"Scalding Inquiries" is the pilot episode of Stationery Voyagers. The episode introduces Earth as the allegorical Mantith. Mitchell Lomken and his late father's butler Eliot Brownside are introduced as being on the run from the Braldonian government when Eliot reveals that Mitchell's deceased father Gordon was assassinated for being involved in Creationist activism. The pair discover a book called The Inktactillia, which lays down Gordon's philosophical foundations for his religious beliefs and goes into some detail about the Stationery beings rumored to exist on the neighboring worlds. Arnold Rubblindo appears briefly at the end, as a silhouette.
"What will propel the Stationery beings to visit our world? How will they make it, when we have only barely managed to send our own kind to the tiny moon of Vorandia? And how will Minshus save our souls amidst the madness of our own politics? How will he save them as well? How long must we wait for Volition Dilemma to finish serving its purpose for all of Physicalia—the Day of Judgment???
These questions, and the questions they inspire, become the existential plague of curiosity that moves Man and Stationery alike on paths of discovery. Paths guided by Minshus—and blind-men’s follies without him. Yet, we always come back to the same questions. They are more than burning questions in our minds—they are scalding inquiries. They peel at our souls as steam blisters our skin. God help us all!" — Gordon Lomken
After learning that his father was assassinated by the government for involvement Creation activism, and that he himself is next, rich heir and prodigal son Mitchell Lomken reluctantly accepts a challenge from his late father's butler Eliot Brownside to deliver a series of books about creation to an obscure man in another country. After surviving an assassination attempt inside Lomken Manor, the duo board a plane with the books. A Marker is shot dead in the nation of Phelpany, and the local Phelpinos become aware that the Royal Military of Markerterion is spying on them. Mitchell, aboard Flight #864, begins reading his father's favorite book, The Inktactillia. Its contents give the origins story of the universe and explain many of its metaphysical dynamics. Also mentioned briefly is the creation of Stationery beings as cursed tribes of humanity exiled to Mantith's neighbor planets; and how the Muellex and Thin Muellexic Cloud hold everything together. Meanwhile, the Rubblindo family of Pencils on the world of Statios are preparing for dinner.
Mitchell Lomken, a rich heir of the aristocratic late Gordon Lomken, stands alone in the family library and gazes aimlessly at the sunlight outside one of the windows. Eliot Brownside, bothered by Mitchell's sense of emptiness, decides to tell him the truth of what happened to his family. Mitchell heard only from his aunt Cassandra that his father and most of his wealthy family was dead. Eliot promises to tell him the whole story of what has happened and why he has his inheritance, but only after talking with visitors to Lomken Manor.
Seven hours earlier in the nation of Phelphany, the Zentaski Omicro fraternity president Elton holds a feast for some members of both the fraternity and its related sorority. Their festivities are interrupted when a Thick Non-Alcohol-Scented Marker, Agent Amanda Warmincia of Teal Fleet Division 22, crashes the party and collapses on the ground. She dies soon afterward, and is revealed to have been assassinated by a shadowy sniper from Braldon. Phelpinos' comfortable innocence is soon shattered after police are called to the scene. The whole island-chain-nation soon becomes aware of the existence of Stationeries.
A few hours after sunset in Braldon, Eliot takes Mitchell into the winery and explains that Gordon Lomken was assassinated; and that the scene was done up to look like a car accident. The House of Lords is part of the cover-up, as they felt threatened by Gordon's high rapport within the scientific community in spite his strong Creationist views. Eliot also gives Mitchell the entire history of Scalpen's Ape Trial, and how it defined both the cultural shifts in Antia and in Gordon's life. The still disaffected Mitchell learns that Eliot was told by Gordon right before the accident that it was Gordon's wish to deliver some copies of his books of evidence for creation to a man in Kentalky named Cal Bacon, who was working on building a pro-Creationism museum. Meanwhile, the Braldonian House of Lords hires aristocrats Will, Martin, and Lawrence to assassinate Mitchell and Eliot. Two of them cower at the thought of murder, but try to rationalize with themselves that the entire Lomken family is a threat to the nation's scientific establishment. The third has no issue with it.
Mitchell and Eliot return to the library to search for the books, The Inktactillia being the one they are most interested in. Eliot sees a shadow and senses trouble, staying still and hiding behind a tent that was pitched inside the enormous and relic-filled library. As Mitchell begins talking, not noticing that Eliot is no longer immediately behind him, one of the assassins sneaks up behind Mitchell and attempts to shoot him in the back of his head. However, Eliot intervenes and attacks the assassin. Eliot immediately steals his gun and kills him with it.
Mitchell is appalled by the sudden violence and the attempt on his life; but soon uses the corpse as a shield while Eliot gets in a shootout with the other two assassins. Mitchell tries to scold Eliot after the battle for his cowardice in killing the final assassin, but Eliot justifies the killing by warning that letting any of the men live would only encourage more assassins to finish the job. The pair find The Inktactillia and pack it with the other books they wish to take with them, sneaking off into the night and boarding a flight to Kentalky. Aboard the plane, Mitchell begins reading from The Inktactillia; and envisions flashbacks to the events that his father described in that book.
