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Quote of the Week: "A great civilization is not conquered from without until it has destroyed itself from within." - Will Durant, American historian (1885-1981)


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 Post subject: Infrastructure (Original and Illustrated) PostPosted: 2011-12-28 02:29pm
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Sith Acolyte
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Joined: 2004-06-08 03:37am
Posts: 5275
An original science fiction/fantasy project of mine that i have been working on. Still a WIP. I hope you enjoy.

By Leighton White

After a battle, a damaged spacecraft entered hyperspace. It was a risky move, but it was the prospect of uncertain death verses one of certainty on the matter. Then the worse came to worse. An event happened that shall be called, to spare seventy paragraphs of complex physics, a collapse which violently threw the ship out of hyperspace and into realspace, though not in the dimension from which it originated. It's crew managed to make it out in one piece, but the ship was still irreparably damaged and an explosion. What survivors of its crew gathered what they could from the stores and made their way onto the Lander. Twenty six managed to escape at the last moment, making their way to a nearby world. Some strange energy readings passed their sensors, but were ignored, they were not of concern. It was the only planet in range with an oxygen atmosphere, which their synthesizers required to produce plastics with their limited gear.

They crashed into the woods in a northern temperate zone. Their small craft burning through the sky, not being in optimum conditions. They crashed into a forest before coming to rest. Its few occupants then waited for their craft to cool. They then emerged cautiously, taking in their new home for the time being. Around them, birds and a few rodents saw the strange new arrivals. They were like nothing this world had seen before. They had eight limbs, sprouting from two identical mounts on either side. Each one long and flexible and ending in one of several interchangeable metal hands. Some of these had eyes and other sensory devices that took in the surrounding environment. Others had hands, one main outer one and a retractable tweezerlike inner model. Others had an unidentified box like construct that fed into cylinders that they carried on a mount. End to end, these mechanical octopiodal beings measured about four feet in length. However, these were ultimately to the effect of what a pair of shoes is to a man, if much more capable in activity. What ultimately constituted these beings were the black cubes at the center. Inside these black cases was a mind, one unlike anything this world had seen before. One that was calm, quiet, calculating, fundamentally mathematical and effectively immortal with an understanding of the nature of the universe that was unfathomably in excess of those of even the wisest of the greatest species the native beings that called this planet home.

But never the less their bodies here were quite feeble, these were designed to work in zero gravity. At the bottom of gravity well, they crawled awkwardly stumbling, arms writing like snakes and flailing for balance. Some of them use sticks and pieces of broken metal as canes as software was hastily written to let them move. Some supplies were unloaded. It was not much that they had, but it would be a start. However, they were careful, because from what they saw from orbit as they came in.

Then a rustling happened in the trees and they saw what they feared. Armed natives came running at them. They touched down in an area away from the major population centers of this world, but a few natives still existed and among them were a few bandits that lived in a land without law. A band of said bandits saw the falling star and came in to investigate, hoping to mug anyone who was also attracted by the fall. They saw the crew as they made their early efforts and something drove one of them to charge. Maybe he thought they might have something of value, maybe he wanted to sell one of these strange things from the sky to some wealthy nobleman, maybe he was just frightened. But it was ultimately irrelevant. As he charged screaming a welding laser set to full power cut right through him, bringing him down.

The rest, roused by the death of their comrade charged. In total there was fifteen of them, clad in dirty ragged clothes and a few scraps of armor and armed with maces, clubs, daggers, pilfered hatchets and hammers and a single sword. They rushed, screaming and brandished to smash these strange beings. But they too were to be cut down by these invisible lances of burning light. Stumbling and vulnerable as the new arrivals were, they easily repulsed a gang who had terrorized the countryside for a decade and had ended the lives of over a hundred people, many of whom resisted. But this is just the beginning of their tale on this world

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After their landing site was secure, the survivors set to work. Among the equipment they had were two general utility crawlers for work in a gravity well. These were adapted to work in the forested environment with the addition of modular chainsaws, scoops for collecting soil and log harnesses as well as general arms. They built two more over the next few months using the fabrication equipment, as well as simple disc shaped feet that, along with some programs allowed them to walk, albeit slowly with ease.

They began to establish their first base. First they set up a tent around the crashed Lander, after that they added layers of wood to offer additional protection from rain and the elements. Metal was somewhat more pressing, although a local bog and a few rocks offered up iron ore and the clay had aluminum. There were also the remains of the raiders, which yielded a few extra kilos. There was plenty of plastics. They were sparing with what they made out of metal. To secure their base, a defensive wall was set up, starting with a fence of branches, then reinforced with logs and clay, enclosing an area about twenty meters across, as well as sentry towers with cameras and laser welders.

Progress was somewhat slow, but continued without too much interruption. The survivors worked day and night, sleepless and indefatigable, only pausing because of rare accident or to recharge. Some wildlife passed by, but they had little interest. What was concern were a few of the native humans which came their way. The first ones that attacked on the landing day were examined, their bodies disassembled and their components cataloged. After a few months, a second group of bandits attacked, and were neutralized as the first ones were. Though some of these were shot in the legs and captured alive. With some experimentation on these individuals in motivation (such as the fact that they avoided pain, enjoyed eating and had a fear of death) could be used to manipulate them. Using electroshock collars with tracking systems, a camera and a knife that would slash the jugular they managed to turn these humans into laborers who could assist them. This number would increase as more would come in close and be captured. Eventually, fifteen poor sods came to call this place home weather they liked it or not. Rumors spread among the natives of a powerful wizard's cottage, or monsters. However, as they kept to themselves (outside some airborne recon, which went unnoticed in any case) and the scouts that the local chieftains sent out tended to not come back, they were left to their own devices.

This state of affairs would continue for about two years. Originally the machines planned on building up manufacturing machinery, but there were setbacks, a few breakdowns and that was not an option. They could maintain themselves and build a few items of machinery but they could not replicate their fabrication equipment. All in all, their estimates pointed to a process that would last thirty six hundred years to replicate what they had on their own, possibly longer. This was if they were not destroyed first. This was leaving aside the fact that the area they had lacked certain elements that would be vital and that their reactor would not be working in twelve years' time. Other options were considered, and one was seen as the most viable. The natives while primitive, could be of some considerable use. A plan was made and effected.

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Using small airborne probes, they scouted the surrounding area. The land they crashed into was quite cold, with long winters. It was possible for the native sapients (of which several species were identified) to lay down crops in this area, though agriculture was difficult. In more distant and temperate areas longer range recon flights had detected more sophisticated societies (if still primitive), but here their was a number of small iron age villages scattered among the hills, forests and stretches of grassland. The natives called this place Ronlatev, or more commonly just the Coldlands.

These villages were small, the largest of these had a population of maybe three thousand, and most were much smaller. The buildings of these towns were simple, crude wattle and daub buildings with a stone structure in the center of the larger ones. It was also apparent that there was no central order. All but the smallest clusters of houses that could be dignified with the title of hamlet had some form of fortification and numerous small scale battles and raids were observed. Some of the combatants (either the leaders of these villages or high ranking people in it) fought were mounted on the backs of quadrupedal herbivores, most fought on foot armed with swords, axes, maces, spears, bows, javelins, the occasional crossbow and other such primitive weapons. On three occasions, flashes of electricity were detected arcing across battlefields, and on two unrelated incidents burning projectiles were unaccountably detected in similar circumstances, but the rarity of these phenomenon meant that it figured only slightly into their calculations. These warriors also fought with bandits and some anomalous semi-sapients which inhabited the forests seemed to be a splices of some kind. As was previously mentioned, a couple of their scouts were dispatched to investigate the landing site, only to be either killed or captured. A few caravans of traders were also sighted under armed escort that moved from the more developed areas to this one. This led them to believe that the more developed civilizations knew of this area, but had no interest in conquering it.

The Nature of the society here was simple to determine, a warrior elite controlled the various villages by force. They used villages to support them, occasionally dragooning a few of them into their ranks. What they said was law. To them, villages were something that existed to provide them with food, housing, equipment, drink and females in exchange for protection (in regards to killing bandits, defending them against raids from the warriors of other villages and retaliating against those who attack them) while they raided other towns for pillage, rape and occasionally to conquer. However, one warrior group could rarely gain control of more than a few villages, as many lieutenants put in charge of conquered territories could gain independence easily by starting fratricidal wars. Promotion was often achieved by backstabbing. Occasionally villages were destroyed and their population forced into banditry or slavery, and new villages arose. They generally viewed their subjects with disdain as weak cowards. Rebellions were rarely successful, generally ending in peasants being beaten into submission. As such, they often took a delight in abusing their subjects, as this high ranking warrior is doing with one of his peasants that he suspects had hidden a pig.

From what could be gathered from captives, the warrior saw this constant fighting as a source of strength. They believed that the constant wars killed off the weak, leaving the strong to thrive. The survivors saw this as a condition which could be easily exploited for their purposes.

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Seven months after their arrival, they began to affect their long term plan. The first phase of which involved the creation of new bodies for the task. After much discussion, a consensus was achieved on these new forms. It was determined that even with audio recreations of their language for commands; they had an easier time and were more comfortable communicating with something their same shape. In addition, having a body in such a shape also allowed them a degree of camouflage. As such, they designed and built their new bodies to roughly match those of the natives.

Using video footage and information gained from dissection of dead locals, they came to mimic their form. A prototype was conceived of and built, fine tuning the design. Even working tirelessly towards their objective and with fabrication equipment, it took twenty months to assemble their force. The finer details of the face would be left out until after the first phase had been complete. In the end, thirteen of these machines were created including the prototype. They stood two meters tall and were stronger and more durable than the organic creatures that they were designed to mimic. They also had a greater degree of flexibility. The sensor package that they had would give them a greater degree of combat awareness. Finally, each one had two lasers welders installed on its forearms. Here one nears completion, with only a few additions to its arm and some armor around its waste remaining to be installed.

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Two years and three months after landing the supplies were completed and an offensive was prepared. After some debate, a target was selected from several possible locations within thirty kilometers from their landing site. Using data acquired from Ariel recon and interrogation of their captives, they selected a village known as Dalatyr. The host of warriors that controlled it (as well as four smaller villages) were particularly cruel and abusive to their subjects. The town had superior fortifications and was located on top of a hill and a sizable coal deposit was nearby. Finally, it's leaders decision to launch a force of fourty eight men, half his warriors and all of his cavalry on a long series of raids against a rival. That sealed the deal, and with that they moved out.

To allow them to approach unnoticed, they had created a set of garments to hide themselves, heavy robes with hoods as well as face coverings. Half went on the journey while half remained to hold down their fort. This allowed them to carry a wooden wagon without much comment, which contained some supplies. The disguise was an effective one, a small group of bandits attempted to jump them, but were quickly dispatched. Two killed, one was taken as a captive. When they were with a kilometer of Dalatyr, they passed four men on patrol outside. Warriors rarely attacked merchants as their trade provided them with small luxuries and occasionally fine weapons and armor as well as allowing gaining a few gold pieces selling captives as slaves. Attack one and it was likely that word would get around and the others would avoid your one like the plague. Their captive only served to dissuade their interest even more.

They reached the gate without incident, paid the gateman with a few coins they had accumulated and salvaged were handed over the village opened up to these innocent traders. Then, after the gate was open, they struck. The gate guard was picked up in a movement, causing him to drop his blade and be subjected to a laser pulse. The others outside fired at a group of sentries manning the walls and a crude guard tower. A group of archers and crossbowmen that were drinking in a tavern positioned near the gate responded with a salvo of arrows and screams to bring in backup. However, their crude projectiles bounced off the machine who returned fire.

With the sentries dispatched and the gate left open, the other twenty robots rushed through the breech. The various civilians of the town retreated to their homes and barred their doors, in search of safety against these attackers. Warriors took up their weapons and began to converge on the origin of the screaming. This activity was observed and monitored by the airborne drone.

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The humanoid machines pressed on through the Dalatyr. Two guarded the supplies in the wagon while the rest broke into three groups. Two of said groups moved through the winding streets passed the long houses and lesser hovels that made up this town of about seven hundred souls. They hunted down what warriors that mustered to resist the attackers. They were unprepared and many had little time to prepare and no co-ordination to their efforts. They had no idea what they were facing, but they went in, the rule was simple. Any invaders inside the wall must be killed, captured or repulsed. To strengthen themselves, they roused a few young men to join them in defense. Even after those who defended the gate were struck down, the defending warriors and associates had a numeric advantage of five to one against the invaders, but they could not match them. They were dispatched, though some were simply shot in the leg or had their arms broken.

The majority of the population stayed locked in their homes behind barred doors. This was easier to defend and they knew that armed and armored men could kill those armed with hand tools without training in war nine times out of ten. They also had experienced the changing of the guard of leadership before. This lot only moved in thirty years ago after killing the previous reigning lot of sword swinging ruffians. There was little point in killing off your new subjects. However, they heard a strange Corus, repeated over and over again, loud and clear...

"Stand down and remain calm. If you are armed, drop your weapons. Do not resist. Those who do not oppose us shall be left unharmed."

This was not how control was ceased. Homes would be raided, supplies would be stolen and young women were left at the mercy of men too whom the idea of "consent" was not an immediate concern. A few of them saw what was done and that convinced most of the others to take their word on this.

The other group, which had five combatants in it charged directly for the central hall. Similar to the longhouses the rest of the population inhabited, but with two wings built on the sides and made of stone. A few warriors and some people retreated into it and barred the doors. The warlord who lorded over this small kingdom sat there, a grizzled battle worn veteran named Heisenoff. A man who had led charges, won numerous battles, killed dozens of enemies and had risen by skill in battle, boastful tales, bloody reputation and several notable victories had earned him the position of respect among the warriors and their willingness to call him leader. To his subjects, his rule was one of fear. Do as this man said or at best, you would get a beating. Many of his subjects had things that reminded them of their past failures with him, either in a certain asymmetry in regards to their feet or the shadows of pain that returned at the touch of a cold wind.

The eastern doors were then forced open suddenly by an explosive charge. The remaining civilians ran out the far door, fearing what would come next. Heisenoff had been prepared for this, and had in hand his sword. When the invaders entered he and a force of twelve warriors made their stand.

The remaining people searched for shelter. Their neighbors having barred themselves into their homes, they hid in barns, outhouses and sheds and behind barrels. Eventually, a few noted that on the northern door of the great hall was open with two of the invaders flanking it. They stood aloof and still, like guards. Slowly a few of them gathered around the rough empty area around the base. They monitored them, and they saw what they could do. Once a small crowd was gathered, a chest was found and tossed in front of them. It contained a load of copper and silver coins, one of a few that the warriors accumulated over the years. Then from out of the gloom of the building came a third invader. These beings did have names, if ones that were rather award to say, this one was designated as (Roughly) Unyielding Drive for Excellence Even when Under the Harshest of Pressures-45815 (heretofore to be referred to as Drive). In its hands was the severed Head of Heisenoff, which it held out for all to see. There was mixed feelings among thetowsnfolk who bore witness to this. Tashia, the wife of Arleg the Carpenter was shocked that now the man who, whatever else he did, had kept her town safe. Boris the Blacksmith was more than happy to see him put to an end, having lost a leg in punishment for protecting his daughter from the assertive advances of several of Heisenoff's men.

After five seconds, Drive spoke, confirming what all the townspeople who saw the severed head of their "Protector" suspected. "We are now in control of this settlement."

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After the defeat of their former lord, the people of Dalatyr wondered what would come next. While more than a fair share of them who were glad to know that Heisenoff and his gang of ruffians had been put to an end, they also had no idea what was in store. A few tried to flee through the fort's two gates, but found that they were now guarded. Most however were not willing to abandon what they had for a life of banditry and stay inside. Tension was relieved as the coins were collected without interference. Curious of the lack of pounding on doors, more and more left their homes to see what was going on. The small crowd at the doors of the great hall increased in size. They also noticed as the cart was pushed towards the great hall and several containers were unloaded off of it and carried into the hall.

After a few minutes then removed their masks and pulled back their hoods, showing the metallic heads. They were bewildered, they knew of the other races of the world, but had never herd of beings such as these, this re-enforced their fear in most of them. A few screamed. But sparks of curiosity came up as well. Drive as well as another machine (this one named Vision of a Distant Supernova in the Night Sky-53202, shorthanded to Supernova) stationed at the south gate gave a message.

"You are invited into the great hall in celebration of our rise to power"

At first the people of Dalatyr were hesitant, then Ivan the carpenter with his daughter Allea walked in, afraid but curious. There was a faint burnt pork smell in the air, as well as on the table two metal containers and a set of cups. The corpses of dispatched warriors had been locked away in the armory in the east wing. Allea took a measure of the liquid first and downed it. Ivan downed a slightly larger swig and was shocked by its potency. His daughter rather enjoyed it and called to the rest of the townspeople

"Come on!"

And one by one, they came in. The hall filled up and the mood of the people, for the most part, changed.

At this point, one of the most useful tools these machines had contrived for dealing with the natives was put to use. It was first discovered skin pouches on a couple of bandits during the first raid. Fermented. After some experimentation and interrogation of the captives, the intoxicating effects of Alcohol were confirmed. After a few scouting missions using a small scale rover, they had managed to acquire a culture of yeast and produce their own alcohol. They also experimented with distillation of what they manufactured. Imported Spirits were known among the warriors of this land in turmoil and some occasionally made its way to the lower class as a reward or by a warrior that sold, but they were unable to make their own. It proved useful in motivating their captured labourers as a reward. Here this liquor, along with the warrior's stores of meat, bread, fruit and beer would be the beginnings of the acquisition of what was needed from these people, their loyalty.

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With Dalatyr under their control, its new machine overlords began to secure their objective. They sent a message to the satellite village, delivered by Drive along with a witness and Heisenoff's head, instructing them to inform of the change of regime. They were offered a choice, submit to their rule or die. Each village had only two or three men each guarding it and in any case, swearing fealty to a force which could take on forty three armed men and had the power that their weapons had was a good bet. The forces that had left Dalatyr raiding did not receive word of the fall of their home for five days, at which point they had faced some casualties and their captain decided that it was best to simply take a new village and cut their losses.

To secure their new base of operations, the Survivors began to move material from their base. The fabrication equipment, the reactor, the other Survivors, the captives, the crawlers were bit by bit carted over under escort and unloaded into the Great Hall. They also set up a still there to keep the liquor flowing. To make sure that their town was safe and to build up the loyalty of their followers, they kept guard of the towns and the surrounding areas. Two recon drones patrolled the skies at all time, searching for the many threats of this land. Gangs of bandits that attacked merchants raided and farms as well as the forces of the various warlords. Any of which who attempted to attack would face a formidable and swift response, a group of Survivors would sally forth to engage them. First on foot, then after learning how to make use of them, on horseback. They often wore chainmail and helmets while doing so, as well as carrying swords. While the armor did improve durability somewhat and the sword did make dispatching foes easier in close quarters, they were mainly used for the image as a deterrent. In the dark, they were unmatched, as a night raiding party found out to their regret. Bandit camps nearby Dalatyr hidden in the forest were also cleared out.

The result of the vigil of the Survivors was that the harvest of the first year faced little damage from raiding. The removal of bandits from the area also contributed to an increase of merchants coming to Dalatyr, which became an island of tranquility. But this was merely the beginning of their work.

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However, despite the formidably of their humanoid bodies in combat against the primitive warriors and bandits of this land and the edge that airborne recon gave them, the Survivors were quick to note the fact that they were insufficient to fill all the defensive needs. Their bodies required periodic maintenance and time to recharge, and were more or less necessary for interaction with the people of Dalatyr. The standard practice for the first year would be that six of them would be on combat patrol at one time. As such, they quickly recruited a fighting force from the general population to supplement their numbers in combat. The task of organizing this was given to Drive.

Recruitment of this new force was fairly simple, the eleven guards from the satellite villages joined freely, as did three guards who surrendered without a fight when they took Dalatyr. This was supplemented with a group of volunteers drawn from the general population, mostly young men who were keen on defending their homes, as well as receiving pay. In total forty six men were mustered for this force over about two months. Among them was Sven Smedth, son of Boris, who had developed a distinct distain for the warriors of this land.

The new force was a paid militia. Its members slept at home and had a more or less normal life at the end of the day, but drilled, patrolled and guarded. Arming them was not much of an issue. Heisenoff, like most of the Warlords of the Chaotic Coldlands had a waste not want not attitude to weaponry and there was a decent amount of spears, axes, swords and pole arms in the armory, far more than was expected or needed. The guards were allowed to take what they wanted as far as weaponry was concerned. There was a very large pile of helmets and more than enough shields to go around, but body armor was somewhat lacking. As far as new weapons went, crossbows were given priority production during the first summer. The resulting arsenal was hodgepodge, but effective enough at guarding the gates, the walls and providing backup. In turn for their service, they were paid in scrip which could be exchanged for food from the granary and larders as well as liquor, coal, cloth and a range of goods from a public store, which latter increased in scale. To set them apart from previous warriors, they were given uniforms. This started off with a simple greenish brown wool jacket with pockets and rank insignia and a belt.

This force was defensive in nature, its goal was to man the towers, guard the gates and the mine, patrol against raiders and serve as a strategic reserve. They did see some combat against bandits and a few raids (which resulted in two deaths), but they were never used offensively during the first year. They also did their share of odd jobs around the place when there was no signs of danger and guarding was being done by someone else. Of these, Sven became the keenest in these duties and was among the first of the new recruits to be promoted and was given him the first of the new crossbows.

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However, while defense of Dalatyr and its small realm was important to the Survivors, that was merely securing what few assets they had gained against the wild forces of this land. They quickly began work on their projects. Among the first of which was to make up for an area where they were dearly lacking in production. They could process metals from the local soil, minerals and recycled native tools using their material processor, but at most they could create a couple of kilograms of finished product a day.

Five days after the Survivors had taken the town, work began on a major project. An area outside of the town was soon sectioned off and a palisade was erected around it by crawlers, captives, militiamen and by townspeople and farmers called up for corvee labour duty. This was completed in a couple of weeks and then work on the main project began. Stone was used for the base, while homemade bricks fired in a newly made brick kiln was used for the upper levels. Various shacks and shelters were set up around it, including what looked to the natives to be a guard tower next to it. This creation took six months to complete. A towering conical smokestack with a couple of holes in it. Supernova told the townspeople that it was a furnace, like those used in a forge and that it would benefit them immensly.

A team of general labourers were employed to run it, at first at the oversight of one of the Survivors, but after a few weeks a competent Forman was selected. A mixture of Coal, limestone gravel and iron ore was fed into the device from the top while a fan system that the Survivors put together pumped in a constant supply of air into the machine. The product of this system was large quantities of slag (which was collected, cooled, broken down and used to cover the dirt pathways that had been dignified with the name of road) and liquid iron, which ran out like glowing water. Boris the Blacksmith was amazed when he saw the results. He was even further amazed by the next device that they created. After some testing of the material, they cast a device using pots, which when assembled was a pivoted cauldron which blasted the molten iron with air from holes in its underside and created molten steel. The machine worked day and night, producing ingots for forges and various shapes.

The surrounding warlords were somewhat curious about the Survivors, but disregarded what they did as being a waste of time. They saw them as powerful and formidable beings, no doubt about that. They lost numerous able bodied warriors in raids against them. But they were few and did not launch incursions into their lands. They conquered Dalatyr by trickery. They saw the militia that they raised as a pitiful group of peasants and townspeople given weapons and jackets, not real warriors. They saw the blast furnace that they erected as a novelty and when they could muster their forces something that would not save them. They had little knowledge or concern about manufacturing. They knew blacksmiths needed charcoal, metal and forges, that fire was involved and it took them time to make things. But if you wanted them to be more productive, you either enticed them with a reward for being timely or more often kicked them and threatened their families if they dared to not finish their work by the full moon and things to that effect. They had no idea of how this would change the balance of power.

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 Post subject: Re: Infrastructure (Original and Illustrated) PostPosted: 2011-12-28 02:31pm
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Sith Acolyte
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Joined: 2004-06-08 03:37am
Posts: 5275
(Second post due to character limit)

Winter set in over the Coldlands. As it set in, its people braced themselves against a foe that was older and could prove far more deadly than warriors. They slaughtered their animals, stockpiled firewood, sticks, charcoal and cowpats and made sure that their homes were well sealed to keep the precious heat of fires in. The gangs of bandits retreated from their preferred hunting grounds to their home villages, to live well off the fruits of their foul efforts or into caves. Many of the merchants that frequented these cold lands made their way to the south and southwest to sell what they had gathered. Save for a small number of people such as trappers, charcoal burners and loggers, people made an effort not to go outside if they could avoid it. Even the warriors largely retreated in light of the cold. Dalatyr was only a minor exception to this rule in the first winter after the Survivors took control. Mining was continued by the captives and the blast furnace kept going as slowly more of a building grew around it, but most people fell back to behind doors. Though the natives noticed that very little smoke came out from the Great Hall where those strange metal men.

Boris mused on this fact about his masters as he made himself busy, a warm cup of beef broth nearby. For a smith who had a good forge, winter did not mean a major disruption to work. While he was glad to see Heisenoff put down, his lot stripped of power and the new masters never seemed to engage in the brutish "fun" or give women unwanted attentions that his lot were so fond of, he never knew what to make of them. Even if they were quite benign and he never heard them speak with anything other than a flat calm tone, they commanded fear from their ability to make a mockery of warriors. He had heard stories of Golems, but these did not resemble the tales of servile hulks of metal, stone and pottery. He could understand some traits, such as how they did not eat or drink, but he was perplexed by the fact that that they stripped the hall of its shields and ornaments of Heisenoff's lot and either sold them, or melted them down. While the old warriors were by no means pleasant, if nothing else he knew what was going on in those scared hairy grim heads of theirs.

They always were pushing a project of some sort, be it the brick kiln, the blast furnace, the iron converter, nightsoil disposal, paper making, crossbows (though they stopped ordering them), stills, soap making, that thing with animal manure or the strange looms and spinning wheels that they had designed. Sometimes they would offer some assistance such as the bellows machine which fueled the blast furnace and they often oversaw things, but for the most part they made use of their labour to fulfil their vision. The end results of these projects had a major impact on how things went on in Dalatyr. He constantly received ingots of steel and he was grateful that he did not have to spend all that time turning lumps of bog ore. He was certain that they had greater plans, but he still wondered what they were and what they would mean for him and his family.

Now, in the dead of winter they moved onto another projects. In addition to ingots he had been delivered a set of steel tubes, sets of blueprints and orders to complete the device as was laid out. The other smiths of the town and the carpenters were also tasked with this project. He set to work making nails and the various fine bits that were required for this project, as well as setting up a lathe that provided a critical part of the operation. Early on, they inspected his work and would point out an error until he got the hang of it. The carpenters provided the wood bits while the other seven smiths of Dalatyr provided their bits for the project, doing much of what he did, although he let them use his lathe. At the end, either Boris, his wife, his son Pyotr or his Daughter Junna would then put them together. It took some attention to detail to get the little Tinderbox mechanism on the side to work properly, but he got the hang of it. Starting around new years the first of these devices were completed and in exchange he received a fair amount of the paper notes that their shop accepted as currency. The devices reminded him of a crossbow without the bow and he suspected that they were. It was clear that they wanted allot of these devices. He was certain that they were weapons of some kind (and indeed more primitive versions of these things did exist elsewhere on this world), even if he did not know how they worked and the machines said that their purpose would be revealed in time. In the meantime, his work on these devices ensured that every day there was meat on his family's table and he had pride in his work. So he pushed on as he fastened the barrel to the stock.

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As was mentioned earlier, warfare more or less stopped during the winter months in the Cold Lands. Snow made marching to battle a horrid ordeal for men and horse alike, livestock that had not been slaughtered were well penned up, besieging a town with stores for the winter was an exercise in futility and the last thing you wanted was for your warm clothes to have bits torn off of them. In any case, having a breather to let wounds heal and to rebuild their equipment was considered to be a good thing. Out of the high failure rate and the reprisals that usually happened afterwards for interrupting this effective ceasefire, a distain emerged among the warriors about any form of winter fighting save for guarding what they had and the occasional actions against bandits.

That said, the constant skirmishes and raids of these fractured lands would often claim its victims even in the dead of winter. Once and a while, villages would be leveled and those who survived would be left homeless. Groups of these vagrants would wander the Coldlands, with little more than what they could carry on their backs in search of some place where they could live. They would aimlessly trek from town to town hoping for someone willing to shelter them. They were generally turned down by the local warriors, the way most of them saw it they were weak cowards for letting that happen to them in the first place. Bandits rarely bothered with them, as they rarely had anything worth stealing. More often than not they were turned down. They foraged for food, found what small items they found in the forest, took advantage of those people who were charitable and gathered sticks to sell as firewood and pelts to get a meal or a couple of copper coin. However, many would eventually be forced to some thievery to keep themselves alive. Some would eventually become outright bandits. A few of them would even give themselves over to slavers, even though they had a tendency of killing unmarketable merchandise. However, few remained homeless like this for more than a year, they largely either found somewhere that they could settle during the summer or autumn, or they faced the winter with neither supplies or shelter against the cold.

A small family of these victims made their way across a field, having been rejected several times near the Solstice. They were peasants who had their lives swept away when a dozen men driven by bloodlust and beer. The family name of these six figures was Kyoth, for that was the name of the town they came from. Now nothing more than ruins that would be resettled next year by those brutes and their minions. They had not had a decent meal in a week and four days ago, they had lost one of their own, a boy of nine. A lad named Anton, loyal and hard working, he had once been fairly strong for his age before hunger slowly took his toll and he had succumbed to cold. In their ranks was a Stefia, who carried in the mess of rags that served as her clothing her three month old daughter. They set up camp near Dalatyr with nothing more to eat than a meager broth of acorns and a squirrel to see them through. They had been lucky that while their had been a fair bit of snowfall, there had not yet been a major cold snap. They were on the edge. As they settled down with nothing but than their blankets, body heat, a meager fire, their raggedy clothing and the bare minimum of a tent to keep them warm. This was enough for an infrared scanner to pick up.

They were awakened by the sound of hoofbeats. They peered out of the tent as the lone rider dismounted. He was rapped completely from head to toe and carried a blade. They would have darted, but doing so would mean abandoning what little they had. "Do not fear." He said in a flat, calm monotone "I bring assistance." It then produced a flask and several cups, pouring each one a measure of hot chicken soup as well as a loaf of bread. They thanked the stranger for this unexpected kindness. "This tent is a poor shelter against the cold. We can provide a superior one." They agreed and were led by him. It was a two hour walk, even when he refilled their cups with warm soup, but they made it to the gates. Mythalya, the matriarch of the family insisted in carrying the hand wagon along, with all the meager possessions the family had left. As they walked, he asked a few questions. They saw the faint glow from the torches of guards manning the walls and a lamp nearby the gate. The Guard, who was resting in a heated shed signaled that all was clear. The door gate was unbarred and their hearts raised as it opened. The rider dismounted, his horse was taken inside to be stabled and he invited them in. They were soon led to a brick building. It was bare save for a fireplace, a pile of logs nearby it, a lavatory composed of a chair with a hole in it with a bucket underneath, a water barrel, a broom, a few sheets neatly stacked, a few straw mats and four other people lying in blankets. These stirred in annoyance at sound and the draft that was let in, muttering for them to close the door and getting back to sleep as they did. To the Kyoth family, this might as well been a palace.

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As the newcomers were settled in the Dormitory, One Which Seeks To Understand Everything New It Encounters Upon It's Discovery-153401 (Discovery for short) was pleased at the success. Five new labourers had been procured, with two more being well on their way. Plans were already being made for their long-term accommodation. This would mean that housing would need to be arranged. As it stood, they would most likely be put to use making brick molds starting in the morning. There were definitely problem figures among the displaced, but if worse came to worse they could always be added to the Detentional labour force, although Discovery did not believe that would be necessary with these individuals. Still it was a success to save them, it was criminally wasteful to let such valuable human resources expire in the cold. The Warriors of the Coldlands had a strange mentality about weeding out weakness, and yet they shunned sources of strength when they walked up to their doors.

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As winter gave way to spring of the Coldlands, activities that had been halted by the frigid winter started up once again. It was muddy and damp, but it was time to put down crops and raise villages. Among these was the return of the Merchants. A few of them were locals, weathering the winter in the cold at their home villages during the worst of it and sometimes did some minor trade during the warmer spells. The most successful of these were foreigners. These men from warmer and more developed areas often had caravans of wagons and could afford armed body guards. They exchanged goods as they went, exchanging things between towns and gradually building up supplies of valuable furs and precious stones and metals. Among the first to arrive at Dalatyr was Johan Reddendorf, a tall thin man with a caravan six ox carts strong who frequented this area on his usual routes.

Johan was quick to notice the changes that happened. He had been by this place several times before, including twice last year. The first time was a few days before Heisenoff and his lot were dispatched and once more in the fall. He was surprised to here that more traders were coming to Dalatyr, the area becoming safer as metal men kept away bandits and raids and that they had taken up making grain and potato based spirits and cheap iron. He managed to do business as usual and pick up some of the local liquor, which sold quite well. It was strange as he did business with agents of the new rulers, styling themselves "The Committee", which seemed disinterested in the higher class products that he sold. They were not the least bit interested in jewelry, ornate ceramics, fine wines that he could usually unload on successful warlords despite their financial success, even if they did buy a few of the chainmail shirts and the two breastplates that he was carrying. He had seen the Iron Men that guarded the place, but while they were untalkative and their visored faces were without expression he did notice the way that they observed things. Something about their betrayed an intelligence stiring inside, quietly taking everything in. This combined with their apperence made him realise that they were no Golems. He wondered if some of the rumours about them actually running the place were true. This time, he heard from some other merchants that Dalatyr was keen on buying up sulfur, as much as possible and at a above average price. He made a note to go to Syeragrod and pick up a decent sized load of the stuff before making his way to Dalatyr.

Once he got to Dalatyr, he noticed some changes had happened. Around the north gate a space had been sectioned off with a palisade for the loading and unloading cargo. There were a few brick buildings in here, with more going up and more bricks being made outside. Things were a bit cleaner, more people than usual had new cloths, the smell was better than was usually the case in these towns and things were more clouded. Another new addition came walking down to greet him. A strange tall dark haired woman with two guards flanking her. She was pretty, but there was something off with her skin, and more importantly, her eyes which were jet black. Johan's job had demanded that he be very good at reading other people, but you did not need to be an expert to see that something was off with her. She identified herself as Nova and said that she would speak for the committee in matters of trade. She made a note to inspect his cargo, examined a piece of his mineral merchandise, picked up a couple of baskets and told him, in a kind, polite and fairly pleasant, but oddly monotone gave him his answered. "We will buy all the sulfur you carry. Fifteen copper pieces per basket." He was surprised at such a high offer for something this mundane.

"Very well" he said. She was presented with a chest and was given his payment. It was all there.

Nova smiled "May I interest you in a few steel ingots?"

"You may indeed" Johan retorted happily as he was lead along to a warehouse filled with them, taking care that he did not see the back of her neck. As he was escorted along, Supernova was satisfied with the performance of her new face, this being the first time it was used to address a Human that was not one of her subjects. It took to assemble the servos and the synthetic skin to go over them for her new face, but it made communication with the natives much easier.

