Forgotten Futures

H.M.A. Pinafore

A Role Playing Adventure Set In The World Of Kipling's Scientific Romances

by Marcus L. Rowland
Copyright © 1993, revised 1998

Please note: All material in this file is for the use of referees only. If you intend to play a character in the adventure, please STOP READING NOW.


0.0 Introduction

This adventure is set in April 2001, a few months after With The Night Mail. Characters should have a 'dig; the Tangye XXV "Commercial" 'dig, which is especially suitable for a small group of adventurers, is described in section 5.4 of the Worldbook. It needs a few crew; if they are not NPCs, the adventurers should have all the skills needed to operate it.

Referees may wish to read the libretto of H.M.S. Pinafore, or listen to a recording, before running the adventure; there is a brief summary of H.M.A. Pinafore, the version in this adventure, in Appendix 1. The music may help to set the mood for players. You are STRONGLY advised to read the other material in this collection before running the adventure. A few terms that differ between Britain and America are explained as they occur.

Various characters are named after public figures of the real world. This usage is intended to highlight the differences in the world of the A.B.C. stories, and does not imply any other similarity between the fictional and real personalities. Details of the principal characters are provided as they appear; anyone not listed should be assumed to have a rating of 3 in all characteristics and a few appropriate skills at suitable levels, E.g. Actor (Opera Singer) [6].

Most of the information that follows is intended for the referee, who should decide how much to reveal to players. For instance, the first section mentions fire alarms at an exhibition hall. This is something that visitors are unlikely to notice unless they are actively looking for them. If players ask about them the referee should say that they are there, but should not volunteer the information unless they ask.

At various points adventurers can notice things while examining objects or areas; if you wish to roll for this the Difficulty should always be 4 to 6, but the Difficulty should be decreased, or success should occur automatically, if players say that they are actively looking for the 'thing' in question. For example, having noticed that there is a torn corner of paper left on a drawing board, the adventurers might examine every piece of paper in a building to see if the corner is missing. If the paper can be found, success should be automatic.

0.1 Plot Summary

Members of an old anarchist organisation, the Sons of MacDonough (SOMD), believe that the A.B.C.'s new astronomical 'dig Cyclops will be used to spy from the sky and violate privacy. They intend to make sure that it never leaves its dockyard in Coventry.

The story about Cyclops has been concocted by Sir Stephen Green, a powerful business magnate who has reason to wish Cyclops destroyed. He has deftly steered the extremists towards an attack which will revive the flagging fortunes of his company.

Birmingham was once Britain's most prosperous industrial city (see 04_BRITN.GIF for the location of cities). In 1984 the A.B.C. activated a new Cloud-Breaker at Coventry, less than twenty miles away, and made it the hub of the British network of Lights. Later the Board extended its Coventry facility, opening new docks and a training school. The A.B.C. began to place orders with Coventry firms, which had all the skills the A.B.C. needed, and allowed some old contracts with Birmingham firms to lapse. Companies moved to Coventry to take advantage of these opportunities. A ripple of economic change spread slowly across the Midlands industrial scene. Coventry prospered, while Birmingham lost business to its neighbour. The trend of change has been almost imperceptible, but in 2001 some of Birmingham's largest employers face diminishing order books and a real threat of bankruptcy.

Sir Stephen is chairman of Consolidated Dirigibles Ltd., which formerly built several 'digs a year for the A.B.C. but is now frequently underbid by the Standard 'Dig Company's new Coventry dockyard. In August the A.B.C. will be awarding contracts for five new patrol 'digs similar to the Daedalus (see Worldbook section 5.4); Coventry will probably get the work if the Standard 'Dig dockyards are available. If something were to make them unusable, such as a wrecked 'dig and extensive bomb damage, there is a good chance that the work will go to his company. Sir Stephen doesn't want to see anyone hurt, and if things go as planned there should be no casualties. Or so he thinks...

The key to his plan is an old helium 'dig, H.M.A. Compass Rose, normally an exhibit at the Imperial War Museum. Consolidated Dirigibles recently restored it to airworthiness and flew it to London's premier exhibition site, the Crystal Palace in South-East London (see 19_LONDN.GIF). There it will be the main "prop" in a spectacular opera, Mister Lloyd-Webber's adaptation of the old Gilbert and Sullivan favourite H.M.S. Pinafore, retitled H.M.A. Pinafore.

Members of SOMD with 'dig experience have infiltrated the stage crew of the opera, and intend to steal the 'dig. There is enough methane fuel aboard to get it to Holborn, in London's West End, where an old warehouse has been converted to an improvised dock. There the 'dig will be fuelled for a longer flight and flown to Salisbury Plain, in Wiltshire, where Sir Stephen has located an old munitions dump (he spent much of his military career guarding it in the nineteen-sixties). The terrorists will load some aerial torpedoes (rocket missiles), then fly on to attack the Cyclops. All being well, no-one should be at risk if they attack in the early hours of the morning.

This plan is already going wrong. Initially the conspirators intended to steal the 'dig the night before the premiere, but a last-minute technical rehearsal made it impossible. To make things worse, the Crystal Palace is also hosting a major art show, (21_ABCHQ.GIF advertises the exhibition), and security is very tight after hours. There is no chance of hiding and stealing the 'dig after the halls are clear. The plotters have decided on a desperate gamble; they will steal the 'dig during the performance!

There is another snag, which will have tragic consequences if the 'dig isn't intercepted. The conspirators think that the torpedoes have explosive warheads, but they are wrong. Sir Stephen has accidentally unearthed a cache of nerve gas warheads, which will take hundreds of lives if they are fired at Coventry.

Whether the criminals are stopped or attack Coventry, the full details of the plot must be unravelled and Sir Stephen must be brought to justice.

The adventure has a linear plot in the form of a detective mystery:

  1. Opening scene; the 'dig is stolen; the adventurers are unable to intervene, but may save a few lives.
  2. Detective work leads the adventurers to Holborn, too late to intercept the stolen 'dig. Faked clues suggest that the 'dig was stolen by "democrats" who want a return to the era of Crowds.
  3. More detective work suggests that the 'dig is heading for Salisbury Plain; the adventurers pursue.
  4. The adventurers catch up with the stolen 'dig as it is loading weapons.
  5. The 'dig sets off for Coventry pursued by the adventurers. They intercept or board it, and save the day.
  6. The anarchists pretend that they wanted to "make the world safe for democracy" and destroy the A.B.C., but it soon becomes apparent that they are hiding something. More detective work, or revelation of the real nature of the Cyclops, leads to the truth. They claim that a man called Bernard Evans told them about Cyclops then disappeared. 'Evans' was actually Green.
  7. The search for 'Evans' eventually leads the adventurers to Sir Stephen; he confesses, and commits suicide to avoid the disgrace of a trial.

The adventurers may have other ideas; don't be surprised if they leapfrog sections of the plot or go off in a completely wrong direction. It isn't possible to cover every eventuality, and you may have to work hard to get them back on track. Don't be too concerned if they fail miserably; of course several hundred people will die, and the adventurers should be made to feel some of the blame, but that's the way the cookie crumbles...

0.2 Timing & Distances

Events in the first sections of this adventure happen between sunset (7.40 PM) on Monday 2nd April 2001, and sunrise (6.30 AM) the following morning. The moon is in its first quarter, setting at roughly 1.20 AM, but by the time the 'dig is stolen clouds have blown in, and there is light cloud at 500-1500 ft over all areas throughout the night. The hijackers will attack Coventry just after dawn if they are not stopped. Players may wish to keep careful track of the time as they proceed, assuming that every second is vital; the drawback is that it is easy to waste enough time to make it physically impossible for the adventurers to intercept the members of SOMD. For instance, if the adventurers are 200 miles away an hour before the raid, they are unlikely to reach Coventry in anything but the fastest 'dig. In play-testing a freewheeling approach was used, with little attention paid to the passage of time. Regardless of their efficiency, the adventurers caught up with the terrorists as they were preparing to take off from Salisbury Plain. From then on the timing of the scenario was based on the players' actions. This melodramatic approach is strongly recommended.

The straight-line distances between the main places mentioned in this adventure are as follows:

London77 miles85 miles101 miles
Salisbury Plain77 miles86 miles90 miles
Coventry85 miles86 miles17 miles
Birmingham101 miles90 miles17 miles

0.3 Acknowledgements

The shareware program Planets, by Larry Puhl, was used to find times of sunset, moonrise, etc. This program is thoroughly recommended for all solar system astronomy purposes.

As usual special thanks to John Dallman for pointing out several serious scientific errors, to the late Nicholas Monsarrat for the name of the Compass Rose, to all the playtesters, and (last and very far from least) to my mother for proof reading roughly a hundred thousand words of game material at very short notice.

1.0 A Night At The Opera

London in 2001 AD is a huge sprawling metropolis. Large sections of the city were destroyed in the wars and riots of the twentieth century, and what remains has been rebuilt along sane, rational, and healthy lines. Greenery is everywhere, and most homes are built with access to enough land to support their occupants for several months. There are still slums, areas of the city with flats (apartment blocks) and other sorts of old-fashioned housing, but these are rare exceptions; London leads in every aspect of modern life, and that includes the elimination of poverty. The city is one of the great centres of trade, commerce, and global administration, and houses the headquarters of the A.B.C., most of the world's leading banks and 'dig lines, and many other international organisations. It is the cultural and economic capital of the world; with justification, it is said that anyone tired of London is tired of life itself.

One of London's largest cultural centres is the huge complex of exhibition halls and galleries at Crystal Palace in South-East London. Built in the nineteenth century, and almost destroyed by fire and bombing on several occasions, the halls have been modernised many times. Today they are glittering confections of glass and steel that still reflect the intentions of their original designers. See 25_ADVNT.GIF for a simplified plan of the buildings and site. A Victorian map with a detailed floor plan and illustrations is available; see the Forgotten Futures Rules for details. The halls are fitted with all modern conveniences; electric light and heat, and fire alarm and sprinkler systems.

