It was a perfectly normal stormy day. Dark clouds hung in the sky, threatening a light rain that had yet to arrive. The cargo was loaded, Baloo was flying, and Kit was in the passenger as usual. And, of course, the air pirates were trying to get on their case. Perfectly average day.
"I can't tell which is worse, them or fleas," Baloo grunted as he waved through the sky. "Both want to bleed you dry and are harder than heck to shake off." Looking around, he spotted a particularly dark set of clouds clustered together. "Perfect, we'll lose them in there."
"I don't like the look of those clouds, Baloo," Kit said. "They're giving me a bad feeling."
"Dealing with pirates gives me a bad feeling," Baloo said as he flew into the cloud.
The pirate captain Don Karnage was the closest on his tail, and immediately entered the cloud behind Baloo. The second after he did, a sudden rush of green-tinted lightning burst out of the cloud, forcing the other pirates to dodge and fall back. With a sudden loud puffing sound, the dark cloud disappeared from the sky. The two planes that had entered it were nowhere to be seen.
Inside the cloud, Baloo was fighting with the controls harder than he had ever fought. The plane was shaking violently, and they seemed to be trapped inside a grey tunnel sparking with green lightning. "I can't control it! It's like someone else has their hands on the controls!" Baloo said as they were forcibly sucked down the tunnel. "Buckle in, Kit, I don't know where we're coming out of this!"
Karnage was in the exact same situation, unable to control the movement of the plane through the tunnel and watching his instruments spin wildly. He could see Baloo's plane ping-ponging around ahead of him, but it wasn't like he could do anything about it. Suddenly, the cloud around them vanished. It was like it had spit them out into perfectly clear, blue sky. Unfortunately, at the same time, both of their engines died.
Baloo frantically tried repeatedly to restart the engines as a lush, green canopy of trees appeared in front of his windshield. It would have been a beautiful site, were it not getting closer to hitting his face by the moment. At the last second the engines jumped back to life. It wasn't enough to stop them from hitting the canopy, but it was enough that he could slightly control the landing to place the Sea Duck firmly in the tree branches in relatively one piece, rather than in a hundred pieces on the ground.
He and Kit looked all around, amazed not only by the fact that they survived, but by the surroundings. They were sitting on top of the canopy of a thick jungle that was nothing like the sea outside of Cape Suzette, where they had been before they entered the cloud. "I don't think we're in Kansas anymore, Kit," Baloo said.
Due to the limitations of the pirate's plane's engines, Karnage was far more used to having to restart his engine in mid-air than Baloo was. That didn't mean it didn't scare the hell out of him, but it wasn't unprecedented. After managing to get the engine going again, he had located a narrow river to land on. While he made it down relatively safely, his lack of familiarity with the river meant that he didn't see a rock in the water until the left pontoon hit it. The sudden force threw him forward, smashing his head against the windshield frame and knocking him utterly unconscious, slumped forward in his seat.
At a nearby village, a state of utter panic had broken out. A group of young British men emerged in a huddle from one of the thatched roof houses, yawning in annoyance that their afternoon nap had been broken by the sound of screaming. Their fathers had sent them on a 'character building' tour of the colonized continent, and none of them particularly wanted to be there. "What is all this nonsense?" one asked with a tired snort. He was a tall, stocky man with badly cut blond hair. His name was Michael, and he was the self-appointed leader of the group as his father had the most money.
"Two monstrous flying demons appeared out of the sky, streaked over the top of the village with noises like tigers roaring, and then vanished off into the jungle," the village leader explained.
"You expect us to believe a silly local superstition?"
"Did you not hear them yourselves?" the leader asked, trying not to show enough annoyance that the men might accuse him of impudence.
"We did hear something loud right before the screaming started," Mickey said. He was the short, rotund one of the group, with short black hair that always seemed to be sticking up no matter how he tried to style it. Davey was the opposite, tall and thin as a beanpole with hair that was also so heavy with grease that it hung down in sticky clumps. The final member of their little expedition was Peter, who for all intents and purposes, looked like if you took a weasel and turned it into a human. Overly small eyes, with a bony and slightly hunched build that always seemed to be clasping his fingers like he had just thought of a devious plan.
"Flying monsters, though?" Michael asked in annoyance.
"What if it was a flying machine?" Peter said. He even sounded like you might imagine a human weasel to sound.
"A flying machine? I know a bunch of daft men are trying to invent them, but if someone had succeeded, it would have been all over the news."
"Unless it's a secret military invention and some other country is spying, plotting to take this country from the British empire," Peter suggested.
Michael frowned and rubbed his chin. "I suppose that's possible. We should go check it out. Gather a group to lead us!" Michael ordered to the village leader.
"That is going to be… difficult, my honored visitors. No one is going to want to go looking for something so terrifying."
"Tell them that if we find something, they will be handsomely rewarded. If they refuse, well, I'll have to have my father have a few words with the government about your inhospitality."
The leader sighed miserably and headed out. He looked towards his wife, Messua. "Tell everyone to get the children inside. I don't want them going out in the jungle until we know what those flying things were."