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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Standing near the rail of The Scorned Mare, Sentinel saw his parents, along with a group of other ponies, as well as a very large griffon, all of whom looked quite angry. He sighed, knowing this was necessary, but he wasn’t certain he could deal with this right now, not after everything that had happened. Diamond Tiara was sick; real sick, unable to keep anything in her stomach and projectile vomiting sick. The stress had worn her down and laid her low. The knowledge of everything that had happened had settled into his mind, leaving him in quite a state. Sentinel had no idea how he felt about anything.

He wasn’t ready to face this. He knew that his parents were going to punish him, but he wasn’t sure that they would understand that he was already being punished. He sighed, his stomach churning, feeling fear for Diamond Tiara’s fragile mental state.

His ears perked. If the fireworks started, Sentinel was going to have to tell them to lay off of Diamond Tiara… and he might have to put his hoof down about the issue. Could he do that? Did he have it in him to stand up to his parents and the others? Did he have what it took to tell them to be quiet and stop doing harm to a pony that he cared about?

He was about to find out. The ship was lowering down, the landing spot was the muddy looking field by the lake. Princess Luna was pacing the deck, her hooves clicking upon the wooden planks. He heard the sounds of Diamond Tiara vomiting into a bucket and closed his eyes. She had insisted on being on deck when they came home, but she was in no condition to be out of bed.

Looking down, he could see Applejack and Rarity. He couldn’t quite make out their expressions. No doubt though, they would be angry. No sign of Rainbow Dash. Sentinel suspected that Rainbow was at home with Glass Slipper, at least, that was his best guess about the matter.

Feeling doubtful, Sentinel wasn’t certain he could do this. If the screaming and shouting started, especially towards Diamond Tiara, he wasn’t certain that he could deal with it very well. He had been emotional and overprotective since everything that had taken place. He feared his own anger, his own temper.

Almost as if she was somehow reading his thoughts, Sentinel heard Princess Luna say to him, “You worry for Diamond Tiara and the coming conflict. I give you my word, I shall shield her from the anger of her guardians. She is unwell. They will be made to understand that she is suffering a great deal and further harm to her would be counterproductive.”

Sentinel closed his eyes, feeling relieved, thankful for Luna’s presence.

“While punishment is due, I am not certain it is wise for it to begin the moment you set hoof off of this ship. All of you are in fragile mental states. I am worried.” Luna moved closer to Sentinel, coming to stand beside him. “I worry most for Diamond Tiara… there is nothing that any of them could to do to her that she isn’t already doing to herself. She is high strung. I suspect that what she needs is time for quiet recovery.”

Blinking, Sentinel turned his head and looked up at Luna. “Princess Luna, I do not trust myself right now. My emotions are getting the better of me… I’m scared of what is about to happen… I’m afraid I’ll get angry and do something to hurt those I love.”

Nodding, Luna looked down at the foal. “I understand.”

“Do you?” Sentinel’s jaw clenched for a moment, regretting what he said right away, chastising himself for his curt response. “Princess Luna… I’m sorry… but I feel terrible… like… I feel dangerous and I don’t trust myself.”

“Sentinel, you went through a traumatic experience. You watched somepony that you love die. You had a powerful bonding experience. I also know that you and Moonbow”—Luna paused to clear her throat—“got to know each other on a more intimate level.”

“We did.” Sentinel looked away and stared down at his own hooves.

“This has been a momentous trip for you. You have started your own family, in a sense. You have endured something that has brought all of you together. You and Buckminster are not so different. He thinks very little of himself or his own needs, he thinks of his family first and foremost. It seems that you are no different. Here you are in the worst trouble of your life and your primary concern is not for yourself, but for Diamond Tiara and probably Boadicea as well.” Luna stepped closer to Sentinel, wishing that he would lift his head and look up at her. “When Buckminster was in a position similar to yours, he demanded that he be punished and that his family be left alone.”

Sentinel lifted his head and looked up at Luna, his eyes narrowed in concentration. “When we came to Canterlot… when he was still so sick and so frail. When he was placed on trial for everything that took place.”

“Yes.” Luna nodded and realised that Sentinel had come to a drastic conclusion, not the conclusion that she had wanted. She knew what Sentinel was going to do before he even said anything.

