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Inferno - Turn 7 - 1872


Appearances and descriptions

La Donna was dressed to kill, wearing her diamond brooch again and flirting outrageously with Count Fritzy.

Mr Gaboon circulated, chatting amiably with all and sundry. He congratulated General Perisson on his award.

Professor Moriarty arrived in the custody of Mr Southville.

Miss Wells looked rather pale, compared to her usual healthy complexion.

Hon Auberon Wylde's hair was greying noticeably at the temples: he glowered from beneath a silk topper stained with silver fingerprints.

Mr Petrovich appeared rather pale and shaky.

Mr Darkenford was sporting the familiar garb of smoked glasses and gloves, and he was also wearing a rather large hat. Hs skin appeared somewhat blackened.
 

Announcements


Benson, the Club butler, apologised for the hiatus in functioning of the Infernal Mail System that occurred in early December - for a day and a half, no messages were transmitted. The broken part was replaced as soon as the fault was detected, he says, and the System is now working perfectly as normal. He said that while he, as a mere functionary, could not request that Members refrain from interfering with the mechanism, he would request that they consider the inconvenience that their actions may be causing to fellow-Members who are relying on the System for the safe and speedy transmission of information.
 

An address by Mr (von) Leman


"My dear fellows. I feel unable to vote. None of the candidates nor indeed the current holders of the posts have done anything that I consider worthy of receiving my vote. I am none the wiser about their function nor their role nor what advantage accrues to us all from their appointment. It occurs to me that individuals are using these posts to their own advantage rather than to the greater good of the whole. I look forward to seeing some tangible evidence otherwise - if such is forthcoming perhaps I will re-consider next time. In the meantime I abstain. I look forward to hearing from individual holders of the posts with suggestions as to how we can all work together."
 

A speech by Mr Carter


"Ladies and Gentlemen. As you may have noticed I have been linked to the murder of Brice Eberlicht - the head of the Khiron Commission. The dagger used to torture the man to death was stolen from my shop: thus the authorities' interest in me. Until I can fully demonstrate my innocence of this crime, I feel it would be inappropriate for me to stand for the post of Water Elemental. As such, I withdraw my candidature, and ask those who would support me to vote for Mr. Petrovich instead, as I feel his views on the post match mine reasonably well."
 

Election results


Mr Southville declared the election results, as follows:

Vizier:
 von Seyffert 45, Smith-Carruthers 5, Laing 5, Bang 1

Inquisitor:
 Fielding 34, Derothshire 22

Whether Mr Fielding considers this vote sufficiently overwhelming to persuade him to remain in the post will no doubt be announced in due course.

Counter:
 Southville 39, Fielding 5

Inner Saluter:
 DuQuesne-Black 48, Ross 26, Gaboon 1

Outer Saluter:
 La Donna 25, Harcourt 8, Bang 5, d'Aventine 1, Gaboon 1

Lower Saluter:
 Valiente 30, Gaboon 15, d'Aventine 14

Air Elemental:
 de Bonvoisin 49

Earth Elemental:
 Giffard 51, von Poelzig 4, Bang 2

Fire Elemental:
 von Essen 33, d'Aventine 9, de Montvalon 1

Water Elemental:
 Petrovich 52, Carter 4
 

Speeches and other business


Mr Petrovich encouraged Members to join a Task Force for the elimination of Jim the Slasher. He spoke particularly to the members of Houses Libra, Aries, Pisces, Scorpio and Cancer.

Dame Elizabeth DuQuesne-Black briefly offered her thanks to the assembly and added that she would be available for consultation should anyone wish to speak to her.
 

A speech by Miss Valiente


"I would like to commiserate with Miss DuQuesne-Black on her bereavement. I would also like to congratulate her on dispelling the affliction that formerly troubled her poor late husband. I think it a shame that, despite my request a couple of years ago she did not inform the Club of the actual source of the problem. I have been told that it was possession by dark forces and this is a threat to us all. I believe that officers of the Club should be more open and precise with such information in the future. I hope all those elected this year bear this in mind."

[NB - I've edited this speech to account for Lord Shaftesbury's death, in case you're wondering how Miss Valiente knew about it in advance of the turn. Originally it started "I would like to congratulate the former Miss DuQuesne-Black in her marriage and wish her Ladyship many happy years. I would also like to congratulate her on dispelling the affliction that troubled her poor husband." - but it seemed a little tactless to leave it like that! - Mo]
 

A speech by Mr Stone


"Fellow members, I have set up a central administration office. It is to be referred to as the Office for Information Storage and Retrieval (OISR).

"The main objective of the Office is to document everything that happens in society day by day, week to week and year to year. I recognise the need for administration and order in peoples lives. This way Governments can file reports by area or type for future reference or comparison and academics can use information for statistical analysis.

