“In this great year of 1870, under her majesty, Queen Victoria, the Royal Navy introduces a new design, a new level in naval ships. We present, the HMS Devastation!” The crowd erupted in applause at the words of the announcer, looking at the marvel sitting in dock.
“A capital ship unlike any before, this ironclad possesses one of the greatest inventions by our own British researchers: the etheric shock cannon!” The crowd suddenly silenced, eagerly awaiting more details. The tabloids had been running rumors for weeks about this new weapon designed, and it so appeared to be well worth the wait.
“Just as there is the so-called ‘sound barrier’, there is also the so-called ‘light barrier’. We have proven the former to be just a hurdle, and through exhaustive studies, so has the latter. Without overly complicated explanation, we can accelerate beyond this ‘barrier’, disrupting the ‘ether’ of our universe, creating an electric current highly disruptive to anything in its path. I guess the French might say this is a pain in the ‘berriere’.” This comment elicited a quiet laugh from the crowd, which closely followed every one of his words.
“But words cannot explain it nearly as well as action. So, we shall watch the etheric cannon destroy an old sailboat. Please look out to your left.” The crowd followed the announcer’s hand, looking out to a small sailboat several hundred meters away. The Devastation slowly swiveled its cannon, with a thin squeaking sound. The cannon abruptly stopped, when a slow charging sound began.
The anxiety of the crowd grew with the noise, knowing that whatever was to happen, history would be made. The sound became higher and higher pitched, when it suddenly stopped.
The crowd kept their eyes fixed on the sailboat for several more seconds, until a couple glanced over at the Devastation. Several chuckled, amused at the failed demonstration.
Suddenly, a loud crack came from the Devastation, sending it rocking back and forth in the port. But no one was watching it, as even those suprised and scared couldn’t pull their eyes away from the sailboat, now shattered into a thousand pieces.
“Nice little show, Admiral,” commented Captain Jenkins, leaning against a pole, looking out at the sea.
“How did you know it was me?” came the reply from behind, as a British naval officer stepped in beside Jenkins. Jenkins took no noticable notice of Rear Admiral William’s presence, with his eyes still fixed on the now garbage slowly floating in towards shore.
“It would’ve been yours, you know,” William’s mentioned, after several moments of silence, “but imagine how it would reflect on the Empire if the research we were doing suddenly ended up in the hands of a pirate.”
“Privateer, my good man,” Jenkins corrected, “even if those stuffy bureaucrats in Paris so many years back disagree. And I understand. Some connections best remain… informal.”
“To be sure. I’m sure we can arrange for you to ‘capture’ one soon enough. Meanwhile, we have another assignment for you. And it’s not harrassing American merchants.”
“How sad. I was beginning to enjoy the sniveling of those pitiful seamen,” he said with a dry sarcasm. The crew of the Hind had been taking out American vessels for the past couple months and was eager for a new assignment.
“This one may strike you as a bit unusual,” he began, hoping to grab the attention he had not yet been respectfully paid. “Several ships have been lost in the southern Atlantic, as you likely know, almost directly between Bermuda and the Ivory Coast. I know that investigation is not your sort of work, but frankly, I can’t justify sending out more of the royal navy.”
“What would you tell their mothers?”
“Exactly. But there’s more,” he said, suddenly lowering his voice. “Britain’s best have been analyzing information from the region, and according to waves and tidal activity, it seems as though there is a landmass in that area, never before found.”
“Not surprising. We’re finding new little islands in the East Indies all the time,” Jenkins replied nonchalantly. He had learned that the less the Admiral thought he cared, the more he would be paid.
“Oh no, much larger than that. Frankly, I’m shocked that no one has reported it. We’re talking about a land mass as large as the United Kingdom itself.”
(Author’s Note: please comment. Don’t want to start out on the wrong foot.)