Space 1889: Wrigglesworth and Pinchback's Majestic Interplanetary Trading Company

London Bridge is Falling, Part One

Much shaken by their disturbing and frightening experiences with the Germans, our hardy band of travelers arrived back in Syrtis Major for a brief break before their next assignment would be given.

Miss Walker discovered that an old family friend had recently arrived on the planet, and requested leave to meet with him, compare notes and reminisce about the past.

Two days after their arrival, Lieutenant Battersby received a letter from an address he did not recognize, in Mylarkt. It seems that the esteemed Lady Edith Tillington had heard tales of his and his comrades’ accomplishments, and wished their assistance in an as yet unrevealed mission. She offered a goodly sum merely to travel to Mylarkt and hear her offer. After acquiring permission from their employers, the lieutenant, Professor Abernathy, Mr. Wallace, and Willoughby set forth for Mylarkt with Aloysius and Billy in tow. Lady Tillington had arranged for their travel and accommodation at the British embassy there.

Lady Tillington received them graciously, and presented her proposal: her husband, Lord Tillington, had undoubtedly perished when his ship crashed in the Isidis desert. The ship (the London Bridge) had been transporting him, along with a great deal of his written work, back to Syrtis Major. Lady Tillington wished to recover his body for Christian burial and as much of his notes as she could find, so that his work would not be lost forever. She offered an incredible sum for this mission: 3000 pounds sterling for the attempt, but a full 5000 pounds if they succeeded. Flabbergasted by this generosity, our heroes could not resist the offer and vowed to assist her as well as they could.

Lady Tillington had but one condition: she must go with them when they set forth to the crash site. She wanted to find her husband’s body and his works herself. She had had poor luck getting assistance from the locals, but did know Martian culture and languages well, and promised that she would not complain or slow down their travels. When he learned that she was handy with a pistol, as well, Lieutenant Battersby reluctantly assented.

Lady Tillington had one lead: she knew that a piece of a difference engine had turned up in the shop of a local man named Keb Sollos. It was most likely from the crash site, and perhaps he knew how to get there, or could tell them who could lead them to the site, for a sum. Anything in Mylarkt was possible—for a sum.

The city was filthy with gaseous pollution rising from vents in the ground and dingy with the stench of poverty and disease. The oldest city on Mars did not show its age well.

The group made its way to Keb Sollos’ shop in the market district, where they also acquired some rather expensive supplies for their inevitable journey into the desert. Keb informed them that a young man named Waldoon Koposkop had found the wreckage and sold him the piece of the difference engine. He was certain he had a map to the site somewhere, but his shop was so disorganized that only his assistant could find anything of that nature. After calling for his assistant and receiving no answer, he shrugged and informed Professor Abernathy that Waldoon and his brother Kahol could often be found haunting the Nine Briars Emporium, a very popular local den of iniquity. He also knew that they had a dwelling in “the Scourings,” a poor and desolate area of the city, but our heroes decided that venturing there was perhaps not the safest way of finding them.

Heartened by the information they had gathered, Lieutenant Battersby led his friends to the Nine Briars, only to be appalled at the realization that this was no place for a lady. He attempted to get Lady Tillington to leave, but she calmly refused, and sat with him in the lobby while Mr. Wallace and Professor Abernathy interviewed Yarini, the seductive proprietress of the place. Yarini had not seen the brothers lately, but agreed to send a runner (for a sum—everything in Mylarkt is for a sum) to the embassy if she did. They returned to the embassy to wait, but two days passed with no word.

It seemed inevitable that they would have to brave the Scourings.

