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 reveled in his sense of accomplishment as he eased himself into the bed with a tired groan. He had figured out how to make a heatless sunstone on the fourth attempt, which he felt was reasonable. He had eaten breakfast in near silence, his exhaustion making him less than perfect company.

Lyra and Bon Bon had already settled into the bed with Sentinel, and he settled in close to them. As his remaining eye closed, he felt three warm bodies work their way against him. He smiled to himself, his eye still closed, and it was nice to have somepony to share the bed with as the others began their day. Usually, the three of them went to bed after lunch, and Bucky suspected they had gone to bed early to be with him.

As he drifted off, he heard the door open and another pony entered the room. He then heard them crawling on the bed. It was Ripple, who had nodded off several times during breakfast, and was clearly in no position to stay awake through school.

Bucky heard Sentinel say something, but he couldn’t make out what it was as sleep finally overtook him. He drifted off feeling warm and secure, surrounded by those he loved.

 

 

The world around him was dead. Bucky shivered as an icy wind pierced his pelt and blew through his mane. There was no grass, no greenery, only sand and rocks. Bucky stood and looked around him, in the distance he saw a pile of white stones. He moved towards them to investigate them, and upon reaching them, realised they were not stones at all, but skulls.

Pony skulls.

He shivered again and wondered what he was doing here. He looked all around him and realised that he had both eyes once again. He experienced a moment of exquisite pain mixed with happiness, glad to have both eyes but knowing that one no longer belonged.

“Greetings Buckminster,” a voice said.

Bucky whirled, feeling quite startled, for all that he was, he was still a pony and as such, he was subject to being spooked as much as any equine. He saw a blue alicorn approaching him and he took a deep breath of relief.

“You seem well. Must have been a long night for you to slumber so soundly during the day,” Luna said pleasantly as she drew near.

“What is this place?” Bucky asked, all sense of formality gone from the shock he was experiencing.

“This is Ponyville. Or it was. And over there, that is what remains of Canterhorn Peak. And Canterlot,” Luna replied.

Bucky looked off in the distance, not recognising what he saw. If it was Canterhorn Peak as Luna claimed, then half of the mountain was gone. And Canterlot with it. There was a large pile of rubble at one side of the sheared off mountain. As Bucky stared at it, a cold jolt traveled through his spine. “What did this?” Bucky inquired, a tremour in his voice.

“You were always so bright and inquisitive Buckminster. My sister placed so much well deserved faith in you. Care to venture a guess?” Luna answered, asking him a question in return.

“No,” Bucky stated in a frightened whisper.

“The question isn’t so much what did this, but who,” Luna said, her teal eyes now locked on Bucky’s eyes. “And why,” she added.

Bucky looked around him, taking it all in. The sky was a dull rust colour, and the sun was a frightful red. The air was acrid and stung his nostrils. His mind raced with implications.

“Bucky, what do you know of other worlds?” Luna asked, breaking Bucky’s train of thought as she did so.

“I know there are mirrors. Arches. Gateways. I know there is one in the Crystal Empire,” Bucky replied, his internal scholar taking over and forcing his mouth to speak.

“This is one of those worlds,” Luna stated. “In this world, you rejected the advances of one grey pegasus mare. You did much more than that actually. You resented her intrusion into your life.”

“No,” Bucky whimpered as his knees began to wobble.

“You spurned her advances and you began to hate your fellow ponies. Your destiny, your curse if you choose to call it that, finally caught up to you. And you had nopony to save you. My sister tried of course, but you never returned to her, you never made the choice to trust her. You never went back to her as a confused young stallion in the throes of first love and you never let her into your heart,” Luna explained.

“What happened?” Bucky asked, his words more a frightened gargle than actual speech.

“You as many of your bloodline before you discovered your true nature and the unusual power that flows through your entire bloodline. As most do, you discovered it by accident. Do you know what it is?” Luna asked.

Bucky was too stunned to even began to guess. He shook his head.

“The ability to tap into the ley lines directly,” Luna answered. “To channel them in much the same way that an alicorn would. Absolute power as one might call it.” Luna paused and waited for some kind of response from Bucky. When she saw that no response was coming, she continued.