On a Monday evening in April 2001 the complex is hosting the annual 'bat-boat exhibition, an art show, and the first performance of the latest opera. The evening will end with a spectacular fireworks display.

The adventurers have one thing in common; a deep interest in opera, or some other reason to attend the performance. For example, they might all be members of an amateur operatic society. A social climber might be more interested in celebrities than music, a thief might plan to steal some antique gems (remember that gems without authentication are valuable mainly for their settings, since stones can readily be synthesised), a detective might be guarding such gems. The art show might also attract the attention of thieves or detectives; if players see the poster and assume that it is going to be important, the events of the evening may come as more of a surprise. Sportsmen may have visited the 'bat exhibition, then decided to stay on for the opera.

Routes to the site include several excellent roads, and a public 'dig dock and 'plane catapult three miles North of the main site. There are always plenty of taxi-cabs to convey passengers to the site, while more adventurous visitors might like to try an old Victorian pneumatic railway which has been lovingly restored to link the dock and the complex at over 100 MPH; a ticket costs sixpence, cab fare is a shilling. There are plenty of parking spaces for cars around the complex.

Check if anyone is carrying weapons; if so, make sure that they are reasonable for the occasion. Most people don't carry shotguns when they visit the opera. A sword stick or a heavy cane are quite acceptable, especially if they are not obviously weapons. A very small gun might be concealed, but remember that no-one has made ammunition for such weapons for nearly thirty years. Officers of the remaining British armed forces will naturally be in dress uniform, which includes swords; the services are essentially an excuse for exhibitionists to dress up and put on a glamorous show. Anyone carrying heavier weapons will be refused admission to the site, but the police will only intervene if there is violence.

1.1 Setting The Scene

As the sun sets, visitors are still spread out around the spacious gardens or touring the shows before making their way towards the central hall which will house the opera. The adventurers meet near one of the main entrances. If they don't already know each other, encourage them to "discover" common backgrounds and acquaintances. Naturally the waiting throng is proceeding inside in couples and small groups, spaced well apart, not the pushing crowds of earlier eras.

Set the scene by describing the glamorous assembly, the huge glittering building reflected in its ornamental lakes, and the glowing sky overhead, jewelled with the lights of passing 'digs and the distant glare of the great ring of Lights around the metropolis. The evening should be cloudy but dry, but for the moment the skies are clear. To the North the lights of a constant stream of 'digs follow the Thames towards the docks and towers of the East End and Greenwich.

An old lady complains about the lights, and says that when she was "a lass" you could see the stars on a clear evening like this. Someone else points out that you can always see the stars at ten thousand feet, and that "transportation is civilisation". How can anyone justify complaining about the traffic when it is the very backbone of society? Abashed, she can only agree.

Eventually the adventurers pass through a palatial lobby, where posters name the international cast:

With the music of the Electric Light Company's Orchestra, usually known as the E.L.O., and the able direction of Mister Lloyd-Webber, it promises to be a performance to remember.

The auditorium resembles a gigantic greenhouse hundreds of feet long and wide, arched over with a rounded glass roof, a spiderweb of girders and plate glass panes. A huge U of widely-spaced seats and tables surrounds the orchestra pit and the stage. Moored over the stage is an ancient 'dig, long guns protruding from cylindrical turrets on either flank of its gondola. Anyone with knowledge of early aviation (Pilot or Military Weapons, difficulty 4) will know that it is a British Flower-class 'dig, an aerial corvette of the nineteen-sixties. In the programme they will find a note of thanks to the Imperial War Museum for the loan of H.M.A. Compass Rose. 26_ADVNT.GIF shows the 'dig during the performance; 27_ADVNT.GIF shows its interior, and should not be revealed to players.

The adventurers may have seen a 'dig indoors before; it's quite common at trade fairs and other exhibitions. It's the first time they've seen one at an opera. It fills most of the roof, dwarfing the stage underneath. The guy wires retaining the 'dig are slack, suggesting that it is loaded with enough ballast to counteract almost all of its buoyancy; don't mention this unless adventurers ask if it is anchored.

The stage is uncurtained and completely bare, as though the director doesn't intend to use any other props or scenery. It seems strange; Mister Lloyd-Webber is usually noted for his lavish sets. As they take their seats a waitress brings the adventurers a menu of refreshments, sandwiches, and cakes, and soon returns with whatever they order. It's expensive, 4d for a pot of tea and 6d for a cucumber sandwich, but excellent.

Soon the orchestra tunes up and starts to play a sprightly medley of Gilbert and Sullivan airs. As the last members of the audience take their seats the lights dim, and blinds slide across the panes overhead. Moments later spotlights, and a searchlight from the 'dig, reveal that the stage has been magically transformed into a fair (but extremely large) representation of the gondola of an old-fashioned 'dig. The props have apparently been raised from concealed hatches, as have the first members of the cast. Projectors turn the white blinds into a simulation of a lightly clouded sky, with a few gulls in the distance. There is a ripple of applause as the opera begins.

1.2 Rain Of Terror

The opera is essentially H.M.S Pinafore with minor changes. A.B.'s become Airmen, references to seasickness are changed to airsickness, and there are a few very minor changes to the words of some of the songs. Little Buttercup and Sir Joseph Porter make their entrances in cargo slings, lowered from the 'dig. The cast are even better than the stars of Mister Lloyd-Webber's last venture into opera, the highly praised Pirates Of The Stratosphere, and everyone thoroughly enjoys the performance.

During the interval most of the audience adjourns to the bar, where amateur critics discuss the performances and staging. It's generally agreed that Mister Lloyd-Webber has excelled himself, although there are some reservations about Captain Corcoran's accent. Everyone laughs at the opera's hilarious portrayal of democracy.

Afterwards the performance continues, but gradually the adventurers should become aware that there is a problem. The first signs of trouble occur half-way through the second act, just as Sir Joseph is ordering Captain Corcoran to his cabin; something seems to go wrong with the lighting, and an empty section of stage is illuminated, while Sir Joseph stays in relative darkness. Another beam quickly swings round from the lighting gallery to cover him. The offending beam is coming from the spotlight of the 'dig overhead. After a few seconds it winks off.

Ralph reveals his love for Josephine, and Sir Joseph has him clapped in irons, then Little Buttercup steps forward to reveal her terrible secret; the fact that she inadvertently exchanged Ralph for the Captain when they were babies. As she sings

   "Oh, bitter is my cup!
     However could I do it?
   I mixed those children up,
     And not a creature knew it!"
she repeatedly raises her hand to her brow, wiping drops of water from her forehead. Anyone who previously looked at the wires will realise that they are now completely taut, and remember that they were originally slack. Incidentally, the wires are only a quarter-inch thick, made of smooth braided colloid fibres; there is no way to grip them well enough to climb them, and there is no other route to the 'dig with the cargo slings withdrawn.

As the chorus begins Dame Kylie, the rest of the cast, and members of the audience below the 'dig are suddenly drenched; water is cascading from its ballast vents. There is a loud whip-crack and one of the wires snaps down into the orchestra pit, demolishing a piano.

Confusion develops, as everyone tries to get clear of the stage. Dame Kylie sings on alone, trying to calm the audience by her example. She switches to her theme song, Little Buttercup, which is evidently a personal favourite.

A second wire snaps, this time slashing down into the stalls and injuring several members of the audience. Someone shouts "women and children first", and the crowd struggling at the exits withdraws to let them through. With a loud mechanical hum sections of the glass roof start to rise, revealing the gigantic opening through which the 'dig entered the hall. They seem to be moving very slowly.

By now the adventurers should be doing something, even if they are only running away or hiding under a table to avoid the wires. It's apparent that the 'dig will smash into the roof if it breaks free too soon, showering the hall with broken glass and steel.

The third wire snaps, again scything down into the audience. By now the adventurers have had ample warning. Fortune favours the brave; anyone doing something heroic (such as tending to the injured) isn't in danger. Anyone who isn't under cover and/or doing something heroic runs a small risk (on a 2D6 roll of 2) of being struck by the wire;

Snapping wireEffect 6, damage A:F, B:I, C:C/K

Dodging or ducking (difficulty 6) or hiding under a seat will automatically prevent damage. Only one adventurer should be in the path of the wire. Several of the audience are again injured, including one fatality. Repeat this, one round later, for the fourth wire.

If anyone is trying to rescue Dame Kylie, they reach her as the fourth wire breaks. She is slightly hysterical, resisting attempts to drag her off the stage with Brawling [4].

As soon as the last cable snaps the 'dig rises towards the roof, and hits it a round later. It seems to jam half-way through the hatches, and there are loud creaking noises as it forces the panels apart. The roof was never designed to be opened this way, and panes of glass shatter, with fragments raining down towards the audience. There are enough falling pieces to threaten everyone in the hall, EXCEPT anyone directly under the 'dig (and on stage) who will be protected by its bulk. For each character at risk 1-2 pieces of glass attack with "skill" 4;

Falling GlassEffect 4, damage A:F, B:F, C:I

Dodging or taking shelter under seats, a table, or any other reasonably solid object will prevent injury.

As the 'dig wrenches free of the roof its last lights wink off and the screw starts to turn, its gas turbine engine making surprisingly little noise. The hull seems to blend with the night sky. The damaged roof panels sag down but don't collapse. The 'dig disappears from view before any of the adventurers reach an exit; remember that most of the undamaged panes are still covered by blinds, so it can't easily be tracked from the hall.

By now either an adventurer or an NPC has pulled a fire alarm lever. Bells ring, and more water starts to spray down from sprinklers in the remains of the roof, and in the other sections of the building; fortunately most of the art in the exhibition area is protected by glass, though some minor works are damaged. In the 'bat show dozens of automatic bailing pumps activate.

A fire brigade (fire department to American readers) 'dig appears above the roof five minutes later. Rescue workers winch down lines to secure the damaged panels, and switch off the sprinklers and bells. Ambulances arrive and start to ferry the injured to the local hospital, where they will be given emergency treatment then loaded aboard an accident ward to recover in the sterile air at 8,000 ft. Eventually the local police constable arrives, long after the fire brigade and ambulances.

