Blackwood Gazette #244-Ivan Klankenvroot Offers Small, Quickly Extinguished Ray of Hope During IIC Presentation

By Ada Herschel, Science and Technology

16/6/282- If there was a presentation at the IIC that I expected might help shuffle off the draconian air of this year’s conference, it was Ivan Klankenvroot. He is, after all, a peer of Rigel Rinkenbach, second only to Rinkenbach in terms of theatricality and bombast. Ultimately, however, such was not the case.

Things started well enough. As the lights went down in the auditorium, a player piano began plinking away at Rautledge’s Deep Sea Aria. Klankenvroot himself descended from the rafters, seated within the subject of his presentation, a small gyrocopter. As it settled on the stage and Klankenvroot stepped out, the audience (mainly composed of tech enthusiasts and writers such as myself) gave him thunderous applause. Not necessarily because we were impressed with the machine, but because we were finally happy to be shown something that didn’t have guns on it for a change (although, if the group of uniformed Crowndonian officers seated in the front row were anything to go by, that could likely change. The officers did not applaud, by the way. They were very serious men, with very serious faces).

Klankenvroot bowed and accepted this adulation, told us that he was glad to be back under the auspices of his new, Nor Eastern patronage (a statement which elicited much grumbling from what I’m assuming were Crowndon natives), and went on to present his machine.

“I’m happy to announce that I have conceptualized, built and, most importantly, SAFELY tested the world’s first commercially viable gyrocopter for personal use, the Klanken-Copter. This small copter is made of light weight, yet triple ultra-strong materials that won’t break the bank (or the bones, should something unfortunate occur) of the average citizen. Imagine taking flight in your very own Klanken-Copter. With the power of flight, you can Break Free of the constraints of the streets and alleys of your cities and towns. Break Free of traffic jams caused by trudging horse drawn carriages, or overheated steam-autos. Break Free of the pressures of time as you fly straight as a crow to your destination with the Klanken-Copter. With the privilege of flight, all such obstacles will be rendered obsolete.

“My personal goal is to make the Klanken-Copter the preferred method of everyday travel throughout the Triumvirate, and beyond. The Klankenvroot Klanken-Copter. Break Free.”

The audience applauded the presentation. I applauded it too, despite having some reservations about the idea of your average dock worker taking off from a pub in a gyrocopter and ‘Breaking Free’ through an apartment window, but such worries were second to my relief. We’d finally been shown something exciting, something ambitious.

That excitement was quickly dashed, however, as the Crowndonian officers took to the stage, presented Klankenvroot with what I can only assume is an extradition order, placed him in cuffs, and led him off stage. I am told they also confiscated the Klanken-Copter (stupid name) prototype.

Outside the auditorium, my already battered hopes broke completely when I saw the crowd of people protesting Klankenvroot’s presentation. Many held up signs calling him a traitor; others called him a murderer, likely referencing the ill-fated and tragic Heisenberg project (a project that Klankenvroot ultimately had little to do with, other than coming up with the idea, but that’s enough for some people, I suppose.)

The crowd was dispersed when Monteddorian troops rolled in. Luckily, the crowd was made up of invertebrates who ran at the first sign of the Julianos sigil. Hell, I ran, and I wasn’t even involved with the mess.

I’m beginning to think I’ll have to write this year’s conference off as a total loss.

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Blackwood Gazette #244-Ivan Klankenvroot Offers Small, Quickly Extinguished Ray of Hope During IIC Presentation

Blackwood Gazette #243- Industry and Innovation Conference Opens with Military Applications

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.

Blackwood Gazette #243- Industry and Innovation Conference Opens with Military Applications

Blackwood Gazette #242- Monteddor City Prepping For Industry and Innovation Conference

By Hunter O’Leary, Business

9/6/282-Monteddor’s capital is bracing itself this week for the next annual Industry and Innovation Conference, where companies across the Triumvirate come together to reveal their grand schemes for the next year.

This year’s IIC is proving to be the subject of much speculation. The Conference’s driving force and founding member for the last near decade, Rigel Rinkenbach, is not expected to show, due to his recent status as a fugitive and enemy of the state. Without Rinkenbach at the helm, many question whether the show will generate the same spark and excitement it has in years past.

The number of visitors coming into the city the last few days should assuage some of those fears, however. Hotels are booked solid across the capital and surrounding areas, and ticket sales are up 2% over last year. Is this uptake the result of this being the first IIC held in Monteddor? Or is it the result of morbid curiosity of people expecting a train wreck? Only time will tell.

Another indication of the size of this event comes in the form of the increased security presence in the area. Law enforcement officials are on nearly every street corner, assisting visitors and keeping a vigilant watch for any suspicious activity. Reports say that nearly thirty people have already been arrested or evicted from the city; most of these arrests involve spirits.

