Blackwood Gazette #32: Roderick La Pierre Deserves a Medal

by Eli Kinneany Wilderspin, Editorialist

2/7- Yesterday it was announced that a ‘task force’ was being formed by the Crowndon Air Corps to hunt down and presumably kill the Crowndonian Admiral turned pirate Roderick Beauchamp La Pierre. Personally, I think we here in Nor Easter ought to grant him asylum, and slap a medal on his chest while we’re at it.

After all, if one man could be said to be more responsible for our victory in the war with Crowndon three years ago than Sir Rigel Rinkenbach, it’s La Pierre. Sure, it was Rinkenbach’s planes that ripped apart La Pierre’s fleet, but it was La Pierre’s hubris and stupidity that made that defeat so easy, and so complete.

Had La Pierre not led his ships into the tightly formed mesas of the Divide, he may have been able to spread his fleet out. His ships could have fallen back in the face of our new death machines and re-grouped. As it was, La Pierre made it like shooting fish in a barrel.

And now the news that La Pierre’s little prank with the gold and the fish has caused a severe economic downturn…I can’t help but laugh. This former war hero, Crowndon’s most decorated young officer, has in the end done more damage to Crowndon than we ever could. If I didn’t know any better, I’d say that every Nor Easter man, woman, and child owes La Pierre a debt of gratitude and a hug. But I do know better; La Pierre is a disgusting brute, so don’t do that, lest you catch something.

*Editor’s Note: Mr. Wilderspin’s thoughts and opinions are his own, and do not necessarily reflect those of the Blackwood Gazette, particularly those offices located in Crowndon.

Blackwood Gazette #32: Roderick La Pierre Deserves a Medal

Blackwood Gazette #28: Locust Migration May be Smaller than Previously Feared, Scientists Say

By Chester Seaton, News

25/6- Good news for farmers in Lower Crowndon: Meteorologists in the area are saying that the quadrennial influx of locusts may be smaller than predicted after a meager first hatching.

“We started hearing reports of the locusts last week,” said Humphrey Bretodeau, our meteorology contact in Nor Easter. “Normally, the initial hatching is the worst, but only a handful of farmers claim to be reporting major damage. Our working theory right now is that it is connected to the strange storm still brewing over the Barrier Ocean. It has prevented the four year cycle of an exceptionally warm summer in the region.”

Bretodeau warns against being too relieved, however.

“If the storm breaks, the locusts may still have time to hatch. Farmers should consider harvesting what they can. Furthermore, if the storm does not break, and the eggs remain dormant, we could be looking at a horde of apocalyptic proportions four years from now.”

Still, the news comes as a bit of relief to Crowndon, which has experienced an economic downturn in recent weeks.

Blackwood Gazette #28: Locust Migration May be Smaller than Previously Feared, Scientists Say

Blackwood Gazette #24: Waystation Bravo Goes Dark After Appearance of Massive Storm Over the Barrier Ocean

Barricade_Skyway

by Adella Chatelaine, Investigative Reports

18/6- Dark news today, as reports from air ships returning from the colonies report that Waystation Bravo, one of four airborne outposts that provide shelter and supply to ships making the journey across the Barrier Ocean, has gone missing.

The first indication that something was wrong came at the beginning of last week, when the merchant ship Hewlett’s Pride arrive at the northwest corner of the Waystation system’s circuit.

“We went to sea and waited for Bravo to show,” said Captain Hewlett. “Should’ve been six hours, tops, but it was eighteen hours before a Station appeared. Turned out to be Charlie. Port authority told us they hadn’t heard from Bravo in more than a day.”

After Hewlett made a report to Waystation Charlie’s port-master, frigates were sent to investigate. As part of search protocol, several of these frigates traveled to the center of the circuit. What they found horrified them.

“It’s like some sort of hurricane, except it ain’t moving, and it ain’t getting smaller,” said the captain of the lead frigate. “We’ve got ships out there monitoring the situation. It’s been a week, and there’s been no change, except the storm has gotten larger. We can see the edges now from the other Waystations.”

