Once upon a time, there were thousands of motha birds stread throughout the continent. Every day, they would fly to the coast--sometimes travelling thousands of miles each morning and again on the way home each night--to catch their prey out at sea.

These birds lives long, happy lives, and never did any human harm, but that was because humans weren't around yet. Eventually, humans did come to the continent, and most of them clustered around the coast. The motha birds didn't mind much, and lived in harmony with the humans. The humans were prosperous and felt very lucky. They took the sighting of a motha bird to be a sign of good luck because they saw motha birds every day and they felt lucky every day.

Then one day, a human had a bad day. He hurt his finger, stubbed his toe, developed cancer, and lost a bundle at poker. He felt decidedly unlucky. And yet he had seen quite a few motha birds that morning. He had seen none that evening, though. He had been too busy getting back his prostate cancer test results. He conclucded that seeing a motha bird was only good luck if you saw it both in the morning and evening. He went around town telling people this was how the fabric of reality actually worked, and they all said 'poppycock!' Then he died.

The next day, one curious young chap decided to disprove the dead fellow's claim. He got up that morning and watched the motha birds flying out to sea. Then he went insie and pulled all the curtains shut so he wouldn't see any motha birds returning home that evening.

Nothing bad happened to him.

So he went out and told everyone about his clever experiment and its entirely expected results. The people told hi they already knew it was poppycock, so he'd merely wasted half a day's luck by not watching for the motha birds in the evening.

Then, sixty years later, the guy got prostate cancer and died.

So the people said 'My goodness, that one day sixty years ago when he watched the motha birds flying out to the ocean but didn't watch them fly back hurt his luck so much that it held a grudge for sixty years and then killed him!'

So from that day on, people were always careful to see the same number of motha beasts in morning and evening.

Three years, two months, one week, and six days later, another person died. A person who had watched more motha beasts both in morning and evening than anyone else in the tiny village of Pogi and had always been careful to watch the same number in morning and evening. The humans decided a careful scientific inquiry was in order. They began an intensive survey of human deaths over the past hundred years. The results were downright shocking. Nearly every person who had watched motha birds were either dead or expected to die within the next hundred years. King Beltran ordered every motha bird slain.

Over the course of the next few centuries, a bounty was offered on motha birds. The continent underwent multiple revolutions, but each new government would change everything from the previous regime save for one thing: the bounty on motha bird. Eventually, motha birds nearly went extinct and were slowly forgotten by most of the human population. The statutes regarding the motha bird bounty remained on the books, but no one in the government knew what it was for. Occasionally, people misunderstood it to mean there was a bounty on moths and would show up at the palace with jars of moths, but they were always disappointed when the governmental officials didn't agree with their interpretation of the law.

The few motha birds that remained began to live on river fish and avoided humans as much as possible. However, the motha bird is constantly drawn to the ocean, so many moved closer to the coast, a long migratory flight each morning and evening too dangerous to undertake. Living near the human-filled coast was dangerous, as motha birds were huge and could not hide in the forests as the trees were too close together. Most lived in secluded valleys surrounded by low hills and forests. Others disguised themselves as elephants and joined the circus.


'I tells you, everything we need's in that stupid book. We just gotta snag ourselves a copy when nobody's lookin' and read it.'

'Well, it's a shame you didn't have the brains to grab it when you were in the same room with it.'

'It was in that dumb guard's hand. How was I supposed to take it without him noticing an' getting all uppity?'

'That guy's a complete moron. You coulda tricked him into reading the book /to/ you if you'd just been thinking clearly.'

'Sorry, getting hit in the head must've distracted me. So how's we gonna get the book?'

Guenter walked over to the door and called out to the guard on duty, 'Hey, could get get a book to read in here? We're bored.'

'Sure,' responded the guard, tossing a book into the cell.

'"The World of Beekeeping", read Warren. This is no good. We can't keep no bees in here. How about that book about escaping from the dungeons. That's somethin' we could find entertainin'. You got that?'

The guard rolled his eyes and walked over to the bookshelf. 'Yeah, we have that, but it's in pretty bad shape. Almost looks like someone's been hitting things with it.'

'That's fine,' called back Guenter. 'We want to read it, not admire it's shiny new cover.'

'All right, but be careful with it. I hate how people beat up these books. Books are our friends.'

'Yeah, absolutely. We'll be real careful,' said Guenter, taking the book as the guard slid it through the bars.

Quietly, he tore the book in half and handed the back to Warren. You memorise this half and I'll memorise my half. Tomorrow, we escape.

'What was that tearing noise?' called the guard.

'Just your imagination.'

'Better have been,' said the guard.

'It was,' said Guenter.

'Good,' said the Guard.

'Good,' said Guenter.

'Not lying?' said the guard.

'No, not lying.'



'You guys suck,' said Warren.


'We need a theme song,' Phil told his first mate. 'Something catchy, and friendly, and inspirational.'

