Tour de Forts: Life Day '22
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- Visit each past Prime Starfortresses, in reverse chronological order.
- At each fort, we take a picture of pilots who flew missions out of that fort.
- Take a calendar-worthy picture of the SCUL Crew with ships at peak Life Day attendance.
- Have a potluck Life Day closing ceremony at Fort Antwerp
- Share your outrageous ideas for the off-season and 2023.
Mission SummaryThe 2022 season closing mission was broken into two parts: the ride followed by a potluck dinner and ceremony.
Omegamission '22: Four De Forts of YorePilots assembled one final time in unseasonably warm and beautiful weather for an early launch from Fort Antwerp on a reverse chronological tour de forts of yore. Love was in the air – and in the playlist (which managed to sync the volume of all life support on the fleet!). Veterans, cadets and guests joined in for the ride. LordMcFuzz navigated the crew across the Great Asteroid Belt and down Starpath Memorial Drive as we entered the Cambridge System. Several bogies were picked up. Our tailgunner, Vomit, counted 6 blue bikes and was trying to keep track of who was actually part of the group. As we skirted away from the Harvard constellation a couple of the blue bikes folks noticed they missed their turn a long time ago and peeled off but thanked us for allowing them to briefly join us. LordMcFuzz then led us towards the Somerville System: home to 5 starforts. Our first stop: Fort Tyler. As we approached, a civilian and her child spotted us. The mother said "Look! We haven't seen them all summer and they're here!" It was nice to know we had been missed. Pilots posed for a photo op of those who had launched from that fort. Cadet Palmtree offered to take our photo since many on the ride had been at that fort. Our next stop was Fort Joy. Wombat, Excess, Dreadflint, Stogie, Dr.Claw, Leotard, Threespeed, Skunk, Vomit and Diva reminisced about having to climb up and down the very narrow and steep staircase to the second floor with our ships, particularly USB Cloudbuster. It was not a task that we missed. At this point the remaining forts were past homes in the residential neighborhoods where Skunk lived and where we either rode out of a basement, garage or our ships were under a tarp in the backyard. The number of pilots posing in front of the forts quickly dropped off as we went further back in time.
LordMcFuzz led us next towards Fort Bartlett. Here our crew dwindled to a mere 5 pilots: Diva, Vomit, Skunk, Leotard, and Threespeed. Leotard explained how in this fort we were in a low basement, which you – hopefully – only hit your head on once upon leaving, and how several ships needed to be stored in the backyard under a tarp with a single long chain through them. This made it especially annoying if you wanted to ride that one ship in the middle of the bunch. We chatted for awhile with Skunk's old neighbor who was outside when we arrived. He asked how we were doing and shared how his portulaca flowers were doing. It was while we were housed at Fort Bartlett that SCUL was recruited by the Artisan's Asylum and finally we were able to stop having a party out of Skunk's basement every weekend.
We then headed onwards to Fort Summer. This was a little tricky to navigate given construction on Starpath Central and negi g-wells, so LordMcFuzz ended up having us turn hardabout on Starpath Highland to circumvent rough starpath surfaces. As we arrived at Fort Summer, pilot Stogie burned up on reentry.
Fort Summer was home to SCUL the 2nd longest: from 2002 to 2009. It still bore some scars from our stay, such as the deformed lattice boards under the porch where we had leaned our heavy ships. The same five pilots from Fort Bartlett posed for a picture in the backyard of Fort Summer where we often hung out with our ships before launch. The launchpad itself was at the bottom of a serious g-well and we discussed the pros and cons of spacewalking vs. riding the negi g-well to the fort at the end of the mission. We also reminisced about ships that were stolen and then later found (such as Chrome Pony, which was discovered at DPW, and the weirdness of one old blue cruiser taken but in exchange the person left another crappy blue cruiser). It was at Fort Summer that Cloudbuster was christened with lighter fluid and flames, and unfortunately Bird's sweater was accidentally drenched in lighter fluid in the process, so she watched the christening safely from afar. As we left it felt good knowing that Fort Summer is still housing SCUL pilots and ships as a fort, even if it is no longer used as a starfortress for the fleet.
Our next stop was only a couple blocks away at Fort Berkeley. This was where SCUL was located for the shortest time: less than one season, yet it seems like we were there much much longer. The wounds still ran deep and we felt we did not leave on the best of terms, so we tried to be as stealthy as possible. Pilots Vomit, Diva and Skunk posed for a shot. As we stood out front, a few faces (thankfully unfamiliar ones) peered through the door and waved as two more civilians walked up to the old starfort. We explained how we used to ride out of here in 2000 and they were actually quite friendly. As we left, Diva recalled when WhiteTrash was stolen from the front lawn of Fort Berkeley at 4 a.m. after a long ride when she quickly went in for a fuel dump, and how Waltor found the ship discarded less than 0.5 light-years away by someone who attempted to go up some negi g-well on it and gave up.
