[Steampunk / Pre ACW to Victorian] Polar Invasion

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[Steampunk / Pre ACW to Victorian] Polar Invasion

Post by Norseman » 2013-01-24 06:17am

This is the index post for a story that I'm writing and posting in public. It's not really intended for publication so I feel free to be a little silly at times, but overall I do try to be historically accurate. The plot starts in 1850 and it may derail the American Civil War in various ways, but I can assure you that the USA and the ACW generals will have a role here.

Also posting this here to appease Sea Skimmer who was getting annoyed that I keep talking about stories on this theme but never write any.

Chapter 1 - July 1850
Chapter 2 - August 1850
Chapter 3 - August 1850
Chapter 4 - May 1851 (The Great Exhibition)
Chapter 5 - May 1851 (Trooping the Colour)
Chapter 6 - August 1851 (Closing of Parliament)
Last edited by Norseman on 2013-02-16 09:59pm, edited 6 times in total.
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CHAPTER 1 – July 1850

Post by Norseman » 2013-01-24 06:18am

Sunday 28. July 1850,

Reform Club
London,
England


There was little to be said about Sir John Hode. But aside from being younger brother of Robert Hode, the Earl of Loxley, Sir John was also a man of letters and a humanitarian. It was for these qualities that he had been knighted four years earlier, at a surprisingly young age. Since then he had been elected as the representative for Loxley, but had done little beyond voting the party line. Some were still expecting great things of him, while others thought he was one of those fellows who had spent all their greatness early in their life.

For now this somewhat enigmatic young man, for he had not yet turned thirty, was relaxing in the reading room of the Reform Club. As usual he was spending the morning reading the newspapers, several of which he had spread out on the table in front of him. Right now he was thumbing through The Times, eagerly looking for a certain article, and when he found it placed the The Times on the table and began to underline.

So busy was he in this task that he hardly noticed as Sir Percy Blakeney (the Second) approached, not before he spoke. "Reading The Times are we Sir John?"

"Yes, they have wonderful article..." Sir John said, underlining a section, and not looking up. "This is quite amazing."

"Have they finally broken down and come to accept Dr Swift's Modest Proposal?" Sir Percy leaned closer, "Ah! The news from Norway!"

"Yes Sir Percy," Sir John said, tapping his pencil against the newspaper. "Astonishing don't you agree?"

"I think it's a hoax. Like that Moon Hoax, or one of those yarns by that Poe fellow," Sir Percy said.

"We're not some gullible colonials."

They both had a little chuckle at this way of referring to the Americans.

"Still," Sir Percy interjected. "It is rather far-fetched."

"Yes, yes, but several reputable ship's Captains and businessmen have seen them," Sir John said. "They say here that the travellers are communicating with the natives."
A Brief Account of the Airships Over Bergen
By John Smith, Captain of the Mary-Jane

I had set out to Bergen from Newcastle with a cargo of coal and pig-iron. Having made the journey several times over the years I thought little of the matter. The journey was entirely uneventful until I reached Bergen itself, here I was first informed by the look-out, and then saw for myself a large object over the town. It was shaped like a cigar with pointy ends, but had a silver-like colour.

Drawing nearer to the city we encountered several small rowing boats and fishing boats. After hailing them we were told about an airship and 'morians' or 'skarp-orings', a word mean roughly sharp-ears, who had come down to the town. Who they were, how they had come there, this none of the people knew. Except that the visitors were bringing gold and strange devices, and trading both freely in return for maps, books, live animals, fish, daguerreotypes, as well as other curiosities. For this reason they were all headed towards the town, in hopes of bartering for valuables.

As usual we were guided into the harbour where we docked, in among an unusual number of fishing boats and row-boats. The dock area and the town was in such unrest that it was difficult to begin unloaded or even disembark. Furthermore my crew were themselves greatly distracted by the sight of the large cigar-shape, which was now very clearly visible.

Since it was so low over the city and I could observe men and cargoes being lifted up and down from it, I should judge the altitude to be around 200 feet. The airship itself would be around a thousand feet long, with six barrel like extensions from each side of it, and each barrel had a propeller attached. This propeller was similar to that used in boats, with with five blades and each blade being much larger than we are used to see in a boat. Beneath the cigar like shape there hung a long, rectangular house, like the basket underneath a Montgolfier.

Once I was ashore I was fortunate enough to meet an acquaintance of mine, a Mr O---, who I asked about the strange airship in the sky. He told me a story very similar to that I had heard from the fishermen: The airship had arrived some days ago, lowering itself over the city, and flashing powerful lights down upon it. After some time it was determined to be morse code and that the words flashed were 'handel' and 'fred', or in English 'trade' and 'peace'. At this point some of the more entrepreneurial locals built a heliotrope and used it to signal back, at the same time they, and a few official gathered in the large open fishmarket which had been evacuated for the occasion. After flashing back a response two men were lowered in a basket from the airship.

After some trial and error it was clear that these gentlemen from the airship, the 'morians' as they are frequently called here, wanted to trade for books and maps in particular. However they were quite willing to provide gold, silver, pocket-watches, slide-rules, and so forth, though all items carried most peculiar markings on them. Here my acquaintance said that certain learned men of the town had found the 'morians' to use a number 12 system rather than a number 10 system.

On my own initiative I had certain spare maps brought from my cabin, before I asked to be shown to the 'morians'. My acquaintance was happy to oblige me, though when we arrived at the fishmarket we found it mostly closed off. This caused a great deal of irritation among the locals, who were denied access both to the 'morians' and their gold, as well as to their traditional fishmarket. A few old women in particular couldn't see why some peculiar people from the sky should stop them from buying fish. After an intervention by my acquaintance I was able to enter the fishmarket and speak to the 'morians.'

They are a most peculiar people. Dressed somewhat in the fashion of the Russians, or perhaps the Indians, or Chinese, for they wear trousers of a fashion, but also long, decorated tunics that reach almost to the knee. These tunics are embroidered in geometric patterns, often with what appears to be gold thread, and the more elaborate the embroideries the higher the rank the wearer appears to have. They have thick belts, from which they hang a variety of pouches and odd devices. Their long-sleeved tunics are somewhat wide, once more in the oriental fashion. Meanwhile their boots, which go above the ankle, are laced in a most peculiar fashion. Said boots are also quite sturdy, mostly brown or black, but sometimes red or white. Of weapons I saw none, aside from a sturdy curved dagger.

Their physical appearance however is most strange. They are a tall people and quite handsome to look at, except that their skin is dark grey to black, that is going from a light charcoal to proper anthracite coal. Though their hair is a more pleasing dark reddish-brown going onto a bluish black. Also their ears are large and pointed, not like elephants, but rather like the ears of dogs or wolves, though not as thin and hair-coloured. IT is as if a human ear was pulled hard, by some celestial schoolmaster, until it had acquired the form of a leaf.

