"A hero cannot be a hero unless in an heroic world."-- Nathaniel Hawthorne, Journals
219 to 220-1123.
As the observation blimp continues onward through the night, Robert tries to figure out the controls. He notices several signs that read: "No smoking", and some of the cylinders read "Flammable gas". Robert: "I thought these were powered by helium?" Franz: "Well, in Fredonia we have an abundant supply of helium, but Albion does not, so they rely on inferior hydrogen. Which of course is highly...flammable...." A brief moment of silence is followed by people carefully moving to the windows and tossing out the lit cigars. The smoking lamp is now out.
Ezbeki: "Oh! Oh - oh - oh! I almost forgot Geoff!" He pulls out a crumpled, slightly greasy envelope out of his pocket. Geoff: "Give me that!" He snatches it out of Ezbeki's hand. It's a letter from Sophie, in her normal, rather formal style. She didn't get a chance to speak with him before they left to go to her aunts apartments in Coventry (which is in Albion, but she doesn't bother saying that, since he should know). She gives the address, and hopes that Geoff will come and visit, should time permit. And Geoff has permission to call on her; until Aunt Patricia finds out about his flight from justice that is.
Kaeth asks about the lights used in the gondola - obviously not electric, but they can't be something flammable given the risk. Franz: "Light is given off by the combination of two chemicals that fluoresce when combined. Albion got that from us. It's the same process used by glow worms, and other bioluminescent creatures." Robert: "Kaeth. So, you've been to this place, right?" Kaeth: "Yes." Robert: "And you know what their security is like, right?" Kaeth: "From what I saw when I was there, they have a main gate, house lights, then a larger lit area apart from anything else. That would be it." Geoff: "What's the plan?" Ezbeki: "Yeah. I mean yes sir, what's the plan?" Kaeth: "I can give you a general schematic." Geoff: "Do you know where she was being held?" Kaeth: "I know where she was as of 24 hours ago." Geoff: "I suggest we land on the roof. They won't be expecting that." Franz: "We can certainly land. It will be expensive as far as gas reserves. We've already vented once." Geoff: "And we're going to need to get across an ocean in this thing." Franz: "That is the concern, yes." There follows some discussion over how to get down and then back up, especially given the problems with finding more fuel while travelling in an airship that isn't yours.
Franz: "Assuming that these gauges are accurate, I'd say we definitely have enough to float her again if we take her down, but I would guess we'd only have a 30% reserve once we lifted again. And that's assuming the gauges are correct, and I am only guessing. We could dump weight, perhaps an empty cylinder." Geoff: "We'll be adding another person to the weight though." Franz: "A 100 pound body is fairly trivial when compared to the weight of a gas cylinder." Geoff: "Okay." Franz: "However we are not carrying any ballast, so whatever we dump would have to be equipment or cylinders." Geoff: "And we need this thing to get us out of Albion." Franz: "Or we could get a ship." That would mean landing and locating a ship, and one where people didn't ask too many awkward questions. Not impossible, but that would increase the chances of being caught, and the ship would probably sink. Geoff: "If we run out of fuel part way across the channel we may have to torch the balloon to avoid getting spotted, or tangled up in it." Robert: <incredulous> "You want to blow up a flammable balloon." Geoff: "That's assuming it's already deflated and dumped us in the ocean." Kaeth: "Will the gondola float if we go down over water?" Franz: "The gondola is made of metal. It's too heavy to float." There's one option eliminated.
Kaeth: "Who goes, and who stays?" Since someone has to maneuver the airship, and rather precisely, Franz reluctantly agrees to stay behind, as Heinrich isn't as adept with the Albion controls. Marguerite and Lisette will remain behind as well. Kaeth wants Robert to stay with the ship. Robert: "Oh no, you're not leaving me behind on this one." Franz: "Certainly you cannot expect Robert to stay behind - not when we're attempting to rescue his betrothed." Geoff: "If he's not trained to handle this sort of thing, he could be a liability. Don't worry, we'll bring Ariana back." Robert: "I'm the only one she knows." Geoff: "No you're not. We were all on board her ship for several weeks." Robert: " Only as passengers." Robert meant knows well, but it's a moot point as he's going. Franz: "Shall we say the tower on the west side?" Geoff: "Fine." Ezbeki is sharpening a knife. Geoff: "'Try not to hurt anyone you don't have to, in case we end up in the hands of the authorities, and besides, we're going to want to come back to this country, because this is where Sophie is." Ezbeki: "Right." He takes a small metal pipe out of his bag and starts applying cammo makeup. Geoff: "Uh, Ezbeki? There's not a lot of jungle down there." But it does make him even more scary looking like this, and Geoff agrees that scaring people is okay.
