|Babbage's difference engine clockwork schematic.|
|Faction||Order of the Talon|
|Function||Information Processing and Mechanical Control|
|Brief||Complex and intricate gearwork|
Early Clockwork Edit
An interest in clockwork is something that the Order has possessed for centuries. Although mechanical clocks had been around since the 13th century, the technology had only really begun to show serious degrees of accuracy around the 1500's. Aside from the obvious use of telling the time, the Order's craftsmen did not see the immediate use of using mechanical contrivances to control other apparatus. This changed one day, when the lazy forges apprentice Petro Giovanni de Firenze (the Order still operating primarily in Italy at this time) decided he couldn't be bothered to stay up all night in order to remove metal ingots from the furnace after the proper amount of time. Using his old pocket-watch, he connected the hour hand to the furnace air shutters with a simple mechanism, causing the furnace to turn off at the correct time. Petro was beaten severely for his slothfulness, but his idea of using clockwork to automate simple tasks stuck. By the 1800's, clockwork was used in a number of applications by the order, from rifles that could load themselves after a shot was fired, to complex manufacturing devices. The Order used gears and mechanical ingenuity to operate a wide range of simple tasks, however the true potential of clockwork had not yet been realised.
Babbage's Engines Edit
In 1822, a British mathematician and engineer by the name of Charles Babbage proposed a radical idea, known as the "Difference Engine". At this time, engineers and mathematicians who wanted to find out mathematical functions such as trigonometric and logarithmic expressions would need to look up values in huge volumes of "log tables". These mathematical functions are columns of numbers that are needed for many mathematical applications from calculating the breaking strain of a bridge, to plotting the trajectory of an artillery shell. At the time, these log tables were calculated by hand, making them expensive, time consuming, and full of errors. Babbage devised a complex machine that could print out these tables by representing numbers as positions of gear wheels.
His Difference Engine could calculate log tables sequentially by doing simple arithmetic operations, and printing out the result. The Order immediately saw the use for this mathematical calculation aid, and managed to copy a set of Babbage's designs. They managed to construct one such a device, named ADAM, and put it to use to produce numerical tabulations for their various projects. They decided not to suppress Babbage’s designs, as funding boards were unwilling to supply money for Babbage himself to actually build his Engine. ADAM was so successful that the Order began constructing a second device, EVE, when in 1837, Babbage dropped a bombshell.
He called it the "Analytical Engine", and it was an improvement on the Difference Engine in every way. Where the Difference Engine was limited to simple addition and subtraction, the Analytical Engine was mathematically complete. Any and every conceivable mathematical operation could be approximated by this machine, and it could even perform different commands based on the result of operations, as well as store information, and use looping logical structures. A series of instructions, or a "program" could be fed into the machine as a series of cards with holes in them (punchcards), and the machine would carry them out flawlessly. If it were built, this would be a monster of Victorian engineering, measuring ten metres long, and three meters wide. So great was this device, that unlike the hand operated Difference Engine, this would have required an entire steam engine to turn its hundreds of thousands of gears.
The possibilities of such a device were endless. Complex mathematical operations could be carried out in minutes. If this engine was connected up to other apparatus, then manufacturing processes could be automated entirely, and weapons could be positioned to fire with perfect accuracy. The Order craftsmen quickly grasped the magnitude of Babbage's idea, and set about making sure that nobody else did. The funding review board that Babbage applied to was infiltrated, and aspersions were cast upon Babbage's character. Funding was withdrawn, and Babbage never built his steam powered "computer".
EVE was rebuilt over a period of 5 years. On the 18th October, 1842, a simple series of punch-cards were fed into EVE for the first time, and the mighty Engine whirred and clicked. Its printer zipped back and forth, and a single strip of paper emerged with a single line of text: Hello World. Pre-dating Allied vacuum tubes or Syndicate silicon chips by more than 100 years, the first computer software had been run.
Revolutionary in the Order, Aperta Scriptum Edit
By the 19th century, clockwork devices were used extensively as calculating devices, however, innovation was on the horizon. One of the younger Forgemasters went to the leaders of his guild with something that had never been tried before. This Forgemaster's birth name was lost in history, but he is known to all the Order's members as "Aperta Scriptum".
Aperta Scriptum presented a series of radical sketches. These sketches used the previous innovations made in clockwork computing in an entirely new and innovative system of locomotion. These so called "Walkers" used an intricate series of cogs, pistons and differential gear-works to carefully control the complex actions required to balance and move walking mechanical devices. The system was stunningly elegant and a fantastic stroke of genius, allowing vehicles to make use of either quadrupedal or bipedal movement.
This radical concept caused a political shock-wave throughout the higher circles of the Order. Ironically, it was the most technically inclined of the Order's groups, the Chamber Auxiliary, who were the most opposed to the idea, especially the Cataphract for its absurd complexity and the vast amounts of precious Talon Steel it would need.
The Forgemasters were unwilling to undertake the hugely expensive and complex task of retooling their foundries in order to make a few new contraptions, none of which were guaranteed to work. On the other hand, the Chamber Militant found the idea of giant walking contraptions to be quite appealing.
This dispute nearly lead to a schism within the Order itself. As the disagreement escalated, Aperta Scriptum himself stepped in with a solution. He offered that if he was given the necessary resources and personnel, then he would personally oversee the construction of the new devices. The Militants agreed, motivated by the promise of getting fantastic war machines with which to smite their enemies. The Forgemasters agreed, as it seemed like an excellent way of getting rid of a potential troublemaker, and lumbering him with a project that was clearly going to fail.
Aperta Scriptum Holy Forges was soon founded in Palestine. Here, the production of these walkers took place, and much to the surprise of the rest of the Forgmaster Guild, the new devices proved to be a fantastic success. More resources were allocated to Aperta Scriptum's forges, and it wasn't long before Aperta Scriptum was able to turn his engineering success into a seat among the higher echelons of Talon leadership, and eventually, a position on the Triumvirate.
Currently, the walkers used by the Order's forces are the Dragoon, a machine gun armed walker; the Jager, a walker dedicated to guard nearby units against any aerial threat; and the Cataphract, the largest quadrupedal fighting walker ever made, capable of demolishing a small village on its own.
Clockwork Today Edit
Nowadays, many Order's vehicles use clockwork devices. The Order's craftsmen have become exceptionally skilled at making gearwork so small and intricate that the eye can barely see the cogs. Analytical Engines are still expensive, delicate and prone to failure by getting dirt or dust trapped in their gears. This means they are only used by some of the larger Order's Vehicles, although clockwork armour is used by some of the Order's more fearsome warriors, such as Lady Maria. In instances where steam engines are too bulky, a spring made of Talon Steel will keep clockwork devices running for many hours.
Of the largest class of Analytical Engines, currently only 47 exist in various hidden monasteries around the globe. These have been connected together by a network of buried telegraph cables, allowing the Order to share information about the Cult, and coordinate their Crawler Cells.
Behind the scenes Edit
- Aperta Scriptum means Open Book in English, and is a reference to the leader of Paradox, Open Sketchbook.