Author Topic: Victoria Regina, Part 3: Consolidation  (Read 1521 times)

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Offline Konisforce

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Victoria Regina, Part 3: Consolidation
« on: September 04, 2012, 10:45:35 AM »
Excerpted from Winston Churchill’s A History of the English-Speaking People.  Appendix A to chapter “The Aether Age” entitled “A Timeline of the Early Aether Age, 1837-1845”.

The years immediately following Victoria’s coronation were full of the sorts of things which demand so much attention at the time but which, when viewed through history’s lens, fade to insignificance.  The Spanish Rebellion of 1840 was put down handily, and scandals involving John Conroy - Victoria’s mother’s suspected lover - distracted from the actual effects of governing.  Flare-ups of separatism in America, Hungary, Egypt, and China all required the strenuous efforts of the Thin Red Line, the 2,500 men of the five battalions of knights and heavy grenadiers.  Modernization efforts were hampered and co-opted throughout the world as the Colonial Administration nobly fought to right the course of the protectorate states and direct them to the new modernity of the aether age.

A single bright spot in the general gloom was Nippon.  The defeat of the island in the Empire War had been brutal and effective - necessarily so, as the Japanese people refused to lay down arms even in the face of insurmountable odds.  Kyoto and Yokohama had been almost completely destroyed by British heavy grenadiers fighting an unfamiliar, urban war against a determined opponent.  But a scant five years later the Japanese people had embraced their own version of British culture and were making full use of the resources of the Colonial Administration to update their islands technology, industry, and infrastructure.

The period following the discovery of Martian ruins was a brief flash of interplanetary awareness which quickly died back down to a simmer.  The Xenology Corps of the Royal Society established a permanent base in a small corner of one of the deserted cities, which was still airtight and could support an environment.  The set about understanding just what had been found and attempting to make sense of a totally alien culture.

1840 began with the disappointment that neither Mercury nor Venus had aether elements or ruins.  HMSS Watt began surveying the moons of Jupiter and Saturn, but the early, heady days of space travel when it seemed that the heavens were full of useful minerals and ancient civilizations passed quietly into the realm of old fantasy.  Continued research into more efficient methods of propulsion was paying off, but there was neither the will nor the resources to update the ships of the fledgling British Space Navy at this point.

September of 1840 brought another brief moment of humanity turning heavenward when news trickled out that further Martian ruins (for all aliens had become Martians, now, perhaps unavoidably) had been found on Ganymede, one of Jupiter’s larger moons.  It took only two days for the newspapers to turn from exultant to petulant for, they said, what good were ruins on Ganymede when those on Mars were still a mystery?  And why was Mars still off-limits to all?  And what good would it be even if they could go there?  There were problems aplenty on the Earth.

The surveys continued of the greater gas giants through 1841.  Europa and Titan were each discovered to possess decent quantities of aether materials, and Jupiter was a massive ball of easily-accessible sorium.  If a method could be devised of extracting it, humanity would have no trouble fueling their craft.  Of course, the British Space Navy still boasted only 2 ships, so fuel was not a concern for the foreseeable future.

In 1842, Akshamala Saigal was appointed as the Crown’s Viceroy to the Protectorate of India.  It marked the first time a native was given the highest Imperial post in the land.  Many historians now view it as a turning point in the consolidation of the British Empire, as India - her oldest and best colony - could be seen to have taken a critical step toward full citizenship.  There was some hope that this would quiet unrest in India and elsewhere.  From the vast remove of a century it was clear that it did, but continued unrest in the Pakistani and Punjabi regions likely dispelled hopes at the time that the step would be greeted as progress.

1842 also saw the launch of the BSN’s second survey vessel, the Stephenson, which began a survey of the asteroid belt.  The University of Edinburgh added a faculty department to study aether propulsion, making the fourth such faculty in the Empire after Oxford, Cambridge, and Aberdeen.  Twenty percent of the old industry of the Empire had been converted, half to factories and half to the mines that supplied them.  The first clockwork computers, designed by Charles Babbage, had increased the ability of scholars the world over to do research, store facts, and compute figures.

The House of Burghers began agitating in the early months of 1843, pointing out the marked lack of corundium on Earth and the difficulty in obtaining it.  By this time, the survey vessels of the BSN had identified a handful of asteroids containing aether elements, one with an estimated 10,000 tons of corundium.  After successful lobbying by the East India Company - still in fill control of the House of Burghers by a slim margin - the House of Lords was swayed and a proposal approved to throw the Empire’s industrial might behind a spaceyard for the East India Company.

The meson telegraph first saw commercial production at the end of 1843.  The ability to point through any substance - including straight down through the Earth - to a receiver infinitely far away is commonplace today, but to a culture and society still functioning with courier pigeons and mail schooners, the Communication Revolution was a fundamental shift in the style - and speed - of communication.  For the Admiralty, the question of tracking of and communication with ships is space was all but solved.  Meson propagation through the aether was faster than light and functionally instantaneous on interplanetary scales.

By 1844, the first East Indiaman design - using the Hurst Paddlewheel propulsion system and enough cargo space to carry the materials for two mines in five trips - had been launched and was under the control of the East India Company as representatives of Her Majesty’s Government.  The first of the asteroid mines began, utilizing mines converted to clockwork automation with the Babbage Process.  The hope was that expanded production there would relieve some corundium shortages on Earth.

1844 was also notable in that the Empire officially extended beyond the skies for the first time.  Viceroys were appointed to Mars and to Asteroid #21, unofficially known as Corundium Hill.  Viceroy Jennifer Hill traveled to Mars aboard the old Turtle and took up residence there among the 200-odd researchers and administrators living in the old alien city.  Her diplomatic skill was a primary reason for her appointment, both to keep the peace among the scholars of a dozen different organizations and to handle the requests for information from numerous branches of the Imperial heirarchy.  Arya Chetri, while Viceroy of Corundium Hill, wisely administered the automated colony’s production and shipping schedule from a Colonial Administration center in Bombay.

The illness of Colonel Catherine Shaw of the Martian Survey Corps prompted plans for the first class of BSN courier cutters as well.  While Shaw insisted on staying on at the dig site, it was evident that another vessel was needed.  The Watt-class survey vessels were far too slow to serve as evacuation craft, and all three current ships were busy surveying.  The freighters of the East India Company were either ferrying mines out to Corundium Hill or bringing minerals back, and leaving an entire freighter in orbit as an emergency measure for 200 scientists on Mars seemed excessive.  The Turtle was the only other choice, but with no on-board maintenance and no facilities on Mars, she could not spend any amount of time away from Earth without risking irreparable damage.

The Jewel-class cutter was devised as a high-speed personnel transport, intended to move dignitaries, survey teams, and captains between ships and planets in interplanetary space.  A basic and functional ship, it was simply a hull wrapped around bare living and engineering space, slung between two military-grade Hurst Etherworks Darville 7 aether propellers.  At 3,125 km/s, the Jewel-class was more than fast enough to contend with all survey requirements in the inner system and beyond the asteroid belt.

Code: [Select]
Jewel class Cutter    800 tons     60 Crew     56.6 BP      TCS 16  TH 50  EM 0
3125 km/s     Armour 1-7     Shields 0-0     Sensors 1/1/0/0     Damage Control Rating 0     PPV 0
Maint Life 6.58 Years     MSP 22    AFR 10%    IFR 0.1%    1YR 1    5YR 13    Max Repair 12 MSP

Hunter Etherworks Darville 7 (2)    Power 25    Fuel Use 90%    Signature 25    Armour 0    Exp 5%
Fuel Capacity 50,000 Litres    Range 125.0 billion km   (462 days at full power)

This design is classed as a Military Vessel for maintenance purposes

In 1845 it was again the East India Company and the House of Burghers that turned the Empire’s gaze skyward.  A smaller recreational concern holding three seats in the House of Burghers managed to maneuver a relatively large voting bloc to force an issue in the Burghers and, in so doing, essentially to have the East India Company in their debt.  To clear the debt, the East India Company threw their support behind a proposal to retool the E.I.C. Spaceworks yard for a proposed passenger ship.  The plan was to build a hotel on Mars and host outings for the wealthy and slightly cracked.  Given his later schemes, it is no surprise that Lord Berkeley was among the backers of this particular project.  The Paradisium -class spaceliner had berths for 250 passengers, though there was no destination to accept them on Mars, as yet.

