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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Where did the time go? There was so little time to do anything. Bucky hurried along, almost pronking through the field, his long, lean, misshapen body lurching through the grass. He was holding Crisis in front of him in a bright blue-green telekinesis bubble. It seemed like only a few days ago they had been in Canterlot, the gala had taken place, now there was an invasion to plan for, things to do, and a promise to keep. Bucky wasn’t about to screw this one up. He was going to be there, this was important, and nothing on Granum or in Tartarus would stop him from being there with his son. Not on this day.

Sentinel, now home, was being knighted by Apple Bloom. A quiet, simple ceremony, just as Sentinel had wanted. Bucky had not known about this, that Sentinel had asked Luna for this very thing. Bucky had assumed that said knighthood might have been done at the gala, but this was better.

As Bucky hurried along, Crisis giggled as she looked at her daddy, her little forelegs reached out and she tried to grab Bucky’s face. Her teeth, both rows, top and bottom, were visible. The double rows of teeth were unsettling to most ponies, but Bucky found that he liked them. It made her adorable.

At last, he made it to the quiet memorial garden behind the mead hall. A number of ponies and griffons were there already. A few other entities as well. Bucky, still moving, wearing no heavy cloak in the sunlight, darted ahead, hoping that he was not scolded for being a few minutes late.

He saw Apple Bloom grinning at him as he moved to Derpy’s side. The grey pegasus mare was sitting on a blanket, minding the foals, and getting some sun. Ditzy Doo was awake, aware, and looking around, or at least, Bucky thought she was looking around. It was hard to tell because of her eyes. Bucky sighed, perhaps a pair of glasses might fix that.

There were a lot of foals present here, a few griffon cubs, there was quite a crowd for it being such a small, private, intimate event. There were a few things that Bucky didn’t understand, and he hoped that there would be an explanation later. Like the fact that Sweetie Belle and Scootaloo, the other two crusaders, were wearing small, delicate wooden circlets that matched Apple Bloom’s wooden crown. Bucky was certain there was some kind of story there. He sat down beside Derpy and heard a happy wicker.

He hadn’t messed up.

Setting down Crisis, Bucky smiled at Sentinel. The colt was wearing an eyepatch over his empty left eye. He had the full range of movement with his face once more. Chrysalis had done a fantastic job of reconstructing his face. Not too far away, Bucky heard Lyra weeping, a soft, almost apologetic sound, and the unicorn mare had her face buried against Bon Bon.

Looking a little sleepy in the sun, Princess Luna cleared her throat. “We have come together on this most solemn occasion to bear witness to the knighting of this most valiant warrior. There is much I could talk about; his noble spirit, his gentleness, his many deeds, his campaign against the rats, his growth, but I fear a long speech would ruin the mood.”

Several foals could be heard letting out sighs of relief.

Bucky’s heart swelled with pride. Sentinel was sitting with Boadicea, his future queen, and Diamond Tiara, his future consort, one on either side of him. Bucky watched as he leaned over and said something in Boadicea’s ear, and then into Diamond Tiara’s. Then Bucky saw something that made his blood run cold.

Sentinel looked terrified. He could see it plain as day on Sentinel’s face. Reaching out, he grabbed Crisis as if she was a stuffy bear and hugged her close. Crisis, sensing her father’s fear, let out a guttural hiss that threatened to loosen several sphincters. Several ponies and a few griffons jumped from the sound.

“Are we ready to begin?” Odin asked. The old griffon was sitting in the grass and a large mug of foamy mead was sitting beside him. The older griffon reached out and touched Belisama, who also sat beside him on his other side.

Apple Bloom nodded. “I think we are.” She turned and looked at Rumble, who was standing not far away, and then at her fellow crusaders. After a moment of staring, she turned and looked at Sentinel. “I’m a little nervous.”

“This doesn’t need to be fancy, Princess Apple Bloom.” Luna’s voice was soft, comforting, and patient. “Just go with what you know. We have practiced this a bit. You will do fine.”

