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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Never in his life had Bucky ever experienced so much trepidation. He paced the deck of The Scorned Mare, worried for the very state of his own soul. He worried for the safety of others. Twilight Sparkle was pregnant. One of his wives was present. Cadance was on board the ship. So much was at stake. But more than anything, Bucky worried about the sense of self loathing that plagued him.

He was doing something terrible and he knew it. Somehow, this felt worse than summoning the demon. This was worse than corrupting Dinky’s talent to summon an army of Tartarus spawned bugs. The weight of his own guilt bearing down upon his back made Bucky feel old. He didn’t know how this might end, but he knew that if he was successful, he could potentially end all life on the mirror travelers’ homeworld. Bucky did not know how one was supposed to feel about snuffing out all existence on a world, leaving behind only demons and supernatural entities. The very thought of it left his insides with a hollow ache that nothing could soothe.

“Buckminster?”

Hearing Fluttershy’s voice, Bucky winced, cringing away from the gentle creature that he felt ashamed to even be around. He felt a soft touch upon his neck and he made a reluctant turn of his head. Fluttershy’s red and yellow eyes somehow radiated kindness and he found himself feeling better in spite of himself.

“How are Lunacy and Tranquility?” Bucky asked.

“Oh, they are sleeping,” Fluttershy replied, “but I’m not worried about them. I am however, worried about you. You haven’t slept in a long time, have you?” As she spoke, Fluttershy placed a sloth-like paw beneath Bucky’s chin and lifted his head.

“I slept a little.” Bucky felt guilty even saying it—he had slept a little, but less than an hour, and he didn’t feel like it counted for much. During his short sleep, he had himself a nightmare about his soul being flayed in Tartarus and being told that he would never see the gate, that his nightmare existence would never end. The punishment would never cease.

“Uh huh,” Fluttershy said in a knowing voice as she nodded her head. She drifted down to the deck and patted the wooden planks beside her. “Come here and sit with me. We can meditate together. You can learn to be calm and you can set a good example for Sentinel so he can control his anger and his rage.”

“I dunno if I can focus enough right now—”

“SIT DOWN WITH ME!” Fluttershy’s voice was the sound of raging demon being shoved down through a garbage disposal with a half dozen pieces of silverware and her eyes flashed with chaotic temper. The emerging draconequus let out a sigh, cleared her throat, patted the deck beside her, and this time, speaking with a sweet, demure voice, she told Bucky, “Come here and sit beside me.”

Terrified beyond reason, Bucky sat down and did as he was told, understanding all too well how Discord had been reformed into the gentle, kind spirit of chaos that he was now. A chilly breeze blew through his mane and made his skin prickle. He had odd sensations in his tiny antler buds and he was unaware that he was feeling the magic present in the wind.

As Bucky tried to get comfortable on the deck, he felt himself lifted by a gentle force, a cushion popped into existence beneath him, and then he was set back down with something soft beneath his rump. He felt something touch the once ruined, now scaly right side of his face. It was a soft, gentle touch, something Bucky was almost starved for, and he leaned into it. He felt Fluttershy stroke his ears and at her touch, he felt himself calming.

“Every day you become a little more like Discord and I.” Fluttershy’s voice was a soothing whisper, the same voice she used to speak to troubled animals that were in pain and needed help. “I worry for you. So does Discord, even if he doesn’t say it. Every day, you struggle and you resist what you were meant to be, no matter the consequences. I’m proud of you… because somepony has to be proud of you.” Fluttershy let out a soft sigh. “I wish I had better words of encouragement, but we both know it is only going to get harder.”

Inhaling, Bucky filled his lungs, held it, focused on the soothing sound of Fluttershy’s voice, and then let everything out with a long, slow exhale, trying to imagine that he was releasing all of the stress in his body out with his breath.

He heard the soft sounds of Fluttershy breathing beside him, a slow, steady, calming sound. He tried to match up his own breathing to hers. She was slower, steadier, she was calmer. His mind began to drift as he fell into pace with Fluttershy.

Eyes closed, Bucky thought of another dream, this time with Platinum and Sombra. They too, were proud of him. As always, they told him to keep fighting, keep resisting, and to always do what he believed needed to be done. It wasn’t about doing the right thing, or the wrong thing, it was about being practical. Save lives. Preserve lives. Ensure a future worth living in for those most worthy and deserving.

Like Berry Pinch. As Bucky thought of her, he felt a growing warmth in his barrel and his heart rate slowed. He was giving her a better future, or so he hoped. She was one more reason to keep fighting, keep resisting, one more reason to keep going, no matter how difficult it got. While every life mattered, little Pinchy’s, like the others in his family, were special.

Bucky imagined himself on a scale with himself weighing down one side, and then he visualised the lives of those he loved being added one at a time in an attempt to make the scale even out. With each terrible act, with each battle, with each fight, Bucky changed, becoming heavier, and the scales were getting harder to balance out. Little Berry Pinch was just another counterbalance. There would be more required as more time passed.

This might be the fight to end all fights with the mirror travelers, or it might just buy Equestria some time and some much needed breathing room. The currents of Bucky’s mind swirled around the fact that he was just one pony and there were millions of lives at stake. His needs were very trivial compared to the whole of the others. He understood that he needed to make peace with what needed to be done.