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For the Dalatyr militia, things continued as usual during the winter and spring as the first anniversary of the coming of their mechanical superiors. They guarded, patrolled, drilled, assisted in the projects that the Committee set out, oversaw Detentional Labourers and responded to raids. They had done a lot of work on the smaller projects as well. Three men died in summer during a particularly bad raid, but their were nine new volunteers. they had done a fair bit of wok was done setting up brick houses during spring. Their uniforms were expanded, heavy felt coats were added for the winter while one by one they received leather shoes, trousers and gaiters. Their jackets had two additional pieces of material put on their shoulders to make carrying armor easier. A new standardized type of helmet was finalized, as was a cuirass design, but they were given low priority in production. While they had been a fairly basic backup when they were first raised, time and experience gradually made them a more capable and disciplined force.

Sven Smedth had advanced in this militia, attaining the rank of sergeant, having demonstrated a knack for command in exercises, the fact that he could write his own name as well as general popularity among the other militiamen. He had noticed the stockpiling of the new tube weapons as well as the strange fondness that they acquired for sulfur. Then they began unearthing one of their less remarkable designs, unremarkable hillocks of straw, dung and mud that they had soaked with piss and kept sheltered during the winter under crude huts. Wheelbarrows full of white stuff were taken to a newly built watermill, along with charcoal and the sulfur and barrels were taken out to a storehouse in the village. This caused some comment among the people of Dalatyr, as well as some speculation by Sven on what was going on. They were quite secretive about this. He had guessed, after a few discussions with farmers that this had to do with fertilizer until he herd of binding small measures of the stuff in waxed paper.

He found out one early summer morning when he along with Yanov (a friendly and thoughful older fellow) Petrov (a short man who always seemed like he needed to prove something) and Kven (a refugee who had come in late fall). Drive brought them outside and presented each of them with one of the weapons. He then demonstrated their operation, the loading of powder, paper and small lead objects that looked vaguely like acorns down the tubes, ramming it all down, preparing the tinderbox mechanism, bracing the device against the arm, lining the sight against the target and firing. Sven and the rest of them were shocked by the crack and smoke the thing created. It reminded him of the few times he saw one of the wizards the warlords employed in action. Drive handed over a couple of these weapons to these men and had them practice with them, carrying, aiming and marching with these weapons in hand. After a couple of hours of this they were instructed to fire at targets, starting at twenty meters. As Sven got a feel for the weapon, he was surprised to see how accurate it was. The target was then moved back to see how far they could shoot. After a few shots, they were taught the importance of cleaning and oiling.

As they did so, Drive examined their actions closely and how they made progress. He informed them if they were in error or improperly loaded a gun. He was testing the users, trying to work out the best way to train them to use these weapons. Their experience with crossbows was of some basic help, but they still needed work. However, this would yield in time as the men were clearly getting the hang of it and when they were, training the rest would be much more smooth. Soon they would be ready to move on to the next phase of their plan.

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As firearms were being issued to the militia and Drive oversaw their training with these new weapons, another form of training was being expanded on by the Survivors. They had a variety of long term plans, but it was apparent that a bottle neck would happen. Their would soon come a point the labour force would need to be able to read and write to properly function, this would also make administrating them easier. The natives did have a system of writing that was effective and was easy to process, although it was clear from what few books were gathered that they had yet to master it. The locals did have some reading and writing, but after some examination, only fourteen people could write among the two thousands subjects that lived in their domains. Four priests, Heisenoff's clerk and a few artisans that had picked up reading and writing in a rough and ready way. This state of affairs was to be rectified, but it took some time to get going.

Supernova oversaw this development. Paper production had been started up last summer, but had been a low priority when compared to some of the other things such as sanitation, defense, coal mining, the blast furnace and so forth. During the winter they had stockpiled the stuff. By spring work had been finished on a printing press. Things were finalized with the creation of a schoolhouse, which was completed by early summer. Once it was completed, she selected its teacher. This was not particularly difficult, Allea Ivonova was the best choice. She had been taught to read by her father with the family's heirloom book on woodworking. He had thought that would be a good quality to help her land a decent husband and was not in a particularly critical area of work. She was asked to do it, and because the locals on the whole were in the habit of doing what they were told she agreed, although she was clearly apprehensive even when the wage was mentioned. For two weeks, she was given a rundown on what was planned and the objectives. It was clear that she was nervous about it, but never the less she was curious about it. She had noticed how things had improved, there was more meat available, the town did not smell as bad after their policies about nightsoil and hand washing, people seemed healthier and their was more meat and money about. She figured that this was for the best.

And so school began, a decree was made that children that were either nine or ten years old in Dalatyr were required to attend classes starting at the summer solstice three days out of every four days (with some exceptions for harvest, sickness and so forth). Thirty Six children were gathered that day in the brick schoolhouse that had just had its inexpertly applied plaster dry. Each one received a book and several sheets of paper. The students were greeted by Supernova.

"Children of Dalatyr," She said "Here we will begin program to better your condition. Over the course of the year, you will learn a whole new language. One that is far more enduring than what you use in general conversation. For a word spoken only lasts for a brief span of time, while one put onto paper or stone or other surface is much more enduring. You shall be given the ability to hear words long after they were put down and a voice that may be heard a thousand times over long after putting it to paper. This is quite a privilege that you are about to receive. One that shall open up many new things to you in the future. We have tasked Allea..." she briefly gesturing to the student's new mentor "...to give to you this gift of knowledge and she has been deemed capable of the task at hand. May things proceed smoothly and efficiently. Farewell."

And with that she made her way out and the first lesion began. Each one of the students was given a book, which assisted matters and helped them along. She stumbled a bit here and there and the children were quite often a handful but she persevered. A few people had to sit in the corner for being to disruptive. When class let out, they were told to take their books with them. Damaging them was clearly stated to be frowned upon. They were also told to tell their parents what they had learned. Allea was a bit overwhelmed and oddly exhausted by the experience. But if nothing else she did feel that she was doing the right thing. And indeed, her efforts would be a boon to her pupils latter in their lives.

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The night before the first firearms were issued, a few people were awoken by a strange sound. A thudding somewhat like the crack of thunder, despite the fact that it was mostly clear out. A few guards saw a few flashes of light coming from the north after seeing the survivors leave with one of their stranger ideas. An iron tube they ordered the casting of, which was mounted on an unorthodox cart. When they returned, they said that it was a test. When they returned, Petrov who had been on gate duty asked them what they were doing. Drive answered him quickly...

"Carrying out a test, corporal."

And that was that. The device was then chained up. Latter, Petrov would find himself entrusted with its use, much to his satisfaction.

A few weeks after the first issuing of firearms the Survivors began a recruitment drive. Requests were put out for able bodied young men to serve in order to amass a fighting force of one hundred and twenty soldiers in Dalatyr and its Satellite villages. This involved calls to arms in public places as well as the distribution of posters. In the first four days of this, some thirty four men had been gathered for training. Twelve more volunteers would come in over the next couple of weeks. Most of these were farmers and young labourers, seeking to make a little cash. In any case, farm work had been going easier with the new ploughs and the supplies of compost. There were also a few refugees who felt that they owed their lives to the Survivors, a couple of slaves that had been bought and freed who held similar views. Unusually among the recruits was a farmer's daughter named Sal, who recalled what she saw involving her mother and two raiding warriors when she was just seven. There was some discussion about this female recruit by the Survivors, but it was concluded that she could use a rifle and that she was willing to do this voluntarily. Seven Detentional Labours were give the chance to earn their freedom by battle. To fill the rest of the gaps to meet the quota, the survivors resorted to conscription.

Each new recruit was given complete uniform as soon as possible. These had been stockpiled over the winter by the seamstresses and other clothiers of Dalatyr. Helmets were still largely from the old stockpile, which had been augmented with the helmets of captured raiders. The contrast with their uniforms was clear. New style helmets and cuirasses were being produced, albeit slowly and with priority for the latter. For accommodations, a couple of shelters were set up and each soldier was given a blanket and a backpack. After they arrived, they swore an oath to defend their homes from its enemies and to obey the orders of their superiors and the Committee. Among those entrusted with training the new recruits was Sven, now promoted to Lieutenant. Drive had instructed him and three other men about how this would go. He was entrusted with a group of twelve new recruits and his job was to oversee them through various exercises over the next few weeks.

On the first day, his squad stood before him and he came out wearing his new cuirass. They stood to attention in ranks and awaited inspection. He walked by them. He knew that most of them had some respect for the guards. They looked a decent lot on the whole, even if he did question the logic of having a woman in.

"Men" he said, as he suspected there were some brief snickers "You are here today to help us defend our homes, friends and families. Our enemy remains the same, those stinking brutes from Kivier, Blossdelf and Shelging. They were cut out of the same cloth as Heisenoff and his cronies. They have seen us as but weak cowards that they can rob, ravish and kill at their leisure. I say that is a lie. Cunning, skilled and fearsome they may be, they are still just men. I have seen them bleed. I have MADE them bleed! Now, thanks to our new masters, we now have the means to put them down like the rabid dogs they are. The next few weeks will not be easy on you, but if you go through with this by the end of of it you will be able to face these men down and put them out of our misery. Do you get me?"

"Yes Sir!"

"Good. First we will start with marching." And with that he started teaching them how to march. They would have to master this before moving onto shoot. With this began a change for this fighting force. What had been a purely defensive militia was to be transformed into an army with offensive capabilities.

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Kievier was a village twenty six kilometers west of Dalatyr and had long been its biggest rival before the coming of the Survivors. It held two vassal villages while being of comparable size. The warrior hosts of these two domains frequently raided each other for livestock and other supplies. The only complication was a bog that rested on the border of their domains and needed to be circumnavigated. The ruler of Kievier, Urlic the Profane shed no tears when he was brought news of Heisenoff's death. He had dismissed the claims of metal men as being the inevitable distortions of the chains of rumours, gossip and hearsays by which news was conveyed across the cold lands. He figured that they were just a band with a wizard or two that managed to get in by posing as merchants. He then decided to test their mettle by sending twenty three warriors, including five horsemen, to pay a visit. Of these, two of the footmen returned, both sporting odd burn wounds on their arms who confirmed the claims of metal men. He then remembered the tall tale of fire spitting creatures that lurked in the forest around a fallen star that he had heard, and wondered if the two were somehow linked. He tried a night raid in the summer, but that to was repulsed easily by the invaders. With that failure, Urlic was forced onto the defensive for the next year or so until he could replace the losses. Fortunately, he got word that Dalatyr's other neighbors were diminished.

For the people of Kievier, life continued more or less normally, although there was a few changes. There was a bit more trade going by and there was some worry. With Urlic's forces diminished in scale and size, there was some worry about enemy raiders. Rumours also spread about Dalatyr, most of which apsolute nonsense with whatever truth there was being quickly lost. Occasionally they would see that strange bird thing that never flapped its wings doing a couple of flybys. Hard liquor became somewhat more common and some of it ended up among the locals. Winter went by, fortunately without famine and in spring, the warriors remained on the defensive.

Then one noon they heard a report of a force advancing, given what they were wearing these were from Dalatyr. Along with them were a number of wagons, so presumably they had come for a seige. Their goal was to starve them or burn them out. Neither was a good prospect. As afternoon came, the force came into sight. One of the guards manning the watchtower reported that there was about eighty of them, with only a couple on horseback and all carrying odd tube weapons. Somewhat unusually, they did not encircle, merely set up a line along the western side. Then there was a loud sound that as much as it sounded of anything to the people Kievier sounded like thunder. About a minute later the sound repeated and part of the walls erupted into chunks and splinters. Some panicked, others looked on in horror. Eventually people would find the cast iron balls in the wreckage of damaged houses, but no one was looking for these at the time. The another shot impacted. The guards on the watchtowers said that their was a thing that some of the men from Dalatyr were stuffing stuff down that erupted into smoke. Between the crashes, there were a few odd sounds, as well as smaller thuds and movements in thatch until the sentry in the watchtower fell down dead.

Slowly among the warriors and people of Kievier, a panic built. Those metal men of Dalatyr had found a way to make a mockery of walls. All hopes of waiting this out were gone. Urlic knew he had only one option left, he gathered his men and sallied forth to drive off this force. Powerful though their masters were and their wall breaker, Urlic was determined to show these farmers and craftsmen what a real warrior could do and sallied his men forth.

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Urlic's force burst out of the western gates. He knew he had one shot at this so he threw everything at the line of enemies. He rallied all his warriors, as well as dragging along a number of civilians armed with hand tools and whatever remained in his armory, in total eighty six charged out of the west gate towards the force that stood out there two hundred meters. The hastily press ganged men at the front to disrupt the enemy lines, behind them the warriors on foot to ensure that they pressed forward and hammer the and fourteen cavalry holding up the rear to hit the flanks. The infantry swiftly fanned out. But as they charged the air rang with a sound that the warriors of the Coldlands would soon come to dread, the thunder of a volley of gunfire. Thirty six rifles going off at once. Not every shot hit and not every hit killed, but fourteen men and a horse dropped. Some of the remaining peasants broke off in panic. A second volley sent the rest of the peasant scattering. The remaining infantry and cavalry continued their charge, one trait that they did not lack in was valour. They pressed on attempting to close. A couple of arrows were loosed, but landed well away from their marks. Non of Urlic's men got within forty meters of the Line. Urlic himself laid motionless eighty seven and a half meters from it

Once the charge had been stopped, Drive ordered the advance on Kievier. Those that had fled were not perused. The gates had been left open with no one to bar them. Once inside, squads of men made their move proclaiming the change of regime. As soon as they were in, two green banners fluttered in the wind. Looting of houses and rape was forbidden, though fallen warriors were another matter in the case of the latter. Sven's company was assigned to scavenge through the fallen for anything of use. It was admittedly a bit of a morbid task, but he did not object to it. Living a life in an area like the Coldlands gives people the opinion that squeamishness about taking stuff off of corpses could easily lead to you of becoming one yourself. He examined the remains one by one, prodding them to see if they were still alive. Those that were still alive in the aftermath were disarmed and judged. Most of the surviving warriors were tied up, as they could be useful in one way or another. Two of them were deemed to be too badly damaged and were delt with in a more simple and final way. A good strike to the neck would do it quite nicely. That particular job Sven saved for himself, which was far worse for him than the battle. There was a difference between the kill or be killed nature of battle and this dismal task and he wanted to prevent his men from having to do it.

Despite this, they collected what they could. Weapons, shields and body armor were given priority. There was more padded cloth than he expected. Most of which had bullet damage and were to be burned, as were cloth and leather helmets and general clothes that received damage. Cloth armor that had not received much damage would be pulped for paper or given to the Detentional Labour force. Metal helmets, shields, armor and weapons would be either added to the arsenal, sold to merchants (a cut would go to the soldiers) or if it was of particularly low quality recycled. Saddles could also be flogged and the horses, once their meat had been smoked or salted could provide plenty of food for the Detentional Labourers. Anything else belonged to the soldier who found it. As for the corpses themselves, the locals would be free to dispose with those as they wished, with one exception. A severed head tended to go a long way in getting it through people's skulls that their had been a change of leadership.

Sven, along with nineteen other men would be stationed here for the next few months as the garrison. They would oversee the rebuilding of the walls, the establishment of a brick kiln, the creation of a proper nightsoil disposal force, as well as shooting a couple of raiders and training up twelve volunteers to be re-assigned elsewhere. A Survivor would also generally be present to keep a tab on things. There was some resentment, but they did not revolt as they knew how powerful the survivors were and in any case, Sven and the survivors were far less unpleasant in their rule than the Urlic was and their was an increase in trade. A couple of belligerents, many of whom were frequently drunk were sent to the coal mines but things were quite containable. Over the next two weeks, he heard of the fall of Blossdelf and Shelging and eventually his garrison received eight additional men recruited from these areas as backup. What had once been a source of destruction and death for Dalatyr would serve to assist it, and further it’s expansion.

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After the first expansionary campaign, the Survivors managed to cease control of an additional four thousand people spread among eight additional villages and towns. The Conscripts were de-mobilized and a few of the volunteers were de-mobilized over the next month, being placed on reserve duty. They were replaced with a total of forty eight recruits from Kivier, Blossdelf, Shelging and their vassal villages and environs, a mix of volunteers and warriors who chose continued military service to their new masters over a dreary existence mining coal which allowed it to retain its size of a hundred and twenty. To be save, these were broken up. To improve troop movement and trade, they set to work building roads and bridges, while a few radios kept the villages in touch with Dalatyr and each other. More raw materials were being brought in and after a few campaigns, bandits began to fall back to safer areas making trade more profitable. Raiders soon learned to fear the crack of gunfire. There were a few casualties over summer and fall, but these were made up for by new recruits.

The Great Hall of the main villages were taken over by the Survivors and their forces as headquarters. Though a different approach was used. While in Dalatyr the Great Hall was converted into the Survivor's general living space and workshop in which humans were barred from entrance shortly after they assumed control, in the other towns it was much more open. They were partitioned off with internal walls and served as a general store, a barracks for the garrison and an office for a Survivor administrator. For the most part, they did away with the "Shields, blades, furs and other bits of dead animals" decor that the warlords favoured, although having a single well positioned sword was useful for steering the locals to their point of view.

In the office at Blossdelf, Supernova waited as two people were brought in a month after the conquests. A middle aged man and his wife, nervous in her presence. She was quite interested in these creatures and the way they lived and interacted with each other. One of the reasons why she had been the first to adjust her form to one closer to humans was because of that fascination. One thing that she noticed were also amazed by the light in the place. A electric lights had been installed, powered by solar panels that now covered much of the roof as well as a couple of power cells tucked away. They could offer enough power for a few basic tasks as well as to top up their bodies power cells.

"Why have you summoned us, milady" The man said, exerting as much effort as possible not to dare offend her.

"Vasili and Marta, I have an offer for you two"

"What is it"

"Vasili, you are a blacksmith, are you not?"

"I am, noble lady."

"And Marta, you do have three sons, ages eight, fifteen and seventeen?" This was part of the ritual of interactions. She kept a database of all the humans under their rule. She could just go straight to the point without them. But she savoured the use of the conventions of spoken language. In any case it had been made clear that blunt direct commands were not always the best path to get them to do what was needed willingly.

"Yes, fine lads."

"Both being trained in the ways of metalworking"

"I has been tricky at times, but yes, milady."

"Very well. I have for you an offer. We have a number of projects being perused in Dalatyr that have need for metalworkers. We believe that it would be most productive to transfer over your eldest sons be sent to work there to help us complete these projects."

"What about the forge here?" Vasili asked.

"We understand that both of you are in good health and we trust that your youngest son is as well. Your two eldest sons shall gain some additional skills and i am sure, being good young men they would send cash home. There would be nothing wrong if you decided to drop in every once and a while. We could even arrange some time to them to talk with you via the transmitter." They had shown the general population the Radio to their amazement, even if they had a hard time explaining that it was not some form of magery.

The two them talked it over for a while. "We shall send them over." Vasili responded. They were used to taking orders from the powers that were.

"Wonderful! Arrangements shall be made for their transportation and accommodation shortly. Farewell." The two smiths left the office, talking under their breaths. That had been easier than she thought and soon they would have more resources at Dalatyr to further their projects. The conquest of the new towns did much for the Survivors, it increased security and provided them with more resources to father their objectives. Iron ore, timber, leather, wool, food, charcoal, furs that could be traded and most importantly, it increased their human resources.

Image

Over a period of 16 months since their initial capture of Dalatyr, the Survivors had taken Dalatyr and its surrounding environs and transformed them. New industries had been set up, crops were made more productive, sanitation was improved, bandits were beaten back, trade increased and the boarders were expanded, increasing the population twice over and bringing in more raw materials to fulfill the projects that the Committee mandated. To fuel these projects, coal and charcoal was used and iron ore was necessary for the steel industry. A respectable coal deposit was located nearby and there were sources of iron ore that were enough for the immediate needs. Charcoal was obtained by charcoal burners, who benefited from monitoring cameras and watchtowers while bog iron hunters would ply their trade and sell the lumps of metal rich stone that they collected. The newly conquered villages had much of their output of both coal and ore brought over to be fed into the Blast Furnace. Still much of the coal and raw ore that Dalatyr was provided by Detentional Labourers.

Detentional Labour was the Survivor's preferred method of Punishment. Execution had its uses, but the end result was a corpse incapable of work. Things such as beatings, floggings and torture compromised the performance of the individual afterward (both in terms of their health, strength and often in what the Survivors categorized as programming defects), were often unreliable and it created unwanted resentment among the labour pool as a whole. Jailing meant that the individual lay idle while they consumed resources and was only used for a few cases. Fines were useful for minor infractions as were certain restrictions such as barring certain people from taverns, although many cases warranted more severe punishments. For fairly minor offenses, the punishment was fairly light, usually taking the form of several weeks to a month in which a couple hours a day were spent on the roads, building work or in waste disposal. Mining was usually limited for more severe crimes, along with captured warriors and bandits. Defiant to the Survivor's authority and violent, this was deemed the best way to get some use out of them.

These hard cases were largely confined to two fenced off labour camps: one around the nearest iron deposit, one among the most notable coal deposit. If there was a more pressing need for one resource, labourers were transferred to the camp, although coal mining was generally given the higher priority. In these facilities they lived. A few guards supervised each area to make sure things proceeded smoothly and efficiently, though the Survivors were capable of keeping a close eye on them. Cameras were set up to monitor production, and each worker was given a restraint collar to ensure productivity, quickly punish laxness, monitor activities, track their movements and if need be, remotely disable or terminate the worker by slitting their throats. These were charged every night, using either a land line to the fusion reactor or a set of solar cells on the roof of their barracks to charge them. The assembly of these collars was given top priority by the survivors and much time on the fabricators was spent creating them.

Life for these labourers was regimented and organized, with a usual workload of fourteen hours of work. Two hours were set aside for eating, bathing (required every two days) and clean up of work environment. Every twelve days they received a four hour workload and occasionally in case of weather work would be cancelled. Outside of punishment for failure to perform their duties, there were systems in place to incentivise the labourers to do their best. Labourers were organized into gangs of ten workers and their was a system of individual, team and collective rewards and penalties in place. For general good behavior, meeting or exceeding quotas people received merits, which could be cashed in to lower quotas and workdays shortened, indoor work such as kitchen duty, have rations increased as well as getting meat (often horse stew, recycling the dead mounts of raiders) and get beer or small amounts of spirit with meals, as well as forgiveness for minor infractions. Counterproductive behavior was met with an increased workload and reduced rations. For every ten merits that an individual labourer earned, his gang mates got one each and the same went for demerits. This encouraged the workers themselves to make sure that their members were productive and did not go about breaking the rules. If production was particularly high, every worker would be given a merit. Those labourers who preformed well typically had better clothing and were less skinny. Their were a few deaths, but the general policy was to keep them alive as long as possible, as corpses were no use at all. During the winter, miners were given cold weather jackets, either furs or felt based and tarps were used to shelter miners from the wind, although mining did slow.

Mining output rose considerably after the survivors came, as the mines were manned perminantly and the survivors improved the output per worker through planning, ordering large numbers of wheel barrows to make it easier to move things about and latter a greater number of steel tools. When Dalatyr was taken, they had some thirty Detentional labourers and that would go up over the years. Sixteen months after the Survivors took over, they had over a hundred and fifty three, a number which would increase even further.

Image



HAIL ZOR! WE'LL BLOW UP THE OCEAN!
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 Post subject: Re: Infrastructure (Original and Illustrated) PostPosted: 2011-12-29 01:52am
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i could have sworn I'd posted here.

while I'm working through it, what are you after? applause, encouragement, lit criticism?



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 Post subject: Re: Infrastructure (Original and Illustrated) PostPosted: 2011-12-29 03:52am
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I just like sharing my ideas.

Zor



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WHEN ALL HELL BREAKS LOOSE ON EARTH, ALL EARTH BREAKS LOOSE ON HELL
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 Post subject: Re: Infrastructure (Original and Illustrated) PostPosted: 2011-12-29 05:09am
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hmmm, I'm a little suspicious the survivors managed to get from 'alcohol has this effect' to sanitation and crop rotation so quickly.

Industry and engineering I can understand, as its chemistry and they've clearly got very capable sensors. But biological discoveries seems a little harder.



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 Post subject: Re: Infrastructure (Original and Illustrated) PostPosted: 2012-01-11 03:31am
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crap, hit quote instead of edit. Please remove this post.



HAIL ZOR! WE'LL BLOW UP THE OCEAN!
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WHEN ALL HELL BREAKS LOOSE ON EARTH, ALL EARTH BREAKS LOOSE ON HELL
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 Post subject: Re: Infrastructure (Original and Illustrated) PostPosted: 2012-01-30 04:46am
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It was fall when Sven was transferred back to Dalatyr and given some leave. On arriving he had noticed the changes, there were a few more brick kilns, some new buildings had been put up and a fair bit construction was going on around the town, as well as a bit more traffic coming by. The town itself had grown, it was more crowded and an extension was happening. He knew that more people were being brought in or coming over, but he did not know how extensive it was. Once he had entered the town, he made his way to a sight which when he left was just a foundation and the very beginnings of brick walls, the New Arsenal.

The Old Armory was just a warehouse for weapons with a workbench for the odd bit of repair work done. The New Arsenal was a center of manufacturing. The heart of the New Arsenal was a building composed of three long brick structures laid side by side with doors at one end land were linked on the other. At the back end of each one of these structures was a trio of chimneys, two of which were. Several sheds were arranged nearby along and behind it filled with various materials, some of them were locked. There were windows with glass in them, the glass was crude and twisted what light passed through it, but it was quite a marvel to someone who had only seen a few crude glass cups in the warrior's hold before. There was a fence around it and a gate manned by a twelve year old boy, but he let the war hero passed.

He walked into the main building using his rank and a card to get in, around him were men and to his surprise a couple of women hard at work. Some of them were forging helmets and cuirasses, others worked on the various mechanical components of guns. Two of them were working on swords. In addition to the metalworkers, there were carpenters who were turning out stocks and men who assembled the components into their final forms and leatherworkers who made slings and straps for armor, as well as scabbards around wooden molds. The finished products were put on racks while components were put into jars that were periodically taken. It all seemed to be a very well organized. A few posters were hung up away from open fires and electric lights were on the ceiling. The Committee clearly valued this place considerably. After a minute of wandering around, he found who he was looking for at a desk filling out a report.

"Hello dad" he said happily.

"Sven!" Boris said, putting down his pen "Good to see you after all this time my lad!"

"Good to see you too, Radio is just not the same."

"So true my boy!" He got up, grabbing his cane. "I was expecting you and your mother made us both a good lunch. Come!" He began to move on his way to the lockers.

"So, how have things been going?"

"It’s been getting better my lad, but I still got to watch this lot like a bloody hawk. It’s mostly the new workmen; they have the hardest time following the damn blueprints or understanding that each bit needs to be the same. Older blokes in particular, but to be fair so was your old man for the first while even with someone like Fortitude or Drive breathing down my neck. Still you would be amazed at what we can turn out here, even with thirty two men."

"Any new project planned?"

"The Committee is not keen on me talkin' about it, but they have something new in store. Once we finish our quota of RIFLES THAT THEY WILL ACCEPT," A few people looked at him, the point driven home "pardon that Sven, they have some more things planned." he lowered his voice "They have a couple of new guns planned. A short one that you could shoot one handed and one with two barrels. So how are things going?"

"More Raids than I care to mention. Even with early warning and a rifle, you still got to be careful. Still, no one has been dumb enough to try a siege yet. You do get a lot of respect of there."

"And you don't here?"

"They do, but its different respect. Here I’m the brave defender of the village, but still just your son. Over in Kievier you get the respect, but you’re just a soldier. They still prefer us to the old warlords, but there is still resentment. Been getting better though. Anyway it’s good to be home." His voice became a bit worried "Has Stefia moved on?"

"No, no. She has been patient. Word from the wise, don't leave her waiting much longer. That said," he pulled out a box from his locker, this contained a flask of soup, two mugs, a loaf of bread and a couple of potatoes stuffed with goat cheese and bacon "a bit of time with your old man would not hurt." He then made his way back to his desk.
Image

In Autumn, the Committee decided to experiment in expanding their military's capacities with the creation of a force of Cavalry. It was made clear from experience the edge that cavalry generally had over infantry from what was observed in the battles, as well as the usefulness of their mobility. They had acquired a few war horses during the summer expansion and a couple of foals in the stables at Dalatyr during its capture had reached maturity. There was complications, horsemanship was not common knowledge and was largely limited to warriors and a few herdsmen. There was also the fact that reloading a rifle on horseback was awkward enough to warrant a change in armament. Using long range recon, evaluation of the gear of the warriors they had slain and after considerable discussion, they settled on a model of equipment. Still, some investigation was warranted to see how good a force they could raise.

When the request for volunteers for Cavalry evaluation came up, Sven was among the first to raise his hand. Afterwards, he was met by Yanov who wanted to talk about his decision.

"Are you sure you can do this?"

"Yeah,' Sven retorted "can't be too hard, the beast does all the work and all."

"Well its your call. Still, I don't trust those things."

"I'll be fine. In any case if worse comes to worse it’s not binding to just give it a shot."

"Alright. Still, you're a good lieutenant and a friend. I would rather not see you hurt or gone."

Cavalry training began the next day, in total there were twenty one volunteers. In addition a few new people had signed up with the prospect of getting to fight on horseback. Drive examined them and briefed them on the gear. Telling them to detach the lower part of their cuirasses for comfort and showing and briefing them on saddles, bridles, champrons, gloves and the new weapons for fighting on horseback. There were the lances for charging, the short barreled pistols, pottery jars filled with a mixture of alcohol and egg yoke with an oily rag called Spirit Bombs and most impressively the double barreled shotguns. Though save for the Spirit Bombs, only a few. In addition, they would carry single handed melee weapons. However, their use would have to wait until ridership was confirmed.

If a scout from any of the warrior hosts ever managed to see the attempts at ridership over the next couple of weeks, he would get a good laugh and would probably would gain a fatal underestimation of the Survivor's forces. There were plenty of instances in which people fell off, lost control of their mount or both. He had considered showing Stefia him in the saddle, but actual experience with that told him that this would not be a good idea. A few did get the hang of it in at least a basic way, Sven being among them even though he came to despise the up and down motions of riding and the discomfort they caused him. Once that happened, they moved onto fighting on horseback. Shooting on horseback was tricky, but it was at close range and Sven got the hang of that. What really was a problem was the lances. Every time he managed to skewer Heisenoff Junior the training dummy, he was knocked out. Usually with his horse coming over to give him a good sniff, which always got a laugh out of the men watching him. After doing this, he eventually got tired and opted out, going back to footslogging.

Drive took note of the results of this experiment and came to this conclusion. While there were about seven adequate horsemen, they were still not yet ready for battle in the saddle. Especially true was the fact that they were not ready for the cavalry charges that broke ranks and sent armies scattering. That would take a lot more drilling and practice. That said, with a bit more work they could probably be useful fighting at a distance. Moving around enemy ranks firing pistols and shotguns into them to cut down their number to disrupt their ranks while avoiding close quarter combat and even so it would be best to steer them clear of actual cavalry for the first bit. That would have to wait until spring, however.
Image

Dalatyr saw its second winter under the rule of the Survivors and endured it. The village had over the last two years had increased to over twelve hundred people, from refugees, artisans brought in to assist the projects and people who had come over to try to make some money in a home were raiding was not a reality, as well as the fact that death from disease, especially among children and the elderly was going down. Food was plentiful, as was fuel and people were contented with the fact that starvation and cold could be held at bay. Work continued on, as projects were continued and began. Among these was a special order for the New Armory that made a break from the stockpiling of rifles swords and armor for the army's use. Boris was a bit confused about this, but the units were produced. Even so, it did not sit right with him to deliver what he believed was an inferior product.

As spring began, people moved out of their homes and began to till the land, ploughing and planting and preparing for this year's harvest. The military stepped up its drills and preparations, as the warm weather would mean the return of raiders. It was after one of these drill that Yanov (who had been promoted to sergeant) was met by Supernova and Drive. They requested that he and his squad accompany Supernova as a guard on a mission of importance. He accepted and the next morning he and his squad were on their way, marching along with a horse cart. Yanov was surprised that she wore a uniform, she rarely went on patrol even before she put on skin. Eventually they reached their destination, which was near a farmhouse at the edge of the territory that the Committee controlled.

They were soon greeted by their by their guests. Six men walked over, all warriors and armed, though calmly and quietly. They also had an ox cart. One of them was on horseback; the man in question was Leonev the Fierce, lord of Varslob. He was robust and from what Yanov heard he was a quite capable fighter and while crude, had guile and cunning. If nothing else, the fact that he had managed to rise to lead his host and had survived long enough for people outside his town to remember his name said something. He had two battle axes on him and while he was certain that Supernova could take him down, he might manage to get into one of his men. He also had spikes on one of his arm guards, presumably to catch enemy blades and to give him that edge in close quarters fighting. Still, he kept still and alert.

He advanced on Supernova "I've got your message. Who asked for my audience?"

"I am Supernova, I shall speak for the Committee."

"And they sent a Woman, Ha! I can smell the stink of fear of this cowering 'Committee' even from here."

"Afraid of a few primitive warriors?" she gave out a quick bemused chuckle "In a day we dispatched Heisenoff's host, in a week we brought down three domains. The rest of the Committee has other tasks to attend to, dealing with you for the time being, is mine."

He grinned "That may be. But still, what is your offer, or is their goal merely to waste my time and build my wrath?"

"Getting onto business As you have probably noticed, raids against our territories are generally unsuccessful, ending in at best a retreat..."

Leonov interrupted "Only because your pet peasants playing at war are armed with those blasted thunder weapons." Yanov wanted to punch the bastard in the face and he was sure his men. "Gods damned wizardry."

"It seems you have gotten to the point." She gestured for one of the boxes to be unloaded. "We are making you an offer." She gestured to the box. Leonov send one of his men over, who opened it up to reveal a set of guns. "We shall provide you and your forces with firearms, bullets, powder as well as some instructions and support equipment. Twelve of them now and twelve more after you complete a minor action."

"And what would that be, voice of this Committee?" he said as he stroked his beard thoughtfully.

"Launch three raids against your rivals with these weapons. We shall monitor your activities and will know if you perform this action. Upon completion, we shall make a shipment. If you require more, we will be willing to sell them to you."

"It seems strange" he said thoughtfully.

"How so?”

"You're Committee came up with these Firelocks as well as from what I gather a few other clever things. But giving your foes such weapons, that it simply foolish."

"A legitimate point. The main reason we contacted was because you had demonstrated above average intelligence for a Coldland Warlord."

"True be that, witch."

"Determining your intelligence was fairly easy. Unlike others you have not sent your men to die pointless deaths attempting to raid our holdings, leaving yourself vulnerable to raids from your older rivals. As such we assumed that you would be smart enough to realize that you are unable of making your own powder. As well you would understand that we would not be inclined to provide more and indeed, would retaliate against those who decided to betray our generous offer, with a force that has far more firearms as well as wall cracking artillery. So are we in agreement?"

The warlord mulled it over for a few seconds "Very well" he said cautiously "I assume that your metal men will fulfill your end of the bargain."

"That we will. Reliabilility is the foundation of trust."

"Indeed." He said mildly annoyed, he then gestured "Spvetz, Klorff! Load these goods." With that, the supplies that had been transported along with other accessories exchanged hands. Supernova explained what was what, including the keg of powder, the small ceramic jars that held a single firing's worth of gunpowder, twelve cloth pouches with a hundred bullets each (these being rough spheres) and a couple of books indicating how to load, clean and fire the weapons. They eventually departed ways and made their way back. They would have to stay the night in Blossdelf, but Yanov was happy that it was over with, and he was promised an extra five credits. That said he felt he had to ask Supernova a question as they approached their lodgings for the night.

"Madam, was it wise to give away guns to those brutes."

