As we lost sight of the chugging vessel, I took advantage of the opportunity to interview Leon about the Warrens disaster, partly to verify what I already knew, partly to take his mind off the terror we’d just lived through, but also to see what he may have noticed that others had missed.
Leon stiffened a bit as he spoke: “Well, It was a quiet night really… then three strangers came in…. some other man and that clockwork there… said we had only a bit of time to get out, and they had set a bomb up… there was a bit of a scuffle attempt… happens with the kind I ran with.. but the cap’n and oy tried to get as many out as we could, before it happened…”
He paused for a breath and I put my hand on his shoulder to bolster his strength a bit.
“Next thing oy think I remember was beryl fishing me out of the water… but beryl says he did not.”
He seemed to be holding up well, it had been a while since the tragedy, so I kept things moving. “Was it the Man in Blue who told you to get out?”
“Yeah… If oy could get me hands on him…”
I felt confident I already knew his answer, but I asked if there had been a tall, long-haired albino man hiding somewhere during all this and Leon shrugged that he hadn’t seen him. He seemed to be holding his head a lot and I made him promise that once things had died down he would go seek attention at the hospital. He agreed, and greeted Beryl, who had arrived to see what was going on.
“Thank you, Leon. You’ve been very helpful.”
While it wasn’t the same as confirmation of Chase being in the clear, having no one notice such an unmistakable figure, and seeing for myself the Hare operating the ship on its own and appearing to patrol independently, both put me more at ease about Chase and added concern that the gang may be splitting up to cover more territory.
As we described the previous events for Beryl, the cat kept trying to interrupt us and finally barged between us and pointed to the east. Looking over, we saw the Hare’s ship tied up in front of the Rookswood Brewery, and the Hare itself doing something on the dock.
Without bothering to say anything intelligible, we all burst into action, making for the brewery as fast as each of us could move.
Arriving separately we all converged from various directions. As I came upon the Hare inside the building, I tripped and flew past it into the Tasting Room. Turning toward me, the Hare aimed its torch at the door. “Burn,” it repeated coldly.
Just missing me, it shot burning oil at the doors. I immediately began trying to find a way to control the fire, and realized that Finn the Bartending Shark was present in his tank. I shouted at him to dive, that I was closing the valve and needed the water. He disappeared down through his gate into the Vernian Sea.
By now the Hare was twirling in frustrated confusion, unable to set the stone of the bar alight. I noticed Leon in the room as it began filling with greasy smoke and the Hare finally abandoned the futile effort of attempting to ignite rocks.
We heard Beryl shout: “I’m Beryl! You need to kill me too, right?”
The Hare turned and looked outside. As Beryl turned to run, the machine bolted through the burning doors, knocking them off their hinges.
I dumped the emergency valve on the side of Finn’s tank and the water swooshed out over the floor, doing little to stop the small fire in the corner, but dousing the wooden doors enough to put them out.
As I followed Leon outside, we found Beryl being chased all over by the Hare. While Beryl kept the Hare occupied, I quickly looked into the boat to be certain no one was aboard. I saw no trace of Chase’s long white hair anywhere, always a giveaway.
Pushing me aside, the Hare struggled across the deck after Beryl. I fell back onto the dock and heard Leon shriek. I looked up at him as I struggled to my feet and saw him staring wide-eyed at the boat, backing away slowly.
Looking over at the boat, I could see the Hare bent over working on something, Beryl no longer in sight. As it turned, I could see it struggling with a massive bomb…