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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The room was cosy and a fire burned in the grate. While the spring was warm, the nights were still chilly. Sunset Shimmer’s quarters now resembled a proper unicorn’s home, it was a fantastic clutter of everything interesting, mixed with things that brought comfort, far too many books, and all manner of arcane devices scattered about.

Sunset Shimmer sat upon a couch by herself. Trixie and Bartleby had gone for a walk, knowing that the meeting taking place was not for their ears. Bucky sat on a large hexagonal pillow covered with stars and constellations, an entire star chart had been embroidered upon it. Princess Celestia reclined upon a sofa that had the odd shape of a spoon, her body resting in the spoony part. Sentinel sat on a cushion by a low table where a few treats had been left out.

“I know it has been a very long day, but I have come to a decision, as has Luna. She cannot be here with us at the moment, as she is taking some much needed family time with Barley and Erebus. Her priorities have changed,” Celestia said in a soft voice.

“You should be with Tourmaline.” Bucky’s words were little more than a soft spoken whisper, but they carried through the room with ease. “Priorities…”

“My priorities have changed, Nephew.” Celestia gave Bucky a hard stare for a moment but then her expression softened. “Tourmaline is with your family and getting a chance to visit. She is happy and content.” The white alicorn drew in a deep breath. “Today, after chastising a group of ponies with awful thinking—”

Bucky took note that Celestia had said ponies with awful thinking, and not awful ponies.

“—I had a moment of reflection. I have reached a decision and I now know what I must do. Sombra must be dealt with sooner, rather than later. He has grown far too dangerous and far reaching—”

“Sentinel is not ready,” Bucky said, interrupting and waving his talons, “there is no way that Sentinel could face Sombra right now!”

Celestia closed her eyes and sighed. “Sentinel will not be facing Sombra. I plan to send Sunset Shimmer in his stead.”

“NO!” Sentinel lept up to his hooves and his lips curled into an inarticulate snarl of rage. He stood growling, unable to speak beyond his initial outburst. He stomped his hooves and writhing tendrils of black shadow crawled along his body.

“Sentinel, I am sorry, but this is a problem that cannot wait. There is not enough time for you to grow older, wiser, and stronger. I know this was promised to you, but there will be other chances for you to prove yourself.” Celestia bowed her head, closed her eyes, and a single tear rolled down her cheek.

“Sunset can’t go alone!” Bucky snapped.

“You cannot go with her, Buckminster. Neither can Twilight, she has… other concerns to look after. Sunset has the raw skill and the magical ability. This will be a good test for her.” Celestia opened her eyes and looked at Bucky.

“There are no words for how much I hate you right now,” Bucky spat and then vanished. He exploded into a shower of snowflakes and left behind a layer of ice on his star chart covered pillow.

“Father has done nothing but serve you faithfully and his reward is that you murder his student…” Sentinel fell silent, shook his head, and then hurried to leave the room.

“Sentinel, wait!” Celestia said, her voice pleading.

But Sentinel didn’t wait. He left, fleeing the room, not even looking back over his shoulder, choking back angry retorts and hurtful words. In mere seconds he was out the door and retreating down the stairs, leaving behind Celestia and Sunset Shimmer to stare at one another.

Bowing her head, Sunset Shimmer nodded. “I will do what needs to be done. I will find a way.” Her nods turned to shakes and she looked Celestia in the eye. “If something does happen to me, he will never forgive you. He will see it as a failure to protect me, which he has sworn some sort of oath to do.”

“He will come around,” Celestia said in a voice that was choked with the need to sob.

“No… he will not.” Sunset Shimmer looked sad. “Forgive me for my contradiction, but I know him better than you do. Sombra will be dealt with, one way or another. I will do what needs to be done.”

“I guess to do the right thing, sometimes sacrifices are necessary.”

“Sometimes, yes.”

 

 

Alone in his room, Sentinel seethed in his usual quiet fashion. He sat at his desk, a pencil held between his thumb and central knuckle, trying to write, but no words would come. One eyelid twitched. Writhing tendrils of black shadow curled and looped around his body.

The pencil snapped from too much pressure.

Ears pinning back against his skull, Sentinel stared at the broken pieces. This wasn’t about proving himself as a prince… or proving worthy as his father’s heir. Sentinel, more than anything, wanted to destroy Sombra’s fell shadow.

Behind him, the door creaked open. He knew who it was from scent alone, there was no need to turn his head. “Now is not a good time, Boadicea.”

