Holy shit. Here's a good one.

I dreamed I was called back to active duty and assigned to an enormous (think 747 sized) experimental seaplane as a navigator/radio operator. Our job was supposedly to monitor the weather in various locations, but the actual missions revolved around spying on a group of indigenous tribes on a series of tropical islands.

It turns out that some of the shamans (shamen?) in these tribes were capable of doing actual magic, and of course the US gov't wanted to figure out if it was possible to somehow harness it, or even better, weaponize it.

In any case, we were not having much luck. Towards the end of one mission, we were having a very difficult time contacting the tower to get authorization to land. Between radio problems, horrible reception, and the tower straight up ignoring us, we were running dangerously low on fuel.

Normally, it being the damn ocean and it being a seaplane, we could have just landed if things got really bad. The problem was, sometimes the islands would move, and there were tons and tons of ships in the area, so we had to check in with the tower to get clearance to land in a specific area, since they would have the most up to date information on where the islands and ships were. (It made perfect sense during the dream, trust me.)

So eventually we end up having to make an emergency landing with zero radio comms, and ended up crashing into a fishing boat. We (the crew) were press-ganged onto the fishing boat in order to pay for the damages, and after several long, boring weeks of working on a fishing boat, we were cast ashore onto a random island.

Now. About these tribes. The major thing was that they were totally uncontacted, since it was thought that major disruptions to their way of life might have some effect on their magical powers. So, when we showed up, it was bedlam.

After a series of tests, games, and eventually, conferences (they spoke English, naturally), we were adopted into the tribe, though with a few caveats. Since none of us had earned proper penis piercings or any of the seven layers of a man's skirt, we were all inducted at the rank of child within the tribe and had to complete all of the coming of age rites and tests.

What followed was a bizarre series of tests ranging from the mastery of a simple board game involving cups, circles made of woven leaves, and rocks as game pieces, up to an endurance biathalon where we had to outrun and outswim a series of predatory animals from one side of the atoll to another.

Some of the crew died during the trials, or refused to progress and so had their brains magically altered to those of infants. It was good incentive to keep going.

Failure at most stages of the trials meant that you would simply have to keep trying until you got it right, like the board games, whittling special tools, hunting certain animals, or gathering and weaving the special grass (plastic Easter grass!) from which the different layers of skirts were made. Some failures, though, resulted in death or disfigurement.

Like the biathalon. If you can't outsmart and outswim the 70 ft. eel, it will kill you. Ditto the anacondas on land. Or if you fail to camouflage yourself to the satisfaction of the eldest hunter, and manage to evade his apprentices for three days and nights, you get castrated and relegated to being a chicken coop tender (the lowest position in their society) for life, forbidden to eat meat, use tools, speak to any man, or make eye contact with anyone at all.

The great escape came during one of the elaborate ceremonies that would have been nearly the end of the whole process. Those of us who had survived the trials were settled around a fire with the shaman and elders of the tribe, awaiting our first and most important penis piercings. The elders were passing around some kind of smoking pipe, with which they were smoking some kind of hallucinogenic plant from the bush. They would take huge lungsful of the stuff, then blow clouds of smoke at each other in an order determined by social rank, from highest to lowest. When a cloud of smoke was blown at someone, the shaman would magically form it into a sphere, and then guide it to hover around the recipient's head, making a magical hot box of sorts.

It was the first time any of us had been allowed to see magic happening up close, and I suddenly realized that to do air magic, all you had to do was know how to position your hands, and what kind of dirt to hold in your mouth. Not having any social taboos about giving it a shot, I reasoned that since this was a sacred grove, it must have the right kind of dirt.

So, I picked up a clod of earth and immediately began swinging my arms around like a maniac, hands held in the same position as the shaman's. I was hoping to make some kind of diversion so we could scatter, since for the first time in months we were not under armed guard or being watched or being stalked by some kind of gigantic magic animal.

Instead of a diversion, I got a tornado.

Everyone scattered, not slowest the elders. The shaman tried counteracting the tornado, but was instead sucked up into it. The sudden huge burst of magic set off a satellite designed to detect weapons-grade magic, which triggered a swift response. Landing crafts full of Marines, artillery bombardment, you name it, all within the blink of an eye.

And so they found us in the clearing, and we were rescued.

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