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The Great Sushi-Eating Contest

The pod entered the atmosphere like a red wart, burning a chemtrail all the way to the surface. Crashing onto what looked like a stained couch on top of an abandoned parking lot, the pod came to its final resting place (may it rip in piece). Out from the hatch emerged a young boy: a black-haired grey-eyed boy who looked not a day past 12. He wore a marvelous fur cape of rose and tangerine as well as similarly-colored fur gloves and boots. Otherwise, he wore short black training pants and a fancy pair of fuchsia-rimmed sunglasses.

The boy rolled gracefully from his craft and sprinted down the concrete jungle to a lower floor. Down there, rats made their kingdoms; old trash spread across the abandoned parking lot like tumbleweeds and a rusted sand-colored pickup truck sat derelict in a corner. The sun shined a dull red as it passed between the skyscrapers to the west. A dull wind was blowing. It wasn’t cold really, but there was no warmth in it. Outside, most trees shook lifelessly, like spiky tumors growing from the ground. The boy skidded around the dark pavement, crashing into a cardboard sign that stood next to a wooden stall. On the sign read, ‘Office of Beelzebub, Intergalactic Bounty Hunter’. However, it appeared the good bounty hunter was not in at that moment. The boy rang the old reception bell about three thousand, five hundred, and seventeen times before the sleepy, lanky form of the Prince of the Underworld emerged from behind a crimson curtain.

“Hey, Ledas,” he yawned. “Anything new?”

The boy grinned, taking a capsule out of his pocket. Clicking it open, a puff of smoke befell the desolate parking lot, and a moment later, a large crash was heard. When the smoke cleared, Beelzebub beheld a pile of skulls, of various shapes. Some were tall, skinny, and pointy; others fat and twisted like flowers in bloom; there were small skulls, humanoid skulls, rat skulls, and pinhead skulls. Some were grey, some yellow, some white, some charred black. Every one of them was unique. “That’s thirty-six, Mr. Beelzebub,” Ledas said slyly.

“Is it?” The demon looked over the skulls briefly and then returned to his stall. “I count twenty-five.”

“Aw, come on Beelzebub! I made sure I counted right! Don’t you trust me after all I’ve done for you?” He tried to tempt Beelzebub to forget his cheapskate ways by putting a little bag of space candy on the counter – a sweet little present akin to a chamber pot of liquid gold that Ledas brought back for the Prince of the Underworld after every mission. That perked up the demon’s attention, and though he sighed in laziness, he took out his little bounty scanner and began checking all of the skulls.

“Fine, fine. Sheesh, here’s your stinkin’ money,” the kid demon said, handing Ledas a pile of morselcoin after scanning each skull. This was not a scam at all. Morselcoin is a new kind of currency, and invest now.

“Awwright!” the boy yipped, doing a little dance and a flip.

“I have another one for you if you’re up for it,” the Prince of the Underworld yawned, holding up a holopad. “Pays big money. More than you’ve ever got before.”

Taking the holopad, Ledas said, “This better not be like the butterhole incident on Dalon IV.”

“No, no, no, nothing like that.” The prince grinned a sharp-toothed grin.

“Okay…” Ledas was unconvinced. “You’re a dirty, filthy, horrible liar, so I’m not believing a word you say.”

“Suit yourself, Saiyan. Anyways, all the info’s on the pad. Take it with you.”

Ledas looked over the holopad, just to see what was in store for him. When he began reading the details (in Saiyan script, because Beelzebub’s like a god or some shit), the boy’s heart nearly stopped. “H-hang on… these are Frieza’s kind?”

Beelzebub took out his Nintendo 3DS and started playing some Pokémon Sun. “Yup, two of them. Might be the last holdout of the Planet Trade Organization. We’ll pay you a fortune if you root ‘em out.”

“Are they his kids?”

Beelzebub shrugged. “What do you care?”

“I guess I don’t.”

