** I'm an iron cog, and I'm digging a hole! Diggy diggy hole, diggy diggy hole... **
Happy Birthday, SCUL - turning sweet sixteen! We have a very special mission ahead of us. Before launch, pilots scamper around looking for trinkets and toys to gift ourselves in the future. We zip along to not one, but two refueling stops. Rainbow civvies keep popping up to ooh and ahh at our glorious ships.
On this 26th SCUL day, we are gathered at Luna Market Basket, still laboring under nomadic protocol. Will we ever have a base to return to? Unclear. In the meantime, we have a very specific errand this Saturnight and we brought a lot of shovels to accomplish it. Navigator Lordmcfuzz takes us by the remnants of Lechmere, where Ziqqurat has an unintended landing after a minor mishap on Iridium. Everyone is posi and we dust ourselves off in no time. We continue across to the Boston starsystem and make a brief stop for snax.
Finally, through many light years and hills, we make it to the forbidden forest! We fly through dark trails in the night and up steep cliffs with minor difficulties. We have reached the mountain! Skunk marks the spot and we dig. Pilots check our sweet sixteen gifts to ensure security and awesomeness. For what seems like hours, the fleet takes turns shoveling moon rocks until we finally reach the other side of the universe, which we feel is far enough. The hole is really deep. I’m pretty sure it’s up to Dr. Claw’s nipples.
The fleet continues into the deepest corners of the galaxy, until Lordmcfuzz brings us to a halt outside of a mysterious stargate. Here we part ways with several pilots who burn up on reentry. The battalion presses on into the silent depths of deep space, our ships creaking and rattling in the void in the absence of life support. At one point we lose Stogie, who went on a solo adventure up an unknown g-well, but he finds us again without too much trouble. We triumphantly reach our destination, with many pilots immediately ejecting from their cockpits in order to ride around gleefully sans spacesuit, as is tradition. After a few snax, we get to work and Skunk pulls out our treasure map to begin triangulating our target.
It's 2012 and we have access to the most advanced technology, so we are recording the precise position on the planet’s crust through GPS telemetry. There’s a lot of numbers after these decimal points, which means it must be right. Next, we are drawing a map showing the location relative to some unmistakable landmarks. Here is Big Tree, the most obvious tree in Deep Space. Nobody could possibly mistake Big Tree for any other tree. We also find Two Trunk Birch, the only such specimen in the vicinity. We take measurements and draw up a foolproof map.
There’s a problem - there seem to be a lot of trees in this part of deep space. It is a bit of a mystery as to why there are so many. They are blocking the GPS signal and we’re unable to precisely locate our target. There ensues much crashing around in the underbrush looking for the landmarks on our treasure map, which also prove elusive.
“I remember it being next to a tree”
“Is that the big tree? That looks like a pretty big tree."
“Here's a two trunk birch!”
“It was definitely next to a tree”
“Is this a two trunk birch?”
“There's another two trunk birch.”
“Where's the other tape measure? I need two tape measures. Oh, I have it. I didn't realize I was holding it.”
"…Is that the big tree?”
Our best guess is that Two Trunk Birch fell over sometime in the last few years, because there it is on the ground. We think we’ve figured out the right spot, so we get out the shovels. Ziqqurat takes the first shift with gusto. Gritty inspires us with musical selections from the comfort of her space blanket. We are looking first for some sort of decoy, the existence of which was debated earlier in the mission, but which is purported to have been placed closer to the planetary surface. Pilots take turns shoveling moon rocks and shifting space gravel until we have a fairly deep hole that is only full of more moon rocks. At this point, we take out the tape measures and start debating the map again. Red Squirrel and Threespeed verify the measurements and draw an arc, leading us to believe we may be close to our target after all. Wombat places an aspirational stick in the ground. We resume digging.
“My theory is that Big Tree just got wider.”
“It's a hole body workout”
“This seems right. It's directly down from Big Tree.”
“This may as well be our new fort”
“If anyone asks what we're doing, tell them it's the Green Line Extension”
The crew set up and covered our tracks. SHIZZAM. Mission accomplished. During our final flight of the night, the sky grew pink and our eye lids grew heavy. Back at the launch pad, we cheered ourselves for being awesome, 16, and cute. Now we just have to wait ten years!
Skunk makes the call to abort the mission at 0400 hours if we have not hit our objective. Pilots are still in good enough spirits, aided by Cosima’s homemade cookies, so we keep digging. Ziqqurat has done at least half of the shoveling shifts so far, but the Fleet Admiral steps in to take a turn just as many pilots are getting glassy-eyed. Suddenly, the entrenchment tool strikes something very un-rock-like and Skunk exclaims, “I hit paydirt!” Sure enough, a mysterious alien object is poking into view. Several veteran pilots murmur in bleary recognition. The entire battalion jolts to our feet, instantly energized by the discovery.
“Is that the decoy, or the real thing?”
“It's the real thing, and it's not nipple deep on Doctor Claw, unless he's got nipples on his knees!”
“Let's never put anything in the ground ever again.”
It is ten minutes to 0400. The sky is turning blue and there is ominous orange on the horizon. We hastily cover our tracks and the fleet gathers together for the great unveiling of ****REDACTED*****
We floated out of deep space to the dulcet sounds of Beethoven, and sailed smoothly home to the Somerville System just as dawn was breaking over the galaxy.
RIP Two-trunk Birch. Gone, but not forgotten.