Welcome Lords, Ladies and Gentlemen.

Welcome Lords, Ladies and Gentlefolk.

This blog will be devoted to my literary and cosplay interests and stories set in my own alternative historical steampunk background. I hope people enjoy the stories, as much as I enjoy devising and writing them and that it stimulates their own artistic interests, entertains them or if nothing else fires their own imaginations.

A special note to new readers of this blog, the entries "Nation States" are gazetteers of the nations as they exist in the An Age of Steam, Steel and Iron background, each with a few remarks/observations about each nation as they exist within. Any post headed by the title containing the words "Story Snippet" or "Fragments" is a stand alone, snapshot of the background, they will be developed into fuller stories in future, but at present they serve to give the viewer/reader a measure of what this world is like, what is going on in it and who some of the players are. Full stories, will be headed by their title and a roman number, as they will generally be in several parts.

Comments, suggestions or remarks by readers are welcomed.

I would like to thank the following people:

Yaya Han, for getting me seriously interested in cosplay at a time when things were looking very glum for me back in 2006 with several extended stays in hospital due to illness, and motivating me to get actively involved.

Ashley Du aka UndeadDu, for her unfailing friendship and cheerful support since we first met in 2014 at the Hamilton Comic Con, and for being my Cosplay mentor and advisor.

Sara Marly, for her interest in and support for my writings, since we first met in 2016 at the Hamilton Comic Con and incidently helping me make up my mind to finally do this.

Stephen Thomson, my friend, for his advise and assistance with creating and setting up this blog.

Daniel Cote, my friend and co-worker for his advise and friendship over the years.

The People of the The Aegy's Gathering (particularly Jonathan Cresswell-Jones, Scott Washburn and Jenny Dolfen, all of whom I have kept in contact with over the years), who were brought together in friendship by a certain randomness of chance and a common interest in the Honor Harrington books and stayed together despite distance and the strains of life.

The People of the Wesworld Alternative History website, who gave me the opportunity to sharpen my writing and story telling skills while directing the affairs of Lithuania and briefly France during their 1930s timelines.

My parents Mary Ellen and Logan, my siblings Adam and Danika and various friends both online and at work and play for putting up with me, encouraging and supporting me both in the very good times and the very bad times.

I remain as always yours very sincerely, your obedient servant, Matthew Baird aka Sir Leopold Stanley Worthing-Topper

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Steampunk Story Snippet

West London, January 1886

Sir Leo looked up from the clutter of paperwork: logs, diaries, journals, reference books and maps that covered his desk, he eyed his two companions skeptically through the half lowered lenses of his reading glasses. Otani was as ever silent, controlled and inscrutable, settled in a ramrod straight posture, hands resting on his thighs in the approved Japanese fashion in the armchair to Sir Leo's immediate right as if he'd always belonged there. Sometimes, Sir Leo thought wryly, having a Japanese ronin: a professional mercenary of the Samurai-caste, in one's service was a pain in the neck and at other times in the last year it had been all too invaluable: particularly when it came to keeping one's head attached to one's shoulders when it came to dealing with ill intentioned strangers, whether they were native Africans or Arabs, the Germans or the French in the Ivory Coast and the Western Sudan.

Sonrisa, the darkly alluring and scar-faced Spanish woman, who sat in the chair to Sir Leo's left, was just as unreadable as her male counterpart although she was it had to be admitted a lot easier to look at, he thought whimsically. Although sat was not the right word lounged or lazed would be a better one. Sonrisa was in one of her languid moods, which to be perfectly honest was pretty much her normal state, well unless she was trying very enthusiastically to kill someone or threatening to snap into small pieces some young jackass who decided to stupidly make an unwanted pass at her or even more stupidly and chauvinistically tried to put her in her place. Both events had happened all too often in the last year they had gotten to know each other in.

Sonrisa, no one had ever called her anything else in his presence nor for that matter did she answer to anything else in all the long months he'd come to know her and no amount of careful inquiry or investigation on his or Otani's part, for that matter, had yet ferreted out what her actual christian name or surname was. Everyone in West Africa, whether they were British, German, French, Arab, Portuguese or African called her 'La Sonrisa', which meant 'the Smile' in Spanish. One look at her beautiful, bronzed face framed by long gleaming black hair that fell nearly to her waist and one discovered the reason for the woman's glib nickname. Someone had tried, whether out of cruelty or drunken amusement, to widen Sonrisa's mouth by using a blade to slash open the corners of her full lipped mouth to up alongside her cheek bones. The effect of the scars was both horrifying and fascinating, giving her a permanent death's head grin. Sir Leo had absolutely no idea if the person or persons responsible for this grotesque injury were dead or not, although for his money, he figured that if they weren't dead yet they were going to absolutely wish they were if Sonrisa ever got hold of them!

