Blackwood Gazette #210- Empress Marcellette Bastian Pledges Support for Julianos’ First Armored Fleet

By Chester Seaton, News

25/1/282- Reports out of Nor Easter this week indicate that Empress Marcellette Bastian of Nor Easter has pledged full financial support for Admiral Alejandro Julianos’ proposed first Armored fleet.

“I, and several other members of the Triumvirate power structure, owe our lives to the decisive actions of Admiral Julianos during the Summit attack,” Her Imperial Grace said in a statement. “It is but a small price to pay to ensure that his new airships can take to the skies and provide the security we so desperately need after having our Triumvirate shaken so.”

In addition to providing Julianos funds, the Empress plans to offer five of Nor Easter’s top Generals and Admirals, along with their army groups and fleets, to the Triumvirate Authority for training. She also plans to help strengthen Nor Easter’s own (decidedly small, compared to Crowndon and Monteddor) military with increased recruitment drives.

Empress Bastian’s newfound interest in military matters has sent shock waves through the governments of both Crowndon and Nor Easter.

“This is a sad day for Nor Easter,” said renowned Nor Eastern academic and philosopher Armaud Celar. “With a single statement, Empress Bastian has completely altered the course of Nor Easter’s focus away from the pursuit of knowledge and understanding to the waging of war, which we haven’t proven to be very good at in the past, mind you. I can only imagine what Crowndon will think of this.”

Celar won’t have to wait long to find out, as Crowndon General Henry McTolliver issued a statement shortly after.

“While I’m sure the Empress’ is being honest when she says she’s worried about the continued security of the Triumvirate, I feel I must remind every citizen of Crowndon that we were recently at war with Nor Easter,” General McTolliver said. “I’m also concerned about the increasing influence of the Triumvirate Authority and the waning dependence on Crowndon to provide security for the skyways. I don’t trust Admiral Stapleton. And I sure as hell don’t trust Alejandro Julianos. Have we so easily forgotten that he was considered a criminal a mere two years ago? Giving him this fleet of advanced armored airships is insanity of the highest degree.”

With the Empress’ pledge, the Authority has increased the number of ships being constructed for the fleet from eight to twelve.

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Blackwood Gazette #210- Empress Marcellette Bastian Pledges Support for Julianos’ First Armored Fleet

Blackwood Gazette #209- Yolanda Desantana Named Monteddor’s Most Desirable Woman

By Alex Grosset, Arts and Entertainment

23/1/282- Look out, Triumvirites…Yolanda Desantana is officially the Most Desirable Woman in Monteddor, according to a random group of people working for what I’m told is a prestigious fashion publication in Monteddor.

The woman most well-known for pretending to be a vapid socialite for most of her adult life before engaging in patricide and leading a ruthless takeover of the Blackwood refining industry that resulted in a brutal civil war that cost countless Monteddorian lives will be featured on the cover of “Moxxxi” this month.

Included in the feature are photos of Desantana wearing the latest fashions designed by Gustavo Frederick-Alanstead Gallardo , as well as an interview:

“People have underestimated me my entire life. Part of that was by design, but it wasn’t that difficult. There are certain expectations of a magnate’s daughter from birth; I simply played those expectations like a mandolin. Most of those who looked down on me from a pedestal are now doing so upside down from a chain in a slaughterhouse, with their necks sliced open and bleeding into a bucket.

“Tee. Hee. Hee.”

Charming.

The article explains the editors’ reasoning as such:

“She’s bold, she’s beautiful, and she’ll blow up your house if you rub her the wrong way. Yolanda Desantana is the owner and CEO of Desantana Blackwood, which pretty much makes her the most powerful woman in the Triumvirate, if not the world (sorry, Empress Marcellette). Not only that, but she governs Monteddor’s Desantana Province with a firm hand and commands the second largest military force in Monteddor, after Alejandro Julianos (with whom she has formed a nearly unbreakable alliance, so his troops are pretty much her troops at this point). Don’t ask her if they’re dating though…the first person we sent to interview her hasn’t woken up yet after doing just that!”

I can’t help but imagine these people in a room, surrounded by Desantana military personal, scribbling out platitudes that don’t come off as pandering. I know I wouldn’t be able to resist a little bit of snark, and I’m amazed that last line was even included. Here’s hoping whoever wrote it still has their fingers.

Blackwood Gazette #209- Yolanda Desantana Named Monteddor’s Most Desirable Woman

Blackwood Gazette #206- Julianos Calls for Construction of New Fleet in Wake of Summit Attack

By Chester Seaton, News

14/1/282- Rumors have been swirling for several weeks now that Alejandro Julianos, High Admiral of Monteddor’s Air Defense Fleets and recent recipient of the Guardian of the Triumvirate Medal, would be meeting with Triumvirate Authority military command to propose a new defense initiative for the Empire. We can now confirm that meeting did indeed take place, and what was discussed.