Meanwhile adventurers may want to set off in pursuit of the stolen 'dig, but there are a few obstacles. First they must get out of the hall, which isn't easy with water everywhere and several hundred people milling around in front of the exits. Next, they must find a way of following.

If they arrived by car it's easy to set out by road, but the 'dig is already very hard to see, disappearing into clouds to the North as they leave the hall. By the time they find a route that leads in roughly the right direction it is long gone. It is last seen at roughly 8.30 PM. [Once in the clouds it drifts with the wind for several miles then manoeuvres towards Central London]

If the adventurers arrived by 'dig or 'plane they must get back to the docks. This isn't as easy as it might seem. All the waiting cab drivers are joining in the rescue, or helping to ferry the less badly wounded to hospital, and the operators of the pneumatic railway are also helping to move debris. Of course adventurers could try to commandeer a cab or the railway; stealing a cab is easy, since several still have keys in their locks, but operating the railway requires a difficulty 6 Mechanic roll or difficulty 8 roll. Any failure means that the train sets off much too fast, and derails (fortunately without injuring anyone) half way between the station and the dock.

It takes several minutes to prepare a 'dig or 'plane for takeoff; if the craft has NPC crew they won't be expecting an early end to the evening, and will be found playing cards when the adventurers board. By now it should be apparent that the stolen 'dig has a good lead, and is trying to avoid interception. By the time the adventurers are airborne it has disappeared. Running with its lights off, at low altitude, camouflaged, and in cloud, there is no chance of tracking it down. No-one aboard any of the 'digs in the area spots anything. Eventually the local A.B.C. station calls the adventurers on the G.C. and (very politely) asks them to come back to the Crystal Palace to make a statement.

1.3 An Element Of Mystery

The police are finally on the scene; the local constable has arrived to take statements and prepare a report, which will eventually be forwarded to Scotland Yard. Tomorrow morning a detective will probably be assigned to investigate the theft; by then, of course, the trail may be a little cold....

Constable Walter Perkins (policeman)
BODY [4], MIND [3], SOUL [3], Artist (sketching) [4], Brawling [6], Detective [4], Driver [6], International [3], Melee Weapons [6]
B [ ] F [ ] I [ ] I [ ] C [ ]
Equipment: Handcuffs, whistle, truncheon, electric bicycle
Quote: "Excuse me, sir, might I ask why you are carrying that axe?"
Notes: London's police in this era live a quiet life, and rarely have to deal with violent crime. They pride themselves on their politeness, and wouldn't dream of invading anyone's privacy. Fortunately there are almost always a few self-appointed experts around, and they can usually be relied on to help solve any mystery, regardless how bizarre. Perkins is open to suggestions, and may even make helpful remarks occasionally - if there is no other way to keep the adventure moving. The rest of the time he is polite, ineffectual, and slightly awkward.

Perkins starts to question the cast and crew. Nobody will complain if the adventurers try to "help" with the investigation; in fact he makes it clear that he welcomes competent aid. The referee should decide how much time to devote to enquiries, while making sure that the adventurers learn everything relevant.

There isn't much forensic evidence, but a careful examination will reveal traces of sulphuric acid at the lower ends of the cables. Unfortunately colloid isn't easily damaged by acid. If the cables had been weakened they would have snapped harmlessly and lashed upwards, rather than slashing down into the audience. There are no fingerprints on the cable; in any case no-one has kept fingerprint files (apart from prints related to unsolved cases) since the end of the Age of Crowds. A small metal box has been wired to bypass the switches controlling the roof; a broken length of fishing line dangles from one end, pulling it starts the roof panels opening in unison. The switch box seems to be hand made, without any manufacturers' marks. The workmanship is very good. There are no fingerprints.

Dame Kylie is still very upset, and convinced that someone in the cast has arranged the incident to ruin her performance. She mutters dark suspicions of the other female members of the cast. If asked who was aboard the 'dig, she says "some stage-hands". She can't describe them in any detail.

Mister Bowie and Herr Schwartzenegger were both slightly cut, but don't need to go to hospital. Mister Bowie mentions the spotlight incident, if the adventurers didn't take special note of it. If asked who was aboard the 'dig, he says that there were "four or five stage hands", and mentions that they all seemed to be very nervous. Perkins uses his descriptions to sketch the stage-hands; use Identikit pictures or sketches from any crime report. All four were in their forties, possibly even older. Mister Bowie has an idea that one of them had a Midlands accent.

The other members of the cast are unhurt but can't offer any useful information. None of them were aboard the 'dig at any time, or know much about its crew.

Mister Lloyd-Webber is unhurt but EXTREMELY annoyed. The show is insured, but he's not sure that the policy covers escaped 'digs. He can't understand how "the wretched thing could fly away"; it had no fuel aboard! The tanks were drained for safety when it was moored.

If the adventurers try to find the source of fuel, lighting technician 'Sparky' Jones will eventually remember something "a little odd". Last Thursday some helium was delivered for the 'dig. With hindsight he recalls a smell of paint and thinks the gas bottles were a little squat. Helium usually comes in long grey cylinders; the ones that were delivered looked more like welding bottles, which would normally be marked with a red stripe. He didn't see the delivery truck. The bottles were loaded aboard the 'dig by "the Brummies" ('Brummie' is slang for someone from Birmingham; he's sure that the 'dig crew came from that area, although they kept to themselves). The gas that was delivered must have been methane or another fuel gas, not helium. Mister Lloyd-Webber didn't order it, wasn't aware of the delivery, and has no invoices to explain its arrival. No-one else knows anything about it.

Naturally the Crystal Palace management keep track of vehicles entering and leaving the site; if someone checks, they'll find that a truck belonging to The London Helium Company was logged in on the day in question. If the adventurers don't ask, Perkins will think of it after an hour.

If asked how the stage-hands aboard the 'dig were selected, Mister Lloyd-Webber says that he advertised for men with aeronautical experience, and they were the only ones to reply. Most stage-hands don't have relevant skills, and they are paid much less than qualified airmen. He was surprised to find even four with suitable qualifications. He remembers that they came in a group, and claimed to have been airmen on the freighter Halma which was wrecked at the end of last year; there was a story about it in one of the aeronautical magazines just before Christmas. All of them had Midlands accents, but plenty of airmen come from that area. They didn't have any theatrical experience, but they did seem to know about old 'digs, which was much more important. Their names were James Medway, Richard Thorpe, Leonard Burke, and Norman Lassiter. London still has a few newspapers which keep files of old stories; it will take roughly an hour to get confirmation that the names don't match any of the crew of the Halma. All four were lodging at the Holborn Hotel on Red Lion Square, near London University. The hotel has no other address for them.

With this information the adventurers should be ready to take up the chase. The "stage-hands" were obviously involved in the crime, but there doesn't seem to be any lead to their current whereabouts. The "helium" delivery seems a better clue. The telephone book lists the only London Helium Company address as 2 Fleury Street London WC1, and the telephone number as HOLborn 4321. Alert adventurers will realise this must be near the Holborn Hotel. If the number is dialled it rings but there is no reply. Perkins can't accompany them, since there are still a lot of statements to be taken, but wishes them the best of luck and arranges for them to be met by another policeman when they get to Holborn.

Players may want to travel by air, but the direct road journey takes less than 25 minutes. If anyone does insist on travelling by 'dig or 'plane, the nearest docks to Holborn are at the Port of London. It takes at least ten minutes to arrange to dock, and a taxi ride from the Port to Holborn takes fifteen minutes on the crowded city roads. In all the journey takes at least forty minutes, longer if the craft isn't ready to fly.

2.0 Invasion of Privacy

Perkins has arranged for the team to be met by Constable Carmichael, a local officer with detailed knowledge of the area. Depending on what the adventurers told Perkins, he will meet them at the hotel or the warehouse. His statistics are identical to those of Perkins.

The Holborn Hotel is a dead end. The night manager recognises a sketch of his former guests, but doesn't know where they came from or where they went. It's none of his business, and he would never dream of invading a visitor's privacy. The rooms have been cleaned. The register shows that all four 'stage-hands' paid for their rooms in cash; this isn't unusual in a world without credit cards or centralised banking.

Fleury Street is a quiet road near the British Museum. At this time of night it's almost deserted, apart from occasional strollers; if questioned, none of them have noticed a 'dig doing anything unusual. The only excitement around here recently was an odd bit of vandalism three nights ago, when someone threw a can of paint through a window of the Standard 'Dig showroom across the road from the warehouse, and damaged some posters and models. [The display was smashed by one of the conspirators. It showed details of the Cyclops project. The window is now repaired, but the display hasn't been replaced. There are still smears of green paint on the pavement. Constable Carmichael can only remember that there was a big model 'dig and several posters. If adventurers want the police to find out more, it will take several hours.]

All doors of the warehouse are locked shut. There are large "For Sale or Rent" boards over the doors. Adventurers who go down a narrow alley beside the warehouse will notice that a window roughly 8ft up is slightly open. There also happens to be a rainwater pipe running past it, which looks very easy to climb. Naturally no law-abiding policeman is going to climb up, or let the adventurers break in. They will have to distract Carmichael if they want to burgle the warehouse. Asking him to contact the estate agent (realtor) and get the keys is usually a good ploy; it will take him roughly fifteen minutes to get the agent's home telephone number from the police station, and ten minutes more to learn that the building was leased six weeks ago. The agent has no idea why the tenant hasn't taken down his signs. He has no right to enter the building without the tenant's permission, and will not do so. Papers related to the transaction are with the agency's solicitors (lawyers), and can't be examined at this time of night. [If the adventurers eventually want to see them, they'll find that the building was rented on a three-month tenancy by "Norman Lassiter", with the Holborn Hotel address].

If anyone climbs up, ask for a difficulty 4 BODY roll to reach the window, then a difficulty 5 BODY roll to get down safely inside the building, emerging in the lavatory adjoining office 6. A failure results in a foot going into the pan of the lavatory (fortunately clean), but no other ill effects. The doors of the warehouse can be unbolted from the inside. Carmichael will be slightly surprised if he returns to find the building open, but he will readily believe that the door was "just jammed, not really locked" or some similar excuse.

