The Tale of another Steampunk adventure

Returning from a diplomatic mission from Japan via Russia, Kapitän von Kober was distressed to hear of unrest in India, where his love resided with her family. In accordance with arrangements made earlier with the Flottenkommando, von Kober took the Württemberg on a special mission to find and if necessary rescue Gwendolen Wentworth and her family. Having only 10 days to do so, time was of the essence.

 



The third voyage of LZ-X1 Württemberg

Kapitän von Kober's personal errant

From the Diary of Kapitän Albrecht von Kober, commanding officer LZ-X1 Württemberg:

August 27th

We are making good progress and so far the weather is excellent. Due to some happy coincidence we are also flying with the wind in our back, which adds a little speed as well.
We are also in contact with Orientis and with the British consul in Aden.
The situation in the Ganges River delta seems to be rather tense, but obviously the consul is reluctant to give specific information.
Maybe they would tell us more if this was an official mission, but this is my private errant.


August 28th

The crew is well aware of the turmoil inside me. Doktor Hartmann has warned me of the dangers my nervousness could bring to this mission, especially since it is so important to me. He has given me some tnic which tastes rather vile but seems to work. Meanwhile we are cruising over the Black Sea. At least the beautiful weather and vistas also do their part to calm my troubled soul and hopefully, I shall find some sleep tonight. I could not sleep last night and spent the time alternating between the foreward observation post and the navigation charts table in the vain hope of finding a faster route.


An aerial photography of the Black Sa Coast

An aerial view of the Black Sea Coast



August 28th, 22:40

We have just beaten off an attack by two rather rag-tag airships. I wonder where they came from.
The attack actually did not really get far. They came in the night and were spotted by the watch officer on duty. Then one opened fire with what appeared to be a heavy machine gun but far out of range. When we returned fire with one of the Zeiss turrets they immideately fled, we did not even hit the airships.
There is no airship trade route in this part of the world as far as I know, so why should they be here? Do they belong to a local warlord with ambitions? We do not have the time to investigate, but I have sent a message to Istanbul and Orientis.



August 29th

It will be just one more day and we shall reach Kalkutta, we have just crossed over into airspace over British India. We've been here before, just a few weeks ago on the first cruise. Our Zeppelin knows this air and runs smoothely. I can hardly contain my inner tension.



August 30th

We arrived in Kalkutta early this morning. After contacting the British authorities we learned of troubles in the swamps of the River Hooghly and the whole area. They are not sure what this is all about but they are glad to have an additional airship to monitor the situation and deliver troops if necessary.
I have also learned that Gwendolen and her family are supposed to be in a town by the name of Suri. The administration in Kalkutta cannot tell for sure, though, because communication with the smaller towns has been limited. Ther are no æthergraphs in the smaller towns for obvious reasons.
Suri is only aboutt 200 milse from Kalkutta. We are on our way now to find out what, if anything is going on there. We are also in constant contact with the British in Kalkutta, to relay any information and news we get hold of.


August 31st

The arrival in Suri was awkward, to say the least. Most of the inhabitants are illiterate pesants and many ran away, when the Württemberg approached.
The local British official, a Oswald Hackinthorpe, greeted us cordially. He himself is at a loss to explain the situation. Suri has been cut off for aboutt a week now by rampaging mobs terrorizing the countryside. The town has been fortified to a certain extend. Unfortunately, the Wentworths are not here. Hackinthorpe will go through his records to find out where they may have gone to, or rather, where Dr. Wentworth has been dispatched to and the rest of the family followed.



September 1st

I was so anxious to get some information, I actually went and helped Hackinthorpe go through his records. The lazy sod has no concept of ordering his documents. Well, after about two hours we found the note telling me the presumed location of the Wentworth family.
A small fort with a garrison of 50 men in the foothills 50 miles from here. No problem for the Württemberg. However, we are in the middle of a tropical storm, thick fog covers the ground and it will be difficult to spot the fort from the air. We will have to fly really low but we will do it. My time is running out. I have to return to Berlin in two days.


17:35

We have located the fort.


19:15

When we arrived, the fort was about to be stormed by a crazed mob of lunatics the likes of which I have never seen before. They had already managed to scale the walls of the fort with ladders on one side and were pressing the garrison hard in the fort proper. Several buildings were already on fire and a fierce melee had broken out within the fort's perimeter.
We opened fire with our Zeiss guns and were able to disperse the largest group of attackers,  which gave the garrison time to regroup and beat back the attack. I have also put our infantry on the ground to swell the ranks of the garrison.
To my horror and dismay I have learned that Gwendolen along with other British civilians who had sought refuge within the fort, has been dragged away into the swamp.

