26 April 2009
25 April 2009
The RTS Santa Fe battle group arrived once more today after five weeks. We received some expected and unexpected guests. We had the pleasure of receiving new marines as well: Lieutenant Miguel Soto, Colour Sergeant Michael Standowski and Corporal Fredrick O’Hara.
Corporal O’Hara is new to me as well but Colour Standowski says he is the best maintenance NCO he has ever seen. Seems Corporal O’Hara has a knack for anything mechanical and also works as a brick mason. So his squad will be performing maintenance and masonry/rough carpentry work as needed. We are now officially a company of Marines and should not expect any further growth for a while.
The Army battalion received another officer as well, one Subaltern Williams. As we get new officers fresh from school, Mr. Griggs keeps smiling because he outranks all of the other subalterns on Venus. The Army also received a troop of dragoons, the infamous "green legs." As mounted infantry they will ride the Pachysaurs on patrols but are by no means 'real' cavalry. The dragoons act as the infantry attached to cavalry and camelry units. The Square did not want to part with any of their precious cavalry, so sent the dragoons instead. It will be interesting to see how they get along with the black and red legs. Subaltern Williams graduated just three months ago, and had just finished Camelry School before volunteering for this assignment.
On the strange side of the house, we have the dubious pleasure of the appearance of the famous big game hunter, Mr. William Jameson Struthers III. He is an arrogant but very rich man, because his family owns the Struthers Ranch, the biggest ranch in the Chihuahua Province. And if you didn't know, he'll be the first to tell you about it. He had enough money and influence to hitch a ride on the Santa Fe, carting along five servants and more luggage than an entire squad of Marines. His money has put him in the guest quarters, while his servants will sleep in the junior enlisted berthing with the Army.
Chief O’Malley was as jolly as ever and hand delivered some fine Sonoran wine to Father Flannigan for Sunday Mass.
Although today is a Tuesday, we have taken the day off to celebrate San Jacinto Day. Yes, it was only 45 years ago today that we defeated the Mexican Army at the Battle of San Jacinto. The few survivors left from the battle will march in a parade in the capital today, followed by a massive barbecue luncheon at the site of the battle. We saluted with our two artillery pieces today, firing blank charges into the air at noon. Father Flannigan gave a wonderful speech after his special blessing of the food. I do not think I would be able to swallow another bite as I am full from smoked Grillag and sausage. Plus, the men had a fun game of rugby and there was a double ration of ale for the day's feast. Needless to say, there was a lot of rather bawdy singing going on.
About half of the men have relatives that fought in the war, including Corporal Redfeather, whose grandfather was a scout for President (then General of the Armies) Sam Houston. A good deal of the men are recent immigrants and first generation Texicans. My grandfather had not yet immigrated to Texas and was still in the Royal Navy at the time of the battle.
Well, I am headed to bed and calling it a day. Happy Birthday Texas.
Another week down and another week of work completed. All is well here besides the endless supply of rain. I would love to be in weather forecasting on this planet! I imagine it would go something like this: “Today it rained, with the sun making it hot and humid in the morning, followed by more afternoon rain and a little rain through tonight. Tomorrow we shall expect more misty rain, followed by sunshine, except during the occasional sudden downpour of torrential rain, to be followed by alternating rain and sun through out the day.” I would love to have a day that my boots did not get soaked. I am just glad we were issued three pair for this assignment. The black legs have two cobblers who are constantly working on repairing our boots.
Corporal Redfeather is doing a wonderful job. His discovery of the clay pits has kept his kiln ever so busy with the task of making bricks. Major Higgins has requested to have the battalion’s Headquarters Building reinforced with brick. Mr. Griggs tried his best to overturn the major, but they "flipped for it"* and three moons beats one every time. So Corporal Mendoza and his crew will lay the brick around the HQ, while Corporal Redfeather's crew is working on roads and more bricks.
The RTS Santa Fe battle group is expected to return next week with more provisions and probably more black legs. It will be nice to receive mail as I am waiting to see if my oldest wrote me. He graduates high school next Friday, and the following day will pack up and head to Gannon’s Fish Camp. I am keeping this short today and will write more later; RSM Taggart and I are up for a game of chess and cigars.
