30 November 2008

Deathrays over Mars!

Prince Gopotty's First Recruits Take to the Skies

   A few months ago, our readers were treated to the first photostats of Martian Prince Musta Gopotty of Galfor mounted upon his (somewhat) domesticated golden whorled deathray, gliding gracefully through the cerulean skies of the Red Planet. Prince Gopotty has named his personal deathray mount "Rogor," which translates to "Slasher" in English.



   Since that time, the Prince has been consumed with the difficult task of finding Martians brave enough to join him in the pursuit of mounted aeronautics. A few hardy souls have answered his call and received the intense training required. And you can see photostats here!



   We have here the man who will be captain of the flying cavalry, Lord Impaw Sibbel. He is armed with what appears to be (at great distance, to be sure) an American .41 cal Navy revolver, with a brass frame, as was popular in the Confederate States during the War Between the States.



   The next photostat is a drummer, apparently intended to fly with the prince to provide signalling to the rest of his army far below.


   This last photostat is a shot of the first of the 'other ranks' for the Prince's Own Deathray Guards Cavalry. He is armed with a lance and a revolver. This journal's military contacts are not exactly convinced of the effectiveness of the lance when used on a flying mount, but reserve final judgment until such time as an entire unit of flying lancers can be observed in action.



   When shown the evidence of this airborne threat, a spokesman for the Viceroy had this to say:

   "We are used to the flying ships of the Martian natives. And we have countered them, to their consternation and our benefit. This new force is merely a response to the success, here on Mars, of our superior Earthly civilization.

   "Thankfully for our peace of mind, it seems that Prince Gopotty is having some difficulty finding recruits with both the nerve to mount a large, carnivorous, not-totally-domesticated flying beast and the skill to master the use of weapons while controlling said beast in flight. It will be some time still before these aerial marauders can threaten our security here in the Crown Colony. By then, the Viceroy is confident that our professional military, naval, and aeronaval officers shall have some sort of counter for this sort of perfidious, nearly silent but deadly force."

[Editor's Note: Finally! Progress on this project. I am torn on the main armament of the Prince's Own, though. A poll in the making. Which should it be, rifles or lances, or a mix? I lean towards lances, myself, but am not quite sure. There are two more saddled up and ready to be strapped onto their deathrays, a standard bearer and a rifleman. Just need to get some more leather lacing to strap them on with. Hope you like the photos. As before, the figures are Black Hat's Martian Cavalry, a mix of Command, w/Guns, w/Lances, and Mounted Princes packs. The deathrays are Safari, Ltd. Spotted Eagle Rays, and the saddles were cast by me in resin. If you want one or two, I could probably be talked into making some for you. I have actually thought about neatening up the sculpt and casting them for sale so others could do the same kind of conversions on any creature they wanted. What do you think?]

26 November 2008

Valuable Mineral Deposits

Handwavium Source Discovered Near Nova Roma!


Thrilling news, good readers!

It seems that the astonishing handwavium crystals (seen in the photostat above) have been found by Earthmen for the first time. These massive crystals can be induced to provide vast amounts of heat and light when subjected to the proper chemical baths, without requiring any oxygen at all! Imagine a boiler 'fired' by a chunk of handwavium the size of your head, and powerful enough to move a fully laden train! And it is consumed so slowly that it could last for over a year with no appreciative loss in function.

Truly, we live in an age of Marvels!

Naturally, the Colliers' Association of Britain has demonstrated against its use. Spokesman Darrel McTaggart of the CAB is quoted in the Times, "It would be a terrible error to put all of our faith in this potentially hazardous, and completely alien technology, while allowing good, Earthly coal mines to go unworked and unprofitable."

The deposits are found in a desolate area near Nova Roma, the recently Catholicized Martian city-state. The crystals grow right out of the ground, making 'mining' of them anincredibly simple task, except for one thing: the yellow floss spore plant. You may see in the photostat a small bush near one of the crystals. This is a yellow floss spore plant. Its spores, which are released with the slightest contact or even in a good stiff breeze, are highly toxic to Earthmen. Martian animals eat the stuff as if it were cotton candy. The yellow floss spore plant is supposed to be common in areas of handwavium, even in the underground caverns where Martian miners have been excavating small nuggets of handwavium for millennia.

Naturally, Her Majesty's Government is keen to gain access to these incredibly valuable deposits. Combined with the recent hydrium discoveries, it could truly revolutionize how aeroships and aetherships operate. There has been no official word out of Nova Roma as to the willingness of the Prince - or the Vatican - to trade in this vital substance. It is the sincere hope of this journal that the Prince, Bishop, or whomever is in charge of affairs of state and trade for the State of Nova Roma will be of an enlightened viewpoint in regards to this material.

[Editor's Note: The handwavium is chunks of pink foam cut in vaguely crystalline shapes, and then glued ot thin plywood bases and painted with a variety of paints, including Vallejo Model Colors and cheap craft paints (for the bases). I made them late last night when inspiration struck me. I call it handwavium because, well, I liked the word when i saw it used on TMP and it does sort of just wave a hand in the face of critics who start discussing how it is impossible to work because of laws of physics and chemistry. I am also planning on making some 'unobtainite ore' for Venus, which appears much like a blue granite, but has strange properties when exposed to an electrical current...]

25 November 2008

Added Feature!

The Atlas of Imagi-Nations

Gentlemen, I have embarked today upon an ambitious - nay, heroic! - quest: the Atlas of Imagi-nations!

You will now find, on the lefthand margin of your difference engine imaging screen, a section entitled: Imagi-nation Atlas. Below the heading are located telephonic linkages which, when selected, shall lead you to information about the imagi-nation selected.

The Viceroy of the Martian Crown Colony had this to say when his staff informed him of the news:

"Mister Womack has embarked, today, on an ambitious - nay, heroic! - quest."

Yes, I am on the Viceregal staff. My function? I write the Viceroy's speeches, actually.

Anyone with an imagi-nation that wishes to be considered for inclusion in the atlas need only contact me with their information, preferably providing me with a telephonic network address. This is easily done through the comments feature of this journal.

24 November 2008

Photostats at Last!

Papal Forces on Mars - Proof!



