The Eleventh Hour of the Eleventh Day...

Friday, November 9, 2018 0 comments

Lest we forget.

Photo by Neil Zeller

The Steampunk Worlds we play in are based on the real Victorian world.

So it is important to note that this weekend as we remember those who sacrificed themselves in service to Empire and in response to the commands of their Kings and countries, that we must also remember that ALL the men and women who participated in WWI were "Victorians" and those who served in WWII were mostly "Edwardians".

These two titanic conflicts changed the worlds of these people in unimaginable ways. Neither the Victorians or the Edwardians, as we tend to study and re-create them, remained when the smoke and dust settled.
Not only did hundreds of thousands of them die, but the very cultural structures in which they had grown up were swept away.
In 1914 a farmer in Western Canada, a fisherman on the Coasts, a labourer in the factories of Eastern Canada, or a miner in the far north, went when their King called because that was what one did.
100 years ago when the guns fell silent at 11:00 am on November 11th they did not know that everything had changed forever but they hoped that at least war was done with.

Alas their children found that was not true.

There are none alive now who remember the world of WWI and few indeed that remember WWII.
We owe it to them that WE remember, we also owe their World, the Victorian and Edwardian World we celebrate, that it not be forgotten either.

Lest we forget.
God Save the Queen!

Keep your sightglass full, your firebox trimmed and your water iced.

Ice and Clockwork Part VII

Thursday, November 8, 2018 0 comments


Previously  Watkins has retrieved the secret package from the remote Aetherwave Station and has arrived back at the airship field outside Reykjavik.  While loading it onto the HMAS Francis he discovers that his two wayward Marines have returned aboard. After giving them a mighty dressing down they tell him some exciting news concerning Max and their missing shipmates!

Enjoy the conclusion of Ice and Clockwork part VII.

You can start from the beginning of this story here.

Thanks for reading along.
Keep your sightglass full, your firebox trimmed, and your water iced.

Ice and Clockwork
A serial story from The Airship's Messdeck.
Part VII
  by Kevin Jepson

"News? What news."

The two Marines are now grinning again.

"They have been found Sir! Miss BB... er Lieutenant Buckert and Max and Lieutenant Baleva and Mr Simpson and all Sir. They found the Argo wrecked on the coast of Norway and they are bringing them all back. They'll be in London on Sunday Sir!"
Watkins lets out a whoop, all pretense of rank gone, "Damn! I knew it! Wow, after all this time! Fantastic news Ellis!" Grinning broadly now he shakes Cooke's hand, and even gives Fraser a big hug. "Was this a general announcement?"

Cooke still smiling says "No Sir. Were a private message for you direct from Naval Intelligence, which was odd. Sweep couldn't decode it so me and Sarge looked it over. It looked kind of like that code the Admiral had the Sgt Major and Max use in Cape Town."

Fraser chimes in. "Since it were addressed to you and you wouldn't know the key either as only the Sgt Major and Max were supposed to have it, we figured it would be a key you would think of. Took a few tries but then we hit on the name of our ship and it worked! The Skipper must have had second thoughts about keeping two such crazy marines on his ship!"

"Well, bloody fine news indeed, wish we could be there when they step back on to the shore of old Blightey!"

"There is more Sir, the Velvet Brush is finished her refit and will be ready to start flying again, Sweep was reading the news and told us."

"Bloody hell, and us up here in Iceland!"

Fraser asks "Any chance we could get back aboard her?"

"Well if Max has anything to say about it I suspect so, but we got to get back there first. At least my orders are to deliver this package personally to Portsmouth 'With Dispatch'. So we can make a beeline there, if the Captain agrees that is. Get this lashed down and hooked up, I'll go report to the Skipper and make sure we are ready to be about getting under way as soon as we can!"

"Aye aye Sir!" The two Marines still grinning like schoolboys set to work with a will.

Watkins hooks up the ships power cable and once he is sure the power levels are correct switches over to the ships systems. As he heads to the ladder to climb up to the keelwalk, Fraser says "A moment Sir."

"What is it Kade?"