In addition to Monteddorian police, there are air pickets and military checkpoints along the roads throughout Ballantine territory leading from the ports along the northern coast and the borders along Govanna and Nor Easter. The newly formed alliance of ships belonging to Yolanda De Santana, Seylene Plamondon and Johanna McKilroy are said to be patrolling the skies to the south and over the Barrier Ocean, and it is believed they will have a presence over the skies of Monteddor when the conference begins.

The conference is scheduled to begin in earnest on the morning of the fourteenth, and continue through the evening of the sixteenth. Luminaries such as Michel Pertifour, Anaya Stollette, and even Ivan Klankenvroot are expected to attend.

Blackwood Gazette #242- Monteddor City Prepping For Industry and Innovation Conference

Blackwood Gazette #144-IIC Wrap-Up: Is Rinkenbach Rinken-Done For?

By Hunter O’Leary, Business

19/6– In the wake of his disastrous behavior in Greenlille and his less than stellar showing at this year’s Industry and Innovation Conference, the market has begun to question the continued validity of Rigel Rinkenbach’s claim to being the foremost innovator in the Imperial Triumvirate.

Rinkenbach R&D stocks plummeted after the reveal of the Clockwork Butler Mark IV, with many citing that the lack of anything cutting edge in the new model indicates that Rinkenbach is simply resting on his laurels.

“Wow,” said one industry analyst. “Gyroscopes and a creepy voice box. I’m sure the wealthy will be lining up for a clockwork butler with goofy hands that can question their orders and scare the crap out of their children and pets.”

“He’s peaked,” said another. “Today, he’s revealing a feature that could easily be retrofitted onto his current model (and is indeed something many have already done with Mark III’s), and another that no one wants. He’s begun following trends instead of setting them. He’ll soon fade into obscurity, I reckon.”

Perhaps the most shattering thing to people’s faith in Rinkenbach is the fact that he’s disappeared. The Gazette has tried several times to reach Rinkenbach for comment, but no one in his offices seems to know how to contact him. We also have it on good faith that Rinkenbach has not been seen at the Empress’ court, and there are rumors that Imperial Authorities are searching for him as well.

Rumors abound as to the cause of his going silent; some say he might be embarrassed, but those who know him claim such a thing is poppycock. Many have suggested that his sudden disappearance is linked to the rumors that he’s making headway on the Blackwood Dilemma. If so, we wonder, has he gone into hiding for protection? Or has he been silently done away with, to protect the interests of the Desantana Blackwood Refining Company? One thing is for certain, any of these possibilities could hold dire consequences for the Triumvirate.

Blackwood Gazette #144-IIC Wrap-Up: Is Rinkenbach Rinken-Done For?

Blackwood Empire #143-Michel Pertifour Unveils Portable Gramophone

By Alex Grosset, Arts and Entertainment

18/6- After the horrifying displays I was forced to endure during the IIC military presser, I was barely able to scramble across the expo center and find a seat for the Pertifour conference. Pertifour always comes up with new and interesting things, so I was excited.

The reality of what he brought has stirred in me mixed feelings, however. After an extended introduction that would have seemed more at home before a Rinkenbach presser, Michel Pertifour appeared on stage with nothing but a small satchel draped over his shoulder.

“Have you ever walked down a crowded street, with nothing but the inane conversation of your fellow pedestrians and the droning buzz of the city filling your skull?” He asked. “Have you ever wished you could drown it out with the sweet sounds of Alicia Sols soprano voice or stirring overtures of Bethelvart? Well, now you can!”

Pertifour opened the satchel to reveal a small wooden box with a wax disk held in place by a pin. A small needle was positioned over the disk.

“Introducing the world’s first portable gramophone!” he announced. “With his device, you can listen to the greatest oratorios, concertos, and waltzes of our time!”

He reached into the satchel and pulled out a pair of ear horns and three more disks.

“The music can be listened to through these horns, without disturbing those around you. These discs, a new design intended to make better use of space than cylinders, each hold up to fifteen minutes of audio. That’s the entirety of Johann Martz’s opening movement of his fifth symphony, right in your pocket!”

The device was powered by a spring mechanism, which Pertifour winded up. Even though I was in the back row and still had ringing in my ears from the military presser, I could hear the music coming from the horns, which seems to undercut his claim that you could listen without disturbing. It also seems to me that something so loud would cause permanent damage.

Someone in the front row asked if you could adjust the volume.

“No!” Pertifour said, proudly. “And why would you want to?”

He then announced that the portable gramophone will be available next month, with a library of twenty disks, with content ranging from music, to audio plays, to academic dissertations. Be prepared to shell out over one hundred imperions for the device and a disk.

