Gathering Evidence of the Arduenna Massacres

by Frej Wasastjerna

"Ladies and gentlemen of Bristol, let me present a Martian princess who, braving great hardship, has voyaged to our great city to plead for her people."
          The Reverend Jedediah Colston was speaking mostly truth at the moment, Lieutenant-Commander William Canbury thought. As the head of a village, Zhdahiden Henyat really was as close to a princess as one could find on Mars. The only Martian polities greater than villages or city districts were loose confederations responsible for constructing and maintaining canals, for allocating water and for adjudicating disputes. In the remote past Mars had seen empires and even wars, but its inhabitants had outgrown such nonsense long before Terrans had misnamed it after a god of war.
          But anyone for which the words "Martian princess" conjured up romantic images of lissome maidens was in for a rude shock. Fortunately the protective garb the princess had to wear to protect her from the excessively oxygen-rich air of Earth did a good job of concealing her appearance, but most men, if they could have seen her without that covering, would have run in terror. Her ferocious beak was easily capable of biting a man in two. Her general body plan was more avian than human, but not really close to either. Her only human-like feature was her two big, lambent green eyes. Perhaps it was a good thing that they were all that was really visible through her protective suit.

"I shall translate her words into English," Colston went on. "Princess, if you please?"
          "This is very uncomfortable," Princess Henyat wheezed in her own language.
          "A few years ago, the Germans landed near her village," the priest translated. "They slaughtered many of the inhabitants."
          "The gravity is killing me."
"Then they searched the huts and caves for anything valuable. They found very little. Their leader asked if there was anyone who understood German."
          "This protective clothing is stifling. I feel awfully hot."
          "One of the Martians said she had visited Neu-Magdeburg and learned a little German there. Through her, the German commander told the surviving villagers that he wanted nashasa berries. You know, that stuff some people claim is such a powerful aphrodisiac. He would return one Martian year later, and if he did not get enough nashasa, more villagers would die."
          "It's hard for me to breathe. You say that if I take off this protective suit, your air will burn my lungs. But soon I'll have to risk it."
          Colston turned to her and tried to make it clear to her that Terran air really was dangerous to her. With Canbury's help he succeeded. But it was clear that the princess had to be transported back to the hotel, where a special room with a low-oxygen atmosphere had been improvised for her. And it had to be done at once. The lieutenant-commander agreed to convey her to the hotel.

The princess also needed a bath. That was the only way to help her endure Terran gravity. She was perfectly capable of enduring immersion in water; in fact it was a rare luxury on Mars, where she had bathed only twice in her life. But it took a while for Canbury to browbeat the hotel manager to provide enough ice to give her a suitably cold bath.

By the time that had been taken care of, Colston had returned to the hotel. Canbury found him in a disgruntled mood. They talked with each other in an ordinary room adjacent to the special room where the princess was bathing. Colston tossed some money on a table.
          "I told the audience that this was a God-given opportunity to atone for the dark aspects of Bristol's history, specifically for the slave trade. They listened politely, but this is all that they gave: £7 14s. 6d. It's something, but nowhere near what we need. Have you managed to figure out how much we need?"
          "Not really, but I expect hiring Tibetan or Andean mercenaries will cost at least thousands of pounds, if we can find any. And then there will be the cost of transporting them to Mars, if we can find any shipping for that, of supplying them with food, oxygen, ammunition, even water may be expensive on Mars..."

