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From the logbook of HMS Skyra Brae

June 15, 18–

Our travel papers came through today. Not a moment too soon, as we need them to fill out piles and piles of domestic paperwork. We cannot cast aside our nibs; there is work to be done!

Yet I confess myself relieved. I was obliged, in order to update our travel papers, to dispatch them to the offices of Her Majesty’s civil service. I sent them by special courier, of course, and with all the haste a pocket full of gold could purchase.

Still, despite my precautions, neither travel nor travel papers are processed in a day. All in all, we were without our papers for several weeks. I confess it to be a most unsettling experience. We did not possess even the dignity of being personis non gratis–and well for us that we are not!–we were citizens without existence.

We tried to offload some surplus stores and uniforms to make room (and some small remuneration) for the journey. Much to my dismay, I discovered that even the trading post requires official papers before they will take on goods. We were forced to rely on the purser’s personal papers, those of ship and captain being unavailable. Fortunate for us that the purser’s papers are valid. (Though how that comes to be, I have no idea; for an orderly man, he seems quite lawless. Nor would he allow me more than a glimpse of the contents. I highly doubt they contain any information of a truly bad past, but he protects his secrets assiduously. A man of mystery, our purser.) Without him, we might have had to jettison the surplus as a total loss.

A close and acerbic observer might point out that we live on a liberated airship, currently tethered in a backward region of the South American continent, and might be expected not to give import to such inanities as papers. To such, I reply only that failing to kowtow, at the cost of our lives, to a dictator does not indicate a relinquishing of all the niceties of civil life.

Accordingly, we filed our papers with all of the proper crown authorities and laid low–excepting the trifling antics of our chief mechanic, who will go about plotting murder for sport, whether or not she intends to commit it. She is full of plans for the capture of appropriately epic wildlife for use in ground transport and defence. I told her that we cannot possibly hope to procure a tiger in good health until we reach Africa, so she shall have to be patient.

Documentary Evidence of the Riding Tigers of Mandalou

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