The mysterious storm has put scientists across the Triumvirate on edge.

“We’ve never seen anything like this before,” said prominent meteorologist Humphrey Bredoteau. “A stationary storm lasting more than a week that doesn’t dissipate, it shouldn’t be possible, but there it is.”

Neither the Triumvirate Sky Authority or Bredoteau are willing to comment that the storm has anything to do with Waystation Bravo’s disappearance.

“We’re looking through transmissions and manifests sent from Bravo to Alpha and Charlie,” said Charlie’s portmaster. “It’s no secret that the Waystations house a large criminal element, and that station Echo is controlled by Alejandro Julianos. I wouldn’t be surprised he landed on Bravo and tried to take it over.”

The large criminal presence aboard the Waystations certainly calls into question the safety and long term viability of the entire affair, but they remain a prime economic link between the Triumvirate and the Colonies, and the Crowndon Air Corps claims that rousting the criminals would likely lead to the complete loss of the stations.

The Blackwood Gazette will continue to report on this situation as it develops.

Adella Chatelaine is the editor and chief of the Gazette’s NorEastern branch and lead investigative reporter. She built her career as a freelancer and is notorious for her hard hitting interview style. When not traveling the Triumvirate looking for a story, she is a fixture in a wide spectrum of NorEastern social circles.

Blackwood Gazette #24: Waystation Bravo Goes Dark After Appearance of Massive Storm Over the Barrier Ocean

Blackwood Gazette #19-Industry Leaders Descend Upon Crowndon Capital for Industry and Innovation Conference

story by Alex Grosset, Arts and Entertainment

10/6-I sit in a darkened coliseum, surrounded by pillars of the Imperial community from all walks of life; military personnel, industrial leaders, respected authors, famous inventors. It’s 1200, and we’ve all been up since five this morning. We’ve been sitting here for three hours, packed in like sardines. It’s hotter than a boiler room in here, and I’m sweating through my note pad. The smell is nigh unbearable.

We’re hoping for a glimpse at the next “New Big Thing”, whatever that is. The presenters would have you believe it’s whatever they’ve come to show us, and there are a lot of presenters. I’m going to be in this seat for twelve more hours, listening to corporate vagaries trying to make out commercial endeavours to be some life changing thing. Right now, I’d settle with someone, anyone, inventing a machine that can keep a coliseum like the one I’m in at a decent temperature. Climate control…do you hear that, inventors of the Triumvirate? Get on that.

The first presentation is from a company called Velcom Technologies. These guys were little more than a start up last year, relegated to a small booth outside the fair ground. Now they’re opening the main stage. They show off plans for a new type of offensive explosive device that is activated by pulling a pin, which initiates a three second fuse. The Crowndonians in the room go nuts. The demonstration is less smooth, as the presenter blows off his own arm on stage. He’s rushed out of the coliseum, which is now filled with smoke.

“Perhaps Velcom should think about increasing the fuse to five seconds,” the host jokes nervously. Thankfully, no one laughs.

The presentations for the next two hours aren’t anything impressive–mild variations and improvements on items we saw last year, or the year before last. At 1300, we’re served rations of gruel. Again, I’d just be grateful if someone announced some sort of complete meal in a convenient bar that I can carry in my jacket pocket.

Finally, we get to the presser that everyone’s been waiting for: Rinkenbach Research and Development.

A group of fifteen women appear on stage, dancers by the look of them. They begin dancing and singing a song about the horizon, laced with lazy sexual innuendos. Rigel Rinkenbach himself appears on stage in grand fashion, lowered from up above by wires. He joins in on the song and dance routine, which culminates in an impressively garish pyrotechnics display. Sparks fall on the ground, but luckily none of them catch, like last year.

The dancers shuffle off stage, leaving Rinkenbach by himself to give the presentation. He looks winded, but other wise he’s as energetic as ever.