"There will be a room in it for all members of Inferno to information either for all of us or for your own House use. I will now present you with a passcard to gain access to the room and two keys, one to open all general documents and one to open House specific documents."

Mr Stone then handed passcards and keys out to the bemused Members.

"There are currently two rules. You only look at items that are for general use or pertaining to your own House. Anyone breaking this rule will be banned from using my facilities for a year. The other, the documents must not leave the room. That does not mean you cannot make copies or take notes though. Again anyone caught trying to steal originals will be banned for a year. When submitting a document you will HAVE to put on it whether the document is General or House specific, failure to do so will result in the document being returned to you to be filled in.

"At request copies of documents can be forwarded to someone if required. Again they can only be House specific or General documents I have clerks who will arrange this, at no fee on presentation of your pass card. Do not fear, my employees will know nothing of us, they will merely think it is a Government pass. I am hoping you will use this facility to store notes on some of our upcoming projects, documents could be stored in the General area pertaining to Jim the Slasher or our Mars mission, this way people could work on projects without the need for lengthy meetings.

"I hope you all find this of some use, policy pertaining to the above can and will be changed as required, if anyone in the Club has any ideas to add to this please feel free."
 

A letter from Miss Sue


"I thank Mr Fielding for his kind words. I look forward to a long and productive membership of the Club. If anyone would like news published in any of my papers they are welcome to contact me to arrange this. As I am the owner rather than the editor therefore I am not aware of all stories before they are published. Should any stories concern you please contact me and I will address your concerns. Monique Sue."
 

A speech by Mr Petrovich


"Gentlemen, thank you for the trust in me. As Water Elemental my first task has got to be (together with my trusted friend Perisson) the coordination of the members of the Water Houses who will join the Task Force to catch Jim the Slasher."
 

An outburst by the Hon Auberon Wylde


"No room! No room! This year we're going to party like it's... er, 1872." (At this point he produced a brace of crying doves from, seemingly, thin air.) "This is what it sounds like! Don't wake the bloody dormouse..."
 

An offer by Colonel Maguire


The esteemed Colonel offered the use of his patent Steamatic Personal Protectors to any Members who wished for one to go 'Slasher hunting'.
 

A message from the Doktor


"Dear ladies and gentlemen, where are the snows of yesteryear? Gone, all gone. The countdown continues - never say I did not give fair warning. It is now nigh-on half expired. The Doktor, Member of the Twelve for House Capricorn."
 

An address by the Archbishop of Canterbury


"Friends, indications so far have demonstrated that the blasphemous destruction of the rebuilt Westminster Abbey was sponsored by one of our number. Investigations are continuing. Rest assures the perpetrator will be brought to account before his or her peers and justice extracted."
 

A letter


Just before midnight, the Infernal Mail tube released its customary letter, which Benson passed round.

Ladies and gentlemen,

You will be pleased to hear that arrangements for the establishing of Lower Cells are now in place, as are means whereby outsiders can contact the Cell. Please speak to the appropriate Saluters for details, or if you wish to help. On another subject, I wold like to point out that the burnt child, if he has any sense, will rightly dread the fire: or, to put it another way; once bitten, twice shy.

Happy New Year!
0001

Important Notes (Read Me!)


Meet - Hopefully you've all received this before it's actually taken place, if not blame the Royal Mail / The Internet! It's 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.

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.

Your turn should be with us by:
Midnight Monday 1st February 1999


Inferno News 1872

(with thanks to the London Times and various other worthy publications)

TONIC FOR THE TROOPS   Mr Ferdinand Lancelot Gaboon's famed brain tonic is now being supplied to the armed forces of Prussia and Hungary, after a whirlwind tour of top army brass carried out by the circus mogul. "In Napoleon's day an army marched on its stomach - in today's modern army, brains are just as important!" explained Mr Gaboon.

A PRESS RELEASE FROM THE CENTRE FOR INVESTIGATION, EXPLORATION AND EXPLOITATION OF SPACE   "This new centre brings about the dawn of a new age - the space age. This project will attempt to bring together all of the countries of the world to develop a ship to investigate the various other planets of our solar system. I would also like to thank my partner the Comte for his help with the project and would also ask that all those interested in participating in the project please visit the site - which should be operational by Q4 of the year and see for yourself the exciting developments planned," said Mr Henri Giffard, yesterday.

GENERAL MANAGER   General Louis Perisson is so popular among his staff, several of his senior officers, known jocularly as 'the Immortals', have taken to aping his style of smoked glasses and gloves.

AN ADVERTISEMENT   Youngsters, longing to step in the footsteps of Vesalius? Sign up at THE BONVOISIN-VON POELZIG MEDICAL ACADEMY. Do it NOW!

