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Abattoir in the Aether – Exclusive Extract

I am very pleased to announce that Abattoir in the Aether will be released in the New Year, and to that end here’s a very exclusive extract from the forthcoming book…

Chaperoned to Peregrine Station...

Nathanial could only assume it was a man, though its height and bulk surely made it one of the most uncommon sort. He was cloaked in dark green, with a matching wide-brimmed hat pulled over his eyes to keep even the room’s sparse candlelight at bay. Thick, imposing boots covered feet large enough to stomp a bear in half. The hands, seen clearly from the cloak’s sleeves, were wrapped in bandages greying with wear, as was the chest and face of the man who now stood before them.

Nathanial scrambled to his feet. The nightmare man stomped into the room, the panel door sliding into place behind him as if it had a life of its own, and he seated himself behind the desk without so much as a word. Nathanial was confused as to whether he should sit or stand, but upon seeing Hague settle into the chair beside him, decided to follow suit.

The nightmare man spoke, and his voice was deep, echoing through the study like a controlled detonation. “Mister Nathanial Stone,” he said. Something in the violence of the voice, as if it had to crash the ramparts of  the man’s face to leave his lips, was too much when taken with the enormous, ruined body. Nathanial was instantly frightened of the man.

“Doctor van den Bosch, I presume,” he said with a stammer.

“Mmmm. Excuse the gloom. I find electric light no longer agrees with me, and so I tend to keep to the darker parts of this place to avoid the discomfort.”

“I rather like the ambience, actually. One might think I was back on Earth, if the bay window behind you didn’t peer directly into the aether.”

“Indeed. I must say, Mister Stone, I was rather surprised to find you out here. May I ask what you were doing in a crippled flyer with the niece of Cyrus Grant in tow?”

Nathanial had no desire to tell him everything, and he most certainly did not want to reveal his recent adventures on Venus and Mercury. “I’ve been doing some travelling as of late. Our flyer took damage negotiating an aether vortex, and since then we have been limping toward Mars in hopes of finding a dock to make repairs. You should know, Doctor, that I had no idea such a station existed this far out,” he added, even though it was not entirely true, he had heard vague rumours of such a thing from Director White while working at Chatham, although he had almost forgotten about it, until now. “Nor did I know the space around it was restricted by any government. If I had, we most certainly would not have passed through.”

“Yes, but pass through it you did, and now you are in my care until it can be decided what is to be done with you and your friend, Miss Somerset.” Van den Bosch lifted a report from the top of one stack and began to thumb through it. “So, you’ve deduced that this is a station. That demonstrates something of your acumen. Tell me, do you know the purpose of this place?”

“Know?” Nathanial asked. “I know nothing. Your men have been quite careful to shroud everything in secrecy.”

“Secrecy must be maintained. It is our mantra. Do you know this word?”

“I do. I deduced this must be a structure of some incredible dimensions, if it could house as few as three cutters without difficulty and the sheer amount of floor space I have crossed in coming here. No aether flyer currently in service could hope to have said dimensions. That leaves a station.”

“Apply your powers further.”

“If you wish. We’re on a heliograph station, not a research station, as I’d initially believed.”

Van den Bosch clapped his enormous hands together so hard the resulting shock made Nathanial wince. “Very good! How did you come by this deduction?”

Nathanial smiled. “By mention of your name, of course. If this were a scientific post, out here to study the aether and its anomalies, yours would be a long-term position, to be held by someone on the downside of their career, but you are still in your professional prime. No one with your rather formidable reputation would allow himself to be tied to such a post unless it were either a short-term one, one destined to bring him great acclaim, or both. The construction of a heliograph station in itself is not something likely to grant you any sort of acclaim at all, given that two have already been built. That leaves a specific kind of heliograph station, one which has been placed at a strategic spot, not orbiting a planet or satellite, but one that has achieved its own, special orbit.”

“Toward what end?” Van den Bosch was clearly enjoying these questions.