"Yes Sergeant." She said quietly. "The goal is to secure our borders. This often means destroying our enemies, which means putting our forces at risk. It is much more efficient to get them to destroy themselves. Giving Varslop firearms and having them raid his rivals will likely result in these host to expend much of their forces in conflict with each other. If Varslop manages to rise in prominence, they will become dependent on us for powder and we have superior numbers, training, tactics and weapons."

"Those were inferior guns, madam?"

"Your rifle, Sergeant." He handed her his gun, she held it pointing upwards in front of them "Those firearms do not have spiral groves cut into their barrels and are less accurate because of it. They do not understand that and there is no need to give them weapons equal to our own."

This made sense to Yanov, but it did seem fairly underhanded even if it was with a warlord. He still held some reservations about this, but in the end he knew that making a fuss about it would do no good. In any case, he was looking forward to a good night's sleep.

Image

The third spring of the rule of the Committee was on the whole rather pleasant for Sven, who spent most of it around Dalatyr and was promoted to captain. Most of what he did involved seeing that new recruits were brought up to shape, as well as doing some studying and managing some projects, mostly building bridges as well as some work in the Military Literacy Program, teaching his brothers (and in one case) sister in arms the basics of reading and writing. There were a few responses to bandits, one raid that got close to Dalatyr and a bit of patrolling the streets, but things were fairly peaceful and he could go into town nearly every night and spend time with his family, and Stefia Kyoth.

He had met her over the winter soon after she and her family had been saved from the snow. She had an infant daughter named Natasha, her father having died in the attack that destroyed her family's old life. Like most refugees that were brought in, she floated between odd jobs for that the Committee assigned to them before eventually settling down at a fixed profession. In her case this was the Print shop, which was mostly staffed by young women. According to Supernova "It taught them to read and they would teach their children to read" which made sense to Sven. After a few conversations it was clear that they liked each other and eventually that there was something between them. He took in alot of details while she was a good listener and was thoughtful in her response. It took a bit of thought and planning but eventually they made their decision to tie the knot.

Weddings in the Coldlands were not known for being elaborate and traditionally were open air affairs, a pig was roasted along with vegetables and potatoes and beer and spirit were made available. People brought some gifts for the newlyweds and the young girl soon to have a father. On his request, Drive allowed Sven and Stefia a day off and organized an honor guard, as well as personally marring the two people together. The Husband's party stood on one side and the wife's party on the other. He wore his uniform, she wore a new vest and dress. They said their vows, kissed and the deed was done, save for the feast. Even though Drive did not take the keenest interest in understanding the finer details of Human relationships, it was quite clear that both families were happy with this turn of events.
Image

Summer went by over Dalatyr as did fall. There were a few raids and bandit incursions, but these were containable. Roads were completed. New industries were set up, such as the manufacture of lathes and glass bottles while older ones were expanded. A second blast furnace was erected, driven by a water mill. The army grew by a couple of squads and with some assistance from one of Leonov the Profane's riders, a squad of cavalrymen were readied for war. A fair number of carts were commissioned by the Committee. When harvest came, the Survivors introduced a horse drawn device that used a water wheel of blades to cut swathes of wheat, promising more of them by next harvest. More buildings were put up, and indeed there was a rush to finish a fair number of them before winter set in. Among these was a newly created two story house that Sven and Stefia came to call home.

As winter began to set in, Sven started to spend more time at home and catch up on some reading. He and the Lieutenants and a couple of Sergeants of the army were given copies on a book called "Strategy and Tactics: First Addition" that outlined just that. Drive told them to read up on it, and he did. It was quite fascinating, about logistics, maundering, mobility, the importance of the chain of command and management and so forth.

They were both quite fond of the home. To most Coldland families, simply having a home that they did not have to actively share with two other families was unparallel luxury. This home was a marvel. It had a basement for storage, a living room, a hallway and kitchen on the main floor and three bedrooms on the second. They had rented out two of these. There were glass windows and two fireplaces, with iron pipes to help heat the inside. Natasha had taken to exploring. He usually read in the Kitchen, as he felt quite. As he read one day on pincer movements, Stefia came over to the kitchen table and placed her hand on his shoulder. He knew what that meant. He put his bookmark in place and the two of them made their way upstairs. Natasha was sound asleep in her small bed and in Sven's experience, she could peacefully doze if Petrov's team were drilling right behind her.
Image

The third winter of what was then called the rule of the rule of the Committee came and passed, and as it did more a stockpile of arms was built up. The New Arsenal assembled gun after gun, sword after sword and cuirass after cuirass. Six more cannons were cast and put onto their mounts. Uniforms, backpacks and sleeping bags were also stockpiled and large quantities of gunpowder and bullets. A fair number of carts were built. A few muskets and powder was sold to Vorslab, which had risen in prominence at the expense of becoming more and more dependent on Dalatyr. The purpose of which was made clear as spring began.

A general recruitment drive was set out by the Committee early in spring, seeking recruits and lots of them. And for three months they came in at a trickle, men and a couple of women. A few criminals were put into service, reservists called to active duty as well and a handful of Detentional labourers were brought up. At the end, they resorted to conscription by lottery to finally fill out the ranks. They were moved to a new set of barracks nearby Dalatyr. In the end, they gathered a force 480 soldiers in strength. Four companies, each with its own cannon were readied for a new wave of expansion.

As the last of these soldiers finished their training, preparations were being made. A meeting was gathered and they were given a speech by Drive on the coming plan outside the mess hall. It express the details of the operation and confidence in their capacity. Drive was straight to the point and rather uninspiring, despite the fact that speech was not one of his skills. They were then met by Supernova oddly enough

"Soldiers, Tomorrow we shall push forward once more. As your Commander has told you, we shall move against several warrior holds. We have every confidence in you to complete your objectives as what we have created here is the strongest fighting force that these lands have ever seen. Two years ago this army ended the reign of three fearsome warlords. They may boast about their strength as they guzzle ale all they wish, but they will be met with a retort of lead.

"As you march forward, remember what you fight for. You are not savage Warriors out for rape and plunder. You fight against them, and you fight to end them. You fight to purge this world of their cruelty and spiteful incompetence. For once the smoke has cleared, the enemy defeated and our banner flies above their towns, we shall begin our work with them. We shall keep these lands safe from raids, rebuild their walls, drive out bandits and we shall build. We shall connect these newly annexed towns to our homes with roads and bridges. Trade will flow between them and they shall thrive. They will provide resources and able hands and with these, we shall reshape this world.

"Image, if you will an end to the violent cycle of raids and massacres that hangs over the Coldlands. Were men and women do not need fear raids or bandits. Every one of you has lost someone to this senseless warfare or knows someone who has. We shall end that. Look at Dalatyr, under the rule of the Committee it is thriving like it never has before. There is plenty of food and fuel. Wealth flows into it through trade and it can now make so much more than it once could have.

"What we shall build is more than just roads and bridges, even more than homes and workshops. What we shall do is we shall build a great machine. Made of many smaller machines, roads, towns, mines, workshops, factories, carts, farms and people. A thousand villages and towns acting as one. A web that shall take in the raw wealth of clay, ore, coal, timber and food, refine it, process it, store it and move it to where it is needed. Now consider it being enhanced with various devices designed to make jobs easier for the man who does them. Irrigation, mechanical reapers, blast furnaces, printing presses, the list goes on. It shall feed the people and give them all shelter and purpose. And it will defend what it makes from those who would destroy it or take it to deprive those in need. What has been created so far is proof that this shall work, and when history is written, those brave men who fought to bring it about shall be spoken of with the greatest respect and honor. Those who swept clean the squabbling domains of the warlords so that in their place would be built this great Network of roads and efforts that shall support everyone. Those that brought about the glorious Age...of Infrastructure!"

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Three companies marched forth from Dalatyr, each a hundred and twenty men strong. The second of which was augmented by twenty of Leonev's warriors, giving a couple of weeks service as payment for rifles, rations, a couple of bottles of fifty percent spirits and some captured weapons and armor. Each was commanded by a captain and had a cannon, a radio to keep them in touch with command and to send back orders and eight carts for supplies as well as transit. Each had a specific area to conquer, laid out on a map. In total, nineteen villages were slated for annexation. Infrastructure would not be denied.

Petrov was in charge of the gun crew of the first company which was marching on the town of Karov. As they approached, one of their scouts ran over, reporting the oncoming army, the entire host along with a fair number of press ganged peasants and a large number of bows, crossbows and slings. The wagons were lined up into a defensive curve, the tarps were put down, the oxen and draft horses were led aside for the time being and a set of spiked barricades made of recycled spears was put up to denture any cavalrymen trying to jump them. They would wait the night so they could be well rested. About an hour later, the enemy army entered sight over the farmer's fields. They had learned something at least, instead of the usual tight mob they broke up into a loose mob. They charged as quickly as they could making for the line, two hundred and sixty two men in total.

"Load a Hailshot!" Petrov barked. With that they readied the cannon with its ammunition. They closed in as he aimed as he waited for them to get close enough. A few shots were set off, felling a few of the oncoming warriors, but they were less tightly packed then they were during the first expansion campaign and there were more misses per volley. Unlike at Kievier the peasants did not break en mass in the face of gunfire. He also saw that no one was carrying a shield. It was quite clear that the leader did think about how to break them.

Then he had his target and flourishing his sword, fired. A a salvo of steel balls burst forward and impacted against the oncoming horde, bringing down eight men and a horse in one shot. They did not die clean deaths. Still the majority of the pressed on. He heard bellowing by the warlord. Some men flinched at the roar of it and he was grateful for the padding in his helmet. His crew began to reload as the charge continued. A couple of peasants did try to break away, but he saw one of them hacked down by a warrior.

"SHOOT THEIR LEADERS!" Sven yelled, seeing this as well. Petrov acknowledged that this was a good idea and put his attention back on making the most of his next shot. When the gun had been readied to fire again, a few survivors had begun launching a handful of projectiles against them. A couple of soldiers were struck, but they were well armored and the salvos. The second shot tore another nine men from the ranks. While it did seem that he would have to cut these bastards a new one with his pig sticker afterwards, none of the enemies reached their lines.

After the battle, they inspected the carnage. A few captives were taken and looting of corpses was done. It was clear from the smell of their clothing that the local warlord had given them liquid courage to push forward. That evening, they marched into town proclaiming their inclusion into Infrastructure and hanging banners, while distributing beer while messengers were sent to Karov's four vassals. They had another warlord to conquer, but Petrov was glad to hear that could enjoy a few mugs of beer and a meal with meat in it before then.

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The Second Expansionary Campaign was a success, and the resources and population of Infrastructure increased. The new territories were secured and development plans were put into effect. The Survivors were more than satisfied with the results, not only in the increased scale of their operations but in having successfully created a fighting force that was capable even without direct supervision. However, the Survivors still demanded more. The way that they did this, however would be different.

It started in the Autumn of what had earlier that the people under the dominion of the Committee would remember as the Fourth Year of the Infrastructural Age. The Second Company of the Infrastructural Army took four villages shortly before the winter snowfall began. A smaller scale incursion to the large-scale offensive. As was expected, the local hold resisted and was cut down by gunfire and the town was taken. In this case, after the fall of a minor village, the main force of the local warlord attacked and was gunned down.

Among the soldiers of the Second Company was Sergeant Sal, who moved in after the battle to examine one of the corpses. By the armor and the clothing that he wore, she assumed (correctly) that he was the Warlord. He twitched a bit, but it was clear that he was dead. She hoped to find a change purse on him underneath the cloth, leather and mail, her mother would be grateful for having some extra cash. As she went over the body, she mused on how brutes like him were becoming a thing of the past. Her search was ultimately fruitful, and produced six silver coins and twenty two copper ones.

Such smaller scale moves would become the norm for the next decade. Drive had concluded and convinced the rest of the Committee that it was less complicated to launch numerous small scale incursions than several large scale ones at the same time, as well as its usefulness as serving as a deterrent against raids. The next summer would see three more campaigns of comparable size, and that number would continue to rise as time went on. The era of Warlords in the Coldlands was coming to a close.
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Despite its successes and victories, as the Infrastructural Army pushed onward claiming new lands, they began to encounter fiercer resistance. While their rifles continued provide a major advantage at a range, their shock value quickly diminished. Warlords gradually got the hint and turned to loose formation and ambushes from forests. The advantage of Ariel recon became. There were no really significant mages around Dalatyr, but as their forces pushed forward encounters with them became more common.

In the Seventh Year of the Infrastructural Age Sergeant Ilya Voronin of the 2nd Cavalry Company was stationed at the newly annexed settlement of Telseg when he received word of a large raiding force coming over the border. He and his twenty three fellows loaded up and saddled up, as did the four squads of infantry (two of which were Varslob mercenary auxiliaries). The left to meet these marauders, marching quickly. They were easy to find, they set alight a few houses. They came over a hill and saw them, a fair sized force of about sixty warriors waiting for them, only a couple of horsemen, with a fair number of dead bodies around them and some carts. A few of them were in black robes doing something behind a farmhouse.

The infantry advanced in two lines, auxiliaries in the front and Army soldiers behind them. At the same time the cavalry moved into position to flank them. It seemed like it would be another easy victory, but he soon saw the threat that they posed. As they made their advance the enemy warriors broke apart and waited. This struck Ilya as being odd, but ultimately it would be just lead to their victory. His force would. There were several bursts of sickly green energy, sounds similar to thunder, arcs moving from corpse to corpse and the soldiers saw that the piles of corpses got to their feet and began to charge towards the line. The enemy force had just quadrupled in size, and the new zombie undead pressed against them. The rest of the warriors followed suit after them, two forces barreling down. After the first salvo, some of them flinched and a two toppled down, but it was clear that these corpses could take a beating. The rest of the soldiers began

Ilya watched this and new that the game had changed. His squad moved in on the zombie force, pleased to see their number slowly diminish from the salvos of rifle fire. His mount galloped as quickly as its hooves could carry it into range. Once he got close, he and his squad began ran by, throwing a few Spirit Bombs into the mass of animated corpses. Several of the zombies caught fire, burning with a strange green fire and staggering about before collapsing inertly as the flames changed to a more normal colour, this led to a bit of a pile-up. A few zombies broke off and began following them as they pulled away. They ran away leading away some thirty zombies that trailed behind them, blasting at them with their pistols and dropping caltrops behind them. A few of them fell to the ground dead as they made their way away before looping back and turning around to get back to the horde, leaving the stragglers in the dust

The Zombies had been moving uphill, which had delayed them somewhat, but they were still pressing on despite their casualties. It took usually a few bullets or a headshot but their numbers were being reduced. Still they closed in. The enemy warriors had taken a few casualties from a few salvos sent their way and the efforts of the second cavalry squad. By the time they had closed, however about fifty zombies had managed to make their way into the auxiliary lines. Ilya knew there was only one option...

"CHARGE!"

His squad pressed forward letting off a blast from their shotguns to blow a hole in the mass of living dead and bringing their swords on them. They crashed into them, breaking rotting bodies beneath hooves and hacking at the mass of undead. They were un-armored and about half of them were armed (usually with a hatchet, a club or a crude mace) while the rest attacked with hand, foot and tooth. Taking off or destroying their head or breaking their mouldering forms would cause them to loose whatever magics compelled them to stay alive, but they kept at it until they were put down. The auxiliaries had a few battleaxes and swords and had some experience in hand to hand combat. About half the auxiliaries were ripped apart by these flesh eating cadavers and to his horror, one of his men was eaten by these creatures, but in the end they managed to bring down the last of them. A few warriors managed to join the fray, but by the time they arrived, there were only a few of them left and they quickly broke. The remaining zombies that had been lead away pressed towards them, but were destroyed by gunfire before reaching the lines.

It could have gone the other way, and there were casualties. Six cavalrymen and thirteen auxiliaries were taken down during the fight. The remaining warriors and the Necromancers were captured. He had heard rumours about what the committee did with the combat magic users they caught and he knew that they generally did not put them to work. Still, he had survived the raid and was glad of that. The warriors that launched this raid were traced to the town of Fellordelf, which, a month latter was conquered.
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The committee was quick to make the most of the resources that they had gained by its ongoing campaigns of conquest. They gained more raw materials, more fuel for the fires of industry and more manpower and these were brought to Dalatyr. Either by tribute or trade timber, ore, coal, scrap metal, wool, leather, grain, meat and other supplies were brought in while the population of Dalatyr was rapidly expanded. Young artisans were sought out with high priority to work in the myriad of new workshops, though there was plenty of need for unskilled labourers as well. Orphans and refugees were also brought in. By the fifth year of the infrastructural age, the town’s outgrew its old walls. By 6IA, Dalatyr had a population of 4,000 residents, by 10IA that had boomed to 13,000.

As this happened, the Committee began to face the complications of the increased population and their accommodations. Shops were set up, a market area was set aside, new schools were set up to accommodate the new children and plans were made for aqueducts to deliver fresh water and a sewer system to quickly remove waste. Then there was the matter of housing. New homes were either hovel made any which way they usually made homes, a few experiments made by the locals, narrow brick structures with at most two stories and a couple of two story houses for the most prominent people. Despite the Committee’s efforts, the locals built any which way. Near the end of the 7th year of the Infrastructural Age, after studying the native’s homes, some experimental construction, surveying and reading up on books about architecture from the south and west, the committee ordered the construction of the prototype for the next generation of housing.

Construction began in spring, though materials were stockpiled beforehand. It was made of brick and was three stories tall, leaving aside the attic. The basement was dug out with the assistance of a steam powered conveyer to move out spoil. Teams of bricklayers worked day and night under supervision to complete this as rapidly as possible with electric lighting. There was a rush to get as much brickwork as possible done before winter. In the end, they succeeded, with the remaining carpentry being done over the winter. By spring, the building was completed and was given a grand opening. When Sven returned for the winter and saw the construction site, he, like many people was convinced that the Survivors were making a palace for themselves because it rivaled great halls in scale.

Officially it was given the name Dalatyr Apartment Building-1, a building that had thirty apartments. Conditions were fairly tight, but Coldlanders were use to this sort of living. Each one had a cast iron stove. These were given away to the families of a few prominent figures and a few of the construction workers. Around it was a garden for vegetables. Its basement was for supplies and had a Cold Room for storing meats. In terms of decoration, it was sparse and clean with white plastered walls. The windows were all glass. Supernova led a tour through this building. Most of Dalatyr's population was impressed by this new addition to the city and that such a marvel was built for the people. They were happy to know that work had already begun on another three of these buildings.
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 Post subject: Re: Infrastructure (Original and Illustrated) PostPosted: 2012-02-01 11:55pm
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Sith Marauder
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a few typos. new instead of knew, about 7 sentences that start but are unfinished.

the introduction of combat magic?
that changes the game a bit. Zombie powered waterwheels?



"Aid, trade, green technology and peace." - Hans Rosling.
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 Post subject: Re: Infrastructure (Original and Illustrated) PostPosted: 2012-05-14 01:09am
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After the better part of a decade fighting and breaking the warlords of the Coldlands, Yanov decided that he would take up a place closer to home. He had a wife and a few children and gradually he came to feel that he had been away from them for too long. In 8IA, he decided to take up a full time rifle training position. He could hammer these new recruits into fine soldiers of Infrastructure during the day and come home to a loving wife at night. The Infrastructural Army constantly needed more soldiers so there were always new recruits coming in. He still managed to make a difference and he did not have to worry about warriors hacking his head in two. It had its own difficulties, but he still found it rewarding despite the change of pace.

Among the difficulties he faced was the change in weapons. In the fall of the 10th year of the Infrastructural Age a quicksilver mine was obtained. In the spring of the 11th year, a new weapon came into service to replace the old flintlocks. A new breech loader like the cavalry screw rifles. Unlike those, this one had special cartridges which were loaded into the back and used a spring loaded needle to set them off. This new weapon shot four times as fast and was called Type-3R. Large numbers of them were being produce night and day, to re-equip the armies with these improved rifles. Yanov was among the first to try these new guns out and was impressed, it took some time to get use to the Type-3R but he got the hang of it soon enough and for the next year he was working around the clock retraining soldiers how to use these new weapons. There was also the Type-3P repeating pistol, which had a rotating cylinder and could be shot six times before reloading. But it was not just soldiers who received them.

As Dalatyr grew so did life change for its residents, usually for the better. People began to buy more things that they used to make themselves, such as bread and clothing. More far people were literate and people began to work clock patterns into their daily routine to name a few. But there were other changes, among them the rise of crime. Before the survivors came there were raiders and bandits outside, but in the town walls there was rarely much disturbances. Any chronic thief could be quickly identified in the small population and dealt with. Outside of the warriors there was rarely any robbery save for Mischief by youngsters. Under the rule of Heisenoff and his predecessors, a couple of warriors would patrol the town at night with torches for anyone who seemed auspicious. After the Survivors took over, some guards did the same thing. As Dalatyr grew, it became more and more possible to hide in the crowd even in daylight and commit petty crimes. In the year 9IA, Supernova hired a small force of men distinct from the army to patrol the streets and keep order, which gradually grew in size. Their purpose was to enforce the law and thus was born the Enforcers.

Yanov was a bit suspicious about the Enforcers, most of the military men from Dalatyr were even after Drive told them that it was better to have dedicated specialists fighting crime and that this sort of work required being a lot less trigger happy than soldiering. There was some resentment about having a separate armed body. He was also a bit shocked when he heard that a few of them would be given the new guns. Mostly pistols but a few rifles as well. They had a couple of hand-me-down pistols. Twelve Enforcers came in to the range during September, among them sergeant Hanlov, a bearded man who moved over from Shelging when he was thirteen. He gave his opening speech on maintenance and care and had the "Sergeant" practice shooting, then the rest of them. He thought that the survivors would have hired some toughs to do the job, but Hanlov seemed to be a calm personable man. He was attentive and had a good sense of wit to him. By the end of the fourth session, he offered to buy him a beer.

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While he never knew much about it, Pastor Recorder Sergei St Callius was the subject of some debate among the Survivors. He was a kindly man who had the village priest and like his father, a member of the Order of Keepers of the Holy Word. His father had been dispatched by the mission at Staalnov to the Northeast and dutifully did his job, taking down the local customs and sending them off to be archived and studied, while serving as the village priest, helping the spread of literacy a man at a time and teaching them of a few of the more prominent theology of the outside world (though being careful not to offend anyone, and especially not the warlords) and preforming other functions. He had done the same and had earned the respect of the villagers and other priests.

The Survivors were slightly concerned about him. At first glance they saw him as being useless, a foolish man who did little beyond write notes about local superstitions. When he was discovered that he was (loosely, every few years he received a note from the mission that acknowledged his existence delivered by a Merchant) linked to an external hierarchy, One That Can Quickly Distill The Critical Data From A Vast Sea Of Confused Information-503102 (Critical Data) argued in favour of his disposal, as well as the disposal of other members his order that they might encounter as they increased their territory and resources. That said, eventually Critical Data lost that debate as it was clear that killing Sergei could cause unnecessary conflict with the workers, he was quite benign and that he could be of use. This exchanged

Sergei had no love for the warriors of the Coldlands and he was impressed in the various projects the Survivors did. To make the most of the skills, he worked in Adult Education, teaching a few men and women to read and write. On several occasions he thanked Survivors for starting the school and made a note to bless soldiers going out into the field. As things went on, he did his job and recorded. There was plenty to record, new workers came in with new tales and beliefs to put to paper, as well as some of the documents about their philosophy of Infrastructure. He, along with a couple of other Keepers who had come in set up a new Temple Library in the 8th and 9th years of the infrastructural age. He was quite impressed to see the changes brought about by Industrial Development, including watching how Dalatyr grew from a village into something he only heard spoken of in books, a city. That said there were some confrontations, in particular Drive had a rather up front discussion with him in regards to sending out "strategic information" such as layouts of Dalatyr or descriptions of the manufacturing processes elsewhere, and how having the secrets of rifle manufacture fall into the hands of the warlords would not be a good thing.

In the 11th year IA, Sergei was enjoying a much better life than he had. Food was far more available and he and his family had moved into a more comfortable dwelling. He had been promoted to Pastor Superior by election of five peers in as laid down in the Manual of Marcus and was fascinated by the material that passed over his desk. He found his work quite rewarding, contributing to the Holy Quest of the Keepers to document every way the Divine spoke to the world. On a summer day, he helped to that task by taking down a book of notes on folklore, customs, local religious beliefs and philosophical discussion of Infrastructure. In the Caravan Depot he met up Johan Reddendorf, who had done quite well in doing business with Dalatyr. His Caravan had tripled in size, his guards had doubled in number and were better equipped and it was clear that he had not been going hungry anytime soon. But Sergei was more concerned with the fact that he carried an Order Certification. It meant that he could be trusted to Deliver messages and books from the Recorders in the field to the Major headquarters and archives (and vice versa) in turn for compensation upon their delivery and some assistance that was generally worthwhile for merchants to have. After a few pleasantries Sergei graciously handed over the book and Johan received it. He then went back home to have a good solid lunch. This exchange and similar ones would unfold latter on in Dalatyr

However, while neither Sergei nor Johan gave this aspect of it much thought at the moment, their actions here did play their part in major events that were to unfold.

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To the West of the Coldlands were a number of civilizations, primitive by the Survivors’ standards, but still (for the most part) far more advanced, populated and sophisticated than what they found immediately around them after their landing. For the most part, these societies paid little regards to the Coldlands, Too sparsely populated, too underdeveloped, too cold and too low in background magic to be worth conquering and too unstable to open up diplomatic relations or political acknowledgement. They regarded it as a useful source of pelts, a few minerals, pelts and for a few, a source of slaves best left to its own devices. Only merchants and a couple of Keepers paid any attention to the developments inside it. Warlords rose and fell, but no group could achieve dominance. While the leadership of these nations understood that one outstanding warlord or an alliance of them could manage to carve out state from the chaos of the Coldlands, but that was unlikely and even if it did happen it would still remain backwards for decades to come. No one could have foreseen what was to unfold with the coming of the Survivors.

Information moved westwards slowly and quietly. During the first few years of the Infrastructural Age, merchants exchanged stories that a village called Dalatyr was becoming more prosperous, productive and secure, selling more goods and of increased variety and its leadership buying up coal, ore and sulfur and guarded by men with muskets as well as rumours about metal men. Then the Keeper archives were surprised to hear of a new Collectivistic ideology emerging from the Coldlands and reports of mechanical men. Then more and more stories came of conquest. Of regimented, disciplined armies of musketeers marching out of Dalatyr and conquering village after village swiftly. In their wake they left roads and bridges and the number of bandits about decreased and at the same time, Dalatyr was growing into a city with large forges and workshops, posters adorning every wall and constant construction putting up new buildings. More and more merchants went to Dalatyr to make the most of what it had to offer and as it expanded, more merchants moved through its territory. Rumours began circling about the cities of the west, but the leaders were largely unconcerned about it, outside of the increase in trade revenue. At least until the playing field was changed.

Among the stories that circulated was that of the weapons that they used. The merchants had known about guns, humans and dwarves both used them fairly frequently nowadays and other nations made use of them as well. But from what they could gather, these guns had extremely long range. Which was confirmed once they had sold some arquebuses and powder to warlords who were destroyed by Infrastructural troops. Much to the dismay of merchants, Dalatyr was not selling its rifles to them. That said, there were other ways of obtaining firearms. A few warlords were vassalized to provide disposable auxiliaries in exchange for guns (starting with smoothbore muskets, then rifles), hard liquor and ammunition. As well, a few times rifles had been looted off the bodies of Infrastructural troopers by the occasional of warriors who got lucky. A few of these were willing to sell a few Infrastructural Rifles and rounds of ammunition.

Among the merchants who was willing to do this was Leomeil Proust, a Half Elvish merchant and trader who decided to take a risk. In the eighth year of the Infrastructural Age he acquired a couple of rifles and a few rounds of ammunition. When he and his caravan returned eastward during the winter he met up with one of his contacts, in the Dwavish city of Ironhelm where he delivered his usual merchdice as well as the firearms. The head of the local Armorer's guild was more than happy to see an example of the rumoured weapons of the growing power in the east and was quite interested in the Firing Mechanism, even if he was not particularly impressed by the workmanship behind them. Leomeil was paid quite well and went about business as usual, not knowing the change that happened.

A few months later, Ironhelm began selling a new form of Rifle based off the Infrastructural design as well as bullets with paper catridges with a shot’s measure of powder. Some of these ended up in use by a mercenary band known as Tharnev's Thunderers, who went and proved their effectiveness in a couple of battles in a few small scale wars. Hearing the reputation, more people began buying these guns and soon Knock-offs began appearing latter that year. Similar scenarios happened independently else were, a few infrastructural guns made their way to some gunsmith who reproduced them. Runic armor and shields could often resist fire from these weapons, but the new weapons still had their impact in battle. This changed the nature of warfare and upset the balance of power. Conscript armies became more viable. Between 9IA and 30IA was period known as the Rifle Wars, in which nations took advantage of the changing nature of war. These developments were noted and monitored by the central committee to their shock. Natives beyond their control had successfully replicated their firearms technology, even though the various Warrior Hosts of the Coldlands were incapable of casting their own gun barrels. Eventually in 16IA they decided the best course of action was to send out escorted convoys out of the Coldlands to sell old Type-1R flintlock rifles to the western countries. This earned a tidy profit off the now obsolete weapons, as well as intensifying the rifle wars with minimal risk to Infrastructure itself.

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As her adopted father was out on campaign liberating the Coldlands and cutting down opposition, Natasha Smedth grew up in comfort and security. Having her father away for most of the summer was something she was not particularly fond of, but her mother was supportive as was her Grandpa Boris and other relations. She eventually gained two sisters named Lyia and Nadia as well as a brother named Gregov and for the most part got along with them. As time went on, she grew up fairly well, though not without a couple of minor incidents and like all children of Dalatyr, she attended school and it was there that she found her path in live.

In 12IA she worked in her third year of school and was tested on a variety of things. She proved to be quite good at math as well as having some skill with machinery. She was then selected by the Committee to begin a special apprenticeship along with twenty three other young people. They were given special uniforms, shown about the factories, given lectures about machinery and mechanical system (sometimes even with videos) with a number of lecturers, including occasionally committee Members (usually Supernova or First Dawn). Over the next two years, a few dropped out, but she had enough aptitude, understanding and interest to let her do well from electricity to pressure, cogwheels to combustion. Eventually some were taught more about certain specialized things when they were shown to have particular aptitudes. To test their comprehension they were given various projects to complete.

Among these that Natasha received was a set of components for a new electric lamp. She had seen these being used more and more. It used a bulb shaped light-cell. These were inferior to the flat disk shaped ones that the Committee made behind locked doors in their hall, which were lighter, brighter, lasted longer, were far more durable and. But these could be mass produced by human hands and once a new factory was completed, they would make the city glow at night. Her parents had let her have her own room since she was selected for this program, which she outfitted with her various tools of her upcoming trade. She quickly assembled the lamp despite the lack of instructions. The next day Supernova was impressed by her comprehension.

The Survivors set up this program to better organize and expand their industrial assets. They had numerous artisans and technicians who could operate their machinery, but they needed people with a greater understanding to oversee the factories, solve local problems and set up equipment. There were only twenty six Survivors and each one could only be in one place at once. Natasha and her classmates were being trained to serve a very important role for Infrastructure. They were being groomed to become Engineers.

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In the Second Decade of the Infrastructural Age, the Survivors pushed forward some plans that had previously been beyond the abilities of their assists. The committee provided blueprints and fabricated a few small items which allowed them to cut some major corners, combined with a constant stream of raw materials and an ever increasing workforce expansion proceeded rather quickly. These were brought in via a growing network of roads laid by work details of soldiers, Detentional labour crews and civilian construction teams. This made wagon transportation much easier as well as making it possible to supply army forces with ammunition and supplies, but the Committee had further plans.

The Committee completed their first prototype steam engine in 9IA to held transport coal out of the Detentional Mines. More were applied to various industrial purposes driving a variety of machines, from feeding fuel into the furnaces to driving the various spinning and weaving machines that kept the growing city clothed. Boris, like many other people was fascinated by this method of taming fire, even more than coaxing lighting out of spinning magnets. But one of the most distinctive and memorable applications of this new technology would take some time to manifest. Work on the machine critical to that project started in 12IA and went on until 14IA. Then they put forward their project to improve logistics

While the committee tried to bring in as many useful artisans as possible to speed up development, Dalatyr also brought in plenty of others. Some were parents seeking a better life for their children, other were orphans or refugees generated by the endless conflicts of the Coldlands and some had some ambition to try to make their fortune in this newborn city. Volec Jorginson had been displaced, the Son of a high ranking warrior, he was too young to join up with the war party that was sent out to face the company of Infrastructural troops that was sent to his village in 8IA. When he marched in he tried to pass as just another peasant. Cut off from his former prominence and with a bad reputation, he eventually made his way Dalatyr to try to find his new role in life. He managed to get some schooling and mostly drifted about from odd job to odd job before settling down a small group with a mobile stall who sold quick hot meals to factory workers during their lunch breaks. Volec quite liked this job. The pay was not much, but it was always in the warm and free meals were always part of the job. Eventually, the group got a contract for the committee for providing meals to labour crews working on a major project.

That project was the laying of special type of road for a new machine that was apparently called a Locomotive. A huge steam powered machine that pulled a train of cars behind it that rolled on long steel rails, placed on wooden planks on a long pile of slag rubble. This pathway was laid by teams of men working night and day being supplied by the locomotives and carts with an endless supply of raw materials. A few soldiers would patrol the area in case of bandits, any captured alive would be collared and put to work shoveling ballast. The camp had to be periodically moved along, but still, every day Volec managed to make the most of the rations that were supplied. There were times when a few engineering students would be brought by (particularly when a bridge was under construction, a hill was being dug through, or a station was set up) or a member of the committee would make an inspection.

Volec was quite interested in the project, the conditions were often unpleasant, but his group was making a lot of credits off this contract and he was given his cut. He had plans of setting up his own eatery near one of the rail stations. Work was planned on another set of machines and he saw a car specifically made for transporting people. From what he gathered this Railway was sent to Garrison-I. When it was completed, he planned on opening up an eatery there.

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While Dalatyr became the unquestioned centre for Infrastructure's Industrial Output, the committee knew that some regional bases of operation were going to be necessary. Early on it was enough to station a platoon or company of soldiers in a town and converting the great hall of central hold into a barracks, but eventually the need for something more was created. The answer was the Garrisons. Work on the first Garrison began in early the spring of 10IA on the frontier. Six Companies of soldiers, eight hundred and sixty four troops were brought in to work on the project as well as about a thousand puggers, lumberjacks, masons, blacksmiths, carpenters, cooks and other artisans and workers. All of which under the supervision of clerks and occasionally committee members and fed by constant supplies from the surrounding villages, quarries and the workshops of Dalatyr.

This construction project took three years with delays in construction brought about by winter, producing a fully equipped fortress. Five meter tall walls with brick outer layers stuffed with packed earth and battlements for soldiers and cannon. Inside were Sixteen barracks buildings each capable of accommodating a company of men as well as mess halls, granaries, bakeries, meat larders, warehouses, lavatories, firefighting equipment, a bath-house, laundry, stables, workshops, infirmaries, a radio tower, a generator and offices for clerks and the commanding officer. Outside were a few storehouses for some non-essential items, a firing range, pipes that brought in water and a few hundred meters off a cesspool. This was Garrison-1, and several more like it would be built.