Upon showing my maps to the 'morians' they were most excited. Particularly as I pointed out various sites and nations. Though they were even more interested in my English newspapers and prints, among them one of the coronation of the Queen, as well as a parade of the grenadiers. In return for these items, as well as my spyglass, they traded me a substantial quantity of gold and a set of binoculars. The latter I have found to have an unsurpassed quality and excellence; I have never tried nor heard of anything better.

As for my question of where they come from, there may have been some misunderstanding, for they would indicate the area to the North Pole. Even upon repeated questioning they would point to the North Pole. They then showed me a set of coloured prints, the like I have never seen before, indeed they were so lifelike in their quality that if they had been glued to my window I could scarcely have been able to tell them apart from the view.

The first image was of what appeared to be the aurora borealis, that is the northern lights, but they were swirling around like they were caught in a maelstrom. Then they showed further prints where the sky itself appeared to have been crinkled up, like it was seen through a thick glass bottle. Finally they showed us an image of airships in the sky. Then they touched each image in sequence and once more showed us the map and touched the North Pole.

Though I wished to stay further to learn and trade more, I was interrupted by the arrival of a deputation from the Norwegian government.
"Well now Sir Percy?" Sir John said, smiling happily. "What do you think of that?"

"A hoax or shared lunacy, or perhaps something the French cooked up," Sir Percy said, thoughtfully stroking his chin. "Didn't you tell me some Frenchie was working on an airship?"

"Yes, Henri Giffard," Sir John said, nodding. "And Dr Bland too, but, well... comparing such designs to the ones in Norway is like comparing an ocean going steamship to a tribal canoe."

"Well," Sir Percy looked at all the newspapers. "If this is a hoax it is a jolly good one, and if not you'll have something to bring up in Parliament."
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Re: [Steampunk / Pre ACW to Victorian] Polar Invasion

Post by Sea Skimmer » 2013-01-25 04:31pm

Soon the airships shall block out the London sky, and nobody will notice because of the smog.
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CHAPTER 2 – August 1850

Post by Norseman » 2013-01-25 05:26pm

Thursday 8. August 1850,

Battersea, near the New Town
London,
England


O Pandemonium!

From every Band and squared Regiment
By place or choice the worthiest; they anon
With hunderds and with thousands trooping came
Attended: all access was throng'd, the Gates
And Porches wide, but chief the spacious Hall
Thick swarm'd, both on the ground and in the air,
Brusht with the hiss of russling wings.


There were people all across Battersea and South Lambeth, thronging along the road to Wandsworth and the London & Southampton Railway. Clustering especially around Nine Elms and Belmont Place, but the crowds stretched along the Thames all the way to the Red House (which was doing brisk business by the way). Some onlookers crowded the Vauxhall Bridge, to the point where traffic was blocked, and used everything from opera glasses to telescopes to get a better look. A few more enterprising barge owners rented their boats out for tours, with an extra charge for being lifted up the mast for a better view. Everyone was there, from gentlemen with top-hats and fine ladies, to mudlarks in dirty clothes, street urchins, and dirty shifty eyed women whose trade no one was in any doubt of. Even the high and mighty had to go on foot, or at least not moving any faster than if they had been on foot, for the crowds were too dense to give much way to carriages.

Only the railway tracks were more or less clear of people, but only the greatest effort to keep them that way. Of course the railway was making a fortune selling tickets to people who wanted to pass through the field without getting crushed under foot. The latter was not a mere hypothetical danger, a dozen or so men and women had already been carried off the field.

The old Nine Elms Station had been hurriedly refurbished, and the fields just south and east of it were now closed off. The reason was clear enough, it was the same reason that so many people had turned out to gawk. There, on the field next to the station, lay an enormous airship moored, and up high a few hundred feet another airship serenely held its position.

"Spiffing!" Said Sir John Hode. "Most spiffing!"

His railway train made its way up towards the Nine Elms Carriage and Wagon Works, the old Nine Elms Station. After going past the line of red coated grenadiers the train came to a halt by the old neo-classical Twelve Elms Station. Here the various dignitaries shuffled out, tipping their hats, straightening their coats, and whispering to each other as they eyed the distant airship.

There too was Lord Palmerston, distinctive with his shock of greying, reddish-brown hair, his dark coat buttoned up high up, but still showing the red sash of the Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath. Looking from man to man he made a quick speech.

"Lords and gentlemen, we have before us a great marvel: A visit from a nation and a race that we have not heard of before. We do not know where they come from, their government, or whether they are descendant of Adam and Eve as we are. We do know that they are guests in our country and that they have been polite and courteous guests, and should therefore be shown the best of British courtesy and hospitality in return. Yet, bear in mind that these marvels are not unheard of: Dr Bland, an Englishman, has submitted designs for vessels much like these. They are hollow airships filled with a lifting gas, either hydrogen or coal-gas, and work according to principles that we well understand. Even the propellers that push these airships are not in principle any different from those that power many of our ocean-going ships."

"So," Lord Palmerston said, looking from man to man. "We will remember that we are Britons, members of the greatest Empire in the world, and not some easily impressed native tribe. Even if the common man may lose his wits at the sight of some marvel, we, his representatives, should show more dignity both for our own sake and his. Now, if you'd please follow me..." He placed his tophat back on and walked confidently towards the moored airship.

**** **** **** ****

Ihor Ikeram watched as yet more humans approached, a small cluster of them all dressed in very similar clothes of a wide variety of colours. Their leaders seemed to favour darker colours, at least for the coats, but he spotted both grey and cream coloured trousers, as well as brightly coloured waist-coats and dark blue overcoats. On the other hand their military was dressed in splendid, bright-coloured red and white clothes. At least he assumed that the fellows with rifles and uniform clothes were soldiers, but for all he knew it could be the security guards of the local warehouse district.

For himself he knew that he was most presentable, in a proper embroidered green tunic and the like leg-cloths. Even the various purses and bags hanging from his belt were of the latest, civilized fashion. A proper Asnachan merchant with an adventure cargo, out in the lands of the savages.

That was when Captain Sûk leaned closer and whispered, "Hey trader Ikeram, they're wearing stovepipes on their heads. Think their brains have started frying from seeing our ships, so now they have to get rid of the smoke?"

"Sir I hope they're hot hot-headed," Ikeram whispered back, still not showing any emotion.

"Don't worry trader Ikeram, those..." Captain Sûk whispered back, indicating the soldiers, "Are muzzle-loaders. We have four machineguns aboard; we've got your back if they try anything."

