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The Empire of the Air: 2

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The Empire of the Air: 2
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Author(s): George Griffiths
Date Published: 2009/05
Page Count: 316
Softcover ISBN-13: 978-1-84677-689-2
Hardcover ISBN-13: 978-1-84677-690-8

In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries George Griffiths was as well known and, according to some experts, as popular as that other exemplar of the early British scientific romance, H. G. Wells. ‘Olga Romanoff’, the sequel to ‘The Angel of the Revolution,’ tells of a future Earth in which the nation states that had once warred amongst themselves are given full self determination when the Aerians, the descendants of ‘The Brotherhood of Freedom,’ who have policed world peace for more than a century, decide they are mature enough to have outgrown war. The inevitable consequence is, once again, warfare. However, a message from Mars warns of impending doom and the rekindled enmity must be set aside to save mankind. Both ‘Olga Romanoff’ and ‘The Angel of the Revolution’ are both available from Leonaur in hardcover and softcover editions.

Arnold spent the greater part of the voyage in the deck-saloon with Tremayne, talking over the events of the war, and arranging plans of future action. By mutual consent the object of their present voyage was not mentioned. As Arnold was more than two months and a half behind the news, he found not a little relief in hearing from Tremayne of all that had taken place since the recapture of the Lucifer. <br>
The two men, who were now to be the active leaders of the Revolution which, as they hoped, was soon to overturn the whole fabric of Society, and introduce a new social order of things, conversed in this fashion, quietly discussing the terrific tragedy in which they were to play the leading parts, and arranging all the details of their joint action, until well into the night of the 17th.<br>
About eleven Tremayne went to his cabin, and Arnold, going to the conning-tower, told the man on the look-out to go below until he was called. Then he took his place, and remained alone with his thoughts as the Ithuriel sped on her way a thousand feet above the deserted waters of the Atlantic, until the dark mass of the American Continent loomed up in front of him to the westward.<br>
As soon as he sighted land he went aft to the wheel-house, and slightly inclined the air-planes, causing the Ithuriel to soar upwards until the barometer marked a height of 6000 feet. At this elevation he passed over the mouth of the Chesapeake, and across Virginia; and a little more than an hour before sunrise the Ithuriel sank to the earth on one of the spurs of the Alleghenies, in sight of a lonely weather-board house, in one of the windows of which three lights were burning in the form of a triangle.<br>
This building was used ostensibly as a shooting and hunting-box by Michael Roburoff and a couple of his friends, and in reality as a meeting-place for the Inner Circle or Executive Council of the American Section of the Brotherhood. This Section was, numerically speaking, the most important of the four branches into which the Outer Circle of the Brotherhood was divided—that is to say, the British, Continental, American, and Colonial Sections.<br>
All told, the terrorists had rather more than five million adherents in America and Canada, of whom more than four millions were men in the prime of life, and nearly all of Anglo-Saxon blood and English speech. All these men were not only armed, but trained in the use of firearms to a high degree of skill; their organisation, which had gradually grown up with the Brotherhood for twenty years, was known to the world only under the guise of the different forms of industrial unionism, but behind these there was a perfect system of discipline and command which the outer world had never even suspected.<br>
The Section was divided first into squads of ten under the command of an eleventh, who alone knew the leaders of the other squads in his neighbourhood. Ten of these squads made a company, commanded by one man, who was only known to the squad-captains, and who alone knew the captain of the regiment, which was composed of ten companies.<br>
The next step in the organisation was the brigade, consisting of ten regiments, the captains of which alone knew the commander of the brigade, while the commanders of the brigades were alone acquainted with the members of the Inner Circle or Executive Council which managed the affairs of the whole Section, and whose Chief was the only man in the Section who could hold any communication with the Inner Circle of the Brotherhood itself, which, under the immediate command of Natas, governed the whole organisation throughout the world.<br>
This description will serve for all the Sections, as all were modelled upon exactly the same plan. The advantages of such an organisation will at once be obvious. In the first place, no member of the rank and file could possibly betray more than ten of his fellows, including his captain; while his treachery could, if necessary, be made known in a few hours to ten thousand others, not one of whom he knew, and thus it would be impossible for him to escape the invariable death penalty. The same is, of course, equally true of the captains and the commanders.<br>
On the other hand, the system was equally convenient for the transmission of orders from headquarters. An order given to ten commanders of brigades could, in a single night, be transmitted individually to the whole of the Section, and yet those in command of the various divisions would not know whence the orders came, save as regards their immediate superiors.<br>
It will be necessary for the reader to bear these few particulars in mind in order to understand future developments, which, without them, might seem to border on the impossible. It is only necessary to add that the full fighting strength of the four Sections of the Brotherhood amounted to about twelve millions of men, a considerable proportion of whom were serving as soldiers in the armies of the League and the Alliance, and that in its cosmopolitan aspect it was known to the rank and file as the Red International, whose members knew each other only by the possession of a little knot of red ribbon tied into the button-hole in a peculiar fashion on occasions of meetings for instruction or drill.<br>
The three lights burning in the form of a triangle in the window of the house were a prearranged signal to avoid mistake on the part of those on board the airship. When they reached the earth, Arnold, acting under the instructions of Tremayne, who was his superior on land though his voluntary subordinate when afloat, left the Ithuriel and her crew in charge of Lieutenant Marston and Andrew Smith, the coxswain.<br>
The remainder disembarked, and then the airship rose from the ground and ascended out of sight through a layer of clouds that hung some eight hundred feet above the high ground of the hills. Lieutenant Marston's orders were to remain out of sight for an hour and then return.
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