"That were a fine tirade Sir, worthy of a full lieutenant that was!"

"Hah! Go to hell Sarge!"

"With pleasure Sir, at least it would be warm!"


Just outside the gates of the EAD's London Dockyard. An icy fog rolls across the cobblestones almost as thick as liquid water. It hangs close as if it is not sure whether to turn into frost or just fall as rain.

Kade Fraser stamps his boots and blows on his hands, his crimson Airship Marine coat is wet through and icy water drips off his cap. "What's taking Watkins so long anyways, he just had to drop that package off at Whitehall and then meet us here."

"I don't know Sarge, could be he had to get debriefed or something." Corporal Cooke is also stamping his boots and rubbing his hands.

"Well it's been a great big run around and all, first we was supposed to take it to Portsmouth and then, once we flew all the way down there, they tell us to take it to London... on a bloody train!"

Cooke chuckles. "Still can't believe that one Sarge, you see the look on Watkin's face when he was trying to figure out how long the batteries would last on that containment? Thought he would have a fit. Still, if you need to nurse a potentially dangerous gadget across the North Atlantic John Watkins would be your man and no mistake."

Fraser looks over at the gate and then up at the towering walls of the vast Airdock beyond. "True enough, I know where he wants to be right now and that's on the ship floating inside that airdock."

Cooke follows Fraser's gaze and says "Aye and I don't mind tellin you I'd like to be there too! Say Sarge, you think old Max will share some of his rum with us? We's practically Black Gang now."

Kade Fraser laughs. "Now there's a thought to warm yer cockles!"


The epilogue is coming soon.

Ice and Clockwork Part VI

Friday, October 19, 2018 0 comments


Previously  after arriving in Reykjavik to retrieve a secret package from one of Her Majesty's Aetherwave Stations, the sledge and its two sleeping Marine passengers was stolen. The Marines have still not been found when Watkins takes the recovered sledge out to an extinct volcano that British Intelligence uses as a base. Picking up the package Watkins heads back to Reykjavik.

Enjoy part VI.

You can start from the beginning of this story here.

Keep your sightglass full, your firebox trimmed, and your water iced.

Ice and Clockwork
A serial story from The Airship's Messdeck.
Part VI
  by Kevin Jepson

The steam sledge grinds its way back through the icy night towards the lights of the docking field. The Francis has been moved out of the hangar and is tied firmly to the docking tower. She is floodlit by lights and looks like a great snowy whale against the dark arctic sky. The Auroras can be seen flickering their greens and reds far above.

The sledge had stopped on the outskirts of Reykjavik to get more coal and water and then had skirted the city so as not to arouse any more "interest" than necessary.

"Well I wonder where them Bullocks have got off to. I'll take a strip off them good an proper if I find them." Watkins checks the power gauges on the containment box. The box buzzes slightly to the touch but otherwise it could be any wooden shipping crate.

The sledge pulls up to the entrance of the docking field and Watkins hands the appropriate pages over to the watchman at the entrance. There are a couple of British soldiers there too, and they take a quick look through the sledge.

The corporal in charge asks "Sorry to be a bother Sir, but we still haven't found your Marines. It is like they just vanished in the snow. Checked every pub in the city and no sign of them. The Major asked me to tell you that they will be charged with theft if they are found and to make sure they do not leave Iceland."

"Ah, I'll keep that in mind Corporal. We will be leaving shortly I imagine. Good hunting!"

"Thank you Sir, safe flight."

The sledge moves towards the Francis and parks far enough away that there is no chance of sparks or hot cinders igniting any leaking hydrogen. A couple of the ground crew come up and help Watkins manhandle the package out of the sledge onto the ground.

Watkins goes to the driver and pays him for the trip, plus some extra for the inconvenience of having his sledge stolen. "Thank you for all your help driver."

"You're welcome Sir, is pleasure driving you." The sledge trundles its way off into the darkness in a glowing cloud of steam lit by the lights of the field.

"Right, lets get this aboard shall we."

