[Revolution]The Course of Human Events 4: Massacre
Category of Historical.
Note: I'm really enjoying this story, but unfortunately I'm going on vacation and won't be able to continue this until August. I know I'm probably not going to win the MWC but I promise the whole story of the American Revolution will be told.
Governor’s Manor, Boston, Massachusetts, March 1, 1770.
Thomas Hutchinson felt like a prisoner. In theory the most powerful man in the state, reality told a far different story. After former Governor Bernanrd’s removal in the previous fall, he had been appointed acting governor by the Procurator at the recommendation of the crown. Bernard’s promotion of Hegemon policies regulating printed money and news had won him no friends, and his private views on the superior nature of collaborating with celestials becoming public had caused to small outcry. He had been recalled to England in shame, leaving Thomas to pick up the pieces.
He had warned the Hegemon against the taxation practices, and now with their denial of Adams’ and Hancock’s ludicrous lawsuit the city was buzzing with frustration. A large portion of the waterfront businesses (nearly all of it, in fact), had been subsumed into House Mivon at the machinations of underlord Zivish, who was in his office now. “I’m telling you, good sir, that you are pushing the good people of Boston too far and you will regret it. Taxing the Americans too harshly will lose you more than it will gain.”
“A curiousss notion,” Zivish hissed as he perched on a stool, his hands clutching a mug of marigold wine. “For one whose job it iss to carry out the will of the Hegemon.”
“I am doing my best, Zivish, but I cannot hoist merchants by the ankles and rifle their pockets for change. The Stamp Acts imposed have already had deeply harmful effects to the economy and now you threaten their liveli-”
“I threaten nothing!” Zivish flapped an arm, silencing the governor. “The Procurator wills it, and House Mivon will receive his blessings. Thiss muddy beach you call a city will no longer resist its’ proper place in the Hegemon. Arrangements have been made.”
His stomach turned. “What… arrangements?”
“Extra forcess have been requisitioned from Oregon territory…” Zivish’s ears twitched as he sipped his wine. “The Hudson Bay Company has been mossst amenable to offer a detachment of their huntsmen to secure key cities in New England.”
“Hessians?!” Thomas knew them well; Prussian-trained soldiers all, with almost a decade fighting Indians in the wilderness to win and secure Hegemon territory in the wild reaches of the rocky mountains, they were well equipped, well trained, and could wipe out an Indian settlement in hours.
“I’m sssure they will have no issue reducing turmoil in the city.” Zivish bobbed his head and moved toward the door, flanked by a bodyguard. “They will be arriving tomorrow.”
“You celestials are certainly removed from our ways of thinking, Zivish.” The governor smirked.
“We still use fire enough to know that throwing oil on it is always a bad thing.”
Customs House, Boston, March 5, 1770.
It was freezing, Private Hugh White, had decided. Not just cold, but he could feel the ice forming on his hat and curling down into his boots. Only a few more hours until his watch was over, and he’d be able to go home. He hated Boston, but the Army had sent him on this tour to secure the colonies for the Crown and Stars, and he was a soldier with a duty. That at least filled him with enough pride to stay warm. These past weeks had been difficult, with some of the colonials hurling insults and calling regulars ‘collaborators’ or ‘star lovers’. Things had been getting tense.
Down the street he observed his commander Lieutenant Goldfinch rowing with a young man in the street. Dutifully, he moved to observe.
“I’m tellin ye, sir, you owe my master three crowns still for his work.” The young man insisted.
“And I am telling you, good lad,” Goldfinch held up a hand “that your master and I are in good order. If you would take your youthful bravado and go, I’ve the king’s business to attend.”
“So its just another bill for a starlover to dodge, eh?” The boy of sixteen sneered. “I bet it saves a lot of money to kiss a bats’ arse all the time. You get petals in your beard?”
“Enough of you, boy!” Hugh wasn’t about to tolerate disrespect of his commander, and stepped forward cracking him on the side of his head and sending him into the gutter.
“Oi!” A man across the street shouted “Foul!” Two young men ran to pick up the bloody-headed boy. “A surgeon, a surgeon!” One shouted.
Another young man came running “Did you shoot this man?” He questioned Goldfinch and Hugh. “If this lad fired, he’ll hang for it.” He thrust a finger at Hugh. By now Hugh was decidedly less confident about his choice, though his commander stood between the small-but-growing crowd and him.
“My men are mine to discipline, you be about your way lads.” He waved a hand and considered the matter finished, but people continued to come even as the young shop boy was carried away by his friends.
Gossip spread in a bored city like wildfire, and after only an hour several hundred men and women were standing around jeering at the guards at the Custom’s house. Hugh had moved to the top of the steps and had been ordered to stand fast, as far from the crowd as possible. Insults of ‘coward!’ and ‘traitor’ continued to echo in the streets, and more than a few snowballs and rocks had been thrown. Lieutenant Goldfinch had sent for relief but it had not yet arrived.