Using a telescopic device in conjuction with his voltaic digitizing photostatic imager, our intrepid correspondent has managed to get up-close pictures of the lead elements of the Pope's soldiers on Mars [Freikorps' 15mm Pontifical Infantry Command]. Judging by their uniforms, and consulting Roger's Handbook of European Uniforms, these men are regular infantry, not the elite Zouaves. Note the deep purple coats and kepis, and the loose fitting grey trousers. The purple, obviously, indicates the royal stature of the Earthly Host of Saint Michael, the Army of the Holy See of Rome. The enlisted men have white leggings over their black boots. This uniform was developed in 1871 for the Pope's forces. The guidon bearer has the Papal Army flag in hand.


It is hoped that more photostats will be forthcoming once additional troops arrive.

Imperial German Luftschiffetruppen on Venus


Though the photostat is blurry (damaged, I think, by exposure to the sun's rays in crossing the ether to Mars from Venus), it clearly shows a trio of German imperialist troops. The Imperial German colony of Venustaadt denies its expansionist tendencies. Only time will tell. Of course, a push on Venus might easily be followed by, or even preceded by an attempt to expand the Kaiser's influence here on Mars. Were I you, good readers, I should be on the watch for agents of the Kaiserlich Geheimenpolizei (Imperial Secret Police).

[Editor's Note: The Germans above are the first of those cruddy looking Seebattalion troops I got in a couple of weeks ago. These three are nearly done, and I wanted you to get a look at the improvements. I decided to go with a non-historical paint scheme on both sets of troops pictured today, partly to emphasize the new troop types there would be in a world with flying aetherships and secondly for the alternate history aspect of the Papal troops. In OTL, the Pope lost his secular kingdom in 1870. In the ATL, it is still a going concern, and stronger for the threats made against it in the 1860s and 1870.]

Technical Difficulties

Photostats Delayed!

With heavy heart, I am forced to admit that the photostats promised for the journal yesterday shall be delayed at least one day, and possibly longer. An unforeseen technical difficulty has caused problems with retrieval of the captured images from the voltaic digitizing photostatic camera. A cable is missing and until located, the photostatic images are locked within the infernal device!
Personally, I suspect foul play.
Truly, good readers, I shall endeavour to repair the device as rapidly as possible.

[OOC] New blog...

Dedicated to gaming terrain.

http://gamingterrain.blogspot.com

Check it out if you are into terrain or scenics.

23 November 2008

Expectations for the Morrow

More News of the Papal Forces on Mars

Tomorrow we expect to receive our first photostats of pontifical troops on Mars. One of this journal's many intrepid photostatic enthusiasts has promised to deliver to us the evidence of His Holiness the Pope's men in Nova Roma. Please don't miss it! The note we recieved which said to expect the photostats to be delivered also mentioned that there are only a few men in the shot: an officer, a drummer, and a guidon bearer, but it seems solid evidence to this correspondent!
Apparently, only a very few of the Catholic warriors have arrived so far on Mars. The rest remain in transit, through the great Black Ocean between the planets. Interplanetary heliograph has flashed a message to Her Majesty's Government and I have learned (through my own sources in Government House!) that KuK.As. Ezerzhog Karl von Osterreich left Earth only a few days ago. It will be at least a week, and possibly more, before any additional Papal forces even arrive on the Red Planet, much less get sorted out and re-equipped after their journey.

An Early Announcement

I would also like to take this opportunity to wish my youngest son, Dane, a very Happy Birthday! Tomorrow he will be ten years old - where does the time go? An entire decade. Seems nearly impossible to believe. I hope his next ten years are as good as the first, and maybe even better.

A Rainy Sunday

23 November …

The heavy rain was back today, so we did not venture out much. Even so, we did not let it spoil our day since it was nice to sit in my barracks room in the Senior NCOs Hut. The 20’ X 40’ room is split by one wall, giving me a 20’ X 20’ space to myself, and my two sergeants splitting the other side. My side of the SET hut has a desk now, courtesy of Chief O’Malley, who also brought me a nice standing oil lamp and two books. One was written by Colonel Jebediah T. Samuels, my old commanding officer, and is entitled War in a Mountainous Jungle. It's all about the Yucatan Expedition during the last war. The other is Nathaniel Hawthorne’s Tanglewood Tales. My room seems more like a home now with my cot, desk, pictures of the family and now a dog house to boot.

Lady V was happy I was around and wanted to play all day. After a wonderful mass by Father Flannigan we had a nice lunch. Lady V came with me to the NCO Mess as she tugged at people's trousers. Chief O’Malley was unsure if the weather will have an affect on their departure tomorrow. If the rain gets worse and an electric storm comes, I am sure they will not be going anywhere.

The officers did not let the weather affect their near-obsessive exploration of the temple. I think they are currently praying for another electrical storm, as they want the mysterious glowing blue stone to come back. Mr. Griggs told me they rigged up a tent near the temple so they can get out of the weather. He also told me they uncovered another blue granite walkway leading out of the central square so the count is up to four.

Well, it is off to bed and another day tomorrow and I suppose we will see if our explorers get what they want.

22 November 2008

Upon the Sea

22 November …

Today I left supervision of the construction up to my two sergeants, as the RTS Santa Fe will be headed home on Monday and Chief O’Malley is wanting to test out the steam-powered whale boat on the Venusian Sea. With Spot the Triceratops' help we were able to pull the boat to the sea with little effort. Once we launched the boat it was strange setting out on the water as this sea has clear water like the Caribbean Sea on Earth.

The crew for today’s adventure was Chief O’Malley, two petty officers and myself. We made sure we had plenty of wood to burn, as we would not want to be without power and I do not want to test my sailing skills with the small mast on a planet and ocean we have just touched the surface of exploration. We traveled up and down the coastline for most of the day, keeping the shore in plain sight. It was amazing as the floor of the sea was only a fathom or so deep for a good 500 feet offshore, and then the sea floor just disappeared to an unknown depth - our lead line found no bottom with 30 fathom of line. We saw countless fish swimming in the shallow reef area before the bottom disappeared, and Chief O’Malley caught two Venusian pink flounder, though he almost got stung by the barb of the first fish he pulled in. I made sure he knew to cut off the barb, as we did not want to take a chance of getting hit. Further offshore, we saw spouts of water shoot up from the ocean surface just as a whale on Earth would produce. We were all kind of hesitant to investigate the spots, as we saw many long shadows under the boat and some were at least as big as the boat. We turned back towards shore and made some rough sketches of the coastline. We were relieved to be back over the shallow coral bed floor as we caught five more flounder.

