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1879: The Expendables

Posted: Thu May 23, 2019 5:57 pm
by ChrisDDickey
From the Miami Herald, ?? ?? 1879

The flying ship "HMS Elizabeth’s Crown Jewel", plying it's regularly scheduled monthly route between London and Miami, was attacked by at least 2 (reports vary) large flying dinosaurs less than 12 hours flight from Florida! One crewmember was seriously injured, but all passengers are reported safe. One of the flying reptiles was killed and it's body recovered on-board and preserved for science. All others were ether slain overboard or driven off.

Interviews with the ships officers, crew, and passengers all agree that the attack occurred in broad daylight. The creatures were spotted far from the ship with time for the ships officers to request that all passengers go below and for the ships Master at Arms to distribute firearms to his designated assistants. Among the 1st class passengers were the members of a small safari expedition on their way to South America who slew the creature who's corpse was recovered. The ships crew slew or drove off the others. Said lord Bentley Bootle (son of the 12th Earl of Eastbrook - Standing just to the right of center in the photo), "it was actually over really fast, done before you know it, don't you know. They come swooping in, and one of them eats that poor airman, just grabs him in its mouth, tilts his head back and slides him down its throat. Then we are all just banging away at it with our riffles. I hit it twice with my elephant gun, and I know others hit it also. Private Smythe (leftmost in photo) hit it a few great walloping blow with that mace he carries around. It collapses to the deck, and then the Padre here (Brahmpal Urha - 2nd from left in picture)" rushes in and slits the belly open and he and I pull that poor airman out the the things stomach! He had had quite a fright I tell you! Actually I guess he had some pretty serious acid burns as well."

Captain Burnside, in command of the "HMS Elizabeth’s Crown Jewel" commended the alertness, bravery and resourcefulness of his crew, and emphasized that at no time were any passengers in any danger, said he "The Jewel is the pride of Her Majesties transport fleet, and could easily handle whole flocks of flying lizards".

The corpse of the dinosaur that was recovered is being preserved for science and the Crown Jewel is transporting it back to London where it will be donated to the British Museum of Natural History. It was gutted, bleed, and skinned, with the various internal organs preserved on ice until a sufficient quantity of formaldehyde and other preservatives could be obtained here in Miami. Mr. Lenard Coll, a noted local naturalist, who assisted the ships crew in preserving the specimen for transport back to London says that the while such creatures are not his normal area of expertise, the creature looks to him to be some soft of giant pterodactyl. However with a length from nose to tail for ?? feet ?? inches and a wingspan in excess of ?? feet, the specimen is much, much larger than any known pterodactyl. This paper has telegraphed a description of this creature to the Smithsonian Institute, and hopes to have additional information in time for tomorrows paper.

Photo (copyright) by Lord Bently Bootle: Caption: Flying Dinosaur that attacked "HMS Elizabeth’s Crown Jewel". From left to right. Private Smythe, Brahmpal Urha, Captain Burnside, Lord Bentley Bootle, Erica Withakay, Dr. Ferris McFly.

Re: 1879: The Expendables

Posted: Thu May 23, 2019 8:36 pm
by ChrisDDickey
Letter from Lord Bently Bootle to his mother and father, the 12th Earl of Eastbrook. Posted from Caracas Venezuela.

Dearest Parents.

I am sorry I was unable to visit you on my brief return to England a few weeks ago and for sending nothing but such a brief note by way of explanation. I shall endeavor to explain my sudden departure in this letter.

Immediately upon the arrival of the ship upon which I traveled from Africa to England, I telegraphed my London Club reserving an overnight room. By the time I arrived at the club there was a note waiting for me, in which a "Rupert Hastings" invited me to dine with him that very evening and discuss an arrangement which I might find of interest. I was not antiquated with the gentleman, but had no other plans and the dining establishment he specified was 1st class. Upon my arrival, the maitre d referred to my host as "Lord Hastings". At such a fine establishment, I do not imagine that such a person would be careless with titles. I do not believe he is Baron Hastings heir, so I imagine that he has a government post that merits the holder being referred to as a Lord. The ships I have been in have not had a copy of Burke's Peerage in their library's, nor any volume of a Who's Who, so I have not been able to confirm this.

