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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18. Chapter 18

Outside of The Kettle, there was quite a crowd. Rye Mash could see an incoming group, which meant more trouble no doubt. A mob of unicorns and pegasi were coming in, a rather well dressed if somewhat ratty looking gang.

Fops. Rye Mash hated fops. He thought of Lace Collar. He began to move forward, Mousy and Oola right behind him. Some of the unicorns were getting ready to cast spells and Rye realised he needed to clear out the crowd so he could run.

He raised one of the large pistols that Bloody Velvet had given him, took aim, and fired. The bullet went wide and caught a unicorn in the neck, tearing open a horrific wound. Garish purple-red blood oozed out in rhythmic spurts as the unicorn fell over and began to kick on the filthy cobblestones. It almost looked as though the unicorn was dancing a jaunty little jig as he gurgled and struggled to breathe.

The crowd, seeing the violence, screamed and then stampeded. Rye Mash stood, a halo of gunsmoke wafting around him. He saw an opening and took off running with everything he had in him. Behind him, Mousy and Oola followed. As Rye Mash ran, he reloaded.

“What is the plan?” Mousy asked.

“We run,” Rye replied.

“At some point we have to stop running!”

“We’ve just got to make it to the harbour. There’s a ship and I have friends.”

Two ponies and whatever Oola was ran down the street. The stampeding mob trampled the incoming gang of fops. Rye Mash had caused pure anarchy on the streets and he was using it to make good his escape.

“More incoming,” Oola shouted as she pointed upwards at a group of incoming pegasi.

Still running, Rye kept a wary eye upon the flyers overhead. They were heading towards the mob, no doubt to help their fellows. Rye Mash picked up speed, his hooves clattering on the slimy, disgusting cobblestones.

“So what in the stars are you?” Rye asked.

“She appears to be a pony, you barrel bunghole buggering dimwit,” Oola replied.

“No, what are you, you look like a giant rat creature!”

“Imma kangaroo… and maybe an alcoholic.” Appearing to expend no effort, Oola bounded alongside Rye Mash, leaping and keeping up with the running unicorn. “You ain’t never heard of no kangaroo?”

“No!” Rye cast a glance at the creature beside him, marvelling at how she moved.

“Aye, right then… we’re going to be killed by those dainty fart felchers in stovepipe hats and those funny looking vests.” Oola bounced forwards, her long tail rippling to provide balance. “I hates ’em, I do.”

“That’s two of us, I can’t stand fops,” Rye replied. As he ran, he began to wonder if he would get caught. This was starting to feel a little too easy. He wasn’t about to jinx it by saying anything though. No, he kept his mouth shut and kept running.

“If by fops, you mean ‘wee dainty asshole stretchers,’ I don’t like fops either! It’s just rude, doing that to a girl! No warning or anything, just going in dry—”

“This is stuff I don’t need to know!” Rye shouted as he ran.

 

 

“I don’t think we’re being followed anymore,” Mousy said as she looked around. She came to a halt as Rye did the same, her sides heaving from her exertion. She looked up at Oola and stared up at the tall creature. “Today might just be your lucky day.”

The tall kangaroo creature nodded. “Aye, it might.” She leaned on a stone fence and tried to catch her breath. “I don’t want to go back into a cage. How many guns you got under that cloak of yours?”

“Enough,” Rye replied.

Oola grinned. “Right then, look at him, he’s a stone cold killer he is, shooting his own kind in the head and the neck—”

“Those aren’t my kind… I don’t believe in slavery,” Rye said, correcting Oola in a somewhat raspy voice. “We should keep moving. I don’t think we’re done yet. All it takes is one flying pegasus to spot you and we’ll have company again. You sort of stand out, Oola.”

The kangaroo watched as Rye took a deep breath and then started off once more. She followed, in a sort of half bounce—half walk, her long, thick tail waving. “Eh, I like this one… howsabouts I gives ya a tumble when we get to wherever it is we’re going—”

“That isn’t necessary—”

“Is it because I’m a kangaroo?” Oola demanded in an offended tone.

“No!” Rye said in a sharp retort. “I’m just not that type, that’s all.”

“Well I didn’t think you’d be the type that’d poke a girl in the mudhole unannounced, but a little of the old in-out-in-out in the old slurp hole never hurt no one—”

“Ugh!” Rye shook his head. “Look, it isn’t about you… I just—”

“Yer a virgin?” Oola bounced alongside Rye, looking down at his face, trying to study it, no longer offended but curious. “Oy, he’s a virgin! You ain’t never had no tumble before!”