The officers were once again at the temple with the scientists, and Mr. Griggs said they still have found no writing but the professors have been measuring and drawing the whole temple area. The drizzling rain stayed with us all day as we have become accustomed to.

On the construction side, we will have to plan on building a perimeter wall with four towers and a heliograph tower to communicate as the landing area will be almost a mile away from Fort Humid. Not that we are in a rush, as it will be another month until the Army battalion is at full strength and are able to rotate a company through the landing area as security. We will also have to venture north at sometime into the hilly area to see if we can find suitable rock formations for a quarry, to build the roads.

Well it is off to chow and I am ready for some fresh fish, potatoes and cooked Venusian greens.

[Editors Note: The steam-powered motor whale boat is the standard gig for a warship. A typical whale boat is 26 feet in length and has a 9 foot beam. This particular model has a small water tube boiler for propulsion and can achieve 6.5 knots. The water tube boiler is used in this instance to cut down on weight.]

21 November 2008

More News

21 November …

This morning at quarters I am proud to say that our NCO ranks were strengthened as Corporal Cromwell and Lance Corporal Jones were promoted, to sergeant and corporal respectively, and Private O’Rourke was promoted to Lance Corporal. There was a need, with the arrival of eight green sappers, and the men had the required time in grade for their promotions. The letters of promotion will be sent back to headquarters with the RTS Santa Fe so their pay increases will reach their families. The squads had to be rearranged, as I do not want a corporal in charge of a squad without help, so Lance Corporal O’Rourke is now in Corporal Jones' squad. I am not sure if Corporal Jones was more excited by his promotion, the steam sawmill, or the fact that his ale has properly seasoned enough to drink.

Production more than doubled today with the aid of the new equipment, as the power of steam has transformed the means by which we do our business. It truly gives you an appreciation of how we used to build without the aid of steam power. Corporal Mendoza’s water well crew started drilling today and hit water at 80 feet; however, we will drill deeper to ensure the water is fresh and a deeper aquifer is less likely to dry up. The camp is starting to look proper as we now have ten buildings completed with walls and tarred roofs. The Allen Tar Pit is definitely nice to have nearby, as the tar applied to the roof helps the waterproofing. With the aid of Spot, we can even pull the heavy tar wagon at a good pace.

Drs. Caruthers and Palmer, along with the officers and a small security contingent, spent all day at the temple and arrived back at camp just as the sun was setting on the horizon. Mr. Griggs has said nothing to me about today’s events, but he was busy with Sergeant Thibodeaux this evening, as the planning of the meal is the responsibility of the junior officer. Now that Mr. Landowski has been promoted, he'll be on his own. Luckily for Mr. Griggs, there is an ensign now on board the Santa Fe to help with tonight’s festivities. Presently we have five Army, three Navy and one Marine officer in camp, plus the scientists are messing with the officers. This means the NCOs will have a night to ourselves and Corporal Jones will have to follow in the traditions of the service this evening with tonight’s events.

Lady Venus followed me around as best as she could today and I ended up carrying her when she tired out. Sergeant Garcia’s crew built her a dog house and it sits just inside my door. Well, I am off to dinner and look forward to tonight’s festivities.

20 November 2008

RTS Santa Fe Returns

20 November …

Today, the RTS Santa Fe returned, though we were not expecting it for another week, with the resupply of troops and some much needed equipment. She brought great news and gifts. Chief O’Malley was topside yelling orders as the Santa Fe landed just outside the compound. We are going to have to build an extension to the fort walls to encompass the landing zone.

Captain George W. Lamar, Republic Army, arrived to become the Executive Officer of the 3rd Battalion, 2nd Regiment. He hand carried the promotion letter for Captain Higgins, signed by Major General Pummel. Major Higgins is now at the proper grade of command for a battalion; he was not too surprised about the news as he had been earmarked for promotion before taking command of the Venus expedition. Subaltern Landowski is now Lieutenant Landowski as he has completed his two years in grade. The "Black Legs" also received reinforcement of two additional companies of infantry. I am glad to see the numbers increasing as with the additional two companies, the 3rd Battalion is now at half strength with a total of 205 men and a single detachment of Artillery.

The Marine Engineers contingent is now officially a heavy company, as we have five complete squads. Our numbers were increased with the arrival of eight new privates and Corporals Mendoza, Ferguson and Gonzalez. They all managed to shake the malaria they had contracted and seemed to be excited to make landfall. I can only imagine their relief to be out of the hospital in Houston that had become their home since their illness began. The men were happy to see their NCOs as the squads were reunited with one another. Sergeant Garcia and Corporal Cromwell are also pleased to see the new arrivals as the strain of command is lessened by their arrival. It is Christmas early this year for us, as we now have a steam-powered water well kit, two steam drills; one steam sawmill and two donkey boilers. We were also given a steam-powered motor whale boat.

The Republic Army saw fit to send a single 2.5” Colt Mountain Gun/Howitzer vice the requested two 3” Colt-Whitworth cannons that were requested. Corporal Miller of the gun crew was told a mountain gun could be easily transported on the backs of three mule or oxen and so was a better fit for the environment. So, the Army battalion of “Black Leg” infantry now has four “Red Leg” artillery added to its ranks.

The best thing for me is the arrival of mail, as the missus sent many letters to me and it is good to hear from loved ones as it strengthens the heart. I almost forgot Chief O’Malley brought me an eight week old puppy; a female red and white Irish Setter. He says the missus bought the dog and made sure that he brought it to me. She came with the name Lady Venus and Chief has been training her for me. The missus thought I needed some company, as our two Irish Setters at the house would always go on walks with me.

Dr. Jonas R. Caruthers, professor of archaeology at the University of Santa Fe, and Dr. Franklin W. Palmer, a leading scientist and professor of science at the Glasgow University, arrived and are here to examine and conduct research on the temple. I am sure they will have some help from the willing officers.

