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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DO YOU KNOW WHAT YOU HAVE DONE? DO YOU KNOW THE HARM THAT YOU HAVE CAUSED? DO YOU UNDERSTAND THE MADNESS THAT YOU HAVE UNLEASHED?

Princess Luna unleashed her bellicose fury upon the foals, sparing nothing of her anger. She hovered in the air, her wings unmoving, her eyes glowing with brilliant whiteness. She watched the gathered foals cower and begin to whimper.

BUCKMINSTER LOST HIS MIND! HE WAS BESIDE HIMSELF WITH GRIEF THAT HIS OWN SON HAD DONE SOMETHING SO FOOLISH! HE DEMANDED THAT WE GIVE YOU A CHANCE TO CORRECT YOUR MISTAKE! HE SEIZED ME AS A HOSTAGE TO THE GRIFFON EMPIRE TO PREVENT ANY AND ALL FROM GOING AFTER YOU, INSISTING THAT IF GIVEN THE CHANCE, YOU WOULD COME TO YOUR SENSES, TURN AROUND, AND COME HOME!

Luna sucked in a deep breath before she continued:

YOU BROKE YOUR FATHER’S HEART! HE WAS SO CERTAIN THAT YOU WOULD DO THE RIGHT THING! HE WAS MAD AND BESIDE HIMSELF WITH GRIEF! WHEN HE REALISED THAT YOU WEREN’T COMING BACK, HIS SHAME WAS SUCH THAT ALL HE COULD DO WAS CLING TO MY NECK AND BAWL LIKE A FOAL… A FOAL!

Hearing Luna’s words, Sentinel curled up into the fetal position and wanted to die. Her words caused physical pain, and for reasons other than the sheer volume from which they were spoken. Sentinel squeezed his eyes shut, swallowed, but no matter how hard he tried, he could not hold back his tears.

DO YOU KNOW WHAT IT IS LIKE TO SEE, TO FEEL, AND TO HEAR A PONY LIKE YOUR FATHER CRY? AFTER ALL HE HAS ENDURED, WHICH IS MUCH, HE HAS SUFFERED FAR MORE THAN ANY MORTAL EVER SHOULD, IT WAS HIS OWN SON THAT HAS CAUSED HIM THE TORMENT THAT HE COULD NOT ENDURE! HE CLUNG TO MY NECK AND BEGGED ME TO KILL HIM BECAUSE HE COULD NOT ENDURE THE PAIN WITHIN HIS HEART! THE VERY IDEA THAT YOU OF ALL PONIES, YOU BETRAYED HIS TRUST! YOU CAUSED HIM A PAIN THAT HE COULD NOT BEAR, YOU PUSHED HIM BEYOND A LIMIT THAT HE COULD NOT ENDURE, YOU… YOU WRETCHED LITTLE MONSTER, YOU HAVE DONE WHAT HIS COUNTLESS ENEMIES COULD NOT! YOU BROKE HIM!

Princess Luna’s words broke upon Sentinel’s body like a cat o’ nine tails, causing the colt to spasm with each verbal lash, with each sentence she caused a wail of anguish to escape his lips.

