Historians Note; unless you are familiar with the document “Horizons of Deceit Book I” you should not read any further. Said document can be purchased by following the link to the right. The following takes place shortly after the climax of “Horizons of Deceit Book I”.

Saturday October 11th 1890

Dear Professor Stone

It has been several months since I last saw you, and I confess I have been putting off writing this missive, however I am about to return to active duty and I feel I am honour bound to write this to you. Not least to thank you and Captain Folkard for the good word you offered in my favour at the hearing. I do not deserve such support—especially not from you.

I need to offer my most sincere apologies for the events of June last. I know you showed understanding when you discovered my culpability, but you did not turn up at my hearing and so I can only assume that, now the dust has settled, that you find yourself less forgiving. I was given a singular honour when Captain Folkard assigned me to be the engineer on Esmeralda 2, to aid you in the secret mission for the Admiralty. I failed you, and I failed Captain Folkard. For the captain it was, one suspects, more a sense of professional failure—I am aware of the pride he took in his crew on Sovereign, one of whom I was proud to be. But for you it must have been a sense of personal failure, for in those months on Esmeralda 2 we fostered a friendship. Even now I can still recall the particulars of our first meeting in the engine room of Sovereign—you walking into me, disorientated by the steam. At the time I never considered I would become a friend of the man who designed the aether propeller governor (yes, I know you will insist you co-designed it with Doctor Grant, but the governor used on Sovereign owed more to your design than his original version). Further I never considered I would be assisting you in developing a more refined version of the propeller for a much smaller flyer like Esmeralda 2.

I have never discussed with any other those events during my final journey on Esmeralda 2, as we neared Mars and encountered that aether tear. My betrayal of you sat heavily on my shoulders, but in those last moments, before Esmeralda was destroyed—and I, like all of us on that flyer, know it was destroyed—my only thought was that I failed my grandfather, the late Admiral Nicholas Fenn. I was, am, the first member of my family to serve in Her Majesty’s Royal Navy since his death; indeed, it was the stories he would tell me as a child that inspired me to seek a career in service of the British Empire. It has always been important for me to succeed, to become an officer and honour my grandfather’s name, be his legacy. I failed him—betrayed my oath to the Navy and my friendship to you. But in that place I was visited by my grandfather and he told me to face the consequences of my actions, and hold to the truth that I only failed myself. My family was threatened, including my mother, his daughter. And so I had to protect them. What good is duty to one’s country if one is unwilling to protect those he loves above all others?

I hope that I can earn your forgiveness, and prove myself once more a loyal subject of the empire. I have, once more, been returned to active duty, although as punishment for my weakness of character, I have been held back one year and will not attain my position as able seaman for another year. It is a small price to pay—I believe I should be in irons now, or at least court martialled. That I am neither I must look on as a second chance. An opportunity to prove myself once more.

I have been reassigned to Sovereign for the long voyage ahead. This is good, for it allows me to work with the one engineer in the Navy who will not hold my indiscretion against me, and further it means I will be in a position to earn your respect and forgiveness. I will also be able to play my own small part in helping find Captain Folkard. Despite the scuttlebutt, I do not for a moment believe he would betray the Navy. He is ten times the man I am, and he would rather die than betray his duty.

Yours, in hope.

 Jack Fenn, Ordinary Seaman, HMAS Sovereign


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