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Space 1889

Science-Fiction Role Playing in a More Civilized Time.


It started with a murder by a strange Martian, but soon turned into a (deadly?) treasure hunt.


Well, aren't they all?

GM's Space Log Entry 10

30 June 2008: Friday 27th September 1889 – 10 October 1889: The voyage of the iron dingy

Dr Scrowte not in attendance.

The party is back in Syrtis Major and receives letters from home and the newspaper.

Mr McKenna received grievous news of his sister’s illness and immediately wired some 5,000 pounds to ensure the best medical care. Mr Chaffield learned that not all was well with his family. Some time was spent settling into a more sedate lifestyle, with Dr Scrowte practicing amongst the families of the common soldiers, Jerry Fuller writing up some pieces on the expedition and starting on his book, Mr Chaffield loitered about the city, but spent most of his time helping Mr McKenna armour his steam launch. Lord Strathnairn of course set about the necessary steps to live in comfort and luxury, and on learning that his brother’s battalion would be arriving soon, arranged a small celebration to mark the occasion. A ball for 300 guests, to be held after the battalion arrived.

Miss Johnston relaxed quietly. 

The peaceful passage of time was interrupted one evening while Mr Chaffield was taking Lord Strathnairn and Mr McKenna to an inn to have a few drinks and discuss the possibility of entering into a career as privateers in the war against Oenotria. Before Mr Chaffield could make his case, or indeed reach the inn, they were attacked by 4 Worm Cultists. The Baron was hit by musket fire and Mr McKenna’s sleeping gas atomiser again put the Baron to sleep. Mr McKenna and Mr Chaffield continued fighting in an attempt to save their friend, but both fell to wounds and all would have been lost if the reporter Jerry Fuller had not been stalking them for a story and helped Lord Strathnairn’s faithful servant finish off the attackers.

A week or so of heeling ensued with the wounded being taken back to Mr McKenna’s place at the edge of the city where Dr Scrowte attended them (without payment as far as I could tell).

Then the army approached Mr Chaffield for assistance in retrieving a party from the South Wales Borderers who are cut off in Avenel. Aerial units cannot safely land and take off to pick them up, but they hoped a few brave souls and Mr McKenna’s iron clad launch could affect a rescue. Everyone in the little party volunteered, even Miss Johnstone (who just showed up and talked her way aboard).

The Baron did manage to wangle a reserve commission in the Royal navy out of the arrangement, and the Army activated Mr Chaffield with a reserve commission at his old rank in the Royal Artillery. The Royal Navy provided coal, 100 shells for the gun, and a couple of extra rifles.

The iron clad launch was slung beneath a cloudship and flown to the canal just north of Avenel, during which process Mr McKenna added further armour with the help of Mr Chaffield and not looking at the ground 1,000 feet below.

Deciding on making the attempt at night to make themselves harder to see and hit, the launch set out under sail to reduce noise, but with a full head of steam. Once they were spotted shortly before reaching the tower where the cut off platoon was sheltered the Baron advanced under power while Mr Chaffield opened up on the Oenotrians with the Hotchkiss Rotating Canon. Initially Lord Strathnairn’s man Alan had been assisting by loading the cannon, but was killed outright by a Martian cannon shot and Miss Johnstone stepped in to take his place, despite there being no cover for the gun crew.

Mr Fuller sniped at the enemy and Mr McKenna handled the engine until the launch reached the shore when he leapt out of the boat to secure it. At this stage, enraged at the death of his loyal servant and clansman, and fortified by Mr McKenna’s patented strengthening elixir also leapt ashore and charged the Martian troops which threatened to get between the soldiers of the Queen and the rescue party.

Armed with a native two handed coddling-chopper, and accompanied by the voices of several of his companions making various appeals of an apparently religious nature, the Baron charged in and began hacking through the hapless Martian soldiers. Mr Chaffield maintained a covering fire with the cannon as best he could with Lord Strathnairn in his field of fire, with Miss Johnston supplying him with ammunition. Mr Fuller maintained his sniping attempts to cover the launch and the Baron (later taking over the cannon) and Mr McKenna readied the boat for departure as the soldiers of the South Wales Borderers broke for the canal.

All was looking well until first Mr Chaffield and then Miss Johnstone were disabled by Martian rifle and cannon fire.

Fortunately Mr McKenna had gotten most of the soldiers on board and Lord Strathnairn heeded his calls to fall back. Taking the helm despite his injuries, and only on his feet due to the effects of the strength elixir, the Baron piloted the launch back up the canal, under enemy fire which was answered by those members of the party still able and the soldiers who were not too badly injured.

The rescue was a success with most of the soldiers brought out alive and only one member of the rescuing party killed, but most of the others were quite badly hurt and had to remain in bed for another week under the care of Dr Scrowte.

During that time the new troops arrived and some rewards were arranged. Lord Strathnairn was promoted to Lt Commander RNR, and Mr Chaffield was mentioned in dispatches. Everyone in the rescuing party were hailed as heroes, although the presence of a woman, and one who had chosen to wear trousers, did excite some misgivings, especially as she had been seriously wounded. The Royal Navy purchased the launch for a handsome price despite the cannon having been destroyed and Mr Fuller had another piece accepted by the Times of London.