General Sven Smedth spent a fair amount of time around Garrison-1, it was a good command post and he often would go there to pick up troops on the South Western frontier, as well as bringing back soldiers from the front lines. He also looked up on the newer Garrisons to check up on their construction. While he knew there was more than enough disagreement on the subject and he was not the kind of man to let this get in his way of doing his job, he much preferred the creatures comforts of the Garrison's Commander's quarters to camping out and the bloodshed of battle. Even if he preferred his own home with his Stefia and their children and the rest of the family ready to come by for dinner far more.

For that reason, he was quite happy to receive note one day in the 16IA year that his Natasha was to come along to Garrison-1 to help install a lighting system. He was also quite impressed by the means by which they were transported, moving 163 kilometres by rail in less than a day. When he arrived, they soon went their Separate ways, knowing that they would have dinner together. To hold him over, he bought an apple and decided to take a little stroll, safe with the knowledge that he had two bodyguards with him. As he walked around, he looked around at what was growing around the Garrison. It started with a few odd job men, a handful of artisans and labourers who found jobs with the military and their families, buying food from the garrison. Then some young man that Sven believed to be named Farman decided to start a bar that he named (despite his bad spelling) The Drunken Fish, selling his above average beer in a warm place. He was followed by a multitude made their way around the town, building homes and shops and selling things to each other and to the regularly paid soldiers. In three years since its completion, he was amazed to see a settlement that was larger than most villages emerge around it. First Dawn had already ordered that streets be laid out properly on a grid. Once more he was in awe at what was made at the order of the Survivors. At the moment of the best things about it as far as Sven he was concerned would be that there would be that his daughter would enjoy something better tasting than simple rations for dinner.

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As time passed, it became clear to the Survivors that the outside world was taking more of an interest in what was going on in the Coldlands. Those beyond its borders the nations were looking more and more into what was going on in there. When they were starting up, they were content to ignore them and avoid any formal contact between themselves and these established powers. Getting caught up in their politics did not further their goals and could be avoided, and as such they did so and contented themselves on trading with them and annexing territory. Especially true because the strange phenomena dubbed "magic" by the locals was more prevalent in these lands, which made them far more dangerous than what should have been the case for pre-industrial organisms. But as more land fell under their aegis, their armies and Dalatyr expanded, more traffic came to Dalatyr, the activities of keepers and after effects of their actions such as the rifle wars made their impact, it became clear that this state of affairs would not last forever.

It started in 12IA as several teams of Ambassadors were sent out westward with contracted merchants. They had several tasks, including contracting some artisans, gathering information and making connections with governments. Several Dwarvish cities, Elvish domains and human kingdoms were visited by them. Their leaders were informed of Infrastructure's intentions to unify and enrich the Coldlands and presented with a few modest gifts of furs and a few products of Infrastructure (typically surveyor's tools) as a sign of goodwill. This was, for the most part, enough for the time being. That said, the political powers eventually reciprocated.

Starting in 15IA, Ambassadors began to make their way to Dalatyr, Humans, Dwarves and Elves. A couple at first, but more arrived over the next few years. Knowing that there would be consequences of turning them aside, they were given accommodations and their messages were heard. The task of listening to what they said was taken up by Supernova. These dignitaries inquired of a few matters in regards to territory and were contented to hear that the Ambitions of the Committee were limited to the Coldlands. A few of them made some request for an alliance, which were always graciously declined while others attempted saber rattling, but usually without too much enthusiasm. Other details, usually in regard to trade, accommodations and other fine details were handled as they came up and on the whole, are of marginal interest to most readers.

Like she did with mothers, workers, soldiers, farmers, warriors, merchants and other such groups, Supernova took an interest in the peculiar quirks of the foreign dignitaries. Most of them were of high standing in some fashion or another and were here more or less willingly. To get some insights into their thought processes, she would often take them on tours of their city, while being careful not to show them anything that would give too many secrets away.

For the most part, what she observed of them, they saw Dalatyr as being remarkably utilitarian, dirty, common and plain. They were used to the idea that a capitol should be something grand, splendid and ornate in both civic and private architecture and were not particularly impressed by the handful of fairly plain houses, the vast number of apartment buildings, the crude slums which existed due to a shortage of the aforementioned apartment buildings (even if she avoided these on the tours), barracks, offices, warehouses, puggeries, markets, state run shops and other such things. That said, there were things that impressed them. They marveled at the electric lights, the Railways and rail traffic and at the factories and the machines that worked there. From what she gathered, Dwarves took in as much as they could and marveled at the processes that happened within. Elves tended to view the devices and machinery dismissively and often off put by the sounds and smells of the machinery, disrespect for nature and the smoke that billowed from the stacks. Humans could be in either camp, or somewhere in between.
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Soon after the coming of the Survivors of the Committee Boris Smedth became one of the go-to men of the Committee in regards for their projects involving human made machines. He had skills in metalworking and made a few simple devices such as locks and crossbows beforehand, he had some modest talents in organizing people, was by nature attentive, could read and write, his loyalty to them was not in doubt and he had been working with the Survivors from the beginning. As more artisans came in, he showed them the ropes on how to get things done. First firearms, mechanical reapers and steam engines, he was involved hands on with all of them. That said the Committee's projects got bigger and more complex while keen young men and women became more and more familiar. More and more he found himself being moved by the Committee into a management position. While he was a hands on man, he did know that he was getting older and he knew that there were now plenty of people who were far more skilled with these new machines than he was. So he accepted this change graciously in spite of his Nostalgia.

This generally meant dealing with other people that were skilled in areas that he was not and seeing that they did his job. Not all of them were pleasant, even though plenty were and he was a fairly easy going man. Fortunately among the other people that came to visit him at Natasha. His son's adopted daughter, who Boris was amazed to see grow from a small toddler into a qualified Engineer over eighteen years. She was quite intelligent and capable young woman and he had worked with her a couple of times. Unfortunately, her role in his life was gradually becoming more like her father.

"Where are they sending you this time?" He said as he made his way down the hallway with his lunch.

"Ugolisleb, it’s to the southwest. There is quite the coal deposit there."

"And the Committee wants to step up production. Is it a Detentional Mine? Because if it is, I am giving Critical Data a piece of my mind..."

"No, Granddad!" she chucked "It’s worked by civilians. In any case, you should remember that they are moving the Detentionals east to the Mountains."

"That's good to here. Still, I'll miss you. So will your gran. And talking long distance is not the same."

"I know, and believe me i will too. Still, at least i will have company." She grinned.

"That Malnov boy from your class, right?" He grinned.

"Yes, he's coming along as well. It’s a pretty big project."

Boris had met him a couple of times, and he seemed fairly reserved and polite. Far worse people out there. "Very well, just play it safe."

"Don't worry about that. He would not hurt a fly."

"Natasha, it’s the duty of a father to worry about his daughter. You're father has to worry about hosts of warriors wanting to hack him apart at the frontlines. I am simply taking up some of his burden."

She chuckled "Oh you old fool."

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As far as children did in Infrastructure, Malnov Yorigsov was quite successful. He was the son of a carpenter who showed enough comprehension of mechanical things in school to be selected for training in engineering, where he did quite well. He was mostly quiet and largely, even though he was even though he was capable of working with others when the need arose and did gradually developed a relationship bit by bit with his fellow engineering student Natasha. Most people just assumed he was introverted and left it at that. For the most part, they were right about that. That said, he had a few ambitions that others did not know about.

His father made quite a few dealings with foreign merchants and he was gradually able to pick up some of their languages. He was curious about them and began asking them about things when he had a few minutes of free time. He heard them talk about their homes and asked them some questions on those lines. From what he gathered, most of them were impressed by the machinery of Dalatyr and things such as electric lights, trains and central heating, but they still said that it did not hold a candle to their homes. What the Committee created may have been functional and were good at manufacturing practical utilitarian things, in their minds Dalatyr was in the end just a bunch of crude slums, store yards, bare brick buildings and smokestacks with constant smoke and noise. He wondered about this and read foreign books at the Keepers new archives, reading up on foreign parts. He also heard rumors of people wanting to buy examples of Infrastructural Machinery. Eventually these facts, along with the death of his father in an accident in 17IA led his mind to form a plan.

As he completed his engineering training, he gathered up a number of books and blueprints and put them into a number of folders. He spent little and saved up a decent sum of credits, which a few merchants were now accepting despite their longstanding preference for old money. He also gathered a few examples of machinery, some food and even managed, after touring an Arsenal, to get enough bits together to assemble a revolver and percussion caps to make a few paper rounds. For a while he considered asking along Natasha to come along with him on this. He wished she would, but after mulling it over, he realized that it would not work. Her family had too many ties to the committee and she got along with most them. He made a few arrangements with a merchant caravan and all was in order.

When he got to Ugolisleb, he did work as usual until the caravan arrived in autumn on its way back east. He feigned some coughing and told those around him that he was not feeling too hot, stuffing a pillow under his blanket. At night, he snuck out of his lodgings with his bag of material, a rolled blanket with some food in it and his revolver and boarded the caravan, paying a hundred and eighty credits for passage. They left quietly and were over a dozen kilometers away by daybreak. It would be two days before anyone realized that he had left. Over the next few weeks, he managed to avoid detection by patrols searching for a fugitive, but fortunately there were some preparations in place. He did some work to earn his keep on the way out, gathering firewood and pitching tents, but he knew that this was just a minor part of his fare on a voyage that ended in luxury.

Malnov was contemplative during his trip out of Infrastructure. He was quite certain that there was no going back and was nervous. That said he knew that he had in his bag the path to a life of pleasure, respect, wealth and fame. He knew that there were many kings in the east who would love to have factories that could make Infrastructural equipment and he could give them just that. The Committee promised him a wage five times that of a factory worker and eventually a brick house or a spacious apartment, but out there he was convinced that he could build his own empire. He did miss Natasha, who probably hated him now, but he put those thoughts out of his mind and instead contemplated the women that he could in the end afford by selling his secrets.

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Leonev the Fierce, lord of Varslob saw himself as a success. Eighteen years ago, he ruled three villages, one of which having little more than a hundred denizens and commanded some sixty seven warriors. Then he struck a deal with what he saw at the time as the wizard kings of Dalatyr once he received and slowly gained a few muskets. With these he managed to get some well needed revenge on a couple of rivals, causing several routes, killing their higher ups. They also had a noticeable effect on morale; his troops were braver while his enemies became more timid when going against him. He did whatever he could to gain more of these weapons and ammunition, increasing taxes, sending out a few of his cavalrymen to help train the Committee's soldiers in basic horsemanship and buying more firearms for his men. However the easiest way to obtain firearms, and firearms of superior quality as new models came out of Infrastructural Arsenals was to have his soldiers serve for a couple of years as Auxiliaries, which provided him with both money and rifles. But with those, he managed to diminish the forces of his enemies and take their towns one by one, absorbing defeated warriors into his army. For eight years he expanded his territory bit by bit until he found that he was completely encircled by the rapidly growing Infrastructure. But by that point he had massively expanded his territory. Thirty nine villages, 26,000 subjects and 600 warriors, even if more than half of them were usually out making him money alongside the Infrastructural Army at any one time. He even managed to acquire a couple of cannons. The oldest of Infrastructure's several small client kingdoms. Varslob had grown on resources gathered from across his small kingdom, tripling in size. But slowly a resentment grew.

It started shortly after they were left surrounded as some resentment among the warrior class. Raiding and expansion stopped and with it plunder, looting and rape. While auxiliaries were given free food, plenty of strong drink and were paid, a third of their pay went into Leonev's coffers and they were kept on a short leash. Plunder was limited and rape was specifically banned, with the penalties for violation including flogging, electrocution, detentional labor and execution. It was also clear that the leadership in the Infrastructural Army saw them as disposable. This caused some resentment among the warriors for the Infrastructural Army, but for many gaining firearms was worth the risk and that resentment was mostly directed outside. In any case, hard liquor from Dalatyr's distilleries calmed things down.

But in the Second Decade, things changed. Leonev, who had led his men on raids and into battle in campaigns of conquest of his domain did not serve in the auxiliaries, after his territories were encircled, for the most part he simply ruled from his throne drinking and eating. A fair number of other warriors (particularly older ones) turned more and more to hard drink as well and even surpassed their leader. But not all of them were so indulgent, and many who showed restraint here came to see this as degradation. Proud, strong warriors gradually being reduced to drunken wrecks by complacency and drink who's authority was constantly being questioned. If they survived fighting and dying in the wars of the "Committee", who were willing to expend their men like ammunition, they would gradually become complacent and weak. At the same time, some of the peasants that they ruled over gradually became influenced by the surrounding world in attitude and became more uppity. A few of these warriors gathered and made their plans, they would sort out their leadership problems the old fashioned way.

It was in early winter of the year 20IA when they made their move. Leonev held a feast while arrangements were made. His guards were either paid off or disposed of and at the right moment the move was made. A warrior named Krosseb walked up behind him when he was in a drunken stupor and slit Leonev's throat. Then the remaining members of the banned stormed the hall with rifles and pistols. There was a firefight and in total twenty people died, but in the end a rebel named Fellosien managed to somehow survive and take the throne.

However, his rule was short lived. He threw out the Infrastructural ambassador sent to make contact with him and in response, Drive sent a force six companies to conquer this client kingdom, which was done in four days. Varslob auxiliaries were either integrated into the army proper or sent off to Detentional labor camps. In any case, the Committee was not too upset at this turn of events. The need for auxiliaries had been fading for the past few years and eventually they were to be disposed of in any case. It would mean that accelerating the dismantling of its remaining client states would have to be done somewhat sooner than was expected, but on the same note having a justification was useful for keeping away unwanted conflict with external powers and a gradual dismantlement was still a possibility.

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 Post subject: Re: Infrastructure (Original and Illustrated) PostPosted: 2012-05-14 09:36am
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Glad to see this is still going. Rather enjoying it. Can't wait for the next chapter.



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 Post subject: Re: Infrastructure (Original and Illustrated) PostPosted: 2012-05-14 09:15pm
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I'm still sure the survivors reactor must have burnt out by now.

usual mixture of typos and interesting ideas. good stuff.



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 Post subject: Re: Infrastructure (Original and Illustrated) PostPosted: 2012-05-15 02:52am
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madd0ct0r wrote:
I'm still sure the survivors reactor must have burnt out by now.


It has, fortunately they managed to get some alternate sources of power.

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 Post subject: Re: Infrastructure (Original and Illustrated) PostPosted: 2012-08-13 07:25am
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Infrastructural Army Type-3R/b Bolt Action Rifle, 11mm caliber

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 Post subject: Re: Infrastructure (Original and Illustrated) PostPosted: 2012-08-13 09:33am
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That's quite a long rifle. Judging from the trigger guard, the barrel must be about a meter long.

When are you going to update this again? I've enjoyed the story so far and hope you continue working on it.



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 Post subject: Re: Infrastructure (Original and Illustrated) PostPosted: 2012-08-14 09:09am
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InsaneTD wrote:
That's quite a long rifle. Judging from the trigger guard, the barrel must be about a meter long.

When are you going to update this again? I've enjoyed the story so far and hope you continue working on it.


I have some stuff planned out but there has been some scanner related complications. I am trying to work them out.

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HAIL ZOR! WE'LL BLOW UP THE OCEAN!
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 Post subject: Re: Infrastructure (Original and Illustrated) PostPosted: 2012-09-28 07:19am
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crap double post



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Last edited by Zor on 2012-09-29 02:02pm, edited 1 time in total.
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 Post subject: Re: Infrastructure (Original and Illustrated) PostPosted: 2012-09-28 07:20am
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Even though Drive seldom commanded at the front lines, under his administration the Infrastructural Army laid waste to the Warlords of the Coldlands over a period of two decades. He oversaw various programs, the introduction of tactics, the construction of garrisons and organizing and leading major campaigns on a large scale. He impressed everyone with his methodical. He gradually modified and improved on his body, improving its armor (which included having a Cuirass inscribed with runes by dwarves) and power cells. Unlike a few others Survivors Drive did not adopt a more human face, seeing it as a waste of time. In any case, from what he gathered from Supernova and his own observations, they found that image to be fitting to the way he commanded. Calculating, precise, measured, methodical and with plenty of rendundancy. As the natives put it, while the Committee was generally willing to use the carrot to meet their ends, he was used when the situation distinctly called for the Stick. Drive had little interest in Humans beyond how to make those under his into as effective a fighting force as possible and how to defeat those who stood in the way of the Committee's long term plans. He thought that this would distance him from them, but he was surprised to find out that much of his army respected him for this attitude. In any case, he knew that soon his job would soon become a whole lot simpler.

By 21IA, Infrastructure had extended itself over most of the Coldlands, from the Dragonspine Mountains to the frontiers of the western civilizations. Over three million square kilometers of territory claimed (admittedly much of it still loosely administrated, sparsely inhabited, uninhabited, inhabited only by Wildspawn, untamed woodlands, bogland and similar). That said they had to face two of the most formidable holdouts. The cities of Daggsgrad and Borogskov, better known as the Black Ports.

Located on the shores of the Northern Gulf, these settlements were by far the largest in the Coldlands before the growth of Dalatyr. Also by Coldland standards, they were fairly advanced by virtue of keeping in touch. They were major trading ports for goods coming in and out of the Coldlands. Unlike the overland routes, much of the business that happened there was related to the slave trade. Warlords would unload captives on merchants who engaged in this business, who would pass them onto slave caravans who would go north to Daggsgrad and Borogskov to sell them to crown owned slave depots, who would finally sell them to maritime slave traders (mostly Dark Elves). At least this was the case until Infrastructure expanded and unilaterally outlawed slavery and the slave trade in 11IA. Doing so provided Infrastructure with a large number of loyal workers, was a propaganda boom, was on the whole useful in future political dealings with most of the nations to the west and provided the mines with a decent number of Detentional laborers.

In any case this move clearly had its effect. The two cities had taken a major economic hit from this and had been preparing for the coming assault. They struck an alliance between themselves and managed to rally a few neighboring warlords to their cause, while bracing themselves for the coming storm. It was clear that a considerable amount of force would need to be brought to bear against this target.

Drive came up with his plan for the coming battle and brought in a number of his senior most staff for the coming invasion. Among them being Sven and Petrov, two of the longest serving and most respected soldiers in the Infrastructural Army. A force of over eight thousand men was to be deployed. He laid out his plan for the assault, of the movement of troops and the securing of supplies. A few special preparations were effected. Some aspects were quite unusual, especially one of Petrov's tasks latter on and the forces that had been raised there were definitely a step above their usual foes, but never the less they were willing to do their duty and even Drive knew that they were looking forward to a final end to these wars.

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Over the better part of a thousand years Daggsgrad and Borogskov had manage to establish themselves as the main maritime route in and out of the northern Coldlands and with that came a level of sophistication not usually seen amongst its peoples. Both of these small states had a permanent population of between a hundred to a hundred and twenty thousand (with about 20,000 being locally owned slaves) and controlled a roughly semicircular area about 150 kilometers in diameter around the central city as well as a stretch of coast, as well as having claims on the uninhabited timber islands to the north. Other groups had engaged in this trade historically, but were gradually driven out of business by these two powers. There were several reasons for this, but the most notable was the fact that they took more than trade goods from foreign mariners. While their rulers were still largely military leaders, some merchant families had risen in influence through coin and had members who had achieved some military success and many of the powerful warrior families over the generations turned more to commerce. Both of these tended to deal with theirs subjects more like those of the nobility elsewhere and for the most part saved casual abuse for their slaves. The fortifications of these cities were fairly impressive and made of stone and rammed earth. Inside them two to four story tall stone and brick houses were the norm. But most importantly was what they could make.

It was a subtle change that happened over several centuries, but gradually they managed to one by one acquire the services of foreign smiths, armorers, wrights, carpenters, masons, architects, mercenaries, doctors and shipwrights as well as their books and learn their ways. Eventually they became able to duplicating foreign devices. Having them work in their cities helped them keep up to date. They were (by the standards of the natives) nearly up to date technologically and both had a formal (if not particularly impressive) academy for magic. Among their more profitable ventures in recent decades was shipbuilding, unsold slaves were trained as shipyard workers and made to build sailing ships (which had a test voyage with their workforce on hand as a way of detouring sabotage), which gave them a number of low end ships to sell as well as raising the value of their slaves by giving them marketable skills. They also were home to more than their fair share of weaponsmiths and armorers, both free and slave who turned out large amounts of crossbows, compound bows, bolts, arrows, maces, swords, war hammers, battleaxes, brigandines, basic brestplates, greives, shields, helms and chainmail shirts and vests. While their products were not of the highest quality, this arms industry were quite profitable. Wagon trains would come in full of slaves and furs and would buy weapons to sell to the myriad fighting factions, who often paying for these additional arms in slaves. Despite this, they had little ambitions for empire. That would threaten the flow of trade and get them into wars which would cost them too much in terms of men and money. Instead the leaders settled on living in luxury off their profits, leaving the fighting to defense, the odd mercenary company being raised going off to make their fortune in some distant war in the west, mild piracy against the other city's commerce and the occasional assassination between families.

Needless to say, as Infrastructure grew, it impacted their business. The flow of slaves to the Black Ports declined, slightly at first as their old customers were conquered (though the warlords bought up more weaponry than usual) but massively after 11IA. They took note of this growing empire, laying claim and brushing aside armies and the Lord Elect of Daggsgrad and the King of Borogskov quickly realized what would inevitably happen. So they prepared themselves, an alliance was hastily struck between these two rivals, they spent their fortunes building powdermills and did whatever they could to procure modern firearms. Rifles were bought (particularly from Dark Elf traders who were annoyed by the disruption of the flow of slaves) and made by foreign gunsmiths and the large number of apprentices they were paid to train. At the same time, they began to use this as leverage. Around them were smaller states, larger than the more inland Coldland domains and somewhat more sophisticated, but still fairly primitive. The leaders of the Dark Ports managed to get their allegiance in a fairly simple way: if they swore fealty to one state, providing the services of their forces when request and a small amount of grain they would receive rifles, protection against attack and land. The latter was provided by states who refused, and the rivals of those who they got the support of. This nearly bankrupted these states, but bankruptcy was the least of their worries at this point. By 22IA they had managed to amass fourteen vassals under their collective wing and had at their command some 18,000 warriors. Most of which had been armed with rifled muskets.

This was watched and observed by the Committee, through spies, ariel recon and the exchange of coin. This was a different and much more formidable foe than the warrior hosts they had been conquering beforehand. However, this hegemonic alliance stood between Infrastructure and its objectives, and they had a few new toys in store.

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The Infrastructural army mustered its men for its offensive on the lands of the vassals of the Black Ports and in the summer of 22, made its offensive. The signal was sent and the Co Hegemony of the Dark Ports mustered its men for war. They had some drilling in the methods of line formation fighting, but the motley assemble of fighting men they gathered was by no means regular. A couple of companies from the Black Ports raised by the more modern thinking of its aristocracy had made an effort to take up the trend of standardized uniforms that the foreign instructors said was proper, but most simply stuck with their same old armor with whatever they wanted or could scrounge together underneath. Press ganged peasants handed a rifle and brow beaten into serving with helmets and usually some padded cloth and occasionally some scraps of plate, a well-worn brigandine or the occasional rusting mail vest, middling warriors, either the sons of higher ranking ones or reasonably accomplished veterans with at least some chainmail, a brigandine or a breastplate and some customization done, high ranking heavy cavalrymen armed with heavy armor, sword, lance and pistol, lightly equipped scouts and field mages, artillery crews manning foreign made cannons and even a few golems, basic clay affairs but still quite fearsome, especially with golem riders. Powder, food and ammunition supplies were procured. Dozens of banners and standards fluttered in the air and the insignia of numerous warlords and high ranking figures of Black Port society could be seen. The decision for how this force was to meet the Infrastructural Invaders was simple, an upfront battle between the two forces.

As the force prepared to march out to battle, Lord Elect Vladimir Grosnok got onto a rock. He was the leader of this expedition, voted to the throne by the noble families of Daggsgrad, as it was clear that these days called for a military mind to rule. He was Experienced, Successful, Cunning and Cruel on the battlefield, having led his forces well in defending his boarders and in the Alliance's empire building. This turn of events was not popular among the men Borogskov, but their elderly King was in no shape to lead and knew he was in no shape for campaign. Though at least he did manage to get Daggsgrad concede a few villages to their sphere of influence for the right to do so. Despite this he was still respected and seen as a good leader. And as the army quieted down after being signaled, he spoke.

"My Friends, Allies and Former Enemies. On this day, we have amassed the greatest army these lands have ever seen. Strong and hearty fighting men. Strong, fierce, brutal and unburdened by fear or doubt or hesitation in battle. The world demands no less from warriors and burns those who dare mock her with weakness. Know that I have met many foreign men, they are often tall, handsome, well groomed, polished, speak beautifully like a fair maiden and can indeed make many clever and amusing things that we cannot yet craft. But know that I would rather have one solid Coldland Warrior unclothed and unarmed at my side than ten of those womanish lank foreigners fully armored and with sword and shield. And for this reason, my brothers in arms we gather here.

"To the South marches onto our lands an army, formidable and large from a new state. This Kingdom of 'Infrastructure', ruled over by an elusive "Committee", that, as I here, may be men or demons or wizards or rogue golems or some other contrivance or beast. I do not care of such worthless details about them, there are only two things about them which are worthy of my consideration. One is to see how much abuse they can take, either on the battlefield or in private. And about what they plan on doing.

"In nature there is an order of things. Men may forget it or ignore it, but it remains. The Wolf brings down the Doe, the Fox devours the Hare, the Warrior rules the peasant. The strong take their rightful place at the top and the weak sit beneath them. And from this order rises our greatness. One worth far more than the womanish ‘culture’ bred to the east for it is in the flesh and the bone. Among us are peasants selected for your strength and endurance, let it be known that you will obey your superiors in battle, but those of you who prove yourselves in the fires of battle shall be reborn as hardened warriors worthy of your own cut in the spoils to come and the heads of your slayed enemies. And you shall earn you position and have lands and women when the tide turns. These men of Infrastructure reject this simple order of things. Their army is nothing but a collection of deluded weaklings. This Committee fears true strength, so when they find the strong they either must destroy it or chain and degrade it. Instead, they take the sickly, the crippled, the deformed, the impotent, bitter runts and women and delude them with false tales and drink into forgetting what a pitiful band they actually are. The only reason they have managed to win is by the unfair advantage of firearms, allowing a member of this pitiful lot to kill at a distance a man who should be able to slay a gross of such weaklings. But now, that advantage is in our hands and it is time that true warriors show them what pathetic creatures unworthy of life they actually are.

"They claim they will help us, but all they want is our lands and us in chains toiling for their ends. They say they bring prosperity, but that is a lie. They would deny us the service of slaves, plunder our wealth and make us toil for their ends until we die. Their distant capitol is but a soot covered work camp that devours all things. A beast that we will either be forced to feed, or if not it than it's bastard offspring. They claim to bear wisdom but only bear lies. You have heard the tales of how they have swept aside entire armies as if they were nothing, that shall not happen here. They have been beaten. I have listened and know their weaknesses. They are pathetic in hand to hand and we can bring down more than twice the fire that they can in each salvo. It will not be easy but should we do what we are capable, this battle end there will be our victory! A victory that all the world shall look upon with awe. And when this bloody deed is done we shall drink, feast and sing of our victory and those yet to come. Because then it is time to do conquering of our own of their now defenseless lands! So now we make our way to this coming victory! Ready your rifles, harden your hearts and think of the glory that will come! To Battle! TO WAR! DEATH TO THE WEAKLINGS OF INFRASTRUCTURE!"

And there was a cheer as this army began to move forward to the coming battle.

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The Infrastructural Expeditionary force marched to their target, laying claim to several villages and leaving behind minor forces to oversee them, word had gone out and ariel recon had confirmed it, they their force was on the march. Drive selected the battlefield and they made camp there as the enemy army marched towards their position. Among them was Private Valia Trelseb. She had seen the aftermaths of several battles and her brother among them and when the recruiting parties said they would put an end to that pointless carnage, she felt compelled to volunteer. But never the less, like many of her comrades in arms, she was apprehensive about what was to come. They had been briefed on what to expect and it was a change. A vast army with cannons, combat mages and golems and its ranks of infantry and cavalry equipped with firearms. Infrastructure had lost few battles before and most of their soldiers were used to gunning down warriors at a hundred meters. Facing an army were the average soldier could shoot back at a comparable rate of fire was unnerving, even after they were told that the Type-3R2s were better weapons and the advantages that some of the new toys would bring to this battlefield.

They took positions on a couple of hills and waited as the army approached, The night before battle they saw the distant glow of cooking fires on the horizon, that morning they marched on the hill. Fifteen thousand fighting men marched against their position forming into formations before advancing. Infantry into loose formations, and the cavalry at the sides and cannons moving about on the flanks. Then they charge. The Infrastructural forces fired the first shots of the battle with artillery at 1,500 meters, forty two rifled guns launched their salvos into formations deemed to be of higher priority at 1,500 meters, raining a hail of cast iron balls into enemy formations. But they never the less pressed on, now at a full run. The cavalry were planning on moving around to the rear, and got some priority in targeting, but as these armies closed by forces on the flanks. Her concern was the army of infantry marching her way. They waited as they closed before the order was given.

"COMPANY OPEN FIRE! FIRE AT WILL!"

Around her was the constant crack of gunfire and the metallic sounds of expended cartridges being spent. The enemy was dropping, but they were closing and there was still plenty of them. Quickly the air was filled with smoke and the smell and cracks of gunfire and the metallic sounds of loading and spent cartridges falling to the ground. A few shots whizzed by her as she reloaded. They were letting off shots at her position. They were sporadic and their aim was sloppy, but she did hear some people in her formation go down. Never the less she continued to load undistributed, what would happen should they get into close quarter kept her mind squarely on the job. That said something did momentarily set give her a slight jolt as she heard a sequence of gunshots in quick succession with an odd mechanical underscore. For the gunner manning the Type-1A nearby got a bit spooked and quickly sent a hailstorm of fire at the enemy ranks.

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As the Alliances army marched to battle against the Infrastructural Army, many men were nervous. The peasant levies more visibly and the warriors covertly. They were marching to face an army that had defeated and dispatched foe after foe. Simenff Jolenoff, however was not one of them. His family owned one of Borogskov's shipyards and was among the first to use slave labor on a large scale. From that came a large amount of wealth and one of the things they bought was his mount, a War Golem. The hulking clay man twelve feet tall and weighing several tons.

The art of Golem making was alien to the Coldlands and required many skilled Mages to make them as well as massive amounts of magic. Any golems that arrived were incredibly expensive and over the centuries only twenty three were obtained by the Black Ports (eight in the last few years, six of which sold by Dark Elf traders who had a vested interest in seeing that they did not fall to Infrastructure), discounting those that were destroyed by other golems. They spent most of their time slumbering, standing inert and building up magic (though a mage could revitalize them fairly quickly) but when let loose on the battlefield they could smash through shield walls, throw men about like dolls with ease and could endure cavalry charges crashing into them with only minor damage. A fact that acted as an excellent deterrent against surrounding tribes. They were even able to take rifleshot with only a small amount of easily patched chipping. These were simple constructs as far as golems went, capable of only understanding basic commands and required constant supervision, but the solution to that was to bolt a saddle and some straps onto their back to have someone ride them into battle with either with a cavalry bow or (in the last decade) a firearm to make them all the more deadly.

When the battle began his mount began its march towards the Infrastructural lines towards a specific company of men. He saw them stand there and watched as the first shots were fired. Artillery rounds crashed into formations of infantry running towards firing position and then began the rifle fire. He fired his first shot with his screw rifle against the firing enemy lines and then reloaded. He briefly amazed by the fire that was going towards his line, for every shot that was being sent his way the enemy was putting off four or five even before they began firing a dreadful gun making a constant set of shots. But any Infrastructural Fire that was sent his way did nothing against his mount. His mind was filled of thoughts of seeing them run and be crushed beneath his golem's feet of clay and iron clawed hands. Of seeing those pathetic weakling confident from their easy victories realize that they had finally met their match and that they finally faced a foe against which their toys would not save them.

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Theodoric Skyanov was from a low ranking warrior family in one of the small warrior states near Daggsgrad of peasant background. One of ninety six men in one of the many rifle formations the alliance managed to muster and equip. Unlike many similar riflemen in the alliance’s vast assembly of hosts, he actually had some combat experience firing in combat. His lord was won over to the alliance by its assistance in the conquest his old rival lord Kragsnep. In that battle he managed to gain three kills, enough to be promoted from a simple peasant levy to a permanent fighter. He got a better home, a brigandine, two fat pigs and a respectable cut of the plunder including a small bag of coins, mostly copper but with a couple of silver ones tossed in as well. He was amazed by the scale of the force that they managed assemble and equip and when he marched into battle. He heard about the Infrastructural Army, but he dismissed much of what he heard. People loved to lie about how good they were and when they were defeated they made their victorious appear stronger than they actually were. Who would respect a man who fled from a pack of weaklings? He was nervous, everyone was. But he was convinced that they had the advantage.

That was until battle started.

His formation advanced into position as quickly as possible. Then the firing started. Before the Alliance’s army got into position they were met with a hail of shell and shot. Most of it was directed away from his formation, but he saw it and its result. How shell blasted through formations of men and then was the rifle firem. It was inhumanly fast. He eventually got into position and began firing, but they fired back and they were relentless. They got off four shots in the time that it took for them to get off one, even with fear pushing him forward and keeping his mind on target. How did they fire so quickly and so accurately buzzed around his head. Then he saw a few of them go down, but after his third volley two of his friends drop dead beside him. "HOLD IT TOGE..." barked Sornev, his warlord's third son and the commander of this ragtag company before he was shot in the head. He looked around and saw that a few other men were running and heard the sounds of terror and panic, in his and other companies and a cavalry charge fall down in droves under concentrated fire. In a split second of terror, he dropped his rifle and ran for it.

He bolted for cover at full sprint, jumping over fences and ditches. He eventually saw Uori, one of his close friends and came close to him. He knew that any moment he could be shot dead or be horribly maimed by a bullet. Whatever little comfort he could find was a godsend. Eventually they abandoned the sprint for a long distance jog. They had no idea what was going to happen next. Return home as a coward and be loathed, live a solitary life as a bandit, return to the fray with nothing to fight with besides two eating knives? The two talked about it and eventually they came up with a plan. Try to find other survivors and maybe form up and launch a renewed offensive at nightfall seemed like the best option. If it worked they would be heroes.

They turned back and marched looking for others. Past farms and farmers that were more concerned with defending their homes. They called to a few soldiers, but most ran away. They began to hear odd horns calling in the distance and saw horsemen running by in the armor and uniform of Infrastructure. They closed in searching. They swerved and tried to evade them. But then, exhausted they walked by a farmhouse and behind it came one of them brandishing a pistol.

"I should let you know that this fine contraption can put three holes in both of you before I would need to reload it, if you are thinking of flight" he said calmly in a rather light tone "Now I am going to have to ask for your surrender. Don't worry; my compatriots will be here shortly and if you don’t cause a fuss you won’t be harmed."

Theodoric stood there in shock as this set in and things finally settled. Even as he fled, he held onto a vague hope. That the tides would have turned, and that he might have actually helped turn them with a ragtag band of reorganized men. That the same panic was building in the enemy and they would have broken as well or that their other flank would have been hit by a cavalry charge and fell apart. Even if they were defeated, he imagined attacking their camp at night and slitting throats, striking from the bushes when they least expected it or defending his home town from the infrastructural assault. That hope, however vague and irrational died as he saw that cavalryman standing before him. He knew that his forces had lost. They Alliance's army had been defeated. Infrastructure had won.