They load the package onto a cargo sledge and drag it over to the cargo bay of the Francis.
She is floating some 10' or so above the field so they will have to use the cargo hoist.
The cargo door is open and the hoist is rigged ready to winch the package up. Watkins can see two of the Francis' crew, bundled up against the cold ready to load the package.

After checking the power and re-checking the cargo hoist straps, Watkins gives the order to hoist away. Once the package is moved into the hold he dismisses the ground crew and climbs up the ladder to supervise the stowage and connection of the power to the ship's systems.
As he enters the cargo hold it takes a moment for his eyes to adjust to the dimmer light, the main hatch has been closed so the bright floodlight of the docking field is cut off.

There is a stamping of boots and the two crewman snap to attention and salute.

"Good evening Sir!" Cpl Cooke and private Fraser are standing ramrod straight beside the package with their hoods thrown back.


It is obvious that they have something to tell him, but unfortunately they are both grinning like school boys caught sneaking out of the girls dormitory and Watkins is not amused.

"Christ! What the hell were you thinking! Where the hell have you bastards been hiding?" The two Marines don't stop grinning which infuriates Watkins even more. Not waiting for an answer he proceeds to berate the two using many of the same terms that he had been subjected to by Major Woolsley-Hampton, MBE. That does it and the two Marines turn stoney faced under the raking.

Watkins realizes he is being unreasonable and stops his rant. "Well, yes hmmm... What do you have to say for yourselves, report!"

Cooke glances at Fraser who is looking straight ahead like he is under inspection.

"Um. Sir we didn't steal the sledge Sir, but we have news Sir!"

"Never mind that what the hell happened Corporal? Start at the beginning."

"But... Aye Sir. We were waiting in the sledge as you asked and the driver went off to get some coal and food. It was warm and we got kind of sleepy, since we were not sure how long you would be we thought we would have a bit of a lie in. That was all. Next thing I know Fraser is shaking me awake and it is bloody cold and black as pitch in the sledge. We were way out of town on the side of the road, the boiler was stone cold, were the cold that woke us."

"Your asking me to believe you slept while the sledge was driven out of town."

"I know that sounds crazy Sir, but it's true. Must have been given something to keep us asleep, maybe a gas or something. Found this note pinned to the seat beside me Sir."

Cooke hands Watkins a paper with a message written on it. Watkins looks at it closely the characters are rough.

It says Спи спокойно красных мундирах .

"It's in Russian!"

"Aye Sir. Couldn't read it so just stuck it in my pocket. Sweep translated it for us when we got back Sir, it says 'Sleep well Red Coats!' bastard must have been riding inside the sledge with us Sir."

"Ah, creating an incident, why didn't you report this to the authorities then?"

Cooke looks a bit sheepish and glances again at Fraser who is just as stoney faced as before, "Ah I wanted too Sir, we talked about it but Fraser said there was no way they would believe us and it wouldn't be worth taking a chance on not being handed over to the locals."

"Private Fraser explain!"

Fraser, still staring straight ahead says "Sir! I figured first thing that would happen when they started to look for us would be that they would get our records Sir, would look bad after my stay in the brig at Scapa Sir."

"Hmmm yeah, that did come up as it happens, carry on."

Fraser continues "Also Sir, I have visited some far off locales and I find the local garrisons are more than happy to grab any Marine found adrift and add them to the local detachment, on pain of being hung for desertion Sir. That is AFTER their ship has left while they are cooling their heels in the local gaol."

"Ah." Watkins recalls the change in the Major once he found out who had trained the Marines.
"Probably not an unreasonable conclusion there too. Carry on, what happened once you got back to the ship?"

Cooke continues on with "Well Sir, we figured the best approach would be to get back to the Francis and explain to the captain what happened. When we approached the docking field it was crawling with local police, we had to wait out in the snow for most of the morning till we seen Sweep being lowered out of her snug in her box. Taking a chance we walked over to her as if we were ground handlers. She was surprised to see us and told us the Captain had been asked to hand us over if we came back to the ship. She told us to clear off, but just then one of the local peelers came over so she ordered us to help her across to the terminal. Once there I found some ground handlers coats and we started acting like we belonged Sir. Then we just came aboard when we brought sweep back to her Snug."

