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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In the west, the sun was beginning to dip down near the tree line. Several figures were gathered around three stone statues. There was Bucky, wearing his cloak, his hood pulled over his head, hunched under the voluminous black garment and trying to hide from the sun as much as possible. Beside him stood Sunset Shimmer, not wearing her armor, but wearing her black cloak. Her face was grim. Sparkler stood nearby, a black cloak draped over her back, her hood down, her eyes gleamed with anticipation and nervousness. Standing next to her was Scorch, who was in the form of a minotaur. He stood with one hand upon Sparkler’s neck, stroking her. Several members of the Solar Guard also stood with the group, each of them looking solemn, and perhaps even a little afraid.

“Bucky… I don’t know if I can do this,” Sunset said in a low voice.

“Sunset, you don’t have to do this. Celestia said that you could wait until you felt more comfortable. We can hang this up and forget about it,” Bucky replied.

Chewing on her lip, Sunset thought about what to do. She had obligations now. Duties. Perhaps this wouldn’t be as bad as she thought. Or maybe it would be worse. The breeze picked up, carrying with it the sweet smells of spring, and it blew Sunset Shimmer’s mane away from her face for a moment, revealing wrinkled, troubled brows.

“Sunset, you were given a gift by Princess Celestia. The gift is merely a resource. It doesn’t mean that you have to use it if it makes you feel uncomfortable.” The fire elemental shifted form, becoming a tall unicorn stallion with a flaming, flickering mane and tail.

“A message needs to be sent,” Sunset Shimmer whispered, her voice low. “What happened was… horrible. Not just to me and Bucky… but attacking our family… attacking Canterlot. I want somepony to answer for what was done!”

“Very well, Minion, then we shall do this. We can start small, with these three.” Bucky coughed, a wet, soupy sound, hacked, and then stood there wheezing lightly from beneath his hood. “Now where is Twilight?”

Almost as if saying her name had summoned her, Twilight came careening in over the treetops, her wings flapping, and the alicorn circled once before landing. She stood, winded, looking at the gathered group, and then yanked a black cloak out of her saddlebags. She tossed it over herself and it settled into place, covering her. She pulled up her hood and stomped over to where Sunset Shimmer was standing.

“My apologies… I came back from Canterlot and a group of foals demanded my attention at the library. I didn’t mean to be late,” Twilight said, apologising. She glanced at Bucky, a look of worry flashing over her face as she heard him coughing, and then she took a deep breath. “This court of Black Cloaks is called to order. Empyrean Paladin Sunset Shimmer, you are duly recognised as the formal authority here. Your word is law.”

Unable to reply, Sunset nodded.

“Sparkler, would you please release these three unicorns from their stone prisons?” Twilight asked.

Nodding, Sparkler stepped forwards and her horn began to glow.

 

 

Sunset Shimmer looked at the ponies cowering before her. Two stallions, one mare. They had come out of petrification and Bucky had wasted no time, scaring them to within an inch of their deaths. Sunset Shimmer wanted to be angry with them, she wanted to hate them, but found herself pitying them instead.

“Each of you has performed necromancy. Your names will be scrubbed from existence. No one will remember you. Your own mothers will not remember birthing you. Every trace of your existence in this world will be scrubbed,” Twilight Sparkle said in a solemn voice.

“You there, nameless one, look at me,” Sunset Shimmer said as she approached the first stallion. She saw him looking up at her, his whole body spasming from paroxysms of fear. “You have committed heresy. You have violated the natural order. You conspired against the ruling heads of Equestria. Your crimes are many and your time grows ever shorter. Do you have anything to say for yourself?”

“Answer her, or I will summon the blue death!” Bucky barked, his voice raspy and popping.

The mare shrieked and pissed herself, the stallion covered his face with his forelegs, and the pony that Sunset was addressing shat himself. Bucky saw Twilight glare at him. He didn’t care. These ponies had threatened his family, and it felt good to scare them.

“I would like to beg for mercy,” the stallion said, crawling forward on his belly. “This wasn’t worth it. It was wrong… I was wrong. I let myself be swayed by promises of power and pretty words.”

Sunset Shimmer took a deep breath. Princess Celestia’s new spell danced in her memory. The Purging Flame. Celestia had promised her that if there was anything left to save in a pony, this spell would find it, but Celestia had not said what it was that the spell did.

“For your crimes, you will face punishment.” Sunset’s horn blazed with white fire.

The stallion before Sunset Shimmer burst into flames and began burning. The other two, seeing this, began screaming, yelling, and trying to crawl away. They didn’t get very far. Magenta coloured magic grabbed them and pulled them back, dragging them over the new green grass.

Sparkler, watching the flickering flames as they consumed the stallion, moved over closer to Bucky and pressed up against his side. The fire’s brilliant light was reflected in her teary eyes. Try as she might, Sparkler could not look away.