"Captain, please don't kill the customers," Ikeram whispered, a joking tone in his voice. "At least not until after they've handed over the cash."

AS the humans drew nearer the Captain and Ikeram saluted them, placing their left hand on their right shoulder and nodding their head a bit. In response the humans removed their hats, or lifted them, moved them around a bit, and either put them back on or held them in their hand. Fortunately the Asnachans were by now so familiar with this bizarre ritual that none of them laughed.

The figure in the lead, a somewhat pale male with curly hair and a high forehead, began to talk. What he said was hard to understand, but it sounded polite, and one of the airship's translators did translate a few broken words and phrases.

"Just tell them..." Ihor Ikeram said, smiling politely, thankful that this expression was at least shared with the natives. "Trade and peace! Just that."

Things went quite smoothly after that, with more nodding, gesticulation, and broken gestures. Finally the head male offered them a letter, a rather thick one, and naturally Ikeram accepted it. What else could he do? Though he felt a tad uneasy, not least because he had no idea how he was supposed to translate it!

Thinking fast Ikeram turned to Captain Sûk, "Captain, let us invite them aboard the ship."

Captain Sûk hesitated for a moment, discreetly eyed the males, before affirmatively rolling his head. "A brief tour then Trader Ikeram."

**** **** **** ****

Outside the chatter of the crowds seemed to change as the deputation entered that vast mysterious ship. Rumours spread like ripples in a pond: Lord Palmerston was taken prisoner! They were signing an alliance with the airship people! Whatever happened this would be the talk of London for weeks or months.
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CHAPTER 3 – August 1850

Post by Norseman » 2013-01-25 07:32pm

Friday 9. August 1850,

Hode House
London,
England


Sitting at his writing desk Sir John slowly turned up the oil-lamp, but even with the best of effort the whale oil just wouldn't burn so bright as to make writing comfortable. Even at the best of times that was inconvenient, but now! Now that he'd seen the marvels of the world.

'Dear Sir Percy' he began his letter, then he scratched out, 'Dear Sir Percy', but that felt wrong as well. At last he scrunched up the whole paper and began writing again.
Dear Sir Percy,

I have been asked, indeed begged, to write something for the newspapers in regards to my visit to the airship people. I feel honoured that I was in the middle of this momentous event for our nation. After speaking to Lord Bedford and Lord Palmerston I have decided to oblige. Yet I will write you first, before I write my article, both to prepare myself by addressing a more forgiving audience, and because of our friendship.

I shall start with the people, they call themselves Asnach, the ch is rough as in Scottich loch or the German bach. Whether this is their government, their tribe, or the name of their airship company I cannot tell. They are however mercantile, for the two words I heard the most from them was 'trade' and 'peace'. Unfortunately neither side understood the other well enough to say more than this.

In terms of physical appearance I must say that 'sharp-ears' does sort of describe it. Their ears are like those of wolves, or like leaves, or as that sea-captain put it 'as if a celestial school-master had pulled on a human ear.' Admittedly I feel a bit uneasy by how those ears twist and turn, perhaps they have better hearing than us, I cannot tell. I am not certain if their ears are natural, or the result of some disfiguration. I have read of how Mayan tribes would tie boards to the heads of their infants; how African savages would file down their teeth until they had sharp, sharklike fangs; how pacific islanders tattoo their skin; and of course the various forms of circumcision practised by primitives across the world.

Their skin colour I think is stranger. It goes from an odd grey I have never seen in any human race. Nor have I ever heard of any account of such a grey or charcoal colour being the norm for any race. Their skin passes from grey to black, but without at any point passing into the intermediate brown state such as among Negroes. This too is odd, most odd.

Other than that they look very much like any other race, though perhaps a few inches taller than your average Englishman. Slender and sinewy in build. Though of course that could simply be their occupation.

I feel like I am dancing around the subject I want to broach, but, it is one that I am uncertain of. What are these people? Are they descendants of Adam and Eve? I don't know. God of course has the power to create Sons of Abraham wherever he chooses, but where did he choose to make the ancestors of these people?

They themselves will only point to the North Pole, show us pictures, much like the ones that the sea-captain described: Vast green maelstroms of light, from which airships and other things emerge, all above the dreadful icy waste. Are they trying to deceive us? Do they live beneath the polar ice, or are there vast maelstroms stretching across space that allow men to travel across them? As Lucian of Samosata described it a great storm that carries men from the Earth to the Moon. I cannot say if this is the case, these Asnach are surrounded by mystery.

Yet the things I saw aboard that airship would take your breath away, they are so astonishing that I don't feel ridiculous in making such claims as I have. Where shall I begin?

The airships themselves are of course marvels in their own right. Both of them a thousand feet long, covered in a strange fabric that I could not identify. Though of course I scarcely had a chance to study it. Each airship has six propellers on each side, mounted on what appears to be a barrel of sorts that extends on a mast from the airship. I saw the masts and barrels turning, allowing the airship above us to maintain its precise position.

Their interiors are if anything even more astonishing. Though quite cramped and with only tiny windows, much like the below-decks of our ships, these airships are brightly lit. In the ceiling above us we saw odd pear like things which shone almost as bright as the sun. AT once I thought of Lindsay's experiments, here they have tamed lightning and used it to light their ships! We must have this light, if nothing else, now having seen this marvel it seems ridiculous that even the rich among us should wear our their eyes trying to read or write during the evenings.

Not only do they use electricity to light their ship, but to heat it, to cook food, to communicate with voice, and even I dare say to propel the airship itself. For, if I understood certain drawings they showed me, the propellers do not have their own engine, but receive electricity from a large steam-engine inside the hull itself. My head is swimming with the possibilities, to think that such a fundamental force of nature may be within our reach!

From that marvel I come to the metal that the ship is made out of. Not your common iron, but rather metals so light and yet so sturdy that you would not believe it. I dare say much of the airship is made from aluminium, certainly the plates and cutlery we were shown (and given samples of) were of aluminium. Whether this was in an attempt to impress us or not I cannot say, but the plates we were gifted hold more aluminium than was made in England for a full year.

No doubt this is due to their mastery of electricity! Ah. I feel like Prometheus, or like one of the human beings suddenly gifted with his fire. The possibilities Sir Percy! The possibilities! Certainly a blessing to mankind.

But now I'm almost disappointed to mention their mercantile nature again. It seems almost unworthy of a people who have developed such marvels to care for trade and commerce, at least in the crass and modern form that we see every day in the City or the streets of London. Yet aboard the ship we came across a catalogue, I don't think we were supposed to find it though (at least not yet) for it lay on one of the tables (which were made from metal, but the top was an odd rather slick material). Once I picked it up and leafed through it I saw pictures of various devices, everything from binoculars, to revolvers and rifles, to strange scientific instruments and watches. It reminded me of those catalogues you find among tradesmen. Seeing the general interest it roused our hosts gave each of us a copy.

