Albanian East India Company Newsfax Entries

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1739-1740 (T205)
Tewfik: Back home in Basra, however, the sleep of the householders was rudely broken by a thundering explosion, then the sound of gunfire. A band of Hussite commandoes had attacked the Tewfik shipyards, where a certain Tipo Argir lay in chains. Massacring the guards, the pirate was freed by his friends and they escaped into the night, the whistles and drums of the police filling the night.

Moments later, the fire-watch began ringing its alarm bars, for diversionary explosions set by the Hussites had blown apart a granary near the docks. Six thousand tons of wheat (recently arrived from China) ignited with a deafening explosion. An entire city block was flattened, and an enormous fire started. Thousands of Persian citizens flooded into the streets, panicked. The civil guard rushed to restore order, but found their guns, riot-control staves and other equipment locked in warehouses.

Efforts to open the doors triggered another series of explosions, killing hundreds of guardsmen. Meanwhile, the fires raged out of control, wrecking the port and devastating part of the city. In the marshy swamps along the Shaat-al-Arab, Tipo Argir looked back at the billowing clouds of black smoke over the city and bit his thumb at the House of Tewfik.

Georgia: Later, an Albanian agent attempting to establish a business concern in Akko, on the Levantine coast, was killed in a confused bar brawl. No one claimed responsibility for his death, and the Sultan's governor declared the boy killed "by accident."

AEIC: Despite the various reverses of the past years, the Albanians remained steadfast - and busy. A number of high profile projects were launched (including an aerial hotel and casino called the Grand Albanian) and a public project in the city of Alexandria to rebuild the old Library there.

Unfortunately, matters close to home were growing serious. The offices of the Company in Marseilles were destroyed in an apparent terrorist attack, though the efficency with which the survivors were hunted down and murdered chilled the blood. Further trouble in that city followed, with the students at the local schools (riled up by Baklovakian agitators) mobbing the streets, exchanging gunfire and thrown stones with the city police, then barricading the university district. As Marseilles enjoyed special 'autonomous' status within the Danish Empire, the local Imperials refused to intervene. Within two months, the entire city had fallen to the student revolutionary brigades and their red banners flew bravely from the rooftops and gates. The sound of the Internationale range from the steeples!

Things were even more dire in Thessaloniki, where a number of Company buildings were destroyed by a massive explosion. Hundreds of workers were killed, and more - it was later learned - died in hospital, strangled or murdered by something leaving a small, round, almost unnoticeable hole. Nikolas began to get the idea someone was out to get him...

Despite this, the Company managed to make it's cartel payments, and even send re-shipped grain to the Ethiopians (who, of course, were having a famine). Efforts to hire various bands of mercenaries outside of the Mediterranean failed (busy was very good for mercenaries right now), though the companies under brokerage were available and stood ready to defend various Company installations. Unfortunately, against the sly terrorist attacks being made... they failed.

Tipo escaped from prison in Basra, with spectacular consequences, and the defeat of the Moslems in the Gulf of Oman lent everyone hope. Perhaps the sea-lanes east would be opened again soon. The wives lit a dozen candles each for the safety of the Empress Oniko and her swift homecoming. A shrine was specially constructed, dedicated to the Pale Flame, in Dalmatia, where the Company was also laying out a fine modern city to be called Tirane.

Denmark: All Venice turned out in delight to watch the arrival of the massive new Albanian aerial hotel and casino, the Grand Albanian, which called at the Venice aerodrome on her maiden voyage. Capable of carrying a hundred passengers in something like comfort (though the cabins were very small), and providing them with meals, entertainment and a chance to wager some small sums, the G.A. is undoubtedly the queen of the skies.

Three Isles: The continuing trouble in Spain fed a virulent series of rumors the Norsktrad would be expelled from that nation, and from all ports in Catholic nations. Given the Albanians hated the Nörsk with a passion, this left the company very few options...

Ethiopia: Grain came from the Albanian merchants, and was parceled out to the starving, which alleviated a little of the suffering in this parched, desert nation.

1741-1742 (T206)
Borang: An arrangement was struck with the Albanian East India Company (which had long been active in Austral waters) to take over service of diverse trade routes - and the Bakufu provided the Europeans with dozens of new-built merchantmen to carry the trade. Kahin was greatly desirous of trade with the so-advanced Western powers.

Arnor: Provided with two example airships (and copious plans and advice) by the Albanian East India Company, the Arnori craftsmen began work on building their own hydrogen separation plants, workships, hangars and all the other appurtenances of a modern aerial nation.

Georgia: The news that a group of Albanians had attempted to gain the alliance of the Bedu of Sinai reached Baghdad and made the Sultan frown.

AEIC: Concerned with the sudden effusion of workers movements in the western cities, the Senior Partner announced the company would enter into "fair and open" negotiations with the workers in the various factories and industries under Company control. The wisdom of this approach may prove sound, for two high-ranking Company officials were beset in Thessaloniki by angry workers and beaten to death. Grain was transshipped to Ethiopia for a tidy profit.

The Grand Albanian over the Komarno Aerodrome in Baklovakia

Aerial passenger service was announced between the cities of Venice, Komarno, Paris and Warsaw. Four luxury airships (equipped with casinos, first class chefs, and individual cabins) inaugurated the routes - the Grand Venecian, the Gay Paree, the Grand Warsaw and the Grand Baklovakian.)

Steamship passenger service between ports in the Mediterranean, the European Atlantic coast and the Caribbean was also announced, through there were only two steamships in operation (the Thessalonica and the Midas). But Company offices everywhere were taking reservations. Both ships managed to make a round-trip journey (filled with frights, coal fires, mechanical breakdowns and other traumas) between Augostina, Valetia and Alexandria in '42.

A band of mercenary thugs called the "Hussite Legion", backed up by two hired airships, and led by Jan Stahlansk destroyed the offices and warehouses owned by the House of Tewfik and Norsktrad in Constantinople and Heraclea (in Thrace). Though no public statement was made, everyone knew the Company had paid Jan to clean up a bit of a mess in their back yard.

Frankish Commonwealth: All Paris was agog at the arrival of Alexos Kuklone and the Grand Albanian over the city. Dashing and strong-minded, the youthful vice-president inaugurated a new air terminal and scandalized the city with her free-thinking, and dressing, ways. Still, she was an aeropilot and a canny speaker who won many hearts. The steadily increasing Frankish air corps pilots, in particular, were enduring fans.

Wolfden & Cane: Much to the distress of the Albanians, a small Hussite company opened its doors on a side street in Montremarte [Paris]. The partners expected to do great business.

Denmark: Technical advisors were dispatched to Carthage and the East India company to discuss [steam warship] construction techniques.

Ethiopia: The Albanians continued to make a tidy profit selling Danish and Frankish grain to the Ethiopians.

1743-1744 (T207)
Java: In a shocking display of cooperation, the Albanian East India Company - which had an extensive warehousing and transport operation on Palankawai in the Andaman Islands - agreed in principle to allow Aeronautical Research and Fabrication to have use of facilities there.

Arnor: Thanks to the assistance of the Albanian East India Company, Schwarzkastel expanded and was greatly beautified, and trade was opened with Masai and Ethiopia.