Lord Strathnairn’s ball went well and the entire group attended without causing embarrassment.

It was a few days later, at a private dinner with the Viceroy that the party was informed of their rewards, and informed that given the threat of continued attacks by the Worm Cult and the disruption and danger this posed to other residents of the Crown Colony, Lord Strathnairn was being sent back to Earth to report to the House of Lords on conditions in Syrtis Major generally and the War with Oenotria specifically. Everyone else would be accompanying him, in first class with passage paid for by the government, or in steerage under guard. They chose first class.

So in 3 or 4 days the party will depart Syrtis Major and Mars for London, expecting to arrive around the 15th of December 1889.

The Mylomerian Swamp

Many were the trials the group had in navigating the canals to the swamp, but their ingenuity, determination and expertise won out each time. They entered the swamp and eventually found the orchids. Then lost a young lady as Miss Johnston was seized by a monstrous swamp creature while she was changing for dinner and dragged away through the swamp.A frantic chase through the night shrouded swamp ensued, with Mr Fuller tracking with the Baron handling the front canoe, and the others following. Eventually, in the light of dawn the beast was tracked to its lair, and Miss Johnston’s companions entered the half sunken cave.Light from a hole in the roof showed many of these grey skinned tentacled monsters sleeping on a sandy bank, and a drugged and sleeping lady in thei midst. Mr Chaffield proceeded to creep between their loathsome masses, and having ensured the lady could not cry out in her sleep, picked up Miss Johnston and wound his way back between the creatures and out of the cavern with her in his arms.On returning to the camp site they were able to awaken Miss Johnston and she was able to dress. The gentlemen had also needed a change as they had been in evening wear when the chase commenced and those clothes were now ruined.However the monsters of the swamp were not to be trifled with lightly and sought that night to retrieve their missing meal, attacking the party on the boat, were Lord Strathnairn and Mr Chaffield fended the most aggressive away from the lady with their swords and the others used the guns. Eventually the surviving creatures fled, and the party began the trip back to Syrtis major with all their members uneaten, the Van Warren orchids secured and a dead Knoe Shue for Mr McKenna.Miss Van Warren ensured that these brave souls who had helped her received a share of the royalties which would ensue from the orchid, and they began their normal pastime of resting, replacing lost clothes and equipment and seeking around for further adventure.And as the GM has lost track of the exact game date, it is declared that the game will pick up in Syrtis Major on the 27th September 1889.

Huzzah Huzzah Huzzah

1889 is back. The Baron Strathnairn and his companions, with various employees (excepting those who were slaughtered by the bestial High Martians), having recently returned from the Austapes mountains from whence they had only barely escaped the machinations of the insane, powerful and possibly immortal leader of the Worm Cult, is planning another foray into the wilds of Mars.
With cunning forethought and a curious synchronicity the party, tired of the arid wastes and lack of water of their recent expedition, intends to explore a swamp where there will be an abundance of, possibly smelly, water.
On their way back through the hill country on foot, in the north of the Crown Colony, our heroes had rescued an American woman named Miss Emily Van Warren who was the sole survivor of an expedition led by her father, who had discovered a possibly valuable orchard in a particular Martian swamp. Mr Chaffield had cheerfully agreed to aid her in her attempts to bring samples of the orchid back to civilisation, and Mr McKenna and Lord Strathnairn were also willing. And so, after Mr McKenna takes possession of some crates he had shipped from earth and settles into his new workshop, the serious job of preparing themselves for a hopefully less dangerous but doubtless less remunerative expedition is begun.

GM's Space log entry 7

18 February 2008: Thursday 27th June 1889 (est) – 2nd July 1889 (est): Rats in a trap and a daring escape

Miss Davies and Dr Scrowte not present.

 

None of our intrepid group was able to sleep as long as they needed, being awakened by their discomfort and hunger. In the faint hope of finding something which could be eaten an exploration of the rest of the buildings was begun by Lord Strathnairn, Mr Chaffield and Mr McKenna.

The first building found proved to be some sort of library with machines which displayed moving pictures on the wall. Without any knowledge of the language, most of it was meaningless, but Mr McKenna saw some patterns he thought he recognised and he settled in to attempt to learn something from these apparently ancient and highly advanced records. The Baron and Mr Chaffield continued seeking for means to relieve the groups immediate and most pressing needs.

They found a building of small rooms they took to be a barracks of some kind before finding a building consisting of one large room with rows of buttons and slots in the far wall. After some fairly daring experimentation, Lord Strathnairn discovered that they could be used to produce food. The type could not reliably be controlled as all the markings had eroded with time, but he did procure a small stack of items resembling to some extent chicken sandwiches. Seeing what the Baron had discovered, Mr Chaffield also experimented and was able to produce a selection of beverages which seemed wholesome without being accurately identifiable. This food was taken to their companions by the pool and to Mr McKenna in the library.