Somebody knocked on the door. Both men stood up. Colston was closest to the door, so he opened it. There stood a man whose bearing and carefully tailored clothing, made of the best woollen fabrics, suggested that he was wealthy and accustomed to being taken seriously.
          "Gentlemen, let me introduce myself," he said. "I am James Hill, majority owner of the shipyard Charles Hill & Sons. Reverend Colston, I was in the audience of your recent description of German atrocities on Mars. You raised some important points, and I decided that they deserve discussion. I'm thinking about supporting your cause. Will you please introduce me to this other gentleman?"
          "He is Lieutenant-Commander William Canbury, RN. He was sent by the Navy on an unofficial mission to gather information about German and Austrian activities on Mars."
          "Very good. It is past time for the Navy to pay some attention to space. May I enquire what, in concrete terms, you are thinking about doing with respect to the very unsatisfactory situation of the Martian natives?"
          "We don't really have any concrete plans. We are considering either enlisting mercenaries to fight for the Martians, preferably Tibetans or Andean Indians since they are, to some extent, accustomed to oxygen-poor air, or providing weapons to the Martians themselves, if they can be taught to fight."
          Hill stroked his chin thoughtfully. "Tempting options. But I'm afraid the Cabinet is unlikely to support either one. If British nationals get involved in a Martian insurrection, that is likely to result in at least an international crisis. The Cabinet will either have to take very harsh measures against you or risk an extraterrestrial war with Germany, a war we currently have no chance at all of winning."
          "How come? Are the Germans really that much stronger in space?" Colston asked.
          "Yes, and that's putting it mildly," Canbury said. "So far we have no space navy at all. The Germans don't have very much either, but they do have three small armed spaceships and are building a space battleship."
          "How come?" Colston asked again. "Isn't Britain a major power?"
          Hill and Canbury looked at each other. "I shall try to explain," Hill offered. "You are welcome to add anything I may forget to mention."
          Canbury nodded, and Hill spoke. "It was a Scotsman, James Clerk Maxwell, who laid the foundations of demonology as a science, but it was an Austrian, Ludwig Boltzmann, who used statistical demonology to develop a space drive. Since the Austrians and Germans are hand in glove politically, the result was that they began cooperating to develop space travel, clamping down a lid of secrecy to exclude all other nations. Actually much of Boltzmann's work was published openly before that happened, so some nations have started developing space travel for themselves. The French and Russians are particularly concerned about German intentions, so they are cooperating. Under the leadership of Blériot and Tsiolkovsky, they have already built a prototype spaceship. The Japanese are also forging ahead. In Britain, we haven't done much yet.
          "An additional factor is that both Germany, Austria and Japan pretty much got left out when other powers laid claim to colonies here on Earth. The British Cabinet has been more interested in developing what we already have rather than trying to colonize planets where humans can't even live without artificial aids. Also, in the recent election, the Liberals promised 'Peace, Retrenchment and Reform', and now that they got a majority in Parliament, they feel obliged to fulfill that promise. They've scaled back our wet navy construction program radically now that the Germans have abandoned Tirpitz's plans to build a powerful wet navy to concentrate on spaceships instead. The Liberals want to use the savings for social spending instead, not to 'waste', as they say, that money on spaceship construction.
          "There is some debate in Whitehall about starting a British space program, but so far no money has been forthcoming. I expect there will soon be some, so Charles Hill & Sons has started development work as a private venture. In fact, we'll soon be ready to launch our first spaceship if all goes well, but at the moment there is not a single British spaceship."
          "So that's why we had to book passage on an Austrian ship," Colston said.
          "What do you suggest we should do then?" Canbury asked.
          "We need some non-violent solution," Sir James said. "That may be less satisfying than fighting German robbers, but it's likely to be more practical. I think we need to get Kaiser Wilhelm II to realize what's being done in his name. He has a bad reputation in England, at least in some circles, but I think he isn't quite the ogre he's made out to be. At least we should try to get him to understand what's happening."
          "And how do you propose to do that?"
          "I don't have any plans ready for that, but I think we need at least photographic evidence. Photos of dead Martians with bullet wounds, other evidence to show they've been killed by German troops, if possible eyewitness testimony by people he's likely to trust, maybe by German diplomats... We've got to think of something."
          "I suppose you're right," Colston conceded. "Much as I would enjoy at least the thought of giving some of those murderers what they deserve, what you're proposing may make better sense."
          Canbury also agreed, somewhat reluctantly, and the three agreed to think about ways of gathering evidence.

