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Dog Shouting

Out on the Salt Sea, the Princess Leaves smacks bolts aside with her father’s sword, but they hit the deck of the yacht and leap immediately to flame. Dog Shouting dangles from the deck of a skiff while the hideous mouth of the Garbage Killer snaps blindly toward her. Rotten Gamble and Dragalong try to haul her up, when over their shoulders she spies a man wearing blue armor and a demon’s mask.

“Splitting Scar!” snarls Dog Shouting.

He raises his crossbow.

“Splitting Scar?” gasps Blow the Skin, “Splitting Scar? Where?” and knocks a pile of convenient fireworks into the flames.

Kid Rabbit

“Of course I’m worried,” snaps Blow the Skin. “And you should be too! Rotten Gamble and Dragalong never returned from this awful place. If I told you half the things I’ve heard about this Papa Bosom–”

Grit squeals in Kid Rabbit’s exasperated gears. Once again he’s trundling through the desert with a message in his heart, but the place seems crueler now than it has before: dawn pinks the sand like blood in the water. They crest a dune and come upon a crenellated maw, blind ancient iron, too dry to rust.

“I’d better knock, I suppose,” mumbles Blow the Skin.

Dog Shouting

“Ready for the jump,” says Rotten Gamble tightly.

The Heavenly dreadnought looms, bolters charging like infernal bees, but the Loveblind Bird races dead on for the reef. Belowdecks, Dragalong and Kid Rabbit scramble to swap crackling hoses.

“Princess, we’ll find him,” Dog Shouting mumbles in her wounded fever. “I promise.”

The Princess presses a cold cloth to Dog’s head, eyes huge and dark.

“Punch it!” shouts Gamble.

The ship booms; power arcs down through salt water. The Loveblind Bird leaps up to ride over the reef on rails of lightning, and lands hard on the other side.

“Ow,” Dog Shouting grunts.

Ratio Tile

“Three gods once walked the earth as men,” says Ratio Tile softly. “But they were unused to human needs, and had to demand food of the animals. Fox gave them her food for fear of their power, as did Monkey.”

They’re rushing toward the cratered gray island, as if it were a sponge for all the sea. “Kid, get to the port rigger!” howls Dog Shouting. “Dragalong, get the wheel–”

“But Rabbit refused,” says Ratio, “so they threw him in a fire and ate him. The smoke of his body rose up and up, and blackened the face of the moon…”

Dog Shouting

The Loveblind Bird chases the little skiff with sails cracking, bow high, hydrofoils slicing the sea.

“A ship that size shouldn’t be this far out!” says Ratio Tile.

“Well, he won’t be around long enough to tell anyone about us,” says Dog Shouting. “Dragalong, man the bolter.”

See Me rummages through a casket for a set of brass oculars. “Maybe he was being towed by a bigger ship, snapped his line…”

“Gimme those,” says Dog, grabbing the lenses and peering. “We can still catch him before he gets to–there, that small waystation!”

“That’s no waystation,” murmurs Ratio. “That’s the moon.”

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