“So you say… but I couldn’t help but feel that there is something wrong. A certain colt and I were supposed to go hunting together… and gobble down delicious frogs,” Boadicea replied.

“I’m sorry, but something else came up.” He turned and looked at the griffoness entering his room. “Sorry, I’m just not in the mood for company right now.” Sentinel’s ears splayed outwards in a more apologetic position.

“Yeah, well, stuff what you want. You think I’m gonna leave now that I’ve seen that something is hurting you?” Boadicea pushed the door shut behind her, kicking it in place with her hind paw until the latch clicked. Her black eyes focused upon Sentinel and her crest rose halfway.

“Princess Celestia is sending Sunset Shimmer to deal with Sombra… and not me.” Sentinel slumped down in his seat. “I am being denied the chance to protect my family and avenge the many wrongs done to my father.”

“What?” Boadicea’s eyes went wide. “No… no… this is a matter of honour… she can’t take that from you… the very idea is insulting… how could she? How could she… how could she be so heartless and cruel?” The griffoness sat down upon the floor, stunned, her body almost going limp as her brain processed what Sentinel said. “I thought Sun Mother was a better pony… I don’t understand how she could do this.”

“I don’t either… I do not think that honour matters much to her,” Sentinel grumbled.

“What will you do?” Boadicea asked.

“I don’t know,” Sentinel replied.

“This insult cannot stand… you must do something… you have to do something.” Boadicea flexed her talons. “Whatever you do, I will help you.”

“Thank you.” Sentinel looked at Boadicea and felt something warming in his heart when he gazed into her eyes. “Princess Luna and my father are downstairs talking. I think… I shall go speak with them.”

“Yes, make your feelings known.” Boadicea fluffed out and gave her wings a flap. “How… insulting.” She shivered. “It makes my skin crawl, like I’m covered with bugs.”

“If I did something stupid, would you stick by me?” Sentinel asked.

Boadicea tilted her head to one side, then tilted her head to the other side, never once taking her eyes off of Sentinel. “There are words over the door, ‘don’t do anything stupid.’ Isn’t that like a family motto or something?”

“This is Princess Celestia’s fault… she’s left me with nothing but stupid things to do.” Sentinel scowled and bared his teeth. “She brought this stupidness about.”

“Well, if you do something stupid, I’m right there with you. Lugus might be really unhappy, but he did tell me that if I was considering you as a mate, I am supposed to stand by you, right or wrong. He can’t punish me for following his instructions.” The griffoness blinked. “What are you going to do?”

“I dunno yet… probably something stupid,” Sentinel replied.

 

 

Standing outside the library, Sentinel was very relieved to discover that the library had not been soundproofed. Inside, he could hear three heartbeats and two voices speaking. There was his father, who sounded angry, there was Luna, whose voice was soft and reassuring, and based upon the fussy snuffling sounds, Erebus was in there with his mother.

“If something happens to Sunset Shimmer, I will never, ever forgive your sister.”

“Buckminster… somepony has to try. It can’t be you. Sentinel isn’t ready. Twilight is fat with foal… who else has the magical skill or ability to even stand a chance?”

Sentinel scowled and his teeth clenched together.

“Not my student… send some other fool to their death… send a thousand, I don’t care! Just don’t send her!”

Sentinel cringed, unable to bear the sounds of his father begging.

“You do not mean that.” Luna’s voice was a soft whisper.

“Even if she survives, who knows what this will do to her? How it might scar her? What darkness it might leave upon her soul? How this will hurt her… no… no, I will not allow it.”

“My faithful student,” Luna began, “there is nothing you can do to stop it. At some point, every teacher must send their student into danger. They must be allowed to be tested, so they can grow. They must face risk.”

“No! He’ll shred her soul… you know what he’s capable of!”

“Yes. I do.” Sentinel waited for Luna to continue, his ears straining. He had heard her sucking in a deep breath so he knew that she was about to say something. “I also know what Sunset is capable of. You have trained her well. Her power rivals yours or even Twilight’s, back when Twilight was still a unicorn. You have given her restraint, you have taught her respect, you made her responsible with the immense power that she holds… the kind of power that could save the world, or destroy it. She has shown that she can be trusted with it.”

“No… please… no…”

Hearing his father whimpering was like a physical pain for Sentinel. He felt hot stinging tears in the corners of his eyes.

“Don’t take my student… she’s suffered enough… she’s suffered enough!”