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There was tension in the air in Borogskov as the combined army marched off to battle. It was inconceivable to her people that it would be in any other state. Walisneb Rasninovich Greshnakoff in particular knew this, he had two of his legitimate sons out in that mass of men and had paid for the gear of twenty three more to keep them safe, but just as importantly he knew what defeat would mean. Everything his family had done would be undone. For five days people waited nervously for word to come back on what had happened. Then finally people's curiosity was satisfied He when men returned from that battle. Not a proud multitude with banners high, not even a diminished force that had been through hell but had come back having routed the invader, but a tiny scattered group of men on horseback who rushed home as fast as their mounts could carry them that bore news of defeat. They spoke of companies of men being wiped out in seconds under a ceaseless and merciless and unending torrent of fire.

The night of their arrival a sword was dropped from the sky in front of the King's palace, on it was a cylinder containing a message: this city was now under the authority of the central committee and was the legal territory of Infrastructure. That the old Monarchy, all its offices, authority and the institution of slavery was now permanently abolished. That all its warriors were dismissed and were to disarm and stand down immediately. Finally that this claim was backed up by six regiments with enough artillery to make a mockery of their walls which would arrive at their walls in forty eight hours. With this a fair number of the wealthy fled to the seas, with captain's paying exorbitant prices for transit out. This was made difficult as these ships needed to be provisioned for the voyage hastily, a few of the wealthier people insisted on creature comforts on their way into exile, merchants were selling supplies to them at exorbitant prices and there were a few riots as looters took to the streets. In any case this was not an option for Walisneb, from what he heard about the shipbuilding business elsewhere was that being a former slave driver and slave trader in many other places was not a useful asset.

He waited quietly in his office with a sword and pistol in hand as he heard word of the arrival of the Infrastructural Troops. His mind braced itself for his final stand. He was not to be taken alive. He let his pit bosses and drivers into his liquor cabinet, made sure his wife and daughters made them the best possible meal for lunch and gave each of them half a year's wages up front for their work on the final day. Some did not come, he did not blame them. Normality gave him comfort. Each of them carried a gun themselves. His compound was outside the city walls and was soon stormed. Some of his men fought back, there was gunfire. He then heard the pounding on the door. He drew his pistol and pulled the trigger. It went off half cocked. He charged the men with his sword, but there were four of them in breastplates and they had some close quarters drilling. They smacked him around, threw him to the ground, kicked his weapons aside and bound him. He hoped to go out fighting, take a few of these peasants playing as fighters down, but instead he lived.

A heavily built fellow then carried him out. He saw his slaves in their rough wool blue tunics cheering and crying in joy. Cage doors being torn down, whips, flails, stocks, slave drivers' mantles and the corpse of Olav (his most trusted Pit Boss) were tossed into a bonfire of wood scraps, hay and pitch while metal artifacts like chains, keys, cuffs, hinges and brands were loaded up into boxes labeled SCRAP.

"Bring you chains to me my fellows! More metal for the Fires of Industry to purify of its loathsome cruel past! Every last steel tool of slavery!" the soldier said cheerfully as soldiers and slaves tossed items in. Some of them were eating meat, cheese, fruit and bread and drinking fine liquor from his personal pantry. He was surprised to see one of them was reading from a piece of paper, even if what he said disgusted him. It spoke of him as a useless leech and a parasite, his drivers as worthless idiotic brutes and told slaves that any one of their pathetic, cowardly, sniveling, stinking lot was better than them, for he degenerated himself with by his ‘crimes’. He a more than capable organizer whose ancestors had clawed their way to the top with cunning dealings and the axe and kept that position from whatever upstarts tried to question it, how dare they say they were above them. It turned his stomach. He saw some drivers be carried away, bound, bruised and beaten. Many of them shot in the leg and they were taken outside watching as a few men at the gate were asking a few slaves milling about to go outside for a walk.

He was quiet save for groans as he was dragged through his facility. Then something snapped in his mind when he saw them walking free. "You think you do such good work for the world." The guard did not respond "The invincible men of Infrastructure out to fix the big strong mean men. But your NOT! Your all just a bunch of well armed looters. Rats with knives slashing at a wolf until it dies. You steal and rob from everyone you come across. Just like the most crude, savage cutthroat but without his Honesty about it, saying that they make things better. You think your Metal Kings give a flie’s shit about my slaves? They just don't wanna pay me up front for them to do their Shit-Work! Whatever nice things they say to make you follow them it’s all lies. YA HEAR THAT! LIES! Sooner or later people in the shitstain on the map you call an Empire will see that. And they will rip apart your oh so high and mighty committee in the streets of your Slum of a capital! And THEN it will all fucking fall apart! Your storehouses will burn and your workshops will be ripped apart by mad looter! Men who wear that uniform of yours will get shot if they're lucky!" He was tied up onto an ox cart with nine other guys. "And whoever among your worthless collection of peasants has a shred of REAL STRENGTH, not just having fancy sticks that go bang but the genuine stuff in the blood, bone and soul will take power, beat the weaklings and whelps in line and it will be back to the way were before all this Rubbish! The way things should be! And the scum of the Earth you just, freed well they will beg tOOOFFF!!!"

The guard (who was named Ivan) walked away back into the compound. He kept a steady pace, but he did slightly smirk as he heard the sound of a rifle butt come into hard contact with the slave owner's stomach. Ivan was quite happy at the thought of the little bastard getting a taste of his own medicine in the eastern mountains mining coal to feed Dalatyr's forges. In any case, he still had work to do here and by what Drive said, there was a lot of people in need of reform through labor. He knew that this city would soon have a very large chunk of its male population taken away and he heard that there was plans to have ex-soldiers settle here to replace them. He was thinking about applying for that. It was warmer here in the winter, the sea had a nice smell to it and while there would be the families of former slave owners who would despise him. But he was sure that would be in the end balanced out by his fellow veterans and the adoration of freed slaves.

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Valia was stationed in the Garrison force in Borogskov and oversaw the breakdown of the old order. It was not a pretty job, there had been two riots and a large number of smaller scuffles over the last eleven days since Infrastructural troops came in. It was clear that the population of this city had been going down between war-dead, detentional laborers being sent east and freed slaves making their way home even with the release of a fair number of the lower ranking prisoners of war. Being on patrol could be dangerous, but there was a safe refuge just outside the city called the Hinge.

Like Daagsgrad, Borogskov was built on the mouth of a river though unlike it's counterpart was mostly built on one shore. The Southeastern shore had about a fifth of the city in total with it's most substantial feature being the Hinge. A fortress mainly built and named to enforce tariffs on traffic on the river and sink ships who refused to pay. It allowed the river to be opened and closed. And indeed it still served that purpose even if Nova ordered that Tariff's be cut in half and trade had been going down recently. But its main purpose now was as the administrative center and housing of the garrison. In addition to soldiers and Bureaucrats there were a number of people doing odd jobs many of whom were freed slaves. She was on sentry duty in the evening watching the river. A few people walked across the battlements as well as it was the quickest route from the northernwestern and southwestern offices due to the hodgepodge construction of the Hinge. She watched as the ships went by. Among them were a fair number of Infrastructural boats carrying in supplies from Dalatyr for longterm projects, among them a few paddle steamers. These were still quite a novelty and had been increasing in number on the Coldland's rivers for a few years now. The newer craft was another story.

She had heard rumors of this, now she knew that they were true. While the paddlesteamers were squat and boxy, designed to carry cargo over long distances. This one was long, narrow and predatory in appearance. A fact made more apparent by its cannon heavy arsenal. It's hull was metal, painted to protect against rust. It was assembled upriver in a special facility and kept under wraps. Now it moved forward and out to sea through the Reka river for sea-trials. As it passed, its sailors gave a salute. She gave a few cheers and waved her bayonet in salute. A few people came up to the battlements witnessing the Vanguard as it passed by. People in the city proper would come and witness this new craft as well. What they saw was not the just a novel construct but the future of naval warfare. It would also be the first of many.
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After the fall of the Black Ports (which were both collectively renamed "The Yards") the Infrastructural Army had some eighty five thousand soldiers under its command. They had laid claim to what they could without rustling the feathers of the older civilizations eastward too much, and logistics was becoming difficult even with improved roads, the growing rail networks and paddlesteamers increasing in number. As far as the committee was concerned, each soldier employed in the military could be employed far more productively to their ends in agriculture or industry and they were mindful of the threat of a military revolt. As such, in late summer of 22 IA they cut the size of their army in half.

All conscripts, most penal soldiers and a few volunteers were honorably discharged and all soldiers serving at the time were given a considerable pay bonus. Those soldiers who did so were also given a deal on a free train, paddlesteamer or coach ticket home or, if they wished, to Dalatyr. There was also a settlement program for a few areas deemed strategically valuable that volunteers could apply for. Moving into newly reclaimed farmland or settling in The Yards to make the population more loyal. Most of the dismissed forces were infantry, as cavalry could cover more ground and had an advantage per person which mostly offset it's higher operating costs per soldier. The artillery corps was reduced, but to a lesser degree.

This whole deal, as sergeant Dina Indahl found out, involved lots and lots of paperwork. This Dalatyr educated young woman signed up for the army and since she was assigned to a Garrison unit, ended up doing much of the paperwork required to keep things going and working for the quartermaster. She did see some action against some bandits, but never the less preferred not fighting men wanting her dead after getting in a couple of close quarters scrapes. Receiving two months worth of pay put her in a good mood, even though she did have to do allot more work for her to process the discharge forms. The fact that she was handing out hundreds of credits to each individual soldier helped that along quite well. After all, they were in a good mood as well and that was contagious. Standing nearby was one of the new Enforcers brought in to keep law and order among the civies who lived in the town that grew around this fort. Despite that, she did have a bit of a rivalry going on with Liv the Bureaucrat. She thought of her as being stuffy, officious and uptight, even if she was quite good at her job. Fortunately she did not do much beyond picking up papers to be filed today and could not kill Dina's good mood.

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The conquest of the Black Ports was General Sven Smedth's final campaign. He had seen his army victorious against more enemies than he cared to count. That said, he welcomed being given a desk job back home. When he got home, he was given a few days off. The first day of which he spent eating a very large feast with his family. He had many tales to tell, even if he found much of it rather unpleasant people, especially the kids took quite an interest in it. That night he enjoyed the company of Stefia in private. The next morning he woke up, changed into some civilian clothes of his and went down to the living room with a good book.

He sat down in his chair and read a tale about the politics of a couple of the Noble Houses to the west, which involved romance, intrigue, spying and a couple of assassination attempts. He found these ideas quite intriguing, even if he did not want to put up with this nonsense in infrastructure. In recent years he had gained a taste for Tea, a commodity which was becoming more and more available. He sat down with a mug of it. Around him hovered his youngest daughter, Nadia. He asked his son Gregov to get the little kid something.

"Dad" She said

"What is it little one?" He replied

"Your gonna be here more often?"

"Yes, you know the schools?"

"Yep."

"You know there are many of them, for the different trades."

"Yep i do!"

"Well the army now has a special school for it's leaders. Teaches them how to win the fights and bring home as many men as possible. Drive decided that i would make a good teacher at that school. That way the best army in the world is only going to get better."

"Are you gonna come home at night."

"Yes, my Nadia. Yes i will."

"That's good."

"Good indeed."

He was quite happy about this assignment, even if he did have some concerns about it. Up until now, the Infrastructural Army's officers were given field commissions by superiors or if they could read and write they could take out the strategy textbooks at Garrison libraries, read and take notes and take an exam. The army had been rapidly growing for for years and there was plenty of room for advancement. Now there would hopefully not be any more battles so soldiers would not be sent through the school of hard knocks. Instead the new officer's Academy would train up the next generation of officers in a more formalized manner. Recruiting from people who had seen combat did give them an understanding of what it was really like, but he had seen a fair number of respectable soldiers die in battle. Never the less, he hoped that the book learning here would produce capable men.



HAIL ZOR! WE'LL BLOW UP THE OCEAN!
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Last edited by Zor on 2012-10-05 12:49pm, edited 1 time in total.
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 Post subject: Re: Infrastructure (Original and Illustrated) PostPosted: 2012-09-28 03:28pm
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Minor nitpick:

Quote:
A heavily built fellow then carried him out. He saw his slaves in their rough wool blue tunics cheering and crying in joy. Cage doors being torn down, whips, flails, stocks, slave drivers' mantles and the corpse of Olav (his most trusted Pit Boss) were tossed into a bonfire of wood scraps, hay and pitch while metal artifacts like chains, keys, cuffs, hinges and brands were loaded up into boxes labeled SCRAP.


The box in the pic actually says SRAP. :-P



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 Post subject: Re: Infrastructure (Original and Illustrated) PostPosted: 2012-10-05 12:19pm
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Please delete this post.



HAIL ZOR! WE'LL BLOW UP THE OCEAN!
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 Post subject: Re: Infrastructure (Original and Illustrated) PostPosted: 2012-10-05 10:02pm
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A rough map of Infrastructure after the fall of the Black Ports in the summer of 22IA.

Much of Infrastructure remains at this point undeveloped and most people in these areas live lives little different than how they did before the coming of the Infrastructural Army. Things are typically safer as there are less bandits about and no squabbling warlords and trade is more frequent. Periodically (usually in the autumn for agricultural areas and frequently in areas with valuable mineral deposits) taxes are collected, mostly in the form of goods (grain, potatoes, vegetables, livestock, wool, cheese, ore, coal, charcoal, wagons, carts, etc) and as labor working on projects such as roads, railways and irrigation as well as opening up. Recruitment drives were also common, but less so nowadays as the military is scaled back. In case of major crop failure (as determined by Bureaucrats) aid is given in the form of grain, potatoes and meat. Certain towns are designated "Hub Towns", which hold local granaries, storehouses and shops.

The area around Dalatyr is the most developed, agriculture and mining around said areas is becoming more mechanized. As the railways increase in scale. Many people here are making the move to Dalatyr, which has expanded in population to 41,000 and continues to expand quite quickly. Growing by natural means, immigration and bringing in orphans.

The railways are major projects designed to improve transportation. Though their extent is fairly limited, they are constantly growing. Locomotive production has recently taken a secondary priority to the construction of steamboats and dredgers. More conventional riverboats and barges are also built for riverine transportation. The Urblasst/Loriv Canal is a planned project to connect the two major river systems of the Coldlands

The centers for local administration are Garrisons. Fortresses that house forces of the Infrastructural Army, as well as local administrative headquarters, storage centers and centers for some small scale manufacturing. The more distant ones, for example, have small are armories allowing them to make a few firearms, ammunition and spare parts. Around most of them have grown fairly substantial towns, usually with populations in the area of 2,000 to 6,000 people. these are expected to continue to grow

The centers for local administration are Garrisons. Fortresses that house forces of the Infrastructural Army, as well as local administrative headquarters, storage centers and centers for some small scale manufacturing. The more distant ones, for example, have small are armories allowing them to make a few firearms, ammunition and spare parts. Around most of them have grown towns, usually including

Most of the Coldlands is grassland with intermediate pockets of scrub and forests. It is fairly fertile, but winters are (as the name implies) rather cold, dipping as low as -30 in regions and lasts about four months. This is balanced out somewhat by short springs and autumns and warm generally pleasant summers. Typically the further inland you go the colder it gets, the Coastal regions are comparatively mild, with shorter and milder winters, but colder summers. The southernmost regions of the Coldlands have shorter milder winters and longer summers.

Heavily Forested areas are lightly populated at best. Bandits, including a number of displaced warriors live there as well as groups of wildspawn. They are dangerous, but never the less they are exploited for timber.

The Coldlands is notable for being parched of magical energies, the elvish term for the Coldlands roughly translates to "The Frozen Desert". Background magic levels are fairly low. Not many mages are born in the Coldlands and those who are born are usually of marginal power, leaving aside lack of training.

The Coldlands are flanked by mountains. These are sparsely populated, with a few tribes of nomadic herdsmen and a couple of isolated agricultural settlements in mountains. There are a couple of isolated enclaves of Dwarves. The Dragonspine is the highest and most formidable and are for the most part impassible. The Greyridge are less daunting, but still dangerous to trek. The Greenridge mountains are fairly navigable, even if most overland merchants do avoid them. The Committee has sent out surveyors to search them for valuable metals and a few detentional labour settlements have been set up in them to exploit these.



HAIL ZOR! WE'LL BLOW UP THE OCEAN!
Heros of Cybertron-HAB-Keeper of the Vicious pit of Allosauruses-King Leighton-I, United Kingdom of Zoria: SD.net World/Tsar Mikhail-I of the Red Tsardom: SD.net Kingdoms
WHEN ALL HELL BREAKS LOOSE ON EARTH, ALL EARTH BREAKS LOOSE ON HELL
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 Post subject: Re: Infrastructure (Original and Illustrated) PostPosted: 2012-11-11 08:27pm
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Despite his best efforts, Lord Elect Vladimir Grosnok survived the battle. He and his elite guard had charged into the enemy lines once the forces were good in their advance. Even after he had his horse shot from underneath him, he got to his feet and pressed on. He had taken a fair number of bullets as well, his runic laminar armor and shield saving him from lethal damage even if he did feel them despite that. But eventually he was overcome as one cut through his leg and he stumbled. He limped forward, shooting blindly with a number of double barreled pistols before they were exhausted. When a few of their men came towards him he swung at them with the swords and managed to strike a couple of their limbs before he was eventually subdued.

The next few weeks he spent being moved about bound and gagged, often in a cart, a railcar or on board a paddlesteamer. First with other warriors, then as a sideshow. Drive and General Smedth showed him off to freed slaves, then he eventually found himself paraded around Dalatyr as factory workers cheered the victorious Infrastructural Army and booed the deposed Tyrant. He tried to resist by biting at his guards and occasionally ranting at the Infrastructurals, but the most that ever got out of him was a boot to the ribs and a couple of old potatoes, cabbages and horse turds during the parade. He suspected that he was to be publicly executed as a sign of the Committee's power. This was, to his surprise, not the case. After that, he changed his mind about that. He would be thrown into a labor camp to mine coal somewhere. He saw the chimneys of infrastructural factories belching out smoke and thought that they wanted as much fuel as possible to keep them fed. This thought gave him some comfort, if was thrown into one of those Detentional Labor camps, he might be able to rally the warriors and have them break from their bondage. Strike down the guards, take their guns and lead an uprising. Raiding from the forests and hills giving the committee hell for what they had done.

This was not the case.

Instead after a brief train ride and some time in a cart Vladimir arrived at a complex outside of Dalatyr. A walled off facility with a number of sentries. Outside there was a pigsty. Inside were several buildings built around the wall, including one with a chimney as well as a central main one. It was a strange place, inside there were a few guards, but a fair number of men and women dressed in long white coats and thin gloves. A few of them, he latter saw, had stains on them, many of them were red. But that was just the beginning of it. The first thing that they did was they took him into a room covered completely in glazed tiles, there a white coated women ordered that his clothes be taken off. The guards then did just that, cutting off his garments with no sign of enjoyment and tossed them into a bucket. He was left, his arms and legs tied as they left him on the cold floor. Then a spay of hot soapy odd smelling water hit him. It was kept up for several minutes before it let up. Then the guards came in again and took him.

They cut off his beard and put him before an vent that blasted him with hot air drying him off. Then they undid the cuffs and bindings, strapping him down to a padded bed on wheels and moving him about. They also did the indignity of hooking up a couple of things in some areas he definitely wished they would keep their goddamn hands away from. He was tightly restrained and moved through a hallway. They prodded him with needles a couple of times. It was not pleasant, though compared to what he had seen in his own interrogation rooms it was nothing. They did a few other things and some of them talked using jargon he had never heard before. The atmosphere had an smell to it that he could not describe, but others would say was chemical, mixed in with a couple more organic ones. And there was the sounds, among the sounds of conversation were a few moans and a couple of human noised which might have been words, rendered unintelligible by closed doors and factors relating to the mouth. He was taken to a room where he was parked. He heard some conversation and questions about scheduling which ended with a remark that they were open. He felt a sharp pain in his arm and a building pressure for a few seconds. His bed was parked and he saw a strange face.

It was a member of the Committee, that was certain. It was unlike Drive's as there was some attempt to make it more human, unlike Supernova in that it fell short of an exact replication. It had a mouth that could move in a manner roughly similar to that to a man speaking, but not quite. Said movements were ultimately just window dressing to speech. Excellence In Execution Which Stems From Investing Considerable Attention To Detail Upon Each Individual Facet-57815 (Detail) found this face perfectly adequate. Several boxes were nearby. It wore a version of the long coat that the others did, but made out of a strange flexible material that had a shine to it. But strangest of all were that, in place of hands were a set of cones with doors on the end.

"Is there something you want to know or do you simply take joy in this? Still I am surprised that you are this hands on about it. Never figured it from all that nonsense you spew."

"You are not the first to say that" Detail said, in a quiet tone "And you are quite incorrect. Did you feel that prick?"

"It's nothing to the one hovering above me right now."

"Well that was anesthetic, it's purpose is to dull the senses and make sure you don't feel a thing. It will also put you into quite a deep sleep. Pain is not the objective here. It only gets in the way. The last thing we want is you to just drop dead."

"Then what is, oh mighty metal man?"

"Maximizing Efficiency."

"What are you rambling about, you tin shit?"

"To get into more detail, Lord Elect, this is where we make use of the deeply problematic of prisoners. Warriors who just don't know that they have been defeated. Those that get into fights and attack guards and stir up trouble instead of doing the jobs given to them. We could have them killed, but that just produces low quality pigfood. If they will not be productive as workers, we can find other uses for them."

"What are you rambling about?" He said as his mind became fuzzy.

"Its a matter of improvement. Humans are able to do a very large number of things, but they have their weaknesses. Cold, Heat, Drowning, Sleep, breakdowns over time, sensitivities to certain chemicals, inability to heal damage of a certain type, energy inefficiency, limited endurance the list goes on. You are the products of a billion years of blind trial and error, with whatever half baked design functioning just well enough or being lucky to move on to the next generation in enough numbers becoming the new master template. We can do better, we can make considerable improvements on nature's sloppiness. We can create a better man. It just takes a little experimentation to figure out just how to do this."

"How?"

Detail's two cone shaped hands opened up, revealing a number of small metal arms. Most of them had unknown functions, some he understood. All looked vaguely sinister. "You are ultimately a machine. A extremely complex one, but a machine none the less. We are good with machines. And the thing about a machine is that, if need be, it can be partially rebuilt to function more effectively. If all goes smoothly, you will come out of this with improved strength and endurance. If not, we will gain data that will be useful for the next attempt. Either way, now you be of considerable help to Infrastructure." Vladimir was at this point drifting off, in spite of the fear was overtaking him.

Image

Early in 22 IA Major Petrov N. Miles (a surname that he took on the recommendation of Pastor Recorder Saint Callius, apparently an old word for soldier) was given a new position by Drive, which involved a pay raise. He was quite excited about this, especially since it involved making more money than Sven. That said, after taking the job he got a bit nervous about this.

He was selected for this job for a couple of reasons. The first of which was the fact that was a decent commanding officer and a damn good artilleryman. In his childhood, Petrov would go fishing during the summer on the swamps in an old wooden boat. In service in the Infrastructural Army, these skills were honed as he transported men, cannon and supplies across rivers and lakes, as well as fighting from them in a few instances. In the last few years, this involved taking temporary command of a paddlesteamer on six occasions. He did not know that this was basic training for a new role: the first commanding officer of the Infrastructural Navy.

Everything was a change for him. Supernova had designed him a new uniform and given her a crew taken off artillery crews and Paddlesteamers. He was given the strange titles of "Admiral" and "Skipper" and all of his subordinates save for lieutenants were given new ranks as well. Ensigns, Sailors (even though the ship had no sails) and midshipmen, all borrowed from foreign books. He did not understand why they did not just stick with calling them privates, corporals, sergeants and so forth. He had been briefed and had read up (albeit somewhat slowly) on the craft and what he was to expect. He was impressed before he laid eyes on the Vanguard and was more impressed as he saw her being assembled and eventually launched onto Lake Murnev for trials. He never the less let out a sigh of relief as the craft did not sink.

It was not all bad. For one thing he had a bed (even if it was suspended from the ceiling) in his small, but far more importantly warm bedroom with a few luxuries such as electric lights, a phonograph, a flush toilet and a novel clock that did not have a pendulum. Even more than that, he always had a floor under foot that may get wet but was never muddy. The food was also an improvement on the whole from field rations, even if that was not much of an improvement. The crew consisted mostly of a mixture of artillerymen and people off the paddlesteamers. For the most part a decent lot, a few of them served under him and all were committed to doing their best. Discovery was also onboard as an observer for the first few weeks seeing out how things would go. The Committee Member kept his distance, save for occasionally talking with him, the guys in the engine room or the gunners about his findings and leaving a few notes. They also did some tests firing the artillery, which was one of the more impressive features. The guns were state of the art, nine breachloading 10cm guns for the broadside and chase mounts. The biggest and most impressive weapon was the heavy 15cm gun on its mount. When that gun fired the whole ship could feel it. Never the less, he still felt awkward

Eventually, everything checked out and they made their way to the ocean for sea trials. Once they got to sea, the crew soon came to a consensus. The sea was worse than the lake. The waves were more intense, it was colder and there was more spray. They went through a couple of storms. They mostly stayed within site of the coast, but for two days they went further out. They took it easy most of the time and practiced drills. Occasionally they saw some foreign ship and after ten days at sea, a pirate vessel attacked. A couple of shells quickly dealt with that problem fairly swiftly and before they could do any harm.

After three weeks at sea, the Vanguard put into port in Daagsgrad and the new admiral and his crew was treated to a celebratory feast at the garrison hosted by Drive. An unusual occurrence but quite welcome, as was the banquet held at the garrison and the fireworks that evening. He was allowed a few days of shore leave before going back to sea. Among the more notable things that he heard was that six people in the crew were being swapped out. Drive told him that this was to give more sailors experience at sea. He had asked about recruiting people from the Black Ports or hiring foreigners, but that represented too much of a security risk.

Image

In her office, Doctor Allea Ivanova signed the last few bits of paperwork as the clock ticked quietly and let out a sigh of relief. She then got out the speaking tube and ordered some tea be brought up in anticipation. The tea arrived and shortly after so did, a minute after that came in her guest.

"May this humble Recorder of the Order from intrude on your diligent work?" He said, jovially.

"Most certainly he can. Sergei, please take a seat." The old priest took to a small stool, which he preferred over chairs for some reason. Her family had a closer relationship than most with the local member of the order and given that both of them were involved in reading and writing for longer than most people she developed quite a friendship with the old guy.

"Tea?"

"If you would be so kind. How are the children doing?"

"Fine for the most part, Yuri's apprenticeship has got off to a good start and Anya had the third highest mark in her class. There are still a few incidents, but to be honest I just wish I could see more of them. And how are things going with you."

"A bit similar, the wife is doing quite well but I am caught between the new priory, plenty of new materials to document and meetings with some member of the committee or their agents." Allea understood the odd position that Sergei was in. He, like three generations of Pastor Recorders before him was a low ranking member of the order in a position that was never intended to be anything other than a country preacher. Then one day Infrastructure happened and he was left in the middle of it, with a city going up around him. Eventually the Order decided to move the base of local affairs to the new city. Lower ranking members of the order were given a bit more freedom in how they lived their lives and could, for instance, get married but the higher ranking figures in the order were much more monastic, even if what was told of the splendor. He was not willing to give up his old life and family for a promotion, but still the committee was most open to him. So he was given the title of 'Pastor to the Committee', even if he did not do much preaching to them. "But how have this year's batch of teachers been turning out."

"Pretty well. The staff is getting more experienced and we have found out more about what not to do. The only problem is volume; we get more trainees every year."

Allea had become one of the most important people in Infrastructure. The way she thought of it was that her career was the trunk of a tree. She was the first teacher at the first school, teaching the town's kids their letters and numbers. Then the town grew, so the committee gave her four of her former students as apprentices in 3IA, who got their education in education by helping her out in the classroom for three years before being given classes of their own. After which she got four more apprentice teachers. This continued on until 12IA, when Supernova said that they were going to need more teachers to eventually give children in Dalatyr a full six years of schooling as well as a surplus to send out to the garrisons. So they built the Teacher's Academy and made her the teacher of teachers, and eventually the headmistress whose job was to oversee the teaching of new teachers. There were big changes going on, there were more clerks coming up everywhere as well the new Bureaucracy. The Committee's eventual aims were nothing short of making sure that everyone in the Coldlands could read and write and she had become the woman who would make that happen.

"Well there are two quotes that come to mind for your predicament: 'There are few more noble tasks than the cultivation of the mind'. That one comes up many times. But also 'one should forwarned of the rigors of an officious life'"

"I'll drink to that." She said, taking a swig of tea. "But, what do you have to say about cow cheese?"

Image

Soon after the fall of The Yards work began on adapting their shipyards to suit Infrastructure's purpose. They had been nationalized by the infrastructural government and placed under the administration of the Bureau of Maritime Development. A couple were damaged in fights or by spiteful owners who would have rather seen their legacy gone up in smoke than taken and used by their conquerors. Fortunately, before they came the locals had expanded their shipbuilding capacities. There were fewer slaves coming through, so they decided to hold onto more of them for longer and put them to work in other fields to get the most out of them, both in their products and themselves. For the most part trained and ‘broken in’ slaves fetched a far higher price than freshly caught unskilled peasants.

The changes were subtle at first, as they began making wooden hulled sailing ships. While work resumed on a few half-finished vessels, designs were refined to make them quicker, more space efficient and. Many former slaves went home, while those that remained worked shorter days for pay and no one working there was younger than ten. Alongside the freed slaves were a few people brought in from elsewhere on labor programs and locals from the cities themselves and farmers who worked there. There were a few scuffles between the freed slaves and the longstanding free men of the Daagsgrad and Borogskov, enough to warrant soldiers to be deployed to break these up. Work was improved shortly after with the introduction of steam powered circular saws and other mechanized tools as well as other more conventional improvements.

That said a real race happened in a few specially designated yards. These involved Drydocks and were adapted. Around them was significant construction working night and day as complexes were assembled. Large amounts of Dalatyr made machinery was brought in. By 23IA Drydock Daagsgrad-1 was refitted equipped for its new task. Components were shipped up river for assembly from Dalatyr on the new craft, starting with large steel girders for the frame.

Natasha Smedth was one of the Engineers assigned to work on the new shipyards and eventually was sent to Daagsgrad-1. She oversaw numerous instillations, mainly the generators, electrical systems and machine tools. That said, the engineering staff here (and indeed across all of Infrastructure) so she also did various odd jobs in making sure everything went smoothly. She worked on the assembly yard in Lake Murnev. Now she oversaw general construction. She was impressed at how quickly they had managed to get things going, even if all they did at this moment was put together the ribs of the craft. They were made of steel and were fairly simple to put together, even if did require a fair number of winches and coordination. They were mostly hollow and fairly light for their size. Soon they would begin putting the hull on what would be the front of the ship as they moved backwards. It was definitely an impressive site. Some locals were brought by to see it and from what she heard it had been the talk of the town. Just like the Vanguard was when it sailed by, a certain wonder at the work being done happened despite resentments.

She wrote down a few more notes on her clipboard and prepared to go to sleep. At the moment she just wished her dad was here to see this, as well as that bastard Malnov. Just to show him what he gave up when he decided to betray her and Infrastructure before he was carted off to the Dragonspine Mountains to spend the rest of his worthless life digging coal in the company of bandits, old bitter warriors, thieves, murderers and the rest of the scum of humanity the committee dumped there so their lives could be of some use.

Image

In 18IA Inna Jorgeva watched a platoon of Infrastructural soldiers march through her village with their former Chieftain Gerulf the Skullsplitter in chains. They looted the warrior's halls and houses for gold, but left the peasant's and commoner's possessions. Then they held a feast with food and drink from the Gerulf's larder and strong spirits that they brought along with them. They declared Dobromil the Mason to be the Town Foreman. The next few years saw a few changes. There was more trade, both from foreign merchants and new Coldland merchants. More boats would go down the river, including the new Paddlesteamers. Taxes were collected, mostly in the form of grain, vegetables, salted meat and fish, but they also accepted butter, charcoal, bog iron, carts and boats. A few people would work on the road improvement and a few young men volunteered to join the army. She grew up as this happened and, by what her parents said, they wanted to marry her off to Jan. A loud uncouth bullying drunkard who she despised. As such when a party of recruiters asked for laborers for a major project in The Yards, she jumped on it.

The journey was fairly quick as it was mostly upriver to Daagsgrad. She was put up in a Barracks with several dozen other women, all of which were either freed slaves or recruited from well away of the Black Ports. They were rebuilding the Shipyards. There was still some conflict between the Infrastructural and the locals. She did a variety of odd jobs over her first week. She did some work in the laundry, assisted in carpentry, worked in the Worker's kitchen peeling potatoes and on the last day shoveled coal in the machine shop's engine. At the end of that week, she got her first pay. Six credits a day with three credits and five decicredits deducted for food and accommodations over six days, fifteen credits in total. Enough for an order of mutton stew, a hot bun and some vegetables with a tankard of beer for dinner, pick up a few small things that she needed and still have some savings left over. Even though a drunkard managed to get into the compound from the city and raved at her before slinking off into the storage yard. Before dinner, she decided to talk to someone about it.

There were two people in charge around here. The first were engineers, people in gloves, vest and helmets who knew things about machinery and told people how to set it up properly. The other type was Bureaucrats. They were an odd bunch and this was one of the first time she saw them. They dressed in uniforms like engineers or soldiers, but did not carry weapons. They carried books and mostly wrote things down. Oddly enough, most of them were women.

She met with one of the Bureaucrats as she left the store on an errand.

"Excuse me, my lady?"

"What is it?" She said, somewhat annoyed.

"Someone wandered in, smelled of drink, wandering near the timber piles."

"I'll tell the guards to be on lookout. Is that all?"

"If I may be so bold my..."

"Ma'am will do," she said "as will Bureaucrat or Junior Administrative Clerk."

"Ma'am, I heard some of the Black Porters talk about the Credits?" She said as she flourished her life savings before her.

"Going on about how it's not real money and that it’s only good as bum paper?"

"How did you know?"

"You think I haven't heard that line before? They're just clinging on to old nonsense for reasons of bruised egos and a stupid magpie like obsession with shiny things. People work for us, we give them credits. Our stores across all of Infrastructure sell food and goods for credits. You can get a ten kilo bag of potatoes for three credits at the stores and if someone who is not working here gets three credits he can buy the same bag. Ergo it has value. If people try to run a store or bar or something and don't accept credits we fine them and put them in a Detentional Labour Camp if they keep it up. In any case these Magpies are a bunch of hypocrites given that they are working here. Is that all?"

"Well we could use a bit more woodscraps in Barracks-3, it getting a bit cold at nights."

"I'll see what I can do. Good day." The two then parted. Intermediately Inna thought about the bureaucrat and what she said for the rest of the day. Not the least because she found her attractive.

Image

Aslog Velconikivic of the Zolwie was a merchant captain from Borogskov who managed to come out of the war with Infrastructure without being sent off to toil in the coalmines. There were several reasons for this, but several of them go back to his family's success. Over three generations and with the help of prize money his family moved up the social ladder of Borogskov society, acquiring several progressively larger ships and a few ventures. The first thing was that they never got involved in the slave trade, which was quite saturated. The second being the fact that they knew not to take risks when there was other options.

