Roll up, roll up… the fall of Nathanial Stone starts here!
Space: 1889 & Beyond series two begins today with the worldwide launch of Conspiracy of Silence, which sees series creator, Frank Chadwick, and series editor, Andy Frankham-Allen, joining forces to set up the biggest phase in Space: 1889‘s history!
Series two picks up at the tail end of 1889, and finally launches the series beyond… not only beyond the old decade it’s lived in for twenty years, but you will witness the first steps that takes the property beyond the inner planets!
For Nathanial Stone and Annabelle Somerset, the most harrowing journey has only just begun!
At long last, Nathanial and Annabelle are back on Earth, but the reception is hardly what they hoped for–Nathanial locked up in Chatham Convict Prison, Annabelle and her uncle Cyrus Grant held in the Tower of London: the charge–treason!
Someone high up in the British government is putting pressure on them for mysterious reasons. But when the Austro-Hungarian ambassador to Britain is assassinated in a gunpowder plot, which would have made Guy Fawkes smile, events spin out of everyone’s control.
The clock is ticking down on the arrival of the new Austrian ambassador, and on an assassination plot which aims to cut the heart out of the British monarchy and government. The race to thwart the conspirators will take Nathanial, Annabelle, and George Bedford through the heart of Whitechapel at night, to gunpowder barges anchored in the Thames, to seedy boarding houses attacked by infernal clockwork devices, and finally to the dizzy heights of a zeppelin docking gantry packed with explosives and where a single spark will mean extinction for all.
She heard a knock on the sitting room door. “Come in,” she said and Stanhope appeared with a small silver platter holding a white card.
“A gentleman to see you, Miss,” he said and offered her the card. For a moment her heart raced at the thought of George Bedford, or perhaps Nathanial, finally finding her, but the card dashed her hopes.
Major Walter Hallam Gordon, CGM
5th Regiment of Foot, Northumberland Fusiliers
“Very well, show him in,” she said, knowing very well this was merely a polite formality. Jailers do not require permission from prisoners to enter their cells.
Major Gordon was tall and slender, dark-haired, and she might have found him good looking under different circumstances—or perhaps not. Whatever attraction his face might have had was ruined by his grey-blue eyes: cold and calculating.
“Miss Annabelle Somerset? Please accept my apologies for having to introduce myself under these circumstances. Major Walter Gordon, at your service,” he said with a little bow.
“I doubt that very much, Major Gordon. Were you at my service you would have two steamer tickets to America in your pocket and a carriage waiting out front.”
“Nothing would give me more pleasure, Miss Somerset, I assure you, but my duty comes first. I am sure you understand.”
“I understand nothing. No one has told me why we are being held against our wills, nor has anyone told me what has become of our friend, Professor Stone. Unless you can do so, I suspect this interview will be brief.”
“Of course,” Gordon answered. “You undoubtedly have many questions.” He gestured to an arm chair. “May I?”
“Your vocal powers seem to function satisfactorily while standing,” she answered.
He inclined his head slightly in acceptance. “Very well. I can hardly fault your hostility. I apologise for your having been kept in ignorance, although in truth I doubt any of your…keepers knew quite what to tell you. Let me remedy that at once. Your uncle, Doctor Cyrus Grant, is held here for his own safety. As you can see, he is incapable of caring for himself, and may come to some harm left untended.”
“I tended him in the Tower, and I tend him here. I can as easily tend him in Arizona,” Annabelle answered.
“Ah…yes, well, that is where it becomes complicated. You are not free to go, Miss Somerset, I am sad to say. While no formal charges have been filed, I am obliged to say that the Lord Chancellor is currently studying the evidence and is deliberating whether charges should be levied. Until such time as a decision is made, I am afraid you must remain here. I know that a week in the Tower as a prisoner must have been a harrowing experience, and now the thought of further captivity must be positively terrifying, but I ask you to…”
Annabelle laughed, and Gordon broke off speaking, his eyebrows lifting in surprise. “When I was twelve years old my parents were murdered and I was taken captive by a band of the Chiricahua Apache. The chief, Goyahkla, led that band and I was held prisoner by him for two years until rescued. Three months ago I laid in a filthy tent in the Martian desert while, to save my life, two dear friends, neither of them physicians, sawed off my rotting right leg—rotting, I might add, due to a pistol ball from the French saboteur who was the actual architect of the Peregrine Station explosion. Major Gordon, if you honestly believe I find this,” and her gesture encompassed the sitting room, “or the austere comforts of the Tower harrowing, or the prospect of being held captive by the British Army terrifying, then you are a fool.”
