Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Episode 96 - Tiny Pink Parasols

The crew of the ship now known as 'Agatha' stood in a confused, awkward circle on the bridge of the ship. It had been a hectic few minutes, what with Kobayashi being ejected from the Spelljamming helm, Gigamesh fending off the town constabulary with a forged/created ex nihilo parking permit, and Koresh swan-diving off the ship not to his death - but to his ultimately fatal stupidity. For as he stood next to the newest arrival (a black-cloaked figure of rather gaunt proportions) he decided it would be a Good Idea to try and wrest Kobayashi's soul from Spencer's thigh.

And that's when Spencer killed him.

It was a mere back-of-the-hand swat - the dismissive sort of cuff that would normally incense the raging mountain of chaos that is Koresh into outrageous acts of senseless violence. Instead, it killed him stone dead. And as his addled yet muscular tiger-body crumpled into a soft, furry heap, a wavering, blue spectre - a ghost - remained standing upright and looking petulantly down at the corpse at his feet.

*And there was much amazement.

The confused, contentious chatter that followed was interrupted by the face of Xoe, displayed at several times its usual size, on the large display window at the front of the bridge.

"Hey, you guys got any food that's fit for people over there?"

Gigamesh turned from the screen, looked at his assembled cohorts one by one, then turned back to the window and quipped "Well, we don't really have much in the way of dietary requirements here, but we certainly haven't found anything you'd really want to eat."
"Neither have we. Rodant wants to head over to the town to try and buy some supplies. He's taking Object as an escort. You know, in case the inevitable happens. And hey - have you noticed how these talkwindows have just sort of grown out of the existing ship architecture? They're not illithid tech. They've happened since my brother's... thing. By the way, where is the lumbering oaf?"
"He's dead."
"Oh. Well, he's been in worse spots. Rodant and Object are heading out now. We'll keep an eye on them. Xoe out."

Xoe's face winked out and was replaced by a view of the meadow and the town beyond it. The figures of Object and Rodant could be seen cutting a path through the tall grasses, heading towards the town. The smoldering ruin created by Spencer's pelvis was still smoldering, but a bucket brigade had formed, and the situation seemed under control.

Agatha's voice suddenly resonated throughout the ship. "Would anyone like to hear the poem of the day?" The crew looked from one to another in a slightly puzzled fashion. The Enigma spoke up: "Yes, Agatha. We'd love to hear it."

A voice that sounded like three voices speaking in unison, each an octave off one another, resounded (it would be confirmed later) throughout all three ships. They intoned, chanted, incanted:

We three things of occident are
seeking gifts in transverse bazaar,
quark and gluon, tau and muon,
basking in Chaos Star.

Again, puzzled looks were passed around the crew like a damp roach at a rainy bus stop.

"Thank you, Agatha," said Enigma. "What is the poem about?"
"What poem?"
"The one you just..." Uncertainty. "...recited to us?"
"I recited no poem."

The roach was passed around once more. Its effects were definitely starting to kick in. Gigamesh scratched his head, while Koresh's ghost attempted desperately to work its way back inside his body. The spectre of Kobayashi sidled up to his master and whispered into his helmet:

"Agatha has kicked me out of the Spelljamming helm. We have no idea how this ship now operates. Perhaps we should take this time and ask for a tour?"

The Enigma looked at Gigamesh. Gigamesh looked at Spencer. Spencer turned his darkened hood in the general direction of the Enigma.

"We are interested in how you move the ship. Since you don't seem to require the services of a Spelljammer, can you show us how the ship now moves?"
"You wish to see the Chaosphere?" Chills ran down all but one spine.
"Yes, that would be excellent, thank you."
"This way."

The Enigma and Gigamesh exited the bridge through a small doorway opposite the viewwindow. Without knowing why, The Enigma instinctively knew which path to take, which hallways led to the dead-end passage that terminated in a small, nondescript door that bore a neat, handpainted sign that simply read 'SUPPLIES'. The Enigma turned back and looked up at Gigamesh, who gave him a look that said 'you go right ahead, man'. The Enigma turned back around, gripped the cheap brass doorknob, and turned....

