Count von Essen introduced himself as a serving officer in the Prussian Army with the rank of Colonel. He seemed a little stiff and formal. He apologised for his lack of endeavour this year, as he is just finding his way within the Inferno Club.
Miss Wells, who entered the gathering on the arm of Mr d'Aventine once more, looked positively glowing.
La Donna, who was wearing an extraordinarily large diamond set in a brooch, was particularly charming to Don Rodrigo, and congratulated Lady Greendale on her sterling publication.
General Perisson was wearing dark glasses and gloves once more, as was Karageorge.
Mr Darkenford looked extremely pale and wan.
Mr Giffard was once more in disguise.
"I'll keep this short and sweet - let's tell those Frenchies to hop it. As the Club residing in the premier country of the world, we don't have to listen to the yapping of those whose inferior minds do not see the whole picture. And as for the Americans and Japan - let them take the initial risks. When their half baked ideas have come to naught - or perhaps opened up the market - Britain, as the number one trading nation in the World, will reap the benefits."
"I would like to state categorically that I do not support Maréchal Rêné Gade's view point. I also put to the members that we, the European Cell demand respect from any individual country cells and that any unreasonable attempt by another cell to endanger the good work of our members should be dealt with swiftly. Talking of good work it has come to my attention that there are so-called demons threatening the stability of Europe and the influence of this Club. Unless there is another initiative I propose that all those interested in understanding and combating this menace present papers on the subject at the next Club meeting so that we may act together."
"Friends, I am sure I speak for all of us when I express my revulsion at the personal threats issued, apparently by the French Cell, against individuals in our midst. As a man of the Church I naturally abhor violence. I therefore request that the Inner Saluter investigate the authenticity of the message received, and if genuine, we act swiftly and savagely against those responsible. Perhaps the easiest way to bring peace between our two great Christian nations would be to ensure the promotion of our esteemed colleague Monsieur Perisson to French commander-in-chief. Once a vacancy exists, that is... Bless you all."
"Fellow members, we have had two addresses on which I would like to comment. Firstly, in connection with Maréchale Gade's letter, I will state now that I will not condone any attempt against the lives of civilians. This includes the families of those who have sided with my enemies in the Italian war, even the one of you who murdered so many innocent civilians in Nice. And the rules of the club ban attempts against the lives of club members. Let me be blunt: I will not weep if you should die on the battlefield and I doubt you would mourn me; but you and yours have nothing to fear from me personally unless you attempt assassination of me or mine.
"Turning to the Khiron commission. I have seen at first hand the effect
of weapons of war on the battlefield but I find it both incredible and
horrific that demons may have been used at Nice. Nonetheless, even if that
was the case, the fire that rained down on my troops there was no worse
than the fires they have had to endure from the Comte Bertrand's monstrous
inventions. If there are those among us who can command huge demons to
stride about the battlefield, slaying indiscriminately, then let this be
banned, by all means; but let us be consistent and also ban mechanical
monsters that stride about the battlefield, slaying indiscriminately. Their
victims are just as dead. The true atrocity of Nice was the needless murder
of civilians and, if the Khiron Commission truly wishes to accomplish something
worthwhile, let them report to us the activities of those who do not confine
bloodshed to the battlefield but attack civilian populations."
"On two subjects - firstly, does anyone know anything of the recent upturn in organized criminal activity in London?
"Secondly, I strongly advise cooperating with the Khiron Commission.
Over-use of the sort of magic that has been openly displayed in our recent
past has two disadvantages. Imprimis, it raises the public profile of our
magic to a dangerous extent. On the whole, our power can be more effectively
employed if the general populace is unaware of its existence: thus weakening
both we individual mages, and the Club as a whole. Secundus, conjuring
certain beings or powers too often, especially in the same general area,
can enable certain malefic influences to slip through uncontrolled onto
our world, with unpleasant results."
"Many thanks to the big majority of our esteemed leadership who voted AGAINST the ridiculous proposal of helping the Russian communists."
The Vizier asked if he might be allowed to address the meeting. "Fellow Illuminati, it has been pointed out that Council votes have been kept secret. So far, the custom of the Club has been to make it so, but all Council members please send me your thoughts on the matter so we can decide." He bowed formally, and sat down.
"My esteemed friends, The invitation to join this esteemed club honoured me and I accepted on the understanding that my presence was not required. My health does not allow me to travel and I intend no insult by not attending. I have done much to already increase the influence of the Club and feel affronted by the angry language of some of the members against me. I am not interested in the internal politics of the Club and warn you that I will not resist any attempt to force me out. Why is this a warning? From my understanding of the Club rules, one decreasing the Influence of the Club contravenes its rules. Anyone forcing me out for no good reason is not only making an affront to House Gemini but will also reduce the Influence of this great Club. My deepest respect, Monique Sue."
