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“Rebels! What rebels?” Blackmore was already stunned by the revelations made by Schott and now it seems he was in the midst of a rebellion. “This voyage is becoming more bizarre by the minute.”

“We have to move, Captain. These rebels mean business.”

“My immediate business, Herr Schott, is concern for the safety of my crew and my ship, in particular the shore-party waiting for my return.” Blackmore put his thumb and forefinger into his waistcoat pocket to pull out his fob-watch, then realised it wasn’t there. “Damn,” he cursed. Blackmore looked up and saw concern in Schott’s face. “I lost it on my last voyage and never managed to replace it. Do you have the time?”

“Time? Time is running out, this will be the third attack this year. We must leave, or they will kill us all.”

“I must go to my men, the shore-party…”

“…will have to fend for themselves. You will not be captain much longer. They will take you as hostage if they don’t kill you first.”

As if to punctuate Schott’s words, gunfire could be heard in the distance.

“Who are these rebels?”

“No more questions, Captain. I value the lives of my family, so we leave, now!”

Schott grabbed his son’s hand and pushed past both his servant and Blackmore. Gunfire was getting louder and louder and there was more of it. A sudden distinct boom of a small cannon brought Blackmore, and the servant, to their senses and they quickly left the building, following Schott as he ran, cradling his son in his arms.

“Where are we going?” Blackmore shouted, but Schott ignored him. He noticed Schott’s servant was racing away from them as fast as he could run. More gunfire, small arms and rifles seemed to be getting closer.

Whoever these rebels are, they are moving fast.

Another boom from the canon and this time a resounding crash from behind made both Schott and Blackmore stop and turn. The building they had just vacated had been hit on one corner and had partially collapsed.

“Lauf! Rennt um euer Leben,” a man shouted as he raced past Blackmore. He stared after the man, not understand the language but certainly understand his actions. Death was marching into their lives and people were beginning to panic. Another boom from a canon, maybe the same one, and this time a building, ahead and to their right, was hit.

“Move,” Blackmore shouted as he ran past Schott. But Schott didn’t move, instead he let his son down to the floor and as he stood on his own two feet, the small boy let out a wail of anguish.

Blackmore ran back to Schott. “What is it? What’s wrong.”

“Mamma!” The child wailed and ran toward the building that had just been hit. Schott, realising what his son was doing ran after him, but too late as the child entered the building another boom from the canon and this time the building took a direct hit. The shell hitting the building blasted the roof off and a fire immediately broke out from the dry timber frame supporting the mud walls.


Schott’s plaintive cry and his headlong rush into what was left of the building told Blackmore all he needed to know. Another blast from the canon hit the building and the small school disintegrated, with blazing pieces of wood reigning down around Blackmore.

“Oh my God,” Blackmore muttered. He knew now why Schott was so desperate to leave. He wanted to get to the school, collect his wife and get the children to safety. Blackmore’s realisation that he had hindered Schott with his questions was all the more stark as he watched the small school’s blazing walls collapse. There would be no survivors, of that, Blackmore was certain.

Blackmore’s immediate problem took precedence over the certain death of Schott and his family. He was in a strange town he did not know with rebel forces shooting and shelling seemingly indiscriminately. He needed to get back to the long-boat and ensure his crew and ship survived this assault.


For what seemed like hours, Blackmore tried to make his way back to the port area. Not a few hours earlier he had made the journey from the port to Schott’s home but the way back was marked by gunfire, smoke and the occasional boom of a cannon. Thankfully the cannon and gunfire seemed to have veered away from Blackmore’s course. But even so, confusion still reigned and though Blackmore had a good sense of direction, he was finding it hard to navigate through crowds of fleeing and panicky people with smoke and flames seemingly surrounding him.

“Captain!” It was a voice from an alley that Blackmore had just passed. An English voice he recognised. Blackmore turned and was thankful to see one of his crew running up the alley toward him.

“Carlson! Is everyone safe?”

“Aye, Captain,” the seaman said, puffing slightly. “I was sent out by Roberts to try and locate you when the firing started. We had an idea where you were from what the Dockmaster told us. It’s pure luck I found you though, the whole place has gone mad.”

“It’s a rebellion, I’ve been told. Rebel forces are trying to drive out the Germans I suppose.”

“Aye, sir. The Dockmaster said this has been going on for a long time and the rebels attack on a regular basis.”

“Very well, Carlson. Let’s get back to the ship. Are there any more out looking for me?”

Carlson shook his head. “No, captain. I think Roberts thought I was expendable.”

Blackmore smiled and put a hand on the sailor’s shoulder. “No, he knows you have a good head on you and can handle yourself. He sent you because if anyone could find me, you could. Now, lead on and make haste. We need to be sailing out of here as soon as possible.”


The longboat bumped alongside the Lady Jane and Blackmore felt a rush of relief as he began his climb up the rope ladder and onto the deck of his ship. Mr. James, and it seems most of the crew, where there to greet him.

“Thank god you’re safe, sir,” James said as he helped his captain aboard.

“Have you any news on what’s going on?”

“None, sir. I was going to ask you the same question.”

Blackmore gasped for breath as he took in the curls of smoke arising from the town. “All I know is there seems to be a rebellion in progress, presumably against the German authorities by the native population.” Blackmore turned to survey his ship. “Have we commenced offloading?”

“Yes, but it was nowhere near complete when the firing started. At which point the crews and boats scattered to the four winds.”

Blackmore sighed heavily. “Then we need to find a way to off-load or just leave. We need to get a message off to Bellagon and ask for advice.”

“Aye sir, but with no way of doing it from our ship…” Blackmore’s first officer left the obvious unsaid.

Blackmore gripped the rail as a gust of wind tugged at his uniform. He felt the heavy weight of the small leather pouch in his jacket pocket and felt a pang of grief followed by regret at Schott and his family’s demise.

“David, we need to leave here. It’s too dangerous to stay and we have no idea if the local telegraph office is in rebel hands. Try and signal the shore and see if you get any response. We need a pilot to steer us out or we need to leave this harbour the old-fashioned way. See if we have maps as well.”

As David James left, Blackmore pulled the pouch out and looked at it. It was a simple thing and Blackmore wondered what it contained. As an employee of Bellagon it was his duty to ensure his employer’s own personal goods where kept safe. But equally, as ship’s captain he had the right to know what it was he was transporting. The voyage was already fraught with mystery and Blackmore needed answers.

He unfolded the multiple leather straps and peered inside. The glint caught his eye immediately and he had to stifle a gasp. Blackmore had never seen so many diamonds.

Without hesitation Blackmore re-wrapped the pouch and went to his cabin. He would place the diamonds in his safe and then he would try to make sense of what Schott had told him about Maggie. Blackmore’s world was in flux and he needed to understand what was happening in order to return to his previously ordered life.

Copyright Tom Kane © 2018

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MARCH 15, 1931

APRIL 15, 1912



















This is a first draft, so please forgive spelling & grammatical errors. Context and characters may change between now and the final publication date.

When published as an eBook and paperback at the end of 2018, this book will be the first in a trilogy: The Brittle Sea, The Brittle Land and The Brittle Sky.

As a English expat author living in Cyprus, you may think my life revolves around cocktails by the pool. You would be wrong. In ten years on the island I’ve had my fair share of adventures and interesting experiences.

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Living in Cyprus: 2015 here

Hitler’s Secret Atomic Bomb here

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