While Charles Hill & Sons was building the experimental spaceship Fledgling, the three men met occasionally to plan. Sometimes they included the princess for as long as she could endure her protective garb. Usually they left her out of their meetings, to avoid discomfort for her and the trouble of translating.
          At one meeting, they decided not to arm the
Fledgling. Armament on a civilian ship would raise suspicions in case of a German or Austrian customs inspection. At another meeting they discussed the question of where they should go first. All agreed that they should return Princess Henyat to her home village, Chiung. Sir James suggested that they should go to the Austrian spaceport at Elisabethenstadt and proceed from there by surface transport to Chiung, reversing the route Colston, Canby and the princess had taken on their way to Earth.
          However, Colston disagreed. "No, we had to bribe several Austrian customs officials to get permission to take the princess along. I don't want to risk that somebody might take a look at what really happened."
          So they agreed to take the spaceship directly to Chiung instead.

Finally the day arrived when the Fledgling was ready. It had been agreed that there would be no preliminary test flights, which would have attracted unwanted attention. Colston's and Canbury's luggage had been sent in advance. Princess Henyat travelled in a container transported by a lorry.
          In an inland corner of the yard was a structure covered with canvas. Sir James led Colston and Canbury through a door and then, with obvious pride, said, "Behold the Fledgling. She's still experimental, but she'll be the beginning of greater things."
          In lieutenant-commander Canbury's eyes, the black octahedron looked more strange than impressive. Measuring maybe twenty or thirty yards from corner to opposite corner, the ship was somewhat smaller than the white, spherical
Sternflieger 1 on which he had traveled to Mars and back.
          He looked more closely. No weapons were visible. There were bridge windows at the top and bottom, what must have been navigation lights, a rod that might be an antenna for wireless telegraphy and couple of hatches. Nothing else was visible on the outside.
          A large hatch was opened from the inside, and the princess's container was hoisted up through it. Sir James spun a wheel on a smaller hatch and opened it. Then he pulled out a ladder and invited his guests to climb into the ship.
          Near the top of the ladder stood three unfamiliar civilians. Sir James introduced two of them as press photographers. One, Edgar Whitesides, worked mostly for The Times, occasionally for other papers as well. The other, Ulrich Schneider, worked for several German newspapers. The third, Harold Greenberg, was a linguist from University College, Bristol, who wanted to study Martian languages.
          Princess Henyat's container was taken to a cabin reserved for her, installed and strapped down so that it would remain in place regardless of the ship's maneuvering. Then the humans left this cabin after having connected it to a ventilation system intended to provide Martian air. The other supplies needed by the princess were already in place.
          Colston and Canbury were guided to their respective cabins where they checked that all their luggage was present and strapped down. After that they climbed to the ship's bridge in the nose, where two crewmen, Sir James and the photographers were already.
          Once everyone was strapped into an acceleration couch, liftoff began. The canvas that until then had shielded the Fledgling from unauthorized eyes had already been removed. A humming sound permeated the ship and it rose steadily, at a sedate acceleration, into the cloudy sky.