Benson, the Club butler, took the liberty of reminding Members that the term of office of the current Council would expire in two years' time, if it was decided to comply with the Charter as currently framed. Therefore, in adherence with custom, those persons who wished to be considered for election to posts on the Council might wish to announce their candidacies and make hustings speeches at the 1871 meeting, in preparation for elections in 1872.
A slightly curious incident took place involving one of the Club stewards. While bending to serve a drink to Mr Edwards, he stiffened and seized up, and was unable to move, locked rigid. Various Members moved to help the unfortunate fellow, but Benson and two other stewards simply picked him up under the arms and carried him away, still rigid, out of the meeting chamber. When Benson returned, he explained that the man was receiving the appropriate care and attention and would be perfectly fit and well to resume his duties inside a few days at most.
The Infernal mail slot was once more very active. Don Rodrigo, Dr Bang and Miss Valiente were observed to receive quite large, bulky dossiers, each marked with the astrological symbol of the appropriate House.
At one point Miss Kincaid, Mr Carter, Miss Duquesne-Black and Mr Clouseau
all simultaneously fell briefly unconscious. Miss Kincaid recovered very
quickly, barely more than stumbling, Mr Clouseau was back on his feet inside
a minute, but it took a sniff of sal volatile to restore the other lady
and gentleman to consciousness. None seemed disposed to discuss the matter
Things fall apart, the centre cannot hold
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world.
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?
Hexagram 23 of the I Ching is instructive in this matter.
Happy New Year
Price rise - as of next turn, the price of Inferno is going up to £3.50 per turn. I know it seems a bit odd to put the price up when the game's only been going for a few months, but it's part of a general restructuring of prices across all of our games. Sorry about this - I hope, though, that you'll still think that the game represents pretty good value for what you get.
Deadline - note that this turn has a four-week deadline, rather than the usual two, to allow room for Christmas and New Year. After that we'll be back to two weeks again.
Meet - this is going ahead on Saturday 23rd of January, ie. shortly after the turn after next. It'll be in Oxford, at the Mitre Inn on the High Street (the same place as we had our UNEXPLAINED meet last summer, those of you who came to that). It's right in the centre of town, about ten minutes walk from the railway station, easy to find whether you arrive by train, coach, car or whatever. Parking cars in central Oxford is extremely expensive, so I'd recommend that you use the Park & Ride services on the edges of the city. Contact us for more precise directions if you think you might need them. We'll be in the room behind you to the left as you go into the pub, with the UKG logo prominently displayed. This is going to be a low-key, relaxed affair, not too organized: just chat, drink and perhaps a few light board or card games or something towards the end of the day. Anyone who would like to stay in Oxford on the Friday and /or Saturday, we can help you find accommodation if you like, or you're very welcome to crash here at the UKG nerve centre.
Email plea repeated - please try and send your turns just as plain text if you can, and in the body of the message rather than in attachment! In particular, don't send them as Word 97 documents, because we don't have a copy of this software and it's not readable by the previous version. As you can imagine, running an Inferno turn involves processing a lot of documents in a short space of time, and every attachment or strange format increases the chance that I'll drop one of the balls.
Convention - enclosed is a flier about next year's London Play-by-Mail Convention, at which we will have a stand. It's the postal / email gaming hobby's most important get-together - a great chance to meet GMs and players, see the newest games, play in demonstrations, take part in panel discussions, win prizes... lots of good stuff basically, and thoroughly recommended.
What is an Action? - this is something I've already discussed with a few of you. Basically, anything which needs GM arbitration, ie. has the possibility of a range of different outcomes, must be one of your four Actions for the turn. You can though in addition carry out tasks which are more or less automatic. An example might be 'give my friend X fifty pounds' - this can be handled automatically without eating up one of your Actions. If, though, you want something like 'negotiate a price with X for the African dagger, I don't want to pay more than fifty pounds but will try to get her to settle for less than that if possible', then you must use a Minor Action.
Your turn should be with us by:
Midnight Monday 4th January 1999
ACADEMY THRIVES Reports in the specialized medical press speak highly of the research being carried out at the de Bonvoisin-von Poelzig Medical Academy, particularly in 'social health' fields such as epidemiology, conception and forensics.
BOLD NEW ALLIANCE FOR LE SOIR Readers will be delighted to learn that the owners of Le Soir have forged an agreement with Mlle Monique Sue, head of Sue Media Enterprises, which ensures the newspaper's future after recent speculation. Readers need not fear that our bold and independent editorial stance will change, and of course Mlle Sue is a Frenchwoman by birth - we all remember with a tear her great cousin Eugene - so Le Soir is safe in her hands! (from Le Soir)
NEW AGENCY MANIPULATES MINDS The Times can only deplore the foundation of the new HTML Agency, which designs and places advertisements for products and services: we detect in their work a taste for sensation rather than a which to present information calmly and neutrally. No doubt they will be highly successful, in the debased age we now seem to inhabit.
