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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Scorch the Usurper looked up at the massive centaur known as Hades. The centaurs, an almost forgotten race, were beings of immense power. Tirek had reminded the world of the living of the existence of centaurs not long ago, but he had been struck down by Discord.

The throne room in which Scorch stood was Lord Hades’ prison. He could never leave this place. He was bound to this place. There were no chains, at least, not physical ones, but Hades was unable to leave, unable to move very far from his throne without finding himself teleported back to the location to which he was bound.

Hades had introduced murder into the world; the very first death of one sapient creature caused by another had been done by Hades’ own hand. Not killing, not death, but murder. Hades had brought something into the world that could not be removed, could not be stricken away, Hades had broken the Creator’s heart with a cold blooded act of murder. Hades coveted the power of another, the magic of another, and Hades, being a centaur, took it. Being a centaur, he sucked out the magic of another, draining them, and devoured their life force. Jealousy, greed, and murder. For this, Hades was sentenced to rule Tartarus until such a time that he took his own life.

Lounging on his immense stone throne, Lord Hades raised his eyebrow and said, “You wanted to see me, Scorch the Usurper...” There was a long pause as Hades studied Scorch. “What brings you here to my realm?”

Scorch, calm, relaxed, gave Hades a nod. He drew in a deep breath, reminded himself that he could not lie, not without consequences, and replied, “It has come to my attention that you wish to rearrange the balance of power. I wish to be on the winning side.”

Lord Hades began to chuckle and his fingers tapped upon the arm of his throne. “Scorch the Usurper… one can always count on you to know which side is winning. What are you proposing? Do you wish to alter or discuss our agreement concerning our little war with our benevolent Creator?”

“No, nothing like that,” Scorch replied as he shifted form into an amorphous, fiery mass. “My war against the Creator will continue as it is.” Scorch paused for a moment, considered his words, and looked Hades in the eye. “It has come to my attention that you wish to remove Celestia from power. Might I ask why? Now, I know that you know my stance on the issue, but if you help me to understand, perhaps I can be persuaded to… change my mind.”

Hades leaned forwards and both of his eyebrows raised. He reached up one massive hand and scratched at the base of his horns. “I have always liked your ability to be reasonable. I had hoped that you and I could see reason on this issue. It is as I tried to tell the Vizier of Lamentations… you will come around when you see which side is winning. He’s always so overblown and dramatic.”

Scorch nodded, but said nothing.

“No doubt, you have heard rumours that I wish to remove her for reasons of stability, or because she is emotional, any number of other trite reasons.” Hades reached up and stroked his chin, then shook his head. “It has nothing to do with any of that.”

“Why then?” Scorch asked.

“Revenge,” Hades replied, “plain and simple. He was here… He was goading me, taunting me. He regaled me with some smug, self satisfied story about how all of this will be over soon and all his mistakes swept away, including me. He told me in detail how the Alicorn of War was going to kill me… He thought the whole thing was quite funny. He is a right bastard, as you know.”

Scorch did not reply, but had he been something other than an amorphous fiery mass, he would have struggled to hold back a smile.

“So… I’ve had enough of Him. I’ve decided to hurt him the only way I can. Celestia’s body holds Light, our kind, benevolent Creator’s beloved daughter. She is subject to the rules of this world. My plan is really quite simple… kill Celestia, because she is a body, nothing more, and then when Light arrives here, I plan to have her soul shredded. There will be nothing that the Creator will be able to do, because He insists on playing by the rules.”

“And what of the sun and the celestial bodies?” Scorch asked.

Hades shrugged. “We give them to another? You can control the sun, if you wanted to. As for the celestial bodies, we could bind them to other beings. I’m sure we can work out something.”

“And what of Luna? She holds the soul of Darkness.” Scorch shifted form again, this time becoming a fire titan, a giant of living flame.

“Oh… I want our Creator to hear the cries, the wailing, the weeping, and the gnashing of Darkness’ teeth as she mourns the loss of her sister. Surely He will feel something. Somewhere in that body there has to be a shred of emotion. Anyhow, at some later time, I will do away with Luna as well, undo Thanatos’ abominations, and set Darkness free. I will of course, shred her soul as well, because He needs to suffer.”

