Tag Archives: Journey to the Heart of Luna

Space: 1889 & Beyond – Series One Finale!

This is it, folks, after eight months in the aether, Nathanial and Annabelle are heading back to Earth. Only they have one more stop to make en route – the place from which their adventures began. Luna!

Series one of Untreed Reads’ best-selling steampunk series, Space: 1889 & Beyond, reaches its exciting conclusion this month with the release of Dark Side of Luna. The epic finale brings together Space: 1889 creator Frank Chadwick and relative newcomer JT Wilson (author of well-received novel Cemetery Drive).

Here we talk with JT about his interest in steampunk…

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

Initially, the same thing that attracted Frank to developing the series in the first place: I saw the title and it made me smile. Immediately it creates an image in your head of what the series is going to read like, as all good titles should. I’m afraid I’m a sucker for a good title and for puns, hence the amount of Robert Rankin and Jasper Fforde I’ve picked up.

A title, though, will only get you so far: the intrigue of attempting a steampunk novel was one of the things that motivated me to pick up the project. Steampunk, for me, combines two things that I’m interested in: now-antiquated modes of etiquette and chivalry is one part; a quirkily retro take on futurism is the other. I have an odd relationship with futurism: for example, as a musician I like playing synthesizers but I think that the Moog or the VCS3 (which is basically a tuned oscilloscope) are more aesthetically attractive than the latest Roland or Yamaha. In attempting to envision the modern day from the point of view of the Victorians, steampunk has a similar, slightly ramshackle, take on technology, with the added benefit of hindsight. Faced with the choice of the beautiful flying ship of Space: 1889 & Beyond or the sterile rockets of NASA (in a hypothetical situation where they both work perfectly of course), who wouldn’t choose the former? Having said this, I’m not sure how an e-book would work in a steampunk universe. Perhaps one would wind a scroll around a pocket watch or a handmirror, akin to a pianola.

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

Converting an RPG into a prose novel is the equivalent, I think, of playing all the parts that would normally be covered in an RPG and rolling less dice. What was trickier, for me, was walking around someone else’s universe. In my previous writing, I’ve been largely sending my characters around slightly distorted versions of the world we live in (or at least, the world I live in, your mileage may vary) and/or universes I’ve made up. In S:1889 the ‘rules’- of physics, politics, whatever- already existed. Not being from a military, naval or scientific background, learning and operating within the rules of this universe served as more of (what my day job would call) ‘a development opportunity’ for me than the fact that the universe was created as an RPG. That’s why I was glad to have the co-writing skills of Frank Chadwick, who is hugely knowledgeable about the combat forces and, obviously, about the Space:1889 universe.

Who are your favourite characters?

I’m always a sucker for feisty, impulsive female characters so it goes without saying that Annabelle Somerset was a delight to write. Of the characters indigenous to ‘The Dark Side of Luna’, I’m fond of Howard Phillips, a scientist on Luna, and Ross McKittrick, who’s Nathanial’s warden at the start of the book. Although they’re not necessarily ‘a character’, I like both the Drobates and the Saltators, both new to the series here.

Your three favourite moments in Dark Side of Luna are…?

Difficult to simultaneously answer this question and avoid spoiling the book. In terms as vague as possible: Annabelle’s early discussion with Bedford; the entry by our heroes into the City of Light and Science; the late-night conversation between Nathanial and a long-lost ally.

What’s coming next from you?

I’m currently working on two novels, the former of which is the follow-up to my 2010 novel Cemetery Drive and which should, hopefully, be out this year. I’m working on a few things here and there in addition, although nothing concrete enough to confirm here. Plus I imagine that I’ll be booed out of community centres across the West Midlands in my capacity as pro-wrestling manager and diabolical evangelical preacher Reverend Lex.

And now an exclusive extract from Dark Side of Luna

A Drobate (The 'moon men' of myth.)Further down the River of Life, Folkard had identified a clue. Scattered on the bank of the river were a number of shavings from branches, together with uncoiled rope which lay discarded near a bush. A nearby small stand of tall, slender mushroom-like trees had been decreased in number by four, judging from the stumps and sign of their trunks dragged across the loose shale. The leathery branches and fronds had clearly been trimmed from them and by the shore the group found the charred remains of some papers apparently torn from a notebook. Those which could still be deciphered showed a few sketches against which were some hurried notes.

“This writing is scarcely legible,” said Folkard.

“Yet certainly it is Grant’s,” said Stone, contemplating the burnt documents. “During our work together he would often pause and scribble notes like this on the blackboard. These particular notes do not illuminate his destination, but his intentions are clear. He meant to build himself a raft, which I can only presume he succeeded in doing. He’s a resourceful fellow, it has to be said. This at least serves as confirmation that our navigation thus far is accurate. He must have attempted to cover his tracks by burning his papers.”