“I cannot let the others be punished for my hasty actions. I should be the one punished, not them.” Sentinel’s wings fluttered at his sides and his ears twitched in the wind.

Sighing, Luna shook her head. There were fools, noble fools, and then there were honourable fools. Before she had a chance to say anything, Sentinel launched himself over the rail, his wings unfurling, and he flapped away, muttering something about making this right. She stood there for a moment, not knowing what to do, worried about Sentinel’s own fragile state. Spreading her wings, Luna kicked away from the deck and went after Sentinel, unable to let him face this trouble on his own.

 

 

Sentinel landed with a squishy thump, his hooves touching down in the mud. He stood, defiant as he dared, and folded his wings against his sides. He looked at his father, who was wearing his cloak, his father’s face was buried in shadow and Sentinel was unable to read his expression. His mother, Derpy, was right beside him, and Berry Punch stood on the other side. Of his other mothers, they were not present. He guessed that somepony was looking after the newborns. He saw Lugus, who looked furious. Rarity was giving him a cold stare. Applejack was chewing on her lip.

Sentinel licked his lips and focused upon his father, hoping that his father would understand. “Sombra’s fell shadow is no more. He is gone. He killed Moonbow and then, after having himself a change of heart, he gave what was left of himself to the Hearthfire so Moonbow could be revived. All of us have endured something that has changed us profoundly.” Sentinel felt his mouth go dry and speaking became ever more difficult.

“Diamond Tiara is sick with worry. We’re all hurting, in shock, and trying to deal with everything that has taken place. I am the one most responsible for everything that has taken place.” Sentinel coughed, his throat feeling like sandpaper. “As such, I demand that the others be left alone and allowed to heal. Leave them be… if you must punish somepony, here I am, but I demand that they be left alone. If you bring harm to them in the state they are currently in, I will never forgive you.”

Sentinel heard the fluttering of wings behind him and the soft squish of somepony landing. He looked at the many faces staring at him, trying to read them, trying to figure out what was going to happen next. “We need rest, healing, and recovery. All of us… myself included… I’m not dealing with this very well… nevertheless, I understand that punishment is due. If it must happen, I insist that you punish me. I meant what I said… I will never forgive you…”

“Sentinel, come with me, I wish to speak to you.”

Looking up at his father, Sentinel struggled to find the courage to do what needed to be done. He shook his head, hating himself even as he did it. He felt nauseous, sick to his own stomach, and he struggled to keep his knees from knocking. “Sir, no, I will not.” Sentinel gulped down a hard lump in his throat. “Not until I have some assurance that the others will be welcomed home with the gentleness they need. I will not have them brought to harm.”

“That seems reasonable,” Bucky said, glancing around.

Sentinel looked at the others, seeing hard, angry glares, and when his gaze reached Applejack’s green eyed angry stare, he was forced to look down, unable to look her in the eye. She was furious and Sentinel could only imagine all of the horrible things that she might be planning.

“Go on, Sentinel, I will stay their wrath.” Luna stepped forwards, her hooves sinking into the sodden, rain soaked ground.

Sentinel felt his hackles rising. “I don’t know that I trust you… I feel as though you are patronising me… humouring me because I’m a foal… I meant what I said… right now, they are fragile… especially Diamond Tiara… if she is made worse, I will be angry… you… you don’t know what I’m capable of… you don’t understand how serious I am… I am not just some foal trying to keep his playmates out of trouble…” Sentinel stepped forwards, lifting his head high, blinking away tears.

“Sentinel… come with me,” Bucky said, his voice soft and low. “As for the rest of you, not one harsh word. If you must, have it out with me later, but right now, this is not a time for anger. That can come later. Just be thankful that they are home and that they are all alive.”

Sentinel saw the angry glares soften a bit. He looked at Derpy and saw her lower lip quivering. Her eyes glistened with tears. She blinked, her eyelashes clinging together, and then her anger melted away completely. Rarity was now staring at Bucky, her brows furrowed, and Sentinel had some sort of understanding of his father, some new awareness. He understood what it meant to be his father.

“Is there a problem, Rarity?” Bucky asked.