Sunset Shimmer stood numb, unable to believe that she had just set a pony on fire. She watched, transfixed by the flames, her eyes wide and unblinking. As she stood there, she noticed that the burning pony was not screaming. Her head tilted off to one side and she decided to trust in Celestia’s wisdom. It was now clear that Celestia had created something special.

With a poof, the flames vanished. The grass was unburned. And where the stallion had lain in the grass, there was now a yearling colt, a pegasus. He was small, yellow, blue maned, had no cutie mark, and stood there, his eyes wide, looking very, very confused.

“What happened?” the colt asked in a fearful, squeaky voice.

Sunset Shimmer stepped forwards. “Do you have any memory of what has just taken place?”

The colt shook his head. “I remember being warm. There was… there was a white pony and she was kind to me. She said that she forgave me… and that is all I remember. Then I was here. The white pony was like her.” The colt pointed at Twilight Sparkle with his hoof.

Twilight glanced at Sunset Shimmer and Sunset stared down at the colt, trying to figure out what to do next. The Purging Flame had found something worth saving, or so it seemed, and for this, Sunset was thankful.

“Guard, please, take this colt into house. Ask one of the mares to look after him. See that he is fed and treated kindly. Our kindness now will determine our futures later, I do believe,” Sunset said.

“Bucky can’t keep any more foals,” Twilight said in a low voice.

“Who said?” Bucky hissed in reply.

“You would take him in?” Twilight asked.

“Why wouldn’t I?” Bucky’s hooded head turned in Twilight’s direction, but his eyes were not visible. It seemed that Bucky’s burning stare worked through the fabric and he watched as Twilight squirmed.

“But… after everything… nevermind, knowing you, you would.” Twilight heaved a sigh and turned her attention down to the pegasus colt. Whatever spell that Celestia had given Sunset Shimmer was an amazing one. She looked at the other two ponies, both of whom were wide eyed, and the mare looked hopeful.

“When this is all said and done, I personally will take them to meet with Fancy Pants and Fleur.” Sunset nodded at the guard, and the pegasus wearing golden armor raised a wing in salute.

Nosing the colt, the guard herded the colt along, taking him to the farmhouse.

 

 

“Do you have any final words to say?” Sunset Shimmer asked of the mare cowering in front of her. Sunset Shimmer drew in a calming breath. The Purging Flame gave ponies a new chance at life, a second chance. It made everything she was about to do a whole lot easier. The mare even looked hopeful.

“I have hope in your mercy. I accept whatever fate awaits me,” the mare replied.

Sunset Shimmer nodded her head as white flames danced along the length of her horn. She smiled, feeling much better about all of this. This wasn’t as bad as she thought it would be. She ignored the screams of the stallion and focused on the mare as she burned. No screams. She listened, trying to hear over the screaming stallion and the roaring flames that did not burn the grass for whatever odd reason.

Ears perked, Sunset Shimmer heard a faint voice say, “I’m sorry.”

Not long after, the flames died. Where the unicorn mare had been, there was now an earth pony filly. She was small, light orange coloured, and had a dark pink mane and tail. Like the colt, she had no cutie mark. She blinked, looking confused.

“Where did the white pony go? She was nice… she hugged me and she kissed me and she said I would meet some nice ponies.”

Sunset Shimmer lowered her head. “We’re the nice ponies. Hello.” Sunset Shimmer glanced at the third stallion and saw that he had been gagged with magenta magic. She glanced at the guard. “See that she is taken to the house and looked after.”

“She’s kinda cute,” Bucky said as the filly was led away by the guard.

“Master, be silent,” Sunset Shimmer whispered. “You there.” She looked at the final prisoner. “Come forward.”

When the stallion refused to move, Twilight dragged him forwards. Sunset looked towards the house, checking to see if the filly was safe inside. She waited while the stallion kicked and struggled.

When the filly was gone, Sunset looked down at the stallion. “Do you have any final words to say?” Sunset readied her spell. She watched as the gag over the stallion’s mouth vanished.

The stallion said nothing, but spat in Sunset’s direction. Sunset heard a low growl coming from Bucky. She did not feel anger, but pity. This one was defiant. Celestia would sort him out. A strong breeze gusted, causing the grass to ripple, and Sunset’s black cloak fluttered along her back. White flames crept up along the length of her horn.

The stallion ignited, and right away, he began screaming. He howled as he burned. Reacting at once, Twilight surrounded the area with a soundproofed bubble. Sunset Shimmer knew something was amiss. Something had gone wrong. The flames devoured his flesh, consuming him, and he kicked and writhed. Horrified, Sunset Shimmer backed away as the stallion burned, trying to figure out what had gone wrong.

“She didn’t save him,” Sunset said to Bucky, her voice almost foalish.

Bucky, his face unseen within his hood, shook his head. “Not everypony can be saved.”

 

 

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