Major Joseph Arbuthnot-Stout, a British army officer, is asked to escort a group of eighteen Anglican missionaries led by the Rev. Chumley to Dolki Kraag, the home of a savage tribe of High Martians. To assist the major in this are Mr. Rodney Sullivan, a hunter and guide; Viscount Holderness, a brave nobleman; and the viscount’s companion Miss Mellisande Baker-Smythe. Upon arriving at the kraag, the implacable hostility of the chieftain, N'dilli, and the priests of some Martian cult make it clear that the 'escort' will need to remain to prevent a massacre. A High Martian warrior, by the name of Goompley, is given to Arbuthnot-Stout’s service by the chieftain.
After the tensions between the 'Red Men' and the Martians reach a boiling point, Major Arbuthnot-Stout engages the chieftain of Dolki Kraag in a duel -- which he wins! This unexpected victory makes Arbuthnot-Stout the new Chieftain of Dolki Kraag, and heir to all the prior chieftain’s appurtenances, rights, harems, and other perquisites. Some of the warriors are unfazed by this, but the priests of the Worm Cult are most wroth. The missionaries are also somewhat wrothed by Chieftain Arbuthnot-Stout's easy assumption of the uncivilized, not to mention pagan, ways of the kraag.
Mr. Sullivan attempts to supplant the Worm Priest in a similar fashion to Arbuthnot-Stout's accession to the kraag throne; alas this fails, and the party must perforce prevent the Worm Priests from putting Irishmen on the Worm’s menu. In a strange turn of events, with the death of the Worm Priest our Mr. Sullivan begins having odd dreams -- dreams perhaps sent by the Worm itself! Subsequently, Arbuthnot-Stout plans to cement his hold on the loyalty of his warriors by leading an attack upon another High Martian kraag, Barrovar.
A party was given by Lt. Colonel Arbuthnot-Stout to celebrate both his election to Parliament, and the almost immediately subsequent appointment he received to the position of Governor of Mercury. A mysterious death of one of his guests caused suspicion to fall upon any number of persons with possible motives, but the mystery was quickly solved, and the responsible party turned over to the authorities.
Arbuthnot-Stout also asked several of his friends to assist a young woman, Miss Catherine Olsza, whose father has possibly been imprisoned by the tyrant of a minor Martian empire. Fortunately for Miss Olsza, several persons volunteered to accompany her to Ogygis:
-- Lord Holdernesse
-- Miss Mellisande Baker-Smythe
-- Major Lawrence Holley
-- Miss Violet Pemberly-Waite
-- Mr. Adrian Bartle-Phelps
-- Mr. Jonas Atherton
Having left Earth aboard the RMS Syrius Queen on December 30th of 1891, the group tried to remain sane and healthy during the 80 day trip to Mars. But ... only two weeks away from their destination, a cruel Belgian assassin struck down a fellow passenger. After more murders and criminal skullduggery, the culprit was apprehended -- but nearly at the cost of Miss Baker-Smythe's life.
After arriving on Mars at the British-held city of Syrtis Major, the characters needed various amounts of recuperation from both the effects of ether flight, and from the wounds which some of them received. After a couple of weeks, even Miss Baker-Smythe had recuperated from most of her injuries. News from Earth by interplanetary heliograph: Lord Kitchener was appointed Sirdar of Egypt in February -- news to gladden the heart of any red-blooded (or stomached) British officer. The Duke of Clarence died on January 14th, at the age of 27. Anarchist bombs are exploding in Paris.
Alas, while Miss Pemberly-Waite and Miss Olsza were visiting a native market in the city, they were accosted by vile Worm cultists! The cultists made off with Miss Olsza for some evil purpose, although some of them were roughly handled by Miss Pemberly-Waite. A captured cultist yielded little information, and the police and Earth citizens of the city organized search (err, vigilante) parties to find Miss Olsza. With the help of a private detective, Mr. Medford, the characters were put on the correct track: the terrible tunnels below the Jade Palace. Undaunted, they armed themselves and proceeded into the depths. Traps and beasts vied for their lives, but our heroes pressed on until they arrived at the hideous subarean precincts of the Worm Temple. Slaughter and swordplay, death and daring! Major Holley fell sorely wounded while being the first to cross the final bastion, and had to be left in the antechamber while the remainder pushed into the grim temple itself.
Within the grim temple of the Worm Cult, the Earthlings beheld a terrible sight -- a crowd of depraved and drug-addled cultists surrounding a grim sacrificial pit and altar. Chained and ready for sacrifice were half a dozen young women, all Martians except for Miss Olsza. With hardly a word, the Earthlings raised their weapons and opened fire! The cultists, urged on by a sly, ancient priest, turned and advanced at a run, waving daggers and croaking some vile Martian chant. The entry to the temple channeled their attack into the muzzles of the Earthling's guns; soon the hall was covered bloody Martian gibbets. Despite their casualties, they pushed forward, climbing over their dead and wounded fellows, desperate for the red man's red blood. Some managed, with their last breath, to slash and stab at the heroes. The evil priest seemed unfazed by the flying bullets, and attempted some sort of fakir's trick on the Earthlings -- a trick which eventually ensnared Mr. Bartle-Phelps.
Tricks or not, the Martian horde was no match for righteous British wrath, and our heroes advanced over the fallen foe. A tremendous worm, no doubt some beast of the sewers trained by the priests, had appeared during the battle to devour a couple of the Martian maidens; but Miss Olsza was spared from its greedy maw. The priest summoned a lesser worm-beast which managed to fasten its horrible, circular mouth upon Miss Pemberly-Waite's back; but it fell to the bullets of the Earthlings just as the priest, wrestled to the ground, was stripped of his strange accoutrements and slain.
All of the adventurers but Miss Baker-Smythe were more or less injured; the constables who accompanied them went to summon aid. Soon the party was hauled back into the honest sunlight, to the cheers of the human community! Before the day was out, military engineers planted dynamite charges in the worm temple, and blew it to bits.
After a month in hospitals, the group boarded the monthly steam packet flier Phobos for the trip to the Coprates, departing Syrtis Major on May 1st. Wending its way south through the recently-conquered Oenotrian Empire, and then westward roughly along the Martian equator, this vessel is one of two (the other being its sister-ship the Deimos) which offer (very expensive: 50 pounds for first class passage) travel connecting the two major human-inhabited areas of Mars. Some of the group continued their recuperation during the trip, which (including stops at Oenotria, Deltoton, Sabeus, Serpentis, Pandora, Pyrrhae, and Tobaansor -- the last four all within the Tossian Empire) takes three weeks to reach the city of Nectar (the ship proceeded without the characters on into the Coprates proper, ending its voyage at Nieuw Amsterdam).
Meanwhile, on Earth ... the opera I Pagliacci opens in Milan.
The packet flier was escorted for the last couple of days before reaching Nectar by a pair of Nectarese aerial vessels; anti-human sentiment is strong in this region, due to the vicious practices of the Belgians in the Coprates (" ... if anything, worse than the Congo."), and pirate attacks on human vessels are very possible. Nectar itself is an independent princedom, allied since 1889 with the kingdom of Siam on Earth, and with the Tossian Empire to the east. Siamese military advisors, and several Siamese military units, are present; the Nectarese have received large numbers of breechloading rifles from their human allies. Naturally, Belgium and France are upset with Siam; Siam is however strongly allied with Denmark and Germany.
The party planned on spending only a few days in Nectar -- learning of conditions in Ogygis and of Professor Olsza -- before proceeding on board a Martian merchant kite to Ogygis itself, a thousand miles to the south. This trip should take four or five days; the characters might reach Ogygis as early as May 28th. The last letter Miss Olsza received from her father left Ogygis about August of 1891. Information about Ogygis is in short supply.
The party reached the city of Nectar on May 23rd, and spent a day wandering the streets and markets of that embattled city. Curious rumors about Ogygis were revealed ... Major Holley was politely detained by the Nectarese and Siamese authorities on suspicion of aiding the Ogygisians, but this concern was soon allayed.
After a four-day trip to Ogygis aboard the rather decrepit merchant kite Illegitimate Vodeep (of Swiss registry), the Earthlings were (after some indignities at the hands of Ogygisian customs) deposited at the landing-stage of Ogygis -- an imposing but charmless city, full of ice-encrusted statues of Haldis the Golden. The security services of the Empire were ridiculously blatant in their watchfulness; Major Holley in fact soon met a 'seductress' (first class, no doubt) who tried to seduce him with her alien charms.
After a night of rest in the imposing hotel provided for "foreigners", the members of the party went about their business: Mr. Atherton and Miss Pemberly-Waite paid a call on the court of Haldis, where they were told of the great engineering projects in hand. In fact, Professor Olsza was discovered to be working in the Ogygisian laboratories; he warned the party of schemes by Haldis to conquer Mars and perhaps even earth with some sort of ancient 'launcher' uncovered nearby. Prof. Olsza was also revealed as being responsible for the glowing 'radium pods' and for the ether ray guns of the Ogygisian forces.
Over games of cards, during innocuous walks through the snowy streets, and in noisy shops, the Earthlings discussed their findings, and learned of the terrible scope of Haldis's ambitions; ambitions that he seemed suddenly all too capable of satisfying!
Over the next two days, Major Holley wormed important information (such as the location of a steam flyer) and a pistol out of the shapely spy sent to seduce him; Mr. Atherton began tinkering with the imported machinery at the flooded site of the giant "super-gun".