"How did the Captain react?"

"He were fed up with the locals and the officious Consulate people Sir. I think he agreed with Sarge and was not going to lose his Marines to the local detachment so let us stay. That's when Sweep got the news Sir!"

Cooke is fidgeting and even Fraser is starting to smile.

"News? What news."

The two are now grinning again.

"They have been found Sir! Miss BB... er Lieutenant Buckert and Max and Lieutenant Baleva and Mr Simpson and all Sir. They found the Argo wrecked on the coast of Norway and they are bringing them all back. They'll be in London on Sunday Sir!"

Part VII is here.

Ice and Clockwork Part V

Saturday, September 29, 2018 0 comments

A remote Aetherwave Station

Previously The two Marines, Cpl Cooke and Private Fraser, have disappeared after apparently stealing an Icelander's Steam Sledge. Watkins, having endured a rough afternoon at the hands of the local military commander, has been sent off to collect the package from the Aetherwave Station while the search for the missing Red Coats continues.

Enjoy Part V

You can start from the beginning of this story here.

Keep your sightglass full, your water iced, and your firebox trimmed.

Ice and Clockwork
A serial story from The Airship's Messdeck.
Part V
  by Kevin Jepson

The steam sledge slips and bounces across a rough terrain that is equal parts snow and blocks of lava rock. They have been grinding along, climbing steadily for almost three hours in the dim morning light. Watkins shivers as he scrapes the frost off the window of the sledge and looks out at the multi coloured rocky volcanoes that dot the country side.

They are all extinct and have been for a thousand years.

"Could use a little molten rock about now." he mutters as he tries to warm his hands over the steam coil that is trying valiantly to put heat into the cabin.

There had been no sign of the two Marines by the time he left. The Major had been exceptionally helpful this morning, cheerful even. Which by comparison with the previous day made Watkins quite nervous.

"Bugger is hoping I have to leave on the Francis before Fraser and Cooke show up so he can dragoon them more an likely. Hate to have to explain to Sgt Major Briggs how I lost his Marines!"

Finally the sledge bounces to a stop and the driver taps on the window to indicate that they have arrived.

Watkins climbs down from the sledge, his boots crunching on the snow.

AETHER WIRE STATION WEST #3 is not much to look at, several long buildings surrounded by a kind of wire stockade. In the center is a wooden derrick, like those used at coal mines to handle the crew cars and coal hoists. Rising from the top is the great Aetherwave cable that rises up into the clouds like a pencil line drawn on the sky. Many thousands of feet above, invisible because of the clouds, is a captive balloon, like a small airship, complete with a lonely crew of three, that maintains the tension and position of the cable regardless of the winds and weather.

A Marine guard steps out from a sentry box near the gate in the stockade and asks to see Watkins' pass and papers.

"Welcome to Thrihnukagigur*" he says as he hands the papers back to Watkins.

"And what pray tell is a Thrihn... er... whatsit?"

"Heh, took me a long time to get my tongue wrapped around that one too. It means 'Three Peak Crater' in Icelandic." the guard says with a smile. "Sounds better than AETHER WIRE STATION WEST #3 eh?"

"Aye it does that. I'm to see the Security Officer."

"Right this way, he will be below I expect, but I'll ring him up when we get inside."

After passing the gate they enter the first of the two long buildings that butt up against the derrick. Inside is a hallway flanked by workshops and offices. There is a steady hum like some massive beehive buzzing under their feet. As they walk down the hall towards the derrick Watkins can feel a kind of tickling on his scalp and arms. It is like each hair has decided to walk around on its own. He shakes his hands and rubs them together.

The guard sees him and says "It's the Aether waves, there is so much power in that cable it makes your skin jumpy. Can't feel it below though."

"Below? What's below?"

The guard looks at him oddly. "You don't know? I figured with that security pass you would have been briefed."

They stop outside an office with a brass plaque on the door labeled "Security Officer" and the guard ushers him in. "Take a seat and I'll get Captain Fisher. Won't be a minute. There is tea in that flask there."