AEIC: Negotiations continued with the dockyard workers, the stevedores and the sailors. Nikolas wanted a fair and equitable arrangement – and more to the point, he wanted to keep the Communard labor organizers out of his workshops. Everyone was working hard, anyway, and wages were high – so there wasn’t really a problem. Not yet anyway. Cartel payments were disbursed to all and sundry, though they were very small.

Two more passenger zeppelins were added to the Airways fleet, the Gypsy and the Champagne. The steamship yards were equally busy, with the cruise liners Duchy of the Isles and Santorini entering service. Aerodromes were opened in Thessalonki and Constantinople. The Ulm aerodrome was doubled in size. A steamship terminal was built in Gozer, on the Ethiopian coast, and the company invested a great deal of money in expanding the Arnor capital of Schwarzkastel.

Miss Alexis also opened a shopping mall (selling imported Italian clothes, at least while there were any) at the Paris aerodrome. There was also a great deal of trade activity in the Indian Ocean, where the company had finally found enough ducks to put in a row. Her efforts to establish a more than a nominal merchant presence in the city were thwarted, however, by the not-nearly-so-stylishly-dressed Wolfden & Cane.

A series of mild scandals plagued the Company (really, though, they were almost ignored amongst the horrors of the cataclysm and the news of the war), besmirching their good name – particularly among Moslem customers.

Frankish Commonwealth: Agreements were reached with the AEIC and W&C Holdings on city expansion and technology exchange.

Ethiopia: Albanian ships began to arrive in Gozer (where the Company was also building a steamship terminal) with goods from Arnor.

Sisters of the Rose: An arrangement was reached between the Sisterhood and the Albanian East India Company allowing individual priests and priestesses to travel – free of charge – on Albanian packet ships and other transports. Efforts to establish a more formal trade relationship were stymied by the lack of Albanian facilities in the Amerikas.

1744-1746 (T208)
Southern League: A trade delegation from the Albanian East India Company also found a warm welcome in Fornost. Though, sadly, their captain – the redoubtable Tipo Argir – was killed while hunting tigers in the nearby hills. A manly sport, but sometimes the tigers win out, not the men.

Arnor: Much like their southern cousins, the Arnori kept to themselves and devoted a great deal of effort to securing their hold over the Ganges provinces. Schwarzcastel expanded – the new construction being financed by the Albanians, who also purchased all the spare grain and goods the Realm could produce. There was a desperate market in Europe for bread.

The War against the Beast
Early June 1745: Two Albanian airship squadrons (four airships under the command of Nikolas Argir, and four under Korsas Kuklone) rendezvous over the port city of Beirut in Lebanon. They land and are welcomed by a delegation from the city (where the Company maintains substantial interests). Nikolas broaches the prospect of abandoning Georgia with the local emir – and winds up in a shootout with the local ‘security police.’ He flees to his ships, which lift with reckless speed. The Albanian air squadron bombs the city in response, setting fire to several districts, and then flies off to the north.

Late May 1746: After ascending to a very great altitude, the Albanian air squadron enters Mesopotamia and overflies Baghdad, hoping to avoid any Georgian aerial defense. Below them, they see a great city shrouded in the smoke of countless fires. A hundred thousand people are looking up, dazed, their masters suddenly departed. The Albanians circle, looking for the airship yards, but they find only burning ruins.

AEIC: Determined to show their mettle, the Company board voted to employ every single Hussite mercenary they could lay hands upon, with bonuses, and to form a “Hussite Legion” in the Holy Land to defeat “the evil” in Georgian lands. Jan Stahlansk, of course, was chosen to command this doughty band, which gathered at Amman in Jordan (where, by the way, they had ended last turn.)

Production efforts at the Thessaloniki Airship Yards, however, were a horrible snarl and continuing snafu. Orders for no less than eight new ‘combat-ready’ airships had come in, yet the facilities were only large enough to build two. A great deal of shouting, finger-pointing and mutual recrimination followed.

Frankish Commonwealth: Thanks to the swift efforts of the Albanian East India Company, the specter of famine did not touch so heavily upon France as it might have. Still, there were many hungry mouths and withered corpses in the church-yards.

1747-1748 T209
Arnor: Massive infusions of Albanian gold kept the Duke’s ship of state afloat, as it were.

AEIC: Nikolas, ever mindful of securing his entrance to markets, poured quite a bit of money into the coffers of the Duchy of Arnor. His son’s efforts in securing mercantile control of the Ducal capital also met with success, at last! Otherwise, the Company tended to its own business – particularly in Thessaloniki and Naxos, where a dizzying array of construction and research projects were underway.

Considerable investments were also made in the Hussite Legion, providing every man with custom boots, natty kepi-style caps, swank gray uniforms and fresh socks. Though the Concord of Ar-Raqqah gave the Company rights to the Asian province of Bithnia, their diplomatic mission there (led by an Englishman named Benjamin Franklin) failed to gain any leverage over the Moslem emir.

Norsktrad: Following protests from the Arnori government, the company offices in Schwarzcastel are shut down, with all facilities cleared out. Another red line in the company books. Johannes shook his head at the perfidy of the Albanians.

Mali Ax: Though the Concord of Ar-Raqqah called upon the Mixtecs to abandon the province of Bithnia to Albanian control (which they did, very scrupulously, though the merchants failed to send in their own troops, leading to a very feisty and independent-minded Sultanate of Bithnia), they did not give up Lydia.

1749 – 1750 T210
AEIC: The Company-men were quite industrious; more yards and harbor facilities at Thessaloniki, the beginnings of factories at Schwarzkastel in India; a beautiful, hand-crafted zeppelin cargo airship called the Seigi (Justice) for the Nisei government; a queer-looking barge with pneumatic cranes and mechanical grapplers on the front and a new aerodrome at Beirut, built in cooperation with the Persian government, as part of a planned Paris to Beirut to Schwarzkastel air route. Air Albania advertisements promised a two week transit from Macedon to India within five years.

And indeed, Air Albania’s existing courier ship run to Paris was now in constant, heavy use, though more by Company bankers and management than by ‘private’ customers. The Hussite Legion took to the field in Thrace and marched about, looking splendid.

With some help from the Imperial Danish government, the Company also sent Captain Falken the Third off to find the Amerikas. A risky maneuver, entrusting a foul-mouthed martinet with an entire fleet…

Nisei Republic: The crowded, hot, malarial outpost of Tahiri (on Cuba) received unexpected visitors – an Albanian East India Company airship and a number of merchantmen carrying crates of mysterious cloth and parts. Apparently their crossing of the Atlantic had been very eventful, leading to the loss of four of their ships due to mutiny and fire. However, the local bakufu authorities were very pleased to receive the shipment.

1751 - 1752 T211
Arnor: With much fanfare, the Hussite Legion (under the disputative co-command of Princess Margaret of the Frankish Commonwealth and Ludovico Sfortza, not-so-ably assisted by Knight-Commander Grizlowski of the Taborites) arrived in Schwarzkastel in late '51, but found nothing to do but drink, eat, wench and generally enjoy themselves in the warm weather. They were also drafted (since war had not broken out with the Chandellas) to work guard duty on the steadily rising airship sheds and factories the Albanians were building in and around the port of Shcwarzcastel.