Samantha: "So, Geoff, how come you didn't get rounded up with the usual suspects back at the hotel?" Geoff: "Ezbeki warned me." Ezbeki: "He was out spreading lies - I mean the truth about Captain Cutler. I spotted the cops near the hotel and got word to Geoff. I didn't have time to tell anybody else."
They maneuver over the Home, then carefully down as far as possible over the tower. A rope is rigged to get people as far down as possible, as the ladder isn't long enough. Fortunately, Geoff and Ezbeki brought their climbing gear with them on their adventures. Ezbeki: <checking Geoff's gear> "This end's fastened. Is it right over left, or left over right? I forget. Ah well, close enough. Hook on, sir." Geoff, being the heaviest, goes first. He gets down easily then belays for the others. Ezbeki is the last one down, dropping onto the roof like a big, scruffy cat.
Over the edge of the guard tower, Ezbeki first. There are a couple of thumps, and the others go down to find an unconscious man in white linen. He was up there smoking a cigarette. Geoff tapes his hands and feet. Kaeth lectures him on the dangers of smoking. Robert changes into the man's clothing, and takes his rubber truncheon. In they go.
They enter the building. There's maniacal laughter coming from down the hall, but it's mostly quiet. In the gaslight, dimmed for the night, sits a very big man with a steaming mug of something on the desk, down the far end of a straight hallway. Behind him is a wall of metal bars with a gate in it. Robert: "I've got an idea." The hallway has many doors with little covered slots in them. Inmate: "Shut up! You're brother the king is not coming to save you! I'm the king, and I'm not your brother!" Getting into the when in Rome mode, Robert decides to try to bluff his way past the big guy. Geoff: "What are you going to do?" Robert: "I figured I'd just walk up to him, maybe with you as a patient." He's quite insistent, but admits that maybe taking the large, dangerous-looking male wouldn't be the best thought. Robert will play orderly, and Samantha can play harmless female patient. It's worth a shot.
Robert walks down the hall, with Samantha beside him, head down and short of shuffling. They don't get very far down the hall before the alert man challenges them. Orderly: "Hey. Who are you?" Robert: "I'm the new guy." Orderly: "Hold it right there." Robert takes a step. Orderly: <standing> "I said hold it!" Robert stops, Samantha continues to shuffle forward, but is jostled to one side by Geoff who barrels down the hall, dives at the big guy, and knocks him and his chair over with a clatter. Samantha comes over to the area of the brawl. Ezbeki is standing ready to assist Geoff, knife out. The brawl continues, the orderly yelling and rolling around with Geoff. Samantha gets tired of waiting for the amateurs to finish things and heads over to the fight. The big orderly has one hand on his desk, so Samantha snap kicks the guy's arm. There's a crack, and he's screaming. Of course, everyone else in the ward is screaming too. Geoff sets the man into a chair, then Ezbeki slices his belt so the keys can be removed. Samantha tapes the man's mouth shut.
Ezbeki: <to Geoff> "Can I kill him? Please? Just one, come on...If we leave him here, he'll make noise; if I kill him, he'll be quiet." Geoff: <to orderly> "You're not going to make noise, are you?" The orderly shakes his head. He'll be very cooperative if they take that small scary guy away.
