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

Sunday, July 22, 2018

School Of Sharks (Part I)

Pearl Harbor, the Island of Oahu, the Kingdom of Hawai'i, January, 1889.

The golden red light of the rising sun was just beginning to drive away the darkness of night, tinting the horizon with colour. The freshing morning breeze swept out from the Pacific across the crystal waters of the Wai Momi. The palms scattered along the shores of the bay swayed gently as the sun brightened their slender leaves. People in the towns and villages dotting the bay shore began to wake up and go about their morning observances for the start of their respective work day and breakfeasts.

The warships of the Royal Hawaiian Navy stood lined up along the North Channel of the Moku'ume 'ume island, began to come alive as their respective crews themselves awoke and began their daily regime to the shrill blasts of boatswain whistles. Ten turret ships rested at anchor in two rows alongside each other. Four centre battery ironclads lay in a single row alongside the docking posts in the South Channel.  Each of these ships had the King's cypher at their stern and the royal crest of the kingdom at their bow in elaborate gold work. Their hulls were painted a stark white and their upper works and masts were painted in buff paint. Scattered around the various bays and channels of the harbour stood the station ships of some eleven foreign nations, Great Britain, France, Japan, Russia, Germany, Austria-Hungary, the United States of America, the Independent States of America, the Confederate States of America, Spain and Portugal, all of whom had a vested interest in Hawaii and in particular this bay.

The captain of the Austro-Hungarian station ship, the centre-battery ironclad SMS Kaiser watched the sunrise from his stern walk. He lifted the fine china cup balanced on it's saucer in his hand as he listened to the ironclad wake up and begin it's daily routine, governed by the needs of the service and strict maritime traditions. The first blast of the whistle roused the crew, both common sailors and officers alike, from their bunks and hammocks at 5:00 am, by 5:05 the hammocks in which the men slept were to be lashed up or bunks tided up and everything stowed away.  Between 5:10 and 5: 40 all the crew had to be washed and dressed, followed by cleaning the ship, this was a general tidy-up, which was carried out barefoot in summer or tropical conditions. Mess duty followed at 6:50, when the mess hands who had been detailed to mess duty for the day set up the tables and benches and fetched coffee from the galley. 7:00 until 7:40 would be occupied by the breakfast break, followed by clearing the deck and the colours parade at 8:00 exactly on the ship's upper deck.  At 8:10, cleaning the ship's guns began, at 8:45 cleaning of all the ship's small-arms commenced. At 9:00 preparation for inspection followed by the daily inspection, which served the same role as roll-call did for the army at 9:10. General drill took place between 9:30 and 11:30, at which time the signal "Clear the Decks" was blown on the whistle. The deck was then swept and tidied up. At 11:45 mess duty commenced again for those detailed and at 12:00 the crew was summoned by the call "All Hands to Lunch."

While in port tradesmen selling provisions and other requisites were allowed on board during the midday break, but had to disembark again at 13:45. Between 14:00 and 16:00 "Division Duty" commenced, this typically consisted of instruction, uniform inspection, rifle, bayonet and sword practice and so on. At 16:00 the signal "Clear the Decks" was sounded again and there was a short break, followed at 16:30 by another hour's duties. Then the final "Clear the Decks" was sounded at the end of the day's duties at 17:30 and the last "Mess-room Duty" was sounded at 17:50 and the evening meal was served at 18:00. During the ensuing free period food preparation for the next day was organized and carried out, the decks were also swept again at 20:50. At this point the signal "Pipes and Matches Out" in the lower living quarters, as at night smoking was allowed only on the deck. At 21:00, after the bandsman had beaten or blown the retreat, the whistle for "All Quiet in the Ship" was sounded.

The captain took a sip and frowned, he needed to ready his ship to go to sea before noon, a convoy was due into Pearl Harbour all the way from the Adriatic in Europe for the Hawaiian government. It would be escorted all the way by warships and auxiliaries of k.u.k. Kriegsmarine, a cable concerning it from the consulate in Manila, in the Spanish Philippines had reached him yesterday via the Austro-Hungarian Minister to the Royal Court of Kalākaua.

Notes: (1) Wai Momi (Waters of the Pearl) or Pu'uloa (the Long Hill) are the native Hawaiian names for the embayment (2) Moku'ume'ume (Island of Attraction) also sometimes called Poka 'Ailana in Hawaiian is Ford Island.

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