Scions of Invention
Nathanial E Lawrence
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Nathanial Edward Lawrence was born as the 5th son of a minor nobleman Sir Thomas Chapman and Sarah Junner. My oldest brother inherited the estate upon my fathers death when I turned 9 and a commission of the rank of Captain was purchased in the Royal Navy for my second brother. My third brother entered the Clergy and my fourth brother became an artist. Having no expectations from my family I started studying Archeology, being fascinated with history and outdoor sports as well. After excelling in school sports I spent three years from the age of 15 biking around the world exploring ruins and the cultures of the world. Although I was fascinated with technology I had no desire to create it. Upon turning 18 I arrived home and was told by my older brother Alan that I was going to “Make” something of myself. He had arranged for a commission in the Royal marines as a Junior Lt.
I took to Marine life with an exhilaration I had never known for anything before. I excelled at the physical tests involved and sought out more opportunities to excel. I was first posted to a fleet support unit, we were attached to the fleets airships and trained to drop onto enemy surface ships from ropes, in boarding actions. After two years I had been promoted to 1st Lt and assigned to test new equipment with the Royal Navy research group. This was my first time to experiment with the latest technology, of particular note was the new Any altitude parachute. The six months I worked with this group honed my love of gadgets. This worked well but when we were finally tested in battle is when I truly excelled.
My third posting in as many years was back to the fleet as a platoon leader of a commando unit. We were the hard hitting soldiers of the fleet. We were tasked with taking an enemy ship(flagship) intact as there were hostages aboard. The (insert bad guys here) had captured a small warship from (insert sucky nation here) and taken hostage our ambassador, the Fleet had orders to return the ambassador alive and unharmed. The (badguys) had threatened to kill the hostages if they saw any airship or surface ship closing with them. Knowing we could not get up to them unawares proposed a plan to fly well above them on the first cloudy night and drop on them unawares. We had 500 parachutes in the fleet and enough marines to jump. At first the plan was ruled suicide but after I demonstrated the potential with my 50 man platoon jumping during day when 45 of my men landed on the target ship it was deemed feasible. Only my platoon had had the training or practice to use the devices so I had proposed just my platoon doing the operation, this was rejected by the Colonel in charge of the Fleet security group, Marine Colonel Bryce. He ordered 9 other platoons of regular marines to strap up and be carried aloft with us and ordered them to follow us down. My arguments were overridden. I ordered my men to strap up with the new parachutes. We waited until a dark cloudy night and once it darkened enough our airship flew up above the cloud cover along with five other ships. Once we were safely hidden above the clouds and the airship on the horizon signaled us that we were above the target we jumped.
My men followed me with confidence and honor, and the brave men of the other 9 platoons jumped with us as well. Even before we entered the cloud below I could see the men of the other platoons start to scatter to the winds. We had given them brief instructions in how to maneuver but some of them opened their parachutes immediately and others were soaring off into the distance. They would be scattered over the ocean and it would be impossible to recover them all. There were only about 350 men from the other platoons enter the cloud behind my platoon. As we raced through the cloud we encountered things I had never heard of before, lighting arching within the cloud killed one of my platoon and about 30 others. Finally we emerged below the clouds and I saw there were at least another 100-120 men that the winds had scattered too far to reach the ship. Below the clouds there was continuous lighting, rain and high winds. At last I saw the first sight of the target ship. I ignited my flare to mark myself as the center and flew toward it. At the last instant I opened my parachute and my platoon followed me, out of the 45 I had jumped with from above I had 32 left. I had no idea what happened to the rest. Out of the remaining 450 parachutist, less than 30 hit the decks survivable, but over 10 more hit the decks. It was immediately after landing, I was cutting my chute away to avoid being pulled back over when a wet and sodden enemy watchman came out of a weather shed with a cutlass to cut me down, I thought I was dead until suddenly a body came from above and slammed into him, crushing the life out of him and exploding across me and the deck with blood and intestines. With nothing to be heard over the crash of thunder I quickly rallied my men (the 25 mobile) and the 10 other marines mobile and realized that no other officer had made it either so we charged below with cold steel. The close confines of the ship, with no sounds but breathing and the occasional scuffle lasted forever, for the first 5 minutes we were completely unopposed as the crew was tied in their bunks trying to ride out the storm, but 5 minutes into it there was a shot and after that we went in with pistols and daggers the rest of the way, Luckily we had captured the ambassador and his party quickly, the rest of the time belowdecks was holding off the attacks of the rest of the crew, finally after an hour down below, when the attacks had stopped I realized they had decided that since they could not get the ambassador they would destroy the ship, taking the last 5 men still standing and leaving the other 10 wounded propped up with all the pistols I led the charge to the ships magazines, where we found 10 of the remaining sailors and their leader, setting timed charges in the ships magazines. We fought close and desperate for 30 seconds, when the smoke cleared and the echoes died from the flurry of gunshots I was standing as the only survivor, there were no wounded, so close had the action been. After securing the bomb and the magazine I heard gunshots back toward the bow where the hostages were, I raced back, reloading my two pistols as I went and arrived in time to see the remains of 20 sailors overwhelming my 10 wounded marines, although there were only 8 sailors still up. I jumped into their midst and lay around me blasting all and when the smoke cleared there were no sailors of marines standing but myself. Amazingly I was still unmarked, to come this far, lose all of my marines and still be completely unmarked. I found the hostages still safe in the next room, Let them out and armed them in case of emergency and made my way to the bridge to launch a flare for recovery.
The entire fight was only supposed to take 5 minutes to take the ship, When the recovery flare was not launched at the five minute mark Colonel Bryce, when asked wether they should launch surface and airships to pick up any stragglers from the drop said that that was not needed. It is not known how many survivors drowned in the next hour but what is known is that when the recovery was put into place over 60 minutes late not a one was found alive. Of 496 men dropped I was the only survivor. Upon returning to the fleet with the Ambassador I never saw the hostages again as Colonel Bryce had me placed under guard until my “report” could be recorded. I was kept under guard with no explanation until arrival back at base, whereby I was informed that my services were not currently needed by the marines and was turned out with my gear on ½ pay at the docking point, never having been allowed to file a report on the incident.