Matte Kudasai

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Billy Sabab 6/15/2019 8:42pm

Le Bullfrog was making the crew uneasy.

"Sir. The passenger is making the crew uneasy."

"What's the problem, Shipman Eva? I mean, I know he's kinda sweaty..."

"He lurks. Sir."

Shipman Eva had me there.

"But hey! Destiny City! You always wanted to go, right? They've got great museums...."

"Sir, could we request that the passenger remain confined to his quarters?"

Shipman Eva was putting me in a kind of bind. Le Bullfrog agreed to a fare. Well, that's what the bookseller said. Er, implied. But there was no up front payment, so we'll need to collect it on arrival. Which was much more successful with a happy client, and not one who'd been confined to quarters.

I had to think fast.

"Shipman Eva..." I took a look up and down the promenade to make sure no one else was listening. "I can only tell you that our passenger is VERY important, and paying us a VERY tidy sum for this trip, so I'm afraid we're just going to have to live with it."

"Yes Sir."

Shipman Eva took her leave.

I wish I knew who Le Bullfrog was. And why he was making us all so uneasy. And IF we're going to get paid.

And what happened to @Rose Nomenclature?

Nobody tells me anything these days.

Billy Sabab 5/16/2019 9:58pm

"Shhhhhhh! Keep your head down! Here she comes!"

The voice of the bookseller hissed in my ear through the glasses.

We were camped out in a coffee shop across the street from large, clean industrial park. Ornate iron fences, palm trees. The crew was relieved that it appeared I was drumming up some much needed work.

@Rose Nomenclature walks out the gates, negotiates with a bicycle taxi, hops in, and leaves.

With the glasses I can follow her special signature through the traffic, and see beyond what's visible with the naked eye. Today it's like a stream of green percentage signs. %%%%%%%%%

I move to hail a taxi of my own.

"Not so fast, captain."


"It's time to pick up some work. Turn around."

There on the sidewalk is a stout round log of a man, wrapped in a wide trenchcoat and a scarf and a hat. And sweaty, as the weather doesn't call for all those clothes.

"Captain Sabab, meet Le Bullfrog."

Billy Sabab 4/16/2019 10:22pm

Where exactly is @Rose Nomenclature headed? You’d think she thought somebody was tailing her, and in this case she’d be right.

Then again, she seems like the type who’d take those precautions as a matter of course, delving into the malevolently shady as she regularly does. And with these goofy brass goggles on, I can track her and still make sure we stay well beyond her line of sight, so she can’t know we’re following her, right? But what if she’s possessed of an eldritch sight, enhanced by some haunted mirror or some other nightmarish antique she picked up? What if it’s all a trap?


"What? Who said that?"


I open up my pea coat and look at the goggles.

"Did you just speak to me?"

"Put the goggles on. Then move the right outside lever to 7, the inside dial to Y, then put your left forefinger on the circle with the half moon on the top."

It was the bookseller. Speaking through the glasses.

"Hey, you didn't tell me they had shortwave. How do I know if the microphone's turned on? Have you been spying on me?"

"Just take a look," he says through the tiny speakers.

So, right outside lever to 7, inside dial to Y, and my finger on the circle with the half moon on the top.

The nightscape of clouds turns into a neon explosion of pinks and greens, massive bodies of feathered serpents surging by endlessly with no heads or tails, evil-eyed tornado babies tucked into cliff sides of thunderheads. The path of the pixie dust trail leads safely through it.

"Looks like your'e good," says the tinny voice of the bookseller.

Billy Sabab 3/17/2019 4:52pm

The crew of the Matte Kudasai didn't sign up to be spies. Or stalkers.

Sure, it takes a little bit of detective work to be a good junk dealer. Some of it's instinct, but some of it is doing your homework and a little bit of research. A deep fictional knowledge of rare and haunted artifacts doesn't hurt either.

But using a pair of suped-up brasswork googles powered by arcane technology I don't understand to follow another junk dealer across the skies and report on their whereabouts... that's new. And slightly unsavory. However the money is right, and even if I have to keep this side-mission secret from the crew, it's one I've got to take. For all our sake.

With the glasses on, peering out into the night off the observation deck, I can see a trail of sparkly pixie dust leading through the clouds. Somehow these glasses can see the path the "The Traits, Features, Characteristics, Peculiarities, Mannerisms, Qualities, and Attributes of the Hymergian Man-Fungus" with fold-out illustrations intact has taken as it passes through the atmosphere. No doubt still on the Egregore, in the hands of @Rose Nomenclature herself.

"Uh, excuse me, Captain?"

Ooooooooph! I almost fumble the googles off the deck tearing them off my face and hiding them under my pea coat.

"YESssssck?" my voice cracks. "Ahem, yes Shipman Eva?"

"Helm just wanted to double check on our heading... it seems we're headed a bit off the map."

"Uh, yes shipman. It's a hot tip I got back at the bookfaire."

"In Old Habitsform."

"That's right."

"Rotting Wood."

"Yes shipman. Are my orders unclear?"

"You know, there's a collectible cards and comics fair there now. A lot of us were thinking maybe it'd be smart to drop by..."

"I'm afraid this is a hot lead, shipman. Steady as she goes."

"Aye aye, Captain."

Billy Sabab 2/13/2019 9:34pm

Dinner at the Rotting Worm Book Faire in Old Habitsform is exquisite. Those bookseller types have a taste for fine food and wine. You just have to know the right ones.