Saying nothing, Rye Mash gritted his teeth and tried to endure the moment. He also tried to ignore the giant rat creature hopping along beside him, and he became all too aware of the filly walking along his other side.

“I’ve never met a colt your age that hasn’t been bred,” Mousy said as they walked. “Is there something wrong with you? Can’t get it up?”

“Aye, girl, you’ve got some kinda guts in you, asking a straight shooting killer questions like that.” Oola leaned over and gave a wink to Mousy. She ignored the sounds of grinding teeth coming from the colt between them.

Giving Rye a sidelong glance as they walked, Mousy gave her rescuer a smile. “I never did get your name…”

“My name is Rye Mash.”

“Well, Rye Mash, my name is Mousy. Ponies call me that because of my cutie mark… which is a mouse. Funny story…”

“I’m sure it is,” Rye Mash replied in a rather brusque manner.

“His pride is hurting.” Oola looked down at the sullen colt. “I mean, you did ask him if he had trouble getting his willy hard.”

“Well, I was just curious. I’ve kept myself untouched, if it makes you feel better. That’s a hard thing for a filly to do in these parts. I did get a good dry humping once, but he was too drunk to find his way inside.” Mousy’s voice was soft, calm, and rather… mousy. There was a bit of a squeak to it.

“Aye, you putting on airs, girl?” Oola asked.

“Nothing of the sort,” Mousy replied. She looked up at the kangaroo as they walked. “I don’t want to raise foals in this wretched place. I hate it here. I hate everything about this city and I’ve been trying to get away for a long time… but I have debts.”

“Debts?” Rye asked.

“Never mind, I guess it doesn’t matter now,” Mousy replied. She shook her head. “I can finally start over and be the sort of pony I want to be.” She held her head a little higher and walked with a bit more spring in her step.

 

 

Rye Mash heaved a sigh of relief when he saw The Whalefish and The Apogee. The harbour reeked of sewage and filth. There were seafaring vessels here, as well as airships. Rye Mash could see supplies being loaded onto the two ships and he watched as the pegasi worked, lifting the heavy crates. Earth ponies on the deck of The Whalefish worked winches pulled up heavier cargo crates.

Oola paused, turned around, and looked at the city behind her. “I can’t say I’ll miss this place. I haven’t seen this harbour since I don’t know when. It was the day they brought me here. I was sold the same day.”

“We might be able to help you get home,” Rye Mash offered.

“Home? Home is a sump hole filled with all kinds of horror and poisonous creepy crawlies. Naw… I don’t want to go home. I just don’t want to be a slave any longer,” Oola replied. “You’re a good sort, helping a girl out and turning down a tumble.”

Rye Mash was about to say something, but the flutter of wings distracted him. He turned and saw Captain Spyglass setting down, along with several other pegasi. Rye Mash grinned when he saw the captain’s confused expression as the captain looked at Oola.

“I made a few friends,” Rye Mash said as he continued to grin at Captain Spyglass. “The tall one is Oola. She’s a kangaroo. And this is—”

“As I live and breathe, it is the dirty little pilferer that tried to steal from me a few years ago,” Captain Spyglass said as he pushed Rye Mash aside and stepped towards the dark blue-grey filly. “I’d recognise that mouse cutie mark anywhere.”

Mousy took a step backwards, her eyes wide and fearful.

“Don’t even try to run,” Spyglass warned.

“Look, sir, I do apologise, but a filly has to do what a filly has to do—”

“Hey, don’t hurt her.” Rye Mash tried to insert himself between Captain Spyglass and Mousy. He looked Spyglass in the eye. “I just got done saving her and I had to shoot a few ponies—”

“Saving her? Do you even know who she is?” Spyglass demanded.

“Somepony under my protection,” Rye Mash replied, looking his captain in the eye.

Spyglass burst out laughing, which confused Rye Mash. Standing there, looking bewildered, Rye Mash watched his captain laughing, while also keeping an eye on Mousy. He saw more ponies coming over, including a familiar unicorn.

“Mousy the padhoof. As one of your almost victims, I found out about you. A no good creeper sneak thief—”

“So is Woe Betide, and you gave her a job.” Rye gave Spyglass a hard stare as the two stood snoot to snoot.

The captain’s riotous laughter ceased. A shrewd look crept over his face as he stared his cabin colt in the eye. One eyebrow began to raise in a slow, cautious manner as the captain’s brain processed Rye’s suggestion.

“A sneaky pony and Woe Betide would be a pretty good combination,” Rye said, trying to sell his captain on the idea. “She can’t stay here. Look, somepony was about to force her into marriage to settle her debts and there was some shooting and I went through a lot of trouble to get her out of trouble.”

