Britannia Unleashed – Audiobook Now Available!

I am delighted to announce the arrival of Britannia Unleashed not only in all book formats but also as an Audiobook.

Available now from Audible and Apple Books, my story is magnificently read by the English narrator Michael Langan as a full unabridged version. His reading is exceptional. For anyone who enjoys Victorian Alternate History, Steampunk, or just outright Adventure, you’ll have one hell of a ride.

Audible.co.uk

Audible.com

Britannia Unleashed by Richard M. Ankers. Narrated by Michael Langan.

Here’s a taster

The Unmade

“They must be unmade, Robert.”

“I cannot.” 

“Her Majesty wishes them expunged.”

“I shall not.”

“If you do not, Master Swift, then it will be your position within Her Majesty’s government that is unmade.” The elder man creaked leather-gloved hands together, wringing every last syllable from his over-emphasised words. 

“How long do I have to consider your request?” Robert swept long, dark hair from his gaunt face, the hours spent in his workshop given clear definition by the single, flickering candle.

“How long? How long! Did I not make myself clear? The order has not come from some vagabond, some chance met acquaintance, some nobody, it has come from Queen Victoria herself. There are no ifs, maybes, or buts when discussing Her Majesty’s orders. One simply does as one’s told and does not question it. People that do oft’ regret it.”

“Is that a threat, Carrington?” Robert bristled in his seat, the glass of wine held in his right hand quaking at his intonation. A trace of the old fire sparked in the inventor’s tired eyes but soon dimmed to embers.

“That is Lord Carrington to you, Swift.”

“Or else?”

“One can be made to act as required. Facts and threats are rarely grouped together.”

“Then if I am not being threatened and am still allowed the freedom of choice, I refuse. I could no sooner unmake my left leg than I could my children.”

“Children!” Lord Carrington jumped to his feet as a man half his years should. “They are not your children; they are your handiwork. They are automata, constructs, or any number of other things, but when one sieves through the salient details of this disagreement, one will find one unequivocal and singular truth.”

“And that is?”

“That every one of those metal mishaps is the property of Her Majesty Queen Victoria, your sovereign and empress of half the world. She would rule the other half, too, if she wished it, but that is by the by. So, I ask again, will you unmake those you have created to facilitate the prolonging and general longevity of your monarch’s reign? Will you uncreate those designed to bring immortality to Her Majesty? Will you remove the criteria for others to do the same?” Lord Carrington ended the sermon with a sharp thrust of fist to desktop sending his own crystal-cut glass shattering to the floor.

“But why?”

“As I have stated, ours is not to question why.”

Robert took a deep, long breath and rubbed at his temples. “It is only through my children, their nature, their existence, that Her Majesty still functions. It is my children’s technologies that have inspired her adjustments. They have gifted her life, saved her life, it makes no sense to deprive herself of future corrections. She might die because of it!” Robert tore at his hair with frustration at the whole affair before regaining his composure. “Lord Carrington, I ask you again as a man I once held great respect for, why? Britannia would be without its Queen if not for my children.”

“Your point being?”

“My point being, without them she’d have died years ago. The explosive aftermath of Sir Belvedere’s vanishing would have killed her. Should have killed her. She bore its brunt yet lived. A miracle prolonged by my children.”

“How do you know about that? Carrington barked.

“My dear man, every citizen of a certain standing knows about that and certainly those who have dealt with its repercussions.”

“I see,” glared Carrington.

“What has Headlock to say about this, or Cuthbert, or even Monk, though I cannot abide the man?”

“It matters not what they say, think or do, because they are not she.”

“Then we have nothing further to discuss. I shall not be party to exterminating our Queen even if she sees it otherwise, and as I have stated, I shall not murder my family.”

“So, I am to gather from that little monologue that you are unwilling to concede them.” Lord Carrington spat the final word.

“I will not, and they have left already. I could no sooner divulge their location than I could the contents of your sick mind.” Robert folded thin arms across his charcoal-suited chest and crossed one leg over the other in defiance.

Lord Carrington eyed him with a venom that the Britannian elite reserved solely for the underclasses; a societal standing Robert belonged to and was only too aware of. He sought to see inside the younger man’s soul with those jet-black eyes, to unpick the contents of his inner being. When he seemed certain of Robert’s underlying character, sniffing it away with a snoot, he bellowed, “Guards!”

Two men of imposing physiques dressed from head to toe in Her Majesty’s colours, a sure sign of her involvement, burst through the study door.

“Take Master Swift into confinement. Somewhere remote should serve best. He shall be dealt with at the Crown’s convenience.” 

The two men nodded in symmetry.

“Oh, and gentleman.”

“Your Lordship,” one replied through a voice like crushed bricks.

“Make it an unpleasant arrival.”

“With pleasure, Your Lordship,” the same answered, as the other advanced on his prey.


Thank you for reading
Richard

Richard M. Ankers
Author of the brand new steampunk extravaganza Britannia Unleashed.

