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


709. 709

“You know Bucky, the least you could have done was put up token resistance. I would have expected you to say no or maybe shout a bit about how unfair everything is. This calm acceptance of yours bothers me.” Celestia took a sip of strong black coffee, closed her eyes for a second as she swallowed, and then with her eyes opened, she took a long look at Bucky.

“It was what needed to be done.” Bucky shrugged and took drink of his own coffee.

“Bucky, I was dragging you off to Tartarus. You’re supposed to struggle and say no. Blind obedience is… just plain wrong,” Celestia said.

There was a growl from Cadance, and the foal’s lips were curled back from her teeth. She stood on the floor, near the kitchen table, her tiny body trembling, and Celestia recoiled from the sight of teeny, tiny, furious Cadance. Cadance’s horn glowed an angry shade of pink.

Realising that Cadance’s fury was directed at her, Celestia heaved a sigh and then cleared her throat. “I think I am about to be rebuked for harming her daddy.”

Shaking his head, Bucky scooped Cadance up with his magic and held her close. Cadance, whipping her head around, never took her narrowed eyes off of Celestia. Her glowing horn intensified.

“Cadance, baby, don’t you dare zap your auntie Celery,” Bucky said into Cadance’s ear. “Come on, be a big filly about this. Auntie Celery was doing what was best for everypony. There is a time and a place for the heart and I’m not certain that was it.”

Hearing her father’s words, Cadance turned her head as she pulled one foreleg from around Bucky’s neck and then placed her hoof over Bucky’s mouth as she stared into his eyes. “Need you.” Cadance said in a soft whisper.

“Do you two need anything?” Berry Punch asked as she stood in the archway of the kitchen. “Or do you need more time alone to sort things out?”

“A little more time to recover my calm would be nice,” Bucky replied.

“I still want an explanation of what happened, but I know you’ll tell me later.” Turning, Berry Punch left.

The angry pink glow on Cadance’s horn dimmed but she continued to give an angry glare to Celestia. She settled against her father’s neck, wrapped her forelegs around him, and then sat there with her teeth bared at her aunt.

“You know, I think Cadance would feel better if she just unloaded and gave me a good zap. She is furious Bucky. And seeing her like this makes me feel bad.” Celestia slumped down over the table with her head held low. She lifted her coffee cup to her lips, took a sip, then another, and then sat there with her cup inches away from her muzzle. “I think I would feel better if Cadance zapped me. I feel awful.”

“For doing the right thing?” Bucky asked.

“Bucky, I was careless and I made a mistake,” Celestia replied. The white alicorn shook her head. “I know why Fluttershy wants an apology. I took an ‘either or’ approach and that was careless of me. I left you with no good options, and never once did I check upon the most valuable of resources sitting under my nose.” Celestia closed her eyes and then continued: “Discord might have had the solution all along, but I never asked him and he was too afraid of upsetting me to volunteer the information. He is right to be afraid of me. When Fluttershy and he did what they did, I immediately assumed the worst of both of them. Discord has proven himself though… Tirek might have ended me… might have ended all of us. Discord put himself at risk and almost died. And none of that entered into my mind earlier. I suffered a lapse in judgment and you almost paid for that. Please forgive me Bucky.” Celestia opened up her eyes, looked at Bucky, and saw Cadance glaring back at her with a fierce intensity.

“I don’t know what to say,” Bucky said in reply, feeling the need to say something, but he had no clue what should be said. He felt Cadance trembling against him and her horn began to glow again.

“Cadance, would you like a hug to make you feel better?” Celestia asked.

The foal snorted once, then twice, then thrice, and then replied, “NO!”

Shrugging, Celestia took a sip of coffee.

With a pop and a flash Twilight Sparkle appeared in Bucky’s kitchen, looking very confused and saying, “—ttershy I demand some kind of explanation!”

Blinking, Twilight Sparkle began to realise that she was no longer in Fluttershy’s home. She watched as a cup of coffee was poured and set out upon the table at her. She could see one very angry looking Cadance glaring at Celestia.

“Have a seat, Sparkle, and you can come and be befuddled with us for a while,” Bucky said, inviting Twilight to sit down and stay awhile.

“Fluttershy has a foal… a strange little blue earth pony foal that is the meanest thing you will ever see in your whole life,” Twilight Sparkle said as she sat down.

“Oh dear.” Celestia drew in a deep breath, held it, and then let it out a little at a time. She inhaled again, held it a little longer, her lips moving as though she was counting or perhaps repeating something to herself, and then she exhaled.

“Fluttershy turned the immortal essence of the Nightmare into a mortal foal so she could make it feel loved,” Bucky said to Twilight in a low voice.

“It’s mortal?” Twilight raised her eyebrow as she began to add cream and sugar to her coffee. She added a few cubes, shrugged, and then tossed in several more.

“I think it might be. I don’t know. Fluttershy bound it with my mortal life force. I don’t know what happened. I’ve learned to just go with things, it’s easier that way. If you question these weird events that keep happening, you’ll just go mad.” Bucky gave Cadance a little squeeze and tried to calm her.

