From the Journal of Sir Rigel Rinkenbach, circa January, 281st Year of the Triumvirate

Curse whoever decided to rest the future of our great society on the Blackwood grove!

Oh, wait. That was me. I can’t rightly curse myself, now can I? I could, I suppose, but why would I want to? I must find someone else to blame.

Perhaps I should blame that infernal automaton that announced to the world that I was working on the formula at the Industry and Innovation Conference. But who built the automaton?

I did, and I presented. And I let the audience ask it questions. So that won’t do.

I could blame that idiot in Des Anges for letting Nor Easter on to my trail. Then again, I was the idiot that trusted him. So once again, the blame rests squarely on my shoulders, down along that path.

What of the Empress’ protection detail? The ones that were supposed to watch my every move? Marcelette had taken it upon herself to jump between an assassin’s bullet and myself…and therein lies the problem. She’d been trying to protect ME.

Me, me, me. The blame all lay on me. Rigel Rinkenbach, the most brilliant alchemist and inventor in the Triumvirate, sole heir to the knowledge of Blackwood transmogrification.

The sad fact remains, that there is no one to blame for my incarceration on this humid rock in the middle of the Pyrossi Ocean other than myself. And there is nothing for me to do but dwell on that fact.

Oh, I suppose I could try focusing on my studies. These pirates holding me, charged by some unknown benefactor with keeping me in check, have provided me with substantial, if rudimentary, materials for working on the Blackwood formulae. My heart isn’t in it, however. I’ve no absinthe, no feather bed. My prized baby grand sits in a decrepit apartment in Oeil de Fleur, no doubt gathering dust.

The only concession to my comfort that these brutes have given me is young Gossamer IV, an owlet of the local variety. And a noisy variety at that. I might consider letting this one go of my own accord, but I’m unsure the thing is even capable of flight.

I believe the one thing holding me back from my formulation, however, is my conscience. Yes, despite the public perception, I do have one, and with no knowledge of who it was that has kidnapped me and pressed me into their service, the inconvenient thing has made itself known.

“You really shouldn’t be making this for these people,” it says to me.

“Why?” I ask it, trying to focus on my ‘scientific’ implements.

“Because these people are bad,” it replies.

“Bad? What does that even mean? Who decides who is bad?”

“You do,” my conscience says. Well, I can’t really argue with myself, now, can I? I am a genius, after all.

***

Something is happening outside. It sounds like some sort of attack! Finally, something exciting in this place!

It began with an explosion somewhere along the north western perimeter of the old fort these pirates are using as their base. Pirates, lacking any reckoning for subtlety or grace, are currently racing across the yard with sword and flintlock drawn. Even one of the two guards outside has run away toward it.

Brutes, all of them, to fall for such an obvious diversionary tactic.

Oh! Is someone effecting a rescue for me? That would be fantastic. In my studies, I’ve created no less than thirty two varieties of highly unstable Falsewood. I suppose I could whip up a quick batch using Gossamer IV’s bones…no, I couldn’t. I’m not particularly fond of this particular owl, but I will not murder it, not even to save myself.

Whoever it is storming the gates of this place obviously knows what they are doing. I’ll just sit back and wait.

***

Hello! *cough cough* Ack. Let me knock away some of this dust. Just thought I’d drop a little something something onto this blog. The above is presently the first couple of pages of my new project, a novel with the working title of “The Ballad of Rigel Rinkenbach and Pixie Sinclaire”.

I say they’re ‘presently’ the first pages because I’m currently in the very early stages of ‘let’s get the the ideas on paper, and worry about specifics later’, so I’m not sure the above will even make it into the final draft. I haven’t even decided what POV to use for the book yet. I thought journal entries, like the one above, but that often leads to weird scenes where shit is going down and the character is writing about it, rather than trying to stay alive (PUT THE CAMERA DOWN, YOU FOOLS!). The alternative is to have the character write about it after the fact, and that always comes across as passive. I may just settle on a standard first or third person format. I’m currently leaning toward first, because it’s similar to the journal idea while letting the characters be present in whatever events are unfolding. I also enjoy being in these people’s heads for some reason. Not sure why, they’re all completely bat-shit crazy.

In any case, that uncertainty is what makes a new project exciting! At least for me, anyway, from the writer’s perspective.

I hope to have the thing done by the end of the year, taking a break every now and then to post an excerpt or maybe a short story. The main issue I’m facing right now is that I’ve got three years worth of material to expand upon (much of which is stuff I’d forgotten about, like that Racing League story, or that thing with the albino locusts). The last month has been spent researching my own work to nail down the timeline between Rigel’s breakdown in Greenlille and his little adventure with Pixie in Sarnwain….and you have no idea how fucking weird it was for me to realize and admit that. I hope it doesn’t come off as self indulgent. It did, didn’t it?