A typical 200 HP stationary pumping engine might be a single-cylinder Corliss type, driving a ten foot diameter flywheel, weighing about 9 tons and costing £3,000 or so. The 'Eclipse' boiler is probably about five feet in diameter and fifteen feet long. The attached Westinghouse Duplex pump is capable of raising 600,000 cubic feet of water a day to a height of 40 feet, through a 24" pipe. Take a look at this example, and another example.
Miss Baker-Smythe investigated the local flora, and accepted a beguiling request by the Emperor to work in his 'Science Tower'; and Miss Pemberly-Waite discovered some old Martian machines deep underground near the "super cannon" site. After questioning Professor Olsza, she also learned of the terrible "zombie ether soldiers" being created for Haldis' army.
Mr. Atherton requested bottled air, soda lime, batteries, etc. to be used in a diving bell he was creating (out of the "unacceptable" boiler) to explore the depths of the super-gun ("To ensure it's not blocked, and to install our pumping machinery, my dear Antipalic."). This of course was actually to be used as the "hull" of a possible escape craft -- the Perdurable Sardine. He and Miss Pemberley-Waite, with the nominal assistance of Miss Olsza, continued organizing the work at the super-gun site, a few miles from the city, near the base of the cliffs.
Major Holley infiltrated the Tower of Science through the sewers, obtaining a guard's uniform, codling-chopper, and Remington rifle to boot.
Miss Baker-Smythe and Mr. Atherton met with Prof. Olzsa again.
On the 2nd of June, Mr. Atherton dove 700' in the bore of the super-gun using the Perdurable Sardine, discovering a spherical object at the bottom of the bore -- an unfired projectile? Miss Pemberley-Waite showed him the caves in the cliffs, and the various magma-tech areas within them. They began devising a plan to use the magma to destroy the super-gun; this would require some tunneling by their Martian staff, which will have to be carefully managed to avoid suspicion.
In the days that followed, Mr. Atherton and Miss Pemberley-Waite worked on the pumping station at the super-gun, and Miss Pemberley-Waite and Miss Olsza built a tiny ether propellor for the Perdurable Comet. A small quantity of explosives was needed for tunneling, it turned out ... and the Ogygisians were free to take all the security precautions they wanted. A surprise inspection by Grand Vizier Silko gave the engineers a start, but he was lulled by their explanations for the various projects. The Earthlings also discovered the presence of Professor Hans von Gruber, a Saxon inventor, within the Tower of Science; he was apparently the source of some of Haldis' most malignant discoveries. Miss Baker-Smythe continued her researches on a possible anti-Haldis compound.
Meanwhile, on Earth ... the Sierra Club is founded in San Francisco, June 4th.
At the work site, the tremendous Corliss engines were hard at work. One was "out of service" (due to, ahem, boiler trouble); one kept the surface water (rain, runoff, whatever) at bay; and the other four were mounted on liftwood platforms (which had to lift about fifteen tons of engine + boiler + pump each). Each steam pump could pump out 40 feet of the super-gun 'bore' in about four hours; they could thus pretty quickly clear out the bore to a depth of about 150 feet. After that, the clearance rate decreased as the pumping arrangements became more complicated. A couple of small tunnels, each at least 600 feet long, also had to be dug.
Mr. Bartle-Phelps met with, and gave instructions to, the Ogygisian Freedom Force, in various covert places. They begin drilling and spying, per his instructions.
As the tensions mounted in Ogygis, Major Holley and Saphranus attempted once again to penetrate the Tower of Science, in search of its secrets. They were driven off in a running gun-battle with the guards; however, their identities were not (so far) discovered. Sophranus mentioned in passing that she has access to the building containing the Ministry of Haldis's Sweet Swift Justice. Miss Baker-Smythe sent a message to Prof. von Gruber, asking him to drop by for a cup of coffee ... or something stronger.
During the now-routine morning trip by ruumet breehr caravan to the works, Miss Pemberly-Waite and Mr. Atherton were attacked by a band of mad High Martians dacoits, who easily defeated the escort. Mr. Atherton shot and clubbed a few, but Miss Pemberly-Waite created bloody havoc among the attackers. Only a handful were left to fly slowly away, no doubt to report their failure to Prince Juma. Their goal was obviously to capture Miss Pemberley-Waite alive, to satisfy the bestial lusts of the depraved High Martian prince.
An Ogygisian cavalry unit eventually arrived -- but not before Mr. Atherton and Miss Pemberly-Waite had hidden the escorts' Remington rifles and ammunition in the howdah of their ruumet breehr. Fortunately, neither of them was seriously injured, although both had scratches and bruises. Atherton took the opportunity to demand that he be allowed to carry his personal weapons to and from the works, and asked further that Miss Pemberly-Waite be given weapons to defend herself.
The Ogygisian military is mobilized by the Emperor in response to the attack on Miss Pemberly-Waite and Mr. Atherton; the Emperor himself takes to the field. While the army is seeking out the High Martians (presumably), our heroes are confined to their accomodations. All but Major Holley, that is ... the very night after the attack, he is taken away by Justice Ministry police, and placed in the ministry tower's cells.
In the morning of the 25th, the other Terrans deliver a stiff note of protest to the palace, where Princess Amani is apparently acting as regent while her father is out of the city. The Terrans point out that unknown persons have also been attempting to creep into the Tower of Science. Her response is not heartening.
The next night, Sophranus meets Mr. Bartle-Phelps and implores him to rescue her lover. He agrees, and meets with the OFF to create a plan. After another day passes, Mr. Bartle-Phelps and his cohorts sneak into the Tower of Justice at night. The rescue goes well enough, and in fact General Zubeda is also captured; but Major Holley seems to have been adversely affected by his brief captivity.
The next morning (June 26th), Major Holley is smuggled out to the super-gun work site, and hidden in a cave at the foot of the cliffs. He seems to be reacting poorly to members of the masculine gender.
Mr. Atherton and Miss Pemberly-Waite are assured by Antipalic that the drain bores being dug should be complete by the end of the month.
Unfortunately, Miss Baker-Smythe is summoned to the Imperial palace by Princess Amani the next day, where she is presented with an ultimatum -- work for the Princess on a plan to eliminate Emperor Haldis, or see Lord Holdernesse reduced to an ash by a titanic Jacob's ladder!
Look here for Jacob's ladder information and cooking recipies.
Miss Baker-Smythe, given no other choice, agrees to assit Princess Amani in creating a slow-acting, undetectable poison to be used on Haldis. Lord Holdernesse is confined to the Tower of Science until the toxin is completed. Upon hearing of this threat, the other Terrans push forward with their plans to tame the Ogygisian menace. Major Holley is smuggled back into the city of Ogygis, and hidden in the Miss Baker-Smythe's laboratory within the Tower of Science. Mr. Atherton and Miss Pemberly-Waite create a bomb in the magma-pipe chamber, to go off at the same time as the tunnelling charges, and arrange for reviewing-stands, fireworks, and catered meals for the upcoming Clearance of the Super Cannon ceremony.
On June 29th, Emperor Haldis returns to the capital, having defeated and zombified Prince Juma. Miss Pemberly-Waite calls upon the Emperor, to announce the imminent completion of the gun-draining project, and to invite His Imperial Protruberance to the grand, uh, draining. He agrees, but, taken by her Terran beauty, requests that she meet him for a banquet that night.
At the banquet, Miss Baker-Smythe presents the Emperor with her new "rejuvenating stimulant"; but the Emperor suspects a trick by his daughter, and requests that the Vizier have Princess Amani test the new drug. Miss Baker-Smythe detects some hidden passion in the Vizier. Miss Pemberly-Waite plays upon the Emperor, trying to convince him that a massive show of military force at the cannon draining ceremony would enhance his stature and ... desirability (ugh).
Mr. Atherton sends a request to the Vizier that security be tightened for the great Draining Ceremony, as there have been attacks on himself and other persons connected with the project; and of course the Emperor will be present.
A new chief of Ogygisian security, General Ptah, puts in an appearance at the Super Gun. He is a suspicious, hulking Hill Martian. The date for the draining ceremony is set for sunset the next day (July 1st).
Major Holley has several close calls, as he attempts to hide from the Ogygisians in the Tower of Science. He and Miss Baker-Smythe in fact have to dispose of Antipalic, when that tiresome supervisor discovers the Terran.
On the day of the ceremony, Mr. Atherton and Miss Pemberly-Waite head out to the Super Gun site, and set up their "triangulator platforms" some few hundred yards from the muzzle. Meanwhile, Miss Baker-Smythe has taken Miss Olsza and their servants into her lab at the Tower Of Science; and Mr. Bartle-Phelps heads literally and figuratively underground to make the final preparations for the revolution!
Several hours before sunset, the Emperor arrives at the Super Gun, on his steam yacht. Great choruses of Ogygisian children proclaim his greatness; cavalry regiments evolve and pirouette, while legions of infantry stand stock still or march past. Bands and orchestras play Martian and Terran airs, while flower petals and shimmering glitter falls from the fleet overhead. Delegations from the subject cities, tribes and regions present gifts and make long orations. After an hour or two of this, distant gunfire can be heard -- the rebels are attacking early! Their attack barely disturbs the festivities, but one group of rebels reaches the outlying "triangulator platform" and slaughters the guards; Mr. Atherton is injured by a rebel knife before Miss Pemberly-Waite drives the band of rebels away. The Imperial forces react quickly to the rebel attack, and Mr. Atherton is sent in a screw galley to the Tower of Science, where Miss Baker-Smythe treats his wounds.