Code: [Select]
Paradisium class Passenger Cruiser    5,950 tons     173 Crew     206.2 BP      TCS 119  TH 125  EM 0
1050 km/s     Armour 1-29     Shields 0-0     Sensors 1/1/0/0     Damage Control Rating 1     PPV 0
MSP 22    Max Repair 16 MSP
Passengers 250    

Hurst Ether Paddlewheel (2)    Power 62.5    Fuel Use 9%    Signature 62.5    Armour 0    Exp 1%
Fuel Capacity 50,000 Litres    Range 168.0 billion km   (1851 days at full power)

This design is classed as a Commercial Vessel for maintenance purposes

The second half of 1845 saw three monumental occurrences that only became clear in hindsight.  First, Louise Cameron finished his second tour of duty aboard a BSN ship as third lieutenant.  His piles of calculations and sensor readings relating to standing gravitational waves were seen as obtuse and pointless in the Admiralty, but to the University of Glasgow, desperate for an aether power and propulsion faculty of its own, Cameron’s experience was enough to secure him a position.  His assumption of the Chair of Aether Studies at Glasgow began the process that later culminated in warp tunnel and jump point studies.

Secondly, the death of David Flynn of the Martian Survey Corps caused a re-thinking of the current patterns of study on Mars.  The presence of any formal colony, even the foolish “Resort Hotel” Lord Berkeley was pushing, would likely have saved the man’s life.  The Turtle was sent with replacement and relief personnel even as Parliament directed the Colonial Administration to shift some industrial production to the creation of infrastructure for a truly human colony on Mars.

Lastly, Wright Shipping Company was formed.  It was the first purely space-oriented shipping line, eschewing any Earth-bound freight capacity as well as ignoring the House of Burghers as a potential money sink.  The company expanded quickly with two East Indiamen freighters and began angling for government contracts to ship to Mars and Corundium hill and civilian contracts to form mining complexes.  The Wright Shipping - Northumberland Mining joint concern to found civilian mining structures sparked the beginning of the true commercialization of space, as well as spurred Hurst Freight and Shipping to refocus their efforts in space.

Of course, the fourth monumental occurrence of 1845 was perfectly understood when it happened . . .

~~~

The Office of Vice-Commissioner Dylan Wall

“Two thousand, five hundred, and . . .”

“64.  An estimate, of course.  The boffins are a bit fuzzy on the last two numbers.  But they’re quite certain about the first two.”  Ms. Jennifer Hill sits primly on the edge of the deep chair by the fire.

“But two thousand five hundred!  That’s . . .” Wall drifts off and stares at Ms. Hill imploringly.

“Quite a few, sir.  Yes.  That is why I thought it best I come and let you know in person.”

Wall nods.  “Yes.  Quite right.  I should think . . .”

A knock at the door.  Mr. Mann enters.  “Good afternoon, Dylan.  I was . . . oh, I apologize!  I did not realize you had company.”

Wall gestures toward the second chair.  “Do come in, Curtis.  Ms. Hill, Curtis Mann.  Curtis, this is Ms. Jennifer Hill, Viceroy of Mars.”  Ms. Hill proffers her hand while casting a slight questioning glance at Mr. Wall.  “Oh, you may speak freely.  Mr. Mann is one of the Queen’s most trusted confidantes.  Moreso than I, I daresay.”

Mann hangs his hat and greatcoat.  “Viceroy of Mars, you say?  A lofty title for a humble place, though it is important beyond its size.”

“Not so humble, nor so small anymore, chap.  Ms. Hill was just telling me that the Martian Survey Corp has identified 2,500 separate Martian installations in their cities.”

“So I had heard, yes,” Mr. Mann says.

Ms. Hill is taken aback.  “Sir, I just stepped from the cutter Emerald moments ago.  I do not see how you could have known.”

Mann waves a vague hand.  “It is my business, Ms. Hill.  My knowing does not reflect on you in any way, I assure you.  But I did not mean to distract, please continue.”

Wall coughs and leans back in his chair.  His desk is noticeably clean, and he wipes at something upon it.  “Well, there is little to say.  The training of engineers has still not commenced, but given the news they will undoubtedly be necessary.  And we’ll need to look into some way of transporting them.  Converted freighters for the moment, no doubt.  As news spreads, I’m sure the spaceliners to the Red Planet will fill up.”

Mann waits, then fixes each of them with a raised eyebrow in turn.  “And . . . ?”

Wall shrugs.  Unclear.  “And . . . what?  I have been assured that it will take time to restore any of these, and that it will happen one-by-one.  It is not as if we’ve just switched on the lights in five major cities and all are now welcome.”

“What of the advanced technology we are likely to find?”

Ms. Hill again seems perplexed.  “Mr. Mann, there is no indication that the alien ruins on Mars are significantly more advanced than . . .”

“Ms. Hill, there are two possibilities.  First, the Martians are from Mars.  In which case, we could expect far more than five cities, and their technology would be relatively rudimentary.  It would not have taken us this long to decipher the basics of it.  Secondly, they are from elsewhere.  Perhaps even Earth, as some of the theories go, though doubtfully.  If that is the case, then they are most certainly more advanced, since they managed to build what amounts to Earth’s five greatest cities, but on another planet altogether from their homeworld.  The second seems most likely, at the moment.”

Wall waits a moment.  “And if this is the case, what does it change?”

Mann fixes him with a flat look.  “Nothing, for the moment.  But I must see to it that Crown and Country are properly protected in whatever we do find.”

~~~

Excerpted from the notes of Vice-Commissioner Dylan Wall of the British Colonial Administration

6th of November, 1845 - The Martian Survey Corps has decoded the language of a group calling themselves the Nizip Enclave.  The ruins are spread across five major cities and their satellite settlements, named Caledonia, New Kent, Mars York, Britannia, and Victoria.  At the request of all, research into militarily-organized engineering units has been increased tenfold.  The Martian Survey Corps is sent to Ganymede to assist in efforts there.  The trip takes only 5 days aboard the Diamond courier cutter.

25th of November - The retooling for the spaceliner is complete at the East India Compayn Spaceworks, but with the news coming from Mars it is clear a more robust solution will be necessary.  Expansion of the shipyards commences.

30th of December, 1845 - The training regimen of the Engineering Brigades has been established and training begins on two units.  Additionally, Wright Shipping and the Northumberland Mining joint concern has founded a civilian mining colony on Rhea.  I must admit that when I gave permission for it, I doubted it would happen.  But they do seem determined.

10th of February, 1846 - More civilian mining interests have cropped up as corundium shortages continue to plague construction throughout the empire.  Goals are reevaluated and result in a shift toward research facilities, as mercassium stockpiles are large.

15th of March - Titan and Hyperion have now been claimed by mineral concerns.  Civilian participation in space has increased greatly since the building of the first East India Company civilian spaceyard.

28th of June - The first of the Paradisium-class spaceliners launches from E.I.C. Spaceworks.  Transport of essential personnel to Mars is prioritized to help pave the way for the engineering brigades to come.

13th of August - Hurst Shipping launches its own Paradisium to begin the Earth-Mars tourist run to the Martian Desert Resort on the edges of the Victoria Canyon, a vast trench cut into Mars with the alien city of Victoria at its base.  Month-long vacations start at 1,500 pounds.

10th of October, 1846 - A partially intact colony is found on Sol Asteroid 149.  The Martian Survey Corps is diverted from Ganymede to investigate, leaving the Jovian Moon Research Group to decipher the rest of the Ganymede ruins.