Canbury slept well in his cabin. Space travel was usually quite comfortable. The ship accelerated smoothly at something close to one gravity, so that it felt as if one were back on solid ground. Only the humming felt odd, and he soon got used to it. This was, after all, his third space voyage.
          After breakfast on the second day of the voyage Sir James asked if Canbury would like to learn to fly a spaceship. This was somewhat unexpected, but the lieutenant-commander said yes. It would presumably be a useful skill if he were to serve in the space navy that the British Empire would have to establish.
          First Sir James took him to the main engine room at the center of the ship. This contained little except two big thrusters: the main forward and reverse thrusters, both attached to heavy girders. Each of them was a cylinder, open at one end. The humming, which was quite loud here, came from the forward thruster. Sir James tried to say something, but Canbury couldn't hear it, so they left the engine room.
          Outside the sound-insulated engine room the noise level was considerably lower, so Sir James started explaining the workings. "These thrusters rely on Boltzmann demons. Those demons come from some other dimension, enter the thruster cylinder at the open end, collide with the wall at the closed end and are reflected, going back through the open end and then to whatever dimension they came from. Each of them carries a certain, small momentum. Since they are reflected from the closed end, the thruster gains twice as much momentum as they carry when entering, and the dimension they come from gets an equal but opposite momentum. Thus momentum is conserved as a whole, when you consider both our world and the one the demons come from, but our ship gains momentum. As I said, each demon carries only a small momentum, but with huge numbers of them entering the thruster each second, we can get quite a large thrust, enough to accelerate our ship at several gravities if needed.
          "I myself don't understand how those demons are summoned from their home dimension and how we control the number of demons entering the thrusters, but it involves steam passing through some mechanism, and in doing so the steam generates sound. That's what we hear.
          "The steam comes from a Maxwell boiler. Maxwell demons separate air molecules so that the hottest, that is, the fastest-moving ones, are sent to the fire tubes of a boiler, and the coldest ones are sent to cool the condenser to which the spent steam is sent. The more steam is sent to the thruster, the more Boltzmann demons and the more thrust we get.
          "If we're in a real hurry, we need more hot air molecules than we get naturally, even with a heat exchanger recovering much of the heat from the spent steam. So there's a combustion chamber into which we can spray kerosene and burn it. But usually we need not resort to that method. We can get about two and a half standard gravities of acceleration without it."
          Next Sir James took Canbury to a location just inside one of the corners of the octahedron. There he called Canbury's attention to four smaller thrusters pointing in four directions.
          "These thrusters," he said, "are used to turn the ship. For instance, this one will push our starboard side forward if we wish to yaw to port. The opposite thruster does the opposite, of course. And this one will roll us clockwise, this one counterclockwise. There are three other such thruster clusters in the other equatorial corners of the ship.
          "And now it's time for both of us to get our pilot training. We have two pilots on board, who have been trained in a tethered replica of the ship, so they already had some experience when we left Bristol. But now we are supposed to learn, in case something happens to one of our pilots.
          "Before we start training, however, please inform the princess that she needs to get out of her bath if she's still in it. She needs to get out of the compartment where her bath is located and to close the door to that compartment behind her. When we turn the ship this way and that, the water will slosh around. I don't want to risk her drowning, or for the water in her bath to get anywhere it doesn't belong."
          "Yes," Canbury answered, "but it might be hard for her to get out of the bath while we're still accelerating at our present rate."
          "You're right, of course. I'll go to the bridge and ask the pilot to reduce the acceleration to Martian gravity. When that happens, please check that the princess leaves her bath, closes the door to the bath compartment and straps herself in. Then please come to the bridge."

A few minutes later Canbury entered the bridge. Sir James was already strapped into the pilot's acceleration couch, with John Merton, the senior pilot, standing nearby, holding on to a stanchion. Merton sounded the alarm alerting everybody aboard to strap in, then he explained the controls to Sir James and Canbury. They were simple enough, with two knobs controlling the main thrusters, a steering wheel controlling the turning thrusters and a valve and an electric switch for the air heater.
          Sir James was the first to try. Initially he was clumsy, and it was a good thing everybody and everything aboard were strapped in. But in twenty minutes or so he learned enough that Merton thought it was enough for that day.
          Then it was Canbury's turn. He actually did worse than Sir James at first. He had sometimes steered naval vessels, but that hindered him more than it helped, since the controls of the spaceship worked differently. It took some time getting used to the fact that turning the steering wheel made the Fledgling roll rather than yaw, while controlling her in the yaw and pitch dimensions required pushing the whole steering wheel sideways, up or down. But soon he too got the hang of it.
          "Landing a spaceship is a whole kettle of different problems," Merton said. "But not even we have had an opportunity to practise that yet. You'll have to see what we do when the time comes."

On one occasion Canbury asked Sir James why the Fledgling looked the way she did, a black octahedron.
          "The purpose is to make us less visible, since we might sometimes want to sneak past German or Austrian spaceships on a clandestine mission," Sir James answered. "The black paint is supposed to let us merge with the black of space. It isn't completely unreflective, but using glossy rather than matt paint means that we reflect sunlight only in certain directions. And the octahedral shape limits the number of such directions. Of course, more often we want to be visible, to avoid collisions, but then we use our navigation lights."

