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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Twilight had endured chaos, she had survived Discord, she had sorted through confusion, She had outlasted the bureaucracy, and now, she was living the aftermath. The ponies of Guano Grotto were good ponies, they mourned the loss of Queen Chrysalis, but they also came together to help the new earth pony arrivals, who were just now beginning the long road of healing and recovery. Being around them, Twilight realised she was seeing the future of Equestria—ponies and changelings working together. However, for Equestria to reach this point, it was going to require a long and troublesome journey.

Pondering the significance of this, Twilight understood this was part of what made Bucky who and what he was. She had spoken at length with the Fates and she understood her place and Bucky’s place in the world. She had the potential to unite the world through friendship, while Bucky was intended to conquer and pacify the entirety of the world. He was supposed to raise armies and destroy the world with war. Bucky had inherited a few destinies, the spell of destiny long ago had been corrupted. Bucky, who had been intended to be Equestria’s knight, was also intended to be Equestria’s destroyer. The threads of destiny could be tampered with, corrupted even, but Bucky was resisting his own darker purposes and sticking close to what Twilight believed was his own original purpose as Equestria’s knight as foretold by Star Swirl in quite a number of moldy old books.

But things had gone wrong with the curse, the corruption, Sombra had laid the way for Equestria to be destroyed by its protector. Of everything that went wrong, what stood out the most was that Bucky was far too strong willed. Bucky, for all intents and purposes, had bucked the parts of his destiny that he didn’t like. Parts of his nature still manifested, but in an incomplete way. He still raised armies and attracted beings of immense talent and power to him, but then, things fizzled out from there. Bucky had brought the griffons into Equestria, but not as a conquering army. Instead, he brought refugees, rescued slaves, the broken, the battered, and the abused.

And Twilight was doing her part. She had friendship initiatives for the little griffons. She had used them to form her Aurora Guard. Bucky had brought Twilight an army of friends, the sorts of friends that she could change the world with. He had brought her an army of hard workers that she could make things better with. The changelings were no different and Twilight was already hard at work trying to figure out how she could direct them so that things could be made better.

All of the things that were the big threats to equinekind, Bucky was laying low and Twilight had an inkling of understanding that it fell upon her to do the long term work of making everything right. With an army of changelings… Twilight realised she could do a lot of good. A whole lot of little Tourmalines. Healers, empaths, workers… the changelings, once a threat to Equestria, might very well be Equestria’s saviours, but only if everypony worked together.

Apart from Chrysalis, there had been casualties though. The transference drones, the drones responsible for the transference of Chrysalis’ conscience, had all dropped dead. There were quite a number here at Guano Grotto, but Twilight suspected that there had been a good many stashed away in other parts of the world. No doubt they were dead now as well. The changeling queen would have covered her bases and had contingencies prepared for when things went wrong.

And things had gone wrong, but Queen Chrysalis hadn’t had a plan for dying on an alien world. She had willingly followed Bucky through the portal, and Twilight could not figure out why. She could not figure out what would possess one so cunning, so crafty, and so cold to follow Bucky through a rift and into a hostile world. Queen Chrysalis could have stayed behind, but she had insisted on being at Bucky’s side when he had gone into danger. She had, in fact, put her hoof down about the issue.

Twilight chalked it up the loyalty that Bucky seemed to inspire in others. Bucky never asked anypony or anybirdy to do anything that he wasn’t willing to do himself, which was something that Twilight admired about him.

 

 

“How is he doing? Any improvement?” Twilight fidgeted as she waited for a reply. She needed Bucky around. There was a lot of work to do and so much to take care of. Plus, she needed to know that her friend was okay.

“I cannot get into his mind,” the drone replied, shaking her head. “All I can do is influence his mood. I do not understand how his mind is so well defended.”

“The last time he was awake, he made it rain custard.” Fluttershy heaved a sigh and one ear twitched. She made a disgusted face and her mismatched wings fluttered at her sides.

“Did he say anything?” Twilight asked.