Nathanial shrugged. “To speed communications between Earth and Mars, no doubt. The two spend many months of each solar year separated by the Sun. A heliograph station, or rather two such stations, placed in strategic positions could facilitate year-round communications between the planets, and when a station is built on Venus, the Empire would have in place a fast, efficient means of interplanetary network, thus giving us a distinct advantage over our competitors.”

“Excellent! I can see now why your reputation has grown so recently. You are mostly correct in your deductions.”

Nathanial arched an eyebrow. “Mostly?”

“Yes.”

“And you don’t plan to tell me how I erred?”

The eyes beneath the hat were suddenly small and intense. Nathanial, who had been growing increasingly at ease with the man’s presence, was reminded then to whom he was speaking. Here was a man who was used to getting his way, one who would not think twice about destroying the reputation of anyone who got in his way.

Space: 1889 & Beyond—Abattoir in the Aether © 2011 by L. Joseph Shosty

Space: 1889 © & ™ Frank Chadwick 1988, 2011

Cover & Logo Design © Steve Upham and Untreed Reads Publishing, 2011

Cover Art © David Burson and Untreed Reads Publishing, 2011

 The author is hereby established as the sole holder of the copyright. Either the publisher (Untreed Reads) or author may enforce copyrights to the fullest extent. All rights reserved.

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Vandals on Venus by K.G. McAbee

Out now, from Untreed Reads Publishing, book two in the all-new Space: 1889 & Beyond series, Vandals on Venus by K.G. McAbee.

When Nathanial Stone gets an emergency message from an old friend on Venus begging for his help, his duty is clear: he must go at once. 

His ward, Miss Annabelle Somerset, instead of agreeing to stay safely on Earth as he begs, insists on accompanying him to the dangerous tropical planet, home of huge reptiles. 

Soon, Nathanial and Annabelle find themselves in the middle of a plot concerning a nefarious German officer, a brilliant English inventor, an Irish guide no better than he should be, a heavily-armed lizard-man and a clever American newspaperman. 

Can even they prevail against such odds?

I recently interviewed K.G. for the forthcoming official Space: 1889 & Beyond website, but since that site is slightly delayed, allow me to share with you her answers here.

1)      What interested you in Space: 1889 & Beyond in the first place?

I’m a serious history geek, first of all. I’m in love with the Victorian era, the excitement of fresh new technology, the thrill of discovery and wiping out the blank spots on the map; in the case of S:1889, the black spots in the Solar System. I am especially fascinated by Sir Richard Francis Burton, co-discoverer of the source of the Nile, brilliant linguist and writer; I want to use him as a character in some of my work soon. I’m sure he would have signed up for a trip to Venus, and he’d tell his poor wife Isobel, as he so often did in their lives together, “Pay, pack and follow.”

I’m also a serious fan of the classic pulp writers: ERB, Lovecraft, REH, and the science fiction writers who got their start in the pulps: Heinlein, Clarke, Asimov, Eric Frank Russell, Jack Vance and so many, many more. The pulp feel of S:1889 is so attractive to me as a writer and as a reader. Did I mention I was a geek?

2)      What difficulties did you face in converting a Role-playing Game scenario into a fully-fledged prose novella?

Well, let’s face it: RPGs depend on the players to flesh out their characters, but in a novella, it’s up to the writer to make the characters live on the page. There is also, in the game, the automatic collaboration between the players, which can change and morph the events in unexpected ways. I provided a general outline of my story, but it too changed and morphed as I wrote and as I became more familiar with people, places and events. I hope I’ve managed to make my characters alive and recognizable, with all their human strengths and weaknesses intact.

3)      Who are your favourite characters?

Oddly enough, even though he doesn’t appear very much, in my story at least, I’m especially interested in William Henry White, warship designer and head of naval construction. I am fascinated in the sheer depth and complexity of just the idea of designing a warship.

4) Your three favourite moments in Vandals on Venus are…?

In ascending order:

1.      When Nathaniel is convinced, and I mean CONVINCED, that Annabelle will not possibly go to Venus with him.

2.      Annabelle’s anger and disgust at Nathaniel during a rather explosive moment, about which I shall not say more.

3.      Dinosaur attack! Of course!

 

5) What’s coming next from you?