13th of February, 1847 - The 1st Archaeo-Martian Brigade of Engineers is complete on Earth.  The Homefront is a converted freighter which will serve as the basis for a new class to transport engineering brigades.  The ship makes use of newly devised short-range energy beams to assist in lifting and loading freight.

6th of February - A new aether reactor is designed which outperforms the steam-engine-based pressurized water reactor.  The pebble bed reactor uses the large surface area of small chunks of gallicite to bind sorium and catalyze the reaction in a more controlled fashion, allowing for a cleaner and more powerful burn of the fuel.  Application of the design to aether propulsion begins in earnest.

1st of May, 1847 - The 1st Archaeo-Martian Engineers restore the first artifact to operational status.  It is an industrial-scale gauss cannon, apparently used to send packets of cargo on interplanetary journeys.  The utility of such a device becomes clear as soon as it test fires a ton of dirt and soil into the Sun at three times the speed of a courier cutter.  Freighters are diverted to transport the mass driver to Corundium Hill and a second is built in Earth orbit to slow down and accept the payloads.

   The size of the mass driver and the continued need to ship clockwork mines makes it clear that the East Indiaman, while a serviceable freighter, is too small for truly exploiting the solar system.  New designs are being sought for both an expanded colonization ship and an expanded interplanetary freighter.  In preparation for these larger ships, both the civilian spaceyard of the East India Company and the naval yard at Plymouth Spaceworks begin increasing the overall capacity of their aether funnel.

~~~

Excerpted from Winston Churchill’s A History of the English-Speaking People.  Appendix B to chapter “The Aether Age” entitled “The Status of the British Empire Ten Years On”.

The British Empire had a number of concerns on Earth in the time following the beginning of Victoria’s reign which slowed its expansion into space.  Had the scope of Victoria’s reign been known, or had the Empire had an inkling of what awaited it in space, they might have been far more eager to reach the stars in a timely fashion.  As it was, only the discovery of a massive settlement on Mars gave them the impetus necessary to loft themselves from the Earth.

Status of the British Empire Ten Years After Victoria’s Reign Begins
June 20, 1847


Earth
1,252.38 million citizens.
Wealth: 36,184 thousand pounds yearly
Shipyards: 2.  1 slipway each.
BSN Maintenance: 1,000 tons maximum.
Construction factories: 650
Steam Industry: 650
Sorium refineries: 10
Mines: 868
Clockwork Mines: 6
Mass Drivers: 1
Research Facilities: 22
Financial Centers: 4
Ground Unit Training Facilities: 2

Mars: 20,000 citizens
2,561 installations to recover
Infrastructure for 920,000 citizens

Asteroid #21 (Corundium Hill):
26 Automines and a mass driver

22 civilian mining complexes spread across:
Rhea, Titan, Hyperion, Europa, and Asteroid 16.

Ongoing Archaeological Digs on Ganymede and Asteroid 149

2 Shipping lines with 11 ships: 9 East Indiamen total, and 1 Paradisium passenger cruiser each.

British Space Navy:

1 Homefront troop transport
5 East Indiamen freighters
2 Paradisium passenger cruisers
3 Watt geological survey ships
2 Diamond couriers
1 Turtle science vessel.

British Aether troops:

5 Heavy Grenadiers / Knights battalions
1 Engineering Brigade (on Mars)

~~~

From a technical paper of the Royal Society’s Martian Xenology Faculty, October the 9th, 1847
Analysis of Site 17 outside Mars York, Thoughts and Findings

Installation Technical Statistics:

Area: 8.2 square miles
Average building height: 23 feet
Highest building height: 196 feet (13 identical structures)
Location: 9.2 miles from marked center of Mars York
General Description: The installation has transit connections but is not connected.  It is primarily enclosed.  It contains living space and sleeping quarters.  Dominated by aether reactors and machinery of unknown type.

Thoughts and Findings:  The installation is labeled in the Martian general system as a “cloud factory” or perhaps “sky factory”.  It appears to be a fully-contained set of machines for a discreet purpose, separate from the general mixture of installations near Mars York.  Three other similar or possibly identical structures exist around Mars York and a number of likely other similar structures are identified near all other cities except for Victoria.

The aether reactors in this facility do not appear to be for power generation only.  Instead, certain reactors can be powered up to run other machinery and equipment.  The secondary aether reactors appear to be an interim source of materials for further machines, possibly used as fuel or raw materials.  Limited power-on testing of select portions of the installation point to a number of interconnected but self-sufficient units, each centered around one of the 13 main structures.  These rise like pipes or chimneys high above the surrounding structure.  

Power-on tests have shown that the secondary aether reactors provide raw aether to tertiary mechanisms that separate the aether into its component elements.  The mixture of aether points toward a high concentration of air.

Conclusion:  It is believed that the installation is a “terraformer,” one of a type of proposed building whose purpose is to adjust the atmosphere of Mars to one more suitable.  The previous settings of the cloud factory are not available, so no hint is given as to the atmospheric preferences of the Martians.  However with further studies of the abilities of the terraformer and the effects of atmospheric manipulation, it is theoretically possible that Mars could be made fully habitable with a breathable atmosphere.  