Well, it is off to the Staff NCO Mess, where I plan on swapping lies with my good friend Chief O'Malley as we partake of some actual Republic brewed ale.

[Editors Note: The 1879 Colt Mountain Gun is a 2.5” (7 pdr/63.5 mm) breechloading screw gun. It has a range of 3300 yards when fired with a shrapnel charge. Unlike other guns of the period, the 1879 CMG had a 1” thick wooden gun shield with ¼” brass band to protect the crew from smallarms fire. This was innovative at the time as all gun crews had previously been unprotected and easily picked off by rifleman.]

18 November 2008

Flag of the Holy See Flies over Mars!


Ladies and Gentlemen, we have recently discovered that the Roman Church has established a religious colony here on Mars!

The missionaries of the Vatican have managed to convert Prince Strohom, ruler of the minor city of Akbat, to the Roman faith. Further, Strohom has changed the name of his city to Nova Roma, and has requested that Pope Pius IX to send a bishop to oversee the establishment of their Church on Mars. The prince has already begun construction of a magnificent new cathedral, the first on the Red Planet for the Roman faith, in anticipation of the fulfillment of his request. Prince Strohom has even begun building a seminary, to train Martians to enter the priesthood.

Along with the bishop and additional priests will come a small contingent of Papal troops, including Regular infantry, Zouaves, and perhaps even a battery of modern guns. It is expected that the Pontifical military contingent will be transported from Earth by the Austrian ethership Ezerzhog Karl von Osterreich. This military mission seems excessive to this reporter, in the view of a lack of outright opponents of the changes in Akbat.

Viceroy for the Martian Crown Colony, Sir Gerald Blythingham, 1st Earl Mons Olympus, had this to say:

"Her Majesty's Government welcomes the Church of Rome's efforts to bring the benefits of European civilization and the light of Christianity to the indigenous peoples of Mars. However, we are troubled by their perceived need to further militarize the planet. Surely, the British Army and Aeronaval Forces could have provided for the safety and security of the missionaries in and around Akbat - er, Nova Roma, that is to say."

Fear not for the safety of Albertport, good friends, as the forces to be brought from the Papal States are small indeed, amounting to no more than a few companies of infantry. In addition, the city of Akbat - Nova Roma, that is - lies on the far side of the Imperial German Martian Protectorate of Marstaadt and the Empire of Galfor.

[Editor's Note: Both the author of this post and the other contributor to this journal are of the Catholic faith. Do not misconstrue the common vernacular terms for the Catholic Church used in the late 1800s in the United Kingdom as any sort of disrespect for the Church, or the Holy Father.]

16 November 2008

Sunday and No Rain

16 November …

Another beautiful Sunday has come and gone. Father Flannigan had another good sermon about Saint Paul before lunch. RSM Taggart and I had two guests with us this day as Sergeant Garcia and Corporal Cromwell ventured out with us on the Northerly path to the Venusian Sea. As the weather was pleasantly dry, we decided to take our noon meal with us and eat on the beach. It was a good ride, and you could see the path where it splits to the right (west) towards the temple.

The beach was nice and calm and simply being away from the fort seemed to relax all of us. That is, until we heard the distinctive report of a Martini-Henry rifle being fired twice, just to the south of our beachfront picnic lunch. We saw two figures dancing around on the beach in frantic circles. With the aid of my spyglass from the saddlebag of my Pachysaur, I could clearly see they were two of our men.

When we got over to them, I was unsurprised to see it was our two Cajun cooks, Sergeant Thibodeaux and Private Mistrot. Apparently, they had been collecting sand crabs at the edge of the water when they saw a huge shadow in the water and long barbs breaking over the surface. The shadow was a large fish that reminds me of a flounder, except it had three eyes on one side of its body instead of two, was pink in color and had a tail on its end with a barb like you would see on a ray. The two cooks had shot it immediately, and Thibodeaux did not miss a beat landing the big fish. As soon as he and Mistrot fired their rifles, he waded in after the thing and dragged it on shore. The fish is three feet in length, not including the long, whiplike tail and its wicked looking barb, and Thibodeaux and Mistrot are already talking about adding spices and how they plan to cook it. If I followed their rapid-fire Cajun patois anything like correctly, I expect we're going to be treated to a massive whole baked fish for dinner tonight.

Mr. Griggs said the temple had no electrical charge at all today, and even the lingering scent of ozone that had filled the air near it has dissipated. They still have not found any writing or symbols on the temple, but did find a path made of that same blue granite that stopped abruptly.

Well, tomorrow will be another long day of construction work, so I am going to get some chow - which I am sure will consist of fish and crabs - and hit the rack.

[Editor's note: Most of the fauna of both mars and Venus are, thankfully, edible by humans. The Venusian pink flounder (Paralichthys v. rosa) has a venomous barbed tail. Extreme caution is advised when landing one from a line or net. It is recommended that the flounder be dispatched by a shot (small caliber bullets or birdshot will do) prior to bringing into the boat or onto the beach. The tail barb should be immediately removed and discarded with care. Sand crabs (Mennipe v. arenas) are remarkably similar to terrestrial stone crabs, though their carapace is colored to match the sands of a Venusian beach. They are quite numerous in the ocean waters near Fort Humid.]

15 November 2008

Another Day of Rain

15 November …

The rain never stopped today as it went from heavy downpour to a light drizzle and back to a heavy rain. The men kept working and we were happy to have the pole barn to work on the walls and rafters for the SET Huts. I will be happy when the last tent is taken down and put in its box as the fabric only keeps out the rain partially. It is good to hear the men in the galley talk of how happy they are to have wooden floors and that they are out of the mud when they sleep. It makes you feel better knowing that the job you are tasked with helps the morale of the troops.

Captain Higgins, Mr. Landowski and Mr. Griggs again went to the temple and they said they were disappointed with what they saw, or more accurately, did not see. It seems the mysterious effect of the lightning is gone today, almost as if the 'magic' of the temple is only existent in the lightning storms. They did say there was only a slight feel of static in the air and the stone itself showed no mark of a lightning strike. Mr. Griggs said the stone was cold to the touch, which in the constatnt heat and humidity of this jungle is strange enough to make your hair stand up.

Well, tomorrow is Sunday, our day of rest and like usual I am looking forward to a relaxing day.

