Category Archives: Commander Bedford

Brought to Account

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 during chapter five of “Horizons of Deceit Book I”.

The final entry in the journal of Jacob Folkard, Captain, Her Majesty’s Royal Navy.

 Friday September 19th 1890.

The Admiralty

The Admiralty

I find myself still awake as the sun rises over London—of course it is not comparable to the sun rise one sees in the countryside, but as the sun rises over London it creates a nimbus in the smog of industry, churning around twenty-four hours of a day. There is nothing majestic about a sun rise in London, but this one has a special meaning for me. It will be, I fear, the last sun rise I ever witness in England. Indeed, I would hardly be surprised if it is the last sun rise I ever witness.

A dangerous mission lies ahead of me—Enderby and I have discussed the particulars of the mission with Admiral Hamilton and I foresee a multitude of problems ahead of us. Enderby seems less concerned, but that’s the Bureau for you. I am certain they encourage idiocy in their agents—the wiliness to take foolish risks. On the surface it seems simple enough—Enderby and I will lead a small team of Bureau agents to Severnaya, Russia, to uncover the secret weapon they are developing based on, if our suspicions are realised, stolen blueprints of Sovereign. This is why I have been selected for this mission; no-one in the Navy knows the ship like I, and should our suspicions be confirmed then I will have to find a way to put the Russian’s corruption of my ship out of service. I have already devised several ways in which I can do this.

None of the above truly concerns me. It is a dangerous mission, of course, but I have been in military service for a very long time, including twenty-six years in Her Majesty’s Navy; I have been in dangerous positions before. No, the mission is not what keeps me awake. It is the knowledge that I will never again see people who I have come to regard as my friends. George and Annabelle are already in Arizona, ostensibly on their honeymoon, but I know there is another reason. No doubt George suspects the same. He is ever a shrewd man—a far cry from the sixteen-year-old rating I first met on HMS Raleigh in ’69—and he will know there is more to the hospitality of the Admiralty and Bureau than there seems to be on the surface. Professor Stone is in Ireland, following another lead at the behest of the Bureau, while Fontaine is in Calcutta doing the same. These last two trouble me—I cannot claim a friendship with Fontaine, although I would not consider him simply an acquaintance either. We have served together since February and he has earned my respect, but what I saw only a few days ago… I can barely bring myself to write of such things.

Professor Stone

Professor Stone

I think of what I saw and I feel only betrayal. At first it was anger, disgust, but by the cold light of day, when I next saw them the following morning I found myself carrying in me a seething resentment. I do not quite understand it. I have been betrayed before—both professionally and personally. It is difficult to have had a career like I and not be betrayed, but this is something different. Of course one hears rumours, tales of deviant behaviour, of the fops and the houses they visit, but to think there were two such people serving with me for the past six months… It beggars belief! Stone I have known for well over a year, and it is true that on first meeting he seemed to carry himself with a certain regard, a man of refined language, but I have since come to learn that is merely a sign of his propriety upon meeting new people. I have seen him relaxed, seen him almost on a daily basis for over six months… I never questioned Stone’s lack of attachments; indeed, I seem to recall believing there to be an attraction between him and Annabelle. This has been proven an error of judgement on my part, as witnessed by the wedding of only three days ago. Stone is a man of science, and such men often seem to be married to their work, to the discoveries they make. I have come to consider Stone a friend—I have seen him go through the worst kind of pain, I have protected him, survived death with him. Certainly during our last journey to Mars I began to doubt my opinion of the man, but he once again proved himself during our adventure on Phobos. As for Fontaine…he is French and a scientist, one expects certain things from the French. But not this, never this. It feels as if Stone had been lying to me all this time—deliberately misleading me, feigning an interest in Annabelle to dissuade my suspicions! Oh, what am I saying? Suspicions, indeed! I never had any. Stone has never given me any reason to suspect anything of the sort.

What would dear Charlotte say?

