Sunday, March 29, 2009

Dino Attack

22 March …

This week was quite sad and today we had the funeral of Army Privates Stan Durant and Gary Jenkins, both from Chihuahua Province. They were on patrol to the east of Fort Humid when the squad was attacked by five dinos that were about six feet in height, bipedal and attacked in unison. It was brutally quick as we have two dead and three seriously injured. Private Wells has lost his left arm, and we are prayerful that he doesn't get infected as so many wounds here do. The squad managed to kill two of them and the other three ran off.
They were very lucky as no sooner than they left the site of the first attack, there was a sound in the jungle of a massive animal moving at high speed, crashing through the underbrush. As the squad turned back toward camp, a much larger dino, standing about nine to ten feet in height, barred their path. It had a terrible growl that we could barely hear all the way back at the Fort. RSM Taggart himself assembled a squad and led it toward the sound of gunshots and the dino growl. Taggart's squad arrived in time to see the dino put down by a volley of fire from the remaining patrol. He claims the dino is some sort of deinonychus. I think I spelled that correctly. Anyway, LT Armstrong and his herbalist assistants were ready for the returning squad and it is amazing at how quickly they worked. Father Flannigan was there as well, helping the medics and praying over the injured.

Major Lamar has the whole fort on alert and all patrols that left were mounted on Pachysaurs to utilize their speed in this environment. A mounted patrol returned from the site of the attack and said nothing bigger than a chicken leg was left. We have not had an attack since we lost Private Simmons, so I guess we are lucky to a point, but it does not help the sadness we feel and the realization that we can not get comfortable in this environment.

On the brighter side of things, Corporal Redfeather’s squad is quite professional at horizontal construction and it is amazing at how well they have taken to the Triceratops. They managed to clear a lot of land in the past week. They will also expand the open perimeter from the fort an additional 200 yards. The Aetherpad is going to be a little bigger than the fort to handle the anticipated overflow of ships.

The temple is still a mystery (except how the door was open). Drs. Caruthers and Palmer have been documenting everything as usual and are still trying to decipher the dead language of the Lizard Men.

HMS Wellington

15 March ….

The HMS Wellington landed Thursday and it is immense! I cannot imagine any Hun vessel that could stand up to her. With her arrival, the RTS Santa Fe squadron departed for the Aether and Earth. The HMS Wellington brought a pleasant surprise for me, as they were carrying our additional draft of Republic Marine Engineers. We received a squad of road builders lead by Corporal Samuel Redfeather, a Caddo Texican from San Jacinto Province. He is from a long line of military scouts and is the first Marine in his family. He has a way with animals like Sergeant Garcia, and also is great at elevations with the naked eye. I was very happy to see him and I remember his smiling face while I was an instructor at the Basic Engineers Course near Nacogdoches. He seems to always smile but is very straightforward and to the point. He will be assigned to Sergeant Garcia, and will be working on clearing the Aetherpad and eventually improving our dirt roads as well as building proper new roads.

The news of the Hun has been tales of plunder and strict rule. There is also a rumor of the German troops killing all of the men who did not swear allegiance to the Kaiser in Neu Munchen on Mars. I wonder if they plan on an aggressive stance on Venus as well? I have looked at the rudimentary maps we have, and try to estimate the travel paths of the Hun if they chose to invade this continent. They would have to come by air, as I cannot imagine trying to sail the oceans on this planet. Our experiences fishing on the reef are scary enough to believe the tales of sea monsters that lurk beneath the surface.

With the arrival of the Wellington we have had a large number of visitors in the camp. Three ships from the HMS Wellington battle group landed here as there was no room at Camp Trafalgar for them - the Welly is that big!. We have a frigate and two gunships on our pad. All are quite new, not more than three years of age. The frigate’s hull is 25% liftwood, I had to see for myself as I have only heard of it but never got to see in person. The crew is quite pleasant and has even helped out around the camp. Sergeant Thibodaux was happy to have the help around the kitchen and got to trade some recipes with the ship's baker.

Corporal Gallegos has learned of RSM Taggart's boy and mine attending Gannon Military Institute next month and has written a story for the Alamo Gazette. I can only imagine what kind of attention that will bring our boys, especially during their first year as a fish. Sorry about that, son!

I think I will fetch Lady V, as she has been playing with those working dogs and maybe stop by the NCO mess to visit RSM Taggart.

[Editors Note: The Alamo Gazette is a military paper written and distributed around all of the Republic's military installations. The paper headquarters in Alamo Square, hence the background for the name. All reporters and staff of the paper are military personnel.]

Saturday, March 28, 2009

No rest for the RTS Santa Fe

08 March ….

The RTS Santa Fe, Hammerhead and Mako are still here by request of Camp Trafalgar. Captain Franklin, RN, commanding the Santa Fe squadron, was more than willing to take a little time out of the Aether to patrol the region until the HMS Wellington battlegroup arrives. The Santa Fe will stay on the deck (as she is just a converted cargo ship with a limited weapons system) as the Hammerhead and Mako patrol the atmosphere in case of any attack by the Hun. It is a little unnerving to think of the seriousness of the situation, when all we can do is keep working, but there is tension around the camp. Some of the troops have started to bicker at each other as they start to get their minds prepared for what might lay in store. The HMS Wellington is a new battlecruiser and could wipe out our whole fleet in a single salvo. It will be a sight to see if she has the chance to land on the surface. It will probably be a year or two before the Republic could possibly build something like her - if we even bother.