"Thank you." As the guard leaves, Watkins looks at the pictures and maps on the wall above the desk. Mostly sketches and paintings of the wild and desolate, yet colourful, landscape surrounding the station.

In a glass topped case against the far wall are various rock samples of different colours, some with exotic crystals glinting. In another case are small mechanical devices some obviously autonomous. Watkins leans closer to look at a pair of small mechanical spider like machines tucked in one corner.

"Blimey! How the hell did you get all the way to Iceland?"

"Ah, enjoying my little museum?" Captain Fisher enters the office and tosses his uniform jacket on the back of his chair.

Watkins comes to attention and starts to salute but the Captain says "Never mind about all that here Mr...ah"

"Watkins Sir. Engineer on the HMAS Francis. I have been ordered to retrieve a package from you Sir."

"Ah, I have that ready out back, do you have the authorization?"

"Yes Sir." Watkins hands the papers over to the Captain who looks at them briefly and drops them on his desk.

"Did they give you anything else to give to me?"

"No Sir, I don't think so... unless... ah, Sorry Sir, Argo"

Captain Fisher smiles.  "Very good, you would think the Intelligence folks would be more creative but I suppose it's the best they can do on a limited budget."

"Sir, if I may, these mechanicals in the case, where did you get them from."

"They are fascinating aren't they? These beauties come from below right here actually. They occasionally get away and make it up the shaft. Whenever one of the guards catches one he brings it to me and I keep it in the case. Have to deactivate them first of course which is a pity some have quite extraordinary behaviours."

"I seen some just like it in Cape Town, like them big spiders in the corner."

"Did you indeed, fascinating. They were some of the first ones here, I always thought he built them too fast to have been a new design."

"Sorry Sir, I don't understand."

"No reason you should Mr Watkins. Now let's see about getting you fixed up with the package. You are aware of the standard precautions regarding power and containment?"

"Yes Sir." Watkins repeats the requirements from the orders he received from Sweep back on the Francis.

"Yes that's them, make sure you follow them to the letter. I do not know what this particular package does, don't want to frankly, but you don't want to be taking any chances understood?"

"Aye aye Sir!"

Captain Fisher takes Watkins out the back of the building. Next to the base of the derrick the package is resting on a pallet made of wood. The container is indeed not overly large, but the batteries that will power it are. It is currently connected to a cable that heads to the base of the derrick and disappears below. Watkins can see that in addition to being used to send up supplies and the occasional crewman to the captive balloon far above, the derrick also has cables and pulleys to run cages up and down a shaft at its base very much like a mine working.

As Watkins is inspecting the package he asks the Captain what is below the shaft.

"I'm afraid that's classified, need to know and all that, sorry."

Watkins decides to try a different tack, the security officer seems to be a tech at heart so he asks, "Sir,  where is the power coming from to run this station? I don't see any smoke or steam from a power plant, nor any coal piles and I don't think this is a coal mine."

"No it certainly isn't." Says the Captain with a smile. "Much of what happens here is classified but you are an engineer and you'll get a kick out of this, and it isn't classified for what it's worth. The Aetherwave Stations power themselves."

Watkins looks over towards the wooden derrick with its cable stretching up into the clouds. "Power themselves? How?"

"A fascinating system really, up here in the near arctic the magnetic field of the earth starts to get close to the ground, eventually the lines of force actually enter the surface near the pole. So when we stretch a long cable up several thousand feet into the air we cut a lot of those lines of force. This generates some pretty significant currents between the cable and the ground."

"It's a giant generator!"

"It is indeed, the entire facility is powered by it, never goes off, and there is more than we can use actually. Plus it allows us to setup shielding for other... ah... projects."

A gate in the stockade is opened by the guard and the steam sledge trundles through.

"I'll leave you in the capable hands of trooper Walsh to load this up. Safe journey Mr Watkins."

"Thank you sir."

Watkins watches as the Captain gets into a cage at the base of the derrick which quickly drops out of sight. Keeping an eye on the large pulley at the top, Watkins estimates the number of turns the wheel takes before coming to a stop.