How nice of you to ask! I have a steampunk short story series contracted with Untreed Reads called Bold as Brass. Each short tells one of the adventures of Lady Abigail Moran, an aristocratic thief—think A. J. Raffles in skirts—and her trusty sidekick and less-than-aristocratic associate, Simon Thorne. The first in the series is called “Lady Abigail and the Audacious Aeronaut” and then comes “Lady Abigail and the Lachrymose Leviathan” and “Lady Abigail and the Morose Magician”. These are lots of fun to write.

I also have a steampunk collaboration, written with Cynthia D. Witherspoon—we write as Cynthia Gael—coming very soon from Carina Press, which is an e-division of a little publisher called Harlequin. Our book is called Brass and Bone, and we’re working on the sequel now; we’re hoping it’s going to be a series.

Also, I’ve just signed contracts for two short stories for upcoming anthologies, one from Wicked East Press and one from May December Press. I’m in talks to collaborate on a mystery with another S:1889 writer, the brilliant Louis Shosty. And I’m working on a project with zombies—but then, who isn’t?

δ

And now for an exclusive extract from Vandals on Venus:

Nathanial’s heart sank further and further within him as they approached the airship Forbes-Hamilton so vaingloriously called the Aeronaut III. From a distance, the airship had looked very much like any other on Earth, but as he grew closer, he could begin to pick out a multitude of differences. Instead of a single oblong cigar-shaped airbag, this ship had a series of—he counted silently—five round balloons, all contained within an elaborate crisscrossed netting affair, which seemed to be woven of some local vegetable matter; a thick, fibrous yet porous looking vine. Below the five entrapped bags hung the gondola. Here again, Forbes-Hamilton had departed from the accepted Earth style. Instead of sleek and aerodynamic design, the inventor had gone for a fantastical look. Stone did not approve. There was no place in engineering, in science, for such a ridiculous object. Why, the thing looked like some sort of Viking ship, with its raised prow and stern, and a silly lizard head which, no doubt, was meant to represent some sort of mythological beast, a dragon or wyvern.

As for the state of the thing! The airbags had patches, which were themselves patched, and the ramshackle gondola looked as if it had been knocked about like a cricket ball.

“Ah,” Nathanial said as he gazed up at the thing. “Yes.”

“Isn’t it lovely, Nathanial?” Annabelle’s tone held a warning. “Aren’t you so glad we came? And do think how lucky we shall be to have a ride in it!”

Forbes-Hamilton had his head down but, even so, Stone could tell he was blushing furiously. No wonder! To have called him halfway across the system to this…this…

“Oh, it’s hardly lovely,” Forbes-Hamilton said, twisting one foot like a child in obvious pleasure at Annabelle’s words. “Though, I must admit, it is rather unusual, is it not?” He raised his head and beamed up at the thing as if it were the most beautiful craft imaginable.

“Unusual. Yes, indeed,” Nathanial managed at last. He turned and glared at Jericho, but even that release was denied him, for Jericho was at that moment grinning like an idiot at Annabelle.

Forbes-Hamilton seemed to suddenly come to his senses. “Well, now, let’s go aboard, shall we? Come around to the port side where the gangplank is set up. I’ve got quite a few things to show you, Professor Stone, and I think you will be amazed, I do indeed.”

Somehow, Nathanial doubted it. But he was here, and Annabelle was safe and not too terribly troublesome, so he might as well make the best of things. He followed Forbes-Hamilton around the prow of the risible ship.

For an instant, he was sure he had run into the same dragon whose head adorned the prow of the Aeronaut III.

A massive figure stood at the bottom of the gangplank. It had long muscular arms ending in seven-fingered hands, each finger tipped with an inch-long claw. The legs were bowed, with flat splayed feet, each of the seven toes also tipped with a claw. The barrel-shaped torso was hung and strewn with weapons: a two-foot-long knife hung from a mottled leather belt on the right; on the left hung a bulbous war club with a leather cover; and the handles of two throwing spears projected above the shoulders. A round convex shield leaned against the edge of the gangplank, painted with a grinning face in lurid colours, next to a vulcanised bag with a drawstring top.