See 28_ADVNT.GIF for plans of the warehouse. Inside scattered old-fashioned light bulbs illuminate the empty expanse of the building, while a cool breeze blows down from the open roof. There is evidence that a 'dig has recently visited the warehouse; the roof has been opened, and areas of wet and dry concrete show that there was a brief shower of rain while something 'dig-sized was overhead. A gantry crane has been moved to one end of the building, probably to keep it out of the way while the 'dig was docked. Anyone climbing to the gallery will find that the crane motors are still warm. Around the rim of the roof opening is a line of guide lights, used to make sure that 'digs don't hit the sides as they pick up cargo; they are also warm. Faint smudgy footprints criss-cross the dry part of the floor; on a close examination the tracks of at least three or four different pairs of shoes can be discerned. Several grey gas tanks, as described by 'Sparky' Jones, are stacked under the catwalk near the stairs. The words "INDUSTRIAL HELIUM" have been stencilled in green paint on the tanks, but they contain traces of methane. Incidentally, the paint is the same colour as the traces outside the Standard 'Dig offices.

The main features of the warehouse are six big gas tanks, two refrigeration plants, and an industrial Fleury turbine generator. The generator is still ticking over, but none of the other equipment is running, although all six tanks are chill to the touch. Hoses lead from these tanks towards the centre of the floor, and have been left in an untidy mess. Five of the six are labelled as helium, the sixth contains methane.

There are six rooms at one end of the warehouse. 1 and 4 are empty.

The members of SOMD felt that they might as well cover their tracks in the best way possible, so room 2 has been set up to throw blame on "The People's League For Democracy", a non-existent organisation. Its main feature is a long trestle table, littered with dozens of books. A cursory glance will reveal that they are all related to "government", "the state", and "politics", with titles like "Das Kapital" and "Principles of Modern Government" that bring a frisson of disgust to any right-thinking person. Most are extremely old, and obviously well-read. On one wall is a big hand-lettered sign, reading "POWER TO THE PEOPLE!".

While this room seems to be a hotbed of insanity, a careful examination will reveal that the older books don't seem to have been opened in years; the spines are stiff, and some of the pages crumble as they are turned. The more recent books (mostly scholastic studies of the decline and fall of government) also seem curiously unused; they don't fall open to any particular section, and some have uncut pages.

A wooden box under the desk has a narrow slot in the lid. It contains a dozen folded pieces of paper. Each is marked with the words "YES" and "NO" and two squares. Nine have a pencil tick in the "YES" square, two in the "NO" square, the word "abstain" is written on the last. This is another misleading clue; if examined closely it's apparent that all the ticks were made by the same hand.

In one corner of the room is a powerful radio transmitter wired to an electric phonograph and a clockwork timer, set for 8 AM the following morning. The transmitter is syntonised to one of the popular commercial frequencies. A disk on the turntable bears the logo of the "Rekord-a-Gram" company, which has recording booths in most Post Offices and 'dig depots. It's easy to play the record without activating the G.C.; the message is brief:


The words are muffled, as though spoken through a handkerchief. At the end of the message the tone arm lifts and moves back to the start. It repeats indefinitely.

Room 3 is a workshop. There are several benches, a small metal-working forge, a lathe, and a drill press. On one of the benches is a dismantled Webley-Fosbury 12-gauge electromagnetic shotgun, which seems to have been partially modified by the addition of a long magazine and an external battery pack. The insulation on one of the coils is blackened, with bare copper visible in places. It's apparent that someone has been trying to increase the rate of fire, but the coil has burned out under the extra stress.

A successfully-modified gun has the following characteristics:

Large shotgunMax 2 targets, Effect 8, Damage A:F, B:I, C:C/K

This modification isn't recommended by the manufacturer, but is usually successful; on a 1D6 roll of 6 the gun will burn out the first time it is used, but if the gun works once it will carry on working. If two shots are fired at the same target the results should be assessed separately. It now holds 20 cartridges.

Adventurers hoping to trace the owner of this weapon by its serial number will be disappointed; there is no longer any police licensing system. Smart teak cases stacked under the bench originally held six identical guns, all are now empty. They can be traced to a gunsmith in Coventry, but that will take three days. The purchaser paid cash and left the name 'Bernard Evans'. The shopkeeper can't remember what he looked like.

All the tools were made in the Midlands, mostly in Birmingham or Sheffield. This isn't especially unusual since many tool manufacturers are based there, but is another indication that the criminals might come from the area.

On another bench is a big drawing board, equipped with compasses, dividers, protractors, and rulers. There are two small triangles of paper behind one of the clips; a corner torn from something that looks like a map, backed by a piece of plain white paper. The letters "ABC/NAV/UK001/2000" are printed on the map corner; anyone with the Pilot skill automatically knows this is the current printing of the standard chart of British Lights, covering England, Wales, and Ireland (Scotland and the Hebrides are covered by another chart). The scraps of paper are a vital clue, and will be spotted automatically if anyone looks at the board.

A third bench is equipped for electronics work, with a big soldering iron, reels of gutta-percha coated wire, a box of assorted valves and bases, wire resistors, and many other state of the art components. There are empty boxes from dozens of valves, all common types.

Room 5 has no furniture. The floor is covered with a large tarpaulin streaked with grey paint. On it are heaped a few empty paint cans, next to them a portable compressor and spray. A discarded stencil on the floor reads "INDUSTRIAL HELIUM". The stencil is covered with green paint, but there is no green amongst the discarded cans.

Room 6 is set up as a kitchen, with a portable electric cooking ring, a small refrigerator, and dozens of cans and jars of food, such as suet puddings and steak and kidney pies. Paper bags on the table bear the label of a nearby bakery, and hold scraps of bread crust. A big sheet of paper has been used as a cloth, on it are the remains of a pat of butter, the wrapping from a large ham, a sliver of pork pie, and fragments of cheese, egg, onion, and pickle. It doesn't take Sherlock Holmes to deduce that someone has made a lot of sandwiches.

If the paper 'cloth' is turned over some faint lines are visible, apparently left by a pencil pressing through another sheet of paper - it's the backing paper formerly on the drawing board in room 3. If the adventurers don't notice this, Carmichael should eventually spot it. The torn corner on the board fits a missing corner of the sheet. Gently rubbing the paper with a piece of charcoal (there are a few sticks near the forge) reveals some faint lettering. To learn more the adventurers must get hold of a copy of the chart (aboard any British 'dig; there is also a copy at the local police station), superimpose the paper, and trace the lines. 29_ADVNT.GIF shows the result.

The lines appear to plot a journey. Starting from a place labelled "CP", at the right position to be Crystal Palace, there is a step of 7.6 miles at 342.7 degrees to Central London; on a larger scale map this point is right over Fleury Street. The next leg is a stage of 77.5 miles at 251.6 degrees, to a point labelled "SP" in Wiltshire. There are bearings to Bristol and Coventry, but no distances, so they are presumably just there for navigational purposes. "SP" is a wooded area of Salisbury Plain, three miles West of Stonehenge. There are no villages in the immediate area.

[The adventurers may assume that Wiltshire is the final destination; in fact the hijackers haven't plotted a course beyond Salisbury Plain because they will be heading straight for the Coventry Central Cloud-breaker, and don't need to use elaborate navigational techniques.]

If adventurers want to set off for Salisbury Plain by road, remind them how easily the 'dig vanished into the clouds when they first saw it. Another 'dig might keep up, a car doesn't have a hope of following it for any distance.

2.1 A Passage To Wiltshire

Once the adventurers know that the 'dig is heading for Wiltshire, they probably want to follow. A call to police in the nearest town (Salisbury) can be made before leaving, or during the journey via G.C.; unfortunately the town only has two constables, and both are off duty! Carmichael spends most of the journey moaning about "Bl***dy yokels having it too bl***y easy". The rest of the time he is air-sick.

Messages sent to the A.B.C. will be acknowledged, but there will be no obvious result. If the adventurers want to send any G.C. messages, the hijackers may overhear whatever they say. Kind referees will remind players of this fact. Do NOT remind players that they can use the G.C. to send misleading messages to put the hijackers off guard; let them think of it for themselves...

If this is the first adventure you've run in the A.B.C. world, tell the players about the view. See With The Night Mail for a vivid description of the system of Lights seen from the air. 04_BRITN.GIF is a map of the network. There is cloud from 500 to 1500 ft, above it the night is bright and clear.

If players want to know more about Salisbury Plain, tell them that it is mostly famous for Stonehenge, an ancient stone circle. In the Age of Crowds most of the plain was covered with military bases and firing ranges; now these have mostly been cleared, although every now and again someone digs up an unexploded shell. The whole area is being forested with force-grown trees as it is cleared. Alert adventurers will probably guess that the hijackers have found a cache of armaments; it's the obvious conclusion.

As the 'dig nears Salisbury Plain ask the players how they intend to make their final approach. While 'digs are quiet they are not completely silent, and any legal 'dig is festooned with navigational lights. In play testing the adventurers usually switched off the lights, and tried stealth tactics which included drifting with the wind with the engines shut down, dropping someone by flicker to scout from the ground (they forgot that there was no easy way for him to report back!), and lowering an observer through the clouds on a cargo sling.

As the 'dig gets closer several lights can be seen through the trees; they look like headlights and hand torches. Eventually the adventurers should get close enough to see a clearing, containing the ruins of some old huts, the stolen 'dig, a Mitsubishi AEoleus van with London Helium insignia, and several men loading long cylinders into the gondola of the 'dig. Someone has excavated the floor of one of the huts, revealing a deep concrete vault. 30_ADVNT.GIF shows details of the area.

Players will probably wish to trap the hijackers before they take off, but they are nearly ready to leave, and something (such as the belated arrival of the local police) should alert them before the adventurers can block their escape. All of the hijackers should be aboard the 'dig when it leaves. Some or all of the adventurers may board first; in most play-tests volunteers rappelled down cargo-slings onto the stolen 'dig, which took off as they were boarding. NPC 'dig crew won't volunteer, Carmichael will volunteer but 'accidentally' slips; his scream and the thud as he hits the ground and breaks a leg will alert the criminals.