The Temple

14 November…

This morning the sky was a fiery red as the sun rose above the jungle landscape, though it was only a matter of hours before the sky changed to a bluish-green color we have come to recognize as stormsign. The wind blew in, cold and hard. The clouds broke loose with a fantastic light show and the rain came down in sheets of massive, dollar-sized drops. Lightning struck in the middle of camp with the blinding fury of God; luckily, no one was in the open or they surely would have been killed. There was also a streak of lightning that seemed to hit near the temple as the white lightning turned a bright blue. After a few hours, the freak storm passed and the cold wind and driving rain was replaced by the more usual 85 degree heat and drizzling rain. The force of the brief storm was devastating, and we are lucky we did not lose anything.

We finished ten more base structures today, so the count is now up to fifty-two. We will start erecting the walls and roofs alredy prepared by our fabrication crew working at the pole barn. Their work is not easy using older methods of construction, and I know that Lance Corporal Jones will be happy to have the steam sawmill when it arrives. I talked to Mr. Griggs last night about promoting Jones, as he has sufficient time in grade and is the most senior of the lances we have with us on Venus. Mr. Griggs says we will wait on the RTS Santa Fe to see if replacement NCOs arrive, and if an insufficient number arrive to fill our command structure properly, Jones will be promoted on the spot. Sergeant Garcia and Corporal Cromwell have also been doing a great job as usual and catching the things I do not, as it is easy to forget some details when you are as short-handed as we.

The officers went to investigate the blue lightning after Mr. Griggs and I were finished making our rounds and discussing the plans and schedules of the fort. Mr. Griggs and the other officers headed out on their mounts shortly after the drizzle began. Mr. Griggs returned prematurely a few hours later and was filled with much excitement and almost dragged me by the collar to go with him. I let Sergeant Garcia take over supervision of the construction, and hurried off with Mr. Griggs and RSM Taggart. Taggart and I mounted our Pachysaurs and tried to follow Mr. Griggs, who was pushing his mount to run as fast as it was able through the thick undregrowth which still flourishes far too near our walls. Upon arrival at the temple, RSM Taggart and I understood the haste in which we had traveled.

The flora and fauna had a static charge and the air crackled with electricity. The four guardians' eyes and spear tips were glowing, and the whole temple was cast in an eerie blue light as if the stone had come to life. The hair on my neck and my arms stood up, and I readied my carbine as did RSM Taggart. The ID disc and holy crucifix that I wear on a thong around my neck seemed to jump from my chest, as everything made of metal seemed to be pulled toward the central platform surrounded by the columns.

We could not believe our eyes. Was the place alive? Did the lightning awaken something? Did the magnetism have something to do with the guardians that stood at the four points of the compass? These were just a few of the questions we had. We were ordered not to set foot on the blue stone. Captain Higgins had already tried, but the stone shot a blue arc to his foot before it touched the stone floor. The electricity sparked through his thick leather boot and burned his foot badly. As we left the temple area, we were sure that we really needed an archaeologist or scientist assigned to our expedition as soon as possible.

Once we returned to camp, Mr. Landowski sent one of the repawks the Brits gave us to carry a message to Camp Trafalgar. The message was a standard personnel request for two scientists or archaeologists to explore the region around Fort Humid. It should go outbound on their next ethership headed to Earth, due to depart in a few days.

Well, what a day! After all the excitement, I am glad it is time to turn in.

[Editor's Note: Repawks (or more correctly, Pteranodon venustica buteo) are small, carnivorous flying reptiles approximately the same size as the Earthly red-tailed hawk (B. jamaicensis). The first British exepedition discovered by accident their ability to act as homing or carrier pigeons, and have begun keeping the creatures in replacement of the terrestrial birds, who have difficulty on Venus. No carrier pigeon has ever safely arrived at its destination on Venus; it is assumed they have fallen prey to the large number of pterosaurs of all sizes that rule the Venusian sky.]

13 November 2008

Long Days of Exploration

13 November …

Today was the second day in the exploration of the lizardman shrine. Captain Higgins, Mr. Griggs, RSM Taggart and I searched the area around the statue. The statue is located only five miles from Fort Humid so it did not take long to make the journey. Yesterday we discovered three more statues, each facing in different directions looking outward from each other. We noticed upon further examination that the statues actually each faced a cardinal point on the magnetic compass, one each facing north, south, east and west. All four statues were identical, standing ten feet tall and mounted on a five foot high stone pedestal.

The more vines we cleared, the more anxious we all got as the very floor of the area was composed of blue granite flagstones that seemed to shine like a deep blue river with the sun reflecting brightly on its surface. Each of the lizardman statues was located at the corner of a giant square, approximately one hundred feet to a side. The square was geometrically perfect - I am sure the builders knew exactly what they were doing, but the measurements they used were obviously not the same as our standards. Directly in the center of the square lay a square platform, about twenty foot on a side and five feet high. Upon this raised platform were four smooth round pillars, one at each corner, and in the center of the platform was an altar-like stone, again square. I don't know what this square within a square within a square design means. We'll have to send a report to some scientist or archaeologist or architect or something to tell us that.

By this point it was late in the afternoon, so Captain Higgins decided it was time we should head back to camp. He appeared nervous about the possibility of being caught out in the jungle after dark on this strange planet. We barely got back to camp as the sun completely faded from the sky.

We were so tired after our discovery yesterday, I fell quickly to sleep and did not even give a thought to putting pen to paper. Tonight I am exhausted as well. I will not venture out to the 'temple' tomorrow as there is work to do in camp. The officers still plan on going back to the site and are going to document the discovery. Hopefully Taggart and I will receive some mention in their official report. I will be happy when we finally return to our full complement of NCOs, as we lost three corporals (Mendoza, Ferguson and Gonzales) to malaria a month before we left Earth on our journey. I know my two NCOs have done a great amount of work. Well, it is off to bed and tomorrow evening, hopefully, I will not be as tired as I have felt these last two days.

11 November 2008

Anniversary!

Gentleman,

While I know that in the last week or so the hard news coming from this journal has been rather scanty, I hope you have enjoyed the ongoing exploits of our valiant Texican friends as they explore the Veiled Planet.

