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

Blackwood Gazette #195- Julianos’ Crack Pilots Engage Rebels in Epic Dogfight Over Monteddor City

By Isairo Palantes, Monteddorian Correspondent

28/9- The skies above Monteddor’s capital erupted in a storm of flame and metal today, as the remaining number of Dragonfly Aircraft stolen by the rebel leader Dougherty attacked. Military commanders say that the fighters were targeting a number of Julianos warships stationed in Skydock above the city’s northern airbase.

The attack came just after dawn, as the airships in question began loading up on munitions for their next deployment. The newly loaded munitions, stored on the top deck of the ship before being moved down below, offered an enticing target to the rebels.

The stolen fighter planes managed to strike the payloads of two of the six warships, igniting the munitions and sending the ships crashing into the air yard below. One of the downed ships crushed a hangar where food and medical supplies were being stored.

The rogue aircraft were about to engage a third ship, when a squadron of Monteddorian fighters from a base on the west side were scrambled and moved to engage. This squadron was none other than the elite “Flying Panthers” fighter squadron, a group of elite pilots assembled for the sole purpose of hunting the rebel planes. At the head of the formation was none other than Captain Anassia Degadas herself.

Witnesses on the ground say that the fight between the Panthers, outnumbered two to one, and the rebel fighters was an astonishing sight to behold as the two groups swarmed around each other, trading shots and outmaneuvering one another until finally the Panthers were able to corral the attackers into a tightly packed, nearly wing to wing formation. Once this was accomplished, the fight was over in seconds.

We are told that the Panthers did not engage in the same ‘playful’ behavior as their last encounter with the rebels, going instead for quick kills. Only two of the rebel fighters were able to break away from the fighting, but Degadas and her wingman gave pursuit and shot both planes down.

In addition to the aerial attack on the air base, we are told that a small group of rebels engaged in a simultaneous attack on the personal compound of Alejandro Julianos. Details on this attack are scarce at the moment, but it is believed that all combatants were either captured or killed, and that they intended to target Julianos himself, who is said to have been in the city on personal business. More as it develops.

Blackwood Gazette #195- Julianos’ Crack Pilots Engage Rebels in Epic Dogfight Over Monteddor City

Blackwood Gazette #194- Second Julianos Expeditionary Arrives in the Colonies, Heads Directly Into the Deadlands

By Chester Seaton, News

25/9- The second wave of Alejandro Julianos’ expeditionary force arrived in the colonies last week. Unlike the first wave, which landed in the Monteddorian colony of Sal Diello, the second wave headed directly over the mountains into the Deadlands.

Citizens of Sal Diello claim that a small team of scientists from the first wave have set up a workspace in an old warehouse on the shore, which they report maintains a twenty four hour work cycle. They also say that ships come up the coast bi-weekly to drop off and pick up supplies and personnel.

The Julianos scientists are said to come to town often for R&R, and while they have no qualms about mingling with the colony’s citizens, they are reticent about discussing their work. However, they tell us that one night a team member got deep into his cups and began describing an “impending event that will soon change the way the world works, that will rearrange the current structure of power and economic balance, and will completely change if not erase the current borders of the Empire.” Or something to that effect.

Said staff member has not been seen in town since.

In any case, Julianos’ interests in whatever lies south of the mountains and in the Deadlands remains a source of mystery and, for many, concern. This is the first report we have of an expedition entering the mysterious Deadlands and returning. Rumor has it that the Triumvirate Authority and ruling bodies of Crowndon, Nor Easter, and Monteddor are very concerned about what has been discovered.

Even Monteddorian High King Mario Adallantes, who many believe to be nothing more than a puppet for Julianos, has been reported as suggesting the possibility of reigning Julianos in and demanding an explanation for his activities.

As always, Alejandro Julianos himself could not be reached for comment, and even his spokesperson declined to make a statement, hinting very strongly that the Blackwood Gazette had been blacklisted by Julianos following our recent reports on the disappearance of Andoni Saldazar.

