Exsuscito

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We are only four days into our journey here on the PRS Exsuscito and a severe disagreement is already underway. Not between the rival horologists, as might be expected (although I suspect that is only a matter of time), but between the horologists and the captain: the ship is heading off course. Captain Harrison refuses to discuss the issue and tersely says that he is "following his orders." What orders? "I cannot help you, Mr. Kennard."

Naturally we are all in a state of uproar. Solitano is demanding that the ship turn around, and Green wants to know the source of the 'orders'. Frankly, I am not overly worried for my safety; Captain Harrison is known to be an upstanding man, and the Exsuscito has an excellent navigator. I am more concerned about what this means for the expedition. Even when it began, I failed to understand why the Academy decided to test different methods of determining longitude by simply throwing all the city's horologists on a single ship, even if their chronometers are not yet finished. With the ship heading to an unknown destination, the expedition is descending into lunacy.

I have tried to spend my time productively, by testing my chronometers and making various measurements on the ship. I surmise that centrifugal forces may affect the counter-oscillating mechanism I employ, but time will tell. I have also been engaged in some interesting discussions with my fellow horologists; not only are they experts in the longitude problem, but I suspect that some of them know more about our ship's 'other' mission than they are revealing.

Much rests upon the ability to determine your exact location, both at sea and on land, in a quick and reliable manner. If we had such an ability, we would be able to navigate more speedily and accurately, thus saving both time and supplies. Multiplied over hundreds or thousands of trade and military ships making many voyages a year, the economies involved are staggering. We would additionally avoid such accidents and disasters that have seen many ships lost at sea or damaged by reefs or similar obstacles. Indeed, the interest in finding a way to determine longitude (as opposed to the trivial issue of latitude) has united all spheres of Perplex City.

And all of that is why I reluctantly boarded the PRS Exsuscito today, with three of my most intricate and sophisticated counter-oscillating chronometers. I say reluctantly not out of a cowardly wish to stay off the waves, but beacuse I do not agree with the nature of this expedition. The Academy has decided to take control of the city's Office of Longitude and in typical leck-pinching nature, arranged a single expedition in which the city's best horologists compete against each other to judge whose chronometer retains Perplex City time most accurately.

The foolishness of this is beyond my ability to express. Besides the poor weather and the fact that the Exsuscito is an ageing ship hardly fit for the purpose, my chronometers have not yet been perfected. Why should I be blackmailed into this expedition when even I do not have confidence in my own instruments? Either this is folly beyond normal of what I expect from Academicians, or there is some other agenda here that I cannot perceive.

I have been on board the PRS Exsuscito for seven days now, and I believe I have finally discovered a clue towards the cause of our unexpected course change. Dr. Miyake and I worked together briefly when we were younger, and after I complimented her wok and gave her a few details on what I was doing, she seemed satisfied to trust me.

"I agree that this ship obviously has a mission other than resolving the longitude problem. Being at the university, I do not hear too much from those academicians - why, only last week, they simply strode into my workshop without a moment's -" began Dr. Miyake.

"Yes, yes," I said testily, "I have no especial love for the Academy either, but there is not much space here and I am getting cramped, so if it would please you to get to the point?"

"I was. While watching them inspect one of my clocks, a worker overheard the academicians talking about how they needed to 'legitimise' their expedition in order to reduce supicion," said Miyake.

"Well, that tells me nothing!,"[sic] I exclaimed.

"They also said that the horologists would be required to prevent another fatal accident," she added cryptically.

For once, I was silenced, slowly digesting this worrying development, but I was shortly interrupted by a cry of alarm from above.

Two hours have passed since my last entry, yet I would scarcely believe it has been more than two minutes, if not for my chronometer. The cause of this time dilation was - and is - a pirate vessel.

I initially put this down to a high-spirited jape by a crewman, but upon being handed a telescope by Green, I had to admit that the ship on the horizon did have a very piratical appearance about it, viz. cannons, black and white flag, ghastly figurehead. Green seemed rather excited about the whole thing.

"Avast Kennard, step up smartly! A swab on yonder crow's next sighted those blaggards aft - what say we take those scurvy tars broadside, and show them no quarter!" he said with a flourish.

"Green, this is no time for nonsense. I'm going to find Captain Harrison," I replied.

"Belay that talk! Cap'n Harrison... er... does not want to be disturbed," said Green, evidently having exhausted his entire repertoire of pirate-talk. I looked up towards the quarter-deck to see the Captain conferring with his officers in a state of forced calm. The PRS Exsuscito is no vessel of war, and with horologists being ill-suited to martial pursuits, fighting was not an option. We either had to run or to surrender.

Sure enough, we accelerated, and for the past two hours, the pirates have not gained on us - but neither have we widened the distance. One of the horologists, Fischer, has been arguing with Harrison for some time. I fear it may be related to the black and white flag I saw in his cabin yesterday...