Lord Hastings is an Elf, very tall (maybe 6' 3") with golden skin, blue eyes and silver hair. He proposed funding an expedition to South America. There were reports of ... something ... that he wanted us to investigate. Go there, look around, sort everything out. Bring anything that ought to be brought back to England back with us. Actually, now that I think about it, it does sound a bit vague. Anyway, he was sending a map with us, and wanted us to go have a gander at the spot it lead us to.

He was willing to send us off first class, give as an allowance and an expense account. And there is some darn fine hunting to be had in South America. You know that I have been dreadfully keen on bagging a jaguar ever since I saw the trophy Bertie's uncle took 10 years ago. Anyway, the expedition was set to leave the following afternoon, so I signed on and had a dreadful rush getting everything organized in time for the departure.

The first part of our trip was in the very lap of luxury. I don't know what you might have heard about the ship "HMS Elizabeth’s Crown Jewel", but it is a fine ship. Very very fine ship. I am not sure how it fly's without the great big gas bag all the Giffords have, but it is a very smooth sailing airship.

The airship took only a week to cross the Atlantic, which gave me a chance to meet the other members of our expedition. I can see why Lord Hastings was so keen to recruit me. None of the others are really what I would consider "safari" types. I predict that they will shortly be worse than babes in the woods, they will be babes in a jungle. I shall insist upon an equipment inspection before we leave the capital, and see how many of them thought to bring along a canteen or a bedroll, let along tents.

By far the expedition member I have the least worry about is Private Smythe, Royal Army. This Troll Soldier seems as tough and competent as they come, if a bit green.
Brahmpal Urha is an OK fellow for a Snark. He is a priest of some sort, but a very quite fellow. I shared a cabin with him for a week on the Crown Jewels, and never even learned what faith he is a priest of. Not the Church of England at any rate, so I guess it does not really matter.
Erica Withakay is an Elf Mage. Again, not much of a talker, has hardly said two words in the last week.
Dr. Ferris McFly is perhaps the last person on earth who ought to travel into a jungle. The man is always wandering around, taking stuff apart, looking to use a workshop for a few hours. Get that man a laboratory at Cambridge! I have no idea what he hopes to find in a jungle. From some comments he has made, it seems like his laboratories have a habit of blowing up, and he is looking to reestablish his funds.

We had quite a bit of excitement just before our ship landed in Florida. I will not recount it here, but am enclosing a newspaper clipping that explains the whole thing. As was mentioned in the clipping, I talked the captain into carrying the beast back to London and donating it to the British Museum of Natural History. Mother, you are still chairing their fundraising committee are you not? I would take it as a personal favor if next time you visit you inquire about the specimen and make sure my name is spelled right upon the plaque. In addition to the Miami paper, I also sent reports and duplicate negatives to the Museum of Natural History, Lord Hastings, and the London Independent paper, so maybe you have heard about his bit of excitement already.

We spent two pleasant nights in Miami (Dr McFly managed to scrounge up a workshop in order to build some weird device), we took ship on the "Nuestra Señora de la Santísima Trinidad", With stops in Cuba and Port-a-prince it took us a bit over a week to arrive here in Caracas. Here we plan to do some research on our route (obtain local maps, try to plot our journey on a good map, plan a route and estimate travel times, purchase supplies and hire bearers (or buy mules), etc.)

As yet we do not know how long we expect to be out in the jungle, so I will delay posting this until after a bit of our research is finished.

Your Loving son Bentley.

Re: 1879: The Expendables

Posted: Fri May 24, 2019 2:06 am
by Slimcreeper
Much derring do! Much fun!

Re: 1879: The Expendables

Posted: Wed May 29, 2019 9:15 am
by ChrisDDickey
Lord Bentley finishes his letter to his parents.

We have spent two days here in Caracas getting ready for our expedition. We found several map shops, and in the better of the two the proprietor was able to make some sense of the map we had been given, which was a life-saver since the original was little better than a child's drawing. We bought an excellent map of the area from him, and he was able to plot the few landmarks from our poor map onto his map, and give us a fairly good idea of the location of our goal along with what appears to be a good route to it. The next day we converted much of our funds into local currency, hired a native guide, bought a third tent, a cook kit, and as much food as Private Smith could carry (the troll figured he could carry around 160 lb in addition to his regular gear).