“No,” Rarity replied, shaking her head, “and I’m not angry with you. Forgive me for giving you the wrong idea. I was marvelling at how much alike both you and Sentinel are.” Rarity’s muzzle wrinkled as she turned to look at Sentinel. “As for you… I’ll take you up on your offer… I’ll not punish Sweetie Belle or Diamond Tiara… you and I will be speaking later. Once you’ve had a chance to recover, of course. I do believe that if those two watch you suffer, it will send a message far more effectively than anything I could do to either of them.”

Sentinel’s defiance fell away and he slumped. He hadn’t thought about that, that the others would be punished by watching him suffer. He thought about his father’s trial, when he had been branded… he now had some kind of understanding of how much pain his mothers had endured, having to watch Bucky be punished. Sentinel slumped, his body feeling heavy and weak. He would bear this, somehow.

“Come on, Sentinel, come with me.” Bucky made a gesture with his talons. “We’ll go sit by the lake. Maybe Thistle will bring us some fish. We don’t even need to talk, if you don’t want to, we can just sit and enjoy the silence together.”

Bowing his head, Sentinel, who just a few moments before, had tried to assert himself as an adult. Now, he felt very, very foalish. His ears drooped and burning shame set his cheeks on fire. His defiance and resolve were now gone. He felt weak, tired, he felt sick to his stomach. His mouth was dry and it was difficult to swallow. He could taste bile in the back of his throat. More than anything, he wanted to cry, he could feel the tears welling up inside of him, but he didn’t want to start sobbing in front of these ponies. They would know that his hard words were just bluster and everything he had tried to accomplish would lose meaning. Somehow, he had to keep himself together.

“Sentinel, go with your father,” Berry Punch said, her hard angry expression now gone. She gave him a knowing look as she stepped forwards. “Look, I’ll give you my word, I’m not going to yell at Piña… I just want her back and I want to see that she’s okay… we’ll sort all of this out later… but for now, just go with your father. You look like you need a quiet moment… and I think out of all of us, Bucky is probably the only one that really understands what you’re feeling at this moment.”

There was a crackle of magic and a brilliant flash of light. Sunset Shimmer appeared, standing beside Sentinel. She stood there for a moment, giving Sentinel a sad smile, and then, after clearing her throat, she said, “I’ve been watching and listening to everything being said. Sentinel, whatever happens, I’ll be with you through this. If they put you to work, I’ll join you.”

“But I wronged you,” Sentinel said to Sunset, shaking his head, and feeling even more emotional. “Why… why would you do this?”

“Because I know what it feels like to earn the forgiveness of others… you can feel very, very alone when everypony is angry with you. And nopony should have to go through that alone.” Sunset Shimmer looked at the other ponies present. “He messed up… we can all agree to that. But try to remember why he messed up. I think his heart was in the right place.”

Try as he might, Sentinel could no longer hold back tears. They begin to slip out, and nothing he did could stop them. He squeezed his eyes shut and he felt his legs go weak. Before he fell down to the muddy earth, he felt himself picked up in the soft prickle of magic.

Choking on his own sobs, Sentinel heard the voice of his father speaking to him, and he found his father’s voice comforting as everything he was holding inside of him came slipping out. “Come on Sentinel… come with me…”

 

Author's Note:

This chapter saw extensive rewriting a number of times. The first few attempts lacked the emotional punch I wanted. It lacked focus, or so I thought. So I kept scrapping it over and over. I had a long day of trying to find something that brought the chapter together.

In the end, I focused on how Sentinel wanted to be treated as an adult and the realisation that he is still very much a foal. I wanted him to have an understanding of father... an epiphany of sorts, and all of the emotion that should come with that. I wanted to capture that moment that really is a defining moment of the human existence, trying to be all grown up and holding your shit together in front of a group of angry grown ups as a child, and having that soul crushing realisation that the grown ups might be patronising you. That feeling that no matter how grown up you think you are, you are still very much a child. For most of us, we endure a moment like this in our lives and we quickly realise that the real adults can out think us, outwit us, and that we were woefully unprepared to deal with adults on an adult level.

It was a difficult feeling to capture. I'm hoping that I did. I've been working on various drafts of this chapter for quite some time now, and it is has been exhausting, both physically and emotionally. I had to go back and revisit a lot of my own childhood memories and try to build off of those.

While Sentinel and the others have been given a reprieve, this is far from over. So don't start howling about how he is getting off easy. 

 
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