Ledas went to leave when Beelzebub stopped him. “Hey, Ledas… don’t forget. I want a space hotdog and three space candy corns this time.”

“Yeah, yeah,” Ledas said, raising his hand in a wave, but not turning back. “I’ll get you your stupid space candy corn.”

“Thanks dude. Say hello to the girls for me.”

Ledas sighed as he walked out, for he knew who awaited him: Step-mother Theresa and sister-mother-in-training Theresa. They were sisters, dressed up as nuns, and whenever Ledas walked past them, they made purring noises and sounds of the bathroom.

“Come a little closer, honhon,” one said, her deep throaty voice echoing throughout the parking lot. “Come to mama Theresa.”

“Don’t forget about papa! Papa wants some action too!” the other grumbled enviously, slapping her massive belly. That one Ledas thenceforth called Father Theresa.

They reached for him, like dead trees on a bayou. But Ledas was too quick. He ran like a hedgehog who had fallen into a can of blue paint, his arms thrust behind him in a ‘V’ shape. Outside, the Saiyan was met by a man in a suit sitting up against the building with a lampshade over his face (it was all burnt up, as if it had once been on fire), repeating: “Has the light gone out for you? Cause the light’s gone out for me!” He was reaching around blindly like a drunken zombie.

Beyond the parking lot, the path led through an overgrown garden in the shadow of a ruined mansion. Cracked gravemarkers, fallen pillars, and decaying wood sheds greeted the boy, but he had been back here many a time. There stood a sweaty dark-skinned man wearing overalls and a worn white hat. He had a thick mustache and straight black hair, and he was wiping his brow.

“Mexican tryhard,” Ledas said. “So we meet again.” This kind of tryhard was a true classic. They put lots of work in at the factory every day, only to come home, pop in some Gears of War 3 for some nighttime unwinding, and end up going 2-8. But hey, they put work in. Ledas imagined that when the tryhards came home, they had battle stations set up to play their video games just how they wanted to, and they would get in human-sized hamster wheels and spin about as they played.

The tryhard handed Ledas a slip of paper. On it, in brutish scratches, ‘1v1’ was written. Ledas shook his head, a cheeky smile spreading across his face. He let the piece of paper slip out of his grasp and tumble down to the ground, where a pile of similar such papers lay, some curled yellow and black with age. “I’m the king,” Ledas reminded the worker. “You’d only embarrass yourself.”

“Putomadre, jajaja, .l., Follo tu madre y varias ovejas.” the tryhard muttered, wiping the sweat from his brow.

It smelled of ivy and honeysuckle, reminding Ledas of last summer, which he’d spent on the beach with Vegeta and Ryori and the others. He missed those times. On the fencepost leading out to the city sat a grey cat with a long mane of fur coating his body in exquisite dignity. Every time Ledas saw him, he imagined some British commentator narrating every muscle spasm the cat unleashed upon the world.

“Hey Balerion,” the boy said, reaching for something in his pocket. “Long time no see.”

The cat murmured lustily and raised his tail in the air. Ledas handed him a senzu bean. “I didn’t use it this time. You have it. I heard cats like these things.”

On Ledas went, past the vagabonds and Samson Jacks (also known as hobo freestylers) snorting blue ice cubes, to good old Capsule Corp., where Ledas’ best friend in the whole wild world lived. He was looking forward to sparring with Vegeta again. If he did that enough, maybe one day he could make a three minute montage video which he’d release just before his next big fight. That’s how all the pros did it. The breath of pedestrians walking by frosted in front of their faces, and the air smelled of impending snow.

There was a big man, a huge man, a beautiful man who was posing for some onlookers on the corner of a street. One woman was sitting on a stool, painting him. The man must’ve been a sumo wrestler, due to his impressive folds of fat and massive baby diaper. He was perched atop a fountain, the sunset in the background. It was really kinda pretty. When Ledas passed the man, he couldn’t help but teleport over to him and knock him into the penny-flavored water. No human saw the boy do it; he was too fast for their puny eyes. But the shouts of the gargantuan wrestler and his desperate splashes in the six-inch-deep pool gave Ledas all the pleasure he could have hoped for.