Tewfik: Captain Busir, finding considerable success among the thriving mercantile concerns of Thai, was killed in a scuffle with some Albanian sailors - he took an icepick right between the ribs and coughed his life out in the mud of a Rangoon alley. Tensions also rose in the Mediterranean ports, where the Householders were beginning to move into markets previously the sole custody of the Albanians.

Baklovakia: Albanian engineers visited Komarno while surveying the path of a proposed highway (no, not a hyperspace bypass) from Danish Austria to the capital of the Republic. They drank heavily and were heartily glad they'd left Thessaloniki while they could.

AEIC: Greatly angered by certain news items in far eastern newspapers (the Java Star, in particular), the Senior Partners issued a short, blunt directive to all captains, junior-partners and staff:

A note to all Company captains and crews:
All AEIC ships, captains, and crews are hereby prohibited from transporting contraband items, i.e. like those discovered on AEIC flagged vessels in Javan waters. All cargoes thoroughout the aeic system will hereby be undergoing random searches for said items: captains and crews that allow smuggling to occur on aeic flagged vessels will be fined. further investigations will be undertaken forthwith and a board on inquiry begun.
Nicolas Argir, CEO, AEIC

Despite some disreputable business, the Company continued to blaze ahead full-steam on dozens of projects, some as grandiose as the launch of another fully-equipped Zeppelin Hotel, the Bithnia, which survived a long, hazardous and frequently terrifying maiden voyage from Thessaloniki via Egypt and the Red Sea to Schwarzcastel in India, then back again.

Work continued on submarine, steamship and airship yards in and around Thessaloniki. Amongst other things, the Amusement Park at Naxos was completed and the last touches made to the Holy Cross monument which perched on the top of Mount Naxophilon. Another two steam-powered cruise ships were put into service by Albanian Cruiselines - the Iliad and the Odyssey. Neither exploded on their shake-down voyages, which everyone accounted a great success. Too, the Company put to sea the first workable 'submersion ship', called the Atlantis, which was immediately put to the test by making a dive of no less than two hundred feet into the waters of Santorini. Only four crewmen asphyxiated before the submersible could surface.

Considerable Company investment continued to be made in Bithnia, though the Emir of that province continued to refuse any diplomatic overtures and to pocket much of the money himself (or use it to buy more guns and artillery from certain Russian merchants).

A quiet summer night in northern Greece was broken by the sudden, bright flare of an explosion. In the towering column of smoke which then billowed up over the offices of the Albanian East India Company, some townsfolk - roused from their beds or the inns by the rumbling noise - saw a sleek dark shape vanish into the ebon sky. Fires roared up among the Company buildings, and hundreds of workers rushed to man the pumps and douse the flames sweeping through the offices. Cruelly, whoever had set the blast had prepared for such a response. As the company clerks swarmed to form a bucket brigade, a stunning series of explosions ripped through their ranks, littering the streets with the dead.

Outside of the city, in the suburbs where the senior managers enjoyed pleasant country estates, other attacks left dozens dead in the fields or their own homes. Despite the immediate response of the city militia and the Imperial Army, none of the perpetrators were caught, though certain evidence was seized. Nikolas was heartsick, reading the rolls of the dead - twas as if the heart had been torn out of the Honorable Company…

Frankish Commonwealth: Albanian engineers began work on a surfaced highway from Paris through the countryside to Metz in Nivernais. Almost immediately there were enormous cost-overruns and everyone complained about the noise. Calais expanded, in an example of a successful co-project between the Albanians and the Commonwealth.

Carthage: Some Alexandrians blamed the influx of Albanian money - though most of that had gone to refurbishing the Library in the Bruchion and mucking out the sewers.

An Albanian squadron of two ships-of-the-line and four frigates operating in the Red Sea put in at St. Gustavus to have their hulls careened and to take on fresh water and citrus.

Ethiopia: At much the same time, a great deal of Indian wheat, corn and pickled beef arrived via Albanian shipping at Gozer, where it sat, under guard by the government, while the Axumites were eating grass and dirt in their fetid camps outside Mt'Suia.

1753 - 1754 T212
Java: Javan fleets - swift, sleek and powerful - coursed throughout the waters around India, Singapore and the Austral coast, seizing any Albanian ships they could find, sending the captains to pray with Oro the White and confiscating everything else. The result was a vicious blow to the Albanian trade network in the east…

Arnor: To help finance this massive effort, a great deal of grain, cotton, flax, hemp and every kind of smoked meat was sold the Albanians. The Company, in turn, shipping the Duke a great deal of gold… and nearly lost it all, as the seas had become very, very dangerous.

Hussite shipping into Arnor was plagued by Javan and Persian privateers pillaging Albanian merchantmen and seizing many rich prizes… a storm seemed to gather, as fate turned against Hussite India…

Iran: The Iranian fleet was immediately unleashed to ravage shipping in the Gulf of Oman - but only Arnori, Albanian and League shipping was attacked. Somewhat to the surprise of the Iranians, their depredations were soon joined by a squadron of Javan trimarans flying jaunty skull-flags. As there were no Hussite men-of-war or frigates on patrol in the area, their losses in merchantmen were heavy.

Islamic Union: The air route to India for all Albanian East India Company airships will no longer overfly the Islamic Union and the recently created nation of Iran. Air service to India will be continued and even expanded, but the route will now by-pass the Arabian Pennisula.

AEIC: With a heavy heart, Argir mounted a podium beneath the massive shape of the Holy Cross monument on windy Mount Naxophilion. Below him, in a swale between the arms of the mountain, hundreds of fresh graves had been cut in the rocky soil, the graves of the Company dead:

"My fellows members of Albania House, Gander Fitzgerald was a good friend, he did a great job running our brokerage firm. He was hard worker for our cause. Gander was working that night at Home Office, he had just sent a note stating he couldn't make a dinner our families' were going to share. He was probably one of the first of our company to perish in the attack, one of close to seven hundred members of the AEIC who were fouly butchered by some unknown agency. Rest assured,.... please, my fellows that we will have memory of this event and the attack on AEIC Department 9. Let us not forget the assassination of Alexis Kuklone outside of Paris. We will bring these criminals to justice. We owe it to these fallen, nay it is obligatory of us that we stay the course and make of the Albanian Company the finest memorial that these, our cherished compatriots could ever have. Our hearts have been torn, we have bled, but friends we will as a Company shoulder on. I ask each and everyone of you to redouble your efforts, no matter what you do for the House. We will be proof to these cowards, that their sick, sad actions will not stand, Albania House shall prosper."

In the words of John Zizka, a famous Hussite General,

Never fear the enemies
Do not mind their great numbers,
Keep the Lord in your hearts,
Fight for Him and with Him.
And do not ever retreat before your enemies!

