21 July 1937
Capt. Alastair Hawkesworth
HMAS Richard Lemon Lander
My Dearest Alastair,
I report to you from above the Cydonian city of Cyperties, which once was the home of several thousand Martians, but is no longer. We know only part of the tale that led to this, which I shall relate to you in due course.
Following our battle with Spanish commerce raiders, as I relayed to you in my previous letter, we found ourselves on the Marinaris Path. The Lady Blackbird was damaged, but we had prevailed against two enemy airships. One was destroyed outright, the second captured. We took the decision to repair the captured vessel and press it into our service; Marcus went aboard to pilot it, while Lord Tybalt and Colonel Rasmussen took it upon themselves to interrogate the Spanish prisoners still aboard.
Given their particular talents, I am sure you can imagine the method and results of said interrogation; I shall note only that the highest ranking prisoner, the chief engineer of the captured airship, had his mustache removed in most distressing fashion.
My suggestion, to implant Tesla coils at the base of their spines in order to ensure the good behavior (or, perhaps more accurately, to punish bad behavior) of the prisoners, was not heeded. It is unfortunate that my companions do not always see the benefits of science and technology.
In order to complete repairs, as well as restock and refuel our ships, we decided to proceed onward to Cydonia. Iris, as she has done all along, piloted the Lady Blackbird. She endeavored to steer a more safe and sedate path than she is perhaps used to, in order that Marcus could follow in the less maneuverable and more damaged airship behind us. For reasons best known to themselves, my companions have rechristened the captured airship Snargle’s Revenge. I consider it an unbecoming name, but, as is sometimes, and distressingly, the case, I was outvoted.
As we approached Cydonia, specifically the Free City of Cyperties, Iris reported that she felt “uneasy.” The reason for her unease soon became apparent; the city appeared to be recently, and completely, deserted. As we discovered, “depopulated” is a more accurate word. Lord Tybalt confirmed this when he informed us that he could sense no presence of any living beings in the entire city.
Colonel Rasmussen, thanks to his connection to the Spirit of Mars as I described in my previous letter, received an impression of the horrible events that transpired: an evil and toxic green mist which stank of brimstone rose up from the ground, as if from the very bowels of hell itself, and snuffed the life from every single inhabitant of the city. As you might imagine, this greatly disturbed the Colonel, and the Spirit of Mars departed him after this experience.
Seeing that there was no current danger, we landed our ships and began to refuel and to conduct repairs. Lord Tybalt and General Pickton went to explore the several warehouses near to the airfield, and in one of them discovered a sarcophagus. Inside it, there was one survivor of the horrific events; a Britannic agent who was at one time known to Elspeth, Eric McGuiness.
While Mr. McGuiness and Elspeth became reacquainted, the General and Lord Tybalt continued to search the warehouses, and the remainder of our company endeavored to repair our ships, we witnessed the approach of three airships. The ships were first spotted by Colonel Rasmussen, who by means of magic had become both intangible and airborne, and who conjured a giant arrow of fire to point the ships out to us on the ground below.
The ships began to disgorge troops who began to glide down to the surface; someone, in the confusion I cannot recall whom, referred to them as “Martian Air NInjas.” I think, perhaps, that some among our company have imaginations which are too active for their own good.
In any event, we were forced to combat. Lord Tybalt teleported to one of the enemy airships, while General Pickton took to the skies as well. Colonel Rasmussen remained airborne and conjured wind to impede the landing troops and the enemy ships. I fired my weapon to destroy several troops before they could land. Iris launched the Lady Blackbird into the air and, both through the use of the machine gun in the belly of the ship, and via the use of the ship itself as a weapon, managed to cause two of the enemy airships to crash. I must say that I admire Iris’ skills as a pilot immensely, but I am also very grateful that I was not aboard the ship at the time; I felt nauseous merely watching the ship twist and turn in the sky.
Some of the Martian troops were able to land, and myself and Marcus both attacked them. I destroyed several with a second blast from my weapon, but on my third attempt, the weapon malfunctioned, and instead of emitting its usual blast of energy, it emitted nothing – but a vile green mist began again to rise up from the ground.
I fled to higher ground – inside our captured airship, and I made it with only seconds to spare. Marcus followed me. Elspeth, we later learned, was taken by Mr. McGuiness back to the sarcophagus within which he survived the previous appearance of the mist.
The third enemy airship was damaged as well and began to crash. Aboard it, Lord Tybalt had encountered not Martians, but humans. They were not, as we expected, Spanish, but of another culture entirely – although when Lord Tybalt entered the mind of their Captain, he discovered that they were working with the Spanish. Unfortunately, we were unable to take their Captain prisoner. He, at Lord Tybalt’s direction, fled his ship, but in the effort to pluck him out of the sky, he was unfortunately caught in the engine of the Lady Blackbird with precisely the result you would expect of such an encounter.
Immediately thereafter, we discovered Elspeth and Mr. McGuiness. We also discovered that Mr. Mcuiness was no longer human, but in fact he was a vampire. As Elspeth recounted to us, that revelation came at a most inappropriate moment. For the moment we have locked him in a cargo hold while we ponder what is to be done with him.
That brings me back to where I started; we hover above the city, waiting for the evil mist to dissipate. Once that happens, we will land again, complete our resupply and repairs, continue our searches of the various warehouses, and then depart for the Cloudlands to continue our mission.
Until our next communication, I remain your loyal friend,
Genevieve Chantal Therese de Lisieux Lamballe, La Reine du Le Cour d’Automne