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Chapter 10


With the clack of a claw as their signal, the Scarlet Crabs attacked.

Hundreds of chitinous legs clattered across the deck of a fishing-vessel, bodies like tiny armored tanks moving in unison towards the enemy, who stood no chance. They were crabs — evolution’s champion, the pinnacle of all life. And they put their long-perfected forms to a cause.

Vive la shellvolution!”, came the cry, as the Crabs reached the cabin. Pouring through the door, they leapt upon the fishers within, dragging them out of their chairs and across the deck. Having reached the edge, they stopped, several of them working together to hoist all four fishers over the side and dangle them there.

“Catch us, will you?” shouted one, hopping with anger. “Well! We’ll just see about that!”

The rest of the crabs cheered.

“What are you going to do to us?” asked one fisher, terrified.

“That,” replied the crab, “is for Scarabus to decide!”

Amid chants of ‘Scarabus’, the water roiled, sending small waves up over the side of the boat. The sea parted, and an enormous kaiju of a crab slowly emerged from the depths, water rolling off of its monstrous carapace as it raised two tree-trunk claws above its blood-red body, nearly blotting out the sun and casting a crab-shaped shadow over the whole of the boat.

The fishers gulped.

Scarabus regarded the prisoners in contemplative silence.

“Spare us, please!” one of them wept. The others nodded in agreement.

“…Very well,” he boomed at last. “You are not worthy of the waters of the Scarlet Crabs. We shall take your ship, and you may keep your lives. But if you are seen dredging up any more of our Society…”

Scarabus snapped his claw with finality, creating a booming sound which pushed the ship backwards a few paces and made the other Scarlet Crabs cheer all the louder.

Minutes later, with the fishers unceremoniously dropped at the nearby port, the Crabs — whooping and cheering at their victory — steered their new vessel through their waters, wondering what act of guerilla sabotage they should next partake in. Perhaps a raid on one of the oil refineries which someone had had the nerve to construct upon great Scarabus’s waters? Or an attack on their arch-rivals, the Sect of the Silver-Shelled Snails?

Any more planning of this kind was cut short when a large gift-box suddenly materialised on the deck. Gathering around it, the crabs clacked suspiciously, until one of them noticed a card. ‘From Madame Tarsa’s Marvelous Workshop’, it read.

The crabs scratched their heads. Who was this ‘Tarsa’ person?

After some deliberation, it was decided that the gift should be opened — but carefully. Working together, a few Crabs hoisted it up the ship’s flagpole — then a volunteer, one Crustacia, was sent up after it to remove its potentially-explosive contents far away from the others. With trembling claws, Crustacia cut the ribbon, then the wrapping-paper, and finally lifted the lid.

Madame Tarsa’s Evolutionary Lottery-Fixer for the Bored Biologist’, read the writing on the box inside. ‘Simply sprinkle on any lifeform with the capacity for evolution, and be amazed as said creature ascends before your very eyes! Hours of fun!

That sounded as if it could be useful, Crustacia thought. Opening the package, she dipped a claw inside.


I just don’t understand” hissed Jörmungandir, “what she’s doing here!


Pfah!” Jörmungandir hissed, snaking between the hot-springs of the World Below. “You are a sentimental fool! Father will be displeased. This is a time for family!


No, we are not!

WELL, PERHAPS SHE HAS SOME RELATION TO OUR FATHER!” Fenrir suggested. Turning to Rauðrkrabbi, the monstrous crab whom he’d encountered back in Manna-Heim, and whose role was apparently to keep the sea attached to its shores with her claws, he started to ask her about her parentage — only to realise that she was gone. He turned back to Jörmungandir.






Never!” Jörmungandir insisted.


The two monstrosities leapt at each other, caught in yet another sibling spat.


“And – you say you’re one of us?” Charon asked, scratching his beard. The woman standing on the banks, who had introduced herself as Erythros, Goddess of Crabs, nodded uncertainly.

“That’s right! Just — surveying the, er — our people’s domains,” she said with a nod that looked as if she was unused to having a neck. “I just came from the… hot springs district? With the wolves and things.”

“Hel’s domain?” he asked, looking even more confused. “Why, now, that’s another pantheon entirely, miss! Mind, only one of ours could cross so easily, tis true. Aye, and you do have the look about you… ah. It’s all a bit opaque to me, I’m afraid, you just turning up out of nothing — and me never having heard of you! But if you are some relation — well, I can’t say I’d not be happy to meet new family, after all these millennia.”

“Great!” she replied. “Glad to hear it! Um —”

Before she could say anything more, she burst into an array of abstract shapes and dematerialised. Charon blinked, then punted away, wondering whether he should tell anyone about this.