In response to the growing fleet of ships, Mr. Griggs has ordered us to expand the Aetherpad and to start construction of a new site. Sergeant Garcia and Sergeant Cromwell will have to stretch their men even thinner to accomplish the mission. I was sure hoping to get additonal Marines last week, and all we got was the RA troops. I guess I should not complain, and I can understand the thinking of the brass at Alamo Square, but it sure makes us earn our money.

Father Flannigan sure has stepped up to the plate to do his part. Before he got “the Call” he was a corporal in Her Majesty's 88th Regiment of Foot (The Connaught Rangers). So he knows well the feelings of the troops on the ground and knows when one is complaining to hear himself or if it is something to take seriously. He has a way of inspiring us to do more in his talk and mannerisms as he walks around talking to all the troops, Catholic or not. He would make a wonderful Friar Tuck for our Merry Men.

Last week I had forgot to mention the arrival of Lieutenant Joseph Kowalski of San Jacinto Province, he is a red leg artillery officer with a good reputation for listening to the troops. I know he will make a great impact here at Fort Humid today and in the future. With three 2.5” guns and two 1” Gatlings, a lieutenant to take charge is very common. Subaltern Kern will serve as assistant Artillery Officer. This will probably be the limit of artillery officers, but I do expect to see at least another Infantry lieutenant and three subalterns.

I have not heard much about the temple as it has been overshadowed by the obvious. I have seen the combat correspondant from the Alamo Gazette, our military newspaper. His name is Corporal Marvin Gallegos, from Chihuahua Province. He is here to do a story on the Army at Fort Humid, but being a squid he has spent more time hanging around us and talking to Mr. Griggs and the NCOs then talking to Baby Pummel and Staff. Well, I must depart as it is getting late and I have been ordered to relax and have a pint.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

A Second Sentinel is Finished!

"British Engineering Still the Marvel of Western Science!"

The Army today unveiled its newest steam-driven military conveyance, the Sentinel, Mk. 2. The original Mark of the Sentinel chassis was armed, you may remember, with one large cannon slung underneath the operator's station, and two Tesla voltaic rifles for close defense.

The Mark 2 has done away with both weapons of the earlier Sentinel, and is instead fitted with ten 24-pdr Cosgrove bombardment rockets, which fire in pairs. This fearsome combination will undoubtedly batter down the walls of any native potentate who dares to defy Her Britannic Majesty's imperial will. And our European cousins which have been casting their covetous eyes over our beautiful colony here on the Red Planet must be content with gnashing their teeth, as they would never be so foolish as to risk a confrontation against such awesome firepower. Marching into the firestorm of these huge rockets is more than any Continental conscript soldier could bear.

His Excellency, the Viceroy of the Crown Colony spoke at the unveiling, held on the parade grounds of Fort Gordon:

"Before you stands proof - further proof! - of the superiority of our British society. British engineering is still providing the yardstick to which all other nations compare, and is the marvel of Western science. Luckily for the other imperial powers here on Mars, Her Majesty's Government does not, at this time, seek to expand her influence abroad, as there is dashed all they could do about it now! Haw haw!"

News From Earth

01 March …..

The RTS Santa Fe, Hammerhead and Mako arrived this morning just after Father Flannigan's sermon about the rising of Lazarus. It was quite an encore to the sermon. Sgt. Thibedeaux cooked fish and chips for us, it being Lent and all. It seems he has found a green colored type of potato here on Venus. They are as big as eggplants and were found just north of us about half a mile from the Aether landing pad.

Chief O'Malley says he is getting used to the constant traveling between planets, saying they make life interesting and he swears he holds the record by a Texican for time spent in the Aether. We received mail from Earth, and my family is doing quite well. The boys are doing great and are ready - as usual - for school to let out. Ian is especially ready, as he reports to Gannon Military Institute in the fall semester and is also slated for their “fish camp” orientation course that starts a week after his high school graduation, the third week of April. I'm sorry I'll miss that, but the missus says not to worry, because she has a surprise in store for me in regards to that. I am now officially worried.

The black legs received another company of infantry and two 1” Colt Gatling gun crews as well. That means two additional officers, one Field Artillery (red leg) officer, Subaltern Alex R. Kern, and another black leg officer, Subaltern Reginald P. Smyth. The Army battalion is now up to 324, officers and other ranks. We did not receive any new Republic Marines, engineers or otherwise. We did, however, increase the amount of NCOs as the Army also received more corporals, sergeants, and colour sergeants.

President McCrae sent word to us via the Secretary of War that we will support the British Empire; however, we will not openly declare war to defend those egg-sucking Frenchies. We also need to prepare for any attempted attack on our territory or our British friends.

Well, the weekly input is short today. I have to get over to the Staff NCO Mess and enjoy some Texican Stout as promised by Chief O’Malley, who smuggled a barrel on board the Santa Fe for us poor parched boys here on Venus. The Chief's not a bad fellow, for an aether-sucking swabbie.

