In the beginning was the machine and Babbage built it. The difference engine brought computing to the world, and in the Age of Reason the thinking engine was a great success. Then came other engines. Analytical engines, Thought engines. Some tried to reduce the size of the engines, but that was found to be a dead end. Instead the size of the engines increased, eventually resulting in the edifices of progress known as the Thinking factories.
In the wondrous age of science, any and all theories were examined; some of the old theories were resurrected, and then examined using the power of Babbage’s invention. The thinking factories ran 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 52 weeks of the year, every moment was spent checking on theories and attempting to make sense of the world.
One of the theories was that there were other worlds, and that they could be traveled to easily via certain regions in the world, at certain times when the walls between them were weakened. The initial results from the Thinking Factories were that this theory could indeed be correct. The possibility of exploring a new world was to good an idea to turn up and all of the thinking factories in England were required to turn over 2 hours every night to trying to generate the formulas needed to work out when the weakening would occur.
Eventually there was a breakthrough; the formula for the weakened spots between the worlds was discovered. The run time was then turned over to solving the formula for one of the other possible worlds. It took nearly two years to solve but once they had, the location of all of the weak points in the world to one of the other worlds were revealed to them. They were amused to note the nearest of the points was actually the centre of Stonehenge. The next weakening was to take place in 3 years and preparations were put in place to take advantage of it. At first the government intended to make it a military expedition but they were persuaded to first send a very well provisioned Science mission. Given the next weakening would not take place for several years, a military expedition would most likely run out of supplies long before then, while a scientific expedition would stand a chance of either locating supplies in the new world or at least cultivating them.
Some in the government were unhappy about this decision but did not have enough public support to overturn the decision. They did however have enough pull to demand that at least some military personnel were added to the mission. This was to prove a very good decision.
The machinery required to pierce the walls between the worlds was built and brought to Stonehenge, great Voltaic Arc machines, Chaos Engines, and Phlogiston condensers were put into place. Vast amounts of equipment, food supplies and scientific instruments were placed in huge warehouses near to the entryway. A train line was laid directly to the centre of Stonehenge, with care taken to avoid damaging the ancient edifice.
The time of the weakening came, the mighty engines were activated and at first nothing happened. Then suddenly a portal appeared like a gateway hanging in space, on the other side an image of what seemed to be a distorted image of a sunlit plain appeared. Scientists in Deep sea diving equipment proceeded through the gate in front of the watching masses, carrying canaries in cages to test the air. The watching dignitaries gasped as the men stepped through the portal and staggered but they fast righted themselves and having examined the birds removed their helmets. They began examining the surroundings.
After three hours they returned. The air was breathable although seemed to contain less phlogiston than Earth and it possessed a heavier gravity than Earth. The weakened spot seemed to have appeared in a grass plain, and there seemed to be signs that someone or something in the past had placed wooden pillars all around the spot much the same as Stonehenge. The poles were now almost rotted to nothing however. The scientists named the new world Eden after the garden humankind was banished from.
Navvies were sent through to lay track for the trains but work progressed slowly, and with limited time to get started the plan was changed to drive the trains off the end of the tracks and derail them to speed the process. Soon the huge machines were rumbling through the portal carrying huge loads of supplies, fuels, and water. The scientists began setting up their outpost.
Over 8 days some sixteen locomotives passed through the portal and derailed in the grass plain on the other side. The Science outpost was well on the way to being completed, the time of weakening was coming to a close. Indeed the last train passing through was caught as the portal closed. The crew of the train were twisted by the energies given out by the collapsing portal, changing them into horrific monsters. The troops nearby were forced to kill them but they took a number of casualties doing so. The deaths were kept quiet and were reported as deaths caused due to the derailing of the trains.
The energy released by the collapse of the portal however allowed the scientists to realize something else. There was great power available in manipulating what they called Dark Wall Energy from the wall between the worlds. They began working the new ideas through the Thinking Factories. Soon it was possible to generate Formulas to perform minor miracles providing you could work out the variables and also if the location of a slight weakening in the Dark Wall was nearby. It was possible to heal someone of disease or injury or draw lightening from the sky. Manipulating the dark energy was not without risk, accidents did occur and they were always terrible. When Prince Albert was saved from death by the use of one such formulas however the world and the empire hailed them as the next generation of scientific endeavour.