Sighing, Apple Bloom nodded once more. She moved towards Sentinel and she saw him step away from Boadicea and Diamond Tiara. Her throat was dry and she was still scared out of her mind from the hiss she had heard just a few minutes ago. Turning her head left, she saw Fluttershy and Discord hovering together, clinging to one another, and Fluttershy’s red and yellow eyes were glistening with tears.

Apple Bloom was feeling a little misty herself. She didn’t know what to say. This was beyond her ken, her understanding. She looked over at Bucky, who looked frantic as he squeezed Crisis, who didn’t seem to mind that her father was attempting to crush her. And then, Apple Bloom’s gaze fell upon her sister, Applejack. Apple Bloom took a deep breath and stared into her sister’s green eyes. She saw a soft smile of encouragement on Applejack’s freckled face.

Applejack mouthed the words, “Keep it simple,” in total silence.

The nervous knot in Apple Bloom’s stomach eased up a little bit. She took another step closer to Sentinel and cleared her throat before she addressed him. “Sentinel, are you my friend?”

The colt bowed his head. “Of course I am.”

“As my friend, do you promise to look after me, my better interests, and everything I hold dear?” Apple Bloom asked.

“All of that and more,” Sentinel replied, his head still bowed.

“Ooh, this is confusing because you’re a prince and this feels funny, me asking you to serve me.” Apple Bloom’s face contorted and her muzzle wrinkled. “Sentinel, son of Buckminster Bitters, do you Pinkie Pie Promise to do your duties for me?” It was the most serious sort of oath that Apple Bloom could think of, and her words were said without even a trace of a smile.

“Cross my heart, hope to fly, stick a cupcake in my eye,” Sentinel replied with a solemness that matched Apple Bloom’s. As he spoke, he slapped his right hoof into his good right eye.

Somewhere, off to Apple Bloom’s left, a pony started sobbing. Pinkie Pie by the sounds of it. Apple Bloom gulped and tried to ignore the distraction. “Sentinel, I trust you more than just about any other pony. I know you’ll do right by me. Be my defender, Sentinel. Be my knight.”

Sentinel bowed his head a little lower. “Yes, of course. My life for you.”

Leaning forward, Apple Bloom, not knowing what else to do, gave Sentinel a kiss on the right side of his face, just below his eye. She didn’t have wings to do the whole wing touch thing that the princesses did when they knighted somepony, and somehow, a friendly kiss felt more meaningful.

Apple Bloom backed away, her legs feeling shaky and weak. Something had happened when her lips had touched him, some magic, She was still feeling it. Her earth pony senses tingled. “Try not to do any more stupid stuff, okay?”

Sentinel raised his head, gave Apple Bloom a half smirk, and nodded.

“But if something stupid has to be done, you come and get me, and we’ll go off and do something stupid together, a’ight?” Apple Bloom could feel several pairs of eyes staring at her… not the good sort of staring either. She ignored them and focused on Sentinel. This was her ceremony, and her knight and she was going to do as she pleased.

“As you wish,” Sentinel replied, his half smirk fading.

Tearing up, Apple Bloom backed away from Sentinel as her eyes began leaking. She stumbled a bit, turned, and was caught by Rumble. A second later, Scootaloo and Sweetie Belle piled in around her, and there was a fierce group hug.

Sentinel lifted his head high and his surviving eye opened wide. “Princess Luna, I am ready to accept my responsibility. I will do my duty. I am ready to perform my penance for my foolishness. Let us do what must be done.”

Bucky’s breath caught in his throat and he squeezed Crisis a little harder. Her internal armor plating did a fine job of protecting her. If anything, she was enjoying the attention. A wide grin was on her face and she did her best to creep out onlookers by revealing her terrifying shovel shaped teeth.

Odin rose from his spot in the grass and came forward, joining Princess Luna as she moved to Sentinel’s side. The colt was shaking, his knees almost knocking, and Bucky desperately wanted to know what was going on, but he was rooted to the spot with fear. Real fear.

“This won’t hurt, will it?” Sentinel asked.

“No,” Luna replied in a gentle voice.

“Will this destroy me? Like Twilight? Will I lose my body and be remade?” Sentinel’s voice was a terrified squeak.

“No,” Luna said again.

