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…
Although Imperial Russia had a head start on the race to get beyond the asteroid belt, such a head start was not without its setbacks. The construction of Imperator Aleksandr II was based on stolen blueprints–British blueprints. That in itself posed a problem. Although Russian engineers and designers were used to working with the designs of other nations (of note, the French), this was something new. HMAS Sovereign revolutionised aether travel, both in design and application. They were guided in their efforts by a man who had reportedly died on Luna at the end of 1889–the insane, but genius scientist, Vladimir Tereshkov–and this guidance came in the form of random, and often garbled, coded telegrams sent from a secret location in England. But this did not stop the Russians–it was imperative that they benefited from the discoveries to be found beyond the asteroid belt, that they beat the British Empire out there. The Tsar was tired of playing second place to the British Empire.
What follows is a sample from the private diary of Kapitan-lejtenant Petenka Trushkin, first officer of Imperator. It serves to highlight that not everybody involved in that fateful mission was a blinkered by the promises of power and position that Imperator signified.
Tuesday October 7th, 1890.
We are but one day from the asteroid belt, and already I fear for the success of our mission. If we fail it is not just the reputation of Imperial Russia that is at stake, but that of the Tsar himself! I have worked hard to attain my position, acting as a first officer on the most advanced ship in the aetheric ocean–even more advanced than the ship upon which it is based. Usually the first officer would be a captain-2nd-rank, but I have fought hard to take this position from less deserving officers. Some might say that position without rank is meaningless, but they would be wrong. I am second in command of the most powerful ship the Imperial Navy has ever built.
The power source of this great ship–a substance called aleksandrite–pushes it beyond design tolerances. Already we have had engineers all over the ship patching up damaged areas. It is as if the very structure of the ship is being compromised. I have taken my concerns to Kapitan Merkushev, but he insists that Imperator will serve. It should, we have nastavnik Tereshkov aboard, and it was he who stole the designs, he who communicated ways in which we could improve those designs, to redesign the modulation device he had originally built–all to include the use of aleksandrite. But all he does is sit in his cabin, endlessly scribbling notes in a language I have never seen before. I fear he is a risk to the mission, as is the kapitan’s yielding to Tereshkov’s every request. We should be using Tereshkov’s knowledge, his genius, to improve the ship as we go. But then I am forced to consider those–I am reticent to call them people–things used to enhance the power of aleksandrite. What has been done to them is an abomination, one Tereshkov is directly responsible for. Can I really trust the ship to a mind like his?
Perhaps once we have escaped the asteroid belt, and thus the reach of the British Royal Navy, we can properly address these things. The kapitan is focussed on proving the power of Imperator, showing the British Navy the might of the Imperial Navy. We have already intercepted heliograph messages intended to warn HMAS Tartarus of our trajectory. Normally we would alter our course–there is, after all, no such thing as up and down in the aether, no straight line by which we must travel. But Imperator continues on its course. We know that Navy vessels have been sent from Mars in an attempt to catch us, but if the mighty Sovereign could not sustain our speeds what hope does the usual Navy vessel have?
We do this for the Tsar. But I sense that is not so for everybody aboard ship–some seek glory for themselves. And it is those who will spell failure for this mission.