He did his part to defend his city and paid for the rifles and powder as well as some bargain bin second hand armor and helmets for four young peasant boys who were eager to go out to war and a sailor who had to work off a debt and saw army service as the best way of doing that. Of those, one of the peasant boys returned minus a foot. When word came of the defeat, he ferried a few people away and made a note to free the two slaves who were part of his crew. He dumped them in a port well away from the Coldlands leaving them with a bag with a few biscuits, dried vegetables and their old chains because he was not totally unkind. He also left a note to his wife to set free the kitchen girl, which she obeyed as a good wife should. When he returned home, he found a number of soldiers patrolling the streets, a few buildings were in ruins and many more were damaged or looted. Fortunately his house was in fairly good condition with only a few broken windows on the lower story and damage to the brickwork.

Finding business afterwards was not difficult. The slave trade had been trampled out of existence underneath Infrastructural Army boots but the fur trade, which had become somewhat erratic had resumed. He was also given several contracts by the Infrastructurals as well, part of the payment was a Cylinder containing a Payment License. What they asked him to procure, however, puzzled him as did much of what they did. Still coin was coin.

That was a year ago, now he had gotten use to this. After putting into port he went out into a well secured room a warehouse with a couple of men and a Soldier, there were usually a couple of them. A couple of guards were about. A simple desk was set up in the corner as well as a few bookshelves with ledgers. Behind it sat an Infrastructural Bureaucrat. They ran the city on behalf of the Committee and they were, in his mind another example of the oddity. First of all unlike any other group of prominent people he could think of they dressed in a neat but remarkably plain way. But in his opinion the bizarre thing was most of them were Female. He never could fully comprehend why they did such an odd thing. He had it explained to him, there were competitions in which candidates would be locked in cells, were given paper and pens and told to write essays on certain subjects, the best of the lot got a position. He just did not understand why you would let women take these exams. Still, it never got you anywhere to insult those who were handing over money.

"A sample of my cargo," he said in the polite tones of someone who is about to give you a large sum of money "Learned Bureaucrat."

She looked over a sample of it. "Bituminous, respectable quality." She put it back and cleaned her hands on a hankerchief and put the sample back "May I have the Receipt."

"Of course." He proffered the paper.

"Two hundred and thirty tons. Does this check out Corporal?"

"Yes Ma'am. Hold is full of the stuff."

"Sorry if I insult your honor" the short woman said "It is just protocol."

"It is no issue. But what of the payment of what I and my crew have procured to help fuel your efforts?" He said gesturing to the bag.

"Very well," she did some quick on a notebook calculation. "That's will be either 345 Allergonian Marks, 138 Dwarven Thanes, or Thirty Three Kilocredits and a Hundred and Twenty Credits if you have changed your mind."

A few of his men sneered "Which I have not." Aslog said, gesturing to the cylinder containing his License. It specially allowed him the legal right to decline payment in Credits for services performed. She still offered it as an alternative every time he was here, a minor annoyance which ever so slightly soured the experience of receiving payment for an honest day's trading. He knew no-one in Borogskov who was happy about being forced to accept payment in scraps of paper and steel coins like they were real money, even if you saw more people buying stuff with it in the markets. Leaving aside that no one outside of Infrastructure would be dumb enough to see them as being good for anything besides starting fires, lavatorial purposes or in the case of the coins ballast it felt wrong. Had not the gods had veined the earth with silver and gold so that men, dwarves and elves could make trade? He figured that the reason the committee had invented such a daft idea of paper money and stores that accepted like it was truly worth something was simple cheapness. "Marks will do."

"Very well. Pay the man." One of the guards then opened a chained up box and counted out the coins. He accepted the money graciously and then left to the Zolwie to oversee the unloading. As he saw the crates and bags be taken out, he wondered about what it was going to. He knew that they had been working on the shipyards and he had been wondering about the work they were doing there. He saw the Vanguard on patrol and knew that they had resumed working on wooden craft. There was rumour about putting into one of the wooden craft one of Iron Furnace Hearts in fireproofed iron rooms. He knew the Vanguard was manned by a poor collection of peasants and river boatmen that barely had their sealegs. He had managed to accumulate a fair bit of wealth and thought about the commercial opportunities that would be available for a ship that could sail against the wind manned by seasoned and experienced seamen. They needed to get gold and silver somewhere to buy coal, iron ore and copper for their projects; maybe some sound investment could be perused.

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The Committee's report said that there was a fair bit of piracy in the Ice Mountain Sea and Petrov found this was the case. In his first year, the Vanguard destroyed four pirate ship. That said, piracy been going down. Villages that were once friendly to pirates had been made unfriendly to them by Infrastructural army forces and any pirate ship that went by the Vanguard or the newly launched Monitor was likely to flee. It seemed as if the job would soon get easier for him and he might spend more time at shore with his wife and new son. Until recently

In the last six weeks the number of attacks on merchant shipping had gone up. Most unsettling was the description of them by survivors of the attacks, these were sleek black sailed ships. The Black Port's former customers and a significant supplier of firearms in their last years. A few of them attempted an attack on The Yards in later summer of 22 before being beaten off by Coastal Artillery. He was worried about them, from what he gathered they were good mariners and fearsome in boarding actions. Then the watch spotted one of them, so he brought the Vanguard into firing position.

It was a rather fast ship, especially when compared to the ships that he usually saw. It had racks of cannons, a ramming prow and was in general spikey, and it moved towards them. Several shots missed, as was expected, but several did not. They impacted and exploded, blowing chunks off large amounts of wood and other shrapnel out and sending a mast falling over. After six hits, she began to tilt and eventually capsize. A few of her crew had made it onto a rowboat and were paddling away frantically, others clung to driftwood or were swimming. A fair number were clearly dead. He heard that they were rather resistant to cold. A few Riflemen were on deck and the Type-1A's were brought out and loaded. After a few minutes, he brought the craft around. A few of its crew got onto the capsized hull with bows and once the vanguard got within about 600 meters of the overturned hull began firing arrows at the vanguard. A few of them exploded on impact. Two sailors were wounded and one was killed. The vanguard responded with two shots from the starboard broadside, one of which hit a powder magazine. The resulting explosion put an end to said retaliatory fire.

Dark Elven Raiders, seasoned combatants and mariners had gone up against the Ironclad Technology of the Infrastructural Navy. Infrastructure Prevailed.

The rowboat was left to leave while six live prisoners were fished out of the drink, subdued and thrown in irons. Three more died resisting capture, and all of them tried to put up some fight. There were a few cadavers that were not Dark Elves, but these were unfortunately dead. The rest of the Drow survivors Petrov left to swim to shore, it was only fifty kilometers give or take to the Great Bog. Surprisingly two of the captives was female, as was one of the ones who died resisting capture. The captives were bound hand and foot, searched for weapons (which produced six knives) and stowed (three in the brig, one in the coal hold and two in the general cargo hold) while he turned back to Borogskov to unload them.

From what he heard, for the first few hours they spat obscenities and curses, by nightfall that had stopped. The next morning went and talked with one of them, to see if anything could be got out of them. He had been bound and was in a bad mood. He had some security on hand and a hot mug of tea. From what he gathered this one was a low ranking officer.

"So, you are the inbred sycophantic serf drunkard whom the Committee decided to intrust this repulsive floating tin coffin with?" he spat every word "I am sure that one of my friends owns one of yours and knows the sting of the Driver's lash all too often."

"Well this 'tin coffin' sent your over spiked relic to the abyss, several more are now home a fair number of crabs a few kilometers from the harbours of The Yards."

"Do not tell me you are naive to believe that the Gorkirath is the only ship we have on the sea, let alone patrolling these waters? You interfered with the slave trade, which has earned you some very powerful enemies indeed."

"And so have you from what I have read. Never surrender, never commit suicide. The ultimate disgrace to the so called 'Rightful Masters of all Life' is to let mere 'clever talking beasts' dominate you. Better to murder one's brother than let him turn over his sword and all that."

"STILL YOUR WRETCHED TONGUE WORM!"

Petrov gave a slight laugh "Why should I? I must of lost count of how many warriors bound in ropes and chains impotently screamed in my face. In any case save your spite for your new foes, your own kind. At their absolute kindest they will send a dagger through your heart on principle. Infrastructure however can always use two more hands working for the benefit of all and it is wasteful to let those two to simply rot away."

"The only 'use' you will get from these hands shall be me relieving you of your miserable life and returning you to the shit from which you sprung!"

Petrov Smirked and walked off "Oh, If I had a Decicredit for every time I heard that one!"

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For a number of reasons, the Central Committee of Infrastructure abolished slavery and dismantled an extensive slave trade. This freed many slaves and saw a large number of slave dealers arrested and sent to detentional labor facilities. This gained them the loyalty, adoration and service of tens of thousands of freed slaves as well as being a major propaganda victory for freed peoples. It also won them the ire of a few outside forces, Namely that of the Dark Elves. And part of the response crept over the border in an attempt to cut off one of Infrastructure's twenty six heads.

Kailiniam ti'Quiinel had made her way into the Coldlands in pursuit of her prey and had reached the capital of this new nation. She was not the first assassin to be dispatched. Several others were sent out, but never reached their mark. It was a matter of debate among the guild what happened to them. The Coldlands had their risks, even if the Infrastructurals did everything in their power to reduce them in their attempts at empire building. Never the less, caution was to be advised once she reached her destination.

When she entered the city she concealed herself using her cloak of invisibility and scouted things out. To her annoyance, getting at the committee in their dwelling was very hard. They spent most of their time in a heavily built brick and stone structure with entrances tightly guarded. She did not know what to expect inside or how to get out. That was a mystery even as she looked into the minds of the natives. However, she also had to be cautious. There were patrols everywhere and she had to keep on the move and refresh her spells frequently, as a few disruptive rune stones in strategic places made the illusion of her cloak erratic after a short while. Fortunately there were nooks and crannies where she could recover her strength and plot. There were many other prominent figures, but she ignored them. She had her contract to remove a member of the Committee and she would do it. While there were some exceptions involving guards, witnesses and so forth to get to a mark and get away, Assassins were paid to eliminate specific individuals. It was not good business to give away constant 'freebies' and the leaders of an Assassin's Guild were businessmen who had some formidable means of retaliating against transgressions.

After two days, she finally got her opportunity to make her move. She came across the strange psychic imprint of a member of the committee. She felt the slightest imprint of it around their citadel and it could not be mistaken for anything else. This one was known as Supernova. The crowds around her were dense and she feared revealing herself to soon. She scaled over the rooftops in the cool night air quietly and waited to make her move. Eventually she felt she was in a good position to make her move. She fell off the roof with knife in hand, as well as a specialty item the guild had acquired from a cunning artisan in Venoa who was itching to have his design field tested.

But as she made her move, she did not take into factor critical elements. Among them being the Recon Drones patrolling the sky that had been monitoring her. Her cloak did create an illusion of her absence, it was designed to work for all the 'Higher Orders of Life' and things derived from them. Its creators did not understand of electric cameras, light that was not visible or software. Kailinam did not know of this, nor radio. Moving with speed and precision she did not expect, Supernova pointed her arm towards her. Before she could react, there was a sudden intense sensation of pain and heat in her shoulder announced that was like thunder, but quicker. She saw the explosion of intense flame through her shoulder and the roast pork smell of burning flesh. The shock caused her to drop her pistol and her to stumble, though she gripped her knife even harder. More importantly since all Elves had a natural sensitivity to it she felt that the blow damaged the spell of the cloak. She missed her landing and the Feather Landing spell she had been holding onto was broken. When she hit the ground, so was several bones in both her legs. She noticed that people were looking at her, commenting as parts of her body faded from being fully invisible, transparent and translucent. A few guards came her way. She tossed three throwing knives at them and the dagger. Two of them went down and the crowd began to fleet. But as she reached for a second volley she felt a sudden shock, and then another as they jabbed her with pronged clubs. She was soon disoriented and felt hands grasp. She struck back still, flailing in an attempt. She tried to kill them, to get to her feet to escape, to maybe hit her mark still or at least get them to use lethal force. She did not fear death, assassins did not. All Drow were raised to understand that they might die in battle and assassins knew that fact more intimately than others as that was part of the business. But she would do everything in her power to save herself ultimate disgrace and shame for her family, guild and friends, of being brought low and taken.

But in the end all that was in her power at that time was not enough. She felt a sharp concentrated stab from a needle and a few seconds latter she went out.

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After a period of a few hours Kailiniam awoke, finding herself in a unadorned room with her arms, legs and fingers restrained were bound. A light filtered down from a glass orb. She found a few marks from the electroprods and being manhandled, various concealed instruments and weapons had been extracted. But there was two things that were far far worse. In the room were two mirrors well out of reach. One was in front of her, one was behind her and they were positioned in a way so that she could see her back, in particular the back of her neck. On which had been needled in that Hexagonal symbol. And attached to the wall was an image of her, monochromatic but remarkably lifelike. On which was written three words...

"One of Many"

For hours she screamed threats of revenge and thrashed, after that for hours she sobbed for what had happened. Then there was quiet despair. There was a hole in the floor where she lay and about twice over periods of what part of her mind desperate for anything to keep itself occupied reckoned to be a day guards came with either a baked potato or slab of bread and a small paper cup filled with water. She thrashed at them the first four times this happened, but they ignored it. For a while she refused these, hunger and boredom got the better of her. The mirrors were removed eventually, but the picture remained on the wall. After seven days she was hosed down with hot soapy water. It was not a pleasant experience but when it had passed she was soon longing for it to return, simply because it broke the routine of boredom.

This was not what she expected. Drow that were taken alive were to face an interrogation, furious retribution or sexual assault/servitude, either one involving a fair bit of pain. Not to be locked away inside a room like this. The walls must have had wards of disruption in them. She could only sense the minds of the guards involved and while they did think of her, they were more likely to think of potatoes, their children or their wages than of her. When they did think of her, it was not with deep loathing or hatred but rather localized aggravation of having to handle a troublesome task if anything. They were in and out quickly and she could not get a good look through their minds and they never talked.

Then, on the thirteenth day, her target without announcement came in. "I am sure you have some comment of how my death is inevitable on the tip of your tongue." Supernova said in a calm and slightly bemused tone, which she kept up for the entirety of the meeting. "I have heard forty six thousand seven hundred and twenty two of those over the years."

"You mean from the two legged rats the squabbled over this frozen wasteland that no one else wanted?" She said as she began to peer into the strange mind.

"The one's that you were commissioned to avenge?"

"They had their uses." She said bitterly. "Namely in gathering up the starved cowards you have embraced as subjects and making them available to the masters of this planet. Your actions have earned you the scorn of many great houses." This was background activity as she looked into that thing's bizarre mind. To try to find something she could use to her advantage. All Elves are psychic to some degree. For most it was merely the ability to detect the emotions of those nearby. Some could look deeper or relay their thoughts to others. It was possible to train one's mind to make one's thoughts more difficult for a telepathy to scan. This one was not so much difficult to probe as it was strange. She concentrated her mind's efforts to get into the head of this strange being.

Then she broke through.

What she detected shocked her. She looked through the metal and plastic into the black cube at its core. The mind of anything she looked through before was linked with its body rather intimately. This one was merely wearing it like a suit. But that was only the beginning. An Elf, Dwarf, Orc, Even a dog, cow or dragon thought in roughly the same manner. Even the simplistic mind of a golem was based off a rough template of that of its creator. Supernova's mind was like none of them. This mind was vast, cold and utterly alien. The closest thing to it that she ever knew was when she once stared into the mind of someone who was deeply invested in mathematical problems. But that was a mere organic mind twisting itself to do what the smallest section of it's thought processes, which raced by at incredible speeds. Thousands of interconnected ideas and concepts moved together and played off each other, setting off, magnifying and calming others at break neck speed. Of these there were at least seven main sequences of events running at that time independantly. She tried to figure it out she knew there were patterns in there, but she could not make heads or tails of it. Worse still something, be it dread fascination, awe or some subtle quirk of psychology made it hard for her stare deeper.

For three minutes she stared at the female shaped thing silent. Then Supernova walked around her, she continued to face her until she tripped. That broke her concentration and sent he back into the land of the living. "Had a good look? What do you think?"

She recovered "You and your kind are aberrations, perversions of nature. While whatever power decided to spite creation by giving rise to you gave you some faculties of note, you will in the end be brought before the Lords of the Dark Elves and be bound to their will."

"So you claim. However, even if that does happen you shall never see it. That image had been put into the newspaper. You were not the first Drow Assassin sent our way. Merely the first to be successfully captured. For you such a victory means death in agony. We however are not petty, pain is at best a crude and inefficient tool to get motivation."

"You won't say that when you are strapped down in one of our dungeons"

"You had a good look through my mind did you, do you believe we register damage in the same way? But in any case this is about your future. The nature of which is dependent on your utility."

"So you want me slave away digging up coal deep down some hole in some icy mountain for coal until your pets say that I am fit to enter society?"

"That's one option among several. One of them is to stay locked up eating potatoes and bread for the next few centuries like a beast in a menagerie. Something for our citizens to look upon to amuse themselves, to educate them and to expose your claims of supremacy and dominance for the nonsense that they are. Pacing back and forth and yelling threats of bloody vengeance and curses. And like a bellowing wild spawn people will cheer at the show. It would also be useful for when we capture other Drow. 'Here is a great assassin, quick and swift and deadly with a knife. More skilled than you, one of their greatest and yet STILL claimed by Infrastructure.' As well as being bait to trap more assassins sent over to put an end to you in a prolonged and unpleasant manner." She then reached into her pocket. "Or since your anatomy is very similar to that of a human you could be handed over to Detail for his latest battery of tests." She tossed down a set of photographs in front of her. "You would be heavily drugged of course to minimize pain and undoubtedly you would help the cause of our understanding. There are other options that become available with a little cooperation that shall be more comfortable and pleasant for you. The Committee shall give you some time to mull it over.”

As she made her way to the door, she gave her final comment “Also those weapons you came with will undoubtedly fetch for us a decent price at auction and that coin shall help keep our foundries fired."

Supernova left the Room and Kailiniam sitting in it. She did not say anything, but she was not left unaffected.

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As its territory increased, Infrastructure took a look into the Mineral resources that were available in the Coldlands, collecting data and sending it back. After the fall of the Black Ports, this was ongoing. Surveyors were taught about mineralogy, talked to the locals, collected samples and sent them back to Dalatyr for evaluation. For their immediate needs, the committee found more than enough basic materials. Coal was comparatively common, as was iron ore, sulfur, copper, limestone and so forth. There were a few that were absent (most notably Uranium, a material which they never found more than the most trace examples of on this planet) or scare. The most notable of the latter was Petroleum. A few small deposits were located in the Southeast, but not enough for the long term projects.

To better evaluate their claims as well as to better map areas far from Infrastructure's borders, a significant amount of fabrication effort was expended on the creation of a long range aircraft. In particular it was a rigid solar powered airship. It took four years to produce, discounting the assembly time and necessitated the creation of several machines, including a device to weave the high strength textile components of its construction. It would fly high, to avoid entanglements with any natives whenever possible. To conserve power, four retractable sails were installed on the side to tack the winds. It was 37 meters long and was solar powered driving two fan assemblies. To avoid coming into conflict with natives and to avoid unpleasant weather phenomenon it carried a payload including radar systems, a miniaturized spectrometer for evaluating samples and a set of small probes for taking samples and running tests and other such instruments to help it examine foreign. Finally, to oversee this operation Discovery decided to pilot this craft. It would be risky, but it would be necessary.

It took six months to completely fabricate in a facility sixty kilometers west of Dalatyr with the assistance of a hundred trusted and well paid workers under the guard of three companies of soldiers. After a few remote test flights, the craft was deemed airworthy. Discovery was disconnected from his humanoid body and installed. Then the craft was taken out and began its ascent on a sunny morning. Slowly it ascended over pine trees and marshes, it would be five years before Discovery completed the evaluation. By which point, preparations would be under way for a new plan.

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 Post subject: Re: Infrastructure (Original and Illustrated) PostPosted: 2012-12-14 01:02am
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Sith Acolyte
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Meat. To most people in the Coldlands, it had mostly been something warriors ate. Peasants ate very little of it and what they did eat was very seldom the most appetizing bits of the animal. Artisans were somewhat more likely to get meat, but it was still uncommon. Effective vegetarianism was common across the Coldlands, not because of any moral beliefs involving the slaughter of animals, but due to the scarcity of the stuff.

Then Infrastructure happened and things began to change. It started small, the Committee did not eat meat so what would have been consumed by warriors was made available as a means of motivating workers. Meat was also a good compact source of protein and Calories, excellent for laborers doing high intensity work and soldiers in the field, leaving aside the need for shoes, belts and saddles. As the army and Dalatyr expanded, so did the demand for it. To (among other purposes) meet these new meat demands, a few villages around were gradually converted to ranches to produce sheep, cattle, goats and pigs. Other complications arose with the supplying of soldiers on the march. This, as well as the growing population saw the creation of meat processing facilities in Dalatyr. First for doing the traditional preservation methods of smoking, drying and salting and after 17IA, Cannisterization. This process eventually led to the creation of Meat Processing Plant-01, or the Great Buchery as it was called.

Kubev Jorgenovich was a former soldier in the Infrastructural Army who decided to move to Dalatyr after getting his discharge, getting a job at the meat plant handling the livestock in the Feedlot. He was amazed at how many they were. It was a bit more mundane for him after a year of seeing it in operation, but he was amazed at the scale of it. Slaughtering a single cow was an occasion back home. Here having twenty of them send up the chute along with twice that number of sheep and pigs was a normal day. The facility was built next to the railway, every day more livestock was unloaded off train cars. More still was driven in, as were a few pigs raised in the city itself in backyards and disused sheds. What came out was a constant supply of sausages, can'ed meat, cuts of meat moved about in ice wagons and stored in mechanical cold rooms. It was pretty interesting he thought, but not many people outside the meat plant were willing to talk about it.

There were a wide number of tasks that Kubev, these involved herding the animals into holding pens and out of them to the slaughterhouse. This was a bit difficult, but still preferable to mucking out the pens, which was one of the big jobs. Most of it was sent off to make fertilizer, saltpeter or in the case of some of the cow manure sold off to Hovelers. Other jobs included laying out hay, sheering the odd sheep that was sent in with wool, laying down hay, repairing pens and making sure the water troughs were filled. There was there was a rivalry between the men working inside the factory and the yard hands. The men inside the plant that did all the chop work saw themselves as skilled personnel and looked down on the yard hands while the yard hands thought they were a stuck up overpaid lot. He did not get into it that much and from what he heard this sort of thing happened in big places, still the stupid affair had its consequences.

The job was rather smelly and did involve a fair amount of work outdoors in the rain and cold with the odd cow mooing loudly in his face, but he got a good eight credits per day as well as access to a free hot shower at quitting time. Not a bad deal all things considered, he knew a bunch of other people who had worse conditions. He knew they were expanding their operations, hopefully that would get enough people the jobs they needed.
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While it had its own challenges that he had a hard time understanding, Sven settled nicely into the role of teacher. The students were in awe of him to the point where it was a source of constant embarrassment and were mostly a good lot eager to learn. Leaving aside being able to return every night to a loving wife and kids. Never the less, he still had his old friends, some older than others.

While Sven had been off leading armies and breaking warrior hosts, Yanov had spent his time training up men at the rifle ranges. It was somewhat unusual for a Sergeant to have a close tie with a general, but he was an old friend. He had been seeing more of him as he found the old boy. One day he decided to pick up one of his favorite snacks, slices of potato fried in oil until they had a crust on the outside and covered in salt. He had a few of them before and they were alright. The only problem was the route that they had to go through to get to it. Last year it was near the end of the city, then something unpleasant grew around it rather quickly.

In the year since the fall of the Black Ports, there had been a large surge of people coming into Dalatyr: many discharged soldiers, their families and freed slaves decided that Dalatyr was a better place to go than their old homes and the cost of travel went down as ever-growing fleet of trains, riverboats, paddlesteamers, wagons and the new Roadsteamers was less burdened by carrying can's of meat, rifles, rounds of ammunition and troops about. There had always been more people coming in and the rate of new arrivals had steadily increased, but this was quite a surge of new people. From what he heard about 21,000 total, more than a goddamn division worth of men and about half the population that was in Dalatyr just before the fall. Only now did it look like it was letting up, going back to a more manageable rate, even if it was higher than that of 21.

This new workforce was given various jobs, from helping in the building of new factories to cooking, but it had needs. Food fortunately were handled easily enough as the Committee tended to store a surplus for further growth and more food was being made available. Water could be handled by new fountains and wells. Many new factories were now under construction to make the most of the new workforce. The biggest problems related to housing, as this surge of people gave rise to a new set of slums. For the past twelve years, more and more people were living in apartment buildings. They tended to be crowded yes, but they were definitely better places to live than what had come before or had been given new life by this new influx of people, the hovels.

The way this happened was simple. Some farmland on the edge of the city would be bought up, either a small section of it by someone who managed to obtain a surplus of credits and had eyes on expanding his bank account or a large section of it by the Committee who would dig up a rough grid of roads then offer up plots on it to whoever would construct a home on it. The people who built these were mostly men of some finance who could afford to hire a few laborers (which there was definitely a surplus of now) to cobble together a building to try to get some rent money out of it. They used whatever they could get their hands on to make a building. Brick, Timber, wattle and daub, Slag Bricks, stones from fields and the mines. There had been some changes to their designs, now the average slum house was two stories tall. Even so, they smelled and people here were cramped like cartridges in a box. Not so much dwellings as storage. It was definitely not a nice place to walk through, even with the prospect of "chips".

"You know Yanov, this housing shortage is getting out of hand. Look at this, soldiers in tents live better than this."

"Its not that I don't agree with you, what can you do?"

"I think I'll bring it up with the Committee."
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Sven was fairly prominent and popular person in infrastructural society. A general with a myriad of victories under his belt used numerous times in propaganda campaigns. He was loyal to the Committee and popular with the men, while his father was influential among the factory workers, technicians and engineers. With this came the ability to make a call on the committee if he felt that the need arose. It was not often, but it was still an available option. He wrote a message out and the next week, Supernova had allowed for a brief meeting in the Citadel.

He went into a small meeting room usually used by high ranking members of the Bureaucracy. The best way to describe its aesthetic was simple and neat. Supernova soon came in with a folder in hand. Not many people in Dalatyr remembered when the Committee first came, nor seeing Supernova before she decided to be a she. He respected her, but like Emergence of Complex Large Scale Life Forms From Primitive Microscopic Ansetors-821372 (Emergence) and Transition Of Mobile Macrofauna From Marine To Terrestrial Enviroments-402122 (Transition, a shorthand which got some comment) it was somewhat odd to imagine being able to simply build themselves a gender like adding an extra layer to a shirt for winter.

"Sven!" She was fairly cheerful manner. "How have things been going for you?"

"Pretty well all things considered. Work's alright as is the wife and kids."

"Very good. Now you have concerns about the housing situation?"

"Yes. There are far too many of those shacks going up out there and they are only getting more common. Why aren't we building a whole bunch of new apartments for them instead of handing it all over to the hovelers?"

"Believe me, I understand the concern. Unfortunately for the time being having the slums grow is something of a necessary evil. What it boils down to is that bottlenecks in our capacity at building sophisticated buildings. Apartment blocks require skilled bricklayers, carpenters, electricians, plumbers and so forth as well as some complex building supplies. Skilled laborers and supplies that are needed right now to put up new factories."

"Then why not put off the factories for a bit and build some apartment buildings?"

"A point that was worth making and one that has been considered, but that is only thinking for the immediate needs of the people in Dalatyr." She set down the folder and opened it up. "We have a variety of towns to support and various other projects to pursue, such as improving agriculture, logistics and the creation of a navy and merchant fleet. As well, apartment buildings need support in a variety of ways from factories. Some of them are built specifically to aid in construction, others will assist it indirectly. We have been importing additional bricks from elsewhere across infrastructure for this purpose, let’s start with these figures on construction labour..."

The next thirty minutes involved her explaining the situation involving construction. It involved a number of things from the production of light cells and pipes, the average time to build an apartment building and supplies required to build one. Projections of population growth, figures for training new personnel and other such technical notes involving construction. In short, it came down to the fact that building a large number of apartments now would not be healthy for the city long term, though they did have plans for housing down the lines. For the most part, Sven was satisfied with the answers.

Two weeks afterwards, a simplified version of this was published and distributed. It was more accessible and left out a few things. Namely a major plan to be executed alongside the Urblasst/Loriv Canal when it was completed.
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The Committee was wary of naval threats and understood the technical limitations of their fleet, there were multiple bottlenecks. Most components needed to be made in Dalatyr and were shipped north by rail and river, assembly was a complex process which mostly required training a new workforce from scratch and its sailors were a mix of peasants, men off Paddle-steamers and artillerymen. Things were being rushed along and got complicated when Dark Elves began sending raiding commerce. While the Vanguard and the Monitor proved capable defenders, but they could only be in one place at a time. As such, the fleet was re-enforced by a new class of sea craft.

In august of 23IA, Petty Officer Kanev Gregorovich was offered a command position on one of these new vessels. He was surprised at the speed of his promotion, having a mere three months of service aboard the Vanguard. New men were being added and subtracted to the crew on a regular basis in order to train up enough men for naval expansion, but this was unexpected. He accepted it happily, promoted to ensign (a fact that in retrospect, he should have taken note of) and was on the first paddlesteamer south, but he soon found some apprehensions with his new command. These were only confirmed when he saw her.

It was a small craft, less than twenty meters long, even if it was quick. He once managed to get it up to 45km/h. She was short range and only had supplies for two weeks. He could live with this as she had a crew of seven and was even more cramped than the Vanguard. The strangest bit was the weaponry an automatic and four "Shchukas". These devices were long and narrow like their namesake. They were fired by being dropped into the water, moved along using a propeller and carried a huge load of explosives that would explode when it hit something. They brought down an old decrepit slave ship to lake Murnev for target practice. What One Shchuka could do was terrifying. The craft was not given a name, only the official designation of SB-01. He decided to call his the Lancer.

After a month and a half the Lancer sent upriver to patrol the Seaways. Four more Shuhuka Boats followed over the next month soon after. His job was to stay near the coastlines and be on the lookout for any suspicious activity. In particular to be aware of any Dark Elf craft. If he saw one of those, send it to the abyss. He had heard stories about them and just hoped the Shchukas could do the job in action.
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For three weeks the Golin'vortirron (Fire Halberd) moved through the cold Icemountain Sea like a Shark in search of prey. To the delight of her crew and her Captain Tlaran ti'Jrenvas, the seas had become fairly well stocked. Even if the first raids on the black ports had been repulsed by shore artillery and the second set of raids had been delayed by yet another naval conflict with the high elves, the effects of the ongoing Rifle Wars, scouting and the Byzantine politics and internal struggles of the Nine Drow States, now things had been put into motion to make them pay for their impudence.

A fair number of ships had come through here even with the slave trade abolished. In addition to the usual exports of the Coldlands, there was now a fair amount of manufactured goods sent out from the Coldlands. Matches, metal goods, mechanical novelties, ceramics and so forth as well as wool cloth and grain. Some of these exports could be quite valuable, though most of their imports were less so. While the committee had little stomach for luxury goods, it did an insatiable hunger for coal and iron. Many ships were burdened with cargos of both of these, though there were a few magical items and skilled brewers, stonemasons and similar artisans. Local piracy had declined as their hideouts and havens were ferreted out by the Infrastructural Army. Plenty of prey for raiding.

The Golin'vortirron was typical of a Dark Elf frigate, fast, well-armed and manned by a crew which could more than hold their own in a fight. All Drow were taught to use weapons, received some drilling throughout their lives and had weapons available to them. Dark Elven Marines were a cut above the rest and were feared by mariners across the world. Armed with longbow firing deadly arrows, runic scimitar and pistol for boarding and clad in fine armor they could cleave through ranks at a distance and close quarters. The ship itself was fast, especially since she had a wind mage which could let her. Carrying a formidable set of cannons as well as the more traditional ramming prow, even if Tlaran did not have much use of these assets. A few of her targets had some defensive cannons, but nothing that would be too much of a threat with a modicum of caution. It was far better to capture a ship and sell its crew into slavery. It did mean a bit of choppy work and had a greater risk, but the crew was glad to take that risk considering the reward and the fact that a few of the warriors liked the challenge of battle and beating them into line. Three prizes had been taken so far, the Golin'vortirron would have to return home afterwards. But it had been a productive two months.

Then one afternoon the watch saw a column of smoke on the waters coming fast. It was soon confirmed to be an Infrastructural military craft. This got the crew worried. So far Captain ti'Jrenvas had managed to avoid contact with the Infrastructural fleet, now it was coming her way. . There were the reports of their artillery and they had lost contact with the Gorkirath. But as this ship drew closer, she saw it lacked any heavy guns. Its soul concession to armament was a single frontal pivot gun. She grinned. Destroying such a craft would give her, her crew and her family considerable status and prestige, bringing one into the harbor to find out about the secret of how it harnessed fire.

"Bring us to engage and ready for boarding."

The small craft pressed on what looked like an intercept course. Cannons were loaded for engagement while the soldiers armored up. It was not certain what was going on, though most of the crew were convinced that it was a case of foolish bravado by drunken peasants who could hardly manage a raft on a swamp let alone the high seas. Archers readied their bows and gave a surge of energy into their arrows for maximum effectiveness.

Then, as it was about half a mile away, she dropped a couple of objects into the water and then turned about. She fired off a rapid burst from her swivel gun as it did so, though with no regard for accuracy. Two marines and a slave were wounded but nothing that was permanent on anyone who captain ti'Jrenvas valued. She was not amused.

"Fire cannonade!" She ordered in an annoyed tone. A few seconds later thirteen guns spoke in rapid succession. There were splashes in the water, but no hits. It was not all that surprising given the range and the size of the target. Scaring them would have to suffice for the time being. A few of them were pulling a couple of objects out of the hold. She did not understand what they were doing, but finding out what they were doing could be extracted from them in the ship’s torture room.

"Mistress," Her First Officer said "Should we pursue that craft?"

"Yes we should, tell the wind mages to bring us to full speed and load forward cannons."

"As you command."

As shed paid her attention to the small ship itself, she did not pay much attention to the things that the Infrastructural craft dropped into the waves. A few of the marines noticed to ripples in the water as the two partially submerged objects made their way to the craft, but they did not react to them until they struck the side of the ship.

One second there was comparative peace and the usual sounds of shipboard operation and the sea. The next there was a great roar and a terrible explosion. Water and debris leaped skyward and outward. Then there was smoke, fire, splinters, chaos, and blood. Then there was water. The crew of the little Shchuka Boat watched this before they turned around and made way back to port to report on this development.
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The five years since Malnov Yorigsov left Infrastructure had been fairly eventful. Once he left the Coldlands behind him, he went through lands. Some having some scars of war, others peaceful. The caravan passed through a few towns and cities, some of them were quite impressive and lovely despite the fact that they usually smelled worse than Dalatyr. Eventually he reached his destination, the capital city the Empire of Allergon. A vast and mighty state, rich and well populated, there he managed to eventually managed to get employment from the Emperor.

The advent of fast loading rifles, flintlocks and reports from ambassadors and spies had made the emperor interested in Infrastructural Machinery and how it could be used to better his position, both internationally and internally as his empire was fairly loosely organized. The first thing was told to do was improve the Imperial Foundaries. He did that by building and setting up a Tilt converter to produce steel cheaply from low quality ore. After that he was given a substantial workshop, the title of high engineer, the service of several dozen smiths, clockmakers, lens grinders, alchemists, carpenters and similar artisans, a few of them were Dwarves and most of them had apprentices. More importantly in his mind, he got a house that far exceeded those of even the best in Dalatyr, a wage of twenty marks a month plus a cut of profits, four household servants including a skilled cook and a position which made it easy to get the attention of young women. Even if he was tightly guarded and 'handled' most of the time. The king did not want to lose his trump card.