In my case, I only knew one. Good thing he didn't want to drink alone.

"I expected you'd be using the money you realized from the sale on dinner with Captain Nomenclature?" He used the weird fake French pronunciation again. I tried to use it when I introduced myself but fumbled it badly.

"Oh, I make it a policy never to mix business and pleasure as far as clients are concerned."

"Clients? But she bought the book from you. That makes you the client."

"Well, yes. Me included."

We twirl the wine in our glasses.

"Yes, you could use the glasses to track the book."

"I'm sorry, what?"

"The additional pair of glasses I am giving you. The ones with the knobs."

"To track the book?"

"Yes, to follow the "The Traits, Features, Characteristics, Peculiarities, Mannerisms, Qualities, and Attributes of the Hymergian Man-Fungus," with fold-out illustrations intact."

"Uh.. whu... why would I want to do that?"

"Because I have a job for you."

@Rose Nomenclature @Egregore

Billy Sabab 1/12/2019 5:55pm

I’d forgotten what a shifty bunch rare book dealers are. Especially the even more shady ones that would be interested in a tome like "The Traits, Features, Characteristics, Peculiarities, Mannerisms, Qualities, and Attributes of the Hymergian Man-Fungus," with fold-out illustrations intact. It takes me all morning till I find one I think I can trust.

“No, no! Don’t fold it out! You haven’t been looking at it directly, have you? Here, put these on.”

He hands me a pair of riveted copper googles, bristling with levers and switches, and puts on a pair himself.

“Now it’s safe. A fair number of this type of illustration were illuminated with subliminal self-replicating patterns. Flip THAT switch and it filters them out.”

“What do the rest the switches do?”

“Oh all kinds of things. And you can mix and match to create a crazy number of hybrid effects.”

I’m fiddling with the dials and levers when someone walks past the store window. They have towering antlers and a soft gold glow. I flip the goggles up and see it’s a young woman, no antlers, but wears her jacket in a way that marks her as an airshipman. She’s beautiful.

“Any idea who that is?”

“That would be Captain Nomenclature. Of the Egregore. A hunter for hire, a reseller, a mercantilist like yourself. She might have interest in your book. Me, I don’t have the proper facilities for keeping such a thing around.”

The Rotting Worm Book Faire in Old Habitsform may be paying off in unexpected ways.

Capt. Billy Sabab
Master of Garbology
Matte Kudasai

Billy Sabab 12/12/2018 10:26pm

The best combination of proximity and the cargo we have is the Rotting Worm Book Faire in Old Habitsform. It's the perfect place to take "The Traits, Features, Characteristics, Peculiarities, Mannerisms, Qualities, and Attributes of the Hymergian Man-Fungus," and I'm sure I'll know at least a couple of the rare book dealers in attendance. Though horrible to behold, the illustrated fold out pages are intact! Just imagine the intrinsic value!

Stopping at random garage and estate sales on the way as we spot them.

Capt. Billy Sabab
Master of Garbology
Matte Kudasai

Billy Sabab 11/7/2018 9:06pm

Had to take a day off to fumigate. Carting all this old stuff around can fill the whole ship with a musty smell, and when you start having to shake moths out of your bedroll at night you know it's time.

So we batten and lash everything down, secure the drawers and cabinets, then open up all the windows and hatches and cargo bay doors and fly awhile, dancing with the headwinds and blowing out all the cobwebs.

It's on nights like these I like to scale the hull and spend some time up top. Saw a whole bunch of falling stars.

Capt. Billy Sabab
Master of Garbology
Matte Kudasai

Bill Sabab 10/3/2018 10:53pm

Time sure flies in the Piercing of the Spires. Maybe it's the altitude.

The Matte Kudasai made the climb with no problem and docked at the sky gates of the city. My ticket was good for only one person, but after the events at Old Crag the crew were more than happy to spend their liberty on the ship, tending to some routine maintenance and enjoying the relative safety of their floating home. They had enough to get by for the month I'd be away, so long as they didn't blow all their personal stakes at the rough and tumble bars and parlors that exist outside the city walls for sailors just like them.

While a whole month passed for the crew, my own trip took me only an afternoon, subjective time. It's a well known side-effect of visiting the Piercing of the Spires, which is why all the other visitors you see are in such a hurry. If you dawdle here you can add a whole week outside. And still you see the visitors who have succumbed to it, and made it their home. They saunter at their leisure, stop and smell the flowers, some of them likely thousands of years old. What's left for them to return to outside? Nothing.

I, on the other hand, have responsibilities, and filled our hold with a load of cargo that should pay off very well, including an entire near-mint Shining Trapezohedron sound system, a collection of ancient texts concerning "The Traits, Features, Characteristics, Peculiarities, Mannerisms, Qualities, and Attributes of the Hymergian Man-Fungus" (with illustrations and maps intact), and a set of self setting and cleaning intelligent dishware. Plotting a course now to SALES!

Capt. Billy Sabab
Master of Garbology
Matte Kudasai

Billy Sabab 9/1/2018 9:54pm

Found it! A flyer I picked up at a swap meet in Transversal awhile back:





Visit the Piercing of the Spires for the widest
selection of rare, vintage, and gently used goods
offered at rock bottom prices across all the eons.
Take your pick of what's fallen between the cracks
of what was and will be. This flyer good for one (1)
admittance per lifetime. Ask for Lenny.


That's the ticket right there. Been saving it up for a rainy day.

Capt. Billy Sabab
Master of Garbology
Matte Kudasai

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