There really is something weird going on, the down to earth part of his brain (the one that cooks breakfast in the morning and checks if they have enough clean linens and plans meals ahead for kumatora when she gets too caught up in things) tells him. He should be questioning this.

But he isn't. After all, he's seen turtoises with rocket launchers where their backs should be. Hippoppotami with rockets in their mouths-he's seen those animals before, in books; in a way he's happy to see them for real-are nothing too weird. It's still better than the cattle snakes.

Or the Pigtunia. Or-no. It's not the same thing. Just look at the hippos (don't they have such cute butts? Don't you agree?)

There is something weird going on, because he should be angry but right now he isn't. The hippos might have retractable armored behinds and teeth turned rocket launchers, but they seem quite happy in their pond. The sounds-part water lapping, part hippo, part background noise that a speaker somewhere whispers into their ears-are soothing. Like a lullaby, almost. If the water wasn't that muddy and slightly cold-but he's used to cold and mud by now, they've been his everyday for a while-he could just close his eyes and drift in the water. Like a nice, comforting, earthly bath. He could probably use a bath, right now.

But that has to wait. It's for after.

After they find Porky, after they stop him, after...

(Of course there will be an after. There's always an after. There was an after when you thought your life was over, when there shouldn't be one, there'll be one now. Of course. You can take a bath then)

Brush their teeth on their own, go to the bathroom before bed, fetch the newspaper. That would be nice. Maybe he wouldn't have to do it himself for once-not that they have a newspaper.

Duster's hands catch him when he stumbles backwards.

"Are you okay, Lucas?"

He nods. He can't do anything else-what else is there to do? They have to find the door out of this room, find the elevator, find the 100th floor. Find that "King". Find...

"I'm fine. It's just another fever. I'm lucky-I'll be stronger when it's gone."

He pushes himself back to his feet and smiles at a hippo that had come close, drawn by curiosity.

Maybe that's why they're popular. Everything seems so simple when you're a hippo. Even a chimera one.

Maybe they should bring one with them. As a pet. That rocket could come in handy.