If the adventurers don't lower a boarding party, almost all modern 'digs are fast enough to tail the Compass Rose while they consider their options. It heads North towards Coventry, taking evasive action and jamming G.C. transmissions if a pursuing 'dig gets too close. It is possible to put a boarding party aboard the Compass Rose in flight, if another 'dig can manoeuvre above it without alerting the hijackers, but this should be much riskier than boarding on the ground.

2.2 Inside Compass Rose

Appendix B contains game data for the Compass Rose, which can be used if the adventurers try aerial combat; what follows is for use if players actually board the 'dig. See 27_ADVNT.GIF for a plan.

The most likely route aboard is from above; the other entrances are armoured hatches, below the magazines and bridge, which are in constant use while the 'dig is on the ground and will be closed and dogged shut as soon as the hijackers are aboard. The outer hull of the 'dig is slick with condensation, and adventurers should make a few difficulty 3 BODY rolls as they move; any failure results in a fall. If the roll is a 12 the adventurer must make a difficulty 5 BODY roll or slide off the side of the hull; a fall of about 20ft while the 'dig is grounded, several hundred feet once it takes off.

The only obvious entrance is the machine gun nest on top of the hull. This isn't manned unless it is obvious that the Compass Rose is under attack, but the gun is loaded and cocked, and easily "accidentally" triggered as adventurers climb past it and down a hatch into the 'dig. A quick burst of tracer will certainly alert the hijackers if nothing else does! The machine gun is an old belt-fed Vickers design, firmly fixed to its mount and immovable without tools and several minutes work. It can't be fired at the hull of the 'dig; a safety guard won't let it swing down that far.

Machine gunMultiple targets, Effect 11, A:F B:I C:C/K

Inside the 'dig a lightweight metal ladder descends roughly ten feet to a wire mesh catwalk suspended between huge helium bags, which are confined inside tough nets. The bags are new, made of top quality self-sealing rubber, and any cut or tear will close within seconds. The only way to do permanent damage is to cut out a piece of rubber completely; remember that adventurers who try this will soon be breathing helium, and will have high-pitched voices and eventually suffocate if they don't descend below the hole. If six or more gas bags are cut in this way the 'dig will start to lose altitude, crashing (fairly gently; Effect 4 crash damage to everyone aboard) after ten minutes.

The upper catwalk leads forward to the bow (revealing some heavy reinforcing girders but otherwise a dead end) and backwards to the steering engine (BODY 12, use the Mechanic skill at difficulty 6 to sabotage it). Two ladders lead down to a lower catwalk linking the forward and aft guns, passing water ballast, helium, and fuel tanks along the way. It is also possible to climb down the netting that covers the gas bags. The ballast and helium tanks have BODY 10; the fuel tank has BODY 15, and the gas inside will explode and wreck the 'dig (Effect 15 fire damage to everyone aboard) if it is breached.

Another ladder leads down from this catwalk to the gondola, which has steel armour and contains the engine and crew compartments. Forward is the bridge, followed by cabins to port and starboard, two magazines containing ten aerial torpedoes, the aerial torpedo turrets (both are loaded, but a series of complicated stages are needed to fire them; it is almost impossible to do it accidentally), a galley and sick bay, and the engine compartment aft. Bridge and engine room doors (BODY 8) are closed and locked if the hijackers know that intruders are aboard.

There are eight hijackers, all with similar statistics as follows:

SOMD Members (all aged 50-70)
BODY [3], MIND [3], SOUL [3], Brawling [6], International [4], Marksman [5], Melee Weapons [5]
Equipment: electric torch, large shotgun (see 2.0 above) if armed.
Name Alias Extra Skills Position Armed?
Michael Banks James Medway Pilot [5] Bridge No
B [ ] F [ ] I [ ] I [ ] C [ ]
Iain Blackburn Richard Thorpe Mechanic [7] Engines No
B [ ] F [ ] I [ ] I [ ] C [ ]
Michael Clarke Leonard Burke Mil. Wpns [5] Prt. turret No
B [ ] F [ ] I [ ] I [ ] C [ ]
Vincent Barker Norman Lassiter Mil. Wpns [4] Stbd. turret Yes
B [ ] F [ ] I [ ] I [ ] C [ ]
Robert Gould - Mechanic [5] Bridge (G.C.) Yes
B [ ] F [ ] I [ ] I [ ] C [ ]
Roger Allwood - - Ammo store Yes
B [ ] F [ ] I [ ] I [ ] C [ ]
John McNabb - - Aft gun Yes
B [ ] F [ ] I [ ] I [ ] C [ ]
Brian Shaw - Business [7] Forward gun Yes
B [ ] F [ ] I [ ] I [ ] C [ ]

Quote: "The A.B.C. must be stopped! Power to the people!"
Notes:The members of SOMD are retired freedom-fighters from the Age of Crowds; formerly at the forefront of the war against authoritarianism, and nostalgic for the days of anarchy and revolution, they have fallen into the old trap of thinking that the end justifies any means. While they don't know that they have loaded gas warheads, they have already killed several people at the Crystal Palace, and their other weapons imply an intention to kill anyone who tries to stop them.

Banks, Blackburn, and Gould can't leave their posts. Clarke, Barker, and Allwood are free to move about the 'dig until it nears Coventry, McNabb and Shaw can leave the machine guns if there doesn't seem to be an external threat. The bridge, engine room, turrets, and gun posts are linked by telephone.

If the adventurers board from above, Clarke and Barker will head forward along the lower catwalk, while Allwood heads aft. Since the catwalks are made of wire mesh it is possible to see and shoot through them. Fortunately there isn't any internal lighting, so the hijackers must use torches, and won't automatically spot someone above them unless a light is visible or a noise is heard. Unfortunately the wire tends to "twang" as people move on it.

If a firefight develops, remember that the shotguns and most other modern weapons make a characteristic whip-crack noise rather than a loud bang, then whine (like an electronic flash) for a second as they recharge. With the turbines running the sound is only audible at close quarters. McNabb and Shaw will join the fight if they see the intruders, or if the adventurers are trying to break into the bridge or engine room. Their machine guns cannot be turned round to fire inside the 'dig.

Adventurers usually overcome the hijackers reasonably easily. Afterwards they must take control of the 'dig and land without crashing; this requires a few Pilot rolls, with difficulty 5 since the 'dig is an old design with odd controls. Nothing too drastic should happen if the rolls are failed; at worst any crash should involve cuts and bruises, not broken bones.

Once the 'dig is captured, the aim of the theft is obvious; there is a large-scale map of the Coventry area on the bridge, with aerial photographs and large-scale plans of the Cyclops (31_ADVNT.GIF, but printed on paper 3ft wide with correspondingly more detail) and the dockyard that is building her. There are also aerial photographs of the Cyclops in the torpedo turrets.

Any surviving hijackers will refuse to talk, making absurd claims about the "Iron heel of the A.B.C." and "The People's right to democratic control of their destiny". They will initially say nothing to reveal the truth - see section 3.0 below for more details.

2.3 Stand By To Ram!

It's possible that the adventurers will not board, but will instead follow the Compass Rose or fight it. The hijackers will evade pursuit in the clouds, double back and narrowly miss ramming the pursuing 'dig, and otherwise try to shake off followers. Players should be reminded that their 'dig is (presumably) not equipped for combat; it probably carries a pithing iron, but is unlikely to be armed, armoured or built to ram. If they get too close, a burst of machine-gun fire, with one or two bullets whipping through the cabin (fortunately missing everyone aboard) should should warn them that aerial combat is a spectacularly bad idea. It will certainly dissuade any NPC crew. If the adventurers do insist on going on the offensive use the rules in the Worldbook, section 5.5 onwards, and suggest that they prepare to generate new characters...

If the adventurers try to ram the Compass Rose the hijackers are desperate enough to fire an aerial torpedo at them. Chances of a hit are nil, since the weapon is designed for use against stationary ground targets, but the missile will inevitably fly on to hit a randomly selected area. Unfortunately even the depopulated Britain of the A.B.C. stories has many towns and villages, and there is a real chance of hitting one. Roll 2D6:

2: Densely populated area; 1D6 x 100 killed
3: Lightly populated area; 1D6 x 10 killed
4-10: Uninhabited farmland / woods
11: As 3
12: As 2

You may wish to change the odds if combat is taking place over a major city. The result is described in section 2.4 below.

If the adventurers try to radio for help the hijackers will jam them. They can send 30 words before jamming begins. Trying another frequency will allow another 20 words to be sent, 15 words if a third frequency is used. After that signals will be continually jammed on all frequencies.

Light signals and rockets are a better bet. Most 'digs carry a good supply of flares and bombs, and they can be used to attract attention; 'digs in the area will change course to investigate. By now the theft of the Compass Rose is common knowledge, and all the NPC-controlled 'digs will start to signal its presence, in a confusing mish-mash of International and voice messages which will eventually break through the jamming.

Another way to get help is to drop someone off by flicker, and hope that he lands near a telephone. A swampy field containing a herd of incontinent cows and numerous stinging nettles is an especially good landing point; the farmhouse has a telephone, but it is firmly locked and barred, and occupied by a suspicious little old lady - if you assume that 2065 AD technology is available it is also surrounded by a ground-circuit. In all it should take at least fifteen or twenty minutes to rouse someone and get through to the police or A.B.C.

If the adventurers can call in the A.B.C. the Compass Rose will be intercepted before it reaches Coventry. Two 'planes with A.B.C. insignia are the first on the scene, swooping and circling the stolen 'dig, and calling for help on the A.B.C.'s secure S.C. frequencies. A streamlined patrol 'dig soon arrives, braking from its top speed to match course and speed with the 'digs in a spectacular display of airmanship. An overwhelmingly powerful signal over-rides all frequencies, warning the Compass Rose to heave to and prepare to be boarded, as a second 'dig arrives. The Compass Rose fires its machine guns, but the 'digs and 'planes easily evade the shots. After two warnings the A.B.C 'digs fire their grapnel guns (see Worldbook section 5.5.8) at the rear rudders of the Compass Rose, then start to pull it off course. The hijackers try to resist, but they are no match for the powerful modern 'digs. After a few futile attempts to escape they surrender.