The opportunity to practise landing came three days later. The pilots had spent most of a day maneuvering the Fledgling into a circular orbit around Mars. Both pilots, Sir James and Canbury were now in the landing bridge in the aft end of the ship, a separate control compartment needed because the usual bridge provided no view aft.
          Sir James was perusing a map of Mars. Eventually he spoke. "That bluish spot surrounded by green and red, at eleven o'clock, that must be Solis Lacus." He showed the map to Merton. "Then the double canal must be Tithonius, the single canal joining it at that oasis must be Avus, the canal beyond that is Eosphorus, which is the one we want. It runs to the oasis Lacus Phoenicis, then to Arsia Silva, from there to Hercynia Silva and then to Arduenna. Do you see the third oasis, counting from Solis Lacus? That's Arduenna, the one we want. Can you take us there?"
          "It seems I have to," Merton said. He began applying thrust to decrease the ship's orbital velocity. The deceleration pushed Canbury against the harness holding him in place.
          Minutes passed. Merton spoke again. "I'm going to take this very gingerly. I've never landed a spaceship before, as you know, and I have no good way of knowing our altitude or velocity. Since I'd rather not smash us into the surface, I'll descend very slowly."
          Canbury approved heartily.
          "We can do that," Sir James added. "We can keep thrusting as long as we need, these thrusters aren't like rockets that use up their propellant quickly."
          After a couple of hours or so, the Fledgling was hovering over an oasis. "Where now?" Merton asked.
          "There." Sir James pointed. "That must be Chiung." After a while he added "No, not that one. The next village in that direction."
          Eventually the ship landed, with a jerk as the landing legs bumped against the surface. But there were no signs of damage. Canbury began undoing the straps that held him in place.
          "No," Sir James said. "First rotate your bunk into an upright position." He pulled a lever. Canbury did the same and found himself standing on the footboard of the bunk.

Sir James, Colston, Canbury, Greenberg and the photographers donned their air masks and tanks. Only humans acclimatized to high altitudes could remain conscious and active while breathing the thin Martian air, and even they only briefly.
          The six men opened a hatch and climbed down to the surface, while the crew remained aboard.
          Nobody emerged to meet them. The wind soughed around the huts under a pink sky.
          "Let's get the princess," Colston said.
          The party returned to the ship, hoisted down the container housing Princess Henyat and opened its door.
          The princess emerged and said something. Canbury didn't understand the local dialect of Martian all that well, but he thought she said something like "At last!"
          Then she obviuosly noticed the absence of other Martians. She looked around and seemed puzzled.
          Ulrich Schneider poked open the door of the nearest hut. Something hit his faceplate hard enough to crack it. He drew back. Martians brandishing all sorts of improvised weapons came boiling out of the huts – and stopped when they saw Henyat.
          The princess spoke at length to her compatriots, while Edgar Whitesides accompanied his colleague back to the ship to get a new faceplate. The two photographers had time to replace Schneider's faceplate and rejoin the landing party before the princess finished. Finally she turned to face the humans and spoke to them, with Colston translating – truthfully this time, as far as Canbury could judge.
          "The village was visited by humans two days ago, and their leader demanded nashasa berries. The villagers handed over all they had managed to grow in the year since the last visit, but it was not enough. Two villagers were killed. The humans left, threatening to kill more next year if we cannot do better."
          Such arrogance! Canbury clenched his fists. But it had been agreed that all that the people aboard the Fledgling would do was to collect evidence. Now it was up to the photographers.
          The corpses had been laid on a platform to be eaten by scavengers, as was customary in most Martian cultures. So what the party saw when led to that platform was two obviously dead Martians, but the corpses had already been gnawed badly enough that it was hard to tell the original cause of death.
          "The bullets might still be in the corpses," Colston said. Then he spoke to the princess. She assented to whatever it was he suggested, and he began poking at the corpses and examining them more closely. The Martians standing nearby stirred, but the princess quieted them.
          The search succeeded. Colston found two metal slugs. He showed them to Canbury, who agreed that they looked like pistol bullets. Not being a small arms expert, he couldn't identify the particular make of bullet, but presumably forensic experts back on Earth could do better. Canbury pocketed the bullets.
          It was fortunate thet the Germans, or whoever they are, used a pistol rather than a rifle, Canbury thought. Rifle bullets would presumably have gone right through the Martians.
          Would the bullets, the photographs of corpses and the testimony of the humans present be enough to convince the German authorities back on Earth? Colston raised that question. Another question was left unasked: Would they care?