A PRESS RELEASE   "The new Mark 1 Banger is now in production. This new innovation in motorcar technology (recently seen demolishing the opposition in a race around Hyde Park) is now available for purchase. Be the envy of your peers! Have it done in your own special colours! Each one custom designed to your specifications! Free delivery and insurance! But be quick. These cars are a limited edition and are sold on a first come, first served basis. Contact: THE BANG CORPORATION for further details. The small print: Free insurance is only available to those aged over 21and is subject to status. Credit details are available on request."

*** ITALIAN JOB   This year saw a grand alliance of the Northern Italian states, with Florence joining with Venice and Milan in their opposition to the rule of Frederick II of the Two Sicilies. It is thought that a personal word from Grand Duke Cosimo de'Medici was necessary before Grand Duchess Adriana Sforza was prepared to act in support of the seditionary Giuseppe Garibaldi, 'Il Mosco Schiacciato'.

AN ADVERTISEMENT   Young, sturdy, Aryan boys, shoulder to shoulder, holding a flag, looking upwards from below, "ARE YOU PREPARED?! PATHFINDERS!"

SCHOOLGIRL KIDNAPPED   17-year old Lucrezia di Bicci, pupil at the Lawnside Institution for Young Ladies, has been abducted from the school's premises - police originally suspected a romantic involvement, but after the publication of a ransom note in a Rome newspaper, the emphasis has shifted to identifying the terrorist group responsible.

A PRESS RELEASE   "I am pleased to announce the opening of the Office of Information Storage and Retrieval. Recognising a need for order in these times. I have set up the office with the intention of helping ordinary folk, industry and Governments submit, retrieve and examine any form of documentation when desired. Questionnaires will be sent out yearly to the public asking about family size, spending habits, lifestyle. Those returning the questionnaire will receive coupons worth money off goods based on spending habits. Similar questionnaires will be sent to industry, asking for size of company, financial details, manufacturing details, those who reply will receive statistical information based on the reports to illustrate competition and marketing trends. My staff are aware of the confidentiality of documentation and are aware of the implications of inappropriate behaviour pertaining to documentation and so know of the consequences of doing so. There is a nominal fee of storing such information as an administration cost, but is well affordable to everybody. Copies of documents can be forwarded to anywhere, our clerks will deal with these requests and again there is a small fee for this facility. There will also be a study room so that documents can be examined and notes made at no cost," said Mr William Stone, yesterday.

A LETTER TO THE EDITOR   "Dear Sir, I can no longer contain my frustration at the attitude of some of the people in the Ministry of War. They have known for several years now about a new weapon which I have created which will once and for all make Britain the power it deserves to be. Yet they have consistently failed to support my research and development, and despite my best efforts to keep my designs secure it will only be a matter of time before a foreign power manages to obtain copies of the blue-prints and manufacture their own versions of these destructive devices. I have therefore decided to show the nation what I have achieved and to let it decide, and hopefully convince those who matter, that the security of the nation depends not only on morale, but also financial support of those whose inventions help to secure it. Yours, William S Bang."

REPUBLIC THE FUTURE FOR ITALY?   "... surely it is the destiny of Italians to band together as brothers, so that our nation can take its rightful place on the stage of Europe. And part of this process, unbounded though the respect we have for His Holiness as a great religious leader is, must surely be the delicate unpicking of Church and State..." (from an editorial in L'Osservatore Romano)

*** FREDERICK CAVES IN   In the face of inexorable pressure, with that part of his army that had not mutinied being decisively defeated in an action led by the British mercenary Mr William Tamworth-Smith, with himself and his high command taunted beyond endurance by repeated Masked Man insults and 'M'-carvings, with a massive Venetian, Milanese and Florentine force equipped with all manner of Bertrand-built steam-beasts forming to his north, with his cousin Franz Josef still supine, Frederick II of the Two Sicilies finally gave way and surrendered to the rebel forces of Giuseppe Garibaldi. Garibaldi at once proclaimed the People's Republic of Southern Italy, with himself as Acting President-for-Life pending popular elections next year. The unfortunate Frederick and his immediate family were exiled to the island of Elba, in the Ligurian Sea. Garibaldi's regime was at once recognized by his Italian neighbours, including the Pope, although Austria still denies its legitimacy: he has welcomed ambassadors from other nations.

AN ADVERTISEMENT   Singing, dancing and cheerful young and healthy people: Overprint: "We're off to see the Fairy. The wonderful Green Fairy of Oz." Main title "ALWAYS THE REAL THING!"

