Infrastructure (Original and Illustrated)

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Re: Infrastructure (Original and Illustrated)

Post by Zor »

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This is a fairly typical prefab residential structure built in the Urblaast/Loriv Construction Zone in 46 IA. It has a double loaded corridor layout. On the ground floor there are a total of twelve retail spaces suitable for a wide variety of small businesses. Above those are sixty four 36m² flats and sixteen 72-m² flats. In the centre there are the main staircase, as well as two secondary staircases at either end, mostly intended as fire escapes.

Assembled from CT-3 precast concrete panels, such a structure of this size could be put together in as little as eighteen days once site-prep has been completed. Despite this, each individual flat and shop has full access to running water, electricity, gas for heating and stoves and fan aided ventilation. These factors represent a considerable degree of luxury even by Dalatyr Standards, despite the structure's utilitarian designs.

On average, during the spring, summer and autumn of 46 IA some 78 residential buildings of similar scale have been built in the Urblaast/Loriv Zone before dipping temperatures delayed further construction. Many of the the smaller units were used as construction workers' dormitories with four or more people being billeted in newly finished flats as construction continues. Larger units are assigned to Engineers, Bureaucrats, Foremen, Medics and other such senior Infrastructural personnel and their families. Many of the Commercial spaces remain unused. This has eased the housing situation considerably and has vastly raised housing quality but even as work on UL-144 comes to completion more workers are being brought in with further construction planned.

Even so, the CT-3 Component set was designed as an interim measure. More immediately, the Committee is looking towards refining it's prefab set-ups to further streamline construction as well as other refinements which will become more practical as industry improves. More long term, CT-3 buildings were made with a fairly short intended lifespan of 25 years.

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The floor-plan for a basic 36m² single room prefab apartment, such as those in UL-178. It includes a bathroom complete with tub and flush toilet, a kitchen with it's own sink, a dedicated bedroom and a bathroom. Windows are double panned for better heat retention in winter months. Water and gas pipes are run through a vertical shaft. While it the floor is bare here to illustrate the placement of floor slabs, wood and tiled flooring would be installed for the comfort of it's residents. The CT-3 set of precast panels can been laid out into myriad configurations, with other layouts for 36m² and 48 m² one-room, 60m² two-room and 72 m² three-room apartments have also been authorized in what would be the largest and most ambitious Infrastructural Public Housing project to date.

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Another apartment built from CT-3 prefab panels. This one slightly larger with an extra pair of floor panels to up the space to 48m². The bedroom and living room are more spacious. A few items of common furniture have been added for some context.
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Re: Infrastructure (Original and Illustrated)

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The SL-47 Lorry when it was first introduced was not the greatest road going vehicle that Infrastructure had ever built. Others were larger, more powerful and faster. Nor was it on the cutting edge. It was an internal combustion powered vehicle, but the first IC vehicles were prototyped in 40 IA and entered production in 42 IA. Several other IC vehicles had systems in place which were absent on the SL-47. Despite (or in some cases because of) this, the SL-47 would be one of the most important vehicles in Infrastructural history.

Previous Infrastructural Road Vehicles were made one by one in workshops, with individual vehicles in the same series following the same basic pattern often having notable differences as they were built from the ground up. In contrast the SL-47 was designed from the ground up for assembly line mass production. The basic design of the SL-47 was shaped by several prototypes and general experience with the first run of IC vehicles through the early forties, with plans and efforts for it's creation (or at least something to it's effect) going back well before that, though they were delayed by the Escort War. To that end the SL-47 was simple and robust, both to streamline production and make it easy to repair, though it did require a fair deal of maintenance.

Technically the SL-47 had a 22kW four cylinder inline engine, with a four speed manual transmission and had a top speed of 50kph. It's standard driver's cabin could provide seating for two. In it's standard configuration it weighed 1,750 kg empty and had a wooden bed which could carry up to 1,200 kg of cargo. However the general platform was fairly versatile and could be put to a variety of tasks. Many would not have cabs installed and would be sent to Dalatyr or Docklands to be fitted out to serve various roles. Limited production began at the end of 46 IA, rising to an average of 60 units per day in 47 IA and would rise further in years to come.

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In the Kingdom of Tahajemit, 8% of the adult population is of the Warrior Class. These range from common retainers to major landholding dynasties and unlike many warrior classes they don't see anything wrong with trade, artisanry or commerce. Even so they are all obligated to take up arms and serve their kingdom. But being part of this warrior class does mean that you have special privileges that the average subject of Tahajemit does not and the ability to achieve political power. Technically the Warrior Class is not a hereditary one, but to a large extent it is. A perspective Warrior must pass several trials to become a Warrior (including tests of seamanship, skill at arms, discipline, comradery and finally a sparring match with another perspective warrior on a square raft 404cm to a side where the objective is to push the other individual into the water) or be awarded such status for valour on the battlefield with the recommendation of five members of the warrior class by one of the Lordly houses of the Kingdom. Technically anyone can apply to these trials but doing so costs money, there are only so many trials being held and most warrior families drill their sons to pass these tests. Many commoners join slaving expeditions as sailors and cannon fodder to gain experience, prove themselves and join the Warrior Class.

It is from the Warrior Class that the Royal Guard is draw. Eight hundred men strong at full strength, Royal Guard candidates must go through their own set of more demanding trials which are designed to not only test their skills at arms and courage, but to eliminate all but the best and most determined. They are skilled with bow, dao swords, flame glaives (which are enchanted so they can heat up to better cleave armor and steel), bucklers, knives, muskets and cannons and can fight on foot, horseback, elephant back and on the deck of ships. They guard the Palace Complex and royal estates of the king, but on several occasions in the last century they've been send out to war and have generally performed admirably.

In the Palace Complex of Tahajemit, only members of the Royal Guard and the king himself may bear weapons, usually a dao and a flame glaive. Service in the Royal Guard is usually for a few years and Royal Guard and have comfortable barracks, good rations and solid pay. It also can be useful for cultivating political connections and attaining command in the army. The only thing unusual is that Royal Guards are required to take a contraceptive potion every month to protect the line of succession.

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Since the Rifle Wars Noljas had been at the forefront of technological modernization in Galthirith, which would also be one of the most successful group to utilize Infrastructural and Infrastructure-derived technologies. However they would face homegrown competition, most prominently from House Narxath. Like House Noljas, House Narxath is a great house which had been involved in metallurgy. As they owned several productive iron and coal mines, some basic smelting operations had been in operation for centuries and this would gradually be cultivated and refined, especially after the introduction of cannons. They also did dabble in shipbuilding, but mostly they left that business to their vassals.

Noljas and Narxath had been rivals for centuries, both jockeying for position politically and economically. Narxath does own more land in Galthrith total and a larger slave workforce. Even so, for the past couple centuries Noljas has waxed while Narxath has waned. There are multiple reasons including misfortune business policies (they were one of the two main creditors of House Jalnoth before their exodus), several military losses, reticence about developing a presence in Galthirith's colonies, misfortune in their colonial developments a decent chunk of which could be traced to attempts to force House Jalnoth to repay their loans with ruinous interest (which ultimately cost them nearly a hundred warriors, a good chunk of their colonial assets burned and earned them the ire of Valnothron's High Lords), several major vassals breaking away and military losses against Allergon and the High Kingdom while House Noljas was the first Great House to get involved in the colonies and was more willing to adapt and adjust. House Noljas began to modernize during the Rifle Wars around 12 IA as it began to produce flintlock rifles and pistols while House Narxath began to modernize in 27 IA with improvements to it's blast furnaces and cannon foundries. Despite the 15 year lead, Narxath still had considerable resources to bear on the project, it profited from the spike in iron prices during the Escort War as well as having backers in Galthirith's High Council which at the very least want to counter-balance House Noljas' rise. As such House Noljas launched their first Ironclad in late 37 IA while House Narxath launched theirs in 41.