“Buckminster, Sunset Shimmer has Sombra’s horn. My sister, Celestia, gave it to her. It will aid Sunset in finding where Sombra is. The horn has been turned into a soul trap, and with the right magic, Sunset’s magic, the shredded remains of his soul can be drawn in. He can be defeated. The horn will be taken to Tartarus and he will be locked away.”

“If something happens to her, I will never forgive either of you! Get out! Get out of my library! Get out of my house! I want nothing to do with you right now!”

Sentinel blinked back more tears. He heard Erebus crying. After a moment, he heard Luna crying. Luna was crying… Sentinel’s ears perked at the sound. He heard hooves coming towards the library door.

Not knowing what else to do, Sentinel shadow winked to get out of there before he was seen.

 

 

Standing in the grass, Sentinel looked up at the moon, then suffered a paranoid thought that he was being spied upon. He darted into the darkness, avoiding the moonlight. He needed advice. He needed help. He needed the helpful wisdom of somepony as clever and as treacherous as his father was.

Sentinel was not filled with such cunning or treachery. It was not his way. But right now, more than anything else, he knew that he needed it. Inside of his mind, a plan was already forming, but he’d need help.

He glanced around. If he flew, he’d be seen, he was certain of it. Instead, he took off at a swift run, going to the one being that Sentinel knew would help him. There would be no way that he could resist.

 

 

Standing on the stoop, Sentinel saw that there were lights on. He felt a little relieved. It made this easier. He was about to do something stupid, but he didn’t want to be rude. Being rude was unforgivable.

Reaching up his hoof, he knocked upon the door.

A moment later, a tall figure pulled the door open. Sentinel looked up and saw that Discord was looking down. Sentinel, who always tried to be polite, waved.

“Hello,” Sentinel said as he waved.

Discord bent over and leaned down, getting nose to nose with Sentinel. “You smell like trouble. Big trouble.”

“That’s why I am here,” Sentinel said to Discord. “I need your help. You’re the only one I can trust to do what needs done.”

“Come in.” Discord didn’t give Sentinel a chance to disagree. He grabbed the colt, yanked him inside, and then slammed the door.

 

 

“So… let me get this straight… let me try to understand this… you plan to break into Sunset Shimmer’s room, steal Sombra’s horn, then rendezvous with Scootaloo, who you have selected to be your pilot, then you plan to steal your father’s airship, along with Scootaloo, and then you plan to go and reclaim your honour?” Discord squinted at Sentinel with a disbelieving stare.

Sentinel nodded. “More or less.”

“Isn’t there a sign above your front door saying something like ‘don’t do anything stupid’... do you know how stupid this is?” Discord’s incredulous stare intensified.

“And I need you to make a massive distraction that will allow me time to escape.” Sentinel stared into Discord’s eyes almost unblinking. “I plan to leave with the dawn.”

“They’ll stop you… they’ll try to board the ship—”

“Then I shall open fire upon them… politely, if possible, and give them warning shots. The Scorned Mare is a tough nut to crack and she’s fast. I just need a really good distraction to give me a decent chance of escape.” Sentinel cleared his throat. “Please… help me.”

Discord shrugged. “Okay, fine… I’m in. They’re going to have Sparkler turn me into a statue for this… but I understand why you are doing this. Anything for those you love.”

Sentinel gave Discord a grim nod.

“Don’t die… really… don’t die… ugh, I’m not supposed to get involved in stuff like this… look, I’ll give you the distraction you need and I’ll call in a few favours. I’ll try to help in other ways… if something were to happen to you, Bucky would kill me. Trust me, he would… he knows how to do it… he explained it to me in great detail about what he would do if I turned into a bad draconequus and hurt Fluttershy.” Discord paused. “Also, your father is creepy.”

“He is also your friend.” Sentinel took a deep breath and tried to calm himself so he could clear his mind.

“Well, yes… yes he is. And Fluttershy’s friend as well. We’re all a fine collection of chaos creatures… a draconequus pair and a boogeypony. Somepony has to annoy those brooding alicorns and keep them on their hooves. They have no sense of humour.”

“I must be going,” Sentinel said. “The dawn comes ever closer.”

“Allow me.” Discord raised his talons and snapped his fingers.

All around Sentinel, the world turned a funky shade of plaid.

 

 

Sentinel found himself right beside Scootaloo’s bed. She was staring at him, but she hadn’t screamed. Her eyes were bright and curious. She had a book in her hooves, A History of the Wonderbolts.

“Ensign Sentinel, should I salute?” Scootaloo asked.

For a moment, Sentinel really, really wanted to give Scootaloo a hug. And maybe a friendly kiss. She was such a good friend. He almost felt bad for involving her in this. There were going to be dire consequences.