“Nope.” Fluttershy shook her head. “He’s not dangerous at all, he’s just… full of chaos. Do you understand what happened yet?”

Twilight shrugged. “I can only speculate. I think the Night Stallion messed with our portal. I can’t say for sure, but that’s my best guess.” Twilight looked at Bucky’s slumbering form for a moment, then glanced at Cadance, and then her gaze turned back to Fluttershy. “If he’s not dangerous, the next time he wakes up, let him stay awake. Maybe he needs to let the chaos drain out. Does Discord have any ideas?”

“Oh, poor Discord is having tummy troubles from eating all of the egg custard.” Fluttershy shook her head. “Poor dear, he ate quite a bit before he realised that it was rotten egg custard. He was caught up in the moment. You know how he can be.”

Responding to Fluttershy’s words, Twilight gagged and took a step backwards. She sniffed, wondering if she could still smell custard, but there was nothing. The mess must have been cleaned up, and for that, Twilight was thankful.

Stumped for what to say or do, Twilight tried to strike up a conversation with the drone. “So, uh, do you miss your queen? Are you sad that Chrysalis is gone? Are you doing okay?”

“Why would I be sad?” the drone replied as she tilted her head to one side. “I still function and have not suffered terminal failure of my biological imperatives, so I am okay.”

“Queen Chrysalis is dead. Don’t you have some feelings about that?” Twilight’s brows furrowed and she looked into the drone’s strange, almost alien, insectoid eyes.

The drone gave Twilight a blank look and did not respond for quite some time. Fluttershy took a deep calming breath. The sound of Bucky’s steady breathing filled the cabin. Cadance yawned. In her crib, Bandua peeped, made a trilling sound, and then peeped again.

“Perhaps when he wakes up…” the drone gestured at Bucky and continued to look Twilight in the eye, “he can tell me how I should feel or what I should think about this situation. I am sorry, I do try to be helpful and comply with all reasonable requests, but I do not have adequate responses to your queries.”

“So… she’s gone… your leader is gone, and you don’t have any feelings about it?” Twilight asked.

“Should I?” the drone replied.

“Didn’t she mean anything to you?” Twilight blinked and gave the drone an incredulous stare.

“I was created to fulfil a function, nothing more. I was one thought among many. I was created with a degree of independence because it was valuable to my function to have independent thought and problem solving skills. I do not understand what you expect from me.” The drone bowed her head. “I apologise… I have upset you.”

“It’s okay… look, I have a lot to do… I’ll be back to check on Bucky later.” Unsettled, Twilight took a deep breath and fled the room, needing a moment alone with her thoughts so that she could piece everything together.

 

 

Disturbed, Twilight paced along the canyon floor, her hooves treading over the fine, soft sand. Evening was coming, the end to a long day. She had sent off a full report to Princess Celestia. Twilight was troubled.

The mountain fortress was gone. Twilight could not find it anywhere. She had peered through the portal viewer and she could see where the mountain fortress of the mirror travelers used to be, but it was gone, and so were much of the mountains. It was as if something had just ripped the mountains and the fortress away. Mountains and fortresses did not just disappear. Those weren’t things that vanished.

Twilight did not know what had happened. Perhaps something had gone catastrophically wrong and the invading army of evil had finally put an end to the mirror travelers, but that seemed unlikely. But a massive fortress and part of a mountain range did not just disappear. It wasn’t there. It was gone. There was a pile of rubble where some of the mountains had crumbled away, but there wasn’t enough rubble to account for all of the mountains or a demolished city.

More than anything, Twilight needed answers so she could put her mind at ease. The mirror travelers it seemed, had vanished. Their homeworld was now dead, a planet lost to rampaging evil. Then there was the matter of Bucky, who had been exposed to the Warp. Poor Bucky, who even now, was laughing like a lunatic and had some disturbing draconequus-like powers to go along with his new looks. Bucky had taken on some of the appearance of a draconequus, but lacked many of their other aspects, like near imperviousness, the ability to pull off one’s own head and roll it around, share a pregnancy, or give birth through sneezing.

