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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“You have given me quite a chase, but like all of the others, you have fallen. You played the game well, for whatever it is worth. You eluded me far longer than most… but here we are.”

Two ponies stood in a vast grey void. One was an albino earth pony with the most peculiar cutie mark, wilted petunias, and the other was a nondescript greyish coloured mare with a cockroach cutie mark. They stood in the vast, endless expanse that was the realm of the dead, the place where souls go to be judged and to find out their judgment.

“The game was rigged. I feel the need to confess that. My brother carried your unwitting end upon his back. He bears my mantle, and wherever he goes, it goes, and I follow. War keeps me busy. He has his hobbies and I have mine. He gives me many deserving souls that I have been hankering after for quite some time. Like you, for example. He unwittingly killed you, just as he was intended to do. It’s his nature, you see. He kills things. He’s a bad day waiting to happen. This trap was planned quite some time ago. Please, don’t take it personally, but you did cheat, so drastic measures had to be taken.”

“Who are you?” the greyish mare with a cockroach cutie mark asked.

“Thanatos.”

The mare’s ears drooped and she backed away, or tried to. After a few steps, she found herself nose to nose with the albino earth pony. She tried backing away again, but after a few steps, there she was, nose to nose again.

“Shall we get down to the business of you being dead?” Thanatos asked in a soft voice that held no emotion. His pink eyes flashed with a strange inner light as he studied the greyish mare forced to stand before him.

“Like I have a choice,” the greyish coloured mare replied.

“Actually, you do have a choice. And that is why we are here.” Thanatos smiled, a sad smile that showed only a fraction of the sorrow of the ages. “You have lived an extraordinary life. You have accomplished much. And now, here at the end of your life, you have a choice.” Thanatos’ smile vanished and he shook his head. “For good or for ill, all accomplishments get rewarded.”

“Just spit it out and be done with it!” the greyish mare snapped.

“Poor little Posey… such defiance.” Thanatos raised his eyebrow and stared at the greyish mare standing before him.

“NOPONY CALLS ME THAT! POSEY DIED A LONG TIME AGO! I AM CHRYSALIS, QUEEN OF THE CHANGELINGS!” The greyish mare lifted her head high and did her best to look defiant in the very face of death.

“Poor little Posey… who discovered the true nature of her cockroach cutie mark.” Thanatos’ voice was flat and utterly devoid of any emotion. His ears perked forwards, his tail swished, and he blinked at the grey mare that had once been known as Posey. “Posey, I am going to offer you a choice.”

The greyish mare bared her teeth at the albino earth pony and stared into his strange pink eyes. She snorted, remaining defiant, and she glared at Thanatos, refusing to be submissive.

“You have two options,” Thanatos said in a low voice, “the first is, you have your soul flayed until such a time that you undergo a profound transformation… a chrysalis of sorts, if you will indulge me and my jest.” Thanatos smiled, but his smile held no warmth, no mirth, it was as cold as the grave. “Your soul will be shredded and you will know agony in a deep and intimate way. You will get to experience all of the pain and suffering you have inflicted upon others during your extraordinarily long life. A considerable sum, by my own reckoning. After you endure this transition… this transformation, you will join the ranks of the demons, and then you will be responsible for the torment and the flaying of souls arriving in the afterlife. You’ve earned it.”

The greyish mare’s eyes narrowed. “And the other option?”

“You suffer for your many crimes, sins, and misdeeds, endure your penance, and then move on to an afterlife that you do not deserve,” Thanatos replied.

The mare’s face contorted in confusion and she shook her head. “Why am I being given this option? This choice? Is this a trick? A test? I demand to know!”

“Tell me, Posey, did you love him?” Thanatos leaned in a little closer and gave the greyish mare a knowing wink.

“Love? Love is a weakness that I shed long—AAAAAAAAAAARGH!”

Screams filled the grey void around the two ponies and the mare fell upon the featureless expanse. She kicked and writhed, her body contorted with agony, and screams poured out of her body like water from a pitcher that never emptied.

After what might have been ten minutes, ten years, or ten thousand years, the screaming stopped and Thanatos took a step closer, almost standing over the greyish mare as she lay whimpering on the featureless flat expanse that stretched in all directions.

“In life, you were deceitful and you could get away with it.” Thanatos chewed on his own lip for a minute while the mare below him continued to writhe in agony. “Here, in my realm, there are dreadful consequences for dishonesty. Now, I shall ask you again, did you love him?”

Her whole body seizing, the grey mare whimpered, gibbered, and tried to crawl away from the pale white earth pony, but her efforts were for naught as she kept reappearing beside him. After a few vain attempts, she stopped, laid there, and wept, her sobs filling the void all around her.

“Yes.”

“Very good.” Thanatos nodded and one ear flopped around a bit. “And when did you realise that you loved him?”

“The desert… that day when he and I talked—no! No, please! Not again!” The greyish mare curled into a fetal position as she felt the pain creeping through her body.

“Lying to yourself is just as bad as lying to me. Be honest… or else.” Thanatos’ words held no warmth, no kindness, there was nothing but the void in his spoken words. “Time passes funny in this realm of mine. I can make you scream for as long as it takes. Do not test my patience. You do not have the fortitude to endure my wrath.”

“I don’t know,” the greyish mare whimpered, “I don’t know but I’m trying!”

“Perhaps you lack sufficient motivation—”

“Las Pegasus!” The mare curled up into a tight fetal ball and let out a terrified screech to appease her interrogator. “It was Las Pegasus! I couldn’t figure out why he would risk himself for others! It confused me! He was so powerful! So dangerous! But he wasn’t acting for his own benefit or glory and it confused me!”