Almost felt bad.

Almost.

Sentinel sucked in a deep breath. “Fledgling Scootaloo… your services are needed. I plan to steal my father’s airship and I need your innate skills as a pilot.”

The orange pegasus filly blinked. “Um, I seem to recall, you have some kind of family saying… what was it… oh, right… ‘don’t do anything stupid’ is what I think it was.”

“I’m stealing an airship so I can go after Sombra’s shadow, kill it, and save my family. I have to protect my father, my mothers, my siblings, and I have to protect Sunset Shimmer, because if something happens to her, my father will hate both Luna and Celestia. And if that happens, the world might end. That kind of hate might undo him, and I know that you know what I mean by that.”

“Yeah… yeah I do.” Scootaloo’s cheeks puffed out. “So… end of the world… we’re going to prevent the end of the world.”

“Maybe,” Sentinel replied.

“Well, that’s all the motivation I need. Raptor Fledgling Table Scraps reporting for duty.” Scootaloo grinned. “So… when are we making our move?”

“By dawn. There are a few things I need to take care of first. Ready to go?” Sentinel gave Scootaloo a hopeful look.

“I’ll meet you at the farm. I have a few things I need to take care of too.” Scootaloo’s smile became devious. “Go do whatever you need to do and then trust me.”

“Thank you,” Sentinel gushed. He lept forward, grabbed Scootaloo, and gave her a squeeze, sandwiching the book between them. “You’re a good friend… they’re going to kill us for this, you know?”

“Oh, Rainbow Dash told me to be loyal… always loyal. She can’t punish me for me doing what I’m told.” Scootaloo squeezed back. “I’ll be at the farmhouse in just a little while.”

“Okay… I’d better go before we get caught,” Sentinel said as he pulled away.

 

 

Standing just outside of Sunset Shimmer’s door, Sentinel pressed his ear to the door and listened. He could hear three heartbeats inside. He paused and sniffed. The air reeked of sex, the scent of mares and the musty scent of spunk. From the sounds of it, they were asleep.

Sentinel dove into shadow, becoming little more than a blob of amorphous darkness, and slipped beneath the crack under the door. He flowed into Sunset Shimmer’s room, a thief born on darkness, and then slipped out of shadow, becoming almost, but not quite solid. Luna’s lessons were paying off.

He paused, sniffing, and then focused his shadow senses, trying to find something in this room that was touched by shadow. In the corner was a large glass orb. There was a long jewel encrusted rod sitting on a stand. There was a silver circlet that radiated strong shadow magic.

Then he felt it, something dark and cold. On the table was a wooden box. He crept through the room, floating in the darkness. Trixie let out a little whinny in her sleep, she was piled in the bed with Bartleby and Sunset.

Sentinel, full of shame, knew that he was going to have to beg for their forgiveness after coming into their home like a common thief and stealing something. When he reached the table, he focused all of his willpower and extended tendrils of shadow from himself. He lifted the lid of the box using umbrakinesis and looked inside.

There it was. Red. Glowing. Sombra’s horn. It pulsated as if it had its own heartbeat or something. He was suddenly overcome with the overwhelming desire to grab the horn and jam it into his forehead. He heard whispers, hissing voices, he could hear promises… promises of strength, promises of power, promises that he would be given what he needed to keep his siblings safe… forever.

Images flashed in his mind, he saw himself, full grown, and he was a lunar alicorn. He was tall, large, powerful, the sort of body he would need to defend the world, to protect everything he loved. And to have it, all he had to do was jam the horn down into his forehead.

So little to ask for so much in return.

Not just shadow magic, but unicorn magic—no, alicorn magic. Just stab it in!

Don’t do anything stupid, a voice inside of Sentinel’s head said. It sounded an awful lot like Berry Punch. Do it, and I will kick your little fuzzy behind into next Tuesday.

Sentinel paused. An angry Berry Punch was a whole lot scarier than Sombra. He shook his head, trying to clear it, trying to shut the different voices out. Berry Punch’s voice was the right one to listen to. Sentinel decided not to do anything stupid. He snatched up the horn in his umbrakinesis, dove back into shadow, taking the horn with him, and then slipped out beneath the door.

 

 

Returning to his room, Sentinel was greeted by his sisters and one griffoness. He froze in the doorway, unable to read his sisters’ expressions. He felt himself grabbed in Dinky’s magic and then the door was shut behind him.

