Infrastructure (Original and Illustrated)

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Zor
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Re: Infrastructure (Original and Illustrated)

Post by Zor » 2020-03-15 06:17pm

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Coinguards are a catch all term for security firms in the Anvosi Peninsula, most notably Venoa. In the Serene Republic wealthy Patricians, Prominent Guilds and Joint Stock Companies all have the need for muscle beyond what can be provided by the Constabulary or the hired guards they keep on staff. When this happens go to the Coinguard Companies. They perform a variety of jobs from guarding people, items and buildings, patrol city blocks for thieves as well as evicting, repossession and in general send a message. Most of them come from poor backgrounds, had active military service and spun that into a career. In Venoa it is normal for Coinguards to have some decent armor such as this breastplate as well as some substantial weapons, all be it ones optimized for fighting in confined environs (such as this fellows revolver, shield and shortsword, they'll also often times carry wooden truncheons when lethal force is not required). They are cheaper than mercenaries and are less rowdy. The basic system had it's origins in gangs which found that taking contracts for the rich was a more profitable and safer venture than robbery, extortion and similar. Coinguard Companies try to present themselves as being skilled professionals which provide firm and sometimes distasteful but legal and ethically sound services, though many Venoans think of them as being somewhat cleaned up street thugs that have been given a scrap of legitimacy by wealthy patronage.
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WHEN ALL HELL BREAKS LOOSE ON EARTH, ALL EARTH BREAKS LOOSE ON HELL
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Re: Infrastructure (Original and Illustrated)

Post by Zor » 2020-06-07 12:32am

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For millennia the Dark Elves have made use of slaves (mostly but not exclusively human) to help man their ships, both for their civilian fleets and their warships. While they have been employed in a variety of functions based on their requisite skills for most of the span between the rise of the First Dark Empress and 37 IA, their main function had been as rowers for galleys and while normally proven slave rowers were seen as being assets worthy of cultivation and reasonable preservation often slave soldiers they were seen as consumable assets to be pushed hard, used up and discarded as required by military necessity. As naval gunnery emerged in recent centuries this resulted in restructuring as banks of oars gave way to gun-decks. Even so, some of the attitudes of that era persist.

This fellow is your typical human slave sailor used by the Valnothron Navy. More specifically he's part of a gun crew on a frigate, specifically a swabber cleaning out the cannon barrel between loading. Gunners are the most common positions filled by slaves on Dark Elven warships under the oversight of a Dark Elven Chief Gunner and often supplemented by a couple of junior Drow Sailors, especially manning the larger guns. In the Dark Elven reckoning the aiming and firing of a cannon to cut down foes is an glorious action and a fit duty for a warrior. The minutia of getting it loaded and ready to fire is simple dull work fit for slaves and those fresh Drow sailors who've yet to prove themselves worthy and are as such "apprenticed" to those that have. Regardless of this, serving on a gun deck as broadsides (or worse if they face foes flying The Hexagon) are exchanged and with nothing more than old tunic and shorts wounds are common. Beyond gunnery there are numerous manual tasks that need to be performed to keep a warship working. In their home port, Slave Sailors are often employed as stevedores and do various other bits of manual labor to support their ship and fleet.

Like many of the slave sailors, he did an unremarkable job doing physical labor for his master (in his case it mostly loading boxes off of and onto wagons) before he was bought up by the navy and put onto a ship and thrown into a Crew, assigned to a team with a Drow overseer and made to follow their lead or suffer. The internal hierarchy for Slave Sailors is informal and loose but undeniable. Normally at it's top are experienced slave sailors of proven loyalty and a valuable trade such as carpentry, if they are Consecrated they are naturally are ranked higher but are somewhat of an anomaly on naval ships. Below them are loyal slaves with either a trade or years of nautical experience. This fellow falls into the latter category as he is afforded the special privileged status of being weapon rated and is trusted enough to be issued an axe or a pistol in boarding actions primarily for defensive purposes.* Below that are the general mass of basically competent if unremarkable slaves integrated into the crew able to perform their jobs, then general trainees. Below these junior members are captives recently ceased and pressed into temporary service and at the very bottom are Disposable Slaves used to pad out the ranks in times of war. They are motivated by the prospects of better and greater rations, grog and the fear of their masters lash.

