever was inside of Dusk Chaser is now inside of Buckminster. Before we act, we need to figure out what we are facing. I think Dusk Chaser was a trap, but I do not think that Dusk Chaser was a willing trap. I do not think he was aware of the danger he posed.”

“And what makes you feel that way?” Odin asked.

Her eyes narrowing, Celestia searched her feelings. “Call it a hunch. Perhaps I do not wish to believe that one who mirrors my most faithful student is capable of such treachery, such duplicity, and perhaps I am making a mistake. But I must continue to believe in Twilight Sparkle’s inherent goodness, no matter which form she might take. Certain threads run through the fabric of reality.”

“Good enough for me.” Odin’s crest rose. “Where do we start?”

Overhead, the stars shifted and began to swirl around. Celestia rose from the cloudlike grey expanse and hovered in the air as the stars came down to meet her. The stars became projections, images of Dusk Chaser’s life. With her strongest magic, Celestia set them in motion, allowing these events to play out. There were so many that Celestia did not even know where to begin.

With a gasp, Celestia’s eyes fell upon herself, another version of what she was. She was different, but there was no mistaking that she was seeing herself. This version was a faint pink, almost but not quite white, pink like the clouds of a delicate sunrise. She moved the image about, studying herself. The cutie mark was different. Half of it was the sun, the other half a series of cogs and gears.

The keeper of the celestial machinery.

“Looks like you… but she’s not like you,” Odin said as he floated beside Celestia. “Oh… oh my, will you look at that…”

A furious blaze ignited in Celestia’s cheeks. A distinctive purple colt had climbed over Princess Solara’s back and had placed his forelegs around her neck. There was a lot of heavy breathing. The keeper of said celestial machinery was laying on a bed, sprawled out on her stomach.

“You are my glorious sun,” Celestia heard Dusk Chaser say.

The regal white alicorn’s whole body tensed when Dusk Chaser thrust his way inside of Princess Solara. She watched as her counterpart’s whole body stiffened, her eyes closing, and her mouth fell open. Dusk Chaser began going at his task with all the youthful enthusiasm that only a colt could muster. His lips nibbled along the sides of her neck, and his front hooves were clumsy as he tried to get a better grip around her body, but his efforts were gentle, affectionate, it was clear that there was love there, and not just mindless lust.

Reaching out, Celestia pushed the image away, making it go still and silent. Her whole body felt as though it was on fire. She turned to look at Odin. “Perhaps I should trust in love. I stand by what I said, I do not believe that Dusk Chaser would willingly do harm.”

The grizzled old griffon nodded.

“We have a lot of work to do,” Celestia said as she began to pull other projections closer to her.

 

 

“She watched him grow up. She watched him grow up from a tiny colt as her student. Their world was beautiful, almost perfect. Look Odin, at what it was.” Celestia’s voice was thick and husky with grief. She pulled up one projection, pointed at it with her hoof, but she did not set the image in motion. “Right there is where it changed for them. She discovered him pleasuring himself while looking at a picture of her. It is how he got his cutie mark, Odin. It wasn’t his love of magic, or his elemental attunement to fire, he quite literally got his cutie mark because he worshipped the sun.”

“So it was his destiny to be her most devoted servant.” Odin eyed the image, his eyes looking tired, and he reached out his talons to touch it. He felt a surge of feelings, an almost electrical jolt, something alien and yet so familiar.

“This is was over two hundred and fifty years ago,” Celestia said, her muzzle wrinkling with concentration as she watched Odin touch the projected image. “I have no idea how Dusk Chaser has lived for so long, but I suspect he is like Good King Sombra… he was thousands of years old but still a unicorn.”

“Forgive me for being blunt, but I suspect his goodness is not quite as pure as you might desire for it to be.” Odin, eyeing Celestia, saw her nostrils flare.

“Would you please explain your statement?” Celestia asked, her eyes flashing with anger but her voice offering no sign of her internal emotional turmoil.

Odin pulled down another image, pointed at it, and tried to sooth Celestia’s ruffled feathers with some well chosen words. “Revenge. After Princess Solara’s death, Dusk Chaser sought revenge. He did not act for good and benefit of them all, his motivation to strike out at Princess Selene, Nightmare Moon, it was revenge, plain and simple. Now, I am not saying that Dusk Chaser is a bad sort, but he is no paragon of virtue, either.” Odin touched the image of Dusk Chaser’s face. The unicorn’s eyes were aglow with the sickening illumination of dark magic and black fire burned along the length of Dusk Chaser’s horn.

Celestia pulled the image away from Odin, drawing it close, and she set it in motion. She watched as Dusk Chaser created a conjuring circle and she knew at once what he was doing. She felt her own heart breaking. She knew that the mirror travelers had made the foolish mistake of turning the demon hordes for aid against Nightmare Moon.