“The Summit Attack late last year hit the Triumvirate Authority two fold,” said Jasper Stapleton, High Admiral of the Triumvirate Authority. “The physical cost of the attack was nearly a quarter of the fleet’s ships. We’ve had trouble patrolling the borders ever since, and Seylene Plamondon has been getting frisky as a result.

“Even more than the physical cost was learning that our remaining ships are simply not up to the task of going toe to toe with the ships used by our attackers. They were simply more advanced: faster, with longer range weapons and better armor. They were kept aloft by rotors, not by balloons. Such ships shouldn’t even be possible, but they are, and we need to figure out how to match them.”

Such was the brunt of Julianos’ proposal, according to Admiral Stapleton. The Monteddorian High Admiral proposed a new fleet of fifteen ships, built in the same design as those used by the Summit attackers.

“We balked at the idea, at first,” Stapleton said. “Not because we thought it was a bad idea…it isn’t. More important, it’s necessary. It was an issue of cost, in both money and time: research and development, manpower, construction. One ship would take years, we thought. But fifteen, in the time frame Julianos proposed? The Empire would be bankrupt.”

That’s when Julianos did the unthinkable, and ordered a ship to maneuver down from the clouds where it had been hidden.

“That son of a [expletive removed] had already built one,” Stapleton said. “I was floored. I have no idea how Julianos managed it, but he’d built a working prototype. Not only that, but from the plans he provided us, there are several improvements to the design.”

In the end, Admiral Stapleton says that the Triumvirate Authority approved an eight ship fleet to start, to be commanded by Admiral Julianos, making him the first Monteddorian Admiral in Authority history. They plan to increase that fleet by the end of next year, with rotary ships being added to regular fleets over the next decade.

Blackwood Gazette #206- Julianos Calls for Construction of New Fleet in Wake of Summit Attack

Blackwood Gazette #203-Alejandro Julianos Awarded the Guardian Medal for his Heroic Stand at the Summit Attack

By Chester Seaton, News

5/1/282- Thousands gathered in Monteddor City yesterday evening as Alejandro Julianos was awarded the Guardian of the Triumvirate Medal. He was awarded the medal for his actions during the attack on the Arms Summit late last year, actions which protected the lives of many key world leaders.

“The Triumvirate owes its continued stability to you, Admiral Julianos,” Empress Marcellete Bastian stated during her presentation of the award. “Without your quick thinking and endless valor, my life, and the lives of so many, would have ceased. You pulled the Empire from the brink of darkness, and in so doing have given us the chance to prepare for whatever challenges lay in wait.”

The Guardian medal has only been awarded twice in the history of the Triumvirate. The award was created shortly after the Triumvirate’s founding, to the Crowndon Admiral Herschel Engelbrugh, who with a fleet of only four ships held off four separate rebel armies long enough for the Triumph Accords to be signed. The second award was given only a few short years ago, to Sir Rigel Rinkenbach, after the end of the Dividing War. Empress Bastian presented that award as well.

Julianos himself accepted the award in silence, offering only words unheard by the masses gathered to the Empress herself. Whatever he said, the Empress is said to have been beside herself.

After the ceremony, Julianos left the festivities without comment. Rumor has it that he is planning a military proposal that stands to change the entire structure of Triumvirate Authority protocols.

Blackwood Gazette #203-Alejandro Julianos Awarded the Guardian Medal for his Heroic Stand at the Summit Attack

Blackwood Gazette #202- Imperial Edict for the 282nd Year of the Triumvirate

By Sir Alaric Wolstenholme McAndrew V, Crowndon Minister of Propaganda

1/1/282- My dear Triumvirate. I honestly cannot decide whether to laugh or cry, applaud or renounce, shake your hand with pride or shake my head with disappointment.
Once again we find ourselves on the cusp of a new year. And once again, we find ourselves facing numerous new problems, many of which are merely sprouts growing from the ruined stems of last year’s problems.

It is true that we broke the blockade of Monteddor City and restarted the flow of Blackwood from Monteddor to Crowndon and Nor Easter. However, in so doing I fear we have given the perpetrators of that blockade, Alejandro Julianos and Yolanda Desantana, a staggering amount of power that is undesired and undeserved.

Even now, as Julianos prepares to accept the Guardian Medal for his defense of the Triumvirate leadership during the attack on the arms summit late last year, rumor has it that he is pushing for greater military authority and the construction of a fleet to rival Crowndon’s own. I don’t think I need to explain even to the lowliest peasant in the muddiest row of the smallest farm in the Middle of Nowhere why exactly that is not the desired outcome.

