aethernauts (aethernauts) wrote in phantom_airship,
aethernauts
aethernauts
phantom_airship

The story so far...

This is what has happened so far.
If you read the Aethernauts LJ, then you are familiar with this already and need not read it again.

The New Londinium Courier:
Conflagration in Kent!
Heiress, Husband and Scientist Feared Lost!

At 3:00 in the morning of Thursday last, a conflagration destroyed the old Marsh textile warehouse in Kent. The warehouse, had long been in service as a laboratory by Dr. Alestair Hardwycke, inventor of the patented Hardwycke winding-axle. Feared lost to the flames are Dr. Hardwycke, his wife (Marsh textile heiress Azuria Hardwycke), and the French scientist Dr. Vincent Metier.
The fire began sometime between two and three o'clock in the morning and spread rapidly through the structure, devouring everything in it's path. Mrs. Hardwycke, who was in the habit of accompanying her husband to the laboratory, was seen entering the building earlier in the evening.

Unusual Sounds Wake Neighbors:
"I heard three pistol shots" said Mr. Cecil G., who happened to be passing by at the time of the events "then there was an explosion." Other neighborhood residents also reported hearing a pistol being fired, although many were quick to point out that unusual noises had become common in the vicinity since Hardwycke took possession of the property. "There was always some sort of noise coming from that place" says Mrs. A. Geoffe, a neighbor. "Usually it was a strange humming noise, but lately it seemed to be more of a buzzing, like they was keeping bees in there or something."

Strange Apparition in the night sky:
As the warehouse erupted outward in a maelstom of flame and black smoke, neighbors rushed to the scene of the calamity in the vain hope of aiding survivors. "I was trying the gate" says Mr. G "when something rose up out of the fire. I don't know what it was, but it was huge, almost as big as the building. I tried to get a good look at it, but the flames and smoke blinded me for a moment, when I was again able to see, whatever it was vanished.
Other witnesses report similar experiences.
Police have recovered one badly charred body, which they believe to be that of Dr. Hardwycke himself. The wherabouts of Mrs. Hardwycke and Dr. Metier are still undetermined.

******

Azuria's Diary
I was asleep when I heard four small explosions in the laboratory.
My first thought was that some harm might have come to Alestair.
Fearing the worst, I rushed to the door, but a cloud of choking black smoke filled the hallway.
I was half aware of a smothering darkness...running footsteps... and then nothing at all.
Even as I write it here in my diary it seems as though it happened to someone else.
When I awoke I was aboard the Hyperion. I have been in this room many times before, having helped oversee the construction, but this time something felt different.
Those cloudy memories came back to me...where was my husband?
I felt the airship move and realized that we were aloft. Exaltation rose unbidden - surely Alestair was at the helm. My mind groped for explanations, for a moment I believed that the explosions I heard must have been champagne corks as he and Victor celebrated their success. Anxious to join them on the bridge I turned toward the mirrored door of the wardrobe.
My exaltation vanished.
The woman looking back at me was black with soot, her face drawn with worry, her chemise hung in ragged, scorched tatters.
"What happened?" I asked the chimney-sweep reflection.
My dressing gown, in slightly better condition than my chemise was folded neatly across the foot of the bed.
I stared at it in horror.
I knew somehow that my husband was dead.
The ship pitched to the starboard as I donned the damaged robe and ran down the long corridor which leads from the aft of the ship, to the fore. Upon entering the wheel house I saw Vincent slumped forward over the ship's wheel. The white coat he wore in the laboratory was soaked with blood and smouldering slightly. Upon hearing me enter, he muttered something unintelligible in French, then collapsed on the floor. The ship lurched as the wheel was released. l threw myself upon the heavy aparatus steadying the Hyperion and setting on her a straight course for God only knew where.
Victor lay at my feet, bleeding. I removed the remains of the lab coat, the wound was deep, and I recognized it as a pistol shot. He recovered his senses as I finished applying the bandages. "Alestaire est c'est mort." he said, then realizing that my French is sorely lacking, he added in heavily accented English "There was an accident. Alestaire is dead."
All of that happened an hour ago.
When pressed for details Vincent said that some chemicals had exploded, that Alestair had been too close to the the fire...had died instantly. As the building went up in flames, he carried me to the Hyperion. Somehow he managed to get her aloft on his own. But what of the pistol wound? What of the four gun-shots which awakened me? For this he has no answer, insisting that I must have heard the explosion - his injury was, he claims, a result of the tragic explosion.
I am too tired to think about it now.
Tonight I sleep above the clouds, but without Alestair it feels like the grave

******
The New Londinium Courier
Inventor of Winding Spool Murdered!
Conflagration used to mask bloody crime of passion!

Following the conflagration which razed the Hardwycke Textile Warehouse in Kent, the badly burned remains of Alestair Hardwycke were identified by Coroner Hale, who shocked Scotland yard by reporting that the well known scientist and inventor of the patented Hardwycke winding spindle, did not perish in the flames but at the hand of person or persons unknown.Three bullets were removed from the gruesomely burned corpse by the coroner, who has testified that Hardwycke was shot from behind, perishing instantly when a bullet shattered his skull.
Firemen investigating the scene of the holocaust have siad that they warehouse burned as though it had been saturated with kerosene. Floors, doors, furniture and and metalwork were melted like wax and this dissolution was certainly the work of but a few minutes. "This was not a natural fire" said Fire Chief Ryan O'Hanlon "Someone burned the warehouse, probably for the purpose of destroying evidence of their crime."

Housemaid tells story of marital woe!
Miss Molly Sheehan, a former employee of the Hardwyckes, tells the Courier that she had long suspected Mrs. Hardwycke and Dr. Metier of having personal relations. She goes further to say that in the Hardwycke marriage - long considered a true love match - had grown acrimonious following the arrival of the frenchman. Tears filled her innocent young eyes as she tremblingly recounted that where once Venus reigned supreme, Mars had made his presence known.
Miss Sheehan recalls several instances in which Mrs. Hardwycke, while under the influence of American Whiskey (which she is said to consume in excess) threatened the life of her husband, on one occasion even going so far as to throw a dinner plate at him.

Scotland yard is seeking Metier and Mrs. Hardwycke for questioning - and the New Londinium Courier will continue to cover this fascinating story as it unfolds.
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