Nicolas Argir, CEO

A week later, the following message was dispatched to all Company captains, agents and factors:

A message to AEIC employees:
All AEIC ship captains, ships, and crews are prohibited from the transport of contraband goods. This will include the following: slaves, religious items of non-sanctioned religions(read as non-Sunlander religions, ie, ICE types), Lullite Cult items, books banned in Java, odd statuettes, prohibited for export gamelans, monster hides, etc. etc, etc, as the King of Thailand is fond of saying. All cargoes regardless of point of origin are to be searched and validated by the AEIC Office of Commerce. All captains that allow smuggling to occur on AEIC vessels will be fined. A board of inquiry has been called to investigate the captains, manifests, history, and character of the following AEIC flagged vessels: "Star of Bihar", "Andaman Sea", and "Fukasawa". Captains: Roger McTalbert, Brice Steuben, and Nahloujie Gujeratty respectively have had their careers with AEIC terminated and they have each been fined. The named vessels have had their entire cargoes seized by the Company and have been rerouted to alternative trade routes.
Smuggling will not, cannot be tolerated in our business.
Nicolas Argir, CEO

Within the month, in Eastern waters, Company ships from Persia to Austral were seized by wide-ranging Javanese fleets - nothing more than pirates, in truth! -- their crews impressed and the officers gutted with sharktooth knives before being cast into a bloody, roiling sea thick with glassy-gray bodies.

Poland: Construction continued on the Warsaw to Berlin to Stralsund railway. Indeed, with help from the Albanian East India Company and the ever-increasing skill of the Ducal Engineer's Corps, the iron road was completed to Berlin.

Libya: While everyone scurried about, wailing about the Emir's death, the loyal Shivta arrived in haste, on a chartered Albanian merchantman, with a scared young man in tow.

Ethiopia: With his people threatened by the specter of famine, Fredik attempted to stave off further collapse by paying the Albanians a princely sum for grain which had previously been delivered and launching a massive irrigation and farmlands reclamation effort in Nubia (which became cultivated).

Nisei Republic: All of this meant delays as Tasho waited for the fleet to carry the new, Norsk- and Albanian-built airframes back down to Yokuts.

Arapaho Texas: News out of the southern islands indicated some kind of brawl in the new port town of Takari in Colon province, Cuba, between sailors of the Albanian East India Company and their 'dog-rivals' out of Russia. Apparently the Albanian captain was shot down in the marketplace by men in the pay of the Russians.

1755 - 1756 T213
Java: Closer to home, the Javans descended upon Singapore with a winning smile, quite a bit of money and a persuasive tongue. After the Albanian chief of station in Sunda complained about Javan piracy against AEIC shipping in Indian waters, the Kahuna declared his warships would cease searching the merchants for Ice-related goods – even though many such items had been found. This caused a great outcry in the Javan papers: “Albanians Insolent!” they proclaimed irefully.

Southern League: A great deal of construction underway at Fornost by the Albanians saw fruit when the enormous zeppelin Fellowship made landfall at the new airship mooring there in late ’56. Nearly two hundred passengers debarked, having made the trip from Macedonia in less than a month.

Arnor: The presence of a strong International Red Kross army (Carthaginian and Frankish in the main, with a large squadron of Albanians and some Danish ships in support – a total of 26 airships, 70 men-of-war, 48 troop transports, 12,000 men and 32 guns) quelled most of the violence for the time being.

Iran: In the south, Bukharm issued an edict restricting the activities of ‘mercantile concerns’ in Schwarzcastel (and thus, truly, all of Iran) to the Noble House of Tewfik. Those workshops and facatories which had been built in the city by the Albanians were granted to Tewfik as well.

Tewfik: Saul rubbed his hands together in glee – the cursed Albanians had been ejected from India and now, thanks to the graces of the Iranian shah, the Noble House had secured possession of all their investments in Schwarzcastel. Tewfiki craftsmen were immediately dispatched to examine the machines, tools and plans therein.

AEIC213.jpg

AEIC: Despite the attention paid to these new-fangled steamships, the Company continued to pay close attention to the development of it’s mercantile fleet. For purposes of trade, a steamship was wasteful and inefficient, but the wind… the wind is free, and needs no coaler. Following the lead of their Norsk rivals, therefore, the Albanians christened six enormous sailing ships – clipperships in common parlance – at Thessalonika: the Titus, the Andronicus, the Grand Design, Clive Falken III, Mercury and Athena.

While the Titus and the Andronicus were actually built for export to the Emirate of Mauritania (nee Lybia), the other four – with Albanian crews through and through – were destined for the China and Amerikan sea-lanes. Two more passenger liner airships were also put into service on the India route, the Fellowship and the Great Game. Unlike the other airships plying the Red Sea Race, these were of staggering size – nearly twice the lift capacity of the older Bithnia-class models.

The grain broker side of the house also saw a huge improvement in business as the factors laboring in Nikolas’ counting-houses shipped thousands of tons of wheat, rye, corn and barley the length and breadth of the Hussite world. Mauritania, Denmark, the Commonwealth, the Knights of Tabor, Arnor and the Southern League all became stitched together by Albanian shipping.

An old man sitting near the docks in Thessalonika to a young man: “Albanians?” pauses to light his pipe: “Well they think deep, deep in their souls , that this world is their oyster. Must be a Hussite thing. Bold in many ways, timid in others. Their view of the world is almost semi-fantastical, think good thoughts do good deeds and all will be well, that sort of thing. This populace is well educated and likes the good life. Looky here at these new ships, these Clipper Ships. Very fast they say, take a big cargo too, they say old Nicolas wants to race them cross the Atlantic or even round the world, imagine that. Then there's airships, it's said that you can take an Albanian airship from near London to Inja and back. Fantastical, what whimsy, and now there is talk of rockets, rockets that can go into space, why? Why would anyone want to do that?”

The young man said nothing in response, his mind's eye filled with visions of vast horizons, and how he then better do good in school to be a part of it.

While Franklin was making a pest of himself on Naxos, chasing the local women, writing a yellow rag called the “Poor Naxos’ Brief” and bothering the astronomers trying to calculate the radius of the sun; another Englishman in service with the Company – young George Washington – was dispatched to make the inaugural clippership run to the Danish port of Brooklyn on the coast of North Amerika.

Washington reached the west safely, but the same could not be said for hoary old Constantin Argir, who fell off his skis while vacationing in Switzerland and ran into a tree.

Poland: Work continued apace on the railway line, with the Albanian East India Company lending a hand.

Knights of Tabor: At home, the holy city on Mount Tabor received its first walls, ramparts and guns. Aid was sent to succor the Danish, Frankish , Polish and Albanian governments.

Duchy of the Isles: Princess Tarya, while traveling with only a few companions in the mountains of Epirus, was beset by Albanian bandits and murdered, her disfigured body later found decorating the base of a steep cliff.

Libya: When not putting up with nosy Danish priests, the sharif traveled to the Azores to welcome the arrival of a pair of Albanian clipper-ships to the beautiful islands and make nice with the merchants.

Iroquois: On the eastern seaboard, quite a few Iroquois nobles turned out in their local coasters to ooh and aah over the Albanian clipperships arriving at Brooklyn on Pachogue island. Acres of white sail gleamed in the sun as the graceful, sleek ships made landfall after a swift crossing of the Atlantic.