Unlike Janissaries naval slave sailors are not given a high level of indoctrination. As the ratio of slaves to Drow crew is usually in the area of 2-1 and they are generally not armed, the threat of mutiny is not an overwhelming concern. Attempts at escape are seen as a more common issue, but still one which is manageable in most situations as swimming to shore is usually suicidal even if they can get into the water can escape being used as target practice and Drow Warships in Foreign Ports tend to keep their slave crews chained up. Those that do escape successfully end up as outcasts and pirates. In the traditional reckoning specific training is not necessary. Either a slave will learn the ropes on the job in their first few months and if they don't they can either be sold off or at worse tossed overboard. At the same time there is often a high attrition rate among slave sailors as they are often in the firing line with the High Elves and various human powers that would usually fight to the death against Drow warships. Finally there is a give and take between the Drow Merchant Houses and Navies in which both groups will sell experienced slave sailors to each other trained up as a byproduct. The downsides of this approach is that standards for Drow Slave Crews are generally lower than that of most human navies. There has been some individuals which have been pushing for reform among the Drow Navies, especially in the light of new technological developments which require new specialized skills to use but will change the nature of warfare.


*This roll is somewhat controversial among the Dark Elves and only four of nine states employs such slaves with three explicitly banning the practice. On the one hand there is some concern about slave mutinies, on the other hand having at least some armed slaves among the ranks fighting for their masters does add to the security of a ship and means that borders are less likely to try to call on the slave crew to aide them.
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WHEN ALL HELL BREAKS LOOSE ON EARTH, ALL EARTH BREAKS LOOSE ON HELL
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Re: Infrastructure (Original and Illustrated)

Post by Zor » 2020-07-11 12:27am

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For the Infrastructural Navy's Corps of Divers the Battle of Daagsgrad marked a turning point. Most of what they'd done before that point had been tests with the odd job here and there and the occasional training run. Afterwards, there was a lot to do, from helping repair a couple of damaged drydocks to salvage. Over the last few months their numbers had more than doubled despite loosing six trainees in accidents. For Lieutenant Vadim Valcaw, the most immediate consequence of victory was that they could now go at a slower pace, which lowered the rate of mistakes and more time to get the newbies ready for sea floor work. The suits were cumbersome and heavy by design, vision was limited even with the headlamp and sometimes people panicked when they saw an Akula swim by even though the damn things were at worst a bit curious and interested in the critters that divers dug up or otherwise screwed up. You made mistakes when you were overworked and when you were new to the job and mistakes could be fatal.

He kept this in mind as they worked on their latest target. The remains of the Drow attack fleet were full of salvageable material. Cannons, shot, engines, gearing, props, anchors, chains, stoves, tools, weapons, armor and more could be salvaged for iron for the foundries. Copper, bronze and brass were also in high demand for a variety of applications from wiring to diving helmets. Runic armor, weapons and Prow Rams could be sold off to foreign runesmith guilds. Gold and silver were also gathered with special enthusiasm since the Diving Crews got a cut of what they recovered. Vadim had already put some 54 Kilocredits in his account from this work from salvaged coinage alone, more than a decade's worth of wages even with his Hazard Pay and the salvage crews had only gone over eight wrecks so far.

Two days after the singing of the Peace Treaty Vadim had been assigned to the ninth wreck which was identified as being called the Raethis. While far from the largest ship in the fleet, it was the one which the Navy was the most concerned about. The immediate reason for this was obvious as he and his team began taking off large slabs of iron armor with their crowbar axes and small blasting charges. It was not as strong as an Infrastructural Ship would be, but the pitting in it's plating showed that could take a beating. It was a sobering sobering thought. But Vadim would find something that made that vision all the worse.

On the third day working on the Raethis they broke into her gundeck, they found something unusual among the artillery pieces. Most of them were fairly typical examples of rifled Drow guns, but one of them stood out even with a layer of rust over it. As such Vadim and Ensign Mikhailov spent two hours moving it into place, cutting away the remains of it's truck and setting up a harness for collection.