“Will I change? Will my eye grow back? What will happen?” Sentinel almost jumped out of his skin as Luna kneeled down into the grass beside him. “I’m so scared, Luna… I want to do this, but I’m scared… I’m so scared of what will happen!”

“This is a minor change, Sentinel… it will make your outside match what is already on the inside. The worst you might experience is some discomfort as it grows and you undergo the change.” Luna wrapped her wings around Sentinel, drew him close, and cradled his body in her forelegs. She closed her eyes and pressed her face down to Sentinel’s touching him cheek to cheek.

Odin, saying nothing, piled in with the ponies and wrapped his forelegs around Sentinel’s neck. The old griffon looked happy, but also tired, weary, as if something had exhausted him and had made him old again.

Bucky let out a gibbering whimper of fear as Derpy grabbed him and held him close, mindful of his still healing ribs. Tourmaline had jump started the healing process, but they were still quite tender.

“Bucky, be still and let this happen,” Derpy whispered, trying to soothe her husband.

“And on this day of spring, a day when the Princess of Growth held court, Equestria was graced with a new alicorn, Sentinel, Lord of the Hunt.” Amaranth sat down beside Belisama after making her way through the crowd. “Let all who bear witness to this event be blessed and know peace.”

Reaching out her talons, Belisama clutched Amaranth’s leg as her whole body trembled. The griffoness, who had become quite emotional, began to cry, letting out sad little peeps as she did so.

His vision clouded over with tears, Bucky watched as he felt the deep magic move through his body. It struck him like a train and every magic sensitive pony present jumped. He felt immense pressure in his ears and down in his throat where many of his thaumaturgical organs were located.

“I feel funny,” Sentinel said in a soft voice as a glittering silver-blue glow surrounded his body. “What will happen?”

“Just a minor change,” Odin said as his talons began to glow with eldritch fire. “Just think of it as a means to give focus to the magic you already have inside of you. The horn will make the magic flow, like water from a faucet.”

The colt went still, his eye closed, and for a moment, he almost looked as though he was sleeping in Princess Luna’s embrace. The blue alicorn of the night had her muzzle pressed to Sentinel’s ear and was whispering soft words into it.

The earth trembled and there was a rumbling sound. Odin, who had been revitalised quite a bit, began to look ancient once more, many of his black and silver feathers turning white and silver once again.

Bucky, clinging to Crisis, went limp in Derpy’s embrace, his ears drooping down to the sides of his face, his lips moving, but no words came out. Derpy, always an attentive, gentle sort, began to wipe Bucky’s face with her wings as tears flowed down his scaly cheeks.

There was a gasp from the gathered crowd when a surprising blue growth peeked out from Sentinel’s rusty looking mane. A stubby horn appeared, illuminated in a faint indigo glow. It was the same shade of blue as his wings. Sentinel’s whole body convulsed for a moment, he shuddered, shook, and then went still as Luna soothed him.

“Today, there is a new defender of Equestria,” Amaranth said as the change continued to happen. “He does this from his own free will. He made this choice. Several years ago, a pegasus filly named Cadance battled a terrible foe known as Prismia. For this, Cadance was made an alicorn. Cadance chose to serve. For Twilight Sparkle, the choice was made for her, to save her life. For Apple Bloom, she has decided to have the change happen later, but make no mistake, she serves the purpose she was born to do. For Sentinel… he has chosen to embrace his duties now, to accept what must happen for his great work to be done.”

Amaranth leveled her gaze at Bucky and Bucky could hear her voice inside of his head. Buckminster has rejected his place as War, the fourth and final answer. The answer that nopony wanted. It is my hope that Sentinel fulfills the empty space that you have left behind. Perhaps this will staunch the flow of chaos into the empty place that you have left.

With an almost deafening crackle, Amaranth revealed herself to the crowd, the earth pony becoming a massive alicorn of impressive build. Her whole body blazed with eldritch fire. Belisama yowled as she fled, scampering away.

Amaranth, also known as Clotho, lifted her regal head high and looked at Sentinel. “Rise, Prince Sentinel, Lord of the Hunt. There are vermin that threaten the peaceful ponies of this land, and it is now your duty to raise an army to rid us of these pests!”

 

 

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