We will return on the Warm Winds merchant ship from
Prince Umatek the Undaunted, tribal leader: fiance Franciosa Dorliak the Beautiful, on his way to meet her at Karchemish; On way to sign treaty with British; her handmaided Jonah Callahari; 5 guards from her tribe, 3 guards from hers; he has an advisor Malkorakora
They take 2 cabins
We get 4, 2 beds per.
All gentlemen get to eat at the captain’s table.
At Kharkharam we pick up, also:
2 others are travelling on board, friends, sleeping in hold too:
Nigel Pennyworth: a rogue, think Cain in Man Who Would Be King
Shamus Gilhooly: think Connery; rogue; he’s Irish!!
They have come to mars to "find 2 kingdoms at war, help one of them, subvert one of them, and set themselves up as kings.
Both are very impressed with LP’s tale “We didn’t htink big enough! We thought kings. We should have thought gods!”
We all become fast friends, and hearty partyers together.
After we leave, we see 6 screw galleys in the distance, high martian pirates. Too many, we have to flee!!
We have to turn north out of our way, with the wind to get away and lose them. Then miles on the wind dies down and they are closing in. It looks hopeless.
Then a dark shadow like a cloud blocks the sun, coming for us at high speed. The enemy closes in, flyers make for us, then a massive wind storm hits! The sandstorm savages the flyers and it pushes our ship far ahead.
The ship takes damage in the storm, 2 crewmen are killed. The cps “Prepare to crash!” but they manage to keep the ship going. Through the night and into morning now, we are in inknown territory.
A terrible downgust sends the ship plummeting. The ship even hits the ground tearing some liftwood off and comes to a crashing halt. The trimsman gets stuck on a liftwood chunk and is being taken up. He adjusts the trimming and gets to the ground softly.
1 of her 3 guards dies in the crash
All 5 of the Prince’s guard die!
1 officer dies out of 2
8 dead deckcrew out of 19 left.
Other crew out of 19, 10 die.
We lose a Sgt, McIntosh, heroically saving our wounded; also 5 of our healthy soldiers.
We take all the water, food, and as much ammo as we can.
We turn westward. We soon come across a caravan in the distance under attack by a cavalry force. All the caravan gashaunts are dead, they are taking barrage after barrage of musket fire.
Percy forms out soldiers up in a double line “Let’s take care of these brigands.”
We dash off at a run, it takes a few minutes to get in range. They see us coming and a line of 20 lancers charge for us.
We fire at long range at the mounts, not a single mount reaches us before we send them all falling to the ground from the fire! Their enemy hit the ground and scramble to get up and charge us w/o their mounts. 15 left charging for us with sabers. 1 private is badly wounded. The attack on the caravan flees at our approach.
An old canal martian from the caravan approaches and greet us in an unknown language, but he speaks Parhooni thankfully. LP and he talk. He thanks us for rescuing him “I am Kalamir”. The flag they fly is that of Thoth. The cav are of Shastapsh, which is in rebellion against Britain. They had hung up and skinned the governor alive.
Their colony was on its way back from Saruahn to Thoth. The princess of Thoth Aramaranda is with them, the Shastapsh must have wanted to kidnap her.
She steps forward, veiled. She wants help in returning her to her city at once.
Nigel introduces himself, he and his bud speak to her in her native Coline language. That we are happy to come to her service. Any talk of reward will be freely taken, money is what they politely bring up unfortunately, not passage to Sirtis Major.
Shamus “And I’m sure we can find some way to be of value to your city, training your army perhaps.”
Once we are on the move, LP and Covey start to talk to her about our recent trials.
Franciosa comes forward and introduces herself as Princess of the Blood “you may bow to me”.
“Attendants, kill her.” Her 2 guards step forward, as does the Undaunted, drawing weapons “Canal Martian scum, prepare to die.”
Franciosa draws a dagger quickly and dashes at her. Aramaranda draws a multi bladed hairpin and attacks. Just as Fran is about to gut her, Martin grabs her and gets between the 2 of them. The knife scrapes him barely. Ara is grabbed by her own people. Fran’s advisor Mal steps forward and talks to Kalamir “blood has been spilled, this must be resolved.”
“Ay, in the old way.”
There must be a fight to the death tween the 2 princesses.
We insist it was only Martin scraped, there should be no fight. LP convinces them to give this folly up by declaring the presence of Seldan, this gets their attention on him and calms the matter. Kalamir rushes to LP and kneels at his feet, asking to serve him. He is a believer in Seldan.
LP gives his appreciation. He explains to all of his wife of Moab. Aramaranda is not impressed. Franciosa is reasonably impressed.
He explains his wish of peace, as the Dutch, French, High Martians and others should be the enemies.
LP politicises further as we go.
We camp tonight.
Each group’s cooks get together to make the meals.
The Irish make quite a sight with repetitious drunk renditions of ’We drink and drink some more".
The stew is poisoned! 1 of the sailors, a glutton who ate before all else, spews blood and dies, Percy starts spitting up some blood but recovers.