[*"Flip you for it": A term used in jest as a poker move. All in attendance will cover up their rank with the right hand and when the hand is removed, the one with the highest rank showing wins. Of course, the highest ranking man in the group always wins. For example: "Mr. Griggs I understand your concern. I am a gambling man, so I will 'flip you for it' and whoever has the highest hand wins.” Both men cover their ranks and the major looks down at his shoulder. “Well, Subaltern Griggs, it looks as if I have the highest hand, so I win. Again. Now, about these walls I want built…” ]
24 April 2009
Ladies and Gentlemen, let me be the first to review this gem of a kinetoscopic 'moving picture' for your entertainment.
The tale revolves around a voyage by airship on Earth. The titular character, Jasper Morello, is the navigator aboard the ship, and relates the tale for us. A dread disease is afflicting his home city. The ship is taking a prominent scientist aloft for experiments regarding a possible cure for the plague.
I shan't give away anymore of the plot, but be warned: the tale is one of dark horror and mad ambition. It may be unsuitable for ladies of gentler dispositions, who might be disturbed by some scenes of violence and insanity.
You may view the film for yourself here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vORsKyopHyM
An excellent way of spending twenty-six minutes of your day or evening.
21 April 2009
April 21, 1836.
A small army of half-trained Texican militia, led by General Sam Houston, and out for revenge after the fall of the Alamo, falls upon the encamped Mexican Army of the dictator Juan Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna. In minutes, the Mexican Army is routed by the surprise attack. Santa Anna himself is captured and forced to sign surrender documents which grant Texas its independence.
21 April is also Aggie Muster, a day in which every former student of Texas A&M University who has passed on during the previous year is remembered. Aggies will gather tonight all around the world to call the muster, and answer "here." Once an Aggie, always an Aggie. I thank God for letting me be a Texas Aggie.
The most famous of these ceremonies took place on the island of Corregidor in 1942 during World War II. 25 Aggies gathered there while the island was still under attack by the Japanese. Only 12 would survive the war.
20 April 2009
However, I have been inspired to get back to them today, by an announcement on The Miniatures Page (TMP - http://www.theminiaturespage.com/) regarding the first of a new fleet painted by Tony, aka Dampfpanzerwagon.
Tony has begun a new fleet project, the Knights of St. John, aka the Knights Hospitaller, aka the Knights of Malta. Above is a photo of the first ship in the fleet, and she's a beauty! The really amazing part is that she's a scratchbuilt, as are most (if not all) of Tony's ships.
Find out more here: http://dampfpanzerwagon.blogspot.com/2009/04/aeronef-new-project.html
17 April 2009
The armored steam tractor (above) was the new release being advertised, and it is very nice, and will probably find its way onto my gaming table. But the monowheel (below) has got to be the coolest thing ever. Even if you do have to provide your own crew figure and gun.
Anyway, he threw out an idea sort of off-the-cuff for a new VSF power: Hawaii. Before you scoff, check out this link: http://leadpeople.blogspot.com/2009/04/atler-nations-kingdom-of-hawaii-part-1.html. It fleshes out the idea a little more, and begins to make some sort of sense. I could see the Kingdom of Hawaii becoming as powerful as, say, the Papal States, Imperial Mexico or even the Republic of Texas, with the right set of circumstances.
At any rate, its a fun idea to kick about. Check it out, and let Eli know what your thoughts are.
16 April 2009
This one relates to the comments on other planets: What protective gear does one need in the aether (or ether, if you prefer)?
Me, I am leaning towards breathing mask, goggles, and warm clothing - like bomber jackets, dusters, leather flying helmets, that sort of thing. But definitely NOT a vacuum suit.
What do you chaps (and ladies, naturally!) think?
15 April 2009
The skink all the way to the left is the sample I sent. I think the others match fairly well, don't you? So far, I am pretty happy with the service, which I was nervous about, as I have never sent off anything to a painting service before.
Obviously, these fellows are bound to be Gex from Venus, one of the two main species of Lizardmen on the Veiled Planet. There should be another ten of these, for a total of 20, plus some Gaters and a dozen 15mm British lancers in the order. I expect it to be done in about a month, and I'll post more when I get it. If the painter keeps this up, I'll be trumpeting their name both here and on TMP.
14 April 2009
I have my plans for the British (Empress Miniatures). And the French (No Manufacturer Yet, but leaning towards Askari). And Germany (Copplestone and Eureka). Even Texas, the Papal States, and the United States have at least some thoughts, if not much in the way of purchases or paint applied.
I have (red) Martians from RAFM and Parroom Station. Lizardmen from GW. Plantmen from Hydra. Parrotmen (Kroot) from GW. All planned out, some purchased and painted.
I have a plan for Automatons of various types and manufacturers (Wyrd, Reaper, Hydra and Parroom Station, so far!), and a mad scientist or two to run things.