In general Narxath tends to go forth the path of least resistance in industrial development. Over twenty years they have hired, acquired and cultivated a pool of engineers and technicians and they do have some some agents operating in Infrastructure, but for the most part they prefer to acquire their tech third hand from other Drow Houses, Venoa, the Allergonian Empire, Dwarfholds, etc than either getting it from the source or doing substantial innovation. Though they did manage to capture an Infrastructural freighter in the last years of the war. Something that works today for 1,000 scimitars is better than something which works better in a year or two for 10,000. This means that in numerous fields they lag behind Noljas, though they can find some exceptions. The Throlixreth (Troll Slayer) is a good example of this.

The seventh Narxath Ironclad, the Throlixreth was built between 44-46 IA as one of their more ambitious projects. In 42 IA Narxath agents managed to obtain schematics for the turret mechanism for the SVS Ferlando il Vecchio and they wasted no time in replicating it and ironing out the kinks. In other areas however, they were rather conservative. The propulsion system was based off that from a captured Dalatyr class Freighter, the electrical systems were rudementary and used for little more than lighting and it's interior structure was still largely wood with only some iron structural component. When proposed to the High Council and the Galthirith Admiralty two points were stressed: the Turret and the Cost, which was 122,808 Scimitars compared to the 163,254 Scimitars for a Noljas ship in the same size category. Both of these factors were enough to win over contracts for three Throlixreth class Ironclads would be ordered and would be delivered between 46 and 48 IA, even though they were coal fired and complicating the transition to an oil-fired fleet. The resulting ship was still capable by the standards of 40's non-Infrastructural Ironclads and if did lag behind the standards of Valcas or Noljas it was ahead of some it's contemporaries.

Despite this, House Noljas did gain some minor wins in that House Narxath was unable to produce an adequate heavy breachloading cannons for the turret forcing them to use Noljas guns and the specifics of the Narxath turret mechanism was used by House Noljas to push the creation of a set of patent codes. And while they would pay liscencing fees on several ships outfitted with Narxath turrets ultimately Noljas profited more from this.
  • Length: 64.36 meters
  • Width: 10.72 meters
  • Displacement: 3,982 tonnes
  • Crew: 20 Drow officers, 60 Drow Crew, 120 slave sailors
  • Primary Armament: Two Noljas 120-vaul (76.7kg) rifled breachloading cannons in a frontal turret, maximum range 5,000 meters
  • Secondary Armament: Eighteen Narxath 50-vaul (29.5kg) rifled breachloading cannons (sixteen broadside, two aft), maximum range 3,500 meters
  • Armor: 174.3mm belt, 63.1mm bulkheads. wrought iron
  • Propulsion: Six boilers powering two triple expansion steam engines, 2,364kw total power. Three masts for sails.
  • Top Speed: 28kph
  • Range: 5,500km under engine power
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Re: Infrastructure (Original and Illustrated)

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(Noldolia, Kingdom of Torion, Summer 47 IA)
Seven weeks after the official foundation of The Radiant City a package was delivered to the the Torionese port city of Noldolia. It required a modified Progress class freighter to deliver and a pair of heavy duty cranes to unload at a special dock. Special care was made to lower three massive 102 tonne steel objects down safely onto a set of rails laid in large part for such deliveries, as well a smaller simpler companion. After a set of inspections by a crew of Infrastructural Ministry of Transportation mechanics and technicians followed by a few Torionese artificers and engineers the tenders were filled with coal and water and attached to their engines, which were fired up for the first time. One by one they chugged along a short course at a modest 10kph for a brief spell over the rest of the day before being sent off to a depot. Three days latter after some more inspection on a warm morning they would be brought out for a special ceremony.

Bureaucrat Grade-5 Nikita Gamow watched as the locomotive made it's way down the railway and came to a smooth stop from an elevated stage on a chair with a small box on his lap. He'd been stationed here for the past seven years and unlike his siblings he was not much much of a trainspotter, but he knew they were Dalatyr Locomotive Factory class G6 general purpose units from his reports. They were painted gold with purple trimming: a scheme who's primary colour made him think of the Ministry of Transportation's construction and maintenance fleet back home, though those thoughts would be impolite to voice. The real reason for the scheme was obvious in the fluttering Torionese flags and banners fluttering in the breeze as a crowd stirred about. He wished this could be done in Noldolia Station, the blueprints and sketches were beautiful. But that was still under construction, so an outdoor ceremony would have to do even as the temperatures gradually rose in the summer sun.

To his relief, trumpets announced the arrival of Marquess Federico de Catelon, 27th Lord of Noldolia and and a few members of his court. He gave a speech which was flowery in it's prose but short and to the point. The same could not be said about Magister* de Viguela who follow it up with a ten minute sermon on the Gods of the Forge, the gifts of wisdom they have bequeathed to us mere mortals and the responsibility to use them wisely with allusions to several of his preferred theologians. He'd expected it, as did the Marquess and fellow counsellors who had similar opinions of the old windbag.

Regardless once that was done, his part of the ceremony was fairly simple. He got to his feet, walked to the Marquis and was announced with fanfare. He approached to city-lord and gave a respectful bow. "Marquess de Catelon." He said politely, though his Torionese elocution was still far from perfect. "On behalf of the Central Committee of Infrastructure, it is my honour to transfer ownership of three locomotives to the Royal Torionese Railway. The EL-01 Amicus, EL-02 Fraternis and EL-03 Societas." He opened the box and made a show of handing over three golden keys, each one bearing the name of the locomotives delivered.

"On behalf of my King, it is my pleasure to accept." He offered a hand to the Bureaucrat and shook as a photograph was taken. With this done there was applause from the crowd.

"Your Lordship. May I offer you a tour?" Nikita asked as the two of them left the stage.

"I'd be delighted." The Marquess replied. There was little doubt he would accept. It was part of the pageantry of the day. Soon enough they were on the gravel nearby the vehicle along with Engineer Skirbekov.

"You see your Lordship, the class G6 locomotive is what we call a 2-8-2, two unpowered leading wheels, four powered wheels hooked up to the pistons in the midddle and two unpowered trailing wheels in the back." He continued from there at a steady pace, the speech well practice but still pretty surface level. Skirbekov could answer any technical questions. It was as much for the crowd as for the Marquess in any case.

In general, early Torionese railway development had been hard and slow. By 43 IA there were three disconnected short lines in operation operated by two dwarf-holds and the Tivro Foundry, each less than 40km long and set to it's own gauge, with two more under construction. It came as something of a suprise when the Infrastructural Embassy offered King Ailtor II proposal to build and outfit a 122km line for the Crown from Noldolia to Bromos in exchange for 800,000 Trono and a 10% share of it's dividends for 25 years. The King agreed and after surveying and deal-making with local nobles work proper began early in 45 IA, aided by the arrival of three surplus Class-6 Locomotives. The line was finished in the spring of 46 IA and shortly afterwards additional contracts would be secured for additional main lines, branch lines and extensions, along with the rolling stock. In praticular, a contract to the capital city Tuliso was enough to get King Ailtor to splurge, spending 180,000 Trono on a set of ten new locomotives for express service and to pull the Royal Train. Top of the line prime movers that were powerful, fast, efficient and prestigious.

Parlially this program of rail development was done to pay off the debts accrued during to the Escort War. Partially this was to keep a major source of oil on friendly terms. But a factor often overlooked in this policy of rail development lay in the tracks themselves, or rather between them. The Kingdom of Torion would have one of the best rail networks on the planet, but one set to a Gauge of 1.5 meters. The King would continue to commission additional locomotives for the Royal Torionese Railway, it would remain a market for surplus Infrastructural rolling stock and their spare parts and it would provide a useful lever in decades to come.

*A regional official in the Order of Keepers, managing Order affairs from a Temple-Archive.
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(Dalatyr, Summer 47 IA)
The doors to the great hall were thrown open and a trio of axe wielding warriors ran in behind a young woman.

"Going so soon, Tatiana..." the leader boasted with a mocking tone, a grin on his face.

Tatiana's eye's narrowed. "Akim the Axe-Lord. I thought something smelled."

"Strong Men has a strong Musk little bird. One you'll grow to love in time."