Voice: "Shut up, down there! Harry, what's going on down there?" Robert: "Nothing! The king's just gone off his nut again!" A person comes around to the other side of the gate just as the others get there. He looks at the group and runs off, yelling something about the "inmates are loose!" Geoff can't tell which key to use; he'll have to try all six keys. Well, crap. Kaeth decides to let loose some prisoners. Geoff yells "No!" just as Kaeth opens a door and a deranged woman launches herself, claws first, at him. Kaeth uses his pistol to hit her before she eats him or rips off something he's fond of. He hits the woman right in the face with his high tech 9mm. She falls to the ground and he shoves the door closed, having reconsidered, and throws the bolt closed. Finally, Geoff gets to the sixth key, and the gate is unlocked. Robert goes to look for Ariana, and as the group rounds the corner at the far end of the hall they see the man who ran off, along with two others, who look like they're still shaking the cobwebs out of their heads. Robert: "Ah! They're right behind me, they're right behind me!!" He charges down the hall with his truncheon in his hand. He's dressed in white, and the other two are still sort of asleep, so he can get behind them. Robert hits the man who ran for help on the head with the truncheon. He's distracted. Geoff comes charging down the hall, going into a baseball slide trying to take one of them down. He hits boots first, and almost takes the man's legs completely out from under him. Kaeth decides to help the pilot, and grabs the man in his truncheon arm. Samantha walks up, drops, does a leg sweep and takes down the one standing man. Very neat and tidy.
Kaeth is fighting over the control of a truncheon, and Ezbeki has vanished. Probably off picking up women. Geoff swings and misses. Kaeth is beginning to regret this less than lethal approach. Robert pokes the man in the ribs with the truncheon. Kaeth is in mid struggle when a very loud gunshot rings out and everyone freezes. Ezbeki is standing in the hall with a handgun that's just been fired. Geoff knows that Ezbeki is more likely to hit the target in the next lane over at the gun range, unless he's using a rifle. Geoff: "Gentlemen, against the wall!" He tapes up the men.
It's gotten quiet, even in the cells. Hey, they're shooting people down there! Samantha helps Robert look for Ariana. Kaeth, Geoff, and Ezbeki control the prisoners. Down the hall, in a room with a heavy door and double locks, is Ariana in a straightjacket. She's apparently asleep. Robert opens the door. Samantha: "Be careful. She might not recognize you." Robert: <from the doorway> "Ariana?" She's out like a light. Robert picks her up, the orderlies are herded into her now vacant room and locked in. Time to go.
On the way out, the group stops by the first orderly, who's struggling with his bonds. Geoff: "Listen. Just wait for your shift change to arrive. If you struggle, it will hurt your arm." He gently pokes the broken arm. Point taken. Ezbeki: "Sir, sir. We've got to go." Kaeth: <stage whisper> "Right. We'll get the horses then take the east road." Out and up, locking all the doors behind them, including the tower one (from the outside), and take the keys. Geoff tugs on the rope, and the airship lowers. Geoff runs a rope through Ariana's straightjacket, and she's hauled up. Everyone gets up without difficulties, and they leave.
Franz takes the airship back up again, and they move away from the home. Now, on to the issue of Marguerite's brother. First step, actually locating the Admiralty itself. Robert: "It's in a port, I'd guess." Marguerite: "Actually, it's not right at the port, it's inland." Franz is following the railroad tracks (at about 250' up), as he has no map. Franz: "Excuse me Major Thompson, could you take a look at this for me?" He hands him a spyglass. Geoff takes a look, and sees a bright light moving down the railroad tracks, and then some movement near the track, and lights. An ambush? The very bright light is a train. And it's flying some sort of red flag with something on it. Geoff: "What's the red flag, Marguerite?" Marguerite: "It depends. Is it a red flag, or a red flag with several lions on it?" Geoff: "It's too far away to see if it's lions, but it's definitely got something on the red background." Marguerite: "That's the symbol of the Albion royal house." Geoff: "Is there something we can set on fire?" Everyone stares, aghast, at Geoff. Samantha: "Uh, Geoff..." Geoff: "What? I want to throw something on fire off the gondola to warn them!" Geoff does have explosives in his kit, and Kaeth has some non-electric caps. A small explosive device is constructed, and tossed over to make a boom and a flash where the train can see it. The train continues. A small argument ensues, as the train is slowing down, because Robert doesn't want to get involved, but Kaeth does. Franz ends it, as knowing it's an ambush and a royal train, he can't allow it to be attacked. Something must be done. They take the airship down as quickly as possible, to come to the rescue.