*awkward pause*

Speaking of short stories, I’ve got one in the hopper. It’s pretty much done, but I wanted to do an illustration for it. Problem is, I’m not an illustrator, so producing a image I’m happy with takes FOREVER. Hopefully I’ll have it ready in the next couple of weeks).

At any rate, thanks for letting me ramble, and I hope you’ve enjoyed this little aside. More to come!

Advertisements
From the Journal of Sir Rigel Rinkenbach, circa January, 281st Year of the Triumvirate

Blackwood Gazette #254-Recovered NESS Operative ‘Confirms’ Deaths of Rinkenbach and Sinclaire

By Chester Seaton, News

10/8/282-In the week since a Pharassus military flotilla bombarded an ancient and historically valuable ruin, Triumvirate Authority officials have been picking through the rubble trying to piece together what happened. The Authority has now announced a breakthrough.

The sole survivor of the ground team on site, one Gerard P. Shanahan of the Nor Eastern Subterfuge Society, was recovered this weekend, camped in the valley near the ruins. Along with Shanahan, two bodies were recovered.

Shanahan claimed that the bodies belonged to the fugitives Pixie Sinclaire and Rigel Rinkenbach. An authority medical examiner confirmed that the bodies (which were reportedly too badly damaged to make an authoritative identification) were consistent with that of a Triumvirate woman and a man of Sarnwainian descent, both in their mid to late twenties, a description consistent with the pair.

The military of Crowndon, however, has several doubts on this story. For one, Shanahan is a known associate of both Rinkenbach and Sinclaire. Two, there is no one left to dispute his claims. Finally, it is said that the medical examiner in question was Nor Eastern, and was in fact appointed by the Figurehead Marcelette Bastian.

Despite Crowndon’s doubts, the Authority and Nor Easter both have officially declared Rinkenbach and Sinclaire dead. And despite the crimes both are accused of, the remains will be laid to rest in the Nor Eastern Imperial Memorial Cemetery, for their service in the Dividing War.

In Crowndon, many military units had planned to celebrate the deaths of two of our Empires most hated enemies. However, the military leadership has ordered all units to standing duty in order to prevent such displays.

“This whole thing reeks of a cover-up,” said Lord General Johnathan Gorsky. “We have nothing but Nor Eastern assurances of the pair’s demise. And Sarnwain still doesn’t have the answers it wants concerning Rinkenbach and Sinclaire’s actions. This isn’t over, I can guarantee that.”

Blackwood Gazette #254-Recovered NESS Operative ‘Confirms’ Deaths of Rinkenbach and Sinclaire

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.

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

Adella Chatelaine Reports #001-In the Shadow of Klankenvroot: A Tale from the Gutters of Crowndon

They’d all pull us up, then spend the rest of their days knockin’ us back down, reminding us every step of the way that we got by on their pity and conveniently forgetting the fact we were down here because of them in the first place. I figure you might understand a little of that, Miss Chatelaine.

Earlier this month, the city counsel of Crowndon’s capital, Old Crowndon, held a low key memorial for the victims of the Heisenberg catastrophe. One might be surprised to hear that this memorial ever occurred, seeing as how it had not been reported on until now. But I, for one, am not surprised that the Oligarchs kept the event under wraps.

As a matter of fact, it surprises me that such a memorial even took place at all; the disaster, after all, is still a sore wound for Crowndon’s national pride that rivals, or perhaps even exceeds, the military loss against Nor Easter five years ago. Indeed, the effects of the disaster can still be seen throughout the city.

None of these effects is more visible, yet overlooked, than the shanty town that has sprung up around the base of the old Klankenvroot factory (rebranded as the now defunct Crowndonian Ministry for Planar Wing Research and Development after it was taken over by the government). Thousands of former Klankenvroot factory workers found themselves without a place to turn after the disaster, and so huddled beneath the shadow of their former place of employment, constructing shacks of old wood and sheet metal.

While the entirety of the town is one of sorrow and misfortune, the harshest depths of this place lay within the area known as the Gutter, an area that extends down into the dry docks on the western end of the factory grounds. It is here where those unwanted even by the denizens of the shanty town eventually end up: the elderly, the sick, those crippled by the factory’s machines, and perhaps most tragically of all, the abandoned child laborers and orphans of workers who died on the factory floor.

I had a run in with one of these wayward children not long after entering the Gutter, despite protestations from my escort. She was an adolescent girl by the name of Vertiline Torp who tried to steal my photographer’s camera. The attempt was shamefully humorous, as the camera is a bulky thing and when the girl tried to snatch it, the camera stayed in place and her feet flew out from under her.

Realizing her mistake, Vertiline ran. I managed to track her to where she lived with her brother, a younger child with a lame leg. It took some convincing but I managed to get her to talk to me.

