The White Zeppelin
Warning! This entry is intended for members of the Chair and Special Committee Icarus only. Any, and all reports regarding P-12 are to be restricted and directed to Special Committee Icarus for registration.
The following is a top-secret document, addressed to Heads of State and their respective secretaries concerned with national security.
To all, it may concern,
In this statement, the Chair of the Association of Ishtar intends to address questions and concerns raised by various parties regarding P-12. For brevity, we’ll answer some of the frequently raised concerns in the following four points.
Is P-12 preternatural in nature? The answer is, yes.
Can and must P-12 be intercepted. The answer is, no.
Is P-12 a threat? The answer. Possibly.
Has the Association devised any defensive measures to stop P-12? The answer is again, no.
Despite its mundane appearance, that being a white zeppelin, P-12 is a sentient entity with defensive and offensive capabilities unrivaled by known human military, on this Plane or elsewhere. Ignoring P-12 is, until adequate measures have been devised, the most reasonable course of action. Up till now, P-12 has only been aggressive when provoked, like in the case of the Cesme coastal battery that got destroyed in 1869. (See the excerpt P12-C attached to this letter). In that regard, P-12 is not a direct threat. But because it ignored all past attempts to communicate, its origin or motivations can’t be ascertained.
Attachment P-12 C
On the 17th of February, 1869 the coastal town of Cesma was woken up by a loud impact that devastated a nearby gun emplacement. When authorities arrived to investigate, the entire area, about 100 feet in diameter, was entirely ‘crushed’ as if it was struck by an enormous hammer, without any obvious signs of detonation. The ground within the 100 feet area had sunk two feet under the force of the impact. Witnesses from Cesma and crew members of a not-to-be-disclosed naval vessel have stated seeing a pristine white zeppelin, without markings, passing the coast in a southern direction. No party has claimed responsibility for the destruction of the fortifications.
‘This is the Cesma Ottoman Coast Guard to Unidentified Air vessel. You have ignored our signals. Please change course now or you’ll be fire upon’
‘This is Cesma Ottoman Coast Guard to Unidentified air vessel! You are entering Ottoman air space. Please, turn back, or you’ll be fired upon.’
[There is still no response from the zeppelin. The officer in charge orders a warning shot in the direction of the vessel]
‘Unidentified vessel. This is your last warning. Adjust your course now!’
[There is still no response, and the Anti-Aircraft battery opens fire on the zeppelin]
‘Impact confir- … Nothing happened. No effect! No effect! Target is still approaching! Wait, I see something emerging from the starboard bow. Oh, my god!’
[What follows is illegible. This is presumably the observation post getting crushed. There are no further transmissions.]
[End of Log]
The White Zeppelin has been sighted by various countries since 1863. There are no reports of the vessel mooring anywhere or traveling in the direction of a particular destination.
Warning! This entry is intended for members of the Chair and Special Committee Icarus only. Any and all reports regarding P-12 are to be restricted and directed to Special Committee Icarus for registration.
The following record is derived from a report by Associate 176 who is stationed in Arkology for a prolonged period of time to observe the events taking place there, and investigate the various phenomena surrounding the settlement. In one of his reports, he writes about a white zeppelin that moors regularly at Elysium.
[…] I have given up trying to assimilate within the local population. One does not simply adapt to a culture foreign to one’s own. Let alone one inside a city created by refugees from various planes of existence who, at first glance, only seem to have their humanity in common. Or so I used to believe. Despite my month-long stay in Arkology, I wasn’t one of them. I didn’t even feel a proper connection with those who stayed here shorter than I did. After all, I still had a home to return to. Would something happen to Arkology, I could return to Atlas. Unlike them, who would be doomed to succumb to Travels Decay should they ever leave this place. It gave me a sense of superiority in a way, as do most tourists, scientists, and traders who, like myself, can travel here thanks to a “Silver Ticket”. I find it easier to talk with them because we are all travelers. We talk about the state of near anarchy, the filth, the fact their food looks like it could eat them instead, and at any moment. Surely, no decent humans could live like this.
I would tell myself. ‘It wouldn’t be the same for me, as it is for them.’ After all, they are but Scavengers, living of alien creatures no civilized person would think to look at, let alone touch. They pillaged the ruins of a once greater civilization like a bunch of grave robbers. To most, Arkology is nothing but a slum, filled with unwashed immigrants who should feel lucky just to be alive. That those who end up in Arkology, couldn’t imagine living anywhere else.
But one day, walking by a saloon, I noticed a tall muscular man sitting at a table. His face was scarred as if a clowder of cats had a field day with it. Blankly he stared at the glass he was holding in his hand as if he was hypnotized by it. Beside him, leaning against the wall, stood an alien device that was even exotic for the standards of Arkology. It looked like a rifle but was loaded with a stripper clip mounted with pristine needles the size of crossbow bolts. He must have been a Collector. The Scavenger-elite, who make up the top of the hierarchy in terms of skill and equipment. They go deeper into the rings of Hades than any other and bring back objects that would take a scientist back home a lifetime to understand. And they wear these items like trophies or master their use in their own peculiar way. To common people, they would appear as alien, and as monstrous like the Outsiders they hunt for food.[…]
They’re proud of their craft and status. Each one of them probably has its own set of legends. Yet, there he sat alone, making counterclockwise motions with his hand while staring at the twirling liquid contained in the glass. It seemed like the vortex hypnotized him, invoking dark thoughts in his mind. A darkness which he then projected into me as I stared at him. What I saw in his blank, hopeless expression was not the ignorant suffering of some drunkard. He knew, just as well as I, what was happening to him and his morbid state of Limbo. But unlike Purgatory, at the end of his days, no paradise awaited him. Just oblivion.
