Up Ship

Chapter 8

Hangar, with zeppelin inside

Looming Above

Allen Tolliver had never owned a suit before. Much less a black suit with a gray vest that had been tailor made for him. He had never worn a red carnation as a boutonnière before; he had never been the guest at the christening of a zeppelin before; he felt resplendent. And awed. Then too, the carnation was making his nose itch.

He also had some new friends and that was perhaps even more important. He was standing with Bobby and Tommy Seward, Terry Cyffylog, and Frank Young. Frank was glorious in his uniform: scarlet tunic, medals glinting on his chest, plus the gleaming Sam Browne belt with his holstered pistol. Allen had learned that a King’s man who had defeated an armed enemy in close combat, while unarmed; or who had received a surrender from an armed enemy force, was entitled to wear the weapon of surrender, or capture, whenever in uniform. It would have seemed unusual on a drummer boy, but Frank was soon to be promoted to Lance Corporal and wore the Distinguished Conduct Medal. Of course the belt and holster would be just as unusual for a Lance Corporal as it would be for the majority of the King’s soldiers. Terry was also wearing several medals, but he, like Allen, was wearing a suit, tie, and boutonniere.

It was quite a spectacle. A parade of limousines and carriages had delivered a host of luminaries to a stand near the control car. There were ladies with parasols and gentlemen in top hats; there were uniforms and plumes that were not military and uniforms and plumes that were military; there were all manner of Elves and Bwca attending an entirely new event; there were resplendent hussars on glossy horses and serious policemen on equally glossy horses. There were flags and bunting seemingly everywhere. There were the pipes and drums of a kilted regiment at one end of the hangar, and the brass band of the Guards Grenadiers at the other end of the hangar. In the middle, was the band of HM Navy. The three bands were not always coordinated.

Looming above the entire panoply was the great silvery hull of the new zeppelin that would soon be christened and commissioned.

With the crew stood Captain-Lieutenant (Staff) Jimmy Cooper who was a Magister of the Heavens and would be assigned to the Prince Eugene for her initial cruises. Captain (Staff) Sir Paul St Marie, KGD who would be in charge of the passenger service which would soon be in operation stood beside Jimmy.

In front of the crew stood Captain-Lieutenant Michel Cascone; he was Captain of the new zeppelin; his officers and chief petty officers were arranged slightly behind and beside him. Quartermaster Petty Officer “Chipper” Tavers, SSM, was further back and had a lovely view of his Captain’s bum.

To one side of the dais for the important personages, stood the ranks of the two classes of the military academy, their members resplendent in their blue tunics with red trim. To the other side were the two classes of the naval academy in their more restrained blue uniforms with gold braid and insignia.

The Lady Cecilie was the special guest of the King; they had arrived together in Ralph Cyffylog’s favorite Rolls. The Lady Nancy was the special guest of the Earl Martial; they had arrived in an open landau pulled by a matched pair of black Friesians driven by the impeccably turned-out Dodger.

HSH the Princess Cheryll, mother of the Earl Martial and the senior lady of the Palace, would christen the new zeppelin by tapping a silver rivet into place with a small silver hammer. Oliver, her Bwca chauffeur, had managed to prevent her from using her blue Buick sedan to arrive and finagled her into her son’s landau as his efforts to obtain a more “suitable” car had so far been unsuccessful. Oliver wanted his lady to look her part.

“So. Your Highness,” Lady Nancy Westover commented to Colin, the Earl Martial. “Why not a bottle of champagne. Isn’t that the traditional way to christen a ship. Even if it is an ‘airship’?”

“Well,” he smiled, “We made a command decision at the very highest level of government. The very highest levels, mind. We decided it would be a better use of champagne to drink it rather than to pour it out on the ground. It being government property and all.”

She grinned back arching her eyebrows in further enquiry.

