Another season two poll; this time for our lead (semi-lead) characters.
Favourite story poll HERE!
Another season two poll; this time for our lead (semi-lead) characters.
Favourite story poll HERE!
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.
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.
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?
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.
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
Historians Note; this immediately proceeds the document “Horizons of Deceit Book I” which can be purchased by following the link to the right…
*from the journal of Professor Nathaniel Stone
Tuesday September 16th 1890.
Whoever thought this day would come? Certainly not I. We have been back on Earth only a short time, barely a few weeks and I found myself immediately put to work. Arnaud joined Doctor Boltzmann and his team in their efforts to refine the minerals we returned with. While I assisted Professor Thomson with his new, rather revolutionary, idea. He is designing a new type of mirror–a reflective surface that can capture the heat of the sun even from a distance beyond the asteroid belt. It is a new photovoltaic process based on the observations first made by Alexandre-Edmond Becquerel in 1839; a method by which we hope to harness the power of the sun and convert it into an electrical current. If Thomson can achieve such a thing it will, once again, push the British Empire to the forefront of aether travel–and that is not to mention the potential for domestic use.
I have not seen much of Grant, who seems to be buzzing around as much as ever, barely at the research rooms for any real length of time. I have tried to talk to him, but he remains evasive, unwilling to discuss his latest communications with the Heart.
But those are the things of the past few weeks. A much happier occasion now lies before me. It is something I never truly believed would come–we spend so much time in the aether I was beginning to doubt we would ever return to Earth at the same time as Sovereign, but I happy to say that finally our return has coincided. And thus Annabelle and Commander Bedford have been able to reunite once more and further, knowing full well they may not be on Earth at the same time for a while, have arranged for their wedding. I am certain plans were afoot for longer than anyone knew–that Annabelle sent out invitations and made preparations each time we returned to Earth. It seems to be just the kind of thing she would do. Why wait, when she can arrange it herself?
And so today. It is only a few hours away, and soon they shall be Mr and Mrs Bedford. I should probably prepare myself, too, for it would not do if I were to arrive after Annabelle. Besides which, of course, there is the small matter of Arnaud. He tells me he gets quite emotional at weddings, and had already taken to the brandy that our housekeeper kindly procured for us to celebrate the happy occasion. Whatever am I to do with him?