After their hunger was satiated, Lord Strathnairn and Mr Chaffield continued their exploration. Another building proved to open into a pit of lava, and the largest building in the cavern proved to resemble a laboratory and machine shop. Unusually, this building seemed to have been kept stocked instead of being allowed to rot away like the others. A selection of chemicals and glassware were found, and another mummified body in a silver gown. In this case the individual seemed to have been killed by a large machine press closing on their head. Mr Chaffield took the gown from the body and took it to Miss Davies whose own clothing was like the others much the worse for the wear of recent days. Lord Strathnairn noticed that a large section of the cavern wall was in fact a wall, in which was set what appeared to be a sliding gate. Neither he nor Mr Chaffield could open it on their own.

Seeing no immediate option for escape and no immediate danger, Lord Strathnairn moved the rest of the party into the building with the food machines for warmth and convenience and proceeded to ensure everyone was fed and as comfortable as possible. After what may have been a couple of days in the timeless light of the cavern, Mr McKenna decided he was unlikely to understand enough of the displays to gain any real understanding of the science of the builders of this cavern. He had however gained some more insights into his own work which he hoped to have the opportunity to explore later.

Presented with the problem of the locked gate, Mr McKenna attempted to blow it open with an explosive he mixed from the chemicals in the laboratory. In the meantime Mr Chaffield had been looking over the flying craft in an attempt to persuade himself that it could be made to work. In the hope that this would be the case, he arranged for Miss Davies, Anne, Dr Scrowte and Allan to move the main store of emeralds into the ship. Lord Strathnairn gathered together a stock of various foods and placed them in the ship as well. But the group was not yet desperate enough to risk an ancient flying machine with which their pilot was unfamiliar, with unmarked controls and most of the interior rotted to dust. So they settled for a while into an existence where their needs for survival were met, but which boded to prove a permanent prison. Mr Chaffield made a rope from the robes of the remaining bodies and Lord Strathnairn even checked the bottom of the pool.

Then someone came out of the locked gate. An individual similar in appearance to the bodies found in the buildings. He told them he was the last of the ancient race that had lived here long before the evolution of the present day Martians and that he had been here for millions of years. He spoke for quite a while about the cavern and the people who had lived there, and how they had been immortal but that the weight of years had in the end driven all the others insane and to suicide. Members of the group did notice that his story tended to ramble a bit and sometimes contradict itself. He also questioned them about earth and the other worlds of the solar system and mentioned theories of parallel evolution which he felt were born out by their information.

However, eventually this strange individual grew bored with what they could tell him and he told them that he had drawn them to him with a forged map to learn more about these strange visitors to Mars and that he had used his power as head of the Worm Cult to do it. In answer to Mr McKenna’s rather hopeful “oh well we’ll just be going then” he also informed them that he intended to kill them all, but would give them a 5 minute head start to make it sporting.

There was no hesitation from our doughty adventurers as they ran for their lives through the buildings to the aerial flyer, leapt inside and took off. This really annoyed the Lord of the Worm, who tried to shoot them down, but Mr Chaffields skills were up to the task of getting the craft going. Some difficulties did present on the passage up the narrow shaft with numerous collisions and some pieces breaking away from the vessel, but eventually the vehicle careened from the mouth of the shaft into the Martian skies. Mr Chaffield made heroic efforts to gain control of their fate and bring them to Parhoon, but in the end they crash landed with some injuries about 50 miles short. Mr Chaffield was seriously hurt and unconscious; Lord Strathnairn and Mr McKenna had lesser injuries and remain mobile as they check their fellow travellers amongst the week old remains of the food which had been stored loosely in the bottom of the flyer.

GM's Space log entry 6

11 February 2008: Wednesday 19th June 1889 – 27th June 1889 (est): Scavengers, Beastmen and a really deep hole

Miss Davies not present

 

Being careful adventurers, the group arranged to guard the camp in three watches. Being paranoid adventurers they arranged the watches so their Martian guide was not involved. The night sky of this alien planet, so far from a city, with no clouds and two moons was entrancing and the watches passed quietly until a couple of hours before morning when Mr Chaffield, having the watch heard the yipping noise of a roogie pack. These scavengers being similar to wild dogs can be dangerous and Mr Chaffield readied his rifle, neglecting however to raise the alarm. When the animals rushed into the camp, Mr Chaffield shot one and cunningly dove into the mouth of the nearest tent for cover, barrelling over Mr McKenna in the process. Unfortunately, not knowing what was happening, Dr Scrowte came out of his tent to help and was overpowered by the roogies, while Mr Chaffield and Mr McKenna picked them off from the opening of the tent. Lord Strathnairn called for his heavy gun and also came out to help. The roogies were run off, but unfortunately Dr Scrowte had been badly mauled in the leg. The servants were barely able to stop the bleeding and he remained unconscious for 2 days. During this time Mr McKenna directed the building of a brushwood wall around the camp and cared for the doctor while Mr Chaffield and Lord Strathnairn hunted with little luck.

When the doctor did awaken it was felt that given the severity of his wounds he should be given a few more days to heal before they set off further into the hills. Compassion not appearing to be a major issue for a number of the adventurers.

