Monday, 17 September 2007

The Poison Belt

JTTTLBTMI Crossover Part 1

The butterfly tunnel swirled around us. It had been a good few weeks away; a nice, relaxing change of pace. Pixie had it’s peculiarities but was certainly a marvellous place to relax.

We were travelling to Caledon rather than the Colony, because Fuschia said that it was much easier to navigate back to somewhere like the Homelands, where the love of it’s people acted as a sort of beacon, making it much easier for Pixie magic to home in on.

I felt the balloon catch on an updraft of wind…we were definitely approaching something…something that smelled like sulphur and smoke… The twisting vortex before us darkened, filling with thick black clouds. This didn’t look good.

I gently shook Fuschia awake and she wrinkled her nose at the smell. “Are you burning breakfast, again?” She mumbled before sitting bolt upright and whispering “Something’s wrong!”

I nodded and was about to explain when the tunnel shattered around us and the balloon leapt violently.

Once onto our feet we could see that we were surrounded on all sides by thick smoke. The butterflies that had formed our passage to and from Pixie were lost in the darkness. It was searingly hot and proving very difficult to breathe.

Where were we? This certainly didn’t look like Caledon. The balloon was twirling and I could see no more than a few feet through the smoke and ash. Fuschia handed me a strip of cloth she’d torn from her petticoats to act as a face mask in order to keep out the choking air.

I tugged on the control ropes of the balloon, trying to gain height and get above whatever we were in. A deep rumble sounded below us and a fireball tore upwards through the sky, alarmingly close. I peered down over the side of the basket and could feel even more heat as well as perceiving a dull orange glow below us through the smoke. Were we above some enormous pyre? Had the alien invaders returned and reduced Caledon to nothing but fire and ash?

I attempted to regain some control over the balloon, but we were caught in an unpredictable updraft and the balloon's control vents were useless in the ash laden, turbulent air.

“Look!” Fuschia shouted. “A funny flying man!” I turned, not sure what to expect. The brief glimpse of him I got before impact was of a young man dressed in a pastel shirt, carrying a spear and wearing a helmet crudely fashioned out of a large coconut, propelled through the air by what appeared to be a battered brass and bamboo steam jet pack. A moment later he’d collided with the canvas above us, punching a hole clean through the balloon’s envelope and sending us on a very fast journey – sideways…

We careered wildy through the air, the balloon letting out a strange high pitched wail as the gas escaped.

The balloon described several crazy loops as we clung desperately to the sides of the basket. We eventually shot out of the bottom of the smoke cloud and I briefly caught a glimpse of a volcanic island (the smoke from which we had just left) surrounded by a huge expanse of water. On the downward swing of one of our circuits the basket skimmed the top of the water, scooping up a good proportion of it along with several penguins, a rather surprised looking Baroness (Lady Amber, to be more precise) and an even more surprised looking hammerhead shark.

The balloon curved upwards again, propelling us up over the island (as the penguins heaved the shark overboard) in what would be our final descent. We swung back down again, this time crashing through some tents that had been erected on the beach, and onwards into the deep jungle trees. Tribesmen scattered in all directions and I’m sure I caught sight of several people tangled in the canopy, rigging, tent, trees and, by the looks of it, cooking pot wreckage that we’d accumulated as we skidded through the undergrowth before sliding to a halt at the mouth of a dark and foreboding cave.

Fuschia helped a rather shaken Lady Amber up out of a pile of penguins and the now ruined basket, while I clambered out to help disengage our unexpected, and no doubt shocked, reluctant passengers from what was left of the rest of the balloon. And what a collection of nobles we’d entangled: A Baron (Bardhaven), A Duke (Greystoke), a Timelord (Sputnik), Sidhe (Lightfoot) and no less than two Duchesses (Carntaigh and Loch Avie) and two Marchionesses (East and West Speirling - or at least one Speirling and one cunning "copy-cat").

As I began hastily disengaging them from the rope, canvas and foliage, eerie music drifted from the cave entrance behind me…


HeadBurro Antfarm said...

Yowsers! I do hope there will be an expense account available to members of this trip! That balloon is done for!

Mare Novi said...

And so the expected deus ex machina arrives...

Kira said...

Wonderful story!! Except apparently Kiralette has once again pretending to be me... The very nerve of the little chit! I'm happily at home minding my isle, and I find out the girl's gone and stolen my machete! As if stealing my lingerie weren't enough-- and we won't even talk about the shoes she's "borrowed"....

Marquessa Kirawill Collingwood, East Speirling

Current Population: 2 said...

Ah, I do apologise, Marquessa, but I'm sure she has some official looking papers that clearly state that the bearer is the Marchionesse of East Spierling. I have a feeling that she may have borrowed a few more things before she left...

(or I need my eyesight checking)


Alfonso Avalanche