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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Unbeknownst to Sentinel, there were stowaways on The Scorned Mare, visitors that had arrived, and now stood, unseen, undetected, and in every way unnoticed. Not even Piña, who might have been the most observant pony on board, could notice them.

One was a zebra and she had a brown hoof, the other was a unicorn.

The pair watched as various interactions unfolded and took place between the companions, looking at one another, their faces sad, but also hard and determined. The zebra began to focus on Sentinel, while the unicorn looked upon Apple Bloom.

Both of them saw very different things than what other ponies might see. The unicorn, looking at Apple Bloom, did not see an earth pony filly, but saw an alicorn filly. The zebra, looking at Sentinel, also saw Sentinel as something else. His image shifted, going from a lunar pegasus to a lunar alicorn. Not the hideous, twisted image as promised by Sombra’s horn, but instead the noble, regal form that could be offered by the potential for ascension.

Sentinel, changing, ever shifting, almost as if his fate could not make up his mind.

“He is too much like his father,” the zebra said in an irritated voice, “he will resist his future and attempt to run from it. He may yet be successful.”

“I do not believe so,” the unicorn replied, shaking her head, “unlike his father, we will catch him and he will take up the mantle that he is due. We can run him down.”

“I find that unlikely.” The zebra shook her head. “The potential Alicorn of the Hunt will remain elusive. Should the Hunter become the hunted, we will be forced to chase him down. He has learned and absorbed too much from his father. If we wish to harness his divine spark as a provider, we will have to work for it.”

“Too much metaphor, dear sister, like too much mustard, upsets the digestion.” The unicorn turned her head to look at the zebra. “This trip will change them, bring them the bonding they need, it will bring them together.”

“I wish Clotho was here to witness this,” the zebra said.

“Dearest Clotho is upset with us, she is wounded, she needs time to recover her spirit.” The unicorn sat down and scowled. “I don’t understand why she is upset. We only do what is necessary.”

“The coming death will change them, it will leave scars upon their spirits. Alas, it is necessary. They must be made to see.” The zebra paused, also took a seat, and then let out a weary sigh. “I think I understand what upsets our dearest Clotho so.”

“Well, I don’t. Death is necessary, just as much as living, breathing, violence or sex.”

“Easy for you to say, Morta, for you and Thanatos both. You cut the string and Thanatos goes to do your bidding. Do you even feel it any more when you cut it? Does it even hurt you as it once did? Do you feel the dread and hesitate as you once did long ago?”

The unicorn, who bristled with anger for a moment, let out her frustration and her temper with an extended huff, glaring at her companion as she did so. After a long moment, she turned away. “I must confess, dearest sister, I have gone numb. I have not felt the cutting of a string for a long time. It has become like anything else, just something I do, just another task, I do what is necessary.”

“I pity you, Atropos, and myself as well… we’re dead inside… Clotho, on the other hoof, it seems that she still has feelings, a conscience, and still struggles with the pains of her existence. I do believe that Father’s punishment has ruined us, hollowed us out… made us empty. Do you remember the passion we once had? The feeling that we were doing what was right? The fires that once burned within us as we battled Him?”

The unicorn let out a weary sigh. “No…”

“Me neither,” the zebra replied, shaking her head, “but I bet that Clotho does.”

“Sister, we are damned…”

 

 

“We’re getting closer to the Crystal Empire,” Scootaloo reported with a smile, “we’re still heading due north. So… what do we do when we reach the Crystal Empire, just keep going north until we reach wherever it is that we’re going?”

Sentinel nodded.

“That might be trickier than we think,” Scootaloo said to Sentinel, her frown turning upside down. “If we fly to the top of the world, we can’t put the ship down, the wind will rip apart. At the top of the world, a storm rages, the storm of ages, I don’t know what it is, but I’ve heard some ghost stories.”

