Tag Archives: l. joseph shosty

Abattoir in the Aether – Out Now!

Today is the day! The brand new Space: 1889 & Beyond adventure is out; Abattoir in the Aether by L. Joseph Shosty.

L. Joseph Shosty

From Beaumont, Texas, where he lives with his wife and son, Shosty is the author of nearly fifty short stories, as well as numerous essays, articles, book reviews, and poems.  A novel, Sign of the Hanged Man, was serialised on the web in 2000 and 2001, and his story collection, Hoodwinks on a Crumbling Fence, was published in 2000.  His second novel, a mainstream work titled The Return of Baldheaded Johnson, has recently been completed.

Interview

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

LJS: It’s hard to explain without a little history first.  I came to storytelling mostly through roleplaying games.  I played my first game of Red Box D&D in second grade.  By third grade I was running a campaign.  That same year I became a voracious reader, and in doing so I discovered comic books.  By early fourth grade I received TSR’s Marvel Super Heroes RPG, which had very basic rules, including a clear and detailed reasoning behind each power level.  With this system I got a crash course in creating characters from the ground up, as it gave me hard numbers upon which to hang strengths and weaknesses, a mathematically quantifiable way of comparing them.  Using a rough numerical concept of my own devising, I began creating my own superheroes and writing stories in my head as a way of falling asleep at night.

By junior high, I knew I wanted to write for a living.  My earliest dream was to do a tie-in for TSR, especially their Forgotten Realms line.  Jeff Grubb, Douglas Niles, and R.A. Salvatore were likes gods to me as a teen.  I wanted to be like them and write a fantasy trilogy of my own.  That dream ended when Wizards of the Coast bought the company, but I’ve always harbored a desire to do a tie-in for some franchise.

When I was approached to do the Space: 1889 book, I jumped at it.  I’d seen a copy of the RPG when I was a teenager.  I hadn’t quite understood it at the time, but I’d thought the idea was intriguing.  Years passed, and I independently cultivated a love of Victorian fiction, specifically the scientific romances.  Seeing the gaming system again, I better understood what Frank Chadwick had done, and was thrilled.  It’s a nod to the aforementioned romances, and, believe it or not, it finally gave me an answer to a question I’d been asking for about two years:  what the hell is steampunk?  I seriously didn’t know, nor did I know that I’d been reading its predecessor in Victorian fiction.  Now, I’m in love with both the social and literary movements, and it certainly suits my sensibilities better than writing about Dragonborn the Oathsworn mowing down orcs by the busload.

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

LJS: None.  Stocking a dungeon with monsters and NPCs is all about character, plot, and pacing.  I wrote Abattoir in the Aether like I write adventure modules for one of my campaigns.  The setting comes first, then come the maps, and then I stock each room with NPCs, combat scenarios, hidden rooms, treasure, etc.  The only difference here was that I had to use pre-generated characters, if you will, in Nathanial and Annabelle.  They were my PCs, and I had to run them through the adventure rather than have players do it for me.  There was nothing at all difficult in adapting the scenario in prose form.  The problem was in “playing” the two characters correctly.  That was tough, but I’ll save that story for another day.

AFA: Who are you favourite characters?

LJS: Dr. Matthew Holmes is merely a sketch of my actual physician, Dr. Mike Holmes.  I enjoy his company so much, it’s almost exciting to get sick so I have an opportunity to talk with him.  A visit to his office is usually something like, “Well, chief, you have tuberculosis.  We’ll want to keep an eye on that.  So, did I ever tell you about the time I treated a geologist friend of mine, and he said…?”  And the next thing I know, I’m hearing about The Burgess Shale Formation, and I’m actually interested in hearing about it.  Wonderful guy, and I’m afraid I didn’t really have the space to do him justice.

