Alexander Inheritance – Snippet 18

Alexander Inheritance – Snippet 18

Second, it was established that a civil government based on the principles of representative democracy would be put in place. That the rights of individuals would be protected. Things like free speech and protection from unreasonable search and seizure, would be enshrined in the basic law of the new nation, as would the principle of equality before the law. The issue concerning the right to keep and bear arms was shelved for the moment, since Europeans and Americans had different traditions and attitudes on the question.

Through it all, there was a snake sitting under the table, rattling its rattles and preparing to strike. The snake had two heads; the first was simply that the Queen of the Sea wasn’t big enough for her population. The second was more subtle. The population was too small to be viable.

Biologically, the population was too small, and would be even if all of them were in their early twenties. The fact that well over half the women on board were past childbearing age made it even worse. Even among the men, a lot of the little swimmers were, nowadays, little waders.

But even worse was the question of cultural viability. They didn’t have a culture to be viable. The passengers were from all over the USA and Canada, with a sprinkling from other parts of the first world. The crew was divided into officers — mostly from Western Europe — and crew — a majority of whom were from Asia and the Pacific Isles, with a sizeable representation from Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean. It wasn’t a naturally cohesive group and it wasn’t made up of volunteers. Tensions between ship’s complement and passengers were increasing, and so were tensions between staff and crew, officers and lower deck crew.

About the only thing keeping it from blowing up was the threat of being murdered or enslaved by the pre-Christian primitives.


September 23

Cleisthenes read the message, which was a set of letters. The Greek alphabet was used as both letters and as numbers. Three Greek letters could provide any number between one and nine hundred. Cleisthenes had a code book and what he got was a choice of seven hundred fifty-three phrases, and some number groups that indicated that the next numbers really were numbers. The code was nothing new, and variations on it were used from Carthage to Babylon. So, having received the message, he went to his tent and decoded it. Passage 354 read Peithon rode at the head of the army, and the next group instructed him to use only the first word.

It went on like that till Cleisthenes had the whole message. Peithon forced resign. Antipater captured. Cyclops rescues. Through ruse. Seleucus bribe. Ship from future. Tell queen.

Cleisthenes leaned back against his pillow on the bench at his work table and thought. Peithon and Arrhidaeus had been forced to resign, and had sent messages to Antipater telling him to hurry. And Seleucus was being very attentive to Eurydice. So was the message that he should bribe Seleucus? Or that One-eye would bribe Seleucus?

Cleisthenes didn’t trust Seleucus to stay bribed. Seleucus had tried to short him on the payment for the wheat twice now. He would have a talk with Attalus. There was no way he could get in to see Eurydice, or even Roxane.

* * *

Attalus was encamped next to the main camp, with a large contingent of guards to protect the silver coins he had gotten hold of, and merchants were a common sight in his camp. Cleisthenes made no real impression till he reached the tent of Attalus. “I need to see Attalus. I have important news of the giant ship.”

The guard nodded and went into the tent, and Cleisthenes was ushered in.

“Has it left the harbor at Alexandria?” Attalus asked quickly. The giant ship had been the talk of the army camp since the news arrived. And such news was of special concern for Attalus, because he had been Perdiccas’ naval commander and had kept control of the fleet. A fleet that was in serious jeopardy if a ship the size that was reported decided to threaten it. Such a ship could run over his fleet and leave it kindling, probably without taking any damage at all.

“No, General. It still sits quietly in Alexandria harbor, buying grain and other foodstuffs. And selling the finest quality steel on Earth and other goods of like quality. What I have just learned, or rather had confirmed, is where it comes from.”

“You’re saying it really is from the future?”

“Yes. I just got a message from Egypt that Peithon and Arrhidaeus would be forced to resign.”

“They already…Oh, I understand. They couldn’t have known that when they sent the message. So they are from the future, or they have some magi that can see at a great distance.”

“That’s not all the message said. They report that Antipater will be captured by the army and that Antigonus will come to his rescue with the assistance of Seleucus.”

They talked for a while. Attalus paid Cleisthenes a handsome bribe for the information, and to keep it to himself. “Also,” Attalus finished, “report any new information directly to me.”

* * *

Once Cleisthenes was gone, Attalus went for a walk. He needed to think. He moved around the camp with his bodyguard, and saw Seleucus talking with Eurydice.

Attalus had generally good relations with Eurydice, but she was wild. As he watched, it seemed like she was listening to Seleucus a bit too carefully. That decided him. He would tell Roxane, not Eurydice. He turned on his heel and headed across the camp.

Triparadisus was a set of three “paradises,” one large hunting park, an orchard of olive and fig trees, and a smaller walled garden with flowers, fruits and vegetables. The hunting lodge was located on the side of the river that held the trees and the vegetables, with the actual hunting park across the river. Across the river was also the direction from which Antipater was expected to arrive. So, while there were scouts on the other side of the river, most of the army was on this side. Both queens and both kings were located in the hunting lodge, though Eurydice wandered the camp at will.