I MIGHT NEVER FORGIVE YOU FOR WHAT YOU HAVE DONE! THE HARM YOU HAVE BROUGHT UPON MY MOST DEVOTED SERVANT! MY FRIEND! MY BOON COMPANION! THE PONY WHO HAS SUFFERED SO MUCH TO BE MY FRIEND, EVEN WHEN I WAS AT MY MOST UNLIKEABLE! YOUR FATHER IS ONE OF THE MOST ENDURING PONIES I KNOW! HIS STEADFASTNESS IS SOMETHING I TREASURE MORE THAN ANY AMOUNT OF GOLD OR SHINY BAUBLES I COULD POSSESS! YOUR FATHER’S ENDURING SPIRIT IS SOMETHING I HAVE LONG DEPENDED UPON, IT IS HOW I KEEP MY EMPIRE SECURE! I HAD THOUGHT HIM UNBREAKABLE! YET YOU DID SOMETHING THAT NONE OF HIS ENEMIES HAD ACCOMPLISHED! HE WAS SO FRAGILE! SO HURT! YOU HAVE LEFT A WOUND UPON HIS SOUL THAT I FEAR MAY NEVER HEAL! HE WANTED TO KNOW WHY YOU WOULD DO SUCH A FOOLISH THING… HE BEGGED ME OVER AND OVER TO GIVE HIM SOME REASON… AND ALAS, I COULD GIVE HIM NO ANSWER THAT WOULD CONSOLE HIM, BRING HIM COMFORT, OR STAUNCH THE FLOW OF HIS MANY TEARS!

Sobbing, Sentinel covered his face with his forelegs and his wings, then curled up even tighter into a pitiful, mewling fetal ball. He lay upon the wooden deck, each breath he drew in was agonising, so powerful were his sobs that they were robbing him of his ability to draw in air. His sides burned as if he had been running for far too long. He felt another pony climb over him, covering his body, and knew by the soft touch that it had to be Diamond Tiara.

Clearing her throat, Luna softened her voice. She landed, her hooves touching down. She looked down at the miserable foals all huddled together, and none of them met her eye save one. Diamond Tiara, shielding Sentinel’s body with her own, looked up at her with a look of grim defiance.

“The earth pony that you know as Amaranth, she managed to console your father where I could not. You were doing what you were meant to do. All of you. Each and every one of you have been drawn together for this moment. All of your fates converged to bring you here. You will finish what you have started, you will go to the top of the world, and you will find what you are looking for in the Tomb of Princess Platinum, or so Amaranth tells me. This is the time of your testing… that this is your fate does not excuse what you have done. Each of you will be punished for your actions, although I fear the consequences may be far worse than any of us might expect.” Princess Luna folded her wings against her sides, taking great care that each feather was tucked into proper place and that her wings were perfect.

Letting out a weary sigh, Princess Luna dropped her cloak of illusion, revealing a large, muscular filly that stood on deck. “Your last companion is with you, this fellowship of fools is complete. Moonbow was in her time of blindness, the time which she trains to live without her eyes… Amaranth insisted that she be here with you, she has a role to play in all of this. You will be outfitted, given supplies, and you will continue your trek north.”

Moonbow, scowling, strode forwards past Luna, her face contorted into an angry glare. She did not look happy to see Sentinel, far from it, she marched up to the edge of the group of foals and gave him a withering stare that Sentinel did not even see because he had his face covered.

“You have hurt Mistress—”

“Don’t you even start,” Diamond Tiara said in a low voice, looking Moonbow in the eye. Diamond Tiara shook her head. “He’s suffered enough… he’s been punished enough. Pick your actions wisely and figure out where your loyalties lie.”

Moonbow stood as still as a statue, her lips curled back away from her jagged teeth. She stared at the pink filly, her eyes almost unblinking. Her sides heaved, her breathing heavy. Her short shocking blue mane whipped in the breeze.

After a long moment, she looked back at Princess Luna, giving her Mistress a sidelong glance, and then turned her head to look at Diamond Tiara. She saw a black griffoness now standing over Sentinel, rubbing one of her ear holes with her curled up talons.

She stepped around the others, moving to Sentinel’s side, brushing up against Dinky and Sweetie Belle. She reached Sentinel, gave Diamond Tiara a gentle shove to move her away, heard a soft cawing from the griffoness, and then, using her wings, she pulled Sentinel’s limbs and his wings away from his face. She looked down at his face, saw him looking up at her, and then lowered her head until she was nose to nose with him.

“You’re an idiot.” Moonbow blinked and allowed her snoot to bump up against Sentinel’s. “I now worry about our future foals. Will they be as soft headed as you are?”