"Blimey nearly 600 feet!" he mutters as the guard comes up.

"You say something Sir?"

"Aye I did, that shaft is really deep!"

"Oh it is that and there be mighty strange things at the bottom I can tell you."

"Really?" As Watkins, with the help of the sledge driver and the guard, start to manhandle the package over to the sledge Watkins tries to get more info from the guard.

"Captain Fisher was saying as how some of them mechanical critters get up the shaft sometimes."

"Oh Aye they do that every now and then, was tough when he first got here but eventually they figured out a damping field that deactivated them before they could get up. He's figured out how to get through it lately."

"Argh these batteries are heavy... Who has?"

"Oh our most recent guest."


"Well prisoner really I suppose, hard to tell, he gets pretty much anything he wants. He's just not allowed to leave. Plays a kind of cat and mouse game with the Captain, seeing if he can get his mechanicals out just for fun it seems like. Strange fellow, artificial legs, absolute whiz with mechanicals. I was here when he were brought in about 6 months back actually. You'd think he were the Prince of Wales or something with the number of Marines around. The Lady in charge must have been very high up in the ranks judging by the way everybody deferred to her. Tough bit that one, smoked these awful smelling little cigars."

"Ah, I met her in Cape Town, same place I saw those spiders in the Captain's case."

With a lot of pushing and shoving they finally get the package and the batteries wedged into the cabin of the sledge. Watkins checks the power and makes sure everything is ready to go, then he carefully unplugs the cable.

"Thank you for your assistance trooper."

The guard touches his cap. "My pleasure Sir, safe journey."

Part VI is here.

*Thrihnukagigur is an actual place in Iceland.
The magma chamber of the volcano drained out leaving a 650' deep chasm first explored in 2011.

Ice and Clockwork Part IV

Sunday, September 9, 2018 0 comments

Under fire.

Previously Watkins and his two Marine shipmates have been ordered to collect a mysterious package from a remote Aetherwave station in Iceland. On reporting to the local headquarters of the British Airship Service in Reykjavik, the steam sledge that brought them there has disappeared, along with the two Marines who were waiting in it!

Enjoy Part IV

You can start from the beginning of this story here.

Keep your sightglass full, your water iced, and your firebox trimmed.

Ice and Clockwork
A serial story from The Airship's Messdeck.
Part IV
  by Kevin Jepson

It is late afternoon and almost night this far North. The office of Major Woolsley-Hampton MBE bears a distinct resemblance to a kicked over anthill. Local dignitaries, police officers, friends of the sledge driver, and members of both the Major's staff and the local British Consulate are coming and going almost continuously.

Since the Major's return from his inspection things have gotten pretty warm indeed for Mr. John Watkins. The Major has made Watkins acutely aware that not only is it his men, for whom he is responsible, that have possibly stolen a sledge and disappeared, but that it is the Royal Navy and by extension the British presence in Iceland itself, that has also been called into disrepute.

Watkins standing stiffly to attention in front of the Major's desk is trying to defuse the issue.

"No Sir. I do not believe my men would run off with a steam sledge. What reason could they have for doing that?"

The Major, dressed in a business suit with only an embroidered rank flash on one sleeve to indicate he is actually a soldier, is having none of it.

"What reason do sailors need to head out on a spree when ashore!"

"They are not sailors Sir, they are Royal Marines and Airship Marines at that..."

The Major dismisses Watkins remark with a wave of his hand. "Yes, yes, I know all about the great Red Coated Bullocks of the Senior Service, but what about this Fraser fellow..." The Major rummages around in the papers on his desk and holds up a report that had arrived with the consular aide. "Busted to private for trying to steal a frigate or something at Scapa Flow!"

Watkins had expected that to come out. "Sergeant Fraser was trying to join the search for our Commander and other members of the crew lost in a North Sea Gale Sir!"

"Hmph! Maybe Watkins, or he was trying to desert and you just brought him to Iceland and let him do just that!"

"No Sir! I do not believe that of Kade Fraser or Ellis Cooke either. They are exemplary Marines who I have served with for more than two years Sir!"