Sisters of the Rose: An Albanian cutter arrived in New Jerusalem to deliver a very large crate bound with cables. Curious, the Sisters opened the shipping container and found a fabulous machine inside… A great globe composed of fly-wheels, gears, numeric displays (on enameled racheted wheels), pistons and other sundry enigmatic devices. A brass plate on the side of the device declared it to be the “Ars Generalis Ultima”. There was an associated religious tract.

1757 - 1758 T214
Southern League: The generally paltry state of the League’s finances were much improved by a substantial infusion of gold from the Albanians. In exchange, rice, wheat, yams, mangoes and tons of spices were exported on Albanian hulls to northern markets.

Arnor: Despit the Duke’s black humor, however, the Albanian and Carthaginian agents in the court were quite busy.

Iran: John Abraham now spent the last months of ’58 besieging Schwarzcastel (oh, unhappy city!). This time the port was fortified and defended – but against the markedly superior siege skills of the Hussites, the Persian defense was doomed. Of course, they suffered too without a fleet to support them with supplies (though there were Carthaginian and Albanian ships aplenty in the nearby waters…) and no one knew the byways of the old port as well as those who had grown up in it’s once beautiful streets. Al’Bahram was captured with the last of his men.

AEIC: Busy as ever, the Albanians had their fingers in so many pies even the senior partners weren’t aware of everything underway in the Company name. A Commonwealth fleet arrived from India and took custody of several clipper ships and zeppelins ordered by the Archon to bolster his forces.

A thriving grain exchange operated out of Naxos island, drawing factors from as far away as Sud Amerika. A new trade arrangement was struck with the Southern League in India, while a long-standing relationship with the Duchy of the Three Isles foundered abruptly, denying the Company many bases and lucrative trades in tea, silk and tobacco. This kept the poor, overworked accountants in Thessalonika very busy.

One project underway concerned the continued recalcitrance of the Bithnian emir – the European Hussite Legion was mustered, therefore, at Ephesus in Lydia under the command of Sir Robert Musgrave. The Company had employed them specifically to subdue the emir and his soldiers, allowing the Company control of the rich province. A very large force of Carthaginian troops soon joined them as well (which included the Frankish Foreign Legion amongst their number). The combined army was commanded by Nikolas Argir himself, who had been insulted once too many times! He would lead eight hundred of his own Company troops, six airships loaded with gunpowder bombs and napathene, Musgrave’s mercenaries, and seven thousand Afriqans against these damnable heathens himself!

The Moslems fought bravely, but without artillery or airships their chances were slim… old Argir proved himself a canny commander in the field, scattering the heathens and putting garrisons in all the larger towns and estates. “Hmph! So much for that bit of business,” he grumbled.

Knights of Tabor: A serious effort was also launched (to the detriment of the Albanian East India company, as it happened) to bolster the unsteady Danish government (which had taken just a few knocks of late).

Frankish Commonwealth: The Commonwealth government took delivery of four Albanian Racer-class clipper ships to provide for more speedy and reliable mail service to the African outposts. Two newly built zeppelins (fitted solely for cargo haulage) were also acquired.

Polytechnic League: Some very surly Albanians arrived in Athens to take delivery of several specially-built airships the League had promised them. “Unaccountable delays,” answered the League project manager, when pressed about the two year delay in completion of the contract. “Beyond our control.”

Duchy of the Isles: By decree of Neya al'Raschid, Empress of the Isles, Emir of Archimedea, Duchess of Sicily and Sardinia

Let it be known that the Ministry of Finance and Trade has discovered serious irregularities within the business practices of the Albanian East India Company as they relate to activity in the Duchy of the Isles. Despite the fact that the crown granted exclusive license to import tea, silk and tobacco into the ports of the Duchy, the AEIC has seen fit, through malice or negligence, to not turn over revenue from trade they manage. Within the last ten years the Duchy has informed the AEIC of this chronic failure, and cautioned their home office that the Duchy's factors would be keeping a careful eye on the situation. Despite these notices and warnings, the AEIC has continued to fail to meet their obligation.
The Duchy has decided that, being left with little other choice, all ties between the Duchy of the Isles and the AEIC will be severed. Trade routes managed by the AEIC for the Duchy will be nationalized, all AEIC offices will be closed, and the tea, silk and tobacco markets will be opened to all licensed tradesmen.

Within hours of the edict being dispatched, Ducal troops stormed into Albanian offices, warehouses and other facilities throughout the Duchy. Locations in Archimedea, Sicily, Valma, Valetia, Malta and Archolon were seized and the contents confiscated without renumeration. The loss in capital to the Company was huge, and Neya was quite pleased. The political presence the Duchy had maintained in the Indian city of Bhuj was abandoned as well.

Carthage: The Albanian East India Company delivered a lavish array of gifts, along with two swift clipper ships and a promise of two steam-powered cruisers (though they had been unaccountably delayed in delivery).

Mauritania: Scrambling to catch up with their southern rivals, the Mauritanians (with certain technical assistances provided by the Albanian East India Company) undertook to begin construction of a large telescope and observatory complex on the slopes of Mount Agua de Pau in the Azores.

Similarly, the Albanian East India Company delivered another pair of Racer-class clipper ships to the Sharifate naval base at Noor al Senussi on the Azores. The two new ships joined a previous pair which was also undergoing sea trails and working up crews.

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Southern League: Lucky that the Chandellans decided to stay home, the League counted the bags of gold delivered by the Albanian legate in Fornost and tried to keep their heads above water. Shiploads of grain, raw cotton, finished textiles, lumber, dried bananas and spices departed in turn, to feed the ravenous hordes of Europe.

More civil servants were put in the employ of the League and most, if not all, of them were former employees of the Albanian East India Company.

Arnor: An even happier event transpired near the end of ’60, when Raquel von Hessen, Peregrin’s daughter, was married to Robert Clive, the newly dispatched Albanian East India Company ‘viceroy’ for the Arnori provinces.

Apparently – and this was news to everyone, including the various Arnori lords and ladies in attendance – the Grand Duke had struck an arrangement with the Company for the Albanians to take over day-to-day administration, including the collection of tax receipts and military affairs, from the House von Hessen. A very large sum of gold changed hands. Down Calicut-way, Prince Baalshamin of Carthage complained loudly “but... but... I was supposed to marry that hottie Raquel! Bring me another mint julep!”

What this meant was anyone’s guess, but Robert Clive was now king in Bharat

Baluchistan: A trade agreement was signed with the Albanian East India Company (whose tenacious fingers were digging ever deeper into the Indian economy), granting the ‘honorable gentlemen’ concessions in cotton and pepper. Substantial aid was received in turn.

Kalmar Senate: The arrival of an Albanian Airways aeroliner within two hours was unremarkable, save for the two Royal Swedish Air Corps Baldur-class zeppelins who turned to intercept the merchantman.

Signals were exchanged and the Albanian ship was warned away and directed to seek landing at the airfield of Stevastopol. The Albanians signaled their acquiescence, turned upwind of the city and labored to gain height. Just as the airship disappeared into the clouds, a hatch opened on the bottom of the cargo bay and a black dot spun downwards, plunging into the northern district of the city.

The plague bomb smashed through the roof of a warehouse and burst, sending a dusty black cloud gouting out the fragile windows and open doors. The warehousemen, stunned by the impact, began to putresce with bulboes within minutes.