“Unlike the others in your bloodline, you were careful and meticulous when you discovered your power. And you craved more. You didn’t make grab for power right away. You hid yourself away and studied in secret. You never revealed yourself. My sister never thought of you as a threat. She only saw you as a sad befuddled creature, one more failed unicorn in a long line of failed unicorns. She pitied you,” Luna said. Luna took a deep breath and shook her head sadly. “But the call of power gave you strength. Made you bold. Eventually, you revealed yourself and you attempted to dethrone my sister and I. There was quite a battle. Eventually, your horn failed you, as it has always failed your kind. My sister was merciful… a terrible mistake on her part. She had you healed, nursed back to health. You were placed on trial. And then, you were banished. Sent far away into the hinterlands on the other side of the world. A savage place of no law,” Luna explained.

“I can’t bear hearing this,” Bucky said, speaking when Luna had paused to choose her words.

“You survived there. You thrived there. You fixed your malfunctioning horn. You connected to the ley lines and tested the very limits of the magic you were able to channel. You found no limits. There was nothing to hold you back,” Luna said, her voice sad.

“So I did this?” Bucky asked.

“You did not come back like some mindless villain and announce your triumphant return. You struck swiftly and without mercy. You bound my sister into the sun and before I could even figure out what was going on, I was back in my lunar prison. In this reality, you slew Twilight Sparkle when she came after you, her need for revenge her own undoing. And then, you dealt with Cadance and Shining Armor, killing her and her unborn foal,” Luna said, her voice filled with more than a little anger. “You smote Canterlot and blew it right off of the mountain. You obliterated Ponyville. And then, you burned the world. This entire planet looks like what you see now,” Luna explained.

“What purpose would that serve?” Bucky asked. “And what of myself? How could I survive here?”

“You don’t stay here Buckminster,” Luna answered. “You figure out how to make your own gateways. You leave. You tap into the ley lines of reality itself, the magical fabric of the very universe.”

“How do you know all of this? Isn’t this just a dream? I can’t bear to think of myself doing this,” Bucky whined, his voice breaking from the overflow of emotion.

“I had Discord show me other futures. Other whens and wheres. I had to see what you were capable of. I had to know what I was dealing with. I remember Sombra all too well and how close he came to creating the future that you see now,” Luna said. She extended a wing and gently wiped away the tears from Bucky’s eyes. “Even if you can’t remember it directly, I know that you know now.”

“Yes, I know. I know what I am. But I don’t want to believe that I am capable of this… all of this horror all around me,” Bucky whimpered in reply. “So why show me this? Why torment me? Haven’t I changed all of this? I have hope in my heart. I love… I am loved… why do this?” he asked in a tormented voice.

“Because this could still happen,” Luna said in a flat emotionless monotone.

“I won’t let it,” Bucky said defiantly.

“And I would like to believe that. Which is why I am here. I would rather be your friend than your enemy Buckminster. And I would like to help you. I would like for you to know that you are trusted and loved. I would like for you to know that when you stood on the brink of real power, you were not held back, but coaxed forward and assisted, trusted and loved enough to be helped so you would be successful,” Luna explained.

“My horn,” Bucky said, a faint glimmer of understanding forming in his thoughts.

“Yes,” Luna said. “I can help you with that. I intend to give you the knowledge of how Sombra saved himself.”

“I saw Sombra… he’s in Tartarus,” Bucky said in a soft whisper.

“I know,” Luna replied. “Celestia and I have spoken to him on occasion,” Luna stated.

“What happened? Why did he do what he did?” Bucky asked.

Luna sighed. She knew that the question was coming, but she was still not fully prepared to answer it. “Sombra loved. He was good pony. But he could not deal with grief. And when he discovered the true nature of his gift, the ability to tap into a ley line directly, the power overcame him. He had nothing to hold him back. There was only a world full of danger and ponies that he had sworn to protect. He felt that my sister and I were the biggest threat to ponies…” Luna’s words faltered. “He was right too. I fell. I tried to make the night last forever. Sombra was completely mad when he made his move against my sister and I, but he was correct about one thing. If one of us stumbled, if one of us fell, we were the greatest threat to Ponykind. He attempted to bind us into the sun and the moon, knowing that if we were locked away, the sun and the moon would operate on their own and that we would not be needed to make them function,” Luna explained.

Bucky sat down in the sand and was unable to reply. His mouth moved several times, but no words came out. Finally, he gave up and remained silent.

