• Published 11th Apr 2016
  • 385 Views, 17 Comments

Drastic Measures - Nimnul

Berry Punch leads a great life. But her daughter's sire suddenly takes an interest after never before seeing the filly. Berry knows he must have an ulterior motive, so she plans to confront him and, if necessary, make sure the past stays the past.

  • ...

Sudden Interest

"Girls, I got a problem." Berry Punch worked her jaw. Although she no longer drank alcohol, she was forever working phantom corks out of invisible wine bottles when something troubled her. Apple Bloom had once asked whether Berry was chewing cud, only to be reprimanded by Sweetie Belle for the rudeness.

The earth pony had interrupted a slow evening. Lyra had been idly playing her instrument while Bonny was reading a newspaper she hadn't had time to finish earlier in the day. Bon Bon had claimed the music did her good.

Bon Bon yawned as she looked up from her reading, but was immediately alert. "Well, let's hear it."

Berry shifted uncomfortably in place. "Pinchy's sire contacted me." She frowned. "He's got some nerve!"

"Uh-huh." Lyra put her lyre down while Bon Bon wandered off into the kitchen, followed by her dog. The inobstrusive service animal shadowed Bon Bon at practically all times. "Well, fill us in, then."

"Pan Flash. He's the type of stallion where you tell yourself afterwards that you really should have known better." Berry scrunched up her nose. "In hindsight, I dunno how I fell for him. He fancied himself a grifter but most of his scams fell apart on him. When Pinchy was born, I wanted to get away from Las Pegasus, he refused." The memory seemed to anger Berry, and she audibly ground her teeth. "I'd burned bridges, but when Pinchy came along my extended family was still willing to help me get out of the place so the filly'd have a better start in life."

"Why?" Lyra had had a very privileged start into life in Canterlot, but knew that Berry hadn't spoken very fondly of Las Pegasus. Since they weren't pegasi, it seemed sensible to look for a better life elsewhere.

Berry shrugged, but she still looked angry. "He accused me of having no loyality to our home. Letting down the gang. Big talk coming from him, he never stuck his neck out for anypony." Stomping a hoof, she declared, "He just didn't care about me or Pinchy! He always had some scams running and he just didn't want to leave that! He didn't even flinch when I told him to get bent and that I'd leave anyway."

"I'll take your word for it. So what does he want?"

"Wants me and Pinchy to come to Las Pegasus to talk about 'our future' and Pinchy's future. It's insane! We haven't talked since Pinchy was a couple of months old! He could have maybe apologized for being a waste of skin and asked nicely to maybe see his daughter, you know, have a dialogue, but no. He doesn't take an interest for over a decade and now he feels entitled?" Berry bared her teeth. "That scumbag is workin' some kind of angle or just wants to mess with me for leaving." Exhaling slowly, she added, "I'm not a real educated mare, you know that. But I can't imagine that he has a realistic chance of getting anywhere with this. He's got no hold on her. So why's he going about it like that?"

Berry had become downright phlegmatic after she'd been sober for a while. She'd claimed that one of the reasons she drank was to numb shame she had felt over her younger years as a street tough and petty thug. Now she ambled through life slowly, taking joy in her improved relationship with her daughter, and pride in the fact that she no longer drank alcohol.

The earth pony claimed to enjoy a good scrap. Lyra didn't mind that, because she knew Berry had a good heart, and she'd had a long time to get used to the fact that some ponies had to be fighters. Bon Bon had hunted monsters, and even Lyra's mother had claimed she'd fought back during the changeling invasion, enraged by the knowledge that her daughter was in danger at the castle. That it had been largely futile didn't change anything, really.

Bon Bon returned, pushing a serving cart with three glasses of cherry juice. "Seems to me like you might want to ask Twilight for legal advice. You know she'd make time for you. She likes to avoid distance to the citizens."

Lyra was surprised at the suggestion. Bon Bon wasn't a huge fan of Twilight Sparkle, to put things mildly. The earth pony hadn't shared everything, back then, but she'd somehow been certain who to blame for the Smarty Pants doll incident, and the loss of control had left her furious. The seeming lack of consequences, doubly so.

"Plus, y'know, having the princess in your corner has to have some weight, however subtle," Lyra agreed. She was, after all, on better terms with Twilight.

"I'm not stupid." Berry scowled. "I know that's the proper way to do it. But he'll expect that. He's not as smart as he thinks he is, but he's still pretty clever. S'why I think he's up to something. If he has the means to find out where I live, he's got to know I wouldn't be afraid to ask for help." She shook her head. "I wanna nip this in the bud right away before it turns into any big drama that'll upset Pinchy."

"Well, maybe his intel is outdated." Bon Bon shrugged. It wasn't that long ago that Berry would have had difficulty working up the guts to talk to Princess Twilight. "So, you want to travel back there and give him a piece of your mind, or what? Still not quite seeing why you're coming to us with this."