Dust, carried on the cold Russian wind, drifted south across the city. Within sixteen hours, nearly three-quarters of the population was dead.

AEIC: Determined to support a good customer in dire need, Nikolas opened his purse strings and poured out a mighty stream of gold to support the Carthaginians in their war against the Catholic dogs! The Company also leveraged it’s control of the Hussite Legion mercenary companies to provide Robert Clive (soon to be the Raj of India) with bodyguards and some thugs for ‘necessary work’ as well as sending a goodly portion of the European force to Afriqa to fight the Al’Haggar jihadis.

Sir Thomas Musgrave, commanding the European mercenaries not dispatched to Afrika, found himself overseeing the construction of a fortress on the Hellespont termed “New Troy.” The guns of Navarone, I mean, New Troy, were ranged to cover the lower end of the Dardanelles and protect the approaches to Constantinople. The garrison, later reinforced by Argir himself, a kept a close eye on the Moslem populace, as Polish, Commonwealth and Taborite missionaries were hard at work preaching to the heathens.

Close by, the Mixtec governor of the Shrine of Mary at Ephesus was reported to have suffered a fatal heart-attack while hunting wild boar on the slopes of Mount Prion. He was carried home and buried with honors in the cemetery of the massive new temple of Mary, Mother of God.

The grain market at Naxos was also very, very busy, handling transactions between Mauritania, Carthage, the Southern League, Arnor and the Knights of Mount Tabor.

Frankish Commonwealth: Arrangements were also made to purchase two steam-powered cruisers from the Albanians.

1761 – 1762 T216
Southern League: The economic domination of India by the Albanian East India Company continued to gather steam – the lords of the League shipped off every spare grain of wheat and bolt of cloth they could squeeze from their estates to the Kashmir House.

Arnor: The Clive government received huge sums from Thessalonica despite some financial confusion concerning the Qing Imperial bank, and massive agricultural developments led to an increase in not only such staples as grain, but also opium, always a popular item with Albanian clients.

Tewfik: The noble house delivered a pair of brand-spanking new zeppelins (fresh from the factories at Al-Harkam) to the Qing governor of Mei’guo, as well as a coterie of technicians, mechanics and navigators. Large sums were received in exchange, which (given recent events in India) made certain Albanians hopping mad.

AEIC: Leaving the day to day business of the Company in the hands of Korsas Kuklone (as was his standard practice, Argir took most of the Aegean fleet down to Naxos in the Kyklades where he packed up the books, students and faculty of the Company trade school and then sailed them up to New Troy in Bithnia. With the university settling into new digs, Argir then began traveling around the countryside, trying to convince the Moslem leaders in village and farm to accept the Company’s leadership. This did not go well. He angered everyone he spoke to and was then ambushed near Nicopolis and badly wounded in the following affray. His guardsmen managed to get him back to New Troy, but the Senior Partner was not well.

The religious trouble then spilled over into open revolt in the countryside, which then precipitated the Hussite Legion (stationed at the city) to march out to crush the ‘bully wogs’. Musgrave treated the angry farmers and shepherds to a quenching draught of musket, grapeshot and fire-bombing from his zeppelins. The insurrection was bloodily suppressed.

A dispute with the Ming trade delegation in Alexandria over the transfer of enormous sums of Chin gold was only the least of the troubles besetting the Honorable Company, but despite all the chaos and confusion in Thessalonika, Governor Clive did get his gold and was able to make excellent use thereof.

And what, pray tell, was transpiring at the Home Office? Few details leaked to the press… the sudden and shocking arrest of Korsas Kuklone, the heir-apparent to old Argir, his subsequent and unexpected suicide. Wild rumors of embezzlement on a global scale, of Swedish meddling and Catholic plots reaching into the highest levels of the Company and (dare anyone say) the Imperial government. Hundreds of arrests were made, whole families ruined, fortunes lost… the Thessalonika stock market plunged, inspiring panic and hoarding in gold.

Danish Empire: The First Minister (for a change) remained at Thessalonika, seeing to ushering thousands of Taborite monks, clerks and filing assistants out the door and on their way back to Bohemia with a smile, a wave and a one-way ticket. He did, however, take a personal hand in cleaning up the messy little scandal the Albanians (as usual…) had generated for themselves…

Nisei Republic: A representative of the Albanian East India Company, G. Washington, arrived in Tijuana on Baja via Nisei postal packet ship from the outpost of Takari on Cuba. He then set up shop in the dusty, knockabout town, obviously in an attempt to match the influence of the Norsktrad in Pacific waters. Usonomiya and Anataya both expanded a level.

1763 – 1764 T217
Java: The Sunda airship yards were busy, commissioning a full squadron of Komodo-class zeppelins for the Kahuna’s personal guard service. Wili was slowly rousing himself from the black depression which had held him in its grip, and feeling the sharp air at five thousand feet on his face was bracing. Normal trade relations resumed with the Albanians as a result.

Borang Bakufu: The growing influence of the Japanese merchants, amongst other things, saw the Albanians lose most of their foothold in Fukuzawa, despite the presence of Captain Bastable and his valiant attempt to secure control of the new city government.

Taika’no Te’ikoku Hiro’i:

What is going on?
Over the last few months there has been a flurry of activity over at the Shoguns Residence, visitors observed entering have included, Professor Sasaki Kai Tahu of Rabaul University, representatives of both the Borang Bakufu and Te Niho o Oro and most recently a personal representative of Nicholas Argir head of the powerful Albanian East India Company.
Absolutely no information has emerged from these visits, but rumors have started to spread, some claim that the Shogun is planning dispatch troops to assist in the crushing of heresy in Austral, others speak of wholesale trading of lands in Austral.
Australasian Post, December 31st 1763

A Taika’no fleet under lord Watamati also sailed west, as various armies were marching across the vastness of Austral, and made landfall in Oanx on the northern coast, where the Tenguist movement had overthrown the landowners. The Taika’no troops stormed ashore and proceeded to butcher the local milita and then suppress the Tanguists by bayonet, fire and sword.

Rabaul Agreement, 1763
1. The Taika'no Te'ikoku Hiro'i agrees to allow the Albanian East India Company to establish airship routes across its territory.
2. The Taika'no Te'ikoku Hiro'i agrees to allow the Albanian East India Company to lease lands in the cities along the route to establish facilities to support the airships, these facilities shall be limited to Branch Offices.
3. The Albanian East India Company agrees to pay a rent of 10gp per city/per two years for the lands it uses.
4. The Albanian East India Company agrees to fund scientific development within the Taika'no Te'ikoku Hiro'i.
5. The Albanian East India Company agrees to fund public works in all cities and provinces effected by the Airship routes. Such funding is to be in the form of a direct payment to the Daimyo of the Southern Ocean or his appointed representatives. The Daimyo of the Southern Ocean and/or his appointed representatives agree that this money shall be spent only upon public works.
6. The Albanian East India Company agrees that its employees shall be bound by the laws of the Taika'no Te'ikoku Hiro'i in respect to Murder, Theft, Smuggling and Fair Trading.
7. The Albanian East India Company agrees to employ citizens of the Taika'no Te'ikoku Hiro'i on a one to one basis with non-citizens, after ten years, citizens must make up 80% of the workforce, including management.
8. The Albanian East India Company shall not establish any monopoly trade on goods/services or exports of the Taika'no Te'ikoku Hiro'i.