“Well. Actually, champagne bottles are pretty tough. We don’t have a nice steel hull to smash one against. We thought we’d release a dule of doves, but the familiars were opposed to that saying that the doves wouldn’t know how to survive in the wild, having been raised in the comfort of the cote.”

“No champagne? No doves? How can one possibly have a launching without some memorable ritual?” Lady Nancy smiled a wonder.

“A speech won’t do?”

“I think not. But I also can’t believe for a minute that you would let an occasion such as this get by you without some noteworthy ceremony.” She grinned and her eyes twinkled, “I already know you that well.”

“Well you’re right, of course. My Mom will strike a silver rivet representing the final work on the ship. She will christen the ship and bless all who soar in her, the massed bands will play the national anthem, and we’ll have a forty-one gun salute. Then we all drink champagne. There will be a fireworks display and then first flight will be in a week.”

“If you’re going to be on that flight, I think that I should accompany you.” Lady Nancy was direct and smiling.

“I believe you are probably right,” the Earl Martial responded. He was also smiling.


Long exposure of night sky, showing star trails

He Smiled An Otherworldly Smile1

“You fold space-time don’t you?” Jimmy Cooper, coming steadily into his powers as a Magister of the Heavens had cornered Wilde with a demand for information. Wilde had immediately summoned Cameron. “That’s how you move across space, time, and dimension. Isn’t it?”

Jimmy was young. Still, it was difficult not to take him seriously; he had taken to wearing his Naval Air Force uniform which with his rank of Captain-Lieutenant (staff) set him rather apart from the usual young man. Additionally, once one spoke to him and looked into his eyes it was clear that here was a young man of consequence and ability even if the exact nature of that ability and consequence might be unclear at first meeting.

Yes, Cameron responded.

“Its old knowledge, isn’t it?” Jimmy continued.

Yes. It was Leonardo da Vinci who first commented on it in Earth’s history. He jotted in the Arundel Codex that “The instant does not have time; and time is made from the movement by the instant.” That was the beginning. Of course it was many years before the notation was discovered in his notebooks, and even longer before it was connected to our ability to bend time. The notion that time is made by movement required a great deal of thought and experiment. If one can affect the movement, one can alter time. There was also a great deal of magic involved in the development of the skill. We had to kind of reverse engineer the magic to get to the practical physics of the thing.

It was believed that the speed of any travel in space was limited to just under the speed of light. Making any form of galactic space travel unlikely given the distances involved and therefore the time. But there was an interest in galactic and even inter-galactic travel. So the topic remained under investigation. Interestingly, it was fiction writers that were first to discuss the method, if not the magical how, of faster than light travel.

“You mean like Star Trek with speed measured in ‘warp factors’?”

Precisely. After all, a warp is a kind of fold. And in Dune the Guild Navigators used the ‘melange spice’ to bend space around their ships and thus change the galaxy around the ship. They are using the same principle slightly differently.

Basically of course, Cameron continued. We use inter-dimensional movement to fold space so we don’t have a ‘warp drive’ and need no ‘spice’. Mainly we just move between Earth and Earth Prime, though we have also investigated some further dimensions, the dangerous part is the first entrance into an adjacent universe. It’s risky not knowing where you’re going to land. In any event, we’re pretty busy keeping Earth from destroying itself. There is one adjacent universe in which the earth is a howling nuclear desert and we can’t let that happen again. Is Earth the shadow of Earth Prime? Or vice versa? We don’t know the answer to that; but they are definitely connected and the survival of one without the other is unlikely.

Jimmy Cooper looked off into time. “No. No. We can’t let that happen.” He smiled an otherworldly smile.


Silhouette of the Three Musketeers

“Come on,” he yelled. “We’re free!”

Bobby, his brother Tommy, and their new friend Allen were having lunch on the great pavilion adjacent to the main library. It was a warm and glorious afternoon. Recently rescued they had spent the morning in their classroom being introduced to the monetary system and the economy of Ellendale. Mostly they had been looking out the windows. Now they were enjoying fish tacos and cokes that they had purchased from the young man with the cart and donkey.