Years passed, thinking factories were built all over the world but Britain was careful to only allow countries they trusted to have factories powerful enough to work on the Dark Wall Formulas These Countries, the newly founded German Empire and Japan also began working on the formulas, although they intended to locate a different world than the British Empire, the formula was far easier to solve for the world already discovered. As such an agreement “The Dark wall Treaty” was made dividing the other world into areas of influence. Of Course the division was purely speculative because no information on Eden could be received until the Weakening between the worlds reoccurred.
Unknown to Britain and the other Dark wall Treaty powers, other forces in the world had managed to secure the formulas via espionage. America, France, and both the White and the Red Russians, all had their spies working on the acquisition of the knowledge needed to manipulate dark energy. Meanwhile the French had built the machinery needed to pierce the Dark Wall and had stolen the research of the Germans to facilitate their entry into the new world. However the Franco-Prussian war broke their plans into a million pieces, and forced the Scientists to flee to their allies in the Southern States of America. There the states of the Old confederacy dreamed of resurrecting themselves in Eden and planned a mission to do just that. The North Americans, knew nothing of this and prepared their own machinery to pierce the walls, with no knowledge that the horrors of the civil war had not totally broken the back of Southern resistance.
The time of the next weakening approached. It swiftly became the only worthy news in all of England. Would the science mission have survived or would they have succumbed to the strange new world. Indeed even at the highest levels there were fears about what could have occurred. It was determined that the location of the weak spot would be protected by the army, ready to rush to the scientists aid if needed. Lord Chelmsford, recently returned from India at the head of the 24th Foot, was placed in command of these forces, and the troops were placed ready and very well provisioned. The Chaos Engines activated and the weakened spot was opened.
On the other side all hell seemed to have broken loose. The area of the weak spot had been fortified using the wrecks of the trains it seemed. About 1/3 of the scientists and the remaining troops were huddled inside the fortification, and the Soldiers were keeping up a withering fire on whoever was outside the fortification. As the scientists flooded though from the Eden side Chelmsford organized a strong force to relieve the defenders of the scientific base. Taking with them the latest repeating weapons and pistols, missile launchers and Machine Guns they rushed through the portal and took positions on the walls.
Outside the walls there seemed to be a native force of strange alien creatures which seemed to have strange growths on their left arms that fired spines towards the defenders. They also seemed to carry basic weaponry and spears. All around were signs of the Science enclave but every part of it seemed to be in flames! The enemies were busy ripping the place apart systematically. They seemed possessed of a great rage and anger against the humans and they also seemed to be very difficult to kill. Even a head shot would not take them down permanently; they merely staggered and then went on a rampage losing all sense of tactics.
With their superior fire power and reinforcements the British were able to push the creatures back and drive them away from the Science enclave.
In other parts of the world the entry to Eden was far calmer. The Germans also appeared on the huge grass plain, and disproved one theory about the weak points and Eden. It had been believed that the weak points would be as far from each other as they were on Earth, however as they could hear the sounds of battle at the British compound they were no more than 3 days travel from there.
The Japanese were determined to carve a large domain from the new world and so the very moment the portal was open began moving troops and supplies through the portal as fast as possible. The Neo-Samurai were to claim new land for the Emperor. They found themselves in deep and thick forest, which seemed to be full of predators, some of which were truly huge.
Both of the American forces found themselves in a swamp. However it seemed to be totally uninhabited so they immediately began looking for dryer ground to make a settlement on.
The Russian factions fell foul of the proximity of the entry points. They appeared practically on top of each other. Given their differences a battle was inevitable and the White Russians certainly got the worst of it. They retreated out of the region they had appeared in leaving the Red Russians in command of the high ground they had appeared in and retreated to the lowlands around them.
Back at the British opening Lord Chelmsford had learned from the scientists that the enemy who had attacked the Science base were known as Xorolunda, and were very aggressive. At first the science base had been unmolested, the ground was capable of supporting earth crops and the animals were edible. However within 8 months they received a delegation from a native race known as the Yaxarla, a related race to the Xorolunda. They approached obviously apprehensive but peacefully. The scientists were more than happy to have a chance to research another sentient race.
