No one knows the true identity of the last, shadowy figure who boarded their star-ship mere moments before it weighed anchor and set off for the New World, but his Royal credentials were clear enough. He hardly ever spoke, and on the rare occasions when he opened his mouth, he betrayed nothing about his origins, trade, or motivations. Indeed, he seemed to sink into the background to such a degree that many evening conversations between the conspirators were punctuated by startled realizations that, yes, he was still in the room with them, watching and listening. His disquieting stare was difficult to meet for long, and the rest of the men did their very best to avoid it (and him) whenever possible in the cramped confines of the ship’s hold.
In the final hours of the voyage, as the fragmented red terrain of Mars’ eastern frontier loomed beneath their vessel, the Conspirators busily made their preparations to disembark. Amidst the hubbub of shiphands and passengers, Catesby decided that he’d had quite enough of their enigmatic companion’s secretive silence, and roughly pulled him aside into a portside alcove for a private word or two.
However, he had scarcely begun to speak when he realized that a tiny black dagger had somehow appeared in the stranger’s hand, and was pressed uncomfortably against his throat. The stranger leaned in close, his face impassive but his eyes bright, and his next words chilled Catesby to the bone:
“Have a care Catesby; your usefulness has been the subject of much debate in the King’s own council chamber, and if needs be, I have been charged with ensuring that you do not outlive it.”
Even more unsettling than the man’s blade or words was the voice that uttered them: Incredibly, every nuance of Catesby’s rich baritone was coming from the mystery man’s own mouth. It was a mimicry that would have fooled his own mother! Before Catesby could muster a response, the man spoke again, this time in his natural voice:
“As you can see, I am a quick study. His Grace the King has also instructed me to learn who you are and how you ply your trade, against the chance that if one of you should fail in your charge, I might step in and play his part.” He leaned in closer still, and added, “Once or twice, my study has been successful to such a degree that the man I stood in for wasn’t even missed.”
He gave Catesby a moment to absorb his meaning, then explained that his personal Conveyance was also capable of replicating the various functionalities of their own, albeit only one at a time. He claimed to never quite know which ship he’d be piloting whenever he ignited her engines, but that the unexpected nature of the vehicle was part of its charm.
Satisfied that Catesby had received his message, the stranger withdrew his dagger and made to return to the main hold. “And how shall I refer to you, if you are to be my keeper?!” Catesby called after him angrily.
At that, the stranger smiled to himself, and replied:
“I am Fortune’s fool!”