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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32. Chapter 32

Sable Blanc shrank in the distance as both The Whalefish and The Apogee headed inland, off to do their first task. Off in the distant mountains, where the borders of Fancy and a diamond dog kingdom were located, there was a city called Alpin, and sitting on top of the mountain above the city of Alpin, was the Château de la Roche. Word had it that the castle was full of slavers who specialised in the trade of earth ponies and sometimes, pegasus ponies, with unicorns being far too much trouble to mess with. At least, that is what the intelligence said.

In Château de la Roche, they would find a certain Docteur Lapin, somebody of interest. Princess Celestia had not made it clear who or what the doctor was, which bothered Captain Spyglass to no end.

As for how to get the doctor out of the castle, they were still forming a plan, and that plan involved Bloody Velvet, Starjammer, and Rye Mash committing a spree of murder and violence. It wasn’t much of a plan, but it was a plan. The doctor had information on Stella Scintilla and securing him was their top priority.

Rye, unsettled about the whole thing, was uncomfortable with his role—he was the weakest unicorn around when compared to Starjammer and Bloody Velvet, who were titans of magic. Even Woe Betide was showing more magical aptitude than he was and she was a foal. He wasn’t sure what he could bring to the table in an all out assault upon a fortified location, other than shooting their enemies a whole bunch of times. He hoped that what he could do would be enough.

It was one thing to fly into a storm, but it was a whole different thing entirely to fly into such an uncertain future. Nopony quite knew what they were getting into or the horrors that awaited them.

 

 

“Try harder!” Bloody Velvet’s voice was commanding, but also held a quaver of pain. Her sides spasmed and her right hind leg wouldn’t stop twitching. “Woe, you need to focus! Stop slacking off!”

Scowling, her lips pressing together, Woe Betide squinted her eyes and stared at the padlock she was trying to unlock. She had the lockpicks held in her telekinesis and she struggled to get a feel for what she was doing. She could feel the tumblers moving inside. She gave the probe a little wiggle and ignored Bloody Velvet. These things took time. Bloody Velvet’s distractions were a good thing, as Woe understood that there would be lots of distractions if she was trying to do this under fire.

Meanwhile, Oola Roo was trying to show Rye the basics for using a sword, and Rye was mimicking her movements as he held his hanger sword, gifted to him by Princess Celestia, in his telekinesis. The sword, suitable for both slashing and stabbing, was a well balanced weapon and Rye found that he quite liked it.

As Rye and Oola practiced sword fighting, both Mousy and Starjammer sat together on the deck, enjoying the sight of Rye and his fancy hoofwork. Starjammer was watching with rapt interest, his eyes darting to and fro as Rye avoided Oola’s punishing attacks, and Mousy watched with a pleased smile.

“This is good fun, ain’t it?” Mousy slipped her question into Starjammer’s ear, her lips tickling him and causing his ear to twitch. “What’s your favourite part? Me… I like those legs of his… look at the way he moves.”

“Hmm,” Starjammer replied in a thoughtful hum, “that perky, perfect plot of his.”

“Oh sure, go right for the garden and the potatoes,” Mousy said as she let out a faux haughty sniff. She turned up her nose at Starjammer. “He’s more than a nice arse and a potato sack, you know. He has a handsome enough face too.”

Starjammer shrugged, said nothing, but gave Mousy a lewd grin as he licked his teeth. Mousy, unable to maintain her theatrical irritation, broke down into fillyish giggling. “I want to look down and see that face of his between my legs.” Mousy’s perverse words were acknowledged with a loud snort from Starjammer.

Hearing laughter, Woe redoubled her efforts and moved the probe around, feeling for the little click when the tumbler moved to just the right spot. She was rewarded with a soft, faint click as the last tumbler slid into place. She turned the mechanism and the padlock popped open.

“Say, that’s pretty good,” Bloody Velvet said to Woe as she locked the padlock. “Now do it again. And again. And then again, until you can open the thing up in seconds.

Sighing, Woe Betide resigned herself to an afternoon of picking locks.

 

 

“I couldn’t help but notice that you’ve been off by yourself a fair bit.” Rye Mash looked at Skeeter, his expression one of concern, and he tried to understand his pegasus friend. “Are you alright?”

“I’m fine,” Skeeter replied. The pegasus struggled to smile. His face was still healing, but was getting better every day. “I just… I’ve had a lot to think about. We’re doing more than I had intended. More than I had signed on for.”

“The rescue?” Rye asked.

“No, everything… I… I knew things would be dangerous when I signed on. I sort of understood what I was getting myself into. But the reality of it… getting my face all messed up.” The pegasus paused and contemplated his own words. “I’m just a pegasus who likes flying fast. I just wanted to make a few bits. I wanted to see the world. This is more than I bargained for.”

“You can still leave before we’re in deep trouble.” Rye looked at his friend, trying to read him, trying to understand him, trying to figure out what the pegasus wanted.

“I have no intentions of leaving. At least, not yet. You’re my friend. And that means something. I’m poor, Rye, but I have loyalty. That’s worth a king’s ransom.”

“So it is.” Rye nodded his head. “I’m going to fix tea. You should join me. Stop brooding and spend some time with me.”

Skeeter heaved a sigh and looked at his friend. “Well, if you insist…”

 

 

Staring up at the stars, Rye Mash came to the unsettling conclusion that he was going to miss these idyllic times. In but a short time, there was going to be a whole lot of bloodshed. Part of him was excited, but a part of him worried too. He always felt bad after being violent, conflicted somehow, like something inside of him was torn apart.