The space beyond was as black as space and almost as big. And spinning slowly off in the distance - was if 15 feet or 15 miles? - was a tetrahedron that emitted an acid-green light. Across the surface of the tetrahedron, copper-colored flat shapes silently slid, bumping into and off of each other in a continual dance of randomness. From in between the shapes - squares, circles - shot the flickering beams of verdant light that tried in vain to illuminate the void in which the tetrahedron was suspended. The slowly tumbling, flickering pyramid entranced The Enigma momentarily, enough to cause him to take a step within the black room where the bottom immediately dropped out of his mind.

Suddenly, the green tetrahedron shot away and into the distance, growing infinitely small in just under an instant. But before the tiny pinprick of greenish light went out altogether, a flash of purple light flew from behind the Enigma, past his right ear, and out in front of his eyes. A dodecahedron, glowing similarly from within with a shimmering violet light and fluid, golden triangles and circles swimming across its surface, stopped momentarily before the Enigma's eyes before zooming off again into infinity. An orange cube followed suit, with mercurial squares and circles sliding randomly across the cubes rotating surface.

The cube, after a brief pause, disappeared as quickly as it came, only to be followed not by a shape, but by a vaguely humanoid face. One... two... three human faces zipped past the Enigma, two males and a female. And as the last streaked past with the sound of tremulous glass she opened her eyes, stared into the very depths of the Enigma's helmet, and with a high-pitched *pwinggg* pushed him gently back out of the room.

Temporarily stunned, the Enigma looked around and found Gigamesh still peering over his shoulder.

"So are you going to go in or what?"

Not quite yet feeling himself, the Enigma turned back to see the room was just as he'd found it - a single, rotating, glittering tetrahedron floating in the darkness. He noticed a dull, throbbing ache radiating up his left arm from his hand. He looked down, and saw the white knuckles on his left hand as he squeezed the doorknob. He quickly let go, as if it had been hot. The brass knob was warped and imprinted with his fingerprints, as if it had been made of clay...

By the time the Enigma and Gigamesh returned to the bridge, Kobayashi were having an animated discussion. Kobayashi turned to his master.

"The rodent Kapoor has been detained. Something about not having the right permit. He's being held in a detention center near the middle of town. I think we should go find him, but the sun gives me... trouble."
"If only we had an umbrella," volunteered the cook. "You could carry it with you to block out the sun." 
"I can't carry an umbrella," whined the undead acolyte. "I'm noncorporeal!"
"No problem," said Spencer. "I'll have my zombie carry it for you."
"THAT'S MY BODY YOU'RE TALKING ABOUT!" wailed the quavering shade of Koresh. "I WILL PROBABLY DO NO SUCH THING!!!"
"Don't worry, man," said Spencer. "I'll make sure he doesn't get harmed."

There was a moment of silence as everyone looked from face to face in that expectant manner of an elevator full of people who consider pushing buttons someone else's job.

"Oh!" Gigamesh started from a miniature reverie. "I got this." He left the bridge and headed out to the open deck. He gazed out over the meadow that lay between the three ships and the town. The burning house had finally been extinguished. He turned over various economic models in his mind.

He closed his eyes and focused. He extended his arms out over the railing and tried to congeal atoms and light and energy out of the void. Someone behind him whispered something about pink parasols.

Suddenly, in the meadow below, appeared a Chinese phonebooth. Attached to one side was a rickety bicycle made of bamboo. On the bike, an old Chinese man sat pedaling. Opposite the man, out the door of the booth, popped pink parasols, one after another. They piled up in the grass. Gigamesh giggled.

That's when the Goat of Chaos visited our oft unhappy chonicler, forcing him to finish the tale at a later date. Be sure to tune in later to hear tales of brazen boulevards, chaotic crosswalks, and daring detentions.

Also, the Crimson Tsar!

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