Sir James favoured going right back to Bristol. In his opinion it was necessary to make sure that the bullets and photographs would reach British and German authorities and the press, the sooner the better. Remaining on Mars to gather more evidence would be dangerous. Whoever had ordered the atrocities, whether that was Governor General von Trotha or somebody else, had a powerful motive to suppress any testimony and might not flinch at murder.
          Colston wanted to find some honest German who was trusted by Kaiser Wilhelm II and could testify to what was happening. But nobody knew who could meet that description.
          Both photographers simply wanted to take photographs of a murder of Martians while it was actually happening. But nobody knew which village would be the next to experience extortion and murder or how to take pictures with no risk of being found.
          The party decided to ask the villagers if they could help. After a long discussion among the natives, Princess Henyat summarized the conclusions. The extortioners seemed to be following a strict schedule. Their recent visit to Chiung had happened exactly one Martian year after the preceding one, and they seemed to be revisiting villages in the same sequence as the original visits. This meant that the village of Durlot was due to be raided the day after tomorrow, the day Sir James chose to make sure there was time to prepare. Since the extortioners were likely to visit every hut in the village, hiding in some hut was not a good idea. But as Sir James reminded the team, there were telescopes aboard the Fledgling, intended for navigation and for observation at long distances. If one could connect a camera to one of them, it would be possible to take pictures of anything that happened in the open while the ship hovered at an altitude high enough that it would be hard to notice, so that did not sound too dangerous. Greenberg, the linguist, elected to stay in Chiung to learn Martian from others in addition to Henyat. Sir James left a week's supplies for him.

