Hollow Earth IC

FriedCFour

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Boston, Massachusetts
June 7th, 1903


The Inventa, A new top of the line steamship equipped for icebreaking is preparing to set sail. Measuring 400 feet in length and with a crew of 145 men and women, this is the largest expedition to set sail for the North Pole ever. Crowds gather at the docks to see you off. Journalists from many of the newspapers of America and some from foreign lands are there to write about it. Many are writing follow up articles. The Saturday Morning Post has been talking incessantly about the magnanimous Mark Russel, using his wealth from Fastidious Delver Enterprises to further human knowledge and understanding of the world around us in a brilliant scientific endeavor.

Others, like the New York Times, Boston Globe, and most newspapers in America have derided the expedition, calling it a foolhardy endeavor by a man with no sense of what he is undertaking and no experience, and bound to make the Polaris expedition look like a masterpiece. Their writings would not be read by you, however, as you were setting sail for lands far beyond the reach of the printing press. Most of the crew were only there because of the high pay, and if they knew the true purpose of the expedition even that would not be enough to take on such an insane expedition. However, among the elite few privileged with the knowledge, they knew they were out to set a pathway to changes in the understanding of life and the world around them that could scarcely be comprehended.

Parry Islands, Canada
July 23rd, 1903, 8:00 AM


The Expedition so far has been a great success. Few snags, few injuries and no deaths have made this a solid start for the arctic. The Parry islands, the most northernmost known land in the Canadian Arctic Archipelago have just come into sight, and the greatest American holiday is soon to come. The ship is bustling, the morning shift of sailors taking way, contented by the mass supply of tobacco and alcohol, the ship smelling and feeling more like a floating saloon than a sea bearing vessel. Mr. Russel has just called his trusted circle to his private mess room for breakfast and for a meeting. You arrive one by one, ready to hear what he has to say.
 

almostinsane

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"Thank God. The temperature is finally starting to feel sensible," Amaruq noted, fanning herself. Her brother laughed to himself.

"Dear sister, I found the heat refreshing. It's so much different from back home. Did you know that their days are normal all year round? Astonishing," Thomas quipped. Amaruq rolled her eyes.

"It's unnatural. Only white devils like you could stand it."

"It is a good thing you are half white devil, sis,"
Thomas laughed, easily falling back into their mother's native tongue. Their dad, God rest his soul, could never get a hang of the language beyond a few words, but their mother and her side of the family had been sure to teach them.

"I swear, if one more man assumes I do not speak English, I will feed him to the sharks."

"Temper temper, sis." Thomas teased, taking a seat along with his sister. He scanned the room. Now, was the Countess here? Or Ms. Penelope? He did enjoy admiring each of those exotic woman's beauty. He felt an elbow into his stomach. He glanced, taking in his sister's innocent expression as she announced in an intentionally thick Inuit accent.

"O'Malley's present."
 

Abyssgazer

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The private messes table was weight down with the finer fresh foods aboard the ship with seasonings taken along for the trip. Breathing in the succulent scents Mark sigh as he steeled himself for a complete lack of these as luxuries soon.

He'd invited to his table were the most interesting members that'd been hire or joined the expedition alongside his good friend Anton and the lovely Miss Penelope, so named after she'd given him an earful for atrociously butchering her name like a blind butcher.

"Ah, good to see everyone! Come! Sit, sit there won't be many opportunities for meals like this left or at all soon." He jovially greet them giving everyone time to seat themselves. He did so enjoy company.

"We've been making excellent time north, in our race to expanding the boundaries of the frontier of human knowledge and American exploration. Our path north is why we've set anchor here for a short time, I hope to speak with the native and locals about the conditions and knowledge further along our route north, if possible hire some guides or a ship pilot familiar with the local water. Thomas, yourself and your sister will be invaluable as translators."

Mark cast a meaningful look to Anton as one of the very few who knew the true goal of this expedition what other questions to ask the locals.
 
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The pale light of the Arctic sun scattered into millions of white, sparkling motes across the surface of the deep-blue seas. The surface of the water was broken only by gentle, regular waves that disturbed the massive steam-powered vessel far less than its own rumbling boilers and powerful screws, belching out great clouds of steam as it trundled steadily northward towards the last outpost of civilization, beyond which lay only unexplored and uncharted wastes of ice.

Or so people had thought. The man taking an early-morning walk — or at least what was considered an early hour by the hands of his pocket-watch, as at this great latitude the daylight hours were excessively long in these summer months, and the sun had already risen some time ago — knew better. He had been shown the evidence that had defied the common sense of the anthropologists and historians of the last centuries, a damning contravention of the conventional wisdom, first in photographic form and then in person.

