Project Mortis was a perennial Babkhano-Elwynnese-Shirerithian research project geared towards the reverse engineering and mass production of a viable anti-gravity engine based on old Jasonian technology and recovered artefacts. The programme, subject to technical difficulties, duplication of effort, cost overruns and the sometimes fraught, bloody and treacherous nature of international cooperation, managed to produce two viable prototypes - the Omen Jayatar Gravship and the IRS Kaiser Ayreon. However the costs associated with the production of the two prototypes, the notorious safety record of the onboard Babatom nuclear fission reactors, and the final collapse of the Mango-Camel Pact, saw the Shirerithian military forgo the option of entering into full production. The project was unceremoniously, and in some cases literally, buried and forgotten.
It was an industrial archaeology programme that was so long in its gestation that it eventually became subject to its own industrial archaeology programme.
Nonetheless, the technology rediscovered, pioneered, or generally bodged by harassed engineers from whom the impossible was demanded, when on to pave the way for the development of the 'Gravitational Inversion Rig' developed in Cimmeria at research facilities on the island of Tundrok which would find its way into the designs of Ryker Airships.
The Omen Gravship was the most feared weapon in the arsenal of the Flying Islands of Jasonia. There was literally nothing else quite like it save for the flying islands themselves. However with the downfall, in every sense of those islands, the Omen disappeared from the pages of history and was never recovered.
The Imperium of Menelmacar appropriated the last vestiges of Jasonian Tech and incorporated them into its own designs, which the demonic Sirithil in his hubris also christened an Omen gravship. It is generally held that even though they did, at two miles in length, exceed the originals in scale, the Menelmacari versions were on the whole inferior copies of the original.
A freak navigational mishap during the Skerries "Fluster Cluck" otherwise known as the 1st Lighthouse War, believed to have been caused by a trial batch of the infamous Treesian Red, caused one Menelmacari gravship to come to grief inside the territorial waters of the United Baronies of Treesia, where it formed a small atoll upon which subsequent layers of guano were deposited over the passing of millenia, obscuring the wreck, which Elfinshi shame ensured was omitted from all writen records.
At around the time of the abortive Treesian Apocalypse the local representatives of the Cult of Y'Brekki granted to a consortium of Babkhan merchants the right to mine a certain small but guano rich atoll in the Skerries, presumably under the mistaken belief that since the end of times was at hand it did not much matter who they sold the real estate to even if it was their enemies from the 2nd Lighthouse War.
Due to an unfortunate cock-up in the Celestial Bureaucracy, Treesia persisted after the apocalypse, albeit under a regime of dubious legitimacy, which brought it into the infamous Grand Commonwealth. The Skerries were then brought under an authority which permitted unrestricted access to the Skerries by Babkhan and Karnalian military forces.
During this time reports of Babkhan guano miners dying of radiation sickness were starting to be circulated. In due course a research team from the Commonwealth Defence Research Facility was sent to investigate. The incineration of this team alerted Commonwealth authorities in Shahanshahi-Tara to the existance of something of immense antiquity and value buried under the bird shit.
After several Shirerithian years of excavations, subtle Karnalian explorations and unsubtle Babkhan detonations, the timeworn superstructure of the Menelmacari gravship was attained. Alas the bulk of what remained was in a little better than fossilised condition. However, on the basis of what was recovered by the archaeologists and engineers the scientists of the Commonwealth were able to ponder and speculate.
Some of these speculations led to the Hurmu Gate, an awe inspiring edifice - if somewhat prone to unfortunate bouts of combustion - that was capable of punching a hole in time and space. Not necessarily good for the fabric of the universe, but very useful for the oligarchs of the Commonwealth when the GC presence on Micras collapsed in on itself.
It would be fair to say that most of the work on applying the rediscovered Jasonian/Menelmacarian technology had been undertaken by Karnalian scientists, with the Babkhans merely being willing to take the credit for someone elses work. However this changed when Sarhang Mustafa Horten joined the Commonwealth Defence Research Department (the passage of time had facilitated its promotion from a mere facility to a department of state). A true genius, he accelerated the process of rediscovery, even producing the first working prototype of an anti-gravity levitation device in the modern era. However this prototype was ultimately responsible for the destruction of a small Cyberian island thus abruptly destroying the only extant draft of the treaty drafted by the Raspur Intermicronational Conference, for which we should remain abundantly grateful.
The fall of the Commonwealth facilitated the return of the Kingdom of Babkha to its rightful home on the continent of Eura after a long period of exile on Giess that had been tedious in the extreme and punctuated only by bouts of fighting absolutely everyone at least once. This at last brings us into recent history and the restoration of the Mango-Camel Pact and with it the long-sundered tradition of Babkhano-Shirerithian cooperation.
Omen Jayatar Gravship
Not far from Tymaria City the MoMA and the Babkhan VDS (Vizierate of Defence & Security) agreed to initiate the project to bring a gravship type vessel into operational service. Simultaneously the Yardistan Navy of its own initiative began a programme to develop a navalised version. The MoMA/VDS variant was subcontracted for the development and prototype production phase to Osman Almagro Industries and Elwynn High Tech Enginerring.
Although subject to delays, budget overruns, and unimaginable disasters, the new vessel was completed to the point where it could be subject to testing by a joint Shirerithian-Elwynnese team in the county of Cimmeria.
Although unmanned the prototype, under autopilot from a dedicated control centre in a secure Tymaria City facility, levitated successfully from Wolfraven, and as captured on the imaging equipment of a recon satellite attained a low Micras Orbit before beginning a controlled descent which ended in a successful return to Wolfraven, avoiding active international aerospace and maritime shipping routes.