Another two days passed with little luck in the hunting, aside for the sighting of a couple of gashant herds which prompted musings on the practicality of catching and taming the beasts. Fate however had other plans.

Late in the afternoon, a couple of hours before dark and just after the travellers had sat down to their dinner; a flying vessel was seen approaching from the north. As it approached and the binoculars were produced, the vessel was identified as a High Martian screw galley. The Beastmen had entered British territory. The adventurers scattered to cover at the brush wall except for Lord Strathnairn who ran to the riding animals. The screw galley fired on the camp, scattering or killing most of the animals including Lord Strathnairn’s beloved horse. In response to Mr Chaffield’s shouted suggestion, Lord Strathnairn then ran towards the attacking vessel, only to be wrestled to the ground by a mob of the flying Beastmen despite his gallant resistance and the help of his manservant. Mr Chaffield shot one of the attackers and Mr McKenna ran into his tent to collect the dynamite crate. On coming out he found much of the rest of the tent being destroyed by cannon fire and Mr Chaffield, wounded, surrounded and surrendering. With the still injured doctor lying under the brush wall pretending to be dead and Lord Strathnairn captured he was left with little choice but to surrender. The humans were taken prisoner, even the doctor, but the Martian guide Kaaraahn was slaughtered before them.

The humans were chained to the crank of the screw galley and made to work for the couple of days it took the vessel to return to Kraag Barrovaar (except for Mr Chaffield who kept pretending illness until the beastmen whipped him unconscious. It was for the best really.)

Once in this mountain fortress the mad King Hattabranx gloated over their fate and certainly painful demise as he handed them over to the Worm Cult priests for sacrifice. The adventurers were all kept in separate dark cells for a time before being dragged out and led deep under the Kraag through a maze of tunnels to an ancient temple and ill boding alter (somehow adventurers always seem to notice the blood channels).

The adventurers tried to fight their captors and their fate, to little effect, with even Mr McKenna’s strength elixir not enabling him to overpower his guards, and Lord Strathnairn was lifted bodily on to the alter. As the knife was put to his neck there was a crackle of static and a loud voice proclaiming in a Martian language none of the adventurers knew. With another crackle of static the voice was gone, and the adventurers were taken away from the alter, and led through further dark winding tunnels to a ledge over a mighty chasm deep in the mountain. Again the adventurers fought as the Martians threw them into the depths, with Lord Strathnairn and Dr Scrowte taking with them one of the High Martians each. Unfortunately they could fly and returned to their fellows while the humans fell through the darkness. Some screaming may have been involved, but the speed of their fall soon became great enough to make breathing difficult. Then those adventurers still conscious felt themselves slowed by a force they could not feel the touch of, as if repulsed in some way, before falling again. They counted a dozen or so of these barriers before falling into a patch of light and deep water. Most of the humans had been untied before being thrown in, except for Lord Strathnairn who had been so dangerous in his escape attempts they left the manacles on him when they sent him to his expected death. Nonetheless, as the only member of the group able to swim it fell to him to get out of the pool of water and rescue the others. Mr McKenna’s remaining strength elixir proved itself by allowing Lord Strathnairn to break his manacles before re-entering the pool.

The group, with an unconscious Mr Chaffield, found itself in a large cavern with strips of lighting hanging from the ceiling and metal buildings grouped around the pool. Leaving Mr Chaffield, Allen, Miss Davies and Ann next to the pond, Lord Strathnairn, Mr McKenna and Dr Scrowte began to explore. The dust in the cavern was inches deep and almost everything in the buildings had rotted away to dust itself. They have so far found a number of things of interest:

  • Several bodies which do not appear to be quite human or Martian in a mummified state, either hanging from wire, chained at the bottom of the pool or locked in cells, and all wearing strange clothes of a metallic like cloth,
  • Two devices apparently designed for tunnelling,
  • A stock of uncut emeralds (Lord Strathnairn, Mr McKenna and Dr Scrowte have taken some each),
  • A decrepit ether or aerial flyer,
  • An auditorium with a frightening display of ghostlike images.

The group then decided to rest before continuing the investigation.

GM's Space log entry five

4 February 2008: Tuesday 28th May 1889 – 18th June 1889: Departure, a canal boat ride and difficulties

While the party were at the stock yard inspecting the livestock and equipment their guide had acquired for them, a figure in a brown hooded cloak, believed to be a canal Martian, shot at Lord Strathnairn with a bow, striking the wall behind him twice before Mr McKenna was able to get him down behind the cover of a cart. Mr Chaffield tried to charge the assailant, but by the time he could reach the building the felon had fired from, they had fled.

Back at the hotel, the group encounters Dr Scrowte again and engage him to provide medical services to the expedition for 10 pounds a month + food and travel equipment. A timely investment.

That night, a group of Martians armed with muskets and daggers invaded the hotel with the apparent aim of killing the expedition members before they could depart. Dr Scrowte had some luck using a chair to fend off the attacker who entered his room, Lord Strathnairn resorted to his sword and Mr McKenna tried his sleeping gas in a perfume atomiser while Mr Chaffield hid under a bed.