*** SLOVENIA'S VENETIAN BLEND   The Slovenian plebiscite, masterminded by Venetian statesman Giuliano d'Aventine, resulted in a conclusive victory for those citizens wishing to seek prosperity with their western neighbours. The result of the vote, carried out under universal adult suffrage, was: full entry into Venice 41%, federation with Venice 12%, independence 27%, rejoining Austria 7%, joining the Yougo-Slav Republic 13%. As of now, then, all Slovenes are full citizens of Venice, with the same rights as any other, and will elect their own representatives to the Venetian Senate. How this will affect Venetian affairs is unclear, as Slovenia is much poorer and will require a great deal of investment if the people who live there are to be brought up to the level of their richer fellows.The population of Slovenia is about half that of the remainder of Venice, so we can certainly expect their lobby in the Senate to be a strong one. Austria immediately protested the vote, claiming it had been rigged by Venetian interests, but the international observers supervising the poll rebutted these charges.

ATTACK ON D'AVENTINE   While Venetian statesman Giuliano d'Aventine was 'on the stump' at an evening meeting in Fiume, he was the target of a would-be shooting: an assassin stepped out and fired a pistol at d'Aventine. But brave bodyguard Miss Charity Wells leapt in front of her employer and stopped the bullet herself, receiving a wound to the shoulder. Fortunately, the injury to Miss Wells did not appear to be serious, as there was very little bleeding and she was reported back to full strength by the following morning. The attacker, a crazed Aryan supremacist objecting to the alliance of Slovenes with the decadent Italian race, turned the gun on himself when he realized he had failed.

BANG LETS ONE OFF   Engineer Dr William S Bang, correspondent to this newspaper only last week, terrified crowds in Hyde Park by utterly destroying first a steam tractor, then a hovering airship, by means of carriage- and shoulder-launched rocket-propelled explosive missiles. As blazing debris showered down all around, and spectators screamed and ran about in panic, press opinion was divided as to whether Dr Bang is a genius or a maniac, and also as to the nature of the extensive charges he is likely to face. The Times calls upon Mr Southville to have this dangerous man arrested at once, before he pulls any more such stunts.

AN ADVERTISEMENT   Farmers leaning comfortably on their shovels while watching a huge tractor moving through paradise-like fields. They smile. Overprint: "The tractor works! You no longer have to..." BUY A STONE TRACTOR NOW!. Buy before March and get a steam-kit FREE.

CAPTAIN POUNCES ON GOODFELLOW 'RUNNERS'   Captain Jonathon Hazelmere, together with the brave lads of 23 Squadron, has aided police led by rogue detective Mr Caspar Augustus Fielding in arresting two men thought to be 'runners' for the audacious Robin Goodfellow gang. Let us hope that this will lead to the mastermind behind the crimes being brought to justice with some speed.

FOR HE'S A JOLLY GOODFELLOW   During 1872 the elusive 'Robin Goodfellow' spared Londoners, his gang committing none of the burglaries that have marred the last two years. While this man remains at large, though, can we be sure the crime wave will not resume? Home Secretary Mr Charles Southville pointed to the arrest of two 'runners' and  large number of 'fences' as putting a severe crimp in Goodfellow's operation.

AN ADVERTISEMENT   THE OLYMPIC GAMES. This summer. Brussels. BE THERE.

PRUSSIAN BLOW   A hitherto-unknown gang of Russian-sponsored mercenaries carried out a savage attack on the home of Mr Peter Darkenford, a prominent Prussian citizen, this summer. Fortunately, Mr Darkenford, with a number of notable political figures who happened to be present, was able to drive off the attackers in disarray, despite their well-equipped and -trained appearance.

MYSTERIOUS 'BEAST' TERRORIZES SLOVENIA   Several Slovene peasants, in outlying areas, were found dead this year, their bodies ripped apart as though by a great beast. Superstitious folk, pointing to the fact that every killing happened at a full moon, are suspecting the presence of a werewolf, although less credulous authorities prefer to believe that a panther or some such creature must have escaped from a nearby zoo.

SPACE CENTRE ESTABLISHED   Rogue inventor Mr Henri Giffard this year popped up in Mexico, where he is building a centre for research into travel through outer space. The project has been dogged by ill-luck, though, and as 1873 approaches it is well behind schedule. Merchandise, which a number of enterprises have planned to help sponsor (or exploit) the project, is currently sitting idle in warehouses.

HAMILTON CASTS FIRST STONE   Genius inventor Mr William Stone is now an employee of Hamilton Industries: with Lord Hamilton's financial muscle behind his inventions, is there any limit to where his talents may lead?

AN ADVERTISEMENT   THE OLYMPIC GAMES: It's not the winning, it's the taking part.

BIG BROTHER IS TALKING TO YOU   Disgruntled workers in Mr William Stone's steam-powered factory are complaining of his latest initiative, a series of tubes which allow sound to be conveyed from one part of the complex to another with no loss of volume: apparently it is primarily used for hectoring them as they lunch in their canteen.

