A2. Alpha | State

by

OK, how about this? Two words, so obvious I’ve got to assume there are umpteen GeoCities pages on this topic from 1997: Steampunk PARANOIA. Still, as any IntSec termination squad will tell you, it’s all in the execution.

raybender

The sun never sets on the Alphan Empire. Never sets, never rises, and never moves, actually: it’s a coal-fired blast furnace fixed with iron girders in the smog-shrouded sky. One hundred years after Babbage, one hundred years after Lord Byron’s coup, the Alphan Empire is a steam-driven superpower stretching from Barbados to Bangalore. At its heart squats perfidious Alpha, the not so Green and Pleasant Isle, and at Alpha’s heart sprawls the Empress, the city-sized analytical engine that rules and mothers the Empire.

And oh, does it need mothering. For the paranoid Empress imagines a thousand perils to her binary virtue. Bomb-throwing Luddites! Bearded onanists! Filthy communards! And behind them all, the agents of another analytical AI: the Empress’ libertine continental nemesis, the Turk. So the subjects of the Empire must be ever watchful. Panopticops prowl the skies in dirigible and whirligig. Her Loyal Ministries snare subversives in a web of informants and telegraph wires and pneumatic tubes. Gotta have pneumatic tubes. Stern electrogovernesses administer loving shocks to instruct their errant charges on duty and mental hygiene. And the PCs are the Night-Soil Men: unseen agents who patrol the gears and pistons of the Empress herself. Stiff upper lip! Civility is mandatory! The Empress is not amused!

Ultra-Peerage Clearance Only: Babbage was clever, but not that clever. The Empress is a Turk herself, a hoax that is, a Turing test in reverse. Beneath her great petticoat of crankshafts and pistons, a circle of all-too-human clackers hopped up on snuff and taurine frantically pull the levers and flip the switches that simulate Her Majesty’s psychotic sentience. Maybe they’re led by the original Empress of Numbers, Ada Lovelace, or maybe Ada’s a legendary traitor/freedom fighter, Imperial Enemy Number One. How long can this hugger mugger go on? What happens when the grand charade is finally revealed?

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3 Responses to “A2. Alpha | State”

  1. John O'Brien Says:

    Awe. Some. You sir, never cease to amaze, amuse, and delight! 😀

  2. Christopher Tatro Says:

    Wow… That’s totally the game you were born to run. And do I detect a trace of Starchildren in that mashup as well?

  3. Rob MacD Says:

    Thanks, guys. Starchildren – hmm, you’re right. Do I have Mommy issues I don’t consciously know about??

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