Note: The Martian cloud factory is massive.  Based on the residences available in the facility, it is estimated that 250,000 citizens lived here, though with families the number of actual workers would be lower.  The total current population of Mars would staff only 2 of the 13 sub-units of the terraformer.  Unless the process can be automated, vast numbers of citizens will be needed to work in such an installation.

~~~

Excerpted from the notes of Vice-Commissioner Dylan Wall of the British Colonial Administration

26th of February, 1848 - Engineers have recovered a deep space observatory in the Martian pattern, which has increased understanding for an improved thermal sensor.  More importantly, thirty one engines based on a more advanced aether reactor have been discovered and shipped back to Earth for study by the Royal Society.

23rd of April - An engine application of the pebble bed reactor is complete, but study of the advanced engine technology from the Mars colony has put an even more advanced aether reactor within reach.  Despite the need for improved engine technology, the Admiralty decides to forgo engine designs at this time, hoping for greater advances in the near future.

28th of April - After years in service, both HMSS Turtle and HMSS Watt have been retired and sent to a museum.  As the other Watt class ships finish their current missions, they will be removed from active service and scrapped.

15th of June - Further advanced engine and reactor technology is discovered in the abandoned cities on Mars.  The engines are returned to the research laboratories of the Royal Society for dissection.  Additionally, the ruins on Sol Asteroid #149 have been documented after 1.5 years.  241 installations are available for attempted recovery.  The decision is made to continue focusing on Mars for the moment, but the Martian Survey Corps in recovered from the asteroid and sent back to Ganymede to assist the Jovian Moon Research Corps.

22nd of June - The work of various propulsion faculties throughout Britain and the disassembly of further advanced engined technology has caused another basic aether reactor design.  Incorporating the previous advances, this engine overcomes a major overheating problem by running liquid sorium fuel through heating channels along the sides of the reactor.  The process turns the liquid sorium to gaseous form while simultaneously cooling the reactor.

   While the new aether reactor technology represents a large leap in the technology, propulsion applications still seem very far off.  The Admiralty decides to channel research into increased fuel efficiency (which was also improved by the advanced engine components from the Martians) and then produce a new round of aether propellers based on existing technologies.

17th of August - A third engineering brigade finished training on Earth and is sent to Mars to assist in the recovery efforts.  A working model for a large-scale cryogenic freezer completes its trials on human convicts and is deemed safe for public use.  Cryogenic transport will require far less room for ‘passengers’ and should help free up the logjam of transportation to Mars.

7th of September - At the request of the Crown, the Admiralty, and the Colonial Administration, bids are submitted for a new aether engine.  The Wright Pulse Paddlewheel is selected as the next-generation mass production aether paddle for civilian use.  It is incorporated into a design to make use of the largest current shipyard, the East India Company Spaceworks at 35,000 tons.

   Two ship designs are built using this new aether paddlewheel for propulsion.  The Viceroy is a massive ship containing a few incorporated tractor cranes for handling cargo and cryogenic transport for nearly 100,000 people.  It could move the current population of Mars at one go.  The Martianman cargo ship is the same design at its core, but with the cryogenic equipment removed and replaced with empty cargo space.  She has enough bulk hauling capabilities to move an entire mine to any location in the solar system.  Because of the cargo ship’s similarity to the colony ship and its simplicity, a single shipyard tooled for the more complex colony ship should be able to build both on demand without having to change its focus.  The Martianman even carries berths for a few hundred extra crew, just so the operational portions of the two designs are identical.

27th of September, 1848 - With the news leaking out of the massive cities on Mars and their complexity, there is a growing consensus that the Martians were likely from another place.  Debates rage among the Royal Society and similar organizations on the Continent and in the Americas.  Most think that the Martians used highly-advanced aether propulsion to traverse the aether between the stars, but a growing minority think that some radically different method of travel was used, involving wormholes or some other such nonsense.

22nd of October - While industry on Earth has begun producing the necessary components for cryogenic transport units to speed along ultimate construction of the colony ships, retooling a shipyard to actually assemble the ships will take at least a year.  Discussions with both Hurst Shipping and Trading and the Wright Shipping Company lead to a heavy government loan of one million pounds each to produce their own Viceroy class ships through privately-owned shipyards.  

21st of November - Today marked the opening of the last factory converted from pre-aether technologies.  All existing mines and industrial complexes which are up to basic standards for conversion have been switch over to function on aether reactors.  The first and most difficult goal (I hope) of my time at the Colonial Administration has been complete.  Work has been redirected into four new deep space observatories at sites around the world, to form the backbone of the Inner System Traffic Direction Authority and police the space lanes.  Also, my proposal to construct a Mars-based training facility for brigades of engineers has been approved and the individual components are being assembled here on Earth.  Given the rate of recovery of installations it is likely that new brigades will be needed on Mars for a long time to come . . .

Editor’s Note: The entry for this day is clearly truncated, and is written in a shaky hand.  The facing page bears the marks where the ledger was shut before the ink was dry, clearly indicating that Mr. Wall did not have time to sand and dry this entry.

6th of December - News from Mars.  Meeting with Parliament.  Possible disaster.
« Last Edit: September 04, 2012, 10:48:40 AM by Konisforce »
Come take a look at Victoria Regina, an old-timey AAR
 

Offline Konisforce

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Re: Victoria Regina, Part 3: Consolidation
« Reply #1 on: September 04, 2012, 05:12:11 PM »
~~~

Archaeological Site 42 outside New Kent, Mars.  Administered by the 2nd (Sussex) Brigade of Engineers
December the 6th, 1848

“I swear to ye, Andrews, if Smitty pissed off to the pub again without checking his gear back in, I’ll ‘ave ‘im up on theft charges.”

“He’ll be in.  Probably just fell asleep.  He’s a lazy sort, him and that private he’s always bumblin’ about with.  Akers?”  Andrews had his feet up on a pile of burlap sacks filled with red Martian soil from outside.  The low wall of sandbags served as the border between “The Dig” of New Kent and the small encampment of the Sussex Brigade of Engineers.

“Akers, that’s the one.”  Sergeant Morrison, He who Weilded the Power to bring one Up on Charges, leaned his elbows on the sandbags and brought a spyglass up to his eye.  The long central corridor of the New Kent ruins ran straight as an arrow for leagues, and it was only the curve of Mars that cut off the view.  All 14 miles of New Kent clustered around that long, straight hallway, and all 400-odd of her unknown facilities lay to the right or the left.

“Mebbe they found somethin’,” Andrews offered, ever the optimist.

“Unless it were women or whiskey, it’d not be keepin’ them there.  Ah, there ‘e is.  The sod.”  Morrison fixed the eyeglass on the form of two men emerging from a side tunnel.  Only Smith and Akers were still in the Dig, so by process of elimination the two men were Smith and Akers Both were moving quickly and were a thousand paces away, at least.  Neither carried anything in their hands, which was odd, given the mass of equipment they used for testing and evaluating installations.

“Summat ain’t right, Andrews.  Spin up the wireless.”  Morrison’s instincts had brought him through the Continental Campaign, the Russian Campaign, and the American Campaign as a sergeant in a regiment of foot without so much as a scratch, and they were screaming at him now.  Andrews pulled his feet off the sandbags and rolled to the small meson transmitter.  He turned the crank vigorously a half-dozen times, imparting a short charge to the energies within.  He waited with finger poised above the transmitter switch  to tap out a message.

Through Morrison’s eyeglass, Smith and Akers could be seen to run the full speed, headlong dash of the very young or very scared.  Akers caught a boot and fell to the ground but Smith, heedless or uncaring, ran on.  A number of forms moved out from presumably the same side tunnel with a strange, lurching march.  They had head, arms, and legs in odd proportions and moved jerkily.  One twitched an arm from vertical toward horizontal and moments later Akers’ head disappeared in a cloud of gore.

Morrison kept the eyeglass trained but had a moment of confusion.  He’d seen violence in many, many forms, from the practiced, stately clash of armies to the sudden shock of ambushes to the clumsy clash of a bar brawl.  Even so, he had difficulty slotting this current situation into the mental category of ‘attack’ until he saw Smith’s legs go at the knees.  A cannonball in Virginia had done that to a messenger just a few yards from Morrison’s trench outside of Richmond, and something about the familiarity of it jarred him from his stupor.

“Under attack, two score enemies,” he said.  Flat and calm.  The sudden tapping of Andrews told him that the message was being sent.  With position information he would have a minute and a half before Andrews was done and they could withdraw.  Enough time to see to some mayhem.  

Morrison pulled the emplaced heavy gauss rifle over and rested the barrel on the sandbags.

~~~

It is a rule that whenever an unforeseen disaster strikes, those who need to know the most must be asleep.  It seems to be the case that commanders and politicians are perennially sleeping at the outset of history’s greatest challenges.  This was not one of those cases.

In fact, Colonel Conor Mann, commander of the Sussex Brigade, was in the middle of a staff meeting.  Not only that, a meson wireless operator was tapping out a shorthand of the entire meeting’s minutes, sending them real-time to both the Royal Society and to Mars Command.  The meson wireless center of the headquarters was in the next room, where a half dozen men were monitoring for transmissions from the remote outposts of the Sussex Brigade.  In short, Sergeant Morrison’s message was likely the fastest in human history that a decision-making process went from inactive to complete.

Within five minutes, all available units of the three brigades of engineers on Mars had been redirected toward New Kent.  Given the unknown size and disposition of the enemy, however, three brigades of engineers were not deemed sufficient for the defense.  The Homefront-class troop transport in Earth orbit had been informed and was descending into the East India Company Spaceworks’ aether funnel.  The Order of St. George, Britain’s foremost knightly aether unit, and the 1st (Royal) Heavy Grenadiers were on their way to Plymouth to load into the troop transport.  The second transport in the orbit of Mars warmed its aether engines and began heading back to Earth.

Colonel Mann’s staff officers and personal bodyguard cadre had prepared to move out the moment the message had arrived, so that once Mann had confirmed his reports had been sent and acknowledgment received he was suited in the atmospherically-sealed Mars-pattern aether armour and was on his way to dig site 42 near New Kent.

~~~

17th of December, 1848.  Command Post Alpha-42 outside New Kent.

“They’re all like this?”  Colonel Mann stared down at the pieces of the enemy combatant on the table.  Two sergeants from his personal guard waited at the door, while a lieutenant and captain from the Sussex Brigade and three xeno-archaeologists stood in a loose circle around the table.

“Yessir,” answered the captain.  He was, in fine military style, quite terse.  