“Discord contacted me,” Dinky said in a low voice. “I know what you are doing and if you think you can get away with it—”

“Dinky, I have to try,” Sentinel said, cutting his sister off.

“Let me finish, you fluffy eared moron,” Dinky’s eyes narrowed and she glared at her brother, “if you think for one minute that I would let you go off alone, you are sorely mistaken. I should swat some sense into you, you dunderheaded doofus.”

“You can’t come with me.” Sentinel gave his angry sister a fearful glance.

“I can’t?” Dinky’s face contorted with hot anger. “I didn’t ask you if I could. I am coming with you and you can’t stop me. You need me.” Dinky lifted her brother up into the air and gave him a good stern shaking.

“Yep, we’re coming with you,” Piña said in a far more cheerful and a lot less angry voice. “Boadicea… do you have that duct tape I asked you to get?”

The black griffoness held out the dark grey roll of duct tape and let out a low squawk. “Sorry Sentinel, Yew Wood told me that sometimes, a mate has to do awful things to their partner… for their own good. Don’t make me do awful things. Cause I’ll do them, and you know that.”

“We need to start preparing the ship,” Dinky said. “I have no idea what to do, but I know it has tethers. We should try to slip those off while it is good and dark.”

“We should be okay for food, I know that the ship stays well stocked just for emergencies,” Piña said.

“We should be going.” Boadicea waved the duct tape in front of Sentinel.

Sentinel felt a growing lump in his throat. “Thank you, all of you.”

 

 

It was going to be dawn in less than two hours. Sentinel wondered where Scootaloo was. He stood on the deck of The Scorned Mare, pacing back and forth, worried out of his mind. He was tired, bone weary, it had been a long day. A good day. A pleasant day. Right up until the moment that Celestia tried to take everything away from him.

“Movement,” Boadicea said as she stood near the rail.

Sentinel peered down, his eyes piercing the darkness. In a moment, he lept over the railing, unfurled his wings, and flew down to the ground. A small group was moving from shadow to shadow. He approached them.

“Sentinel, you shit for brains, I should kick your fuzzy little keister,” Diamond Tiara whispered as Sentinel landed.

“Oh no,” Sentinel moaned.

“Oh yes,” Diamond Tiara hissed. She stomped forwards, breaking away from Apple Bloom, Scootaloo, and Sweetie Belle. She kissed Sentinel on the cheek, her lips lingering, and then, after she pulled away, she slapped him, hard, her hoof striking him in the muzzle.

The colt stood there, confused, blinking, not understanding what was going on.

“Don’t just stand there like an idiot, start flying us up to the ship, you nincompoop.” Diamond Tiara’s voice could cut glass, it was hard, angry, and commanding.

“This has officially become princess business,” Apple Bloom said. “This is a threat to Equestria and I’m taking action.” She pointed up at her head. “See, I brought my crown and everything.”

“All of you are going to be in so much trouble.”

Everypony froze at the sound of the voice. It was quite some distance away.

“Spike, don’t you dare,” Scootaloo said.

“I don’t plan to tell… they’ll have to torture me to get me to talk.” Spike emerged from some bushes near the wall of the school. “All of you be careful with whatever it is that you are about to do.”

“You could come with us,” Sweetie Belle said to Spike. “We could use a noble dragon.”

“Glass Slipper needs me. With Twilight being so busy, Glass Slipper needs me. Otherwise, I would.” Spike cleared his throat. “Scootaloo, you be careful. All of you. I don’t know what is about to happen, and I don’t want to know. The less I know the better.”

“Spike, you’re the best brother a sister could hope for,” Scootaloo said in a low voice.

“I know,” Spike replied in bashful tones.

“We need to be ready,” Scootaloo said to the group. “Discord said that we’d know what to do when it happens. I don’t know what he has planned. He just told me to be ready.”

“Goodbye… Spike… look after Glass Slipper… do what big brothers do. I’m about to look after all my little sisters… if something happens… if something goes wrong, can you look after a few more?” Sentinel looked at Spike and blinked.

Spike, running forward, nodded. He slammed into Sentinel and wrapped his forelegs around Sentinel’s neck, squeezing with all the strength he could muster. “Don’t talk like that!”

“Hush, pipe down, both of y’all.” Apple Bloom’s commanding voice brought silence to the night. “We need to be ready. Spike, tell my sister not to worry. It’s my turn to save the world and now she gets to see what it feels like.”

“Tell mine that too,” Sweetie Belle added.

“Goodbye, all of you, and good luck,” Spike said as he let go of Sentinel.

 

 

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