2.4 Darkness Falls From The Air

If the adventurers do nothing to stop the Compass Rose, the hijackers eventually reach Coventry and prepare to attack the Cyclops. At three miles from the dock they fire the first torpedo; it functions perfectly, scoring a direct hit on the docks, a few hundred feet from the new 'dig. In the dawn light a cloud of yellow gas can be seen, spreading out from the point of impact. Unfortunately the hijackers assume that the warhead was faulty, and fire another. Through binoculars people can be seen staggering out of nearby buildings clutching their throats. After the second shot the hijackers realise that something has gone horribly wrong and start to retreat. 402 people die as the gas spreads across the city; if the adventurers dip below 100ft to investigate they will also be in the cloud, and should also suffer its effects - see Worldbook section 5.5.6 for details.

If the adventurers still do nothing the Compass Rose evades pursuit and heads towards Birmingham, where the hijackers moor in woods on the outskirts of the town, make their escape into the city, and try to cover their tracks. If none of them are captured there is little chance of solving the mystery; if even one is caught the plot will eventually unravel, and the hijackers will confess once they realise that they were tricked. See section 3.0 below.

Optionally, if the hijackers are all killed or escape completely, it may be advisable to have one straggler caught by the police or A.B.C. on Salisbury Plain. He can reveal the information that would otherwise be disclosed in the next section.

3.0 Eye In The Sky

This section assumes that the hijackers were caught before they were able to fire any torpedoes; you may need to change things if Coventry has been attacked. Once the Compass Rose has landed the local police force and the A.B.C. soon arrive. Another A.B.C. 'dig is sent to secure the arms dump on Salisbury Plain pending safe disposal of the weapons. Use the data for Perkins (above) for all police officers, the A.B.C. is represented by Professor Prendergast:

Prof. Prendergast, A.B.C. Scientist
BODY [4], MIND [5], SOUL [2], Babbage Engine [8], Detective [7], Scientist [7]
Equipment: Stopwatch, notebook, slide rule, small tool kit
B [ ] F [ ] I [ ] I [ ] C [ ]
Quote: "Am I the only one who ever bothers to read the blasted manuals?"
Notes: Prendergast is an irascible civilian employee of the A.B.C., working on several projects including Cyclops. This isn't much of a coincidence since most of the scientists at Coventry have some involvement in the project. He doesn't suffer fools gladly. His role is an information source if needed; if the adventurers don't ask, they won't get his help. He is more interested in examining the 'dig and torpedoes, and won't willingly travel elsewhere.

When the 'dig is searched by daylight two discoveries are made. The first is the real nature of the torpedoes, if not already revealed, the second is a thick printed document in an official A.B.C. binder labelled "Project CYCLOPS: Initial Specification", tucked into a case of charts. A paragraph has been ringed; the last sentence is also underlined:

"Given the cost of this equipment it is desirable to utilise it at all times, not just at night. Accordingly the 350" telescope will be mounted for full vertical rotation, to allow its use for land surveys and map making. The camera will be fitted with a full range of filters and polarisers, which will aid penetration of atmospheric haze. Using the 12" film format it will be possible to map a strip ten miles wide at extremely high resolution, far beyond the needs of map-making. For example, under ideal conditions it might be possible to read normal print if a book were left in view; it would certainly be possible to recognise faces. In exceptional circumstances this capability could be made available to police forces, governments, etc."

This suggests a powerful motive for anyone who doesn't like the idea of invasion of privacy, but a group of so-called democrats should theoretically be in favour of such peeping; there is certainly no reason for them to oppose it. There's another snag; any scientist will realise that the paragraph is nonsense. This is Difficulty 5, if players need to roll for it.

An astronomical telescope is almost useless for land surveys; it views far too small an angle. At ten miles altitude a 350" telescope could see a few square feet, not a hundred square miles. It could certainly read a book, but couldn't simultaneously look at someone standing ten feet away from it. If the telescope could somehow be zoomed out and used for surveying, at a scale of 12" on the negative to ten miles of country a single grain in the film emulsion represents an area of several square feet; recognition of anything much smaller than a building would be impossible.

The page containing this paragraph has subtly different typography to the rest of the document; the columns of text are slightly shorter and narrower. It's a good forgery, inserted into a copy of the real specifications. While the plans are also superficially convincing, and have obviously been produced by a draughtsman and then professionally printed, they don't correspond to reality; see Appendix B below for the true design. Professor Prendergast can point out the differences. If adventurers doubt the word of the A.B.C. he will suggest that they examine the real 'dig and the detailed engineering plans at the Standard 'Dig docks in Coventry. He recognises the rest of the specification; copies were sent out when the project was put out to tender. The true version of the plan accompanied it. If asked, he has no idea what became of the paperwork once the contracts were assigned. Presumably it was filed or discarded.

Players who fail to realise the skill needed to create the forgery should be reminded that the A.B.C. world has no equivalent of DTP or CAD programs, laser printers, or plotters. Type must be set by hand or mechanical typesetting machine, large plans must be drawn by hand then engraved onto an extremely expensive plate; the latter requires many hours of work. Both need a printing press.

The easiest way to break down the resistance of the hijackers is to prove that they have been tricked. Once this is done they will eventually give statements to the police, as summarised below. Adventurers may plan much more elaborate schemes to find the truth, requiring some improvisation by the referee, but if possible the results should be the same.

3.1 True Confessions

The statement that follows can either be used directly, or the details might be slowly extracted during lengthy questioning by the adventurers and/or police. Whatever happens, no force will be used or tolerated by the police. If Banks is killed, use another hijacker's name:

"My name is Michael Banks

I live in Birmingham, and I am a member of an organisation called the Sons of MacDonough, which is an association of men who fought against the old State at the end of the Age of Crowds. Mostly we meet a couple of times a month at a pub in the old Bull Ring market, to talk about the old days and have a few drinks.

Just after Christmas last year we were contacted by a man who called himself Bernard Evans. He said that he was a manager at the Standard 'Dig yard in Coventry, and that he had seen proof that the A.B.C. was preparing to take power and bring back the old type of government. At first we didn't believe him, but a few days later, I think on the third or fourth of January, he came to our meeting with a lot of papers. Plans for a 'dig called the Cyclops, and instructions to build it so that the telescope could be used to look down as well as up, to spy on people. He said that he'd come to us because he saw one of our meetings advertised, and didn't know who else to turn to.

We weren't sure what to do about it at first, but he said that he had a few ideas on that score. Then he told us about a friend of his who knew where some old aerial torpedoes were buried, and about the Compass Rose being restored for an opera. He reckoned that it was God putting things together to make sure that the A.B.C. would get its come-uppance. We all thought that he was a bit touched, but he was ready to put his money where his mouth was. He opened bank accounts for some of us under false names, to use for expenses. In all we must have spent about eight or nine hundred.

We thought about it for a bit, and decided that we might as well have a go. I'm not sure whose idea it was to blame the old democrats, I think we'd all had a few when we thought of it. You never know, the bastards might come crawling out of the woodwork one of these days.

Evans was with us in all the planning, then a few nights ago he called us at the warehouse and said that Standard 'Dig wanted to know where the money was going, and that he'd have to cover his tracks for a bit. He was going to try to get to London in time to help, but he never turned up. In the end we decided to go ahead without him.

We were going to steal the 'dig the night before, but they had a last-minute rehearsal and we had to call it off. In the end the only time we could get to the 'dig was during the show, so we had to steal it then.

Of course everything went wrong, but you know all that. We never meant to hurt anyone, but once it happened we were all in too deep to stop.

The statement includes several details that can be checked, often raising new questions which can in turn be answered by questions to the A.B.C., examining maps, etc. Most of them relate to 'Evans'. What follows are answers to the questions most likely to be asked by the adventurers:

'Evans' is apparently in his fifties or sixties, about six foot four, and dresses like a clerk. He has black hair and a small moustache. He doesn't drink or smoke, and seems to be "a bit of a God-botherer"; in other words, excessively religious. He doesn't have any accent that anyone can remember. [Naturally much of this description is wrong; Green (height 6' 1") wore elevator heels and dyed his grey hair and moustache when he met the anarchists. He really doesn't drink, but smokes strong Cuban cigars. The religious opinions were feigned.]

There is no Bernard Evans working for Standard 'Dig in Coventry. No-one at the yard has ever heard of anyone by that name. The only Evans there is a Welsh welder aged 25, who is only 5' 7" tall.

The Sons Of MacDonough is exactly what Banks says it is; a drinking club for retired anarchists. There are branches in several cities, including Birmingham and Coventry. Meetings are occasionally advertised in both cities. Evans could easily have contacted the Coventry branch if he really worked there.

Two hundred and fifty copies of the true specification were printed; about half went to Members of the Board of the A.B.C., seventy or so to interested astronomical organisations, and the rest to potential contractors in Britain, Europe, and America. Eight British companies were invited to bid. Standard 'Dig was eventually awarded the contract to build the 'dig itself, Zeiss of Germany are building the telescope, and an obscure American adding-machine company called IBM has already delivered a calculating engine that will be used to coordinate the telescope, stabilisation systems, and navigation.

Any of the companies that were sent the specifications could re-write one page and amend the plan, but the forgeries were actually printed, not just typed and re-drawn. That takes specialised skills and equipment. Most manufacturers send their printing to subcontractors.

Where did 'Evans' get the money? Eight or nine hundred pounds can buy a large house; it's more cash than most working men ever see. It's unlikely that a mere manager could easily lay his hands on that much. The accounts he opened (by post) at four different London banks are all still in credit, although there isn't much left. If the adventurers ask for a description of the person opening the account, it matches that of 'Evans'.