Bobby and Tommy had never had an allowance before and enjoyed the feeling of having some ability to purchase the necessities of life: an ice cream sundae, a pepperoni pizza, and such like.

Allen, who liked it when his friends called him ‘Tolly’, had had an allowance before, but it ended when he was kicked-out of his house. Currently he was living with Sir David Lawrence, the Physician Royal, and Humphrey the King’s Own Wizard. They had taken him out of the Rescue Wing as soon as possible and had provided him with a loving home. Tolly was particularly fond of the Wizard who was almost helplessly literal in his interactions with people and was therefore almost constantly in need of rescue from one of life’s little contretemps. When rescued, he was invariably a sweet and considerate man. And the allowance that he provided Allen was ample and helped the three friends considerably.

“So,” Allen regarded his new friends. “How come you both have the same middle name?”

“Dunno,” Bobby replied around a bite of taco. “This salsa is really great. Lemony. Makes the fish taste super.”

“You’d have to ask the folks, Tolly. And they’re fuckin’ nuts. Our Sis, too, has the same middle name.” Tommy elaborated without really answering the unanswerable question. “In fact, I bet if ya asked the folks why, they wouldn’t know. They’ve probably forgotten. I bet they were just answerin’ questions at the hospital. Not thinkin’ about the importance of a name at all.”

Young Allen Tolliver, whose parents had disowned him after having spent years spewing religious hatred at him, considered the matter while he chewed a bite of taco. “Fuck ‘em,” he opined.

“Well,” Tommy smiled while he folded up the papers his tacos had been wrapped in. “I’m thinkin’ we should get back to class. Almost time.” Tommy was sort of the responsible one although he’d not have admitted it if asked and he would deny it adamantly if so accused.

“Why is it that all we ever do is what others tell us to do?” Wondered Bobby, “Or make us do.” He remembered being beaten regularly and having been tied to his bed just before his rescue. All of his good memories were recent ones. Like where they were and what they were doing right now.

“Yeah,” Allen stood up and tossed his taco wrappings toward the waste can, missing a mile and not caring. “Come on you guys, let’s run! Let’s really run!”

They took off across the pavilion, bounded down the broad steps onto the huge expanse of lawn. They ran leaping and shouting, racing and daring, toward a stand of trees that separated the park-like areas of the Library from the small artesian spring that fed the decorative pools, fountains, irrigation rivulets and pipes that carried water throughout the extensive grounds.

They climbed in the trees, hooting and hollering for the glory of it. Scattered branches provided swords for combat. At length, they emerged from the trees and stood beside a lovely ornate pool. There was a stand of trees and an inviting beach on one side of the pool; but the other three sides had a stone walkway and the pool was edged with stonework. There was a fountain in the center where a bronze boy stood holding a wine cup from which water fell. It was almost as if the pool had been designed for swimming by boys in the grip of mild revolution.

Tommy started shedding his clothes. “Come on!” He yelled. “We’re free!” Leaving his clothes scattered on the walk, he caromed naked into the pool splashing gloriously. Bobby and Allen were right behind him and the afternoon was spent swimming, resting, talking, wrestling, and even napping. They compared themselves posing with the bronze boy, who, like them, was nude. The three of them were ever so slightly sunburned now, on some very personal places. But they did not care about that in the least.

“This has been the best day of my life,” Allen commented. Bobby and Tommy agreed.

“Soon it’ll be dinner time,” the practical Tommy observed.

“Yeah. We’d better be getting home. But,” Allen continued. “You guys are the best friends I’ve ever had and I love you for it.”

“Yeah. Us three. Friends forever,” Bobby seconded the motion.

“Yeah.” Tommy agreed. “One for all of us and all of us for one.”