“I’ll talk to you,” she said. “But only you. Your copper friend and the man with picto-box have to stay outside.”

The officer escorting us grumbled at the conditions, but agreed to stay outside as I followed Vertiline into her home. It was a crudely thrown together structure constructed of discarded wooden pallets against the side of the dry dock’s wall. Space is limited in the Gutter, but Vertiline and her brother had made due by digging into the wall.

“Tisn’t much, but it’s dry and it stays warm at night,” Vertiline told me. “And there was a pipe in the wall, runs clear up to the top, so we’ve some sort of ventilation. I’d like to say I knew it was there, but it wasn’t. Just a small bit of fortune I guess.”

“Crowndon is kind,” her brother interjected, to which Vertiline scoffed.

“Crowndon ain’t never been kind, not to the likes of us. I look at that damned pipe every night and wait for that small bit of fortune to bite us in the arse.”

She told me that her mother died giving birth to her brother, Pigott. An all too common story, she said.

“He wasn’t turned round the right way, and they couldn’t get mum help in time. Pigott never could wait. Always been impatient. That’s why his leg got mangled.”

Their father worked for Klankenvroot, and they rarely ever saw him.

“Guess you could say we was orphans long before he ever died. One day he went to work, never came back. But I know he’s dead. Saw Old Turner wearing his ring one night.”

She held up her hand to show me a ring, a simple gray band made of chipped tin. I asked her how she got the ring back.

“None of your business,” was Vertiline’s answer. So I asked how it is that she gets by.

“Thems up top all call us the Gutter Rats,” she told me, as if that was answer enough. I suppose I had enough confusion on my face that she expounded on her own. “You know anything about rats, Miss?”

I’ve had my share of experiences. I try to remain objective about their nature.

“Rats are survivors, yeah? When a ship goes down, they tells you to follow the rats. Men in mines? Follow the rats. Fire in the factory? Follow the rats. Rats always know where to run, how to escape. And it’s got nothing to do with planning or being cunning. It’s instinct. I get by because that’s what I do.”

I shifted my eyes to her brother. Her explanation was cold, almost pragmatic. It seemed to me almost opposite of what someone caring for a crippled younger sibling would say. I didn’t challenge her on it, though.

I asked her if she’s ever thought about leaving the Gutter instead.

“Nope,” she said, without hesitation. “This is my world. I know it, and it knows me. Everyone here, we’re all in the same situation, we’re all on the same page. Wouldn’t be the same up there, with that lot. They’d all pull us up, then spend the rest of their days knockin’ us back down, reminding us every step of the way that we got by on their pity and conveniently forgetting the fact we were down here because of them in the first place. I figure you might understand a little of that, Miss Chatelaine.”

She lifted up a copy of my book, detailing my captivity in the colonies. It’s only been out for a month but it’s already beaten and dog eared. It looked like she’s read it more than once.

“That’s right…I know you,” she said. “Only reason I agreed to talk to you. You never asked for help or pity. Why should I?”

I left Vertiline with her brother, taking with me something to think about. I continued my tour around the Gutter with her story in the back of my mind. I conducted a few more interviews, but none of them struck me in the same way as my conversation with the girl. During one such interview, I asked a man if he knew who Old Turner was.

“A bad apple, that one. We don’t like talking about him more than that. Bad as this place is, it was worse when he was around.”

When? I wondered. Meaning he wasn’t around anymore?

“The villain turned up dead, near a month before,” the man said. “Stuck in a drainage pipe and drowned, one half of him dry, the other half bloated up like a soggy loaf of bread, and about as soft, too. No one knows how he got stuck…maybe he was chasing a meal.”

The man laughed, and I excused myself. As I followed my escort out of the Gutter I thought back to Vertiline and her ring, and that pipe in the ceiling of her home, and how she said she stared at it every night, waiting for the other shoe to drop. And I smiled, content with the knowledge that when that shoe did drop, Vertiline would probably be ready to deal with it.

Adella Chatelaine Reports #001-In the Shadow of Klankenvroot: A Tale from the Gutters of Crowndon

Blackwood Gazette #235-Empress of Nor Easter Issues Bounty On Rinkenbach and Sinclaire, Expresses Hope They Will Turn Selves In

By Basilio Mura, Nor Easter Correspondent

22/4/282– In an effort to stem the rising tensions resulting from the recent sabotage of Sarnwainian interests by two Nor Eastern affiliates, Rigel Rinkenbach and Pixie Sinclaire, the Nor Eastern Empress has issued a warrant for their arrest.