“Why burn them?” Folkard asked. “Why not just throw them in the river?”

“Possibly the party from which he desired to hide his intentions was down-river,” Stone said. “Perhaps there are more remains which might serve as a clue as to where he was heading.”

As he scouted around the group to search for further clues, Folkard halted abruptly. His early sensation of being watched now was backed by solid evidence: footprints differing from those of the group. They seemed fairly fresh and pointed unusually outwards from each other, which, it could be presumed, gave the walker a bent gait, clearly unlike that of anyone in the party. Someone else had been here, and recently.

“Bad things are coming,” muttered Seaman Henry in a pessimistic tone.

“I would have to agree, Captain,” said Stone, looking from Henry to Folkard. “Whoever these others are, Grant clearly considered them dangerous.”

Folkard nodded. “Still, there is little choice, men. Sooner or later we will have to confront these men―if they are men―and I would rather we meet them on our terms than theirs.”

“Can we really entertain even the possibility that they are men, Captain?” Stone asked. “I mean―God―those footprints!”

“Highly possible, Professor Stone. Who knows what sort of torturous exercises the Russkies subject their soldiers to? In any case, whether man or alien, they mean us no good or they would have shown themselves—if not to us, to the research station personnel. So everyone draw your weapons and when we move we will spread out, so if someone does fall upon us, some at least will be free of the melee and able to give supporting fire.”

“Permission to speak, sir?” asked Henry, somewhat surprisingly. When Folkard gave his consent, Henry continued. “Sir, permission to guard Miss Somerset if she stays behind? Likely to be conflict in other group. Can’t have a lady abducted.”

“Ah, and you’re suggesting that she may need someone to fight for her, Henry?”

Henry merely nodded in reply.

“Very chivalrous, Mister Henry,” said Miss Somerset.

“Yes, I do rather agree with you, Henry,” said Folkard. “Excellent thinking. I suspect the danger will be greatest for the forward party so I shall lead. McKittrick, Burroughs, you shall accompany me. Professor Stone, you as well, if you please.”

“Perhaps I might also be of assistance, Captain Folkard?” offered Phillips. “I am not yet too old for adventuring and I may have some insight that could be useful. That is, if you are amenable to the input of a civilian?”

“Very well and thank you. Miss Somerset, Seaman Henry, Doctor Staples, I would like you in the centre of the party. Chief Charles, you take Gibbs and O’Hara and form the rearguard.  You’re the senior petty officer here, so if something happens to me, you’re in command, and no backtalk from any of these civilians, no matter how many doctorates they hold. Understood?”

“Aye-aye, sir.”

“K’chuk,” Folkard continued, “I would be obliged if you and your men went in the centre, with Miss Somerset, to guard her and Doctor Staples in the event of an attack.”

The Selenites looked among themselves with an air of reluctance. They were communicating telepathically, as ever; it did seem, however, that K’chuk was displaying more of a desire for combat than his men. “Selenites fight if needed,” K’chuk eventually replied.

“Very well. Now let’s move out, but proceed with extreme caution.”

They walked for several hours along the river. It could not be said to be silent, as the sound of the water was always present, contained, amplified, and distorted by the narrow covered canyon through which it ran, now murmuring, now gurgling, now roaring as it dropped over a low falls or broke into foamy waves among the rocks of a rapids. But the river’s voice was so omnipresent that after a while it seemed almost to dwindle into half-heard background noise.

Something about the skeleton, the strange footprints, the burnt remnants of cryptic notes, and this seemingly-endless river combined to silence their tongues as well. None of them spoke until Stone raised his hand and cried out.

“Hallo! What’s that up ahead?”

Folkard held his hand up and the column halted. He studied the small, dark feature on the ground Stone had seen, perhaps a quarter of a mile on, studied it with eyes used to picking out the single flickering white light of a cutter from a background of a thousand stars.

“Bodies,” he said at last. “Two of them, I’d say, although we’ll have to get closer to be certain. Charles, you stay here with the rearguard and the main body. Find yourself some cover and stay put, no matter what happens, until I give you the all-clear and wave you forward. Clear?”

“Aye aye, Sir.”

“Good man. I’ll take the advanced party on ahead and see what’s what. Everyone on your toes.” Folkard cocked the hammer on his Enfield to emphasize the point.

As the captain and the four others of the advanced party drew near their objective, it became all too apparent whose bodies had been piled in such a way, and the sight—to say nothing of the stench—were enough that men with weaker constitutions would have run screaming for the surface.

“I knew those men. Captain, say it isn’t so!” McKittrick appealed to his captain, who was knelt by the bodies.