I do believe they want to trade in a very real sense. That is they themselves have a direct interest in trade rather than simply being the representatives of a government. Perhaps like Genoese or Venezian merchants, or our own 16th Century merchants heading into Asia. If so this would explain their earlier generosity, as they are trying to find the best markets and make their way among us.

Now then Sir Percy, you really ought to be here. Since you're not I shall end this with a piece of juicy London gossip: I shall shock and outrage society by remaining in London after the Glorious Twelfth! I can already here the society matrons clucking their tongues and suggesting that airship people from the North Pole are no excuse for missing the grouse shoot, but I shall be as scandalous as Lord Byron.

Do accept my apologies for the rambling nature of this letter, but I have so little time to write and none to edit.

Your obedient Servant, Sir John Hode.

P.S. I cannot believe that I forgot to describe the clothing of the Asnach! My head is swimming with so much new information and knowledge that I might forget my hat when I leave my house.

Their clothing reminded me a little of Russian peasant tunics, though these were by far more elaborate and decorated. Also their trousers are rather short, to the point of being knee-breaches like those used before the French Revolution. Their hats were either wide brimmed hats, like those you see in drawings of the Chinese, or else simple cur caps. That is the best description I can give for now, but even that is quite approximate. Their clothing appears to be heavily decorated according to their rank, with their leaders using gold and silver embroideries.

The two chief Asnach that we met were apparently the Captain of the airship (or at least one of the highest officers) and what I believe to be a diplomat or gentleman passenger. The first had embroidered a pattern of arrow-heads and birds of prey on his clothes, as well as having a hawk design embroidered on a square badge on his chest. The second had embroideries of leaves and geometric schemes, quite elaborate. Though it was his purses and other things hanging from his belt that truly drew my attention; golden chains, embroidered purses (four), a tiny miniature chest, a bundle of keys, and what I think was the chain of a watch. The Captain meanwhile had a dagger tucked into his belt and a small purse by his side. None of them seem to have or to use pockets, which I found most peculiar.
**** **** **** ****

Friday 9. August 1850,

Asnach Coalition Airship Sky Roamer
London,
England


Ihor Ikeram sat at his desk in his room. It was a tiny room, little more than a broom closet. Even his desk was not a desk proper; it was more like a table that folded down from the wall. All of his luggage and papers were in drawers under his bed, or placed in the room above the bed. It was cramped, it was noisy at times, and it was inconvenient, but today it was all worth it.

A smile crossed his lips as he pulled out his ballpoint pen and began to write. Occasionally though he'd have to squeeze in >< a new word in what he wrote, and as (bad) luck would have it he'd eventually be forced to make a few other changes too.
Dear Hernt,

Brother. Our fortunes have turned: the House of Ikeram will rise again like a phoenix from the ashes! Make a >public< sacrifice to the Seven Gods of Fortune.

You asked me about to tell you if you should come and invest. No and yes. Don't come, but do invest. I am sending you legal documents confirming you as my heir and recipient of my life insurance if I should not return. I mention this because I have decided to remain behind when the airships return home. The risk seems small, the rewards great, but you never know.

Brother. Raise as much money as you can. Go to the a'Hwitkon family, they owe us one, point out that their investment cannot fail. Offer good rates. Tell them that if I live they invest the head of our family will be the patron for one of their young men, as well as support him to the hilt. There are enough impoverished branches of the a'Hwitkon family that they won't turn their nose up at an offer like that.

Despite our fears this place only stinks literally, not figuratively. But gods above and below it stinks literally. The reek is disgusting, the noise, the bustling dirty crowds, and the horrid smog. Ai. It's like Emerhag if everyone was a dirty bum and shat outside. Quite a lot of people though and very fancy buildings, primitive, backwards, and all that, but someone here has money.

I think I have met with some of their highest dignitaries, but for all I know it could be the representatives of the local nightsoil attendants union asking when they can fetch our chamberpots. But in all honesty, I think they were important, certainly they behaved as if they were.

I wish you were here to see it; your sense of humour would be such a relief right now. Everything is so ridiculous, but we daren't laugh for fear of offending the natives. You should have seen them when they came aboard our airship, I felt like Father Winter handing out gifts to the youngsters. Their eyes almost fell out of their sockets when we showed them electric lights, and they were so excited by our aluminium plates that we gave them a whole dinner set. I think their electrical technology is particularly poorly developed, which is why aluminium should be one of our initial imports.

Beyond that I am sending some photographs, sound recordings, and a few short movie stubs of the locals. See if any of the scholars at the universities can make some sense out of it. I'll try >Tried and failed to< getting the translators on board to include their notes on local languages, but they >are< can be >impossible to deal with< difficult.

It's a whole world of customers here and we've got the airship trading rights. Every day and week that goes by without a concerted marketing push is money thrown away. Get cracking brother. Soon you'll be able to show the bastards rival houses that House of Ikeram is still in business.

Your elder brother, Ihor Ikeram
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Re: [Steampunk / Pre ACW to Victorian] Polar Invasion

Post by Sea Skimmer » 2013-01-28 06:39pm

Hmm so instead of the Palmerston Forts, we might see the Palmerston walls of pointed spikes on which to impale the enemy airships re the Onion.
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Re: [Steampunk / Pre ACW to Victorian] Polar Invasion

Post by Norseman » 2013-01-29 07:01am

Sea Skimmer wrote:Hmm so instead of the Palmerston Forts, we might see the Palmerston walls of pointed spikes on which to impale the enemy airships re the Onion.
I am not entirely sure if that would work...

But you'll see the consequences of this soon enough.
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Re: [Steampunk / Pre ACW to Victorian] Polar Invasion

Post by madd0ct0r » 2013-01-29 07:33am

subscribed, and excellently witten good sir!
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CHAPTER 4 – May 1851

Post by Norseman » 2013-02-04 10:05am

NOTE: I'll try to stop the epistolaries here since I'm now getting away from politics and more into people moving around. And fortunately I *do* know the Victorian age in general, but I'm not too keen on portraying historical figures without study.

Thursday 1. May 1851,

Hounslow Aerodrome
Outside London,
England

Dear Brother,

Just a brief note now, as I have very little time. The airship is waiting to leave and for the next few days I shall be entirely busy.

I am glad that you are refurbishing the old family mansion, it was much too run down. I only have one small remark, that the glass-house in the garden should be restored in the old style. I have such fond memories of that from my childhood, so I would hate to see it changed. Beyond that I have nothing to say, I know that your aesthetic sense is far more developed than my own.

