The Mephitisearliest post first | most recent post first
Ah, the Calafia Coast. Such luxury, on account of the magical resonance emanating from the crystal formations that underly the region. You can smell it in the air. It fills all living things with a healthy glow, encouraging MPP (Maximum Potential Presence) for flora and fauna alike. Everyone is full of it, but they're not smug. They're happy to share, and you can't help but get filled up on the energizing rays yourself.
"Hot tub party!"
"See you at the beach!"
"Hey drop by for dinner sometime. Vegetarian all right?"
There's a chain of floating coffee roasters along the coast for several hundred miles, who rely on us not just for the beans and Kahlúa, but for supply chain logistics, as it's easy enough for us to deliver to each roaster on the way. You can practically just smell yourself to the next floating roasting platform, the smell working its way into the eucalyptus and sea air.
They do love their coffee in Calafia.
i've got bullets that i hide other bullets in. bullets that open up like a nest of dolls, like a tackle box, like corpse's chest at the mortuary. you can lose yourself in those spaces. they open you up.
i've got bullets you can hide other bullets in. if you shoot them off it doesn't necessarily mean both bullets hit. one may be there, one may not. they are bullets inside of bullets.
i've got bullets inside of bullets, and a change of clothes inside of bullets, and some rainy day money inside a bullet, and a fake ID inside a bullet, and hope for the future inside a bullet. i've got my whole life packed away inside of bullets.
wanna shoot 'em off?
Before entering the Calafia economic zone, we had to submit to the regular border patrol. While we had the proper papers for the coffee and Kahlúa in the hold, and somehow @choco loni never has a problem with her exotic ammo (likely she has bullets that she hides other bullets in), I had to give up my collection of captive Thunder Devils. Apparently my Sentient Weather Anomaly handler’s card had expired, so the entire twelve pack was confiscated by the jack booted thugs. I begged to be permitted to release them back into the wild, but the authoritarian half wits claim international eco-airspace jurisdiction of a ridiculous 300 aeronautical miles around the border, the the detour was too great for The Mephitis’ current schedule. I can only hope that they are found good homes in an open range storm zoo, and not dissected on some mad meteorologists’ table.
The twelve pack was a convenient distraction, because none of the simple minded border goons then thought to look in the scientific grade Hydro Flask in the sling over my shoulder. Our little runaway Thunder Devil had been through too much to be given up to such ruffians! I have named him Māui.
"Ah, again please Mr. Capitan Piratu!"*
"Please, sir, Mr. Capitan Piratu! Can you please do it again but with more Hikōsen this time? Smolder with with it. Gambate Gokurosan!"
"CUT! Ok everybody let's take 15 minutes."*
The camera crew sets down their cameras and boom mikes. I set down the wunderbottle. This one's empty, but they'll stencil the new logo over it with CGI or something. Tell everybody it'll "put a wind in you" or something, coupled with the footage they took of us capturing the big critter.
In the wake of the little incident, the business guy in their team offered me a very tidy sum for the rights to the video they took of the Thunder Devil, and the name. They'll come out with our own brand under their distribution, and The Mephitis will retain royalties of 8% of net profit on all North American sales for 2 years, with an option to renegotiate at that time. I will admit I was still a little distracted getting the ship back shipshape and may not have negotiated the best deal that I could have.
The camera crew seems very satisfied with themselves for bagging such an unexpected windfall. But they're still not happy with my reading. I'm just having trouble understanding the motivations of @Captain Pirate, my former self and nemesis. Was I ever that person? I feel like an imposter, an actor doing an increasingly poor job of playing myself.
Anyway, next stop Bahía de los Ángeles, where we'll be dropping off the camera crew to meet their own company hydrofoil, and seeing what next adventure air commerce brings.
"We are ready again, Mr. Capitan Piratu! Please now, we want you to feel the strength of the airship within you, pulsing through your eyes. Show us the Thunder Devil!"
my tuning fork bullets whip around the ship, gaining speed.
the baby thunderdevil has gotten mighty big. swallow an airship big. but we're hoping--
that on the inside--
it's still the little pup it used to be--
the tuning fork bullets converge roughly 400 meters off the port bow and start to resonate. the thunderdevil pauses, and lifts its whirlwind snout out of the dusty earth below and gropes its way through the sky.
"ready with that wunderbottle?" i ask the doctor.
he doesn't hear me, what with the tornado noise, and the chimes.
i pull out my tuning fork and give it a bang against the side of my gun. it's set to the exact pitch to call the bullets back, right into the barrel.
the tuning fork bullets catch the sun as they start to zoom towards us.
the thunderdevil takes the bait, releasing the mephitis from its cyclone, and starts chasing the bullets back to us.