In and out. Bucky breathed with a rhythmic regularity now, his own respiration now synchronised with Fluttershy’s. Each breath was a slow, laboured thing, a heavy, ponderous act that took a great deal of time and effort. Too much time and effort was involved and so less important things had to go, like worries.

The tiny antler buds on Bucky’s head tingled, he felt something vibrating, and then, as Bucky slipped deeper into his meditative state, he heard something humming. A deep, resonant thrum. The sound in his ears matched the vibration in his tiny, budding antlers, it made his skull vibrate, his horn, and somehow, the sensation of his brain being buzzed was soothing. It was a blissful sensation. His tiny antlers had a connection to something, Bucky did not know what, and it was entirely different than his horn. Connected to whatever, Bucky felt himself getting high on existence. It was a pleasant, life affirming feeling.

Still locked in time with Fluttershy’s breathing, Bucky drifted off into a pleasant state of disconnected connection.

 

 

Overhead, above The Scorned Mare’s nacelle, the stars twinkled. Twilight Sparkle and Sunset Shimmer watched as both Fluttershy and Bucky hovered together, defying the laws of gravity. For Sunset, a unicorn, it was a source of amusement. They did it without thinking, without conscious magic, it just happened by virtue of what they were. For Twilight, an alicorn, it unsettled her. It defied order. It defied a harmonic existence. The laws of nature had to be obeyed… and enforced.

It was all Twilight could do to keep all of her feelings bottled up inside, leaving both Fluttershy and Bucky alone so they could continue to meditate. She understood the importance of the act, but the sight of her friends committing such a flagrant violation of the natural order unnerved her to no end.

Twilight supposed that the draconequus was intended to be the natural enemy of the alicorn for a reason, but now, with everything turned over on its ear and with alicorns and draconequus spawn living together, Twilight had to make peace with the cosmic regulations defying rulebreakers.

It was like cats and dogs living together, or perhaps griffons and diamond dogs. It could be total hysteria, and there were moments when it was total hysteria, but for the most part, alicorns and draconequus spawn could live together in a muddled, confused sort of harmony, sort of like having peas and carrots baked into a chocolate chip cookie. Sure, peas and carrots didn’t belong in a chocolate chip cookie, but there was no specific rule preventing some mad baker from committing the atrocious crime against the culinary arts. A polite pony would eat the cookie and act as though they enjoyed it, even if it was weird.

“Twilight?”

Startled, Twilight snapped out of her funk and looked at Sunset. She gave the unicorn beside her a sheepish grin and then took a deep, calming breath as she tried not to think about two of her friends defying one of the most basic, simple laws of the universe; what goes up must also come down.

“You look distracted, Twilight.”

“I’m fine,” Twilight said, her voice quavering and not sounding fine. She cleared her throat and tried again. “Everything is okay. I’m just… distracted, that’s all.”

“I know I’m distracted. There are canisters full of the most awful diseases down in storage. Some of the worst stuff the zebras had to offer. And the nurse stabbed me right in the cutie mark when she gave me the emergency vaccinations in case of accidental exposure.” Sunset Shimmer sighed and then shifted to one side, trying to find a comfortable place on her bottom to sit. She had been stabbed in both plot cheeks. Repeatedly. She had also been given a patronising stare when the nurse gave her a lollipop.

“I must confess, I’m a bit worried about this,” Twilight said to Sunset, confiding in her friend. “I keep picturing the mirror travelers spilling out of the portal I open and overrunning us. There are so many ways this can go wrong. I’m scared, Sunset.”

“So am I,” Sunset admitted, “but I will stay the course.”

“There are times when I wish I had you as my apprentice.” Twilight waited for a moment for the bombshell she dropped to settle in before she continued. “I get jealous of you and Bucky. I’m envious of your dedication to him and the way he dotes on you. It makes me wish that I had taken you as a student.”

“I… don’t know what to say.” Sunset blinked at her longtime friend, tried to say something else, but ended up sitting there with her mouth hanging open.

“You and I are friends. Close friends. And that means a lot to me. But a teacher and an apprentice have a special friendship. It’s something I haven’t explored and I am desperate to know more about it. I’ve been on the other end… as Princess Celestia’s student.” Twilight pursed her lips and huffed, trying to blow her mane out of her eyes. “I watch you and Bucky sometimes and I wonder sometimes what it would be like if I was your teacher.”

Sunset continued giving Twilight a blank stare.

“I’m content to just be your friend though. I’m sorry I said anything. It has been on my mind for a long time. It just sort of slipped out I guess. You are like an ideal apprentice. A perfect one. I understand why Bucky is so fond of you.” Twilight felt her cheeks grow warm and she was glad that it was dark. The darkness made it easier to hide when one was blushing.

“Thank you, Twilight,” Sunset Shimmer managed to say. “I’m flattered.”

“Since I can’t have you as an apprentice, maybe you could help me find a worthy student… do you think you could do that?” Twilight asked.

“Well, I don’t know… how does one even begin such a process?” Sunset replied.

“Well, I thought confiding in a friend that I needed a little help was a good start.” Twilight smiled and the corner of her eye suffered a violent spasm as she glanced over at Fluttershy and Bucky, who were still hovering above the deck and somehow moving along with the ship as it traveled at speed. Twilight desperately tried not to think about physics.

Sunset’s head bobbed with enthusiasm, and she was unaware of Twilight’s titanic mental struggle to hold everything in. “Well, I suppose we could start with a list of things you want in an apprentice, and then a list of ponies with those qualities…”

 

 

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