After that, how could he have refused Mark's invitation to join the expedition? Though he was no longer the sprightly, vigorous campaigner and explorer of his youth, there was still a fire burning in Anton Arfwed Abderhalden. There was enough in him for at least one more journey, especially one with such monumental implications. And so he'd put in for sabbatical at the university, updated his last will and testament, and said goodbye to his exasperated wife while dodging his oldest sons' demands to come along. They were too young and inexperienced for such a dangerous undertaking, but perhaps after a tour of Europe and a campaign in Africa they would be ready for the second round of expeditions, should the future show promise. Mark had been kind enough to handle the management of supplies and support, and all Anton had brought with him was some personal effects and a handful of students to assist with the observations and cataloging of all they hoped to find.

His vigil over the chilly morning seas was interrupted by loud, rapid footsteps on the deck. "Mister Russel's invited you to breakfast, sah!" reported the messenger, a young man whose name Anton hadn't ever heard and face he'd not ever seen. With how large the crew and complement of the Inventa were, that was hardly unsurprising.

With a nod and a flick of the ash off his cigar, Anton turned away from the horizon and headed towards their leader-sponsor's luxury suite.



After seeing to the needs of any womenfolk present, Anton took a seat directly on Mark's left and served himself one of the delicacies on the table, one that greatly resembled a duke's treasure atop a cushioned seat. It was a dish that had been popularized fairly recently, comprising a poached egg atop a toasted breakfast muffin, separated by a layer of smoked salmon, and draped with a buttery-rich yellow sauce. When his knife sliced into the egg, the still-liquid yolk flowed out like a river of gold and coated the lox and muffin.

Luxuries such as this were to be fully appreciated while the opportunity lasted, for he knew that once they had set off for unknown regions there would be little more than salted meat and hard biscuits. It would keep a man going, but did a piss-poor job at filling the belly and keeping up morale.

He returns Mark's meaningful look with a slight nod of understanding. "Indeed. When I was traveling through the wilderness of what is now called German East Africa, the collaboration of the locals was absolutely invaluable to our efforts. Their own experiences and stories are a balm for our own relative ignorance."
 

Harlock

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Cold weather was miserable, the temperatures numbing him down to the bone and they hadn't even begun their journey to the truly icy extremes yet. It wasn't a great start and he really wasn't looking forward to a few months trekking over ice sheets but unfortunately his options were limited.

Thomas Sutherland left the cabin with as much pep in his stride as he could manage in the appalling conditions. He did not feel energised or pleased to be here but had to present the appearance he was, the last thing he needed was to be dumped in Canada at some remote whaling station.

A scientific expedition wasn't really his area of interest anymore. In his youth he had joined in on a few sharing a tent with the larger than life George Challenger during one nightmare in the Amazon seeking lost cities and dinosaurs. Ridiculous business and a grand waste of time, afterwards he had focused more on the better known sources of civilisation like Egypt, China and India.

During that time he had found a niche as a locator and surveyor of last tombs using his education and experience to seek out lost treasures. It had turned out to be a profitable and highly illegal line of work which required sharp wits and a sense for when to get of town fast in order to thrive.

His presence here was in part due to that need to be somewhere else. He had made a very decent living raiding antiquities during the recent Boxer rebellion exploiting the chaos to rummage through some old Imperial tombs, his current tailored suit having being paid for by a Jade comb plucked from the grave of an ancient concubine. Sadly his efforts had drawn the attention of the Chinese Triads which required a hasty withdrawal from Asia.

Thomas had decided it was best to vanish for a while, though he still needed money. The best option was therefore a little trip to the furthest edge of the world, and by good fortune this expedition had arrived just as his money from the Chinese raids had almost run dry.

He had no interest in fame or glory, indeed it did him little good to have his name too widely known, but having being blacklisted by the serious scientific world for his raiding of burial sites he would enjoy actually having a legitimate achievement to his name as a form of revenge.

He took his place at the table with a warm greeting to the already assembled group, none of whom he had met before and only vaguely recognised by reputation. Fortunately there appeared to be no one he owed money to which was the only good news so far.
 

Tyanna of Pentos

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Longline (boneless) corset, brassiere, petticoats, A-frame skirt, blouse, vest, outer jacket, full stockings, lace-up boots, full-forearm dinner gloves, and then the hat set down and secured against wind by a few hat-pins as she made sure her dark hair was properly pulled up. "Excellent," the Countess grinned in the mirror. She put on her makeup, a few touch-ups and some very modest rose on the cheeks and lips. Satisfied with her appearance, she used a tip-cutter to trim the tip of her cigarette and settled it into a meerschaum cigarette holder, and struck it with her fancy flintlock lighter.

With a final grin, she tucked her pencil and notebook under one arm and started off down the swaying deck of the ship. There were sailor lads singing The Bonnie Ship, the Diamond on the main deck below as she passed over--she wasn't sure if on this kind of ship it was called the top deck or the texas deck--and presented herself at the Drawing Room as Mr. Russel had requested.