It looks like we will be in the jungle for at least two months, and at least twice that is not unlikely. Our plan is to hike over the nearby hills, which will take only a day, We are told that at the headwaters of a stream rafts or other small vessels are available to be hired that can take us down to the Orinoco. A day or two on the Orinoco will take us to a good sized village from which we will need to make our way South on foot towards Cero Raya. Cero apparently means hill or mountain. So two weeks on a raft. At least two weeks to get to the mountain. Then however long it takes us to do our business there, then back. The journey back will take longer since we will ether be walking or poling upriver. Hopefully I will have several Jaguar pelts to carry back with me.

We are leaving Caracas in the morning, so I am going to post this letter.

Your Loving son Bentley.

Journal Entry: day 3.
I am very pleased with the expedition so far. My companions and I are working out wonderfully. We got to the headwaters and hired a raft without incident. The raft-man charged the equivalent of 4 pounds sterling for the two week trip which seems like highway robbery, but since he was the only one with a craft that would accommodate us all, it was ether accede or walk.

Our first 2 days rafting passed without incident. In the evenings I hunt, and have so far bagged a small Tapir and a small herbivore that might be very distantly related to an antelope of some sort. I feel wonderfully at home here, and it is nice to be using all of my hunting skills to feed us. I already feel like a much more skilled hunter. My companions have been outdoing themselves coming up with ways to combat the ubiquitous mosquitoes. Erica Withakay had us rubbing ourselves with Floss-Flower, which helped a lot. Then McFly cobbled together some sort of electronic thing that zaps the little blighters. I am extremely pleased and optimistic for the rest of our journey.

Re: 1879: The Expendables

Posted: Wed May 29, 2019 11:03 am
by LexiLiegh
Atlas, Step Expedition
Authored and Illustrated by Erica Withakay
<all entries are encrypted(10)>

Airship encounter, <latitude, longitude, altitude, approximate time of encounter(9)>

We encountered a covey of flying beasts, I am choosing to label Volante's, until such time that they are properly named by authorities of greater merit than myself.

Their great size[approximates], belies their agility. They are a difficult foe to hit woth physical attacks, and seemed to shrug off physical blows, they are but simple beasts. They seemingly had no defense to thumping, and two tumbled from the sky.

The creatures swallow their prey whole. The digestive process is quick, causing severe injury in the breadth of a minute, maybe two. Its throat is highly acidic as well, destroying my sturdy travel clothes.

[Sketch of Volante tossing the person up to eat them. Marked with approximate measurements of various body sections. It is a pterodactyl type creature(7)]

Re: 1879: The Expendables

Posted: Wed May 29, 2019 2:19 pm
by LexiLiegh
Atlas, Step Expedition
Authored and Illustrated by Erica Withakay
Locals are surprised by the Raven, but do not seem to visibly panic. It helped obtain our current map, along with some better understanding of where we are supposed to investigate in this expedition.

Our route takes us down the river from Caracas. Shortly after we cross paths with a tributary we will cross the great water and begin our search for the Step Pyramid. I will endeavour to update my map with more details of our path.

One day out from Caracas the Expeditions hunter managed to capture a 'Tapir'. It is a pig like creature, that is fairly tasty. We managed two meals each off of it. It seems its habitat area meets <criteria>. <ilustration of Tapir(5)>

Two days out we encountered a deer like creature. It was edible, but lacked a distinctive flavor. <habitat, observed behaviours, group size.><illustration of <Deer>(7)>. Note, the mosquitos are terrible. Reccomend protective gear against these creatures. <Floss-flower> seems effective, though coating oneself in mud seems to work as well. <illustration of Floss-flower(10)>

Re: 1879: The Expendables

Posted: Sat Jun 01, 2019 9:20 am
by LexiLiegh
Journal: Erica Withakay
Miami Florida:
Typical. I take down two of the three Volante’s on my own, and get none of the credit. What’s worse, that pompous ass “Lord Bentley Bootle” takes a lot of the credit for the one that was retained on the airship. This is disgusting, to say the least. Yet, all so typical.

Can you believe he had the nerve to question my preparedness for this expedition? I probably have more knowledge about where we are going than he does.

Caracas, Venezuela:
What luck we’ve had. I found a competent map maker with quality wares. He also had a rough idea of where the drawing is supposed to be. I flirted a bit to get a local guide, and a bit of an idea of how long we would be traveling. This expedition is shaping up to be real fun.