Compunction

Courtesy Sharon McCutcheon Unsplash.com
Courtesy Sharon McCutcheon Unsplash.com

Author’s Note: Corrine and the narrator here are current characters in progress for my next body of work. I hope you enjoy


I have no compunction to acquiesce to her wishes. Despite the provocation, I still love her. It is a dilemma.
The night surges around me like a redundant coal mine, the memories of such excavations as to tire an army of dwarves recalled, but discarded. It closes in. I am surrounded.
Her eyes appear first, always her eyes, flashing from this false midnight like two black holes. They hover, darker than dark, drawing in those vestiges of light surface dwellers take for granted, gorging. I would have them gorge on me, too, but have not the energy to ask.
Corrine has a flair for the dramatic, always had, in both life and death. She whispers sweet promises, offers life eternal, a never-ending dream, but is this not what God promises, too? Whether corporeal or incorporeal, one exists. The only decision to make, one unfortunately decided whilst the former presides, is where.
This deep darkness pools like a subterranean sea, tugs with a relentless persistence, one which wears. I capitulate. Corrine wins.
She is here, everywhere. I breathe her, filling my lungs with sorrow. She circulates my system, sluggish in blood made unctuous, taking a slow perusal of all I have to offer. I have nothing to offer, but it still takes time.
When I wake, it is to her raven self. She looms over me in a burgundy chamber, lit by a single black candle with a putrescent flame.
“Make it easier on yourself,” she coos, like a demented dove.
“No.”
“I ask nothing.”
“You ask everything.”
“I could take it.”
“No, my once darling, you cannot.”
I lay for interminable aeons debating this simple truth, as the cosmos unfolds around me, suns blinking in and out of view, universes unfolding like paper swans set loose in time’s ocean. She thinks it will break me, but it only strengthens my resolve. She should never have awoken me.
Corrine enters my perfect prison with a cup of cold water. Condensation drips down the glass like diamonds-made-emeralds in the unnatural light.
“Drink,” she says.
“I’d rather watch it.”
“You never gain anything by watching.”
“No, you gain everything.”
She throws the glass to the floor, but it fails to smash or spill a drop. It is as illusory as she, yet more substantial than ever I’ve been.
Light arrives in the form of a tangerine dawn. I soak up every vitamin, savour every second. There is something about a sparkling new day that transcends description. One must feel it, taste it, love it like there’ll never be another.
She is here.
Corrine snatches the memory from my thoughts and swallows it whole. A slug-like tongue circles her lips as if to ensure every atom sampled. She laughs the laugh of the lost, this demoness. She glares, flares twinned supernovas and is gone.
It takes time for reality to realign.
I climb from bed as though it just another day, throw aside the curtains to the orange skies of my dream.
The sun sits amongst them. It is black.


Love cannot be taken, nor shared unwillingly, nor even explained. One might see it and snatch it momentarily, nothing more. My love for the dawn was not my love for her, if ever it was love at all.


I resist the temptation to sleep this moonless evening. “Not tonight,” I say, as the devil tucks this damaged soul into bed. “I have no compunction to acquiesce to your wishes.” I haven’t. No, I haven’t. 
But I have.

The End.


Thank you for reading
Richard

Richard M. Ankers
Author of the brand new steampunk extravaganza Britannia Unleashed.

Sapphire Blue

Photo by Ion Fet on Unsplash
Photo by Ion Fet on Unsplash

Londinium’s streets filled with merchants of every description. Some purveyors of fine silks set up stalls in such-and-such an alley, others of fresh produce in this and that, the retailers of jewels and gold settled closer to the constabulary’s arterial junction. It, or rather, she, sat somewhere in between.
Less an organ grinder’s monkey, but not quite a ventriloquist’s dummy, she rested, her coiled legs draped over the side of a wooden cart. Her creator, or owner, or whatever he was, poled people to guess her name at a sovereign a head. He promised great riches to the soul who guessed correctly, though I ventured no one ever did.
Entranced, I squeezed through the gathered crowd to better gaze upon her, excusing myself more times than decorum demanded. Nevertheless, it felt nowhere near enough. At my last muttered apology and doffing of my hat, I looked up: there she was.
She was stunning, beautiful, yet made. Plaited horsehair adorned her bonnet-less head, which stood against convention, but looked right on her. A face of chalked perfection rested on a frame of awkward, angular imperfection. The contrast made for an uneasy balance. Yet, it was not her body I looked upon, but her eyes. Even though I knew it was wrong, evil even, an affront to God, I could have stared into them forever.
The almost-woman had the sort of eyes that dreamt of oceans, a blue so deep as to swim to the stars. She stared out across her audience impassively, searching for something, searching for me. I was hers, and she was mine.
“Hey, that’s a sovereign’s worth of a gawking you’ve given. You gonna guess ‘er name or not?”
I paid the man his money and walked away.
“Hey! Hey, mister! Ain’t you gonna guess then?”
“Sapphire,” I replied.
“Wrong,” he expounded.
Maybe to you I thought, but Sapphire she remained. My dreams would be eternally painted blue.


Thank you for reading
Richard