In the fullness of time, the inexorable tutorial bureaucracy reported to the First Nurse, Claude Clanrobert, OH, that his two foster sons had cut class for an entire afternoon. They had an accomplice who would be reported to the Physician Royal. He looked carefully at the letter describing this terrible truancy. Then he called his friend and associate, Sir David Lawrence the Physician Royal.

“You’ll never guess what happened.” But he didn’t wait for an answer. “Our boys cut classes the other day. The whole afternoon. They played hooky. Isn’t it great? Makes me feel young again.”


Painting of a black stallion

I am ordered to serve the King

The great black charger confronted Jimmy Cooper as he was walking back to his quarters having dined in the officer’s mess. Seldom had anyone’s world changed so dramatically so quickly. A short time ago he retreated from his home to look at the stars, to avoid his drunken uncle, or to enjoy school. Now here he was, an officer in a Navy he knew practically nothing about, but he had a suite of rooms, a salary, and a sailor who was his “orderly” but was more like an older brother who took very good care of him. Were it not for Rafael, he would be desperately alone.

I am Bucephalus, beloved of Alexander the Great, and I do not waste my time. Jimmy looked into the depths of Bucephalus’s eyes and knew that he was in something like love. It was a long moment. Bucephalus then nodded. I am your familiar and we shall do great things together, young James of Cooper.

“But, er, my name really is ‘Jimmy’ not ‘James’.”

Not anymore. We do greatness so ‘Jimmy’ just won’t do. In any event, we need to go visit with the King’s father and give him his marching orders.

HRH the Count Alisson, KGCGD, one of the King’s adoptive fathers, looked up from his computer with some annoyance at the formidable black charger and the young naval officer who had just appeared in his spacious office. He was involved in the research and design for the space station and the mounting apparatus for the telescope. The telescope was a separate project being designed by the Astronomer Royal; however, its mounting was a concern for the construction of the station. There were several work tables with plans and diagrams scattered about. The Count, who’d been engineering projects of different kinds for years before the advent of the laptop, had a slide rule at hand which he still regularly used.

“I’ve never liked the way you do that. Snapping into appearance without the decency of a phone call or an appointment. I didn’t like it the first time it was done to me and I don’t like it now. I don’t even know either one of you so why the hell are you bothering me?”

“Er. Uh. Well,” Jimmy tried.

I am Bucephalus: beloved of Alexander III, King of Macedon, Pharaoh of Egypt, and Great King of the Medes and the Persians.

“That’s fine.” The Count stood and glared at the two interlopers. “I am the King’s father. The King’s father right here and right now on Earth Prime. By now, I’ve been here long enough that I quite believe you. And you know what else? I am not impressed in the least. I don’t even give a shit! I am busy right now and I think you’re going to be a great pain in the ass.” He looked down and checked a desk calendar. “However, I am the King’s father. You have behaved very rudely. But you had better be acting in the service of my son, so I’ll make some allowance for your conduct. Therefore, I will see you tomorrow, right here, at 1200 hours. Be here! Now please leave.”

There was a long pause while Bucephalus and Michael Alisson glared at one another and the Heavenly Magister looked at the floor.

Bucephalus and Jimmy Cooper departed with the usual snap-flash.

They returned the next afternoon on the dot of noon.

“Please meet my husband, David.” The Count Alisson glared at Bucephalus and waved introduction with his arm. “This is Bucephalus, Alexander’s charger, and a familiar. I don’t know the young admiral. They popped-in yesterday doing one of those magical snap, crackle and pop things they think are so cool; but which are actually ill-mannered and boorish.

“Gentlemen, my husband David, the Count of Ventura, he is the King’s other dad. He does antiquities and I’ll just bet he’ll have some questions for you. Mister Bucephalus.”

Gentlemen, Bucephalus replied. Please accept my apologies. I meant no insult. But I guess I am kind of spoiled. So please meet Captain-Lieutenant James of Cooper, Magister of the Heavens. He’s going to be working with you Count Michael. I am ordered to serve the King.