On the salvage barge there were a couple of Naval Intelligence personnel looking over the Salvage, most of the time they were looking over items of salvage and in general they were bored out of their minds. When his shift was over, Vadim noticed that they were all focused on the cannon with interest. When he came up he was soon met by their leader Lieutenant Kulik and had a brief interview about the object. What he gathered from the exchange was this: this cannon was a steel breechloader of a distinctly Drow design. Something which was closer to Infrastructural artillery than anything they had here-to-fore made or used. It was an important enough find that he and Mikhailov both got an extra 500 credit bonus that day.

He'd been wondering about that since he'd found the damn thing and now his fears were confirmed. The Drow were testing not only Ironclad ships but modern cannonry and if they could make one, they could make more. After the interview he was certain that in Hellish Foundries iron was being made into plates and steel was being used to cast more of these cannons and their bigger cousins to be put together by hordes of slaves driven by cruel supervisors in nightmarish shipyards to make dozens of Ironclads that would be at least as good as the Raethis. The Dark Elves were excellent sailors and warriors and even with their obsolete fleet they did manage to destroy a few Infrastructural Navy warships at Daagsgrad. He did not sleep well that night.

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NsiTharn* Birtim, Sixth of Mishi was not in a good mood. He'd seldom been in one for more than half a year, though the nature of his displeasure had shifted. He had not only Consecrated but was also forth generation Janissary Stock. His father survived his twenty eight years of Janissary service to a honorable discharge and his mother was the daughter of a Janissary Veteran, as was all of his grandparents and great grandparents. From birth he was slated for esteemed service to his masters worthy of his proud pedigree and at age thirteen his wishes were granted and he was assigned to the Corps. He would get to follow in their paths, helping his masters fulfill their destiny and impose their order across the world. Four years of drilling turned him into into a deadly fighter and a decent handler of conscripts. Over the next eight years he saw a few skirmishes and minor battles in which he did his duty and gave as well as he got.

Then came the Assault on Daagsgrad.

His platoon had gotten within two hundred yards of the Infrastructural trenches pouring fire in. He and his men were doing well: Drow warriors and Janissaries were going over the trenches, he'd silenced the defenders and he knew that if this up the day would be theirs before suddenly an order to retreat was given and they had to drop everything and flee to rescue ships. A bullet grazed his shoulder in that mad retreat, but he pressed on as quickly as he could. He collapsed at the landing site, but fortunately there was a conscript from his squad which carried him the last hundred yards onto a waiting transport a minute before it cast of. Both of them stumbled into hold and collapsed into a corner together, all that remained of an entire company. As the two of them sat lay in a heap next to some crates despair set in.

He was ready to die in battle, one huge bound up the divine ladder with either a decent shot of coming back as one of The Masters or to solidify it after the next round of life. Retreats, if ordered, were sometimes necessary. He had done as was commanded without question or fear. Things had seemed to be going well, right up until the end and then he'd fallen back. He pieced together that the Coldlanders had reinforcements coming in, but that did not change the key issue, the battle was a disastrous defeat. Things had looked like they'd been going well, even his company had taken some gruesome casualties getting up close (though not as heavy as the vanguard) and then the Powers that Be decided to call things off. Birtim had lost all of his friends and almost all of those he was tasked to care for and thousands of those Drow Warriors that he revered were cut down by peasant machine worshipers led by uppity golems.

He'd did the task he was given and was in front of him, be it to advance or retreat. In that dark wet hold he wondered if he could have done things better, wondering that if he and his men had pushed on just a bit faster or had crawled along the ground as they fired, possibly moving in small bursts crouched down, had pushed forward harder or some other thing, his company might have made it to that trench-line, slain the Coldlander defenders, made a breach in the lines to let Janissaries and Warriors in. At worst he would have died gloriously. Now he was left with loss and doubts. Eventually he did get past his despair, largely because it fermented into frustration and anger over the hand fate had dealt him.