Attalus climbed the three stone steps to the wooden porch of the hunting lodge and faced the guards. “I’m here to speak to Queen Roxane.”

“I’ll check but I doubt the queen will want to be…”

The guard trailed off, and Attalus handed him a large silver coin. “Please tell her it’s important.”

Shortly thereafter, Attalus was let into the presence. The little emperor was wielding — sucking on — a toy sword. It was made of wood, but painted in bright colors.

Roxane was sitting on a couch, leaning against one arm, eating a fig. “What can I do for you, Attalus?”

“I have word of the ship, the Queen of the Sea.”

Roxane sat up. “What news?”

Attalus looked around at the guards and serving maids, then back at Roxane. But she just shook her head. “I couldn’t dismiss them if I wanted to, Attalus, and I have no reason to trust you. How long will I live if Eurydice becomes the head of this army?”

“Longer than you might think. Eurydice may be impetuous, but she isn’t stupid.”

“Then why are you here?”

“Because I don’t trust Seleucus, and he’s too close to Eurydice right now.”

Roxane gestured to a chair. “Have a seat then. What news from the ship? Is it really from the future as they say?”

“Yes, and it carries some interesting information about what will happen.” Attalus took the offered seat and stopped talking. He was aware of the guards and not at all comfortable with their presence.


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14 Responses to Alexander Inheritance – Snippet 18

  1. Geoffrey Nichols says:

    “well over half the women on board were past childbearing age”
    That seems high for a Caribbean cruise. For other cruises yes but Caribbean cruises are usually more family and young couples oriented. Especially if it’s during summer vacation. Chapter one heading only give a time not a date but a June wedding for the congressman’s daughter seems likely or maybe during Augest recess.

  2. Daryl Saal says:

    In regard to “Biologically, the population was too small, and would be even if all of them were in their early twenties”.
    It is up to the authors but my long time ago biochemistry training has a memory of genetically viable populations requiring about 30 each fertile male and female. The crew alone would provide many more than that, let alone the younger passengers, and coming from a much more diverse group than a medieval village would help as well.
    A not big enough population to sustain a technological civilisation perhaps, but genetically? No problem.

  3. VernonNemitz says:

    “Such a ship could run over his fleet and leave it kindling, probably without taking any damage at all.” Here is some data about modern large ships. The two largest cruise ships are sisters, “Oasis of the Seas” and “Allure of the Seas”. It is tempting, from the name “Queen of the Seas”, to think that this story’s ship could be another sister. That would make it almost 1200 feet long, up to 150 feet wide at the water line, and displacing 225,000 tons. With its steel hull moving at 20 knots it probably could “run over” that era’s wooden ships and leave them kindling, without taking damage.

    On another page I saw a comparison of the “Oasis of the Seas” to the “Titanic” –the modern ship is twice as wide, nearly 1/3 longer, and the top passenger deck is the same level as the top of the smokestacks of the Titanic.

    • Ron says:

      They wouldn’t stand a chance! Only concern to the queen would be blocking seawater intakes, or fouling the propellers or bow thrusters.

  4. Ron says:

    The crew would be less of a worry in regards to culture, crew members live a multicultural life, most crew contracts are 9 months on 2 months off, and make careers out of it. Cruise ships have their own culture including in most cases a slang the almost borders on a dialect bases partially on English, and the mix of nationalities of the crew a lazy crew member is described as “mamagiao” from Tagalog, your friend is your Pisano (Italian), if something a mess it’s a bordello, If your busy “mucho Trabajo” Spanish for much work and so on. Crew also tends to be in their reproductive years and date and frequently marry across nationalities. It’s not uncommon to see people of supposedly rival nations working side by side and ending up becoming good friends on board.

  5. Lyttenburgh says:

    “They didn’t have a culture to be viable. The passengers were from all over the USA and Canada, with a sprinkling from other parts of the first world.


    About the only thing keeping it from blowing up was the threat of being murdered or enslaved by the pre-Christian primitives.”

    Again – sheer ignorance and arrogance of that statement! “Primitive” is a subjective term. And what makes so-called “pre-Christian primitives” worse than, say, “A.D. primitives”? No, I really want to know!

    • cka2nd says:

      I just remembered something, and you can go back to the earliest 1632 novels, or the Belisarius books if you want, to confirm it. Flint tends to write his third person narration in the voice, or mindset, of the character or characters about whom he is writing at the moment, in that chapter or scene. So, the narration could be from Mike Stearns’ point of view or Gustav Adolf’s, or the Queen of the Sea uptimers vs. the Greek, Macedonian or other downtimers. So, your argument, Lyttenburgh, is more with the uptimer characters, or at least their currently leading figures, than with the authors.

