The Thieves Way

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”.

So much has happened to Mars in the past 124 years, it is often easy to forget that in 1890 it was still being colonised and subjugated by the European powers. The English, French, Germans, Russians, Belgians, and Japanese had all established colonies there, and American traders were everywhere. The reasons were plain – lift-wood was a valuable commodity, and the growing importance of aerial navies had made many countries desirous of establishing their influence on Mars. Moreover, in addition to lift-wood there were other Martian products that brought a good price on Earth, and the huge Martian population was a ready market for European manufactured goods. Not all Martians welcomed the people of Earth, chief among them were the Brotherhood of Luxor and its mysterious leader, Kronos. What follows is the first part of a two-part account, a rather typical account, of the state of play in Syrtis Major during those early days, given by Able Seaman Erasmus Stevenson.

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Mars, viewed from Phobos

Thursday October 2nd 1890.

I am beginning to think that visiting the worlds of our Solar System is not good for my health. I still remember the joy and pride I felt at being assigned to HMAS Sovereign early last year, to be serving on board the flagship of Her Majesty Aether Navy was a great honour indeed. But since then I have been captured, tortured, and experienced things I am certain I would be saved from had I remained serving on the ships of Earth’s sea.

HMAS Endeavour made Marsfall earlier than anticipated, allowing us a small amount of shore leave before Sovereign was due to arrive. We carried supplies with us, to assist in the refit of Sovereign in preparation for her long mission ahead. Supplies and personnel transfer–one of which was to be me. My presence was requested by Commander Bedford himself, due to my experiences on Luna. I cannot say it was a tour of duty I was much looking forward to–not least of all because of the mission’s connection to the Drobates of Luna.  However, I was promoted in rank one level on condition of my transfer, and as someone who hopes to become an officer one day, I could not refuse orders. I have enjoyed my service on Endeavour these past months; Captain Ferguson is a strong leader and I have learned much from him. I will especially miss serving with Commander Armstrong, a noble and resolute officer, one of the finest I have ever met. When I finally returned to active service I did not expect a position on another Royal Sovereign-class battleship, but my familiarity with the design came in very useful. Much least did I expect that I would be transferred back to Sovereign so soon. I disembarked Endeavour, happy for a chance to explore the British-run city of Syrtis Major. It is strange to think, but I was walking in alien sand, the first person in my entire family to step foot on an alien world. Certainly I spent a considerable amount of time on Luna, but that was merely the Earth’s moon, but Mars…truly another world!

Syrtis Major

Syrtis Major

I should have remained on Endeavour!

After a brief tour of the bazaar where I purchased a local trinket for my little sister, I headed to the British quarter where I was hoping to grab a pint with a few other seaman from Endeavour. The quickest way was a short cut through the infamous Harbour District–although, of course, I did not know it was infamous then, neither did I know why. I suppose I should have guessed by the colloquial name for Old Harbour Road; the Thieves Way. I was new to Mars, barely been there a couple of hours. In what way could Syrtis Major possibly be worse than London? I soon saw. It was on Old Harbour Road that I witnessed the kind of villainy one expects in the alleys of London by the dark of night, but here it was happening in plain sight. People were being beaten senseless just so the miscreants could take whatever possessions they could, no doubt to later sell at the bazaar. Occasional British Army soldiers walked the road, but they studiously ignored the happenings of Thieves Way.  I was, to say the least, dumbfounded by such wilful ignorance. I was of a mind to intercede on the behalf of one particular fellow when I felt a sharp object dig into the small of my back.  My hand, already in my jacket pocket, gripped tightly on the present I had purchased for my sister. I was a member of Her Majesty’s Royal Navy and I had survived worse at the hands of the Drobates than anything a mugger could inflict upon me. He was in for a mighty shock, should he continue to push his luck.

“I would advise obedience, Monsieur Stevenson,” said the delicate tones of a French lady.

A lady! Even now I can scarce believe that a member of the fairer sex would do such a thing, and worse that it should be a lady. And she was a lady–there was no doubting the cultured tones in her aquiline accent. Even at the time, while I felt the object dig ever deeper, piercing my clothes I felt sure, I wondered why would a French lady have heard of me?

“Kronos seeks an audience with you, and you would be must unwise to refuse.”

…continued tomorrow!

 

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