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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.

See Me

See Me twists rope, and his akas lock up in attack position. They’re skimming breathless down the narrow canal, high moonstone walls blurred on each side, so at one with the wind that the air seems eerily still. Bolters crackle through their spray into the sea.

Colt Standing cracks a hull and spins away; Knifebone gasps and splinters kiss See Me’s cheek. He glances back to see the thundering Heavenly ships behind him, their glittering glass spheres like the eyes of dragons. A bolt finds brass. Kid Rabbit screams.

See Me understands, then, what it is to be a Hopeless Warrior.

Kid Rabbit

“I really thought she’d changed,” says See Me, watching as Dog drags the coffer away.

“She has her own path,” says the Princess coldly. “No one can choose it for her.”

“I wish Ratio Tile were here,” See Me mutters.

Workers are fitting Kid Rabbit into the brass-lined slot at the back of See’s proa, connecting its spring drive to the boat’s paddlewheel. Rabbit twangs excitedly.

“Seems a little beat up,” says the dock chief critically. “You want a new one?”

“Not on your life,” chuckles See Me.

“Hang on, Rabbit!” cries Blow the Skin. “You’ve got to come back!”

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