Chandellas: Ever needful of cash, the Chandellas filled countless Albanian hulls with wheat, rice and corn.

Southern League: Like their northern neighbors, the League managed to keep itself afloat monetarily speaking by selling every spare turnip and mango to the Albanians.

Danrajastahn: The Duke greedily counted the receipts for an enormous amount of gold delivered by his Albanian paymasters. “So pretty…” he whispered, running his hands through the heavy square coins. More to the point, however, the continuous infusion of capital from points east and west allowed the Arnori to complete implementation of the Lisbon Accords, to expand the cities of Kanauj and Somnath, to pay off the Baluchistanis for territories recently acquired and to prop up the Southern League government (though Kuhman Singh was busily slaughtering the southerners, which just brought a tear to Peregrin’s eye.)

The relationship with the Albanians continued to evolve, and Peregrin demanded (and received) a rescission of the grants of monopolies and trade routes he had previously made to the Company. This caused some confusion amongst the customs service, the harbormasters and even the merchants – but nearly everything settled back to business as usual by the end of ’64. The coastal cities of Bhuj and Somnath were busy with the coming and going of Albanian leaders, ships and zeppelins.

Baluchistan: Despite a poor fiscal situation, Saul managed to beg, borrow and steal sufficient funds to set his ship of state aright. Gold and grain flowed into Schwarzcastel from Danrajastahn, from the Albanians and from the Qing (who were, of course, meddling), where the city was ringed with hurried new construction – the ancient walls were rising once more, mightier than ever

AEIC: Argir continued to struggle with the inexplicable treachery of his heir-presumptive Kuklone (but anyone familiar with the internal family politics of the Albanians clans would have warned him…) and with his own failing health. The old patriarchs’ body was beginning to show the effects of a boisterous life, though his will remained as strong as ever. Despite the Spanish Plague, the Naxos grain market continued to move vast quantities of grain. Work also continued on projects in such diverse and distant cities as Takari, in the New World, and Mahala, in Afrika.

Missionary work continued in Bithnia, at a vastly slowed pace, carried out by a Polish order of mendicant friars.

Late in ’63, a strange-looking airship arrived over Thessaloniki, circled, saw the Albanian Airlines landing field and set down there. A crowd of uneasy field workers and security troops gathered, staring up at the massive, sinuous dragon writhing across the brightly painted silk airframe, and then drew back as a party of nearly-naked, cocoa-skinned aeronauts descended. One of the foreigners, however, proved to speak excellent Danish and introduced himself as the ambassador from Java, seeking an audience with the Senior Partner himself.

Lord Sh’lmerdn was escorted to the Company offices, where he delivered a letter of apology for the harsh acts (and accusations) of the Javan government against the Company in the past, some renumeration, and received in exchange twenty or thirty heavy crates filled with documents and plans. Sh’lmerdn then returned to his airship, the Palankurang, and the Javan courier-zeppelin headed back east with all speed.

Argir attempted to leave his convalescence at New Troy by airship and return to Thessaloniki, but the effort spent the last dregs of life in his body. He died in flight, over the bright blue Aegean, in early ’63. His son Valentin (a charismatic and cunning fellow) was immediately proclaimed the new Senior Partner. Soon afterwards, a letter arrived from Hindustan, reporting that Duchess Leczinski had resigned from the Company.

At the very end of ’64, news reached Thessalonika via packet from the east that Captain Washington and the four sailing ships under his command, as well as four modern zeppelins, had failed to reach their rendezvous at Savu on Fiji, and were presumed lost with all hands.

Poland: Dovietski, however, spared little worry for the citizenry – he was too busy mustering fresh regiments of troops, ordering airship factories built in Krakow and inviting the Taborites and Albanians back in.

As a gesture, the Albanians invested in a new opera house for the Ducal capital – the old one having been burned down, along with several adjoining buildings, by ‘Swedish Terrorists’ in the winter of ’62-63.

Frankish Commonwealth: The Albanians improved the facilities at their aerodrome in Brest, as well as purchasing land at the harbor for an Cruise Lines terminal. This was only part of a larger effort to improve the city – both in terms of sanitation, but for defense as well – the port had become the largest city in Europe in a reckless, brawling sort of way.

1765 – 1766 T218

Air Albania 218.JPG

AEIC: Desperate to recoup the fortunes of the Company (nearly ruined by the various scandals and near-destruction of their offices), Valentin scrapped the warfleet and army which his predecessor had been building, concentrating instead on ‘core services and product-lines’, which mostly consisted of a major expansion in the East Indian markets via a series of arrangements with the Javan regime. The yards at Thessalonika also turned out two fresh steam transports for the Carthaginian navy. A number of Taborite ‘auditors’ were introduced into the Company processes, in hopes they would prevent further corruption… unfortunately they had little sense for business, and made everyone paranoid about ‘spies, saboteurs and demonic agitators’.

Commercial service on Air Albania was interrupted however, as the Company took all six zeppelins out of service for “emergency purposes”. The Senior Partner then led the flotilla on a grand scouting expedition over the Dalmatian Alps to survey the province, which was still untenanted and in ruins following the Venetian Impact. Continuing efforts to win the loyalty of the Bithnians failed miserably, though Governor Hale’s attempts at mediation did not precipitate another revolt.

Poland: Private agreements between the Duke and the Knights of Tabor and the Albanian company remained in force, giving both of those organizations a free hand in Polish territories.

Carthage: Several other steamships were also purchased from the Albanian East India Company.

Great France
October 1766: Captain Washington of the East India Company arrives unexpectedly in Chamonix with two battered clipper ships and two large transports. His ships are towed into port, and the pilots learn the Albanians have made a trip ‘round the Horn in the worst possible weather.

Ahorse, Vendome and Seppeveld turned as one – as through their eyes had been opened – and spurred towards the port. The army, already in motion, paused in confusion. Men began to fight in the ranks, some seemingly mad, others trying wildly to run towards the sea, other unaffected… the entire city was likewise affected, as though an invisible madness swept across chapel and inn and house alike, leading mothers to strangle their infants, fathers to shriek and flail, crashing through windows, maids and priests alike to caper wildly in the avenues, tearing their clothes…

The Duc du Coligny, however, was unaffected by the madness. Further, one of his lookouts on the Héritier de Foudre had spied the Albanians unloading a large cylinder of peculiar green metal from one of their ships. Seeing disaster looming, he immediately ordered the steam cruisers to fire upon the Albanian clipper ships.

Cannon roared, reducing the two white-winged ships to burning wrecks, but the Albanians and their deadly cargo had already vanished into the streets of the city.

Where riot now held full sway.

1767 – 1768 T219
AEIC: With a team of Danish auditors looking on, the Company launched a strange-looking, steam-powered ship (the David Kuklone) built along the lines of a Javan trimaran. Two steam boilers in the outriggers powered a pair of screws and four stacks belched smoke and steam in equal measure. On its maiden voyage, the Kuklone managed to make way to Cape Kanastraion and back again – without sinking! This made the company boffins immeasurably pleased.