My pet Thunder Devil has yet to consume us. Whether this is related to its still relatively small size, or some sense of familial gratitude I can not be sure. It was merely a pup when we first released it from its wunderbottle, and it's quite possible it has formed an bond with me as a father, or the ship itself as a mother.
In either case, the Mephitis remains locked in the top of its howling funnel, rotating slowly as the Thunder Devil continues growing in size, feeding on the desert sands below. Apparently this area of the desert was once the floor of an ancient ocean, and the sedimentary rocks are rich with iron--the favorite (and most nutritious!) food for growing Thunder Devils.
While we remain momentarily safe from being sucked into its slowing growing maw, I continue my experiments in communication. @choco loni, @Captain Pirate II, the rest of the crew, and even the Japanese camera team have all assisted in hanging wind chimes of specifically calibrated frequencies all around the ship. I continue to take measurements and study, hoping to find a harmonic method communicating with our gusty young friend.
If I am unsuccessful, the ship will no doubt be crushed by the ensuing maelström.
"What? That? Oh it's just some bit of dust, caught up by a whirlwind. Sometimes we see them this high."
We were on the larboard observation deck, the film crew taking some b-roll.
"しかし、顔があります！ そして、角！ 私たちを見ています。 そして私たちに従ってください!"
"Oh, that's just a common perception misperception of people who haven't been airborne for long periods of time before. Objects are closer than they appear, objects appear to have faces and horns, objects appear to the following you. All quite normal for the uninitiated."
Come to think of it, there might have been something about the look of that particular dust devil. I mean, I've seen plenty in my time, but this one seemed especially fresh in my memory. Kind of like the ones I'd see the Doctor working with in Chichen Itza...
"そして、それはこのように向かっています！ 走れ！ 早く!"
Ah, yes, Chichen Itza. It all seems like somebody else's vacation now...
when the captain has the japanese camera crew busy doing his lines, the doctor and i have been letting the little thunderdevil get a bit of exercise off the port bow. generally it stays near the ship, scooping up the iron-enriched dust the doctor tosses out like fish food. when it starts to stray i shoot off a whirlwind bullet that i've notched to give it a full loop trajectory. as it makes its curve, the little devil follows it all the way around back to the observation balcony where i catch the bullet back in the barrel, and the doctor gives the baby thunderdevil a treat. it's starting to get wise and takes off now and then just so it can chase the bullet round and get its reward.
sure is cute. but what happens when it gets bigger?
"no one's tamed one before," says the doctor. "but i suppose we'll need to set it free eventually."
After barring the camera crew from my lab, I began the delicate process of removing one Thunder Devil from its wunderbottle. Yes, normally such a procedure should only be done in a specially equipped lab, but this particular Thunder Devil had been injured in the process of netting it, and I was concerned it needed attention. Its thrashings in the wunderbottle had become far more faint than the others, and let's be honest none of us really know what happens inside those things, am I right?
So I've rigged up a temporary playpen for it while its little funnel sets and its spiral updraft straightens out. Poor thing.
"I don't always drink Kahlua in my coffee, but when I do, it's in the morning."
CUT! TAKE 42*
"Being an airship captain means both being alert AND inebriated at the oddest hours."
CUT! TAKE 54*
"Drunk and jittery? Welcome to my life!"
CUT! LET'S TAKE FIVE EVERYBODY!*
*translated from the Japanese
This sounded like some easy publicity, plus a bit of bounty on the side for the Captain. Oh, I would have thrown a party for the crew with most of it. Or a fair amount, anyway. But the point is, this has been a lot more work than it was presented.
Our commercial agent said "Hey CP! I know you're on the coffee & Kahlua run, heading north, and there's this Japanese creative agency that's looking to do a Kahula & Coffee campaign AND give Zephyr Air Transport a big plug in the process. All they ask is that you let them have run of the ship on your way north. You know it's milk run. Ha ha get it? That's my Cappy. What I mean is it's an easy trip, and your crew is going to have trouble keeping busy as it is. So you've got a few extra passengers, who are going to be taking a some shots, some footage, some b-roll, maybe have you read a few lines. It'll be fun! I hear your face will be all over the hot canned coffee and Kahlua machines in Tokyo. Plus, there's a little bit of a bonus for the star, if you know what I mean... All I need is to have you sign here..."
"Ah! Mr. Capitan Piratu! Gomen nasai. We are ready to begin once more. But this time, we wish you to fully show the spirit of the Hikōsen, yes? Here, in your eyes. And also in your heart. Gambate Gokurosan!!"
"Hai! So desu ne."