Then he and eighty two other Janissaries (most of which being fellow survivors of Daagsgrad) were loaded onto a ship sent off some Gods Forsaken patch of wilderness where they were dumped along with a camp full of bewildered fieldslaves, craftslaves and other examples of humans taken from their proper place as well as a gaggle of Feral Mercenaries with some final orders and most surprising of all were formally released. Of all the things he'd considered might happen, the Breaking of Bonds was so far removed that he was left flabbergasted. He'd paddled until they made landfall at this camp called "Fidelium" with his book of instructions in his pack. It was only after a conscript asked him what to do did it all sink in.

They were alone.

They were out in a potentially hostile environment with a gaggle of confused civilians.

They were beyond Drow Guidance and correction, untethered in a chaotic world.

Their only hope in this land of physical and spiritual peril lay in hard work, following the last plan that their masters had given them and remembering to keep the faith in spite of everything. Part of him considered the whole wretched affair to be a subtle sort of punishment by his leaders and he wished that they had simply given them a flogging or have told him to fall on his sword instead. Even so, he had a job to do.

The fact that there was plenty to do kept him focused on matters. He answered to a recently promoted Jaifrel** who had plenty of tasks for him and his men to do, from cutting down clothes to deal with the perpertually warm weather to stenciling in the five ring symbol to arms and armor to setting up shelters to gathering resources to cooking to hunting to farming to training. They had a lot to learn about survival out in the wilds where there were pests larger than rabbits and where supplies were tight even before arms practice. Most of them just knew enough to know what end of a spear you put in the enemy, but it soon became clear that even with them and the blasted Grunderhunds on patrol this was hostile territory. There were people here, angry chicken that came in screaming out of the grass with intent to kill and despoiling their little bastion in this. Fortunately they had little real armor beyond some makeshift helmets and none of it could stop a bullet at two hundred yards or grapeshot. In two months he'd faced down five of their attacks and sent each of them running. In the heat of battle, each bullet he fired and especially those that hit home carried with it a bit his frustrations and brooding anger.

There was still a fair bit of it in the aftermath as he looked overt he fallen as well as the general frustration of searching for a needle in the haystack. The peoples of this baked grassland had little in the line of valuables worth taking. The giant chickens were good eating and they had a few goods which were alright, but there was little in the way of worthwhile jewelry, no coin and their arms and armor rarely got better than just okay. Still, on their own with resupply a long way away, it was worth collecting whatever they could. Finding it in the tall grass was also a pain even with the crows.

On the fifth salvage operation he found something fairly quickly, a young man, a few years past twenty lying in the fields, A bullet had gone through hist torso and he had collapsed. He seemed to be breathing and after a toe prodding he moaned. He was weak, but he probably would survive with a little effort. He used is short sword to cut off part of his cloth armor, made a makeshift bandage to stop the bleeding before tying him up with one of his binding ropes.

"Get up scum..." he growled. Nothing he squirmed a bit, but nothing happened. He did not expect more than that, but a moment's caution was better than a quick death. He then looked around "NsiZaen!***" he barked. A nearby soldier turned around. "Yes sir?"

"We got a live one that can't walk, help me with this bastard."

"Right away sir!"

And so the two of the carried the hogtied native back to the camp of Fidelium to be given a quick look over, a healing potion and finally dropping him off in the Slave Pen. The fieldbosses were having a hard time managing adjusting to managing Free Men and complying with the orders limiting chastisement, but those restrictions did not apply to those natives which they had put into irons. Right here and now, it meant extra hands working to get things in order. In the long term it was something grander. As absurd as this situation was, at the very least Birtim knew that souls were being saved from degeneracy by this act. These poor wretches would soon learn man's place in the divine scheme and their souls shall be refined and set on the along the right path to Drowhood and Godhead. As perilous as this ordeal was, at the very least their was a few noble causes behind it in the long term.

*Literally "Second Blade", a rank roughly equivalent to Sergeant in Valnothron's Janissary Corps, third highest Janissary rank.
**Best transliteration"Elect", Highest rank for Valnothron Janissaries and by far the rarest. Given away to proven veterans of exemplary performance and basically means "First Blade who can order about other First Blades even if they are senior to him". In Fidelium it soon became the equivalent of "Captain".
***"Second Spear", Valnothron Janissary rank equivalent to First private, usually a experienced conscript.