*** NEW CHANCELLOR FOR PRUSSIA Georg, Pfalzgraf von Seyffert, has been appointed Chancellor of Prussia in succession to the late Baron Brodenbach. Von Seyffert's first move on coming into office was to purge the government of all Brodenbach loyalists, some of who seem to have met untimely fatal accidents, purely by coincidence no doubt, or been jailed for a variety of hitherto unsuspected crimes.
*** REVOLUTION IN RUSSIA The stew that had been brewing for so long in the Russian steppes finally boiled over this February, as first a general strike, then a rising of the army, heralded seizure of power by the well-organized Communist forces. They struck swiftly and bloodily, slaying the Tsar and his family, and executing several generals and ministers who sought to oppose them. Informed political opinions are speculating that the Communists must have had sympathizers in Court circles, and the fact that the ruling Politburo's new best friend is Prussian financier Reinhardt Kline is highly suggestive. The revolution was immediately condemned by all Western governments, but as yet there seems to be no move to oppose it by force of arms. It appears to have widespread popular support in the industrialized and prosperous West of Russia, Georgia and the Ukraine, but in the Central Asian and Siberian regions we hear that Communist cells have been far more tolerant of their local landholders. As for the war in Armenia, the Russian troops there have declared a ceasefire - one the Turks were glad to accept - until their new leaders have decided what to do next.
THE BEAST OF WAR! [accompanied by a picture of a MATAV devastating enemy troops].
*** PEACE FOR WILHELMSLAND The Dutch rebels have surprised the world by agreeing to the establishment of Wilhelmsland as a Principality, under the rulership of Leopold of Saxe-Coburg, cousin of the Kaiser and nephew of our own dear Prince Albert. It is believed the rebel leader Niels Graaf was instrumental in persuading the freedom fighters to accept the deal, which sees them allowed to retain their arms provided that they join the new Wilhelmsland Army, under Prussian officers. Graaf himself has been offered a Colonelcy in the new army, but he is understood to have disappeared entirely from view. Perhaps this statesmanlike deal, on which the new Chancellor von Seyffert is to be congratulated by all lovers of peace, will see an end to struggle in this strife-torn land. The former Dutch royal family, in exile in London, are refusing to comment on what can only be seen as a final end to their dynasty's reign over the Netherlands.
PERRY EXPEDITION LOST The expedition to Japan, led by US Congressman Andrew Perry, has disappeared without trace, report American sources. The three-ship force is believed to have got as far as coastal waters, but no more was heard of it. US government sources are reported to be baffled and perturbed at the loss of this friendly, fact-finding mission to behind the Bamboo Curtain.
*** TURMOIL IN TUSCANY The great city of Florence, in the hands of the de'Medici for five hundred years (excepting of course Savonarola's interlude), has now fallen to rebels. Weep, you mute stones, weep, as the infamous Masked Man storms the Pitti Palace, forcing Cosimo and his family, with only a handful of loyal retainers, to flee to Siena. Weep as the treacherous Frenchman, Comte Bertrand, seizes the Medici Bank, with his mighty steam-griffon. Weep as the great steam-men, in whom we had placed such faith, turn against us at a single command from their perfidious maker. Weep as a force of mercenaries, the scum of Europe, led by a mysterious Beauteous Young Man (who at least was not Masked) storm the barracks and receive the surrender of the majority of the army, only a few loyalists managing to fight their way free to Siena. The night has come down on Florence, the long Rinascimento is over. Michelangelo's David hides his head in shame. (from Il Messagero)
PRUSSIAN SPYMASTER DIES General Purphaus, head of military intelligence in the Wilhelmsland military district and believed to have been running a string of agents in the Dutch rebel forces, was found dead in his home this July. He had blown his brains out with a pistol.
ORGANIZED CRIME SPREADS TO FRANCE Our neighbours are not free of the hideous cancer of organized crime that so plagues London, as racketeers controlling the sale of drugs, prostitution, gambling and protection have now set up across Paris and the other cities of the north. When, oh when, will this problem be solved?
EAT YOUR HORSES! [accompanied by a picture of a giant Steam Tractor crushing ten horses under its treads]. (from Farming Today)
FIND THE PATH WITH MORIARTY Noted public figure Professor Sir James Moriarty has founded a new youth organization, called the Pathfinders, for young lads from five to fourteen years of age. They will be instilled with an early respect for military discipline, trained in marching, fighting and other generalized good deeds, that they may better serve their Queen and country on adulthood. Army spokesmen have applauded the move, believing that it will greatly improve the calibre of Britain's fighting men - already the best in the world, of course - and the Times anticipates that it will also have beneficial effects on social discipline and the crime figures, as well as undertaking community projects such as groundskeeping and painting. Hats off to Moriarty!