“Well of course my husband is right,” Count David smiled at Bucephalus. “I’ll have many questions for you. Let’s go into the lounge. We can let them talk about space and you can tell me about meeting Alexander at Pella. We’ll be having lunch in a bit.” He smiled at James as they left.

“Er, I’m sorry, sir, but my real name is ‘Jimmy’ not ‘James.’”

“Well Jimmy-James, why don’t we not worry about that and you can tell me what you need.” He looked formidable for a moment but then a smile broke through. “You are here in the service of my son, are you not?”

“Oh yes sir. I am. I’m a Magister of the Heavens and I’m learning about that. And, well….”

“So what is a Magister of the Heavens, anyway?”

“Well, I’m sure I don’t know all about it. But I’m learning. Like you know your son is a Second Magister of the Heavens. His ability with mathematics and navigation is amazing. With me, not so much. Not so much math, I mean; but I seem to be able to see into space. I can see things as they are and, I think, I can see things as they will be. Even before my uncle started beating on me, I used to like to look into space and watch the stars, and it seemed like I was being drawn into space, that I could see and feel my way into space. And then I came here and the familiars have been teaching me. And a wizard, too.

“First I met Wilde. He’s a fox. Then there was Rikki, he’s a mongoose. They brought Minerva; she’s a pigeon and has been working with some of the folks interested in the space patrol. Then there was my pal Cal. He’s a wizard and he’s teaching me too. His boyfriend is an engineer on the railroad. He’s really cool. He let me ride with him on a trip once and I got to drive the engine.”

“Well, then you know that we’re building an orbital space station that the familiars are going to lift into space. We’re almost done with it.”

“Yes. I know, I think that’s why I’m here. See, we have to start looking beyond the station and beyond having the familiars doing all the work. We are going to go into space and in a big way. I know there is a huge challenge coming from space. I don’t know more than that, yet. But it’s big and it’s serious.

“See, we need a space shuttle that can be handled and maneuvered by any of the folk. We need to be able to get around in the Solar System without always bothering a familiar. We’re going to be mining the asteroid belt with facilities on a moon base. There’ll be other stations further out from Earth, too. These won’t be landing and taking off from earth, basically they’re for low gravity and inter-planetary work and for short hauls.”

“You know all of these things? I mean, you know them for, well, like for actual facts, real facts. Like the speed of light or something?”

“Yes. Yes I do. And I’m afraid we’re going to need battleships, too.”


Painting of people dining at the garden terrace at The Ritz

At the Ritz2

HSH the Prince Ashmore, KCGD, PC, and his beloved, Sir James Wolsey, KGD, PC, were dining at the Ritz. They frequently dined there; they were regular customers; they were known to be wealthy aristocrats who were dependably lavish with tips; they were, basically, fawned over at the Ritz and they loved it.

Donnie Tomkins, chauffeur and major domo to the Ashmore-Wolsey establishment, was sitting in the back seat of the Hispano Suiza. He was finishing a wonderful fruit tart and had some espresso and iced mineral water to wash it down. He was very fond of the Hispano, but it was time to regulate it to more routine errands. He was considering how to convince his patrons of the absolute need for the new Bentley he fancied.

Copenhagen snapped into appearance beside him. Donny smiled, “I’ve some sparkling apple cider if you’d like? Or I can order something if you’d prefer.”

Oh the cider will be fine, thanks.

Donny pulled a bowl from the built-in hamper in the Hispano and poured a dish of cider for Copenhagen. “So what’s up, Copey?”

Well themselves are up for a new job. We’re to go straight to the palace from dinner.

“Good. If you can, put us down on the drive so I can drive by some of the other cars; that would be great. They need to see some of the new models. I need to get ‘em a Bentley, you know?”

Can do.