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For it's two centuries House Drinjol had mainly focused on making clocks. It was born from a family of Valcas Wards that had found most of their success in the making of clocks and had scrimped and saved until they had enough (with a loan with their patrons) to buy their status as a Minor House Valcas Vassal and that was the main skill that they cultivated among their generations. They had a modest home with attached workshops, a few slaves, a greater degree of freedom and opportunities than wards and connections which helped keep their position even if many looked down on them for still having to work with their hands more often than not. Drinjol Clocks and Pocket Watches were well regarded both in Valnothron and beyond (if often unnoticed), but the sons and daughters of their home always aspired for their house to rise in status, wealth and power. In general they had modest successes and modest failures which on the whole evened out, until one fateful day in the Summer of 37 IA.

Phyrith ti'Drinjol was one of the family's junior members who was remarked as having an unusual keenness for clockwork and mechanisms and was prone to tinker in his spare time. His parents had mixed feelings about this, on the one hand he did have a good eye for working out how clockwork and the products he made did bring in a reasonable amount of cash. On the other hand he had little interest in poetry, dance, fashion, games of wit or strategy, martial arts, pit fights or other such signs of civil culture and instead enjoyed getting his hands greasy and talking about his manual labor. In a society in which craftsmanship was generally considered the domain of lesser beings this was a major crimp in his social life and marriage prospects. Even so, on top of the income nobody doubted that he was loyal to the House and he had completed his military duties with sufficient competence not to shame his family and so he was indulged and admittedly he was right on buying those new metal lathes, grinding machines and so forth based on Infrastructural designs.

One of his projects which had a more practical bent had been on a machine for making paper cartridges for the army. He'd seen the virtue of the idea ever since they were introduced a couple decades ago and had wondered if he could mechanize their production especially after hearing stories of the Coldlanders. He had begun work on the project with the backing of the Lady Valcas herself. He' spent more than two years going through prototypes and making subtle adjustments and simply needed a little more funding to finalize matters which he might have gotten if it was not for someone else working out a few simpler mechanisms and adjustments to procedure shortly afterwards which had already bolstered production considerably. At the same time, interest in paper cartridges was on the wain with brass cartridge production hitting their stride and there was doubts as to how much longer paper cartridges would remain in use. He'd been unusually dejected afterwards, then he remembered something from his stint in the Valcas Companies thirty years before. He asked his younger sister, an offer in the Janissary Corps about it and apparently it was still the case. That gave him an idea.

He and his slaves took apart his mechanism and put it back together. He'd worked out a system of adjustable frameworks for this purpose. A few new parts were made while others were adjusted. He ordered new varieties of paper and did and did some experimentation with them, from the use of glues to a few hand made examples to a few more personal tests performed by his workers who were quite eager. He spent six scimitars for a pair old hand grinders and he refined his process. The basic shape of things was similar though more simple and it had the advantage of not having to deal with the risks inherent to explosives. Within two months the system worked and after two more it worked reliably.

On a rainy morning Phyrith operated the machine after some final adjustments made the last day. Large dried leaves were fed into the top, were torn to shreds in the grinder and came out the other end rapped in a neat cylinder of paper three inches where they accumulated in a small basket. The system went smoothly without grinding or the ping of breakages as more than five hundred of these items was made. All of them were neat and regular. Most of them were put into a box for storage, which would be put into the house for storage.

Looking over his work, Phyrith felt magnanimous. "Dohlm." He said to one of his slaves.

"Yes Master?"

"Please take a couple as a final test."

"Yes sir. I am not wor..."

"Here and now you are." While he saw the value in the rituals of respect in general often they were simple tedium. He handed Dohlm a pair of matches and the underling picked two of them from the basket. The man put one of the stuffed tubes into his mouth, carefully lit it and began inhaling. The end of cylinder began to glow and smoke began to waft up. Phyrith collected a few and made his rounds around the office, giving the other four members of his team a tube from the box from elderly Tavlir to nine year old Nilhron which they accepted graciously. Then he did so to the kitchen staff and a couple of maids going about their jobs.

When he returned Dohlm had finished his first and had moved onto his second, having bummed the remnants in an old earthenware saucer. "Is it acceptable?"