*** GIFFARD FORGED PATENTS - MATAV IS BRITISH In a shock press release, Hamilton Industries revealed that it was in fact they who invented the MATAV combat device hitherto ascribed to renegade technologist Henri Giffard. An investigation at the Patent Office demonstrated that Giffard's patents for the MATAV were crude and obvious fakes, while an earlier set in the name of Lord Hamilton had been misfiled. Lawyers acting for Hamilton's at once distrained on all Giffard's British assets, including a production line being laid in to make MATAVs. The Times believes Britain can breathe a sigh of relief - at last we will have these terrible weapons in the hands of a trustworthy Briton rather than an unscrupulous foreigner (or the next worst thing) and Tommy Atkins can be confident that, although he may still have to face Prussian MATAVs in the field, at least he will have British ones at his back! In a (presumably) related story, the obscure firm of Cameron's Ltd has suggested that all Giffard's remaining patents be considered to be in the public domain, given his treasonous behaviour. The Ministry of Trade ha applied to the Prussian government for Giffard to be extradited to Britain to stand trial for fraud: it is hope that Chancellor von Seyffert will deal with this matter with the utmost urgency.
MISS SIDDAL REMEMBERED IN NEW YORK Mr Sunil Laing, close friend of the late Miss Elizabeth Siddal, has opened a gallery and auction house bearing her name in New York. As well as showcasing her own work, it houses and sells the creations of talented young designers. The house opened with a charity auction of curios associated with the (fairly) famous, which raised more goodwill than money.
HAVE YOU TASTED THE GREEN FAIRY YET? [accompanied by an image of beautiful, happy youngsters sipping absinthe].
*** GIBRALTAR SEIZED! In a daring attack by a combination of French naval and Spanish ground forces, the plucky outpost of Gibraltar was seized, its defenders made to surrender, and the Union Jack no longer flies at the gateway to the Mediterranean. The very idea that the cowardly Continentals would have the nerve to assault a British holding seems to have taken our generals completely by surprise. It seems to have taken the French and Spanish governments slightly at odds as well, as it took several days for them to release communiqués on the subject, and Spain is not even at war with Britain.
*** FLORENCE GETS ORGANIZED The rebel cadre which seized Florence has given way to a Committee of Public Safety, formed from among the burgesses of the city, who have undertaken provisional government, until such time as they can be replaced by a democratically elected body. They have nationalized the Medici Bank, and have restored law and order in the city, although the remainder of the province is still restive and the Medici forces still hold Siena. The people have welcomed the Committee, and look forward eagerly to the time when they can elect their own representatives, hopefully next year.
'SUPERBUG' STRIKES BRITISH LIBRARY It was announced today that no fewer than eighteen staff at the British Library had succumbed to a deadly new illness that must presumably have been engendered by too much breathing of musty dust-filled air. The bodies were rushed to a hasty burial to minimize contagion. When asked what health risk the Library now prevented, curator Dr Fox Margin assured the Times that the general public were at no risk.
RACE FOR GLORY Sponsors, designers and drivers are sought for the proposed Steam-Powered Automotive Conveyance Challenge, a race around Hyde Park for steam cars. Do you have nerves of steel, brains of mercury or pockets of gold? If so then you are what we need. Contact Mr Simon London at Box 134, and provided all the pieces can be put together then the inaugural race will be as soon as June 1871.
MASKED MAN STRIKES VENICE After last year's curious crime spree in Naples, this year Venice was targeted by the Masked Man, presumably taking time off from liberating Florence. Once more, valuable items were lifted during the course of a night, then returned to their owners in random assortment. Venetian detectives profess themselves baffled, and are liaising with their Neapolitan counterparts and appealing for witnesses. The Times says: these Masked Man robberies don't sound too bad to us, we'd much rather have them than the horrid kind of robberies we seem to be getting in London these days.
ABBEY HABIT Westminster Abbey is to be rebuilt once more, announced the Archbishop, exactly one inch taller than the previous model, to symbolize the indomitability of faith. This time he is accepting designs from professional architects, which may mean that the new version lasts a little longer than its predecessor.
*** RISING IN TWO SICILIES The Kingdom of the Two Sicilies this year erupted in open rebellion, with the partisans under 'Il Mosco Schiacciato' revealing themselves better drilled and with a sounder grasp of tactics than had been anticipated. Kingdom troops have suffered a number of reverses and King Frederick has appealed to his second cousin, Franz Josef of Austria, for aid - aid which has not yet been forthcoming. Reports that British mercenaries are supporting the rebellion have not been confirmed, nor has the rumour that a large donation was made by an anonymous Briton.