"Well it is damn bad timing Watkins, bad timing indeed!"


"Bloody hell, stand a ease Watkins, you're making my back ache standing there like a bloody rifle barrel!"

Watkins relaxes, into what a sailor considers "at ease" but what a soldier would consider as "slouching". The Major looks like he is going to say something but then thinks better of it.

"You are aware no doubt of the diplomatic row with the Russians and that ship last year?"*

"Yes Sir, I was on the Airship who found her, outside Russian waters as it happens."

"Well the Russians claim she had been inshore supplying, or transferring, spies or something. They claim they can prove it too. They are also pressuring the Icelanders to remove or curtail our Aetherwave Stations here! Your Marines may have just added some fuel to that particular bonfire!"

Before Watkins has a chance to answer there is a knock on the door and the Major's clerk comes in.

"What is it Helga?"

"Excuse me Sir, but I thought I should tell you that they found the sledge the details are here, and there is also a message from Whitehall for you Sir." The Clerk hands the major a paper and leaves, closing the door behind her.

Resisting the urge to grab the paper himself, Watkins waits while the Major quickly scans the report. "Hmmm... sledge was off the road outside the city heading North. Ran out of fuel by the look of it. No sign of your men Watkins. It was snowing hard out there so no tracks either. No matter, the Icelanders are used to hunting in the snow they will be tracked down in the morning and brought in, if they haven't frozen to death somewhere."

"I suspect they won't be found Sir, not if they don't want to be."

"Come Watkins, I've not heard that Airship Marines can disappear."

"No Sir, but they are very well trained Sir. Their Sgt Major made sure of that. I heard a rumour that he was famous for it."


"Yes Sir, they called him the Horseman."

The colour drains from the Major's face. "The Hell you say! That bloody devil is a Royal Marine?"

"I don't know for sure Sir, but the Marines seemed to think it likely."

"Yes well, it would suit a Sergeant Major for his troops to think that would it not?"

"Yes Sir."

The Major turns and looks out into the darkness of the Icelandic night and mutters to himself. "Still, Marines trained by the Horseman would come in very handy in a scrap."

"I beg your pardon Sir?"

The Major turns back to Watkins. "Never mind, since we have the sledge back it won't be long till we have your run away red coats as well."

"Yes Sir. What about my orders to retrieve that package from the Aetherwave balloon station?"

"I will get you some transport for the morning. Maybe we should hire that fellow's sledge again, to ease his mind with a few more of Her Majesty's sovereigns eh?"

"Yes Sir, Thank you Sir."

Part V is here

*The HMAS Velvet Brush had been sent into the Baltic the year before to find a Royal Navy surface ship that had supposedly been forced into Russian waters. They found the cruiser battling a storm outside Russian territory thus avoiding a nasty diplomatic incident.

World Championships Sept 8 2018

Tuesday, August 28, 2018 0 comments

 It's that time of year!

Keep your sightglass full your firebox trimmed and your water iced!

For more information and to find out more about this great sport go to:
Madame Saffron Hemlock’s Parasol Duelling League for Steampunk Ladies

Click here for information on the history and development of Parasol Duelling
or click the Parasol Duelling tag.

The Rules for Parasol Duelling

Ice and Clockwork Part III

Saturday, August 18, 2018 0 comments


Previously  John Watkins, acting Engineer of the HMAS Francis , and his two Airship Marine shipmates, Cpl Ellis Cooke and ex-sergeant Kade Fraser, have received orders to retrieve a secret package from one of her Majesty's Aetherwave stations in Iceland.

They are to report to a Major Woolsley-Hampton MBE  in Reykjavik for further instructions.

You can start from the beginning of their adventure here.

Enjoy Part III
Keep your sightglass full, your firebox trimmed, and your water iced.

Ice and Clockwork
A serial story from The Airship's Messdeck.
Part III
  by Kevin Jepson

Reykjavik ,Iceland

Watkins and the two Marines have arrived at the Operations HQ for Her Majesty's Airship Service in Reykjavik. The city is blanketed with a thick layer of snow. Thankfully there is almost no wind, but it is still many degrees below freezing. The steam sledge on which they rode from the landing field is slightly warm courtesy of its boiler.