“Sombra made the storm, giving it his fury, and it is supposed to be protecting something.” Sentinel blinked once. “If the stories are true, seems like a good place to go into hiding. I don’t know what to do, Scootaloo. We might have to abandon the ship somewhere near the Crystal Empire, take what supplies we can, send the ship home with the automated pilot, and then continue north on hoof.”

“Oh.” Scootaloo slumped, deflating, looking quite defeated by Sentinel’s words. She began to tap one front hoof on the wooden deck, and the expression on her face showed her emotional turmoil as she began to realise the enormity of the task ahead. Even in the face of crushing reality, the little pegasus filly was undaunted; after a moment, she recovered, and her cheerful smile returned. “We’ll get through this. We Crusaders have found ourselves in all kinds of trouble, this is no different, only now we have more friends for more help. This’ll be easy.”

Sentinel, hearing Scootaloo’s words, was not reassured. No part of this trip would be easy, going north on hoof and surviving the storm would be an almost impossible task, yet it had to be done. His gaze moved from Scootaloo over to Diamond Tiara and Boadicea, who were huddled together in the prow of the ship, and Boadicea was using her fuzzy, feathery body to help protect Diamond Tiara from the cutting cold.

With a heavy feeling of realisation, Sentinel understood just how much he loved them both. He loved them in the same way that his father loved his mothers. They completed him, made him better, filled in all the empty places, made up for what he lacked, he was a better pony with them than without them. If he was to have any sort of future at all, he needed them.

Not just them. Sentinel looked at Scootaloo with a growing sense of understanding. He needed her too, but not just her, he needed Apple Bloom and Sweetie Belle; there was something about them all, some sense that they all belonged together. Even Rumble, although the pegasus colt was now far away, he was a part of this as well, or would be. This went beyond any single one of them, they were all part of something larger, individual pieces of a much larger, and much more satisfying whole.

The Elements of Harmony had changed the world, but they too were part of a much larger whole, a network of friends, lovers, companions, ponies that had been touched by harmony, ponies connected by a common thread. Not just ponies, either, there was even a draconequus whose very nature had been changed after being touched.

Who would fill their shoes? Who would continue their work? Sentinel began to understand. The Elements of Harmony had shown the way and now it was up to others to heed the call and do what they could. Sentinel looked at Scootaloo and saw that she was staring at the sky; she was flying, she was soaring right now, she was at home amongst the clouds, she was finally getting to live her dreams as a pegasus. She was marching towards certain inevitable doom, but the filly was happy because she was a pegasus among the clouds, living whatever destiny her cutie mark had given her.

He thought of his own cutie mark, a brown trout. A monster fish, a terrible foe, he still bore the scars of his battles with one. He had caught and eaten several. They were a foe that should have been beyond the capabilities of a colt his age, but he had battled them and won. To the victor goes dinner and a full belly.

“Hey Scootaloo… how would you like to fly?”

 

 

“She’s flying.” Sweetie Belle lifted her hoof up over her eyes to block out the glare. Sentinel had tied a rope around Scootaloo, forming a harness, secured it to the rear rail of The Scorned Mare, and now, Scootaloo was being towed behind the ship, soaring through the air, all by herself with no help from others.

“That’s amazing.” Apple Bloom sat down beside Sweetie Belle and fought the urge to shiver, from the cold or from her many emotions, she could not tell the cause. “That has got to mean so much to her.”

“Yeah,” Sweetie Belle replied, her eyes tearing up. The cause, wind or emotion, was unknown, but the results began to stream down her face. A watery smile spread over her muzzle. “It’s so nice to see her happy.”

 

 

Without warning, The Scorned Mare lurched. Sentinel felt a swell of panic, wondering if it was turbulence, but then noticed that they were descending. Uh oh. He began to tow Scootaloo in, grabbing the rope in his teeth and with his fetlocks.

Dinky appeared beside him, and her horn glowed. With ease, Dinky hauled Scootaloo in, and it became apparent that the orange filly looked scared. Something was up. Scootaloo, when she was pulled over the rail, wrapped her forelegs around Sentinel’s neck and hugged him.