“Sombra really was a good pony. He was my friend. He loved my sister and I… he was our most faithful guardian. Star Swirl was the scholar, Sombra was the warrior. There would not be an Equestria without them. Star Swirl discovered the location of the Elements of Harmony after Discord had hid them away, and it was Sombra that led an army into Tartarus to recover them. Both of them were immensely powerful unicorns, and both were deeply flawed, as your bloodline tends to be-”

“Wait, are you saying…” Bucky interrupted.

“Yes Buckminster, they were brothers. They were both so strong, but so flawed. Star Swirl had trouble making friends. He guarded his heart and lived a life of isolation. Sombra did much the same after he lost Platinum. He hardened his heart and his loneliness devoured him from the inside,” Luna said. “The brothers were as different as night and day. Star Swirl was gentle and bookish while Sombra was combative and brash. Star Swirl found ways to battle Discord and hamper Discord’s efforts through mischief, while Sombra raised an army with Commander Hurricane and went to battle against Discord and his legions directly.” Luna stopped speaking and let out a chuckle.

“What is so funny?” Bucky asked.

“The company you find yourself in,” Luna replied. “Funny how fate tends to tie ponies together.”

“What do you mean?” Bucky asked.

“Certain bloodlines seem to weave together over time and become something of a tapestry. Certain fates always seem bound together. Much like Twilight Sparkle and her friends. Those bloodlines have always come together time and time again. And much the same has happened with you as well,” Luna answered.

“That tells me nothing,” Bucky said with mild annoyance.

“Commander Hurricane fell in love with a mare named Pansy. She was his first wife and became his matriarch. I remember her quite fondly,” Luna said, a faint smile now upon her lips.

“And what does that have to do with anything?” Bucky demanded. His emotions were stretched to the very limits of what he could endure, and he desperately wanted things to make sense again.

“Pansy was the most distinctive shade of bluish grey. And she had the most marvelous wheat coloured mane. But Hurricane fell in love with her because of her eyes… they were a very unique shade of amber,” Luna said, closing her eyes and reminiscing.

“Wait, are you saying what I think you are saying?” Bucky asked.

Luna nodded and continued to smile.

“So-”

“Oh, Pansy’s eyes worked perfectly. That particular problem came along later. But Pansy’s descendents are very distinct and quite easy to spot in a crowd. At the time, the colour of her pelt and the colour of her eyes were quite unique. She was a rare beauty. Commander Hurricane had to turn to Sombra to find out how to win Pansy’s heart because Pansy found Hurricane to be an oaf. She loathed him,” Luna said, recalling fond memories.

“So do you think fate brought us together?” Bucky asked.

“For all of the Founder’s foals to come back together yet again… of course,” Luna replied. “Berry Punch descends from Smart Cookie, one of the smartest ponies that has ever lived. When Equestria falls into interesting times, much like we are in right now, the foals of the Founders are usually involved somehow.

“So how do I avoid this fate? How do I save myself? How do I save my horn?” Bucky inquired.

“Do not be troubled about your horn. Even as you sleep, I am giving you the knowledge of what to do. I do not know if you will be successful, that much is up to you. As for your fate, continue on as you have done so far. Continue to love others and do not isolate yourself. Have lots of foals. Keep them close to you. I feel that was truly Sombra’s failing in my own opinion,” Luna answered.

“How?” Bucky asked. “I mean, can you explain what you mean?” he questioned.

“Sombra sent his foals to stay with Celestia and I before he began his slow descent into madness. Before he thought that we were potential threats. Tell me Buckminster, if you did something bad, do you think you could look Piña Colada or Dinky in the eye and feel good about yourself? Do you think you could explain to them or justify why you just did something awful?” Luna replied, asking her own questions in return. “Or honour bound little Sentinel for that matter.”

“Well, no… I think about everything I do and how it might affect them. After I was forced to do something terrible, it tore apart my insides thinking about how awful I must have looked to Piña and Dinky,” Bucky replied.

“The flogging,” Luna mused.

“How do you know all of this?” Bucky asked.

“I see into your mind Buckminster. I see your dreams. I must keep Equestria safe,” Luna replied.

“So if Sombra had kept his foals around and they had made him feel guilty about what he was doing, things might have turned out differently?” Bucky inquired.