But there is more out there!
Turks. Exotic. Unusual. Cool. A steam elephant is made by Stonehouse Miniatures. Warrior Miniatures carries some alternate history WWI Turks that would make neat VSF figures. And Ironclad Miniatures out of the UK make some Martians that would make dandy Turks. Find some cavalry figures (preferably lancers) and mount them on steam horses (Mage Knight makes them) for steam cataphractoi. Tiger Miniatures (available via Recreational Conflict http://www.recreationalconflict.com/ in the US) make some interesting Turks as well, in their Balkan Wars line, though I am told they are a bit smaller.
Russians. I haven't yet looked into which Russians would be good. But I think I want some. Any suggestions?
Japan. Like these guys are gonna get left out in the cold? I like Parroom Station's boys. But what else is there? Need more investigation of these.
Did I leave anyone out?
13 April 2009
My friend Eli and I have been discussing this topic privately by email, but its such an interesting idea that I thought it deserved a mention here.
Some of the ideas so far - note that all need a good deal of PSB* to justify:
Jupiter or Saturn
Living in floating bubbles in the atmosphere, mining the rings, processing gasses out of the atmosphere, etc. Floating cities, flying vehicles. Make the Great Red Spot a creature rather than a storm... scary stuff if it notices Jupiter's newest inhabitants.
Ganymede, for instance. Heat from the gas giant makes the planet terrestrial.
Inhabitable, but only barely, possibly along the twilight line. A place of extreme vulcanism, its mineral wealth is undeniable. Perhaps used as a prison planet? Think Mustafar from Star Wars Episode III or that prison planet on Chronicles of Riddick - can't recall the planetary name. Inferno, perhaps?
Stargate-style travel to extra-solar planets. One way stargates even more fun, as the pioneers would be forced to first build a return gate before they could come home. Good roleplay potential there, at any rate...
Hollow Earth, either Pellucidar style (dig your own tunnel through Earth's crust to get there) or via tunnel at the North Pole to Skartaris (courtesy of DC's The Warlord comic book, which is supposed to be back in publication!).
Lots of possibilities out there... share some of your ideas!
*PSB: Pseudo-scientific bulls**t.
12 April 2009
The British Viceroy for the Crown Colony of Mars has been funding prospectors seeking out deposits of handwavium. One such prospector hit paydirt and sold the mine to the Government, then moved back to Earth a wealthy new peer.
The ore from Earl Blythingham's mine is now ready to be carried to Victoria Landing. Unfortunately, there is no rail service to it yet. So the ore is packed onto mules and carried out.
Many Martians do not welcome these wet-world devils. And the handwavium was meant by the Spirit Below for the use of good Red Martians, not pale-skinned freaks from another world! A group of fanatics, supported by "rogue" regular troops of a Martian native empire, will try to seize the ore for their own use.
Finally, a new menace is rising on Mars, seeking to begin conquest of a new world. Who is it? What do they want? And whats with all the hissing and clanking coming from around the bend?
Sign up for the game to find out!
We'll be using the GASLIGHT rules with a few house rules for concealment and other stuff, and six players.
Wish me luck - this is my first ever convention game and I am really nervous. I had to go and try to do it at one of the biggest cons in the country, right?
Last night my wife and I were confirmed in the Catholic faith. It was an amazing service, and we received Holy Communion for the first time.
May the Peace of Christ be upon you all, my friends.
11 April 2009
Today was a beautiful day for our first Easter on the Veiled Planet. Both reporters wrote stories of reflection and took pictures of the occasion. Father Flannigan was right on once more and his service was in the open outside of the chapel. We had two men this morning convert to Catholicism. As they were baptized it was quite a pleasant occasion. The sun even came out for a few hours in the morning, before returning behind the neverending clouds. Miracle enough for most of us! Father Flannigan said every Sunday’s worship service should have this turnout and told everyone they needed to worship every day and just not on Christmas and Easter. If the men listen to Father Flannigan and start attending we will have to build another, larger chapel.
The cross for the outside service was assembled in secret by one of my Marines (we think - Father Flannigan isn't talking), though no one took credit. The mystery woodworker also carved a Jesus out of the face of the wood and I was amazed at the skills of whoever built it. I have my suspicions but I would not single anyone out. Father Flannigan thanked us for the altar and the crucifix.