We have, nevertheless, reached a very important milestone: this journal is, today, one year old.

So, Mustafa, it is again time to break out the port and cigars for a celebratory snort and smoke. Gentlemen, we convene at the billiards table in five minutes. See you there.

[OOC] Salute

Gentlemen and ladies,

Today of all days I would like to express my profound gratitude to our veterans, of all our conflicts and our peactime forces.

Without your sacrifice, and that of our remembered fallen, this nation - this world - would be a much different, and I think, lesser place.

I would especially like to mention my family and friends who I know have served:

Jimmy Womack, Vietnam
George Womack, WWII
Sherman Loyd, WWII
their brothers (all seven of them) WWII
my grandmothers' brothers (again, six served), WWII and Korea
Jim Stewart, USN
Susan Stewart, USN
Kristian Pfeiffer, USMC
Patrick Fitzgerald, USMC
James Blanton, US Army

There are others I know I am forgetting to mention, as well as many more ancestors, stretching back to the American Revolution (Jesse Womack, Burke Co., Georgia militia). Please don't take it as a slight.

Ladies and gents, the (virtual) beer's on me.

Sincerely and respectfully,

James L. Womack

The Scouting Party Returns

11 November …

Good news today! Our officers' scouting party returned from Camp Trafalgar unscathed. The men gave a shout of joy and a salute as the party entered the gates into the compound. After debriefs from both sides were delivered, we talked of the mutual adventures. We also learned of the recent attacks by the lizardmen at Camp Trafalgar. Captain Higgins, Subalterns Landowski and Griggs were all saddened by the loss of Private Allen and were pleased by the naming of the tar pits in his honor. They were also quite surprised the pigeons did not make it back to us, as they had launched all they had - over a dozen of them.

Mr. Griggs commented on what he saw in Camp Trafalgar. It seems the British camp has a landing pad for the Ether Vessels, a freshwater well, eight Armstrong 12 pound breechloading cannons (3 in/76 mm), stone roads and access to Lake Wellington. The camp is also twice the size of our fort and has some civilian personnel living in camp (scientists and map makers).

The officers were quite happy about the progress we have made in their absence; however, they had a huge list of improvements to add to our fort. Maybe it was a bad idea for them to travel to Camp Trafalgar, as our workload has doubled with their ambitious schedule of improvements. Captain Higgins even went so far as to send a message back to Houston aboard the HMS Wales, requesting more engineers and equipment, including two 3” Whitworth-Colt Cannons (12 pound /76mm). We should expect to see the RTS Santa Fe in a few weeks, if not sooner.

Captain Higgins, Mr. Griggs and Mr. Landowski want us to show them the lizardman statue tomorrow, as it might help uncover the mysteries of these barbaric people. This is the first statue to be found of a lizardman anywhere in this hemisphere.

On the construction side of the house, we built eight more base structures. We also started building 4-hole burnouts (we will use tar as an ignition source to burn) and leach fields to replace the slit trenches. Mr. Griggs also looked at the plans for the outer walls, making notations and improvements to our initial design. We also completed a timber barn without walls so we can work on wall sections when the rain is at its worst. The rain was a drizzle most of the day and it was off and on. I am not complaining, as we can at least dig holes and place posts for foundations in drizzle and light rain.

Well it is off to dinner and I will call it a night, as I have a feeling I will need my rest for tomorrow will be a long day.

[Editors Note: The 3” Whitworth-Colt Cannon was a breechloading cannon based on the Whitworth 70mm design. It was manufactured in the Republic of Texas by the Colt Arsenal in Nacogdoches until the improved 3” Santa Fe was produced in 1901.]

10 November 2008

Venus: 10 November

10 November ...

Today was another busy day of construction as we completed another ten base structures. It is a good thing we have made so much progress on the base structures, because the rain started again around 1600. This time, the rain is very light but constant. The only good thing about the rainy season thus far is that the temperature has dropped down to the high 80s. I do not expect the temperature to drop any more than it already has since the reptiles that dominate this planet require hot temperatures for their cold blood.

I hope to start construction on the outer wall soon, as the ten foot tall inner wall is not enough for a proper defense. The outer wall will be five feet further out, with a height of 16 feet. Rifle firing ports will be added in order to fire our Martini-Henrys at approaching enemies without exposing ourselves to their return fire. The two walls will be joined together with a walkway and the five feet between them will be filled with dirt and rubble to help strengthen the wall. We plan on building escape tunnels and cellars for ammo bunkers and for cold food storage. The natural heating and cooling properties will help with food preservation as ice is a little hard to come by.

RSM Taggart and I have told no one of the statue yet. The last thing we need at this point in our deployment is for our men to start sneaking off and getting into trouble. If the lizardmen decide to attack we will need all of the men healthy.

Still no pigeons today. I am starting to worry. Hopefully, the officers' exploring party will show up tomorrow as I am anxious to hear about their adventures. Well, it is time to make my rounds, as I need to check the sentries.

09 November 2008

Half of it is Huck's and half of it is mine...

09 November …

Today we experienced another relaxing, peaceful Sunday with a touch of excitement. The day started out pretty routine: breakfast and a good Mass by the chaplain, followed by holiday routine. The men played another friendly rugby match, the Joneses worked on their brewing techniques and Sergeant Thibodeaux and Private Mistrot worked on building a room around that darned turtle-shell bathtub. All except RSM Taggart and I as we climbed aboard our mounts and headed into the wilderness once again.

Upon leaving the confines of Fort Humid we headed northwest to find a good route to the Venusian Sea. As we were riding, we saw many new species of plants and smaller reptiles just as we did on our previous adventures. After a few hours, we found the sea in all of its glory. The smell of the water was somehow different as it seemed as though we were looking at a source of new adventures. I could see in my mind Republic ships sailing upon the water and a port and road linking the fort to the sea. The sand on the beach was just as it would be on Earth. We saw crabs along the beach and I am thankful they are the same size as what we are accustomed to back home. After a few hours on the beach it was time to head back to Fort Humid, this is when our adventure truly began.

