By Alex Grosset, Arts and Entertainment
16/6- Only one thing went through my mind as I found myself seated (in the front row, no less) of the Industry and Innovation Conference’s military technology presser: this must be some sort of prank, right? Surely, the editor of the Oeil de Fleur office was waiting in the wings to tell me he was just having a run at me, and tell me that I could leave and get in line for the Pertifour showing. Alas, no such shoe dropped, and thus I was stuck there, surrounded by Crowndonian troglodytes.
In any case, the show. The conference started off with a very loud bang, one that left my ears ringing for the rest of the day, as Stravaski Arms (formerly Velcom, re-branded after that hand grenade debacle last year) wheeled out a new gun-helmet.
“Whatever you look at, you can shoot!” said the presenter with blood thirsty fervor, a nervous looking demonstrator standing next to him with the gun helmet strapped to his head. “You simply turn your head toward the target and blow into the triggering tube. Your breath of life then inflates a bladder within the helmet, triggering the mechanism and ending the life of whatever unlucky [expletive removed] just happens to fall under your gaze. A demonstration!”
The demonstrator looked to his left, at a Chernoskian rat-monkey locked in a nearby cage. He blew into the tube, and I waited for the rat-monkey to disintegrate in a red, pulpy mist. Alas, the recoil from the helmet knocked the demonstrators head back, and the bullet went ineffectually into the wall. The presenter made a nervous joke about working out the bugs, and the curtain fell to sporadic applause.
Next up, Hornsower’s International rolled out a wagon covered in strip fed, crank operated monstrosities. What appeared to be a blanket covered the bottom half of the wagon. The man next to me snarked something about ‘skirts’. Very droll, I’m sure.
“What you see here, is nothing new,” the presenter said. “Battlewagons have been a part of the battlefield for hundreds of years, but as anyone who fought at the Battle of Des Anges can tell you, getting them where they need to be over terrain blasted by craters and littered by the soulless husks of your fallen enemies can be a chore. We at H.I. believe we’ve overcome that obstacle.”
The blanket was dropped and the bottom half of the carriage was revealed. There were no wheels on the carriage, not in the traditional sense, but metal tracks wrapped around a complex series of gears. The crowd went nuts.
“Introducing the Hornsower repeating track system. A battlewagon equipped with these is guaranteed not to get a wheel stuck in a hole, or its front end lodged in a trench. Get your guns and your men where they’re needed most with Hornsower!”
The presentation ended and the rest of the presser went on in a manner I’m sure most of these military conferences go…new models of guns, improved jacketing of ammunition, more potent gun powder. It all blurred together into a feverish mish mash of death and smoke filled zealotry. I doubt the smell will ever come out of my suit. But there it is, dear readers. THE FUTURE!
Real World Inspirations: Albert Bacon Pratt’s Helmet Gun (1916), via weirduniverse.net