The Omen Jayatar Gravship underwent works at a secure, SAVAK guarded, Osman-Almagro Engineering facility in Alkhiva Ostans where it was being brought up to its full technical specification. Unfortunately the Euran Cold War and the eventual collapse of Babkha resulted in the destruction of that prototype.
IRS Kaiser Ayreon
The gravship programme was unveiled on Izillare the 4th of Fasmas, 1541 developed from an industrial archaeology programme known as Project Mortis. (One of the few advantages of living in the Soloralists post-apocalyptic future).
The Kaiser Ayreon absconded to Elwynn on Izillare 20 Fasmas 1554 as a consequence of a plot that in no way entailed the Khan of Vijayanagara stealing imperial property under the unconvincing guise of an alien invasion.
For a long time after the Incident the IRS Kaiser Ayreon remained firmly grounded and out of sight in a hanger on the former Z-Site at Caligae which had become a UDF Aerodrome after Elwynnese independence. During the turmoil of those years, the gravship was essentially forgotten by the bureaucracy of the Elwynnese Union, who preferred not to address their inner fear that, after a long period without proper maintenance, the jumble of stolen, recovered and retrofitted Menelmacari and Karnalian advanced design features strapped to a fission reactor of Babkhan provenance had effectively created rather large thermonuclear device close to Caligae.
This changed when Elijah Ayreon announced to the Elwynnese Senate his visionary proposal to use the Kaiser Ayreon to mount an interstellar expedition to the twelve planets of the Yll Exûun star system. As the Elwynnese are not a space-faring nation, the expedition required the services of Natopian engineers and navigators to repair the ship and train up a crew. A number of advisers from the Omni-Tree Corporation were also involved, leading to accusations of contract pork-barrelling' being levelled at the Norse Grand Marshall, Tarjei Einhornsson.
The Zeta Yll Exûun Expedition departed in 1591 under the command of Dr Ola Hughson. It was never heard from again. A number of conspiracy theories abound, that the Kaiser Ayreon never left Micras orbit, that it was incapable of leaving the limits of Micras' upper atmosphere, that the Elwynnese Government concealed the news of its destruction en route to Yll Exûun system or finally that the Expedition, after learning of Elwynn's capitulation to Shireroth, elected to remain on Zeta Yll Exûun rather than return home to a nation that had disgraced itself. There are also those who suggest that, in choosing Ola Hughson to lead the expedition, Tokaray al-Osman had deliberately sabotaged the programme by selecting the worst possible candidate. His motive for doing so are difficult to discern but some speculate that it could have been in a fit of pique at the House of Osman GmBH missing out on the lucrative projects associated with the notorious cash-cow of a programme.
Unfortunately all most all the research data and technical drawings associated with the project to bring the IRS Kaiser Ayreon back into service were destroyed by UDF personnel at Caligae when they learned that Jacobus Loki had usurped the office of Prince of Elwynn after a bitterly disputed election, an event that presaged the end of Elwynnese independence.
Industrial Archaeology Programme
Nonetheless, the existence of the two prototypes was not forgotten by the Coordinated State of Elwynn, which remained unsure of its security after being reabsorbed, much against its will, into the Imperial Republic. On Ermure the 10th of Silnuai in the year 1606, Daniel Simrani-Kalirion, self-appointed Conducator to Prince Nathaniel. Circulated a memorandum detailing the establishment of an Industrial Archaeology Programme (IAP) an initiative of the Council of Eliria to collect and evaluate relevant technologies developed by fallen regimes or else forgotten in the modern era. The IRS Kaiser Ayreon and Project Mortis were the first and second items respectively on the IAP wishlist of items to recover and transfer into the custody of the ElwTech sponsored Institute of Technology at the Eliria Facilities of the People's Academy of Elwynn.
The fruits of the IAP were known in the Gravitational Inversion Rig Mark IV, which was brought into service as His Serene Highness' Ship Liberator (GIR-01). Essentially a rebuild of the original Omen Jayatar Gravship, even down to the retention of redundant features such as the underslung bomb-aiming "gondola". the service life of the Liberator extended to two voyages, the first being a tour of Agningas and the second the provision of air support to a an ill-fated state visit by Prince Nathaniel to Aryasht which resulted in his official death by drowning. Not long after this visit concluded, the Liberator experienced a catastrophic reactor meltdown and crashed into the Arctic ice pack somewhere south west of Leng.
Several expeditions were dispatched to locate and investigate the crash site. None returned.
Pillars of the Fallen: the madness of Grod Malakan
"Tundrok...bloody Tundrok" - Tokaray al-Osman
An IAP employee by the name of Grod Malakan, director of the archaeological expedition investigating the Omen Jayatar test sites in Cimmeria, managed to convince Tokaray al-Osman to put his name forward as Governor of the small island Bailiwick of Thunderrock. Notable members of Grod entourage included a cognitively defective cyborg called Tesla Wattson and an aspiring mechanic, who we must regrettably confirm, was known as Sladen Fringeman.
Things went downhill from there pretty rapidly.
Unfortunately the Pillars of the Fallen were destroyed during the Cimmerian Conflict.
The Gravitational Inversion Rig is an integral part of the technology underpinning the Ryker Airships (RAS) product line including the RAS Kestrel Mk.II and the Eye of Cortallia, the latter of which was rebuilt using schematics for the Pillars of the Fallen taken from the ruins of Tundrok.
As a proof of the concept, Ryker Airships, interpreting the fragmentary design record and few remaining artefacts, successfully built a new variant of the Gravrig which entered Imperial Service in time for the Euran Voyage of Kaiser Dominus in 1643. Owing to the expense and complexity, this Gravrig, christened the IRS Medusa by the Kaiser, remains a unique specimen.