All did not go as one might expect however. Mr McKenna had a mishap with the atomiser which not only put Lord Strathnairn’s attacker to sleep, but also Lord Strathnairn, his valet Allan and Mr McKenna himself. Dr Scrowte was eventually overcome by the attackers and Mr Chaffield’s ploy of hiding under the bed allowed him to trap two of the attackers in his room when he leapt past them into the corridor. There Mr Chaffield attempted to fight off the remaining attackers but was in turn worn down and passed out from his wounds. Luckily Miss Davies was able to finish of the last few with a sudden attack from behind.

Lord Strathnairn and Mr McKenna awoke and a doctor was sought to see to the wounded. In the morning Allan was sent to the Meepsoori Sprite and persuaded the captain to delay his departure for a small payment. Mr Chaffield and Dr Scrowte were carried on board on stretchers and the boat departed about midday on the 29th of May. Later in the day the captain and owner of the Meepsoori Sprite learns that they are being hunted and once again is persuaded by the offer of more money not to leave them. The other passengers debark, being more cautious.

As it turned out the 12 day trip to Parhoon was picturesque rather than dangerous, and no troubles were encountered during the day they spent in the city of Parhoon itself. Another 6 days saw the party safely to their drop off point midway down the Parhoon – Gorovaan canal.

Once ashore the party advises the guide Kaaraahn that they wish to travel to the Keyhole Spire marked on their map. He advises against this as it is over the border into High Martian territory. They are adamant however and he agrees.

On their first day travelling though the hill country, 18th June 1889, they encounter a herd of the antelope like eegar and shoot a couple. Lord Strathnairn discovering his elephant gun might be a bit over powered for medium sized game and Mr Chaffield proving a fair shot. The party intends to spend a couple of days to prepare the skins and settle the riding and pack animals after their long canal voyage.

GM's Space log entry 4

28 January 2008: Saturday 25th May 1889 – 27th May 1889: Contacts and provisions

Having had dinner with the Governor of the Crown Colony on Friday night, Lord Strathnairn, Mr Chaffield and Mr McKenna set out to locate the contacts they have on Mars. The Governor of course was easy for Lord Strathnairn to locate and he was, over a couple of days able to determine for Lord Strathnairn that the explorer Edward Forgarth was out of town and unavailable for the immediate future. Mr McKenna checked in with the shipping agents he was using and Mr Chaffield hunted up his old friend Lt Howard, RMC.

Miss Davies learned her brother was stationed with his Battalion in the city of Avenel.

Operating out of the suite Lord Strathnairn had taken at the Dorchester Hotel (Syrtis major) where the other two gentlemen took smaller rooms, preparations proceeded.

When Miss Davies and Dr Scrowte arrived on Saturday, they also took rooms.

Mr Chaffield intimated to his friend that the expedition was hunting treasure and needed a guide to the area north of the Parhoon – Gorovaan canal. Lt Howard arranged a meeting with a guide of reliable reputation for Sunday in a tavern near the waterfront and after Sunday service these three gentleman went down to meet him. Lord Strathnairn’s choice of kilt and highland broadsword was thought to be less than discreet by his companions.

Having met Kaaraahn, a canal Martian from Haat, and liking the cut of his jib, they engaged him for a hunting expedition into the area they wished to explore for a fee of 10 pounds for a three month period.

They instructed him to procure 7 riding gashant, 8 pack gashant, fodder, waterskins and some simple equipment and to find them passage to Parhoon.

On Monday the gentlemen went to the outfitters for the rest of their equipment such as food, extra tents and cots, tools, etc. They passed on a case of dynamite as it was expensive and Mr McKenna had been carrying a 100 stick case in his trunk.

The detail of the party’s equipment does look more like a tomb raiding expedition than a hunt, but possibly not at a distance.

Kaaraaahn informs the group that he has booked passage as instructed on the Meepsoori Sprite which departs on Wednesday the 29th May 1889.

City of Grover’s Mill

City of Grover’s Mill

800 ton ether liner, Edison Trans-Etheric Company

One of three liners owned by this company which are the fastest in merchant service.

People on a ship

Crew

Captain Harris

Lieutenant Garfield

Lieutenant van Hoerk

Doctor Clarke

Engineer Bruce McIvar

Purser David Trafield

Chief Steward Franklin Washington

Steward Albert Jefferson

Steward George Grant

 

Passengers

Mr Hiro Motobayashi

Mrs Akiko Motobayashi

 

Miss Mai Motobayashi

Juni Takamitsu

 

Mr Hiram Pressburger

Dr Anne Pressburger

 

Lord Strathnairn

Allan (servant)

 

Miss Venetia Davies

Anne (servant)

 

Mr Chaffield

Mr McKenna

 

Mrs Jane Hall

Gladys Nicholson

 

Mr William Cratchet

Dr Arthur Scrowte

 

Captain Allan Forham USMC

Mr Gerald Ambrose

 

Mr Anton Moretti

Mrs Rita Moretti

 

Steerage

Bunch of Irish immigrants (no-one in the party dealt with them during the trip)

GM's Space log entry 3

21 January 2008: Friday 18th January 1889 – 24 May 1889: Final preparations, a voyage and an arrival

New player:

Dr Arthur Scrowte, ex-Royal Navy surgeon and sometime drunkard

As it turned out, there was no more shopping desired by our intrepid heroes and with more time than expected before their departure, Lord Strathnairn arranged for most of the party to practice their skill with firearms at the estate of a friend near London. Mr McKenna, not having any skill to practice, spent the time gathering information on Mars and assorted scientific papers with which to occupy the voyage.