And just who are these mysterious forces that attacked us, anyway? A group so nefarious that even the wayward pirate Captain Roderick La Pierre returned briefly to the fold to help defend Triumvirate interests? Who are these miscreants, hiding in the shadows and providing weaponry to every slack jaw hayseed that managed to stumble upon an ideological thought in the barren rock fields of their salted gray matter? Rumors abound, but no proof has been discovered, no solid evidence that they even exist except for the wreckage of a few ships shot down over the Divide, and the fact that we all saw their fleet attack!

It’s almost enough to make me overlook the more minor problems facing our empire. Almost. There is still the matter of Argyle Von Grimm, who nearly tricked our colonies into going to war with the indigenous nations of the Newlands. The Mad Mechanist and his minions are still at large, somewhere, purportedly having taken to the seas or hiding within one of the many archipelagos off the southern coasts of the western land mass.

Speaking of the Newlands, and circling back around to Julianos, just what is he doing in the Deadlands? His ships have been reported going in, and they have been reported coming out…the only ships ever to be confirmed to have done so. Perhaps it is simply the size of his fleet and resources that he has been able to successfully explore the Deadlands and return, but Julianos’ secrecy surrounding the endeavor is disturbing to say the least.

And what of that bastion of chaos and depravity, Libertine’s Roost? Its very existence, ensconced as it is between Crowndon and Monteddor, continues to be a destabilizing influence, but our treaties with the place are iron clad and they have technically done no wrong to warrant our intervention. Still, that we have not heard any further of the fate of Captain Armistan Cadbury, Captain of the Strident Whisper, or the ship itself, remains an open sore on the Triumvirate’s docket of troublesome things, a docket that also now includes increased activity in the south by the Pirate Queen Seylene Plamondon and more reported internal strife between the Sarnwainian provinces of Djidann and Pharassus.

But I’ve already put enough on your plates, dear citizens, without going into that. I wouldn’t want to further frazzle your simple minds as you go about your business, punching your time cards and manning the assembly lines. They are, after all, Crowndon’s assembly lines, and I wouldn’t want your work to suffer. As for those tea sippers and crumpet eaters in Nor Easter, who take great pleasure in discussing the problems of our time without actually doing anything about it, I hope they find it at least a little difficult to enjoy themselves this day.

And so, here we are. We’ve been dealt a new hand, much the same as the last hand. It is a completely garbage hand, but you play what you are dealt, as they say. I have no words of encouragement for you all this year. Quite frankly, I’m surprised we survived the last year.

Good luck to us all.

***

Read last year’s Edict:

Blackwood Gazette #83-Imperial Edict for the 281st Year of the Triumvirate

Blackwood Gazette #202- Imperial Edict for the 282nd Year of the Triumvirate

Blackwood Gazette #197- Mysterious Message Sent to Arms Summit About Impending Attack; Marcellete Bastian takes a bullet for Rigel Rinkenbach; Attacking Fleet Repelled by Alejandro Julianos and…Captain La Pierre?

By Chester Seaton, News

2/10- The world went a little…crazy, this weekend. As the leaders of Crowndon, Nor Easter, Monteddor, and Sarnwain gathered at a secluded location in the Divide, a large fleet of unknown vessels gathered in the canyons below. The objective of this fleet remains a mystery, but if their actions are anything to go by, it was to eradicate the current power structure of the Imperial Triumvirate in one fell swoop.

Luckily, just a few short moments before the enemy fleet of airships rose up around the desert mesa where the summit was being held, security officials received a mysterious wire said to originate from the colonies. The wire warned of the attack, giving Alejandro Julianos, whose own forces were providing security, time to form a defensive perimeter.

Julianos’ ships engaged the unmarked enemy ships, which are said to have been unlike anything the world has yet seen; kept aloft not by balloons, but by complex rotor systems and armored with metal plating. Julianos did an admirable job of keep the ships at bay, despite being outnumbered, outgunned, and possessing what is, as of this weekend, severely outdated technology.

Perhaps it was this advantage on the side of the attackers that enabled them to put several boots on the ground, who stormed the central chamber of the summit building. Once again, Julianos’ ground forces put up a brave defense, cutting down all but one of the invaders.

The would-be assassin burst into the meeting chamber, where all the delegates save for one threw themselves to the ground. The assassin’s target? Presumably, it was one Rigel Rinkenbach, in attendance with Empress Marcellete Bastian. Seeing that the attacker had Rinkenbach in his sights, the Empress bravely threw herself in front of the shot, taking the bullet meant for Rinkenbach and saving the inventor’s life. The Empress is alive, but in critical condition.

Before the assassin could prepare another shot, Julianos’ soldiers entered the room and incapacitated the man. They tried to take him alive, but the attacker bit into a suicide pill.

Meanwhile, four ships remained in the skies above, the others having been destroyed or rendered inert. The attackers outnumbered Julianos’ flagship, Panther’s Reign, three to one.

