Armada Destroyed By Fire

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by Danko Whitfield

Winterfell Mourning Crier

Wind and water created Armada Breakaway. On Saturday night, fire destroyed it. Casualty figures were unavailable.

Armada burns2

The steampunk pirate city’s fiery finish featured a hot performance by the dance troupe, Armada Sirens before a packed and appreciative house of residents and friends of Armada.

This was followed by two-plus hours of dancing and partying in the Wheel House to steampunk tunes spun by DJ Ahynanka Delphin.

Armada dance

All of this as the fires raged outside. No effort was made to put out the flames. In fact, some witnesses said there were numerous and blatant incidents of arson involved. Finally the Wheel House itself caught fire but the dancing and drinking continued. The fires set off a cache of fireworks that was apparently stored in or near the Wheel House.

Armada burns4

Following the dance, the floating city was evacuated. Residents (and others) grabbed what they could and fled. Some carried their own belongings while other, lesser souls are said to have engaged in looting. A Mr. Acoustic Starship is said to have run off with a souvenir first anniversary Armada telescope which he had been seen with earlier in the evening as the dance party commenced. His whereabouts are unknown at this time.

Armada burns1

A source with knowledge of reports received by Winterfell Naval Intelligence said Armada’s infamous Scoundrel Fleet had been spotted in the Blake Sea and was believed to be intending to land on one of its islands. However, the commander of Winterfell’s naval forces, Adm. Wildstar Beaumont, would neither confirm nor deny the report.

At the risk of bodily injury, this reporter journeyed back to Armada Breakaway on Sunday night and observed the runaway fire as it continued to burn.

Armada Danko

Update: Attack On Steeltopia

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2:15 a.m. SLT, Friday, June 1. Steeltopia still stands, however precariously, though by the time you read this that may no longer be true.

I have just returned to the safety of Winterfell to make these notes which are being written at my office in Anodyne, next door to where the Steeltopia Embassy once proudly stood.

The scene on the ground in Steeltopia City is truly a nightmare. Official Imperial buildings that were part of the reconstruction project have sustained massive damage. The fire and smoke can be seen for miles. The forces of the Valerian Confederation have carried out what one seasoned observer referred to as “a scorched earth policy” in hopes of wiping Steeltopia from the map.

Steeltopia burns following attack by Valeria

The Imperial Navy base sustained heavy damage to its buildings and vessels. I was unable to view this damage close up when I last visited two days ago, as Valerian forces were still on the scene, holding the position. Yesterday I received this dispatch from Invertigo Caldwell, Commander of the remaining Steeltopia defense forces… “The Valerians continue to pummel the capital with mass naval bombardment, sending in tanks and troops to finish the job and wiping out our small but brave military resistance. There are reports of enemy troops raiding and looting valuables from the Regent Theatre, such as the Men and Women Over Caledon paintings.”

On today’s visit I saw a half-dozen Valerian tanks in the city center. A lone tank of the Steeltopia military forces stood nearby, wrecked and burning, the last vestige of the skeleton force left behind in the valiant effort to protect the city. But Valerian military personnel appear to have withdrawn for the moment, their absence causing me to wonder if it was safe for me to be here. I had been advised by officials of the Steeltopia Consortium of Scientific Endeavors (from their secret position in exile) not to use standard time machines to enter the city as the temporal environment remains unstable, this due to the fallout from the Valerians’ attack on Anchorage last year. That attack was carried out with an ancient super weapon that had been hidden in the coal mines of Steeltopia, a weapon many thought to be mere legend. The Valerians captured the weapon, which has since become known as the Scourge, and used it to cause the implosion and complete obliteration of Anchorage. The SCSE cautions that any use of time machines could cause a new flare-up in the temporal environment and destroy the remaining territory of the Empire in the same manner.

Imperial Military sources tell me the Empire’s last hope is the Sky Defenders Fleet with its flying fortress Evangelion which was said to be en route to engage and destroy the Scourge.

The city’s residents were safely evacuated some months ago. The whereabouts of The Emperor remain unknown at this time. He is officially listed as missing in action.

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Editor’s note: You may wish to read my report from Steeltopia from last August on the heels of the attack on Anchorage…

Bulletin: Steeltopia Is Burning!

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An anonymous tip led me to take a trip to Steeltopia, most likely my last. I arrived at the site of the former Winterfell Embassy in time to view the aftermath of a full-fledged attack by forces of the Valerian Confederation against the ruins of Steeltopia. What remains of the deserted city has either been destroyed, damaged or is on fire as of this writing. Why the Valerians would bother at this point is hard to say.

I have no further details at this time but am working my sources. With the end of the month arriving tomorrow, it may be the last gasp for this once proud city. Explorers wishing to visit one last time must do so quickly!

http://slurl.com/secondlife/Steeltopia/189/140/65/

A Night For Mystery And Secrets

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(Editor’s Note: With the help of his friend, Prof. Wagstaff, Mr. Whitfield has taken steps to transport the reader to the future for the following article from his memoirs, which have not yet been written. This information would not have been available to the general public at the time the events took place for matters of state were involved. When you finish reading the article you will be automatically transported back to your original time point. You may feel a brief tingling sensation in certain areas of the body. Some have found this to be pleasant though a small percentage of readers do report a minor nausea. Please stay seated during the time transport. Thank you.)