At sunset, the charges set to drain the Super gun go off, followed by the secretly-placed charges in the Magma chamber -- and a colorful display of Martian fireworks. A great geyser of steam shoots out of the gun (somewhat eclipsing the artificial fireworks), accompanied by Mars tremors felt even in the city -- three miles away! Miss Pemberly-Waite quickly ducks out of the "triangulator platform" through the escape hatch, starts a stampede among the ruumet breehrs and gashants, and begins running towards the city. Behind her, great flashes of flame and sheets of lightning boil up through a cloud of steam and smoke -- flaming bolts of magma are thrown up to half a mile by the eruption. Workers, soldiers and spectators flee or perish on the ground, as many of the Ogygisian ships reel flaming out of the cloud tops, or plummet to an explosive end!
Meanwhile, the residents of the Tower of Science take the tremors, rightly, as the sign to begin their escape. Rescuing Professor Olsza is relatively easy, but a deadly gun battle takes place outside of von Gruber's laboratory. Fortunately, British courage and resolve defeat the guards in the hallway; amid gunsmoke, spent shells, blood and gore, the Terrans advance upon the evil laboratory ...
Von Gruber has barricaded himself within his laboratory, guarded by Ether Zombies and worse. Fortunately, he is taken prisoner without further combat when Mr. Atherton uses a ruse unworthy of a small child. At the same time, Mr. Bartle-Phelps arrives, leading a team of doughty Ogygisian rebels, and the various servants which the Terrans brought to Ogygis.
Proceeding further upwards, the Terrans come upon the chamber where Lord Holdernesse is held prisoner. While Major Holley negotiates with the Hill Martian guards, Miss Baker-Smythe and Miss Pemberly-Waite contrive an entrance to the chamber, and covertly rescue Lord Holdernesse from the Jacob's Ladder of Death. Holley fights a duel with the Hill Martian captain, defeats him, and gains the allegiance of the score or so tribesmen. The Terrans set some fires and proceed to the top of the tower, where they and their Martian cohorts easily overpower the few guards protecting a small courier kite. Bidding the rebels adieu and good luck, the Terrans set out in the kite, along with the hill tribesmen as gun-crews (or at least receiving a rapid training in 6-pounder gun handling from the Major, who is fortunately experienced in commanding low foriegn artillery crews).
Great palls of smoke tower to the northwest of Ogygis, as Mars vents its tectonic bowels in a majestic display of fire and death. The residents of Ogygis flee hither and thither, as the last remnants of the army and navy stagger and reel away from the eruption. Statues of Haldis plummet from their high perches in the city, killing many of his subjects; military draft and cavalry animals add to the chaos by stampeding across the sea-bottom and through the streets.
Aboard the courier and scout-kite Golden Bird of Haldis's Eye are the Terran adventurers (Lord Holdernesse, Major Holley, Mr. Bartle-Phelps, Mr. Atherton, Miss Pemberly-Waite, Miss Baker-Smythe, Professor Olsza and his daughter Catherine, von Gruber (as a captive)), seven servants and a score of Hill Martian tribesmen. With some awkwardness, they begin setting sail in preparation to flee Ogygis.
The Emperor is nowhere to be seen; has he perished in the eruption, or at the hands (or feet) of the rebels?
Neither the Terrans, their servants nor their Martian allies have any experience at sail-handling, either at sea or in the sky. Their kite glides relentlessly south, with little hope of diverging from the course that puts them in peril of the polar storms. To make matters worse, a pair of Ogygisian screw galleys are eventually sighted, gaining on the escaping kite.
After a stern chase of some hours, the galleys come within gun range of the kite just as it reaches the polar shelf. Bouyed up by the tremendous winds, the Terrans are temporarily taken out of reach of the Martians -- but are now in the whirling, snow-filled winter storm above the polar glaciers. The screw galleys continue of the pursuit, no doubt mindful of some dreadful punishment for failure. The ships dance in the hail-filled storms, glimpsing each other only at close range -- now above, now below. Sailors are flung from the rigging, to perish on the jagged ice below. Mr. Bartle-Phelps glimpses a strange pyramid to the south, through the mist and wrack.
A particularly heavy gust dashes one of the screw galleys to the glacier, where its flywheels wreak bloody havok among its crew. The Terran kite crashes as well, but luckily with much less force. As the remaining Ogygisian ship drops an assault force on the ice, and prepares to shell the wreck, the adventurers and the surviving allies scramble down into a crevasse. Major Holley sets a charge in the wrecked kite's magazine, and -- just as a trio of heavy shells strike the wreck -- blows it to flinders. The Terrans and their allies cannot retreat now, but the Ogygisians will not follow easily, even if they think any could have survived the blast.
The crevasse proves to be a crack in the icy roof of a Martian canal, below the ice. The canal's floor is inexplicably warm, enough so that a trickle of water courses its way north along the wide bed. The party follows it south, finding evidence of peculiar life-forms dwelling even here; and a hint of greenery in the breeze from the south. After passing a couple of intersections, the party camps on the canal floor. During the nite, a blind albino ice cave sabre beaked canal worm attempts to devour a sleepy Martian sentry -- but a quick shot by Major Holley slays the beast.
Of the twenty or so Hill Martians who agreed to serve under Major Holley's command, only a dozen or so remain. The expedition's supplies are similarly reduced.
Prowling further under the polar ice, the Terrans and their assistants came upon a number of strange craft, some apparently of Earthly make and some Martian, crushed under the snows. Beyond these craft was a great dome under the snows, warm and well-lit inside by some strange science; it contained lush vegetation and strange 4-armed, furry men -- Jovians!
The party approached the Jovians and learned that these strange beings spoke many languages, including English. They claim to server a the "Ancient One", a being from the age of Martian greatness -- or even before? They were able to provide healing salves for the party's many wounds, and placed Maj. Holley in a "healing sarchophagus". Afterwards, the Terrans were presented to the "Ancient One", a Martian woman of great beauty and intelligence. She answered some questions, and confirmed that men from Earth had come to her dome at least a couple of times before. The party was invited to stay at the dome while healing from their battles.
Their fears allayed, the Earthlings settled down to rest, given every comfort by the Jovian servants of the "Ancient One". However, upon the next morning, two of the Hill Martian tribesmen were missed ... perhaps taken by the blind ice worms?
With the disappearance the next night of Miss Olsza, Miss Pemberly-Waite and two more Hill Martians, however, any thought of "ice worms" was proven wrong. The Terrans organized a search of the dome, and found the Jovians to be blandly and politely unhelpful. Eventually, a secret door leading into the depths was discovered, and our heroes pointed this out to the Jovians -- who were even less believable than before in their protestations of innocence. The Terrans and some of their allies plunged into the depths, in search of the missing men and women ...
While the party descended into the depths below the "Ancient One's" dome ...
Miss Pemberly-Waite and Miss Olza returned to consciousness in a subarean laboratory, nearly naked and strapped to grim tables surrounded by ominous machinery. Using her superior Terran strength, Miss Pemberly-Waite freed first herself and then Miss Olza from the tables, and overcame the trio of insectile "Cave Martians" who were preparing to perform some unspeakable act upon the Earth women. One Cave Martian was captured, and the others escaped through small holes. The womens' inspection of strange and alien machines with the aspect of medical equipment led them to discover the captured Hill Martians, slowly being transformed into ice cave worms by "medical" sarcophagi!
Making their way out of the laboratory, the women found themselves in a sort of museum area -- where they met with the other Terrans, coming down from the surface! When informed of the cruel acts apparently performed by the Jovians, Cave Martians and the "Ancient One", the Earthlings were properly outraged, and questioned the captive Cave Martian and Jovians closely. The ludicrous story presented is more or less as follows:
"Eh, red planet dies, grows old, grows cold ... Ancient One, she saves Mars, saves the men of Mars, their race will live even when ice covers all planet. Yessss, she bring men, makes worms of them, releases them into ice; they roam, they eat. Womensss? Oh, nooo ... not worms, not them. Ancient One, she extracts their, ssss, vitals ... organsss? Yess ... for keeping her alive, you seee ... "
Aside from the ludicrous aspects of this supposed plan (How do male worms reproduce? What kind of idiocy views turning men into worms as "perpetuating" anything? Why is it that the Ancient One can regenerate Major Holley's entire midsection, but must continuously cull parts from healthy women for her own use?), it seemed clear that the Ancient One was intent on a great, evil plan. The feebly obstructive Jovians claimed to know nothing about how the Ancient One brought men and women here, and announced that she was away, "travelling". The Terrans realize that the dome of the Circean "Ancient One" was surrounded by the debris of countless ships, somehow lured here, their crews devolved into worms or vivisected for her pleasure.
The Terrans, investigating the Ancient One's dome and strange possessions, came to the disturbing conclusion that she somehow traveled in some super-scientific way to other times and places, by a method described as "tele-portation" by Miss Pemberly-Waite. An encounter with an armed, agressive woman in the lower halls of the dome led the Terrans to attempt the use of the strange 'portals' at the back of the exhibit niches -- specifically, the one leading to Syrtis Major.
Their amazement and concern at finding themselves in Syrtis Major soon gave way to relief. Von Gruber escaped from Mounted Constabulary custody before the explorers could establish their bona fides ... which Lord Holdernesse and Mr. Atherton were able to do fairly soon. The explorers established themselves in the house on the Syrtis Major side of the portal very quickly, and requested military aid from the Governor-General. Colonel Follett was sent to observe, and arrived to find a tense sort of stand-off between the explorers and the "American Army"!