Berry sighed heavily, and Lyra had rarely seen an expression quite so bleak on the earth pony. "I'm willing to be surprised. Maybe he turned into a decent stallion while I wasn't looking. But if I'm right and he's the same weaselly bastard as always, well ... the past's gotta stay the past. I don't want Pinchy mixed up in any of my old garbage and I'm prepared to tie up loose ends to make it happen."

"I see." Bon Bon nodded slowly. "Groundside, right? Might be dangerous. Heard street crime's bad in some parts."

"Maybe," the earth pony conceded. "Pissed off my share of other ponies my age, growing up. I'm not worried about some thugs having a go at me, though. Still, things might not turn out quite right." Berry chewed her lip. "Y'know, I been mulling this over. If anything happens to me ... could I name you two as legal guardians? I don't ever want Pinchy going back west. Not to Pan, not to my mom, never. This is home. Everything she knows is here."

Lyra didn't know what to say, at first. The request was totally unexpected. Ruby Pinch was a smart, pleasant filly, sure enough, and Lyra was frankly surprised her own mother hadn't badgered her about giving her grandfoals in some way, but right now, it just made her worry about Berry's plans.

Berry continued. "You're a couple, you got a good business, and you said your parents were loaded, Lyra. It might need court approval, and you're a real respectable pick." More quietly, she added, "I was thinkin' Ditzy first, but she's a single mom, and already just making ends meet. Wouldn't go over as well with the courts, if it comes to it."

"That's so," Bon Bon agreed. "I wouldn't be much of a parent, though. You know that."

That was probably true, it hurt Lyra to admit even in the privacy of her head. Whatever Bonny had experienced as a monster hunter had left its marks, saddling her with periods of emotional numbness and other difficulties, nightmares not the least of them.

"I'm honored you'd ask us," Lyra stated, before being interrupted.

Berry jabbed a hoof towards Bon Bon. "You'd care. And you'd never hit a filly."

Well, that just reminded Lyra that Berry really had never spoken very fondly of her mother. Or at all, really. "Bonny ... I think we should say yes. It's just a precaution, right?" She couldn't really believe that it would become necessary, despite her worries. Berry had sobered up and was a decent pony, if she hadn't done something to lose custody while still drinking heavily, how would she now?

"Hmpf. Knew you'd say that." Bon Bon, although looking tired, offered Lyra a fond smile before addressing the other earth pony again. "Look, Berry. How about this? We'll take a nice trip to Canterlot on the weekend, introduce you to Lyra's parents, maybe talk it over with them. You'll love her mom." She frowned in thought. "I know a guy in Las Pegasus. Old gryphon, used to work with us. He won't be cheap, but he might be able to help. I'll write a letter."

Berry appeared curious. "I don't want to get anypony – anyone else in trouble. You know this bird, what's he got to offer?"

"Information, I expect. The Baron's always worried about some vague trouble from back home catching up to him, and once the agency was shuttered, he started worrying that somepony would want to slot the lot of us, too. Unless I really miss my guess he'll have a bunch of informants to keep tabs on anything that might look like trouble for him." After a moment, she added, "I'm certain that's just him being paranoid. Us old guard types aren't important enough to get rid off."

Bon Bon's earlier smile turned into a predatory grin. "And if he can't find anything about this stallion of yours? It just means he's such a small fry that no one important will care how you deal with him, and that whatever angle he thinks he's working isn't anything that'll stand up to real scrutiny. But he'll have expenses."

"Yeah, I hate asking my parents for money, but I guarantee my mom's gonna feel invested in this, and hey, they can afford to throw some bits our way for a good cause, I guess." Lyra shrugged. "So what's your plan for Las Pegasus? You know we could probably just hire a lawyer to write a proper letter back."

"Heh," Berry snorted, but her she didn't look amused. "I've got to make sure loose ends are tied up. I gotta hear, off the record, what his angle is." She sounded tired. "Feels like I didn't run far enough from Las Pegasus. All I wanted to do was to give Pinchy a proper life. I know I botched that already, but I can't ... I won't let this touch her. Even if he just wants to get at me, he's got no right to do it that way. Rub him out if I gotta."

The statement came as a shock to Lyra. Sure, Berry used to get into the occasional bar fight, but she'd always claim that wasn't serious. Lyra didn't like the casual way Berry had responded.

Bon Bon's expression hardened as she looked Berry over. "I'll be coming with you. Assess the situation, make sure whatever needs doing is done right."

"Bonny?" Lyra wasn't at all sure she liked Bon Bon's tone either.

"Not up for debate," Bon Bon all but snarled. Lyra saw Berry flinch in surprise. "Berry, go home, get sleep, I'll write those letters, we'll hit Canterlot on the weekend, then make plans for Las Pegasus. Now get out."

"Uh, right. Th-thanks, Bon, Lyra."

"Don't mention it, Berry. Have a good night."

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