Excerpt From The Book:

CONFESSIONS OF A SEMI-RETIRED TIME TRAVELLER

By DANKO WHITFIELD

A Night For Mystery And Secrets

It was a quiet, foggy night in Cape Wrath. A cigar, a stout, my newspaper and classical music on the wireless. A fine ending to a busy day.

At one point I happened to look out my window and through the fog I could see a light on the water. This is not unusual as I live right on the route of the Caledon National Ferry line. But this light did not look like that of the ferry. It was fast approaching as well, a speed the ferry might be capable of but which it would not have reason to achieve. I stepped toward the window for a closer look just as the vessel came close to the house and saw this was no ferry boat. This was a battleship!

“Ahoy, Mr. Whitfield!” a voice called from the ship.

I quickly opened the front door and stepped outside, “Ahoy!” I called. It was Wrath Constantine at the helm, Commodore of
the Imperial Navy of Caledon. Was this a training mission for his crew or was he following up on some report? He was headed north toward Winterfell, I had to quickly get ‘some’ information before he passed out of earshot “Any trouble tonight?” I  hollered. “Routine patrol,” he hollered back.

I watched him go. He continued to head north past the big rock island, not following the coast of Cape Wrath, headed into the night, toward Winterfell. Routine patrol, crossing international waters? Yes, Caledon and Winterfell are partners in the Realm of the Roses but still… We have our own navy. I am the Winterfell Ambassador, if this is routine I would know about it. Wouldn’t I? And I have been reporting about Caledon’s preparations for war all this time. How come none of my sources have told me about this? Whatever ‘this’ is? It is suspicious. No, wait, it’s not! The Commodore did give ‘ahoy’ as he was passing the house, just from seeing the light on. He certainly was not trying to slip by unnoticed. What is going on here? I must contact the Seneschelf in the morning but I must alert our navy immediately.

I dashed off an informal report of the battleship’s passing and hurried into town to the Winterfell Embassy to send the report by messenger on the next ferry.

As I walked toward town – I hadn’t even left my own neighborhood yet – you wouldn’t believe who I bumped into!

“Guv’nah?!!” It was a very dark night with the thick fog blocking the moonlight. “Des? Is that you?”

“Ambassador Whitfield, what a pleasure! Such a lovely night to be out for a walk, don’t you think?!” said the Guv’nah of Caledon.

“Well, the fog is quite thick sir,” I replied.

“Indeed! A night for mystery and secrets,” he said with a laugh.

What is he getting at? I had to ask straight out —

“Guv’nah, Wrath Constantine just went by in a battleship, headed for Winterfell waters and now I find you in the same general area just after he has passed through. As Winterfell Ambassador, I must ask sir: Is there anything going on tonight I should know about?”

“Haha! Oh not to worry, Danko. Just peaceful activities of a close ally,” he reassured me.

He was being serious now and had just been joking about the mystery and secrets. Just a joke about the foggy night. I think.

Still, after I said my goodbyes to the Guv’nah, I continued on to the embassy and sent my note off to Admiral Beaumont. I added Guv Shang’s comment to the note and told the messenger – a trusted courier who has worked for the embassy for some time – that it was to go to Adm. Beaumont and no one else.

I returned to my Cape Wrath residence and made some notes on the matter to follow up with the Admiral and Lady Twilight. I then went back to my cigar, stout, newspaper and music. As I was about to sit down I looked out the window and was amazed to see the battleship of. Cmdr. Constantine passing by in the other direction.

Well, whatever he was doing in Winterfell, it didn’t take him long.

Later, as I prepared for sleep, there was a knock at the back door. The ‘back’ door?

I opened it with a slight hesitation.

“Sorry to disturb, Ambassador.” It was the messenger. He had not delivered the message as the Admiral was unavailable. I hid any sign of disbelief from my face so as not to let on to the messenger how I was reacting inside to what he was saying. We finished talking and I closed the door.

Unavailable to receive urgent naval intelligence from the Ambassador?

This was one curious night.

There was nothing to do at this point but go up to bed and get an early start in the morning.

Caledon To Rely Heavily On Air Force

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By Danko Whitfield, War Correspondent

(VICTORIA CITY) — It is clear that the coming war on the Mainland cannot be won by Caledon if the emphasis is placed on naval power and the landing of ground troops via ship. No, it is air power that Caledon must rely upon if its hopes of victory can be achieved. And Caledon’s air strength is considered by most observers I have spoken with as second to none.