The Royal Society Fellows were not.  “It seems to run on a very advanced version of the Babbage Process, sir.  The torso, here, houses the majority of the clockwork necessary for running the . . . creature.  Contraption?  Contraption.  The aether reactor is here, and the secondary and tertiary processors here, the primary decision-making unit seems to be here, and the . . .”

Mann had quickly tuned out the ramblings of the boffin but he knew enough of their convoluted speech to pay attention at “primary decision-making unit”.  “You mean its brain?”

“I would hesitate to ascribe human characteristics, organs, or emotions to the clockwork quite yet.”  Mann prided himself on the power of his gaze, which had been known to instill such feelings of guilt and shame in sergeants that they heaped it onto the enlisted men for months at a time.  While of a different tradition and somewhat thick-headed, the boffin was not entirely immune to it.  “Yes, brain would be an apt analogy,” he conceded.

Mann shot his gaze to the captain of engineers, silently asking the question that a logical military man would ask.  The captain shook his head.  “Very difficult to kill that way, sir.  The chest is heavily armored, with most everything important in there.  The head only seems to be spare bits.  Pop it off and they keep coming.”

“The weapons?” Mann said, moving to the arm of the thing.

“Basically a gauss cannon, lower caliber than our Enfield ‘47s but it fires faster.”  The captain held up the other hand, which terminated in three fingers and two thumbs.  “This one comes with whatever else it might carry.  Usually nothing, sometimes a sort of curved hatchet for the close work.”

Mann nodded.  The boffin seemed to have plenty more to say, but also knew enough to keep it to himself for the moment.  “Is this the only weapon?”

The captain shook his head and yielded the floor to the lieutenant.  “There are a few other forms we’ve seen.  A smaller four-legged version that is a mortar on legs.  We call them “dogs”.  They want to lob mortars, but not much use in the Long Hall where they can’t do it what with the low roof.  There’s also “horses” though they look even less like ‘em than the dogs look like dogs.  Four legs, they’re either four gauss cannons mounted on legs, else they’re a pair of something like our pulse mortars, or they’re one of some big, God-almighty cannon we’ve got nothing like.  Punches through walls and armour a treat, mucks about with defenses.”

Mann scanned the room quickly, nodded, and thanked the group, then gestured for the captain to follow him.  Colonel and captain left the specimen and headed for the command tent, though both are in truth under the wider tent habitation tent to give warmth and air to the encampment.  Mann stopped in front of the rough map of New Kent, first penned by the orbital survey corps and later filled in by the first xenologists.

“Are these forces accurate?” he asked.  The Long Hall of New Kent with its 14 straight miles showed the main presence of the Sussex Brigade about two tenths of the way along the hall from the east.  Three tenths was the tentative marking showing the chamber that had given forth these clockwork men.  Three tenths from the western side were force markings showing the 3rd (Cheshire) Brigade of Engineers.

“Yessir, as of two hours ago and been quiet since then,” the captain answered.  “Cheshire has linked us into their meson network.  We are receiving their reports as they are.”

“And tell me about the action two days ago.  Cheshire took the brunt of it, yes?”

The captain nodded.  “We’d been holding out here, as requested, and 3rd Cheshire arrived at our backs on the 13th.  On the 14th they moved to plug the other end of the city.”

Mann nodded.  “It’s a blessing these things were found here.  The Long Hall is the place to bottle ‘em up, if ever there was.”

“Yessir.”  The captain waited a moment to be sure he didn’t interrupt, then continued the report.  “The Martians - beg yer pardon, sir, we’ve been all callin’ ‘em such - they were already entrenched at the end of the Hall, waiting for reinforcements or somesuch, as they’d been probing our defenses for a few days.  Cheshire fought ‘em back into the hall and bottled them up, same as we had, but it was a tough fight of it.  Estimates was 8% of the brigade dead or wounded, with all of 3rd Battalion taken off the line to regroup.  80% strength, or thereabouts.”

“But now we’ve got ‘em bottled up at both ends.  And they’re still attacking, yes?”

The captain nodded sharply.  “Yessir.  They’ve got it in their clockwork to break out, and that’s just what they try to do.  Probing attacks at all hours, and anytime they think they see a way, a heavier attack.  But we’re well dug in, sir, and they’ll spend themselves against us eventually.  

“We can hope.  Once the knights arrive these things won’t be my worry any longer.”

~~~

The Homefront landed in a temporary funnel set up by the engineering brigade and disgorged her cargo of one thousand aether knights; the 1st Royal Heavy Grenadiers and the Order of St. George.  Colonel Mann gladly relinquished command over to the Order of St. George, and advance units of both knights battalions established themselves just inside the barricades of the 2nd and 3rd Brigades of Engineers.

A series of probing attacks on Christmas Day, 1848, gave way to an all-out assault by the clockwork men on Boxing Day.  The heavy weapons in either end of the Long Hall, reinforced by elements of both battalions of knights, easily turned back the assault with huge losses inflicted on the attackers at both ends of the Long Hall.  Three of every four creatures to march down the halls into the fire of the British Army were rendered non-functional.

The slaughter of Boxing Day seemed to cause a collective re-thinking by the clockwork men.  Some strategic point had been passed where the enemy was no longer willing to spend units in wholesale, futile assaults, and instead adopted a defensive posture.  Scouts of the knight battalions reported that the side tunnel from which they had come was heavily fortified with gun emplacements and that the clockwork men had abandoned the Long Hall altogether.

It became clear that the knights would need to root the enemy out of the side tunnel.  The heavy weapons were a concern, of course.  Earlier gravitational surveys of New Kent showed that it should be possible to breach the walls of a chamber behind the clockwork men from the outside and storm in, surprising their rear flank and opening another front in the assault.  This would allow a frontal assault of the gun emplacements.

The Royal Heavy Grenadiers were selected for the frontal assault and the Order of St. George would take up positions on the surface of Mars, along with engineers to lay the breaching charges.

~~~

Lord Reginald Barclay, Earl of Ulster, checked the seal on the stretched duranium mantle over his head and shoulders before placing the neutronium helmet over all.  The Long Hall was still pressurized, but the breaching charge from the Cheshire Brigade would open it up to the outside.  No use in being caught unprepared.

“Signal anytime now, sir.”  Ulster glanced over at his wireless operator, then checked the clockwork wristwatch built into the armor.  He nodded, and glanced back at the Royal Heavy Grenadiers.  All were in order, arrayed along one wall of the Long Hall, waiting for the signal.  His troops, in excellent array.  He’d have preferred open sky above them - tunnel work wasted some of the abilities of the armour, but he fought the Queen’s enemies where ever they chose to be..  He glanced forward.  One thousand paces to the side tunnel.  One thousand paces through the tunnel to the opening beyond.  Two hundred fifty paces across the room to the main battery of guns.  Half a league, all told.  Easy work.  If St. George’s Order got their first, no work at all..

On the surface, elements of 3rd Cheshire had laid a half dozen charges along the outside of the shell of New Kent, with a follow-on of four more in case the first didn’t crack the egg completely.

Brigadier General Collins turned to the nearest staff officer.  “Message to 1st Royal, ‘assault to commence in 10 minutes, acknowledge’.  Message to engineers, ‘breach immediately, upon my mark’.”  Two staff officers trotted out from under the command shade, one heading for the wireless operators’ tent and the second for the small cadre of engineers.  Collins glanced at his watch.

Moments later the ground of Mars shook with a heavy explosion which was oddly silent in the thin Martian air.  Blue gouts of aether plasma sprayed from the area at the base of New Kent’s walls.  In the later investigation the major in charge of the engineers would insist that the charges went off prematurely through no fault of his own.  The officer carrying the message would insist that he got no further than ‘breach immediately,’ at which point the eager engineer pushed the plunger.