“I’m afraid it very much is so, gentlemen,” Folkard said grimly. “Ensign Challoner and Able Seaman Clements, late of Sovereign.”

“Surely this is impossible. Those men were taken months ago!” gasped Stone. “Yet these corpses are fresh. Why, they’re barely three hours dead!”

“But why keep a man alive for seven months, only to then kill him?” mused the young and nervous-looking Burroughs.

Folkard rose to his feet only to see the fresh horror that had materialised in a circle around them, seeming to rise from the sandy ground.

Ambushed!

“This is why,” Folkard murmured, raising his revolver, “you kill them to lay a trap.” He fired the weapon, and one of the creatures spun backwards, blood and grey fluid spurting from its head. Before he could get off a second shot they were on him and knocked the revolver from his hand.

Cover art by Andy Frankham-AllenIt’s been almost a month since Nathanial and Annabelle rejoined HMAS Sovereign. For Annabelle it’s been a journey of uncertainty; she had expected a happy reunion with George Bedford, first officer of the flagship of Her Majesty’s Royal Navy, but instead he’s been distant. She fears it has something to do with her newfound disability. For Nathanial, however, the journey has been uneventful since he’s spent the entire time locked in the brig under the cloud of treason.

Things change abruptly when Sovereign is ordered to return to Luna, and retrieve Doctor Cyrus Grant, who has been sending increasingly confusing heliograph messages back to Earth. There is an air of uncertainty in Otterbein Base, and concern over Grant’s wellbeing. Once again he’s gone missing, turning his back on the Selenites and the British research team stationed there – leaving with creatures who are neither human nor Selenite.

A search and rescue mission is soon underway, taking our heroes deeper inside Luna than ever before. There they will discover the mysteries of the Drobates, and their amazing City of Light and Science. Annabelle is concerned that her uncle will no longer accept her, and Bedford is concerned that being on Luna once again will have adverse effects on his captain, but these things are the least of their worries. Grant is close to uncovering the answers to an age-old secret, but he is not the only one who seeks this knowledge. A creature stalks the dark underworld of Luna, a creature once human, and quite insane.

Dark Side of Luna is available from all good e-book stockist, including direct from Untreed Reads.

Space: 1889 & Beyond will return later in the year, when the series editor, Andy Frankham-Allen, and property owner, Frank Chadwick, join forces for an explosive series two première… Conspiracy of Silence!

Dark Side of Luna © 2012 JT Wilson & Frank Chadwick and Untreed Reads Publishing.

Space: 1889 & Beyond © & ™ 1988/2012 Frank Chadwick.

All Rights Reserved.

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Space: 1889 & Beyond – Best Selling Series

Doctor Arnaud Fontaine uncovers secrets on Mercury...

It is with GREAT pleasure I write this entry.

Space: 1889 & Beyond continues to be a hit for Untreed Reads Publishing.

The best-sellers list for November is in, and I can reveal that at #1 is Mark Michalowski’s ‘The Ghosts of Mercury’. An impressive e-début for Mark! For the third month in a row my own ‘Journey to the Heart of Luna‘ remains in the top ten, rising to #4, while KG McAbee’s ‘Vandals on Venus‘ enjoys its second month in the top ten, currently at #6.

A big thank you to all who’ve been following the adventures of Nathanial and Annabelle, but please, don’t let this mean you can rest on your laurels. Go and tell all your friends about this best-selling series, and help us dominate the steampunk genre! 🙂 And, as an incentive, all three titles can be purchased directly from the Untreed Reads Store with 15% off the RRP until December 15th!

Check out the list HERE!

In the meantime…

First of all, apologies. We were hoping to have ‘The Ghosts of Mercury’ released over Halloween, but a technical hitch to do with acquiring the ISBN has prevented us from doing so. The issue will be resolved soon, so I hope you’ll bear with us all in the meantime.

So, a brief update of things relating to Space: 1889 & Beyond. First of all, as you can see, the cover has been unveiled. Once again it’s by the excellent David Burson, this time featuring Doctor Arnaud Fontaine, Corporal Paul Heath and, finally, in the middle, our hero, Professor Nathanial Stone! In related news, the author, Mark Michalowski, has released his brand new website, so why not pop over and have butcher’s at his other works.

There’s also a new review of ‘Journey to the Heart of Luna’, from best-selling author of The Shadows Trilogy, Julieanne Lynch, which can be read here.

Author of story #6: ‘Dark Side of Luna’, JT Wilson, has two short stories out today, in the anthology Re-Vamp, about which more can be read here.

And, finally, a new addition to this blog can be found on your right. A list of all my professional works, which also happen to be links to places from which they can be bought (except for Sedna, which seems to be particularly hard to find).