"Watch it, one centimetre closer and you'll get a injection of hot lead." Tatiana's head hovered over her holster. "Besides, this town's aint yours anymore. Drop the axes and Major Marikov might show you mercy."

"No no my dear." Akim said with slow relish. "Marikov won't save you now. The Necromancer Nymerg has completed his spell! A thousand skeleton warriors have risen from the Mornfull Mounds and have taken up arms in my name." He raised his axe above his head. "This town is mine and shall stay mine forever and there's nothing your Great Machine can do to stop me! Ahahaha!" His minions laughed with him.

"...and Cut!" A clear voice carried over the set. With command the cameramen ceased cranking and the warriors, 'Akim' and 'Tatiana' relaxed.

"How was this take Sergei?" Actress Irina Verisleva asked with a bit of impatience, this was the sixth shoot for this scene and there were still thirty one more to do.

"I think that one's a keeper." Director Sergei Zhelezivik replied. "We'll shoot the escape scene after lunch."

"Not a moment to soon." Said Pawel Pysanka said as he handed his shield and paper mache skull-axe to a stagehand. "Thought we'd be on this all day."

"Don't blame me." Irina said in a light but weary way as she made her way to the Lunch Table for a sandwich and a cup of tea. "Or Igor, Ilya or yourself. Blame that damn fool manning the microphone pole."

"Don't be too hard on him." Pawel said calmy. "He's still learning, even if he could and should be doing so faster."

"Yeah." Snorted Ilya. In the distance, the Grip in question grumbled.

Night of the Necromancer was Infrastructure's third film with sound shot entirely without the aide of Fabricated equipment. A 22 minute long adventure set in the Wars of Unification. Even without the sound, it was still an ambitious production being three times longer than the average one-reel short that had been playing in fairs and cinemas for the past nine years and would be ready with the onset of winter. Operating mostly out of a couple old Armoury warehouses (leaving aside out-of-studio shoots) and with only about 220 employees in total from actors to caterers the Infrastructural Film Industry was in the summer of 47 IA was at this stage still nascent and it's works had been dismissed by foreigners as (in the words of Venoan merchant and theatre aficionado Ettori Vinchusci in 46 IA) as being 'a novel magic lantern show used to display eerily silent village fair fluff'. Even so, it's early products were never the less popular and the Ministry of Communications had big plans for this operation going forward.

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(The Radiant City, Late Summer 47 IA)

On a cool morning a Ministry of Distribution SL-47 with an enclosed back made it's way down the streets of The Radiant City. There was not a lot of traffic yet, which was probably for the best. It accelerated quickly, stopped suddenly, swayed a bit and was a bit jerky in it's turns. Never the less the van came to a safe stop in Ivonova District and from it a young man and woman disembarked.

"Alright Sasha. How bad was that?" The man said reluctantly as he got to his feet.

Sasha put on grin as she made her way back. "Kirill you didn't miss any stop signs or lights or hit anything, even if you did park on the wrong side of the road. Still you still passed your road test, everything else is practice." She said as she unlocked the back of the van. "And the Bread's fine."

"Well I hope so, for everyone's sake." Kirill said as he took out a couple of trays, Sasha followed behind him. As he went he inhaled through his nose. "And that's a beautiful smell."

"Just don't drool on the loafs." Sasha jibed. Soon they'd walked into a MoD grocery store and dropped off their farinaceous cargo to the shopkeeper. They made ten more trips before having him sign off for the delivery. That done, the two got back into the van and made their way off again. This time at a slower pace.

Over the last nine months, ULAF had produced more than 12,000 SL-47s either as lorries and chassis for special fitting. More than all the the previous Infrastructural lorries, omnibuses, tractors, bulldozers, battlesteamers and other free-range steam and IC vehicles. Deploying such a fleet had massive complications in of itself, none the least of which was training of personnel, ranging from mechanics to drivers. Training programs were in place to get people up to speed, but novice drivers needed experienced drivers to learn the ropes. Early on a lot of which happened in and around The Radiant City itself for reasons both practical and propagandist, even though there were accidents. To minimize this, there were people like Sasha Plotnik. She'd been a MoD driver for the last five years and a big part of her job nowadays was helping newbies through the first few weeks on the job and nip bad habits in the bud. Kirill was not the worst she dealt with, but there was still massive room for improvement especially as more and more lorries and vans were finding their way onto the road.

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(Daagsgrad, Autumn 47 IA)

On a cool night the Daagsgrad drydocks was full of sound and activity. There was the familiar ringing of metal, winding of cranes and background chatter of yard-hands hard at work. Though in three of them the ringing of hammers was now much diminished, as was the smell of coalsmoke from rivet buckets. In it's place there was the smell of molten steel and crackling sound of high temperature jets of fire and flying sparks. As she made her inspection Bureaucrat Grade-4 Yuna Igorova took note of another addition, the doubled up rubber pipes which snaked their way across the unfinished hull. These tubes lead from high pressure tanks to torches weild by masked workers who used them to weld hull plates, bulkheads, girders and other elements together. Their speed was uneven, with some being a bit hesitant with regular stops, but even so it was quicker than riveting.

Oxy-acetylene welding was still a new thing and she'd seen enough reports of burns to know that they had their downsides. Training hundreds of workers in their use was a complicated affair in of itself. Even so, it was heartening to see the new tools put to good use. This would be the forth ship that the Daagsgrad shipyards built with welded construction. Beforehand they'd built a Hubtown class freighter as a dry run and that had preformed admirably in it's sea trials. This was a more ambitious program.

Like most people, she'd read about The Radiant City and it's factories in the newspapers. Similarly the Shipyard received a couple Lorries over the last five months. Their had been a lot of talk about them, a lot of which was enthusiastic. She agreed that it was a great accomplishment and saw the potential that this had. On the other hand, she'd felt a bit of envy and a bit more longing. Two decades ago, building the first wave of metal hulled steamship was the big glamorous project. During the Escort War naval construction was propagandized as the cutting edge against the Drow Slavers. Of course, both of these pushes involved a lot of hard work and long hours and undoubtedly there were plenty of weary workers and beleaguered bureaucrats involved in ULAF's construction and operation. In twenty years something would be the new big thing that everyone was talking about. Especially since they were doing some great new work here and now.

All those Lorries burned gasoline which was made from Petrolium. Petrolium came from the Colony or from foreign sources like Torion. Either way, it needed to be shipped in using Bottle or Cask class Tankers, which her people had built. Now they could build them quicker and cheaper than before with welding. But it was not just freighters and tankers that were to be used here. While the newspapers and radio went on about the new Lorries and recruitment drives for what would become The Radiant City several orders were quietly given to the Shipyards of Daagsgrad and Borogskov: new warships.

Since the end of the Escort War Daagsgrad had built a single slightly enlarged Destroyer and broke up six other warships for scrap. It was sad to see ships she'd built be taken apart for scrap, leaving aside that the Dark Elves were still out their. She'd read the memos about the budget, but it still seemed to be such a waste. Now finally they received orders for a new generation of Destroyers and Hunters. They would not have to work at the breakneck pace of wartime production, but with new tools such as Acetylene Torches they could build better and strong than ever before. Ships that would make those slaving bastards think twice before causing trouble in Infrastructure again so others would not have to go through what she did when she lost Inna.

She stopped by a set of workers hard at work on a section of hull and the progress they were making, taking note of everything. She was no Engineer, but she knew enough to see that things were proceeding reasonably smoothly. "Very Good" she said softly. Part of her chided her for this. After all you did not want to distract people as they were working with tools that could melt steel. Fortunately they kept to their job. She continued on her course.

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(Daagsgrad, Autumn 47 IA)

Daagsgrad autumns had short days and were as a rule cool and foggy. Despite the weather the economic activities of the city continued. People went about buying and selling, did errands, visiting friends, family and lovers, doing business, went on strolls or hung out. In the weather a bearded man in a dark wool coat, scarf and a soft grey hat was nothing to comment on by casual inspection. If one monitored his course, they'd note that it was somewhat erratic, turning at corners and looping back a couple of times through the a collection of winding alleys. But sometimes people liked to take the roads less travelled and wander a bit. The buildings in this area were among the first the Infrastructurals had built and had seem some serious damage during the siege and rebellion. Even so, they did have a lot of odd nooks and crannies for those who did not want to be seen.