Josephine Rumbleton, chief inspector and detective in the Royal Metropolitan Police of London was very wet, very cold and just about as thoroughly frustrated as she could get as she stood gazing up at the very imposing neo-gothic, neo-Romanesque front entrance of a townhouse in one of the most fashionable parts of London in the middle of the night. London had been covered in a fine, harsh powdery snow for much of December, interspace with periods of freezing rain. Tonight both were falling in more abundance then anyone who had to be outside cared for. She was, she admitted to herself, in a state of most uncharacteristic indecision, although that was in itself understandable. The owner of this regal residence, as evidenced by the ornate coat-of-arms over the entranceway, was not a person to be taken lightly: Sir Leopold Stanley Worthing-Topper was a member of the British peerage, a highly decorated soldier, talented technocrat and celebrated writer and absolutely notorious for both his sarcastic temperament and a willingness to speak his mind. She had only met the man once, personally although memorably, back in '83 on board a German passenger liner they both happened to be on making their respective ways back to England from India. She'd been a newly minted constable, looking to make detective sergeant, on assignment from Great Britain to the Empire to help investigate a promising lead on a London crime ring that was smuggling narcotics into southern England. That trip to the fabled and mysterious India sub-continent had not been a good one, it had ended in miserable failure for the investigating team and the deaths of three of it's four members: two veteran detective sergeants and her mentor the celebrated Inspector Sir Nigel Redfern.

She, had been the only survivor, and she readily admitted a most distraught and discouraged one at that. That return trip home, had however ironically been the making of her career even as the outbound trip to India had come so disasterously and permanently close to ending it. Rumbleton, began to climb the rain and slush slick stairs. Darkness enshrouded her, matching her bleak mood all too well, along with the ever present fog, sleet and drizzle that covered London as often as not it seemed tonight. The Viscount Worthing, came from a very old family of an impeccably aristocratic lineage, his late father and  his older brother were both the Duke of Schomberg, and truly frightening wealth and an equally stubborn, vindictive willingness to use it in whatever cause, hobby, quarrel or feud that took their fancy.

She rang the bell, once she reached the roofed and colonnades platform that marked the end of the stairs, she detected the hint of a musical chime even through the thick, decorative oak and blacked ornamental ironwork double doors. Rumbleton, waited without impatience turning her gaze back into the rain and mist that blanketed the streets, gas lamps blased in the night like eerie will-of-the wisps from atop their wrought iron poles. A few carriages sped up and down the street, most were typical London growlers making a few last late night's cab fares.

"Hmmzzt. May, I help you Madam?"

Rumbleton, gave a violent start and whirled around from where she had stood poised in thought with her back to the door on the front portico, at the peculiar, mechanical voice that emerged from the now opened doors behind her.  A very tall, heavily constructed automaton stood backlit by the glow of lights in the entranceway, two small lights glowed like hot coals inside the darkened visor slit which was the only feature of it's otherwise featureless bucket like head. It's barrel like body was canted slightly forward so that it could look down at her from it's very imposing six foot height.

The detective very sternly got a hold of herself and pulled out one of her visiting cards, the automaton silently raised a multi fingered, white gloved hand to receive it, scanned it briefly with it's glowing eyes. It paused a moment, then seemed to nod to itself in answer to someone or something it was in wireless contact with.

"This way, Madam." The automaton, intoned politely gesturing for her to step across the threshold. Rumbleton found herself lead down a hall to a luxuriously and it and to be said tastefully furnished waiting room. The automaton took both her rain coat and umbrella, hooking them to a drying rack and quietly poured her a small glass of sherry wine to ward off the cold from an assortment of crystal decanters stacked neatly upon a finely crafted wood sideboard. The automation saw her seated comfortably upon a well stuffed settee that was placed close to the waiting room's glowing fireplace, it then bowed and left the room bearing her visiting card to it's master.

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