There were too many unknowns, and Twilight Sparkle didn’t like unknowns. She liked understanding things. She took comfort in things that were for certain. She needed a certain level of stability in her life and right now, everything felt scrambled.

There was a flutter of wings and Twilight felt Belisama land upon her back. The griffoness’ claws tickle-prickled against her flesh and Twilight, as high as strung as she was, still somehow giggled at Belisama’s touch.

“The area is still secure,” Belisama said to Twilight as she began to stroke Twilight’s mane. “I checked on Bucky… he’s been doped up a bit, but he’s still awake. Not at all lucid though. The red and yellow glow has gone out of his eyes… I’m kinda worried, because the Eye of Odin should be above such magics, at least, it should be… I dunno.”

“Well, maybe this will just wear off if we give it time,” Twilight replied.

“He turned his pillow into a plate of waffles and syrup. Fluttershy scolded him and she feels bad for losing her temper and you do not want to go into that room, trust me. Cadance seems to be taking all of this rather well.” Belisama slumped on Twilight’s back, fatigue finally setting in. “Twilight, how are you holding up?”

“I’m managing… I’m just busy,” Twilight replied.

“And that’s why I am worried.” Belisama made a few absentminded passes through Twilight’s mane with her talons, combing out of habit and without thinking.

“Bucky and I are a lot alike, I suppose.” Twilight’s brows knitted together. “We’re both still Canterlot unicorns deep down inside. Things go wrong for us and we fall back upon a regimen of hard work to keep ourselves from having to deal with everything.”

“You and Queen Chrysalis were enemies…” Belisama’s voice was low and hesitant.

“We were,” Twilight admitted. “She foalnapped the Cutie Mark Crusaders. She tried to ruin my brother and my sister in law’s wedding. She made my teacher and a pony I care a great deal about… she made that pony doubt me and that hurt. I must confess, I was vehemently against many of Princess Celestia’s more recent plans involving peace with Queen Chrysalis.”

Twilight fell silent for a moment, shook her head, and it was several long seconds before she continued speaking again, her eyes vacant as she bogged down in memories and thoughts.

“The best laid plans. Things happen so quickly sometimes… Princess Celestia came up with a plan to deal with Chrysalis… it involved Dinky growing up in all of the right ways, having the right mindset, and then, when Dinky was properly prepared, she and others that Princess Celestia had an eye on would wrestle control of Queen Chrysalis’ hive away from her. Princess Celestia makes some long term plans… but this time, all of her plans were for naught. She didn’t get to play the long game. All of her plans and all of her forward thinking… it was for nothing. Bucky had plans too… I’m not sure what those were, but he asked me some strange questions about certain types of magic and soul transference into golems. Something I forbid him from doing… but I suspect that he wanted to help Chrysalis.”

As Belisama continued to comb Twilight’s mane with her talons, she felt Twilight’s neck muscles quivering and twitching with each stroke. Twilight didn’t look quite so frantic, tense, or nervous. The agitated alicorn was calming down.

“Sunset Shimmer plans to take small, manageable groups of earth ponies, the ones who are doing the best and let them see the stars and the moon tonight. I am sure it is going to be a momentous moment… you should join us.” Belisama, reaching out her talons, angled the razor sharp claws away from Twilight’s tender flesh and scratched behind her ears. The griffoness was all too aware and all too familiar with how ponies worked now, and Twilight melted beneath her touch.

“I’d like that,” Twilight replied. “After everything that has happened, I’d like to see the good that comes out of it.”

“Overall, this feels like victory.” Belisama’s voice was soft, yet hard. “This is something we can sing about in the mead hall and not feel ashamed about.” The griffoness fell silent, peered over at The Scorned Mare, and then gave a little nod. “We have dealt our enemies quite a blow.”

“Perhaps a mortal one,” Twilight whispered as she thought of the missing fortress. “Come, Belisama, perhaps a little celebration is what we both need.”

 

 

 

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