After passing a corner, the man stood still and checked what before and after him. He checked a pocket watch for the time and waited for six minutes. Then a figure rounded a corner and came out of the mist. A man with a moustache and a travel bag.

"Excuse me, do you know a good bar around here?" The Newcomer challenged in a familiar voice.

"I'd recommend Urlan's. It's not far." This, in a very private and transient lexicon, meant that he was not under duress and he had something substantial to talk about.

"Well could you tell me the way?" The newcomer replied.

"Certainly." The two of them approached in the gloom. As the man did so, he took off his hat, flipped it over and turned it inside out, revealing a darker interior before replacing it on his head.

"So...what do you have?" Salt said as he peeled off the moustache and slipped it up his sleeve. To the bearded man in the hat he was known only as Salt.

"Only this." The breaded man reached into his coat and produced a pipe mechanism. "One of the welding torches."

"May I?" Salt said expectantly. The first man offered the item to the newcomer who inspected it carefully. "Intriguing, if a bit simple."

"As I told you they're basically like an oil lamp, albeit a high pressure one burning gases."

"I remember. Just a comparison against general expectations of Infrastructural Machinery." Salt the item into his bag. "Nor is it a bad thing."

"And my payment? Getting that out of the yard and past the guards was not easy."

"Ten Kilo through the usual channels as agreed." Over the next couple months, his cleaning lady would leave an envelope behind his nightstand after some of her visits. Five envelopes in total with two thousand credits each, nearly double his annual salary. "We'd offer another ten for samples of that new gas, 'acetylene' I believe it's called?"

"What about oxygen?"

"That my superiors know about." That was all the information Salt had received on oxygen and all he cared to know about it. Operational security was paramount.

"They keep it in these tanks. High pressure things, the smallest of which weigh more than 20 kilos. You can't just keep them hidden in your jacket."

"Very well. My superiors shall work on the means going forward. This has been most productive. Good day." With that, Salt made his way forward and continued through the winding alleys. The bearded man shook his head and eventually made his way home.

Magnus Norsisleb was not a fighter. This was not say that he could not fight if he had to, but he believed firmly that the best way to win a fight was, if possible, avoid it. Which did not mean that he did not have opinions. When the Dark Elves landed, he'd got train tickets to Borogskov for himself, his wife and two kids and he made plans to flee further. When he'd read about the damn fool uprising, he was furious. A bunch of damn fools who were deluded in thinking that the old slavemongers were anything other than petty spiteful parasites tearing up his city because they figured they could fill their shoes and reign atop the rubble pile. Not that he loved Infrastructure, seeing it as a blunt self-righteous ravening beast for all it's clever toys. An attitude which persisted even after he got a job in the shipyards after the siege. To Magnus what mattered in this world was himself, family and friends.

Six years ago he had some money troubles from a few bets and he'd met Salt. He gave him an offer: 750 credits for some photographs of some of the new ships under construction, enough to cover his debts with a bit to spare for himself. He'd agreed, did the job and resolved an embarrassing situation without his employer or wife knowing. Over the next few years he'd done more of the same. He'd invested some and spent the rest and generally lived better than his neighbours. The welding torch was the first thing he'd stolen from the shipyards besides old paperwork, but as far as he could see there were plenty of the things and there was probably a factory in Dalatyr or that Radiant City making hundreds of them a day.

As for Salt, he knew that he was working for another power who wanted Infrastructural shipbuilding secrets and left it at that. Salt did not say more and Magnus did not pry. It was a not a chatty relationship. Shortly after their parting, Salt called up his other connections and the welding torch and a bundle of miscellaneous reports began a circuitious but secure journey to the research workshops of House Valcas.

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(Administrative District, Daagsgrad, Autumn 47 IA)

Papers rustled, typewriters clicked and rang, pencils scribbled, the radiators occasionally thumped and there was a faint murmur of conversation. This was the constant background noise for Maja Tomenko's office as she poured over her usual pile of paperwork. In general these were banal: copies of employee timekeeping records and receiving records made up the bulk of it. She was more interested in the marginalia that had been added. Most of which pointed out irregularities in accounting or anomalies, with most of them being fairly mundane. Only in the context of various written procurement reports and Enforcement inquiries could they be parsed out, and even then it was imperfect. Fairly regularly, she scribbled an addendum onto an older note relating to a potential lead which could either strengthen, weaken or invalidate it. At the end of the day, she'd file her notes and submit a list of the strongest leads to her staff for future investigation.

"Inspector Tomenko?" A voice said, drawing her out of her little world.

"Hey Ulf." She turned to face him with a grin. "Good news or bad?"

"That's depends on your perspective, ma'am." Ulf said formally with a folder in hand. "But we have managed to find a hard connection between Daisy, Rose and Bluebell."

"And what of the rest of the bouquet?" She'd been the one to suggest floral code-names for a number of suspects.

"Lily, Tulip, Pansy, Daffodil, Marigold, Orchid and Bluebell are not involved with this connection so far as we can tell."

"Oh Poot." She spat the mock profanity. "Still it makes sense, they have been pretty smart about this so far. May I?"

"Of course." Ulf said as he handed the folder over.

"Thank you." Maja said sweetly as she received it and opened it up. In short, it contained reports on one Roskara Shelepov, a fifty three year old cleaning lady who fairly regularly worked for subjects Daisy, Rose and Bluebell, along with a few other clients. Normally she'd charged 1.2 credits an hour, pretty much the going rate for basic domestic cleaning services. Such an income was modest, but Even so she'd owned a fairly substantial house in the Southeastern Dev-Zone. She apparently had some investments in rental properties and dividends would cover some of the discrepancies, but that begged the question as to where she got the capital. Her family was not rich, especially given her father's debts and her brother had been a rebel who died in the Battle of Daagsgrad. This was not unusual in of itself and she had a solid alibi for her ignorance of that plot given that the core Rebels were almost exclusively male and she'd spent the siege in a friends' basement well away from the fighting. But that did not rule out anti-Infrastructural sympathies.

Over the last four decades, workshops to the west had tried with varying degrees of success to make duplicates and derivatives of Infrastructural weaponry, tools and technology. You could understand the desire and their were some benefits to it, even though they got much of the raw info to do so through traitors, abductors, extortionists and thieves to try to prop up their own faltering feudal (or worse) Societal Machinery. Their attempts at probing the Coldlands for their secrets ranged from comedically incompetent to those both well funded and fiendishly subtle. Local Enforcement and the IBME could and would catch individuals engaged in industrial espionage, but against the more serious ventures and State level actors you needed something more. The pertinent data was out there if you knew where to look and how to find it. Many of her colleagues were involved with informants or interrogation, but Maja mostly worked with paperwork and accounting finding it just as productive.

Few people who knew her as a child would think that Maja would take up her career. The petite daughter of a bakery manager and a secretary who alternated between shy and bubbly. Her interest in jigsaws and crosswords were the earliest signs of this, as was a fondness for cards. She attended Administrative Prep, but she did not go down the Bureaucratic path or settle into a cozy clerk's posting. Instead she signed up for the Internal Monitoring Directorate, which was definitely a demanding job with a lot of responsibilities, but the puzzles it offered were formidable indeed. And the professional and financial activities of Ms Shelepov was a piece around which others would fall into place.

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(Daagsgrad, Autumn 47 IA)

On a simple bed in a small bed above a Daagsgrad linen shop there slept a man who'd for the last eight years had used seven different names, changing them as easily as other people changed socks. None of them were the name his parents gave, a cherished relic he kept lodged in his memory. He had a couple for day-to-day living, one he used when he went out looking for entertainment and a couple he used for work. His work involved erratic hours and it was not unusual for him to spend the day tucked beneath it's sheets, as he did on a cool afternoon until he was rudely and abruptly roused by frantic activity.