There's a loud bang from below, the train is derailed, and men spring out yelling and firing. Gun fire from below, some of it pointed up. One of the rounds is tracer, and goes right through the gondola headed up. A jet of flaming hydrogen shoots into the gondola. Heinrich dives out a window, yelling "Excellency!!" Franz: "Get out!" Geoff grabs Ariana and belays her out. Much diving out of the window. Good thing they'd been diving down at a 45 degree angle as fast as possible. It's getting hot in the gondola by the time Geoff feels the rope go slack, and the ground is very well-lit when he dives out the window.
Robert goes through a bunch of branches, but isn't really hurt. Once he's down, he goes in search of Ariana. Geoff bounces off of several branches on his way down, mostly on his shoulder. It's very bright down here, so he can see to shoot the ambushers. Samantha lands and rolls well, it hurts, but nothing is damaged. Marguerite sort of parachutes down, causing even more of a distraction. Franz lands all right, Heinrich breaks his leg, and Lisette settles gently into a tree, with the aid of her hoop skirt (she's out of the line of fire, and isn't going to call attention to herself).
Geoff advances on the ambushers, wanting to do something heroic. (It will impress Aunt Patricia, but maybe posthumously.) Franz and Samantha go over to Heinrich. Samantha decides to try to go around the train. Samantha: "Franz, stay here with Heinrich." Franz: "Here, take this." He hands her his gun. Franz: "Be careful." He grabs Samantha and kisses her. Oh. Well then.
Robert finds Ariana, and gets her out of the straightjacket. She's mostly conscious now, although still a tad loopy. Ariana: "Oooh, hiiiiiii." She nuzzles his neck. Her inhibitions are gone, and she's feeling really, really friendly. Ariana: "I'm horny." Robert takes her to cover. Ariana tries to get Robert out of his pants (or at least the important part of Robert), but she's having problems with his local clothing and the damned buttons.
Geoff fires his rifle, bemoaning the lack of electronic sights. His target is still standing. Geoff: "Damn." Then the man falls over, having been hit in the head. Oh. Ezbeki drills someone in the chest. Gunfire is exchanged, although not much from the train. Ezbeki is hit in the leg. This is followed by much swearing, but Ezbeki is still firing from the prone position. Ezbeki: "I'll cover you, Geoff!" Geoff and Kaeth are trying to close, but the light of the glowing blimp is fading. Geoff charges and fires, hitting the man in the centre of body as he pops up. He's smoked, and goes down like one of those pop-down targets. Kaeth, with his handgun, is using a much more appropriate weapon for this distance. Geoff is shot in the lower torso - gut-shot, and on a low tech planet. Bugger.
Samantha is around the back of the train, which is on it's side. She can see armed figures moving on the train, but it's too dark to see who's side their on. As she gets closer, one of the figures brings a rifle up to bear on her. Screw this, she shoots him in the shoulder.
As Kaeth and Geoff get closer, Kaeth calls out "Albion!" The figures on top of the train turn on them with their firearms. Samantha can see two other men on the train, but their aimed away from her, towards the person who yelled "Albion". Geoff takes out one man, Kaeth the other. Someone pops up and fires at Kaeth, hitting him in the hip. Samantha heads over that way.
Robert is looking around as Ariana struggles with his clothing. He does spot Franz and Heinrich in the woods. Heinrich: "No sir, no sir. Just leave me here. I'm fine." Franz: "Don't be silly boy, you're coming with me." Heinrich: "Ah! No sir, really." Poor Heinrich.
Samantha is waiting half way up the roof (on it's side) of the train for the annoying man to pop back up again, when there's a woman's scream. Kaeth and Geoff run up as quickly as they can, and Kaeth is shot over the heart, where his armor at least partially helps, but it feels like he's going to have a heart attack.