Captain Spyglass’ lips pressed into a straight line as he considered his cabin colt’s words. He glanced over at Mousy, who had her head down and was trying to look as submissive as possible, which Spyglass knew was an act. Mousy was reputed to be a good con artist, a smooth talker, and according to the Broker, she was also said to be honourable.

“I might be a thief but I am mostly honest. I keep my word, or I try to. I wasn’t trying to con nopony, not this time, I was just looking for a way out,” Mousy said in a meek voice.

“Stop with the acting and be honest.” Rye turned and looked at Mousy, focusing his hard stare upon her. “What debt did you have that caused all of this?”

Sighing, Mousy’s head dropped and her ears went flat.

“Don’t lie to us.” Bloody Velvet, now standing beside Spyglass, afixed a stern glare upon the filly. “Trust me when I say that I’ll know if you are lying. If you do, I’ll just get the truth out of you the hard way.”

“Look, I try to be honest when I can and I try to keep my word. I might be a thief, but in my business, being honourable does matter. I was offered a lot of money if I would accept a deal without knowing any details about it. At first I said no, but I didn’t have any other jobs lined up and this one was offering a lot of money. And I do mean a lot of money.”

“Go on, and spare me the honourable thief malarky,” Bloody Velvet demanded.

“There was a shipment coming in from the Sea of Grass. Pretty standard stuff. I found out we were supposed to steal some cargo. Stuff I’ve been a part of before. We set up a team and it was my job to get aboard the sailing ship, case the ship, get a basic layout, return to the others with a map, and return with the shipping manifest so we’d know exactly which cargo crates were which.”

“Seems pretty straight forward,” Spyglass said.

“I thought so to,” Mousy replied. “So I was on the ship, prowling around, doing what I do best, moving from shadow to shadow, I had a good map and I was waiting to steal the shipping manifest. The captain was talking with several crew members and I was in a closet with a bunch of life vests and I hear them talking. Turns out, they're shipping several crates of medicine up from the Sea of Grass, a charitable gesture from the zebras down there to help the orphans and widows of Trottingham with hoof rot. And I realise, I’m about to help steal those crates.” Mousy blew her dark black mane out of her face and then looked at Captain Spyglass. “I broke my word and abandoned my job. A lot of ponies got caught that night, because they tried anyway. I got blamed for it and a few ponies tried to kill me, and a smaller crime family offered to save me but only if I married their idiot son—”

“I’ll be damned, she’s telling the truth. All of it. No duplicity upon her part.” Bloody Velvet shook her head. “I would have expected a little lying on her part and the whole thing with stealing medicine from orphans seems a little dramatic, but she’s telling the truth.”

“Yeah, well, the idiot son said he was going to break her leg and give her a good dry cornholing,” Rye said.

“How rude.” Spyglass shook his head and snorted in disgust.

“I shot him.” Rye Mash looked at his captain, hoping for approval.

Spyglass turned and grinned at his cabin colt. “Good lad.”

“Aye, he shot him alright, he put a shotgun behind the pegasus and unloaded a bunch of nails and fire into the big prick’s no doubt warty asshole,” Oola said.

“Oh dear… oh… oh my…” Spyglass closed his eyes.

Other ponies present squirmed in an uncomfortable manner and Oola liked the effect she was having on the crowd. “It was point blank too! Turned his stones into jelly!”

“Rye Mash, if you keep this up, you are going to get some kind of reputation,” Spyglass said in a low voice. He took a deep breath and then looked at Oola and Mousy. “And how did you come into this… miss?”

“Call me Oola. I’m a bare knuckle boxer. Rye Mash let me out of my cage.” Oola bent over and gave Spyglass a little bow. “I can be a hard worker and I’m a good fighter. I can make myself useful. And I have these!” Oola waved her hands in front of Spyglass and waggled her fingers.

“I see. Those are very useful.” Spyglass stared up at the kangaroo.

“I’m also a fantastically good lay, but your cabin colt turned me down.”

“Yes, he does that. He’s skittish and I think he might be a bit of a prude.”

“Hey!” Rye Mash felt flames in his cheeks. He glared at his captain and tried to think of something witty or something clever to say, but his brain gave him nothing to work with.

Captain Spyglass turned to look at the pegasi around him. “Please, see that Rye Mash and our new crewmembers are taken to The Apogee. We need to be leaving soon, so everypony hurry up and finish.” He then turned to Rye Mash. “Once again, you’ve done well…”

 

 

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