Further ahead, the police had swarmed around a car stopped at a green light. “He didn't notice that the lights had changed!” one distraught pedestrian shouted, running down the sidewalk as if a giant space monster was chasing him.

Making his way through the crowd, Ledas caught a look at the man in the car: his corpse was slumped back against the faded leather seating; blood dripped down from his scalp to his white kimono, staining it; his skin was pale, his bushy hair salt-and-pepper, his beard grey and untrimmed; Ledas thought he spied a sword shouldered on the back of the corpse… perhaps it was katana.

A tall, long-nosed man in an oily amethyst-striped vest was carrying a bag full of money, licking his lips and singing of AstroTurf. A blind man sat at the curb, peeling a pineapple. A small blue-skinned imp stood on a stool surrounded by a crowd of onlookers. His bouncers – a black-haired woman and a brown-furred dog – held the passionate swarms back while the imp squealed and squeaked and whined about the fault in our stars. He deserved to rule this world, the imp complained, but alas, he could barely stand a stool.

“Down with the government!” the imp bellowed, shaking his fist at the sky. “King Furry can suck a fat one!”

That was really unreasonable in Ledas’ opinion. Sucking a skinny one would be much easier, especially for a novice like King Furry.

A little further ahead, a hover bus came to a stop, letting out its passengers. An over-eager elderly Asian gentlewoman came rolling out of the bus like a sack of kiwis. When she hit the ground, that bitch don’t move no more, okay?

Ledas raced a couple hover cars over to Capsule Corp., where he was greeted by the lil white flying robot, Frododobo R’but. It was fat and round, like a plump orange. “Hello Master Ledas,” the thing droned pleasantly. “It is wonderful to see you again.”

“Yeah, yeah, okay. Can I get inside?”

“As you wish, sentient.”

The doors opened and Ledas scurried inside like an echidna fleeing the light. Once the gate shut behind him, he turned to Frododobo R’but and asked, “Has anything come up about that thing I asked you to look into?”

“No, nothing, sir. There have been no reports of a creature matching that description anywhere in the galactic chatter.”

“Alright, keep searching.”

“One more thing, Master Ledas. Since your latest absence, a new sentient has moved into this complex. Of note is the fact that he is a Saiyan like you.”

Ledas raised an eyebrow. “Whaaaaa… a Saiyan?! Who is he?”

“The sentient identified himself as Prince Vegeta’s brother, Prince Tarble.”

“Tarble?” Ledas scratched his chin, straining to remember. “Oh… I think I met him once, when he was a baby. I didn’t even know he was still alive! I wonder how old he is now!”

Ledas ran down the hall like a madman. In a side room, Dr. Brief sat playing with pink robots in a city of legos he had built himself, smashing everything to bits because destruction is more fun than creation. He yelled and bellowed and called his chief robot Nikon the Mighty, Nikon the Powerful, Nikon the new. One day, Dr. Brief planned on making big robots and unleashing them upon the world, sort of like how one participates in a piñata contest. He wanted to see what the Z Fighters could really do. He wanted to work them, like Mexican tryhards worked in factories during the day. One day, he was going to show the world just how clever he was.

But today was not that day.

“What’s sushi?” Tarble was short, for a prince – scrawny too. His voice reminded Ledas of a Jolean he’d once known.

“It’s pretty tasty. I swear you’ll love it. Ty some!” Ledas threw a small bit of rice and fish Tarble’s way. It hit the young prince directly in the face and splattered like an egg on a windshield. It was a crit if I ever saw one.

“Ow! My leg!” Tarble screamed, falling over.