But the thing’s head! There was the image, the very mirror image, of the dragon on the prow of the Aeronaut. A long snout ringed with double rows of triangular teeth jutted out from the lumpy cranium. Two small eyes, as green as glass, gleamed beneath spikes. And the most amazing thing of all: a deerstalker hat sat atop this mythological reptile, as though the thing thought it was a character in a Conan Doyle story in the Strand Magazine.

“Ah, Thymon, my dear fellow,” said Forbes-Hamilton as he trotted towards this apparition. “All shipshape and Bristol fashion, I am sure?”

Nathanial watched in amazement as that long, tooth-filled mouth opened and the beast spoke, in a sibilant voice, almost as high-pitched as a young girl’s.

“I hass watched, ssir, and all iss ssafe in the fat rekota.”

“Excellent, excellent,” said the inventor as he bustled past the massive lizard-man as if he were a mere statue instead of, Nathanial thought, a fearsome beast, and looked back over his shoulder after he’d taken two steps. “The rekota, you should understand, is one of the largest flying reptiles on Venus, so naturally that’s how some of the lizard-men refer to my ship. Come along, do; mustn’t dawdle. And don’t mind Thymon. He’s a dear friend of mine. I saved his life when he was wounded by one of the greater sauroids, I believe it was a ferengin, wasn’t it, Thymon?” Without waiting for reply, he went on. “Something huge, anyway, with quite an astonishing number of teeth. You can still see some of the marks here—” he pointed to a long, deep groove in the lizard-man’s right arm, “—and there, on his leg.” Then he waved his arm towards his ship. “If you’ll look there, just by the figurehead on the prow, you can see more marks from a ferengin’s teeth. So, according to the rules of his tribe—the Cherada, don’t you know; they’re the largest and most advanced of any we’ve run across so far, with quite an elaborate set of funerary rituals and a form of rudimentary writing that resembles cuneiform, if you’re interested in such things. But be that as it may: dear old Thymon is firm on the matter, and he has decided he owes me a blood debt. It’s a powerful tradition, don’t you see; can’t be denied. Naturally, I trust him completely; he’s devoted to me, the dear chap.”

Nathanial felt a bit dizzy at this surge of new information. He opened his mouth, but before he could speak…

“How fascinating,” Annabelle breathed as she gazed up the long length of the lizard-man, who towered over her like a giant. Then, to Nathanial’s amazement, and fear, she held out her hand.

Thymon looked down at her, lowering his massive snout like a drawbridge, a quizzical expression in his deep-set eyes. He held out his huge paw and, with the utmost care, gave the top of Annabelle’s small, decidedly grimy hand a delicate tap with one razor-sharp claw.

“Ah, excellent!” said Forbes-Hamilton. “He accepts you. Quite an honour, dear lady. Thymon has been known to, er, be a bit snappish with new acquaintances.”

Nathanial released a breath he hadn’t even known he was holding. Annabelle, he feared, was going to be the death of him.

Vandals on Venus is available direct from the Untreed Reads Store (currently on sale as part of the World Space Week, for only $2.09), and from all good eBook stockists.

Space: 1889 remains the copyright © of Frank Chadwick, and is used under licence.

Artwork by David Burson, cover design by Steve Upham, copyright © Untreed Reads LLC, 2011. All Rights Reserved.

Space: 1889 & Beyond – exclusives!

Okay, so been rather busy of late. Let me tell you, anyone who thinks getting a series of eBooks together is easy – you’re very much mistaken. Still, on the plus side, the brand new steampunk eBook series based on Frank Chadwick’s RPG Space: 1889 is almost good to go.