Lord Strathnairn received a letter from his father pointing out the family didn’t have an ether flyer and so his request to use it must reluctantly be refused. Being well connected as the Earl of Seaforth, his father did however send him a letter of introduction to Lord Charles William Cavendish, 3rd Baron Chesham and Governor of the Crown Colony of Syrtis Lapis on Mars.

Eventually, the time for departure was upon them and the party met in London to catch the train to Southhampton in time to catch the SS Aurania on 2nd February for the trip to New York. Their baggage including a fairly substantial supply of alcohol between that of Lord Strathnairn, Mr McKenna and some carried by Mr Chaffield.

On the trans-Atlantic passage the group fell in with A Dr Scrowte who was also travelling to Mars. He, it turned out was an ex-Navy surgeon which was felt to be a useful thing for his travelling companions.

Heavy seas delayed the arrival of the SS Aurania in New York by a day. The group took rooms in a New York hotel for the night of 10th February, and in the morning travelled to Lakehurst NJ. With a day to spare, they took rooms at a hotel run by the ether line. Lord Strathnairn exercised the horse he was taking with him to Mars (at great expense) and Mr McKenna arranged a tour of the Edison facilities in which he was joined by Miss Davies and one or two others.

The City of Grovers Mill departed Lakehurst at noon on 12 February. The flight to Mars was, for the most part, long but not overly exciting. The passengers all got to know each other quite well given the amount of time spent in each other’s company. Dr Scrowte unfortunately was not able to continue his trans-Atlantic attempt to remain sober. A situation which Miss Davies took advantage of to learn his history; discovering that he had in fact been discharged from the Royal Navy for drunkenness and was travelling to Mars to earn a living at a distance from his reputation. Mr Chaffield seemed to take greater than normal offence at Dr Scrowte’s bouts of extreme drunkenness and took to striking him across the face each time Dr Scrowte was discovered in the gallery legless. Perhaps it was part of Mr Chaffield’s in flight exercise regimine.

The generosity of the rest of the party with their spirits did not assist the doctor in any attempts at sobriety.

Mr McKenna befriended the ships engineer with a small amount of effort and a few bottles of scotch, studying intently the ship systems with a special interest in the power supplies.


Mr Chaffield began to pursue Mrs Hall, and continued with some success on learning she was recently widowed. They finished the trip something like friends.

On the 43rd day of the trip, 27 March, a crossing over ceremony consisting of much tom foolery and hijinks was held for those who had not made the passage previously (everyone in the party except Mr Chaffield).

Life aboard continued in it’s settled way for another three weeks until the fateful morning of 17 April 1889 when the passengers were awoken shortly before their normal hour of waking by a series of tremendous banging impacts and a shuddering through the ship. Mr McKenna, on leaping into the corridor in his nightshirt realised from the violent passage of air that the ship had been holed forward and raced to find the location of the damage and shut of bulkhead doors. Mr Chaffield threw on his dressing gown and knocked on several doors to ensure the other passengers were awake before rushing to the luggage area of the ship to retrieve his revolver. Miss Davies, having also put on dressing gown and slippers apprised that the gentlemen were responding to the emergency returned to her room to be out of the way. Lord Strathnairn began dressing and Dr Scrowte remained in happy oblivion to the panic of most of the rest of the passengers.

On reaching the gallery, Mr McKenna discovered the air being pulled up the two stairs to the bridge and officers quarters area of the ship too strongly for him to navigate and, calling for assistance, attempted to close the bulkhead door to the first staircase. He had got the door partway shut, when Lord Strathnairn, being advised by his valet that Mr McKenna had warned of a hull breach and was asking for assistance, ran up to help. His considerable bulk and strength allowed them to finish closing the door and they struggled across the room towards the other. In the meantime, Miss Davies having heard Mr McKenna’s warnings, and her realising that the situation was not being resolved quickly enough, sallied from her stateroom with her maid Anne in an attempt to reach the second stairway in the gallery. As the air became thinner and more difficult to breath, Mr McKenna passed out, as did Miss Davies, leaving Lord Strathnairn to close the second bulkhead door.

Mr Chaffield ran up with the engineer and some crew he had rounded up in the back of the ship and helped restore order as the Baron took command of the situation. A venture outside in space suits confirmed that everyone on the bridge or in the officer’s quarters at the time had been killed either by the shower of small meteorites or from the loss of air, and some damage to the solar boiler alignment controls.