Moonbow’s tongue slithered out of her mouth and she gave Sentinel a lick. Then, looking sad, she began to back away, shaking her head, and looking at her Mistress, to whom she gave a nod.

“Princess Twilight Sparkle, I do believe that is your cue,” Luna said as she took a step back and made a gesture with her wing. “Do what must be done, as you are the emissary of those who have been wronged.

“Do you know what you have done?” Twilight snapped as she stalked forwards towards Scootaloo. “Your mother, the mare that took you in, Rainbow Dash is in the hospital! The stress and the fear were so much that she started having complications! If she loses her foal because of this, I will never forgive you!”

Twilight’s wing slashed through the air and caught Scootaloo on the cheek. The orange pegasus filly squealed in pain and shock, not just from the blow, but from the words that Twilight had spoken.

Twilight’s wing lashed out once more as Scootaloo tried to scramble away, and this time, the tips whip-cracked over Scootaloo’s backside, causing the filly to yelp in pain. Scootaloo and her companions all tried to get clear, to run away, but found that their hooves were rooted to the deck.

Snarling, Twilight descended upon all of them, using both of her wings, landing stinging blows upon every foal gathered. She shouted something incomprehensible about Applejack as she connected just below Apple Bloom’s cutie mark. She hissed something about Rarity and Coco as her primaries connected just above Sweetie Belle’s dock, causing the white filly’s eyes to bulge with pain. Twilight moved among them without mercy and no foal was spared. She stood in the middle of them all, a storm of fury, rage, and feathers. Bits of purple down fluttered in the breeze, there were howls of pain, but none could escape the punishment due. Diamond Tiara got a wing slap that landed like a thunderclap upon her backside, causing her to sing out in pain, a wavering cry that made her blue eyes flood with tears.

In the middle of them all, Twilight Sparkle was sobbing, crying from her own self inflicted pain, and babbling in an incoherent manner about all the ponies that had been hurt by this, most of all Rainbow Dash.

At the end of it all, Twilight released the foals from the spell that held them in place and she collapsed among them. Using her telekinesis, she drew all of them to her, pressing them to her sides, trying to hug each and every one of them to her as she sobbed, her head coming to rest upon one very sorry, sobbing, sniffling Scootaloo.

Not one foal tried to flee, or run away, but each remained against Twilight’s side, pressed up against her. Twilight scrambled to try and hold them all, wrapping her wings around them, her forelegs, trying to comfort them, trying most of all to comfort herself, trying to somehow let each and every one of them know that they were still loved.

“I’m so scared for all of you,” Twilight Sparkle said, her voice hitching. She tried to say more, but she was overcome with wracking sobs. She looked up at Princess Luna and saw fear in Luna’s eyes. Unable to keep looking, finding the fear she saw unbearable, Twilight Sparkle closed her eyes and buried her face into Scootaloo’s back.

 

 

“Come here, and let me have a look at you,” Moonbow said to Boadicea. “My name is Moonbow… I have heard much about you, Boadicea” The lunar pegasus filly peered at the black griffoness, looking her over.

Almost appearing shy, Boadicea approached Moonbow and the two began to size each other up. Where Moonbow was stocky, Boadicea was lithe. Where Moonbow was bulging with heavy, solid muscle, Boadicea was slender and graceful. Moonbow’s legs were bigger around in size than Boadicea’s neck.

A short distance away, Sentinel sat, being comforted by Diamond Tiara, and watching as the two females looked each other over. Moonbow glanced at him for a moment, watching Diamond’s tender ministrations, her soft, gentle touch, and then looked back at Boadicea.

“He talks about you a lot.” Boadicea made a bold move and looked Moonbow directly in the eye. “He holds himself to a very high standard so that you will be proud of him.”

“I am,” Moonbow replied.

“And what about this mess?” Boadicea tilted her head and peered at Moonbow.