British Authority in Syrtis Major
Lord Dundas, Governor-General of the Crown Colony (also Regent-Commissioner for Parhoon and Gorovaan)
Lt.-Col. Winchell Follett, military aide to the Governor-General
Maj-General Frederick Walker, CB, CMG; commander of the Capitol Brigade
-- the Capitol Brigade consists of a battalion of the Highland Light Infantry, two battalions of Martian infantry, two battalions of Martian garrison/fortress artillery, a company of Royal Engineers, a section of RA gatlings, the local Mounted Constabulary, and Co. A of the 62nd St. Johns Fusiliers (Amazonians).
Our heroes, quartered in the subterranean palace of the Ancient One, are devising methods of detecting, solidifying, and destroying her. The insectile Cave Martians launch a feeble attack, and are subsequently driven off by hot, soapy water.
A few days after the Cave Martian attack, the Terrans are set upon by hordes of blind albino etc. worms, driven to a mad frenzy by an eerie fluting. Jovians, with their strange heat-rays, are also present in the attack. After a ferocious battle, in which two of the Canadian Amazons and one of the Hill Martians are killed, the worms are slaughtered, along with a couple of the Jovians. Who exactly is behind the attack, provoking the worms, is unknown. In the depths of the Ancient One's palace, strange energies are being released, to the consternation of the American scientists.
Prompted by the insistent warnings of the American scientists, the Terrans and allies rush to the surface, and travel north for two hours across the dimly-lit, bitterly cold icecap. An Ogygisian kite is seen to be approaching, just as the Ancient One's atomic furnace explodes. The blast destroys the kite, and leaves a mile-wide lake of steaming water on the icecap. The Britons begin taking stock of the situation, and prepare for a hard trudge to the edge of the polar continent. Fortunatly, just at that moment, a steam-galley approaches -- the S.S. Tiberius, sent by the colonial authorities to find the Ancient One's palace! Her commander, the dashing Lieutenant Tolliver, had seen the explosion and ordered full speed ahead. The grateful Britons, Canadians, Martians, etc. board the ship, happy for even the cramped quarters of a warship.
After three weeks of travel, the Tiberius arrives at Syrtis Major. The Canadian Amazonians are congrratulated, the American soldier-women are given tickets to "return" to their country, the two American scientists are going to join Prof. Olsza in his work, and so forth. Miss Pemberly-Waite and Miss Baker-Smythe prepare summaries of their scientific discoveries; Mr. Bartle-Phelps writes up the thrilling story of his adventures.
For obscure reasons, which seem to somehow involve an explosion at the Belgian Consulate, Lieutenant Tolliver is challenged to a duel by the Belgian cultural affairs attache, Msr. Fouchard. Major Holley is to act as his second; Miss Baker-Smythe as physician in attendance; and Atherton and Bartle-Phelps will be on the lookout for sharpshooters. The duel is to take place early in the morning of August 16th, 1892.
In the courtyard of an abandoned, crumbling old Martian palace in Syrtis Major, a duel takes place at dawn: Lieutenant Tolliver meets Msr. Fouchard on the field of honor, while evil Belgian plots are afoot. Fortunately, Mr. Atherton and Mr. Bartle-Phelps foil the plots, and Tolliver runs Fouchard through. However, the colonial authorities deem it prudent to order Tolliver's return to Earth, as duelling is no excuse for murder in British territory.
Thus Lt. Tolliver finds himself aboard a Cunard ether liner, the RMS Ruritania, for the 90 day trip to Earth; he thus accompanies Lord Holdernesse and company upon their own return home.
Our stalwart British heroes return to Earth and England, and are received with some interest by the public, press, and government. Miss Baker-Smythe and Miss Pemberly-Waite continue their researches, preparing technical papers and hoping for the approval of the scientific community. Major Holley begins work on the first example of his Pneumatic Armor, with which he hopes to revolutionize modern warfare. Mr. Bartle-Phelps gives a well-received series of speeches in England and on the Continent, and writes a serialized history of the recent adventures, entitled "An Ogygisian Adventure, or the Perils at the Pole." Mr. Atherton spends a lot of time being sociable and trying to forget the money spent on his Armstrong Juggernaut.
Winter's grip on London is easing ... in a few weeks the Oxford and Cambridge races will brighten the lives of Londoners. Although Society has not entirely begun to return to London, Parliament has re-gathered for the Queen's speech. A new political party, the "Labour Party", is being formed in England. The colony of New Zealand has recently decided to give its women citzens the right to vote; and naturalist Mary Kingsley is exploring West Africa. The most important bill expected to be placed before Parliament this year is the "Irish Home Rule Bill." A periodical titled "The Studio" is spreading the fashion for Art Nouveau -- and Aubrey Beardsley -- among the artists of England and the Continent. In the United States, two Clydesdale horses have set a record by pulling 48 tons on a sledge. The famous inventor Mr. Thomas Edison has just begun making motion pictures in a new studio (the "Black Maria") constructed for that purpose in West Orange, New Jersey; the first "close-up" in movie history depicts a sneeze. The rank of Chief Petty Officer has been established in the American Navy, which is launching its first true battleship, the USS Indiana (11,000 tons, 13" main guns, not commissioned till 1895). The American president, Grover Cleveland, has won re-election. Frank Lloyd Wright has produced his first significant work, Winslow House. The island of Hawai'i in the Pacific Ocean has cast off its monarchy and been declared a republic. Rudolf Diesel has perfected a new form of internal combustion engine. Anton Dvorak is living in New York City, composing his soon-to-be-popular "New World Symphony". The German inventor Borchardt has designed and is selling a self-loading magazine pistol.
But today, Londoners are all abuzz with the news of last night's discovery of a Giant Devil Chicken in St. James' Park, within sight of Buckingham Palace! The strange bird, a native of Venus' bogs and swamps, was spotted by Lieutenant L. Tolliver while travelling by carriage on the Mall. He dismounted, gave chase and was able to capture the beast near the Serpentine in Hyde Park, after a chase of nearly three-quarters of a mile. Lt. Tolliver took the Chicken to the nearby Explorer's Club in Pall Mall. By the morning, crowds had gathered to view the bird; Mr. Bartle-Phelps announced that it would be taken to the Zoological Gardens for study. The mystery of how the Giant Devil Chicken (v. pullus diabolicus giganticus) came to London remains unsolved.
A few days later, Miss Baker-Smythe and Major Holley are each sent poisoned phonographs by a man claiming to be the brother of Dr. Hans Wortmann, slain by Holley and Lt.-Col. Arbuthnot-Stout in 1890. Baker-Smythe was able to avoid the strange gas emitted by the phonograph; but Holley, and several members of the Army & Navy Club, were overcome by it. Miss Baker-Smythe is able to diagnose some of the effects of the gas as similar to the de-evolving fluid invented by Hans Wortmann. The phonographic records each carried a threat
Friday, March 10th: Lord Holdner is to present his report on Venus tonight, at the Royal Geographic Society (1 Savile Row). The expedition to Venus returned a few weeks ago, having spent 2 years exploring the surface of that hot, humid world -- and he alone survived. His description of the so-called "Temple of the Sun" is expected to be the highlight of the evening -- but instead, Lord Holdner is murdered by a poisonous dart fired by a Venusian lizard-man! The lizard-man flees the building, towards St. James' Park, where he is apprehended by the brave Lt. Tolliver! The lizard-man is found to be marked with a tattoo of a turtle ...
The next day Miss Pemberly-Waite recounts her adventures for a solicitor named Flenser, or rather for the benefit of his anonymous client. That evening, with Lt. Tolliver in hospital, recovering from the mauling he received at the hands (and jaws) of the lizard-man, our stalwart heroes gather to ponder their next course of action. Examining the facts of the case, they conclude that Hans Vortmann's brother is probably behind the Devil-Chicken, Lizard-man, Victrola, and Electro-phant attacks. A course of investigation is laid out.
Upon the following day, Miss Baker-Smythe, hoping to investigate the nature of the Devil-Chicken, visits the Zoological Society Garden in Regent Park, where she discovers the bird to have been ... um, abducted during the night! A watchman, found somehow mysteriously dazed and insensible, is awakened with the help of Miss Baker-Smythe's pharmaceutical knowledge, and describes a woman with long, flowing black hair as being one of the felons. Mr. Bartle-Phelps, arriving on the scene, uses his keenly-tuned hunter's skills to determine that a man -- and a woman -- escorted the Devil Chicken between them to a waiting carriage, sometime in the wee morning hours.
Miss Pemberly-Waite brings Lt. Tolliver back from St. Bartholomew's Hospital, placing him in a room at Holderness House on Park Lane.
Mr. Atherton, meanwhile, has been attempting to discover the fates and whereabouts of the remaining survivors of the Holdner Venusian Expedition. Of the three remaining members, two are apparently in England: Professor Milo Trimmer, a specialist in Venusian biology, resident at York; and Mr. Dennis Culverton, residing in London. Atherton makes contact with Culverton, who summons him to his home ...
So far undocumented.
So far undocumented.
So far undocumented.
So far undocumented.
So far undocumented.
So far undocumented.