Fitting cameras to a couple of telescopes on the landing bridge turned out to be quite feasible. On the appointed day the Fledgling hovered several miles above Durlot since dawn. Shortly before noon some kind of surface vehicle approached the village. A party of some twenty or thirty humans disembarked and entered the open space between the huts. Martians appeared around them. The photographers aboard the Fledgling began snapping pictures.
          Then Martians began falling.
          "We're too high up," Ulrich Schneider shouted. "Please take us down so we can get better pictures!"
          "Do so," Sir James agreed, and Merton reduced thrust, letting the ship descend.
          Half a dozen Martians were lying on the ground, and the rest had fled into their huts, by the time Merton stopped the ship's descent. Then one of the men on the ground looked up. After a moment he pointed straight at the Fledgling. Other men looked up, and a commotion arose. Three of the men began erecting some kind of structure.
          Sir James was observing the scene through binoculars. "That looks like a wireless telegraphy mast, what they're raising!" he shouted. "Take us up!" Then he climbed into the interior of the ship, where the telegraphist's cubicle was located.
          Soon he re-emerged, looking paler than usual. "Our telegraphist intercepted a message in German," he said. "He got only the tail end of the message and didn't understand it all, but there was something about sending a Customs cutter here – presumably a spaceship. We have to get back to Chiung at once and pick up Greenberg."
          "Which one of all those villages is Chiung?" Merton asked. "We're approaching it from a different direction than last time, so it may be hard to find."
          Sir James paled a little more. "Try that one," he said.
          A few minutes later Merton set the ship down outside the village Sir James had indicated. Colston, who spoke Martian better than anybody else aboard the ship, had already donned his air mask and tank. Now he ventured out to see whether Sir James had guessed right.
          Soon he was back on board and said, "The next village in that direction."
          That turned out to be the right one. Greenberg was soon taken aboard and everybody strapped in for forward acceleration. Then the Fledgling lifted off.
          Less than half a minute later, the whistle in the voicepipe connecting the wireless telegraph room to the forward bridge sounded. Merton removed the whistle and answered. Then he said, "The telegraphist has received a message on the emergency frequency from a German spaceship. They are ordering us to land."
          "Ignore the message," Sir James said. "We'll pretend that we never received it. Maintain constant acceleration."
          Soon thereafter Merton relayed a new message from the telegraphist. "They say they'll open fire if we don't comply."
          "Does anybody have an idea of where that German ship is?" Sir James asked.
          "There's something at ten o'clock high," Eustace Wilson, the off-duty pilot, said. He too was on the forward bridge, acting as a lookout.
          For a moment Canbury wondered where that direction was. Then he remembered that aboard a spaceship, directions were always specified relative to the orientation of the ship, not in terms of compass bearings. He looked in the direction given and saw a blinking light. Apparently the German ship had its navigation lights switched on. He asked, "Excuse me, but are our navigation lights on or off?"
          "Uh – they're on," Merton said. "Should I switch them off?"
          "Yes!" Sir James said. "Switch them off and go to maximum acceleration!"
          Merton twirled the forward thruster control knob as far clockwise as it went. The acceleration pressed Canbury uncomfortably against his bunk. Then Merton lit up the air heater and the acceleration got worse.
          "The Germans are higher up than we are," Sir James continued. "That means that we're silhouetted against the surface of Mars. Commence evasive action!"
          The Fledgling began jinking. The German ship doused its lights. A moment later a flash proclaimed that it had fired a gun.
          Nothing hit the Fledgling. Here in space there were no shell splashes to tell where a shell had gone. In a way that was bad; Canbury couldn't tell whether it was far off the mark or had just barely missed, so he didn't know how much to worry. On the other hand, the enemy had nothing to tell him how to adjust his aim. So on balance it was probably good... Suppose the Germans had some way of making the rear ends of their shells glow, maybe a pyrotechnic charge? He hoped not. But this idea would be worth remembering; the Royal Navy might find it useful in future space battles.
          The German ship fired again every few seconds, scoring no hits. Then it ceased firing, and for a while there was no way of telling where it was. Then it was silhouetted against the Martian surface.
          Now the Fledgling had the advantage of height, with space as a background. But she was unarmed. And if the enemy ship somehow got close enough to see her or found itself in a position to see sunlight glinting off her, the situation could still get dangerous.
          "Is that Phobos or Deimos, at ten o'clock?" Sir James asked. "Take us into the shadow of that! Then we'll be effectively invisible."
          "That will work only temporarily," Merton answered. "We've built up so much velocity already that we can't kill it before we've passed through the shadow."
          "Um... I suppose you're right. So... take us into the shadow of Mars instead. Head toward the terminator and past it."
          Merton turned the Fledgling away from the sun, keeping the acceleation at maximum. Soon the German ship climbed past the limb of Mars and was lost from sight, but by then it was already far away. Ultimately the Fledgling made it into the shadow of Mars. The sunlit atmosphere showed as a blazing crescent, growing around the circumference of the planet as they drew farther away.
          "Take us past the south pole and then head toward the position where Earth was, let's say five days ago," Sir James instructed. "The Germans will presumably expect us to head to where Earth will be a couple of days from now, when we could arrive, so we'll have to go in another direction. And you can switch off the air heater now to save fuel and oxygen."
          Merton needed some calculations and star sightings to figure out how to comply, but after a while the ship was accelerating in-system.

Eight days later the Fledgling landed in the same corner of the Charles Hill & Sons shipyard from which she had originally set out on her voyage. The bullets were sent to the headquarters of the Bristol Constabulary for examination. Along with them were sent copies of all the photographs and the testimony of everybody who had seen the Martian corpses or anything of what happened. Other copies were sent to King Edward VII, to the Cabinet, both houses of Parliament, to various newspapers in both Britain and Germany, to Kaiser Wilhelm II, to his government and to the Reichstag.

Eleven days after that, Canbury read in The Times that an investigatory commission had been sent froom Berlin to Mars. After a further sixteen days, he learned that Lothar von Trotha had been recalled from his position as Governor General of the German colonies on Mars to face an inquiry.

Early in 2018 I was invited to write a steampunk story having a connection to Bristol. I had never written steampunk before, but I had thought about an idea for a steampunk story. That story itself was unusable for this purpose, since it had nothing to do with Bristol, but I could and did use the worldbuilding I had done for it. James Clerk Maxwell, Ludwig Boltzmann and Lothar von Trotha were all real people. Their roles in this story are different from reality but close enough that they seem plausible in a world with different laws of physics. The story was not accepted for publication, so I publish it here instead.