Sunday, April 5, 2009

Squeezing Nippletown.

Air Vice Marshal Adrian Steiner-Pugh was outraged by the attack on the fleet evacuating diplomatic officials from Shastapsh, and pledged vengeance. Referring to the oddly shaped domes of the city, he declared, “ I’ll squeeze Nippletown until she screams.” Steiner-Pugh immediately planned for a punitive raid, designed to destroy city infrastructure as well as any vessels that rose to meet them.

In addition to his flagship, the aerial monitor Thunderer, Steiner-Pugh added the corvette Reliant. He also waited for the new gunboats Perseus, Theseus, and Hercules to finish their fitting out, adding their new 4.7 inch quick firing guns to the mix. As this squadron prepared to set out, Cmdr. Griess with his light gunboats squadron, Aphid, Ladybug, and Dauntless made plans to rendezvous over the target area.

The Martians received word of the British invaders from their signal stations. With their screw galley squadron allocated out on missions, the Bowel and his planners depended on their kite squadron to intercept the invaders. Supplemented by a pair of Small Bird screw galleys and the last of the anarchist torpedo rams, Vengeance, the kites seemed primed to use their size and exotic weapons to successfully engage their enemies.

Steiner-Pugh’s squadron emerged from the hills with the gunboats clustered near the monitor and the corvette. As the kites moved to intercept them, Griess’s small gunboats appeared on the other side of the canal, shooting up the water pipe as they carefully avoided the Martian ground batteries.

Tragedy struck Steiner-Pugh’s force early in the engagement. Vengeance moved quickly to engage Theseus. Though the ram struck the gunboat squarely and detonated the spar torpedo, some design flaw caused the mysterious craft to plunge into the canal below. However , Theseus suffered trim damage as well, halting its fall directly above Thunderer. The kite East Wind struck Theseus again, dropping the gunboat directly into Thunderer. The monitor immediately lost trim and plunged into the canal below. Theseus managed to regain control, but the loss of the flagship seemed to bode poorly for the British.

Unfortunately for the Martians, the loss of Thunderer and the commander-in-chief seemed to energize their foe. Seemingly a step ahead of the kites, the British seemed to stay just out of reach of the much larger rams. British gunfire too, seemed to fill the sky, setting fires, knocking out guns, killing crew. East Wind and South Wind burned like torches , and the remaining Martians ships withdrew from the city to defend the aerodrome.

British vessels wreaked havoc on the city. Two of three bridges were seriously damaged, with the third suffering moderate damage. The Bowel’s palace was also severely damaged with the Bowel and S’fink’tor seeking shelter in an adjacent neighborhood. Most importantly, the city’s water system suffered nearly catastrophic harm when the pumping station was destroyed, water pipes were damaged, and water storage lost considerable capacity. Service to the south side of the city and the island was interrupted. All of the city’s resources were committed to repair of the water system. Water had to be transported by barge, and a Martian disease like typhoid broke out in the southern suburbs.

Damage to Shastapsh’s infrastructure prevented much further fortification against the attack that must come. However, men were detached to salvage the wreck of the Thunderer. The impact of the plunge destroyed most items of technologic value. However, engineers managed to save a six inch gun and two Nordenfeldts. However, the salvage teams also saved large quantities of munitions of all calibers. Of equal value in the rescue were the large quantities of armor plate and liftwood.

Then there were the survivors of the plunge. Steiner-Pugh and Captain Woodstern were dead. Only ten men survived the crash. Of those, four died of their injuries. Helmsman Caleb Binghamton and trimsman Harry Jones and four seamen were put to work repairing the city water works and the Bowel’s palace.

In the first picture the Griess squadron enters and begins shooting up the water pipes. This force was never opposed. The second pic is of Mark, my good friend, taking his pictures of the game. The third photo shows a pair of burning kites, which, sadly, was the Martian story. The last picture shows the resting place of Vengeance and Thunderer. Beyond the monitor's tragedy, the British suffered little other significant damage.

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