The APD Airship of State
Wow man, like…
That Larry, he’s the man. That’s some pad he’s got. And we talked… and drank… and smoked… and drank… and ate… Those mooncakes… out of this world. Some quality catip in the mix. Bet Barrymore made them. Not much she can’t get hold of.
Sky. I can see the sky. Sky’s all around? Wow!
[Ginsbergbear wakes, or ‘comes down’ as some would say, on the upper observation deck of the Airship of State, beneath a geodetic Plexiglas observation dome. We will discover why he is there before too long.]
Woah! Sky up ahead. Sky up above. And fluffy clouds… And birds. I like birds. But what’s that behind me? Behind me there’s… funnels. Big bronze smoking smokestack funnels And this is? A spiral staircase… that goes… Wayhay! Down and… down and… down and…
Round and… round and… round and… round and…
The gang were gathered in The Airship of State’s sumptuous lounge. Boz, Slasher and Phoebles were huddled in a circle of light-weight armchairs discussing McGoogs’ plan, Ferdinand was studying the Scotland double page spread in The New Pictorial Atlas of the World, Odhams Press Ltd., 1926 Edition, and Barrymore was doing something mildly erotic with a cocktail shaker whilst chatting to Wing-Comrade Polly Karpova. Polly had been overseeing the tethering of her crimson warbird within the dirigible’s midships aircraft hangar, before coming forward and joining the others.“Woah-haaay!” There was a protracted rumbling bumping sound and a bear rolled out from the bottom of a spiral staircase to halt with a thud against the leg of a coffee table.
“Mr Bear, how good of you to join us.” Barrymore and Ms Karpova advanced sinuously upon Ginsbergbear, the contents of their uniforms animating the coarse fabric like eels in a flour-sack. Barrymore proffered a glass containing a raw egg, Worcester sauce, Tabasco, vinegar, and a generous measure of Balkan vodka. “This will pep you up.”
Ginsbergbear took the glass and drank the contents without looking. His eyes opened wide, then opened wider. “Ay carajo! That smarts – what is it, distilled aviation fuel?”
Barrymore smiled and patted his shaggy head. Polly sashayed over to the others and collapsed into a vacant Lloyd Loom armchair next to Phoebles. She swung her army booted feet onto the intricately inlaid rosewood coffee table, flashing bare legs and thighs smooth as a barrister, taut as banjo strings. She removed her officer’s cap and dropped it on the deck, copper-red hair cascading about her shoulders. As she lounged back her jacket fell open to reveal a body hugging, telnyashka-striped, thermal teddy. Suddenly the temperature in the cabin felt uncomfortably warm and sweat began to form on Bozzy’s brow.
“So gentlemen,” she purred, “What have you in store for us?”
Ferdy joined them, still holding on to his atlas; his dodo cool untouched by the provocative antics of the young air ace, “We’re going north from Carlisle, following the A7 deep into Reiver territory. Larry has lent us the Airship of State in the hope that it will impress the natives. We are wholly and deliberately unarmed so let’s hope he is right.”
The SL102 Airship of State was Britain’s most impressive dirigible, 978 feet long, with a polished aluminium skinned canopy embellished with bronze tracery and powered by four 1200 horse power in-line Stanley Steamer aero-engines with a funnel each.
“Our destination is Gilnockie Tower, ancestral seat of the Gilnockie of Gilnockie. He is nominally the Reiver Head Honcho and has agreed to meet us to discuss an acceptable way out of the current impasse. That’s if The Kittens haven’t already set the Lowlands ablaze.”
Ferdy paused as Polly took a catnip roll-up from the tin that Phoebles was offering round. She struck a Swan Vesta on the hobnailed sole of her boot and set light to the end of the spliff.
“And I don’t get to shoot anyone?”
“Not unless the whole exercise turns to cold custard,” interjected Slasher McGoogs. “But if we find ourselves up to our bum holes in angry crocodiles you’re the only hope we’ve got.”
Within the entrance chamber of the Andromeda Machine the Merovingian Lizard Kings’ diminutive ambassador was in full flow and warming to his subject.
“Back then the grandparents of these people here were investigating a magnetic anomaly on the plateau above and mapped out a shape beneath the ice. Huge it was, and not of a natural form. Tunnelling down they were, until they reached the outer hull of the structure within which you stand. Their proximity triggered a response from the Andromeda Geräte. It sent a distress message.
“Received the message was, by the Lizard Lords. Tell you I cannot, of what the Merovingian Lizard Kings already knew regarding the Mother Ship. But tell you I can, that there is little that the Lizard Kings do not know. One with The Chaos they are, and The Chaos is aware.
“Instantly dispatched was I, with my companions, to contain the situation. Neuschwabenland was isolated and the expedition to disappear was made. A busy time in Europe this was and a few missing scientist soon forgotten were. The descendants of those with the foresight to embrace our mission are still here.”
“And those without the foresight?” enquired Easter Smurthwait.
“The Merovingian Lizard Kings see only the bigger picture. Those who did not embrace did not continue. They were of no consequence.
“You earthlings think you are so important. You strive, and it is noble to strive, right that you strive. But you influence nothing. The weirdy web is spun. It warps and quivers, pulled and shaken by dark tides – glistening dewdrop universes dancing on its threads. And you, tiny animated specks on one tiny rock, circling one tiny star, on the outer rim of one tiny constellation, in a cosmos so vast that it is beyond your comprehension think that you can hang on, get noticed? All is The Chaos, everywhere is The Chaos. It carries you along or tosses you aside without reason. It is tumult, and the Lizard Kings embody its deepest nature.”
“You are all servants of evil,” spluttered Albert.
“Servants of the Lizard Lords we are, and the Lizard Lords are The Chaos. The Chaos is not evil or good, it is what it is.
“Homo Credulous – programmed to see patterns in the turmoil. Everywhere you little men find order and purpose, discover rules and laws and think this is how the universe works, but deluded you are. You marvel at fractals that derived can be from a tiny equation yet are infinitely complex, you puzzle over a π without end. You invent Æther to carry your light and radio waves, postulate Dark Fluff in the vacuum of space to make a random universe conform to your sums.”
Harold was not convinced that he did any of these things; he had not really grasped algebra at school. He could find a shoal of coleyfish in the vast Arctic ocean and navigate his aging tin tub through mountainous seas that should swallow the 500 ton sidewinder whole, but maths…
“Wanting it all to make sense you are. But it does not. Not your kind of sense, anyway.”
One of the saffron men coughed and leaning in to the sage’s ear he spoke quietly to him. The old man turned to von Luckner. “You must return to the complex, Kapitänleutnant. Be gone quickly. You are about to be attacked. We will follow directly.”