The Catch

This story takes place roughly 200 years before The Chase.
If it wasn't for bad luck, Rye Mash would have no luck at all. As a foal, he was taken during one of the infamous sweeps of the Shetland Isles. Now, as a young colt, he is an indentured servant, forced to spend the rest of his life working for his master, a unicorn named Lace Collar, so he can pay off the bill for his education.
However, Rye Mash's bad luck ends up being Lace Collar's bad luck as well, and both of them end up as prisoners of the infamous sky pirates and their dreadful leader, Captain Spyglass, the mass murdering lunatic that is feared the whole world over.

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10. Chapter 10

Moving through the crowds with caution, Rye Mash was in the process of returning to where The Whalefish was moored. Behind him was Starjammer, who was carrying the unicorn filly in his magic. Rye was slightly worried about bringing a filly on board a ship full of lonesome crewmembers. Bloody Velvet managed just fine, but Bloody Velvet was Bloody Velvet.

Behind him, he heard a soft cry. He stopped, turned, and found himself snoot to snoot with the filly, who was still floating. She opened her remaining eye groggily and looked at Rye Mash. The pair studied one another for a moment.

“Don’t scream or shout,” Rye said in a gentle voice. “Neither one of us want to harm you. We saved you. Do you have a name?”

Squirming midair, the filly rubbed her head with her front hooves. Rye quickly pulled her hooves away from her bandages and stitches, using a little tweak of magic. The filly was a dirty disheveled grey colour with a pink mane.

“Can you hear me?” Rye asked, now concerned.

“My name is Woe Betide,” the filly squeaked, still holding her head.

Blinking, Rye had trouble believing that anypony could be named ‘Woe Betide’ and he studied the filly carefully. He reached out and gently patted her on the shoulder. “Who named you Woe Betide?” he inquired.

“I was stealing from a shopkeeper. He named me. He said ‘Woe Betide you, you little thief’ as I was running away,” the filly explained.

A wry smile crossed over Rye Mash’s face, and he looked over at Starjammer, who was also grinning broadly. “I see,” Rye Mash remarked. “What a fitting name.”

“I have to steal stuff if I want to eat,” Woe Betide confessed. “Everything hurts,” she whimpered.

“I know, I’m sorry… we saved you. Starjammer here wants to take you on as his apprentice. We were going to get you away from this horrible place,” Rye Mash said, trying to fill the filly in on what they were doing.

“If you feed me I will do anything you ask,” Woe Betide offered. “You can even stick your pecker in my backside… just don’t tear me open too much or hurt me... you seem nice.”

“WOAH slow down, now I ain’t about to do that,” Rye said as he backed away from Woe Betide and then raised a hoof. “Do you do that often?”

“Well, no, I’ve never done it at all, but you’ve been so nice and I’m guessing you were the one who patched me up and you haven’t tried to cut off my horn or rape me, so I thought I’d offer it up willingly before it was taken violently. I know what stallions want… and I am really hungry, and you don’t seem like the type who would hurt me too much, and it is bound to happen eventually-”

“No, no, no… just no,” Rye stammered, closing his eyes.

“Does this mean I have to go hungry?” Woe questioned, giving Rye a pleading look.

“Food,” Starjammer grunted.

“Yes, we find a cafe or something before we head back to the ship and I will buy you some lunch and not bugger your backside in exchange,” Rye said, shaking his head in disgust. He gave Starjammer a pointed stare and felt relieved when he saw Starjammer’s muzzle crinkle in horror. At least he didn’t have to worry about the wizard doing anything untoward with the filly. “And if anypony else tries to bugger your backside, you let me know so I can kill them.”

“You’re awfully nice,” Woe Betide remarked. “See, I knew it was safe to offer up my fillyhood to you.”

Cringing, Rye shook his head. “Stop saying that!”

“Sorry,” Woe offered. “I think I can walk,” she announced.

Lowering the filly to the ground, Starjammer relaxed his will and let the filly go from his magical grasp. He reached out, tried to wipe some grime from her, and only managed to smear the greasy smudge even more across her pelt.

“You need a bath,” Rye announced as he watched Starjammer work.

“Aw, mister, don’t be mean,” Woe Betide whined. “You started off so nice.”