These photographs of some of Caledon’s air machinery were acquired from my source some time ago but only now would military censors allow their publication…

Still, in spite of Caledon’s obvious air superiority, multiple sources continue to question whether Caledon’s naval capabilities can meet the requirements necessary simply to support the air war, much less to control the Mainland waters in the battle zone and land ground troops.

Caledon Builds Secret Air Base

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Caledon's secret air base on Mainland

Caledon has secretly built an air base on the Mainland.

By Danko Whitfield, War Correspondent

(DATELINE CENSORED) — While Guv. Desmond Shang of Caledon gives the outward appearance  of calm as if things are
quiet on the war front, this reporter has discovered a clandestine project that will play a key role in the coming hostilities.

I am standing on the landing strip of a secret airbase on the coast of the Mainland continent known as (CENSORED). The base appears to be complete and operational. There were no airships on the base when I visited and I cannot say whether it has been used thus far, whether for scouting flights or training. It could be that the base will sit here quietly until military action is required.

This “lull before the mighty storm,” as one of my sources put it, may in fact be a strategic ploy on the part of the Guv’nah to
cause the enemy to slip into a period of complacency just before Caledon strikes with the element of surprise as an added weapon in its arsenal.

Your correspondent will continue to monitor the situation.

Explorer’s Journal: Dispatch from Steeltopia

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I was in the Babbage office of Steampunk Explorer in Academy of Industry this afternoon meeting with Executive Director Boston Steampunk. He was bringing me up to date on the group’s news and happenings in the Steamlands while I was away. As we talked, our brand new ticker tape machine started up. It went on for a bit, a lengthy message apparently or a series of messages sent in rapid fire. When it stopped Mr. Steampunk excused himself for a moment to take a look.

“Mr. Chairman!” he exclaimed, “take a gander at this!” It was a dispatch from the Steeltopia authorities which I shall reprint in excerpted form here…

“REPORT DARKEARL LEADER VALERIAN CONFED ATTACK STEELTOPIA. ANCIENT SUPER WEAPON. STEELTOPIA ANCHORAGE OBLITERATED. STEELTOPIA SCIENCE CONSORT DETECTS RADIATION. PUBLIC ADVISED STAY CLEAR. VAST CRATER. HIGH POSSIBILITY FALLOUT NEARBY REGIONS.”

As I read the tape I looked at Mr. Steampunk and raised my eyebrows. Obliterated? Fallout? I finished reading the entire message and took a moment to let it sink in. I looked at Boston again, speechless. He spoke, “You or me, sir?” “I’ll flip you,” I said, reaching into my pocket and tossing a silver dollar I’d picked up in my travels into the air. He won. “Damn!” He smiled at my reaction. “But I’m going with you for a quick look,” I started. He began to object, “Mr. Chairman, there’s no sense in both of us being exposed —” I cut him off, “…but then it’s all yours,” I said, “I’ll come back and monitor the ticker reports.” He smiled, a victorious smile I thought. “Worried about me being exposed? My ass!” I said with a great big knowing smile. He laughed, I joined him. We explorers are a competitive lot!

We stood together on the north wall of Obsidian Bay, gasping in unison. We could not believe our eyes…there was nothing to see. Nothing! Anchorage had been wiped away clean and ocean waters lay before us where the town once stood.

I left Mr. Steampunk to continue his investigation and headed south to Steeltopia prime. The streets were empty, the citizens having taken shelter somewhere to avoid the possibility of radiation. I saw the Emperor hurrying by at one point, a determined look on his face. The few others I saw on the street seemed hurried and determined as well, though a couple showed a bit of a panic on their faces – but who can blame them at such a time of uncertainty. The capital was in a complete state of disarray but whether this was due to the super-weapon blast or the ongoing reconstruction project was difficult to assess.

I heard the call of a newsboy, “Extra! Extra! Super Weapon Destroys Anchorage!” I was out of the local currency as the Winterfell Embassy was temporarily closed for the reconstruction and I had no petty cash drawer available. I will never part with that lucky silver dollar I had used earlier. I had been at my Cape Wrath house earlier and only had Caledon and Babbage currency on my person at that moment. I handed him a Caledon pound. “What do you expect me to do with that? I can’t break that sir,” said the young ruffian. “Keep it,” I muttered at the little pipsqueak as I grabbed my copy of the Tintype & Telegraph and stomped off.

I headed back to the Babbage office of Steampunk Explorer to monitor the ticker. On the way I thought about my many visits to Anchorage. I had investigated land there several times. Thought about putting a house there, tried to get a parcel for a Steampunk Explorer office but lost out to another buyer. And there were those afternoons spent over a pint or two at The Black Fox Tavern. “This is one of those times I would like to turn back the clock, just for a couple of hours,” I thought. But I had done that sort of thing in my early days as a time traveller. I knew from experience that it would not help the way I felt but just make me feel worse.

By the time I got back to the office, I was too sad to read the details of the battle in my newspaper. “I’ll read this tomorrow,” I thought. I placed the paper on Mr. Steampunk’s desk, turned on the wireless, mixed a stiff drink and waited for the ticker to tick away.

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