Blackwood Empire #143-Michel Pertifour Unveils Portable Gramophone

Blackwood Gazette #142-IIC Military Conference Brings Out the Big Guns (Literally)

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!

***

Related:

Blackwood Gazette #20: Velcom Rep Calls Demonstration Disaster a “Fluke.”

Real World Inspirations: Albert Bacon Pratt’s Helmet Gun (1916), via weirduniverse.net

Blackwood Gazette #142-IIC Military Conference Brings Out the Big Guns (Literally)

Blackwood Gazette #141-Rinkenbach Announcement Smashes IIC, but Not In the Way Anyone Expected

By Ada Herschel, Science and Technology

15/6- As I entered the coliseum in Oeil de Fleur for this year’s Industry and Innovation Conference, a success story from last year’s conference hung, quite literally, in the air. That success is, of course, the Foundation Inc. interior climate control system. Given that it made the three hour wait between seating and presentation all the more bearable, and that Rinkenbach Industries was the first showing of the conference, I found myself more excited than I have been in a long time for the IIC.

That excitement quickly soured, however, as Rinkenbach hit the stage. The man known for flashy entrances, such as launching himself from a trap door under the stage, or descending from the rafters suspended by wires, or appearing in an explosion of smoke and flame, simply stumbled out from backstage. He was pursued by someone I’m assuming was a PR rep, trying to stop him. When the PR rep realized that thousands of people were watching him, he quickly about faced and headed backstage, throwing his hands up.

“Good evening, Oeil de Fleur,” Rinkenbach said in opening, despite the fact that it was nine in the morning. “And Welcome to Rinkenbach R&D’s IIC conference. We’ve got a big announcement today, that’s going to change EVERYTHING!”

With a flourish of his hands, two buxom assistants wearing sequin gowns rolled out what appeared to be a man on a dolly. I immediately knew what it was…the new model of clockwork butler. Apparently everyone else in the room knew it, too, because when Rinkenbach revealed the mech, it was met with middling applause.

“The Clockwork Butler Mark IV,” Rinkenbach said, his voice more than a little slurred. “I know you’ve all been waiting for it, so, here it is!”

The middling applause didn’t grow any louder.

“Ahem. Alright then. Moving on. The Mark IV hosts a veritable, um, host, yes, of improvements over the popular Mark III, making it the premiere automaton on the market. For instance, new gyroscopic attachments for the arms ensure that your daily tea will no longer get spilled.”

My colleague, industry analyst Jerald Doramus, sat two seats down from me. When I interviewed him after the announcement of the Mark IV several weeks ago, this development was one of two possibilities Doramus offered, the other being a free thinking doomsday machine. Needless to say, Doramus looked relieved.

“That’s really a small thing, however,” Rinkenbach said, continuing on. “For now, the Mark IV is capable of something no other automaton has been capable of before.

“This unit has a name. Francois. Hello, Francois.”

“Good morning, sir.”

The coliseum was deathly silent as the automaton not only spoke, but responded to inquiry.

“Morning? Don’t be silly, Francois. It’s evening.”

“No, sir. It’s morning.”

“Oh, dear, how embarrassing. There must be a glitch in Francois’s time configuration.”

“There is no glitch,” Francois said. “Check your watch.”

This elicited a round of laughter from the audience. I looked again at Doramus. He’d gone completely white, and held his head down in his hand.

The implications of Rinkenbach’s unveiling are shocking. Not only was the voice coming from the automaton of striking clarity and even warmth, but it was adapting to the flow of the conversation. Any reservations that this could have been a put on were laid to rest when seemingly random members of the audience began asking questions. More than a few times, the Mark IV was unable to answer, but one question in particular not only garnished a response from the automaton, but a panicked reaction from Rinkenbach that cut the show short and raises some serious questions about the future of the Triumvirate.

“Is Rigel Rinkenbach working on the Blackwood Formulae, and how far has he gotten?”

“Yes,” the robot answered. “As of this morning he has computed more than fifteen point six five nine three two percent of the formulae, according to his own est—“

The automaton went silent, and I could see Rinkenbach standing next to it with a large box, smoking wires dangling from the bottom, presumably ripped from within the machine

“Thank you, Francois,” Rinkenbach said. “That’s quite enough. Um, thank you all for coming! Enjoy the show.”

Rinkenbach rushed off stage as a deluge of questions were shouted at him from the audience. I, like many other reporters at the conference, tried to set up a one on one interview, but it seems that Rinkenbach has left the city. In any case, the bar has been set for this year’s IIC.

Blackwood Gazette #141-Rinkenbach Announcement Smashes IIC, but Not In the Way Anyone Expected