"Get up! Now!" One of his roommates said in Allergonian as he shook his shoulder. The sleeper opened his eyes. "A Lorry pulled up full of Mobes* and they're coming this way."

"Shit. SHIT!" The Sleeper said as he peeled himself out the sheets. "Bar the door, burn what you can and get moving."

"Already being done, Bread's on the Door." The Roommate had a pile of folios and notes in his right arm and proceeded to stuff them into the small iron stove as fast as he could, as well as having a revolver in his pocket. How much use that would be was not worth dwelling on.

The Sleeper threw on a pair of pants, shoes, jacket, a cone shaped hat and collected his emergency pack in a few short seconds. It was a small leather folio with five hundred credits, eight marks, some forged documents for a yet-unused alias, a pair of spectacles and a false beard and a small booklet of contacts. As soon as he was done there was hammering on the Door.

"Infrastructural Bureau of Mobilized Enforcement!" A muffled cry came from the doorway. "We have a Search Warrant! Open up in the Name of the Law!"

"Stay safe." He said just before he slipped out a window, never expecting to see any of his three fellow lodgers again. Already Nails had left, hopefully Bread and Candle could make their escape. He clambered over the rooftops, keeping crouched as he did so for three buildings before descending to the ground by a cast iron pipe and a fire escape. He thought he heard gunfire, though no challenges or threats. He threaded his way through and prepared to be just another pedestrian. With a little care he'd get out of the city and then either get to another Safehouse for a few months and go to ground or get out of the country.

Then to his shock and horror two uniformed figures came out to meet him. One was a lean Mobe Corporal carrying a shotgun and a truncheon. The other was a petite woman with girlish pair of ponytails, who was far more frightening. She raised a gloved finger.

"Hold it there." She said with a slight tinge of giddiness "You look a lot like someone I was looking for."

"Who would that be, Enforcer?" He said trying to give just the right amount of concern that an innocent bystander would given when confronted by Enforcement on a warpath.

"Don't know his name, silly fellow goes by Salt. Also there's no way out of that alley, at least horizontally."

Salt tensed to make a dash. This was beyond bad and he did not even have a knife.

"Now now." She said as she raised a gloved finger and drew a sleek slim pistol. "We're just going to have a little chat with you and your friends. The Corporal's will just help you get back to our office." The Mobe advanced on him quickly, grabbed him before he could bolt and in a few quick motions had Salt in handcuffs.

In the end they'd collected three of four members of this cell alive, the forth was killed in a shoot out. An Junior-Enforcer did suffer a flesh wound to the leg, but by all accounts he'd make a full recovery. For the last few days she'd fretted about this outing. She did have combat training and the Mobes were good at what they did but even so most of her work was done behind a desk. A certain degree of field-work was required of Internal Monitoring Directorate officers, though most of that was fairly low key stuff following up on leads, working with contacts and interviews with figures. This was a raid against a key node in a well funded Industrial espionage ring which was suspected of having some serious firepower and apparently did have a shotgun and two revolvers. A lot could have gone wrong even with prep. Even so, it was her case and Commissioner Vrubel felt that she should personally oversee one of the day's three raids. Everything went smoothly and she was glad of that, even though she hoped to never repeat it.

The next few weeks would be busy for Maja as interrogation and written documentation brought in a flood of new information. This lead to more arrests and by extension more info to process. Soon enough, the IBME and IMD had rolled up most of Valcas' assets around the The Yards as well as some of a few other operations. A few of their agents (mostly human Proxies) went to ground or otherwise escaped, but their operations would take years to rebuild. As for Salt and his surviving colleagues, they would be put to productive use as Detentional Labourers in the Petrolium Colony.

*Slang term for the IBME.

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(Serene Republic of Venoa, Late Autumn 47 IA)

A pen ran over parchment leaving behind a neat signature, punctuated with a final strike. The documented was rotated 180 degrees on a desktop and for a moment inspected, just for a final conformation and an official stamp.

"And with that the last consignment has been officially received Enlightened Bureaucrat." Vintenzio Di'Hanseti said "And I must say that this comes as a relief to both of us given bond obligations."

"Indeed". Lena Leskov (Bureaucrat Level 5) said as she got to her feet. "On behalf of the Great Machine i'm glad that this has been to our mutual benefit."

"You are too kind. Still it has been a pleasure doing business with your government." Vintenzio extended his hands

"Agreed." She said as she shook the bankers hand.

"And if your Great Machine has any further needs of our services, we'd be glad to provide them. Until then, farewell." He said as he left her office in a good mood. The arrival of another thirty two thousand Lyra to his vaults would always put a banker in a good mood even if it meant the cessation of interest a bit earlier than he expected. Even so, his Bank had profited immensely over the past decade off of Infrastructural war debt both directly by payments and by bond issues on that interest.

Before the Escort War he'd known that Infrastructural imports were highly profitable, things such as phonographs were in high demand and commanded impressive prices. During the war they upped their export of arms; and after that they made a big show in selling Ironclad and by selling Roadsteamers to prominent Patricians. Even so, the area where the Coldlanders had made their most substantial impact was grain with a staggering increase in volume. Apparently it had to do with trains, which unlike oxen did not eat grain as they travelled. As the Coldlanders expanded their railways more of their Coops could sell on the international market. This had upset some of the big landholding patricians, but on the other hand it had lowered the price of bread in the city and the baker's guild was happy. Either way, it was indicative on where to invest. In the Serene Republic alone there were now more than a hundred firms that had invested in mechanization ranging from railways to textile mills to factories that made firelighters and more ambitious people with their own plans. To start up new ventures and expand existing ones they'll need loans and Di'Hanseti Bank would (after careful consideration) would be there to provide.

The Dark Elves were the obvious losers in the Escort War, accomplishing none of their strategic objectives while loosing many ships and warriors and paying an indemnity to end the conflict. However Infrastructure did not really benefit from victory: it was costly, set back their plans, accelerated their enemy's industrial development and they gained very little from it. The biggest winner of the Escort War was Venoa, who lost nothing and gained a substantial injection of Capital to ram into their own development.

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(Southeastern Continent, Late Autumn 47 IA)
On a warm morning in Velnariath a train rolled across the red landscape past a field of Vyankaillin gathering the day's sunlight. In most respects it was a fairly modest affair set to a narrow gauge* with twenty small ore wagons that were pulled along at a modest 27 kph by a small 0-4-2 Valcas-type numbered J-211. Over the last decade, House Valcas had build hundreds of Locomotives for various jobs for buyers in Valnothron and beyond and for the most part J-211 was a fairly normal for one of their small mine units. It's marine engine derived piston assembly was a bit of an anachronism nowadays as Valcas' steamworks had stopped putting them on mainline locomotives seven years ago though they still put them on the lighter units. It's cabin was open with just a simple cloth awning for shade, but this was a concession to climate. But the thing that most people noticed as odd about it was it's lack of a smokestack.

Eventually the vehicle began to slow. As it did so it's Drow operator let out a sigh, he'd hoped that he'd have enough power left to make it to his next stop but that was not likely. He'd cut the steam and applied the breaks gradually bringing the train to a complete stop as per protocol. In truth he'd figured that he could do it on the move but the Governor had been firm on not taking risks. Once the vehicle was still, he opened up a set of clamps and extracted a metal cylinder banded with runic steel and full of glass. He set the heavy thing aside as he opened up a small steel box and produced another identical Cylinder save a Green Glow from it's runes. He put the spent cylinder in the box and with care hefted the fresh one into place facing into what would be the Firebox on most locomotives and fiddled with a nob on it's back and it's rear rune ring to engage it. Soon afterwards the steam pressure began to rise again and he was back under way. With a smile on his face, the driver set his vehicle back into motion

Torthirn zi'Valcas had been taken by House Valcas as a ward thirteen years ago. He was sent to the Ironworks and after some basic instruction was tasked with keeping the cannon foundry's boring engines in working order during the Escort War. Soon after he was poached by Weitas ti'Halsath for her locomotive and after two years of that he was shunted overseas to work on the locomotives of the the Zharhys line to help operate the machines he'd built. Then two years ago he'd been transferred again to the far side of the world to man this short line. Eleven miles from the minehead to the colony's Ironworks and back again three to five times a day. Bringing over overseers, food, water, tools, various other supplies and bringing back a vast amount of metal, with drop offs for crews working the solar collectors.

