Skunk Day 50
Once upon a time, there was a boy. He dreamed of cars, robots, spaceships. That boy grew up, and his dreams with him. The robots got bigger, the cars got smaller. But it was the spaceships that were really going places. As time passed, they took on a life all their own.
Somerville, present day. Invitations had all been sent by the hundreds, near and far. All that was left to do was wait. The fort hummed with anticipation. One by one, they appeared, shaking off cobwebs, oiling hinges, checking their mechanical function. Generations of star pilots with their trusty mounts trickled in. There were hugs and whoops of joy as the fort quickly exceeded capacity. The inexhaustible Lordmcfuzz oriented pilots of yore to new in-flight procedure while all enjoyed Klobb’s portaged delicacies. NOVA, a new recruit, refused to let a crash landing dim her huge spirit, sat quietly in a corner, performing TOP SEEKRIT duties.
The count grew and grew, until it exceeded its allotted space in the flight logs, and then the available launch pads. Outside, pilots assembled around Dyanna, proud modern bastion of space exploration. Tailgunner PQ moved further and further down to fit all the fliers, as civilians in search of beer molecules wandered past confusedly. Never had they seen such a crew.
With reminders from on high for proper inflight behavior, the night sky began to glow as the armada took flight. With high fives from grounded crew, it was up, up, and away. One pilot kept time from front to rear, until after a minute, he lost count. The tail was long and sinuous, transports would simply have to wait.
Wait they did, though none too patiently, at the invasion of busy Davis Constellation. One transport felt threatened by the mighty presence before it, and revved its engine in protest, though the threat of HARVs tamped it down. In the empty launch pad at the Death Star, Spooky made a near fatal mistake, attempting to adjust the cockpit of Compliance as the fleet flew loop-de-loops. Alas, the adjustment was hasty, and the entire cockpit ejected in flight, resulting in a medal of injury.
This incident proved fortuitous for Stogie. A hull breach threatened to shake stalwart Chubz apart, and it was deemed unsafe to continue. They disappeared into the night, bent on self recovery. Less steering dampener had been portaged than the days of yore, the assemblage was growing antsy, and the night was cold. So onwards into the sky, marvelling at the change of landscape through the decades, buildings that were once patches of sky, ripe for dance (where pilots got "down with their geriatric selves") and derby.
At Constellation Kendall, a black hole pulled ships into its maw, and they glowed softly in orbit. Rather than admit defeat to its gravity, pilots disembarked and spread out. Groups chattered, large and small, consuming food and liquid molecules. There was dancing, and chalk masterpieces. Derby ensued, with those known for their daring in each generation squaring off.
A disruption! Excess appeared from the night skies, seemingly steering with his rear? Presto Changeo 6.0 delighted all who attempted its ridiculosity, and those who looked on, wondering at the ship’s ability to completely transform, and the builder’s capacity to let go and accept change. And just like that, hot off the table, Stogie and Chubz reappeared, too! With the fleet reassembled, and the stars swirling around, it was time to bring the loop back around. The last portion of travel was completed without incident, navigating lazily back to the launchpad. As the fleet was dismissed, it was noted that this was the largest ever SCUL mission, with nearly 50 pilots, and highest concentration of Iron Cogs in one place (17 at launch, 15 in the photo). Photos were taken to memorialize each, with hope that less time would pass before the next reunion.
A check of the time found that many pilots wouldn’t last the remaining hours, and they would alas need to burn up upon re-entry. The airlock was opened to admit them back to their everyday selves, with rewards inside for surviving. On the launchpad, energy still ran high. Another loop could still be flown, the objectives smoooooooth wormhole and sweeeet new groove.
Back into the night, the stalwart group’s first stop was unsavory snacks, but it took several tries before a suitable location was found. Once again, the hands of time whizzed by while pilots reminisced. Some began to stamp their feet for warmth, and it became clear that flight was imminent. Fortuitously, this stop was startlingly close to the wormhole’s entrance.
Time stopped entirely as Nemobird’s Wormhole Life Support sounded. The compositions were entrancing, flowing from one to the next. The night sky was completely blacked out by flying salad, and there was nothing but life support. At Spy Nebula, a small black hole drew the fleet in, and quickly spit it back out in the direction from whence they came. Passing Luna Alewife, far up on a buttress there was a rare sighting of a mountaineering tribble.
Approaching home terrain, Wombat spotted a lost comms device in the skyway and bravely swung Moneypenny around to rescue and reunite it with its civilian. The hour was late, transports were rare, and the fierce winds nearly blew ships back to the launchpad, as they swooped and swirled in casual formation.
Happy Orbital, Fleet Admiral Skunk. This thing you started, that we have built together, the organic creature that is SCUL, it is a thing of wonder. It is this pilot’s hope that it continues to grow and change for a long time to come.