Lords of Being
Chapter 23: Ho for Diego Garcia or Anomaly Down
We’re flying through the night, accompanied by five flying fish, appearing to ride our bow wave.
The Captain wakes and is intercepted by Glass, who says, “Captain, I thought I should… tell you that we have an escort. They’re somewhat unusual looking.”
“What a surprise.”
“I didn’t want you to be too startled. There are five flying fish off the nose of the plane.”
“You seem to find this acceptable?”
“So far as we know, they’re cloaking us to prevent our adversaries from spying on us. We were assured that they’d be unobtrusive. Perhaps they’ll be subtler when we’re closer to the ground.”
“This is what you get for buying mail-order magic, isn’t it?”
Captain Barron presses, “You’re reasonably sure that it’s not dangerous?”
“The fish came just after we were told that the cloak would be arriving.”
“And your folk vouch for the salesmen?
“The Courtiers do. Claude and I had never met them before.”
Captain Barron goes forward to the cockpit and looks out the window. Yes, those are fish escorting the plane. He checks the altimeter which reads 30,000 feet, on the nose. He shrugs and slips into the pilot's seat. After ghosts trying to sabotage the plane, finding a creature embedded in the avionics also trying to sabotage the plane, and “people” walking into the plane at altitude, being escorted by fish flying at over 400 miles per hour is noteworthy, but not remarkable.
Rosamund asks, “Claude, can you make a light with the same spectrum as the sun?”
Neon asks, “This sun?”
“Yes. I’m used to it.”
Neon looks at the bulbs over the Courtier, gestures, and the ones she’s directly under glow with a warm, yellow light. Rosamund sighs happily and settles in for a nice session of photosynthesis.
As we descend into Madagascar, the fish peel off. Captain Barron isn’t sure where they’ve gone to, but they’re no longer visible. We land in Madagascar in the wee hours of the morning.
As we’re taxiing towards the terminal, the group discusses what we are going to tell the authorities here about our departure vector. The only thing in the direction we want to go is a huge Anglo-American military base, and they probably won’t appreciate our visit.
Zabeth suggests, “This big base, Diego Garcia, I know somebody out there. Give me a little while.” She pulls out her palmtop and starts tapping at it. After a bit, she reports that her friend is willing to help us fake a flight plan. We don’t ask how she managed it. She gives the relevant information to Captain Barron, who shrugs and submits it.
Captain Barron goes out to perform a routine inspection, accompanied by Neville, Rosamund, Mabel and Hookie. As we deplane, each of us feels a light tap on the shoulder. There’s a small lizard on each of us. Rosamond looks at hers, and asks, “Are you a watcher?” It doesn’t answer, but slowly takes on the color of her jacket. Captain Barron notes that all five of us have them. “We’ve all got our lizards?”
Mabel replies, “Yup.”
Barron shrugs and continues his inspection, with the rest of us trailing along. He mutters about checking for footprints on the wings, and at least glances there. The plane seems to be fine, and is still sipping at the fuel. He has the fuel tanks topped up fully.
When we board the aircraft, the lizards jump off our shoulders and scamper to the roof of the plane.
While those outside stretch their legs, Glass suggests to Zabeth that it might be a good idea if we could plan on landing at Diego Garcia. While we can make it to the anomaly and back to Madagascar, it’s just barely in our range. If we have to circle over the anomaly for a while, we might not be able to make it back.
Leaving Zabeth to see if her friend and arrange things, Glass and Hellgrammite install a digital camera on the belly of the plane to allow them to see below and ahead of the plane.
Once the Captain is back aboard, Glass asks the Captain to pause a moment so the group can discuss how it’s going to deal with the anomaly. The Captain asks how low we need to get. The Courtiers admit that they don’t know. Rosamund offers that the Courtiers can go to the anomaly, just like the spiracula came into the plane. Captain Barron agrees to fly as low as 500 feet above sea level.
We take off. Flying slowly to optimize mileage, we have four hours to plot and plan a strategy for dealing with the anomaly. Shortly after we leave Madagascar, we have an escort once more of five flying fish.
Catalyst offers to give the Courtiers who need it a charge of prana. He then recharges himself by cooking a breakfast for Neville and Captain Barron, as well as fresh bread.
As we close, the Courtiers attempt to push the anomaly. Nothing happens. Catalyst is flying the plane towards the anomaly, which he can detect as the Elemental Knights can, though he’s not a Knight. We’re in a shallow dive, aiming at the anomaly.
Glass tweaks the camera he and Hellgrammite installed to show the anomaly glow by daylight. It appears to be at sea level. Glass offers Captain Barron his specs. They help him see the ring of light which would normally be washed out by the light of the sun.
We pass over the anomaly at 500 feet, and the Courtiers attempt to push at the anomaly. Nothing happens.
Catalyst turns the plane around to make another pass. The Courtiers demanifest; their human forms vanish. In their place are 3 amoebas and a volvox, which are only visible to the Knights. Merely human senses cannot see them. As the plane passes over the anomaly, they sink through the plane, falling towards the anomaly. It’s actually below the surface of the ocean. The luminous ring is caused by plankton, reacting to the anomaly. It’s a clog on the Order side, so Mabel pushes on it first. That unclogs it most of the way, but it takes an additional push from each of the Courtiers of Chaos to fully clear the clog and dissipate the anomaly. As the luminous ring fads, Rosamund attempts to sense anything that might have fed on the plankton. She wants to avoid another Nut-Walter-like spread of micro-anomalies. Fortunately, she doesn’t find anything outside the fading anomaly that has been fixed.
Mission accomplished, the Courtiers rise towards where the plane will meet them. As the plane circles to make the pickup, Glass suggests that he, Neon and Neville should be in the front of the plane, just in case the Courtiers don’t match velocity with the plane perfectly. The Courtiers appear without incident, naked, having left their clothes behind when they demanifested.
As we’re heading back to Madagascar clothed, Glass’ phone rings. It’s Ragnison, congratulating us on dealing with the anomaly. All of the Courtiers on Earth felt it when the anomaly was unclogged.
We return to Madagascar, and start a return to Denver.
Hellgrammite checks his secure email. There’s an answer from Bloodhound. It reads:
Longhorn says you can use the airfield near Fairplay, but he will be out of town.
It takes us about 3 days to make our way back. In Liberia, Glass picks up a pair of aviator’s goggles which he tinkers into night-vision goggles. Eventually we land at Longhorn’s spread in Colorado at night. Glass and Hellgrammite have arranged to have the remainder of our refit supplies waiting for us there.
Last Updated: Sep 4, 2009
©2009 Barry Tannenbaum, All Rights Reserved