The officers went exploring in our dirigible the Orca once again, this time to the west over the ocean and north into the highlands. Seaman 1st Class Johansson was exhausted from his trip and crashed early. God Bless this wonderful day, as it is time for us to hit the rack once more, I just have to take Lady V for her evening walk as I do not want her to make a mess in my hut.
Yesterday we had our bi-annual small arms qualifications as required by regulations for all Republic Marines. Everyone qualified on the standard issue Martini Henry and NCOs holding the rank of corporal and above had to qualify with both the Martini Henry Rifle and 1877 Colt Dragoon. Like always, I earned a "Sharpshooter" qualification. I just can not seem to qualify as an "Expert" (Order of precedence: Marksman, Sharpshooter and Expert). Mr. Griggs qualified "Expert" and shot range perfect on the pistol. He almost beat Lance Corporal Jones (not to be confused with Private Jones or Corporal Jones) with the rifle. After we qualified and met our requirements, Major Higgins challenged us to a shoot-off with the enlisted shooting Martinis and the officers shooting the Dragoons. Lance Corporal Jones as always blew the competition away and Subaltern Griggs outmatched all of the Army officers, with Captain Lamar coming in second by seven bull’s-eyes. I am not surprised by the results, as Marines pride ourselves on our shooting; after all we are all still infantry first and engineers second. It also helps to have Mr. Griggs on our team, as he was on the Naval Academy's shooting team. Petty Officer 3rd Class Valen was on hand to document the event and even used his new subminiature camera box to capture the event. It is amazing to see the advances in technology as I would have never thought a box camera could fit in your hand.
The temple added more to the mystery this week as Doctors Carruthers and Palmer found another hidden door in the antechamber leading north towards the Highlands. It seems as though they were pressing the stones that moved and found the correct combination. As the door opened the Guardian on the West wall turned his head north and his upper torso shifted as well where the spear tip faced the corridor. I am not getting anywhere near that temple below ground as it always feels evil to me. Lady V will not go down the stairs either and I trust her instincts as animals seem to be able to sense things better than us humans.
Next week we will be playing Rugby against the Brits. The Army's Blacklegs team will go first, taking on their 24th Regiment's team, and then we will play the British engineers the following week. It is nice to have these challenges as it helps to pass the time and get the men’s attentions focused away from the strains of life for a short period of time.
Mr. Griggs confirmed that he will be assuming the Executive Officer role when the RTS Santa Fe battle group returns. We are expecting another squad of Marines to arrive, making it six squads and two platoons, with a colour sergeant as well. Sergeants Garcia and Cromwell will stay as the platoon sergeants and the new colour sergeant will be the company sergeant. No word as yet who the new lieutenant or captain will be. Mr. Griggs is not down in the mouth at all, but is actually looking forward to the change as we will have an officer of higher rank to represent us. Mr. Griggs has come a long way in our time on Venus, and though he still has a ways to go, he has learned to trust the judgement of his senior NCOs.
[Editor's Note: The 1877 Colt Single Action Dragoon revolver in .45 long caliber was the standard issue military side arm for the Republic Military in 1881. The design proved quite popular overseas as well, and was exported to both the United Kingdom and the United States in large quantities. All of the former 1860 Colt Single Action Dragoon revolvers in .44 caliber were either sent to the Yucatan Republic or remained with the Republic Militia Forces. All enlisted men and NCOs are armed with the current service rifle or carbine, depending on service branch. Officers are armed with sword and revolver, and NCOs may carry a revolver as well. Cavalry troopers often carry non-standard issue pistols as back-up to their sabers for mounted combat. The only exception is the Medical Corps, members of which carry pistols only.]
05 April 2009
Private Wells was transported to Camp Trafalgar aboard our dirigible, Orca, with further transportation to Earth to be carried out aboard the HMS Fitzgerald. It will be another week at least until the RTS Santa Fe is expected to return, and we needed to send Wells back for better treatment than we can deliver on Venus. The other two men, Privates Johnson and Kelley, will return to duty tomorrow, although on a limited status. I just hope this is the last of the deaths and injuries we receive but that would be naïve of me to truly believe. RSM Taggart is feeling more comfortable, as he is almost at full regulation battalion strength and is more than happy his men are returning to duty. All three privates will receive the notorious "bloody slash."