To be honest I would love to be home in Emerhag, this London can be quite ghastly. Though it is a rather large city, even by our standards, it is also smelly and dirty in so many ways. There are times when I need a stiff drink after going on a carriage ride through the town. Oh the things I've seen. I'm not sure if I've understood everything the locals tell me, because there are times when it seems so horrid that I could scarcely believe it possible. At least for what appears to be a semi-civilized area.

Therefore, you should come either towards the local autumn, or else in spring next year. But do not bring your wife or children. Nor anyone who has a sensitive disposition. I do look forward to seeing you again, communicating by way of letters is so cumbersome, and there is so much that needs to be done.

Of course my work here is hardly started yet. There are so many laws, countries, nobles, products, etc. Even after three months I am barely scratching the surface here. But I am now far more able to understand the language, at least through my interpreters.

The local event I mentioned, the 'Great Exhibition of the Works of Industry of all Nations', opens today. I will take copious notes of everything that shows up there, examining it carefully, and watching the reactions of the natives. From what I can see so far though it is a rather poor showing, they have many pretty toys and handicrafts, but they cannot really match us for quantity or quality. Even so I shall start sending back samples of the best this world has to offer once this Exhibition is underway. I'm sure much of it will find favour at home.

The exhibition area, the 'Crystal Palace' is looking very handsome though. You might think that it would be simply an overgrown greenhouse, as I hinted in earlier letters, but now that I see the finished product I must confess that I was wrong! Yes dear brother it happens, surprisingly the natives have impressed even me. It is a particularly appealing sight during the night, when lit up by the searchlights and incandescent light-bulbs that I provided for the project. The natives were suitably grateful for that gift, as well as for the air-conditioning sets. The way I see it it's a small investment in the future. Also the air-conditioning helps to remove the foul odours from the air.

I will go so far as to say that when tourists begin arriving here in number they will want to see it as well. I'll be sure to show it to you when you come to visit, along with the various castles and palaces the natives have. Many of them are quite appealing, with a strange savage aesthetic to them.

But returning to the exhibition I will be showing our air-conditioning, electrical generators, incandescent lights, slide-shows, moving pictures, gramophones, propane tanks, and of course aluminium and magnesium. These should astound the masses without completing stealing their thunder, after all, as I said, I do want to see what they can actual produce, and overawing them might make people withdraw out of sheer embarrassment. However even this should give us a good idea of what the locals would pay most money for, without risking us running into any export restrictions.

Give my regards to everyone back home.

Your Elder Brother, Ihor Ikeram
Ihor Ikeram put his silver fountain pen down on the table. Then he placed his palms on the table top and ran them across the surface, feeling the smooth, polished wood. Leaning back in his well-upholstered chair he gripped the ornate arm-rests. Ah, it was not until you'd spent years on airships, constantly looking for an opening, that you really came to appreciate the luxuries of being on the ground. Of having time to make proper edits and final editions of your letters, instead of having to rush out the first edition with strike-throughs and words squeezed in between the lines.

Rising from his chair he walked to the large, cast glass window that overlooked the aerodrome. From this second story window he had an excellent view of the two large hangars, the warehouses, and if he twisted his head a little he could see the quaint little village of Feltham. All surrounded by lovely green field, quite bucolic really. Also what he couldn't see was more to his liking, this being a south facing window he didn't have to look at the cavalry barracks to the north.

His eyes narrowed a little as he thought of that, 'Impudent, but I suppose it makes sense.'

His secretary's voice came from outside, "Patron, may this one enter?"

"Yes," Ikeram said, not turning around as the door opened.

"Patron, your train leaves in half an hour," his secretary said. A charming young man in a somewhat plain dark blue robe, with only a single pouch and a small case of writing utensils hanging from his belt.

Ikeram nodded and went to his desk to close and seal the letter, "Send this with the airmail. Then, ah, let us be on our way." He sighed, "Must we really go so early?"

"The trains are greatly delayed Patron," his secretary said, taking the letter.

"Ah yes," Ikeram said and strode towards the door. Part of him felt like a child for wanting to stay longer, but, well, London reeked, the less he had to do there the better.

**** **** **** ****

Great Exhibition at Hyde Park
London,
England


For Sir John Hode this was one of the most awesome and wonderful days in his life, in the true sense of the words; for the crystal palace, gleaming with electric lights, standing there like the Great Shalimar, was truly something of awe and wonder. Though he was an educated man and had gained a seat on the Royal Commission for the Exhibition of 1851 he was still excited. The whole scheme was so enormous that one man, even one who had helped make it happen, couldn't hope to keep track of it all.

All around him were dense crowds of middle and upper class ladies and gentlemen, all splendidly dressed. For a moment he felt like he was in the centre of some great nesting ground for tropical birds, who through their natural instincts had homed in on this precise spot. Indeed that feeling only grew stronger as the first 25 000 people were finally allowed into the Crystal Palace itself.

As a member of the Royal Commission Sir John had secured a good spot near where Queen Victoria and Prince Albert would be opening the Exhibition. That was still some time off, so in the meantime he looked around the place.

Large cast-iron girders and supporting elements held up the glass, creating this enormous green house with multiple levels, countless galleries and walkways, and yet brightly lit by the daytime sun. In among the displays stood large trees and water fountains, which sent cascades of fresh, clean water up into the air.

Most of all he noticed the exhibitions. Even though the exhibition itself was not officially open he did see some rude people sneaking a peek at some of them. If they were spotted some constable was sure to politely tell them the exhibition was not yet open, and of course the fear of social disapproval kept most people in check. Still, standing here, in bright light of day, yet inside and enclosed, among so many people. Feeling the nervous, excited air. It was like being a child at Christmas and having to wait to open your presents.

At noon the Queen and Prince Albert arrived, part of Sir John wished that he had been able to be outside to watch the procession. Though of course he saw part of it from his vantage point inside the Crystal Palace. All such thoughts vanished as the Royal Family entered, to the respectful applause of the assembled people.

The Queen wearing a lovely pink dress and diadem, with the blue sash of the Order of the Garter. Surrounded by her ladies in waiting and her family, all dressed splendidly, of the family Crown Prince Edward looked particularly delightful in his doublet and kilt; just like a proper highland prince! And of course Prince Albert looked perfectly in place with the other officers and lords, dressed in a splendid red uniform with gilded braids.

Surrounding the carpeted platform of the Royal Family, there stood various dignitaries and ambassadors. And there stood the Archbishop of Canterbury, all in splendid white, with a large chorus gathering behind him. There was so much colour, and of gold, of red, of sashes and jewellery, though of course few nations had ambassadors with uniforms as splendid as the British military.

