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

Thursday, October 28, 2021

Flight of the X-2 (Part III)

Royal Airship Works, Cardington, Bedfordshire, Great Britain.

Varley and Turner had suggested an alternative route to the Northwestern Frontier, by basing the X-2 from Malta or Greece and crossing the Ottoman Empire from west to east. The route was shorter then the proposed oceanic route, which recommended it to the Admiralty. The Foreign Office had put it's foot down on that option, with some regret it had to be said. The Ottomans had twigged to the X-2's previous visit to their territory, and a repetition of the dismal failure that was the Austrian mission was all too likely in the Foreign Office's mind. Wedgewood, Varley and Turner had been forced to agree with that assessment, in the present circumstances. Further, such a transit while quicker, would bring the X-2's flight closer to the Russian border and the possiblility of it being noticed by Russian border airships, sky ship flights or aircraft barrier patrols and both ground and aerial watchposts. The option of basing in Greece had been vetoed by both the Admiralty and the Foreign Office as it was a virtual surety that both the French and the Russians, who exerted considerable and powerful influence in the Kingdom of Greece, would find out about it. So the long route, via the Atlantic and Indian Ocean, was the only acceptable one, in view of current political realities.

Captain Turner joined the two men, as the stood gazing up at the massive airship that loomed over them. Of the three, Vice-Admiral Sir Alfred Wedgewood was easily and visibly the oldest. A grizzled, grey haired veteran of the Royal Navy, who had seen action in all nearly it's wars or colonial expeditions since the begining of the century in various capacities. Sharp, deep set flint grey eyes, flashed in a stern, craggy face that was dominated by a great beak of a nose. His face was clean shaven save for a neatly trimmed but still volumnous grey and white beard. Tall, powerfully built, Wedgewood presented an imposing presence in any gathering, he was also intelligent, articulate in both the written word and in speech, he was respected by all who served under him, and esteemed by his peers and superiors alike. Post-Captain Sir Markus Varley was almost a study in contrast, to his commander, being short, he stood only a few inches above five feet in height, of a compact but fit build and moved, thought and spoke with an alarming energy. Like Sir Alfred, he came from an old Anglo-Norman gentry family, although he was from the South of England, while Wedgewood came from the north. Varley had bright blue eyes, set in a remarkablely mobile but partrican face, that sparkled with excitement or mirth, as easily as they flashed with icy fire, when angered. Jet black hair and bristling sideburns framed his face.

Captain Dame Marianne Turner, was by comparison, tall, slender and intensively fit. She bristled with the same crackling energy as Captain Varley, but in her case it was more harnessed and controlled. Her neat and attractive features were framed by pale, almost white hair and set off by pale, glittering eyes. She snapped off, a crisp salute to her superior and collegue as she joined them. Her eyes, followed theirs as they resumed their silent inspection of the HMS X-2. Turner for her part was immensely proud of her ship and it's crew. While neither had the list of accomplishments aquired by the X-1 under Captain Varley, Turner was confident that given time and fair oppertunities, the X-2 would accomplish just as much for her captain and crew to be proud of.

"I do not like all this trimming, backing and falling, we are having to do, Admiral." Varley said suddenly, Wedgewood signed aloud. Political and strategic considerations rarely went hand in hand with tactical ones, in his experience. Someone always had to get their oar in and throw a spanner into the gears. Varley knew that, and so did Turner, but Wedgewood could understand their exasperation at having to plan this scouting mission with all it's attendent security and political requirements, when just the operational and logistical ones required their full and undivided attention.

"There is Nothing to be done about it, Varley. We just have to revise our plans accordingly and execute them as well as we can." Wedgewood responded heavily. He was no happier and had spent many long hours in discussion with Admiralty and Foreign Office officials trying to work out the details of the mission, with as few hangs up for the people who had to carry them out. While he had faced a great deal of officious and bureaucratic obstruction from many within both organizations, he had also received a great deal of support, as well as practical advise and suggestions on how to tackle the spanners that his superiors had thrown in his and his subordinates way.

Varley and Turner both nodded in agreement.

"The sooner you get underway, the happier I will be." Wedgewood remarked after a moments reflection. He offered his hand to Captain Turner. "A Safe voyage and a successful mission, Captain. Come home safe." Turner accepted her commander's hand, with a firm handshake of her own. Varley too offered his hand and a gruff word of encouragement to Turner and her crew.

"Thank you, Admiral. Captain. I'll take my leave and get underway, directly."

Both men watched her go, back to her airship and begin calling out the necessary orders to get airborne. The airship crew and the supporting ground crew began to move with hurried purpose.

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