Verily at the first Chaos came to be, but next Earth, the ever-sure foundations of all the deathless ones who hold the peaks of snowy Olympus, and dim Tartarus in the depth of the Earth, and Eros, fairest among the deathless gods, who unnerves the limbs and overcomes the mind and wise counsels of all gods and all men within them, and Kávouras, reddest among the deathless gods, whose claws…


Stirring in her sleep, C’rabbo — she who dwells in the lost city of Scarlosa and whose dreams weave the universe — yawned. In her dreams, she was about to ascend beyond even the cosmos themselves. This was in fact the truth, which was not much of a surprise, given the circumstances.


You want to join the Council?” the Frost King asked, surprised. “Really?

“Sure!” said the powerful entity who had introduced herself as the Interdimensional Crab in Scarlet. “Why not?”

The Frost King, Lord Nachtos, and the Drink-Mixer huddled together, discussing the matter in hushed tones. After a moment, they broke apart, and the Frost King nodded.

“Alright, then! You’re in!”

“Great!” said the Interdimensional Crab, excited to be part of a group again. “When do we start a revolution in the name of the crabs?”

Probably never!” said the Frost King. “Not to say you can’t do it on your own time, of course.”

“Oh,” said the Interdimensional Crab, disappointed. Revolution in the name of the crabs just wasn’t the same without a group of like-minded revolutionaries to share it with.

The point, as it happened, was moot, because the Interdimensional Crab was not long for existence in her current form.


In some aspect of the Void Between Worlds, the Lady Spatium shared a worried glance with the Squire Psykha. The being which hovered across from them blinked its single eye nervously.

“S•O, T•O R•E•C•A•P•, Y•O•U• A•R•E•…” Spatium began, trailing off at the absurdity of what she was about to say.

“gentlewoman🦀krabine,” the column of interlocking crab claws replied, its singular eye blinking from beneath a hat which looked like a seashell. “the🦀embodiment🦀of🦀crabs🦀in🦀the🦀void.”

The other two Embodiments were silent for a moment.

nO.” Psykha said after a moment, with finality. “No. nO. i ReFuSe To SpArE aNoThEr – I dEnY tHaT aNoThEr FrAcTiOn Of tHoUgHt Be SpArEd FoR sUcH nOnSeNsE. nO.

They floated away. Spatium remained, her eye fixed on ‘Krabine’.

“Y•O•U• A•R•E• N•O S•IB•L•I•N•G• O•F O•U•R•S,” she stated. “Y•O•U A•R•E N•O•T A•N E•M•B•O•D•I•M•E•N•T. A•N•D W•E D•O N•O•T T•A•K•E K•I•N•D•L•Y T•O T•H•O•S•E W•H•O W•O•U•L•D T•R•E•S•P•A•S•S U•P•O•N O•U•R —”

Before Spatium could finish her threat, let alone act upon it, Gentlewoman Krabine ascended.


The Council of Frogs. The Volunteer Tourmaline Reptile Brigade. The Krotonian Glory. The [Redacted] Lords of [Redacted]. Each of these unimaginably vast, unknowably powerful entities (and many more) believe themselves to be the sole all-powerful overseer of the entire multiverse and everything that has ever and could ever exist. Whether any of them are correct — well, that depends on your perspective.

In one particular frame of perspective — the one over which the Ascendancy of the Scarlet Crabs presides — things are just getting started.

This is the Beginning. The very beginning of meta-carcinization. Hypercrabs. The unified crab-frame that will allow an infinity of parallel systems of evolution, across the Multiverse, to ensure that crabs, in their truest form, will always spring up out of the random muck of variables, time and again – always the same, no matter the conditions or environment or ontological fabric of the universe in question. Carapaced, and with claws and chitinous legs.

In a tent made out of shells, behind a curtain of seaweed, a Crab is hovering in midair. It sighs forlornly. It misses the days (what a quaint concept) when it was one of those perfect crabs, itself. Running alongside hundreds of its fellows, all in perfect sync, united under one goal – together. But those days are long past it, now.

…Aren’t they?

The Crab suddenly realises that it is an omnipotent being. An omnipotent being which would rather not be that. The solution seems simple.

In an instant, the tent and whatever perspective it dwelled in are gone, and never existed.


Crustacia of the Scarlet Crabs retracted her claw from the box. Turning it over, she read the fine print. “NOT for use on Prime Earth crabs. Madame Tarsa is not liable for any potentially multiversally-disastrous side effects of the interplay between carcinization and Madame Tarsa’s Evolutionary Lottery-Fixer for the Bored Biologist. Keep out of reach of children and conceptual offshoots.” A sticker with the words ‘Scrapped – too dangerous!!’ had been pasted on top.

“No good!” she called to the other crabs. “It says it’s bad for crabs.”

An angry murmur went over the crowd. Bad for crabs? It would have to be destroyed.

That night, they burned it, dancing merrily in the light of the fire, legs clattering, claws clicking, and carapaces gleaming. Crustacia found herself swept up in the impromptu celebration, surrounded by hundreds of her crab compatriots, all of them united, all of them together, all of them Scarlet Crabs.

Life was good.



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