SOUTHVILLE CRACKS DOWN Prisons Minister Mr Charles Southville has tabled a series of Bills seeking to crack down on the growing crime problem, addressing such matters as tough sentences for gang leaders, speedier justice, anonymity for judges, leniency for informers, and greater search, arrest and entrapment powers for the police. These proposals have been rapturously received by the House, and by a nation fed up to the back teeth of criminals having things their own way.
SIDDAL GALLERY BURNS DOWN The new Siddal Gallery and Auction House in New York, opened only this year, has been utterly consumed in flame, the result of a carelessly-dropped cigarette end. The permanent collection of Miss Siddal's work was destroyed, together with a good deal of work by up-and-coming designers who were using its workshop space. Proprietor Mr Sunil Laing is believed to be heartbroken.
AFRICA BACK IN VOGUE The Dark Continent was this year the subject of two expeditions, one by Mr Tamworth-Smith again, who is becoming quite familiar with the desolate lands around the ruined ancient city of G'harne, the other by Hamilton Industries, who are believed to have collected a good deal of the curious light, silvery metal common to that region.
*** ROCK IS BRITISH ONCE MORE The Rock of Gibraltar, snatched by French and Spanish forces earlier in the year, has been retaken by a sustained naval and amphibious assault, by elements of the Atlantic Fleet and the Third Army, the latter fresh from conclusive victory over French troops in Algeria. British pluck won the day after much hard fighting, Particular heroism was shown by naval assault units, Captain Jonathon Hazelmere being awarded bar to the Distinguished Service Medal he gained for his rescue of 'the forgotten men of 23 Squadron'. The Spanish have been forced to pay heavy reparations for their unprovoked attack, while the French must surely now be close to surrender.
JERUSALEM: TEMPLE PUZZLE The giant earthquake which struck central Jerusalem this spring seems to have had very unusual and localized effects. The Dome of the Rock mosque was completely obliterated, and raised up in its place was the Great Temple of Solomon, over which it had been built - only, rather than the mere archaeological remains of the Temple being raised to the surface, the actual construction itself reappeared, with all decoration intact, gleaming as good as new. Seismologists confess themselves baffled as to what manner of tremor could combine upheaval with restoration in this fashion, not to mention the curious fact that the remainder of the city was completely unscathed. The Jewish faith are treating this as a great sign from God that they are to return to their promised homeland, whereas representatives of Islam are understandably distressed.
PRIME MNISTER BACK TO HEALTH Our worries about Prime Minister Lord Shaftesbury can now be set at naught, thank the good Lord, as he has made a full recovery from the debilitating condition that has troubled him for the last few years. It seems that a mere 'few days in the country at the home of a friend' were sufficient to clear up the mystery illness, although persistent Westminster rumours that the friend in question was a young lady, not unadjacent to a leading charitable worker and the daughter of a prominent military man, cannot be confirmed. On his return the Prime Minister carried out a minor Cabinet reshuffle, dismissing Sir Kit Breca from his posts as Deputy PM and Home Secretary, and appointing the popular young Prisons Minister Mr Charles Southville to the latter post in his stead.
*** IT'S PEACE AT LAST A newly-invigorated Lord Shaftesbury, back to his brilliant best, concluded peace with France this April, on terms highly favourable to Britain. Napoleon III has handed over all France's colonial possessions, including those which Britain had yet to conquer. Another triumph for British Diplomacy, under the stewardship of our beloved Prime Minister and his Foreign Secretary, Lord Chelmsford: firm but fair.
IF YOU'RE GOING TO MAKE ENERGY, WHY NOT USE IT? with a new Dawson Kinetic Pocket Chronometer. The big toy for the big boy who has everything, this wondrous device keeps itself wound using the natural movements of your body, and all this in an attractive embossed gun-metal casing less than eight inches across! Timekeeping far superior to any other device in its class! Buy one for the man in your life this Christmas, just five guineas from all good retailers.
'GHOST-HUNTER' FOUND DEAD Prominent 'spookologist' Mr Daniel Nightingale was found dead at Thrupstone Manor, Britain's most haunted house, torn apart as though by a great wild beast. Servants had left him alone in the house overnight, at his own request, and were horrified at the scene that greeted them as they returned in the morning. It is thought that a panther, leopard or some such may have escaped from a local zoological gardens and attacked the unfortunate Mr Nightingale, although curiously none such have been reported missing.
GRETA GOSSIP Who is dashing actress Greta Bolsofier's new love interest? Coy Greta refuses to say, but the fact is that she has been absent from her usual haunts of late, and that surely means that a man is in the offing. Could we be hearing wedding bells for Prussia's favourite sweetheart in the New Year? (from Guten Morgen! magazine)
POLLY-GONE Thanks to the tireless efforts of Mr Ferdinand Gaboon, the multicoloured intelligent parrots that had been plaguing lowland Bavaria have for the most part been rounded up and captured.