Yet one man stood out, Sir John would recognise Ihor Ikeram, the grey complexioned gentleman looked just splendid. He'd removed his fur cap, but stood there dressed in cloth of gold, or what at least looked as green cloth of gold. A thick orange sash, or belt, wrapped around his waist, and from it hung two large embroidered purses, that miniature chest Sir John and seen earlier, and a bundle with three large golden keys.

Truly the whole world, no, not just the whole world, but both this world and other, previously unimagined worlds had come to marvel at the Great Exhibition!

At last Prince Albert stepped forward and began his speech, though at times Sir John had trouble hearing it.
I conceive it to be the duty of every educated person closely to watch and study the time in which he lives, and as far as in him lies, to add his mite of individual exertion to further the accomplishment of what he believes Providence to have ordained.

Nobody, however, who has paid any attention to the peculiar features of our present era, will doubt for a moment that we are living at a period of most wonderful transition.

...

New worlds, previously unknown are opening up to us, and with them come the promise of increased commerce and the sharing of knowledge. For it is a certain mark of civilized and cultured nations that knowledge acquired becomes at once the property of the community at large; for, whilst formerly discovery was wrapt in secrecy, the publicity of the present day causes that no sooner is a discovery or invention made than it is already improved upon and surpassed by competing efforts. The products of all creation are placed at our disposal, and we have only to choose which is the best and the cheapest for our purposes, and the powers of production are entrusted to the stimulus of competition and capital.

...

The distances which separated the different nations and parts of the globe are rapidly vanishing before the achievements of modern invention, and we can traverse them with incredible ease; vast inland areas previously unreachable due to their rugged terrain and savagery can now be reached by air, fulfilling mankind's ancient dream of flying as free as the birds.

...

Science discovers these laws of power, motion, and transformation; industry applies them to raw matter, which the earth yields us in abundance, but which becomes valuable only by knowledge. Art teaches us the immutable laws of beauty and symmetry, and gives to our productions forms in accordance with them. My Ladies, Lords, and Gentlemen, -- the Exhibition of 1851 means to give us a true test and a living picture of the point of development at which the whole of mankind has arrived in this great task, and a new starting point from which all nations will be able to direct their further exertions.

I confidently hope that the first impression which the view of this vast collection will produce upon the spectator will be that of deep thankfulness to the Almighty for the blessings which He has bestowed upon us already here below; and the second, the conviction that they can only be realised in proportion to the help which we are prepared to render each other; therefore, only by peace, love, and ready assistance, not only between individuals, but between the nations of the earth.
And with the conclusion of the speech the Archbishop uttered the Lord's Prayer before calling upon the chorus to begin singing Handel's Hallelujah Choir. The vast 600 man chorus filled the whole of the Crystal Palace with the rousing sound of the Hallelujah Choir. It brought a tear to Sir John's eyes, for what could better describe the brotherhood of man than to remember that 'There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.'

**** **** **** ****

Ihor Ikeram managed to keep his face straight as all of a sudden 600 tribal chanters began to shriek 'Hallelujah, hallelujah' over and over. There was a melody in there though, but it was weird, off-key, not quite hitting on the notes that he expected. Still, as a well travelled and cosmopolitan man he knew that it was the height of rudeness to mock the rituals and behaviours of the local city god. After all he was fully aware that many of the rituals at Emerhag had to seem just as absurd to an outsider.

Once the song was over though the Chieftainess declared that the exhibition was open, and everyone began to move into the Crystal Palace itself. Indeed Ihor Ikeram was just about to do so when he recognised one of the humans he had met with a few times, a Sir John. Not wanting to be rude he returned Sir John's greeting, then motioned for his interpreter to follow him.

"Sir John?" Ihor Ikeram said.

Sir John said something, then interpreter struggled for a few moments, then Sir John repeated himself slower and more loudly.

"Yes. I am delighted to see you here Andalma Ikeram," Sir John said.

"I wouldn't miss it for the world," Ikeram said, smiling softly. "All the wonders of your world are stretched out here, before me."

"I hope that some of it meets with your approval."

"Of course, it is so hard to master a new language and to learn the words of every little item and plant and machine," Ikeram said. "But here, I merely need to point at some item, and some helpful soul explains in great detail what it is and what it is called."

"Well then, let me be your helpful soul and escort you."

"I would be most grateful."

They were soon moving through the exhibits, many of which were of a strange and wonderful sort. For instance Ihor Ikeram stopped for the longest time at the stuffed elephant presented by the Newab Nazim. Despite himself he felt quite curious about this vast creature with such a small house on its back.

"Is it really real?" Ikeram asked as he approached it, looking up into its glassy eyes.

"Why yes, it's a stuffed elephant," Sir John said, motioning with his cane. "It has a howdah on its back, where armed men can sit and shoot at enemies or wild animals."

"I like it," Ikeram said. "Where can I get one?"

"India," Sir John said. "The jewel in the crown for the British Empire."

"India..." Ikeram said, once more studying the rich elephant blanket. "Their style of decoration is very different from that I see in this country."

"Indeed, we think of India as very exotic, though we've ruled it for nearly a century," Sir John explained. "And the people there are Hindoos, not Christians."

They walked a bit longer until they came into part of the French exhibition, which was marked by the loveliest statues, paintings, and examples of industrial art. Everything was here, from machines with ornate decoration, cast silver vessels, white marble statues, tapestries and enamelware. But it also included a few items that were covered by heavy carpets and drapes.

"Are they to be unveiled at a later occasion?" Ikeram asked pointing at them.

Sir John looked a little awkward Ikeram thought, but answered smartly enough, "No, those are exhibits viewed inappropriate for general display."

"Inappropriate? Are they ugly or of the wrong category?"

"Well, in a way they are the wrong category."

"Now Sir John, you are confusing me."

"They depict inappropriate things Andalma Ikeram."

"What inappropriate things?"

"Things not fit to be seen in public."

"What? Human sacrifice? Torture? Theft and brigandage?"

"No, no, rather, ah, showing things that may not be inappropriate in private, but that should never be shown in public."

"But..." Ikeram felt very confused. "I cannot imagine what would fall into that category."

All the way the conversation was quite clumsy, not straight forward exchanges, but often several minutes needed to convey the meaning of each sentence. It was quite frustrating and so Ikeram wondered if it was simply that his interpreter had not yet mastered the language.

That was when a Frenchman appeared, at least he introduced himself as French, and, though he said, "I am sorry Sirs, but I could not help to notice your curiosity. I do not speak good English, but for your sake I can show you our drawings of the covered items."

This was rare luck Ikeram's interpreter told him, for the French humans apparently resented and rarely used the language of the English humans.

