5 August 1938
Capt. Alastair Hawkesworth
HMAS Richard Lemon Lander
I must admit at the outset that I was at first surprised to find no sign of you upon our arrival at Cydonia. Surely you would be there, fighting to your last breath to defend Britannia and her interests against the savage uprisings. But once I and my shipmates saw how utterly disastrous the situation on Cydonia truly was, I understood. You no doubt chose the better part of valor, saving your ship and crew to fight another day. I expect that when we arrive at Tudor, we shall find you in command of a fully repaired and resupplied Lander, ready to take the fight to our enemies. I await that prospect with much excitement.
As for myself and my ship, we have had a difficult journey, as my previous letters detailed, and our time on Cydonia was no exception. We engaged in battle with a Hellan sail-barge, a contest from which we emerged victorious but bloodied. Most of the crew of the Fair Lenore, including her Captain, went down into the deep Martian caves to retrieve an old acquaintance, who had fallen into the hands of Cave Martian slavers. Myself, along with the ship’s engineer and our mage from the Royal Society, Jude, remained behind. Myself and Sophie, the engineer, worked to repair the ship, while Jude occupied himself with studying various books of magic and lore.
Just as our repairs were completed, Jude emerged from his self-imposed isolation and informed us that our comrades were in “mortal danger” and that it was our responsibility to rescue the Queen in order to preserve a future for Britannia. Jude explained that this information came to him in a dream, and he was entirely convinced of its truth. And so we set off. Our first order of business was hiring a temporary crew member to help fly the ship. I handled this, finding a relatively competent and trustworthy man and offering him a wage that was perhaps overly generous. I thought briefly of Lord Crabe’s possible displeasure at the sum I offered in his name as salary, but that was outweighed in my mind by the displeasure I imagine he would feel should he be killed before we could reach him due to our inability to fly the ship short-handed.
With our temporary crew, we set off and after a short flight, we arrived at the entrance to the cave system that our companions had taken. Myself and Jude disembarked; I climbed down from the ship with no difficulty, but Jude did not fare so well. In fact, he injured his leg rather severely. I did what I could to help; I improvised a splint, which enabled him to walk, albeit slowly.
The entrance to the caves beckoned. It was a large, forbidding hole. Some force was operating to reduce the force of gravity, and Jude trusted this force and jumped straight into the hole. His pained shout, carried up from the depths, convinced me to seek some form of insurance before following him down. The remnants of an anti-gravity skiff provided that; I was able to salvage a piece of the skiff and use it to float gently down the hole to a soft and safe landing. I provided Jude with further medical attention, and we set off into the caves.
We shortly reached a large cavern, and it was only great good luck that saved us. We both saw an instant of movement and were able to jump back, just as large, vicious claws struck out to attack us. Jude took aim with his pistol, while I fired the Taschenprojektor Elektroturmgeschütz and watched in horror and fascination as the vile creature was annihilated. Jude wounded his attacker, and the creature backed away. We could see and hear (barely) additional creatures off to the side, but I judged that we could make it through the cavern and to relative safety if we ran. I was not sure of Jude could run on his injured leg, but as the alternatives were quite unpromising, we ran. We got halfway to our goal of safety before we were struck from behind. We were both struck down by alien claws, but I was able to quickly get up to my knees and bring my weapon to bear. I set it to Toten Allenmann, shouted to Jude to stay down out of the line of fire (unnecessary, as it transpired, since he was unconscious at this point) and shot. The creatures burned, and shrieked, but they were not destroyed. They stood their ground, and I was faced with a choice: fire again, risking failure (or worse) of my weapon, or run for my life.
You know me, Alastair, and so you already know what I did. Running would have meant leaving Jude to the creatures, and that is not in my nature. So I fired again, and the creatures were, this time, completely destroyed. I could hear the howls of additional monsters, but apparently they had no wish to be destroyed as well, and they did not approach. I dragged Jude to safety, and did what I could for his injuries, and it was at this point that our companions found us. Dr. Oceana ministered to our injuries, and we quickly were updated on the situation. Our group had helped foment and lead a slave revolt, and they had taken over a Cave Martian village. We would have to continue down the underground rivers past several villages to reach the slave market where our object of rescue awaited us.
A Cave Martian barge approached, and we endeavored to take it over, as a means of getting to the slave market, but before we could complete our attack, an alarm was raised, and a fail-safe mechanism was triggered to flood the village. While my companions fought the Cave Martian crew, Lord Tybalt put me in mental contact with Dr. Oceana, who was swimming in the river and had located a control box that operated the fail-safe device. From the mental image of the box, I quickly deciphered the controls and communicated instructions through Lord Tybalt to the doctor, and she was able to turn off the device and save the village.
Now we had a captured barge. But the next problem was how to get past the Cave Martian sentries at the villages and canal locks between us and the slave market. It was decided that we would use the corpses of the Cave Martian crew as decoys. We would prop them up as though they were crewing the barge, and from behind cover, one of our number would shout out as though it was the decoys speaking. Jude offered to enhance our deception by using his magical arts to reanimate the dead Cave Martians.
As Jude labored, I realized that I might be able to use scientific means to aid him. I could augment the receptivity of the dead Martian flesh to his control by means of an antenna implanted into the back of the neck of the Cave Martians, as well as modified Tesla coils. I did so, and it is fortunate that I did, because Jude’s efforts were not successful. Magic had failed, and it was time for science to take its rightful place. With copper wire run from the antennae to the limbs of the Martians, and using hand-held controllers that I quickly assembled, we were able to remotely “operate” the deceased Martians as through they were large, fearsome puppets. This was perhaps not the most admirable use I have ever made of my talents, but as my father remarked on occasion, “Science does not always have a pretty face.”
My reanimated Martians worked quite well, although as we journeyed down the underground river, the natural processes of decay caused control of the Martians to become more difficult (in addition to other unpleasant aspects which I am sure you can imagine). Increasing the electrical power and amplifying the Tesla waves solved the control problem. I have observed that many scientific problems that can be resolved by simply applying more power as needed.
We finally reached the slave market, after much effort and danger, and heroic deeds from my companions. We abandoned the barge and the reanimated Martians and set off overland for the final stage of our journey. Lord Tybalt used his extraordinary abilities to control the mind of a high-ranking Cave Martian, and we posed as his slaves. This culminated in our reaching a warehouse where especially valuable slaves were kept. My companions dispatched several guards, and we began the process of freeing the slaves. When all was said and done, we had found our quarry, freed several thousand slaves, and made our way back to the docks where we took over a military barge.
We are currently journeying on the river as I write these words. Soon we will be back aboard our ship and headed away from Cydonia and en route to Tudor. I am hopeful that we will find survivors there ready to fight and rebuild our civilization. I am even more hopeful that I will find out, in good health and with many stirring tales to tell.
Until then, I remain your friend,
Genevieve Chantal Therese de Lisieux Lamballe
(much thanks to Genevieve's player, James DiBenedetto)