DÉTENTE IN THE DOLOMITES (in the Julian Alps, actually - ed.) Tension along the Austro-Venetian border seems to have subsided, with the party of peace-loving academics in the Austrian Diet speaking up against war, and a 'peace circus tour' by Mr Gaboon bringing jollity and mirth to the hostile forces. Rumours abound of some sort of deal being done by the striving nations, as the Austrians have not followed up on last year's ultimatum over Slovenia.
CHURCH CALLS FOR GREEK INDEPENDENCE The plea for a Hellenic state, initially made by the disreputable Lord Byron, was echoed this year by the Archbishop of Canterbury and other notables including MPs of both parties. The call was backed up with a charitable appeal for Greek orphans, based on eyewitness accounts from Bishop of London 'Brimstone' McPhail, currently on a restorative Mediterranean cruise following the destruction last year of Westminster Abbey by Agnosticians. In his Easter sermon, the Archbishop said that any Christian nation should be supported against a Mohammedan fiefdom not subject to the laws of civilization or the Church. Archbishop Photios of Thessaloniki gratefully acknowledged the Church of England's contribution to his nation's struggle for independence.
*** NEW HEIR FOR BAVARIA? After six years of marriage, Queen Irena of Bavaria has finally conceived, and is expected to give birth in February to an heir to the throne of this Central European realm. Her husband, raspberry-loving King Otto, has reportedly become very uxorious, and simply cannot get enough of his charming wife's company. Informed opinion suggests that Baron von Poelzig, the Bavarian nobleman who acts as the Queen's physician, has enabled conception by some cunning surgical means (upon the precise nature of which this journalist will forbear to speculate, for fear of alarming its readers). (by our Medical correspondent)
MINED THE GAP! Armstrong Industries have made the skies of Britain safer yet, with the invention of their Aeromines, essentially aerial propellered mines hovering at the mouths of vertical steam-tubes. Armstrong's assure the public that the mines contain an altimeter fuse, so that if the supply of steam fails or the mines fall for other reasons they will detonate harmlessly in mid-air. The cities of the North-East are already sleeping more soundly, knowing that the nodding forest of Aeromines above their heads will protect them from aerial attack.
PROMISING POET PUBLISHES Miss Julianne Fulbright, the young poetess who touched the hearts of many with her efforts of a few years ago, has released three more poesies, one on the collapse of the Abbey, one on the desirability of female suffrage, and one on the sadness of a mother watching her sons go off to war. This reader is not alone in detecting a certain polemical tone creeping into Miss Fulbright's more mature work, but the whole is so delicately handled as to hardly be objectionable.
'HELLAS' AND BACK AGAIN The warring nations of south-eastern Europe have agreed peace on the terms proposed by the Ottomans, and the news is that Greece is once more an independent self-determining state. The Turks have also made significant concessions of land to Macedonia and Bulgaria, allies of the Greek freedom fighters, and now control only a narrow strip of land on the European side of the Bosphorus and Hellespont. Quite how stable this situation is remains to be seen, as there is still a great deal of anti-Turkish feeling in this corner of the continent.
THE ROLL OF THE LAMB - RAMMING IT DOWN OUR THROATS [anonymous fly-poster seen pasted all over London].
REBELS STEAM AHEAD The Florentine Committee of Public Safety now has at its command an army of steam men, constructed by Comte Bertrand, a formidable fighting force indeed. Quite how the fledgling republic has funded this massive project is uncertain, and stern questions are being asked about the current levels of reserves in the new Florentine State Bank, formerly the Medici Bank.
FIND HAPPINESS IN NEWTON - a new housing project being undertaken by the Braithewait corporation. We're looking to create a haven of temperance, piety and honesty in the heart of England. If you have mining experience, or think you could be an asset to a model town apply to the address below. All residents are guaranteed a good wage, accommodation and fair treatment by their employers.
FOREIGN SECRETARY WEDS Lord Chelmsford, the man who helped the Prime Minister navigate the ship of state through the shoals of war, has taken a bride, Lady Athena Greendale, only child of Lord Greendale. The wedding was a quiet affair with only family of both sides attending. The new Lady Chelmsford has laid aside her editing of the Minerva Times, which can only be a good thing in this newspaper's opinion, and it is to be expected that she will now devote herself to the duties of wife- and motherhood rather than the quixotic crusades that have marked her out so far.