“It is with great reluctance that I serve up my dear Rigel to such dirty business,” The Empress said in a statement. “But in order to assuage the Primarch [of Pharassus] that Nor Easter had no hand in this tragedy, I most put forth a show of faith. As such, I am issuing a two million imperon bounty on both Rigel and agent Sinclaire for their safe delivery into Triumvirate custody.”

The two million imperon bounty might seem small compared to the three million inter imperial scrip bounty placed by the Primarch, however it is important to note that the imperon is the stronger currency.

Despite the issuance of the bounty, the Empress expressed hope that Rinkenbach and Sinclaire would come in on their own.

“I am sure that Rigel has a good explanation for all of this,” the Empress said. “He’s never done anything without good reason…mostly. Regardless, I’d rather have him home, safe, where we can deal with him in a civilized manner. Oh, and agent Sinclaire, as well. Being as I’m told she’s a war hero. They tell me I awarded her a medal, though I have no recollection of the event.

“At any rate, please, Rigel. Come home, so that we may clear all of this up and I can get back to hearing your wonderful tales as we share tea!”

Others in the Triumvirate Authority aren’t so hopeful.

“The Empress, I hate to say it, is delusional,” said High Admiral Jasper Stapleton. “The Authority has no interest in granting amnesty to Rinkenbach and Sinclaire. Their alleged actions have brought us to the brink of a catastrophic and unnecessary war with Sarnwain, when we should be focused on other things. Rinkenbach might be fooled by the Empress’ claims of mercy, but Sinclaire sure as hell won’t be. She’s the brains behind this operation, I’m sure. And I’ve worked with her before. I feel sorry for anyone who manages to back her into a corner.”

Blackwood Gazette #235-Empress of Nor Easter Issues Bounty On Rinkenbach and Sinclaire, Expresses Hope They Will Turn Selves In

Blackwood Gazette #230-Officials Believe ‘Pillar’ Assassinations Related to Summit Attacks

by Chester Seaton, News

4/4/282- While the stocks of private security firms across the Triumvirate may be up, it would seem the recent murders of several high profile business executives have had the opposite effect in other sectors. New reports say that consumer faith in several of Crowndon’s key exports has plummeted in recent weeks.

“How would you feel as a stockholder in an environment where the leadership could change, violently, at any given moment,” said Abraham Comstock, a business analyst in Walsh. “After the CEO of Fornherst Engineering was murdered, his replacement wasted no time in driving the business into the ground.”

While other affected businesses have replaced their departed with much more competent leadership, the example set by Fornherst Engineering set a poor precedent. It doesn’t help that other recent incidents, such as the winter of 280, the Desantana Uprising and ensuing Blackwood shortage, the Heisenberg Disaster, and the Great Tuna Heist perpetuated by Roderick La Pierre have left the citizenry feeling like Crowndon’s economy has been under attack for the last three years.

“It all feels a bit coordinated, no?” Comstock said. “Almost like someone somewhere is pulling strings. I’m not one to jump at shadows, to point fingers and posit insane theories, but this destabilization of Crowndon’s economy coupled with the attack on the Arms Summit last year almost feels like it’s all been a part of some systematic deconstruction of the Empire to me.”

Statements made by the lead inspector on the murders in Toring, Donovan Wick, would seem to lend credence to this idea.

“It might sound crazy,” Wick said, “But given the coordination and efficiency of these murders, and taking into account the domino effect they have caused throughout the business community, I must admit the possibility of something more going on. I’m reluctant to pin these crimes on some shadowy, global conspiracy that has it in for the Triumvirate…but I’m not ruling it out completely, either.”

Blackwood Gazette #230-Officials Believe ‘Pillar’ Assassinations Related to Summit Attacks

Blackwood Gazette: Update

Hello! I just thought I’d drop in and let what few regular readers I have know that I’m still alive, and the Blackwood Gazette is still a priority. I’ve got big plans for the Gazette this year; the Triumvirate faces some major changes in the form of shifting alliances and technological developments, not to mention this mysterious destabilizing force known only as the Cartographers. And with Adella Chatelaine back in the game, who knows what secrets may be uncovered? Expect mystery, intrigue, and high adventure on a semi daily basis!

So what have I been working on in the interim? That’s a bit of a secret, as I have no idea if it will ever happen and I don’t want to risk looking like an asshole by announcing some huge thing and not delivering…although, I suppose it might be too late for that, so who knows. Hopefully this project I’m writing works out.

Also, full confession time: I’m playing Fallout 4, and working retail during the holidays. Anyone who’s familiar with either should know what that means for productivity without me having to get too into it.

The Gazette will resume in January. In the meantime, you can play catch up, or check out my novel, Where, No One Knows, starring recurring characters such as the agent provocateur Pixie Sinclaire, the mad alchemist Rigel Rinkenbach, and the disgraced pirate captain Roderick La Pierre.

Blackwood Gazette: Update