“I see.” Scorch paused for a moment, looking at Hades, and then began to pace. “So this is all about revenge.”

“Well, and murder,” came Hades’ sarcastic reply. “I’m good at murder. Killing that self righteous cunt Celestia will be quite pleasing, I dare say. I cannot bear to listen to even one more of her moral platitudes.”

“Well, our Creator was right about one thing,” Scorch said in a low voice.

“And what is that?” Hades asked.

“War is going to kill you,” Scorch replied.

As Scorch spoke, something white suddenly protruded from Hades’ broad upper torso. Hades’ let out a very surprised gurgle and looked down at the white object protruding from his chest. He reached up with one hand and tried to grab it, but it vanished.

A second later, Bucky rose up behind Hades, half in and half out of shadow, he reached around Hades’ head, and stabbed the rib sword into Hades’ eye. A bellowing, gurgling scream spilled from Hades’ lips and Scorch stood and watched. Bucky’s shadowy mass was now tinged in the dreadful purple aura of pure chaos.

With a jerk, Bucky pulled the sword from Hades’ eye socket, yanked Hades’ head backwards, and stabbed the sword down into Hades’ well muscled neck. He drove the point downwards, down deep into Hades’ chest, and began twisting the blade as it plunged deeper into the centaur’s torso.

“War does so treasure his beloved Auntie,” Scorch said in a sarcastic voice as Bucky struggled to drive the rib sword even deeper into Hades’ heaving chest through his neck. “I would not want to be you right now. You thought the Creator was a bastard… well, Bucky is a bastard son of a bastard.”

Yanking upwards, Bucky pulled the sword out and a geyser of purple-black blood erupted. Hades was still somehow alive and his equine legs kicked as he tried to stand. Bucky resorted to vicious stabbing, holding the sword in his gauntleted talons. In and out the sword went as Bucky made rapid thrusts in and out of Hades’ back. Blood spurted with each act of violent penetration. Bucky’s black armored form stood on Hades’ back, and Bucky thrust his sword through Hades’ other eye. He let go, leaving his sword in Hades’ skull, and then extending his gauntleted talons, he rammed his fist down the gaping hole in Hades’ neck. He reached down inside, there was a loud slurping squelch, and after a moment of fishing around, Bucky yanked out Hades’ still beating heart. He tossed it down upon the ground in front of the throne.

Bucky pulled his sword free as Hades slumped over, his body going still. He was covered in ichor, bits of flesh, and the mutilated remains of an eyeball. He stood near as Hades’ body began to shrivel, it withered as if it aged thousands of years all at once.

Scorch, shifting forms yet again, became a bipedal figure and he clapped his hands together in slow, sincere praise as shadowy figures began to teleport into Hades’ throne room.

“All hail the new Lord of Tartarus,” Scorch said in a booming voice.

There was a brilliant flash of light and a white figure appeared, looking quite startled and alarmed. She looked around the room, her mouth dropping open in horror, glancing at the shrinking body of Hades, and then, Princess Celestia’s eyes focused upon Bucky. She shook her head, not believing, not understanding, not wanting to see her beloved nephew as a blood soaked demon.

“Scorch… you didn’t say she would be here,” Bucky said in a low, worried voice. “I’m about get wing slapped, I just know it! We need to discuss our contract, this wasn’t in the agreement! You need to protect me!”

“Be calm,” Scorch said as he took a step forwards. “Celestia is the Gatekeeper for Tartarus. With you taking power, she was drawn here.” Scorch raised one hand towards Celestia and made a gesture. “Look, my precious little drop of Sunshine, I can explain. I used Bucky—”

“I trusted you,” Celestia said in a low voice as she turned to look at Scorch.

“You can still trust me,” Scorch replied, sounding hurt and a bit worried. “I love you… I did this for you… all of this was for you… not for me.” Scorch took a step closer to Celestia.

“How is making Bucky the Lord of Tartarus something done for me?” Celestia demanded, her eyes bursting into flames as her shock and surprise turned into anger.

“He’s going to give the power to me… and then,” Scorch paused and drew in a deep breath before he continued, “after he has given me the power, I will give it to you. Freely.”

“What?” Bucky said in a surprised voice as he kept a wary eye upon the other figures in the room.