Never the less, the job was quite pressing especially since he had to do basically everything from scratch. Assembling basic manufacturing equipment took up much of his time and was required for most things. There was also the language barrier, the fact that they measured things in inches and feet and pounds and barrels instead of meters, grams and liters and other such complications of his arrangement, even if he was working around them. Things had smoothed out over the past five years, but things were still complex. He did his best, he adopted local dress, tried to grow a mustachio, made attempts to understand the local codes of conduct and did not make too much of a fuss, but most of the toffs of Allergon society viewed him as an amusing and useful novelty at best and an overblown gussied up foreign peasant at worst.

On a winter night (or a January night in what passed for winter in his opinion, not that he disapproved) he was completing a last inspection before going home. Then he was confronted with Vorst, one of the king's officials, an old well-read man from a lesser noble family whose duties included acting as a liaison between his operation and the throne.

"To what do I owe the pleasure of this visit?"

"Several things. To start, the Marshal of the Southeast offers his congratulations on the new Revolving pistols and there service against orcish raiders from the mountains and the shipbuilder's guild of Norgensburg have placed a request for a steam engine and a mechanized saw."

"Yet another request for the list. I already have seven major projects lined up, tell them that I'm willing to help them out but they will have to wait. If the Emperor wants me to precede any faster I will need some more men."

"I will put a word in with the Emperor. Gods willing he will listen"

"Very well" Vorst was a helpful soul all things considered who was only doing his job. There was no point in getting mad at him. "Anything else?"

"Yes, we have received word that several Dark Elven warships were destroyed by their steam motivated craft. The Emperor once again asks when he can have such craft of his own."

"Once again tell him that these things can't just be built by country smithies. There are a whole bunch of intermediate stages of development before that is possible, machines to forge large pieces of metal into needed shapes and tools to work said things into shape. Said machines need more machines to make them and I am doing all I can with what I have.” He sighed ”What else has to be reported?"

"There has been more conflict in the Gunsmith's guild."

"Oh great." Few things had the ability to get Malnov worked up like the bloody gunsmith's guild. A few set in there ways old artisans was bad enough, having the bastards band together into a body which could give many noble houses a run for their money as far as political influence went was another thing coming. They fought tooth and nail against interchangeable parts and the only thing that made them quiet down even a little was the fact that they were now selling four times the rifles they used to be able to make. "What is it now?"

"A dispute over the wages of a machinist, sir."

"Oh joy, regail me with this tale of fussy complaining!"
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For three years Fredor Urivich fought with the Infrastructural army in the 22nd Rifle Battalion, during which he earned the nickname of Ox. He was rather big and heavily built though typically cautious with his strength. After the fall of the Black Ports he was discharged and like many soldiers decided that the best prospects for the future were in Dalatyr. Unlike many other newcomers that arrived that year he managed to avoid the hovels and get a bunk in an apartment building with a little application of his savings and bonus. He did various odd jobs for the next year before he was eventually settled down at a factory job in Foundry-5 at a newly installed machine.

It was similar to a device used for making rails. A bar of red hot steel was fed in one end and went through a series of rollers which gradually squished it into an H-shaped bar while pouring water on it. The end result was a length of steel that was either three, four or six meters long that was called an H-Beam that was dropped into a trough of water. His job was to ease it into said trough using a hooked stick, flip it over so both sides would cool, hose it down if things got a bit too hot and then shove it along the rollers to the next station, where boltholes were cut, then they were stacked and prepared for storage. One beam was put through every three, four or six minutes, depending on the size. He could do the job on his own, but it was easier with another man especially with the longer ones. He also took to learning how the thing worked.

The foundry was loud, noisy, hot and because of all the water being boiled in this room extremely humid. The work was quite physical. That said, he got a solid ten credits a day, three times what some people got paid and the people who worked here were a decent enough, even if they usually had their hands full. He quite enjoyed his lunch hour as the lads were more than able to hold there end of a conversation. One of the big subjects of discussion was the matter of what these H-beams were to be used for. Some of them were sent off for building ships and Paddlesteamers, but apparently most of them were being stockpiled in warehouses. The Committee also used some for tests, but it was still uncertain for what they were to be used. Save for that whatever it was, it was going to be big.
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Kailiniam mulled over her prospects in the cell for another week before she finally came to a conclusion. When Supernova returned, she gave her answer. She was not happy with this and there were parts of her mind who still rebelled and fought, but the words came out in the end.

"What are those other options?"

A short while later she was escorted out. She was then taken out of her room, fully awake but under guard and with a restraint collar on. A bit of an unusual touch nowadays, the Committee had cut back on the production of them more than a decade ago when they had far too large a Detentional Labor force to collar all of them and they had enough trained guards armed with rifles to keep those who were not collared in line well enough. Her new home was a small bedroom about nine meters square. There was a bed and a few shelves with a few books on them, among these being a Book of Infrastructure and a note that there would be a penalty for destroying these. There was also some scrap paper, a paint brush, an inkpot, a stool, table, several plates and wooden spoons, a chamber pot and several electric lamps. Nearby was her working station down a hallway. It was not what she expected, though she did expect the various wards of disruption about the place.

Her workstation was down a hallway. It was set up with a few magical items, some markings on the floor and a cube of limestone on a wheeled lorry with a few. She was given a staff by the guards cautiously. It was a fairly simple affair as far as magical staves went, little more than a stick with a glass orb on the end. It had no spells in it and was unadorned. Her skills were not about fine control and mostly had to do with stealth, maneuvering in tight conditions and, but she could use it for a few basic things. Her job was simple, imbue it so that it could be turned into a defensive Runestone. A few basic retention marks had been inscribed the rock to make this easier. This was nothing to difficult and she agreed to it. Her mystic abilities were not developed enough to make use of this as a weapon, leaving aside the collar. At first she simply sat down, then a few jolts of electricity and warnings got her to work. She eventually settled into a routine. She toyed with working up a curse for the stone, but that would require some planning, they might catch her in the act and they said they.

The work cycle eventually settled around an eight hour routine, which was about what she could do as far as dumping mana into the rocks that were put before her could go. She woke up, had a shower, did her job, dully muttering a chant as the supernatural equivalent of a sea chantey and was taken back to her room turning in her collar. Two meals a day were put before her, if things proceeded smoothly there would be a more diverse diet including small amounts of meat or a mug of Kvass. The guards were not rough with her unless she tried anything. She exercised in the off hours and eventually took to drawing and reading the books. It was incredibly boring, but at least she was not sucking in coal dust and eventually she settled into her routine.

In such a routine filled environment, she noticed fine changes as the days went on. She noticed that after a few months the stones were swapped out about twice as often. This led her to wonder if there were other Drow here as well. After a month of considering this among other possibilities, she eventually found some confirmation in the mind of one of the guards, there was another Drow working here. Male and of Valnothron by what the guard recalled of his speech. She was nervous of what this would mean.
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In the four years since their fall the committee had invested considerable resources into building up there shipyards. Engineers, Technicians, Bureaucrats, managers and thousands of new laborers had been brought in. Work was divided up to train new skilled workers as quickly as possible. A constant supply of supplies went north from Dalatyr by riverboat, cart and after 25 IA, by rail to Borogskov. Among these were ship components as well as machine tools and eventually components for new up to date foundries and power plants, more common items such as bricks, coal, ore and food were brought in from elsewhere. Things worked around the clock under electric lights and the glow of molten metal and ingots. New Drydocks were dug out and old ones were retrofitted with cranes and elevators with modern workshops to supply them with the needed materials. Several times a Member of the Committee would come over to do an inspection of the progress. There was some security problems with some of the more rebellious locals, but detachments of soldiers and Enforcers kept them in line.

From these Drydocks were assembled numerous craft. Wooden ships were still built to make most of the pre-conquest labor pool's skills. A few of them were equipped with steam engines as testbeds and training platforms. More impressive were the metal hulled vessels. Even some of the natives, bitter over conquest would often take pride in these. Steel warships were built as was a defensive fleet of Shchuka Boats rolled out. Despite the loss of the Vanguard (fortunately with minimal casualties) in 25IA and three Shchuka Boats (which were not so lucky) due to storms and a certain degree of human error, the fleet had been sucessful its defensive purposes. Other ships were built as civilian craft. The numbers had been steadily increasing as more workers were trained and equipment and facilities were set up. But one major project had been ongoing for three years and in June of 26, set sail on her maiden voyage, the Prosperity.

On her maiden voyage she was placed under the command of Captain Kanev Gregorovich, who had risen quickly through the navy's ranks and had gotten this position on Admiral Petrov Miles' personal recommendation. He much preferred this tub to a Shchuka Boat or even one of the older warship. Nearly a hundred meters long and weighing in at over three thousand tonnes. She had a powerful engine as well as a set of sails. The Prosperity was a cargo ship, but never the less was armed, having nine cannons in case of an attack by pirates or Dark Elves, even though raids had been going down.

The shakedown cruise had gone pretty smoothly, even with a handful of sailors born in Daagsgrad and Borogskov being worked into the crew. That admittedly made some of the sailors edgy as there was still some bad blood. They, along with a couple of foreign sailors were hired to help run the sails and teach more inland sailors how to operate them. There was also on a team of engineers keeping check of things. So far everything was proceeding smoothly enough save for a few hiccups. These would be sent back to the Committee. This was a fairly big project and the Committee did not want to have the labor of thousands and a massive expenditure of resources wasted due to some fault in construction. The crew was also very keen for that purpose. They would not look kindly on such a failure that was the result of incompetence.
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The Drow were divided into nine states. Forty two hundred years ago there was sixteen of them, but that number had been reduced by four in the War of Four Centuries and with further three falling afterwards. Of these, eight were coastal, but all of them were well dug in and were (leaving aside recently conquered territories) defended with measures so fearsome that few dared attack them, and given their ideology and the policies of the high elves they had no shortage of enemies. But despite their supremacist beliefs, they were (especially in the more recent centuries) more willing to trade and make deals with the outside and were definitely willing to jockey for position among themselves at the level of individuals, families and states. Small scale wars were part of this, as were assassinations, though economic success and military success against non-Dark Elves could get the same results. In the last 213 years, six Drow states had been engaging in a new long term plan to increase their power and gain an upper hand over their enemies. One long thought unviable that had been started by a merchant captain, a few slaves, her crew and a few members of her middling ranking mercantile family undertaking a considerable risk to avoid a particularly nasty campaign of assassinations against her kin.

When Infrastructure happened, it disrupted this plan. It cut the Dark Elves off from an easy source of labor in the Coldlands, as well as a cheap source of valuable furs, precious minerals and low cost ships. The last being item among some of the lower ranking families seeking to improve their financial and social status. Many merchants had helped the Black Ports procure firearms and gunsmiths in hopes of creating an army able to fend off the Infrastructural forces and to expand their power and thus gain more slaves. A response had been made, but it had been uncoordinated and there had been complications and comparatively small in size.

In the palace at the heart of one of the more northerly Dark Elf kingdoms, Lady General Talnara ti'Valcas of Valnothron oversaw a table. Above which hovered a map of mist and light. Here she stared at the figures of ships at sea. Some of which her own, while others were those of other Drow states and high elven raiders. Her agents updated this as well as they could using a set of specially made wands to the current situation. At the moment she was concerned with two things, one involving the endeavors of High Elves, to which there was no foe more persistent and of rivals of her own kind. It was also something to do while she waited for one of her more trusted assistance. Two slaves stood in the background in case she needed anything, but they were selected for their devotion and loyalty. Kaelin ti'Valneth entered quietly for this meeting. One of the most important things that members of the upper houses learned was to keep an eye on the affairs of those beneath them who would be happy to take their place if they had the abilities to do so.

"What have you to report my eyes and ears?"

"Milady, there is a matter of finance that should be discussed."

"What particularly?"

"A few of the merchant families are not doing all that well. The price of marine transportation has gone up with high elven attacks. We have had enough trouble managing to set up convoy with our losses."

"I am well aware of that."

"But this has a fair number of consequences, milady. The one is that is relevant here was that it into their profit margins. Many of them have been plotting to push back some of their long term plans, including plans involving the Far West. Some of your rivals have been a bit more fortunate."

Talnara respected those who had advantages that she lagged in, while she was well versed in the fine points of using steel to get to an end, she graciously deferred to the more experienced in the application of gold and silver. Never the less she got the picture. "And so our efforts get overshadowed."

"Correct. May I offer some advice on how to prevent this problem from festering?"

"You may speak."

"I would recommend pulling out from the Icemountain Sea."

Talnara snorted "It was the merchant houses who demanded we prowl those waves in the first place!"

"Yes, but we have lost seven ships there in the past five years with two more sustaining damage with at best mixed gains. They can be dealt with properly and finally in a decade or so once we have recovered our fleet's strength to teach these peasants proper humility. As of now we are sending ships into very hostile waters for at best marginal spoils."

Talnara paused in thought "I would appreciate a more detailed report in writing."

"As you command Milady”
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 Post subject: Re: Infrastructure (Original and Illustrated) PostPosted: 2013-01-27 10:33am
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Sith Acolyte
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(Urblasst/Loriv Canal, late summer 26IA)

Of all of Infrastructure's undertakings, few were as great as that of the Urblasst/Loriv canal. The two major river systems of the Coldlands had been trade routes for thousands of years and the committee was quick to make use of them, building large numbers of river barges and eventually Paddlesteamers. Connecting the two river systems was an obvious course of action, but doing so was a massive project even if they managed to find a rather prime sight for it, a stretch of land comparatively flat on fairly loose soil. Work began in the July of 19IA.

Over ten thousand detentional laborers were employed with shovel, pick, axe and wheelbarrow over the course of its construction, as well as thousands of free laborers, most of which on corvee. These were various mechanical aids for digging, moving away spoil and blasting. On both ends, two long camps slowly crept towards each other, clearing out land. Work stopped for most of winter, a fact which meant that work happened day and night under illumination of searchlights. Piled along it's sides was gravel. In two locations locks were built. A few villages had to be moved aside, a fact which caused some controversy and a few riots, but progress continued until July of 26IA, when the two canals were linked and were fully flooded.

Teo Ivogivich a porter aboard the Paddlesteamer Silver Ibe had seen much of the work. He was glad to join the crew to see as much of the world as he could with as little risk of being shot at as possible. The vast workforce working on the projected needed feeding and they helped deliver supplies to them, as well as spare parts, fuel, hard drink and other such consumables. As their efforts moved forward, every so often they built a dike while tearing down another one to allow them to flood about ten more kilometers or so that supplies could be unloaded. A railway was set up alongside the coast to carry away spoil. The camp that had been parked out there was as big as the Paddlesteamer yards at Docklands, Garrison-5 or Garrison-12. Only Boroskov had been bigger, and they did not move forward. He also saw the steel bridges go up that spanned over it which opened to let boats go by, but in his mind few things compared in his mind to the simple scale and straightness of this.

The completion of the Canal was celebrated with a feast. Soon afterwards the Silver Ibe went down onto the Loriv on the first time, carrying a load of coal from the mountains to Garrison-4 on Lake Vera. They then brought some passengers over to Garrison-2 to take the train to Dalatyr. Teo approved of this because it did not mean too much heavy lifting. Then they picked up a load of girders and bolts for Daagsgrad, which did. At both stops he spent some time in bars talking to the locals and taking a note of the subtle little differences in how things were done, like the fact that glass bottles had become common enough that some pubicans cut off the bottoms and set them in mortar to make windows, the beer was stronger and people were more open to telling dirty jokes. On his way back he spent a fair bit of time admiring the canal, thinking about what things would be like further North, South and West on those rivers that, thanks to the efforts of that army of laborers was now opened up to the Silver Ibe.

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(Norgensburg, Empire of Allergon, Early Spring 27 IA)

After eight months of sea trials and shakedown, the Prosperity was deemed ready for her first official voyage. Captain Gregorovich was given his orders and his ship was soon provisioned and loaded with cargo. Crates were loaded with electric lanterns, lightcells, batteries, clocks, steel products, patterned textiles, ceramics, books, cosmetics, phonographs, record discs, screw breach loader rifles and other such industrial products as well as the old exports of pelts and gemstones. A few other ships had been readied as well, a few of them smaller steamships and sailing craft. Among the fleet was the Monitor, Sentinel and the Diligence, two warships assigned for escort. In total thirteen ships were in this fleet. The operation was called the Great Embassy, a mission to show the nations to the west a display of Infrastructural Technology. This involved the deployment of soldiers for defense, as well as to serve as bodyguards for the leaders of this expedition, Committee Member Transition.

A few times Infrastructural steamships sailed beyond the Icemountain sea and put into foreign ports. This, however was a much greater undertaking that would go thousands of Kilometers beyond Infrastructure's boarders. Setting out on the seventeenth of March. The first leg of the voyage took a bit more than six days and was fairly uneventful, ending with an arrival at the city of Allergonian city of Norgensburg. A few cargo ships were sighted, but there was no threat made against this flotilla. As they approached the city that morning, each ship in the fleet sounded their foghorns while signal flags announced the peaceful intent. Apparently the fleet had been detected by Scryers earlier that morning and some troops had been mustered, but they soon got the message and violent incident did not happen.

Soon they dropped anchor and soon after that Kanev, Transition, some soldiers and a few porters made their way to shore on a launch. The local lord, a heavyset man named Elector Barnim von Norgensburg greeted them as well as a few members of the local nobility, the Prior of the local Chapter of the Order of Keepers, some heads of prominent guilds, two military men, four wealthy merchants and about seven wives. Behind them, held back by guards was a crowd. A few gifts were exchanged and pleasantries were given. After that, he gave said party of leaders a tour of the Prosperity. Some cargo was unloaded and then demonstrated by special sales associates, and was quickly bought up. Afterwards, the party was shown around some of the nicer parts of the city. A feast was held in their honor that evening, which the captain quite enjoyed. Even if his table manners (which involved mastery of the basics of fork, knife and spoon) and Transition's politely declining of any food or drink did cause some comment among the high society.

The next day he woke up and took a stroll on the deck. Things were proceeding smoothly and soon he would let aboard a few more wealthy figures for the tour, it was a decent way of generating a bit more revenue to cover the expenses. He looked out over the city. It was quite odd in his experience, though he did enjoy it. When picturing a foreign city, he imagined something like Borogskov or Daagsgrad without the slave markets. It was a bit like that, in that it had winding streets, though there were differences. Buildings were on the whole taller. They did not use paint, but fretwork and carving to show off wealth. Especially the latter since a fair number of the upper class houses were made of stone. Civic and religious buildings were far larger, more grand and better planned out. Glass windows were the rule rather than the exception. Most buildings had either a stone or brick base with wooden upper stories. Rather than having separate workshop or a workshop as an extension on a house, the ground floors of most buildings were shops and stores while the upper stories were home to living quarters. The streets were winding and split in odd ways, but they were paved with gutters that led to the sea. It smelled bad, if not as bad as the old parts of The Yards. Nightsoil collectors did their best and the gutters helped and were well managed, but there was also more about. Hopefully a few of the toilets they sold would improve matters.

What he found most amusing was the modifications to buildings. He discerned how this happened by watching it go on. A house was built in a typical way, usually three or four stories plus an attic. Then sometime after its construction, people would build up, knocking a hole in the roof and making a tower or another story while adding to the chimneys to add living space. Save for those of the very wealthy most homes had one of these to add a bit more living space that tenants could be put. They also built outward, attaching platforms to load bearing beams and having flowerbox like additions grow outward. Occasionally these were linked up and he was told that it was possible to walk across a few districts without ever stepping outside, even if you did have to pay a penny a day to use this system. He wondered if anything else on this journey could top that.

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(Norgensburg, Empire of Allergon, Early Spring 27 IA)

The objectives of the Great Embassy were to improve trade and international relationships (which would, in turn, improve trade). Part of this involved negotiation with various foreign statesmen and making deals with foreign merchants, the official dealings that got things down on paper. There was also the display of capacity, even if it was for the most part benign. Several metal hulled steam powered Infrastructural ships of it was making an impression on the locals. "Look at what we can do with these amazing machines." It said "We are definitely someone you would want to have as a friend, a state of affairs that would work well for us. On the same note you would not want to have us as an enemy." Finally there was making a good impression with the locals. Getting their cooperation would make things that much easier. This involved for Transition few public appearances, meeting with some prominent locals, a few donations to local charities as well as touring about. This had the side advantage of a firsthand assessment of their capacities. A few people had remarked about this overtly mechanical being, but since she was a foreign dignitary and acted graciously and generously, they overlooked such oddity. It helped that they were multiple sapient species on this planet.

On her third day in Norgensburg she was taken to the shipyards and shown around by Gunther, the Master Shipwright. The operations were larger than those that existed at The Yards and while they were primitive, they were fairly well funded and rather well organized. The shipbuilders were well skilled and neat in their jobs while parts were standardized to make things as easy as possible. There were a few mages preforming various spells to keep off barnacles, divert lightning strikes and offer some protection against attack both mundane and supernatural. The men and Dwarves who worked here were good at what they did and things were quite productive, more-so in recent years as Guther's boasting indicated. He explained that the price of steel and the price of canvas had gone down. She saw how the latter was done when she inspected the sail works as women made use of flying shuttles. However, the biggest and most notable improvement involved wood processing.

Gunther was quite pleased to show her this newest addition, housed in its own special building. It was a bandsaw and it was powered by a piston steam engine. "A fine products of the brilliant artificers of Enperisburg!" the Shipwright boasted. According to him it had been installed a few months ago and while it had unfortunately claimed a few fingers they had made good use of it in processing planks. They had already put in a request for more such equipment. She believed all of this, even though she also knew the unspoken truth. That this was based off of Infrastructural designs that had been smuggled out.

Something like this was inevitable given the scale of the nation they built. As Infrastructure grew, the committee needed to train Engineers to oversee their various mechanical endeavors, as well as technicians to operate and care for the machinery, which meant showing them most of how it worked. While most of them were loyal enough, a few Engineers got it into their head to defect and sell what they had learned to the highest bidder to live a life of luxury elsewhere. A few had been caught trying to escape, but a handful of them managed to leave Infrastructure to be employed elsewhere. Malnov Yorigsov was among the more prominent of them and had spent the last decade working in the Allergonian Empire showing them the basics of machinery. It was a scatter shot effort mainly focused around aiding the military on terms set out by nobles who while admiring of the end products were ignorant of the needs of setting up an Industrial Economy and often the guilds and certain noblemen obstructed progress, but it was having an effect. How much had yet to be determined. This complicating things, but the survivors always knew that this entire plan would have no shortage risks since before they began work on the first robotic body to take over Dalatyr.

"I must say that that this is an impressive development." She said softly. "Just like the ones in The Yards."

"I am glad to hear it." Gunther said. "But I feel that you would be just as impressed by some of the more traditional aspects of our work." With that she was led away. While she could have destroyed the device in question the action would have been ultimately meaningless, at most setting back their efforts at the Shipyards the by couple month while undoing whatever good will they set out to accomplish by this mission. At most she could report back of this development for the rest of the Committee to discuss.
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(Clearance Site, Spring 27 IA)

In the spring of 27IA along a stretch of the Urblasst/Loriv canal was created an area of desolation. What once stood there was mostly loose forest as well as well as some marginal farmland and small villages. The locals having been relocated to other areas in reclaimed swampland or had moved on to live a more urban life. Now this area had largely become a patch of mud with a couple of work camps, a set of tents and. At the center of this sight was a pair of harbors cut into either side of the canal where barges could dock without impeding traffic, here various supplies and personnel were brought in while charcoal, timber and reports were taken away. Much of the work was done by hand, but mechanical assistance was never the less employed.

Jan Stanislavich sat back waited as the boiler came to the boil, his stoker Oleg having filled up the furnace was taking the time to get a few extra minutes of sleep. It seemed a bit like slacking off in Jan's case, but he did the job as well as could be expected so he did not bother him too much about it. Soon the pressure levels were good enough and he started it up. The vibrations jolted Oleg awake.

"Look lively there!" he said as he set the machine into gear, sending it forward. "The boiler won't stoke itself!" Oleg gave him a smirk and quickly shoved a small shovelful of coal into the the furnace to refresh it as the Bulldozer began its trek to the outskirts of the forest. Both of these two kids had been the kind of boy who loved watching bulls head-butting each other and horses running at full speed. Both of them attempted to ride cattle in childhood and had broken bones because of it. Steam Engines amazed both of them, leading both of them to try to get jobs with them. On paddlesteamers, factories, riverboats and eventually with Bulldozers. To both of them, there was something satisfying about plowing things flat with this machine.

There were nine bulldozers and tractors here, 7/16 being the newest in the lot. While rail vehicles were faster, the Committee had been looking into making use of a variety of more free range steam driven vehicles. The most common were Roadsteamers, which were easy to make and could move faster than an ox cart, but they did poorly off road. After that were tractors, which were stronger than the roadsteamers and could go off road easily, but were slower. Bulldozers were modifications of the tractor design. One of the things that impressed him about Series-7 Tractors and Bulldozers was the new continuous tracks. While they did break down more often than simple wheels they were much better at handling terrain.

They passed by the heaps, loads of spoil, branches, stumps and tree roots shoved aside, These were taken apart by detentional laborers. Some timber was selected for the sawmills or to be sold to a few of the local villages, but most of it was chopped up for firewood or to be burned for charcoal. By the end of the day, there would be a couple more of them. One that was gone, the rest of the soil was used to fill up holes or to be put onto barges for land reclamation. Both Jan and Oleg would be among the first to admit that this area was not much to look at thanks to their efforts, but from what they had been told there were big plans in store for this new patch of cleared space
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(Dalatyr, Early Spring 27 IA)

Natasha Smedth had learned allot in her nine years of Engineering, among the more notable fact was that the Committee always had a project somewhere that needed her talents. She had been to coal mines, garrisons, hub towns and did a fair bit of work at The Yards on mines, mills, machine shops, power plants, sawmills and shipyards. It was not all bad, she had traveled far and got to see a fair bit of Infrastructure. She met a lot of people, among them was Danev. A short, broad shouldered technician who while a bit on the slow side, was hard working, handsome enough, had nothing even resembling a mean bone in his body and knew how to make her laugh. Even so, she did not like having to frequently pack up and move and The Yards did have a massive number of unpleasant individuals. When she was offered a chance to return to Dalatyr, she jumped on it.

The basic of it was the assembly of a new building named "Steel Ascension". When she looked at the blueprints she saw why. The project involved construction with steel. She oversaw the assembly of metal ships and that was nothing new to her. Building with steel girders had been going on for a few years, usually for bridges as well as a few factories, train shelters and warehouses. This, however, was a much more visible and momentous project. A building which had eight above ground storeys and was to stand thirty six meters tall. Work had begun in 26IA with the digging of foundations and the creation of piles. Now she, as well as several other engineers would oversee its rise.

The job made her a bit uncomfortable as it was very vertical, even though she was reasonably sure footed and there were safety ropes. The further up you went, the windier it got, a fact which did nothing for her fears. Things were going fairly fast, most of the frame had been taken up and now they were installing the floors, which were largely composed of concrete slabs and frames for windows. Most things were carried over on a network of ropes and pulleys up high. The men were fairly skilled, even if some of them were a bit lewd.

At the end of a day, she checked off the various things on the fourth floor writing down notes on her clipboard. Things had been going very well. Soon they would begin work on installation of the walls, which existed to enclose the space within and keep things warm, dry and comfortable, but did not support the structure. An interesting idea to be sure and one she heard that architects outside of infrastructure thought fanciful and unreal. There was still plenty to do, but things were finally taking shape. Her Dad knew of this beforehand and was more than happy to hear about her daughter's work.
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(Town of Uusteg, Early Summer 27 IA)

Jarek Orodrick was the son of a inn keeper in the town of Uusteg, about 1600 km south of Dalatyr. In his seven years of life there had been a few changes to his town, though he did not notice many of them. In his mind the biggest one was that an addition was built onto the Inn to accommodate the increased number of travelers on the road these days. There were a couple of veterans sitting back. The odd squad of cavalrymen on patrol, labour recruiter or a trader selling goods from Dalatyr. There was also the annual collection of tax, a fact which was offset by the fact that they often supplied a few new steel tools, kegs and wheelbarrows. More people were getting involved raising sheep, but he and his friends had little regard for agriculture beyond stealing apples or carrots, when he was not working tables. One of the things he did learn from his father was the basic way around numbers. Seven tankards of beer, each costing four decicredits added up to a bill of two credits and eight decies. It was easy enough to get the hang of and his father saw it as a valuable skill. Even if it did end him in an awkward situation.

Even with the defeat of the local gang of warriors Uusteg had gotten bigger in the past nine years. The improved road brought through more trade, a few former slaves had returned home from the Black Ports, Worleb's had expanded his home brewing operation into a workshop employing a few farmers, the market was getting more popular and most notably of all there had been no raids to lower the population and more infants lived to see their third birthday. As such, in late February of 27IA a messenger arrived and declared that Uusteg was to become a new Hubtown. Soon a group of laborers and soldiers came in and helped build a few new buildings. An office was added for the new Bureaucrat with a government shop, a new granary and warehouse were made for storage purposes, a small barracks for patrols, but most importantly for Jarek was the schoolhouse.

The schoolhouse was completed rather quickly. It was a simple building about the size of a longhouse. In which were a set of tables and a chalkboard, as well as seats for thirty six. Inside was a iron stove for heating. The teacher shortly arrived, on that day every child between the ages of five and nine living within two kilometers of the town gathered as well as their parents, more than a hundred and fifty young ones in total. Each were then interviewed briefly about their kids. Jarek showed his ability to add up sums of money and was given a card with a number. The next after afternoon the names were posted for the students of the first class were listed off. To the surprise of most of the people, especially Jarek, with one lone exception the first batch of students were all girls.

Jarek's personal lot of friends were exclusively male. To them, the purpose of girls was to be harassed and embarrassed. They did have limits and had their boundaries on how far they would go, if in part because of the fear or parental retribution, but they were an outside element. To say having to spend six hours a day five days a week in their company was awkward was a massive understatement. The teacher, Miss Kozin was if (and as Jarek found out, this was an if of significance) people were well behaved, was a kindly and calm educator.

After his third day, he and his father had a word with his new teacher, who was lodging in the Inn. It was not negative, it was more of a matter of inquiry that came down in the end to one question "Why are most of your students girls?"

Miss Kozin explained the idea to them as calmly as possible. The idea was a set of protocols created by supernova that were called "Educational Triage". Triage was a code that army doctors and healers were given about what priority patience were given. The Committee wanted as many people literate as fast as possible, but had limited resources to do this with. Teaching was, like carpentry, fetching, weaving or smithing a trade, one that was taught in a few special schools, the biggest of which was in Dalatyr. They could only train so many qualified teachers every year. There was also the need for textbooks and other such goods. Dalatyr got most of the teachers as they were most needed there. After that there was a priority for teachers around The Yards. After that were the Rail Towns and the towns that grew around the garrisons. Hub towns came afterwards. The rated class size for a teacher is 36 students. Since they could not give every child two years of schooling for basic education, they prioritized who would get it. Girls were higher on the list because according to the committee's studies they were just as capable of understanding writing, doing jobs involving writing and that literate mothers would aide in the education of their children. Jarek's understanding of mathematics was deemed to be enough of an asset that he was added to the class.

There were a few bits to Educational Triage of this that she did not say. Most notably among them being the fact that literate people were more likely to move to the growing urban centers were there were more economic opportunities for them. A fact that was better for long term expansion of the urban population if their female populations grew as quickly as possible.

However what was said made sense to Jarek and his father, if it was still an odd decision despite it's logic. If nothing else, he was a distinct anomaly in that classroom. That made him nerous, even if he did try to pay attention most of the time.
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( Port City of Solondrin, Ilvanas, Early Summer 27 IA)
Among the destinations of the Great Embassy was the High Elven port city of Solondrin. The High Elves of Ilvanas were among the most prominent civilizations in this part of the world and had among them a high amount of prestige and influence. It was only logical to have them as a destination. However, there were still complications.
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Lord Falcencnol watched from his balcony as the foreign fleet approached under escort before setting anchor in the haven, like others around him there was a distinct distain for them. Human craftsmen rarely created anything as elegant as what could be made by elvish craftsmen, which was understandable given that they would usually have mastered their craft well into their brief lives. These craft did not have that. These craft were bare of ornamentation, their hulls seemed ungraceful like a crude metal tub with unsightly boxy growths and additions sprouting from their decks, their bare masts seemed lifeless like dead trees and from chimneys rose a constant stream of smoke. Even if they had come with peaceful intentions and they had done some useful and commendable actions, it was not going to be pleasant having them here for the next few days. They set anchor as the officials disembarked. Among them being the ship's captain, a few guards in similarly dreary uniforms, two other people and Transition.
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Transition and her landing party were soon on their way as she quietly took in the scenery. It was, as she was told, more organized and orderly than Allergon. Things were made to tighter standards and used a variety of methods to make the end product lighter, stronger and similar qualities. Most involved a high level of skill to do properly and many involved supernatural assistance. All elves had some magical potential and preferred to live in areas with high levels of background magic. They were adept at making use of this for day to day purposes. In its way it was somewhat admirable how they could use this resource, on the other hand, as far as they could judge it did breed a deep conservatism. Their society having made little progress over the last few thousand years. They soon disembarked and a few warriors led them to the local ruler's dwelling. The elves had a reputation for having a way with words and being inscrutable, she wondered about this.

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The two parties soon met. "Well met, noble Committee member. I am Falcencol Ki'Gwenthol, lord of this city." he said as he examined the construct that stood before him. There was much discussion as to what Infrastructure's Committee actually was and many theories on this. He peered into her mind and saw the strangeness of it before abandoning that approach. It was not healthy to rely on telepathy to much in these meetings as there were ways to resist it. As far as magic went she was a void. He was still unsure of what he believed, but what he was now willing to dismiss was that any of the established powers could create something like them.

"It is a pleasure, good Lord. I am Transition Of Mobile Macrofauna From Marine To Terrestrial Enviroments-402122, Transition in general conversation. On behalf of the Central Committee of Infrastructure we announce our goodwill to your people and desire for friendship."

"It is a fair enough request and one most reasonable. You have shown our kind no hostility and your efforts have struck a few blows against the plans of the Corrupted, which is always worthy of praise." There was a slight adjustment to his tone around the word 'Corrupted', it was not spitting out the words but it did have a distinct level of disdain on it. "There is no reason why we should not receptive to your good intentions. But you should realize that we are cautious and deliberate in such actions, something that goes along with all our population. It is highly unlikely that a formal alliance between our kingdom and your Infrastructure shall be signed tomorrow."

"At the very least, we can do our best to give a good impression of our new civilization."

"Of course you are free to do so." Transition at that point added what she thought was part of that statement the Elvish Lord did not say 'so far you have failed in that regard'. Which she was correct. "But in any case, we can discuss this over diner."

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(Workshop Venoa, Serene Republic of Venoa, Summer 27 IA)

Ermete DiAgnellio made some final checks in the last few moments before the meeting. The last thing that he wanted was something to go wrong on this day. Part of his mind wished he had another half an hour, but everything seemed to be just fine when there was a knock on the door at 12:00. He sighed, lit the fire and came to meet the client. Regardless of his skill Impressions were important, especially when it was the Doge you would be talking to.

"My Doge, it is an honor for you to grace my workshop."