The garrison is getting ready to launch a rescue mission, a select few of my men will also participate and I will lead them. Dr. Wentworth is besides himself with fear for his wife and child. I wish I could offer some consoling words at this time but I am almost besides myself as well. Hartmann has warned me this inner preassure combined with the Indian climate and the fever rampant in the swamps could be my doom if it is not a bullet or knife of one of the marauders we are going to hunt now. Well, he will be there should I in deed collapse, he was one of the first to volunteer for this rescue operation.
I have also æthergraphed to Kalkutta and asked the British authorities to relay a message to the German ambassador. I may arrive late in Berlin after all but the circumstances demand our assistance. Should I not return in two days, Vogel is to fly the Württemberg back to Berlin. Now I must go.

Gott mit uns!



September 2nd

We have pursuit the bandits into the swamps, the loyal sepois and members of the Ghurka tribe, apparently a people renowned for their valor and prowess in battle, have tracked them with ease for the last six miles or so. It seems they were in such a rush to retreat into the swamp they made no effort to hide their tracks. Than again, perhaps they do not know how. They seem to be a rather degenerate bunch, a peolpe living in the swamps and shunned by all the other folk around here.
One of the Ghurka scouts, a man by the name of Kulbir, just reported finding something in the swamp half a mile from our current position, he appears rather agitated about what he found.



September 3rd

03:12

We have accompolished our mission.



September 4th

As I write these lines, Gwendolen is recovering in the sick bay of the Württemberg under the watchful eyes of Dr. Wentworth and we are on our way back to Berlin, but I cannot find sleep or rest now.

There are still deamons roaming the dark corners of the earth and it shall be our duty to chase them out of the darkness and slay them in the light, just as we did yesterday. Merciful gods, what we did yesterday was a deed worthy of Hercules and Siegfried and the horrors of hell hold no terror for me anymore.
What Kulbir found was an ancient fortifification, maybe it was a temple, or both. It was overgrown with plants from the swamp, an abode of snakes and spiders. Captain Taylor and I ordered our men to spread out, surround the place, it was not very big, and approached cautiously, ever weary of these bandits lurking in the undergrowth.
It was not long before the first band of those inbred scum assailed us.
I stood next to Matrose Teufel when he put three bullets into one of them, but he kept comming. His face was a foaming, crazed mask of rage and hate, his eyes nearly all black from the effect of some substance he must have taken.
Finally, Teufel rose and stabbed the brute with his bayonet. That was the moment poor Teufel lost it. He stabbed his assailant again and again, screaming and cursing and I had to slap him to make him snap out of it. He stayed behind with the wounded and a medic from the British garrison. He was also not the only one thus affected, and as the night wore on, there would be more.

We lost only four wounded, including Teufel, in this first skirmish and pressed on. Another raider fell when he stormed out of what turned out to be the entrance of this ancient site of darkness.
Behind the corpse of the slain guardian lay a corridor, illuminated with few torches that led steeply downward. The corridor was narrow, ideal to be defended by only one fighter against a whole army.
Seeing no point in advancing cautiously since by now those degenerates would be well aware of our comming, Captain Taylor tossed a grenade down this corridor, the screams that followed the explosion proved his action right.
So we pressed on, down the corridor, bayonets in front and using another grenade but no further tribesman was lurking there.

At last we saw a dim glow and heard voices and more screams. Now we advanced with more caution and crept up to the end of the corridor which opened into a cave, the likes of which the fortunate will not even see in their worst nightmares.
As in a feverish vision of something Bosch or Goya would have painted, the walls of this cave are decorated with carvings and high reliefs of nightmarish beasts.
The greatest horror however was the statue carved out of the stone of the far wall, twice as big as a man and resembling a queer and disturbing crossbreed between the Indian god Ganesha and a dragon.
At its feet was a pile of human remains which looked as if the flesh had been torn away by animals and devoured, but I could see no animals. Right next to this ghastly pyramid of carcasses stood the captives, clinging together, sensless with fright, while around them the marauders screamed, whailed and danced.
What followed now was the most bizarre fight I pray I will ever be in and I also pray the memory will fade with time.
Our little force spread out quickly from the corridor but no sooner had the first of us set foot into the cave that the first tribal warriors turned to attack us.
Those beasts... I can write no more today, I shall go and see Hartmann.




