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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There was a faint squeak when Bucky twisted the faucet to turn off the water and end his shower. The bathroom was filled with fragrant steam that smelled of soap, a vague hint of spiciness, and the lingering stench of dirty diapers because somepony hadn’t done a good job of rinsing out the sanitation station where foals were bathed. It was a scent that Bucky’s mind categorised as ‘parenthood,’ it was a unique smell, but if you went into the bathroom, any bathroom of any parent, you might catch a whiff.

 

With a light flick of magic, he hit the little plastic teardrop hanging from the showerhead as he got out. The device cleaned the shower with scrubbing foam and was a consumer product targeted at earth ponies and pegasus ponies. It began clicking as a timer let Bucky know that it would begin spraying foam soon and that he needed to vacate the shower.

 

Already almost dry, he sauntered over to the sink and had himself a good look in the mirror. He was feeling pretty good about himself at the moment, all things considered. The face in the mirror leered back at him, it was a strange face, it was his own face, but he had trouble telling who it was sometimes. It was the face of consequences. After staring at himself for a few seconds, Bucky realised that something wasn’t quite right. Something was wrong.

 

The face in the mirror had two eyes.

 

At the moment, Bucky knew for certain that he only had one eye. He blinked and the image in the mirror changed—it now matched him and his eye was missing. When he blinked again, the phantom eye returned with a flicker of green fire and he understood what was going on. With understanding came terror; he blinked again and his reflection became a solid black changeling. Closing his eyes, he focused on his memory of how he saw himself and when he opened his eyes, he saw himself staring back with two eyes, one grey, but slitted, and the other looking a lot like the Eye of Odin.

 

Reaching up with his talons, he touched his face, and then with an apprehensive sigh, he moved one taloned finger towards his eye. His reflection touched his own eyeball and Bucky shivered. Grimacing, he pushed his finger into his eye socket, past the somewhat swollen eyelids. In the mirror, his reflection encountered resistance, and then the sharp talon poked into the eyeball. Blood spurted in a crimson spray and eye-jelly began oozing out. The illusion was powerful and insisted that it was real.

 

“You’re just somepony that I’ve made up,” Bucky said to his reflection.

 

“Maybe,” his reflection replied, “but I am what you want to see.”

 

In silence, Bucky considered his statement from himself. Gazing into the mirror, there was a green flash and he was as he used to be. Young. Unblemished. Untouched. He didn’t even recognise the pony that he saw in the mirror. Two perfect eyes. No talons, no fangs, no antlers.

 

“You have the magic you need…” his reflection spoke in a low whisper so it would only be heard by Bucky. “You could be like Posey… why be inconvenienced by death? Why give up so willingly? She gave you a way out, you know. With this magic, you could jump into the body of a drone at any time and just start over. Posey changed you that day that she filled your lungs with changeling goo. She rewrote you. Gave you a means of escape.”

 

Frozen in place, it was all Bucky could do to pull his talon finger from his eye socket as he considered his reflection’s words. The words rang true and Bucky knew that if he wanted to, he could in fact, jump into the body of a drone, take it over, and cheat death. But at what cost? What consequence might this bring? What would the others think?

 

“No,” Bucky said to his own reflection. “I’ve taken much into myself that is wrong with the world and when I die, it will go with me. I must stay the course. This magic, other magics, the things I’ve pulled into myself, these things will die with me.”

 

“They will not stay dead,” the reflection in the mirror replied.

 

“Then others will quell them.” Bucky could feel cold, shivery terror creeping and crawling through his insides. The idea that his death might serve very little purpose terrified him, unnerved him, and made him want to freak out more than just a little bit. Even worse, the knowledge that he could just step out of this body at any time… it was tempting. There were a lot of drones left in the world. Innocent, subservient drones. Such a small price to pay to continue with his great work. Just leap from this ruined body into a fresh one, cast this shell of consequences behind, and start over.

 

He was almost certain that Celestia would forgive him, with time and all of the right words said. With a little leap, a little cheating, a little bit of unicorn cleverness, he could continue being her protector, the world’s protector… his intentions were good—he had the perfect paving stone within his reach, should he wish to begin his own road to Tartarus. With a resigned sigh, he pushed the idea from his mind, or tried to, but it persisted. In every moment of crisis, in every battle that it seemed that he might not win, not without serious consequences, he knew that the temptation would be there. Terrible, terrible temptation.

 

The only way to deal with that would be to end all of the current drones that were vessels of Chrysalis’ magic. But that… that was monstrous and Bucky couldn’t bear the thought of it. There was no choice but to continue and live with this knowledge, knowing that there was an open door of escape. He could become immortal with but a moment of weak will, and from there on, who knew what future moments of weak will might do, or whom it might hurt.

 

“It’s not ascension,” his reflection in the mirror said. “You deserve this. Think about it, after all you’ve given. After all you’ve suffered. You endured the Warp. It doesn’t have to be forever… you could just buy yourself a little time… a little more precious time that you deserve. Watch your foals grow up… find love… and live in the world that you have helped to change.”

 

“No.” Bucky’s lone syllable had a ring of finality to it. He gave himself a shake, turned around, and walked away from the mirror, leaving behind his reflection, which lingered and leered at him as he departed.

 

 

 

 

Taking a deep breath, Sentinel stood just outside of the farmhouse library door and fought back the urge to worry. Just because his father wished to speak with him didn’t mean that he was in trouble. The feeling of apprehension persisted though and he had to take another deep breath so that he might calm down just a little. His emotions, like everything else in his life, seemed unsettled at the moment. Try as he might, he could not rid himself of the irrational fear of his own father.

