The Metataxi

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Reema White Antelope 6/10/2022 9:14pm

“Docking clamps locked, Captain.”

“Thank you, Ran Pleasing” I said.

Somehow all our creeping around in the dark led us to an entrance. Something between a big porthole and a church. A huge gothic slit carved into in the alabaster walls. @Runa SecretTradition demanded we go in. @Rita Pearl demanded we stay out. I decided in favor of our mandate, to explore the unexpected.

"That is no our mandate at all." said Rita. "We're on a simple trade route. We move boxes of tissue paper and instant ramen. THAT is our mandate."

Yeah, well. A captain's gotta do what a captain's gotta do. And Rita didn't have a better option than continuing to bump around in the dark and wait for our rations to run out.

"Runa and Rita. Prepare your teams."

Good thing we have plenty of ramen.

Rita Pearl 3/12/2022 11:35pm


To evade the giant moths, The Metataxi has been running with no lights. Which means pitch black here inside the incomprehensibly enormous structure we're lost inside.

"Object at 400 clicks receding to 450 clicks. 500... OK. It's out of range," Ran Pleasing reports. Random giant moths flitting in the dark, we assume.

The whirring of the engines doesn't seem to attract them. Nor our radar emissions. But with no lights on, you can't see your hand in front of your face, much less a cliff wall or some kind of abutment. Which is why we're keeping the speed so low.

"Steady as she goes," I tell Ran Pleasing.

And it's why we've rigged up a sensory net around the ship. Not an actual net, but dozens of sticks, bound together end to end to make longer sticks, sticking out from The Metataxi in all directions. Like a great hedgehog or sea urchin, floating in the dark. That way, if we brush up against something, we'll know it. And so long as we're not going too fast...

crrrrrrrrrrrrrrkkkkkkk.... coming softly from the larboard bow.

"Hold our position," I said.

"Hey, shouldn't that be the kind of thing I say?" asks Reema White Antelope.

Runa SecretTradition 1/6/2022 11:57pm

The Ritual Garments of Heterocera!

"I'm sorry, what?" asked Rita Pearl.

I didn't realize I'd been speaking out loud.

"The uh, Ritual Garments of Heterocera. It's an old story."

"Like 'great caesar's ghost?' Some kind of folkloric exclamation?"

"No, it's well...," I replied. We were on the observation deck, examining the soft cliff The Metataxi found itself adhered to. The giant moth had landed here and climbed into its folds, leaving us stuck to the outer surface. We risked turning the floodlights on to get a better look.

"It's obviously some kind of vegetable matter... like moss," said Rita Pearl.

"I think you'll find that it's wool."


"The Ritual Garments of Heterocera were woven over a thousand years. The wool of every sheep on the planet was dedicated to their creation, for generation after generation. Use of wool for any other purpose was punishable by death. They were intent on creating robes for the gods upon their return."

"A thousand years? Why have I never heard of this?"

"When the gods did not return, the priests were killed, and the temples destroyed, The past was denied -- erased, except in a few rare apocryphal texts, which were interpreted as myths. And the robes themselves were never found, which was odd because they'd be so large..."

"So they were hidden in a closet made from statues the size of a mountain?"

"The gods were very large."

"All hands, brace for some bumps," Ran Pleasing announced over the speaking tubes. "We're about to pry ourselves off this wall."

Reema White Antelope 11/14/2021 9:57pm

"Security! Report!"

"Ryung Brightness here, captain. The crew's got some bruises and a mess to clean up, but no serious injuries. What's going on?"

"We're in the grasp of what appears to be a giant white moth. It's a little bigger than we are. It's got the Metataxi in its clutches and it's taking us deeper in."

The whole ship felt like it dropped 50 feet, then bobbed to port, then struggled up a ways, and fell again.

"Nausea might be our most immediate enemy, captain."

"Get the crew to the windows, Ryung! I need their stomachs settled and ready to repel boarders!"

"Aye aye, captain."

Reema White Antelope 9/25/2021 10:39pm

"I want all the spotlights turned on. Light it up, Ran Pleasing."

"Aye aye, captain."


"What am I seeing here, Rita Pearl? And by that I mean, I'm not seeing anything. What gives?"

"Well, captain, looks like there's nothing to see."

"Come again?"

"The lights are turned on, but there's nothing out there to see. The walls must be far enough away in all directions, and the light from our floods is so diffuse... wait! Look there, a moth!"

"What, where?"

"There! Kind of bobbing around. It must be attracted to our lights."

"Ah, ok, yes, I see it. Wow, it's kind of big for a moth, isn't it? I mean, the perspective's funny..."