**** **** **** ****

For Sir John this was a nightmare come true! Not only was he asked about the hidden displays of very, well, French art, but now some horrid Frenchie was showing the Asnachan merchant dirty lithographs. Well not pornographic to be sure, but a French catalogue of the items they were sending, some of which were erotic statues.

Fortunately Ihor Ikeram seemed more puzzled than anything else, and they soon moved on to look at the various tapestries; a display of stuffed dogs and kittens playing cards (sent by the German Union); the Koh-i-Noor diamond (sparkling joyously under a tight beam of electrical light that seemed to gain as much attention as the diamond); an elaborate display of every kind of fur from Russia and the Americas; ivory both carved and natural; displays of Italian craftsmanship and silken ware; a great variety of India Rubber boots and other items; chandeliers, crystalware, plates and cups from the Italies; and many other items from across the world.

All the while Ihor Ikeram, or one of the Asnachans next to him, would make tiny little notes at the items. For, as they said, the catalogue of the exhibition was simply so enormous that they had only made little progress in translating it into their own language.
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CHAPTER 5 – May 1851 (Trooping the Colour)

Post by Norseman » 2013-02-04 07:21pm

Friday 23. May 1851,

Hode House
London,
England


"We have noticed that you've shown Ihor Ikeram around the Great Exhibition a few times," Sir Percy said, while sipping cognac from a huge snifter.

"We?" Sir John asked, with a light smile on his face. "Society gossip now?"

"You know better than that."

There was silence, the light of the fireplace and the oil-lamps flickered across the room. The colour of the cognac was dull, almost golden, much like Sir Percy's hair. While Sir John naturally appeared dark and gloomy. Yet it was Sir Percy who seemed most sombre, looking into the fire, and listening to Sir John talking of the Great Exhibition.

"So who have noticed me?" Sir John asked.

Sir Percy picked a large golden watch out of his red, embroidered waist-coat, opened it, and looked at it. "Yes. Some gentlemen, many of whom you already know, we noticed, we were there as well of course. Now did you notice what Ihor Ikeram was interested in?"

"I did notice," Sir John said thoughtfully. "Fine art; fine textiles; natural materials; India rubber, especially vulcanized; jewellery; furs; and curios in general."

"And you noticed what he wasn't interested in?"

"Yes," Sir John bowed his head, as if in submission. "Our machines, our weapons, our science, and our developments in general."

Sir Percy lifted his watch, let the light of the lamps play off the gold. "This watch here tells the time most precisely, shows the phases of the moon, and the date. IT can even show you leap years, accounting for the fact that the year 1900 won't be one. Thus, it will be accurate for centuries to come. The sort of thing you like."

"Yes."

"Our trains travel at fifty miles an hour..."

"Eighty miles, the Flying Dutchman can reach eighty miles an hour."

Sir Percy smiled a little, "Eighty miles an hour. We communicate across the world as fast as lightning, or we will once the telegraph cable across the channel has been laid. Steamships are now beginning to compete with sail; soon they may even cross the Atlantic under steam alone. The breechloader will supersede the muzzleloader..." He gave Sir John a close look, "OR at least so you've told me quite often."

"All of it true," Sir John said, slumping forward a bit. "I know, now I know that all of my predictions were true."

"Indeed, you do know. Because we are now meeting with people who must see our greatest accomplishments as toys," Sir Percy said, he slipped his watch back into his waistcoat. "For now they are merchants, so we are trying to buy as much as we can. But we need to know more about them, and to keep an eye on them."

"I will help," Sir John said. "But who is your group?"

"Just some gentlemen who come together," Sir Percy said, he sighed. "Britain has nothing in the way of spies I fear. We're not one of the continental governments filled with spies, poking their noses into everyone's business. But, And yet if with careless ease rather than with laborious practise, and with a courage which is the result not so much of laws as of natural disposition, we are willing to face danger, we have the advantage of not suffering beforehand from coming troubles, and of proving ourselves, when we are involved in them, no less bold than those who are always toiling; so that our country is worthy of admiration in these respects, and in others besides."

**** **** **** ****

Saturday 24. May 1851,

St. James Park
London,
England


Sir John felt a pang of regret, even of guilt, when he spotted Ihor Ikeram at St. James Park. Though he tried convincing himself that he'd never betray a confidence, he still felt as if he shouldn't be socializing with a man he was 'keeping an eye on'. But then, you're never to cut someone you've been introduced to, and so Sir John approached smilingly.

"Ah Sir John!" Ihor Ikeram said through his interpreter. "I have come to watch this parade of your soldiers."

"It's Trooping the Colour, each year one of the Guard regiments has the honour of presenting their ensign to the Queen," Sir John explained. Then he tried to go into a bit more detail of the symbolism, adding, "It is one of the grand events of the season, England doesn't have many grand military parades."

"But if you like them, why have so few?"

"Because unlike the continentals we like our army, but we don't worship it."

Ikeram nodded, "Just as well, wars are bad for business too."

A wave of relief passed through Sir John, he smiled, "That they are, and now look... the Queen is coming."

But, a funny thing happened, during each part of the ceremony Sir John pictured airships over the neat formations of the Household Division. Heavy black bombs (he pictured them as big, round balls the sort crazy anarchist throw) falling down upon the Guardsmen, and the horses of the Household Cavalry screaming as rapid-fire breechloading rifles and rifled cannon poured shot into them. Against this the Guard would only have courage, steel, and muskets...

Still, in the real world there was no catastrophe, no sudden act of war. Just the sound of British Grenadiers being played as the Escort to the Colour began. Watching that splendid looking affair, full of perfectly executed manoeuvres, did lift Sir John's heart. Though when he saw the Grenadier Guard marching past, all carrying India Pattern muskets his heart sank again.
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Re: [Steampunk / Pre ACW to Victorian] Polar Invasion

Post by Sea Skimmer » 2013-02-04 08:32pm

Interesting. I'm not so sure Victorian England was devoid of spy forces though, its just that they would have been rather informally funded and controlled. One thing they certainly did lack was a counter espionage service, but then very few had such things.
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CHAPTER 6 – August 1851 (Closing of Parliament)

Post by Norseman » 2013-02-16 09:56pm

Sunday 10. August 1851,

St Clement Danes,
London,
England


The church was nearly full and the Reverend was well into his sermon, looking around the pews and speaking clearly.

"In our modern age many men are troubled when they see strange airships ply our skies, bringing goods from place unimagined just two years ago. But even though we look at the skies and wonder if we shall ever reach them, we know they are not beyond God. Indeed, even when we look at the stars and know that we shall never reach them, we still know that they are not beyond God. For whatever we might see in creation should not trouble us, for it is all formed by the same Creator who formed us."

