Lore of Yore
Histories of the known universe... and beyond
An excerpt from The Cracking Christmas Crisis, one of the many Penny Amazings released seemingly on a weekly basis by the Plinkington Publishing Group of Cheapside, London, accredited to Captain Dashworth but likely ghost-written by his loyal scribe Quilton. What follows is an example of the manner of festivities carried out by some in the British Empire, although it is clear that Mssrs Dashworth and Quilton have taken some liberties with the details.
Needless to say the crafty Captain Dashworth escaped from the quasar's crushing energies with barely a speck of accretion on his doublet, and began preparing for a fine jaunt to the glamorous Glim Blazar. The snow-capped world was hosting many seasonal festivities, and the space-adventurer was always one for observing a noble British tradition.
However, who should come scurrying along the accessway but Dashworth's faithful manservant Benson, fresh from a bout of goodening to secure provisions in the Sentum Cynosure. The stalwart ensign had come away with barely a mince pie and a pair of brightly-coloured odd socks, but this haul pleased the little fellow no end. He also appeared to be dragging something large, green, and leafy along the grating of the deck.
"I hope you're going to get the dedustifier on those pine needles," Dashworth pointed out, observing the green trail Benson was leaving behind him as if a giganticated gombaslug had slithered its way aboard.
"Quick as a flash, Captain," Benson chirped, "but I thought I might put up my tree first, sir." The hopeful note appended to his voice was so tremulous it would have snapped the strings off a cello. "I've got a bag full of baubles."
"Benson, I've warned you about reading newspapers," Dashworth reminded the young lad, who had indeed spotted an advertisement for a festive tree, given the royal seal of approval thanks to the Queen's consort, who had apparently migrated the tradition over from the Nebula of Saxony. While Dashworth was, naturally, a staunch royalist, he didn't altogether trust folklore from foreign territories—on one occasion he spent an afternoon explaining to the druids of the Quilted Raven why they shouldn't hang witch's heads and other shamanic totems over their fireplaces. In both cases, Dashworth would soon be proved rightly justified.
As it transpired, the tree was actually a mutant Yiggdrashl of a Thousand Needles, or Spruce That Sheds in the Night, and it took all afternoon to prise its goopy tendrils from the ship's instruments. In the end, however, the valiant Dashworth reigned supreme after poking it in half of its forty eyes with Benson's carpet sweeper, which the dutiful ensign summarily used to clean up his mess.
The novella goes on to chronicle an incident with a mechanical spider at the royal parade on Glimbork Three, which certain Archivists at the Royal Infomarium suspect is a modified retelling of a sighting of the terrorist known as the Mage of Spiders by Princess Victoria some time before, with the transclusion of Dashworth in the princess's place. The entire account has been sprinkled with festive references, in a transparently cunning method for Dashworth and his writer to capitalise on the holiday season. It is this author's opinion that the simple light dusting of a story with a thin veneer of seasonal spirit is an entirely hollow and materialistic act benefiting the market over the consumer.
That said, season's greetings to everyone at the Infomarium, and to all of you at home as well.
While many great sights might assail a visitor to the sprawling British capital of London, from the towering Admiralty Building to the splendid Palace of Westminster and the vast Space Docks, none inspire such wonder and affection as the Royal Cosmonautical Museum.
Occupying several relatively modest acres of land in the metropolis, the Cosmonautical Museum is immediately identifiable by the two airships tethered high overhead; both of these marvels are Generation One powered aerostats dating from the onset of the Jupiter Wars, and are museum exhibits in their own right. Visitors can ascend into the control gondolas, and even glimpse the mechanisms that pump vital gravity gas into the dirigibles' ballonets.
On the ground, one may enter the Museum via the imposing wrought-iron gates, symbolic of the colossal towerships that guard the Realm and Star Territories, and will find further wonders within. Display cases house everything from the early interferometers that guided the First Pioneers to the casings of retired boundary buoys caked with authentic kwark droppings. Cosmonauts' suits hang from the walls, some even scaled down to be tried on by younger visitors, but the main attraction dangles from the centre of the main atrium.
A Mark-II Bristol Broadwing, product of the classic Bristol Aeroworks Company, is fixed in place over the heads of onlookers, almost replicating the iconic flyby of the famous Bristol Squadron at the end of the Battle of Bodring Quasar, when children gazed up at the destruction of the Corvanite dreadnoughts in astonished jubilation. The venerable rocketfighter is scorched and battle-scarred, grimed with solomite and pitted with the near-misses from deadly quadralasers. The sight is enough to make any Briton's heart swell with pride for the great space empire.
Many famous faces have passed through the Museum's hallowed halls. Admiral Ironjaw himself opened the Queen Victoria Wing, cutting the ribbon with the sabre he once used to battle the Lost Legionnaire on the steps of the Black Bastille; Colonel Mary Niloc gave her final speech in the Museum prior to retirement, and donated her signature bronze space helmet as an exhibit; and the great General Broadchest was spotted standing to attention at the Jupiter Wars memorial, his daughter at his side in a touching display of the inheritance of duty from parent to child.
Above all else, the Royal Cosmonautical Museum stands testament to a British Empire that has forged its path through the cosmos, and blazed trails across the stars to become the greatest governing force of the Cosmic Age.
While the light of Britain's space empire touched many worlds across the region of the Fifteen Galaxies, there were some planets which no amount of light reached at all. Gnossin, the World Without Fire, was one of these.
It was said that the planet Gnossin was once in orbit around two suns, both of which strayed too close to a Vendra Storm, one of the legendary (indeed, mythical) primeval powers of the cosmos. While one star was subsumed in the storm's incredible energies, its sister was flung into the far reaches of space, its planets spiralling along for the hypervelocity ride. However, Gnossin ultimately broke free of its wandering star's wake, and now drifts aimlessly through the dark.
The inhabitants of Gnossin clung on as well, having observed the oncoming storm and making preparations by digging city-wells deep into the planet's surface. Here, lit by the natural luminescence of Gnossin's inner mantle, the spade-handed Gnossini struggled through a thousand years of hard graft and bare protein from the carbon lichen scraped from the silicate rock walls.
Finally, the wayward planet was discovered by a British survey team led by Andonio Trum aboard the Space Mayflower, who marked their discovery as dangerous and noted it down as the "World Without Fire" or the "Sunless World". Refusing to investigate further after reportedly spotting one of the now-bioluminescent Gnossini peering from their wells, the surveyors fled back to their ship, but without time for their eyes to adjust, the entire team was believed to have stumbled down a well. Their vessel and data were recovered by a second team, helmed by Sir Farthing Tapper, who stayed long enough to briefly converse with several Gnossini, and returned their findings to the Royal Infomarium in London.
The (second) discovery of Gnossin happened to coincide with Britain's conquest of Vorgak 3, and with the empire's attention so diverted, the Gnossini were left to their own devices once again. As a curious footnote, a Penny Amazing written by Quilton on behalf of Captain Dashworth, titled Darkest Day of the Darklings of Darkness!, claimed that Dashworth battled a horde of Gnossini "darklings" on their rogue homeworld, and brought Gnossin back into alignment with a nearby star through a combination of a Tumblecore planetary magnet and his own sheer charm.
The Infomarium has declined to comment on the veracity of the claim.
Histories of the known universe... and beyond