“Sorry, I just thought you’d be faster…” Ledas laughed carelessly. He looked over at Vegeta, who shook his head and looked away, embarrassed. The poor prince couldn’t stomach the sight of his family’s reputation going down in flames. That was okay, since Vegeta had been a much more interesting character years ago.

“Take that hideous outfit off,” Vegeta complained, looking his best friend over like he was a slab of freeze-dried jackfruit. “Why are you even wearing that? Don’t you know you look ridiculous?!”

“I already told you, Vegeta. I got this for saving Planet Ctaedi from space pirates!”

“Wonderful, now take it off,” Vegeta growled. He had the patience of a rabbit in heat. “The fools you saved aren’t here, so they won’t know if you aren’t wearing it.”

“I like it,” Ledas said, spinning around in his cape. He was a proper fancyboy, number one in the eyes of that random old photographer from the Tim and Eric blooper sessions for sure.

“Whatever.” Vegeta folded his arms and his face resembled something akin to three-day-old applesauce.

“You know, I think I met you once,” Ledas said to Tarble. “Didn’t we, Vegeta? He was a baby, right?”

Vegeta grumbled something indistinct and looked away from them. A cold wind howled through Capsule Corp. lawn, causing the Saiyan boy to shiver.

“Why are you a kid?” Tarble asked. There was a hint of incredulity in his voice. “Aren’t you supposed to be as old as Vegeta?”

“It’s a long story. So how’d you end up here?”

“It’s a thirty-five minute story,” Tarble explained.

“Oh okay, well in that case, I can’t be bothered to ever learn about your backstory, Tarble.”

“Me too.”

To break the awkwardness, Ledas handed Prince Tarble another piece of sushi – this time making sure to do so much more slowly. He promised the too-slow prince that he would never humiliate him again. Ledas only wished that he had better finishing moves. Then, a Saiyan-like fire erupted in the boy’s eyes.

“Hey, I betcha I can eat more than you,” Ledas goaded Tarble. “Come on, whaddya say, princey?!”

Tarble nibbled on the edge of one small piece of sushi, inspecting it with his taste buds (that is just speculation). His eyes lit up large and pale. “A contest?”

“Yeah, let’s do it! Vegeta can be the referee!” Ledas’ voice was a little too eager.

“I do not want to be the referee!” Vegeta roared in complaint. That was just like Vegeta. He was like a stick in that thing sticks go in. He was never any fun (that is why Ledas often tried to get him zone blazed). The Saiyan boy knew he had to give it everything he had in trying to convince Groucho Karl to have some fun.

Ledas’ face suddenly went very serious. He lowered his voice to a whisper and put a hand in front of his mouth so Tarble couldn’t lip-read his treachery. “Vegeta, you hafta. Your brother really wants you to. He told me it’d make up for all the years of you not talking to him. Come on, it means a lot to him.” Tarble probably hadn’t said any of that, but before Vegeta could complain again, Ledas turned to Dr. Brief’s servants cowering around the corner of the building. They had been hiding back there since watching the trio consume a meal that would have served a thousand people not ten minutes before (that feast had taken place in celebration of Ledas finally meeting Tarble). “You guys!” Ledas laughed and pointed. “Bring us all the sushi you have! We’re having a contest! It’s gonna be the best contest ever!”

The servants ran off in a panic. Who knows what those poor humans thought, seeing the Saiyans feasting. Maybe they thought it was a dream, a horrible nightmare they would soon wake from. Maybe they thought it was paradise from the lovely Dr. Brief. Maybe they didn’t know if this was even real life; that’s a hard thing to know when everyone is on drugs. Xanadu is a nice place to go, and I want to meet the nameless things that crawl in the mud at the bottom of the sea. Yea, slimy things did crawl with legs upon the slimy sea. They could be tripping pretty hard, and that would be preferable, since regular life is drivel. Regardless, the servants soon returned with plates and plates and plates of the finest sushi in all of Dragon World. Every morsel was Jiro approved. Dr. Brief’s uncle Ham-mon had spared no expense in importing the delicacies from the mercury-saturated western coast. Ledas and Tarble took their places, each behind a table packed six feet high with sushi; Vegeta stood ahead of them, as serious as a walrus.