Samantha hears the scream, and goes up and into a window. Geoff comes in the opposite side of the car. A man with a rifle is holding it on a female, cowering in a corner. Geoff fires and hits the man in the chest. He flinches but brings his rifle back to bear on the female. She grabs hold of the barrel, which is not good. Samantha shoots the man in the head. The girl is about 18 to 20 years old, and Samantha can tell she's alive. She has a lot of experience making sure people are dead.
Geoff goes into the next room. There are three men with rifles, one man with a pistol, and one smaller, unarmed man. The man with the pistol has hold of the smaller figure. Man: "That's far enough." Geoff shoots him, attempting to not hit the hostage. Attempting. He's successful, and the pistol man drops. The other three men fire on Geoff. One misses, one hits Geoff in the arm, the other in the liver. Once Samantha makes sure the girl is alive, then goes after Geoff, since there's been gunfire.
Robert straightens out his clothing and goes to Franz and Heinrich. Franz: "Ah good. Some one else. Are you injured?" Robert: "No." Franz: "Good. Heinrich, give him your gun, you stay here with the ladies." Heinrich: <relieved> "Yes sir." Franz draws a sword, and he and Robert head towards the train.
"Oh, shit, oh, shit." That would be Ezbeki crawling to the aid of his Geoff. Kaeth is having to pause and rest a lot, and now he has to push that heavy door open, and it opens up from here. Shit. Kaeth opens the door to the car Geoff is in, just as Samantha opens the door from the other car, and she now has a line of sight through both doors.
Geoff interposes himself between the bad guys and the child, who has fled from the bad guys to another part of the car, and takes out one of the riflemen. Samantha can see two figures with rifles, one pointed at Geoff, one pointed her and Kaeth's direction. Samantha shoots the one aiming her direction, as does Kaeth (he's somewhat confused over the two rounds fired, but what the heck). The bad guy is hit in the gut (Samantha) and the shoulder (Kaeth). The child darts out the back door. The other bad guys go down, leaving Kaeth and Geoff staggering.
Franz and Robert come up to the car, Robert noticing a bunch of spilled luggage and boxes, and a lot of glittering stuff in one area. Good thing Robert isn't a thief. They charge inside, finding no bad guys, and several really badly wounded good guys. Geoff: "The kid went out the back door, I don't know if there are any bad guys out there." Robert and Franz go out the back. Another man is back there, holding a wickedly sharp blade to the kid's throat. Robert: "What do you want?" Man: "Drop your weapons." Robert and Franz drop their weapons. Robert: "All the gold's out there." Man: "I don't care about the gold. Allen!" Another man comes out of the shadows, and they both step into the light. First man: "Let's see. I don't recall your name." It looks amazingly like Captain Cutler. Robert: "I see. I certainly remember you, Captain Cutler. Not only are you a liar, you are an incredible coward." Cutler: <shrugs> "I'm a practical man. Now, tell your friends to come out." Robert: "Kaeth! Would you and Geoff kindly step out here?" Cutler: "Without their weapons." Robert: "Captain Cutler wants you to come out without your weapons." Cutler: "Quickly, please, and with their hands up." Robert relays this. Kaeth: "That's going to be somewhat difficult. I have a bullet in my hip." Geoff looks over and sees that Samantha got the message
Geoff exits the train. Geoff: "Well, gosh, I thought you only preyed on the enemy's innocence. I see you prey on your own innocents as well!" Cutler: "You are becoming a nuisance, Major Thompson." Drop your weapons." They do, as he pulls the knife into the girl's throat, drawing a bit of blood. Kaeth staggers out. Cutler: "Ah yes, and your little doggie too. Well, I see I'm going to have to teach you a lesson." Geoff: "Sure, put down the knife and stop trying to hide behind children, and I'll be only too happy to oblige." Cutler: <to the other man> "Allen." Allen takes the girl, and holds her with his stubby submachinegun to the back of her head.
Cutler drops the knife and draws his sword. Geoff: "That's a bit unsporting, don't you think?" Cutler: "At your feet, Major." Geoff picks up Franz's sword. Samantha is creeping closer, on the side (now top) of the train. Robert tries to edge away from the fight, towards Allen. Geoff knows he can't fence for long, he's too weak. It's a short duel. Geoff shoves Franz's blade into Cutler's head through his nose. It's a very short duel. Geoff: <to Franz> "This dueling thing isn't so hard."