 

 

Rye took a careful sip from his teacup and watched Woe Betide gobble her food. She made no effort to use silverware, she had no table manners, and other ponies and zebras stared from their tables. Right next to Rye’s saucer was a loaded pistol sitting on the table, a silent warning that Rye was not in the mood to be messed with.

With his face hidden behind a book, Starjammer was also enjoying a cup of tea.

“This is pleasant,” Rye said, realising that he wasn’t going to get much conversation from Starjammer and Woe Betide was too busy eating to say much.

The filly had finished off the vegetables and was now chowing down on the rice and sauce that had been beneath the veggies. She slurped and licked her plate, barely chewed her food, and her whole face was covered in bits of vegetable and rice.

Taking a bite of pie, Rye chewed thoughtfully as he watched Woe Betide. He swallowed, turned to meet the gaze of a unicorn mare clearing her throat repeatedly, narrowed his eyes at her, waited for her to fall silent, and then he went back to watching Woe Betide. He lifted his teacup and took a sip, washing down the remaining bits of pie lurking in his mouth. The pie was strange. It was filled with some kind of orange potato and it was sweet. Rye found he rather liked it. He sighed contentedly.

“Fancy meeting you here.”

Turning, Rye saw Spyglass. He lifted his teacup in salute and with a gesture of his hoof, invited his captain to sit down. Bringing the teacup to his lips, he took a sip. Rye watched Spyglass’ eyes drop down to the pistol sitting on the table and then dart back up, and Rye could feel the pegasus’ eyes peering into his own.

At this moment, Woe Betide belched, slapping herself on her barrel.

Raising an eyebrow, Spyglass looked at Woe Betide. “I see you’ve found a beautiful little damsel. Might I inquire what you are doing with her young Mister Mash?”

“Nothing untoward,” replied Rye, nearly dropping his teacup.

“I offered to let him diddle my bottom and he told me no,” Woe Betide chirped.

“I suspect there is a story here,” Spyglass stated, looking around the table.

“Yeah but at no point in the story is there any part about rutting little fillies,” Rye Mash blurted out, setting his teacup down before he dropped it.

“Mister Mash, please, relax. I trust you completely after our meeting with our mutual friends who shall remain nameless. Bloody Velvet tells me you are quite harmless,” Captain Spyglass said soothingly.

“I met Starjammer here when I was prowling the city. He is willing to come on board as crew. He’s a wizard, a powerful one. He doesn’t say much so don’t bother asking him anything. We were looking around the city, I bought a new gun, has something called a ‘scope’ on it and it uses a different type of bullet, it is quite accurate… anyhow, we found Woe Betide being attacked by a griffon who was going to kill her and chop her up for her magical bits. We took her to our mutual friends who patched her up and now I owe them a favour. Starjammer wants to keep her as his apprentice,” Rye Mash summarised.

“Hmm, I don’t know about having a filly on board,” Spyglass said in a low voice. “I suppose that she can stay with Bloody Velvet in her cabin. I am willing to take on Starjammer… you like him and that’s enough for me.”

“Thank you, sir,” Rye Mash said, lifting his teacup and finishing it off in one single gulp. He looked around the table at the different ponies.

“Woe Betide?” Spyglass inquired, looking at the filly.

“Yeah?” Woe Betide replied, looking up at the pegasus.

“What a curious name… you are cute as a button. I do believe that Bloody Velvet is going to like you,” Spyglass stated. “Can you do magic?”

“I can pick locks,” Woe Betide replied in a conspiratorial whisper.

“Fascinating,” Spyglass responded, now looking interested. He leaned close to the filly, his eyes narrowing as he did so, and his ears perked forward. “I bet you are a little sneak thief.”

Shrugging, Woe Betide looked down at her food. “I’ve lived this long,” she muttered just before jamming her muzzle back down into the remains of her rice.

“How would you like to be paid hard coin to be a little sneak thief?” Spyglass inquired.

The unicorn filly froze mid bite. Her ears twitched and then she slowly lifted her head. She turned her head and faced the pegasus, her surviving eye narrowing. “I’m not that good just yet.”

“But you will get better. And I will pay you to get better. I will even procure locks for you to practice upon so you can refine your technique if that is what it will take,” Spyglass offered in a smooth cajoling voice.

“Good work if you can get it,” Starjammer said in an excessively verbose burst.