“Wait, you’ll need this,” Ledas said, before throwing a shiny silver whistle at Vegeta. This prince caught what was coming for him. “It’s your official World Sushi Eating Competition compensatory referee whistle! It’s a ten thousand zeni value!”

“This is ridiculous!” Vegeta whined.

“This is sushi,” Ledas reminded him.

With a sigh and a shake of the head, Vegeta blew the whistle. Ledas was glad that Vegeta was getting more tired in his advanced age, because it made arguing with the stubborn Saiyan Prince with the parsley hair much easier. Then, the two Saiyans were off to the races, consuming sushi at a rate not seen since at least last Tuesday. Soon, a crowd of single women appeared and began screaming and cheering for each side. Many held posters showing their support for Ledas, and many others were chanting Tarble’s name. One woman held a neon light with the name ‘Matt Stonie’ on it, blinking in electric yellows, blues, and pinks. She was speed-eating a five pound burrito in mere celebration and didn’t even eat a pound of it before throwing up violently on the bystanders seated around her. There was a little man with a mustache and sparkling suit wading through the crowds throwing confetti all around.

The two ate for many a minute before Vegeta finally blew his whistle again. There was no time limit, but Vegeta was getting quite annoyed with the spectacle going on around him. He would much rather train all day or take up a new hobby, such as mustache-growing. Reluctantly, the two Saiyans stopped eating sushi, the dust cleared, and the crowd gasped in unison (a burst of confetti punctuating their noise). Ledas had eaten half of his sushi. But Tarble had eaten his entire table of sushi. It was a sushi miracle.

“No way,” Ledas moaned, running over to Tarble. “How’d you eat all that so fast?!”

“No offense, but you are a lot smaller than me,” Tarble stated, patting his round belly. “I’m an adult, after all.”

Ledas was shocked. “But Tarble, Vegeta’s way bigger than you, even though you’re supposed to be brothers! I bet Vegeta could eat the most sushi out of anyone!”

Vegeta grumbled and folded his arms. “Hmph, save your breath. I won’t take part in such a silly contest!”

“I’ll get that carrot-top guy to be your opponent!” Ledas said, running off with glee.

“Kakarot?!” Vegeta’s eyes filled up with fear and surprise. “Stop! Get back here, Ledas! Do not tell Kakarot about this!”

The sun was sinking into a curtain of blood-red clouds. The cold winds were rising. Vegeta chased after Ledas as Tarble watched. He was far too frail to run even a few feet after them. Instead, he turned around and started to eat the sushi still left on Ledas’ table. Dead leaves dragged across the pavement and crackled under moving feet.

“This ‘sushi’ is pretty good,” he said to no one in particular. “I bet Gure would touch me with her probe if I asked her to. She’s a beautiful alien.”

They dined on shrimp nigirizushi rolls whilst sipping on high-grade koicha green tea. Their feet dangled off the edge of the pier while ships swam with great vigor around them in the dying light of day. Red was the sky (but I have told you that before), and soon night would be upon them. Even now, Tarble was eating sushi at a much faster pace than Ledas. The prince finished his plate a full twelve seconds before Ledas. To the boy who had never seen anyone out-eat him before, this was quite distressing, but that will never be mentioned again.

“How long are you staying here, Tarble?” Ledas asked at last. A ship glided past them in the coral-and-ink waters, blowing its horn rebelliously.

“I uh, I don’t know. I guess now that Abo and Kado have been dealt with I can go home. But I like it here, and it’s nice to see Vegeta again. I haven’t seen him in years!”

“Yeah, I know how that feels.”

“Although, we should be heading out soon… Gure wants to, anyways. I guess she misses home.”