There was too much on his mind. He kept thinking about the horrible black thing he had seen in the dream, the violence that awaited him, and Skeeter’s seeming doubt. Skeeter had done his best to reassure him, but Rye knew that the pegasus was having some trouble going ahead. Bloody Velvet and Starjammer, they were fine with what was soon to happen. Starjammer seemed perfectly fine with killing. Bloody Velvet was known as Bloody Velvet for a reason. Oola was along for a good time, and she was looking forward to a tussle.

But Skeeter… Rye worried for his friend. Skeeter had spoke a great deal about loyalty over tea. Rye realised while sipping tea just how lucky he was to have a loyal friend. Rye worried, fretted, wondering if he could somehow keep Skeeter out of the worst of the violence. But Skeeter was assigned to be his bodyguard. This presented a bit of a dilemma for Rye, who had come to the understanding that Skeeter was not like the rest of them.

With that realisation, Rye realised that he was no longer like Skeeter—Rye was, indeed, becoming a cold blooded murderous bastard. At some point, something inside of him had shifted, changed, and he was becoming something else. And after the big fight ahead, Rye wondered what he would become.

“When I was just a little filly, I asked my mother, ‘What will I be… will I be pretty will I be rich?’ Here's what she said to me, ‘Que sera, sera, whatever will be, will be the future's not ours to see, que sera, sera, what will be, will be.’”

Rye Mash’s ears perked at the sounds of Mousy’s voice. He turned and looked at her. She was standing on the deck, the wind whipping her mane and her tail off to one side, looking at him with wide eyes filled with mirth and laughter.

“Hello, Rye.”

“Hey, Mousy… I was just out here thinking.”

“It’s past midnight, Rye. Most ponies have gone to bed. I was thinking about turning in myself. But the bed is empty.” Mousy sashayed forwards, almost mimicking Starjammer’s own hip swaying sashay. She came over to Rye’s side and came to a halt, standing beside him.

“I was just out here, thinking,” Rye said to Mousy.

“You know, a heavy burden is easier when two carry it.” Mousy turned her head and looked at Rye, who was a fair bit taller than her, but she was stockier than him by far. “I’m an earth pony… I don’t mind something a little heavy on my back.”

Hearing Mousy’s words, Rye flushed, feeling hot and flustered.

“You know, you can share your problems with me, Rye.” Mousy blinked and a powerful gust of wind tugged upon her ears. “You can tell me anything, anything at all. I’ve decided to be as open minded as possible with all things concerning you. Sharing you with Starjammer has already worked out for the best… I now have a wonderful friend that I am starting to adore a great deal.”

Now, Rye felt even more hot and flustered and the chilly breeze did nothing. He looked off at the stars. “I’m worried that there is going to be lots of killing. I’m worried about what it will do to me. Every time I kill something, or somepony, it gets a little easier and I kinda get in a funk afterwards. I don’t know what’s going on. I’m changing, and I’m not sure if it is for the better.”

“Hmm,” Mousy hummed. “Que sera, sera, whatever will be, will be the future's not ours to see, que sera, sera, what will be, will be.”

“What does that even mean, anyway?” Rye asked.

“I have no idea, but it’s pretty,” Mousy replied. “I think the future just sort of happens. I don’t know if we can change it. Whatever is going to happen is going to happen. You’re probably going to shoot a lot of things that deserve it. You might shoot something that doesn’t deserve it. Things are going to happen. We can’t stop them, we can only be patient and wait them out as they happen.”

“I think I’m afraid of changing.” Rye felt Mousy press up against his side and she shivered against him. As the night continued, the air grew colder.

“Change happens.” Mousy leaned her head against Rye’s neck, just below his jaw. He was warm. He smelled of gunpowder, oil, leather, and fragrant tea. It was a smell that Mousy was starting to associate with safety, comfort, and sexual attraction. She tucked her tail down between her legs to protect herself from the wind—the sudden dampness she had made the wind that much colder when it tickled her nether regions. Right now, she could only think about one way to get warm.

“But is it a change for the better?” Rye shook his head, inhaled, and filled his lungs with cold night air. Overhead, the stars twinkled and off to the south, the night sky was purple from the light of a distant city. “See, now that you’re here, it makes things more difficult. I want to be a good husband. I want to do things right.”

“Just be good to me, Rye, and everypony else can feck off. I understand that you are a pirate—”

Privateer,” Rye corrected.

“—and with being a pirate, you are bound to do some questionable, despicable acts. And I say, do them. Just do them to the right ponies…. griffons… minotaurs… whoever. I don’t care. Just help the innocent, protect those that can’t protect themselves, and I don’t care who you kill or what sort of bloodbath you cause. A wife must be understanding when she marries a pirate and she can’t afford to be picky, just so long as the bills are paid and there is food to eat.”

“We don’t have bills.”

“You know what I mean.”

“I’m worried that killing will leave me cold—”

“Well then, I shall have to keep you warm and make you care about things.”

“I don’t think it will be that easy.” Rye shook his head.

“Well then, it is up to me to make sure my feminine wiles are up for the job.”

An unwilling smile broke over Rye’s muzzle like an ocean wave over a rock. He felt a warm, fuzzy feeling of affection for the earth pony beside him. Somehow, she had made him feel better. The trouble ahead no longer was quite so worrisome. He felt calmer. More leveled out. He felt sleepy, and he felt as though his mind would be quiet enough for him to sleep.

“Come, little mare. Let us go to bed.”

 

 

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