Gary and James emerged in glowing good humor from dinner at the Ritz. Only to have Copenhagen tell them that they were not going clubbing in Paris; but instead, it was back to the Palace at Kingstown. There was to be an important meeting. The two of them would be in for a new assignment. They sort of dreaded the meeting, as these could be protracted and unexciting; but it had been a long time since their last assignment.

Donnie was pleased to notice a handsome Jaguar sedan and a Cadillac convertible that he could drive by with approving comments; but these approving comments, did not mask the fact that he was very concerned, as neither car belonged to his men and they desperately needed some new cars. Particularly the new Bentley; but somehow they seemed able to entirely miss this desperate need.

The King got up smiling when Gary and James entered the library where a small conference had been in progress. “Jimmy. Gary. How nice to see you.” He took in the white tie and tails with decorations, his friends were wearing. “Sorry to interrupt your dissipations, but we’ve a major problem developing on Earth and I need to take some action. I’m planning serious action, so I called for the two of you.”

It was quite a group. Cameron and Surus were there as well as two other familiars that were unknown to Gary and James. The Governor General of State, Princess Helene was there, as was the Wizard Humphrey, the Physician Royal, Drury Carlisle the Librarian General, and Christian Sanford the King’s Principal Private Secretary. Present too was an unprepossessing and slightly rumpled young elve who was later introduced as the Acting Permanent Under Secretary of State for North American Affairs, Hyacinth des Rivières.

“If I may have your attention,” the King began. He spent a moment introducing everyone including the two familiars, Artemis and Carlos who had been unknown to Gary and James.

“I feel that it is important that we begin to take a greater hand in the affairs of Earth. Particularly the United States. As you know, I was born there, but was never of there. The prevalence of gun violence is getting quite out of hand. They recently had yet another school shooting there, and the loss of genius and talent that the poor country is enduring is unacceptable.

“Sadly their political apparatus is largely in the grip of a business advocacy that pretends to be patriotic and American and is actually just a front for arms makers. They somehow manage to transform anything to do with any firearm, particularly weapons of mass destruction, into a constitutional prerogative. Which is, of course, absurd.

“So here’s what’s going to happen:

“The Prince Ashmore is going to locate a source of mineral wealth, either here, or on Earth, and begin developing it. With the proceeds he is going to fund opposition to the gun lobby in the United States. In the wake of the most recent atrocity, a formidable activist movement, mainly of young people, is developing. They are to be financed and supported. This is basically a problem in the United States. The other civilized countries have managed to control firearms in one way or another.

“Sir James will assist and will coordinate and command the Commando we are going to create for action in the US. Secretary Rivières will establish an office in the US where he will study the political aspects of the mission and prepare for pending events, the like of which are uncertain at this time. He will be in charge of all civil and political affairs.

“The rest of you will constitute the governing body for our operations there. We will meet once a month or as needed to discuss the operation. I’ll need all of you to give careful consideration to the conditions on Earth and to consider all events that might impact this problem. In addition, of course, to all of your other duties.” He smiled. His audience was gravely attentive.

“Copenhagen will be the Master Familiar. Artemis is the Journeyman. Carlos and Minerva are the Apprentices.

“Now, you are already bubbling with questions and ideas. But we are not going into a gun fight tomorrow. We are dealing with an emergency situation, but one that has been developing for years. We are going to take our time and do it right. I wish we could end the problem with a word. But we cannot. And, I would hope that our assistance will be largely unknown and that our friends on Earth will be able to take credit for solving their problem principally by themselves.

“We will meet again day after tomorrow for lunch. After lunch we will begin to flush out a general strategic plan for this operation, short term and set up first; but long term effectiveness is the goal.

“But we are not going to do that now. Now we are going to have coffee with cake and ice cream.”