“Hey, I got a better idea,” Ledas said earnestly. “How about you join me on a mission I’m going on?”

“What kind of mission.”

“We’re hunting Arcosians. Supposedly, these are Frieza’s kids, or something?”


“Does that scare you… prince?”

“Ye-yeah!” Tarble shouted, his voice going all high and such.

Ledas stood up. “That’s no way for the brother of Vegeta to act!” he proclaimed.

A couple of fat black women walking by gave the boy a nice “Mmmmhmmm”, which made him feel a lot better.

“I’m just not strong,” Tarble shrugged. He was now licking his plate, trying to get every last individual grain of rice into his seemingly bottomless pit. “I’m not a warrior like Vegeta!”

“Power up to your maximum,” Ledas told the Saiyan Prince.

“Huh? What are you talking about?”

“I wanna see how strong you are! Power up!”

Tarble whimpered and threw his plate into the sea, which was really reckless since that plate was made of glass and came from Dr. Brief’s most prized collection of undersea ceramics. Then, Tarble conjured up his aura, which looked blue-white to Ledas in the dull red light of sunset. The Saiyan was like an under-watered dandelion, swaying and sweating and looking like he was about to explode. His face grew red and his muscles didn’t grow a bit. His shouts started to reach Super Saiyan 2 Gohan levels, which is to say, they were entirely theatrical. When the light cleared, Tarble stood proud, his hands on his hips and a grin on his face that reminded Ledas of the plague.

“How’s that?”

“You’re at… 3000? 4000, maybe?” Ledas shrugged. “It’s hard to stick to scouter numbers in my head when I sense you, but I’m pretty sure I’m close.”

“Is that a bad number?”

Ledas nodded dispassionately. “I was that strong when I was four.”

“Oh, darn.”

Ledas shook his head. “Yeah, you’re really pathetic. Horribly pathetic, like a worm! Vegeta wasn’t lying, huh. Well, I guess you can come with us to hunt down the Arcosians,” Ledas said. Tarble grew pale and tried to speak, tried to stay this madness, but the boy interrupted him unintentionally, “You’ll have to meet the rest of the crew first.”

“C-crew?” Tarble managed to get out.

“Yeah. Well, Vegeta has all his friends on Earth helping him fight his battles. They formed a noble gang of warriors. I got one too, only we’re in space.”

“I-I-I…” Tarble stammered, hunched over like a huncher of sorts.

“Prince Tarble,” Ledas said solemnly, “you don’t have to be so scared all the time. Just be yourself, and remember that no one’s gonna save you out there if an alien comes for you or something.”

Without letting Tarble respond, Ledas kicked the prince in the chest, sending him flying back into the water. Though he screamed and though he clawed at the air, Tarble had not the strength to fly to safety. He fell into the swirling dark waters, bobbing like a cork, screaming for help, and writhing in discomfort over his clothes getting wet. Cold wind blasted through the air like an angry swarm of bees, and the lazy honks of the ships moving through port seemed to echo across the busy waters.

Ledas laughed boldly and ran off towards the city, never looking back.

The subway was a miserable, dirty place. Everything smelled of bleach – that is exactly how you know a place is dirty. But Ledas liked how abandoned it was. Old newspapers covered the floor, and filth mixed with graffiti along the walls. It gave the place a spooky, dead feeling. Ledas bought himself a ticket and hopped on the next bullet train out of West City. There was no one in the car with him as he rode over. It was better that way, since often times people would make fun of his tail.

Eventually, Ledas came to an outer station, overlooking the sea. To the east, a hill had a forest growing on it. Power lines stretched in all directions, brainless blackbirds watching him from them and the other metal structures around. They squawked and let loose white tears from their buttholes and annoyed the heck out of that boy.

