Tag Archives: Kereeque

Red Sands of Vulcan

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”.

Friday October 3rd 1890.

The events that followed happened with such speed that I can barely recall them. I didn’t even have a chance to look upon the face of the lady with the knife in my back; I was soon set upon by ruffians, coshed on the back of the head, and unconscious.

I came to sometime later—I did not know how much time, only that it had been some hours since I was later informed that I had been smuggled out of Syrtis Major to the nearby principality of Meepsoor. I was not offered the chance to explore this small town, and indeed was told I would not like it if I were able to. Although largely under British protection, Meepsoor was beginning to question their choice of allegiance, worried that the war in the south with Oentoria would soon lead to their doorstep. Of course none of this really mattered to me at the time, I was more concerned with my captors and what they wanted of me. There were two of them, a man and a woman. Considering their dress, the finest of silks and cloth, I knew I had been right when I earlier considered the woman a lady. Lady Hyperion, as she had introduced herself, idly waved a small pistol around as she talked, careless of the damage such a weapon could cause. He husband, Lord Hyperion, stood behind her, watching her with admiration through his monocle. At first I refused to answer any of their questions, except to give my rank and position. This seemed to irritate Lady Hyperion.


Lord and Lady Hyperion

“We know who you are, and this is of no interest to us. What we wish to know is about your experiences on Luna, what you learned from these Drobates we have heard so little about.”

They were well informed, considering the secrecy of the British involvement on Luna, and of course my own incarceration. I refused to tell them anything.

“A great pity indeed,” Lord Hyperion said, his voice rich, the French accent seeming to be little more than an affectation. It was hard to tell if they were truly French, or simply pretended to be. “Perhaps you have heard of the Followers of Decay?” I shook my head. The local culture was not a speciality of mine. “They are more commonly known as the Worm Cult. Ah, I see this is a name familiar with you. And well it should be—the tales of their depravity is the stuff of myth, even to us men of Earth. Kronos, our leader, was once a priest in the Worm Cult, and has ways of making a person talk. Ways you, Mister Stevenson, would not wish to experience.”

I believed him. Even now I am haunted by the tales told to me by Professor Stone shortly after my rescue from the Drobates—tales of his own experiences at the hands of the Worm Cult. As if what the Drobates had done to me was not enough. Not a night has gone past since Luna that I have been able to sleep without my dreams being invaded by the experiments conducted on me by the Drobates. Doctor Greever, chief medical officer on Endeavour, believes the dreams will eventually fade, although he does not think my forthcoming tour of duty will help. Perhaps he is right, or perhaps facing my fears will be the tonic I need?

“We need to know all the Drobates know of the Red Sands, and where on Mars it was buried.”

Red sands? I have never heard of such a thing. Despite being called the Red Planet, I had seen little evidence of any red sand on Mars during my short time there. I told them this and was instantly stung on the cheek by the back hand of Lady Hyperion.

“Insolent fool! The Red Sands is a weapon, a mind-controlling substance created by the Drobates and the source of the war that destroyed Vulcan. We have recently learned that these Drobates of Luna are the original inhabitants of Vulcan. You must have heard of the Red Sands?”

How could I make them see reason? The Drobates did much to me, put both my physical and mental capacity to the test, but they never talked directly to me. Never discussed anything of their past—indeed, as we later learned the Drobates of Luna were ignorant of their past. It was Doctor Grant who had learned of their connection to Vulcan. That they had created a mind-controlling weapon came as little surprise to me, after all the Drobates communicated telepathically, and my exposure to them revealed a latent telepathic gene in myself.

I shook my head. “You have my word as a member of Her Majesty’s Royal Navy that I know nothing of these Red Sands.”

“Then perhaps we shall have to find another way to make you speak the truth,” said another voice, this one sounding quite different from any I heard before. It was clear that English was not the native language of this person. From the darkness stepped a cloaked figure, a cowl covering his face, although his hands were on display. I had seen such hands before. It was a Martian, although which kind I could not tell. I supposed this had to be the mysterious Kronos. “Lady Hyperion, pass me the cylinder.”

She walked over to a table and picked up a cylinder of brass, each end studded with brilliant gems. She handed it to Kronos, who gently unscrewed one end.


A Drobate

“The Red Sands of Vulcan,” he said, and shook out onto the palm of his other hand a few red crystals, so tiny I could only see them by squinting. “According to the ancient manuscripts we uncovered in a lost temple in Egypt, the Red Sands, over years of misuse, created infectious hatred and derangement. This led to a war between different factions of Drobates, which in turn began the cataclysmic war that created the asteroid belt. But taken in small quantities, the Red Sands can have a potent effect on the mind of those who ingest them.”

With a nod from Kronos, Lord Hyperion stepped forward and gripped my head in his vice-like hold. I tried to struggle, but he had incredible strength. Kronos, with only one hand, forced my jaw down and deposited the crystals into my mouth. Before I had time to spit them back out he clamped his hand over my mouth and nose, blocking the air waves. For a short while I resisted, feeling the coarse texture of his alien skin on mine, but soon the need for air was too much and I found myself swallowing the Red Sands.

The results were, for Kronos and his brotherhood, disappointing. They continued to question me, but I still had nothing to offer them, and soon they realised that the Red Sands had no effect on me whatsoever. I have spent much time in the last two days trying to understand why. Perhaps Kronos was mad, and this story had as much weight as the lost city of Atlantis? Or, and I think more likely, the Drobates did something to me that inured me against the effects of their ancient weapon? It is a question to which I hope one day to discover an answer—perhaps on the mission ahead.

Realising I was useless to his cause, Kronos was in favour of killing me and Lady Hyperion, a professional assassin, prevented him from doing so, explaining that I was expected and could not be missing for too long. It would not do to arouse the suspicion of the Royal Navy at this point. They spoke quietly, but did not account for the sharpness of my hearing—another result of the experiments done on my by the Drobates. I think, sometimes, that I don’t listen so much with my ears as with my mind. The Brotherhood of Luxor needed the Red Sands if they were to remove the Earthers off Mars, and they could not alert the authorities to their presence just yet.

And so, once more, I was coshed senseless and smuggled back to Syrtis Major. By the time I awoke the second time it was dark. I returned directly to the British quarter, intent on reporting the threat to Commander Armstrong, who was also enjoying a small bout of shore leave, but by the time I reached the British quarter I decided to keep my own counsel.

Saturday October 4th 1890.

I am not entirely sure why, even as I write this, but I feel to speak out now would serve little purpose. For some reason my instinct tells me it is the right thing to remain quiet on this. As I understand it, several experts on Luna and the Drobates will be joining Sovereign on this mission, and I wish to learn more about the Drobates history before I recount my experience with the Brotherhood of Luxor.

It has been two days since my encounter, and I have made discreet enquiries. It seems rumours of the brotherhood are rife, and some say it is connected to Kereeque, a former priest of the Worm Cult who vanished seven years ago. Could this be Kronos? I feel it is likely, in light of the fact that Kereeque created the Ground Cleanser crusade with his Canal Martian disciples—their purpose, to remove humans from Mars. A goal, I have to say, that sounds much like what Lady Hyperion had said. I fear that there are troubled times ahead for mankind, but for now I will not be a part of it. My immediate future lies beyond the asteroid belt, and not on Mars…

To learn more about the Brotherhood of Luxor, purchase a copy of “Red Sands” by following the link to the right…


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!


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