Monday, March 23, 2009

The Temple

22 February ….

Our British friends were impressed with our troops, fort and its fortifications. They visited the temple site as well and asked if we mind if they sent some British archaeologists to help with the exploration, as there are six on the planet. The British headed back to their colony on Tuesday. They departed one day too soon, it turns out.
This past Wednesday, Lady V and I were at the temple site when it experienced an amazing step in exploration. As always, Drs. Caruthers and Palmer were looking for an entrance into the temple when Lady V was playing with one of the military working dogs and accidentally triggered a door mechanism, opening the northern archway facing the highlands. As the door opened, there was a crashing sound, as if a boulder had fallen from hundreds of feet in the air. A cloud of green dust rose from the entrance and from four holes near the top of the pillars by the altar. I have to admit I was startled and did not know what to think; initially, I dropped to the deck and looked around the area for any movement. Lady V was unaffected and seemed to be amused by the sounds and commotion. The doctors were extremely excited and so was one of the reporters; he was last seen holding the bottom of his pants and walking into the woods. We never did figure out what got him, but he disappeared pretty thoroughly. No cloth left, no signs of a struggle - just gone. Good riddance, says I, except that I don't like that something can just disappear a fellow like that this close to our campsite. Anyway, I am sure history books will say how the doctors found the door mechanism through careful calculations and studied interpretation of the hieroglyphics. I know it was a puppy.

The doctors entered the chamber like excited schoolboys going into their first saloon, but I was by no means going to enter the temple at that moment. The doctors were in there only a few minutes before they came back outside with the remaining reporter in tow as they realized it might be helpful if they had some light. The rain that afternoon was light and constant, as it has been every day for the last three months, so there were no torches or lanterns present. Our policy is to leave the site well before dark, as the jungle is still very dangerous, and especially so when the evening predators are out stalking for food. So we all returned to the fort and called it a day. With much pleading from the two doctors, the Black Legs sent a squad to post watch that evening around the temple site.

Thursday morning, the doctors explored into the temple with the remaining reporter and with the officer community. There was only a tunnel that led down forty feet below the temple and an open chamber with another door on the northern wall, once more with four guardians similar to the ones topside. The door of course has no handle or windows and is inset in an archway. The walls are covered in hieroglyphs of assumed battles between the Lizardmen and the Parrotmen. I am only going by the tales I have heard from Mr. Griggs, and, of course, the rumors around camp are anything but far fetched. One of the stories around camp is that the four guardians are moving their heads, watching the explorers as they walk around the chamber. There is now a constant guard detail around the temple and most people have already forgotten that we are supposed to be preparing for an attack from the Hun.

I have not been able to return to the temple due to the preparation of the defenses, which have mostly been left to Lieutenant Landowski, Mr. Griggs, RSM Taggart and I. The cooks have been busy as well making Grillag jerky and salting or smoking fish and sausages. I am hoping when the RTS Santa Fe returns we receive a road crew so we can utilize Spot a little more efficiently. Sergeant Garcia’s men are doing a great job; however, they are carpenters and stonemasons, not road crews. The Black Legs are hoping for an additional 2.5” howitzer if not a 3” Whitworth cannon. But we will see what the War Department sees fit to send. I know Mr. Griggs has requested the road crew and some additional equipment. We still have our catapults ready to use, as we have found somewhat round boulders for ammo. Let’s hope we will not have to use either.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Visitors from the East

15 February ….

The Orca returned yesterday with serious news about our cousins from across the Atlantic. The Germans have refused to return the former French territories and the Kaiser's officials defiantly claim they can do as they will with their new colonial possession. Seems like what they want to do is steal everything that ain't nailed down, drink anything they can find, and molest any pretty young - or not so young! - girls in the town. Neu Munchen, the former Nouveau Paris, is under martial law as we speak and is patrolled by, of all things, some sort of mechanical men. I still find it hard to believe the Hun has really created mechanical soldiers. The Kaiser is also supposed to be allied with the Ottoman Turks, whoever they are.

Secretary of War Edward G. Graves specifically sent a message via Camp Trafalgar to the Republic Expeditionary Force on Venus. We are to expect more troops to reinforce our position on Venus and are to be prepared for anything the Hun sends our way. The Germans are not on this continent, as verified by our British allies, but that may offer an opportunity for expansion. Our walls are very strong and we have stored provisions in our cellars. I hope we receive at least another squad of Marine Engineers so we can better utilize our construction capabilities.

The British dirigible HMS Galfrey arrived with the Orca. Onboard was Colonel William Basil Davies IV, KCB, VC, and his aides and amongst them all was actually a face I recognized: RSM James Canon. The British colonel wanted to visit Fort Humid and will stay a few days to see how we “Bowies” are doing. They also want a taste of some of the renowned recipes of our crazy Cajun cook, I think. We will have a formal meeting tomorrow as he wants to address our troops.

Once off duty, RSM Canon was as cheerful as always. The Welshman is built very similar to Seaman 1st Johansson: stocky, with no neck to speak of and powerful hands. He grabbed a hold of me and gave me a huge bear hug once we got to my quarters, where he is bunking. Canon is still immensely strong for a man in his late forties.