Series one will be a six-book series, running from August through to December 2011, written by yours truly, K. G. McAbee, Mark Michalowski, L. Joseph Shosty, Frank Chadwick and J. T. Wilson! The series features artwork by David Burson, all set in a wonderful cover template designed by Steve Upham (who made the cover for my award nominated novel, ‘Seeker’ – more on that later!).

There’s much to be excited about with this series, both from a creative point of view and a personal point of view. On the personal level, I am very proud and excited by the fact that for the first time since 1989 the official logo for the entire property has been redesigned, under my direction. The new logo was designed by Steve, and fully approved by Frank. Creatively it’s been awesome to work with some of the best cult authors in the business (and already, prior to the launch, I am receiving many requests from even more well-known authors who wish to be involved in the following series). It seems people are baying for new steampunk adventures, and I’m convinced that Space: 1889 & Beyond is going to be huge.

So, to help pave the way, I have, first of all, some background information on the series’ leads;

  • Nathanial Stone; 26-year-old Nathaniel is from Putney, London, originally. He has two elder brothers, an elder sister and a younger brother. Only his younger brother, Edwin, maintains any level of contact with Nathaniel, since his elder siblings are highly jealous of the special treatment he received due to his status as ‘child prodigy’ of the family. He was borne of the Honourable Reverend Ronald Stone and his wife, Elspeth, and was raised a firm believer in God. Nathanial excelled at all the academic classes in school, and was soon moving on to bigger things, quickly earning himself a place at More House College, Oxford. While there he found in himself some strange desires. He resisted his urges, and over the following years came to believe that somehow God had made him wrong, a fact he confided to his dean (one Reverend Earnest Matthews). His path of science brought him into conflict with his father, who could not understand how science merely explained the how of God’s Creation, and thus lead to better understanding of God. By the time we catch up with Nathaniel he is well-respected in the fields of science, something of a genius, known for his work in physics and chemistry. He has a very deductive brain, and often makes great intuitive leaps in his experimentations. Nathanial has joined the Naval Construction team, and has perfected a more delicate Aether Propeller Governor with the help of the Director of Naval Construction, Sir William Henry White, which has been installed in the new prototype Sovereign Class Aether Flyer, the HMAS Sovereign
  • Annabelle Somerset; The young niece of Cyrus Grant, and the only daughter of his sister, Joan, and her husband, Ezekiel Somerset. At the age of twelve, Annabelle’s parents were killed near Silver City, Arizona, and she was captured by Geronimo and his band of Chiricahua Apaches. She lived with Geronimo’s band for the next two years until she was released. Since that time she has lived with her uncle, to whom she has become extremely devoted. She carries with her a well of grief and guilt over her parents’ death, still blaming herself to some degree. This guilt often drives her into being over protective towards those she loves; it can be both a strength and a weakness. Annabelle is a very strong woman, an adventurer at heart, very much a woman ahead of her time. She can hold her own against most men and refuses to be beaten into submission, falling into the role of servant like so many other women of her time. But she is not adverse to using her feminine wiles to get her own way, and often leads Nathanial into some trouble of other. Her two years of life with the Apaches have left her courageous and self-reliant, with little patience for men who consider her weak or incapable of looking after herself. Although she is loathe to admit it, initially, Annabelle is developing a soft spot for Nathanial, and the enforced companionship soon develops into a mutual friendship based on respect and trust…
  • Doctor Cyrus Grant; Private inventor from Arizona. A cranky man of sixty-one years, with wild hair sprouting from the sides of a mostly bald head. Given to wearing spectacles on account of his short sightedness. Grant’s contraptions gained him quite the reputation among the rancher’s he helped out in his native Arizona, and those who have followed his career. No one was quite prepared to believe that he’d actually created a device which would allow acrobatic manoeuvres close to the lunar surface. His initial design was faulty and failed to work at all, and he barely managed to escape Luna’s low gravity. Upon returning to Earth, in January 1888, he was contacted by a British scientist, Nathaniel Stone, who worked with Grant to develop the aether propeller governor. They both thought they were working in secret, but the British Empire became aware of their activities, and watched them from afar. Grant did not like the closeness developing between Annabelle and Nathanial, and so sent Nathanial packing and Annabelle off east to college, finishing off the governor on his own. He assembled a team to help pilot the newly refurbished aether flyer, which he christened the Annabelle, and set off for Luna, unaware that his niece had secretly returned to Arizona and smuggled herself aboard. He soon got over his anger at her, and she became a fully pledged member of his team…
  • Captain Jacob Folkard; Forty-seven years old, Folkard is captain of the prototype aether battleship, the HMAS Sovereign. He is well-liked by all who serve under him, previously having been commander of the aether frigate, the HMAS Raleigh, and he is highly regarded by his superiors. His staunch patriotism and exemplary career in Her Majesty’s Royal Navy have led him to his appointment to several key positions. His latest is a result of a very high recommendation from Rear Admiral Herbert Cavor. Captain Folkard is undaunted by the perils of aether travel, and has a thirst for adventure, and is known for his wicked sense of humour. A rare thing for captains, who are known for their straight-laced behaviour. He makes a point of learning all the names of his crew, and will often put them in difficult positions to test their character. He takes his role as captain of the most advanced aether flyer very seriously, and will not allow anyone onboard who does not show some strength of character. Only the best are granted the privilege of stepping on his ship.
And, as an exclusive to this blog, an excerpt from the forthcoming first novella, ‘Journey to the Heart of Luna’… (NB* Scene one will be released to various blogs over the next week, however scene two will only be exclusively available on this blog – no point being the editor of the series without there being some perks, right?)