Blackwood Gazette #194- Second Julianos Expeditionary Arrives in the Colonies, Heads Directly Into the Deadlands

Blackwood Gazette #184- Julianos Unleashes New Squadron of Ace Pilots Against Dougherty Rebels

By Isairo Palantes, Monteddor Correspondent

2/9- After several devastating defeats at the hands of Dougherty’s rebel movement, the Monteddorian military scored a decisive victory this weekend in the skies above Salasan.
After receiving reports that five of Dougherty’s captured Dragonfly fighter planes had been spotted in the area, the 2nd Monteddorian Air Squadron, nicknamed the “Flying Panthers” to denote their loyalty to Alejandro Julianos, took to the skies and destroyed the scouting party. Witnesses on the ground say the fight was brutal.

“They lived up to their name, that’s for sure,” said a farmer, who was tending his field when the fight went down. “One minute, there’s just these five planes flying low, like nobody’s business. The next, these ‘Flying Panthers’ as you call them came swooping out of the sky firing their guns. The whole thing should have been over with right there, but the Panthers weren’t shooting to kill. First, they crippled the planes. Then they took turns ripping them to shreds.”

The squadron is commanded by captain Anassia Degadas. A veteran of fifteen years, she was personally tasked by Julianos with putting the squadron together in response to Dougherty’s recent attacks.

“When the high military commander of Monteddor asks you to do something, you do it quick and you do it right,” Degadas told us. “So that’s what I did, hand picking the best pilots I’d worked with over my career. There was still a lot of training to do, what with the concept of these fighters being such a new one and all, but they took to it like true birds.”

When asked about the supposed brutality of the fight, Degada says she wanted to send a message.

“I want Dougherty to know who we are, and what we are capable of,” she says. “I want her to know that my pilots are out there, looking for hers. And I want her to know that she’ll never see us coming. Her moment in the skies is over. These are MY skies, and any trespasser will be picked apart by the claws of the Flying Panthers.”

**

Author’s note: Sorry for the recent irregularity of my posts, guys. I work in retail, and my hours have started getting crazy lately as the heavy release season starts, and are likely to get crazier the closer we get to the holidays.

Also, every now and then I look at a headline I have coming up and find that I’ve already covered that particular topic or development in another post, and that leaves me scrambling to come up with something new. I try to plan ahead, and I still have about twenty headlines left in the hopper, so that makes things easier.  I’m also working on revising a short story, so that cuts into my writing time as well. On top of that, I want to go back and revise the Gazette up to this point to clean up any errors that may have cropped up over the course of the last year and a half (there’s a bunch), and maybe release it as a compilation (either for free, or for a very low price…I’ll gladly consider any input from others who’ve done this before).

But stay tuned! The road to Gazette #200 is sure to be a twisty-turny one, indeed!

Blackwood Gazette #184- Julianos Unleashes New Squadron of Ace Pilots Against Dougherty Rebels

Blackwood Gazette #183- World Leaders Call for Summit to Discuss Appearance of Advanced Weapons Being Used by Rebel Movements

By Chester Seaton, News

28/8- The Thankaen Coup. The Ganborran Uprising. The Plasty Meridian Crisis. The attempted assassination of New Crowndon Governor Ancroft. All of these incidents, despite being otherwise unrelated, have one common thread: in each case, the aggressors involved used highly advanced, semi-automatic rifles of unknown make or origin. While not necessarily a new technology, semi-automatic weapons have up to this point been a rarity, due either to pricing or the outright restriction of their manufacturing and sale by the governments involved.

“The sudden appearance of these weapons in the hands of dissidents around the globe is alarming,” said Lord General Johnathan Gorsky, the supreme commander of Crowndon’s military and one of its highest ranking oligarchs. “In many cases, the military units facing these weapons are still using flint- or even matchlock muskets. That such large quantities of these weapons could be manufactured without someone noting the diversion of resources and shipped to all corners of the globe while slipping past inspection pickets could potentially tip the scales of global power if unchecked, and is cause for everyone to worry, be it the colonies or Sarnwain or even the Triumvirate itself.”

In response to this growing crisis, Lord General Gorsky has called for a gathering of world leaders, including himself, the Nor Eastern Empress Marcellette Bastian, the Monteddorian High King Mario Adallantes, and Alejandro Julianos. Representatives from the Triumvirate colonies and the Sarnwainian Kingdoms are expected to attend as well.

“The aim of the summit will be founding a unified focus on the manufacturing and supply of these weapons,” the Lord General said. “We will take stock of current evidence and hopefully be able to follow the chain right to whomever is making these rifles.”