He extracted the tube "Oh more than that, master. Just like the last batch was." He took another drag. "If I may speak..." Phyrith gave a nod "...you got the recipe down long ago. It's the mechanism that rolled 'em all up that had been giving trouble your eminence."

"True enough, but thoroughness is a virtue." Phyrith said as he basked in his success here. "When you're done we'll make some more for good measure."

"It's a joy to serve." Dohlm said, making a slight bow with the cylinder in his teeth.

Latter that day, he'd arranged a meeting with House Valcas. A week latter he'd met with Daijyth ti'Valcas (Great Granddaughter of Lady Talnara) and showed her both the product and the mechanism which made it, explaining to her the opportunities that it could offer if refined. He also offered her some 5,000 of these cylinders to be given out as incentives for slaves as a trial run. A few days latter she came back with an order for more signed by several senior slave overseers and higher ups in the family as well as a contract for further development of this mechanism which included use of a room on the Valcas Complex and eight hundred scimitars for assembling new machines and procuring raw materials exchange for a 35% cut of all sales to other customers beyond House Valcas.

While it had little for elves there was something in tobacco leaves that got into their smoke when burned and soon engendered an immensely strong craving for it in Dwarves and Humans. It had been falling in and out of fashion since the last days of The Third Empire among the realms of the Primary Continent being more popular in warmer territories. Around a thousand years ago the Dark Elves found that it could be a useful incentive for their chattel. This was especially true in the last two centuries as new colonies arose and new plantations grew. Pipe weed, chewing tobacco, snuff and for the the highest of the consecrated cigars were given out to those who met their expectations or exceeded them. Despite his upbringing Phyrith ti'Drinjol had no love for cruelty and had contrived a way for the slaves of the Drow to more effectively receive one of the few pleasures of their lives while bettering the standing of his family.

Over the next century tens of millions would die as a result of his work and those which followed his lead.

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Zia Maleev was like a lot of people in Dalatyr. Her family moved in from a village in the east fifteen years ago when she was five in search of a better life. She did reasonably well in school and got a job in a Ministry of Distribution grocery store at thirteen. First as as an assistant doing various odd jobs before being promoted to a cashier four years latter. The pay was a modest thirty six credits a week with a uniform allowance and a discount on staple foods, but she made them in the warm and light with the smell of baking bread. She hoped to get into the Bureaucracy and she'd been taking the exams four times without luck so far. But that was no reason to give up on it, there was always the next one. Management was another career course which could still be useful for starting a bureaucratic career down the line. Even so, it could still be stressful.

Like most people she was glad that the war had ended well, though it had some consequences. First and foremost was the matter of prices. During the war, people were encouraged to spend less, prices on some things were increased while restocking became less and less frequent on a lot of items. Likewise people bought less leaving aside the occasional person stocking up. There were rumors going about involving rationing, though fortunately it did not come to pass before the war ended. When victory was declared people began coming back in droves, eager to make use of accumulated spending. Even so this had it's own strain beyond simply having more to do. During the war she'd got her share of grousing about shortages. Things had not so much changed.

A young man came came up in the queue with a list. "One wheat sandwich loaf, a can of greenbean, a can of carrots, a can of beets, a can of pork, a large yellow onion, a jar of mustard and another of raspberry jam, a pack of glazed biscuits and a bottle of syrup." He had not gotten through the canned goods before Zia had picked a fresh loaf from the trays and bagged while she moved onto the canned goods. Once the spiel was completed Arkhip went out to fetch the jam, vinegar and biscuits. With practiced efficiency she filled a tray of the requested goods, set it down and began bagging them.

She'd just put the Strawberry Jam in when he gave a response. "You sure that was Raspberry Jam? Because it looked like Strawberry." With that, she picked up the Jam Jar and inspected it.

"Yep, Raspberry." She put it back into the bag and continued loading it. She let out a slight sigh of exasperation. She'd collect the appropriate condiment on the off chance it

"Well they're been mixups and strawberries make my mother break out in hives. You guys need to keep a closer eye on things."