How did he know about the torpedoes? The old armoury site was bombed in the 1970s and forgotten. Modern maps show it as a ruin, without any other description. Old maps show it as a Royal Army Ordnance Corps depot. Did 'Evans' have some connection with it before it was destroyed? Why did 'Evans' want to use aerial torpedoes anyway, when sabotage or a bomb could be used much more accurately. Did he know that they had gas warheads?

How did he know about the Compass Rose? The restoration didn't get much publicity outside the specialised aviation press. The work was done by Consolidated Dirigibles of Birmingham, and the 'dig was flown directly from Birmingham to the Crystal Palace three weeks before the opening night. If the adventurers follow up this clue they will find that contracts for the restoration were signed on the ninth of January; 'Evans' knew about the Compass Rose nearly a week earlier! To make this even more baffling, Mister Lloyd-Webber's connection with the restoration didn't receive any publicity at all; the Compass Rose was to be the big surprise of the opening night. The only other people in the know were officials at the Imperial War Museum and the directors of Consolidated Dirigibles.

Can the call to the warehouse be traced? Yes, if the adventurers have a suspect and can persuade the G.P.O. to check the records for his or her lines. All long-distance calls are operator-connected, and logged (in ledgers) for billing, but there is no way to find out who called a number without more information.

From these clues 'Evans' is probably based in Birmingham, not Coventry, and is attempting to destroy Cyclops, the Standard 'Dig yards, or Coventry. He's middle-aged, has good contacts in the 'dig building industry, and access to draughtsmen and printers, or all the relevant skills and equipment. He's rich, or is backed by someone else who is rich. He's persuasive and is either sincerely religious or a good actor. He may have some connection with the old British Army.

By now players may wish to know more about Consolidated Dirigibles. There is naturally a full entry on the company in any trade directory:

'Dig builders for merchant aviation, the A.B.C., and the private sector, specialising in the 50-200 ton range. Licensee for Magniac's Rudder, Fleury Ray, etc. A.B.C. Certified 'Dig Builder, Lloyd's safety rating A.
ChairmanSir Stephen Green
DirectorsJohn Burke, Norman Cunliffe, Richard Grant, Harold James, Eric Lassiter, Joseph Leonard, Robert Medway, Elliot Thorpe.
Addresses12 Colliers Wharf, Birmingham (offices)
Docks C-F Aston Mooring Towers, Birmingham
Docks B-D Selly Oak Mooring Towers, Birmingham
Telephone Birmingham 4040 (3 lines)
Telegrams CONDIG Birmingham
Subsidiaries Aviation & Technical Press Ltd. (12 magazines, books, private contracts, etc.)

This information may also be found if the adventurers are trying to trace printers capable of producing the forgery; Aviation and Technical Press Ltd. is listed as having the same chairman and directors.

The most obvious clue in this entry is the names of the directors; putting parts together, their names are the aliases 'Evans' used to open bank accounts for some of the hijackers. The company also owns a publishing house; Aviation & Technical Press prints a range of 'dig, 'plane, and 'bat magazines, none in the forefront of journalism, occasional technical books, and manuals and documentation for Consolidated Dirigibles and other companies. Naturally the latter often include plans and charts.

A "Certified 'Dig Builder" meets A.B.C. standards; this isn't the top A.B.C. certification, which is "Approved 'Dig Builder". Similarly, Lloyd's Safety Rating "A" isn't as good as the top "AAA". In other words, Consolidated Dirigibles meets all relevant standards but doesn't excel. Checking in old directories, the adventurers will find that the 1998 ratings were "A.B.C. Approved" and "Lloyds AA". On their last inspection the A.B.C. found evidence of cost cutting and inadequate quality control, which affected the subsequent rating. The information was passed on to Lloyds.

Stockbrokers and other businessmen are aware of the current state of Birmingham's industry, and Consolidated Dirigibles in particular. If questioned, the answers are something like this:
"Consolidated Dirigibles? Hmm, wouldn't buy any shares if I were you, they're rather on the ropes. Lost a couple of juicy A.B.C. contracts last year, and it doesn't look like they'll do better this year. Come to think of it, I heard that they were low bidders for that big flying telescope last year, and the A.B.C. took a look at their yards then turned round and gave the job to the new Standard 'Dig yard in Coventry. In fact business is booming all over Coventry at the moment. Not like Birmingham at all, old man. Of course Coventry has the big cloud-breaker and the A.B.C. training school, and they pull in an awful lot of trade."

If the adventurers ask for a check on the Consolidated Dirigibles telephone lines, and can persuade the G.P.O. to help (which should be extremely difficult), they will eventually be told that there was a call from the offices to Holborn 4321 at 9.15 p.m. on the 27th of March. This is long after the offices close for business and the switchboard is shut down. Adventurers making enquiries should eventually encounter Miss Gladys Phipps, the company switchboard operator; a beautiful young lady looking for romance, who would never think of accepting a bribe (but will probably succumb to flattery or a box of chocolates). When she shuts the switchboard for the night she always leaves one line connected to the reception desk (manned by a night watchman) and one to the Chairman's office; he often stays late. The third line is disconnected. The night watchman is 'old Fred', an octogenarian who is mainly present to sound the alarm if the building catches fire; he never makes any calls, it's "more than my job's worth".

The Chairman of Consolidated Dirigibles is now an obvious suspect; there are several motives, and he controls all the resources needed for the crime. His biography in Who's Who is very revealing:

GREEN, Sir Stephen, Kt. cr 1994; BSc Physics; Chairman Consolidated Dirigibles Ltd., Chairman Aviation & Technical Press Ltd. Born Salisbury (Wilts.) 1943, only son of Dr. Frederic Green. Educ. Harrow and Imperial College, London. Army Ordnance Corps 1966-70. Publications: Basic Aviation Drawings 1978, Draughtsmanship for Publication 1979, Draughtsmanship and Typographical Design 1980. Clubs: Birmingham Dramatic Association (Chairman 1993-5). Recreations: Amateur Dramatics, Golf, Gardening.

After seeing this the adventurers should be morally certain that Green is 'Evans', and responsible for several deaths (or several hundred). Unfortunately almost all their evidence is circumstantial.

3.2 The Burden Of Proof

Sooner or later the adventurers will want to confront Green with their evidence, or show him to the hijackers and see if they recognise him. Photographs of Green are readily available, and they can be retouched to correspond to his disguise; if so the hijackers will think that it's the same man, but won't be sure. Other strategies, such as burgling his home or offices and looking for clues, won't succeed because he has carefully destroyed all evidence of his complicity in the crime. An old cheque book in his desk does show that he withdrew a thousand pounds in cash from a bank account in February, a few days before the hijackers' accounts were opened, but there is nothing to show where the money went. With taxes currently at 4.5%, and collection almost entirely a matter of personal conscience, there is no mechanism to trace the money further.

For several days Green manages to avoid the adventurers; if they call at his office he's gone to one of the dockyards, if they call at his home his butler thinks that he's at the office, if they call at the dockyards someone thinks that he's playing golf. His Rolls-Royce Cyclonic is always on the move, as he travels between the outposts of his personal empire or makes business trips to London and Scotland. Continue the run-around until the adventurers are nearly ready to give up.

Eventually they find him at the company docks at Aston Mooring Towers, near the centre of Birmingham. It's a typical 'dig-builder's yard, where the ribs of a huge commercial 'dig, looking like the skeleton of a beached whale, are slowly being riveted and welded together. Green is talking to engineers in a shed perched on a gantry a hundred feet above the floor. The site manager insists that the adventurers put on hard hats before beginning the long climb, and shouts to say that they are on their way up. Sir Stephen appears at the railing and gestures for the team to ascend:

Sir Stephen Green (Businessman and criminal)
BODY [4], MIND [5], SOUL [3], Actor (dramatics) [6], Artist (draughtsman) [8], Brawling [4], Business [6], Marksman [5], Mechanic [6], Military Weapons [6], Scientist [7]
Equipment: £600 (10 x £50 notes, 100 sovereigns), cheque book, .38 Derringer pistol (Effect as large gun, 2 shots)
B [ ] F [ ] I [ ] I [ ] C [ ]
Quote: "Now, I'm sure that we're all reasonable men..."
Notes: Sir Stephen is under immense stress, but determined to do nothing to that will harm the good name of his family (currently in France) or business. He feels immense guilt for the deaths at the Crystal Palace (and Coventry if things went badly wrong). Green is not a native of the Midlands, and lacks the accent of the area.

When the adventurers arrive he suggests that "we talk outside", on a steel-railed gallery overlooking the workmen. Emphasise the height, and the fact that the whole gantry seems to sway slightly as it's hit by gusts of wind. Overhead 'digs are arriving and leaving the tower. It's a busy scene, the epitome of modern trade. Green gestures towards one of the 'digs, a huge freighter dropping towards one of the docks. "That's one of ours. There are probably two or three more here today. I built this company up from ruins after the State fell apart. Used to be the biggest 'dig builders in the Midlands. Still would be, if Standard 'Dig hadn't opened their Coventry yards. As it is we've only one dock open for now, and I've had to lay off half the men. Now people tell me that you're going around smearing the good name of this company and saying that we had something to do with those idiots who stole the Compass Rose. What have you to say for yourselves?"

Encourage the adventurers to confront him with their evidence, and with one of the hijackers if they have brought him along. The hijacker won't be 100% sure that Green is 'Evans'; he always wore disguise and assumed a strong Midlands accent when they met.

Green listens to what the adventurers have to say, then shrugs, knocks a little ash from his cigar, and says "Humph. All a little circumstantial, isn't it? A bit airy-fairy. Can't see a court convicting on that sort of evidence. Mind you, you could maybe give me a hard time before I was acquitted. Now, I'm a reasonable man, and I can see that you've honestly convinced yourselves that I'm responsible for these outrages. You're wrong, but maybe I'd reach the same sort of conclusions if I were looking at the same evidence. What I think you really ought to do is look a little harder. Maybe someone is out to do in the whole Midlands 'dig industry, not just Coventry. Standard 'Dig is a big company with big ideas, and maybe they can't stand the idea of competition. Oh, I'll grant you that their yard was attacked, but I'll bet that you'll find that none of their senior management were in Coventry that day, and gas can't do much harm to a yard. They could always hire more staff. At the right price they'd get some of my best men. Imagine the publicity, gallant Standard 'Dig bravely pulling itself together after a tragedy. It could double their business."