In the year that has passed since the last episode, some events of note have occured:
The Irish Home Rule Bill was rejected by the House of Lords. -- The Japanese defeated China in a short war around Port Arthur (November 1893 - February 1894), at the end of which Japan took possession of Korea, Taiwan, and some other territories. Other nations took advantage of China's weakened state to establish more cantonments and treaty ports, as well. -- The Mauser firearms company begins sales of its own automatic pistol, to compete with the Borchardt. -- Anarchists have assassinated President Carnot of France. -- Commandant Esterhazy writes (in April 1894) the famous bordereau which reveals French military secrets to the Germans, and which will later be used as evidence against Captain Dreyfus. -- Italian inventor Guglielmo Marconi develops a practical etheric signalling apparatus, producing and detecting Hertzian waves over short distances (a few kilometers). -- The Tower Bridge opens in London. -- A bulletproof vest is demonstrated to the British army in London by a German inventor, Dowe. -- Major military powers are experimenting with high-explosive shells, containing compounds such and lyddite and melinite; these still have a tendency to burst upon firing however.
Chun Li, a Chinese martial-artist converted to Christianity, arrives in England at the home of Miss Pemberly-Waite. He bears a message from her father, warning of plots and danger in China, fomented by various members of the Imperial court (notably Ling Fu Shan). As Commander Tolliver has been given command of the armed flyer HMS Elizabeth, she departs for China on the 18th, along with Chun Li. Other passengers aboard the Elizabeth include the American journalist Miss. Tennessee Morris; and the reknowned Major L. Holley of the Bengal Artillery.
Puzzled by the fragments of coal sent to her by her father, Miss Pemberly-Waite eventually determines them to be contaminated with a Venusian microbe of some sort -- a plague which gradually destroys the lifting power of liftwood!
During the voyage, news reaches the Squadron that an anarchist has killed President Carnot of France. The assassination was carried out in Lyon.
The British Aeronaval Squadron arrives at the China Station on July 5th. A meeting is immediately held by the Allied commanders, to consider their course of action. At the Hotel Metropole, an attempt is made on Miss Pemberly-Waite's life that afternoon; a Russian troublemaker Vladimiroff is suspected of complicity (having disguised himself as an English missionary), and is tracked to the "Twisted Whale" warehouse on the waterfront.
Our heroes break into the Twisted Whale, finding a few Chinese workers destroying shipping crates; also present are several dacoit guards, who fight fiercely (and perhaps as if drugged). The dacoits are slain, and one of the laborers is taken away, along with some shipping labels from the crates; the adventurers do not wish to explain how the battle came to be.
Upon later examination, the papers show many shipments from Western companies -- Mauser, Westinghouse, Mannlicher, Edison, Armstrong, United States Steel -- to China over the last six months or so. Most of these shipments were repacked at the Twisted Whale warehouse and sent onwards to T'ien-Chin (later known as Tientsin, now Tianjin).
In the meantime, however, the decision is made to rig the flyer "Elizabeth" as a kite (due to several members of her crew having Martian experience), and to send it down the coast for an investigation of the broken telegraph lines. Tragically, Mrs. Phipps is kidnapped by unknown persons from her hotel room, and another guest of the hotel is found murdered!
The efforts of the settlement police, and especially the sub rosa efforts of Chung Li, determine that Miss Phipps was taken away in a salt-wagon, along the road to T'ien-Chin. A detachment of the Settlement Mounted Constabulary (an irregular unit, mostly made up of Westerners with prior military experience) sets out to rescue her; our heroes accompany them.
At an unremarkable country villa halfway to T'ien-Chin early in the morning of the 6th, the wagon is discovered, and Mrs. Phipps rescued from a group of dacoits. The only one of her captors to survive is a Manchu, apparently the villa's keeper; he provides the disturbing fact that many other kidnapped persons have been moved by Ling Fu Shan's minions to Peking.
An attempt on Chung Li's life leads our heroes to the Taku home of Chin Fu, an old martial arts master who has been blackmailed into killing Miss Pemberly-Waite. He fails, filled with bullets by her friends; but declares his attack was not personal, but rather forced on him by Ling Fu Shan.
Reports are circulating in the press: "All the foreigners, including 400 soldiers, women and children, who held out at the Peking legations, till ammunition and food were exhausted, have been reported to have been killed." The truth of these reports is not too clear.
On the morning of July 7th the "Elizabeth" departs Taku, bound for Shanghai and Foochow; the journey to Shanghai is expected to take about 3 days, and to Foochow another day. A dozen American marines, commanded by a sergeant, are put aboard to protect the vessel (they cannot yet take part in offensive actions against Chinese forces).
On July 9th, General Nieh, commanding the Imperial troops at Tientsin, is killed in combat; there are reports that he deliberately led a hopeless attack.
Arriving at Foochow on the 10th of July, a number of European gunboats and cargo ships are seen at the river mouth; also, there are signs of an attack on the telegraph station, near the shore. Upon landing, our heroes learn that a half-dozen pirate junks attacked the station on the night of the 5th, killed several of the staff, and cut the submarine cables! The pirates tried to drag the cables away into the ocean, but dawn came before they got too far. Western gunboats sank 4 of the 6 junks.
One of the cables has been retrieved, and is expected to be back in service the next day (July 11th); it is the Eastern Telegraph Company line south to Hong Kong. The "Elizabeth" is to remain overnight at Foochow, to transmit her cargo of war dispatches if the line is truly working in the morning.
However, after midnight, a force of a dozen or so Boxers land -- via large kites! -- on the deck of the "Elizabeth" by stealth, and attempt to destroy the vessel. They are unable to force their way to the bridge, and Captain Tolliver finds and pitches overboard the infernal device they had placed aboard. One of them is made prisoner, and is forced to tell what he knows (he was recruited in Foochow, at a secret Boxer temple in the town, a week or so ago).
In the morning of July 11th, the engineer of the Elizabeth informs the captain that the liftwood is losing its efficacy faster than before. Miss Pemberly-Waite does some calculations that indicate the vessel has at most four days before it cannot remain above even the ocean surface. The submarine cable to Hong Kong is put back in service at dawn, also, after Herculean efforts by the employees of the telegraph companies. Several encrypted messages are received for Western diplomats and commanders at Taku and Tientsin (and in Peking, for that matter); along with more general news.
One news item of note: the German "East Asia Brigade" was warned of the Liftwood Rot menace in time to avoid coaling in Turkey, and has returned to Germany for the moment. French infantry and artillery units are sailing up the Chinese coast, bound for Taku; in fact they passed by Foochow on the 7th. Forces from India should reach China about July 27th. The United States government has joined the hostilities against China as of the 10th; many of the coded messages are for the American ships and troops in China.
The "Elizabeth" travels back to Taku, propelled by the strong southern winds, and arrives just after sunset. They learn that Vice-Admiral Seymour has rejoined his squadron afloat, leaving Captain Bayly as senior British naval officer at the coast. Brigadier-General Dorward is now in overall command of the British forces; he and the other national commanders (now including the Americans) are planning for the final attack on Tientsin early on the 13th. Russia, Japan, France, Germany, Austria, Italy, Britain (including the colonies), Belgium and Siam are all contributing troops. The French contingent is much enlarged today by the arrival at Taku of the troops from Indochina (3 battalions of infantry, and 2 mountain gun batteries)
Also, the Chinese "jail keeper" captured on the 6th has informed the Allies that he -- and probably all of Ling Fu Shan's minions -- have strict orders to slay their captives rather than let them escape or be rescued. He knows that there is a place in the "native" city of Tientsin where the hostages are kept; with the help of an engineer, Herbert Hoover, a cistern within Tientsin is chosen as the likeliest location of Ling Fu Shan's "prison".
During the 12th, the newly-arrived French forces are moved inland to join with the forces facing Tientsin; and the American Marines are now allowed to take full part in the attack, as well. When the Japanese forces are approached for information, they offer troops (led by Lt. Fujima) and an intelligence agent (nicknamed Toukon). Also, the British commanders learn (in the coded dispatches brought by the "Elizabeth" from Foochow) that the orbital heliograph station "Harbinger" went suddenly silent on the 10th. The British government is "beginning an immediate investigation", probably involving the aether battleship "Duke of York".
Thus early in the morning of the 13th, nearly a hundred Japanese troops, Toukon, Major Holley in his Pneumatic Suit, and all of the other heroes are silently (more or less) lowered into a back street of Tientsin by the "Elizabeth". The cistern building is easily located and broken into; the Boxer guards quickly slaughtered, and the prisoners freed; but Ling Fu Shan has a deathtrap prepared! Plus, tens of thousands of Boxer troops are now alerted to our heroes presence in the middle of the town! And, one of the rescued prisoners is Prof. Olsza, who was forced to construct a small aether drive for the chinese; another, an Italian scientist, provided them with the design for an enormous Heat Ray, which focuses the power of the sun's rays. Note also that the orbital heliograph station is already equipped with a set of mirrors nearly one hundred feet in diameter, capable (in Olsza's words) of "creating a beam of ravening energy which can tear a battleship to atoms!" Note also that the heliograph is in the Earth's shadow from 7:30 am to 8:30 am, China coastal time.
Major Holley, in the Pneumatic Suit, begins a brave attempt to clear the blocked drain leading from the cistern to the river outside the walls ...
The rescued prisoners are: Professor Olsza, Dr. Oritanno (an Italian expert on optics), Mr. Ericsson (an American inventor famous for creating automata), Prof. Suirigaku (a Japanese armaments designer), and Dr. Lenoire (a French physicist). Each of them has one or more loved ones in the clutches of Ling Fu Shan!
After Major Holley clears the drain from the cistern to the river, rushing water carries him down to the drain's outlet. Forcing his way through the bars, he wades onto the embankment, under the guns of the Boxers. His companions arrive soon after, leaving the Japanese troops to cover their departure.