She forced a smile "Sir, I'm sorry for any failure of staff but I do check as I go." She did, but she could see how the mistake happened. Jam supplies had been low a week and Arkhip or some other kid probably figured that most people could not tell the difference and that it was better to provide something similar than say 'we're out' and cause a fuss. Or maybe they made made a mistake during rush hour.

"I'm sure your co-workers thought the same!" he responded waving his finger.

"If you have a complaint, the comment box is near the door. Providing input to the Ministry of Distribution directly helps the Great Machine of Infrastructure better serve it's people." The route response was remarkably useful. Even so, this one could be a problem here. "I'll talk to the manager about this." She conceded.

After filling a second paper bag she typed in the order into the new Registering engine before giving it a final crank. "That will be three point eight credits." The notes were proffered with minimal fuss and the next person in queue moved on. Things had been getting better as far as supply went but a lot of people still felt that the pre-war situation would come back overnight. Things had improved and were still improving between shortages, a surge in the size of the population and post victory splurging there was still some deficits which were still going strong months after the treaty. But the best thing she could do about that was her job, quietly and competently even when confronted by people at their worst and flat out jerks. The Ministry was setting up a couple new grocery stores and they'd need experienced hard workers to handle them.

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Five years ago Ratmir Pelmitov came to Dalatyr from a small village in search of a better life for his family. He and his wife Elena had both heard enough of the incredible new city and their daughter had done well in the village school that it seemed like a good idea to move there. Like many recent immigrants without much in the line of skills or education he and his wife ended up doing a bunch of odd jobs to get by. Then the Escort War happened. At first that meant that the odd jobs were a bit different than they were before, but five months in he got permanent employment at Dalatyr Arsenal-7.

He'd help put up the building beforehand. There were a number of crash construction projects with day laborers shifting between them doing basic carpentry, mixing mortar, shoveling and similar jobs were needed to either refit old buildings or set up new ones. He'd worked on seven of them intermittently and just happened to be on sight when they were finishing up Arsenal-7's main structure when a Foreman asked him about setting up the machines. Once that was done he was offered a job in the factory itself as it slowly came "On Line" and began to turn out Revolvers. First he worked as a sander and varnisher but with some training in the basics of machine tool use and maintenance under the tutelage of skilled technicians. By the end of the war he was decent lathe operator and mechanical odd job man who could help sort out common issues.

While he did not have much experience to compare things to, he did hear a lot of grumblings from the Technicians and the Engineers about the gear. From what he picked up it was not as good as they used to be. All but one of the machine tools were hooked up by belts running from the ceiling instead of being electric, two of them were old and others were apparently just slapped together using older designs and there were more complaints on top of that. Other industries had it worse. Ratmir had to take their word for it, but there was a fair number of reject parts which they had to either send back or throw out as well as breakdowns.

With the conclusion of The Escort War, the days of Arsenal-7 were numbered. There was less of a need for weapons what was in truth a rather slapped together operation was no longer required. For a few months production continued to finish their current quota and once the last revolver was boxed and sent on it's way and the facility was shut down. Most of the staff was soon transferred elsewhere leaving Ratmir and about two dozen other guys to take things apart under the supervision of Engineer Filhod. Ratmir felt a little bit sad as he finished the process by tarping up the last Milling Machine as other such items loaded up onto wagons and lorries for reallocation to other projects of which there was. His task completed, he went home with a letter of recommendation in his pocket which would help him find other work in a wide range of factories.

There were myriad consequences of the Escort War for Infrastructure economically. In a few respects it did accelerate plans. Ratmir and thousands of people like him did gain some skills which would be useful in other fields due to crash training programs. But in far more it was setback. A large section of the Industrial Output of the nation went towards building weapons, warships, munitions and materiel and rapidly expanding the capacity to produce said things. This had come at the expense at basically everything else, most notably the development of newer and better mechanisms. Before the war a lot of Infrastructure's resources were dedicated to making cutting edge equipment with the goals of producing even better equipment in the long term. Instead efforts were focused on producing at best current generation gear and more often last generation if not older designs and otherwise simplified equipment. Things that worked for their immediate needs and could be produced in large numbers with what they had on hand, providing a short term boost to total productivity in certain fields at the expense of a net drop of the productivity of each individual worker and delaying further further breakthroughs. When combined with other things such as delays to expanding the rail network, reduced production of agricultural machinery, transport capacity being used for military ends, breakdowns due to a lack of spare parts in other fields or improper maintenance, cancelled projects, shuffling of resources, industrial accents, mounting debts and other such factors the result was that the Committee's plans were delayed by more than five years.