Astusapes by Rail, Part One

With the governor-general’s son located safely, the adventurers found themselves with a couple of days to wait before they were to be aerially transferred to Parhoon. At the Syrtis Major Army-Navy Club, Lieut. Battersby ran into an old comrade-in-arms from his days in the Sudan Campaign: Army Captain Seafort. After catching up, he was introduced to Battersby’s companions, and agreed to lend a military eye to the upcoming investigation of problems besetting the Great Northern Martian Railway. A steam aerial launch deposited them in Parhoon at the newly-minted railway station, where they were met by Edward Davies, representative of the G.N.M.R. As they boarded an express train for the end of the line, Davies explained the number of suspicious occurrences which had delayed the railway’s construction: workers were frequently ill with cramping and fever, crucial components were sabotaged, a boiler explosion on the rail-making machine had injured three and killed one, and just three days prior, the entire survey team had gone missing. After starting on the 20th of May, and after a first month of averaging some 8 miles of track laid per day, the line was now stalled in the Astusapes Highlands shy of 500 miles from Parhoon.

En route, the Professor spied the now-familiar shapes of approaching High Martians. The group quickly prepared to repel the group of savages coming up from the rear. The villainous band soon overtook the train and tried to enter the adventurers’ carriage, but they were soon met with a hail of gunfire. A few managed to make it inside the carriage, but within minutes, all of the High Martians lay dead or dying, or else had exercised the better part of valor. The train made it safely to Astusapes Station, near the end of the line of laid track.

They were met by George Cawley, the administrator overseeing construction of the G.N.M.R. He explained the various problems that had beset the Railway. Crates of rail joiners were missing, barrels of lubricating oil had developed leaks, there had been several problems with the rail-making machine, and now the entire survey crew was missing. The group pledged to help and set out to inspect the rail terminus and take a look for the survey team.

Into the Dragon's Den
in which the seedy underbelly of Syrtis Major is explored

Wednesday, August 7th, 1889

Our adventurers got a little extra time to relax after quitting the Mississippi Queen, although it was made clear that they would soon be back in action. (Battersby was heard to remark: “The only way I could tell I had been put ashore was that suddenly I was moving faster.”) The building which housed Majestic’s headquarters on Mars became a default lounge of sorts for all idle company hands. Professor Abernathy began putting together a proper laboratory, while Miss Walker made the acquaintance of the Rev. Thomas Forbes-Hamilton, who was interested in learning more about her encounter with the natatornis walkerii.

Soon, Mr. French alerted the characters that they would be assisting with a new project to start a railroad in the Astusapes Highlands. “Cheyenne” Jack, Miss Pierce, and Lord Ayersleigh were to be sent west to Thymiamata, with the goal of securing an American railroad expert to assist in the project. The remainder of the group was to wait to be sent north.

Before parting ways, however, the group was to accompany Ayresleigh to the 52nd birthday party of the Regent-Commissioner for Parhoon himself, Lord Dundas. During the festivities, Lord Dundas asked the assembled heroes if they might investigate the activities of his son Andrew, whom he feared was associating with “dangerous personages of disreputable character.” During this missive, Miss Walker detected an unusual smell emanating from the plate of food Lord Dundas had set upon – food intended originally for Andrew himself. The odor she remembered from her time with the desert nomads; they used an herbal paste to attract durge flies to consume their enemy captives. Sensing a trap but not seeing the necessary durge flies, the group queried the kitchen staff and learned that Gailuun, the “new hire” who served the food, was nowhere to be found. Investigating Andrew’s room produced a diary and a jade necklace with Chinese characters. It seemed Andrew had taken to the Dragon’s Gate opium din, and become enamored of a Chinese girl named Jinjiang.

Determined to follow the missing Andrew into the dangerous Harbor District, the group suddenly noticed one of the Governor’s birthday parcels was buzzing – it was quickly snatched up and throw into the ovens before it could disgorge the deadly durge flies within!

Bluffing their way into the opium den by suggesting Andrew had sent them, the characters made inquiries of the staff and began to arouse suspicion. However, mention of the now-missing Jinjiang’s name roused the previously-missing Governor’s son, and the group quit the place of vice to consult further.