Continuing efforts by the Company to sway the ill-feeling of the Bithnians to friendship continued to fail. Better luck was had by Yelmul in France and Poland, where the favor of the company was well looked on. That the good captain was traveling with a flying casino (where the mayors of both cities had won substantial sums) only added to his friendly nature. Efforts to show off a crude picture-machine based on the use of a rotating series of luminescent plates moving in front of a strong lantern failed when the entire contraption burst into flames.

Things having returned to something like normal in the Company offices, the mercantile officers in the hierarchy now took great offense to the picking and prying and general incompetence (in matters of international trade and finance) of the Taborite monks who had come to “help” the Company clean house. After a bitter internal struggle, the Taborites were driven out, and good riddance too. They had even tried to give away the entire assets of Air Albania to the Danish government… for nothing! Fools.

The great ships of the air were not, in fact, turned over for military service (particularly as those scum Arfen were now trying to horn into the market), but regular passenger service was reorganized from Thessalonika to the Hussite capitals of Paris, Augostina, Warsaw, Kanauj and Amon Hen.

Danish Empire: And amid the sands of the Sinai, Danish engineers labored alongside Albanian and Fedyakin workers on the proposed Suez Canal.

Poland: The bustling port of Stralsund was now thronged with an ever-increasing number of merchants, particularly those rascally Albanians, and it increased in size. Helped by substantial foreign investment, the railroad from Warsaw south to Krakow was completed, which made Poland the first nation in the world to offer steam-train service to every major city. Not that you would actually want to suffer through sixty hours of choking smoke, cinders, spine-rattling travel from, say, Kassel in Denmark to Krakow. That would be pretty vile…

The Duke made a point (at the official opening ceremony of the Krakow line) to thank the Albanian East India Company for their assistance in “the continuing development of Poland, jewel of the East.”

International Red Kross: Still attempting to secure a steady supply of grain for his medical students and surgeon’s staff, Taharqa brokered an arrangement with the East India Company for a steady supply of Indian corn, rice, lamb and ox-tails in aspic. In exchange, the small fleet maintained by the Kross was given over into Albanian hands.

1769-1770 T220
Chandellas: The wily Moslems also had some good fun bilking the naïve Albanians out of a huge quantity of gold and two fine new airships for not-quite-as-much grain as was promised to the Europeans…

AEIC: Recent allegations against the Company and it's captains drew afrigid response from the Senior Partners -- "we do not traffick in such substances as alter the perceptions of the minde. Most certainly, we do not purvey opium or as the heathens might call it, the 'black tar'." At the same time, the citizens of Thessalonika were impressed by the largesse and generosity of Valentin when he ordered the Company workshops in the city devoted to the production of a spore-repellent mask and, indeed, an entire suit of waxed canvas, equipped with filters and air hoses, for every man, woman and child in the urban environs. The efficacy of these monstrous-appearing devices had yet to be tested…

And as war continued to rage to the south, in the heated sands of Afriqa, another Company project culminated in the first luxury train to see service on the slowly expanding Danish rail network. A sixteen-car astonishment of luxury and wealth called the "Orient Express". Plans were announced that the rail-train would soon make regular passage from Brest, in the Commonwealth, to Thess and back again. The press considered this an attempt to steal back a bit of the "wonder" from the Norsktrad and the "damnable Catholics", and later announcements of a planned series of truly massive steamships and airships seemed to fall into the same vein.

This cattiness ignored, of course, the presence of a team of Norsktek engineers engaged in supervising the construction of a series of new foundries and assembly yards in the Company precincts north of the city. The threat of the Invader made nervous bedfellows… these same technicians also put a fresh coat of varnish on the notorious "Empress Oniko", which the Albanians claimed was an underseaboat, but everyone else called a watery coffin. Despite the misgivings of the layabouts in the dockyards, Valentin himself took the contraption to sea, escorted by a passel of other support ships, to "investigate the Malestrom of Venice."

While the Senior Partner was off gallivanting around, more dedicated members of the staff were hard at work - particularly in India, where Bastable was having a good time reading about his adventures in the penny dreadfuls and laying the groundwork for a thriving business on the heathen shore. Captain Hale also did good work in Bithnia, where the fractious Moslem inhabitants were beginning to mellow a bit. But Yelmul's efforts to woo the French with his flying casino, shadow-shows about steamboat-driving mice and plenty of free booze showed no results for the bottom line at all.

The War Against the Tzitzimime

January 1769: The Aztec main fleet at Nan Chao in the Guyami isthmus enters the Canal and sorties into the Gulf of Venezuela, searching for the White Fleet of the invaders. Who are, in fact, preparing to attack the Canal itself at exactly the same time. There is an immediate an unexpected naval battle in Lake Gatun (the northern half of the passage) between the 200+ Aztec ships and the 100-odd Tzitzimime-allied Albanians.
The first blow, however, went to the White Fleet's escorting zeppelins and hellbat - who struck hard against the Aztec frigates and sloops - winging down from the bloody sun, spitting fire and deadly streams of choking fog. Within moments the Aztec fleet was engulfed in carnage, the wooden ships burning fiercely, their crews choked … two passes by the zeppelins and the hellbat laid ruin to Admiral Pimotl's entire force.
Unhindered by the drifting wreckage of Pimotl's shattered Aztec navy, the White Fleet sails through the Queta Canal. As it passes, an army of the invaders settles in to systematically destroy the locks, harbors, quays and other components of the canal, closing the entire mammoth seaway to further traffic.
March: The White Fleet pounces upon an un-led Aztec transport fleet at Nan Chao, capturing the entire force of more than four hundred ships.
August: Having finished the destruction of the Aztec Canal, the Tzitzimime vanish out to sea… like ghosts. Ghosts with a 500+ ship fleet in tow. In their wake, madness consumes the city of Nan Chao, leading to mass rioting, murder, and destruction.
February: The dreadful machines of the tzitzimime lumber out of the sea off Joaiport in Moquequa, the hideous call of their war-sirens wailing in the twilight air… behind them, the sea is suddenly filled with sails - the White Fleet has arrived at last, after a circuitous voyage to avoid prying monkey eyes…
Taken completely unawares, the city (despite a powerful ring of fortifications and a looming citadel) surrenders and is immediately occupied by Albanian marines. The machines of the enemy lumber inland, unopposed. The White Fleet remains on station, taking on water and undertaking repairs.
March: The tzitzimime machines which had landed at Joaiport march across southern Moquequa and into the lower Andes, heading for Caranga.
July: The tzitzimime machines attack Caranga, having made a laborious crossing through the mountains. The entire Bolivian army having already been fed into the maelstrom of Calchaqui, there is no one to defend the heartland of the principate, or its capital Trischka.
The citizens, however, do not simply surrender in abject despair (as did the reviled Joaiportans) but muster a defense with everything they have to hand. Sadly, it is not enough to stop the killing heatray, or the deadly plumes of black smoke. The city defenders are crushed and then the pleasant, whitewashed houses and the prince's palace are ground down to ash, along with many thousands of civil servants, nobles and their families. A cruel blow to Shakira, even though she had moved her administrative seat to Gaxan in the south.

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