"Mister Russel Sir, I have arrived per your invitation," she said with a curtsy, and moved to sit as her privilege as a lady, tapping the cigarette at the end of the holder and looking around the table, everyone from gentlemen to mulattoes to that fascinating woman Mr. Russel found so useful who had escaped the Amban's palace in Ulaanbator or some such rot like that. Really she could write stories about them all, but one didn't start a trip by offending the traveling companions. "I don't suppose we shall have a chance to shoot some seals while we're here, these are the Parry Islands am I right? The blood in the water might bring in the polar bears, and then we'd get some real sport!"
 

almostinsane

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"Thank you, Mr. Russel. While the locals no doubt differ from our tribe in Alaska, we should be able to establish a good working relationship with them." Thomas noted. His sister nodded in agreement.

"Only so many possible words. Trade signs should be easy enough and we have plenty good steel and furs from your stockpile. Firewater too," Amaruq noted. She smiled ferally as she snatched her knife and cut through a helping of sausages in one smooth motion.

"Inuit would kill for good steel knife. Would sell his mother for good Kentucky Bourbon. Think my grandfather sold my mother to my father for a bottle from Old Bourbon County in Kentucky."

Thomas grinned winningly. This was their little dance when it came to rich white men from outside their home. His sister would play up the stereotype of a tamed savage and he would act as the civilized gentleman.

"We welcome the chance to explore new lands. Africa, Mr. Abderhalden. I hear that it's even hotter down there. Perhaps Amaruq and I can..."

"No," his sister announced. He shrugged in acquiesce as his sister perked up in interest at the Countess' words.

"Seal meat will be good for us to store for later. Blubber too. For lamps," she noted. Shed raised an eyebrow at the Countess, skepticism as she asked, "You hunt?"
 

Abyssgazer

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At the mere mention of hunting Mark brightened as finishing his bite of food first he offered his enthusiasm.

"A spot of hunting would be capital! It wouldn't hurt to add to our stores with fresher meat." He joyously welcomed the idea as he turned to the oriental woman who he'd made his secretary after her inspiring cowboy stand against the rebels who'd assaulted him during that spot of trouble in Mongolia. He'd felt compelled to give such an interesting lady the chance to leave the squalor by offering her a job, talent needed to be used.

"Miss Penelope, you're adept in these conditions you'll be our tracker. See to readying supplies for a hunt after the meal." He requested.

'Penelope' sighed side eying her employer. "Mister Mark, do you want The Gun to be included?" She asked in her heavy accented english as she enjoyed the still strange western food.

Waving it off and shaking his head. "Ah no, no need for it. My Mauser should be enough for a bit of sport." With that in hand he looked to the siblings.

Mark in his good mannered nature thought on their words drumming his fingers on the table. "If they are more receptive to commodities than money, you can see what they'd wish for in order to earn their cooperation. Don't be frivolous though, we've months ahead of us of bitter cold without easy resupply, and soon enough we'll have to leave the heated cabins of my Inventa."
 

Tyanna of Pentos

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"Well, the steam heat aboard really is quite wonderful," the Countess offered. She turned to the side to place an order for coffee as a ward against the cold outside, and smiled pleasantly, flipping open her note-book.

"Why yes," she looked at Amaruq, and her eyes betrayed nothing, at least, of the prototypical racism toward the pair who she imagined to be Russo-Aleut Creoles or somesuch like that for their sophisticated and culture, which wasn't perfectly unheard of in the Russian Far East. "I grew up hunting every chance I could get, on the wing and on the hoof and paw, in the great birches by the rivers and forests of pines around-about Augustow."

She extended a bit of a sidelong glance to Mark. "It really is charming, if only there weren't so many Russians about. I hunted in Siberia too, but it was... Harder, there. They didn't give us bullets, so we used old Mongolian muskets. Such was life." A pause. "It's not much longer 'till we reach the pack-ice, then?"
 

FriedCFour

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The Inventa, 9 AM
As the party readies the launches to head to shore to meet with the natives and to see about a spot of hunting the anchors of the ship are dropped, shutting down the so far relatively relentless progress the ship has made. A few sailors call out, "bring back some fresh meat sir!" While a few less inclined and more salty sailors grumble to themselves about how this is all just one big arctic leisure cruise for him and how he isn't appreciating the true dangers of these waters. Eventually, the ships are launched loaded with passengers rifles, ammo, some provisions and trade items. The small squadron of boats then heads out over the waters, rowers pounding away into the frigid waves until the boats reach the shore.

The Parry Islands, 9:30 AM
As the boats pull ashore you become aware of two things. The sounds of barking seals can be heard a short distance away over the bank of the intensely rock and gravel covered island while at the same time you see the bloodstains indicating a freshly slaughtered seal in the area, more than likely by inuit hands.
 

Tyanna of Pentos

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"Oh look, the Natives are about," the Countess spotted it. "You don't think we shall have any problems with them if we hunt the bear while they hunt the seal, do you?"

She glanced around, especially to the Creole brother and sister, for their insight on the matter.

Then she reached for a cigarette and lit it with her ornate strike-lighter, knowing that the smell would help mask that she was living from the animals on the island. Taking a drag she looked out over the blood on the rocks, and for a moment her eyes were very distant, as she imagined the headlines about the hunt.
 
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