TENTH GIVERS TAKE OFF   Lord William Tiberius Arsmtrong's 'Tenth Givers' charity has proved popular among the well-known and the less-well-known this year, with many people signing up to hand ten per cent of their income to worthy causes: among them naval hero Captain Jonathon Hazelmere.

A WHALE OF A JOB   The enigmatic Comte Henri Bertrand has launched the 'steam whale', a monstrous sea-going ship far larger than anything the world's navies currently possess, with the ability to launch huge steam-propelled projectiles great distances.

NEW ACADEMY LAUNCHED   We seem to be entering a new Golden Age of invention, with Comte Bertrand adding his name to the list of those who seek to patronize geniuses from all over the world. His new academy is located just to the north of Venice.

OLYMPICS RING IN THE CHANGES   The athletic games, popular in Ancient Greece, were relaunched this year by modest Prussian philanthropist and arms dealer Mr Albert de Bonvoisin. Thanks to the rather short notice, not as many nations were able to send teams as had been hoped, but the games were smoothly organized and a tribute to Brussels, hitherto perhaps not the most popular of tourist destinations, but certainly looking at its best this summer. The Kaiser was the guest of honour, his cousin King Leopold and he presenting the medals. As expected, British athletes swept the board, with young Pathfinders scooping many medals. The Times must point out, though, that the relentless atmosphere of hype, and the vast quantity of merchandising surrounding the Games, was far from in keeping with the Olympic ideal.

DARKENFORD BUSINESS SPREADS   Tripp-Trapp Bridge Holdings, the family firm controlled by Mr Peter Darkenford, this year opened offices in Munich and London, to join its operations on Prussia.

AN ADVERTISEMENT   BRUSSELS. Visit its beautiful buildings, theatres, opera, museums. BRUSSELS. THE PLACE TO BE IN THE NEO-OLYMPIC AGE.

The Mars Mission: One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind

'STEAMPUNK MAFIA' GOES QUIET   The crime organization which has bedevilled London in recent years, with its protection rackets, gambling and prostitution, seems to have all but closed down operation this year. With the cessation of the Robin Goodfellow burglaries, London has not had so little crime for many years, and Home Secretary Mr Charles Southville is likely to gain political capital.

'METARD' FACTORY NEAR VENICE   A smelter in the Po Valley has started turning out the miracle metal 'Metard', developed by Mr Henri Giffard: it is a cunning alloy as strong as steel but with only half the weight. Early attempts to keep the plant's location secret were thwarted by its extreme obviousness.

SHARES RISE   Prices in the Stock Exchange climbed generally this year, thanks to a heavy buying programme by European interests. Financial confidence is certainly growing, with another Conservative victory looking inevitable.

COUNT UPWARDS   Count Manfred von Essen, the Kaiser's cousin, has been promoted to Brigadier-General, and appointed to the General Staff.

BELT UP!   Mr William Stone has begun construction of the first belt-conveyor passenger device, to carry travellers in comfort and safety from London to Southampton, with stops at Reading and Guildford. The journey is promised to be at least twice as fast as a horse, and fares will be kept as low as possible, to encourage demand and the building of futrher routes.

LEMAN FLAVOUR OF BAVARIA   It appears that Mr Morgan Leman, military advisor to King Otto of Bavaria, is of local origin, not British as had been thought: his true name is 'von Leman', and he is descended from the king's great-grandfather King Ludwig I, Munich genealogical experts reluctantly admitted yesterday.

NEWTON 'IS VERY NICE REALLY'   Lord Hamilton, the backer of the model community Newton, has pointed to its near-complete lack of poverty, crime and disease as a sign of great success. He has also defended use of population control measures, as a solution to the Malthusian dilemma. Admirable though this may be, and admired though Newton is among the 'chattering classes' who read the Archimedes Press, the ordinary working man seems to find the very idea of life in the place deathly dull, and it is still half-empty.

EQUITY PARTY PREPARES   The new Equity Party, which is believed to have received a good deal of funding from a foreign source, is planning to field a decent-sized slate of parliamentary candidates next year, concentrating on the South-West and South Wales. As yet they seem to be the only party to have availed themselves of the services of the surveying organization Bancroft & Co: will it stand them in good stead?

DEROTHSHIRE DITCHES FAIRY   Mr James Derothshire has bailed out of the absinthe business, selling his distillery: apparently he has been convinced by the medical evidence against the noxious but delectable beverage. In the middle of the year he met with Lord Chelmsford, the Foreign Secretary, and colleagues to discuss the absinthe situation.