Although there were difficulties they did finally manage to decipher the Yaxarla language. They learned that the Yaxarla were worried that the Humans were there to open the devil gate which had opened before and released terrible hardships upon the People’s of Eden. The Scientists explained that they had also come through the gate but were not evil. At first the Yaxarla did not believe them. Slowly however they came to terms with what they were being told. The previous travelers of the gate had been huge creatures and mighty warriors and had rampaged over the lands with fiery swords and thunderbolts. They ravaged the lands for 50 years enslaving the Yaxarla and the Xorolunda, and then they suddenly disappeared and were never seen again.
The scientists began trading with the Yaxarla and all would have been fine if not for the Xorolunda. They also remembered the stories of the Devil gate and refused to believe that the humans were not the destroyers returned. A belief made still worse by the firearms of the soldiers which the scientists used to defend themselves against the mega fauna of the plains. The Xorolunda saw this as the destroyers thunderbolts returned. They appeared at the gates to the compound and demanded that the scientists leave Eden immediately or suffer the consequences. The Yaxarla attempted to speak to them telling them that the humans were not the same as the destroyers; however the Xorolunda had no time for the Yaxarla, thinking them the lowest of the low, traders rather than Warriors. As such they ignored the claims of the Yaxarla elders. The British were the destroyers returned and would be removed from the world; they could either leave or be removed by force.
The British could obviously not leave until the next weakening and the Xorolunda were unwilling to listen to reason. Soon after the ultimatum they launched an attack with hundreds of warriors. Many of the scientists were killed but the quick thinking of the Major of the soldiers attached to the mission saved the rest. Although formidable foes, the Xorolunda were unprepared for the British weapons, and their superstitions about the Destroyers sapped their morale. After a decisive battle the Xorolunda were thrown back in disarray.
Major Devises immediately began fortifying the compound, knowing that his only chance of reinforcement was the Weak spot he fortified this section the most strongly. He used the Wrecks of the trains to build a palisade, and a firing step inside. The rest of the compound was fortified using the carriages, which provided some protection but not nearly as much. Pits were dug and the carriages were pushed into them and buried up to the axles. Over the next few years there were repeated clashes with the Xorolunda, some with the same sort of natives seen previously and others with Xorolunda who were basically ravaging monsters who devoured both their own and the British fallen. The Compound found life hard, indeed without the Yaxarla the British would have found it very hard to survive. The Yaxarla traded foodstuffs for technological wonders which the British could afford to part with. This in turn infuriated the Xorolunda who also began attacking the Yaxarla, calling them the servants of the Destroyers.
Given their reliance on the Yaxarla for trade of foodstuffs the British had no choice but to provide them with weapons to defend themselves. The war between the Yaxarla and Xorolunda exploded into guerrilla warfare and reprisals against opposing villages. Sadly even with the British weapons the Yaxarla had no real will to fight, the Xorolunda pushed them from their ancestral home lands and they retreated behind the British positions. Luckily by this point the British had managed to get to the stage where they could at least partially support themselves. The Yaxarla pulled back to a region their myths said they had once lived in before the coming of the Destroyers. With their enemy gone the Xorolunda attempted once more to attack the British, however again they were driven back by the British weapons.
There followed a period of relative peace, certain of the Xorolunda chiefs attempted to rally the tribes for another assault, but the British weapons, and the myths about the destroyers returned made it difficult to gain support. Their campaign against the British slowed to a spattering of ambushes and raids on outlying locations.
In the meantime the British used the period of peace to explore some of Eden’s regions and learn more about the new world in particular they were interested in examining any remaining ruins from the time of the destroyers. Unfortunately such ruins had been routinely destroyed by both the Yaxarla and Xorolunda, so very little evidence remained. They had obviously understood the theories behind the Dark wall however and as such the British considered them to be the most important subject of research on Eden.
Eventually they located an intact Destroyer site however it was deep in Xorolunda territory. Prompted by the scientists the Soldiers planned a raid with the stated aim of punching through to the site, and holding it long enough for the scientists to perform at least a preliminary research survey on the site. Major Devises argued strongly against this adventure but was overruled by the leader of the Science team. Dr Froggett argued that with the time of the next weakening fast approaching they needed to be able to provide results. Any retaliation from the Xorolunda could be contained until the expected reinforcements arrived.