What no one could ever ascertain was the status of the second message.  The wireless operator was partway through - had, in fact, sent only “assault to commence” - when the explosion rocked the surface.  The resultant quake threw the pointcast wireless meson telegraph out of alignment with its destination, and the corresponding telegraph operator with the Royal Heavy Grenadiers dutifully reported “Assalt to commence” before sending the acknowledgement over the broken link.

Once Brigadier General Collins’ insistent curses died down, he stormed to the wireless operator and demanded to know if the acknowledgement had been received.  It had not, so Collins was led to believe the Royal Grenadiers must, therefore, be sitting and waiting for their orders.  A runner was sent to get in touch with the Royal Heavy Grenadiers, which involved at least 10 miles’ travel, and to re-establish instant wireless contact.

Down in the Long Hall, Ulster turned to the five hundred heavy grenadiers and bellowed, “Forward, Grenadiers!  To the guns, and glory!”

~~~

The poem “The Charge of the Grenadiers” written by Alfred, Lord Tennyson on the 9th of February, 1849


Half a league half a league,
Half a league onward,
All in the Hall of Kent
Stormed the five hundred:
'Forward, the Grenadiers!
Charge for the guns' he cheered:
Into the Hall of Kent
Stormed the five hundred.

'Forward, the Grenadiers!'
Was there a man a’feared ?
Not tho' the soldier knew
Some one had blunder'd:
Theirs not to make reply,
Theirs not to reason why,
Theirs but to do & die,
Into the Hall of Kent
Stormed the five hundred.

Cannon to right of them,
Cannon to left of them,
Cannon in front of them
Volley'd & thunder'd;
Storm'd at with shot and shell,
Boldly they fought and well,
Into the jaws of Death,
Into the mouth of Hell
Charged the five hundred.

Flash'd all their sabres bare,
Flash'd as they turn'd in air
Sabring the gunners there,
Charging an army while
All the world wonder'd:
Plunged in the aether-smoke
Right thro' the line they broke;
Clockwork & Martian
Reel'd from the sabre-stroke,
Shatter'd & sunder'd.
Then they stormed back, but not
Not the five hundred.

Cannon to right of them,
Cannon to left of them,
Cannon behind them
Volley'd and thunder'd;
Storm'd at with gauss and shell,
While knight & soldier fell,
They that had fought so well
Came thro' the jaws of Death,
Back from the mouth of Hell,
All that was left of them,
Left of five hundred.

When can their glory fade?
O the wild charge they made!
All the world wonder'd.
Honour the charge and cheer!
Honour the Grenadier,
Noble five hundred!
Come take a look at Victoria Regina, an old-timey AAR
 

Offline Konisforce

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Re: Victoria Regina, Part 3: Consolidation
« Reply #2 on: September 05, 2012, 04:47:55 PM »
~~~

From the work A Study of Military Colonization, 1848 - 1860, by John Robert Seeley

The major players in the Battle of New Kent were brought before all three houses of Parliament to speak at great length for a variety of reasons.  A thorough understanding of the reasons for the speeches of each and all would be impossible - the Lords, Burghers, and Commons had such an overlapping set of goals and policies that untangling the threads of motiviation would be a fruitless endeavor.  But such endeavors are at the root of historical understanding, so the major thrust should be at least examined.

The House of Burghers has long been regarded as the simplest.  Rampant mercantilism in the end of the decade of 1840 had a number of outlets on Earth, but the shipping companies which had begun their stellar expansion found themselves stymied.  Hurst, Wright, and the East India Company each controlled major portions of the House of Burghers, and each approached Mars in its own way.  The overall mood in the Burghers with regard to Mars, however, was one of frustration.  Frustration that the Martian colony was off-limits to most trading, that the research there was not proceeding faster and producing more discoveries, and that the colony was not growing into something which could be exploited economically.

The House of Commons had seen significant industry put into the production of ships to explore and exploit Mars but with little gain to the majority of British subjects.  The Commons was split evenly along lines of, essentially, optimism and pessimism.  To the optimists, Mars was the new frontier, the symbol of space opening her arms to embrace humanity.  They wanted Mars colonized quickly and effectively, and the recent discovery of terraformers prompted flowery speeches about running waters and clouds in the lofty skies.  The pessimists saw a wide open Earth and no reason to leave it, particularly given the costs associated with anything in space.  Years of spending were wearing out their patience.

The House of Lords was the most united in that it saw Mars as the birthright of Britain, and the exploitation of the ruins there as its future.  The Battle of New Kent was seen as the natural and unavoidable cost of such progress.  Surely, new enemies and new equipment demanded new tactics, and perhaps the commanders of the British Army were not adapting quickly enough.  But they saw New Kent as a failure to be learned from and then forgotten.

All agreed, however, that the brave heroes of New Kent needed recognition in some way.  The true motivations of Parliament in this act are unknown, though their own writings do give some idea.  The feelings run the gamut from callous disregard to compassion and everything in between.  The Martian Land Act of 1849, now a seminal incursion of Parliament into the territory of the Colonial Administration, created four dozen new titles with accompanying lands on Mars, to be given to the officers of the 1st Heavy Grenadiers and the Order of St. George.

To some degree, this was an ‘out of sight, out of mind’ ploy by Parliament. They simply shipped their guilt to Mars.  In other respects it was an attempt to impose order on a place that was only administered in the barest sense, and which had grown to nearly 20,000 colonists.  Because of the necessities of infrastructure to support life on the colony, the lands accompanying the titles were not delimited in geographic terms, but in hierarchical relations to each other and to the provided infrastructure.  Grants of air purifiers, aether reactors, duranium domes, heaters, livestock, and seed were provided along with the titles.  The hope was to create a breed of gentleman farmers, but the colonization rush of 1849 changed the social landscape of Mars and ground in the rather seedy character that it possessed for decades thereafter.

Arguments were also put forth that control of the populace by military officers would increase the overall safety and preparedness in the event of further attacks by clockwork men.  Nevermind that Disembarkation Point 1 had no ruins nearby, or that the majority of archaelogical digs were fortified from without by brigades of engineers and battalions of knights.  When it was pointed out that informal militias led by war veterans would be of no use without weapons, some hawks argued for arming them, but that met with little support.

