Thunderclaws Is Coming To Town
It was July: to begin with. There is no doubt whatever about that. At Fort Tyler, the pilots of SCUL were busily at work, wrenching, banging, scraping; they were an elite band of highly trained starpilots, troubled little by the petty minutiae of the outside world. External heat and cold had little influence on SCUL. No extreme warmth nor wintry bluster could extinguish them, for as we all know, there is no bad weather, only poor spacesuit choices.
As 20:00h approached, mission control began chiming, softly in the outset that it scarcely made a sound; but soon it rang out loudly. It was succeeded by a deep clanking noise, as if some person were propelling a heavy decrepit object. The airlocks flew open with a booming sound, and an apparition burst into the fort. It was mission leader Plaidstry Queen, decked in festive attire and towing mysterious cargo.
“Business!” she intoned. “Pilots, hear me!” She clanked some propulsion transfer conduits for emphasis.
An air of anticipation animated the fleet as they gathered around. “Welcome to Christmas in July!” she announced. “There will be presents, holiday songs, and did I mention SURPRISES!?!” The fleet murmured excitedly. Beneath the din, a passer-by whispered “humbug!” but nobody paid attention.
On the launchpad, the fleet engaged an array of joyful lights and decorations. “Ding, dong!” went the sonic disruptor of USB Cloudbuster. Many maggots and guests joined this mission, making it extra festive. As she prepared to address the crowd, Plaidstry Queen found herself face to face with an unearthly visitor standing at her elbow. It was a strange figure - it wore trousers of lurid scarlet, and upon its head rested a cap which imparted upon its wearer a duncelike quality. Its torso was bare, but was decorated with a small particle of fuzz.
“Who, and what are you?” PQ demanded.
“I am the Elf on the Shelf of Christmas Past.”
“Long Past?” inquired PQ.
“No. Well, last year’s mission.” explained the Elf. “I just re-purposed the costume. It’s too hot to wear the shirt though.”
“Good Heaven!” said PQ, clasping her hands together. “Saddle up!”
And thus the fleet embarked on its journey, to the familiar tunes of the Tour De Tacky playlist that had faithfully accompanied them on many a past mission. Onward went the HARVS twinkling with their blinky laser arrays: Rocket, Couscous, and Leotard providing particularly fine laser displays. Threespeed and MsMoon towed a fully decorated tree behind them on PDP Strangelove. eXceSs navigated on his new ship, XFD RabbleRouser. The half-dressed Elf brought up the rear, and all pilots joyfully wished a Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, and various other well-wishes to passing food.
Soon the fleet alighted at a familiar corner of space. “Ding, dong!” went the sonic disruptor of USB Cloudbuster. The tree had undergone a surprising transformation: from every branch gleamed a twinkling laser, and heaped up beneath it was a pile of wrapped parcels. PQ announced that it was time to gather and exchange gifts, but was startled by an unfamiliar figure by her side.
“I am Present and Accounted For!” said the figure. “Look upon me!” The pilots reverently did so. He was clothed in a simple red gift box. His dark brown curls were free as his genial face, his sparkling eye, his open hand, his cheery voice, his unconstrained demeanour, and his joyful air.
“You have never seen the like of me before!” exclaimed the jovial apparition. The fleet murmured in appreciation.
One by one, pilots chose gifts: eXceSs received a Jar of Nothing, to his delight. Shadowcat opened an excellent rainbow ShadowHat, and Acehole took home a lost Polar Bear that was destined for his babymaggot after a thorough tour of the washing machine. Other gifts were swapped, exchanged, and consumed with great merriment. Last of all, PQ gifted the fleet with ice cream molecules catalyzed with liquid nitrogen accelerator.
After eating their fill of the delicious treats, the fleet disembarked and traveled a circuitous, waterside route with tight turns and narrow gates. Eventually they came to a wide green expanse where there was ample room for the traditional ritual of Kickin’ Claus. Claus was given a post along the footpath, and pilots took turns cheerfully punting him mid-flight, each one attempting to boot the figurine farther than the next. Even MsMoon got in on the action, delivering a mighty wallop from the bombardier seat of Star Hustler. “Ding, dong!” went the sonic disruptor of USB Cloudbuster. Suddenly a phantom shape began to appear in the distance, and a hush fell upon the crowd.
As it grew nearer, the very air through which this spirit moved seemed to scatter gloom and mystery. She was shrouded in a flowing garment, and seemed to float slowly towards the pilots, who were paralyzed by fear and, mostly, confusion. Onlookers waited with bated breath to see what wisdom might be gleaned from this otherworldly apparition.
The spirit lifted an ominous finger, pointing at Kickin’ Claus. Her voice crackled through the silence like a rusty airlock: “Santa isn’t a bad guy! The Department of Social Services, that’s a bad guy. Don’t kick Santa! I’m tellin ya, the Department of Social Services!”
Silence fell. “Welp, not much we can do about that!” observed Tard. In order to appease the spirit, pilots ceased their onslaught against Claus, and instead turned their attentions to a game devised by PQ: cringerbread houses. A spirited contest ensued, in which five blindfolded volunteers each attempted to create buildings out of candy materials. Once Lord McElf ran out of supplies, he launched an attack on Dead Bride’s building site which she handily defended using gobs of frosting. When blindfolds came off, it was apparent that McElf had gained a pair of frosted nipples from this exchange. As the night grew longer, several pilots and maggots burned up, earning a sad shake of the head from the rest of the fleet. Shortly, PQ declared it was time to head back to the launchpad.
The fleet set off for home with great joy in their hearts, mustering hearty cheers for anyone they passed by. Sonic disruptors rang out the lustiest peals they had ever heard: clash, clang, hammer; ding, dong, bell. Bell, dong, ding; hammer, clang, clash! Oh, glorious, glorious! For it was a merry Christmas in July, and may the forks be with us, every one.