"That it is, my boy. I have it on the good word of your guild that you have something that will impress me."

"That I have." He let the ruler pass the threshold and took him inside.

The Serene Republic of Venoa was a fairly powerful, if not particularly large state. It had at its heart a sizable city and dominated several smaller local cities and a modest area of agricultural land, but it was fairly insignificant in terms of size when compared to a few of the more prominent kingdoms. Its power had to do mainly with trade, a few colonies and local manufacturing. Venoan arms and armor were well respected on the international market (a fact helped along by a sizable dwarvish population were their textiles, glass and more civilian products of glass work. Venoan Condottieri were among the most respected and feared of mercenaries. While comparatively small was professional, well equipped and able to scrap with the best of them, as well as a navy to be reckoned with. They also had become skilled at finance and banking and one of the most extensive non-drow networks of spies and assassins for more subtle means of exerting influence.

Among their more notable products was that of arcane clockwork, an area of magic in which, over the last few centuries they had refined for various purposes, from clocks which never needed winding to ballista and crossbows which drew themselves back with the flip of a switch. They were not ignorant to mundane engineering, however, as the guild of inventors knew well. Emete was among its younger members. He had a knack for the mechanical that few possessed that his father and the guild felt would be criminal to left uncultivated, and among the areas that fascinated him the most was that of Infrastructure.

He, like many members of the inverters guild had an interest in Infrastructural machinery. Most states did after the introduction of rifles and on occasion, although as far as they were concerned their interest was geared to Infrastructural firearms and cannons and how to replicate them in bulk. The Venoans took to making rifles quickly enough, being keen on arquebuses for common soldiers beforehand and was a big producer of them. However, they were also keen to find out other things about this strange new player on the political scene. Distance and lack of connections complicated things as well as the natural, but they did their best none the less to try to figure things out. The inventor's guild went over the reports and images they could get their hands on and tried to replicate them. They were impressed with their mechanically propelled boats and locomotives and amazed by their 'electrics'. Replicating their newer guns was more tricky, as was making enough of them for the army's needs. The inverters also took a keen interest in a few items such as Spinning Jenneys and flying shuttles and were quick to convince the textile industry to make use of them. Uncovering the secrets of steam took more effort, but eventually they managed to crack that as well. The Doge managed to acquire the services of an Infrastructural Engineer a few years ago, though one who specialized in electricity. The mechanical stuff was up to the inventors to replicate, piecing together the snippets of what they could get to create a completed whole.

Ermete showed the Doge and his bodyguard to a trough laid out, he was happy to hear the popping sound in the distance and smoke rising from a small box at one end. "My Lord, I would like to show you a glimpse of the future of the Venoan Navy." He pulled a string which dropped a counterweight which lifted a small gate and with it a small model boat came puttering out, water sloshing between two paddlewheels on either side.

"When built full size a small group of stokers and engineers could do a better job at moving a ship forward than a hundred rowers!" He said, proudly but somewhat nervously.

"My, oh my." The doge said, clearly impressed. "I trust you have plans for the full-scale version."

"That I do, would you like to see them?"

"That I would. It's only a shame that we can't have her on the seas in a few weeks’ time. It would have been a grand thing to show this to the Committee's Great Embassy."

The inventor led the Doge to his draft room "If nothing else your lord, we will have beaten the Allergonians in building a steam fleet."

The Doge chuckled "An astute observation my boy. With clever men like you at our disposal we shall unravel Infrastructure’s mechanical riddles yet."
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(Probationary Settlement-13, Dragonspine Mountains, Early Autumn 27 IA)

In the mountains Gallenien Yorikovich sat on the porch of his home, thankful that this day off was not sullied by rain with a bottle at his side. The harvest had been completed and as such it was time. Most autumn days here in the mountains were wet and damp, even if there was not that much mud around here. His home was a rental lodge in a small village mainly made of sixty or so such buildings, as well as a few storehouses, sheds, workshops, a state store and a tavern. Around it was a few farmhouses as well as fields and pastures were cattle were raised and a modest crop of potatoes and wheat was put down to meet some of the local food needs. More importantly there was the mine. The official name for the place was Probationary Settlement-13 though most people called it Othodyselo, the Waste Village.

About a kilometer north of this small town was the slightly older Detentional labour mining camp DRCM-38, which had been in operation for about eight years now. There was a force of Detentional laborers digging up the coal rich rock and sacking it for transportation to a river landing over a hundred kilometers of mountain road. There was more than a thousand men up there. Bandits, Defeated Warriors, General Criminals, Pirates, Slave Traders and Rebels against Infrastructure. Gallenien had managed to make a bit of a name for himself among his with three kills in his belt before he had the horse shot out from beneath him and had come too with and was carted to this wretched place. From what he gathered there were not many more captured warriors being brought here nowadays what with Infrastructure now ruling the entire Coldlands, but there was the occasional riot in the Northern coastal areas. There were also a few hundred women up there, being confined to a special female section of the compound. Female rioters, bandits, criminals and the wives and daughters of warriors who had fought back when Infrastructural riflemen took villages from their rightful owners.

Many people died in there and the supply of workers was constantly refreshed, but not every inmate had that fate. Every now and again, the people in charge, through a complex system that he did not nor desire to fully understand decided to release one or more of the in-mates in labour teams that were quiet and productive, or were crippled in an accident and had not caused trouble. Usually about once a month two to five of them would be released, sometimes more and sometimes less. Once they were released they ended up Othodyselo, as part of their probation stipulated that they could not move more than 30 kilometers from their former jail for the next eight years and the only settlement with warm hearths to fend off the cold was this wretched village. So they ended making a home here. Most of them ended up farming in the summer and working a twelve hour shift in the mine during the winter. Gallenien knew this well, being among the first people released from the mine into this pitiful excuse for a village. But, if nothing else, there was far more drink available and they set free a few women soon after the first batch of men. The Committee wanted this area inhabited.

His eldest child, Jan came up to see him. So far, he had managed to make three children with his new wife Gelna with a fourth on the way. Among them were two daughters and fortunately a son who had been steady enough. He did not think much about his two girls, finding husbands for them would be no problem in this place. But he held the sentiment that through Jan, and whatever other young men he could bring into the world, he might be able to make sure that one day he would get his revenge on these lackeys of the Committee. He knew that other people shared his opinions in this matter and the number of kids being born here was going up. People who were not Enforcers here were not allowed weapons, had already shown a promising skill at throwing rocks. He was thinking about making a bow one day and showing Jan how to shoot arrows, but that would have to wait.

"Father?" Jan asked

"Yeah my boy?" Gallenien said in a slightly slurred tone.

"I heard a few of the enforcers talking," Jan gave the word Enforcer a sneer as he said it which warmed Gallenien's heart. "They said that they were going to set up a school here in a few winters."

"Oh, a school. That's is just great isn't it!" He said angrily. "The Committee sends some worthless fool with a head full of garbage to spit their stupidity at you. Make you forget who you really are. Fuck that worthless shit!" He yelled swinging his bottle with that last sentence, scaring the young man. "I had to listen to that garbage they feed ya about how bad it is when the strong act strong and proud and the weak are shown there place. I nodded and I repeated it and i got out in the end, I expect the same from you."

"Yes Dad." The six year old boy said quickly, fearing that a beating might come.

"Good. If they set that school up, don't go there. If you wanna make me proud, trash it and burn it for me."

"Yes dad, it sounded stupid anyway."

"That's my boy." He said calmly as he raised his bottle and took a swig in invisible toast. Jan then ran off to try to find something fun to do before his mother gave him some work. Gallenien continued to drink the cheap liquor. There were other places like this, small tightly controlled towns in the mountains. Here the remains of the old warriors of the coldlands settled into their final form, a collection of low class uneducated alcoholics in the foothills of the mountain ranges.

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(Southern Hemisphere, Southwestern Continent, Autumn 27 IA)

Half way around the world from Infrastructure Discovery quietly floated twelve kilometers in the air in a holding pattern, safely above the more unpleasant weather phenomenon and some of the more unpleasant large scale avian lifeforms of this planet. The actual operation of the airship was fairly simple and did not take up much of Discovery's mental processes. What he was more concerned about was the activity that had been going on in the grasslands below.

On the surface in a small clearing there was a small camp. A few mechanical devices lay working at their job. There was a small helicopter drone, a laser mounted on a telescopic mount, a few solar panels and a compact steam engine feeding power into a battery, three small manipulation rovers, a few boxes containing supplies, a radio receiver and at the center a drilling device which bored down to confirm what sonar and radar had indicated was there.

It had been going for a day, cutting through rock and soil and ejecting spoil. Then it's sensors found a sudden change in density. A small amount was sucked up into a sample jar, a viscous black liquid. A spectrometer looked over it and soon confirmed what it was. The jar was carefully put away while the small mechanical camp was packed up.

There were a few humans who lived in this area, primitive individuals. They knew about the black liquid, but took little note of it. Their only use for it was in their inter-tribal conflicts to make incinderay arrows and a few of their Shamen made use of it in a few of their spells and potions. Other civilizations had similar views on the stuff, with a few using it to fuel fires for a few applications despite the fact that it created large amounts of foul smelling smoke. Never the less, the Committee was overjoyed in identifying this area with a vast wealth of this mineral oil.
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HAIL ZOR! WE'LL BLOW UP THE OCEAN!
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 Post subject: Re: Infrastructure (Original and Illustrated) PostPosted: 2013-02-11 02:13am
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HAIL ZOR! WE'LL BLOW UP THE OCEAN!
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WHEN ALL HELL BREAKS LOOSE ON EARTH, ALL EARTH BREAKS LOOSE ON HELL
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Last edited by Zor on 2013-03-08 04:26pm, edited 1 time in total.
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 Post subject: Re: Infrastructure (Original and Illustrated) PostPosted: 2013-03-08 04:24pm
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(Old City, Daagsgrad, Autumn 27 IA)
The city of Daagsgrad had a custom, known as the Cleansing of Waves. It was a three week long period in Autumn dedicated to the Green Lady of the Ocean. It involved a few religious ceremonies, it's set of traditions such as the exchange of recommencements and most notably abstaining from meat. Both the fishmongers appreciated it in their way. The former liked the increase in commerce that they got, the latter got to take things easy for most of the Cleansing of Waves while looking forward to the large orders which inevitably happened at its end. This was somewhat less of the case in more recent years, as had so many other things. Janob Gornislab, a butcher did not decide to change things to suit. He closed his shop down for the Cleansing, as he had done every year, and as his father had done before him, and his father before him.

Janob went to the usual spot and met up with Chort, a carpenter who now made low quality chairs and cabinets. A definite step down from his old occupation of making the wooden bits of guns. The had known each other from childhood as their families were both clients to the Ulseg Family and had in general been on good terms all their lives, but only recently did they become close to each other. One reason being that a fair number of their closer friends were killed five year ago. This limited their options somewhat and united them in hatred.

"Janob" the carpenter said, raising an earthenware jug in offering

"Chort" he responded. As was the minor ritual of these two he took a swig and returned it. Chort's wife was good at home brewing. "How have things been going?"

"Not too bad. I got a deal with a bar for some of the Wife's Beer and she's with child."

"That's good to here. We won't get swamped over to fester yet." As far as Janob and everyone else that he thought worthy of existence saw it, the Infrastructurals who now occupied this city were doing their best to drown it. The Committee, for all the horrible things that could and should be said about them and their lapdogs and sheep, were not stupid. They did not trust the natives of the Black Ports (Janob refused to refer to Daagsgrad or its long-term rival as "The Yards") save for the cowardly slaves that were born here which they set free and the "orphans" which they stole, so they brought in more new people to replace the ones they had shot or sent off to toil mining coal. There was the Garrison, The Bureaucrats and various other government figures, mind twisting teachers, Enforcers, the Engineers and technicians who minded the machines, veterans and a whole lot of goddamn peasants to work for them. A few of them were from nearby the ports and were not so bad, but many more were further inland. He heard that they made up about a third more were coming in every day. They mostly worked in the shipyards building those new fire powered ships. He was somewhat impressed by them, even if they were in the end just another sign of their enslavement. But this was more than just making ships, their plan was to dilute the people with Daagsgrad with these worthless dirt farmers.

There had been riots and violence against the Infrastructurals and those they brought in with them, these did not end well. Both of them were minor participators in the riots but managed to worm their way out when things went wrong. Usually about the time the riot had gotten some inertia the army and enforcers would respond with shields and truncheons, horsemen, fire engines to hose them down and of course their rifles and revolvers until the moment when a march became a route. Those they caught afterwards ended up being sent down river to the labour camps. All such actions did was kill a few newcomers and enforcers and trash some of their stuff while eating away at a large number of the rightful owners of this city and providing more Detentional laborers for the coal mines. Violent revolution with no chance of victory was like the thrashing of a wounded deer against a hunter with a knife, but this was not to say that they gave up just yet.

The way that Janob, Chort and a good deal more locals thought about it there was three things they could do for their city now. The first was simply not to co-operate with them whenever they could. The second was being really unpleasant around outsiders to let them know that they were not welcome here regardless of what the committee said. This did cost them some business opportunities, but there were things they valued more than money. Third they could make as many children as possible and raise them up proper. Make sure that the next generation had enough hands to break off the shackles of infrastructural oppression when the time was right. They knew some people would say that was a coward's plan. They knew that cowardice was not a flaw in the men who stood against Infrastructure's army when it came, among them being a brother, three cousins and two nephews. But their bravery, as admirable as it was, did not avail them against infrastructural weapon in the open.

"I know, but we should be mindful of the pump regardless." Chort responded, gesturing with his jug in a certain way. Janob nodded to let him know that the subtext was received. An Infrastructural soldier walked by on patrol. He greeted a women with a sack of potatoes who walked by, a foreigner by the sounds of her. Talking badly about the state of affairs around enforcers or soldiers was generally not a good idea. They were not as trigger happy as many thought they would have been, but those who got in their bad books often ended up watched and sometimes they would bring you in for questioning if they thought you were being seditious, looked unpleasant to them or had a bad day. Sometimes those brought in for questioning ended up with a ticket to the mountains. A few Detentional laborers were allowed to return home after a few years with word of what “reform through labour” entailed. It did not sound pleasant.

"Indeed. Anyway, anchovies are still at a fair price." And so they went on, stewing on the matter. They, like many others, desired to get rid of these ironclad oppressors, but until that day that they were ready, they settled with getting on with their lives.
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(Dalatyr, Spring, 28 IA)
Natasha Smedth had been impressed on how fast the framework of Steel Ascension had gone up, but was somewhat annoyed that the other stages took so long. They involved the installation of the outer shell and window and the various internal systems, from plumbing to heating to insulation to electricity, not to mention the various components which turned it's floors from enclosed spaces to areas where people would be comfortable working. That process went on through winter and was only completed in spring of 28. The Committee took a keen look into it, making inspections every few weeks or so. A few complications arose, but nothing major and at most delayed the project for a week or so during their rectification.

The construction site came to dominate the skyline of Dalatyr, towering higher than most of the smokestacks and radio towers, made even taller by a radio antenna that was set up on top of it. Most people coming into town took notice of it reaching to the sky as it was under construction and as it was completed. Both Coldlanders and Foreigners were impressed with this new towering building. A few of them remarked on the design of it's facade. Borrowing a few elements from other civilizations elsewhere but for the most part simple and geometric. Mostly these were done in ceramics that were made in a special workshop and then brought over. After some conversation she found out that this was not the tallest building out there, though they did not go up this fast with few buildings had more than, discounting basements buildings usually did not go above five stories of inhabited space due to having to walk up a few flights of stairs. One day a couple of Dwarves came into inspect the affair and were impressed despite their usual attitude of "It's an impressive concept but we can execute this better if we want to". They also informed her that they knew about elevators as well as counterweights and safety systems designed to catch the car should the cord break, but had only recently decided to use engines to drive them and had only only used them in their mines.

The function of Steel Ascension was offices for the bureaucracy. If people needed to make an appointment to get some business done with the state, they went here. It was adorned as such to make an impression on people to show the power of the Infrastructural Government. Compared to the functional but plain factories, warehouses and apartment buildings and the crude slums (who's growth had only recently been significantly slowed) of Dalatyr, it was a remarkable architectural achievement. People took notice of it and were impressed at yet another Infrastructural marvel. But more than that, she had found out that it was also an experiment done by the Committee to see if building in such a manner was viable with the equipment they had on hand, as well as on sight training for future work. There was work planned for another such building with the site being prepared, this one intended for residential purposes. And that was just the beginning.

"We regret to inform you that due to unforeseen delays in manufacturing the arrival of new advanced equipment has been postponed for another year."
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(Village of Hollanef, Late Summer, 28 IA)
Four times over four years, Holger Kuznets heard those reports delivered to the Hollanef village meeting by an Infrastructural official. New metal tools would be provided and there was the irrigation ditches and the seed drill things that they showed the local artisans how to build, but never the newer mechanical aids that were shown in the posters or described by merchants or various other travelers that talked about them. He heard talk about this, especially as he swiped through swathes of wheat with a sickle and flailed at the collected grain. What they had heard boiled down to shortages of iron in Dalatyr due to other projects, despite the fact that they were absolutely ravenous for the stuff, though a few more outlandish theories persisted. Then, in 28 thankfully in the summer of IA the new equipment came in, as well as a pair of technicians to show them how to operate the stuff. This included a new mechanical reaper, a horse drawn affair which swiftly cut down stocks of wheat, a steam engine and most impressively in Holger's eyes, the Threshing machine. Especially since he was assigned to work it.

He was on a two man shift that worked from early in the morning, his job was to feed wheat brought here by carts and wagons into the machine via a constantly moving canvas belt using a pitch fork. It was a fairly simple job, but it was hard work never the less, even if the technicians did insist on alternating every couple hours between loaders. The grain was poured into bags and the chaff was spewed out into a big heap, were other folk would collect it for hay. The bags were quickly replaced one full and then sealed shut by a village girl, usually Katrushka or Talya. During that down time the townsfolk made some water Kvass, bread, butter and fruit available and was encouraged to observe the steam engine and look through a book which had images of how the thresher and the steam engine worked and how to repair it. At the end of the day he got four credits in his pocket, a respectable wage for someone out in a hub town six hundred kilometers from Dalatyr and more than a hundred kilometers from the nearest garrison.

The harvest was brought in remarkably fast and was processed even faster. The reaper quickly brought in fields while the rest of the farmers worked on others. If everything went smoothly, there would be a second reaper arriving next year. There was a price for this equipment as well as providing for support in its maintenance: an increase in the amount of grain that was paid to Dalatyr in taxes. As this was on the whole a much easier job than hitting stocks of wheat with a stick day and night, Holger saw this as money well spent.
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(Infrastructural Army Academy, Dalatyr, Late Summer 28 IA)
Over the past five years, General Sven Smedth had instructed a fair number of promising young men and women who had performed admirably in the leadership exercises at boot camp and had been sent over to Dalatyr for advanced officer training. While he did not need to worry about being chopped to pieces anymore, teaching made him somewhat nervous. Yanov, who had more experience gave him some advice but it was still a new experience. Eventually bit by bit he worked out a mental tool kit which let him do the job, but he still felt stressed out about it. Failure in this job could mean that the next generation of the Infrastructural Army would not have enough officers to run it, or worse would have a bunch of inept leaders at their helm.

However, around the second year things began to move more smoothly, there were a few drop outs and a couple of dishonorable discharges of bastards unfit to wipe the boots of a soldier's uniform let alone wear it. But for the most part the Cadets were keen and attentive. He got better at teaching as time went on, motivated by desire not to let his charges down. He went over various battles that he fought, some historical battles from outside infrastructure which he researched, the importance of supply, discipline and various treatises and theories which had been procured from the Order of Keepers. They also did a few exercises out in the fields. He was quite impressed with the ideas that a few of them had.

In late summer of 28IA was the first graduation. Some sixty eight cadets had passed and were assembled in the Academy's main auditorium. Drive himself made a brief speech, telling them that he was impressed by their progress, that they were the future of the Infrastructural Army and to go forth into the future with courage, bravery and devotion to the great machine of Infrastructure. A couple of reporters for the Dalatyr Report (the Newspaper) had come in to take note of this occasion. He gave a speech of his own. This one was more personal, he told them about his wories at taking up the job and how he overcame them, in no small part due to the fact that his students were willing to learn and were exceptional, and that he had no fears that they would serve infrastructural well.

He then handed out the diplomas, each one assuring the individual promotion to the rank of Lieutenant. He shook the hands of the individuals and gave a few words of advice. Even though he still believed that combat experience was the best teacher, he did not doubt that this scholastic approach had it's merits as well.
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(Market, town of Anoseb, Lake Vera Region, Spring 29IA)
The lands around Lake Vera were among the more populated areas around the Coldlands. The Warlords in this location usually had larger domains of up to twenty villages under their control and the largest of their central towns had populations up to 5,000 denizens and stone reinforced wall. It was warmer and wetter than the surrounding grasslands and forests, the lake was rich in fish and a fair amount of trade went through the area on longboats, Paddleboats and Barges. A few of these traders were natives who were generally good sailors, with many of them being employed on the paddlesteamer fleet. When this area was taken by the Infrastructural Army in 11 IA, it yielded a plentiful source of resources and manpower.

Anoseb was one of the larger fishing towns on the lake's Northern coast, large enough for it to be designated a Hubtown in 19IA and had in the last decade had increased in size. A few people left for Dalatyr, Garrison-2 or decided to get a job on a paddlesteamer, but those were being replaced by new births, lower infant mortality, the elimination of warrior related deaths, families seeking education for their children and a few farm hands who had been displaced by an increase in cattle grazing coming to town in search of work. During the spring, summer and fall a few Paddlesteamers would come by to pick up agricultural produce, livestock, wool, timber and some tin from a nearby mine (both sold and collected as taxes) and unload a few mechanical components, the odd bit of machinery relating to farming or mining, industrial products, metal goods, a few consumer goods for the shop, books, paper and a few other such goods. On a day in the spring of 29IA they brought along two new additions to this list: a tall man with mutton chops and a sword in a uniform with a long jacket, as well as a shorter one man in a different uniform of the same color scheme. They set up a few posters in the town square, as well as a table. The affair was similar to what the Army did a while ago. One of them started to play a drum and the other one got onto the table. This got some attention and soon a small crowd had gathered, curious at this new addition on market day.

"To the fair people of Anoseb, I am Ensign Stanislav Viktorovich of the Infrastructural Navy along with my compatriot Master Seaman Janof Urbosleb. We have both served on some of the finest ships ever to take to the sea, while you may have been impressed by the paddlesteamers I can tell that the new ocean going vessels we have created are even more incredible. Iron hulled leviathans that are now the envy of the world." He gestured to an image of the Prosperity. The locals had heard about the work that was going on at the Yards after their conquest. The school talked about these very positively, there was the odd notification to the town council about affairs and talk from some of the Paddlesteamer crews about this now that the canal was completed. "These craft are vast, powerful, durable and swift. We have faced a few Pirates, bandits of the seas and they fell before our cannons and Shchukas just like the Bandits of old did before the army's rifles. And I will assure you that more of these craft are on the way, as we speak, thousands of workers labour day in foundries, factories, machine shops and shipyards bringing into this world more of these mighty craft into the world."

"The only thing which we need for them now, is you. We have been dispatched by the Admiralty in search of good steadfast young men who are comfortable with boats and water. In the Navy you will be keeping safe it's borders from foreign attack as well as bringing order to lawless seas, making use of the most advanced and formidable machines in the world. I have been in the Navy for three years and I never regretted signing up. We will provide you with free room and board, three square meals a day with meat as well as beer or spirits and a starting wage of six credits a day. We will also provide you with training and valuable skills, some of which will increase your paycheck at sea or on land afterwards. Hell, any man who's willing to sign up we'll buy them a round. As the fleet is expanding there is plenty of opportunity for advancement for swift learners and those who are up for the task of command. You will see strange and amazing foreign places. The Navy serves with pride and honor and we are ready to show the world that we are more than just a collection of frozen starving dirt farmers. And of course there's the fact that in my experience the girls love a man in Naval Blue. We want you for the Infrastructural Navy."

Stanislav went like this and got people excited and talking. By the end of the day, the two recruiters had gotten three young men who had become worse for drink to sign up before they pushed off for their next town. Several other recruiters had other areas of operation, picking up various people to serve as sailors. While the Committee had been working on establishing a naval presence for some time, it had redoubled its efforts in that area as part of a greater plan.
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(Drydock, Daagsgrad Shipyards, Daagsgrad, Autumn 29 IA)
Inna Jorgeva's career in the shipyards had been going well. It did involve a lot of work, but she eventually managed to move forward and with a little training (which she got with a little help from Yuna, a Bureaucrat which she developed a distinct relationship with) she became a qualified electrician. It was an odd way of thinking, but she found the logic to it and found it to be easier to do than the more physical jobs. There was plenty of work for her to do, both in the new factories as well as in the ships that were being built. Especially since starting in 28 IA, a bunch of new projects were ordered.

The plan involved new metal hulled ships. Before that day, the Daagsgrad Shipyards were working on two new iron hulled warships, a ship of the same class as the Prosperity, three wooden hulled steamships and eight sailing ships, with more wooden hulled craft being worked on. The new plan involved doubling the number of iron hulled ships and steamships to be built as well as abandoning work on wooden sailing craft altogether for the next four years once the new craft were completed. Yuna went on and on about how this and how it would mean allot more work for her. More coal and iron was needed, manpower needed to be recruited, people needed to be re-assigned and more factories needed to be built to provide for it. It all added up to mountains of paperwork for her.

As the new cargo ship approached completion in the Autumn, Inna worked on some wiring below deck to get some overtime on where she would be assigned next. They had already begun work on a new Drydock as the sounds of a man hammering rivets into place came to become the dominant sound. She wondered about skills. A fair number of jobs could be done easily enough with a minimal amount of instructions, but many more jobs required technical training and while there was use for someone who was a decent carpenter a fair number of those jobs were simply things that peasants did not know. The Engineers were always talking about how they did not have enough machinists or plumbers or other types of Technicians to do jobs as is. Metal ships required more of these people than regular ships, to say nothing of the factories. She assumed that she would be assigned an apprentice sometime soon. At the moment, the best thing she could do was get the job done ahead of schedule and more importantly competently. Since this meant overtimes as well as the prospect of a bonus, she was easy with this fact.
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(Dungeon, House ti’Valcas, Valnothron, Summer 30 IA)
Lady Nallorenth ti'Valcas was most relieved when she heard of this new arrival. It has cost her a fair amount of gold to get this job done and she finally got some results. It was the end result of a fair bit of planing, arrangement making and apparently had four failed attempts in which things did not go as planned and the affair had to be canceled. The Committee guarded it's secrets well and there were hazards. A few others had tried to do what they did before, but they failed in their efforts and were lucky if they got away with alive. A few set their sights lower and simply went for blueprints and had success. She, however, managed to acquire what she saw as the ultimate prize for herself, her house and Valnothron.

They had arrived late in the morning and she soon had them dealt with. Despite some grumblings from a couple of the Slave Drivers that handled them, the six individuals were handled gently and were merely branded: no floggings or no beatings. They were too valuable to risk conventional methods of breaking in new slaves. They were shown about the dungeons a bit and then were hung up and left to mull over this for a few hours in her house's personal dungeons. Then she came down after one of her guards had a good round of shouting at them.

"What is...your name?" She had read up on the Coldland language and practiced with a few merchants who had dealt with the coldlands. It was a clumsy and ungraceful tongue, but it would be necessary to work with these individuals as well as understanding the technical information they had. She was sure that her grasp of it was not masterful, a fact which did annoy her, but it would do for now. She was not hostile here, her tone of voice was firm but not cruel. She had others to be hostile to those in chains on her behalf.

"Taras." He said, clearly afraid "Taras Vorisovich."

"What is your...skill?"

"I'm a mechanical engineer milady, specializing in metallurgy and machine tools."

"Good, very good. We have work for you to do and you will do it. You are slave now. That means you do what I tell you to and do it quickly and well, or you get pain. Lots of pain. Might be death afterwards, might not be. Do you understanding?"

"Yes..."

"Good. You saw pain we give bad slaves and want none. Good. I want you to lead slaves that build...great workshop. Place were iron gets made into cannon, gun, engine and ship. We have many slaves that will help you, as well as a few more engineers and technicians. You also teach other slaves these things. If you do them well, you get good food, clean bed, strong drink, even women. Do poorly, try to do bad job, try to get away, you get pain. Do you understanding?"

"Certainly Milady."

"You call me as Mistress."

"Yes Mistress."

"Good. Good to see new slave that do what I tell to do without pain first. I will be back soon and will take you to show you new home and slaves to lead." She then walked out of the room and went to the next slave. It was easy to manipulate cowards like this one. This was an expensive project, but the City council was willing to give funds and slave if she got the engineers. It would probably mean beefing up some security as someone might decide to have her assassinated. That said, this move could increase her family's standing and that of her city among the Dark Elves by gaining some of Infrastructure's secrets.
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(Infrastructural Embassy, Norgensburg, Empire of Allergon, Spring 30 IA)
The Grand Embassy had several functions, part of which was leaving behind ambassadors in a few more prominent states to deal with the locals. A house and a warehouse was procured and a few Bureaucrats and guards were left behind to run things with some supplies and a budget. The first of these was Norgensburg and the head of this operation was Lana Krigorova. The petite woman had worked in dealing with foreigners for the last eight years and had gotten good at it. She knew a few languages and was a shrewd negotiator. It was a prime job, even if did mean her and her new husband moving to a strange land. Norgensburg was at least a more pleasant place to live than old Borogskov even though she found out that a few of the old black port elites had made homes for themselves in this city and the nearly two years she spent here were nice enough, especially after a small steam generator was set up to keep the place warm and run some electrical equipment, even if they had been getting more busy.

The Committee was stepping up exports, both in manufactured goods as well as in foodstuffs and other agricultural goods, to provide capital for an increase in the importation of raw materials. The increase in shipbuilding was consuming tremendous amounts of coal and iron and mine development was not supplying the needs for both the work at The Yards and Industrial expansion. Fortunately she had found a a fair market for Coldland grain here, especially since Norgensburg's suburbs (the various districts outside the main city wall) were now growing as more people were moving in.

She found herself negotiating with Dwarves a lot. Dwarves typically owned the best mines and were the best miners and much to her annoyance were typically very good at negotiation, even if cutting out the middleman of traders did usually bring down. Lena was not easy to anger and she understood why they did it, but it could be frustrating when she had a dozen things going at once. However, she finally managed to get the little guy down to a respectable rate and soon got down the final version of the contract with a fellow named Kenon Blackpick on coal. There were four copies made using a printing press. Every sentence had been a hard fought compromise, but one which was reached. She then slipped one of the documents into an official cylinder and handed it over.

"My king will be pleased with this agreement." Kenon said convivially.

"As will the Central Committee." Lana replied. This was one step closer into getting her quota filled. She was glad that this was done now, because she knew that between the increase of people in the city, the Empire's new steam barges, foundries and factories and the committee's appetite for the stuff the price of coal would only go up.
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(Factory Complex, Cleared land near the Urblaast/Loriv Canal, Autumn 31 IA)
One of the less impressive inventions of Infrastructure was what was known as the Crate Shack, more officially known as a Series-2 Prefabricated building. It was originally intended for setting up forts and mining bases as something that, as Frans Nojonovich came to understand it, were intended to be something in between a proper building and a tent. The building consisted of a set of wooden panels which could be fastened together into a small rough house by a few men in a couple of hours. A inner layer could be installed and filled with straw or sawdust for insulation. These, as well as a few straw-bale and wattle and daub buildings made up most of a new town along the Urblaast/Loriv canal region, around a few larger and more imposing structures.

For the past few years the committee had been sending resources and men to this location, it was a lower priority project and often people were dismissed and sent off elsewhere or supplies were a month late, but progress continued on it regardless. After this area had been cleared out work began on a few rail lines were put down, as well as a station for them. Not usual but somewhat strange. Then work began on a few odd buildings. Several warehouses, a glass works, a concrete factory (which was still under construction in 31IA) and most impressively a foundry/Steel Mill. Frans worked at the foundry, both during its construction and now during its operation. He usually tried to get there slightly earlier than the rest of his shift, a fact that got him a couple more credits every day.

He was a peasant from one of the nearby villages as were most of the men working here. There was also a fair share of men from Dalatyr overseeing things and doing the more complex jobs that required more specialized training. According to some of them, this was among the most advanced foundries in Infrastructure, complete with a finery furnace to convert steel. Most of the metal produced in the first few months was loaded up to be sent to The Yards or to other places, though a small percentage of the production was stored away. That was one of the big questions of the place. Why clear this area out? Why build such a foundry so far from The Yards with their shipbuilding or Dalatyr with its machine shops and factories? If you were to build it far from either one of those places, why not build it near a major coal mine, garrison or hub town? There was talk and there were theories and Frans did think about them, but he had a job to do and a family back at the village that needed the credits.
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(Icemountain Sea, Autumn, 33IA)
For four years the Yards were busy with furious activity. Clay was dug and bricks were fired to build new buildings around the coast while Drydocks were erected on the coastline. Foundries of the yard poured forth their rivers of liquid steel and iron, mills shaped hot ingots into girders, plates and rivets. Machinists worked milling, lathing, shaping and shearing to produce both spare parts and new machine tools and equipment, supplementing a constant supply of new equipment from Dalatyr. Various components and gears that broke down were quickly cannibalized in the blast furnaces to have purpose restored it it. New men and women were brought in and trained, while new management was promoted and more Bureaucrats and Engineers were brought in to run things. There were setbacks, a few buildings were not build up to standards and over those years Three hundred and seventy three employees lost their lives in various accidents. But never the less, they pushed forward with their work in the construction of new metal hulled ships and support facilities for this new fleet.

When these ships were finished and readied, they took to the sea manned by many new sailors led by more seasoned mariners that received rapid promotion. Even though they had the advantage of experienced guidance which the first sailors of the Infrastructural Navy lacked, it still required some effort and training to get them up to snuff. Several voyages were made westward to sell merchandise and return with coin, coal and iron to fuel their efforts, but the committee was cautious with it's new fleet for its major mission.

Over the first two thirds of 33IA, a group of peasants, engineers, bureaucrats, technicians, medics, magical healers and other such individuals were recruited for a special project. All of which were young and in good health was recruited for a special project, while machines, livestock and supplies were produced and procured. In total there was some 3,600 people gathered for this purpose, as well as 432 veteran soldiers who volunteered for an extended mission, as well as Detail (a fact which few did not know about). These were loaded onto newly built ships and in late September a massive convoy weighed anchor and left Daagsgrad.

This Armada was placed under the Command of Admiral Petrov Miles and was awe inspiring. It had four cargo ships comparable to the Prosperity in size and eight smaller steam engine engine equipped cargo ships under the escort of five Ironclad warships led by the Hunter, the flagship of the Armada. It's course soon led it far from land as the fleet moved at a steady rate. There was some uncertainty among the passengers about this voyage, it was a massive undertaking that had taken up a considerable fraction of the Financial and Industrial resources of Infrastructure to set into motion, but in the eyes of the Committee it was a risk well worth taking. Most of the people brought along had the job of establishing a town in a far off land, but this town existed to feed and support men who came with drilling equipment to extract a black mineral sludge which was a far greater prize for Infrastructure's efforts than gold.

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HAIL ZOR! WE'LL BLOW UP THE OCEAN!
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WHEN ALL HELL BREAKS LOOSE ON EARTH, ALL EARTH BREAKS LOOSE ON HELL
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