It was a rough start to the month, but one of the ways to keep the black dog at bay, is to keep doing things that make you happy. Gaming does that for me. I determined that, apart from snuggling up with my wonderful wife this weekend, I would build something - but what I wasn't sure.
The Story of the Demetrius
The HMS Demetrius was originally the SS Demetrius the result of a failed private commercial venture to modernize grain shipping on the canals of Mars. One Thomas Pincham, of the automated loom threader Pinchams, fancied himself an off-world Brunel and invested his fortune in transporting a small single screw steamship to Mars. A devotee of ancient Greek culture, he christened his endeavour Demetrius or The Servant of Demeter, goddess of grain. Pincham had visions of his ship sailing up and down the canals, unfettered by wind or flood, delivering the harvest of the fields to the cities of Mars and of course their British advisers. Where trade lead, the Empire followed! Accomplishing this first required many trips and naturally massive transportation charges as each etherliner had limited space for mercantile cargo and that was at a premium price. The parts of the SS Demetrius arrived in fits and starts. Each shipment was placed in what was supposed to be a secure storage yard until assembly could begin.
|...or is it Detritus?|
Only, the storage yard was not as secure as might be hoped and some of the local workers found the temptation of so much refined iron irresistible. Several major and many minor components had disappeared over the back fence only to resurface as unrecognizable tools, jewellery and trinkets in the local bazaar. Pincham was devastated. But fate was not done with him yet and the final blow fell - the customs man arrived with a very large and very unpaid bill for duties owing on Steamship (1) parts and accessories. With financial ruin certain, Pincham could not also face the social opprobrium of debtor's prison.
Fortunately for Pincham, if not for Mars and the Empire, it was at this moment that Oenotria decided to flex her muscles and attempt to force the Earthers out. Steam vessels of any variety were desperately needed. The boilers and machinery of the Demetrius were not suitable for airship use but the vessel itself could be useful for control of the canals. Pincham magnanimously and patriotically, offered the Demetrius to the Government for the price of his customs bill with a bit left over to support him in at least comfort, if not the luxury he had once been accustomed too. His one requirement being that the ship retain her name as a symbol of "A great British mercantile dream now lost to the savage winds of war!" This was agreed to and the ship or her parts at least, were signed over to the Imperial authorities. Pounds in hand, and reputation mostly intact, Pincham left the planet without delay and disappeared into middle class obscurity.
It was now that the Royal Navy, her engineers and their civilian counterparts arrive to take stock of what they had bought. One less polite senior engineering rating remarked:
"It's not a ship! It's a f______ pile of c__p! I've scraped things better able to float off the bottom of me boot! HMS Demetrius eh? More like HMS Detritus I say!"
The name stuck. It took many months and much improvisation but the HMS Demetrius was finally launched and placed into service. Her work on the canals was initially uneventful but recent attacks from the shore and air and have required that the original wooden wheel house be replaced with an armoured one. Because of the lack of armour plating, Martian concreted armour was used instead giving the structure the look of a pillbox.