Velnariath was still a rough and tumble mining colony in the desert, but despite that Torthirn liked his job. It was fairly easy but still stimulating, much better than any prospect he had back in Valnothron, especially as there were plans for a proper full sized railway. Beyond that the land had a stark beauty to it and the wildlife was strange and wonderful. A couple months ago he'd met Breijeth, a shopkeeper with a beautiful smile and the right sense of humour who found him handsome. He could see the two of them building a nice house by the river with a couple of domestics to keep it nice and tend to the children while they our out taming this frontier and building a key part in achieving the Divine Destiny of global Drow Domination. More than most, he had firsthand experience of this. Using a six vaul Sun Flask, J-211 could go down the line thrice with a bit to spare before it needed to be swapped out. No need to carry a tender full of coal, nor ash and smut getting everywhere and once they were spent, they could be put back in the Vyankaill for recharging.

He'd heard that the Coldlanders went around the world for Stone Oil that they distilled into fuel, as far as Torthirn was concerned they could keep it.

*Three drow feet, or 93cm

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(Tamanota Shoguante, Early Winter 47 IA)

As the sun crept over the the horizon fishermen loaded their boats with nets and other supplies. Potters threw clay on their wheels and began to work it and carpenters carefully began to work wood, the two families of inn keepers prepared a quick breakfasts of tea, rice, grilled fish and preserved vegetables for their guests. Servants cleaned dishes and set laundry out, old women swept up, a couple men helped out a friend replace lost roof tiles, a few peasants peddled firewood, a pair of samurai made their police rounds, other people went about their business at a relaxed pace and children played. In general it was a calm winter morning in the small town of Isuban. It's people treading their well worn paths at a relaxed pace. Not much happened in these towns between market days and festivals. Broadly speaking there was some interest goings on beyond their small island elsewhere in the Shogunate, sailors and merchants could find interested ears in the Sake Houses. Reports of smoke spewing iron ships sailing to Kaniwan bearing clockwork treasures for the Tamanota clan and the Emperor had come their way and some of the Samurai had acquired some rather impressive new firearms but to the people of Isuban that was interesting but not important like the rice harvest or the price of pickled herring. One more fantastic tale with a grain of truth in it that only marginally effected their lives.

Then the bell-tower was wrung with three rapid clangs followed by a short break and the sequence repeating. It could only mean one thing, an attack from the sea. A few men rushed to the town armoury for armour and weapons while most set up barricades as Samurai took command. The two battlements were manned and their eight cannons readied. A rider dispatched to the fortress for aide as peasants from nearby farmsteads poured in. The people of Isuban had faced raids before and had fought off the last two incursions. Typically the assault could be furious but brief. They would not have the numbers nor the stomach for casualties for a sustained siege especially when reinforcements arrived. Most likely they'd content themselves with rounding up straggling peasants and other unfortunates to be outside the town walls they could. In general the populace thought that if they could hold out for a few hours, they'd be safe.

Then they saw the force coming their way. Not a trio of ships, but a dozen. Worse still was their armament. At long range they brought their guns to bear and fired off ragged broadsides into the battlements. Many shots went stray (which could mean anything from landing in the sea or crashing into someone's house) and a good number of them exploded. A couple of cannons returned fire, but soon enough they were silenced. The fleet advanced, dropped anchor off the shore more than forty boats loaded with raiders. The defenders shot at these with what guns they had, but the raiders had more both more faster firing rifles to return fire. They also had swivel guns, which they used against barricades. Firing a half-vaul projectile they could smash through the makeshift barriers, but the raiders were sparing with them. Indiscriminate slaughter ran counter to their purpose.

The landing parties attacked in three groups: one head on and the other two taking the flanks. Hundreds of men disembarked and were soon sallying forth letting out a cacophony of cheers, jeers and individual battle-cries as they went. Some threw grenades, others came in with revolving pistols and swords and most charged with bayonets fixed letting off the odd shot as they went. A few fell or were wounded in their assault, but sheer numbers and firepower were on their side. The west side of the town was the first to fall with the centre holding on for a few more minutes and the west lasting a bit longer. The defenders fell back, but by that point there were already raiders moving through the town and searching for plunder and victims.

One of the invaders advanced through a streets at a quick pace, his Failverth 4255 rifles at the ready and his eyes darting back and forth. Ahead of him he saw a couple of armed men round a corner, he quickly levelled his gun and pulled the trigger. There was the flash, a sudden slam of recoil, the loud crack and a jet of smoke. A second latter he saw that he'd taken down a Samurai with what looked like (and latter turned out to be) a modern Coldland gun.

"Great shoot Arok! AAAARGH!" One Krai Pahyhan said as he ran past with revolver in hand quickly switching to a battlecry. Arok grinned at that as he reloaded to take out some of the armed peasant defenders he had with him. He'd take the rifle as a trophy, but the real prize was to come.

Soon the Tahajemitan raiders had the village under their control with parties scouring the surrounding countryside. Five thousand people were gathered from in and around Isuban and the surrounding village and the selection progress had begun. For the most part they took people between about six and forty, leaving aside the disabled few that were badly wounded and with a handful of older skilled artisans included. The old were seen as depreciated in value and while infants and young children had a lot of life in them they had a high attrition rate at sea. In total, some 2,814 people were loaded up onto the slave ship as well as a fair deal of plunder; from money to food, art, kegs of sake, clocks, porcelain, shrine ornaments, weapons and tools. Anything that looked like it had some value to them that they could was stolen. The armoury was burned and the powder magazines for the guns were blown up. After a few brutal hours the raiders left and headed back south. Between death and abduction, some 3,782 people were lost from Isuban and it's environs that day. More would succumb to their wounds over the new month.

Isuban was one of four towns on the Island of Takijima, part of the Southwestern chain of Higato. On that day, three of them were hit by nearly simultaneous attacks. Well armed and well coordinated, the incursion made off with 9,281 people as well as three trade ships while leaving another 3,405 dead. Nearly an eighth of the total population was gone and a blow which would immiserate the remainder. In total this incursion had taken more Higatoan lives than the minor raids had done in the last four. Worst still, a month latter another island was subject to raid of similar size from Ilong and two month after that a Zturimi fleet laid siege to the western coat of Nanbushu, the main Tamanota islands. Each did similar damage, though a Tamanotan light squadron did manage to take a couple of ships during the last raid and liberated four hundred captives at the price of a lost ship and 150 dead sailors and soldiers.

From the perspective of both the Southeastern Raiders and their Drow backers this venture was a major success. The large-scale raids brought back higher than normal returns with lower losses even before the operation was subsidized. Janilonas' high council got full slave markets, sales for their arms merchants, improved relationships and such a move would keep Higato on the defensive. It would take a bit of time before another set of major raids could be organized, but that meant they could prepare.
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Re: Infrastructure (Original and Illustrated)

Post by Zor »

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The Flag of the Kingdom of Torion. It was introduced in 425 BIA by the emergent kingdom as the ascendant Princiality of Tuliso managed to absorb three of it's main rivals (one through conquest and two through unions of marriage) and declared itself to be the Kingdom of Torion. While the monarch would retain the heraldic iconography of the armoured bull of House Lavransicos, as would royal institutions, the Flag deliberately avoided such iconography to gain legitimacy. Instead it is based on stone carvings commons to ruins in what's now the heartland of the Kingdom dating back more than 4,000 years to the time of the Student Men from a culture which (going by Dwarven and High Elven records) was famed for their wine, mosaics and elite shock infantry. Rendered in Gold and Purple, this banner helped build a common cause and invoked a powerful romantic image which aided the Kingdom in it's expansion.