Woe Betide looked over at Starjammer, who had set his book down. “You want me as your apprentice, even though you don’t know if I can do magic or not,” she said to Starjammer. She turned back to Spyglass and peered at him. “And you want me as a sneak thief. I can get food, money, and not have to have my backside buggered… am I dreaming? My head hurts, I must have hit it pretty hard.”

“If any of my crew touch your backside, I will have them thrown overboard. Or let Rye kill them, should he be agreeable about doing so. I’m sure for a few extra coins, he most certainly would,” Spyglass said with a faint chuckle in his voice.

The filly looked very confused and her gaze fell down upon her plate once again. She took a bite of rice, chewed thoughtfully, and then with an amazingly swift motion, she snatched Rye Mash’s half eaten slice of pie, gobbling it down before Rye could even protest.

“You stole my pie,” Rye Mash protested.

“Thief,” Woe Betide said after swallowing a few times.

“Eh, you were hungry. I’m not mad,” Rye muttered.

“We should be getting back to the ship. I want to be going soon. Time is money. And little Woe Betide could use a bath,” Spyglass announced.

“Aw shite,” Woe Betide swore, sulking in her seat. She resumed eating her rice while simultaneously pouting.  

“Oh, that reminds me, Starjammer is from House Avarice. I think he could be useful to us. He is a wanted criminal though… wanted for, uh, let’s see, patricide, matricide, and fratricide… in that order. He hates slavery,” Rye Mash mentioned, sounding slightly nervous.

“Then we definitely need to leave the city at once,” Spyglass announced. “He’s the one they’ve been looking for and trying to poke around on the moored ships trying to find.”

“I did bad things,” Starjammer admitted, not elaborating.

“You must have,” Spyglass said. “There are actually Solar Guard in the city. We need to leave at once, and slip out before they come for another look.”

 

 

The narrow corridor was empty save for Starjammer who stood beside Rye Mash. The pair of unicorns stood in front of Rye Mash’s door, and Rye Mash looked down the narrow hall to the next door over.

“You have a tiny little cabin next to mine. We can be neighbors,” Rye Mash announced. “Look, I am actually rather tired after everything that happened. I’m going to go to sleep. I’m really happy I met you Starjammer.”

Starjammer took a step closer to Rye Mash and looked his fellow unicorn in the eye. “Today was nice. I like adventure. And I like you,” Starjammer whispered.

With a suddenness that Rye Mash did not expect, he felt two lips pressing into his own. He resisted for a moment, trying to pull away, but then found he didn’t want to pull away. Starjammer smelled spicy and different, and the other stallion's scent lingered cloyingly in Rye Mash’s nostrils as the kiss continued. He felt a foreleg snake around his neck and squeeze him. Searing heat crawled along his neck, up the back of his head, and his ears felt as though they would combust at any moment. He felt his lips open, and for a moment, a strange tongue licked him, probing around between his upper lip and his teeth, causing Rye Mash to shudder.

And then, the kiss was over and he found himself staring breathlessly at Starjammer.

“You kissed me,” Rye whispered.

Nodding, Starjammer agreed silently.

“But I like mares,” Rye retorted.

Shrugging, Starjammer disagreed just a little bit, silently.

“You… you… is this why you fled Canterlot?” Rye inquired.

Sighing, Starjammer looked thoughtful. He licked his lips nervously. “They… well… my parents, they were going to have my mind fixed so I wouldn’t like stallions and mares, but just mares. There was an arranged wedding. Things were already strained between my parents, my siblings, and myself. I found out about the family business. When my father tried to have me collected by the doctors so I could be fixed, I killed them all. You have been the most wonderful companion… you… I found you very attractive and I am grateful to be alive and in the company of a most handsome rogue such as yourself.”

Stunned, Rye Mash couldn’t believe all of the words he had just heard spilling out of his companion. And the words themselves disturbed him. He squirmed and looked Starjammer in the eye. “How did you know?”

“About you?” Starjammer questioned in reply.

“Yes, I mean, that I wouldn’t kill you or something,” Rye murmured in a low voice.

“I didn’t know. I just hoped. But now, I do know,” Starjammer answered with a wink. He turned tail and headed off for his cabin, slapping Rye Mash across the cheek with his tail.

“I feel very confused,” Rye Mash muttered as he watched Starjammer disappear.

 

 

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