Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Brief and Unilluminating Update

In the early morning of the 22nd, after being delayed by heavy weather, the air-clipper Man-Cub reached the last logged position of the missing airship Jane Guy. There was no sign of the lost ship or its crew, nor any clear indication of what may have happened to them. Some scraps of metal were found on the ground nearby, but they were determined not to have come from the Guy. Weather reports from the time of the disappearance do not indicate any hazardous or unusual conditions, and discrete inquiries among the local residents have turned up nothing (though many of the people interviewed appeared red-eyed and haggard, and some complained of sleep disturbances, a frequent marker of PDI operations in the vicinity).

The last transmission from the Jane Guy has also been declassified, though it is not at all clear what we are meant to glean from it. I reproduce it here in its entirety (minus call signs and other radio arcana):

when shall the laurel and the vocal string resume their honours when shall we behold the tuneful tongue the promethean hand aspire to ancient praise alas how faint how slow the dawn of beauty and of truth breaks the reluc

Analysis quickly revealed that the text is taken from the opening of the Second Book of The Pleasures of Imagination, by 18th century poet Mark Akenside. The message was delivered in clean code with a steady and unhurried hand on the key, but was cut short mid-line and mid-word. Whether the poem was intended to convey specific information which they dared not transmit openly, even encrypted, or whether the Guy's radio operator was just being inscrutable (a propensity which I have been led to believe is endemic to the vocation), we do not yet know. Akenside's poetry is not unknown to our technicians, though it has not been found to be particularly active under laboratory conditions. Further experimentation and field testing is, no doubt, indicated.

Once again, if you have any information concerning the whereabouts or fate of the airship Jane Guy, I ask that you contact the Institute without delay. I will continue to post updates as they become available.



baka said...

the night before his untimely death, Chief Admiral Łaski told me: "hic sunt leones". He wasn't too lucid...but maybe he was trying to warn me about the nexus between 'branes..
Can that be useful in some way?

PlagueDream said...

Well, I passed it along to the captain of the Man-Cub in tonight's communique, and he said it "set the wheels turning," but he didn't want to be more specific than that. We'll have to see what happens.

Meanwhile, the Akenside verse seems to be a dead end. The poem's natural resistance is very high, though not unusually so, and despite its subject matter (or because of it?), it doesn't let off so much as a glimmer when run through the standard battery (halfway through the first pass, two of our remote operators had to ask if we'd "started yet"). I put the poem's damn near insulating properties down to its didactic tone, issuing as it did from a man of barely twenty. "...[E]nlarge and harmonize the imagination, and by that means insensibly dispose the minds of men to a similar taste and habit of thinking in religion, morals and civil life," indeed. Tosser.

Yet the question remains: what is the significance of the Jane Guy's final transmission? Hic sunt leones.