Robert and Samantha can see Ezbeki, knife in hand, coming up behind Allen. Robert, on whom Allen now has his gun aimed, looks past Allen's shoulder and says "Nice to see you, corporal." Allen: "Nice try." Kaeth falls over (only partially feigned), with his snub pistol palmed. Samantha fires from the top of the train, aiming above the girl, and hits Allen in the head just as Ezbeki leaps at Geoff, yelling "Geoff!" At the same moment Robert dives for the girl to take her out of the line of fire. Allen's SMG goes off as Robert grabs the girl and falls to the ground. Robert isn't getting up. There's a bang from the only almost dead Cutler. He's really dead now. Honest. Ezbeki hits Geoff, limply. Geoff makes sure Cutler is really, really, really dead. He is.
Kaeth goes over to check on Ezbeki. He was hit in the spine, and the round went right through his vest. Ezbeki: "Geoff, I don't feel so good. I think I was hit." Geoff: "Yes, you were." Franz checks to see if Robert is alive; he is. Then Franz goes over to the older girl, who has come out of the train and gone over to her younger sister. Franz: "You highness. <bows> Is there anyone else with you?" Marie: "Two of my ministers and my bodyguard." Kaeth: "Have you seen them since the train was attacked?" Marie: "No." Hoofbeats approach. Samantha: "Your highness, I would appreciate it if you would explain to the people who are coming to your aid that we are not the enemy, so they don't shoot us." Marie: "Of course. We are in your debt."
Geoff stays with Ezbeki, who is amazingly calm, and just wants a smoke. Robert is able to provide cigarettes, now that he's conscious, from the pocket of the clothing he borrowed. The cavalry arrives, and after some tension, the situation calms down. Which is good, because with the exception of Samantha, Franz, Marguerite, and Lisette, everyone else is pretty damaged. Marie: "See to it that these good people are tended to."
220 to 227-1123.
It's good to know the queen. It's even better to know the queen's doctor. The one person who hasn't fared too well is Ezbeki. At first he's rather nonchalant about it, expecting the problem to be fixed. Geoff: "It's not going to be that easy - you were shot in the spine." Ezbeki: "But, they can regrow that, right?" Geoff: "Just remember, Ezbeki, we're not on Rhylanor. Or even Regina. We'll have to try to get you off planet to get this fixed." Ezbeki: "You've got to promise me - you've got to get me to a real doctor. I can't stay like this. " Geoff: "I know." Ezbeki: "Promise me. You either get it fixed, or you fix things. You promise me, you owe me that much. " Geoff: "Well, what kind of time frame do I have here? I mean it may take us a while to build a rocket to get you out of here." Ezbeki: "I don't know. Not too long." Ezbeki: "Geoff, what about...what about, you know?" Geoff: "There may be some automatic reflexes left, but you're probably not going to feel anything." Now Ezbeki really is depressed. Marguerite will be wheeling him around, practicing her maternal instincts. Ezbeki's just so tragic and heroic now!
The captain of the bodyguard comes to see the party. He's very grateful, and he's been told what happened. Captain: "Captain Cutler represents a certain faction that is now being rounded up, and were concerned that Albion was losing it's edge, shall we say." It's been traced all the way up to a cousin of the queen, who'll be taking a long trip.
Robert gets to find out that Ariana put together the high altitude glider she had in storage (what else does she have in storage?), and the ship is still in orbit. This makes Robert very happy. On the way down she lost the electronics, but the glider has mechanical linkage. Robert: "How high can you take it?" Ariana: "I don't know, but I've had it up to 100 Angels." Kaeth: "How many can it hold though?" Ariana: "I can take one, maybe two people at most, but I'll need fuel." Kaeth: "What does it use?" Ariana: "JP4, kerosene." Robert: "We should be able to get that." Kaeth: "We just need a place to launch. Maybe a mechanical launch." Some research reveals that they do have gliders here, in Zenda especially.