 

The young colt opened the door and entered the farmhouse library where his father waited. Inside, he saw his father, he was surrounded by books, papers, portfolios, maps, and blueprints, all of which were magicked away as Sentinel stood in the doorway. Something about his father made him nervous and Sentinel felt troubled as he tried to find the reason why.

 

“Sentinel.” Bucky gave his son a solemn nod.

 

“Father.” Sentinel returned the nod as he made his way to a chair.

 

The troubled feeling persisted, it was like claws being raked down a chalkboard. Sentinel could feel cold prickles in his neck, which traveled up the back of his skull, and radiated out into his ears. He watched as his father began to prepare some tea. Perhaps a cup of tea might set things right. The colt settled into his chair, watched, and waited.

 

A wicked grin flashed upon his father’s face and Sentinel shivered. As he sat there watching, Bucky turned the teapot upside down as he held it in his talons, and then he poured the tea upwards towards a teacup held in his telekinesis in bold defiance of gravity. Everything about it felt wrong to Sentinel, who cringed and wanted to turn away, but couldn’t.

 

Water was supposed to obey the natural order—it was supposed to flow downhill with gravity. Sure, it could be manipulated with magic, but it wasn’t just magic that was affecting the flow of the tea, it was his father’s will. There was no visible magic influencing the tea, no glittery glow, no nothing, just the same feeling of wrongness that permeated the air when Discord did something magical.

 

“Father… I wish you wouldn’t.”

 

“You wish I wouldn’t what?” Bucky asked.

 

“What you are doing is disharmonious…” Sentinel felt his stomach turn a little and there was a curious sensation that made his stubby little horn itch. The colt became very, very aware that he was no longer just a lunar pegasus, but was now something more, something else. Something greater.

 

“Just a little harmless warping of reality.” Bucky grinned, flipped around the honey bottle, and then poured the honey upwards into his turned over teacup. “It feels good, like scratching an itch. It doesn’t even take any effort now, I just think about it and it happens. Neat, huh?”

 

Irritation was replaced by anger and Sentinel could feel it welling up inside of him. His emotions were a hot mess right now and he began to wonder if it had something to do with the changes that had been done to him. He was alarmed by his own fury, and terrified by the fact that he wanted to strike his own father down, to trample him beneath his hooves, to make him obey harmonious order. A trickle of cold sweat ran down Sentinel’s neck.

 

“Father, stop that at once! It bothers me! I can’t bear to keep looking!”

 

The tea dribbled out of the teacup and onto the table as gravity reset itself. Sentinel felt panicky as his father stared at him and he could not meet his father’s gaze. The tension in the room reached uncomfortable levels. It was difficult to breathe and Sentinel wanted very much to run away, to hide in his cubby beneath the stairs, and he wanted to beg his father’s forgiveness even as his feelings of resentment for his father grew like unwanted weeds.

 

“I can’t stand what you are doing… it’s wrong, so very wrong and I don’t want to be near you when you are doing it,” Sentinel blurted out. The colt sat in shock from his own words, which had slipped out unwanted, unbidden. “Father, I’m sorry… I… don’t know… I can’t… you—”

 

Sentinel went silent when his father vanished, leaving behind a cloud of snowflakes, a puddle of tea, and a teacup that fell, crashed into the table, and shattered. Much like the teacup, Sentinel felt his own heart do the same, he had hurt his father, done something awful, done something he wasn’t sure if he could forgive himself for.

 

Already, he desperately wanted to find his father, apologise, and make things right. The colt wondered if it was what he wanted, or the desire of what he now was—an alicorn. As twisted and warped as his father was, he was still a part of the greater equine herd—at least for now—and Sentinel felt a powerful urge to see to his father’s safety.

 

As the first few tears began to fall, Sentinel wasn’t sure who might keep his father safe from him.

 

 

 

 

Not knowing what else to do, Sentinel went to his mother, the one pony that he was certain could fix this somehow. He hurried down the hallway towards the back of the house and with his nose, he pushed open the nursery door. He saw her in the middle of the room, sitting amongst his siblings, she somehow looked wise and beatific.

 

“Mama, I’ve messed up.”

 

Derpy’s beatific expression vanished. Sentinel had just called her ‘Mama.’ Right away, worry filled her eyes and her muzzle crinkled as she began to realise that something was wrong. Reaching out a foreleg, she made a gesture for Sentinel to come closer, which he did. He ducked through the nursery with his head low and he almost plowed into the grey mare who sat in the middle of a pile of little fuzzballs. Mindful of the smaller ones, he began to ease himself down.

 

“I drove my Father away,” he admitted as he flopped over onto the floor. His whole body ached from working in the orchard today and his aches were now compounded by his growing sense of worry. “I think I hurt him. He just vanished. He’s gone… he’s gone… I did him wrong and he left!”

 

“What happened?” Derpy asked.

 

Unable to hold it in, Sentinel let it all out. “He was messing around with gravity… he was… he was… he was being like Discord and it bothered me! I couldn’t stand to look at him and I started to get squirmy… angry… and then I said something and he just went away and now I feel really bad.” As he spoke, he felt his mother stroking his neck, which should have comforted him, but didn’t.

 

“Whoops.” Cadance, looking alarmed, sat down beside Sentinel and looked up at her mother, Derpy.

 

“He probably just needs some time to cool off,” Derpy said as she tried to comfort her foals. “He’ll come back and I’ll try to talk to him. He’ll listen to me, he always does. Sentinel, I don’t think he was trying to bother you on purpose.”

 

Bowing her head, the grey pegasus let out a sorrowful sigh. All was not well in her house.

 
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