  6. reader’s should consider that it is marginally possible to do multiplication — not that hard — or long division — needs care — using e.g. Roman numerals (I was taught how in school). The zero was not yet invented. Greek geometry is actually fairly good, though will not be recognizable to most moderns. The Greeks knew better than to rely on diagrams in proofs. Let us not consider physics, chemistry, biology, materials science, or engineering. Their observational astronomy was naked eye limited, which is not as bad as it sounds. It might be interesting to learn if anyone had seen the moons of Jupiter yet (tip of hat to Chinese visitors) some of which would surely be naked eye objects (Or so I have read) if Jupiter were not there. An interesting business with things local technology could make but had not yet invented would be printing books. If this were second century AD, printing romance novels, which the Romans had invented, would be a substantial business.

  7. Not withstanding my autocorruptor

    Readers should consider that….By modern standards the nice local people know almost nothing by modern standards.

    On the other hand there are locals, who could be educated up to speed. The Congressman, for example, could probably manage a school of law, though giving all the lectures would be a chore. Commercial, admiralty, and patent law might be of local interest.

    Perhaps buried someplace in early chapters is the consideration that the shipboard people will soon be having a population crash. For example, the fine art of managing diabetes through rigorous dietary control is not there any more, though it was when I was a little boy. Pneumonia is for the younger people on board a dread disease.

    There are some interesting historical questions as to when some diseases established themselves in the human population.

    As usual, someone should look at canis the constellation and note the color of Sirius. There is a bizarre historical astrophysics question, in that there are a number of records by competent folks in roughly this period that do not seem to make sense.

  8. John Cowan says:

    The Chinese testimony on Sirius is beyond all doubt: it is white and it has always been white in historic times. Whatever the Egyptians meant by “red”, it was figurative.

  9. cka2nd says:

    By now, there should be some folk among the crew and passengers who would be thinking about getting organized for long-term coexistence and living with the down-time population. As in, what can we offer to folks that will help us – my family or our families, not just the larger up-timer population – to survive and thrive in this new world? People should be starting to think about, and organizing, engineering and construction firms, medical practices, public health consulting firms and a whole host of other consulting partnerships, from industrial production to mining and surveying, and education to information management and librarianship.

    Presenting the down-time powers that be with this level of self-organization, including some up-time-inspired employment or consultant contract language, might help convince said powers that the ship and its technological wonders are not the only things of value here AND that they are going to have to adjust some of their own customs and practices to work with these newbies. For the up-timers, language is of course a huge hurdle, but I wonder if some enterprising engineer or public health nurse might volunteer to tour the city, or the army camps, and offer some suggestions for bettering the public health (if this were Antioch, earthquake-resistant engineering practices could make a huge impact) or if some health care providers could set up a clinic on the docks and offer to see folks.

    There doesn’t appear to be a Mike Stearns on board the ship, and we haven’t been told if there are some professional or union or other previously organized groups among the passengers, but there should be at least a few folks who are thinking “How can I make myself of use to these people and make sure that I (and my family) survive in this era.”

    • Randomiser says:

      I think you expect too much, both of the uptimers and the ‘facilities’. They have had a huge life-changing trauma only about a week or so ago – they will still mostly be mentally reeling from it. One presumes that most of them don’t read Ring of Fire or similar books so haven’t thought about how to react in this kind of situation before. They have one person available who can actually hold complex discussions/negotiations with the downtimers (maybe 2 if Panos’ modern Greek can be understood sufficiently). They have had no opportunity to convince the downtimers that uptimer skills are practical or useful downtime, so are going to have problems selling them. Off the ship they will have no security, so will be liable to find any successful consultancy the subject of a hostile takeover e.g. by enslavement. I think its a lot more complicated than you are giving credit for.

      Actually, it’s hard to see how they are going to make any headway here. Most I can see is they make allies of some local faction which is powerful enough to provide the needed protection but weak enough to need the edge the uptimers can give. Of course it wold be better to be able to gain some space by playing the local factions off against each other, but I doubt the uptimers are organised enough or militarily powerful enough to get away with that.

      • Steve says:

        It’s the usual unrealism for the sake of having a story. They adjust extremely well and quickly to the circumstances and the ship of course has experts in all conceivable areas.

  10. Pasi Lahtinen says:

    About the steam cannon, knowing something about gasses I would say that the steam would be much better utilized for rockets. Super heated steam in simple launch system would work as katyusha rocket and be a terror for the enemy. As an any type of a gun, the air would be much more preferable and safe. Either steam piston driven compressor or hydraulic would easily provide pressure for air gun the would be far superior for steam and used up to .50 or 13mm lead bullets could easily be made even automatic. Pressure tanks could be filled and moved to any needed location. And considering hydraulic pressures to 10.34 MPa or 1500psi being low, there should be enough in that kind of ship to convert some spare equipment for pneumatic use. Lead melts at 327.5 °C , that is hot air heat gun range easily. I know as I’ve melted stuff with mine. Steam would do wonders for lead in the barrel as any useful pressure would require super heated steam well over lead melting point. Besides the steam supply would need to be with the weapon and would be a big hazard factor. You can make air can that will have well over 2500psi working pressure and be portable. Gun could have both semiautomatic and automatic bullet feed. And air would also provide cooling instead of heating.

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