“We must keep looking,” Celestia said, her heart aching. She wondered if she had the strength to watch as Dusk Chaser sank down into darkness.

 

 

Rubbing at his eyes, Odin listened and watched the image in front of him. It was Dusk Chaser and a pegasus named Night Watch standing together in a library. A large heavy tome sat in front of the unicorn.

“Once we have her weakened, the blood ritual should finish her off,” Dusk Chaser said.

“Using her own sister’s body against her, clever. The demons have taught us much useful magic,” Night Watch said.

“This is wrong… what are we doing to ourselves?” Dusk Chaser asked. “This is not our way… if Solara was alive, she would hate me for what I’ve done—”

“She is dead and that way of life is dead.” Night Watch’s expression chilled Odin’s blood. The griffon continued to listen: “Do you want her death to be in vain? Do you think she would approve of your sniveling, contemptible weakness? Do you think that she would appreciate her greatest student allowing our great civilisation to die off and for all of her subjects to die because of a few moral complications that can be sorted out later?”

“Well, no, I—”

“Those who survive this can sort out the moral consequences later. For now, we survive, and we keep Princess Solara’s beloved subjects alive. We do whatever is necessary.”

“Of course, Commander Night Watch. You are correct… I am still grieving her loss, I had a moment of weakness. Forgive me, it will not happen again.”

Odin felt his heart sinking. Reaching out, he touched the projection, causing it to go silent. He shoved it away and once more, he rubbed his eyes, trying to scrub away tears.

 

 

Dusk Chaser, now grey haired, was hunched over a book. Before him paced a tall alicorn, an alicorn that Odin knew to be the Night Stallion. This was a different library than before, smaller, it lacked windows, and had far fewer books.

“I can feel her inside of me. I have contained her with my will, but she lashes out at the bars of her cage like a confined beast. We need some means to separate the two. I need Princess Selene’s magic to keep us alive, but we must find a way to draw out Nightmare Moon. We must separate the two.”

“Night Watch… er, Night Stallion, I am working on a solution, but I lack the resources. I have ideas, I have a general idea of what needs to be done, but I don’t know how to do it. We’re dealing with immortal entities here. Nightmare Moon, the shadow that fell upon Princess Selene’s heart, has merged itself with Princess Selene’s essence. If we tear her free, we’ll need some way to imprison her. She’s an immortal entity herself.”

“Find a way,” Night Stallion commanded.

“Night Stallion, we’ll need a living being to act as her prison… how many more atrocities must we commit before we—”

“AS MANY AS IT TAKES!” the Night Stallion bellowed. “You’re still hung up on the creation of the Elements of Harmony, aren’t you? There was no way we could have kept those lives sustained. There is no sun and our world is dead. Those were mouths we could not feed, bellies we could not fill, those were ponies that could do nothing to help us fight and survive… they would have been our end!”

“Over a million lives sacrificed for some pretty rocks—”

“THEY GAVE THEMSELVES WILLINGLY!” The Night Stallion’s eyes blazed with fury. “It was this or face some horrible death as the claws of the rampaging demon army. We could not house them, we could not feed them. We could have let the demons eat them, but they understood what was necessary. They gave themselves over to the greater good so that we all might benefit! We have powerful weapons now that aid in our survival and will help us rebuild our once great civilisation.”

“You’re right. What’s one more life after millions sacrificed. What’s one more...” Dusk Chaser said in an exhausted, defeated voice.

Celestia, beside Odin, let out a whimpering cry and her barrel began heaving as she fought to hold back sobs, her body shuddering. “Do you think he… do you think he did it to punish himself?”

“I don’t know,” Odin replied. He reached out with his wing and touched Celestia. “I’m sorry, this must be awful for you.”

“So once we strip Nightmare Moon away from Princess Selene’s essence, I should be a lot stronger. Once I am free from the nightmare taint, I should be able to absorb Princess Solara’s essence. Once I do that, I will have the strength I need to keep us alive.”

“In theory, Night Stallion,” Dusk Chaser said.

“You should find some comfort in all of this… your beloved Princess Solara will live on through me. It will be like having her back from the dead.”

Both Celestia and Odin could see the seething hatred upon Dusk Chaser’s face. Celestia felt a pain go stabbing through her heart, an agony unlike any other, something new, something unique, something she knew would leave a scar.

“We have their world’s Nightmare Moon trapped inside of Buckminster’s head,” Odin said. “What do we do?”

“I do not know… but I will not lose another that I love to her wickedness,” Celestia replied. “If necessary, I will do what needs to be done. We need to act now, before she takes over his mind completely and becomes a real threat.”

“Would you really kill him, if it came to that?” Odin asked.

Unable to reply, unable to hold back her sobs, Celestia began to weep.

 

 

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