By 4 a.m., our Intrepid Heroes and the rescued hostages are deposited by a couple of Austrian junks onto the wharves of the European settlement. After sending the ill and wounded to a hospital, they travel to General Dorward's headquarters nearby, and inform him of the threat posed to the "Duke of York" and indeed, to all interplanetary travel, by Ling Fu Shan's schemes. He re-emphasizes to Captain Tolliver the orders given earliar by Admiral Seymour -- foil the Chinese plots, and put an end to the evil governor.
Over the next few hours, a spacecraft is jury-rigged from an Italian observation ballon, two Siebe-Gorman diving suits (and parts of a third), parts from a distillery, several large lead-acid batteries, some liftwood from the "Elizabeth", and a breadboarded aether drive. Just after dawn, the balloon lifts rapidly off, carrying Major Holley and Coung Li in Impervious Suits; Miss Pemberley-Waite and Captain Tolliver in modified Mk 5 diving suits, and Miss Morris and Mr. Phipps in a sort of "melange" suit. Upon reaching 25,000 feet altitude, they engage the aether drive, and quickly enter the vacuum of space (where the balloon's envelope immediately bursts). Travelling around the planet and up to the heliograph station's altitude takes half an hour or so; the station is briefly sighted just as it slips into the Earth's shadow.
Sadly, debris from the "Duke of York" is floating about the station. Coming up behind the station, the adventurers enter an air lock, and begin the crude, bloody task of re-taking the station. Nearly 20 Boxers are aboard, having been brought up 3 or 4 days ago by a Chinese zeppelin. Captain Tolliver is badly wounded, as is Miss Pemberley-Waite; but the hostages are freed before the Boxers can destroy them.
There is no sign of the Chinese zeppelin ...
The staff of the heliograph station begin the process of repairing the mirrors; and within half a day contact is re-established with London. Great interest is shown in the contents of a magazine dedicated to inventions: the February 1894 issue of Science and Invention.
An aether tug, the Goliath, quickly arrives with Marines, doctors, and the like; the prisoners, and our heroes, return to Earth aboard the same vessel, arriving mid-day at the Greenwich naval field.
After a quick brush-up, the adventurers are taken in carriages to London. On the way, they read the day's newspaper accounts (morning papers of July 14th) of the loss of the Duke of York. Arriving at the War Office on Pall Mall, they enter to find themselves being presented to the War Cabinet: Mr. Henry Campbell-Bannerman, the Secretary of State for War, a genial Scotsmanapparently interested in the heroes' success; Earl Spencer, the First Lord of the Admiralty, with a long, red beard; Admiral Sir Frederick Richards, First Sea Lord; the Duke of Cambridge, commander-in-chief of the Army; and numerous other great men of the Empire, and their attaches, secretaries, adjutants, and orderly officers.
After briefing the War Cabinet on the progress of the war in China, the menace presented by Ling Fu Shan, and the plans for an Allied expedition to relieve Peking, our heroes wait while discussions occur. Admiral Richards remarks (in regards to the heat ray attack on the Duke of York, and the submarine behemoth), "... the whole British fleet has been morally scrapped and labeled obsolete at the moment when it was at the zenith of its efficiency and equal to practically all the other navies of the solar system combined." To which Earl Spencer replies, "More ships, but ships of all sizes; it is squadrons we need in space, not just aether-battleships. The Duke of York was lost on a mission fit for a sloop; and large numbers of aerial fliers can make short work of this Oriental behemoth." The Duke of Cambridge, entirely unable to comprehend technical matters, does contribute, "There is a time for everything, and the time for change is when you can no longer help it." Later, Campbell-Bannerman remarks that, "We must strongly request that our allies refreain from methods of barbarism; the Japanese, Russians, and Germans are set on breaking China by terror."
The cabinet provides Commander Tolliver with dispatches for General Gaselee, and informs him that he is to return in the morning to China, charged again with bringing Ling Fu Shan to justice, or at least to an end. Our heroes are congratulated, and sent over to the Grosvenor Hotel for a well-deserved rest -- although some of them rush about London gathering equipment.
On the morning of July 15th, the Goliath lifts off from Greenwich again, now bearing weapons of war, specialists for the armies in China, and the adventurers. A Japanese diplomat is also aboard the aether tug, bearing a copy of the newly-signed treaty which ends special consular status for Britain in Japan.
After a quick jaunt through space, the Goliath depostis two Armstrong steam juggernauts, a velocipede gun-carrier, a French canon automobile, two aerial scout fliers, two personal conveyors, some supplies, and several dozen people quickly on the ground at Tientsin; it rapidly returns to space, to avoid the "liftwood rot". The adventurers quickly are taken to meet General Gaselee and the other Allied commanders; there is much discussion of the Chinese submarine behemoth. Miss Pemberly-Waite sets up her ether-detectors in an attempt to locate Ling Fu Shan.
The city of Tientsin has been looted and burned by the Allies; bodies still lie in the streets, and the river is choked with corpses. Some 750 Allied soldiers were lost in the attack; thousands of Chinese were killed. The weather is intolerably hot and dusty.
During the next day (July 16th) Commander Tolliver organizes his crews for the scout fliers; Miss Pemberly-Waite locates an aether signal coming from near Peking; and plans are made to bring hope to the besieged legations. At sunset, the two scout-fliers take off, bearing Major Holley in a suit of Pneumatic Armor, along with the adventurers, and half a dozen or so sailors; all bound for Peking!
Just after midnight, the two scout fliers descending into the Legation district of Peking, to a joyous reception. After reassuring the beseiged inhabitants that at least two scout flier-loads of women and children would be rescued, one of the fliers proceeded towards the Ming Palace, some twenty miles northwest of Peking. There, the adventurers destroyed a large zeppelin-hangar by dropping kerosene bottles with burning wicks onto it. The hangar seems to have been the place where the Submarine Dreadnought was seen by some of Ling Fu Shan's minions.
Further etheric waves were detected emanating from the Kinghan Mountains, further to the northwest -- these mountains separate China from Mongolia; the Gobi Desert lies beyond them. The trip of 150 miles took about 8 hours; in the morning the flier found itself among river gorges and forested cliffs. A hidden cave was detected and attacked; it proved to be a secret airship-lair for Ling Fu Shan's forces; many of those forces seem to be dressed as troops of the Imperial household guards, well-trained and equipped. They were supported by mechanical scorpions, a most fearsome beast. The zeppelin "Moon of Retribution" arrives, but the superior agility of the scout flier soon makes the zeppelin a helpless hulk. The flier attempts to tow the zeppelin back towards Peking, but the damage done to the Chinese airship during the capture causes it to descend steadily. Eventually, the British set it afire within sight of Peking.
The scout flier again descends to the Legations, just after midnight, with a couple of prisoners aboard.
Arriving again on the grounds of the British Mission, Commander Tolliver begins ferrying more of the Europeans out to the advancing Allied forces. Women, children and the wounded are given priority. Most of the ferry flights are undertaken at night, when there is less chance of being shot down by the Chinese; in theory, all 600 or so of the Europeans could be removed in four or five days. However, the defenders will not agree to leave the thousands of Chinese Christians within the Legations behind to face the Boxers; and removing all of them would take over a month.
The Scout Flier crew reports on the 27th that a number of European captives are being held within the Forbidden City -- they have been seen signalling to the flier. A rescue mission is mounted on the 30th, as the New Moon makes it unlikely a scout flier will be seen in the sky. However, the captives are revealed to be the bait for a trap by Ling Fu Shan -- a cannon is hidden within the compound housing them, and Chinese troops are present in numbers! Despite all these problems, and a terrifying Scorpion Automaton, the captives are all rescued.
Rumours have been reaching the Legations in Peking of secret tunnels being mined under the defensive lines. By a combination of scientific acumen and courage, two of these tunnels are destroyed by Our Heroes; but one remains. By August 12th, the Allied relief force is but fourteen miles from Peking; but the Chinese begin a great final assault on the legations (and on the Peitang Cathedral). A terrific thunderstorm breaks over the city that same night, making flights by the Scout Fliers difficult.
The secret tunnel dug by the Chinese is used by some of Li Fu Shan's men to release a strange, narcotic vapor near the northwest corner of the British Legation. A number of Chinese troops in gas masks emerge; but Major Holley in his Pneumatic Suit is easily able to deal with them.
Imperial regulars armed with modern carbines poured into the streets nearby the next day, reinforcing the Boxers. In the evening's dim light the defenders saw a modern gun being mounted high up on the Forbidden City wall for the first time. The gun, a 2" quick-firing Krupp, does more damage in ten minutes than all the enemy's smooth-bores have achieved in five weeks; it is fortunately silenced by the defenders' small arms. Another underground mine is found at the Peitang Cathedral.
All of the defenders were at the barricades, under heavy and deafening fire (including rockets). A great final assault by the Chinese, along the Jade River, was repulsed at the cost of the Pneumatic Suit. Any further attacks might well have carried the Legations; but the Chinese retreat, and the distant sound of the Relief Expedition's guns can be heard.
By mid-day on the 14th, Allied troops enter Peking. The final casualty toll in the Legations: 66 Europeans killed, 150 wounded (no count was made of the number of Christian Chinese killed).
The Streets of Cairo! and another version: The Streets of Cairo!
The next day, American forces batter their way into the Forbidden City, but are ordered to pull back by General Gaselee. The Emperor, Dowager Empress, and the Court are discovered to have fled. Japanese troops reach the Peitang this day also.