The mission set off, and at first it went well, they found only minimal resistance as the Xorolunda avoided the region. The scientists began their research, and the Soldiers set up a defensive perimeter. Good work was produced, and the scientists unearthed a few Destroyer items which they crated ready for transport. They were ready to leave when the Xorolunda began to appear. Soon they had the site entirely surrounded, and the natives began to attack. The soldiers were under equipped for such an onslaught but acted swiftly to defend the scientists.
The battle lasted the best part of a day but by the end of it some 300 Xorolunda had been killed in fierce firefights, as they were lured into the British fields of fire. However it had not all gone the British way. Many of the Soldiers were either dead or wounded, and Major Devises had been killed by a blast from a Xorolunda fist weapon. However faced with such horrific losses and fighting on ground they considered unholy, the Xorolunda leaders could not press their warriors to fight further. The scientists and the remaining Soldiers fled the Destroyer site, back to the science mission.
Once there they readied themselves for the inevitable attack. They prepared a redoubt inside the Fortification around the weak spot Well supplied with both food and ammunition, it was designed to hold out as long as possible with the hope that the time of the weakening would come before it fell.
Meanwhile the Xorolunda leaders were once again building up a force to attack the British. However they were finding it steadily more difficult as many of the warriors had lost their lives in the previous battles against the British. Many of the Tribal Chiefs were no longer convinced that the battle against the British could be won. However the leaders promised that no attack would be made until they had gathered overwhelming force. A great force began to be gathered in the depths of the Sea of Grass. When some 10000 Xorolunda warriors had gathered they moved against the science mission. It was this force that Lord Chelmsford found rampaging over the Science mission when the Weakening occurred.
Having broken the back of the Xorolunda army, Lord Chelmsford had robbed them of their will to fight. However fearing that they would regather their forces and strike again he began a process of destroying the nearest Xorolunda settlements. He struck hard, and killed all the Xorolunda present. However this had two major effects, one it strengthened the resolve of the remaining Xorolunda tribes near to the British Compound, and two it created very large “Feeder Herds” as it was found that Xorolunda who had been fatally injured could reanimate as unthinking eating machines that the Tommies nicknamed “Deaders". Luckily not every corpse was capable of rising in this fashion. However enough of them did rise to cause a considerable problem.
Lord Chelmsford decided that to stand a chance he had to strike into the Xorolunda homelands, so he planned an audacious raid on them. His direct subordinate, Major-General Summers however tried to dissuade him. The Xorolunda were on the back foot, they didn’t have the force to defend against the Feeder herds and launch attacks on the British. Attacking them he argued might strengthen their resistance and push them to resume their attacks on the British. Major-General Innis his 3ic however disagreed and advocated not just breaking their will to fight but crushing them utterly so they were never again a threat. Chelmsford agreed with Innis however, and the force was assembled and set off.
Lord Chelmsford pushed deep into Xorolunda territory, was mostly unopposed. Seeing the force approaching them the Xorolunda began to gather the tribes for defence under an elected high Chief. Having received information to this effect from his scouts, Lord Chelmsford made the decision to leave his artillery and the best part of the supply wagon behind in an attempt to strike the Xorolunda before they could fully gather themselves. Leaving his “Lame Duck” Major General Summers in charge of bringing up the supplies in his own time, he and Innis pushed deep into the Xorolunda holdings, on a forced march carrying the barest minimum of equipment.
Finally he was forced to call a halt after 3 days of marching to allow the men to rest. Not worried about an attack by the natives he ordered an open camp to me made to allow the men to rest properly rather than have to spend hours in the hot sun digging embankments. This was unfortunately somewhat of a mistake. Although they were not yet ready the Xorolunda tribes included a large number of young warriors who were eager to get to grips with the enemy. As such when they received information of Chelmsford's camp they rushed to attack without waiting for orders from the Elect.
The battle was bloody for both sides, the warriors fell on the camp in the early evening as the men where cooking dinner. The initial attack caused confusion throughout the camp and as such precious time was lost getting the troops in a position to defend themselves. However once the Soldiers were in a position to defend themselves the camp perimeter had been well and truly penetrated and the combat devolved into small unit skirmishes, which greatly favoured the larger numbers the Xorolunda had.