LP “Lock up the English cook (soldiers). Irish, kill the other 2 (caravan cook and caravan cook).” A moment later “wait, wait, wait. No, lock up all 3” as he has a moment of reason.
Only about 10 or 20 people came near the stew, ugh.
Old Kalamir has his knife out, starts cutting himself as penance for allowing Seldan to be poisoned. Was going to cut his eyes out before LP stops him.
Covey “Check the water supplies first.”
Martin volunteers to check it, its still pure.
We get our soldiers rotating on guard, with Brutus, Percival and Gawain.
Next morn we are into the cultivated lands near the canal. 15 miles further at the canal is a town where we can get a barge to Thoth.
We have everyone roster their men, but none are missing.
We come to a road tween 2 hills.
Ambush!! But they open fire too soon. One of our sailors dies. We take cover. Lots of long range shooting back and forth, not damage.
Kalamir “Princesses and guards to the back!”
Brutus recommends a couple squads sneak around and attack them man to man. Pennyworth and Shamus are ready to help.
LP details Percival and Galahad to protect the princesses. They find Umatek, Fran and their 2 guards only. The other princess was taken around a rocky corner to rest. Our 2 rush for them.
We find 5 dead attendants, one stabbed in the back, one shot, other 3 with blood pouring from their mouths. The princess and Kalamir are missing.
Kalamir dooped them. One man is able to talk, indeed Kalamir gave them all poison drink then killed the other 2, then forced the princess to get on a mount with them and escaped.
In the distance from atop a rock, we see them riding away with their men; he turns back “Long live the worm!”
Our men rush to report to LP.
We have lost a sailor, but killed about 9 of them.
The firing has died down, the enemy flee!!
We find 4 gashaunts they left behind. Plus 6 at the caravan.
We 8 plus Shamus and Nigel ride off in pursuit just after noon.
The caravan will continue on post haste.
We follow their tracks, not wanting to close in just yet. Preferring to let them think they got off scot free.
Brutus feels there are 60 we are following, a full cavalry wing.
Another wing, that which ambushed us, is coming in also to meet them. About 50.
The ones we fought, about 25 left, also out there somewhere.
2 more wings would make a regiment, so could be those 2 out there also.
We catch up to them to sneak in at night. They obviously assumed following them would be crazy. They don’t know us very well. 38 tents. Mostly 4man tents. Handful of larger officer tents.
Brutus sneaks in to find the location of the Princess, with Percival and Galahad. They make for the grouping of officer tents and listen around. One has officers saying 2 other wings will be here tomorrow. They will send the ultimatum then, join us vs the red men or the princess perish.
She is not in the large tent.
They wouldn’t keep her far, and sure enough we find an adjacent small tent with 2 guards outide. We wait until talking in the area dies down. Then our 3 men strike. Brutus alone, the pirates as a team.
The guards are killed in total silence.
Now, into the tent. She’s tied and gagged. We free her from her bindings. Brutus carries her out. We make it out, past the watch, and back to the group.
We ride hard. About 2 miles out, we hear their horns going off.
We find a rocky outcrop of a hill, Covington supervises building a quick low stone cover and plants explosives on the hill; we ready to defend.
60 cav arrive, dismount, and fire. Its 10 to 1.
Covey “Scientist’s odds.”
We take total cover at their first volley. They start coming up the hill, short muskets raised. At 40’ Covey sets off a line of dynamite. It injures a few but stuns them as planned, we raise and volley while their readied actions are ruined. Then, Covey blows his Covington Detonite as they take aim again. It massacres them!! 31 DEAD out of 60. We fire again, then they return fire.
Percival is dropped by a terrible shot.
LP “Charge!!” Covey turns on the saw sword.
Brutus “No prisoners!!”
We take it to them heavily. The last 3 try to run but we can’t let our position be known and gun them down.
We get back to the town on the canal and meet the caravan in the surai. It’s walled, 100 yards outside the town.
A rider is sent to Thoth to send a barge.
Covington researches while here, then we hit the nightlife. Brutus sleeps during day, patrols desert at night.
No.1 stands guard at the surai.
A Russian approaches Martin, Percival, Gawain, Pvt. O’Rourke and Gerald “I smell %$^$, no, Irish!!” That starts a quick fight. After we start slugging him, he draws an oversized revolver!! Shooting starts. By the time Martin KO’s him, Pervival is down adn O’Rourke was an inch from death when LP and Covey arrive.
Percy and Covey arrive shortly.
Covey “Does anyone here know this guy.” He’s been in town since midafteroon, came in with a small entourage, have a room in town.
Martin “Let’s drag this guy out back and see what he knows first, who his entourage is.”
Entourage: mistress, 3 servants, personal vallet, guide, gunbearer, horse tender (10 horses). Loyalists who serve him to the death.
He is a Count Sergei Teknikov. His estates were taken over in Russian Civil War (he sided with the revolutionaries).
Percy to Covey “I have no respect for this man. He lost.”
He calls the people sheep who need a strong leader, HIM!" A cabal of nobles tried to overthrow the czar which he was under the lesser members of. He is wanted in Russia.