“Celestia… one day, we both know that you will have to fight what comes out of this place… let us change that… let the fight begin now,” Scorch said in a pleading voice. “Let us change this place. It is a prison that breeds demons… the strong devour the weak and get stronger. We can change that, you and I. We can make this a place about penance… we can rehabilitate souls… make them better… and stop making them worse.”

“Scorch,” Celestia said, holding up one hoof so she could speak, “I cannot run this place. I do not have the time nor the resources. I cannot do as you ask.”

“I will serve in your stead,” Scorch replied. “I will bind my very life force to yours and I will be beholden to you. You know my nature. When I swore an oath to become your caretaker when you were a troublesome little filly, I promised to look after your better interests. That promise still binds me. The Fates did a very poor job of wording it, but I didn’t care, because I adored you… I did, really… you know I can’t lie. When I went dormant, I kinda went numb for a while. The years just all smeared together… but I’ve woke up… I’ve rediscovered my purpose… and I can help you.”

“Scorch…”

“Let me help you,” Scorch begged. “We can clean up this cesspit. I will drive the demons down into the Abyss. This place can be more about penance, and less about torture.” Scorch looked at Celestia with pleading eyes. “This will help Equestria too… if you become the Lady of Tartarus, those who refuse to deal with you fairly in life will face your displeasure in death. It will give you a powerful bargaining chip to use when discussing peace and trying to bring about stability.”

“He’s right.” Bucky took a step forwards as the very last of Hades turned into ash. Hades’ heart was now also gone, having turned into a puddle of tarry black goo. “You can’t turn this away… Celestia… Scorch is correct… we can start making things right. We can fight back against our Creator. This is a good first step.”

Ears drooping, Celestia hung her head. “This is a lot of power… I am uncertain of this. I have made mistakes in the past—”

“Yes you have, so what?” Scorch snapped. “You’ve been learning from them too. You have help now. Friends… those that love you. You are our best hope… please? Don’t make me beg… please?”

Letting out a weary sigh, Celestia nodded her head. “Very well, I accept.”

Turning his head, Scorch focused his fiery stare upon Bucky.

“Wait,” Bucky said in a low voice. “While I’m still the Lord of Tartarus, there is something I want… I want to see Sombra, Platinum, and Posey.” Bucky cleared his throat and his helmet vanished. He gave Scorch an apologetic glance. “I’m sorry, I don’t mean to change our bargain—”

“The contract never did say that you had to turn it over right away.” Scorch shifted form again, this time becoming an earth pony. “I know you are a pony of your word. If you want to see them, I won’t stop you. If you call them, they will come.” Scorch trotted over to Celestia, a smile upon his face, and he rubbed himself up against her side, trying to comfort her.

Sitting down upon the throne, Bucky closed his eyes and said three names. “Sombra, Platinum, and Posey, come to me at once.”

There was a crackle, a second, and a then a third. Three new figures stood in the throne room. Bucky looked at them and felt his heart rising up into his throat. He had saved them, spared them, Sombra might still be stuck and unable to pass, but there would be no more torture.

“I’m so proud of you,” Platinum said as she stepped forwards. “I know you will do the right thing.” She kneeled down, bowing before the Lord of Tartarus, and then she rose, smiling. “Scorch told us what you were doing. Bucky… I…” Platinum fell silent as tears began to stream down her cheeks.

With a grunt, Sombra shoved a grey unicorn mare forwards towards Bucky, then sidestepped to be closer to Platinum. He said nothing, but gave Bucky a solemn nod.

“Chrysalis?” Bucky slipped down off of the throne as he looked at the greyish unicorn mare with a cockroach cutie mark.

The mare shook her head. “No, Chrysalis is dead and gone. I am freed from the monster that destroyed me. I am Posey.” The grey mare smiled a soft, pleasant smile. “Love freed me.”

“I’m so sorry… I wish I had done more,” Bucky said as he took a step closer.

“I’m not sorry… and you did enough. You saved me,” Posey replied as she too, took a step closer to Bucky. “I do not have any regrets. I am content with the love that I have. It sustained me and saved me from a bad end.”

Bucky nodded.

“Can I hear you say it?” Posey asked.

Clearing his throat, Bucky nodded again. “I love you… I wish I had done more to save you.”

