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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Bucky, who currently appeared to be a dark brown pegasus, folded his wings against his sides and looked around the courtyard where he had landed. Queen Chrysalis, also in the form of a pegasus, but a lunar one, landed near Bucky and watched as the guard mobilised around her. Bucky smiled. Shining Armor was a quick study—already, it was known who was Queen Chrysalis and that made Bucky feel better. The drones, also in the form of pegasi, landed and then grouped together. There was a flash of green flames and the changeling illusion was stripped away.

A contingent of lunar pegasi, a rare sight in the day, came through the gate. Not Myrmidons, but regular guards. The sound of more hooves clattered over the stones as more guards came to the courtyard. Scorpan, holding a massive two handed sword, stood in a shady corner, scowling, his many pointed teeth visible.

“This is quite unnecessary,” Bucky said as Princess Celestia approached. He shifted form, turning back into himself, his cloak draped over his body.

“I disagree.” Princess Celestia made a terse reply as she turned her attention upon Queen Chrysalis. “I do not feel like taking any chances.”

Bowing his head, Bucky grinned, then turned to look at Queen Chrysalis. He lifted his head, his grin, the only thing visible beneath his hood, almost becoming a manic rictus, and then turned to look up at Princess Celestia. “Oh, but Auntie… I came prepared.

When Bucky’s horn flared, Princess Celestia took a step backwards. Black flames burned along the length of Bucky’s horn and dreadful Taint mist leaked from his eye as dark magic flowed from Bucky. None of the guard moved, having all frozen in place.

Queen Chrysalis let out a gasp as a greenish purple glow outlined her body. She gritted her teeth as a green glow filled her eyes. Bucky, like some morbid showpony, raised his talons and gestured at Queen Chrysalis as Princess Celestia’s eyes narrowed.

“Kneel.” Bucky commanded, pointing down at the stones with a talon tip.

“Never!” Queen Chrysalis spat.

Clucking his tongue, Bucky shook his head and then let out an alarming giggle… that was less like a giggle and more like a cackle. Princess Celestia’s eyes narrowed even more and she looked down at Bucky.

The courtyard filled with screams as Chrysalis’ body went rigid. There was a strange hum and the purplish green glow around her intensified. The changeling queen’s head was shoved downwards, as if by some invisible force, and her front legs began to bend.

“NO!” Chrysalis shrieked, trying to fight against the spell.

“I’ve modified an obedience spell. An old one, thought lost to time. Hex Libris was very kind and fetched the spell for me from the library. My modifications have made it… interesting. You will obey… or you will suffer.” Bucky’s horrible grin intensified, becoming almost unreal. Far too large, far too many teeth, distorted and unnatural, the grin became a vulgar, obscene parody of glee.

“Buckminster, that is enough.” Princess Celestia stomped her hoof. “Stop that at once!”

Queen Chrysalis smashed into ground with a thud, her chin resting upon the stones, kneeling before Princess Celestia, her forelegs folded beneath her. The black flames vanished from around Bucky’s horn and he fell silent, no longer cackling, just standing there, his silence somehow even more horrible than his manic, horrendous laughter.

Recovering, the changeling queen lifted her head. “This is why I have no respect for you. This weakness of yours, this mercy. Even now, you think that somehow, you will save me, somehow redeem me, and that you will gain my trust if you save me from him… this is why you are weak and this is why you will lose.”

Moving with a light step, Princess Celestia moved closer to the fallen changeling queen, her horn ignited, and the white alicorn lifted Chrysalis back up to her hooves as the changeling queen’s face contorted into a furious glare. Queen Chrysalis opened her mouth to say something, but Princess Celestia interrupted her.

“Right now, I am the only thing keeping you alive. I do believe that once you provide Buckminster with the army he needs, he might very well exterminate you for his own amusement.” Princess Celestia, her face stony, took a certain private, smug satisfaction as Queen Chrysalis visibly quailed. “My nephew is sleep deprived. He is always at his worst when he has not had the sleep he so desperately needs. I would not antagonise him. I would not goad him. As long as you are useful, as long as I find you useful, I will keep Buckminster here on a short leash. But make no mistake… I will let him off of his chain.”

Standing beside Princess Celestia, Bucky began to cackle, his manic, crazed laughter echoing off of the stone walls of the courtyard. Princess Celestia’s nostrils flared and her ears pitched forwards.