So what’s he unveiling? The world’s first commercial Planar Wing Aircraft.

When the plans are unveiled, I hear a loud curse from backstage. Ivan Klankenvroot is the next presenter, and with the recent enmities between him and Rinkenbach, it’s a given what Klankenvroot was planning to unveil. Sure enough, that’s exactly what it is: his own plans for a PWA aircraft. Half of the audience is snoring before the presentation is over.

The final presentation is given by a company I’ve never heard of: Foundation Inc. Their presenter tells us that he has nothing to show, but something to demonstrate, something that will change interior venues the world over.

I hear a clunking sound over head, and rattling coming from strange metal tubes lining the ceiling. After a moment, I’m beginning to wonder if something is wrong. Then I feel it…cold air, descending from the rafters like a refreshing blanket. There it is. That’s it. That’s what I’ve been waiting for.

Then I realize that Foundation could have given its presentation at the BEGINNING of the day.

Alex Grosset is an alum of the Empress University. Born and raised in Oeil de Fleur, he likes nothing more than enjoying a play by night, and ripping it apart by day. He was the first staff member hired by the Blackwood Gazette’s Nor Eastern offices.

Blackwood Gazette #19-Industry Leaders Descend Upon Crowndon Capital for Industry and Innovation Conference

Blackwood Gazette #17: Triumvirate Leaders Unveil Plans for Nautical Super-Prison; Reactions Mixed

3/6-Last week, high ranking officials from the member of the Imperial Triumvirate announced a massive joint project they promised would change the world. This weekend, it was announced that the project is a massive prison for holding ‘special cases and undesirable entities’ from around the Triumvirate.

“Once constructed, the prison will be run by a private organization made up of former Crowndonian and Monteddorian Naval personnel,” said Admiral Derval McTavish. “I myself will be stepping down as Fleet Admiral of Crowndon and assume the role of Chief Warden of the ship.”

The announcement was met with mixed reactions from all corners of society.

“Oh, look. Another prison,” said Samson Aldous, a Sarnwainian exchange student studying at the Empress University in Oeil de Fleur. “The only reason they are building the thing is because their prisons are already full, and their prisons are full because their system does not work. And now they are privatizing it! I bet a Crowndonian came up with it, and no mistake.”

“I think it’s outstanding,” said Elizabeth Dubois, a wealthy merchant from Toring. “We have a huge crime problem here. They like to use my storefront door for shelter from the rain. The nerve of them! Putting those filthy heathens on a ship in the middle of the ocean, and away from rational folk like myself, is exactly what society needs. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have some downsizing to do. Word has it our taxes are going up for some reason. Stupid taxes.”

“I’m concerned,” said one Nor Eastern citizen, who asked to remain nameless. “They talk about ‘special cases and undesirable entities.’ What exactly qualifies as a ‘special case’, or an ‘entity’? That could be anything. Especially if you’re in Crowndon. I’m shocked and ashamed to know that Nor Easter has anything to do with this, to be honest.”

Oculus, self proclaimed ‘Editor and Chief’ of that smut rag The Exhumanor, wasted no time in gloating.

“See! It’s a prison! What did I say?! What did I say, people?! Didn’t I say they’d be rounding us up?! Laugh at me again, why don’t ya!”

We asked several of the Triumvirate’s most well known pillars for comment. As of this printing, only Rigel Rinkenbach as responded.

“I fear all that I can do is shake my head,” Rinkenbach said. “This is a bad idea. I should know; they didn’t ask me to consult. Something is bound to go wrong.”

Blackwood Gazette #17: Triumvirate Leaders Unveil Plans for Nautical Super-Prison; Reactions Mixed

Blackwood Gazette #10: Southern Crowndon Braces for Plague of Albino Locusts

8/5-The southern provinces of the Crowndonian Empire, including the major trading centers of Walsh and Toring, are preparing for an invasion. Not from any human army, but from the hordes of Albino Locusts that descend upon the area every four years.