Politically, the Battle of New Kent served as a rallying cry for all sides and for all reasons.  The ludicrousness of two sides of an argument invoking the same event was not lost on the participants in the debates, but the populace had been whipped into such a fervor about the Charge of the Grenadiers that there was nothing for it but to direct that energy in some way.  The month following New Kent saw the creation of the Peerage of Mars and the passage of the Martian Land Act, and then the great wave of public support for and interest in Mars largely died away, as it always did.  The 2nd East India Company Knights were recalled to fight Chinese separatists in the Himalayas, and the Order of St. George engaged Argentitian rebels on the Pampas, and the citizens of the Empire once again focused on the narrow scope of their daily lives.

~~~

Excerpted from the notes of Vice-Commissioner Dylan Wall of the British Colonial Administration

23rd of March, 1849 - With no signs of life from New Kent for two months, the clockwork men are declared destroyed and xeno-archaeology resumes.  Additionally, the ceremony for the opening of the Inner System Traffic Direction Authority was two nights ago.  The string of meson-connected observatories around the world allows operators to keep track of ships out to the orbit of Jupiter.

28th of March - Engineers on Mars have declared a second terraforming installation operational.  Terraforming has officially begun with the addition of pure oxygen to the Martian air, but reports show that even if every colonist on Mars not involved in creating foodstuffs were put to work in the terraformers, they would only make up one part in five of those needed.

   The House of Burghers has begun agitating for a solution.  The Paradisium liners do not have the capacity necessary to ship colonists in bulk and the Viceroy colony ship is a year away from even beginning production.  I have heard rumblings through contacts in the House of Commons that the Wright Shipping Company and Hurst Freight and Shipping have been working on a joint venture to make use of parts being stockpiled for the Viceroy ships, and I cannot help but think that the advent of a second empty terraformer would be the perfect opportunity for them to announce their intentions.

6th of April - My political instincts are improving, it would seem.  Three days ago the two major private shipping companies approached the Admiralty and asked for approval of the Mayflower class colony ship.  It has two parts in five of the Viceroy’s colonist capacity and correspondingly fewer engines, making it the smaller cousin of the larger ship for all purposes.  It’s 17,000 tons are just under half of its larger relation’s.  Even with ‘only’ 40,000 colonists it will be a massive influx of colonists to Mars.

   Today they announced the launch of the first of the new class.  It had been in production for at least six months, so had begun before the Battle of New Kent.  Wright Shipping is the sole owner of the ship, though I am told that according to their agreement they are paying for more than half of another ship for Hurst.  I have no choice but to authorize the ship to begin transporting colonists to Mars.

27th of April - It seems that both Wright and Hurst are even more in the right, and I am even more outmaneuvered.  A third terraformer has been recovered and made operational, and some estimates say that there may be as many as one hundred in the ruins.  Members of the Royal Society are standing up in Parliament and saying that they fully expect Mars to be liveable in five years.  While the draw of alien ruins and technology never captured the populace, jobs in cloud factories suddenly do.  I am at a loss.

   I have been told on good authority that the House of Commons plans to enact a bill establishing a penal colony on Mars.  The Burghers will leap on the opportunity and the Lords have never been against punishment.  I fully expect Mars to be overrun by convicts and prisoners inside of a year.  Jennifer Hill is most distraught, and already I see my attentions and budgetary numbers turning toward Mars in a scale all out of proportion with its worth.

7th of June - The joint venture by Wright and Hurst to produce ships has expanded into a joint shipyard, apparently.  The Wright-Hurst Commercial Spaceworks has opened and begun producing more colony ships.  Under the agreements of the subsidies to both shipping lines the government will have partial production rights on the slipway until a dedicated slipway is built for solely government use.  I have already requested that a new East Indiaman is designed to match the Mayflower and allow joint production, as well as to take advantage of recent advances.  If there are to be thousands of convicts on Mars, I will need far more freighters to take care of them than are currently at my disposal.

~~~

The Office of Vice-Commissioner Dylan Wall

A knock at the closed door.  “Yes.”

Curtis Mann enters.  “Good day, Dylan.  Fancy a pint?”

Wall shakes his head emphatically.  “No time.  No time at all.”

“Time for a chat, at least?”

Wall leans back.  The chair creaks, or perhaps his back.  “It’d do me some good, I warrant.  Certainly.  Fancy a drink?”

Mann heads to the side board.  “You?”  Wall holds out a used glass.  “Started in already, I see.”

Wall broods at it while it fills.  “I do that more these days, it seems.”

“Still the matter with the shipping companies?”

“Oh, just a bother, them.  They are just the ones who tipped the pitcher.  It was already full.”  Mann waits, sipping his drink, for Wall to continue.  He takes a few breaths.  “I had hoped to have this world better seen to, Curtis, before moving on to the next one.”

Mann cannot suppress a smile.  “Men have wished the same before their deaths for years, Dylan.”

Wall rolls his eyes.  “You jest, but it’s likely the same.  I’ve not done nearly enough to see to Earth before the Empire starts fretting over a cold ball of rock a million leagues away.  For little use.  We’ve looked around most corners of the solar system and there’s naught out there besides Mars and perhaps Titan.  My great-grandchildren might go sight-seeing on Mercury, but really Mars is all there is.  And we’re in some godawful hurry to get there.”

“Well, not all of us.”

“That’s another thing!”  He drains off the drink and lays down the glass for more.  “The penal colony.  But the law also put in the provision that prisoners sent to Mars must be ‘fit to labor’ which means physicians giving checkups before they’re sent out.  That can only happen so fast, so the colony ships have empty spaces.  Do you know who wants to fill those spaces?”  He ticks them off on his fingers.  “Researchers.  Fair enough.  Pioneers, mostly American, Chinese, or Indian.  They don’t seem to understand the tension between ‘domes’ and ‘wide open spaces’ very well.  Oh, and Cossacks.  Who don’t seem to mind the cold.

“Then there’s the religious minorities.  Mormons, who will likely fill up half the planet.  Jews, who will fill up the other half.  Then there are the Mars-oriented religions - the Olympians, the Red Christians, the Professed Satanists, the Lord’s Lamenters, and the Red Dawn.  And those are the most normal of the cultists!  And then there are the so-called true religions who wish to establish sects on Mars to fight all the other sects.  Catholic Archdiocese of Victoria, Martian Methodist, United Lutherans of Landing, Mars Anglican, Red Buddhist.  And on top of that you have the literal pagans, worshipping old Greek gods just because Olympus Mons is named after Mount Olympus.  We have a religion based on a mountain named after another religion.  And none seem to find this in any way odd.

“Add to that the Martian Warlords and their constituencies and I have been given charge of a hopeless slum.  A spigot of human filth has been turned on, directed straight at Mars, and Parliament is the only body to allow it to be shut off.”  Wall downs another glass and pounds it to the table.

Mann winces.  “The penal colony will be a boon for my office, at least.  There’ll be some you can make disappear into the wastes for me.”

Wall harrumphs.  “Bully for you, bother for me.”  He thinks momentarily about apologizing for his foul mood, but decides against it.

“The Commissioner could be some help.  He is a peer at least.  Where was he last seen?”

“Reykjavik Aerodrome.  He was going airship-hunting for polar bear.”

Mann considers.  “Dylan, you know I believe in your cause here.  And I truly believe that you are the lynchpin of the government’s efforts to pacify and protect her colonies.  If there is anything I can do to help, I will strive to do so.”

Wall sniffs.  “I suppose indiscretions by members of Parliament would be out of the question.”