“Perhaps. Celestia and I hope that it will work for you,” Luna answered as she made a gesture to the dead landscape all around her with her wing.

“Making foals and raising foals is certainly preferable to this,” Bucky said as he looked all around him. Bucky inhaled slowly and then exhaled in a huff. He struggled to collect his thoughts.

“Sombra turned away from his other wives. He abandoned them. He placed his sense of duty to others above his sense of duty to his family. He could not deal with the loneliness. The war with the griffons took a lot of out of him. All of the violence did terrible things to his mind. All of the horrible things he had to do, all of the nightmarish combat he had to endure. He was never the same pony. He jumped at the slightest sound. He flew into fits of rage over the smallest and most trivial things. Now they call it post traumatic stress disorder. Back then, we called it unslakable bloodlust. Sombra was no longer content to remain in a defensive position, and he went into a constant state of war. He didn’t know how to make the war end. Even after the griffons were driven from the north, Sombra turned to other threats and unleashed his fury upon them. He made bold moves against dragons and drove them from the icy reaches. He went to war against the shadowy forces of the night, knowing that they fed upon his ponies. And with each battle, he slipped a little farther into madness. Finally, he turned on us, swearing that he had to keep Equestria safe from all threats. He said he had peered into the flow of time using spells his brother had created. Sombra believed that we had to be bound. The war was terrible. So many died. So many lives were lost. Sombra created an army of golems… an army that would have no casualties. The ponies under Sombra’s rule, the crystal ponies of the north, he had them bound to the city in which they lived, unable to leave. He had to keep them safe, even if it meant keeping them safe from themselves. The entire city was enslaved. Those that resisted were bound in shackles for their own good. The entire time, Sombra truly believed that he was doing the right thing, that he was in the right, and that he was just the good defender that he had always been,” Luna explained.

“Poor Sombra,” Bucky said when Luna had paused for a moment.

“It broke my heart having to take down my dear and beloved friend. I think that it might be part of the reason I did what I did later. I do not know,” Luna admitted in a sad voice. “It had to be done though. Sombra was pulling the souls of ponies out of their bodies and placing them into crystals. He did it to keep them safe. If they weren’t in bodies of flesh and bone, then they could no longer be harmed. They would never know hunger, they would never know old age, they would live forever, bound in a crystal prison. What Sombra did was monstrous. Celestia and I… we had… we had to destroy those crystals to free the souls trapped within… it was one of the moments in my long life that I truly wish had never happened, right up there with turning on my sister,” Luna said, her gaze dropping down to the sand around her hooves.

“So eventually, life would end if Sombra had been successful,” Bucky said, picking up where Luna had left off. “He would have protected his ponies, all of them bound in crystal, he would have burned away all of the threats in the world, and then he would have stood a silent vigil protecting the crystals. And the world might look a lot like this one.”

Luna nodded but said nothing.

“That’s awful,” Bucky breathed, his words not even a whisper.

“And he would have endured his loneliness out of a sense of obligation and duty,” Luna added.

“Being trapped in crystal, while it might be a place of safety, it is not living,” Bucky said.

“It makes me feel better to hear you say that,” Luna confessed.

“If you ever believe that I have become a credible threat, if you think that I have slipped into the darkness, I want you to destroy me. No mercy, no trying to coax me back into the light, no trying to remind me what I am giving up, the family I am betraying, I want you to watch my dreams and my inner workings… and if you even suspect that I am a danger to those I love, I want you to obliterate me. No warning,” Bucky insisted.

“I…”

“Promise me,” Bucky demanded. “No excuses. No talk of how I might be saved. If the shadows begin to overtake me, cut me down before I can bring harm to those I love,” Bucky begged.

“I cannot do that,” Luna said. “My sister would never allow it. We do not slay our enemies, or we try not to. Even Discord, as terrible as he was, he was given a second chance.”

“So it is worth risking all of this?” Bucky asked, looking around him at the barren dead earth.

“The moment you were born this was at the risk of happening. Should Celestia have dealt with you then? Or just cut off your bloodline and offer no chance of redemption? Should all of the foals that Sombra and Platinum had together been rounded up and put to death to avoid the thousand years of tragedy they have created? It was Star Swirl and one of his attempts at his destiny spell that cursed all of Sombra’s bloodline. Or laid the foundations for redemption if one chooses to look at it that way. Star Swirl tried to pull his brother back from the darkness that had consumed him. He tried to change Sombra’s destiny. The spell failed, but the magic lingered. Even now, Star Swirl’s magic is still attempting to correct a broken destiny, and it flows all around you,” Luna replied.