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After the conclusion of the Escort War the priority of military production fell. Much of the military was demobilized and there was a glut of equipment. Armaments factories were retooled and converted to civilian and industrial production or in some cases shut down. What remained in operation was the technological Vanguard, the most up-to-date factories with an emphasis on quality over quantity. Between 37 and 42 IA, the Type-4R rifle replaced the Type-3R/b as the army's main service rifle while other projects were perused. In 45 IA a plan was put into motion for the next generation of Infrastructural sidearms, with production beginning in 46 IA. It's product was the Type-4P Semiautomatic Pistol.

Chambered to 10x20mm pelleted nitrocellulose ammunition, the Type-4P feeds from a detachable 8 round box magazine and weighs 1.05 kilograms with a recoil spring based Blowback operation. One cocks it by pulling the nob on the back. It has an effective range of 50 meters, mostly due to ergonomic considerations, though it its designed with accuracy as a primary concern. Production began in Dalatyr in low volumes at an average rate of 12 units per day. About 90% of the output went to the army and navy, though a few of the new guns were diverted elsewhere.
Spoiler
The image is actually fairly old, though I did give it a bit of a touch up
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The Internal Monitoring Directorate is Infrastructure's internal security agency. Tasked with a variety of jobs counter-espionage to the identification and neutralization of anti-Infrastructural insurgents. As of 47 IA it has some 640 members spread out among sixteen bases with half of it's people being fairly mobile and deployed as needed, though it is increasing in size and strength.

The IMD uniform is mostly worn by Officers when they're in the office. Much of their business involves dealing with paperwork and reports from Enforcement. They also conduct interviews (ranging from visits to people's homes and offices to the questioning of subjects in custody), manage networks of informants and contacts and perform field work. When on the streets, IMD officers and agents typically wear plain clothes. That said, all members of the IMD are trained in firearms usage and unarmed combat, leaving aside the Extraordinary Response Unit, a set of (currently) four squads of ex-army soldiers that are heavily armed for those thankfully rare occasions when the IMD needs a lot of firepower to sort out a problem. Though making use of local Enforcement or the IMBE is more common.

Even so, when a dark bowler hat with a red ribbon and gold badge shows up things have gotten serious.

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The Corps of Engineers plays a key role in achieving the Committee's plans: overseeing the instillation of machines and their operation, monitoring performance, ensuring product quality, responding to issues, draft responses, making adjustments as needed and otherwise overseeing the creation and expansion of State Industries. Even so to do their job they require the services of people who can operate steam engines, lay wires, install pipes, perform regular maintenance and knows the ins and outs of specific pieces of equipment. These people: plumbers, electricians, mechanics and so forth are collectively classified in Infrastructure as Technicians.

Infrastructural Technicians are more numerous than Engineers and more informal. Engineers are (with some variations and exceptions) Academy trained and required to serve the Infrastructural State for a tour of duty. Technicians on the other hand simply have to demonstrate their competence and are given a certification. Many Technicians are the products of Trade Schools (among them a fair number of Engineering Academy drop-outs), but others are the product of workplace training programs, military training programs or are self taught and pass their certification exams. With a few exceptions Technicians are not required to work for the Infrastructural government, though most will at least part time as the pay and benefits are good. Even so a substantial number of Technicians work freelance. Various firms and people need their services at least occasionally and they can pay a premium for good services.

When working for State Industries full time, Technicians will often have uniforms or at least insignia indicating their qualifications. This helps identify who's qualified to do what and can encourage a sense of pride. Many freelance Technicians have adopted their own personalized attire to advertise their skill-set and build reputation. This can be a fairly subdued pin or it can be fairly elaborate. A jacket with Insignia on the shoulders and a hat proclaiming one to be an "ElectriTechician" is not unusual. Rubber gloves are also part of the unofficial quasi-uniforms of an electric Technician. After some debate, there are some legal restrictions on this forbidding 'False Advertising' by the uncertified, on top of some workplace regulations involving protective headgear and similar for certain trades.

Technicians are encouraged to be careful, for even though their knowledge base is more limited than that of Engineers it can still be prized by non-Infrastructurals who will often seek to extract it by force.
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Re: Infrastructure (Original and Illustrated)

Post by Zor »

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In the decade since the Escort War, there have been several major railway booms. Infrastructure would resume railway development postponed by wartime vigorously while beyond it's borders nascent networks would begin come into their own. They offered a massive improvement in overland transportation, both for ability to move freight as well as people. Here are examples of passenger carriages from three nations in 48 IA, and the services they provide.

Infrastructure: Introduced in 45 IA the P-125 passenger car (itself a derivative of the P-118, along with the P-119 through 124 and P-126, itself being the rear-end unit of the subset) the latest in passenger accommodation. 21 meters long and built on two bogies, it is intended for long distance work. It includes electric lighting, hot water heating in winter, van based ventilation in summer, a lavatory with a flush toilet and sink and comfortable padded seating for 48 passengers in it's open plan layout. An cloth covered corridor connection allows passengers to easily move along the length of the train. Other variants on the P-118 include passenger cars include mid train passenger cars, corridor sleepers, dining cars, baggage cars, crew cars, lounge cars and VIP cars.

The general Ministry of Transportation strategy for passenger transport is egalitarian. A high ranking Bureaucrat and a wealthy businessman may share the same carriage with cooperativniks and factory workers (though Bureaucrats and Engineers can travel for free on work assignments). That said, there is some variation in the quality of service along the some 14,500km long network. Some of which is based on journey length, but also on what equipment is working it. The P-125 and her sisters are in 48 IA used on several of the main Intercity lines drawn by high end locomotives at speeds of up to 85kph. In contrast, on a lot of older lines accommodations are more rudimentary with older locomotives pulling older rolling stock at speeds as low as 25kph (leaving aside mountainous areas and other places with steep inclines). There are a few private trains used for foreign dignitaries and other such VIPs, as well as three special trains reserved for the use of Central Committee, which include a few private carriages for accommodating guests, carriages for security personnel and highly specialized accommodations for the Machine Lifeforms themselves.

Allergonian Empire: The Empire developed steam engines and locomotives with the assistance of the runaway Engineer Malnov Yorigsov, but applied it in their own way. Partially because of local sensibilities and partially due to the Enperisberg Coachbuilders' Guild (and soon it's sister guilds in other Imperial cities and Dwarfholds) asserting itself in rolling stock design. Notably a class system was imposed, offering different rates of service for different rates. First and second class passenger carriages were built like stagecoaches, which were eventually extended out with up to four such units in a single unit supported by either four or six fixed wheels. First class accommodations were were ornamented very well appointed and included a small table and a small coffee service powered by a small spirit stove while heating cold weather is provided by boxes of hot sand which are slotted beneath the seats. First class accommodation is generally used by Nobles and the occasionally prominent merchant, second class is similar but more austere lacking tables. High ranking nobles would often have their own private cars. These are used by well off: merchants, lawyers, skilled artisans, etc. Third class in contrast is basically open freight wagons with benches. By 48 IA a majority of these have a wooden roof to keep of rain with some being fully enclosed, though fully open Third Class Carriages are still fairly common. These are used by day labourers and peasants. Travellers buy food and relieve themselves at regular stops and while blankets are often provided on long distance services many passengers prefer to sleep at hotels along the way on long journeys. By 48 IA most Allergonian passenger trains average between 20-40kph, with a few services getting up to 52 kph.

While there is a lot of railway construction in the Allergonian Empire it is being persued by three main blocks: Imperial Railways built and managed by the Imperial Crown, Royal Railways built by the eight constituent Kingdoms of the Empire and the catch-all category of Chartered Railways built by cities, local noble dynasties, guilds or joint-stock-companies. There has been a fair bit of railway construction, but a lot of it is working at cross purposes and there have been specific complications. The aim of the Imperial Railways is to link all the major cities of the Empire together for economic and political reasons, but this can be slow going as there are nobles which flatly refuse to sell land to Imperial Railways but will cooperate with Royal and Charter Railways because they feel that the Imperial Throne is overreaching. Often these groups will work at cross purposes and sometimes sabotage the others. There are still common standards in place both by law (such as Gauge) and established trends (people expect X service on Imperial Railways, so Royal and Charter Railways strive to match it). Even so there are some local peculiarities: for example in three kingdoms, unaccompanied human women* are required to ride in women only carriages while Dwarven operated railways have built special double-decker carriages offering reduced fares to passengers under 152.4cm tall.