We originally met while I was at Expeditionary Engineer School. Canon taught a class in defense on the march, in which we were overrun by an enemy of greater strength. He had been curious to see if we Texicans were more like the Jonathons or the British. I think we met with his approval. We learned to form square at the same course, a tactic that may prove useful here on Venus against these primitives, but is surely not wise in the face of modern artillery. I introduced him to RSM Taggart and the two hit it off. Last night in the NCO Mess we got to catch up on our lives since we had last met over a few mugs of jungle juice, the rotgut so-called "rum" our entrepeneurial distiller has been brewing up.

Drs. Caruthers and Palmer finished excavation around the arched opening and their efforts to enter the temple are still all for naught. There was another display of the glowing blue lights as the temple was struck by lightning once again during one of our daily rainstorms. It has to be more than just a coincidence that lightning continues to strike the temple. I believe it is a place of evil where wicked souls are bound.

Father Flannigan gave a wonderful sermon this morning and our visitors were pleased with it. Father Flannigan still wants to venture out into the highlands to see what the land is like further north. He believes that the relatively unexplored region has to have hidden secrets.

I must close as it is once again time to join my friends in a daily ration.

[Editors Note: The British call the Texicans “Bowies” in reference to the standard issue Bowie bayonet carried by all enlisted troops in the Republic. Unlike the “Jonathons” nickname for Americans, it is by no means a derogatory term and is used as a friendly nickname, much like their use of the term "Tommy Atkins" for their own troops. The name was created during the Maximillian War, in which the Republic of Texas fought with Her Majesty’s troops against the French and Mexico. Navy and Marine Officers carry the Model 1852 cutlass. Army officers carry the Model 1864 saber.]

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Urgent Request from Camp Trafalgar

08 February ….

Seaman 1st Johansson got to break away from the saw mill as he chauffeured Major Higgins and crew (including the two reporters) as we received message that our presence was requested at Camp Trafalgar. The good Major wasted no time assembling the crew and the dirigible Orca. Again, Johansson seemed very amused to be leaving camp once again.

I wonder if the news of the German and French conflict is worsening. RSM Taggart and I were debating the issue of what of what we thought the Republic would do if we were attacked in the same manner as the Frenchies. We also called in our staff NCO’s to get their opinions as well, as it is good to make your troops think of possibilities and helps to create a 'creative solution' session. Someone should have been taking notes as I am sure we solved all of the world’s problems that evening. The jungle juice seemed to help a good bit. I think the conclusion was that we would attack the enemy with extreme prejudice and if any other nation wanted to join in then they had best not get in the way. “Old Crooked Knee” has always been a hothead, and with the power of the presidency he is able to declare war for up to 89 days without approval from the other offices of state.

The Good Professors are doing well in their excavation, and are most pleased with having their theories and conclusions documented in written literary works. They have uncovered the top of an archway and are hoping it leads to the interior of the temple. The military dogs are not too keen on the archway in particular and have reacted strangely to the temple as a whole.

Lady V has made friends with her fellow canines and I must include it in my letter to the missus as she likes to hear of things of this nature. Well, time to enjoy a pipe and a glass of grog.

Friday, March 20, 2009

[OOC] Pledge Updated, New Scale added

Okay, I finally updated the 2009 Pledge. Doing pretty well, for so early in the year, but Historicon is coming, and I am planning on replacing all of my current 25mm British colonial regulars with the absolutely beautiful ones produced by Empress Miniatures at Historicon. So, that's a good 30 or so more to do.

Almost done with several of the Imperial German Secret Weapons guys. That'll help the 25mm count as well.

Only have to glue the bombardment rockets on the second Sentinel to be finished with that project, finally!

Inspired by a trip to Austin's Great Hall Games, where I found a good deal of Brigade Model's Aeronefs on sale, I have bought into them. 34 2mm scale Aeronefs now await painting, and have been added to the Pledge as a scale category. 7 have been primed and will be painted as the Aeronavy of the Holy See of Saint Peter. These are a mix of Austrian and Japanese (!), and I will also be adding an Italian Carlo Alberto-class dig to the Papal fleet. I also have a decent number of German 'nefs. Plans for future include British, French, and some fixed wing aircraft. Only rules I have right now is a copy of "When Dreadnoughts Ruled The Skies" given to me at a game at Little Wars almost two years ago now. Am considering purchasing the Aeronef rules from Wessex, and integrating with Land Ironclads at a later date. The tiny scale means they should paint up pretty quick.

In 15mm news, I have finished another 5 deathrays. No photos yet, because I am re-working the bases to magnetize them. Be a couple of days until that sub-project is completed. I discovered I don't have enough rays to finish, either! So, I have to hit eBay and get two more. I also finished a mounted officer on octosaur for the Martians.

All for now. Maybe more news later this weekend, and hopefully a few photos.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Vardu Photostats

As promised, photostats of the strange Vardu plantmen of Venus. We have as yet been unable to verify the veracity of these photostats, and many of our more cynical readers may remain skeptical for the time being. However, be assured that our own correspondent - armed with camera and heavy rifle! - has been dispatched to the steamy jungles of Venus to obtain independent verification. Once he is back (assuming the dinosaurs, diseases, lizardmen or parrotfolk don't get him!), we will happily provide additional confirmation.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

More Plantmen Spotted!

