“Something on your mind, Captain?” Mage didn’t bother to turn her head as Tanim approached, the breeze carrying before him his scent of whiskey and gunpowder. “Just wondering what it will be like,” she replied, staring up at the night sky past the ship’s rigging. “After?” he asked as he came level with her at the bow, his cigarette a tiny pinpoint of light in the darkness. She nodded in both greeting and confirmation. “After.”

For a moment they stood silent, gazing together at the impossible sight above. Like a gash in the hull of a great ship, the scar tore its way across the dome of the sky, bleeding bruised purples and blues that obscured the stars. Though its movement was not visible to the naked eye, the wound slowly widened each night, tearing through the fabric of the universe itself. They could gaze on it from a thousand different worlds. “What if it’s worse?” Tanim asked, finally breaking the silence. Mage shrugged, still staring at her creation. “What if it’s better?”

“Either way, they’ll still call you a villain,” Tanim leaned against the deck railing as he took a drag on the cigarette. “Don’t you find that unfair?” Mage fought the urge to shrug again. “I don’t mind,” she replied instead. “A villain is just the person who’s willing to do what no one else will. You know how that is.” Tanim made a short, dry sound that could have been a laugh or could have been from the smoke. “That’s why I’m here,” he answered by way of agreement.

“Yes,” The captain tilted her head to flash him a wry smile, breaking the solemnity of the moment. “Why did the moon murder the sun, anyway?” Tanim offered her a smirk and one raised eyebrow in reply. “I don’t know,” he countered, “why did the exile destroy the light?” Mage barked an amused laugh and clapped him on the shoulder. “Touche,” she conceded, and that was the end of that.

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