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Temple Covenant Jones and the Land Leviathan

by Mark Clark

MacMurchie returned from the roogie at a fast walk, coming up to the strange apparatus as Mr. Jones was making some further fine adjustments.

"Oich, it's hotter'n tha Divil's own curlin' iron hereabouts, Saar! Ahm bein' broiled like a bit o' bacon, and that's God's truth!"

"Now, Mr. MacMurchie, thou knowest better than to take the name of Our Lord in vain."

"Soorry, Saar, soorry - it's just that me brain is so addled by this heat. Woun't 'appen again, Saar."

"Apology accepted. Now, Mr. MacMurchie, wouldst thou do me the service of examining the pressure gauges on the Leviathan? We must be sure not to exceed the rating of these hoses - Gumma is expensive, after all."

"Yas Saar, Ahl do it now."

MacMurchie turns and walks away. We notice for the first time a soft hissing sound in the background, along with a metallic hum. Jones leans forward, examining several small brass-mounted dials on his apparatus.

"What is the pressure, Mr. MacMurchie?"

"Oi make it 240 punds, Saar."

"Very good. Turn on the Accumulator."

"On, Saar."

The dial on the apparatus begins to move, and the hissing sound becomes louder. A small jet of steam issues from one side of the apparatus, until Jones makes an adjustment and it ceases. The apparatus then begins to make a subdued "poketa-poketa" noise, and vibrates visibly. MacMurchie moves up next to Jones and addresses him:

"Owl ready, Saar - she's pumpin' away like thar's na tomorrow."

"Very good. Please be so good as to stand back so that I may fire"

MacMurchie moves back, though he looks expectant rather than apprehensive. Jones sights down the barrel of the apparatus one last time, and then grasps a protruding handle and gives it a small tug. The machine emits a loud squeal, and then an even louder bang. A cloud of steam envelops Jones, and he begins to cough. As the vapor clears, we see the strange umbrella-shaped portion of the apparatus lying some five feet in front of where the two men are standing. The stuffed roogie in the distance seems unharmed. MacMurchie rushes up to Jones:

"Ahr ya ool root, Saar?"

"Quiet all right, Mr. MacMurchie. It seems we have further work to do if the net gun is to be effective."

"Oich, Saar, thots the truth. Though the net did ga futhar than last time, oi think."

"Exactly. Well, let us load our burden back aboard Leviathan and return to our lodgings." Jones takes out his pocket watch and glances at it. "If we do not delay, we will be in time for Mrs. MacPherson's excellent scones."

"Thot'll be a pleasure, Saar. Oil turn off tha steam naw."

Jones and MacMurchie proceed to disassemble the net gun, placing the parts in padded niches in a large wooden chest. MacMurchie then goes to fetch the roogie, and Jones begins to coil up the Gumma hoses. He soon comes to their source, a large valve set in the side of a metal wall. Jones opens a panel next to the valve, and then puts the box inside, followed shortly by the stuffed roogie that MacMurchie hands to him. The point of view pulls back, and we see that what seemed to be a wall is actually the side of an enormous Ruumet Breehr. Larger than any of the species one would encounter on Mars, this animal gleams in the sunlight, light reflecting from its polished steel skin and its lustrous brass joints. Atop it sits an elaborate howdah, its baroque decorations crafted in the most decadent Canal Martian style. Behind the howdah is a smokestack, and a small stream of smoke is drifting out. After securing the panel, Jones and MacMurchie enter a small door. Jones soon emerges into view in the howdah, where he grasps several levers and prepares to set the Leviathan in motion. He shouts into a brass speaking tube, and then listens. Pushing the throttle forward, Jones steers towards the path that leads to Parhoon, as smoke curls from the stack in a large cloud.

"So, Mr. MacMurchie, hast thou finished the boiler shut- down?"

"Ai, thot I 'ave, Saar. Wut oi wudden't give fur a cold draft o' lager right naw."

"Now, Mr. MacMurchie, I need not remind you of the pledge thou signed when thou first came to work for me. Mrs. MacPherson has prepared lemonade for us, with an extra measure of ice."

"Oich, thots right noice of the lady, Saar. Scones?"

"Yes, scones as well. Let us clean ourselves and join the MacPhersons in the parlor."

