Vol 4: A Frenchman on Mars
Seraphin and his aethership make it to Mars and find a world teeming with strange life forms and weird versions of aetherite that solidify after you walk through a seeming puddle. Searching for the previous Prussian expedition turns up no survivors, including Seraphin’s father. But Gubbard reveals the true nastiness of his plan to get Seraphin and the others to agree to go to Mars in the first place, and it is steeped in deception! Seraphin is wounded and wakes up abandoned by his fellows. He stumbles upon what he thinks is a winged beast, badly injured, but still he feels the need to save the creature from being a feast to other beasts. The creature ends up being a prominent figure in a fractured Martian society, one half dying out, the other exiled to the desert.
The beginning of this wraps up the storylines that happen around Christmas time, then launches into a new story arc - Takane’s grandfather is frustrated that Takane won’t give him details about how his relationship is going with Hana. He decides he’s spoiled the kid too much, so he takes away all his stuff: freezes his accounts, sets him up in a shoebox of an apartment, gives him two cheap suits, and around $91 to live on for the month. He says Takane must climb back up to the top from the bottom to prove himself. Takane is so embarrassed by his new situation that he refuses to see Hana. But, based on the advice of her friend Okamon, Hana takes a page from Takane’s book and decides to pester him for a change.
France continues to decay as the royal family amasses an amazing amount of debt, and the citizenry refuses to acquiesce to more taxes until an Estates General is called. Oscar’s father decides he will marry Oscar off to a wealthy noble, and claim a male child of Oscar's as his heir, but Oscar will have none of it, and sabotages the arrangements. The people of France demand the king reinstate a minister of finance who was sympathetic to the plight of the commoners. As the Estates General Meet and try to erode the power of the king even more, Louis I’d advised to bring in the military to squash the rumblings of the Representatives from the Third Estate (commoners). Oscar is torn apart by her sense of duty to follow the orders of the king and the military’s goal of protect her countrymen.
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