"Now I'll put it to you that that's what happened, and that you could prove it if you put your minds to it. In fact, I'll go so far as to put up some money on the strength of it." He reaches into his pocket and pulls out a wad of huge notes, unfolding them to reveal their value. "As I said, I'm a reasonable man. I hope that you're reasonable too. Here's five hundred pounds. You can hold it for now, and keep it when you find proof that I'm innocent. Let's shake on it."

Are the adventurers willing to take this blatant bribe? If they express doubts, Green digs into another pocket and pulls out a leather pouch, saying "Well, I only have another hundred on me." He tips out the bag to reveal the glittering stack of golden sovereigns.

If this also fails, he gets out a cheque book and pen. "Perhaps we could make it a little more. We'll say four hundred more. If you find the evidence to clear me you'll have a thousand. Think of it, a thousand pounds to clear an innocent man. You know it makes sense." He prepares to write.

If this third offer also fails, Green reaches into another pocket, saying "Well then, maybe we could compromise." He pulls out a tiny double-barrelled pistol, holding it to cover the adventurers. "You go down and let me finish my cigar, then I'll have a nasty accident. This floor is a little oily, someone could easily slip and break his neck. Afterwards you say that I gave you proof that I was innocent. I won't have my family suffer because I made a foolish mistake. You keep the money. What do you say to that?"

If the adventurers agree, Green is as good as his word. As they reach the final rungs of the ladder someone shouts, and a falling body hurtles to the ground, striking with an extremely final 'thud'. Green's neck is broken.

If the adventurers refuse, Green snarls "Damn you, then", and raises the gun to his mouth, firing before anyone has time to intervene. Blood and fragments of brain and flesh spatter the adventurers, and his corpse topples over the railing to hit the concrete below. Bank notes flutter away in the wind, while coins roll across the floor.

3.3 Mopping Up Afterwards

Whatever else happens, the hijackers will be convicted and sentenced to a course of therapy in a high-altitude sanatorium. In the clean air and quiet at 10,000 feet their thoughts can clear. They receive expert counselling, gradually lose their old-fashioned ideas, and are reconciled to the idea that their peculiar talents are no longer needed, and that revolution is as outmoded as government. Adventurers who blatantly committed crimes (such as torture, murder, or unnecessary brutality) should also be arrested and sentenced to similar therapy at a different sanatorium.

If the adventurers let Green fake an accidental death the A.B.C. and police will agree to let the matter drop. There will obviously be rumours of his guilt, but there is no hard evidence. His son takes over the yard and arranges to subcontract work from Standard 'Dig, bringing business back to Birmingham. He will be a useful patron in the future, remembering that the adventurers let his father die with honour, rather than dragging the family name through the mud. The police and A.B.C. should also be grateful for their help. The adventurers should also be a little richer, if they accepted Green's cash. Give each character four bonus points, plus up to four extra points if they accomplished some exceptional act of heroism, ingenuity, or spectacular stupidity, made you laugh, or otherwise contributed to the adventure.

If the adventurers made Green commit suicide publicly there will be a major scandal, wrecking Consolidated Dirigibles completely. Hundreds of workers lose their jobs, and are forced to move to other areas in search of employment. Green and the SOMD hijackers will become folk-heroes in the area, while the adventurers are gradually converted to interfering busy-bodies who were responsible for the death of the man who tried to save the city. They should not expect much help or public support if they visit the area in the future, but the police and A.B.C. will recognise their help and may return the favour in the future. Give each character three bonus points, plus up to three extra points for the reasons above.

If the adventurers were foolish enough to take Green's bribe, they will not be able to find any evidence to support his "theory", although the 'dig magazines he owns will push it as far as the laws of libel permit. Amongst numerous flaws, it happens that two directors of Standard 'Dig were in Coventry that day; if the yard was actually attacked both were killed. A few weeks later a Birmingham newspaper unearths a photograph of the February SOMD meeting, taken by a member who was not involved in the conspiracy; 'Evans' is clearly visible in the background, talking to Barker and Gould, and his resemblance to Green is unmistakable. In the uproar that follows Green commits suicide, and the adventurers fall under suspicion of conspiracy to pervert the cause of justice. No charges are brought, but all their reputations are tarnished, and Consolidated Dirigibles go under as described above. Award NO bonus points for this outcome, and do not allow adventurers to improve skills with any points they have retained; the enquiries drag on for months, and there is no opportunity to practise skills or go on training courses.

If the adventurers somehow failed to solve the mystery, the A.B.C. will suggest that it would help if they try a little harder next time. Green will live to a ripe old age, but his companies will eventually go bankrupt. The crime will remain a mystery. Award up to three bonus points for good role playing etc., more if the players came close to success.

APPENDIX A: H.M.A. Pinafore - The Opera


(Sullivan, revised 2001 Lloyd-Webber)

Act 1. The Gondola of H.M.A. Pinafore, Above Portsmouth, Noon

Airmen working on some of the machinery are visited by Little Buttercup, winched down from her tramp 'dig with a miniature general store in her handbag. She hints at an aching heart beneath her cheery manner. Dick Deadeye, an ugly airman, agrees. At the name of Airman Ralph Rackstraw, the handsome hero, Buttercup murmurs: 'That name! Remorse! Remorse!'

Ralph loves Josephine, the daughter of Captain Corcoran of the Pinafore. The Captain tells Little Buttercup that he wants Josephine to marry Sir Joseph Porter, First Lord of the Admiralty, but she will not accept him. Josephine appears, and tells her father that her heart is already given to one of his airmen.

Next Sir Joseph is winched aboard, attended by 'his sisters, his cousins, and his aunts'. His democratic ideas encourage Ralph to approach Josephine, but she is conscious of their differing ranks, and haughtily rejects him. Secretly she loves him, and when she finds him about to suicide in despair, she admits her real feelings. They decide to steal flickers and elope to Portsmouth that night, though warned of their folly by Dick Deadeye.

ACT II: The Gondola Of H.M.A. Pinafore By Moonlight

Buttercup finds the Captain alone on deck, and hints that she has gypsy blood, and can foresee a change in store for him. Sir Joseph Porter comes to complain to the Captain that Josephine will not have him. Taking her suitor's democratic opinions at their face value, she gets him to admit that disparity in rank should not impede a love-match. He imagines she is thinking of her position and his, but actually he is unwittingly justifying Ralph's cause.

Dick Deadeye tells the Captain that Ralph and Josephine plan to elope. The Captain springs out on the pair as they are about to don their 'para kits. Ralph defies him; the Captain uses a swear word, on which the shocked Sir Joseph, who has returned to the gondola, orders him to his cabin.

He is shocked again when he finds that Josephine wants to marry Ralph, whom he puts in irons. Buttercup now reveals her secret: many years ago she was a baby farmer, and mixed up two children. One of them was Ralph, the other the Captain! Things are put right: Ralph appears in Captain's uniform, and Corcoran in that of an ordinary airman. Sir Joseph's democratic principles do not extend to marrying the daughter of a common airman, so Ralph marries Josephine, and the former Captain marries Buttercup.

Dramatis Personae:


H.M.A. Compass Rose
       Length: 325 ft (100 m)
Maximum Width: 33 ft (10 m)
        Ratio: 10:1
         Lift: 6 tons (.6 tons ram)  - helium lift
Maximum Speed: 85 MPH
         BODY: 34
      Engines: 800 HP methane turbine
Illustrations -

The Compass Rose was built in 1964, and is the last surviving 'dig of her type. She is equipped to ram (but is a weaker design than any comparable modern 'dig) and is armed with two aerial torpedo launchers and three Vickers machine guns. Communications equipment includes a G.C. wireless (which the hijackers have syntonised to modern public frequencies) and a powerful jamming transmitter. The G.C. cannot use A.B.C. Service Communicator frequencies. The hull is camouflaged for night operations. There are no flickers aboard.

Compass Rose was built for a crew of twelve; five gunners, two engineers, and five others. Her maximum armaments load was sixteen aerial torpedoes. Costs are not quoted since she was built using methods and materials that are long obsolete. She is valued at £100,000, but this figure is mainly due to her rarity. She carries fuel for fifty hours flight.

       Length: 300 metres
Maximum Width: 30 metres
        Ratio: 10:1
         Lift: 130 tons
Maximum Speed: 150 MPH (towed)
         BODY: 65
      Engines: N/A
         Cost: Hull    £  585,000
               Engines £    2,100 (500 HP generator)
               Gas     £    8,840 (includes 100% reserve)
               Other   £  657,185 (telescope, accomodation, etc.)
   Total               £1,253,125 (estimated)
    Insurance: None, risk carried by A.B.C.
Illustrations - 31_ADVNT.GIF
(Note: This illustration does NOT show the true design of the Cyclops; see below)

The Cyclops will be an airborne observatory, designed to be towed to a location that will allow favourable conditions for the astronomers she carries. To reduce vibration there are no engines aboard, apart from a generator which is mainly used for small stabilising fans and to keep Fleury's Gas circulating. The main telescope is a 350" (8.4 metre) reflector mounted for 45-degree rotation in all directions, with powerful gyro-stabilisation. The telescope camera is fitted with a range of remotely-controlled filters used to compensate for atmospheric conditions. She is built to accommodate up to thirty scientists for several weeks, and can transfer supplies and crew in flight. All accommodation can be sealed and pressurised for high-altitude work.
[The illustration shows plans which have been modified to make it look as though the main telescope can be pointed downwards; in fact the lower bulge of the telescope enclosure is a solid section of hull, ballasted to compensate for the weight of the telescope, and the telescope mount doesn't allow it to turn that far.]

A.B.C. patrol 'planes and 'digs are described in sections 5.6.2 and 5.4 of the Worldbook.