“They come up here, over the Demon’s Eye from Monteddor,” said Razule Gracia, the owner of one of the largest granaries in the Empire. “They come up here, and they lay their eggs in our grain,* and then they eat the grain. Entire crops are lost. Millions of pounds of gold, lost!”

Not to mention millions of lives. Southern Crowndon has a problem with poverty, and they rely on the surplus grain from farms like Gracia’s to survive.

“It’s always bad,” said a local homeless man who only goes by ‘John’. “Especially for the oldest among us. Every four years, the street population here in Walsh drops. People I’ve known my entire life, just gone. Never sure when it’s going to be my turn.”

Crowndon scientists are unsure what causes the quadrennial influx of the insects, but entomologists and climatologists in the Nor Eastern Empire share a theory.

“It has to do with air currents over the Demon’s Eye Cove,” said Jaques Dullane, one such climatologist from the Empress University. “The locusts reproduce by laying their eggs in the dirt along Monteddor’s northern ridge. These eggs get picked up by the wind. Normally, the currents above the cove intercept these eggs and blow them out to sea. But every two years there’s an event in the Barricade Ocean that causes this current to either shift or disappear altogether, and the eggs are carried into the southern Crowney Provinces, where they lay dormant in the nutrient rich soil. Two years later, there is typically another event that causes warmer than average summers. The eggs hatch, giving birth to millions of the locusts. We’re not sure what causes either event.”

This year marks the end of the four year cycle. So when can Crowndon expect to be covered in locusts?

“Within the next couple of months,” said Dullane.

*Editor’s note: Quotes are printed as spoken…any scientific inaccuracies are the fault of interviewee, not the Blackwood Gazette.

Blackwood Gazette #10: Southern Crowndon Braces for Plague of Albino Locusts

Blackwood Gazette #8: Tensions Rising Over Sarnwainian Development of Combustion Engines

1/5-The Imperial Blackwood Authority is up in arms today over reports that the Sarnwainian Empire has plans to pursue oil based combustion engines.

“If the Sarnwainians figure out how to build an engine that uses their impressive oil deposits, we’re all screwed,” said Authority head Richard Leavensworth. “Over time they would prove to be cheaper than the cost of harvesting and shipping Blackwood for our current steam-based transportation system. Combine that with the availability of Sarnwainian oil versus the limited resource of the Blackwood Grove…the Triumvirate would fall apart. We’re talking about an almost over night shift in economic power and a complete reconstruction of the way the world works.”

Blackwood magnate Marco de Santana isn’t worried.

“Let the Sarnwainians try their combustion engines,” de Santa said. “We tried it once. It didn’t work. The oil gummed up the works. And before it did, the engines were loud, and the fumes coming off the engine choked the warehouse. The citizenry won’t like it once presented with the setbacks.”

The opinions of the citizenry seem to indicate otherwise, however.

“Something cheaper than Blackwood?” one local, who owns a small independent transport company, said. “Sign me up. Costs me six months salary for a chunk of Blackwood to power my little airbus for nine. Maybe one day we’ll ALL be able to afford one of them autos you see the rich folks driving around. People like De Santana, they’re just worried about their own personal wealth.”

Scientists from around the Triumvirate are the most concerned with this development overall.

“In addition to the geopolitical ramifications everyone is prattling on about are the environmental ones,” said Sir Rigel Rinkenbach, of NorEaster. “I was there when we tried our own oil based engine. I even helped design the damn thing! Now imagine a city full of such engines, making noise and pumping black smoke into the air. Say goodbye to the clear blue of the Imperial Skyways, and the immaculate stone work of Oeil de Fleur. No, we must re double our efforts in re-creating the Blackwood formulae, and we must stop at nothing to prevent the Sarnwainians from succeeding. Stay with Steam! Down with Diesel!”

Blackwood Gazette #8: Tensions Rising Over Sarnwainian Development of Combustion Engines