In the distance, over the heads of the crowd Hugh saw a tightly-grouped line of bayonets, moving with military precision. Mentally thanking the almighty, he called to his commander and pointed. The crowd parted, revealing not the red uniforms of the Royal army, but instead the faded green of the Hudson Bay Company. Eight of them, escorted by a thin young prussian with a swirling moustache. His heels clicked as he saluted. “We are here to relive Private White and conduct him to quarters.”
The crowd roared and surged, but quickly the Hessians snapped to formation, making a semicircle around the base of the stairs. “Corporal, your men will hold their fire,” Goldfinch called out “If one of them shoots, your men all hang.” The crowd heard this and began to goad them, hurling more insults and snowballs, refusing to let the soldiers part as more people continued to drift into King’s Square.
A heavyset inkeeper with a cudgel stepped up to the ring of steel and eyed one of the Hessians. “Is that thing loaded, good lad?” The corporal raised an eyebrow “I assure you, my men follow all their orders. They loaded their weapons before we came, and are prepared to use them.” Taunts and jeers continued to echo in the night air, when suddenly a large chunk of masonry sailed out of the darkness.
One of the Hessians was caught squarely on the shoulder, knocking him down and sending his gun to the pavement with a clatter. “Gottverdammt!” He hastily stumbled and picked up his gun “Wir solten scheissen!” His muddy weapon slipped, and the trigger depressed, sending out a burst of death. “SCHEISSEN!” Another Hessian shouted, and a cacophonous roar exploded.
These were no mere muskets, nothing that would have seen battle in Europe or even ten years previous on the frontier. These guns were celestial, made for mass production by the Hegemon and given to security forces all over the frontier. Each was a high-velocity magnetic rail cannon, capable of sending out thirty bolts a second at speeds nearly equal to sound. They had laid waste to countless worlds and had even been deployed against Indian tribes to gruesome effect, but it would be Boston that history would record as the first public encounter with celestial warfare.
It was bedlam, Goldsmith and the corporal shouting down the men “Cease fire!” but it was too late. Even as they put their weapons up the crowd shrieked as one and broke into a frenzy. Some of the soldiers were too shocked at what had happened and allowed themselves to be overtaken, but the two officers and five men kept together and managed to flee the scene. But behind all the confusion, from a dark alley a pair of keen eyes landed on some dark shapes at the base of the steps of the customs house.
Boston, later that night
“Can we trust him?” A hoarse voice whispered over lantern light in a dusty room. “I trust him, isn’t that enough?”
“I’ve risked everything for this, Sam.” John Hancock lit another lantern as the room began to brighten. Did you see the square? Over eighty dead in under a minute!
“Exactly, John. Don’t you see? This is our chance! I’ve heard he knows celestial machinery, how it works.” Samuel Adams carefully placed a bundle on a table and unwrapped it. A trio of celestial muskets, covered in blood and dirt.
“But how could that be?” John shook his head. “Its beyond our knowing, some infernal dealings of light and energy.”
“Not infernal, my good men, but decidedly devilish.” Another voice came through the darkened doorway. A tall man with broad shoulders and his hair drawn back in a braid walked quickly in, ushered to the table by Malcolm.
“Is this the man?” Sam asked his foreman.
He nodded. “Aye sir, he’s the one.”
“Paul Revere, silversmith at your service.” The tall man extended a hand. He looked at the weapons on the table and, with a slight pause, began to unpack is tools.
“Silversmith?! These are a bit beyond silver.” John was wringing his hands. “Celestials can find their stolen goods, we have seen it in the past.”
“They can… after a fashion.” Paul already had the casing of one of the muskets open and was working with some jewelers tools. “These muskets do not use powder, but instead some form of encapsulated lightning or other energy. Jeweler's tools work well in them.” He worked carefully, but with practice. “As long as the capsule is within the weapon it can be located but…” with an audible click he turned and held up a tapered piece of metal the width of two fingers with spiked protrusions at one end. “If the capsule is removed the musket is lost to their ability to find it.”
Sam’s eyes went wide “Are you certain?”
“Quite.” Paul nodded and gingerly set the capsule down as he started work on a second musket. “I’ve met more than one suvai who managed to find himself a spare musket he wished to sell quietly, who needed my help to render it moveable.”
“The devil you say,” John laughed. “They have thieves and scoundrels too, I suppose.”
“Indeed.” Paul nodded and straightened, holding up the third capsule. “There you are, gentlemen. Three celestial muskets, completely undetectable. If you re-insert the capsules properly they will fire, and you can even empty them again. By my reckoning each of them can be fired about sixty or seventy times before they run dry.”
“Excellent.” Sam happily handed the silversmith a small pouch of gold. “We may be needing your services again soon.
“You have more muskets?”
“Oh, we will.”