“You’ve changed,” Queen Chrysalis said to Princess Celestia in a low voice.

“Perhaps.” Princess Celestia’s stony expression revealed nothing. “A while back, there was a pony named Vertigo. He spat on me. Buckminster responded in a manner most inappropriate. I was angry with Buckminster for a long time because I could not understand why he did what he did.” Princess Celestia lifted her head, bringing herself to her full height, and looked down upon Queen Chrysalis. “I have since come to understand my nephew’s position on the issue. Chrysalis, I will not have myself, or my efforts, spat upon. Do we have an understanding?”

Scowling, Queen Chrysalis looked at Bucky, who was shaking with laughter, and then looked up at Princess Celestia. She stood, silent, almost defiant, and then she became submissive. “We have an understanding.”

“Do not arouse his hatreds and do not excite his enmity,” Celestia warned. “I would rather there be peace between us, even though I absolutely do not like you and find you reprehensible. I would like to see us resolve our differences and perhaps work together. I would like to give the world an example, that we can overcome our old hatreds and learn to live and work together. This is something that means a great deal to me. But should you make this difficult, you will become an entirely different example…” Princess Celestia gestured at Bucky with one raised hoof. “Equestria’s enemies grow fewer and fewer. If Buckminster kills you, and he will kill you, it only adds to his reputation for putting an end to impossible foes. Equestria and the rest of the world prospers from the safety generated by his reputation. Either way, I win. I am done losing.”

Princess Celestia’s ears splayed out and a look of utter disgust appeared upon her face. She turned her head and looked down at Bucky, who stood beside her. “Nephew, will you cease your obscene giggling at once, this instant. It grates upon the nerves and is such a pain behind the eyes.”

Hiccuping, Bucky fell silent.

“You have changed,” Queen Chrysalis whispered.

“We have established that. Now… I do believe you are here to aid Sentinel. I will be supervising you while you work… or would you rather have Buckminster watching you?” Celestia’s eyebrow raised.

“I think I’d like it if you and I were to work together,” Queen Chrysalis replied.

“Good… that is the answer I was hoping for. Willing cooperation. That is a good first step, Chrysalis.”

 

 

Her nose ached. Dinky wanted to reach up and give it a rub, but was unable to even lift her foreleg. At least the feeding tube was out. Her horn ached, her head hurt, and her stomach still felt a little out of sorts, but she was recovering.

“We didn’t save her,” Dinky said, her voice a dry, raspy croak.

“There was nothing we could have done, Dinks.” Piña, sitting in a chair beside Dinky’s bed, reached out and touched her sister, placing her hoof against Dinky’s neck. She could feel Dinky’s weak pulse beneath her frog.

“I wish we had saved Sand Piper.” Dinky swallowed, took a deep breath, and blinked away a few tears. “If I had been a little stronger… if I had done more… if I—”

“Dinky, there wasn’t much we could do.” Piña sniffled a bit, sad from the loss they had suffered, and even more sad because Dinky was sad, as well as being worried about Sentinel. She looked around the hospital room. There were flowers and a balloon. Piña wasn’t even sure where the flowers had come from, or the balloon. She hadn’t bothered looking at the cards on either.

“But Piña, I can do more.” Dinky’s eyes closed and she sighed. “Not wanting to use my magic to hurt others is still hurting others. I see that now.” Dinky’s eyes opened and she looked into Piña’s eyes of piercing blue. “There are a lot of bad things in the world… things like the Hag.” Woozy, Dinky fell silent for a moment, and could still feel the sensation of the Hag pressing into her mind, that feeling of violation. She coughed, then continued, “Having the power to save others and then not using it makes you a bad pony. I don’t want to be a bad pony.”

“So it’s a black cloak for you then,” Piña said in a voice that was almost a whisper. “And an eyepatch for Sentinel. We talked about this, Dinky. I told you that Sentinel’s face would be all messed up and he would have an eyepatch.”

“Larch too… you said that Larch had a black cloak.” Dinky drew in a shuddering breath, held it for a moment, and then let it out in a slow exhale. “Tourmaline and Glass Slipper too.”

“Princess Celestia said these things might happen and now I’m scared that they will happen.” Piña leaned over against the bed, her head resting against the cool metal rail.

Both fillies’ ears perked when the door opened. Piña lifted her head and concern glittered in her eyes as her pink mane settled around her face. Dinky, unable to lift her head, was dependent on Piña telling her who was at the door.