The Reign seemed to be on its last legs as one of the aggressors prepared for a killing blow, when a shot from a newly arrived fifth ship struck one of the enemy ship’s rotors. The attack left the rotor-ship listing. Julianos’ crew regained their bearing, loaded up their cannon, and opened fire. As the rotor ship drifted, in flames, to the desert floor, a lookout on Julianos’ ship got a good look at the mysterious third party.

“When the ship went down and the smoke and fire faded out, I couldn’t believe what I saw out there, on the horizon, silhouetted against the setting sun…but none other than the Pernicious Platitude, and at its helm, the pirate captain La Pierre.”

La Pierre began to circle the enemy formation, drawing their fire as the Reign reloaded. The Platitude then joined formation with the Reign, and engaged the remaining attackers. Witnesses on the ground described the situation as “completely bat-shit.”

Once the remaining attackers had gone down, the Reign turned to engage the Platitude. However, we are told that Julianos ordered his gun crews to hold their fire. The Platitude then descended into the canyons below, and has not been seen since.

The Triumvirate leadership owes their survival to the mysterious communique they received just before the attack, though no one seems to know who sent it. It ends simply, “PS”. Why a missive would end with notation of a post-script, yet not actually include one, has baffled many. But Rigel Rinkenbach has a theory.

“It isn’t so very hard to understand,” Rinkenbach told us. “PS doesn’t mean post-script! They’re initials, for Pixie Sinclaire! She must have uncovered the plot and, sensing that I was in danger, sent a message! She does still love me! I knew it!”

The Triumvirate authority has stated that they will launch a full scale investigation into these events, starting of course with the identity of the mysterious attackers, though the working theory is that the enemy force is the fountainhead of all the strange weapons that have been found on battlefields around the globe. It’s hard to say what, if anything, was accomplished by the summit, but many doubt the results will be what was hoped for.

***

Man, that’s pretty much the most insane headline I’ve ever written for the Gazette…

Today’s story marks a fairly important turning point for the Blackwood Empire, and the Gazette. It’s kind of the culmination of everything that’s been going on for the last few months, and sets the stage for what I’m calling “Volume II”.

I’ve decided that, after #200, I’ll be taking a bit of a break from the Gazette for a while to revise what I’ve already written and plan out what comes next. I think it’s also time for me to focus on some more long-form work for awhile.

Thanks for reading!

Blackwood Gazette #197- Mysterious Message Sent to Arms Summit About Impending Attack; Marcellete Bastian takes a bullet for Rigel Rinkenbach; Attacking Fleet Repelled by Alejandro Julianos and…Captain La Pierre?

Blackwood Gazette #196- Rebel Leader Dougherty Reported Killed During Attack on Julianos Estate

By Isairo Palantes, Monteddorian Correspondent

29/9-We’ve learned new details about the ground assault on Alejandro Julianos’ estate that took place alongside the air assault over Monteddor City yesterday. While the majority of the city’s defense resources were engaged not only with the enemy aircraft, but several newly reported infantry incursions along the outskirts of the city as well, a small band of rebels infiltrated the estate.

Leading the rebels was none other than the enigmatic Dougherty herself. The rebel leaders’ plan had been to initiate the city wide attack in order pull resources away from Julianos’ defense, and while the distraction certainly thinned the ranks gathered around the military commander’s compound, Dougherty apparently didn’t plan for Julianos’ personal guard.

While Dougherty and her men are said to have made an admiral sprint for the estate’s main building, Julianos’ body guards were able to route the rebels into a small courtyard. Once inside, the body guards cut down the intruders with ease. To add insult to injury, Julianos wasn’t even present in the city, as his fleet prepares to aid in providing security for the Triumvirate Summit this week.

Included among the dead is the rebel leader Dougherty, along with most of her best lieutenants and a platoon sized force of rebel fighters. Upon hearing of her death, the rest of the attacking forces surrendered. Those who laid down their arms were arrested; anyone else was promptly shot.

The Monteddorian military believes that with Dougherty gone, the remnants of her farmer’s rebellion will be easily crushed as it descends into anarchy, an eventuality many intelligence analysts suggest was already on the verge of occurring. This impending collapse is likely the reason why Dougherty made such a large gamble in the first place.

“This is not a day for pride,” Julianos’ representative stated. “Both Julianos and the High King can express only relief that this conflict has reached its end. Perhaps now we may be able to turn our attentions outward and continue to expand Monteddor’s brilliant influence further across both the Triumvirate, and the world.”

***

This would seem to be the end for Dougherty, leader of the Monteddorian rebellion. Or is it?

<dramatic pause>

Find out the truth in the first full-length Blackwood Empire novel, Where, No One Knows, available now on Kindle!

Blackwood Gazette #196- Rebel Leader Dougherty Reported Killed During Attack on Julianos Estate