After a vigorous scrubbing, Jones and MacMurchie enter the cool and dark parlor of the MacPherson family. Aside from her odd colour and lack of a digit on each hand, the family maid serving the lemonade could be in any middle- class parlor in England - heavy drapes cover the windows, every pillow is protected by an antimacassar, and flowing fabrics prevent anyone from catching a glimpse of a chair leg. Mr. MacPherson, a small, portly man with a self-important air, looks up from his newspaper and smiles.

"So, chaps, how did it go today? Bag any big game?"

"Regrettably, no. The mechanism is still in need of improvement."

"Well, no harm done. After all, any hunter can go to the nearest gunsmith and buy a rifle that will bag a roogie on the cheap. No need for steam, eh, MacMurchie?"

"Oich, oi canna say. Ifn' it be a dead roogie ya be wantin', then a gun'l do ya. Fur a live un, oid rather Mr. Jones' gun, Saar."

"But what would you want a live roogie for, man? The stuffed one gives Mrs. MacPherson enough nightmares as it is."

"Well, thou mayst not desire a live specimen, but I'll warrant there is many a naturalist who would pay a pretty penny to capture his specimens alive. Not to mention those men who seek to supply the zoological gardens."

"Ah, well, we'll see eventually. So, have you read the Syrtis Star today?"

"No, I have not."

"Well, here you are." MacPherson hands the newspaper to Jones. "I've taken the liberty of underlining a few things you may find of interest. That Rhodes fellow looks like just the fellow to go with you on your little trip, and I hear that engine driver will be looking for a new job soon - perhaps you can take him on to help MacMurchie."

"But it says here that he'll get a hearing next week."

"Of course it does. However, with the state of relations with the natives these days, I'm sure the authorities will convict. Keep our native levies loyal on the Oenetrian front by showing we punish anyone who hurts their little children, don't you know."

"But what if the young man is innocent?"

"Jones, Jones, Jones, what chance does innocence have when Empire is involved?"

"Well, I am sure Mrs. Saxe-Coburg-Gotha would be very unhappy to know what is done in her name."

"As if the Queen ever has a thought that Lord Salisbury didn't put there - the Widow has played the Widow for too long, if you take my meaning."

"Hmmm." Jones, increasingly engrossed with the newspaper, and MacMurchie, increasingly engrossed in the pile of scones before him, both seem to be unwilling to continue the conversation along the lines Mr. MacPherson wants to take it. Seeing this, MacPherson sets to the scones as well, and the room is filled with the sound of contented munching, until a few minutes later the door opened and Mrs. MacPherson enters with the tea tray.

"Now boys, here's a little something that will do you all good. Let me just pour for you - Mr. Jones, I have your special mixture in this pot - there you are"

"Thank thee very much, Mrs. MacPherson."

After pouring what looks like a blend of sludge and pond scum into Jones' cup, Mrs. MacPherson picks up the other teapot and serves a much more conventional looking beverage into the other three cups. After seating herself, she turns to Mr. Jones and smiles:

"So, any news of your wagons, Mr. Jones?"

"Not yet. The fitting out is almost done, but there is still the purchase of the year's supply of food and the other kitchen gear. I anticipate all should be concluded in a week or so."

"How very nice for you. Have you found any traveling companions yet?"

"No, though I have been making inquiries. I see here in the newspaper that this American rifle expert will be traveling - I will be sending him my card. As a shooter, I'm sure he will have an interest in fine machinery like the Leviathan. Whether he will want to travel all the way to Hecates Lacus, that I am not so sure of."

"I'm sure he will, Mr. Jones, once he sees how nice your wagons are. A little more tea?"

"Yes, thank you."

Temple Covenant Jones is the rather eccentric inventor of the Leviathan, an enormous steam-powered land vehicle modeled on a Ruumet Breehr. He plans an overland excursion from Parhoon to Hecates Lacus via Gorovaan, Mylarkt, Alcylon, and Hyblaeus. He can be encountered anywhere along his route, but ideally he can serve as a means of transportation for a group of player characters. The main aim of the trip is to test the Leviathan - Jones will be very flexible about the route and side trips. Of course, he is a rather eccentric fellow, so there is sure to be a degree of friction along the way!