I also love Jasperse, the earnest ex-soldier who came to Peregrine Station to do the sweeping up, only to end up in a role as a security man.  I modeled him partially in the rough-and-tumble mold of Danny and Peachy from The Man Who Would Be King and added something of my father-in-law in for good measure.  Like Kipling’s characters, he’s an adventurer himself, only on a smaller scale.  He’s been everywhere and done everything.  Going out into the aether is the next logical step in his long life.  No job is too small or too dirty for him, yet he has dignity and pride in what he does.  He’s honest enough, and he speaks plainly, but he’s got a dangerous curiosity to him that leads him into some trouble.

AFA: Your three favourite moments in Abattoir in the Aether are…?

LJS: There’s an old saying among writers:  murder your darlings.  And it’s true that the best things you write often end up getting cut because they simply don’t fit.  In this case, I had enough material to possibly fill a trilogy of books but only had time and space (and a contract) to write one.  In the end it came down to deciding what parts of the story wanted to be told and what parts needed to be told.

Of my favorite things cut from the novel, the first is Nathanial discovering a chess board and moving a piece.  When he comes back later, he sees that someone has moved a piece on the opposing side. The game progresses through several chapters.  Being that his personal guard, Jasperse, is an avid chess fan, he believes it’s him, but later, Nathaniel makes a rather chilling discovery:  the phantom that is haunting Peregrine Station has been moving the pieces, which was such a clever parallel that I almost left it in.

Basically anything about Nathaniel and his mates Dr. Holmes, Fullbright, Provost, and Jasperse that was cut makes the list, especially the tale Holmes spins of an imaginary grouse hunt where he makes each of them characters.  It was such a sweet ode to friendship that I’d hoped to share with my close friends, but it never saw any eyes but mine.

Many parts with Annabelle faced the axe, much to my despair, her visit to the greenhouses chief among them, which I removed when I ceased having Uriah Provost as a potential suitor.

I hope this answer doesn’t confuse readers or make anyone believe that I don’t enjoy what I’ve written.  Quite the contrary, but I felt an honest answer was in order.

AFA: What’s coming next from you?

LJS: Ha!  Get comfy, and I’ll tell you.  First up, I pitch a television pilot to a production company in January.  Big excitement there, but I’m afraid I can’t provide too much on information on that just yet.

I’m also trying to get my comic book company up and running.  I’m partnering with several friends of mine to write scripts and brainstorm characters, design a website, and learn the ropes of digital comics.  A superhero RPG is in the works to support it.

As we speak I’m in edits on Ataraxia and Aponia, a mainstream (non-genre) novel I wrote earlier this year (2011) about a science fiction writer and Epicurean writing his first major work.  If it finds an agent by the end of 2012, I’ll be happy.  Speaking of novels, I’m also kicking around the possibility of working directly with fellow Space: 1889 author, K. G. McAbee, on a mystery novel.  I love her and consider her my mentor, but we’ve never written anything together.  That should be a heckuva journey, as our personalities and approaches to the craft are about as different as night and day.

As for what’s on its way, I’m slated to appear in a number of magazines and anthologies, which you can track on my website, http://themadaccount.blogspot.com.  Untreed Reads will also be publishing one of my short stories, “One of Us, Old Boy”.  I’m especially excited about that, as I consider it to be one of the best stories I’ve ever written.  Busy, busy, busy!

Exciting stuff indeed! So, to a brand new excerpt from Abattoir in the Aether

The cutters were small ships, smaller even than Esmeralda, equipped for crews of five, though as many as ten or even twenty could be housed comfortably for short journeys. Such flyers were not long-range vessels, which left Nathanial wondering where they were headed. Unless he missed his guess, they were deep in the aether, with no planets for days or even weeks. A larger ship, perhaps, like Sovereign, could be patrolling the aether, yet, as he’d noted earlier, these men were not Royal Navy. And what was this foolish business about restricted space?

A storeroom was cleared and turned into a makeshift prison cell, with two armed guards posted outside. Nathanial sat on the floor, scratching an itch on the back of his head. Annabelle paced the tiny bit of floor available to her. She was dressed much the same as she had been when Nathanial had last seen her, but he knew from experience that she had her derringer and knife secreted in places beneath her skirts that would be improper for a man to search. The gunshot he had heard earlier had come from one of the men sent to fetch her. She had leapt on his back suddenly, and the man had squeezed off a shot before the others, the big Irishman included, had wrestled her to the ground.