I wonder now, as I did then, how does one end up like that? Spurred on by my curiosity, I needed to start at the beginning of the transition. And there is one place where all inhabitants set foot in this place for the first time. So today I visited “the Station”, curious to see the new arrivals disembark and observe their reactions to their new living environment.
The harbor area, called the Station, was enormous. The interior of that place is believed to run all the way from the lowest decks of Hades, up to the unexplored command decks. The ancient ships once docked here are gone, or their wrecks are lodged somewhere in the lower decks, their generators leaking lethal levels of radiation. Suffice to say, few dare to venture to that abyss. Most of the bridges and docking galleries have turned to ruin or have been picked clean by Scavengers.
All that remained operational, are a large and a small terminal. The small one is for departures, which can fit a dozen people or so, and is uncommonly used. Arrivals, on the other hand, can process hundreds, some say up to a thousand new arrivals.
Radio Retrofuture made the announcement that morning that refugees were about to arrive. Another natural disaster had
made most life almost impossible in a matter of moments. These wretches would be the last survivors, chosen to come here.
When the announcement was done, a small group of people made their way to the Station. But not to welcome. Just to observe. I followed them up to the causeway, overlooking the terminal. It was empty. Not a single person awaited them. Not even a single representative.
Without warning the plating underfoot shock as a deep
screeching vibrated through the entire station. The hellish
sound of a whale’s death cry hurt my eardrums as the
outer hull plating separated, exposing us to the Aether
outside. A white zeppelin, over 400 feet in length,
passed the gate in eerie silence. Its propellers turned
slowly as it glided in like a funeral ship, omnipresent
and foreboding. The scavengers around me observed
the sight in silent reverence. Or horror. It was hard to
tell the difference. Although it seemed unlikely, looking at them now, all of them arrived in that awe-inspiring ship. A vessel so splendidly in its simplicity it would inspire envy in kings. The gondola looked as robust as a train locomotive but was designed with the delicate touch of an artist. But despite all that splendor, all knew that everyone inside that wonderful pristine-looking gondola was equal. Everything that mattered to them not so long ago, status, relationships, prosperity. Their past, their future. Hope. It was all gone. They were equal in misery, loss, and filled with painful memories of a world vanquished. The knowledge that their societies ever existed would die with them, eventually. All that awaited the passengers now, was Hades. Ironically, if life itself mattered, the best outcome they could have hoped for.
The White Zeppelin slowed down as humanoid figures exited the gondola and walked the causeway, starting the docking procedure. The masked crewmen, clad in white, moored the ship in silence. Instead of uniforms they wore loosely fitted shirts and trousers, resembling something more akin to robes, and performed their duties in a ritualistic manner rather than the crude custom you expected from dockworkers. These were the Servants of Aot, I was told. What this Aot being was, nobody claimed to know or understand. But they always pronounced its name as if it hurt them to say it. Like they just bumped their head when mentioning the word. Aot! Even as I write this, its name inspires dread in me, like a fear passed down to me from my ancestors. How fitting these servants serve as the ferrymen.
The plank was lowered onto the platform and finally, the first passengers left the ship looking like miners emerging from the underground. Whatever ended their world, they were all covered in soot. Rich, poor, pale, black. They all had the expressions of frightened children being pushed into the unknown. Some noticed us, noticed us standing on the causeway, and looked at us with despair, probably wondering if we were friends or would-be masters, while the growing flock pushed them ever forward.
It was not the same for them as it was for me. I came here, looking forward to discovering what countless generations before me wanted to know. What happened inside Elysium? Even now, while I stopped calling it Elysium, I observe this world with curiosity. But to them. Is it a home? If they would be given the chance to return to their blasted world, would they take it?
Entranced, I observed the final refugees leaving the ship, and the terminal emptied. But a single woman stayed behind on the platform. She was small, even made tinier by the ill-fitting soot-covered clothes. She stood there, frozen like she was incapable of moving. Just as I wondered if she needed any help all the other spectators turned their backs to the ship and walked away. One of them stopped and lay his hand on my shoulder. ‘Don’t worry about it lad,’ he said with a growling but gentle voice. ‘There is always one.’ Having said that, he too turned his back on her.
But I stayed, wondering what was happening to her. Nobody cared. Not even the crewmen gave her any attention as if she was an empty vessel. I lost track of time as I observed the poor lass. Then her luggage just dropped to the floor and she turned around. Her body swayed with every step like she was under a spell and ascended the plank into the ship. I stayed to see if she would be thrown out. Instead, one of the crew walked up to the left luggage, picked it up, walked to the side of the platform, and threw it into the depths of the Station. And with that, every trace of her was gone. The crew boarded the vessel and after they pulled in the plank. Finally, the White Zeppelin left as silently as it arrived.