Posey closed her eyes, her knees wobbled, and then she took another step forwards, closer to where Bucky was standing. “I should have done more to save myself. I love you as well… I wish I would have said it to you while I was still living. I wish I wasn’t so bitter, jaded, and cynical. I wish I would have believed that love might save me.”

“But it has,” Celestia said, unable to stop herself from intruding on a very private moment. “Look at you… you’ve reclaimed yourself.”

“I suppose I have,” Posey replied as she glanced over at Celestia. “I’m sorry, for whatever it is worth. I cannot be dishonest here… I cannot lie… not without consequences. So please know that I am being sincere. I did bad things to you, Celestia, and I truly regret those things.”

“All is forgiven,” Celestia replied as she took a step backwards and leaned up against Scorch’s solid earth pony form.

Moving forward, Bucky pressed his muzzle against Posey’s and gave her a gentle kiss. Nothing lewd, but something loving and passionate, just a quick smooch to let her know how he felt. He pulled away, his grey eye misting over, and he gave Posey a quivering smile.

“Give Crisis all of the love you have for me,” Posey begged.

“I will,” Bucky replied in a strangled voice.

“Look after my drones… I wronged them. I could have done so much more with them, I could have done so much more with myself… I was so selfish… look after my changelings. Give them a future.”

“I will,” Bucky promised.

Posey took a step back, and then backed up until she was standing beside Sombra. She gave Bucky a warm, loving smile and a gentle nod of encouragement. “You know what must be done. This is not a crown that you should be wearing.”  

Nodding, Bucky glanced at Platinum, then at Sombra. Platinum was crying while Sombra looked grim and solemn. “I love you both so much… I know that Sombra’s release is dependent on me ascending. I can’t fix that, but I could save you from the torments of this place. I think I’ll sleep a little better at night knowing that none of you are suffering.”

Lifting his head high, Bucky approached Scorch and as he drew near, Scorch walked away from Celestia’s side to meet Bucky halfway. The two of them together stopped when they stood face to face.

“What do I do?” Bucky asked.

“We touch and you make an oath. Just say that you give this away freely,” Scorch replied.

The obsidian throne room was silent and the watching figures did nothing to stop what was taking place. As Bucky raised his talons, Hades’ massive throne cracked in half, then crumbled down to the ground, shattering into smaller pieces. Celestia gasped.

“I do believe that the power of this place has been broken,” Scorch whispered.

“I, Bucky, the current Lord of Tartarus, do pass on my power to Scorch the Usurper, my friend and trusted companion and I do this of my own free will,” Bucky said. He raised his talons and waited for Scorch to raise his hoof. When Scorch extended his foreleg, Bucky’s gauntleted talons bumped up against Scorch’s flaming hoof. There was a sound like a bell ringing, and more pieces of Hades’ throne shattered.

Head low, Princess Celestia approached the former Lord of Tartarus and the new, current Lord of Tartarus. She bowed to them both, offering them the respect they deserved and then stood with them, the three figures forming a triune. She extended her right front hoof.

“I, Scorch the Usurper, the current Lord of Tartarus, pass along my power to Dawn Star, the body of the Celestial Entity known as Light. I bind my life force to hers and promise to always look after her interests, from now until the end of time. I pledge myself to her service and I do this of my own free will.” Scorch extended his hoof and gave Celestia’s a tap.

Once again, there was a sound like a bell ringing. With a whoosh, Celestia ignited. Flames erupted from her eyes, from her ears, and her pastel rainbow mane became a flickering curtain of flame. She let out a cry as wisps of plasma danced around her body.

As Bucky and Scorch stood watching with wide, startled eyes, Celestia grew. Her legs grew longer, so did her neck, her body, and her horn grew as well, becoming longer. Her flaming wings unfurled. They too, changed, becoming more beautiful, more graceful, longer and broader.

As Celestia gritted her teeth and endured her transformation, her horn glowed with blinding light. The other figures in the throne room ignited, then burned away into ash in mere seconds, but not Sombra, Platinum, or Posey, who were left unharmed. Dozens were turned to ash in mere moments.

Bending his knee, Bucky bowed to the new Lady of Tartarus and reveled in her magnificent glory as the rubble of Hades’ throne disintegrated completely. Beside him, Scorch also bowed.

Once again, power had shifted, and the world was made better...

 

 

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