Day 2 of Expedition down river:
Uhg, these mosquitos are massive buggers. They feel like they take half your life away if you don’t swat them soon enough. I swear the one Smythe swatted exploded with a quart of blood. Not sure how he was upright after that one. I think these flowers here will help, but I am going to take the safer route. I am just going to roll in the mud and let it harden. Protect me from the sun too.

1879: The Expendables

Posted: Sat Jul 20, 2019 10:25 pm
by ChrisDDickey
Journal Entry, day 13 out of Caracas

We have been making good time down the tributary, and our own navigation, plus the boatman and guide all agree that we should reach the Orinoco within hours tomorrow. It will then be just a day or two of further travel to reach the village from which we will start hiking.

We have gotten into an excellent travel routine that really eats the miles. We all get up before dawn and break camp and load the raft. We are floating with the current as soon as it is light enough to see the length of a football pitch. We eat our hot breakfast as we float. We eat a cold lunch upon the raft, though we do pause our journey every 3 or 4 hours for 10 minutes or so, giving everybody a chance to get off and stretch their legs. The boatman we hired steers the raft, though he is spelled occasionally by our guild. We start looking for a good campsite several hours before sundown. Once the raft is tied up we unload it and various people do various chores. About every third day I hunt for fresh meat. About every third day I attempt to gather edible plants, firewood, and whatnot (we are carrying a great deal of supplies, but since the expedition will last an unknown number of months we want to stretch them as long as possible), and the other days I help with the tents, cooking or other chores.

Our almost boring routine was interrupted by a bit of excitement today. The boatman sharpened a bunch of sticks into crude spears and mentioned that we would be in greater than usual danger from Crocodiles today. In the middle of the afternoon we floated into a huge bask of the beasts. It seems to be mating season, and there were dozens gathered in the bask. The majority of them ignored us, but a half dozen or so showed an unhealthy interest in us. Withakay tried to distract them by casting a spell of some sort on a great big male fairly far away, but while that did start a fight that did interest some far away from us, the ones that were already focused on us were not distracted. I considered and rejected attempting to scare them away with noisy gunshots. I decided that a flash of light might help, so I poured a double measure of flash powder into my camera's flash-pan, and ignited it. This did succeed in scaring away all except for two of them.

When one of the crocodiles approached our raft, Dr. Ferris McFly attempted to stick his "shock stick" into the mouth. The Croc snapped at the stick so suddenly that Dr McFly was pulled off the raft before he ever had a chance to activate it. Well then it was time for everybody to bang away with everything they had. I got two solid rifle shots at the beasts, and Withakay was doing the mumbling and gesturing that I take for spellcasting for all she was worth. Smythe was kept pretty busy pulling people out of the water. After pulling McFly back onto the boat, one of Croc's gave the raft such a big shake that the boatman fell in, so Smythe pulled him out also.

Eventually the beasts were killed. I jumped into the water to retrieve one of the corpses and eventually got it lashed to the raft. There is a lot of good meat on a 15 foot Croc (tastes a bit like chicken), and I could really fancy some nice Crocodile skin boots and maybe a new belt. We towed the beast about an hour away, and by then it was almost time to make camp anyway. We floated the Croc about 200 yards downstream of our campsite, and got the thing hoisted into a tree for a photograph. I got a really excellent shot of the entire expedition (including the boatman, but excluding the guide who I had trip the shutter) with our trophy.

Then I spent the rest of the afternoon cleaning and skinning our kill. I did field expedient preparation of the raw Croc hide, but plan to hire a native to do a full tanning once we reach the village in a day or two (we can pick it up on our way back). I would really love to bring a full specimen home, or maybe just a head, but I think that this early in the expedition I ought to focus on only the most portable sorts of trophies, Hides and photographs.

Re: 1879: The Expendables

Posted: Sun Jul 21, 2019 12:53 am
by Slimcreeper
Nice touch with the flash powder!

Re: 1879: The Expendables

Posted: Sun Jul 21, 2019 5:29 am
by LexiLiegh
Atlas, Step Expedition
We encountered what the guide called "Crocodile". The recommended defense is to spear them until they hopefully let go. Their hide is thick though, so a well placed strike is recommended. Eyes and mouth seems to be best areas to attack physically.

Shortly after it latches onto something it thrashes and spins in the water.

<illustration of crocodile with approximate measurements(7)>