'For example?' asked the first mate.

'Let me think...I know, how about this?

'If you're in trouble, and you're in need of some assistance,

Call us today and we'll give you "we cans" not "we can'ts".

Helping people in need of help,

We're the helpingest helpers since kelp!

Kelp tastes good, but help tastes better,

And while we're still green we'll do well...p.

'No, maybe not. How about you think one up?'

The first mate frowned. He was no good at writing songs. Better than Phil, but not good. And he could at least carry a tune once it was written. 'How about we make it a contest for the crew? Best song becomes out theme song.'

'A fabulous idea!' exclaimed the captain with glee. 'It will help to break up monotony of searching for people in need of help. You'd think there would be lots of them, seeing as there's a war going on.' He headed out of the cabin and up onto the deck.

'Whoa, the captain has come on deck!' shouted a shocked crewman. 'And no one had to drag him or anything!'

'Indeed, indeed,' said the captain. 'I have come out here willingly to make an exciting announcement. As you all know, we have formed a new international organisation to provide non-military assistance to all nations. As such, we need a theme song. I propose that we hold a contest to see who can write the best theme song for the organisation. The deadline for entries shall be, oh, let's say a week from today. No more than three entries per person, mind you.'

'What's the prize?' asked a crewman.

'Oh, I hadn't thought about that. How about the winner gets to also design our new flag?'

'Yay!' cheered the entire crew. 'I'm going to win and draw something really obscene for the flag,' said one crewman.

'Ooh, I want to win so I can make the flag solid white. I hate complex flags. They're too hard to draw in school assignments. I always got poor grades when told to draw the different flags.'

'Now, now,' said captain Phil. 'You have to write the winning theme song first. Make sure it's joyful and inspirational and catchy.'

The crew set about their duties composing songs in their heads, and the captain headed back into his cabin to begin cooking a delicious gourmet dinner.

Just then, a ship in distress appeared on the horizon. 'Ship in folly!' called out the guy in the crow's nest. 'North-northeast!'

The captain was back out on deck in a flash. 'Quick! Turn the ship towards the poor helpless people! All hands on deck. Ramming speed!'

'Not ramming speed!' corrected the first mate. 'We don't want to hurt them,' he told the captain.

'Right. Sorry. Not ramming speed. Just really fast. We must hurry to their aid. What folly are they facing, anyway?'

The first mate repeated his question for the benefit of the man in the crow's nest and received the immediate response: 'Their sail is on fire.'

'Everyone fill a bucket with water!' called the captain as the Phil drew up close to the burning ship. 'Fear not, friends! We're here to rescue you.'

'Arrrr, that be fabulous. Quick, all of you come aboard to douse our mast in water,' said the captain of the burning ship.

'You heard him, men! Everyone onto the burning ship!' shouted captain Phil.

'Um...sir, that's a pirate,' said the first mate.

'Never mind that now, Algers. We're an international help organisation. We must assist anyone in need. Now join me in boarding the burning pirate ship while armed only with buckets of water.'

The first mate, being a good officer with respect for the chain of command did as he was told.'

'Hurry, men! The fire still rages!' shouted the captain. 'Say, where did the crew of this ship go? And the captain? Oh, there they are. They went over to our ship. Probably a good idea. You guys stay over there where it's safe!' he called to the pirates. 'We'll douse the flames and then you can return.'

'Just to be safe, we're going to back your ship away from ours just a bit. We wouldn't want you to lose your boat while fighting to save ours,' said the pirate captain as he and his crew did just that.

'What a considerate fellow. And you didn't want to help him just because he's a pirate. Shame on your, Algers.'

'He just stole our ship, sir. Now we're stuck on a burning pirate ship.'

'Oh, pish tosh,' said Phil. 'You're just a big cynic. They're grateful.'

'Who wouldn't be grateful if someone with a big military vessel traded ships with you right after your rickety thing caught on fire?'

'Fire's out!' called a crewman.

'There, see?' said Phil to his first mate. 'Now the pirates will come back on board and we'll return to our ship, though probably not before a huge thank you feast thrown in our honour.'

'They're sailing away, captain. This is our only ship now.'

'Oh, poppycock. You're just being sill--hey! Those bastards! Come back here!'

'It's too late, captain. We inspect the ship and begin repairs.'

'Can't we chase after them?'

'This doesn't look like a very fast ship, especially with the sail burned away.'

'Everybody grab a paddle!' shouted the captain. 'We must go after these confounded pirates!'

Everyone grabbed a paddle and paddled after the rapidly fleeing warship. 'Faster! Faster! We're gaining!'

'We're not gaining.'

'Shut up. We're gaining!'

'They're getting away.'

'We're gaining!'

'We aren't going to catch them, captain. They're fast and we're slow.

Just then, the two ships collided.

'Hah!' said the captain. 'No one can row faster than my crew. Quickly, men! Take back our ship!'