Art process: creating a poster

In my last story, I made a passing reference to a poster which showed a shark looming up from the deep at some letters. I had sketched out the base of it ages ago, so on Saturday afternoon I started filling it in. I decided to record myself doing so, and both videos are below the fold.

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Interception of an Enciphered Message From Orc-held Territory

Some of my previous stories have involved what would be state-of-the-art radio communication for pre-WW1. While reading up electronic warfare during a slow day at work (or at least, the Wikipedia page on it), I noticed that the earliest recorded instance of this was the Russo-Japanese war of 1905. Just prior to the Battle of Tsushima, one of the Russian cruisers was denied permission to try jamming a Japanese cruiser that had located them. Between that and Drachinifel’s excellent video on the British effort at tapping German radio during WW1…here’s a related story.

World War 1 hasn’t happened in this universe yet, and I’m considering turning it into a long-term, low-intensity conflict. As part of that, the British military have created a unit specifically for monitoring radio and telegraph traffic, known as the “Wireshark Corps”, and some of them are stationed around Connemara to catch any possible radio transmissions from somebody supplying the orcs.

The crackle of static in his ears and the flashing blue light to his left caused Able Seaman Davis to shoot upright from where he had slouched in the wooden chair, his right hand resting idly on the notepad on his workstation. Pressing his left hand to his earphones, he leaned forwards and hurriedly transcribed the short, staccato bleeps and longer creeps in the approved shorthand terminology.

“Found something, Davis?” the Lieutenant asked. He automatically nodded, focussing on converting the shorthand transcription into something more legible. Even as he finished and moved onto translating the dots and dashes into possible letters, something about it started to niggle at the back of his mind. It almost looked as though…

“Sir, I don’t think this is English.” He handed the piece of flash paper over to the Lieutenant, who accepted it with a raised eyebrow that turned into a quizzical frown as he perused the message. Davis glanced over at the door into the main passageway, satisfying himself that it was closed. On the wall next to the door was a poster of a shark looming up from the deep, aiming straight for a stream of letters on the surface. He turned back to his wireless set, listening for any other messages.

“Definitely not. Nor Gaelic, French, German…possibly a cipher,” the Lieutenant mused, reaching for the telephone to the bridge with one hand and pointing with his other at the third person in the wireless room. “Jacobson, prepare a message to the Caledonia. Wireless room to bridge. We have just intercepted a message coming from port. Requesting current bearing and location.” He jotted down the response, acknowledged the current bearing was one hundred eighty-three, and waited. Seconds later, he repeated the apparent latitude and longitude. Fifty-three degrees and thirty minutes west, ten degrees north and thirty-two minutes north.

Jacobson had already finished his draft English report to relay back to the main control station aboard the Caledonia. Glancing over it again, he carefully drew a bold line on either side of the intercepted message and began to translate his draft into Morse.

“You don’t think that was a Fomorian transmission?” Davis asked. Both of his comrades snorted, though he could have sworn that Jacobson had paled slightly. The orcish homeland in Connemara – what was once the Dwarven Homeland Region – wasn’t that far away. In fact, the entire reason that the Wiresharks had been added to the naval cordon on the coast was that somebody was decided it was possible – no, a certainty– that somebody else would attempt to supply the Fomorians by submarine.

Up until that point, he would have thought it completely ludicrous and that they’d be better served tapping the telegraph cables between Norway and Iceland. But with a possibly coded transmission coming from the east – from the orc-occupied coast – it was starting to look as though they were going to earn their hazard pay. At least he wasn’t freezing his arse out on an airship further out like Rob.


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