Traveling to find an alternate route to Fort Humid, we uncovered a rock figure covered under weeds and plant life. As we dismounted and approached and started to uncover the statue it began to take shape of a lizardman, just like we had studied from the British exploration manuals. We marveled at the craftsmanship of the statue of an ancient lizardman warrior carrying a shield and spear. While in Yucatan during the war, Sergeant Garcia, Corporal Cromwell and I encountered statues from the ancient Mayans that once ruled the Central Americas and I remember the feeling of amazement that came over us and this was quite similar. We started to lose daylight, so we had to abandon our discovery and hopefully when the work schedule permits we can explore the area further. At the latest, bright and early next Sunday morning, weather permitting. After all, it is duty first and I do not think the statue will go anywhere before then.

08 November 2008

Erecting the Camp

08 November …..

In the last three days we have completed twenty-one base structures for the SET huts. The Black Legs helped as we concentrated on building and they tore down and erected the tents on top of the recently built bases. This will help, because I fear there is more rain to come, and if the tents are four feet off of the ground, then we do not have to worry about the rivers running through them as we had earlier in the week.

Almost two weeks since the expedition left for Camp Trafalgar, and still no sign of carrier pigeons. However, we do see many large flying reptiles, which have been seen attacking smaller flying creatures. I just hope the officers and men of the overland expedition made it safely to the British camp and were not caught out in the open during the three-day storm. I hope they make it back safely back to Fort Humid in the next few days.

Sergeant Thibodeaux and Private Mistrot have their turtle bathtub set up again after the rain storm. They have managed to catch a few fish and we ate some extraordinary grilled fish yesterday evening. Today we had Grillag Gumbo and it was quite tasty as well. Sergeant Thibodeaux says he will have to venture out and look for some home grown spices. RSM Taggart told him that would be fine, as long as he did not go turtle hunting again. The potato garden and green onion gardens are doing quite well and are always maintained by our cooks.

The three Joneses in my command have got their still up and running and as we speak are tending to the fire. Lance Corporal Jones is, by the way, an excellent scrounger as well a brewer. Every time I ask about something he comes up with the item. I made the mistake one morning of asking him where he had gotten the eggs for our breakfast and he started to tell me how his uncle this time back in Wales had gotten in trouble with a magistrate. I told him that was enough information and to go about his business once again. He is also one of the best carpenters I have seen and is a natural leader. The lower ranking troops respond to his instruction and correction quite well. When it is time for promotions, I will suggest that Mr. Griggs promote him to Corporal.

Tomorrow is our day off, so we will attend services and relax and maybe head out on another Sunday adventure.

The Rainy Season Begins

05 November …..

After three days of the most horrible monsoon I have ever seen, the rain has finally stopped. The rain was so hard you could barely see twenty feet. The water rose to just three six feet of our perimeter walls, I am thankful we chose our location wisely as it looked as if we were on an island. I am thankful we had the roof and walls completed on the headquarters, hospital and chapel, as the tents had rivers running through the middle of them. We moved as many people as possible into the three structures; of course, our work was close to nothing as it is difficult to work when you can not get proper footing and digging holes is useless as they collapse. The only thing we kept up was the security watches manning the guard towers (as they have roofs).

Today we concentrated our efforts on placing posts for the location of the first ten SET hut barracks. After we set the posts and get the floors built, we will work on ten more bases as we cannot afford to be caught in the same predicament again. If we have the bases of the buildings ready for walls, we will at least be able to place the tents on top of the base structures.

We had so many clothes hanging on lines today drying you would have sworn we had started our own laundry business. Well, enough for now. Time for sleep as tommorrow we start digging holes and erecting new floor structures.

06 November 2008

Royal Xenological Society, Vol. 2

Giant Tortoise of Venus

An interesting new species of giant tortoise has been discovered by our Texican allies on Venus. The new species, officially classified as Testudo venustica thibodeaux (or T. v. thibodeaux), is incredibly large. It is also, according again to our Texican friends, a rather tasty meal. The Texican photostatic expert for the expedition has again provided this journal with the first glimpse of the huge beast. It is conservatively estimated to weigh in at over 900 pounds, with a shell measuring over 10 feet across! Truly a monster, and a feast for many days to the hunters who manage to kill the beast. Rumor has it that its thick shell is proof against Earthly rifles, and that only a shot to the softer tissues of the extended head or neck will bring one down. The Thibodeaux tortoise's hard beak-like mouth can shear through tree limbs as thick as a man's thigh with ease. I shudder to think what its terrible maw could do to the tender flesh of Man.

A Flight of Wild Deathrays

This photostat shows the incredible gracefulness of these dangerous predators of the Martian skies. A trio of golden whorled deathrays can be seen gliding smoothly over the dry plains of the Martian outback. This particular photostat was taken from the safety of the armored deck of HMS Wasp, on a test flight out of Albertport.



I do hope you have enjoyed the latest in our educational series of posts regarding the flora and fauna of the Inner Planets. Return again soon to this telephonic journal for more edifying fare for your mind.
[Editor's Notes: The Testudo v. thibodeaux is nothing more than a Safari, Ltd. giant tortoise vinyl toy I purchased at Michael's Craft Store the other day. It just seemed perfect.]

05 November 2008

Remember, Remember!

...the Fifth of November,
The gunpowder, treason and plot.
I know of no reason
Why the gunpowder treason
Should ever be forgot."



Guy Fawkes Night Celebration in Martian Crown Colony


In celebration, good friends, there shall be a bonfire, and the traditional fireworks over the Government House in Albertport. Bonfire toffee and toffee apples will be provided gratis, thanks to the good efforts of the British Gentlemen's Benevolent Society. The effigy of Fawkes was constructed by the Ladies' Auxiliary to the Benevolent Society, and will be set alight by rolling tar barrels down the street into the effigy at the base of the bonfire. The barrels themselves are sponsored by two public houses in Albertport, the Woodstock and the Cock and Bull's.

For those of you lacking a solid classical education, please recall that Guy Fawkes was the man arrested on the fifth of November in 1605 in connection with the Gunpowder Plot to blow up the Houses of Parliament and King James I. He has since come to stand (in certain political circles)for the idea that a government should fear the people when it fails to represent them. However, most Englishmen revile the man who would overthrow his rightful king through such underhanded and cowardly violence as a hidden bomb. He was, of course, given a fair trial after his confession, and then quite rightly hanged, drawn, and quartered for high treason.