Mississippi Queen


The Hidden Waters of Biblis Fons - Conclusion

The ship returns to celebrating city. Public fountains are flowing across the city. A banquet is held to honor the returning heroes at City Hall. Powerful people from all across the city are in attendance.

The Priests of the Crystal Oracle present each of the party with a glass sunburst medallion and inducts them into the order of the Rising Sun (level 1 social status in Biblis Fons, 1 in social situations). The Council of Synods thank the party and gifts them each with their choice of a leaf-bladed glass dagger or short sword. The weapons are crafted by a small group of craftsmen following an ancient tradition of the city. They are not knapped as with primitive glass weapons you have seen before, instead they seem to be cast or forged somehow, they are also significantly stronger than any glass you have ever seen. (1 attack over similar weapons).

The party can make contact with a number of merchants and other influential persons in the city. (each party member can gain 2 levels worth of contacts. To gain this benefit you must come up with a name write a brief description of the contact individual or group).

The Hidden Waters of Biblis Fons - Part 2
Blue Milk, Demons, and Sea Monsters

After some initial exploration the first day on the plateau, the party returned to the ship. the Professor had a number of new toys including a few gallon jugs of a strange milky blue liquid which after some analysis, he and Miss Walker determined most likely included some component of animal derived poison as well as martian blood. While nervously waiting out the second night on the ship, the party’s newest cohort, a small Marian boy from the streets of Biblis Fons was snatched off the deck of the ship by an impossibly fast man sized shadow. The shadow carried him over the rail, down the anchor rope and off into the night. The party anxiously waited out the rest of the night, knowing they would be vulnerable in those narrow alleyways in the dark, and they probably wouldn’t even be able to track whatever took Mylok.

At first light they followed the trail to another of the ramps down into the plateau. The party, continued into the tunnels with weapons drawn accompanied by their faithful Martian mercenaries (who were doing there best to conceal their fear). In the curving tunnels below, they were set upon suddenly by two creatures. They looked like skeletally gaunt men, but fought with the strength, speed, and ferocity of a cornered step tiger. After many bullets they were finally put down, one still trashing as he was pinned to the floor by the martian’s polearms. One of the Parties Martian mercenaries was incapacitated, badly wounded. Upon further examination they appeared to be malnourished Canal Martian men, possibly under the influence of some sort of drug.

Unfortunately Mylok was not found with these two monsters, so the party continued to descend, eventually finding themselves in the control rooms that were the extent of their previous exploration. After descending a ladder down for another 20 feet or so, a tunnel lead them back to the center of the plateau were a large cylindrical chamber glowed with faint red light.

In the center of the chamber the limp form of Mylok was suspended over a stagnant pool of water from a strange glass structure supported by four slanting glass legs, but Mylok was not the only inhabitant of the room a crowd of dirty Martian women and children at first shielded themselves from the lights carried by the party, but then quickly grew angry and swarmed towards the party, who in the appropriate British fashion, did there best to form a square. An unfortunate massacre ensued. The unarmed women and children attacked as though berserk, charging with wild abandon and though they were dispatched with relative ease their willingness to throw themselves at such an enemy and their animalistic screams, as they charged and died left the party shaken. In the end, close to 20 martians lay dead or dying. Several smaller children cowered amongst the makeshift shelters around the edges of the room.

Emma, quickly strode towards Mylok hoping he still lived. As she neared the edge of the murky pool, a slimy black tentacle reached over the lip and a large blubberous creature heaved itself out of the water. It was like nothing she had ever seen before, though it vaguely resembled drawings she had seen of the octopus back on Earth. The rest of party stood shocked as a huge version of a creature they encountered a few months back reared out of the sludge. Before anyone had a chance to react the Knoe Shoshu reached out towards Emma with one huge dark tentacle.