News from the Veiled Planet!

Witnesses have described to our Venus correspondent a remarkable creature that has been lurking about our station there. The beast is humanoid, in that it appears to have two arms, and two legs, and a head of some sort, but there the resemblance to Mankind ends. For, in fact, this beast is no beast at all - nor any sort of animal!

No, good readers, your humble journalist has not taken leave of his senses. I do not claim that these tales are true, but merely report on statements made by Venusian prospectors to the chief correspondent of the Unveiled Planet, a news journal of somewhat dubious and sensationalistic character. However, all of the many reports bear out the same story: a plant which moves and stalks its prey, with tendrils of vines for limbs and a great bulbous purple flower for a head.

To date, the largest group of these plantmen (which the Unveiled Planet has labeled the Vardu, after Christophe de Vardu, a noted Swiss biologist currently studying the plant life of Venus) seen at one time is only ten, but surely more must lurk in the misty rainforests of that forbidding planet. Teeming with unknown lifeforms and barely explored at all, the jungles of Venus hold many a strange surprise for the unwary Earthman.

It is hoped that the Unveiled Planet will soon provide photostatic evidence of these strange creatures. Naturally, friends, this journal will reproduce them for your edification once they have been authenticated.

[Editor's Note: Finished the first ten Vardu sprouts today. I've also gotten a new scientist figure from Reaper (28mm), who will be Christophe de Vardu. What surprises have I in store for you all? I 'd bet you can guess.]

Monday, March 16, 2009

The Blood Eyes Return

01 February ….

Thursday afternoon, Blood-eye frogs were spotted by our Marines on the outskirts of the cleared rainforest surrounding the Aether Landing Zone. The five frogs announced their presence even before we could see them; they have a very distinct communication system. If you can imagine the sound of a bullfrog back in San Jacinto and magnify it by about eight times, then you can begin to imagine how far the sound carries. Private Jones (the best shot in all of Fort Humid) was able to kill four with carefully aimed shots. Most people cannot see past 800 yards and here is our Jonesy shooting frogs in their eyes. The fifth frog deserted his downed friends. We carefully gathered the carcasses and set them together to be burned - not an easy task here on Venus, with the wood so wet most of the time. It is also very difficult to handle something that secretes a lethal poison from its skin, but we were able to use Spot for the heavy lifting, as he had no problem moving them and seems immune to the Blood-eye frog's poison.

The reporters are starting to get on my nerves, and I cannot wait until they leave next month. I wish they would have left with the RTS Santa Fe Aether Group. I removed one from the post as he was starting to disturb my men as they worked. He wanted to interview Private Jones and get a story of how he killed the Blood-eyes. Mr. Griggs is definitely coming around as I can see him developing into a great officer one day. He instructed the reporters to mind their own business and leave the Marines alone, as we have a job to do. When one of them (the slick talking fellow from the Houston Post - I think he must be a transplanted Yankee) tried to tell Mr. Griggs that "interviewing your troops is our business," he jumped down that fellow's throat so fast, he lost his little bowler hat. He promised to brig the next reporter that so much as said hello to an on-duty Marine. I must say I was quite impressed with my young junior officer.

Well it is off to relax on the porch and I am going to enjoy the sun as it sets as RSM Taggart and I enjoy the taste of a good cigar and swap stories. His will all be tall tales, of course, seeing as how all those Army boys lie...

Friday, March 13, 2009

Nouveau Paris Sacked

25 January ….

This week we had some sad news: the dirty Hun has sacked Nouveau Paris on Mars and now marches on the formerly French streets. The French, naturally, are outraged by this bold move on the Kaiser's part, and are contacting the world's governments for help. I am unsure of what our government's official position is, but I am sure that President Augustus McCrae still has no love for the French. They supported Mexico in the Maximillian War, when he was struck by a rifle ball in his left leg. I am sure that every time he walks with his cane that he remembers that. Our spies in Germany have told us of a scientist who is working on many strange weapons and some type of mechanical soldiers.

On the lighter side the RTS Santa Fe with her two gunship escorts, the RTS Hammerhead and RTS Mako arrived Friday with more Black Leg infantry, four dog handlers with German Shepherds and another gun crew. The Army strength is up to 282 men, with three 2.5” Colt Mountain Guns.

The Santa Fe bore gifts of a microscope and some lab equipment for Doctor Armstrong. The equipment was hand carried by another Herbalist by the name of PVT Owens; he is assigned to the medical department and is straight out of school in Kingsville. Drs. Caruthers and Palmer both received letters of commendation and ownership of the temple site by name. An exhibit will eventually be displayed in the Republic National Museum with all the grandeur. neither of the scientists ahve said much about it, but I know they are fit to burst with excitement over their new-found fame.

We also have our first 'real' civilians on base now - the scientists don't really count, seeing how they were sent by the government and have been strictly under our chain of command as scientific advisors. Some reporters from the Houston Post and the New Glasgow Gazette arrived on the Santa Fe. The reporters are here to observe, take pictures and make someone here at Fort Humid famous. They constantly trail behind Major Higgins and Subaltern Pummel, as they want to hear from the young officer and his commanding officer. They also plan to make several trips to the Blue Temple and write stories of our scientists’ discoveries.