We finally headed towards the Watertown System to our first fort: Fort Francis. Navigation was only shortly halted as LordMcFuzz looked for a way to cross the busy unfriendly Route 16 to get onto the ship-friendly Fresh Pond wormhole. From there it was smooth navigation to the original fort of SCUL. It had been so long since we were last there that Skunk and Diva were initially unsure which one was our fort. Luckily, Vomit remembered the small front porch and side garage where we did our welding and launched from, and the house number confirmed the location. Our Fort Francis days were from before SCUL came up with silent running or separate launch/landing pads, and often STs were called for noise complaints or for folks "blocking the starpath". It was a reminder of how far SCUL has come since those early days and how organized and how much of a community and family we have become. The current neighbors to Fort Francis who spotted us had no memory of SCUL being there and were curious about us and quite friendly.
We had one more official stop to make but first we made a surprise stop to dump fuel at Luna Seven Cycles, which also honed the welding skills of our fleet admiral. His boss said "thanks for using the place as a toilet" and we were on our way to the Allston System. A short distance from our new starfort we stopped at the "cradle of SCUL" which was at Starpath Easton, where Skunk learned to "skunk" (trashpick like a pro!) and collected various items including the frames that later turned into some of the earliest USB ships.
As we returned to the landing pad of Fort Antwerp we were greeted by Red Squirrel. We were happy to have completed a great season, to be in the best fort yet, and can grow to become even better than before!
Part 2: Pomp and Circumstance - Life Day CelebrationWhen we initially planned this mission, pilots who were tired of standing around in the cold asked for maybe a warm dinner and place for the ceremony. This is probably why it was an unseasonable balmy 78 degrees when we launched at 1600 hours and was still in the 60's well after dark. No matter. It gave us an opportunity to truly appreciate and enjoy our current fort and clubhouse, and congregate with, love, and appreciate our fellow pilots. Hungry pilots were welcomed by crockpots and a cozy "campfire" and "torches" that Red Squirrel set up for us. As we were quite hungry on arrival, pilots immediately fueled up on carrots, cornbread, lentil soup, garlic bread, pumpkin cookies, Brussels sprouts, the cheese monstah (spicy lasagna), chili, chocolate dipped wafers, and spring rolls. It was a glorious feast. We then started ceremonies. Pilot Starduck quacked his acceptance of SCUL and was knighted with the dark blade (did he really want the dark blade or was he nice about the fact that it wasn't exactly charged? We may never know). A short recess ensued so Skunk could complete Starduck's paperwork. Ziqqurat noted how it would not be SCUL without forms and red tape in the nth hour and how we are really beginning to move into the late 20th century maybe even turn of the 21st with our forms and procedures.
Afterwards, the true ceremonies began . Pilots thanked individuals and the group as a whole. Yes, love was in the air and the hugs were ready. Leotard gave a small offering to Cosima and Red Squirrel offered some plant seedlings to fellow pilots.
It was finally time for the final awards to be given by Skunk. Skunk felt he needed a podium. It was impressive how quickly pilots answered the call to put something together in less than 2 earth minutes. The first medals were for completion of both the intergalactic AND century rides, which for those of us who were NOT on the ride, sounded simultaneously epic and brutal, and yet delighted us with train lingo. The pilots posed for a picture with Ziqqurat trying to display the dejection he felt in light year 96.
Pilots were then recognized for completing their 200th mission -- Excess and Diva (It was this very mission that marked Diva's 200th), and 300th mission (Dr.Claw, Leotard) during the season. Both Excess and Leotard requested a crowd surf and we obliged.
Next we recognized those who reached significant light-year milestones. Ziqqurat, Gritty, and Punchy completed 1000 light-years each, Red Squirrel and Pastry Queen 2000, Excess hit 4000, and Threespeed and Wombat an impressive 7000 light-years!