Intrigue and Ironclads
From the Journal of "Cheyenne" Jack Jennings

From the Journal of “Cheyenne” Jack Jennings

March 6, 1889
After a bit too much excitement in the court of the Anooka of Satazsheek. Miss Walker was carried off to be cared for by the princess’s personal doc, after loosing a fight with a dastardly box. The rest of us got locked in a room, without my quick words me might not have lived this long. At least it is better than a cell, but damn it is boring, and not knowing what is to come makes it unbearable.

March 12, 1889
Finally after a long week, they brought us before the princess (Miss Walker was already there, looking much better). The Anooka seemed to have taken a liking to Miss Walker, and it might just have saved our lives. The Princess wants us to find out who was behind the assassination attempt. Of course none of us argue. I am certainly ready for some intrigue, and boy did it start quick. As we walked towards our hotel we saw a monstrous ironclad making its way down the canal from the north. The Prince Heir/Russian puppet has arrived, and he is flexing his muscles…

This evening, Emma and I went out on the town, I really needed a drink, and I wanted to learn more about the Russians in town. I made a lot of friends and shared a lot of drinks. They told me about some Russian merchants and where they were staying, and where the military delegation was. As we left one of the drinking houses, I white man was watching us, so I approached him. He obviously had a few Martian thugs lingering around as backup. He spoke with a Russian accent and claimed to be a Citizen working to further the Czar’s interests. He said he was not associate with the captain we saw at court. As we headed back to the hotel I recruited some street kids to follow him.

March 13, 1889
It was a good thing I though to have him followed. The kids reported to me that the Russian spy had been assaulted my Martians and thrown in the canal. The said they fought strangely with their hands and feet. This made me think of the monks that I visited at the monastery outside of town, but later when I talked with a monk who actually witnessed the brawl, he said he had never seen that style of fighting. Things just keep getting weirder.

We spoke to Deshonbeesh before lunch, but he didn’t have much useful information. He filled us in a little bit on the gunrunning merchant Toolachook. Apparently he isn’t the sharpest tool in the shed, and wouldn’t necessarily be above selling the guns just for the short term profit, but my gut says different.

After lunch Emma the Martian and I went out looking for information about the Brawl, while the rest of the group when to tea with the Princess. Everyone was talking about the fight, this is when we found that monk.

I spent the evening drinking near our hotel, and now I am turning in. I think tomorrow it is time to start following the trail of these Russian guns. How did Toolichook get them??

Styx and Stones, Part I

Newly arrived in Thoth, the adventurers grappled with several difficulties: Shastapsh was in rebellion, cutting off their obvious route back to Syrtis Major; with dwindling funds, food, room and board, and booking passage might prove difficult, particularly if a long, torturous route north was required; and finally, Thoth itself seemed full of the resentment for the Red Devils that threw Shastapsh into chaos. Despite a warm welcome at the cozy Rumpled Ruumet Inn, owned by the doughty Charles Long, the group began to worry about “getting out of Dodge” at the earliest opportunity. Mr. Wallace learned that a British cargo kite was due the next day, so the group descended upon the docks en masse to greet it.

Fortunately, the massive cargo vessel was not only flying the Union Jack, but belonged to Majestic as well. The Somerset, captained by Clive Wentworth, came with plenty of room (and funds), but in addition, a new mission: Majestic looked to make inroads into the lucrative trade to the east, particularly the pekaay spice trade. The puppet Martian government of Hecate Lacus—and by extension, the majority shareholder of the Imperial Trading Company of Mars, the Czar Alexander III—was looking to expand south to the city-state of Styx, home to rich merchants and a figurehead princess. Rumors linked the Heir-Prince of Hecate Lacus, Thimmajoun to the Princess, Ppaatira as a potential target of dynastic union. The adventurers were to make their way to Styx, present a magnificent music box to her as a gift, and ingratiate themselves to the merchants of the city-state, all in an effort to counter the influence of the Russians on their southern neighbor.