Lady V wants to play with the military dogs and she seems very happy to have fellow canine company. I doubt she will share a smoked Grillag bone with them, however! Well, it is off to bed as we have our work cut out for us this week.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Chariot Races

18 January ….

What an interesting day today! We held the first known chariot races on Venus. Sergeant Garcia and Sergeant Cromwell’s crews each built a design for a chariot during their off watches, and today we had a race to see whose chariot is the best design. There was much toasting and carrying on and there were many side bets up and down the chain of command both Army and Marines. The course was about three miles long in two laps. Men were piled in every good vantage point from tree to towers and fort walls. Lance Corporal Daniels was triumphant, driving the Team Cromwell chariot. That means a week off of latrine duty for Cromwell's team, thanks to Sergeant Garcia and his crew.

Drs. Caruthers and Palmer are making some progress with their research at the Blue Temple, as they uncovered another tablet and pictographs depicting another temple. This one, according to the pictograms, would seem to be located somewhere to the north of Fort Humid, up in the Highlands. I still wonder how the good scientists will be able to decipher what is written as there is no one that speaks the lizard man tongue, much less has any written history.

It has been almost three weeks since we were attacked by the plant people and we still have no idea of why they attacked us that day, unless we just happened to stumble upon a scouting party. LT Armstrong is anxiously awaiting the return of the RTS Santa Fe, as she is hopefully bringing some lab equipment. Still, it will be at least another week until she arrives. I only hope that we can wait that long.

A Vile New Flag, and Other Sundries

Maton's Ensign Unveiled!

The Mad Belgian has released an image to the Press of both Earth and Mars, revelling in the torrent of scathing condemnation poured (rightly!) forth for his efforts. It is, he claims, the new "national ensign of Matonia," according to the message received with the hateful rag. The message, signed by "Emperor Otto I," also claims the entire Solar system in the madman's name.
The package containing both the rag and the letter was delivered in the dead of the night to news journal offices around both planets. Each one was placed on the roof of a building. No one noticed a thing when they were delivered. Is this some terrifying new device of Maton's construction? Or is it simply a coordinated, extremely stealthy effort to frighten the governments of Earth and Mars into cowed submission before his intellectual might?

RAAS Wallaby Found - Crew Mysteriously Missing

The Royal Australian Aethership Wallaby was located Wednesday last by HMAS Exeter as part of the official Government search effort. You may recall that the Wallaby was due to call here at Victoria Landing over a month ago. Once declared a week overdue, a massive search effort was launched to recover the Australian cargo vessel and her twenty-nine officers and men from the depths of the aether. Two weeks into the search, most people believed the Wallaby would never be found, and taht she was destined to become the Flying Dutchman of the aether.

Boarding parties of Royal Marines especially trained for aetherial operations landed on the drifting aethership's hull, and made their way to the control decks. After a thorough search of the vessel, no trace of her crew was found, nor was there any sign of violence aboard the ship. Only two of the six cargo lighters were found to be missing. According to the Wallaby's manifest, these contained two consignments of machine parts from Germany, bound for the Marsstaadt colony.

Engineers aboard the Exeter were able to restore a flow of caustic to the handwavium reactor, re-powering the ship and allowing her to be taken in to Admiralty Highport, orbiting Earth. Perhaps with time and diligent investigation by both British and Australian authorities, the mystery of the Wallaby will be cleared up. We would like to extend our condolences to the families of Captain Paul Dundee and his crew on the loss of their loved ones.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Smoked Grillag Sausage?

11 January …

Another week down and a lot of work completed. Corporal Mendoza’s crew finished the second windmill and we have also drilled an additional well 80 feet deeper than the previous. The outer wall was completed and the stores and provisions were slated and stored. The food storerooms are deep in the earth and are made with two sets of doors for insulation.

One of Sergeant Thibodaux’s new cooks is a Texican named Private Valenta he is of Czech descent from Burleson County. Today he smoked Grillag sausage using an old family recipe for the ingredients. He says the ingredients used in the venison and pork sausage have won the last three Burleson County Fairs. I just hope Grillag will taste just as well as the venison and pork.

Today RSM Taggart and I ventured out on Pachysaurs to the sea as we wanted to get away from the fort and relax. Lady V was quite happy running on the beach and I thought I had lost her twice, as she was chasing sand crabs.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

The Orca Returns

4 January …

The dirigible Orca arrived yesterday after a trip to Camp Trafalgar. Major Higgins and crew were very pleased with their trip and the capabilities of Seaman 1st Johansson. Major Higgins’s main concern was of our new enemies, the plant-like species with the sound weapons. Seems as though our allies have not seen much of them and have only limited knowledge. A request was sent back to the Republic for some lab equipment by LT Armstrong. There was also a request for some military dogs.

Seaman 1st Johansson was very happy to be home and was carrying on about his adventures. He told stories after Mass this morning as the others gathered round to hear. Johansson sure has a way with words and seems as though he is able to spin tales and sea stories. You would have thought he was with Captain Ahab on the quest for the White Whale.