A period of a week was spent making the minimal repairs possible, which were much facilitated by Mr McKenna’s welding equipment and expertise, Mr Chaffields mechanical experience from his Artillery days and Lord Strathnairn’s strength. Of some importance was the work done by Dr Scrowte in preserving as much of the forward greenhouse growth, damaged by exposure to the cold, as possible as this allowed the continued generation of breathable air in sufficient quantities to give hope of finishing the voyage, as Miss Davies’ attempts to generate oxygen chemically proved fruitless with the available resources. After moving the large telescope and orrery from the gallery to the bridge, Mr McKenna was left to calculate a course to Mars, which by luck and lack of experience, proved to be somewhat shorter than the remainder of the original course and subject to greater hazards. Fortunately the greater risk, unknown to the party, did not eventuate into further damage. This allowed Mr Chaffield to pilot the ship to Mars and arrive at the orbital heliograph station Foresage on 21 May.

The majority of the passengers were offloaded at the station, including Miss Davies who did not feel her skills would be of assistance and Dr Scrowte who felt that if there was a crash in attempting to land the ship, a doctor who had not been aboard might be of more use, and that someone should accompany Miss Davies.

With a volunteer trimsman, Mr Chaffield then attempted to land the City of Grover’s Mill at Syrtis Major with the patched up controls and his basic familiarity with ether flyer operations. Lord Strathnairn and Mr McKenna donned spacesuits and went outside to secure the solar boiler once the ship entered atmosphere and was of no use and some danger if it were left to swing freely. Having done so, and perceiving a greater danger in attempting to re-enter the vessel while Mr Chaffield wrestled with the controls of the ship (which was in freefall), they elected to secure themselves to the outside and ride it down.

Thanks to perfect conditions and the work of his two companions, Mr Chaffield landed to ship with little to no damage and no injuries on 22 May 1889.

Lord Strathnairn, Mr Chaffield and Mr McKenna are the heroes of the hour and are being made much of over the next couple of days while Miss Davies and Dr Scrote arrange to travel to the surface by shuttle. The doctor’s useful work in maintaining the air supply in the ship has ensured that at least for now any adverse reputation which may have followed him is being overlooked.

GM's Space log entry 2

14 January: 13 January 1889 – Friday 18 January 1889. Deciding on a trip and preparations.

After Sunday service in the village church, the visitors to Croft Castle, together with Lord Strathnairn, met with Mrs Knight in the sitting room. Mr McKenna showed everyone the map and letter Mr Knight had asked him to look at and explained the story which had accompanied them.

It was quickly decided that a group should travel to Mars in order to follow the map, which could be identified by Mr Chaffield as being of an area to the north of the crown Colony of Syrtis Lapis.

Mr Tarrion and Mr Mellish were otherwise promised for the next month or so, but Miss Davies, Mr Chaffield, Mr McKenna and Lord Stathnairn committed to following through on the venture. It was decided Mrs Knight should receive a full share of any treasure found as the group would be following her husband’s map.

Lord Strathnairn sent off some telegrams enquiring about passage to Mars and to family contacts asking if there were anyone with experience on Mars with whom he could meet.

Mr Chaffield assured Mrs Knight that he intended to track down those behind her husband’s murder and see them brought to justice.

Miss Davies and Mr Chaffield stayed at Croft Castle to help with arrangements for the funeral while Mr McKenna moved into the inn so as not to intrude on the widow’s grief. Lord Strathnairn stayed with his friends in the area.

In Monday Mr Chaffield went over his old contacts to see if there were anyone who might be able to help provide him passage to Mars, but unfortunately there was not. He did however note a friend from the old days with whom he had remained in contact and who might be of help on their arrival: Lt Ernest Howard of the Royal Martian Constabulary. They had both been Artillery officers and served together in the Aerial Service.

Lord Strathnairn received replies to his telegrams which provided the departure dates of the next couple of ether vessels leaving Britain for the Crown Colony on Mars and the prices for passage which were higher than had been hoped. First class berths on an ether liner to Mars costing some 300 pounds and servants 60 pounds. This caused Mr Chaffield some consternation as he did not currently posses funds sufficient to purchase a first class berth.

Lord Strathnairn was also given details of a reporter who would be willing to meet him in London the following day and who had extensive knowledge of the Crown Colony.

On Tuesday the 15th, Lord Strathnairn and Mr McKenna travelled to London to meet the reporter Royston Bingham at the Explorer’s club.

Mr Bingham was able to provide a great deal of background information about conditions in and around the colony, and at the request of Lord Strathnairn, provided the name of a reliable guide who might be contactable through the Explorer’s club in Syrtis Major: a Mr Edward Forgarth.

Lord Strathnairn took the time to send off a telegram to his father the Earl, asking to use the family ether flyer and then sent to a reputable gentlemen’s outfitter requesting them have someone attend him at his hotel. He ordered a number of suits of clothes suitable for Mars for himself and his servant, and MrMcKenna also ordered a couple of suits. They also placed orders for camping outfits for the three of them.

As it was still only late afternoon, Lord Strathnairn insisted on a visit to a gunsmith. Here he purchased an extra rifle and a revolver for himself to fill a perceived gap in his battery, a rifle for his manservant and a revolver for Mr McKenna as a gift. Not to mention the suggested amounts of ammunition, belts, cleaning kits etc. Then with the greatest of luck they passed Wilkinson Sword on the way back to the hotel and Lord Strathnairn was able to by a basket hilted claymore suited to his Scottish heritage.