Prologue

1.

IT WAS impossible! Aether flyers were not, by definition, designed for a crew of one, a fact that Annabelle Somerset felt with ever increasing dismay as she raced from the control to the navigation station. Just getting the Annabelle (yes, God bless her uncle, he had named the flyer after her) out of the gorge had been hard work. Starting up the boiler single-handed, then rushing the length of the flyer to the control room to check the instruments to make sure the water was creating enough steam, then back to the engine room at the rear of the flyer to set out the rocket engines her uncle had designed especially to combat the awkward gravity of Luna.

She cursed Tereshkov once more, and squeezed her eyes shut for a brief moment.

 I have to do this, she continued to tell herself. She had survived much worse. Annabelle almost laughed at that. Living for two years amongst Geronimo’s band of Chiricahua Apaches had tested her when she had been a mere slip of a girl. She had survived that, and she was certain she would survive this. That she had no choice was beyond question; there was no other left who could get the message to Earth. Uncle Cyrus’ life was in the balance and she could not allow herself even a moment of weakness in her endeavour. She had let her parents down, and she refused to let history repeat itself with her uncle.

She was not a little girl anymore, and the Russians be damned!

Instruments were laid out before her on the navigation station; some of standard design like the orrery, a mechanical analogue of the Solar System, and an astrolabe which allowed precise measurements of the planets positions; others were of her uncle’s making, and these she did not even know the names of. They were recent creations of his, and her decision to join the expedition had transpired late in the day, ill affording her the time to study these new inventions. Annabelle was no expert at reading the standard instruments, but she understood enough from having watched Blakely at the station to ascertain the current position of the Annabelle. The flyer was barely a kilometre from attaining a low lunar orbit.

She scrambled across to the control station once more, almost colliding with the bulkhead as the flyer shook around her. The damage sustained to the aether propeller by the Russians was too much. When she had first set her eyes on the propeller she had been certain she would never be able to navigate the flyer, despite the relatively unscathed nature of the aether propeller governor. She was fortunate the Russians did not recognise the governor for what it was, or they most certainly would have found a way to remove it from the Annabelle, and if not the whole apparatus then certainly they would have taken the diamond that served as the aether lens. Without it the governor would have been less than useless.

She gripped the aether wheel, a small ratchet-operated wheel that controlled the aether propeller at the rear of the ship, and turned it slightly. Annabelle looked out of the window and was elated to see the distant shape of the Earth, and before it, barely a speck in the depth of space, Her Majesty’s Orbital Heliograph Station Harbinger.