Now she looked more like a caged animal. Gone was the generosity and industry he had witnessed in their journey from Mercury. Truly, the old Annabelle had returned, and, he had to confess, much of his old vigour was returning as well. The veil of doom was lifting from his shoulders just as the twin stones of anxiety and boredom were crashing down on her, as they often did when she had no external incidences to engage her.

“Where do you think they’re taking us?” she asked for the eighth time.

“We won’t know until we get there,” he said.

Annabelle clearly did not like this response. “What if they decide to kill us?”

“They could have done that already. They have a specific destination in mind, and I, for one, am curious to see what it may be.”

“Even under arrest?”

Nathanial shrugged. Unless they had fallen into the hands of the Germans or the Russians, he was certain he could talk his way out of their predicament. His importance to the interplanetary efforts would be currency enough to buy his and Annabelle’s freedom, regardless of what phantom law they might have inadvertently broken. If they had broken any at all. Briefly, he wondered if perhaps groups independent of sovereign nations had gotten their hands on liftwood supplies or found a way to build an aether propeller, but he quickly discarded the line of thought. The notion of it made him want to laugh. Aether pirates! Sounded like some fanciful bit of dribble for the penny dreadfuls.

His musings were interrupted by a sudden shaking of the hull. At first it was merely a vibration, but before he could think two thoughts in a row the vibration had become a rumble. Annabelle lost her footing, catching herself on the storeroom wall. Shouts from the crew rang out. Nathanial could hear them scrambling to keep the cutter on course.

“What’s going on?” Annabelle shouted above the din.

“Aether vortex!” he replied. “A very big one, from the feel of it!”

In his time on HMAS Sovereign he had experienced just such an anomaly, where the aether streams of Earth and Venus had met and reacted violently. The resultant “storm” could have destroyed Sovereign had it not been for his improvements to the design of the aether propeller governor. He recalled being afraid then, even though the chaps under Folkard had been particularly adept at navigating its outer edge. Still, the buffering the ship had received was nothing compared to what he was feeling now. Part of that had to do with the overall size of the ship. Sovereign had carried two cutters roughly the same size as this one in her belly, but that was only a portion of his concern. This vortex was definitely larger, and by turns more violent.

The roaring became a screeching. Annabelle clapped hands over her ears and screamed, though the noise she made was drowned. Visions filled Nathanial’s head of the cutter ripping apart and their bodies floating free with the debris. He closed his eyes and drew his knees to his chest, where he sat with his head covered by his arms. His insides felt gelatinous, sloshing about inside his abdomen.

Abattoir in the Aether (Artwork by David Burson)

Fresh from their adventures on Mercury, Nathanial Stone and his ward, Annabelle Somerset, are limping through the aether in a dilapidated flyer when they unwittingly stumble upon a heliograph station in solar orbit between Earth and Mars.

Now in the sinister clutches of Dr Henry van den Bosch, a hulking nightmare of a man with a penchant for destroying those who cross him, Nathanial must race against time to prevent the station from falling into a massive aether vortex or risk van den Bosch’s wrath.

But unseen forces hold sway on Peregrine Station, and before the two can even settle in, an attempt is made on Nathanial’s life. Annabelle investigates, and in doing so sets off a chain of events that could destroy the station before it ever reaches the vortex.

Abattoir in the Aether is now available from the following e-stores;

The Untreed Reads Store (http://bit.ly/sGWqDu)

Amazon.com (Amazon Canada, Amazon Germany, Amazon France, Amazon UK)

Scribd

DriveThruFiction.com

OmniLit.com

Barnes and Noble

Apple iBookstore (32 countries)

Lightning Source (a distributor, primarily North America)

… and will soon be available in every other e-book stockists out there.

Abattoir in the Aether © 2012 L. Joseph Shosty and Untreed Reads Publishing.

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

All Rights Reserved.

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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.

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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