“Cadance looks upset.” When Twilight spoke, Cadance glanced at her and then resumed her death stare at her aunt. Twilight felt uncomfortable with the way Cadance was staring.

“I did almost make a terrible mistake with her father. She has a right to be a little testy.” Celestia glanced at Cadance over the edge of her coffee cup and then took a sip. Averting her eyes from the angry embodiment of love, Celestia’s traveled to Twilight and she thought of Dusk Chaser. “Tell me Twilight, do you still believe me perfect?”

Twilight Sparkle almost dropped her coffee cup and she began to splutter as Bucky began to chuckle. She recovered herself, evapourated the spilled coffee away off of the table, and then turned to address her former teacher with one raised eyebrow. “I still have my moments where I believe you are perfect.” Twilight Sparkle chose her next words with great care. “I had moments where I foolishly judged you. I was rash and irrational. I would find out later how foolish I was. I have since come to the opinion that you are capable of mistakes, but in general, your judgment is sound and I trust your many long years of experience.”

Setting down her coffee cup, Celestia nodded. “I almost made a terrible mistake just a little while ago. I almost took away Cadance’s guardian and could have removed our greatest protector because I did not take all of our assets into account. I am not feeling very wise or perfect right now and the thousands of years of being set in my ways may have been working against me.”

Averting her gaze away from her mentor’s stare, Twilight Sparkle stared down at the sugarbowl upon the table. It was brown and cream coloured, made of crockery, and there was a chip in the lid. It was not the sort of sugarbowl that would be seen amongst royalty, yet here it was, surrounded by royals. For a moment, Twilight felt envious of the sugarbowl. It was common, plain, and had a very, very simple life.

“I cannot stand doubting myself,” Celestia confessed. “But there are moments when I do. I am supposed to be this thousands of year old benefactor of the equine species. I am supposed to have the wisdom of centuries. Ponies see me as being flawless and perfect in every way. But I do make mistakes, just like any other pony. Sometimes, I make terrible mistakes and many suffer because of them. It never gets any easier for me. I have the hindsight of centuries and I can look back at one event or another that happened six hundred years ago and say to myself ‘everything that is happening now is happening because I did this right here’ and there is nothing I can do to comfort myself and I continuously berate myself because of my mistakes. I can feel a level of regret that goes beyond any sense of mortal comprehension. I can be slapped in my face for a mistake I made a thousand years ago and plagued by my mishaps. I cannot help but feel that I almost made a terrible mistake today, something that would have repercussions centuries from now…”

“That’s heavy,” Twilight said, still staring at the sugarbowl.

“Looking back, I could have prevented Luna’s fall. The Elements of Harmony were right to abandon me and vanish for a thousand years. Luna was not the only one injured by their loss… I had just defeated my sister and I was raising the weakened, almost dead sun when I felt the Elements rip themselves free of my spirit. It was agonising. I was already so weakened. For a time, I thought I would die. Scorch came to me at that point in my life… we talked. He said that he told me that he had warned me so many times about my hubris… about how convinced I was of my own greatness… he asked me if it was worth losing my sister… and then he was gone, disgusted with the whole mess, and rightfully so. He had warned me over, and over, and over… it was always gentle nudges and reminders. I failed to listen. I wish I had listened. I was blind to my sister’s suffering. I do make mistakes… and my blindness set off a thousand years of decline. Corruption set in, both in the cosmos and here in Equestria. I was left so weakened from that battle, from having the Elements of Harmony that I was bonded to ripped away from me. Magic began to sour, began to falter. I worried for the longest time that I had not stopped the end of the world as we know it, but had instead merely slowed down its arrival. My mistake caused an uncountable number of lives to suffer. With my power greatly diminished and what little power I had left was spent trying to uphold the cosmos all on my own, the world went into a state of decline. Slavery returned to places it had been banished from. War and conflict spread. The griffons found their strength again after almost being exterminated by Sombra. Equestria grew weaker and weaker. So many died… there were so many deaths. And I could not help them. I was locked away in Canterlot, trying to hold up the heavens, trying to keep the world alive, trying to keep the sun, the moon, and our own planet alive in the careful chaotic dance that we must endure. Granum became a more barbaric place. And I could do next to nothing. And all of this because of my pride… because I failed to pay attention to my sister’s pleas for help… my mistakes almost ended everything. I do not make mistakes like normal ponies do… I make mistakes that could put an end to everything we know.”

“Celestia, I…” Twilight sat there with her mouth hanging open.

“Had I taken Bucky to Tartarus, I cannot help but wonder if a thousand years from now, would I be looking at the smoking ruins of our planet and feeling regret for a mistake I made that ended everything we know. Forgive me, I must leave you. I want to spend time with Luna… I need to be with my sister for a while… I am not feeling very well,” Celestia said, excusing herself as she rose from the table.

Cadance’s expression softened as she looked up at her aunt and waved goodbye.





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