Bellerophon and Mercury taming Pegasus, by Jan Boeckhorst

Today Would Be the First Flight3

Last night had been glorious. Chipper Tavers, SSM, Quartermaster Petty Officer and Elevatorman of the zeppelin HMS Prince Eugene of Savoy had gone to dinner with Captain-Lieutenant Michel Cascone, the Captain of that same zeppelin. They had feasted on enchiladas at the Casa Del Rey. This was their favorite restaurant and the site of their first date. Then they had repaired to Michel’s apartment where they had feasted on one another. Sated in all respects, they had slept soundly. But they were operating on the same wave length today. They were: All Navy. They awoke an hour before their alarm would have summoned them. They showered together, but they were serious about it. This was a big day for them. They helped each other dress in their number one working uniforms. They proceeded to their ship an hour early. Today would be the first flight of the Prince Eugene. It would be flawless if they had anything to do with it.

They were anxious to get to the ship and make her ready for her first flight. By now, Chipper and Michel had over a dozen flights to their credit. All of these on the two training ships, the Eckener and the Shenandoah. They were among the most experienced and capable members of the Naval Air Force. But this would be their ship. Their ship together.

Procedures had changed from those first experimental flights. There were now checklists and routines that preceded every flight and which were checked and recorded and reviewed before flight. The crew went through these with practiced skill.

Michel was on what was called the flag bridge. This was an area forward and above of the control car. This was currently fitted as an observation room for passengers. There was a port and starboard promenade to the rear of the flag bridge with cabins for the passengers between the promenades. There was a lounge which would become a dining room when needed. Aft of that, were the radio room, the purser’s office, the galley and then, discretely separated were the crew’s quarters. The Earl Martial and the Lady Nancy with their aides and attendants would be guests for this first trip and they would be treated to a luncheon.

Giancarlo da Costamare had been a senior footman in the Earl Martial’s household. The Earl Martial had himself offered the Chief Steward’s position to Giancarlo who had accepted with alacrity. He was a married man with two children and this was a significant promotion as well as an opportunity for travel. It would separate him from his family from time to time, but it was an opportunity not to be taken lightly. He would be a department head. His department was a hive of preparation for the luncheon; his department would also be able to provide any other refreshment that might be called for by the guests.

Preparing a zeppelin for takeoff had improved dramatically since the first flights of the Eckener. The new transit mast would be used to guide the Genie out of the hangar; there would be far fewer line handlers and they had modified bollards to secure the lines and this would help to keep the ship in place.

She had been moved out of the hangar two hours before the arrival of any of the VIP’s and the engines had been warmed and run at operating speed. Everything that could be done had been done. She waited now, poised to soar into the skies.

Captain (Staff) Sir Paul St Marie and Captain-Lieutenant (Staff) James of Cooper had arrived with their familiars and were enjoying coffee on the observation lounge. In order to make things easier, in terms of weight calculations, Sennacherib, Familiar to Liegeman Sir Paul St Marie, was in his original form as a mockingbird. Bucephalus, too, had agreed to appear as a bird and rather fancied himself as a scarlet cardinal, masked in black, with flamboyant top knot. Surus viewed the proceedings from his guise as an albatross; he always used this manifestation when the floor would not support him as Hannibal had originally known him. Artemis, Carlos, and Sennacherib thought Bucephalus’ guise as a cardinal a little much, but they said nothing to Bucephalus about it. He was ‘emeritus’ after all. The birds perched at the front of the observation car where they had a great view of proceedings. They were ignored by Peaches the ship’s cat.

A northern cardinal

Bucephalus… “A little much.”

An honor guard formed at the gangway composed of crewmen, sailors from the other zeppelins and the station, as well as Midshipmen from the Naval Academy. The soldiers of the 2nd Battalion of the Guards Grenadiers were positioned all around the landing area, they were to be visible and helpful if needed, but formed no barrier. There were armoured cars from the 3rd Squadron of the Guards Hussars also on scene and they lined the route to the Eugene.