RSM Taggart and I were able to just relax today, which was especially welcome as the work has been extremely busy, especially with the defenses around the fort. The outer wall is almost complete and we will soon be able to expand. The interior of the fort is taking shape nicely as it actually resembles a proper outpost. Subaltern Griggs showed me the drawings he has personally been working on. Fort Humid will be immense in size, with an underground tunnel to the Aether Pad and also a few lookout towers further on the highlands to the North.

[Editor's Note: The Republic has utilized dogs in the military since the Maximillian War; they proved useful in the early detection of troops and were able to sniff out traps and hidden cellars the Imperial Mexicans were using for ammo and food storage.]

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Menaces to Humanity!

Menaces Foul, both Mineral and Vegetable!

Friends, it's a dark time indeed. Humanity is threatened by automatons built by a mad genius and alien lifeforms on the Veiled Planet of Venus.

Below is a photostat depicting two of Doctor Maton's so-called 'clockwork soldiers' [clockwork soldiers by Parroom Station]. Armed with heavy automatic rifles, they can mow down entire platoons of good stout British infantry. Be very wary of these walking artillery pieces!

[Editor's Note: I'll use with both 25 and 15mm VSF, and they follow my GASLIGHT automaton rules (which I will post a little later). For 25, the guns are Light Machineguns. For 15mm, Heavy Machinegun. Bayonets are mostly aesthetic. These are Maton's main artillery pieces.]

This is Herr Professor's newest creation of destruction, and one of his deadliest. [Hydra Miniature's hoverbot from their Retro Raygun line] These fiendish devices, so-called 'hoverbots', zoom through the skies over a battlefield, swooping down on their unsuspecting victims and cutting them to ribbons with large, powerful, razor sharp shears.

[Editor's Note: Also useful for both 25 and 15mm scales. I love scale neutral minis. These will follow the automaton rules as well, and move at a very fast rate. No guns, but a nasty pair of metal shears. Finally, they will have a limited duration - randomly determined after they are deployed. Probably d3+2 turns. This represents the batteries on which they depend for power to the unobtainite allowing their flight and the fans which propel them (see the louvered vents on the back?) running down rather rapidly.]

Our final photostatic foe is a rear view of the strangest lifeform found on any planet so far: the Plantmen of Venus [Hydra Miniatures' Vardu sprout, from their Primal Dawn line]! The twisted vines of its limbs possess immense strength, and the fibrous stalk of its torso lacks vital organs, making the creature phenomenally tough. The flower-like head opens up to release a cloud of soporific spores. Even the stoutest of chaps can find himself suddenly weary and sluggish when caught in a blast of this perfidious pollen! Venus is truly a planet of hidden perils, waiting to ensanre and feast upon the unwary.

[Editor's Notes: These guys are too neat. Again, 25/15 scale neutral. About 18mm tall to the top of the flower, though they are supposed to be relatively immature plants in 28mm if I get the idea right. Matt at Hydra told me he plans more variants of the Vardu: a big warrior, a dog-like one, and more. I'll probably pick up some of them when they are released. The basic GASLIGHT rules on these are they either get a save or a wound score, and they Shoot a short range cone of spores, about 4". If you get hit, the figure takes a Morale test. Fail and you go to sleep (out of battle). Also considering a rule where they can set up in whatever patch of wooded or marsh terrain they like, but must choose before the game begins.]

As always, good reader, this journal shall keep you informed of any additional information or threats we uncover that could affect you or the Empire. Stay alert! Stay informed! Stay safe!

[Editor's Note: Sorry about the crappy pictures, but I was hurrying to get them posted this weekend. More pictures, with appropriate scenery, etc., will be taken at a later date. I got all ten of the hoverbots done. I am about 30% on the 20 Vardu - they're pretty easy as well. need to update the Pledge, too. This will help that backsliding on the 25mm, I think!]

Friday, March 6, 2009

New Tools

I read about some new tools available for working with foamboard on TMP (The Miniatures Page, an absolute treasure trove for miniatures gaming of all kinds:

The company is called Foamwerks [] and their product is supposed to be available at Hobby Lobby stores. I am planning a check this weekend if I can get to a store.

The most interesting tools to me are the clips the have for butt joints on the foamcore. Both end to end and T-junction joints can be made, and it holds the foam perfectly while your adhesive dries. I'll probably be buying a pack of these if they are in stock. If not, I may even special order them.

New Tools

I read about some new tools available for working with foamboard on TMP (The Miniatures Page, an absolute treasure trove for miniatures gaming of all kinds:

The company is called Foamwerks [] and their product is supposed to be available at Hobby Lobby stores. I am planning a check this weekend if I can get to a store.

The most interesting tools to me are the clips the have for butt joints on the foamcore. Both end to end and T-junction joints can be made, and it holds the foam perfectly while your adhesive dries. I'll probably be buying a pack of these if they are in stock. If not, I may even special order them.

Hydra Miniatures is Awesome. [ooc]

Okay, I am obviously very happy with Hydra Miniatures (, right?

I ordered a batch of minis on Friday, paid on Saturday, and received today. So far, so good, but about what you would expect.

Matt, the fella running the joint, bent over backwards to help me out. I needed 20 Vardu sprouts (, but they came in packs of 8. I asked Matt if he could package up twenty and charge me the difference for more than 2 packs. He did, no problem. Then I asked him to help me out with some of the minibots (, as I wanted 10, and again, they were in a pack of 8. Again, no problem. Finally, I ordered two packs of the hoverbots (5 each) ( and needed no additional help with those.