Finally we got to the main event. The major awards. 2 Lucky arrived at the fort 5 minutes before being presented the Stone Cog for embodying the spirit of SCUL. Before he really even knew anyone in SCUL, he offered his brawn to help move the fleet into the current starfort. His first mission was a 50 light-year trek to the Maynard System, and he is always willing to take on a bag. Yes, he is definitely stone material. Next was the Bronze Cog, presented to someone who goes above and beyond the basics of SCUL. This was awarded to the pilot who in only her second season, has led missions, taken on multiple jobs, helped scout the century route, and is an all-around helpful pilot who always has a posi attitude: Cosima! Finally came the Iron Cog award. This award goes with a poem that just keeps getting longer and longer each year:
Ode to the Iron Cogs - 2022 version(As read by Fleet Admiral Skunk)
In ‘96 Skunk (96) started a gang
in order to have some people to hang
then Crack (98) came along and believed in Skunk
she actually showed up and rode all that junk
NoWay (99) rode with unstoppable vigor
which made our numbers 50% bigger
WalTor earned it for Y2K no doubt
He lives and dies by my command: until it’s time to take me out.
In 2001 the honor was Vomit’s
She made a home for the fort -- well above and beyond it.
It happened to Diva in 2002
Living litmus test for the chopper groove
20 years later, Diva's still flying'!
Survivin' and thrivin' none can be deny-in'
Historical knowledge she be droppin on the site
History buffs are filled with delight
Diva thoughts, "hold up, this is new and really focused on me, What??"
Behind the scenes working on tasks some consider Dull
Which is why Diva has earned the title "Chronicler of SCUL"
This was very much unexpected and Diva received a special award and hug from Skunk
The same year, MegaSeth earned his pips
the beauty of his code rivaled only by his ships
In 2003 we gave it to Moose
A pilot and a friend who helps us deduce
Moose was happy to share his year with Rotwang
An easy rider and a boon to the gang.
Nameless builds ships as tough as a hog
2004 was his year for the cog.
ThreeSpeed (05) saves the mission with excellent grace,
We made up new medals to keep up with his pace
Hapto (06) shows us the meaning of Chic,
Tiara! Tiara! Flight-paths unfit for the weak.
Ehawk’s (08) award night we’ll never forget
Though I suspect her hangover’s one she regrets.
Nosepicker (08) got it by traveling through time.
Shut up! (nosepicker nosepicker nosepicker)
Leotard’s (09) the one who lets the admiral know
It’s time to ride: the crew wants to go
How can you begin to measure Hack’s worth (10)
Revolutionary master of organized work.
Yt (11) is awesome at keeping the books
Jedi-level hooping with the stylishest of looks
No one more stalwart than our friend Treekiller (12)
Always a hugger and never a quitter
A tiger run over by a horse has his mane underhoof,
Oh and by the way -- 2013’s iron cog belongs to: Baaaaaaaaaaane Thunderwolf
Computio audio photeo geek -
demoscener Dr.Claw (14) does it all for his friends in the fleet.
Speaking of doctor claw if you’ll forgive my aside
He sure ran a lot of semi official missions in stride
Some say Iron Cogs should be capable of running SCUL if I died
and this doctor had the cure for those who still had to fly
Iron Cog is Iron Cog already - and that’s no bull.
But in recognition of these recent amazing feats, I dub thee of Steward of SCUL.
Skin tight spandex of incredible dayglow,
Civitron (15) is the very essence of hero.
Excess (16) never stops, he’s an unstoppable force,
The right attitude and strong as a horse.
One thing that can be said ‘bout Dead Bride (17),
The harder the mission, the better the ride.
A ball of pure energy - a full-on fun mission leader,
None take on Pastry Queen(17) ‘cause none could defeat her.
The point of McFuzz(18) is to always do better,
His bunny tail acts as the gang’s pace setter.
Seeing the bright side, no matter how dark it gets,
Red Squirrel’s prepared for whatever – you bet!
Wombat's help with web coding has been so great
His value for SCUL isn't up for debate
All these pilots we’ll always remember
We never give up - never surrender!
As this poem grows longer and longer
The stamina of Life Day pilots must get incrementally stronger.
So of all you superstars of the ‘22 crew
Listen up cause I’m talking at you!
Now it is time--We can't wait any more.
It's time to forge iron and lore
Let us now honor SCUL's juggernaughty diplomat
no job too big, no job too small for him the way I figure it.
He even built himself a HARV rig at that
so cool it makes me want to light a cigarette
I'm guessing we all know who is gettinit.
So on behalf of the entire SCUL crew
It is my great honor to award Ziqqurat the title of
SCUL iron cog of 2022.
Ziqqurat's medal was an amazing heavy propellor that opened up like a tulip. With hugs, food and comradery, we finished the evening.
Special award: Chronicler of SCUL: Diva
Stone Cog: 2 Lucky
Bronze Cog: Cosima
Iron Cog: Ziqqurat