Part 39: Empires of the Smoky Skies!
New technologies have surfaced, making the old ways obsolete. Monarchies and serfdoms collapsed as science found new, more efficient ways of turning humans into part of a larger industrial machine, and reason rules the day rather than superstition and "rule by divine right." The Old Kingdoms are gone. In their place, however, new countries emerged, each with their own priorities.
What were those priorities?
The particulars of inventions, of course!
Let us now join in on one momentous conversation between the giants of our world:
Come, come, fellows! What is the meaning of this row?
This fool thinks his airship army could outstrip and outperform my land ironclads!
And this exhaust-sucking moron dares to compare himself to me, and besmirched my family honor!
Oh, dear. Now, boys, you shouldn't quarrel so--you're each a vaunted captain of the modern world, are you not?
Pfft. Any fool can force his laborers to work for him, or to add two and two. It takes true genius to find profit where others find none.
And what use is profit if society as a whole fails us?
Aha! I knew it! Clinton, you are a bloody unionizer after all!
Wh--what? Don't be absurd! Why, my workers have never revolted even once, what need have we of unions in Dalmace?
In my own factories we replaced the legs of our workers with wheels. It makes them much more efficient, and the maintenance requirements mean they never go looking for alternative employment!
Good God, man!
Is that cost-effective? Surely the maintenance costs get passed on to the employer
ENOUGH! You're all a bunch of quibbling morons.
Ugggh very well. We each have differences between us, it seems.
Oh, my goodness! Are we to have a duel? Ten paces, turn and shoot? It's a good thing we recently developed rapid-fire weaponry, I can't imagine how else we can possibly gun down four others at once
No, no. Not between us as men, but between each others as captains, as leaders of science and industry. We each have our own areas we excel in, yes?
Indeed. My air fleets can be pushed farther and faster than anyone else! None better on the field of battle.
Ah, but how quickly can you make them?
None can wrest raw industrial output like Orlin can. Why, I could outnumber your own forces on land or in the air
But could you turn a profit doing so?
Give me a month and I could buy and sell all of you!
Perhaps, friend, perhaps. And, of course, our esteemed elder Luther Griggs, always puttering away at creating the perfect prototypes for new types of facilities!
It's true, it's true. Once I finally finish the prototypes at home, and, er, work out the "bugs," my subordinates are usually quite good at following instructions and reproducing them!
Indeed, Luther, your capacity to produce national wonders is unsurpassed. As for myself
Well, I've always been a man of the people. I strive to discover new ways to improve their lot in life, and by extension, my own. Wealth, industry, and science follow if you improve every person's life.
Pah! A student of the "soft" sciences, are we?
Indeed! I've discovered many things. For example, women may not be as inferior intellectually as we once supposed!
Pah, no matter. The pertinent issue is, we each have an area in which we excel--but can we outperform the others? I propose a contest. There's a few select islands I know of where we can hold our games. Whosoever can produce the most wonders, sustain the largest military force, provide the biggest raw industrial output, turn the largest profits, or, *ahem*, improve the life of their people the most shall be the winner!
Best three out of five, of course?
But who...who would take center stage? Tune in next time to find out!