The embrace was short, but sweet, and then the two pulled apart as everypony began to try and figure out what was going on. Dinky’s horn glowed with a fierce purple light as the unicorn filly made herself ready for trouble. Trouble would be met with bees, lots of bees. Sentinel prowled the deck, pacing along the rails, looking down, looking off to the sides, but he could see nothing. There was not a ship in the sky, there was no visible sign of trouble.

Scootaloo hurried off to the navigation cabin to see if she could figure out what was going on. She vanished inside of the gleaming glass cabin, a joyful smile still upon her face. Even the danger could not dampen her mood, she had flown!

“We’re fecked,” Piña announced after assessing the situation. The pink filly, seeing no need to panic, sat down upon the deck and waited. She was going to enjoy this chance to have a good sit down, it might just be the last time she ever planted herself on her pretty pink plot. Piña was convinced; Berry Punch was going to paddle the pink right off.

“You know how they say that just before you die, you can see your life flash before your eyes?” Boadicea said in a loud voice that was easy to hear over the wind.

“Yeah?” Diamond Tiara replied.

“My life has been short, it didn’t take very long and there wasn’t much to see!” Boadicea threw her head back, let out a riotous caw, and then began to laugh in the most insane manner imaginable, revealing to her companions that she had spent far too much time around Bucky.

“She’s gone mad,” Diamond Tiara muttered as she clung to Boadicea. “Why must everything I love be crazy? I’m trying to get better! I was trying to get better!” Diamond Tiara’s voice rose into shriek that could be heard over the wind and then, she too, began laughing, letting out maniacal guffaws as she and Boadicea held on to one another.

Scootaloo emerged from the navigation cabin, approached Sentinel, and shook her head. “I’ve been locked out of the controls. I have no idea how to control the ship. We’re in trouble!”

“Oh bugger,” Sentinel swore, sounding very much like his father. “Prepare yourself for naval traditions to be practiced upon us.”

“What?” Scootaloo’s eyes went wide with confusion. “What what?”

“We’re too young for rum, you don’t even want to know what the second great naval tradition is, so that only leaves the lash. We’re caught,” Sentinel replied.

“Well, we need to escape!” Scootaloo shouted.

“I can’t carry you all!” Sentinel began to pace back and forth, his hackles rising, his nostrils flaring. “It can’t end like this… it just can’t… I don’t know what to do!”

With a sizzle of magic, Shining Armor appeared on deck. He looked stern, but calm, his face held no trace of anger. “End of the line! All of you, on deck, front and center!”

For a moment, Sentinel looked at the rail and considered his chances.

“I wouldn’t,” Shining Armor said, offering a warning.

Sentinel took one step towards the rail and then froze. Something blue and terrible rose up into the air, something blue and filled with terrible fury, something blue and made of nightmares.

THIS ENDS NOW!

The force of Princess Luna’s voice caused the entire ship to shudder. Sentinel backed away from the rail, his tail tucked between his legs, and backed over to where the others had gathered.

Another figure rose up over the rail beside Princess Luna, another alicorn, and she looked every bit as furious. “SCOOTALOO! I AM COMING FOR YOU!”

“AAAAAIEEEE!” Scootaloo squealed. “Pee coming out now!”

The two invisible stowaways, having lived for countless eons, knew a bad scene when they saw one. They shook their heads and then were gone, having fled the scene and left the foals to their well deserved fates.

With a thump, a visibly pregnant Twilight Sparkle landed upon the deck, her hooves striking thunder claps as she touched down. Her lip was curled back, revealing her teeth, and she let out a fierce snarl, the sort of snarl that could only come from an angry mother.

Little sphincters clenched up tight from the sound and everything was made worse by  the fact that Boadicea and Diamond Tiara were still letting out mad howls of laughter, the laughter of the doomed, the damned, and the dying.

“Yep, we’re fecked,” Piña said in a shrill, squeaky voice of terror.

 

 

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