The queen has chosen to honor the party, so they are fitted in very nice clothes, taken to a posh event and knighted, of all things. The papers downplay the risk, and don't mention the conspiracy, but come up with a plausible little lie that explains people being rewarded for coming to the aid of the Queen. Privately, Queen Marie asks Count von Hollenstein to take a letter to Emperor Wilhelm for her. Franz declines any honor or reward for himself. After the others are knighted, the captain of the guard tells Geoff that he has a commission for him - Colonel of Marines. It's something that doesn't normally have any responsibilities, it's a reward thing usually given to ship captains, but it comes with the right to raise a regiment, and a stipend of £200 a year. Patricia: "Two hundred pounds a year!" She pats Geoff's hand. Now he can afford to take care of Sophie. Of course, the heroic band can request a favor, if they'd like. Marguerite asks for her brother to be located and taken care of, and Samantha asks about Lt. Kerrie, explaining that he was probably being railroaded by Cutler in an attempt to get rid of another witness. Thomas Roarke and Lt. Kerrie will actually be in pretty good shape, since being on Cutler's hit list is a good thing now.
Each person gets an additional £200 to replace their kit. And new papers? No problem, especially for friends of the Queen? No problem!
Robert asks about the glider. Ariana: "It's up on a hill, in a ravine. It took me three days to climb out of there, and when I tried to explain what had happened..." Robert: "That's when you ended up in Cheltham's Home for the Disturbed." Ariana: "Pretty much. "
Franz informs the party that he has received word that Dr. Jurgen has arrived safely in Fredonia. The heros are wined and dined by all the right people, and Aunt Patricia is okay with Geoff courting Sophie. Geoff proposes - they can have a long engagement. Well...Oh, all right, as long as the engagement is a proper length. Franz: <to Geoff> "Colonel! I do have one concern - you don't have a proper sword. Allow me." Geoff: "Don't tell me - the sword I killed Cutler with?" Exactly. Geoff: "Franz, you're such a sentimentalist! I'll carry it with pride." Franz: "Well, you've seen something of Albion, but you've never seen Fredonia. Allow me to introduce you to the Emperor." Kaeth: "How old is the Emperor? " Franz: "Twenty-five." Robert: "Is he married? " Franz: "No." Robert and Kaeth are both thinking along the same lines. Samantha: "And it would give people like Cutler fits, which is a bonus." International matchmaking as a new career?
Ariana and Robert speak with Franz (although not telling him too much) about mounting an expedition for her glider. Franz: "Of course, I would love to help, but I have been entrusted with this letter, and I want to take the opportunity to present my case to the Emperor; he has to understand that we wouldn't be fighting the same kind of war this time. Why don't you accompany me to Fredonia first? I do have to go pick up my other zeppelin." Robert: "Of course! We need a zeppelin!" Samantha: "I've never known a man with a spare zeppelin before. Then again, I've never known a man with a zeppelin."
It's certainly different here in Coventry. By day, dining with the upperclass. In the evenings, conversation, fine brandy, and Heinrich arranges for some discreet liaisons between Franz and Samantha - walks in the garden, etc. Nothing naughty, they're in polite society now. Besides, Franz is ever the gentleman, and Samantha is a real lady now (at least in name).
They look through the royal library, find maps of Kanaida (among other places, but it helps to be able to say where in Kanaida they're from), and the Guide Diplomatique so they can find out who's not speaking to whom. Robert looks up myths and legends. Again. After a certain time period, all of them sound pretty much the same, with the "gods" losing their "magic", and the splintering of the colonists, etc.
They'll be able to tour the capital city of Coventry (where Sophie lives with her aunt), see the Royal Academy's "difference engine" - all done with steam and gears, and it works! It's the most powerful computing device on the planet. Could be handy if one needs to do things like, oh, calculate trajectories or something like that. Right now they don't have anything to run through the difference engine, but in the future they might, and sliderules have this scary tendency to "lose" decimal points.
Once they get the glider, it is sealed so vac suits aren't absolutely necessary. Then it's a matter of figuring out where and how to launch it, and what to tell Franz