As military operations continue, pursuing and punishing the Boxers, Peking is looted by the Allied armies. For the next several months, Chinese cities are captured, and (if resisting) burned by the Allies. Large numbers of officials and leading Boxers are executed. A new military commander, Field Marshal von Waldersee, arrives in October. By September of 1895, a peace treaty is signed; while not part of the peace treaty, the Allies insist as a preliminary that various Imperial officials must be punished for their part in the Rebellion.
Thus, among the officials executed in early 1895 was the Governor of Honan Province, Ling Fu Shan. The Empress Dowager decreed that he should be crushed by an elephant, under an iron plate; but there are some who say that the man crushed in Peking was not in fact Ling Fu Shan ...
Commander Tolliver is eventually awarded the Distinguished Service Order, and the China Medal (with clasps for Relief of Pekin and Defense of Legations -- a combination of clasps which only he and the crews of his Scout Flyers share!).
In South Africa, the British annex territory connecting Cape Colony with Natal.
The Tower Bridge opens in London.
Summer, 1894: a bubonic plague epidemic breaks out in China, and kills tens of thousands of persons over the next several years. French and Japanese bacteriologists identify the plague bacterium this year, also.
Summer, 1894: A young Italian inventor, Guglielmo Marconi, produces a practical (but short-ranged) wireless signalling and receiving apparatus.
Sir Oliver Lodge and Dr Alexander Muirhead claim to have sent a 'wireless' signal between two Oxford buildings. Sir Oliver develops a more efficient way of picking up these electo-magnetic signals using the 'Branley coherer'.
Our intrepid travelers returned to London after the siege in China. Arriving in October of 1894, they relax into a lovely holiday season.
October 15th, 1894: A French intelligence officer, Captain Alfred Dreyfus, is accused of treason. By December he has been convicted and sent to Devil's Island.
Miss Tennessee Morris and Mr. And Mrs. Phipps return to the United States to delve into the underworld of San Francisco’s Chinatown. Miss Morris’ clear expertise in the Oriental mindset brings her praise from readers and editors alike.
November 2, 1894: Czar Alexander III of Russia dies; he is succeeded by his son Nicholas II.
Coung Li returns to London with the Permberley-Waites. He continues his duties in protecting Miss Pemberley-Waite and is known to help her in her workshop from time to time. The Honorable Mr. Forrest Pemberley-Waite returns to China in early 1895 and has promised to send back any word that he might hear about Ling Fu Shan.
February 14, 1895: Wilde's play "The Importance of Being Earnest" is first performed for the public at the St. James' Theatre in London.
March, 1895: Italian forces advance into Ethiopia.
April6 th: Oscar Wilde is arrested after losing his libel suit against the Marquess of Queensbury.
April 17th, 1895: China agrees to the Treaty of Shimonoseki, recognizing the independence of Korea, ceding Taiwan and other islands to Japan and opens further ports to Western traders.
Miss Baker-Smythe continues with her researches into the properties of liftwood and the Venusian liftwood plague. Can it be killed? Can it be reproduced?
Commander Tolliver rests up a bit and fully recovers from his wounds. Praise from the Hon. Mr. Pemberley-Waite and other members of the diplomatic missions brings him great rewards in fame and opportunities to travel to places with plumbing; and in 1895, a promotion to the rank of Captain.
Mr. and Mrs. Pemberley-Waite returned to London with Miss Pemberley-Waite and the other junior Pemberley-Waites. Any number of balls and parties followed their return. In September 1895, to Mrs. Pemberley-Waite’s obvious relief ("at last!" she tells her friends), Violet’s engagement to a Captain Thomas Oliver Young, RN, (Tolly to his friends) a dashing airship captain and only son of the aging Admiral Horatio Young (ret, 1877). All the PCs were invited to the wedding (November 11, 1895) and attended as were able, along with the Olszas, and various friends of the families in the Naval and diplomatic service.
After a brief honeymoon in Paris (where a puzzled husband might remark on how often the constables comment about the positive state of the sewers since his wife's last visit), Mrs. Young retires to her workshop to continue her work on Hertzian communicators. Her new connections allow her to gain the assistance of the HMS Celeste in orbit around Mercury in some of her ethereal communication experiments. Admiral Young is also able to secure for her the services of his old Master Chief Petty Officer, Henry Dobbs, who is a naval expert in steam and ether engine mechanics.
Summer, 1895: Wilhelm Roentgen invents the first successful X-ray machine.
August 19th, 1895: John Wesley Hardin is shot in the back and killed by a policeman in El Paso.
Summer, 1895: insurrection breaks out in Cuba after promised reforms fail to materialize.
Mr. Jonas Atherton has spent the past two years on an engineering project on Ganymede. By the end of 1895, he is on his way back to Earth by way of Mars. He arrives on Mars February 17, 1896 and awaits the arrival of the passenger liner Pristine, due March 15 on her regular run between London and Syrtis Major, for his trip back to Earth.
Major Holley, having shown the true efficacy of his suit begins production of a few under contract with the Army. After seeing some service in the Chitral campaign, in November of 1895 he heads off to Africa to wrestle hippos and test a few new gadgets he has added to the Holley Pneumatic Suit. (Ladies rejoice: the Holley Suit – so wholesome for Britain’s best! Major Holley attests, "I have never been able to do anything unwholesome in this suit.") Mr. Bartle-Phelps accompanies Holley on his trip. In the summer and fall of 1896, Holley is serving as an intelligence-officer under General Sir Reginald Wingate, as part of General Kitchener's expedition against the Mahdists; and is still with that force, headed for the Sudan, at the start of 1897. Also serving (very irregularly) in Kitchener's expedition: Brigadier-General Sir Harry Flashman, VC, KCB, KCIE, KLH.
December 7, 1895: Italian forces are defeated by the Ethiopians at Amba Alagi.
December 28th, 1895: the Lumiere brothers reveal their Cinematograph, projecting moving pictures in the basement of a Parisian cafe.
December 29, 1895: the abortive Jameson Raid is launched, in an attempt to foment a revolution in the Transvaal against the Boer government. By January 2nd of 1896, Dr. Jameson is in jail.
February 11th, 1896: Oscar Wilde's play "Salome" is first presented to the public in Paris.
March 12th, 1896: the British begin the reconquest of the Sudan.
April 6th, 1896: the opening ceremonies of the first modern Olympic games, held in Athens.
Summer, 1896: Marconi comes to London and registers his patent on wireless telegraphy. He demonstrated transmission and reception on Salisbury plain using an aerial developed by the Russian Prof. Alexander Popoff; Captain H. B. Jackson was present along with the chief engineer of the General Post Office and also representatives of the British Army.
July 22nd, 1896: Princess Maud, daughter of the Prince of Wales, marries Prince Carl of Denmark at Buckingham Palace.
August 17th, 1896: gold is discovered at Bonanza Creek, Klondike, Yukon Territory, sparking a gold rush.
August 27th, 1896: Britain and Zanzibar are at war for 38 minutes this morning.
In September 1896, Governor Joseph Arbuthnot-Stout returns from Mercury so that his wife can attend her ailing father's bedside. Arbuthnot-Stout is known to comment that he is there to "attend the old boy’s funeral." Mrs. Arbuthnot-Stout also attends the International Womens' Congress in Paris.
September 20, 1896 the Youngs have a baby. The Arbuthnot-Stouts stand as godparents at the baptism of Horatio Forrest Edward Young on November 3rd, 1896. Arbuthnot-Stout's father-in-law (General Sykes-Chiffingdon) dies in late December. "Best Christmas gift I ever got!" The Governor quickly hops a ship to Mercury after that, his wife having determined to stay with her mother during this trying time -- and to become more active in the suffragism movement.
October 28th, 1896: the Italian protectorate of Ethiopia is cancelled.
November, 1896: the Brazilian government begins a military campaign against the mystical-monarchist-communist followers of Antonio Conselheiro. He leads a city of some 30,000 former slaves, escaped peasants, and other members of the lowest classes, in the semi-arid parts of the Bahia province. The first three attacks on the Conselhistas (November 21st; January 6th and March 6th of 1897) are repulsed by the spear-, axe-, and machete-armed rebels.
November 3rd, 1896: William McKinley, an Ohio Republican, is elected President of the United States (will be sworn into office next March). His opponent was William Jennings Bryan
Captain Young is assigned to the HMS Georgiana in orbit around Mars and takes ship for Mars on the Pristine Boxing Day (December 26th) 1896. Word is sent ahead by heliograph telling of the imminent arrival of Capt. T. Oliver Young. On his arrival, March 15, he is shot dead in broad daylight by a Belgian from the consulate – M. Fouchard.
The unprovoked attack on Capt. Young causes much consternation:
“Captain Young sounds nothing like Captain Tolliver, is Fouchard daft?”
“I believe they read Captain T. Oliver Young, sir”
“Well, and why did he want to shoot Captain Tolliver? It’s all very uncivilized.”
The Hon. Mr. Pemberley-Waite and Admiral Young are incensed. Pemberley-Waite returns immediately to London. Editorials call for Britain to end the guarantee of Belgian neutrality or to go directly to war with the perfidious Belgians.
Native Martians working in the British consulate overhear that Captain Young was the husband of that "Pemberley-Waite woman who was here a few years ago. The blonde lady-scientist, wasn’t she?" The news that this was the husband of the golden-haired red woman: bringer of fire, destroyer of cities, bare-handed killer of 1,000 Martians, she who renders the worm still in the earth, queen of the Hill Martians, avenger of the purple fire, eater of the ancient one, etc., sparks riots which last into May. Martians tear down the Belgian consulate buildings in Syrtis Major and massacre the inhabitants.