Watkins opens the sledge door and steps out to go inside. There is a burst of fog when the icy outside air floods in. "Hang onto the sledge I shouldn't be too long."

"Aye aye Sir." Corporal Cooke quickly closes the door and says "I'm getting sick of all this cold Sarge."

"Aye, give me a posting in the Med anytime! Haven't been warm since before we left London on the Doris."

"Watkins says we are off to some Aetherwave Balloon station on a Volcano out in the country somewheres."

Fraser chuckles. "Well maybe that will be warm if it's erupting eh?"

"We can hope Sarge, we can hope!"

There is a tapping on the window to the driver's position which opens revealing the rugged blond head of the driver. His accent is very strong, "Going to get more coal at depot, be back in a few minutes. You want I can bring some drink and food back?"

"Wonderful much obliged." says Cooke.

The window closes and the sledge rocks a bit as the driver jumps out and trudges off through the snow. "You know you just gave him permission to go to the pub on his way right?" Fraser says with a grin.

"Eh? I did no such thing Sarge, he offered to bring us back some food."

"Aye and where do you suppose he is going to get that? We'll be lucky to see him again by nightfall I'm thinking"

"Ha, just cause that's what you would do Sarge doesn't hold that Icelanders would."

"Well how about we bet on it then?" There is a gleam in the ex-Sergeant's eye that warns Cooke not to be stupid and comply.

"Oh no! I recognize that look! Between you and Miss BB* I near lost me last button so no thank you. I will say I'll be surprised if he ain't back by the time Watkins is."

"We'll see, in the meantime I'm going to try to get some sleep while I'm not quite frozen."

"Good idea Sarge, the sledge ain't going anywheres without a driver so we don't need to stand watches."

In a remarkably short time the two Marines are sound asleep.


Inside the office of Major Woolsley-Hampton MBE there is a redly glowing pot-bellied coal stove in the corner next to an ornate desk piled with papers and maps. The room seems very warm compared to the hallway outside, and impossibly warm compared to the street.

The major is off on an inspection of some sort and expected to return shortly, at least that is what Watkins was told by the Major's clerk, a striking blond Icelandic lady with the most amazing blue eyes he has ever seen.

Watkins makes himself comfortable on a chair next to the stove to await the Major's return.
After what seems like an eternity, he awakes from a doze with a start.
The sound of raised voices comes from the hallway, he can make out the stern voice of the clerk and the deeper tones of someone else. They are speaking Icelandic so he cannot understand them but there is definitely something amiss.

There is a tapping on the door of the office and the clerk comes in.

"Your pardon Sir, but this gentleman has a... a concern."

"A concern is it? Sounds like a right row it does. May I be of assistance?"

The clerk looks somewhat embarrassed. "Yes Sir there may be. This man says your marines have stolen his sledge!"

"The devil you say!"

Grabbing his coat and cap Watkins leaves the Major's office and stepping out the door to the street sees no sign of the sledge, or its two lobsterback passengers. There is a slushy spot where the heat of the sledge's boiler had melted the snow but that is all.

The driver is standing shaking his head, at his feet is a bag of coal, two flagons of ale and a ham. "I go get coal, food and drink and when I come back no sledge!"

"Bloody hell! Where would they go damn their eyes! Not like they could drive the damn thing anywhere without anyone seeing."

The tracks of the sledge are clearly visible in the snow heading out into the street where they disappear in the welter of other tracks.

"I have no sledge, now have no money, my wife will not eat if I have no sledge!"

"Aye mate that may be and all, but I don't think my men have stolen your sledge, they are Airship Marines and not taken to joy riding. I'm thinking something else must have happened, but what?"

The driver simply shrugs and shakes his head.

Part IV is here.

* Lt Beulah Bueckert, aka Miss BB, is the Communications Officer of their previous airship the experimental HMAS Velvet Brush. She was with their Commander and the rest of his crew when they went missing at sea after the great gale described in the previous story. Miss BB is an incredibly lucky gambler.

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