*** RASPBERRIES RIPPLED The entire Venetian raspberry harvest has failed this year, the plants killed on the cane by an extremely unseasonable early frost. Rumours that the frost was accompanied by mysterious lights and noises in the sky have been discounted as the yatterings of credulous peasants, but the fact is that the failure forced Venice to default on its monthly tribute of grappa alla frambuesa to the Bavarian Court, and in a fury King Otto has once more torn up the treaty of alliance between his realm and the nations of Northern Italy.
NOTHING LIKE A DAME Miss Elizabeth DuQuesne-Black, daughter of the renowned Colonel and head of the British Red Cross, has been granted the title of Dame Commander of the British Empire in the Queen's Birthday Honours list, for her indefatigable efforts in charity work for our brave servicemen.
... THUS IT IS with mingled regret and enthusiasm that I assume the duties of editor. I will miss Lady Athena's words of wisdom as much as you all will, but rest assured that she is still the magazine's proprietor and she will still be at my shoulder. I intend to maintain the Minerva Times's stand on the issues that matter to women, and to build on the base of solid journalism which I hope you will have observed in my own writings in these pages. I hope, too, that the succession of scandals and criticisms from the mainstream press which have bedevilled us in recent years will be laid to rest. Miss Edie Torial, Editor. (from the Minerva Times)
PRESS RELEASE FROM THE DEFENCE PROCUREMENT COMMITTEE "Some observers have commented recently that the Great British nation is in a poor position in the field of military technology. These observers are clearly ill-positioned to comment upon the matter! A number of major projects are about to come to fruition and the resulting technologies be put into service. Amongst these are high-tech ground-to-air defences, a number of different land-fighting vehicles, and one project that is so secret that I dare not even give a brief description and allow 'Johnny Foreigner' forewarning of his imminent peril. I must remind the reader that in the majority of military engagements it is quality that wins out over quantity; and quality is the cornerstone of British engineering and industry. Place your trust in the great minds of British innovators such as Lords Armstrong and Hamilton, Mr Stone and Dr Bang, and the whole nation will reap the rewards. Col. W Maguire."
MEMORIAL FOR A MARQUESS On the anniversary of the late Marquess of Salisbury's death, his son, the former Lord Thomas Terrence, held a memorial service at the family chapel in Cranborne. All the old peerage was present to honour the memory of this pillar of the establishment, together with representatives of Court and Government. Afterwards, the new Marquess professed himself deeply touched by the honour thus paid to his late father.
PRUSSIANS OVERHAUL SUPPLIES The Prussian Army Supply Corps, under General Mötuss, has been reorganized, with the appointment of up-and-coming young officer Major Rödwerks as head of its Audit division. It seems that the Prussians are at last moving into the era of modern warfare, recognizing as we British have for some time that logistics are key to keeping a force in the field, and efficient procurement is one of the most vital services.
SLOVENIAN BOOST The Venetian Senate has voted generous extra funding for Slovenia, a decision some observers are calling ill-conceived considering that the Austrians have expressed their intention of retaking the province.
ARE YOU A MAN OR A SHEEP? DOWN WITH THE ROLL OF THE LAMB! [anonymous fly-poster seen pasted all over London].
*** PEACE IN FRANCE? With the war between France and the Milano-Venetian combine settling down to what looks like stalemate, the French have tabled an offer of a deal. This year both sides dug in along their existing lines, the Italians making one impressive assault, spearheaded by steam-griffins, which was not followed up, and the French retaking Corsica and capturing a number of prisoners. But it looks very much as though a territorial arrangement will be agreed, with the Grand Duchy of Milan expanding into Savoy and the Alpine provinces. All told this has been a good year for peace, with the conflict between Britain and France, the rebellion in the Netherlands, the revolt in Florence and the war in Greece all ending, the Italo-French war and the war in Armenia seeing very little action and peace likely, and war between Venice and Austria apparently staved off. Only the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies is in open warfare at the end of 1870. Does this mean a new era of peace and prosperity for Europe, with this new decade?
ROYAL TEA Her Majesty the Queen and His Royal Highness the Prince Consort have paid a number of social visits to Lambeth Palace to take tea with His Grace the Archbishop of Canterbury, occasionally joined by the Prince of Wales. No doubt His Grace is offering spiritual guidance to the Royal couple.
HOME SECRETARY WEDS Following the example of his Foreign counterpart, the new Home Secretary Mr Charles Southville this November was married to Miss Claire Voyante, daughter of the long-serving Tory backbench MP. The wedding was a small affair, with just the families of both parties present.
CRIME WAVE ACROSS LONDON A gang of villains has been striking across our capital at the homes of the wealthy and influential, with a number of MPs, judges, civil servants and other notables falling victim. The housebreakers seem extraordinarily vindictive: not contenting themselves with removing valuables, they smash and deface everything they can find. Police are baffled by the way this gang seems always to pick the moment when their victims' security is at its lowest: 'it's as though they had telepathic powers,' said one baffled Charlie. Even more puzzling, none of the items stolen have found their way onto the art markets, as is customary. This wave of attacks has only added to the support for Mr Southville's new Acts, and it is hoped that next year will see the crime rate fall considerably.