Thanatos nodded his head. “Good little Posey. Sorry, but there will be no cookies. Bad fillies do not get cookies, and you… you were the worst filly, you despicable little shit.”

“I felt it… that day in the desert… I realised what it was… it was a feeling that had died a long time ago and I didn’t recognise it when it came back… it had been gone for so long!”

“Yes, little Posey… that day in the desert, your shriveled little heart recognised it as love. And that is why we are here having this discussion. That is why you have a choice. You see, somepony loved you… and so long as somepony loves you, a true, genuine, honest love, you can be redeemed. Your soul is not lost. This is why mothers and fathers must love their foals… to save them from Tartarus. ‘Tis a sad thing, but so many fail in this simple task… like a pony I know by the name of Primrose Propers.” Thanatos paused and sighed. “Love is such a simple thing, it protects you from so much. You fed upon love without ever truly understanding it, and you attacked Cadance without understanding her purpose.”

“He loved me?” The mare blinked her eyes, but did not uncurl from her fetal position.

“He most certainly did. You don’t deserve his love and to be honest, I rather wish that he would have destroyed you. But my brother loves, for all of his other foolishness, he does love.” Thanatos sat down upon the grey, flat expanse and made himself comfortable. “He loved you. After you gave him Crisis, he loved you even more. He plotted to save you. He was working on a means to give you a permanent body so you would stop making drones and cheating death. My brother was making plans and brokering deals with Princess Celestia. My brother is very, very foolish, but he saw some good in you, something worth saving. Honestly, I do not see it. You are despicable, you are loathsome, and just being near you makes me feel sick. I feel soiled by your very presence.”

“But he loved me,” the greyish mare murmured in a low voice.

“That he did.” Thanatos shook his head. “No accounting for taste.” The pale white pony’s eyebrow arched. “Some time ago, I gave my brother my cloak and the trap was set with the worst sort of bait. You were right to be afraid of love, it was your undoing. Your death was planned… plotted… you made many enemies and those who hated you… we all put our heads together and we plotted your demise. We recognised that you loved power. Like a moth to a flame, Bucky was made irresistible to you and we waited. We looked into many futures and we tweaked many threads and we planned, we plotted, and we manipulated many events.”

The mare laying on the ground let out a groan as Thanatos spoke.

“You were supposed to die so we could punish you for your many misdeeds. What we did not count upon was my brother loving you in return. That was unexpected and regrettable. I was so looking forward to being there when your soul was flayed into shreds and you began to understand true suffering. I had plans to look after your education and take a hooves on approach. So few get to experience my tender mercies.” Thanatos heaved a bored sounding sigh. “I suppose it all comes down to Cadance.”

“I don’t understand.” The mare uncovered her face and looked up at the earth pony sitting beside her.

“Cadance’s purpose is to love all ponies… and one day, she will, when her power matures. She will love them unconditionally and without reservation, no matter how awful they are, and because of this love, all ponies will be redeemed and spared a terrible fate.” Thanatos looked down at the greyish coloured mare cowering on the ground. “Those deserving and those undeserving will be redeemed and given a second chance. I suspect that some aspect of Cadance influenced Bucky to feel love for you.” Thanatos paused and gave thought to his words. “At least, that is my opinion. I do not know. I am sometimes wrong.”

“So I have a choice? I can become a demon or I can suffer and be redeemed?” the grey mare uncurled a bit more, squirmed, and then rose into a sitting position, all while keeping a wary eye upon Thanatos, watching for any signs of his displeasure.

“Yes. You do. A choice that you do not deserve.” Thanatos lifted up his hoof and then scratched his neck. “Choose wisely.”

“If I choose redemption, if I choose to be good, if I use this second chance that I have been given, will I ever see him again?” The greyish mare looked upon Thanatos with pleading eyes.

“I can offer no promises that will influence your decision for good or evil. I cannot offer you a carrot in exchange for choosing the path to redemption. In the end, the choice must be yours, and yours alone.” Thanatos’ ears perked forwards, he shook his head, and then a rare show of emotion happened as his ears drooped down to the sides of his face. “There are reunions here in Tartarus and there are those who wait the long years away for a chance to be with those they love. Those that endure are due for a special reward, but you did not hear this from me. Say anything to anyone and I will lay your soul to waste.”

“I don’t care about the reward,” the greyish mare replied, her ears pitching forwards. “On the chance that I might see him again, I would rather choose redemption. I suspect that if I was to choose to become a demon, I might be one of the ones torturing him when he answers for his many misdeeds, and I cannot bear the thought.”

“So then, you have made your decision?” Thanatos asked.

“Yes,” Posey replied, “I have. Even though I don’t deserve it, I want to be redeemed.”

“Very well then, it is time for me to pass judgment.” Thanatos’ eyebrows wrinkled. “You are guilty of so much… it would take me an eon to announce all of your crimes and misdeeds. Suffice to say, there is a lot to answer for… but, because of love, you will be shown mercy. Come, Posey. It is time to face your punishment. Be brave and focus on the one you love. It will make things bearable, I promise.”

The two ponies vanished and the endless grey expanse was left empty.

 

 

 

Author's Note:

Chapter 808, by the way. You might want to give it a quick read. Her fate was sealed long before that though.

Everyone conspired to kill her. The ponies, the zebras, everyone and everything. In the end, it was the immortals moving against her that brought her down.

 
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