This story starts out like any other two bit crime story. With a scarred dead body… on Mars.
1880 Red London’s 1st Medical Ward – Her Majesties Royal Colony of Mars
The renown Dr Simon Rush M.D. undergoes an autopsy on the poor fellow in front of him. This man, an officer of the law, working under Constable Lancing, head of New Scotland Yard, came in screaming not but an hour earlier. He was found in the slums of Red London, the home of the prawn-like race of native Martians. His face, the doctor determined, was burned by a branding iron. What a cruel fate, the doctor thought, but so is the life of a man of the law. The doctor, unable to not notice a glimmer in the mouth of his patient, extracts a shining black onyx gem from the inside of his mouth. Curious, he thinks to himself as he writes it into his report.
Later that day, a knock comes on the home of a man whose door reads “Thomas Carver P.I.”
“Hello, I’m with New Scotland Yard, we have some business we need to discuss Mister Carver.”
“Why yes, come in!” responds Thomas, as he opens his gun drawer and pulls out a bottle of a half finished bottle of Scotch.
“One of our officers has been murdered in the slums. We can’t go in and reason with the prawn, they never trust us. We need an outsider to find out what happened out there today.”
“I see your problem. I’m on it, for the usual price, of course.”
Handing Detective Carver a slip with the location of the incident, each man finishes their drink and the officer goes on his way. Thomas replaces the near empty bottle of Scotch in the drawer for his gun. “It’s a sin to waste good scotch” he thinks to himself and finishes the rest directly from the bottle.
“Time to get to work!”
Thomas walks arrive the unusually empty streets (but no less smelly) streets of the displaced home territory of the native prawn species of Martians. After searching for a bit, he finds a branding iron among the ferns, still covered with the stench of burnt flesh. Interesting, he says to himself, noting the high quality steel and clear marking of “LONDON 1880” on the staff.
Quickly he notices a child run by. Stealthily, he follows the child back to his home where he runs through the cat door. He knocks, but there is no response. Just like all the doors here, no one has any trust for the white man who comes knocking. Of course, they shouldn’t.
Getting upset at the obvious ignorance, he pushes his head through the small opening and demands that they speak with him.
“No, we no want no trouble with ravens”, says the mother, child clutched in arms, in a broken English.
“Wait please, I only want to talk!” But the mother pulls out her broomstick and with a thud, Thomas’s head is out of the door.
“The Ravens?” Thomas wonders. Only children and fools believe the Ravens exist.
Thomas brings the iron to the station, of course, wanting to prod for facts.
He finds out that the last ship from London came in yesterday and goes to get the passenger manifest from the British East India company. There he asks for a copy of the records to narrow down his search. The secretary tells him that the documents are a complete mess and that a copy would take two days to track down and produce. With a wink, smile, and a few shillings for insurance, he leaves to get an opinion from an old friend.
At his tinker shop James Fitzgerald is working on his latest invention. A complex series of gear and springs that will do Lord knows what.
He hears his bell ring, and who do you know comes in the door but good Thomas Carver.
“How can I help you Tom!”
“Well, I hate to put it this way, but I’m looking for unscrupulous information from an unscrupulous fellow.”
“Well, you’ve come to the right man, than!
“Of course. I’ve been investigating the murders in the slums and it’s funny because they all seem to be afraid of the imaginary Ravens.”
“The Ravens, you say?!”
“Why yes, the Ravens. I know, it’s quite preposterous! I was hoping you can help me make sense of things.”
“We’ll Tom, I’ve known you a long while, and you’ve helped me through some though times, so I don’t think it would be wrong to tell you that what they say isn’t as preposterous as you may think.”
“How do you mean, James?”
“We’ll for starters, the Ravens do exist.”
“I never took you as a man for conspiracies, James. Surely, gangsters, secret societies and government takeovers are things of story-time. Take the heist of the Tower of London for instance, no man could pull that off.”
“I am most certainly not a believer of fables, Tom, but I can assure you; they are most indeed real. I’ve seen them. They are a secret indeed, but not a very good one. They work as the black hand of the British East India Company. They handle the dirty work, reap the benefits. Not existing has all sorts of benefits you know.”
“I must know more, James!”
“I have a friend, let me speak more with him and we will meet again.”
“Thank you James, your a good friend and teacher.”
“The doctor is very busy, I’m afraid you can’t see him at the current moment.”
“I must see him, this is important!”
“You look fine to me, Sir. I’m afraid the doctor has more pressing matters.”
“Fine.” says Thomas, turning around to leave.
“Goodnight Sheila! I’ll be in my home office the rest of the night.”, says a familiar old voice.
“By George, if it isn’t James Fitzgerald!”
“Hello, old friend, it’s been a while.”
“Why yes it has been. Step into my carriage, what can I help you with?”
“I’m having an issue. A friend came to me yesterday asking about the Ravens.”
“How much does he know?”
“Not much, but he’s investigating a case, where it looks like the Ravens may have been involved.”
“I know the case your talking about but I wasn’t aware of the Ravens involvement. I’ll find you out what I can.”
“It’s the least you can do.”
“Without hesitation, Jim.”
“It’s James now, please don’t forget it.”
The doctor smiles.
“Sir Philip Glass? When did they knight you?”
“We have much more pull than we did a decade ago, Simon.”
“It certainly looks that way. It seems murder is still on the table.”
“Murder is always on the table, your a doctor, you know better than I do.”
“It’s safe here, what information are you looking for.”
“I want to know who killed him and why?”
“You know we only deal in need-to-know information.”
“We’ll I need to know!”
“Fine, it was an order from one of our insiders in New Scotland Yard. This one asked too many questions, or so we’re told.”
“A location and a date. You know we never ask names.”
“I’ve think I’ve heard enough. Cheers Mr. Glass.”
“Sir Glass, and cheers!”
The next morning, Dr. Rush, Thomas Carver, and James Fitzgerald meet upstairs in James’s tinker shop.
There they discuss the information at hand and decided they need to know the name of the murder. They decide to sneak it the East India Company’s main office in Red London and place the name of a rapist in the books, to assert justice and clean up this case. Thomas and James plan to go in the night.
James attends to a client downstairs. A mysterious tall man, wearing a fancy hat and spectacles with red lenses. He asks James a mechanism capable of spitting of large amounts of fire into the air for a soiree he is hosting. James, every so ready to take on a challenge accepts the task. He finishes it just as the man returns and goes to prepare his infiltration.
Thomas, having been in the place the day before, recalls the security placed all along the building. The guards and noise makers we’re all placed in fairly obvious spots and a plan for James is drawn up.
James enters the building and all goes according to plan. He find the book in the office and plants the name in it. Unfortunately for him, a guard goes off route and is coming to check out the room. Upon hearing the guard, James bolts for a window, loudly slamming it as he jumps out it.
An outdoor guard hears the commotion and sees James and Thomas leaving the building. He pulls out a pistol and grazes James in the leg. James and Thomas both fire in the general direction of the guard forcing him to retreat. Thomas, carry the limping James decided carry the limping Thomas back to his house, the nearest building. They arrive, only to find the Carver residence, covered top to bottom, in flames.