So, while we’re all waiting on the release of ‘The Ghosts of Mercury’, why not entertain yourself by visiting the websites above, and also enjoy the trailer…

Space: 1889 & Beyond – is here!

Well, it’s taken a lot of work and a lot of time, but I can announce that, at long last, Space: 1889 & Beyond is live!

Editor-in-chief; Jay Hartman
Range Editor; Andy Frankham-Allen
Creator; Frank Chadwick

All Material is copyright Frank Chadwick, Andy Frankham-Allen & Untreed Reads LLC 2011. All rights reserved.

The year is 1889, and man is in space!

Enter the fantastical world of Space: 1889 & Beyond in this exciting first series, wherein we’re introduced to our heroes; ‘Professor’ Nathanial Stone and his ward, Miss Annabelle Somerset. Join them as they travel the inner planets, encountering giant ants, lizard-men, ghosts, crazed scientists and, of course, Martians! Adventure is never far away when you live in 1889…

Volume 1.1 – Journey to the Heart of Luna

The year is 1889, and mankind is out among the stars.

For almost three decades man has explored the Inner Planets, but still they seem to be very uninterested in what’s on their doorstep. Namely, the Earth’s moon – Luna! Two men, however, have shown unprecedented interest in Luna; crazed Russian scientist, Vladimir Tereshkov, and American inventor Doctor Cyrus Grant. Problem is, both men have gone missing. 

A distress call is received from Luna, sent by Dr Grant’s niece, Miss Annabelle Somerset. The British Government has been waiting for an excuse to mount a mission to Luna, to investigate the Russian interest in that rock, and so they launch the new aether battleship, HMAS Sovereign, and enlist the assistance of scientist Nathanial Stone, friend and ex-colleague of Dr Grant.

Reluctantly Stone agrees; but the mission presents him many more challenges than he could ever have expected. What truth is there to the rumours of the moon men, the supposed natives of Luna, and what is the secret of the ‘glow’? Answers to these and many other questions can only be found by journeying to the heart of Luna itself…

Excerpt:

He stepped off the train at Dover into the bright morning light. Certainly Nathanial believed in starting the day early, but six o’clock was just on the wrong side of early for him. Now it was some time past ten o’clock, and the sun was blistering in the clear blue sky. A gig was waiting for him. The driver, no doubt hired by William himself, took Nathanial’s cases and placed them in a small compartment at the rear of the gig and then joined Nathanial inside the little carriage. Nathanial was offered a small blanket, with which he covered his legs, before the driver took the reins. As the horse pulled the gig, Nathanial returned to his thoughts.

“Here we are, then, sir,” said the driver at length, some time later, “the Dover Cliff Embarkation Platform.”

Nathanial shook himself out of his thoughts and looked to where the driver was pointing. It was quite a sight. Despite his work on aether flyers, he had never been very close to one. He was more suited to land travel; he did not care to remove his feet from solid ground. He had seen many lift off from the yard, of course, but to him that always seemed a little sterile, like seeing a mouse in a laboratory, but this… This was seeing a flyer in its natural habitat.

Most of the flyers Nathanial had witnessed in construction had been Navy craft designed for the aether, but the one lowering towards the embarkation platform was of Zeppelin origin designed for atmospheric flight only. It was a familiar design, being the most widespread; a large dirigible filled with hydrogen beneath which hung the gondola, a sternly made unit held in place by a latticework of cables and wires.

The platform itself was immense in its size, built at the edge of the cliff, some 351 feet above the water, a scaffold of wood and steel. Nathanial was no swimmer, and the prospect of standing on the platform filled him with dread. But according to his orders he would meet his contact on the Zeus, the aerostatic flyer ahead of him, and so he had very little say in the matter.

The driver guided the gig through the crowds that had gathered to watch the flyer in action. People who could never hope to afford passage on such a ship, but nonetheless took some pleasure from watching the flyers come and go. Dover Cliff was a busy area, from what the gig driver said, always some flyer coming into land for the “toffs” to go off on their jaunts. Nathanial said nothing about this slight, and just hoped the driver didn’t consider him of the toffee-nosed persuasion. After all, he heralded from Putney, and there was nothing supercilious about that parish. Genius had its rewards once known, and he was benefiting from such now. He glanced back at the crowd, and was warmed by the simple pleasure they got from watching the Zeus come to rest by the platform. It was a timely reminder for Nathanial; he would never take the life he had fallen into for granted.

You can now buy this book directly from Untreed Reads Publishing, or at any Apple iBookstore, as well as OmniLit. Over the following weeks it will slowly become available through any retailer that sells eBooks.

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,

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