"And that merciful Creator has, as if to confirm upon us the place of the chosen among the nations, blessed our leaders with wisdom and virtue, and our people with industry and great talents. The greatest among these gifts is surely reason and revelation, for together they free us from the superstition and poverty that still hold so much of the world in thrall. We know that telegraphs, steam-boats, and even airships, are not the conjuring tricks of the Witch of Endor or the spells of Simon Magus, but rather the product of clever artisans working in accordance to the laws of nature set down by the Creator!"

"Look now to Africa and Asia, where many people still live in the deepest superstition and poverty. For I remember a missionary of some note, who having come back to London, told this story 'And the natives though kind and eager to accept the word of Christ, were abominably ignorant and superstitious. Anything new would send them running to their witch-doctors. The sight of a steamboat with two funnels instead of one, of a ship with four masts instead of three, or a new sort of top-hat, all of these would fill them with wonder and fear.'"

"That was his story and with such people you can hardly be surprised that if you leave them alone for a hundred years their ways should scarcely have changed. Yet if they are educated they soon learn that steamships are not magical, nor strange beasts of myth, but things that are built by men and for men. Then the patient missionary begins to see the results of his long toil, a people raised from the service to idols and indolence, and lifted up to love God and to improve their lot."

"But what a difference is there not in temperament and thought between such people and the people of Europe in general, and the people of Britain in particular. For look at the Great Exhibition, far from cowering in fear and terror at the novelties inside, even those among us we think of as very low will work long and hard to come to London to take in the wonders of the Crystal Palace. Far from shrinking in superstitious fear we look at these marvels and think of how we can acquire them for ourselves, either through trade or imitation, and once we have acquired them we do not stop there. No, that noble instinct in the English race will not let us rest until we have improved upon whatever we have acquired from abroad, and thus having improved it made it our own."

"So to we shall soon come to see airships built in England, not merely a match for those of the Polar Travellers, but outmatching them in every way..."

Sitting in his pew Sir John Hode listened intently to the sermon, it was interesting, and quite optimistic. Part of him desperately wanted to believe in it, another part felt in turmoil. It was strange, but the Church of England, normally so eager to offer bombastic moral commands, now seemed reticent to offer concrete advice. Then again he had hardly asked any direct questions... Was it right to spy on a friend, or acquaintance, even for your country? Or was he even spying? Now combine those religious scruples with a fear of the future for his country, and he knew it'd be easy to be led astray.

That was when the sermon once again broke into Sir John's thoughts, "And as it is said in Isaiah, 'Therefore shall the Lord, the Lord of hosts, send among his fat ones leanness; and under his glory he shall kindle a burning like the burning of a fire. And the light of Israel shall be for a fire, and his Holy One for a flame: and it shall burn and devour his thorns and his briers in one day'".

Sir John wasn't quite certain of how this fitted into the rest of the discussion, or if it did so at all, but it seemed like a bad omen. Once more he had one of those odd premonitions, a mental image of the ceiling of St Clement Danes falling down in flames, and high above some malicious technology terror raining bombs down upon London. Bowing his head and pinching the bridge of his nose, he tried to dismiss the odd day dream. Part of him worried if it had anything to do with the odd headaches he'd been getting as of late.

Not before was the service over and he'd gotten a few steps out of the church, before he spotted Sir Percy Blakeney who greeted him at once.

"Sir John," Sir Percy said as they began to walk down the Strand towards Waterloo Bridge. "I hear a rumour."

"Many rumours these days," Sir John said, uneasily looking around. "But if you mean my meeting with Lord Palmerston."

"Indeed I do."

"Well, I'll tell you as much as I remember."


**** **** **** ****

Earlier on Sunday 10. August 1851,

Foreign Office, Downing Street,
London,
England


The Foreign Office buildings at Downing Street were quite frankly shabby, a certain case of location mattering more than size or comfort. Although the interiors of each building were in each case well maintained. Lord Palmerston's office faced the street itself, the open windows admitting the sunlight, as Downing Street had yet to invest in electric lighting.

"Have you heard that Lord Cowley is to lead a diplomatic mission to the Asnachan Coalition?" Lord Palmerston asked.

"I have heard that yes." Sir John answered.

"The second in command will be Lord Napier, he spoke quite warmly of you," Lord Palmerston said.

"I am glad to her that, I didn't know he had such regard for me," Sir John said. "I wrote him once about his book on Italian painters."

"Did you? Well, he is a man of many talents." Lord Palmerston said. "Britain needs men of many talents. That is why I am asking you to be a part of this mission. I believe that you should be able to return home before the opening of parliament next year."

"I accept," Sir John said at once. "Indeed I would be honoured My Lord!"

"I am glad Sir John, for this are difficult days for Britain," Lord Palmerston said. "It is my opinion, my most heartfelt conviction, that the United Kingdom should never be thought inferior to any other nation. To have a trading mission from a foreign nation on our shores, without us having diplomatic relations with that nation, is an absurd indignity."

"Quite so."

"But," Lord Palmerston said. "The other problem is that like the Phoenicians of old, the Asnachans seem exclusively concerned with profit. They bring us baubles, like electric lights and aluminium, instead of practical and, indeed, necessary products like machine tools and ..." The next words seemed like they had to be hauled out of him, "Weapons and airships." Here Lord Palmerston's eyes landed on the dog-eared and worn copy of the Asnachan catalogue, still resting on his table.

"Indeed," Sir John said, briefly fighting the urge to emphasise the extreme importance of this. "But a catalogue is not as good as seeing things yourself."

"That is true. Nor is Britain poor. It may rankle us to temporarily buy these things from abroad, but if need be we will take out loans. If I must walk the streets of London asking for subscriptions, if we must pawn the Crown Jewels themselves, then it will be done and it will be endured." Lord Palmerston's hand touched the catalogue. "We need warships of the air. Whatever the cost. If nothing else we must beat the French to the punch."

"I heard the French were to be aboard the same airship that will carry our mission," Sir John said.

"That is true," Lord Palmerston said. "But there's no disgrace in two diplomatic missions sharing the same ship, as we secured the concession that this ship would be used exclusively for carrying these missions."

**** **** **** ****

Sunday 10. August 1851,

Hode House,
London,
England


"Or I think that's what he said," Sir John said as he sat in his comfortable chair by the fireplace. "At least that is the gist of the conversation."

"Quite..." Sir Percy said, sipping some tea. "Will you keep an eye on things when you're there?"

"Yes of course, it seems both you and Lord Palmerston count on me for that," Sir John said, smiling slightly, before touching his forehead. "Ah, I hope I'm not coming down with something."
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Re: [Steampunk / Pre ACW to Victorian] Polar Invasion

Post by kilopi505 » 2013-02-19 10:46am

I have been following this story on both AH.com and Spacebattles.

Well, I will be waiting for further updates!

God bless you!

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