“But I don’t want this!” Bucky cried as he lifted his hoof and pointed at the ruins of Canterhorn Peak. “I swore an oath that I would never bring harm to another pony… and you tell me about Sombra and his crystal prisons. Did Sombra also swear an oath? Will I destroy myself and everything I love with good intentions?”

“You might. It could still happen. I am hoping that it will not. Mostly, that depends on you and the choices you make,” Luna said soothingly.

Bucky screamed in frustration, his emotion finally boiling outward. His wordless cry echoed through the emptiness, a long tormented cry that only ended when his voice broke from the strain, his cry becoming more of a phlegmy gargle.

“When you wake, you will remember little of this. But certain knowledge will remain in your mind. In time, should you prevail, you will remember all of this. You will remember everything. You will know who you are, who you are meant to be, and you will remember what you are capable of. We all hope that it is enough to hold you back and prevent you from destroying everything that you hold dear,” Luna said in a calm voice. “Hold fast and true to those you love. The grey mare has the strength you need,” Luna stated.

“And Berry is my intellect?” Bucky asked, breaking in on Luna’s exposition.

“Something like that,” Luna replied.

“What of Thistle?” Bucky asked. “Is she tied into this or is this random chance?”

“All of those drawn to you have something that you need that you lack on your own,” Luna stated.

“Even Bon Bon and Lyra?” Bucky asked.

“Especially Bon Bon and Lyra,” Luna replied.

“So what about Thistle? What does she have that I need? I don’t understand. I feel so confused around her. I feel so unsettled and I don’t know how I should feel about her,” Bucky admitted.

“You will figure this out in time Buckminster,” Luna said.

“But this seems important… what if I don’t?” Bucky retorted.

“Then you will continue to get what you need without knowing how or why,” Luna answered.

“But she is young… maybe too young, it feels wrong to desire her the way I do,” Bucky confessed.

Luna blinked at Bucky a few times but said nothing in return.

“Is it right or wrong? I am having trouble knowing. I want to do what is right for her. I want to protect her. I want to give her what she needs,” Bucky said in a pleading voice. “Please, if you can just tell me a little,” he begged.

“Perhaps a bit more honesty is required on your part,” Luna replied. “You want to give her what she needs. And while that much is true, there is something else you want to give her. Which is what is causing you so much conflict,” Luna continued.

Bucky’s ears drooped and his whole body slumped into a slouch.

“I wasn’t even referring to sexual matters, but your reaction, your guilt and your shame is quite telling. If you are not careful, this will harm you. If it is any consolation to you, it is not immoral to desire her. She is indeed at an age appropriate for foal bearing, even if society might disagree. She is healthy and capable. Her body is developed enough that she is not in any real danger from it. Disentangle yourself from all of the physical distractions due to your sexual attraction, and focus instead on what you want to give her. Search your heart Buckminster, as corny as that might sound,” Luna said in an authoritative tone.

Bucky looked up at Luna, raising his head slowly. “So with Thistle, it is different than it is with Berry and Derpy, with those two, it is something they can offer me. With Thistle, is it something I can offer her? Something she needs from me?” Bucky asked.

Luna nodded but said nothing in reply.

“But I am still getting something in return from her through what I have to offer?” Bucky inquired.

Luna nodded again.

“This is confusing,” Bucky complained.

Luna leaned forward and kissed Bucky upon his cheek. “I will return to check on you as I am able. We will talk again. You will remember only a few hazy details of all of this. My sister sends her love and wishes that she could do more to aid you, but if she became involved too much it would be detrimental to your efforts,” Luna said as she pulled away.

“Thank you,” Bucky said gratefully to the alicorn as she gazed at him.

“Love without guilt,” Luna said as the dreamscape around them began to dissolve. “Give Thistle what she needs without reservation. Be good to your mares. Be a father to your foals,” Luna commanded as the world around them faded away.

Bucky tried to reply but no words came from his mouth as he tumbled into a black void.

 

 

 

 

 

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