“My two little fillies,” Bucky said as he entered the room, something floating behind him. “Sorry I took so long. I had to stop by the royal kitchens and make a request for a sweet potato pie.”

“Daddy!” Piña’s ears drooped with relief and she rubbed Dinky, reaching through the rail. “Dinky just ate a little while ago, but I think she can eat again.”

“Daddy…” Dinky, stuck in the bed, waited, but heard no sounds of her father crossing the floor. Using all of her strength, she was able to turn her head and she saw him approaching, holding a pie in a blue-green telekinetic field. “You brought me a pie.”

“Heroes get pie,” Bucky said as he took a seat in a chair beside the bed and pulled the tray table close. He set the pie down and then wheeled the tray table over the hospital bed. Leaning over, he kissed Dinky on the head, but Piña was too far away for him to reach.

“How is Sentinel?” Piña asked.

There was a clatter as Bucky dropped the spoons he was carrying upon the tray table. “I don’t know. I’m told he’s stable. Right now, he’s getting the help he needs.”

Piña, feeling a lump in her throat, wanted to tell her father that she had known this was going to happen, that she had seen this, but she couldn’t find the words. Instead, Piña sighed and gave Dinky another caress.

“We didn’t save Sand Piper,” Dinky said to her father.

Horn glowing, Bucky popped the plastic cover off of the pie and set it down upon the table. His lips pressed into a straight line for a moment, his right ear stood up while his left ear drooped and he let out a weary sigh through his nose. “Dinky, you are going to discover that you can’t always save everypony. There are going to be situations where you are going to be lucky to get out alive and that is the best you can hope for. It doesn’t do you any good to die with those you are trying to save. So many other ponies are going to need you and you can’t save them all.”

“You’re not disappointed?” Dinky asked.

Bucky’s jaw fell open. He blinked a few times, startled, his mouth moving, but no words came out. He closed his mouth, his teeth clicking together, and he looked at Dinky. He relaxed his jaw enough to ask, “Why would I be disappointed?”

“I dunno,” Dinky replied in a small voice. “I’m kinda disappointed with myself right now.” Dinky felt a shudder run through her body and she felt like crying. A sniffle escaped and Dinky could feel a stinging sensation in the corners of her eyes closest to her nose. A growing pressure pressed down on her chest, like some invisible weight.

“Dinky… I am so very proud of you. Your mother, who is beside herself right now, is also proud of you. You had a hoof in putting an end to an ancient evil that has plagued ponykind for countless eons. You might have lost a few ponies in that fight, and Sand Piper is a regrettable loss, but you have saved a countless number of lives.” Lifting a spoon in his telekinesis, he passed it to Piña, who took it with a thankful nod, and then Bucky armed himself with a spoon.

“Sentinel lost his eye and I’m all messed up and I just don’t feel like I did a very good job,” Dinky said as she choked back sobs.

Saying nothing, Bucky held up his talons so that Dinky could see them and then touched the side of his face. His eyes narrowed and he gave Dinky a solemn stare, trying to convey a message that he hoped that she would understand.

“If I was stronger, Sentinel wouldn’t have got hurt… I could have saved him… if I was stronger, I could have faced the Hag by myself—”

“Not another word, Dinky.” Bucky looked down at his foal, his face pained and serious.

“But I—”

“Hush.”

“But I—mmph!”

“Nope.” Bucky stuffed a spoonful of sweet potato pie into Dinky’s mouth and glanced at Piña, who was giving him a curious stare. “That’s enough of that.” Bucky watched as Dinky made a few feeble chews on her mouthful of sweet potato pie. “We’re done talking about this for now. It’s pie time.”

“We were strong because we were together.” Piña, the spoon sticking to her hoof, reached out, got a bite, and ate it. She chewed, looking thoughtful, looking at both Dinky and her father, and could see the pain in Dinky’s eyes as she ate. “And we couldn’t have done what we did without Boadicea. If you would have done this alone, the Hag would have claimed you and she would have been very powerful with your body.”

Blinking, Bucky stuffed more sweet potato pie into Dinky before she could say anything. Looking up, he saw Piña taking a deep breath and the foal was giving him a most curious look.

“She gets this from you, you know. You go into danger and then try to keep others out of danger, even though you could really use the help. This is your fault, Daddy.” Piña, reaching out with her spoon, got another bite from the pie.

Admonished, Bucky found that there was nothing he could say.

 

 

 

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