The book argues for Gordon's theories about the structure of the universe and the idea that Alto (Heaven) and Darko (Hell) are parallel universes all connected through "chasm tubes." Volition Dilemma is explained in detail as a constant of the nature of love itself that requires a God of love to allow evil to exist, setting up the framework for understanding morality in the universe. Gordon also describes the creation of Dabor and Meelia in the Garden of Edel and the way they were seduced by the Vile Chameleon. The creation of the Vile Chameleon and the Dark Wanderer, as by-products of the angels Luminarod and Rickrod rebelling against Minshus, is also described in great detail. Finally, the passage that Mitchell reads from briefly goes over the creation of Mosquatlons, Aviatets, and Stationery beings; Mantithian tribes transformed as punishment for their cowardice in the Drisalian War. The Drismabons, humanoid bobcat-like creatures inhabiting the world of Drizad, are also mentioned. They are described as being the descendants of the Drisalian cult's members. They are implied to be a race of demon-possessed monsters bent on the damnation of the entire universe.
Mitchell reveals to Eliot how shocked he is by the book's content; but Eliot is too sleepy to be of much use. However, Eliot does remind Mitchell to keep his eyes on the Muellex. Prophecy has it that the next time the Muellex begins shifting its hue phases, Stationery beings would prepare to visit Mantith for better or worse.
Meanwhile, Sally and Sandra Rubblindo have a conversation about phantomitic fields; and on why Pencils don't have visible and physical hands like do the Mantithians. As Sally teaches her daughter about the reasons for the different races, Arnold Rubblindo opens the front door to their house. He is only viewed as a silhouette in the doorway.
The first parts of this episode were written in the spring of 2008. The remainder was written in the winter of 2009, following the completion of Ciem. Dialog and proofreading revisions to the February 24th version were set for the weeks of March 1st through March 15th of 2009. Several typos were caught in the initial print, including the angel Dolondri being temporarily renamed Dulondri and Gordon Lomken's name magically changing to George. Mostly, the edits were done to remove redundant words and phrases from Mitchell's mouth and to make Eliot's speeches more simplistic so that they could be read more easily. The most recent version was completed on Sunday, December 18th of 2011 at 5:00 PM EST. The version before that was completed on Saturday, March 28th of 2009 at 6:46 PM EDT.
Unlike most books that have chapters with numbers and names, Stationery Voyagers books are a series of episodes in one book, each forming a "season." The episodes have names and numbers, as do the corresponding seasons for them. However, there are no chapters per se to episodes. Instead, the stories are divided by locations. Every time the location changes, a heading appears stating that the location has changed. These headings, due to the fact that location changes are so frequent, appear in the books far more often than what would be necessary in a TV adaptation.
Other than pacing issues with the very beginning, most initial comments from test readers were positive. The dramatic components of Mitchell and Eliot's escape from the mansion received the most attention. The theories on the structure of Outer Reality also drew positive feedback. Initial reviews were also favorable for the War of Metabeautalium section.
- The title "Scalding Inquiries" is a play on the idea of the phrase "burning questions," a point made explicit in Gordon's Inktactillia.
- The Inktactillia as a title is a parody of The Silmarillion as a title for a book. Just as the latter is an origins story for Tolkien's Middle-Earth characters, the former is an origins story for the Stationery Voyagers universe and its characters.
- Gordon Lomken's part is inspired by that of Erick Avari as Chandra Suresh on Heroes. Mitchell, however, is portrayed as being an initially uninterested prodigal rather than a scorned-yet-faithful son.
- In a reversal of Mohinder's relationship with his colleagues in Season One of Heroes, Mitchell is revealed as needing to be encouraged to pursue his father's former quest more often than discouraged.
- In spite the previous two plot points being inspired by Heroes, that show had no influence over Sandra Rubblindo's name. Arnold's sister was always meant to be named Sandra, as far back as the first attempt to write the episode back in the year 2000.
- Sally Rubblindo gained her first name only in the 2009 attempt at "Scalding Inquiries." Before that, she was simply Mrs. Rubblindo. Likewise, Huli Rubblindo didn't originally have a name; and was just "Mr. Rubblindo."
- The Lomken Estate is a combination of the Tolkien and Lewis estates, and the term "estate" doubles as both the legal firm in charge of Gordon's books and the mansion where the legal firm was originally based.
- The basement is inspired by a winery in Napa Valley, California, most likely either the Sutter Home Winery or the Robert Mondavi Winery.
- Arnold and his mother were originally going to have an argument over Pinkella's disappearance in the pilot. This was later cut and added to the second episode. From there, it was shortened so that they could argument about artificial reincarnation and the Yehtzig Pirate League.