*** AUSTRIA FLEXES MUSCLES   The sleeping Austrian giant finally stirred to life this year, with a 'blitzkrieg' invasion and conquest of the tiny neighbouring principality of Liechtenstein. The aged King Charles was captured in the fighting, but his heir Princess Arabella fled to Switzerland. It is notable that the Venetians have heavily reinforced their border with Austria: perhaps they attach greater consequence than most observers to this new belligerence of Franz Josef, who has this year of course lost the influence he had in Naples as well as in Slovenia.

NEW ITALIAN PAPER CALLS FOR UNITY   A united Italy seems to be all the rage now, with a new underground paper, La Repubblica, adding its voice. This publication however supports the Pope as constitutional leader of all Italy, with a democratic parliament underneath him and withdrawal of the rights of the nobility. It seems to have struck something of a chord with the superstitious and envious Catholic peasantry of Italy, particularly in the Papal States and the autocracy of Milan.

LAING LIBRARY   Mr Sunil Laing, noted British playboy, has established an antiquarian library in the beautiful city of Florence: he also offers authentication services for collectors' items whose genuineness is under question.

Don't ask what Giffard can do for you on Mars! Ask what you can do to get Giffard onto Mars!

"DON'T CLAP YOUR HANDS FOR THIS FAIRY   ... so The Minerva Times calls unequivocally for a nationwide ban on this vile substance, destroyer of lives, wrecker of families, corrupter of the weak. Ban absinthe now!" (from an editorial in The Minerva Times).

GANG WAR IN PARIS   The Union Corse are struggling with a newer crime organization in the French capital, after years of peaceful coexistence. It is thought that the French police clampdown on crime, imposed by Minister of the Interior Mr Yves Ningaulle in imitation of our own Mr Southville no doubt, has squeezed both gangs.

VON LEMAN SQUASHES ZEITUNG   Mr von Leman has sought to discredit the leading Bavarian newspaper, the Suddeutsche Zeitung, which has waged a campaign against foreign influence at Court, as being itself controlled by the Minister of War of a foreign power, Giuliano d'Aventine. Media analysts more generally believe the Zeitung to be owned by Miss Monique Sue, but as she is a Frenchwoman the point is still a valid one.

KRUPP'S LOST TAPES   The Krupp arms factory suffered a severe breach in security this year, when audacious spies managed to steal copies of the plans for the MATAV and the CASH, designed by brilliant-but-flawed Mr Henri Giffard. Shortly afterwards both Austria and Turkey announced that they were starting work on adding MATAVs and CASHs to their armed forces. The Times can only severely deplore the inevitable rise in European tension that this is bound to cause. It is one thing when advanced and responsible nations such a Britain and Prussia have access to horrific weaponry of mass destruction, as it acts as a deterrent. When every Tom, Dick and Harry nation possesses these machines, the chances o their being used in anger increase greatly. It is difficult to know who to blame more: Krupp for allowing the plans to be stolen, the British Government for allowing Giffard to escape to Prussia, or Giffard for inventing the things in the first place.

ARMSTRONG PRIZE   Lord Armstrong is yet another to sponsor innovation, seeking to defend Britain's lead in the technological sphere. He has also started backing a league in the North-East for playing the sport football, as a healthy diversion for the working man.

'MINERVA GIRLS' LAUNCHED   Wife of the Foreign Secretary Lady Chelmsford has founded a new group for girls aged 8 to 13, the Minerva Girls. Responding to earlier worries that it would be like a female version of the Pathfinders, her Ladyship pointed out that girls would be learning cooking, sewing and other useful skills that would help them keep house - in addition to getting healthy exercise through walking and team games. The organization, whose motto is 'Girl Power!', has proved immediately popular with the middle classes. The Times says: what an excellent scheme it promises to be. We have not praised everything Lady Chelmsford has done in the past, but we think we detect the sensible advice of her new husband here: no doubt he toned down the wild excesses of her own plans.

ARMY MURMURS AGAINST OTTO   Rumours that King Otto of Bavaria plans to replace his troops' rifles with special guns firing raspberries have led to considerable disquiet among officers and men alike.

*** FALL OF CONSTANTINOPLE   Bulgarian forces have captured the greatest city of Eastern Europe, pushing the Turks utterly out of the continent, after a blisteringly effective strike through the heavily-defended border: they have carried out the task that Khan Symeon failed to complete, a thousand years ago. It is thought that a Turkish unit was out of place in the line of defence, and a force of attackers pushed secretly through the gap so that the defenders could be held in a pincer - before pushing swiftly on to restore Constantinople to Christian rule after more than four centuries of Muslim control. The Sultan has vowed not to allow this indignity to go unpunished, despite an offer from the Bulgarians to hand over the large number of prisoners hey have taken if the Turks will accept the conquest.