"Captain..." said Rita Pearl.

"I mean, just how far away is it? Because it's super detailed. I can see its fur... and those antennae... so detailed..."

"Captain we need to turn off the floods," Rita said again.

"But I'm just getting a good look at this moth. It's so white, and fluffy... it's..."

"It's bigger than the Metataxi, captain! Shut down the floods now or--"


Rita Pearl 8/12/2021 11:58pm

It's always a great sign when they bring in the doctor of pseudoscience and stop talking to the science officer.

I'd been taking readings across the EM bands since the electrical event, and spectral analysis of the statues as we approached. They were definitely solid, and made of natural stone. And inconceivably huge. No human figures should be so large.

Have you ever been in a warm calm ocean and looked down to see little tiny skinny minnows floating there, pointing their noses at you? It was a little like that. But we were the fish.

We’d been heading towards what looked like an ornamental box being held between the hands of one of the largest figures. As we drew closer and closer, the truly enormous size of the statues became even more clear. And our ship more small. Eventually the terrain became abstract, and we were enfolded by the cliffs and ridges.

“There,” said Runa Secret Tradition. “That dark area. It’s cave.”

“It’s an entrance,” she said.

Runa SecretTradition 6/29/2021 11:57pm

The whole point of taking this assignment was that I'd be left alone. Who would ever need an anthropologist specializing in pseudoscientific and purely fictional impossibility on a simple trade route? The only reason I was hired was to fill the mandatory "research" position at the absolute lowest rate they could find. Which was fine with me! What could be better than paid berth on a safe and predictable route that allowed me to read and sleep as much as I liked? The pay was crap, but with nowhere to spend it it still added up.

The statues (likely not alabaster but impossible to confirm until we get a sample) were, yes, unexplainable.

"Because who could carve them so high?" asks Captain Reema. "This is completely beyond what any known past civilization could have possibly achieved!"

Captain Reema obviously has a limited understanding of history. The Floating Barons of Chyon 9. The Dream Expenditure Committee of pre-historical Rottweiler. Pim, the Wonder King. I could go on. But there certainly was an atmosphere of incredulity around these statues, glowing white in the moonlight. A whole royal family of them -- a king, and queen (impossible to judge gender assignation through their stylized forms), four lesser attendants, and two more smaller, twisted forms on the outer wings.

Together they formed a mountain range taller than the Hamdurian Ridge. The shoulders of the smallest of them existed well outside the atmosphere.

"Can you take us closer, captain?" I asked.

Reema White Antelope 5/15/2021 11:15pm

"Wow. I really don't remember those being there before."

Alabaster statues, bigger than skyscrapers, loomed above us, taller than the thunder clouds.

"We're outside the lightning, Captain, but--oh! What's this?"

"Hold us in place, Ran Pleasing. And get Anthropology on the line."

Ran Pleasing pulls some levers. The speaking tube lowers down.

"Runa Secret Tradition, report to the bridge."


"Runa Secret Tradition, REPORT!"

"... uh, oh... what? Is that the speaking tube? I've never gotten a speaking tube announcement before. How does it work?"

"Speak into the tube? It's got a funnel on the end."

"Keep talking! I'm sure it's around here somewhere..."

"Runa Secret Tradition we have a situation here. We have need of your expertise."

"You mean?"

"That's right. It's the reason you're here. It's a Däniken event."

Reema White Antelope 4/3/2021 10:05pm

"Ran Pleasing! Report!"

"Readings are all over the board, Captain. The lightning might have scrambled everything up--"

Leftover sparks fire intermittently across the bridge.

"Altitude?! Any thing we're about to hit?"

Storm clouds still fill the windows. Which is a better sign than mountains.

"Mountains captain!" says Ran Pleasing. "Registering three nine five niner. Taking us up and around."

The Metataxi jerks to an abrupt incline. Paper and coffee cups fall.

"Take us out of this storm while you're at it, Ran Pleasing."

"Aye aye, captain."

Reema White Antelope 2/19/2021 11:31pm

"See? I told you the new doping would be great in lightning!"

Even on the bridge, I had to shout over the storm for Rita Pearl to hear.

She looked at me nervously, face lit up by the blue spark lightning just outside the windows.

Nope, the lightning was no problem at all. If anything, it liked the Metataxi. It was almost as if we were generating the electricity ourselves.

"Captain," Rita said. "Your hair."

"What? Is it funny? Whoah! YOUR hair! It's standing on end! And, there's a little drip of blue light at the end of your nose."

I reached out to touch it.

"Don't touch it!" Rita screamed.