By Ada Herschel, Science and Technology
14/6/282- In what is perhaps a sad reflection of our times, this year’s IIC opened not with an extravagant entrance by Rigel Rinkenbach, or the unveiling of some new intriguing consumer product, but with a presentation given by Crowndon’s head of Military R&D, Major Samuel Ford. Joining Major Ford was one Argathal Gladstone.
Several months ago, we reported that a military team had been sent to Mister Gladstone’s home upon his return to Crowndon. They discovered that he was working on a small aerial device, and the officer in charge remarked on its military applications.
Given the anecdotes about Gladstone’s incompetence and Crowndon’s notorious bullheadedness towards innovation, many, including myself, laughed this development off. But here we are, a few short months later, and the device sat before us on the stage, completely operational.
They had taken Gladstone’s flying ball and turned it into a partially autonomous aerial reconnaissance device. Boasting the smallest camera ever created (weighing at a mere five pounds), and an on-board wireless communications device (technology they said they’d appropriated from a top secret source), Major Ford boasted that the machine would be able to patrol an area of roughly four city blocks and alert nearby law enforcement of suspicious behavior.
The terminology used by the Major sent a shiver down my spine…city blocks, law enforcement…how exactly are they planning to use this device? My worst speculation was quickly confirmed.
“It is our plan to deploy nearly one hundred and fifty of the Gladstone A.R.A (Aerial Recon Apparatus, according to the two inch thick brochure we were given upon entering the auditorium) across the cities of Old Crowndon, Walsh, and Toring within the next six months. More will be added to the fleet and cities across the Empire over the next year. It is a part of a new initiative to use advanced technologies to better ensure the safety of the Crowndon citizen in the wake of the Summit attack last year.”
As horrific as this news was, my mind was equally concerned with several unanswered questions that we weren’t given the answer to. Questions like, how does the automation work, and how does it identify ‘suspicious’ behavior? We have only rumors and speculation at the moment (the most popular being that the automation is powered by technology reverse engineered from Rinkenbach R&D’s Clockwork Butler).
The presentation was followed by the requisite demo. I found myself praying for the sort of hiccup or malfunction that so often marks these occasions. Alas, the device worked perfectly, buzzing over the crowd, snapping a few pictures, and returning to stage. The pictures were developed and handed out as souvenirs as we left the auditorium.
It’s a memory I’ll cherish, I’m sure.