She sat on the sofa with her back to the arm on the left and her artificial leg, her peg, extended out on the sofa itself. It was not heavy and did not require support, but it did not bend at the knee and if she allowed it to stick straight out she feared Uncle Cyrus, in his aimless wandering, would trip over it and hurt either himself or her, or both. She looked at it, at the reddish-black wood carved to look like a piece of machinery, with rivets and the suggestion of gears and pistons. Her Martian friend Kak’hamish, who had carved it and saved her life time and again, was dead, but she knew that near the top of the peg he had carved a legend in an arcane Martian script. It read, he had told her, Annabelle’s Spirit. It’s meaning, he explained, was that her spirit was like the peg carved from Martian blackwood—alive, but like steel.
She did not feel like steel, not really. Despite her defiant words she felt powerless and frightened and very much alone, but she would never let this Major Gordon see that. Perhaps that was what Kak’hamish had meant.
“I admire your courage, Miss Somerset,” Gordon said. “You will have need of it in the times to come. I must tell you that the charge the Lord Chancellor is considering is one of high treason, which is a capital offense.”
“High treason?” she exclaimed, and she felt her voice rise even as blood rushed to her face. “You must think me very silly and gullible to take such a threat seriously. I am an American citizen, not a British subject, and so whatever you imagine I have done, it could not possibly constitute treason. Really, this is too much. I must ask you to go, Major, and I demand to speak with the United States Envoy at his earliest convenience. That is my right, I believe.”
“As you wish, Miss Somerset,” Major Gordon answered. “I will arrange the meeting with the envoy.” With another small bow he left her.
Annabelle sat on the sofa for several minutes, struggling to get her emotions under control, or at least her breathing and heart rate. The nerve of the British! Who did they think they were to treat Americans this way? And treason? What a preposterous threat! It was so preposterous…in some ways she found it more unsettling than a more modest and believable threat would have been. Why would he even say such a thing?
Andy Frankham-Allen is a Welsh-born author of many short stories, both for Untreed Reads and the Big Finish’s official range of Doctor Who anthologies. In 2005 he co-authored the last in Noise Monster Productions range of Space 1889 audio dramas, and in early 2011 Untreed Reads published the first novel in his new real world dark fantasy series, The Garden, which was nominated for the Rainbow Award, Best Full-Length Supernatural Novel 2011. He continues to write short stories and novels, with upcoming projects including a novel in Crossroads Press’ Scattered Earth series, and non-fiction Doctor Who book for Candy Jar Publishing, as well the second book in The Garden series. On top of all that, he’s also the series editor for Space: 1889 & Beyond.
Frank Chadwick is no stranger to the Victorian science fiction field. He is the creator of the Space: 1889 universe, with the first in a series of role-playing adventures, board games, and miniatures rules appearing over twenty years ago. He is known throughout the gaming industry as one of its most prolific designers, with over a hundred published games. He is also well-known in the history and military affairs field, with over two hundred books, articles, and columns. His 1991 Desert Shield Fact Book reached number one on the New York Times bestseller list, but he still lists steampunk as one of his first and greatest loves. As well writing one and a half novels in the first series of Space: 1889 & Beyond, his forthcoming works include two novels with Baen Books, How Dark the World Becomes and The Forever Engine which is set in the Space: 1889 universe.
Conspiracy of Silence is now available through…
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Conspiracy of Silence © 2012 Andy Frankham-Allen & Frank Chadwick and Untreed Reads Publishing.
Space: 1889 & Beyond © & ™ 1988/2012 Frank Chadwick.
All Rights Reserved.