The British troops did start making headway however, and the combined fire of their rifles in certain of the skirmishes saw off large numbers of the inexperienced Xorolunda warriors, and killed fairly hefty numbers.
Lord Chelmsford who was out hunting at the time was informed of the attack on the camp, but thought it likely that is was only the Xorolunda performing reconnaissance by force and as such did not call off his hunt. When further messages arrived speaking of a large attacking force, he first dispatched Innis to take command, and then when he saw for himself the extent of the attack which had been shielded from him by a rise, returned himself.
Innis therefore reached the camp some fifteen to twenty minutes before Lord Chelmsford, and this was to prove lucky for the Major-General and much less so for the Lord. Innis reached the centre of the camp in pretty good order, and was able to take command, organizing the defence, and slowly bringing together the disparate forces of the British army. By this time however the camp was surrounded on all sides by Xorolunda warriors following their classic encirclement tactic. This unfortunately meant that by the time Lord Chelmsford decided he must return to the camp he was outside the encirclement. He and his beaters were ambushed by a group of around 200 Xorolunda and Lord Chelmsford himself was struck in the chest by a number of Spines and as he lay wounded on the ground speared to death.
Meanwhile Innis had managed to organize the force sufficiently to break out of the encirclement, and wisely decided to Fall back in the direction of the following artillery. The force had lost some 1270 men and the majority of its supplies . The Line of retreat took them past the ambush site of Lord Chelmsford and they recovered his body and then retreated to the rise to wait until morning.
When morning dawned they could see the extent of the battlefield. The Xorolunda were busy raiding the camp, and dealing with the casualties both theirs, and the enemies. Even worse with their attack the Elects hand had been forced and a veteran unit of warriors had been sent to reinforce them. Innis decided against attempting to retake the camp and instead ordered a further retreat back towards the Supply train.
Without supplies and with the constant threat of the Xorolunda pursuing them the retreat was a dismal affair and a further 72 men died during the march. Worse after the first day the Xorolunda completed their pillage and set off after the retreating force, carrying with it some of the weapons taken from the camp. The rearguard were forced on at least 3 occasions to exchange fire with Xorolunda wielding stolen rifles, but with luck the Xorolunda were abysmal shots with the unfamiliar weaponry, and very few of them grasped the concept of reloading.
With the enemy hard upon his heels Innis decided to continue the march through the night, fearing that the Xorolunda would not rest and would so come upon his men while they rested. It was a dangerous gamble, but he did know that ahead there was an escarpment he could place against his back and provide a strong point in front of which he could place his forces in defence. Also by this point the Artillery could not be too far away, and that would be more than sufficient to see off the natives.
The Xorolunda did attack just as evening fell but the skirmish was inconclusive and Innis managed to fall back with ease. The natives chose to rest that night while sending a token force to trail the British soldiers. They realized to where Innis was heading almost immediately and retreated to inform their leaders that the enemy would soon gain a position that would prove difficult to assault due to the inability to surround the enemy.
As morning dawned Innis and his exhausted men saw the escarpment ahead of them at the other side of a large flat plain, and believed themselves almost saved, unfortunately the rear guard reported that a swiftly moving force of Xorolunda were approaching from the rear attempting to bring them to action before they could put their backs against the rock face. Ordering 2 sections of men to defend the rear approach Innis drove the rest of his force on, with any man falling behind left to his own devices. The defending troops gave their lives bravely, their accurate fire blunting their charge, but eventually they were overwhelmed. However they bought Innis just a few more minutes which allowed him to close the distance to the Escarpment, however it soon became obvious that it was not enough and he would be caught in the open before he could make it to the Escarpment, instead of running further he ordered a halt and started to get his men in position to fight. It was obviously a lost cause however but Innis determined to exact a heavy price from the enemy.
The Xorolunda appeared at the edge of the plain and began to form into their usual encirclement formations, with the young warriors in the front and the veteran warriors on the flanks ready to encircle. Innis’ men arranged themselves in three ranks, realizing that they would be able to exact a greater count of the enemy with their fire concentrated, despite the fact that this would make them far more vulnerable to the encircling veterans.