Captain Jacob Folkard

Captain Jacob Folkard

Another reason for my lack of sleep. Ever since I saw Charlotte again I have not been able to shake from my mind the words she spoke to me; “I shall see you soon.” Just one more reason for me to believe this to be my last mission. None of us have spoken about the events aboard Esmeralda 2, of the aether tear and our deaths. It is not the kind of topic one can just bring up; but I know it often occupies the thoughts of both Stone and Annabelle. Fontaine I have seen less of since returning to Earth, and he has shown himself to be a master of deceit. But the other two—yes, I see that their experiences have changed them, too. I do not know what it is they saw in Heaven (I find myself laughing at even writing this—but I cannot deny what happened to us), but I suspect that, like I, it was something deeply personal. A lost loved one, no doubt. For Annabelle I imagine it was her parents, and for Stone…perhaps his brother? As for Fontaine—I know little of his history, but it would seem likely he has lost at least one person he loved deeply. For me it was Charlotte, my darling wife who died over eight years ago, but not only did I see her but finally I met our daughter, Felicity. I do not think that any passage of time would be enough for me to come to terms with their deaths—Charlotte, who I had known since we were children, and Felicity, my daughter who I never got to know as she was still-born. The weight of that loss has pressed on me every day since, but I carried on, focussed all my energies on my career, raced up the ranks until I became captain of the most advanced aether ship ever built. It was my commission on Sovereign the led me to here—every event since April last year has prepared me for this final mission. Even know I can feel the tug of the Heart of Luna, an alien intelligence that lives in the centre of that moon, trying to speak to me. It is never with words, just images, thoughts, things one can barely put words to. And it tells me that this will be my last mission, that it shall lead me back to Charlotte and Felicity.

I am all packed, provisions ready. Sovereign is due at 0800 hours, barely an hour away. I should leave, but first I must make certain my journal will not be found after my departure. Normally I would take it with me, but to do so risks someone finding it. And there are words here, revelations that would destroy a good man. I cannot pretend to understand how Stone and Fontaine can find love in each other’s arms, but I feel I must not let that lead me to anger, to a feeling of betrayal. Stone and I have been through much, experienced things most will never do. We have both visited Heaven, and I must believe that the peace I felt there, the love that awaits all men there, is enough to overlook the ignorance of men. I feel the British Empire, indeed Earth itself, is standing at a crossroad, that a big change is coming. Something that will force humanity to take a long hard look at itself…

Everything is connected. Man is a speck of sand on a beach. Soon we will all be brought to account for the deeds we have done.

No. This journal must go to someone I can trust, to the only person I know who will not use it to destroy another.


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.


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!



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”.

From: Commander Jeremiah Armstrong

To: Commander George Bedford

Friday September 26th 1890

I have reviewed your request for the transfer of Ordinary Seaman Erasmus Stevenson from HMAS Endeavour to HMAS Sovereign. It is, I must confess, an odd request since Mister Stevenson has only served with Endeavour for six months after a period of convalescence following his harrowing experiences on Luna. I have made myself fully versant with your reports regarding your mission to Luna in December 1889 and am aware of your commendation for Mister Stevenson. I have also studied his service file, and am somewhat concerned regarding your request considering the nature of Sovereign’s forthcoming mission. I consulted with our medical officer and he assures me that Mister Stevenson is of sound mind, but is still recovering from his incarceration and torture at the hands of the Drobates of Luna. However, he is uncertain if further exposure to the Drobates will help in his recovery, and could, indeed, undo all Stevenson has been through.

Nonetheless, I have also received orders from Rear Admiral Cavor to meet your request. But I would be remiss in my duties as Mister Stevenson’s commanding officer if I failed to raise my concerns.

Mister Stevenson is, in the opinion of my boatswain and I, officer material and has a fine naval career ahead of him. Despite his experiences, he continues to throw himself into duties and performs above the expectations of this officer. We hope that his tour of duty on Sovereign will aid in his path to becoming a fine officer, and to aid this Captain Ferguson and I have agreed to promote Stevenson to the rank of able seaman, effective immediately.

My compliments to Captain Theobald and her crew. Endeavour will rendezvous with Sovereign at Mars on the fourth day of October.

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