Mr McKenna and Lord Strathnairn returned to Croft Castle early Wednesday morning for the funeral. Later they briefed the others on the information they had gathered. Lord Strathnairn avoided Mr Chaffield’s temporary embarrassment of funds by offering to lend him the fare for the passage to Mars. Mrs Knight had also provided her cousin with a further 50 pounds.

On Thursday 17 January, Lord Strathnairn and Mr McKenna returned to London. Lord Strathnairn booked the passages, after discovering that the quickest available passage to Mars (aside from trying to find room on the vessel leaving Sunday) was to catch a steamer to New York on 2nd February and one of the Edison Line’s fast liners to Mars on 12th February, since the City of Grovers Mill was 20 percent faster than any liner used by another line. Of course the steamer tickets were and extra cost. The current course to Mars is 252 million miles and the Grovers Mill is expected to take a mere 84 days to get there.

Mr McKenna went shopping for a special item which he arranged to be freighted to Mars.

Lord Strathnairn made sure to send a letter off to Edward Forgarth by the mail ship which departs Sunday. Mr Chatham purchased a Lee-Metford rifle, the same make as those bought a couple of days before by Lord Strathnairn

and a camping outfit.

Miss Davies had also travelled to London and purchased a set of rough living clothes, a camping outfit and 100 rounds for her .32 calibre revolver.

GM's Space log entry 1

Sunday 6 January 1889 to late night Saturday 12 January. Introduction, two deaths and a map

The players:

Mr Ian McKenna, inventor and commercialiser of inventions

Mr Stephen Franklin Chaffield, ex-artillery and aerial service officer

Miss Venitia Mary Davies, amateur detective and adventuress

Lord Graeme Wilberforce Horatio MacKenzie, Baron Strathnairn (late arrival)

 

Mrs Adele Knight of Croft Castle had a weekend planned from Fri 11 January to Sunday 13 January 1889 (more or less). Attending from the Saturday would be Mr Jonothan Tarrion FRS and Mr Reginald Mellish, the lunar explorers. Mrs Knight was also aware that her husband Mr Sampson knight was taking some type of interest in Mars. She sent invitations on the 5th, arriving on the 6th for Mr Chaffield and Miss Davies. Mr Chaffield who is a second cousin and in need of assistance in finding a position and Miss Davies was an old school fellow who had recently helped out some of Mrs Knight’s friends. Mr Knight sent an invitation at the same time to Mr McKenna with whom he had done business producing Mr McKenna’s sleeping gas for hospitals. This was in the hope that he could get some sensible conversation over the weekend and as he had a matter on which he wished to seek Mr McKenna’s opinion.

All three agreed and arrived by the same train at 2:30PM on the Friday, in the rain. They shared the carriage to the castle and followed some fairly normal country house pursuits: tea, chatting, dinner, more chatting, breakfast, shooting and chatting etc. Mr Knight showed Mr McKenna a map purporting to show the location of an ancient Martian King’s tomb and a warning letter received by a now late previous owner. Not the usual thing Mr Knight would pursue, but with a string of deaths attached to it, he was thinking it might be genuine. He left the map and letter with Mr McKenna to study.

The explorers showed up after lunch by the 2:30 train and more chatting, tea, chatting and dinner ensued as the group got to know one another. Mr Chaffield spoke of his Mars experience with the Aerial Service until its ships and duties were handed over to the Navy whereupon he resigned his commission. Mr McKenna talked somewhat of his inventions and interest in biology, discovering that Miss Davies had a keen understanding of chemistry. Of course everyone was interested in the adventures of Mr Tarrion and Mr Mellish (who is also a reporter).

During the night, Miss Davies, intending to sneak into the study and discover the topic of Mr Knight and Mr McKenna’s discussions, slipped downstairs in her dinner dress but noticed the light still on and paused to listen. Hearing a cry of pain and sounds of a struggle, she burst into the room to discover a 7’ tall Martian had killed Mr Sampson Knight and was stealing some papers. She chased him outside before realising it was not safe to pursue alone and screamed for help. Mr McKenna and Mr Chaffield ran down in various stages of sleeping attire to discover the situation and spent a few minutes throwing on a few clothes and shoes. Mr Chaffield also grabbed his revolver.

Mr Chaffield, then Mr McKenna ran after the culprit, but heir wind flagged and they would have lost him if Miss Davies had not caught up with them on a horse from the stables. Miss Davies got Mr Chaffield up behind her and came up on the fleeing felon. Mr Chaffield missed with his one remaining shot, only to have Miss Davies hand him her light revolver which she had recovered from her room. They brought down the Martian and Mr Chaffield tied him up, only to discover he had burnt the papers during the delay for dressing.

Mr Chaffield and Miss Davies returned to the house with the prisoner to discover Lord Strathnairn, who had been visiting in the neighbourhood and heard shots. He had of course ridden over to offer assistance and was comforting Mrs Knight over the loss of her husband.

The police took away the Martian, but the prisoner managed to take poison and die during the night.