The battle began in a rush, the Xorolunda suddenly charging seemingly straight towards the much smaller British force, but actually spreading as they came forward. Innis commanded his troops to fire as they approached and the Xorolunda middle began to crumple under the weight of fire even as the left and right arms of the force spread out to encircle and destroy them. All seemed lost.
At that point however the left flank of the Xorolunda force was stuck by several large explosions. The right flanks was equally struck but this attack was from a fair whirlwind of fire. At first both sides of the battle were uncertain as to what had happened, however Innis wasted no time in ordering his men to form the old Square formation, to provide some defence from the swarming Xorolunda. The explosions and fire however were coming from Summers Supply train.
Summers following the orders of Lord Chelmsford had moved the supply train as swiftly toward the front as possible. However having heard the sound of the skirmish the night before he had taken the decision to place his artillery at the top of the escarpment, and the Gatling guns he had brought with him had been concealed in the cover of long grass to the enemies right. It was a risk, but the route to the British holdings would have taken them past this point and fearing that Chelmsford's headlong rush to the Xorolunda lands had seen him ambushed and destroyed. However when he saw Innis’ much reduced force approaching he changed his plan from containing the Xorolunda advance to rescuing the remains of Chelmsford force. He ordered both wings of his army to pound the Veterans he realized would be placed on the Flanks. Waiting until the opportune moment he opened fire on them as they moved into range trying to Flank Innis.
This time the battle was much shorter and considerably less evenly matched. Against heavy artillery and the withering fire of the Gatling guns the Xorolunda had no chance of victory. They caused a few casualties on Innis’ force but lost many themselves. Eventually under the pounding fire of the Mortars they retreated. Rejoining the Supply train Innis was forced to inform Summers that Lord Chelmsford had died placing the second in Command in charge. Summers immediately ordered a retreat back to the Science Mission.
Once there a problem occurred. The Weak spot had once again closed leaving them cut off from England but with a great deal of supplies and troops deposited in the warehouses quickly erected for the purpose.
Innis immediately called for a force to be gathered to strike at the Xorolunda again before they could reform. The Scientists who had been part of the previous science mission argued that doing so ran the risk of solidifying the Xorolunda resistance to them. With the arrival of Lord Chelmsford's troops right at the moment of what should have been the Xorolunda victory, could well prompt them to an even more solid belief that the humans were the Destroyers returned. No chance of peace would then be possible. The Yaxarla also agreed, with the defeat of both attacks the Xorolunda would be shaken to their core. If now the British offered them peace it would likely be accepted by the Elect at least for a short period, during which time work could be done to persuade them that the British were not the ravening Horrors that they believed them to be.
Summers agreed, wiping out another race, even one as warlike as the Xorolunda was not something he cared to be part of. He preferred instead to preserve the native populace where possible and wished to reach some form of accommodation with the natives as had been achieved in other parts of the Empire. Innis however strongly disagreed, no peace with the Xorolunda would be possible he claimed and he even cast doubts on the sincerity of the Yaxarla, accusing them of being in collusion with the Xorolunda, who had in fact been their ancestral enemies.
This caused a rift in the British force. Although Summers had seniority he was not of noble birth. Innis meanwhile was and was well liked by the troops many of whom also ascribed to his outlook on the Xorolunda. The arguments became more and more vociferous as time went on, and in the end Innis took matters into his own hands, he asked any soldier or scientist who agreed with his outlook to join him, and demanded that Summers release to him Half of all of the supplies. Faced with the prospect of a large, organized, and well equipped mutiny Summers had no choice but to acquiesce to Innis’ demands fearing the damage that the British could do to themselves if they fell to squabbling now. He allowed Innis’ supporters and him to leave with their supplies, telling them that they would remain allies but that he could not support them in attacks on the Xorolunda until no other option remained.
These two factions slowly solidified, although they kept in close contact they were not overly cordial, their two outlooks somewhat incompatible. Summers’ faction came to be known as the Preservers, where as Innis’ faction knows itself as the Militant Faction but is known by the other forces on Eden as the British Imperialists.
The Next Weakening of the Dark wall is due in Eight years, what the various factions do in the meantime will decide who ends up in the most advantageous position when reinforcements finally arrive. Also there is the continuing work on the Dark wall energies, and also items the Destroyers may have left behind.