Matt figured out the per mini cost and just emailed me telling me my total, which I then Paypal-ed to him. Easy transaction.

And I really like the minis. the Vardu sprouts are just about the same height as a 15mm German Aetherbattalion trooper, and the minibot and the hoverbot scale up well against them too.

Left to right: Minibot, 15mm German (OG), Hoverbot, German, Vardu sprout

About the only thing I have found to complain about - and its not much of a complaint! - is that it took me about a minute to clean some flash off of the hoverbot using my craft knife. The minibot took less time than that, and I've done nothing to the Vardu sprout.

Last but not least, I think they also all scale well against 25mm VSF figures, though obviously as smaller than man-sized. Scale neutrality is a big plus in my book, as you get twice the bang for your buck.

All in all, I am very happy with my purchase. Matt hinted to me about some future Vardu products that I am waiting for in eager anticipation. I have my Plantmen of Venus! And Doktor Maton's mechanical horde keeps growing!

All for now. I have painting to do! I'll try to get some shots up this weekend, but no promises.


Remembering the Alamo

Fallen Soldiers Remembered

Today, at every Texican Army outpost, and aboard every Texican vessel, a toast will be held, followed by a 13-gun salute - one gun for every day that the defenders of the Alamo mission held out against overwhelming numbers of Mexican soldiers led by that bloodthirsty tyrant, Santa Anna.

We provide the good citizens of Victoria Landing with this information so as to prevent them being startled when the local Texican forces fire their salutes this evening, just as the sun sets.

Mad Scientist Found?

The notorious mad Belgian inventor, Herr Doktor Professor Otto Maton has, as we all know, been the most diligently sought after fugitive from justice the Earth has ever known. His fiendish devices almost toppled the Belgian monarchy back in '79, and his associate Professor Fassenbender's sinister scientific experiments have warped humanity itself!

Recent investigations by a Mister Sherman Homes, of Kensington, London, indicate that the mad doctor and his nefarious associate may have smuggled themselves and some of their diabolical creations to Mars. There is even some hint of agents of the Kaiser being behind his escape to the Red Planet. All citizens of the Empire are encouraged to keep a steady watch for these dangerous foreigners. If you see any giant mechanical men, or small metallic spiders in your neighborhood, please alert the authorities immediately!

Monday, March 2, 2009

Happy Birthday Texas! You too, Sam!

Texas Independence Day

Celebrations for the anniversary of the declaration of independence for the Republic of Texas have begun here in Victoria Landing at the Texican Delegation. Forty-five years ago today, the Republic declared it's independence from the tyranny of the Mexican dictator, Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna. Fireworks, a rodeo, music and dancing are all planned for the festivities.

In addition, the Texican Consul, Mister Andrew Jackson Houston, son of the late first president of the Republic, has provided a traditional Texas barbecue for the prominent citizens of Victoria Landing. Texicans of all stations are invited as well. Two entire sides of beef were brought from Texas for the event. This barbecue is in celebration both of the birth of Mr. Houston's father, who would have been eighty-eight years old today, and Mr. Houston's newborn son, Samuel Andrew Houston, who was delivered of Mrs. Houston here in Victoria Landing two weeks ago.

[Editor's Notes: Today actually is both Sam Houston's birthday and Texas Independence Day. Me, I plan on celebrating with a cold beer or two and a big juicy steak. Have a great day!]

Sunday, March 1, 2009

End of Month Progress Report [ooc]

So, here's the progress on projects this month.

Deathray cavalry: Have received all figures. Three additional lancers, a musician and the unit leader are painted and assembled, just waiting to be mounted on the rays. After these, I have five more to finish, and the units will be done. I say units because I have two. One is the Prince himself, with standard, musician and four guards. I am considering adding three more gun-armed men to this unit to round it out to a full ten. The other unit consists of a captain, musician and eight lancers.

Martian Personalities: I have painted the Incomparable Dejah Thoris, John Carter, a Martian priest, and a Martian king/hero. The butler/assassin is primed, but hardly painted.

Martian swordsmen: Little progress.

Bombardment Sentinel: Purchased Whirlwind for conversion of rockets to Sentinel. Awaiting arrival.

Gunship, 28mm: Received guns, assembled and primed. Currently on painting table. Trying to decide on magnetic attachment option or permanent fixture.

Gunship, 15mm: Main deck cut out. Primary lower hull section built. Mast section assembled but not cut to final length yet. Re-working cabin section design. Forward lower hull needs final desing and assembly. Guns not ordered; considering ERM fittings. Help with 15mm guns would be appreciated.

Parrotman Huts: Prototype finished. Adjustments still to be made for remaining three huts. Back-burner project.

15mm Papal Troops: Two 90% painted as prototypes.

Mordian/German Special Weapons: About 70% painted on lieutenant, sergeant, grenadier, and three riflemen, plus two mortarmen and melta-gunner.

Gex/Gaters: Decided to send to be painted, as I am never going to get around to them. Looking for painting service in US.

That's pretty much everything that's even remotely active for right now. I am hoping to get some projects finished in March, letting me get back to some older projects that have been on hold for a while.