When she had first happened upon this plan with K’chuk she had hoped to be able to pilot the flyer to Earth; it was a difficult task, one fraught with many dangers, but the odds were not insurmountable. Upon seeing the damage rendered by the Russian okhrana, Annabelle knew she would have to adapt her plan. Obtaining a lunar orbit was the best she could hope for, but it would be enough to put the Annabelle in a position relative to the Harbinger. It was operated by the British Empire, and that served her purposes perfectly, as the help she required was located in England and not her native America.

She turned to the heliograph apparatus and was just about to start tapping in her coded message when her eyes espied a most terrible image through the port window. Annabelle’s finger paused over the key, and her eyes stared wide. Its iron clad surface reflected the light from the Sun, rising from Luna like the Great Beast of Hell.

“No,” Annabelle hissed. “This cannot be the end.”

So, she determined, it would not be. The Russian flyer was closing in, its gun ports no doubt opening as she looked, her mind trying to catch up with the increasing beat of her heart. Uncle Cyrus’ flyer was not a warship; he was an inventor, and his flyer echoed that. It was designed for exploration, not for battle. Any armaments it did have were minimal, and even if Annabelle were able to get to them in time, she doubted greatly their effectiveness against a fully armed Russian ironclad.

Annabelle turned away from the approaching flyer and focussed her attention on the heliograph before her. She began typing out her message, praying that the orbiting station would pick it up and relay the message with haste.

2.

THE ADMIRALTY; it was always good to be back at the Ripley Building, Captain Folkard mused to himself. This was the first time he had been called there as a captain, and so the occasion was even more prestigious than usual. He had not been in Whitehall for several years.

Folkard had since been given his new command, the first in a new class of aether battleship, and with his command came a promotion to captain. Serving as commander of a frigate was one thing, and it certainly gave him much experience of the aether, but they were living in dangerous times and as such his request for battleship command had finally been granted.

Folkard knew he was thought of highly in the upper levels of Her Majesty’s Royal Navy, but he did try not to entertain the scuttlebutt of the ratings, which almost always happened to filter its way up through to the officers’ mess. Thus, when rumour had reached him that he was being considered for command of Her Majesty’s Aerial Ship the Sovereign he chose to ignore it; a singularly difficult task considering the topic.

He had yet to see his new ship, although he had spent the last week going over the blueprints, familiarising himself with design and layout. It would not do for a captain to ask directions on his first day. He had been hoping to visit his ship today, see George Bedford once again, and begin the shakedown cruise. He was en route by train to Kent for that very purpose when he had got intercepted, and speedily transported back to London on the Intrepid. Clearly the mission the Admiralty had for him was of paramount importance.

Folkard looked down at the respirator mask and goggles that sat in his lap. The downside of being in London, of course, was the amount of gas and debris in the air. Breathing fresh air in the City of London was a thing of the past, and it seemed that the darkness of night only served to exasperate the problem. Still, he would be in the aether soon, and would be breathing air freshly oxygenated by the plants in the greenhouse of the Sovereign.

He looked up from his lap as the door next to the chair on which he sat opened. Folkard immediately stood to attention and saluted. He had expected to be greeted by an aide, not by Lord Chillingham himself. Chillingham looked Folkard up and down and let out an hmm. Folkard was not sure if it was an hmm of approval or an hmm of distaste. Lord Chillingham’s eyes gave nothing away, as they were wont to do. Things must be pretty rum if the Lord Minister Overseas feel the need to attend the briefing, Folkard mused, holding his salute.

“As you were, Captain Folkard. Please enter.”

“Yes, sir,” Folkard said, and walked passed Lord Chillingham and entered the board room of the Lord Commissioners of the Admiralty.

Space: 1889 © & ™ Frank Chadwick 1988,2011

Logo Design © Steve Upham, 2011

‘Journey to the Heart of Luna’ is © Andy Frankham-Allen & Untreed Reads LLC, 2011

 

Space: 1889 & Beyond is published by Untreed Reads Publishing,

and the first series begins late August 2011.

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