MARQUESS VISITS NEW YORK   The Marquess of Salisbury paid a visit to our Transatlantic cousins this year, spending some time in New York as the guest of noted songwriter Mr Stephen Foster before taking an apartment himself. Unfortunately, the apartment was gutted in a fire, shortly after the Marquess had left to return to Britain.

SOUTHVILLE'S LOVE NESTS   We've learnt that so-called 'Home' Secretary Jimmikins Southville keeps not one, but two, prostitutes in East End flats to cater for his depraved tastes. Not surprising, when he's married to 'Crazy Claire' Voyante - you wouldn't want her rubbing your crystal ball, would you? And of course everyone knows that Southville could catch the Slasher any time he wanted to - but he's looking the other way, to protect the killer's identity. What are the lives of a few poor women, set against his political career, after all? But who could it be, who's highly placed enough to buy Gentleman Jim's silence in this way? We'll leave that as an exercise for the reader... (from Eat the Rich magazine)

CYCLOPS TECHNOLOGY SPREADS   Hamilton Industries is now selling smaller versions of the Cyclops machine to large organizations, such as government departments and hospitals, several of which have taken up the offer already. Lord Hamilton ha also made available licenses to produce the machines, and opened his company's research data so as to allow third parties to produce 'software' gearings for the machines.

NEW PAPER HELPS HOMELESS   The Northern Standard, launched by leading philanthropist and arms manufacturer Lord Armstrong and covering mostly sport and local issues, is sold by homeless folk who gain both cash and self-respect from their task.

*** RIOTERS KILL OTTO, VON LEMAN TAKES CHARGE   An anarchist uprising in Munich marched upon the capital and brutally slew King Otto and Queen Irena, before it could be put down by the Bavarian army commanded in person by Mr von Leman. Von Leman has gathered the reins of power for the duration of the crisis, supported by army interests. The rest of Bavaria, one of Europe's most peaceful states, is so shocked and horrified that no conclusive reaction has yet emerged, but the subjects can at least take solace in the knowledge that little Prince Paul and Princess Perdita survived the riot, being spirited away to parts unknown by loyal servants.

SMALL EXPLOSION IN TIMES BASEMENT   It is not thought that anyone was hurt in the incident, early in December, although a typesetting machine was slightly damaged.

SLASHER STRIKES AGAIN   This year, as though in some hideous way making up for his time off, Jim the Slasher struck four times, in different parts of East London, from Whitechapel to Bethnal Green and east to Poplar. The Charlies were, as usual, utterly incapable of making any progress towards catching him.

AMBASSADOR PALS WITH SALISBURY   US Ambassador Mr Henry Cabot Lodge has been a near-ever-present figure alongside the Marquess of Salisbury during this winter's season, and it is thought that the highly eligible peer may have a romantic interest in Mr Cabot Lodge's daughter Henrietta.

US PRESIDENT SLAIN   President Andrew Johnson, who had been in office only just over a year, has been killed, poisoned as he lay asleep in the White House. It is believed that poison was dripped into his open mouth down a thread from the ceiling above. The killer has not been caught, despite the heavy White House security. The new President is General Ulysses S Grant.

*** USA, JAPAN PEACE   The new President Grant has declared peace with Japan, after two years of war that have seen substantial military reverses and the deaths of his two predecessors. There has been no response as yet from the mysterious Eastern realm.

PORT HO!   Noted media mogul Professor Moriarty has purchased the post of Accra, on the Gold Coast, as well as carrying out a number training exercises of his Pathfinders jointly with the Navy. What a sterling fellow he is, to be sure, and how safe the flower of British youth would seem to be in his hands.

MRS SAVAGE SECRET ABSINTHE FIEND?   Rumours of the odd behaviour of Mrs Aramintha Savage - her stumbling, mumbling and mood swings - suggest only one thing to the Ham & High - that the Prime Minister's former crony is a devotee of the Green Fairy. One thing is for sure - Mrs Savage has been firmly removed from the guest list for the Prime Minister's wedding (from the Hampstead & Highgate Gazette).

MORIARTY ARRESTED   Home Secretary Mr Charles Southville has had noted philanthropist, industrialist, media tycoon, patron of youth and owner of a small fleet of battleships Professor Sir James Moriarty arrested, on his own authority, for crimes as yet unspecified. The Times says: we always thought there was something not quite right about Moriarty, and now he proves to be a bounder of the deepest dye, we can only say: we told you so.

TART REBUKE FOR ROSS   Colonial Secretary Sir Derek Ross was ambushed upon leaving the State Opening of Parliament by a small group of anarchist Belgian philosophers, who pelted him with custard pie before melting into the greatly amused crowd. Sir Derek did his best to maintain his dignity under the circumstances, but the near omnipresence of his goo-encrusted visage in the public prints the following day has done little for his reputation.