Valnothron and House Valcas: The first experimental Valcas passenger wagons followed similar lines those of the Allergonian Empire, but these were stop gaps. Valcas agents operating in Infrastructure had collected a lot of information on Infrastructural passenger cars for years and after the conclusion of the escort war that was the template which they would follow. Carriages following the Infrastructural model would be put into service in 38 IA and rapidly became the standard. Having established itself early and being flush with cash, House Valcas would go on to have a hand in nearly every railway in Valnothron and would become a major exported to other Drow states of both locomotives, rolling stock and general expertise, setting an example that would be widely followed.

While Valcas railcars would follow Infrastructural internal layouts they mirrored the Allergonians by offering two classes of service for paying customers. The carriages were in general more primitive than their infrastructural counterparts, lacking features such as steam powered heating for example, this is often made up for in the eyes of the patrons through in first class through other assets. These include hardwood furniture with spider-silk upholstery, carpets from the Naga Rajs, fretwork, manalamps for internal illumination, fine art, small onboard libraries and mindful attendants. Second class on a Valcas railway is also relatively well furnished. Bathrooms are on board, but are more primitive. Customized private carriages are also available to the rich. The best Valcas passenger trains in 48 IA can reach speeds of 60kph for short distances, but 25-35 is a more common average. The network has grown across Valnothron very quickly due to the state's small size. More substantial railway development is happening in Valnothron's colonial holdings.

It should be noted that these passenger services are limited to customers who can buy tickets which are (with a few exceptions relating to Proxies and foreign diplomats) inevitably Dark Elves. A large volume of those who travel on Valnothron railways are inevitably non-Drow slaves. Certain Drow passenger carriages have compartments for personal attendants, but the bulk of Drow Slaves transported by rail are loaded up into Slave Transport Wagons. These are basically open freight wagons enclosed with an iron cage, a pair of locked doors and a four inch wide hole cut in the bottom. Standard procedure on most Valnothron railways for long hauls is that bread and water be provided at watering stations twice daily while in transit, which is included in the cargo fee and for the carriages to be hosed down regularly.

*These policies caused a stir in the Dwarven community which generally don't hold with sex segregation. After some lobbying and a few instances in which railway employees were threatened with battleaxes a compromise was struck, Dwarven Women can ride on their own in both regular and Women-Only carriages though Dwarven Men remain excluded.
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Re: Infrastructure (Original and Illustrated)

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Behind their walls and Watchtowers the Dark Elves have over the millennia have developed their own distinct culinary traditions, taking influences from the High Elves and various human cultures but still largely it's own thing. Here's a quick run-down of some points relating to Drow food and the associated customs.
  • Dark Elves don't gorge themselves. Eating to excess is considered a sign of personal weakness that reflects badly on yourself and your kin and there will come times when food becomes scarce. Drow meals are generally not huge. There are exceptions to this, for example certain days which are honoured with feasts.
  • In "civilized conditions" (their homelands, colonies, in the captain's quarters onboard a warship, etc) Dark Elves have two eating utensils: spoons and tongs. Using knives, even small table knives, is considered provocative in a culture with politics which can be subtle and cutthroat (often literally). Cutting food up is seen as the cook's job.
  • Kitchen Slaves are very common. Effectively all Drow Houses will have at least one, as will many non-House Dark Elven families often as the first slave they will buy. Generally food prep is seen as slave work, but Drow Chefs do exist. They are charged with managing a group of slave cooks to ensure that they produce food is prepared properly.
  • Dark Elven meals have been described as "a pile of Hors d'oeuvres". Dark Elves like to make their food into a collection of small things which can be eaten in at most a couple of bites. Bread made for Drow consumption is usually cut into a bunch of small buns (Nhir). Considerable effort is spent in making each morsel attractive and plating them nicely.
  • At a Drow formal meal a preeminent figure (a Familiarch or senior-most family member, a commanding officer, etc) will preside over the event and will usually get the first portions of the spread. Even so, care will be made to ensure that said portions are random. Slave attendants will also act as poison tasters.
  • Dark Elves generally feel that each food item should be it's own thing save for deliberate pairings like Bread and Meat. To that end, rather than having one plate dark elves will have several small ones.
  • Among the foods prized by the Dark Elves are things with a strong flavors. In particular they have a keen taste for Umami (but not limited to) Mushrooms, Aged Cheese, Fermented Fish products and meat. When it comes to sweeter fare, Dark Elves esteem Plumbs, Pears and Peaches as the best fruit and adore chocolate. Spices are widely used, but judiciously. Dark Elves are not big on overwhelming their senses with a lot of hot pepper.
  • Dark Elves eat a fair deal of seafood including fish, crabs, molluscs and seaweed. Kippers on toast (made from long narrow buns specifically to accommodate a kipper) is a common breakfast.
  • In terms of Alcohol, Dark Elves are mostly go for Wine/Cider and Brandy. Beer and whisky are often seen as Slave Drinks (or at most the drinks of the Houseless), though in Galthirith and Hansoliath have Dark Elven beer cultures.
  • Unlike the High Elves, most Dark Elven food is mundane with no more than normal background magic. The biggest exception to the rule is Coffee (by far the most popular caffeinated beverage among the Drow), which will often have a measure of minor Mana Potion added to it.
  • When a Drow Army is off on campaign, Dark Elves will go for a more rough and tumble form of field cooking and field dining. If you're on the march against foes that would kill you horribly if they got their hands on you, getting your panties in a twist that Xylein cut off a rough hunk off a ox leg and cut it into bite sized bits with his dagger and had seconds and thirds knowing that it could easily be weeks before his next hot meal is seen as daft.
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In Western Ilvamicum Dwarves typically live in Holds which are typically at least under the general aegis of their human or High Elven neighbours or as minorities in human cities. For the past fourteen centuries in the Telsion Peninsula (South of the Eastern Principalities, East of Bluewine Bay and West of the Greenwater Sea and The Gash) this situation is reversed. Various small human principalities and petty kingdoms owe fealty and pay tribute to the various Dwarven Thanes, who in turn provide protection against the forces of the Drow and aggresion from the various Necrite dominions. Each of the Clans is independent in most affairs, though they do have a rough confederation to deal with common issues which are discussed at the Thanesmoot. In 39 IA the Thanesmoot made one of their most substantial decisions of the last century, declaring that all inter-hold railways between the Confederation's members would be set to a gauge of nine Dwarven Hands or (1.62 meters). This was followed up by an explosion of railway construction and bridge building to link up as many holds as possible.

There had been some previous experimentation with mine locomotives, but the commitment to a Common Gauge set experimentation into railway technology into over-drive. Many skilled an eager Dwarves, most of whom were youngsters under eighty, invested considerable time and energy into design and testing. For some time the one could hear the explosive sounds of boilers bursting and farmers would find shrapnel raining down on their chicken coups as stress tests were carried out on a regular basis. Dwarves have a tendency to fixate on an issue and a strong instinct to do things and the machines sacrificed in such experiments did not die in vain. The result was a wide variety of locomotive designs.

This 0-10-0 (Decapod) locomotive was put into service in the spring of 48 IA and represents the height of Dwarven locomotive design at the time. The work of Myrnil Delninsdaughter of Vihornskrel, it is among the largest locomotive on the Thanesmoot network and the most powerful, with a robust boiler able to power it's ten driving wheels with considerable force. It's top speed is a modest 58kph, though her strength lies in in considerable traction effort of 92 kN. Respectable even by Infrastructural standards and well suited for moving large volumes of bulk goods. Most notably coal, iron, masonry stone and steel for, among other things further railway construction.
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WHEN ALL HELL BREAKS LOOSE ON EARTH, ALL EARTH BREAKS LOOSE ON HELL
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