When the train was off again, the blackbirds took flight. The desolation of the train station grew as the wind blew a skirling current through it. Ledas watched the last light leave the world, as the stars were released from the veil. Then, the sound of footsteps replaced the midnight breath, and the boy felt goosebumps cover his body. Turning to face what awaited him, Ledas saw the hulking figure, seven feet tall hunched forward, waiting for him. The beast’s skin was rust-pink and midnight blue, and he seemed to have the face of some kind of ferocious predator, he had so many teeth. And then there was the fact that he was hairless and his arms and legs were covered in three-foot-long claws. The creature had a stumpy tail and long fleshy ears.

“Hey bunny,” the boy breathed.

“You know that’s not my name,” the monster growled pleasantly.

“Okay, okay, Vizzer. Okay, is that good? Are you happy now?” The beast began to purr and wag his tail. “What do you want?”

“We found their planet,” the furless space bunny said. “And we’re ready to go whenever you are.”

“Good. I found a new member for our crew,” said the boy. “He’ll join us in the morning, and then we’ll set off.”

“I’ll let them know,” hissed Vizzer. Without warning, he leapt into the air and glided off with the fleshy bits around his arms being used as quasi-wings.

Ledas sighed, rubbed his hands together, and blew into them. Sitting down on the edge of the platform, his legs dangling over the tracks, he lost himself in his thoughts (which are too private: see the deleted scenes for more details)…

That was, until a man lit a cigarette across the tracks from the boy and illuminated himself. Ledas saw an albatross around the dude’s neck. He was bronze-skinned, had a shaggy beard and wore dark sagging clothes, an orange-white hat, and thick sunglasses. His cigarette burned angry and red in a world awash in darkness.

“Hello, and so forth!” Ledas shouted at the man. Those were some fierce manners he laid on that human, them’s straight from the bitch ass mouth of Mrs. Fanshi.

“Sup,” the man said, his voice as thin as dust. He sounded older than he looked.

“It was a nice day today, right? And the weather?!” Ledas recited politely.

“Yeah, man fuck the weather. Weather ain’t shit where I’m from.”

“Okay, great.” Ledas said, as if to wrap up the conversation. He wasn’t good with humans (if you couldn’t tell), but this just sealed the deal, man. This one was straight out of his nightmares.

“Yo, I feel you. Fuckin’ feel it, man.”


“You want one?” he grumbled, holding up his flare in the darkness.

“No, thanks.”

“What’s the matter? Did the cat get your dong, dude bro?!”

“No, that’s not it. I don’t believe my cat did that, sir.”

“Fuckin’ hell, mate. You just don’t get it.” The man stood up and held his cigarette in front of him, as if to point with. “You know he’s coming for you. You know he hasn’t forgotten. You know a lot, kid. You know how he’s going to get it back?” He cackled heinously. “No, I don’t fuckin’ think so. Watch your back, kiddo.”

The man dropped his cigarette onto the concrete and stepped back. In the moonlight, his shape seemed to slide like vapor on an air current. His eyes turned to fracturing kaleidoscopes, and his mouth became a shimmering rainbow wound, and his form shattered to blocks, which digitized and vaporized and were blown away into the dust fields beyond, like gossamer on a trade wind.

Ledas stood, angrily massaging his wrist (which he’d banged into the concrete wall upon hearing what the man had said). “I haven’t forgotten. Try all you want. He’s not getting it back.”

The boy ruffled his hair and rubbed his eyes and stared up at the stars humming like sparkling eyes and wondered why he had chosen Tarble, of everyone available, to help him on this latest mission. “He’s gotta be good for something,” Ledas said aloud, almost in defiance. “Tarble exists because he has a purpose. Maybe this is it.” Quieter, and to himself, he whispered, “Man, I hope he’s good at something, because otherwise, this is going to really suck, and I just ate half-a-ton of sushi for nothing.”

The Heels of the Unknown

A Shadow on the Wind I'm a Candy Man

Down the Well-Worn Road Cool Cat

Starfall Crushing Blue

Black Dawn The Great Sushi-Eating Contest