Corporal Mendoza and crew returned back to Fort Humid to build additional water tanks and windmills in which to utilize the water from the wells they have been drilling these past two months. We currently only have two tanks and two windmills, and after their construction project is complete we should have an additional three around the fort's interior. Sergeants Garcia and Cromwell have also been building additional chariots on their spare time, as there are plans to utilize them once the new roads are built. Corporal Jones is still working on the new warehouse and is approximately 90% complete. Corporal Redfeather is working on the brick kiln and intends to send a small aerial patrol further north to find an gravel pit and hopefully a quarry. They will first utilize the Orca piloted by Seaman 1st Johannson, and if they spot a potential site will then send a mounted patrol north. We are still only using mounted patrols as we are better to maneuver from those fast dinos.
RSM Taggart and I talked about our boys and also about the anticipation and speculations of what they will face as fish at G.M.I (Gannon Military Institute). We talked of our time in the service, as we both joined as soon as we were out of school at the tender age of sixteen. Both of us completed school because our dads were both serving as career NCOs in the Republic military. It runs in the family, I suppose. It's still rather unusual, because most men do not graduate from school as the Republic is still very rural. Only about three out of ten men continue past the 6th grade. Petty Officer 3rd Class Valen, our resident Alamo Gazette combat journalist, has still been writing on the troops and Mr. Griggs. I'm looking forward to seeing what he has written about us, as only the officers have been permitted to read the drafts he is sending home. We grunts will just have to wait for a paper to make its way back to us.
Mr. Griggs will have one year in grade come May and will be very happy to start his second year as a subaltern. If we receive more troops, it is very likely we will receive another officer of lieutenant grade and Mr. Griggs will be forced to take on the position of executive, rather than commanding, officer. I think it will be difficult for him to step down in position, as these last seven months he has been in charge of us. We will also receive a colour sergeant as well if that happens. I would be happy to have Garcia promoted, as I am impressed with his performance here on Venus, but he does not have enough time in grade yet. He has only been a sergeant for one year and must at least have two more years in grade before he is eligible for promotion. (This should not be a problem for any of us, since we are the 1% of the Republic Marines who are serving off Earth). Well, I'm off the NCO Mess for dinner and a cigar.
[Editors Note: Wound Stripe (aka the Bloody Slash): For receiving an enemy-inflicted wound in battle, a member of the Republic’s armed forces is eligible to receive a Wound Stripe. This takes the form of a red ribbon, four inches in length, one half inch wide, with the location of the battle in gold on the ribbon. The ribbon is sewn diagonally at a 45-degree angle above the cuff on the left sleeve. Multiple awards are possible; additional ribbons are sewn above the first.]
04 April 2009
This has been another long week, as construction, storms and the ongoing heightened awareness of the Hun is still driving us to keep our patrols and defenses manned at 100%. Private Wells is still alive, but has been unconscious with fever. The other two men are doing well but are still on bed rest. Doc Armstrong says if all continues to go well with their recovery, the wounded men, excluding Private Wells, will be back to work in another week. Wells is going to be day-to-day on his recovery for at least a month, or until the RTS Santa Fe battlegroup returns. Then he will be transported back to Earth for further treatment in better-equipped hospitals. Camp Trafalgar’s doctors came to assist Monday and provided some homegrown remedies they have found here on Venus. There is a blue colored powder derived from a berry plant's leaves that they use for a pain reliever that works quite well. It is amazing how different plants have different effects on alien planets.
Corporal Redfeather’s crew began construction on a brick kiln so he can make proper roads with bricks, as we have not found a gravel pit or rock quarry as of yet. Corporal Jones keeps piling the lumber up to dry (which is always a chore on rainy Venus). He has almost filled the open warehouse to the roof and will actually stop work at the sawmill next week in order to construct another covered warehouse for storage. Corporal Mendoza’s water well crew is making repairs as they hit some hard rock just north of the Aetherpad.
Sergeant Garcia and Sergeant Cromwell surprised me at the NCO club yesterday with a roast. Seems it has been ten years of years of service under my command when they were raw recruits and nine years since I pulled them through those moist Yucatan rainforests all those years ago. We were part of the first offensive during the Yucatan Conflict and the Frogs and Mexicans were not expecting an attack so far from the border. The Republic of Yucatan is now one of our closest allies, closer, in fact than any nation other than Great Britain. All of the NCOs took a part in the jest and it was quite a pleasant evening. The toast was also premature as it has almost been eighteen years since I enlisted in the service of the Republic.
[Editors Note: The Republic of Yucatan extends south-west with Villahermosa as the border city extending down to Guatemala. The capital is in Campeche and is fortified from the sea. The Republic of Texas and Great Britain recognized them as an independent country in 1874.]
01 April 2009
Happy birthday, Chief!
I'll get around to the editing of your last batch of posts soon. Its bed time for Bonzo.