Moonbow scanned the deck, looking for Mistress, who was in the prow of the ship with Twilight, trying to comfort the upset mare. After staring for a moment, Moonbow made a calculated risk, then lowered her voice to a whisper. “I’m proud of him. What he did took courage. Now, I’ll be even more proud of him if he owns up to his mistake and takes the punishment due like a stallion.”

Boadicea, pleased by what she heard, nodded.

“You have to be pretty involved with him to follow him into this much trouble,” Moonbow said to Boadicea in a low whisper.

“I am.” Boadicea bowed her head. “Diamond Tiara too. She is my very best friend.”

“You don’t seem stupid… I take it that you know full well what will be expected of you if you join us.” Moonbow’s words were hard, flinty, but also inviting, in their own way. “This will not be an easy life. Sentinel has much to inherit, and there can be no doubt, he is going to spend the rest of his life being reminded of this steaming pile of manticore shite and being made to make up for it.”

“I’ve made my own mistakes… he has helped me to make up for them.” Boadicea fluffed out, sat down, and then cocked her head to look at Sentinel as well as Diamond Tiara.

“Everypony in this herd needs their head examined.” Moonbow shook her head. “Sentinel lives for others. Diamond Tiara lives for Sentinel. I live in the service of my Mistress. What about you, where do your loyalties lie?”

Boadicea did not answer right away, but gave thought to her life. A gust of wind struck her, ruffling her feathers, and biting through her thick, fuzzy hide. Her tail twitched, lashing from side to side, and her talons tapped upon the deck.

At last, Boadicea felt as though she had something to say. “I suppose that I live to learn my place. In time, I would like to serve my fellow griffons. I want to be more than a friend to Diamond Tiara and Sentinel. I also suppose that there is some part of me that wishes to serve Equestria as well… which surprises me, given all that has happened. I would like to be a good ruler… like Queen Belisama, who is loved and adored by her subjects and feared by her enemies, and who is the Destroyer of Vermin… or Princess Celestia, who is as gentle as she is kind. I do not know if I have it in me to be as gentle and good as Sun Mother, but something about her makes me want to be a better griffoness.”

“All of that sounds admirable,” Moonbow replied.

 

 

The Scorned Mare hovered over the train station that was just outside the Crystal empire and was tethered to a series of makeshift poles that had been erected just for this task. Princess Luna was now in command of the ship and was confined to the ship itself as she was not allowed into the Crystal Empire proper. Myrmidons swarmed the train station below, watchful for monsters that might come wandering in from the frozen wastes. Golems of all shapes and sizes patrolled the perimeter of the train station.

A sleek looking narrow sled was being prepared, it was already loaded down with supplies, boxes, crates, and blankets. What little bit of space that was left over was being turned into a padded nest that was somewhat protected from the elements.

While it was springtime elsewhere, it was always winter in the frozen north.

In the middle of it all stood Shining Armor, Emperor of the Crystal Empire and Guardian of the Northern Reaches. He watched, silent, saying nothing, his projection had a grim expression that showed no other emotion.

Standing in the crowd, he looked up at Princess Luna and saw her looking back down at him. He gave her a nod and saw her give a nod in return, a sad exchange, neither of them knowing how this would end.

Turning, Shining Armor looked north, as if trying to spot his most hated enemy. Sombra was out there, somewhere, most likely in the fabled Tomb of Princess Platinum, the sanctuary that Sombra had constructed so he could lay her body to rest. Nopony had ever been able to reach it, or so the story went, other than Star Swirl and Sombra. Shining Armor had no idea how a fellowship of foals would survive the frozen wastes and reach the tomb.

He had been forbidden to help them. They were on their own. Shining Armor hated the whole situation. He could follow them, he could survive the cold, he could shield them, he could keep them safe from harm—but he wasn’t allowed to do so.

Scowling, Shining Armor stared northwards, hating his sworn enemy and his nemesis.

 

 

 

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