Temple Covenant Jones (Inventor, annual income 110)
Strength 2 Throwing 1*
Agility 3Stealth 2, Mechanics (Steam) 4
Endurance 5Wilderness Travel (Mountaineering) 4, Swimming 3
Intellect 6 Observation 5, Engineering (Structural) 6,
Science (Physics) 4, Gunnery (Net Gun) 2
Charisma **Linguistics (German, French, Koline) 3
Social Level 4Riding (Ruumet Breehr) 3, Leadership 1

* Due to his non-violent background, Jones has no skill in Fisticuffs.
** Special - see character description

Jones was born into a wealthy English family of religious dissenters, strongly influenced by the Quaker faith. As a result, he has a number of personal attributes that set him apart from the norm. He is totally committed to non-violence and will never use force regardless of the provocation. He also strongly believes in human equality (and the equality of Humans, Martians, Lizardmen, and any other intelligent creature), and treats everyone with equal courtesy. However, since he rejects the idea that anyone is by birth better than anyone else, he refuses to use titles of any kind. The most extreme example of this behavior is Queen Victoria, who Jones always refers to as Mrs. Saxe-Coburg-Gotha. As one can imagine, many Englishmen find this offensive. As a result, Jones' Charisma varies depending on who he is dealing with. To determine his effective charisma for an encounter, subtract the Social Level of the person he is encountering from 7. Thus, the higher the social class of the person encountered, the less they will care for him. By background and upbringing Jones is Social Level 4.

Jones is also a teetotaler, a vegetarian, a health-food fanatic, and disapproves of foul language. He also loves to exercise by climbing mountains and by swimming. However, he is willing to spend time with those who do not share his beliefs, primarily because he can then try and convince them to come around to his point of view. For example, he will serve wine with dinner, but during the meal will spend a great deal of time describing in graphic detail how alcohol ruins the health and leads to all sorts of diseases. In addition to the Leviathan, Jones has also invented the Jonah diving suit, a self-contained apparatus that looks rather like a large fish, the Sampson lifting crane (which provides most of his patent income), and several improvements to boiler technology (all of which are used on the Leviathan). He is currently trying to perfect a net gun for the capture of animals.

John MacMurchie (Mechanic) Strength 5 Fisticuffs 3, Throwing 3, Close Combat (Bashing) 2
Agility 6 Stealth 5, Mechanics (Machinist) 6
Endurance 2 Wilderness Travel (Mountaineering) 1, Swimming 1
Intellect 4 Observation 5, Engineering (Structural) 2,
Science (Chemistry) 2
Charisma 3 Bargaining 2, Linguistics (Koline) 1
Social Level 1 Piloting (Steam Vessel) 2

John MacMurchie is a stocky Scotsman of the engineering variety. He came to Jones' attention early in life, rescued from a life on the streets by a charity that Jones's father contributed to. Since then he has acted as Jones's assistant, and has become a master machinist, something both men take great pride in.

Despite his long association with Jones, MacMurchie still is drawn to the pleasures of the lower classes. Colorful curses, a bit of a temper, a taste for gin, all are still there inside him just waiting to get out. However, MacMurchie is stubbornly loyal to Jones, and when he slips up always feels a great deal of guilt.

The Leviathan

This is Jones' most ambitious invention, a huge mechanical Ruumet Breehr. It moves by walking, and is extremely strong. If it were to get into a tug-of-war with any two or three ordinary Ruumet Breehr it would win easily. The design includes a large and comfortable howdah on top that contains the controls for movement as well as seating for five. There are also steam jets located in the nose and at various places around the body - they allow for the release of a cloud of superheated steam that can drive away animals and hostile humans.

At the rear there is an arrangement for towing. Normally the Leviathan pulls two large wagons, which are essentially traveling bungalows. They are extensively decorated with carving and fine woods, and have large screened verandahs both front and back. Each is eighteen feet wide and over 40 feet long. The first wagon contains a drawing room, a dining room, and four sleeping cabins. All of the fittings are of the highest quality, with fine carpets, book cases, and overstuffed furniture. The second carriage has a large kitchen and pantry, a small dining/sitting room for servants, four servants' cabins, and a gun-room, a storage room, and a small mechanically refrigerated room for ice making. The pantry can store large amounts of food, and contains a wine rack and storage for beer, brandy, and other fine beverages. Both the Leviathan and its two wagons can float, so crossing rivers and canals is easy. All in all, it is a most luxurious way to travel about on Mars.

Note: Temple Covenant Jones and John MacMurchie were originally created as NPCs for the Transactions Campaign that inspired the publication of TRMGS. I subsequently used them in other games, including one short play-by-email campaign. The Leviathan is based on the steam-powered elephant described in the Jules Verne novel The Steam House.

Posted Monday, 04-May-2009 19:53:34 EDT

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