SHE WAS ONLY A COLONEL'S DAUGHTER, BUT SHE KNEW HOW TO RECEIVE A SALUTE [anonymous graffito seen around London]
BAVARIANS TOOL UP The Bavarian army has been shaken up, under the advisement of Mr Morgan Leman: a new National Service programme has been instituted, and new equipment bought. Does this mean that King Otto intends to become more of a player on the European stage?
BUTCHERY IN BOSNIA News is emerging of a dreadful massacre of Serbian villagers in Bosnia, carried out by an armed force of Croatian nationalists. The word is that the Aryanist Movement was responsible, and that this sinister body, which alarmingly enough is gaining support in the new Principality of Wilhelmsland as well, plans to drive all Slavs from the face of Europe. Serbian representatives have called in outrage for the Austrian government to hand over the guilty parties.
INDUSTRIALIST WEDS In what has been quite a year for society weddings, wealthy shipping magnate Mr Claude Savage has taken a bride, Miss Aramintha Grey, the noted alternative medical practitioner. Mr Savage was granted the Order of the British Empire in the Queen's Birthday Honours list. With eligible bachelors Lord Cromer and the Marquess of Salisbury still looking for potential brides, they will have to be careful that all the best girls don't get snapped up! (from How Do You Do? magazine)
SOUTHERN SLAVS FIND A VOICE This year, Skopje in Macedonia saw the launch of the Greater Yougoslav Movement, whose aim is a common platform for this whole diverse race of people. Representatives from Serbia, Bulgaria, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Macedonia and Montenegro mingled, together with delegates from Austrian-held Slovenia and Croatia - these last-named did not seem entirely welcome, since it appears many Croats (who are as a rule Catholic) have thrown their hats in with the Aryanist Movement, which can only be seen as a threat to these Slavs. Does this upsurge in ethnic solidarity herald an end to the old-fashioned nation-state?
STEAMING AHEAD Colonel William Maguire, head of the Defence Procurement Committee, has this year been seen about with a device of his own invention, the Steamatic Personal Protector. It hovers over the wearer's head on a downdraft of steam, then when he is attacked it swiftly lowers a steel curtain about him. The device seems highly efficacious, and Colonel Maguire assures observers that it is perfectly safe, but it must be said that the creases in his uniform and the waxing of his moustache appear to suffer somewhat from the constant steamy atmosphere that surrounds him.
FLAME-THROWER PATENTED Noted British engineer Dr William Bang has patented a man-portable flame-throwing device, which jets burning gel to a range of several yards. It includes an anti-blowback device to protect the user. Let us hope that the British Army snap up this horrific device and ensure that no foreign power can ever use it against us.
FOREIGN INFLUENCE AT BAVARIAN COURT 'TOO STRONG'? Voices around the Court seem to be starting to whisper that the power that foreigners have in our country - not anyone in particular, that is, but foreigners in general - might not be in Bavaria's best interests - although of course then again it might, it must be added for the sake of fairness. Certainly we have no wish to malign any person in particular, or even people in general. But we think it fair to say that as a general principle positions of high authority and responsibility, such as those connected with military advice - to pick an example purely at random - might be better placed in the hands of native Bavarians, who have their country close at heart. Not that we are saying that a foreigner may not love Bavaria, oh no indeed. Some of Bavaria's best friends are foreigners, after all. (from the Suddeutsche Zeitung)
HAMILTON'S WORK IS DONE With the return of the Prime Minister from ill-health, and the steadiness of the ship of state, Lord Hamilton has resigned as Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, saying that he has accomplished the administrative reforms which were required. Presumably he will now return to the helm of Hamilton Industries, perhaps supervising production of the MATAV design they have reclaimed from the vermin Giffard.
'JIM THE SLASHER' GONE FOR GOOD? All London, not just the parts of it that are dens of vice, breathed a sigh of relief when the year of 1870 passed without a single Slasher murder taking place. Can it be that the brave attack of Captain Blakely last year has driven this foul beast to ground? Let us pray that is the case. The Charlies are not relaxing their vigilance, though: 'it would be just like him to pop up somewhere unexpected,' said Inspector 'Doughnut' Pascoe.
VETERANS GET NEW HOSPITAL Noted industrialist and philanthropist Lord William Armstrong has opened a new charitable hospital for veterans, in North Shields. All treatment is free: "the brave boys have paid enough" said His Lordship, and furthermore he intends to provide them with rehabilitation and jobs in his factories. We need more men like Armstrong!
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