Delays in Posting

More news of technological breakthroughs and the Progress of Empire later this week, or perhaps this weekend. Astronomical conditions and work stoppages have made it difficult to send and receive messages via the Aetherial Heliograph System. We apologize for the delays in notification.


[Editor's Notes: In actuality, I have been swamped and smothered by work and our houseguests. There has been little of real progress to report. I hope the out of character notices have kept your interests piqued, and I eagerly await the next installment of Adventures on Venus (or whatever RSM Cox is calling his serial) just as I know the rest of you are.]

03 November 2008

[OOC] More stuff has arrived!

Man, I love it when I get stuff that I don't even recall having ordered!

Today I got 24 German Seebattalion troops in 15mm from a fellow on eBay. I'm not super-impressed with the paint jobs. Another problem is that they seem to have been on Venus too long. Just check out the photo:

Once they are cleaned up, I'll be making an 'official' announcement of their arrival.

I also got a small package of bases and casualty caps the other day. Not very exciting stuff, but I needed more bases and I am going to try the casualty caps in Napoleonics. Which means I probably ought to post something on the Napoleonics blog, which is languishing sadly as I try to make progress on my VSF projects that have been piling up for the last few years.

The Pontifical forces are being held up at Little Wars while they await a re-stock of figures. I have no ETA on these, which irritates the crap out of me. They have my money, I would like to have my figures. In store, they are great guys, and I don't think they are trying to cheat me or anything, but I am not a really patient person in the first place.

What else am I waiting on? Uhm... I ordered a few Donnington Miniatures 15mm religious types (a bishop and a couple of priests) for the Papal forces. Those will be delivered at Warfare in Reading, a convention in the UK, where some nice folks from TMP are going to pick them up and ship them to me at cost, rather than the somewhat steep $16 for shipping 4 figures. I checked Royal Mail's airmail fees, and that's pretty high.

Also, I won a large tunneler from GW's offshoot company Forge World in an auction on http://www.games2trains.com/. It is resin, and emerging from the ground. Pretty cool, but waiting on delivery.

There are 10 RAFM shield gunners from their Space 1889 line coming in sometime soon as well. Got a steal on them - $12.60 including shipping! Woo Hoo! I love TMP!

And, I have a line on most of the Mordians I need to make the special weapons squad in 25mm for them. Of course, I have no other German troops in 25/28mm scale. Keep looking at the Tiger Miniatures, but I am not convinced about them. Don't see much else out there, though. Need to wait to get the Mordians, as I am totally blowing my budget lately, even with the pretty good deals I have been finding.

Still working on the airship. It's coming along slowly. Also, pouring the occassional resin saddle or two. Only need five (?) more. Once I get them all done, I can put together the deathray cavalry. After I paint the riders, of course. Perhaps I should quit typing and get painting. Too tired this evening, though.

I need to come up with a monthly poll, too.

Don't forget to vote tomorrow. Choose the lesser of the two evils, as you see it. Not that it matters much, since the only people you really want in the job won't go anywhere near it.

Think that's all for tonight.

01 November 2008

A new month

01 November ...

This morning colors were a more prideful as our permanent three-section nautical flagpole was completed late yesterday evening. As the bugler played the Republic Anthem and the flag of the Republic was hoisted smartly up the thirty-foot tall pole you could feel the pride surge through the troops. This is the first time since landing on Venus that we got to fly the Ceremonial Republic flag, and unit flags of the RA and RM simultaneously.

Still no pigeons today, and it has almost been a solid week since the officers took a squad to make contact with Camp Trafalgar. I hope they are not in any trouble, as the planet is most hostile. I still will bet my money on the fact that a pigeon could not out-fly one of the flying reptiles we see daily over the camp.

I will be glad when the Santa Fe comes back to deliver the boilers and the rest of the construction equipment. I know the men would love to get their hands on the steam lumber sawmill or the steam auger or a steam drill. Knocking down trees is not a problem, as Spot is the best forest clearing device I have ever seen. It saves a tremendous amount of time trying to cut trees when Spot can pull a tree straight out of the ground in only a few minutes. The boiler will be nice so we do not have to boil water for purifying or for showers. Presently our showers consist of empty wooden barrels with holes drilled into them. Just heat the water and pour five gallons into the barrel, and presto! Shower time.

Our perimeter is now cleared of trees for 100 yards around the camp and we have trees stacked to the sky, to be used as building material. Since we have enough raw materials to build, I think I will have the road towards the tar-pits and the Venusian Sea cleared of trees at least and the road will come when we find some type of stone to use as a good foundation. Until then, we might build a corduroy road using the surplus logs.

So far today, we have eaten turtle three times. When Sergeant Thibodeaux is not cooking him and Private Mistrot are working on the turtle's shells. I asked Thibodeaux what he was going to do with the shell and he said he was making a big bath tub from the back shell.

Well, time to close and we all look forward to a day of relaxation on our day off.

Wasps over Albertport

Aerial Gunboat Takes to the Skies of Mars
We have also received word from the Royal Navy's ethership docks here in Albertport that Her Majesty's Royal Navy shall soon have a new class of small, steam-powered, hydrium-lift gunboats to protect the Crown Colony from the German menace and the troubling actions of certain Martian princes. Though it has yet to be armed, your faithful journal writer has no doubt that it soon shall be.

Seen here is the armored control cabin and the steam engine of the new HMS Wasp, the first ship of its class. Below, you can see a sergeant of the Royal Artillery's Research and Development Field Testing Platoon atop the armored cabin. The lights of the Albertport Ethership Tower can be seen in the distance behind.

You can not see the hydrium venting system in the hull that helps control the altitude of the armored airship in these photostats. Unlike the more common rigid frame gasbag type of airship, this vessel uses internal tanks of hydrium and is constructed largely of liftwood for added bouyancy. It can rise and dive rapidly as a result, and is far smaller and more maneuverable than even the smallest of the framed gasbag types.

[Editor's Notes: This airship can be converted for use by other nations in a matter of minutes, by changing the flag (on a removable pole). It currently sports the naval ensign of Imperial Germany, which is why it isn't seen in these small photos. It still needs a good bit of work, repairing damage sustained during shipping, and adding little details I like. Plus weapons, of course!]