September 5th

Last night I only found sleep after a dose of morphine administered by Hartmann. I fell into a black, heavy darkness, blessedly devoid of dreams. Gwendolen seems to be recovering, too, but she sleeps a lot and Dr. Wentworth is still worried about her psyche. He will consult with a specialist as soon as we reach Berlin, propably tomorrow evening. We are steaming full throttle and at least the machines are working as they should be.
As to the events of two nights ago, I shall continue now, I will have to report this to the Flottenkommando soon enough, so I better note it down and do not forget.

As I wrote yesterday, we were able to spread out and get a good number of or forces into this chamber before the first warriors turned to attack us.
They were mostly armed with swords, a few had muskets or ancient pistols, we felled most of them before in short order but those that withstood our first barrage came screaming at us. Some came only with hands an teeth and bit and scratched like rabid animals. There was one hulking brute who just picked up a fallen comrade and started wielding him like a club, bashing a way through our line and knocking several men down, then Captain Taylor managed to put a bullet in his leg, which only slowed him down slightly, he turned to Taylor which gave me the opprtunity to lash out at him with my sabre. I almost severed his left arm at the elbow but even this grevious wound did not give him pause. He turned towards me and I shall never forget this gaze. There was nothing in his eyes but a sick and raging fire, no mind, no intelligence. It was as if this creature existed only to fight, maim and kill, without regard to his own life, and than he jumped at me.
I remember his body hitting me and impaling himself on my sabre, which thus became useless to me. I was knocked to the ground, blood from this creatures cleaved arm drenched and blinded me while I felt his other hand grab my throat. I tried to break his grip but to no avail. I felt my life leave me when suddenly the grip relaxed and the brute collapsed upon me. From this moment I remember nothing until I regained my senses outside the temple.

From what Taylor, who somehow managed to survive unscathed, told me, the fight lasted only a little while after I lost consciousness.
Taylor was also quick to mention the exceeding valor and fearlessness the Ghurkas showed in fighting these marauders. Even though the skills of Ghurkas in battle are well known to the English in India, he did not expect to see them fight like they did. In his oppinion, the ten Ghurka warriors we had in the party could have easily won this battle alone.
He also told me that after the battle one of the Ghurkas told him of an acient Ghurka tale. Apparently, an idol very much like the one in this subterranean chamber was once worshipped by an evil tribe called the Shosho which inhabited a valley close to the places the Ghurkas live. The Ghurka warrior went on to say that those Shosho were cannibals and performed horrific rites. Then, the Ghurkas and a fedeation of other tribes drove them away, torched their villages and burned their idols. Even now it is the sacred duty of every Ghurka to fight the members of this Shosho tribe.
Judging from what I have seen, I do not doubt this tale in the least.

It was also a Ghurka who slew the brute that nearly strangled me and thus saved my life. I am greatly dismayed that I cannot remember this brave man's name, although Captain Taylor told me. I shall send Captain Taylor a message and ask him to tell me again.



September 6th

It is 3:12 in the morning. I cannot sleep and I do not want to take another dose of morphine either. Whenever I lie down I feel the weight of the brute's body on my chest. Well, with time this memory shall fade and once we are back in Berlin I shall occupy myself with wholesome activities.
I shall mention that from the men I took with me, we lost noone, but several are just as disturbed as I am, some have suffered cuts and Gustavson received a rather hard blow to the chest, Hartmann says some ribs are broken but he will pull through.
As for our English comrades, one of the brave Ghurka fell and two Bitish soldiers. We managed to save all but two of the abducted. The garrison's cook's wife and a British official had their throats cut before we could reach them through the horde of marauders.
From what my men have told me it was Matrose Zimmermann and Gustavson together with two Ghurkas and a number of British soldiers who saved the abductees amidst the still raging fight. Gustavson received his wound blocking the attack of one of those lunatics. I will recommend him and Zimmermann for a commendation or maybe even a medal.
As I write these lines I can still see those images when I close my eyes, it is the desecreted corpses that have burned themselves on the inside of my eyelids.

Dr. Wentworth told me he will take Gwendolen and her mother on an extended holiday to Switzerland. An old friend of his is the director of a sanatorium near Geneva, he thinks Gwendolen will need some time to rest.



September 7th

We are back in Berlin, I am preparing my report for the Flottenkommando. I have already been informed of a telegram the British Government sent to Berlin, commendig our actions and my bravery in particular. Captain Taylor explicitely stated that my bold action in attacking this brute saved his life and very likely also the lives of many of his men. I presume the debriefing later today will not be too difficult, it is also fortunate that none of my crew were killed and the wounded will recover.


Here ends the account of Kapitän von Kober's personal errant.

Next: Steampunk Zepplin LZ-X1 Württemberg in Africa.


back to main page

The First Expediton of LZ-X1 Württemberg

The Second Expedition of LZ-X1 Württemberg