P-12 The White Ship
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 supernormal 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 unrivalled by known human military, on this Plane or elsewhere. Ignoring it is, until adequate measures have been developed, 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. As to demonstrate its known offensive abilities, we have included a synopsis of Incident P12-C on the Anatolian coast.
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 a detonation. The ground within the 100 feet area had lowered almost two feet under the force of the impact.
Witnesses from Cesma and crewmembers 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.
Excerpt of an intercepted transmission from the Cesma Coast Battery before being destroyed (presumably) by P-12.
‘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 Airvesse! 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. The Anti-Aircraft battery opens fire on the zeppelin]
‘Impact confir- … Nothing happened. Target is still approaching! Wait, I see something emerging from the starboard bow. Oh, my god!’
[Illegible sounds. Presumably of the observation post getting crushed]
The White Zeppelin has been sighted by various countries since 1863. There are no reports of the vessel mooring anywhere or travelling 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 178 who is stationed in Arkology for a prolonged 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 lands regularly on 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 in a city created by refugees from various Plane of Existence, who on first glance only have their humanity in common. Or so I used to believe.
Despite my months-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 travellers. 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. ‘Its wouldn’t be the same for me, as it is for them.’ After all, they are but Scavengers, living of alien creatures no civilised person would think to look at, let alone touch. They pillaged the ruins of a once greater civilization like a bunch of graverobbers. 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, as I walked by a pub, I saw a peculiar man sitting at a table wearing exotic equipment, even for Arkology standards. He was 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 would wear some items as trophies or master their use in their own peculiar way. To common people, they would appear as alien and monstrous as 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 movements with his hand while staring at the twirling liquid contained in the glass. It seemed like the vortex hypnotised him, invoking dark thoughts in his mind which he then projected into me as I stared in his eyes. What I saw in his eyes 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. I decided 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 harbour 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 the bottom. Most of the bridges and docking galleries have turned to ruin or have been picked clean by Scavengers. All that remains now, are a large and 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.
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. It’s 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 splendour, 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.
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.
The White Zeppelin slowed down as humanoid figures exited the gondola and walked the causeway to start the docking procedure. The masked crewmen dressed in white moored the ship in silence. Instead of a uniform they wore a loosely fitted shirt 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 past 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 in 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 on Elysium? Even now, while I stopped calling it Elysium, I observe this world with curiosity. But to them. Is it a home? Would they be given the chance to return to their blasted world, would they take it?
As in a trace, 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.’ Then he too walked away. But I stayed, wondering what was happening to her. Nobody cared. Not even the crewmen gave her any attention like 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.