What’s he doing coming after Percy? “You know how much money it takes to keep up my lifetsyle?”
Covey “So, a bounty?” Yes, he was paid L500 to kill Percy. Contacted by a wizened old martian man, the go between when he was vacationing in Shastapsh. Told if he accepted the contract that we would be at this town in a few days.
How did they know days ago?
Martin “The worms.”
Percy cares nothing about Russia. Percy offers to pay him L500 to hang out with us and do the opposite of killing him. An offer to join us.
“What is your rank?”
“If I accept your offer, you must know I am not the only one hired to kill you”. He needed to call LP out into a duel, for he’s honorable. He knows a true assassin was also hired at the same time. The one who killed LP is the one who would be paid.
He is willing to join up.
Martin does not like this, he almost killed O’Rourke and Percival. He does not want to be near him.
Martin “You saw this assassin, what did he look like.” Human, Southern American drawl, tall and lean, short cropped hair. Uses a remington hunting rifle with a scope, and has invented a suit that makes him practically invisible in the wilderness. Strips of material same color as desert that he just wears over him. So, a primitive camo suit.
“One more thing, your reputation preceeds you, leave my mistress alone” to LP. She’s Canal Martian.
A merchant named Queequish is his contact who he was to meet once job was done. LP wants to capture him and break his knees.
We think to fire off some rounds, let him go through the bar as if he killed LP and we leave. Gawain says he doubts the contact will accept only his word on that. We’d have to stage the death right now. We cover Percy with some of O’Rourke’s blood, let the Russian fire a few shots then rush through the bar to make his escape. We let the people come to see then wisk him away to our camp. Martin stays in the bar all night, bluffing how depressed he is. Gets word out.
Morning he shows us Queefer’s office. Gerald says a couple of us should act as his entourage bringing the body in as proof. Gerald and Martin dress up. He passes around celebratory wine. The Count drinks up. We fake it.
Q “The cowled one has a message for you. Well done. Now die.” The count is hit with 7 con damage. He drops like a bad habit.
To us 2 “I said, die.”
Martin “Sorry, I’ve been ordered to break your leg.”
We dash at him, Gerald with a crowbar he had hidden under his guise hits his knee “This is how we do it in the East End” and Martin sucker punches him in the jaw KO. Martin pisses on his face as Percy enters from the body bag. We call in the assistant as Martin breaks Q’s leg and Gerald waylays him with the crowbar from behind DEAD.
We question him, harshly:
Lord Hyperion is directly above him, Inner Circle of Brotherhood of Luxor, like the high council that manipulates evil organizations all over. Hyperion has recently arrived to Mars, in his day to day personae, to finish the Red Sands.
“All of the followers of Archimedes will die. You have been manipulated since the moment you arrived, even before that.” Claims the foreign legion fort was no accident either.
What’s the Red Sands? Not certain fully, but originally came from Vulcan, the planet destroyed million of years ago and became the asteroid belt.
He sends word via carrier bats who know where to go. They go to Sirtis Major. ALl the cults have made it their number one priority that Seldan must die.
The other assassin will be found only in the desert. He is taking his time.
The other council members, he doesn’t know. One is Martian, Hyperion is French, on is known as Red Jack, one is from the Far East (on earth). In total there are nine under Cronos, the Cowled One aka The Man with 1000 Masks.
“You need to realize taht none of you wh ostay with Seldan will live. Your only hope is to abandon him and throw yoursellf upon the mercy of the unspeakable one.”
Covey “Well we always figured that.”
We drag him back to our camp. We tell Brutus to watch out for the assassin at night.
Sergei brings his entourage into the caravanserai and wants the 2nd best room beside Percy, but it’s loaded with Covey’s stuff.
“Where am I going to say, I am a Count.” LP gives up his own main room. Covey needs the extra room for science.
He in turn is willing to put up with his mistress sleeping with him in the same room all the time, and his entourage can sleep with the troops et al.
Gilhooly and Pennyworth argue the point, that if LP is a king he needs to lord it up, show that everyone else is his underling even if they aren’t as his best friends. However, Martin points out he’s ‘gone native’ as one of their own, that being with the common boots on the ground may be looked up to.
Brutus is shot at by the sniper, and it becomes a cat and mouse game. Brutus plays it risky, making dashes in the dark from cover to cover and closes from 200’ to 95 w/o incident, keeping him in view and staying hidden all the same! Then down to 55’ unseen. After about half an hour of cat and mouse, Brutus closes in but is spotted and fired upon! It misses him by less than an inch! Brutus lunges upon him ferociously but the foe deftly dodges, pulls back and fires again miss! It’s a firing withdraw vs Brutus’s assault. Brutus is hit as he rushes in throwing caution to the wind, the round doesn’t hit solidly enough though, as Brutus skewers him upward into his belly and out below his shoulderblade DEAD. He takes the killer’s rifle and returns to camp.
Covey says its mastercraft 50 caliber Remington 700, but uses special rounds unique to it.
On the barge and to Thoth.
Arrive evening, Thoth.