The Governor-General, seeking to quell the riots, sends the body back to Earth, since the Martians refuse to have it buried there ("What is this nonsense about it turning into an ice worm?") and aren't really thrilled at the thought of having it floating in space around their planet. The Pristine sets out (without fully loading its regular cargo) to Earth with the body. Mr. Atherton embarks on March 17 with a large number of Britons who want to escape the rioting. He is shocked to discover in the course of the journey that this dead fellow was actually the husband of Miss Pemberley-Waite!
The Governor-General of Syrtis Major has to variously promise to bring back Mrs. Young, or to prevent her from ever returning, to quell the riots. Notes in dispatches request more detail about Mrs. Young's travels on Mars.
April-May, 1897: Greece and Turkey fight a brief war.
May 19th, 1897: Oscar Wilde is released from prison.
The Queen speaks sternly to the Belgian foreign minister, Baron Solvyns. Belgium falls over itself to apologize. It is arranged that Admiral and Mrs. Young will go to Belgium to receive a formal apology after the funeral. The funeral occurs on June 6th, one day after the Pristine arrives back in London. Characters present include Mrs. Young, her father-in-law Admiral Young, Coung Li, Mr. Atherton, Lord Holdernesse, Miss Baker-Smythe, and Captain Tolliver.
On June 15, 1897 the Youngs board the Olsza's private air yacht the Gryphon. Professor Olsza and his daughter come along as friends to Violet. Professor Olsza looks forward to showing off the improvements in speed he has been able to achieve with a few modifications to the engines. Mr. and Mrs. Pemberley-Waite and a few more diplomats follow in the aerial flier Hildegarde. En route, the Gryphon disappears into clear skies over Belgium. Further diplomatic mayhem ensues. Some very strongly worded editorials appear in the London dailies.
Belgium commits all resources to finding the Gryphon (or the bodies of the passengers and crew).
June 18: a disconsolate Coung Li, monitoring his mistress' equipment along with Master Chief Dobbs, hears the tap-tap-tap of Morse code. He gets the partial message "ADM AND MRS YOUNG ... KIDNAPPED ... EN ROUTE TO MANAOS ... TORGO." "Where the bloody hell is Manaos, Torgo?" asks the Chief. Mr. Pemberley-Waite promises Coung Li a raise. "Well, done, old chap."
June 19: HMS Celeste sends back the text of the full message from the Mercury orbit – what a feat of engineering! "SEND HELP ADM AND MRS YOUNG ON GRYPHON KIDNAPPED EN ROUTE TO MANAOS BEWARE TORGO". Governor Arbuthnot-Stout, as a post-script, demands to know what is going on with those Belgies.
June 20: Mr. Pemberley-Waite receives assurances that everything possible will be done; messages to that effect are sent to the Admiralty. Mr. Pemberley-Waite requests the services of Captain Tolliver by name. Coung Li, Master Chief Dobbs, and the communications equipment are put at Tolliver’s disposal. Lord Holdernesse sends a note around to Pemberley-Waite offering any and all assistance. The Foreign Office suggests the services of Mr. Jonathan Verzeiger as being a useful person for delicate investigations. Pemberley-Waite agrees to hire Verzeiger. Tolliver calls around to Mr. Atherton to ask if he’ll come along.
The Government is able to secure berths for the group on the private aerial flier Halcyon, owned and captained by Jules Franck, an American. The Halcyon is headed to Lima, Peru with some of Franck’s friends, but Franck is happy to take the party to Georgetown, the capital of British Guiana, if it means that the British Crown will pay for fuel. With 20 cabins, the Halcyon has ample room for everyone and their equipment.
During the ensuing investigation in London, some facts come to light:
-- Miss Baker-Smythe finds some plants in Torgo's quarters. In interviewing some botanists she knows, she finds that he is an "importer" for many scientists.
-- Captain Tolliver meets with Baron Solvyns (the Belgian foreign minister); apparently the accounts of a massacre on Mars were overstated by the press (surely not).
-- Count Schouvaloff tells Tolliver that Torgo had done some satisfactory work for his brother while in Panama, which is why the Count recommended him to Olsza.
- Coung Li notices that all of the Olszas' notebooks are missing. He deduces that the Olsza Engine actually moves the whole ship entirely into the aether!
Tuesday, June 22nd: the Diamond Jubilee begins in London; 50,000 troops from every part of the Empire, heads of state from all over the Earth and Mars, and almost all the aristocracy of Britain take part in a procession honoring Queen Victoria. For the next week or so, many grand entertainments and displays take place in and around London.
A map of the Empire.
Wednesday, June 23rd: Mr. Atherton travels to Edinburgh, to speak with the wife of Angus MacKenzie, a skilled aetherics engineer. She reveals that he is in Manaos, working for a German firm of agriculturalists (presumably rubber planters, but one never knows), on a project not apparently connected to his knowledge of the aether.
Thursday, June 24th: Mr. Atherton returns to London; that evening he and some other members of Lord Holdernesse's expedition have a scuffle at the docks near Wapping Street.
Saturday, June 26th: the aerial flier Halcyon departs from the Greenwich landing-ground, bound for British Guiana. That same day, during the international naval review at Spithead, Charles Parsons' turbine-powered boat Turbinia romps through the anchored fleets with breathtaking speed (34 knots) and agility in a dramatic demonstration of technology.
Count Schouvaloff is the Russian Foreign Minister in London.Investigations reveal:
Baron Solvyns is the Belgian Foreign Minister in London.
Master Chief Henry Dobbs served with Adm. Young before the admiral retired. Dobbs is considered one of the Navy’s best ether and steam engineers.
Torgo is a mysterious character of some native persuasion. He is around five feet tall, has black hair, brown eyes, and a swarthy complexion. He is the Olsza’s lab assistant.
Admiral Horatio Young, RN, Ret. is Mrs. Young’s father-in-law. He is an elderly man (he retired in 1877) and a doting grandfather to young Horatio.
Angus Mackenzie is an ethericist and engineer working in South America for some biologists named Graebel. Mr. Mackenzie has a rather unpleasant wife.
On the Gryphon:
Adm. Horatio Young
Mrs. Parker, a nurse, and baby Young
Miss Catherine Olsza
Sir Reginald Chadworth, a diplomat in Her Majesty’s service
Adm. Steven Harper, a representative of the Royal Navy
The crew of the Halcyon:Investigations reveal:
Capt. Jules Franck, Owner
First Mate John Lipton
Second Mate Fred Simpson
Engineer Ian Maguire
Friends of Capt. Franck:
Mr. Karl Danzig of Danzig Gumme & Rubber, Berlin & Bombay
Mr. Dieter Kragen of Kragen Hydromotiv, Hamburg
Mr. Bart O’Shea, O’Shea Import & Export, Dublin
Mr. Peter Weber, Pinkerton Security, New York
Mr. Jason Gold of Gold & Sons, Ltd., Corpus Christi
Mr. Robert Jenkins of Winchester Co., San Francisco
Mr. Albert Hoover of Hoover Engines and Steam, Chicago
Mr. Robert McHenry of MacTavish, McKinley & McHenry Machine, Edinburgh
During the trans-Atlantic voyage on the Halcyon, there is some suspicion of Captain Franck and his friends. They claim to be visiting Lima to sell armaments, and will be picking up another passenger in Caracas, Venezuela (thus not passing over Manaos).
On the 2nd of July, our heroes land at Georgetown, taking rooms at the Meridian Hotel on Main Street. Passage to Manaos aboard the steamer SS Mariposa is arranged, with the ship departing on July 4th. The Governor invites the party for dinner the first night in the colony; much interest is taken in the discoveries by "Pip" Barnes, a local aerial flier. Mr. Barnes believes that aetheric-magnetic disturbances centered on Manaos have been spreading out since mid-June, and soon will reach the coast.
After returning to their rooms in the evening, our heroes discover that their possessions have been rifled -- with much hullabaloo and excitement most of the burglars are apprehended. They claim to have been hired by "Hans" two days ago (June 30th) ... warnings about the strange aether disturbances are wired back to Britain.
James “Pip” Barnes is an aerial pilot of some skill and daring.Investigations reveal:
Mr. Hans is a mysterious German who ordered a burglary of the rooms of the people off the Halcyon. He was looking for machine plans.
Francoise is the very friendly proprietor of the Perky Porpoise Pub.
Capt. Enrique Escobar is the captain of the liner Mariposa, the ship upon which the Georgetown governor’s office has secured berths for the party.
Mr. Inacio Ramirez is a middle aged businessman and regular passenger on the Mariposa. He mistakes Capt. Tolliver’s stateroom for his own.
Mr. Escobar owns and runs Hotel Isabella.
Mr. Doyle is the party’s contact in Manaos and holds their line of credit through the Admiralty.
The Mariposa departs the morning of July 4th; at a speed of 12 knots the vessel will arrive in Manaos after nearly 6 days, in the evening of the 10th ...
Mr. George Herbert is the vicar at St. George’s Anglican Church.Investigations reveal:
Tomaas is the pistolero hired to protect Mr. Verzeiger.
Prof. Nicolas Borowitz is a zoologist in the pay of a Russian patron, to whom he occasionally sends new and exotic animals.
Wu Ching runs the only Chinese laundry in Manaos.
Martim and Josué are brothers who take easy offence to insults to their sister, Maria.