Mann smiles.  “Perhaps.  I’ll see if there’s anything we don’t need just right now . . .”

~~~

Excerpted from the notes of Vice-Commissioner Dylan Wall of the British Colonial Administration

17th of July, 1849 - Engineers have recovered some form of construction installation.  It seems geared to make ships, but of a smaller size than anything we could currently imagine constructing.  Much smaller than the old Turtle, even.  It is being transported to Earth along with the other installations that aren’t yet useful to us.

18th of November - With the growth of the Mars colonist population, the rate of recovering infrastructure from the old ruined cities is insufficient.  I have authorized construction of enough air and water recycling machinery for over two million colonists, to be built over the course of the next few years.  The shipping lines are offered contracts to transport it, though they are already moving some of their own to sell on Mars for a profit.

26th of December - Another new journal of science and medicine has been founded.  This marks the 17th scientific journal this year.  The speed of scientific discoveries seems to be increasing as more of the populace becomes sciencifically literate and as more peer review takes place.

   Hurst Shipping Company has launched their first colony ship as well.  In the seven and a half months since the Wright colony ship was launched, the Martian colony has grown from 140,000 colonists to 920,000.  The population is an unholy amalgam of researchers, prisoners, military supports staff, treasure seekers, Mars cultists, religious missionaries, and pioneers, all ruled by a feudal lords and business interests in equal parts.  The power of the Colonial Administration does not extend far beyond policing, customs, and immigration duties.  Military support is promised, but in truth Ms. Hill has only a rudimentary police force as all commanders are worried about defending against attacks by clockwork soldiers.

25th of February - Another deep space observatory in the Martain pattern has been discovered, including details of in increase in the thermal sensitivity over the current models.  The Martian observatories use a different sort of processor than those devised by Babbage, instead making use of electricity to carry and store data.  It seems a much less stable sort of computer, but the savings in weight and size are undeniable.

18th of April - A few of the discoveries in the ruined vaults thus far have appeared to be ship components.  After the inital discovery of the engines, Admiralty and Royal Society analysts have begun assembling a rough idea of what Martian space-faring ships must have looked like.  A new discovery conforms to the idea of a ship component, but there is no indication of what it does.  It is a sensor of some kind, but reports of its function both on Mars and Earth seem to say that it was displaying at the top of its range on the surface of both planets.  It is unclear what it senses or how it does it.

23rd of July - Viceroy Hill informs me that Colonial Administration’s Immigration department on Mars has tallied the 3 millionth colonist on Mars.  This time last year there were barely 300,000.  The number is simply mind-boggling.  Hurst and Wright shipping companies have been bringing their own infrastructure to the colony to sell to the local businesses and the feudal lords and the dome capacity of the major cities has expanded to keep pace.  The three cloud factories on Mars are now fully staffed, and there are enough workers to run three more, were they available.  Parliament’s cries about not enough workers have turned into cries about not enough terraformers.  I will attempt to fend them off for now because there are other priorities, but if the engineers could recover another cloud factory or two I would keep them in scotch for a year . . .

   The growth of Mars has also grown its economy, and basic textiles and machinery are now produced in surplus.  In some instances, it is worth shipping back to Earth for a profit.  In particular something about the silkworms in low gravity creates good garments, I am told.  Since the Queen received a dressing gown of Martian silk, demand has skyrocketed.  Luckily, this also turns the eyes of Parliament toward taxation, and where taxes are involved, governmental infrastructure soon comes.  While Colonial Administration is still the primary department involved in the governance of Mars, I will soon have reinforcements to help impose order on the chaos.

   I should also mention something I have been hearing quite a bit about.  The papers have been full of the discovery of space-based ‘wormholes’ since July 4 of this year.  Apparently, Louise Cameron at Glasgow has confirmed his theories of standing gravitational waves.  That discovery was followed shortly by the recovery of a ship component whose task seems to be to create some sort of structure to transition ships from normal space to these standing waves.  I must admit, the boffins are exceedingly excited about it.  For my part I can’t see how it affects me, except that a request for a hypothetical ship twice the size of a Martianman freighter landed on my desk this morning.  The East India Company shipyard will need to start expanding.

16th of September - While I don’t understand it, this new theory of wormholes and jump points continues to plague me.  It seems the ship components discovered earlier were examples of a sensor designed to find these gravitational waves.  The Royal Society has released designs for such sensors, and the Phoenix will be built to start looking around the solar system for . . . truth be told, I do not know what it will look for.  Only that much of the scientific community and some of the Admiralty is excited about it, and therefore I must be as well.

Code: [Select]
Phoenix class Science Vessel    1,700 tons     161 Crew     340.6 BP      TCS 34  TH 126  EM 0
3705 km/s     Armour 1-12     Shields 0-0     Sensors 1/1/2/0     Damage Control Rating 2     PPV 0
Maint Life 9.76 Years     MSP 250    AFR 11%    IFR 0.2%    1YR 5    5YR 71    Max Repair 100 MSP

Watkins Over-Pulse Propeller (3)    Power 42    Fuel Use 88%    Signature 42    Armour 0    Exp 7%
Fuel Capacity 100,000 Litres    Range 120.3 billion km   (375 days at full power)

Gravitational Survey Sensors (2)   2 Survey Points Per Hour

This design is classed as a Military Vessel for maintenance purposes

23rd of November - After wrestling with Parliament for control of my own facilities, the Plymouth Civilian Shipyard is complete.  The basic structures are in place, but I plan to use it for the largest freighters and colony ships.  Expansion of the aether funnel and slipways begins immediately, and I’ve relented and begun building Mars-pattern terraformers here on Earth, for shipment to Mars.

   The East India Company Spaceworks retooled to produce the large commercial ships as well.  The shipyard is adding a second slipway while beginning work on the first large commercial freighter for the government.

   Another interesting scientific development, and this one much more close to home.  A Fellow named Charles Darwin claims to have unraveled what he describes as ‘the instructions for creation’ with regard to human beings.  He also claims that certain unidentified structures found on Mars are actually centres for tampering with these instructions.  The paper asserts that, with further study, we could produce humans adapted for heat, cold, low gravity, or any number of things.  Immortality seems the most obvious to me.

29th of November - A priority meson flash came in today over the new audio system.  Engineers discovered another installation full of clockwork guardians.  Thanks to the preparedness of the Army, a number of the enemy were wiped out in the first engagement and the threat quickly contained.  If they act the same way as the previous, we will let them spend most of their energy in wasted attacks and then clear out the few remaining combatants.

29th of January, 1851 - The 1st Archaeo-Martian Engineers have activated another terraformer.  I’ve sent them a case of scotch for each company, as promised.  Even with this latest, however, there are still plenty of eager workers - not counting the Martian cultists, who view the terraformers as an abomination.  The 5-year promises of breathable Martian air do not seem to have appeared and I receive repeated requests to instruct the brigades of engineers to seek out terraformers and restore them.  Ms. Hill and I have discussed it with the Army and we are all in full agreement.  The archaeological plan is sound and cautious, and minimizes the risk to the colonies from clockwork men.  The digs will continue in the approved pattern, and the terraformers will be restored when they are encountered and included in the safe areas.

9th of April - Baidya Limited forms in Dehli.  While I am wary of yet another shipping company to impose its wishes on my colonization schedules, I must admit that they have been allies in the struggle to civilize Mars for the past few months.  I do welcome another source of revenue, as well.

14th of May, 1851 - Another cache of advanced engines have been discovered on Mars.  These are shipped back to Earth immediately and Ms. Cartwright sets to work understanding them.  As her own work on this engine type is nearly half finished, a breakthrough is expected shortly.

2nd of July - HMSS Phoenix and HMSS Chimera have been floated.  Typical Admiralty logic - why buy one when you can have two at twice the price?  Both are sent around the inner system looking for these ‘jump points’.   We will see if Mr. Cameron is right after all.

22nd of July - A research facility of the Martians has been discovered.  While we know they conducting mining and construction on this outpost of theirs on Mars, this is the first major sign yet that it was also a place of higher learning.  Data recovered from the intact portions of the facility’s processors has given us a design for a very small-scale directional thruster.  It might have some use as a landing engine, but is more likely useful on very small powered objects for changing direction.

The story continues in either Part 4: The Great Void or Interlude: Mars, a hard-boiled detective story on the Red Planet
« Last Edit: September 17, 2012, 11:18:56 AM by Konisforce »
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Offline Garfunkel

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Re: Victoria Regina, Part 3: Consolidation
« Reply #3 on: September 07, 2012, 01:05:41 PM »
I just love, love, love how you integrated Charge of the Light Brigade into your story! Bravo! Keep it up!
 

Offline Tanj

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Re: Victoria Regina, Part 3: Consolidation
« Reply #4 on: September 07, 2012, 05:24:46 PM »
I never knew how much I needed this in my life, but meson telegraph about sums it up!
 

Offline Konisforce

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Re: Victoria Regina, Part 3: Consolidation
« Reply #5 on: September 08, 2012, 12:34:19 PM »
Ha!  Yeah, I was thinking I needed a wireless communications technology and that mesons pass through anything, seemed to make sense.

And Garfunkel - Thanks very much.  As soon as I started writing about British army maneuvers it seemed only fitting that I get the Light Brigade in there somehow.  I was amazed when I read through it again how little I actually had to change.

Thanks for the comments all, it's nice to know you're out there!  I'm working on further chapters and also a little interlude to explore the current situation on Mars.
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Offline Sheb

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Re: Victoria Regina, Part 3: Consolidation
« Reply #6 on: May 01, 2013, 08:57:37 PM »
Going to bed now (It's 4 am here), but this is the best Aurora writing I've ever read. Great works, I'll read the rest tomorrow. :)
 

Offline Konisforce

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Re: Victoria Regina, Part 3: Consolidation
« Reply #7 on: May 02, 2013, 04:51:33 PM »
Thanks a bunch!  Still pluggin' away at it, and the interludes as well.
Come take a look at Victoria Regina, an old-timey AAR
 

 

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