We asked Lord General Gorsky what he thought of the current leading theory, that the infamous bandit leader and Mad Mechanist, Doctor Argyle Von Grimm, was the instigator in this crisis.

“I can only theorize,” said Gorsky. “So don’t quote this as fact, but I believe Von Grimm, if involved, is merely one link in a chain being pulled by something, or someone, much larger and nefarious. However, I do not believe him to be the mastermind.”

The summit is expected to be held sometime next month, at an undisclosed, neutral location.

Blackwood Gazette #183- World Leaders Call for Summit to Discuss Appearance of Advanced Weapons Being Used by Rebel Movements

Blackwood Gazette #181-Political Scholar Andoni Saldazar Stripped of Tenure, Disappears

By Isairo Palantes, Monteddorian Correspondent

26/8-Two weeks after giving an interview to the Gazette speaking out against Alejandro Julianos’ activities in the colonies, it has been reported that Andoni Saldazar, a respected political scholar and professor at the University of Monteddor, has been stripped of his tenure. He has not been seen since clearing his office and leaving the campus.

The dean of administration at the university denies that Saldazar’s termination had nothing to do with his remarks.

“This has been a long time coming,” the dean told us. “While his recent comments were troubling, he has for years been undermining the structure of the university and trying to disrupt our curriculum, proposing extreme changes to not only what is taught, but who we should teach and on what basis students should be accepted.

“His behavior as well was troubling. Whenever something didn’t go his way he’d lock himself in his office and refuse to teach. On more than one occasion he left the city without informing anyone, sometimes for days at a time. I wouldn’t be surprised if his current disappearance is one such sojourn.”

However, a close friend of Saldazar, Halma Lucia Llavarado, thinks something else is afoot.

“The dean told you he never told anyone where he was going, but that isn’t true,” Llavarado said. “He always told ME. In fact he often spent that time with me. He hasn’t this time. Not a letter, or a transmiphone message, or anything. I fear that something terrible has happened, and I think a certain party might be behind it.”

While Llavarado refused to say who this certain party is, many who know Saldazar believe it is Julianos. It wouldn’t be the first time the disappearance of a political dissident has been laid at Julianos’ feet either, though it would be the most high profile.

Blackwood Gazette #181-Political Scholar Andoni Saldazar Stripped of Tenure, Disappears

Blackwood Gazette #178- More Julianos Ships Depart for Newlands

By Isairo Palantes, Monteddor Correspondent

13/8- Despite suffering two major military losses in the last month, the commander of Monteddor’s military forces, Alejandro Julianos, seems to be doubling down on his expeditionary forces in the colonies.

A second flotilla of ships left port earlier this week, heading west over the Barrier Ocean. Unlike last time, the Julianos camp acknowledged the departure with a brief statement.

“We are supplementing our initial force in the colony of Sal Diello with a further ten ships and over 100 personnel,” the statement read. “As for recent criticism directed at Julianos alleging that he has pushed aside the war with Dougherty to pursue some frivolous endeavor in the Newlands, such worries are unfounded. The peoples of the Monteddorian Empire must have faith that the Newland Endeavor is in their best interest, and that Julianos is fully able to oversee both the expedition and the war.”

The statement has left several critics of Julianos, most notably political scholar Andoni Saldazar, either scratching their heads or outright angry.

“This is a man who has no respect for his people,” Saldazar said. “He asks us to take it on ‘faith’. Faith! Julianos is just a man…an extremely powerful man, but a man nonetheless, who came to power without the benefits of political experience. If he would just pull back the veil of secrecy concerning what he’s looking for in the Newlands, it would go a long way to assuaging the concerns being leveled at him. But no, we are expected to accept his allocation of military resources to some unknown side project overseas while Blackwood facilities are burning and the citizens of Monteddor are dying.”

Saldazar says that he is in contact with several other prominent names in Monteddorian academia, and that they plan to petition an audience with High King Mario Adallantes to discuss reigning in the military commander or seeking Triumvirate Authority intervention, though many believe that Adallantes is no more than a puppet.*

*It should be noted that this is not a sentiment officially endorsed by the Monteddorian branch of the Blackwood Gazette. The Gazette does feel, however, that it is an important point of view in these events.

Blackwood Gazette #178- More Julianos Ships Depart for Newlands