With the except of the Navy man, the group was then thrilled to take their first aerial vessel ride to Styx, and compared to the ether flyer trip to Mars, Somerset’s open decks, rushing winds, and (relatively) copious space made for a pleasant journey. A week later, they had landed in Styx and were installed in a local hotel, but learned that yet another competitor was involved: the Hesperian Basin Trading Company had dispatched a representative, one Richard Hollings, via steam launch. Mr. Allen and Mr. Hollings sized each other up during a brief encounter, and decided to meet for dinner two days later. “Cheyenne” Jack and Miss Pierce tried their hand at winning over the Martian crowd at a seedy bar (despite speaking no Cebreni), and met with a modicum of success until a drunken lout decided to shut up the showy Red Devil. Although this thug pushed past Jack’s defender’s, a warning shot from Miss Pierce’s revolver brought a quick resolution to the confrontation.

The group had a relatively successful parlay with the leader of the Stygian Merchant Council, the ostentatious Dezhonbizh, and gained some advice on how to deal with the Princess. Moving to retire to their hotel, Miss Walker discovered one of her acquaintances from the Arikaani tribe in town, and learned that their warlord Karkem Kubla was in town, also to negotiate with the Princess.

Professor Routledge, I Presume?

Now reasonably familiar with the gashants they would be riding, the group set out onboard the galley Meepsoori Sprite along the canal towards Shastapsh. Accompanying them were handlers for the ruumet breehrs and four Martian mercenaries. Before the craft reached their point of departure, a band of High Martians were noted, sporting nets and apparently intending to take prisoners. A firefight ensued; thought the High Martians were all killed or chased away, Battersby and one of the mercenaries were wounded, and Abernathy was caught up in a net…only a lucky shot by the Royal Navy officer felled his captor, spilling the inventor into the canal, who almost drowned in the process.

A long trek across the desert took its toll on the group, and served as a rough introduction to the Red Planet. Finally, the spies of a ruined city on the dead canal running from Thoth to Karkarham: their destination. It was here that Majestic had sent Professor Routledge on a somewhat-mysterious expedition. Soon after arriving, the group found that the expedition must have met a tragic end: several human and Martian corpses, seemingly all that was left of Routledge’s group after a High Martian attack. Of the professor, there was no sign.

The group found an abandoned tower from which they might try to spy the lair of the High Martians. Their patience paid off; after a while the group had a pretty good idea of where the occasional High Martian they saw was landing. A plan was hatched to circle around to the other side of the suspected lair, and enter their tower the next day.

Sneaking up the tower, a guard was finally alerted, but he was quickly dispatched after raising the alarm. The adventurers scrambled up several more flights of stairs and caught the remaining High Martians somewhat flat-footed. After a short battle (in which Battersby was sorely wounded), the High Martians surrendered. They agreed to take the group to the “mines” where the remaining humans were.

The sole Lone Martian guarding their slaves (Martians and humans alike) had to be negotiated with, but finally the heroes secured the release of Routledge, his graduate assistant, and his Martian “manservant.” In return, the group promised to leave, and after a day of rest, they did so. Instead of returning back the way they came, the group instead decided to travel in the relatively-fertile dead canal bed north to Thoth.

Spice Trading

The adventurers set out with Mr. French to assist in the procurement of bhutan spice from a tribe of Hill Martians who also herded udulaant, and to familiarize themselves with the gashants they would ride during their upcoming expedition.

sick_victorian.jpgThe group had their first encounter with Hill Martians (with the exception of Miss Walker, pleased to be again among them) and were honored to dine with their guests. Unfortunately, while Miss Walker was sufficiently enured to Hill Martian cuisine, her comrades were for the most part distressed by the heavily-spiced dishes.

Upon their return to Syrtis Major, rations, water, beasts of burden, medicines, and ammunition were procured for the expedition through negotiations with Mr. Witherscomb. Specialty items included tobacco, whiskey, field glasses and even some dynamite.


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