This was a very public moment and there was a large crowd present. Local schools had all brought groups of their best students to view the proceedings. The procession to the Eugene was carefully staged before proceeding to the gangway. Leading was the Earl Martial’s landau drawn by a matched pair of black Friesians. Colin, the Earl Martial was in uniform, while his Mother Cheryll, the Princess Martial; the Lady Nancy Westover, and her Mother Amelie, Duchess of Clarendon, were all dressed in country tweeds which seemed somehow appropriate for a zeppelin ride.

The King followed, mounted on his beloved Kameyn, he was accompanied by the Lady Cecilie on her favored thoroughbred Zephyr. Zephyr was a hand taller than Kameyn so the King and Lady Cecilie seemed to be of the same height. The King did not notice this and wouldn’t have cared if he had. There were equerries and outriders from the Guards Dragoons in attendance to the King and his Lady.

The King’s two dads were in their personal Packard touring car, but it was driven by Terence Cyffylog as this was, after all, a state occasion.

Other luminaries from the government and society followed in a variety of limousines and coaches.

The King and Lady Cecilie dismounted and mingled with the passengers and crew until departure was called; they reclaimed their patient mounts and rode away to a spot where they’d have a good view of the take off.

Just down from the King and his party, there were two young Midshipmen. Ted DeLucca, SSM, and Stoney Davids, SSM, had moved over to watch the take-off after all the formations at the zeppelin’s gangway had been dismissed. They were watching the proceedings with rapt attention.

There was some motion around the ships mooring lines, nothing extreme or dramatic, and then the great ship lifted slowly into the air. This seemed almost solemn. It did not reflect the hours of preparation, tests, checks and double checks that the crew of the zeppelin had invested in the moment.

The pipe band swept into one of Colin’s favorite tunes: ‘The Highland Brigade at Magersfontein.’

Slowly and level as the dining room table, HMS Prince Eugene of Savoy rose into the morning sky. Her engines coughed and grumbled. Then they came to life settling quickly into a smooth purr. Her props began to move and her nose lifted and she gathered speed and climbed effortlessly away.

Lady Nancy, who was very well-schooled in ladylike deportment, strove to seem unimpressed by the flight. But she was in fact enchanted.

“Colin, Darling,” she murmured, laying a hand on his forearm. “This is wonderful. I think I should like to travel like this more often.”

“Well. I’d think that would be very possible.”

“So what’s going to happen next?”

“Well, let’s go down to the bridge and we can see.”

On the bridge, Colin and Nancy stood to the rear. Colin pointed out the helmsman and the elevator man and discussed the importance of their jobs. He noted that the new Heavenly Magister and Captain-Lieutenant Cascone were huddled over the chart table with dividers. They would look up from time to time, consider the horizon, and then return to murmur over the charts.

“I’m sorry Captain Cascone,” Colin began. “I hushed your Midshipman when we came in as I didn’t want to be a bother. But he did see me and was going to announce us.”

“Thank you, Your Highness,” Captain-Lieutenant Cascone replied saluting. “Can I answer any questions or anything?”

“Not now, but please to join us for lunch.”

Nancy whispered in his ear. “And bring your midshipmen, and the other off watch officers to lunch, too, please,” Colin invited the Captain.

They returned to the flag bridge, where the noise of the engines was a very gentle murmur that one almost had to listen for to detect.

“You are a gentle and civil man, Colin. Despite your martial veneer. I’m pleased to see you’re not one of those loud and bossy types.”

He smiled, “Not to worry, Surus would have none of that.”

“Cameron has spoken to me, and to my family. Has he chatted with you?”

“Yes. Indeed. He has. The world looks different from up here, doesn’t it?”

“Yes. It truly does,” Nancy responded with a gentle smile. “Everything seems different from up here I think.”

They regarded one another with dawning affection. But then duty called.

“If you please, my Lady, Your Highness, luncheon is served.”

1 Astronomy Picture of the Day. NASA. Haitong Yu.

2 Garden Terrace (the Ritz), Jeanniot, 1904.

3 Jan Boeckhorst, Bellerophon and Mercury taming Pegasus