STEAM SFAETY FOR WOMEN   Miss Julianne Fulbright, the (moderately) well-known poetess, has launched a steam-powered personal alarm, to be carried by women concerned about their safety: designed by 'a low-profile British engineer', the device is about the size of a milk bottle and will emit two minutes' worth of loud shriek when activated, after which it must be replaced. The Times says: this invention may do more than all the Slasher-hunters in London to make the streets safe for women, particularly as it is being sold at cost price and advertised widely to the illiterate as well as the literate.

MISS FULBRIGHT PUBLISHES   Miss Julianne Fulbright has this year launched a small volume with a lengthy ballad on a European family divided by religion, and a sonnet praising the work of the police. The latter piece won the (not very) prestigious Eleanor Maynard Prize, for best short piece on a theme of law-enforcement.

MERCURY RISING   On the international metals exchanges, the price of mercury took another turn upwards this year.

*** ROYAL WEDDING BLESSED BY FRUIT   Within a few short months of the rather low-key Royal Wedding, which took place in the new Westminster Abbey under the auspices of our beloved Archbishop of Canterbury, the new Princess of Wales announced that she was 'in a delicate condition'. God bless you, ma'am!

NOTHING LIKE A DAME?   Disturbing evidence has come to light that Dame Elizabeth DuQuesne-Black, fiancée of Lord Shaftesbury, has already been married, and to a Frenchman at that - Corporal Jean d'Armes, killed in the recent war. 'How can such a bigamist and probable traitor be a suitable partner for our esteemed Prime Minister?', concerned opinion is asking. The Dame has firmly denied the allegations and rubbished the evidence as forged, and Lord Shaftesbury has stated that he gives it no credence whatsoever (from the Hampstead & Highgate Gazette).

A SHODDY PARODY ADVERTISEMENT   "Scare the neighbours, blow up the church, kill the cops, destroy the Cyclops. That's what the MATAV can do for YOU!" (from Eat the Rich magazine)

PERISSON PARTIES PERFECTLY   Social lion General Louis Perisson has thrown the party of Paris, at which anyone who was anyone (and quite a few people who might or might not have been anyone) was present. The general himself was heard bemoaning France's backwardness in military technology, and chatting earnestly to a number of bright young engineers. Meanwhile Minister of the Interior Yves Ningaulle was debating how to deal with Paris's crime problem, his beautiful (and unidentified) mistress on his arm.

EVEN LESS LIKE A DAME?   A further former husband of Dame Elizabeth DuQuesne-Black has now come forward, a ruffian named Mr John Thomas who claims to have made the Dame his bride several years ago - apparently she abandoned him, taking all his money, and he has been searching for her ever since. Mr Thomas has documents supporting his case, but the Dame has rubbished these allegations and claims never to have seen him before. Lord Shaftesbury is still sticking by his bride-to-be, although how he can possibly continue to do so in the face of such a tidal wave of innuendo frankly beggars belief.

NEW HEALER SETS UP   Miss Lilith Fair, an 'alternative' healer of the type made popular by Mrs Savage's success, has started plying her trade among the rich and influential. Her extremely high success rate has already won her many friends.

*** LORD SHAFTESBURY'S TRAGIC DEATH   The nation mourned its best-loved Prime Minister, as Lord Shaftesbury succumbed to a stroke on the very eve of his planned wedding to Dame Elizabeth DuQuesne-Black. It is thought that the condition could have struck at any time, but worry about the allegations surrounding his bride-to-be probably triggered it, medical experts think. No sooner was he in the ground, though, than politics had to be served: who would succeed? Lord Chelmsford is acting as Prime Minister until a new leader can be chosen in the New Year.

*** TORIES TO ELECT NEW LEADER   The main candidates are thought to be Lord Chelmsford, successful Foreign Secretary, and possibly Mr Southville, although he has not yet announced his intentions. It is even possible that a dark horse like Sir Derek Ross, (or should that be a 'pie-bald' horse? - ed), may come through on the rails, although he is thought to be a shoo-in for Lord Chelmsford's current job if the peer wins out. The other leading figure in the Government, Chancellor of the Exchequer Sir Andrew Browne, is thought to be keener to act as a kingmaker than to stand himself: a sizeable number of the 200 or so Conservative MPs who form the electorate respect his sound financial head. Whoever is victorious, he will straight away have to lead the Tories and the nation through the General Election next spring.

BANG CORPORATION FIZZLES   The premises of the American Bang Corporation, set up by Dr William S Bang, have been destroyed in a freak fire, and the unfortunate engineer has lost his investment in what he had hoped would launch his Bangers on the far side of the Atlantic. In consolation, the vehicles are selling very well here in Britain.

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