Getting back on track meant shifting people and gear to more productive enterprises. About half of Arsenal-7s machines would be assigned to Roadsteamer production with others being allocated elsewhere, put into storage or auctioned off. Fourteen Years latter Ratmir would be surprised to see the "For Lev" milling machine again in a friend's workshop, which would spark a pleasant conversation.

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One of the most important skills required by a leader was delegation. The ability to hand over important tasks to competent people so they could focus on the big picture of the operation. A first class education and thirty five years in the finance business had taught Vintenzio Di'Hanseti the importance of delegation and how to delegate well. He was proud to have noticeably increased the family's net worth by his efforts and had maintained and cultivated a staff of competent family members, clients and employees to handle most of the day to day affairs of the the Hanseti Bank that needed no micromanagement. Regardless, there were some events which he felt best overseeing personally even if someone else could handle it.

He heard news of an arrival of a heavilly built wagon under the escort of two dozen Coinguard he set down his pen, walked out of his office with a speed which often surprised those which looked no further than his girth and made his way downstairs. A tall freckled woman in a distinctive dark uniform had met with one of his clerks and had signed the appropriate paperwork as several coin guards entered the building escorting a low built wheeled cart pushed by a porter on which was a chest made out of polished steel and had a built in rotary lock. All of which made clear what it was.

After the forms were signed he made his way past the armed security without much issue. "Learned Bureaucrat, good to see you again!" Vintenzio said happily.

"Signor Hanseti, always a pleasure." Bureaucrat (Level 7) Lena Leskov said "I trust that business has been going well?"

"Reasonably so." He replied honestly enough. His biggest issue was that his vaults were not as well topped off as they could have been and a large number of bonds that he'd issued meant that he'd have to pay off a lot of people in the medium term. Fortunately this issue would soon be slightly less pressing. "And by the look of things it has just gotten better."

"Galthirith delivered their section of reparations to our embassy yesterday, some three hundred thousand Scimitars. This chest contains one quarter of that."

"Seventy Five thousand Scimitars, that's one hundred twelve thousand five hundred Lyra."

"That's about six thousand two hundred less what on our reports on exchange rates estimate this is valued at. A report's been given to your clerks." Lena said, Vintenzio did not object to the claim. A Venoan household was doing well if it made a hundred Lyra year and a hundred thousand usually represented about half a year's gross income for his bank.

"Well well. In any case this is a bit shy of a sixth of Infrastructure's outstanding debt with us. If only all borrowers were as prudent as your Committee." His actual opinions were more complex for a variety of reasons, from obtaining valuable property from foreclosures to, not that this principle could be applied to foreign states like Infrastructure. This delivery did mean that the total interest Infrastructure was incur would be significantly reduced compared to what it would have been if they'd simply paid off the loans at the same rate that had previously been going at. But in the end, while it did mean that some of the higher end figures he'd though of would likely not materialize receiving more than a hundred thousand Lyra was more than welcome, especially in times like these. "Anyway, let's get this counted and locked away."

"Of course. Liuetenant Dini I believe your men know the way."

"Of course ma'am." A powerfully built Coinguard with a fancier hat and breastplate than the rest said "Unisse and Enrico." Two more Coinguard came up, took the chest by the handles and carried it down a hallway with a young clerk following them.

"Per the Central Committee's request, consider the chest a gift. It's combination is in the paperwork"

"Most generous of you." It was an impressive container and if nothing else it could fetch a few dozen Lyra from the right buyer. But even with that was a statistically insignificant part of the deal. Despite being a high risk operation backing the ploy to have the Serene Republic to apply pressure to help end the Escort War had been a most profitable investment.

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For the people of Infrastructure, the End of the Escort War meant peace. For the Drow States, it meant that efforts were shifted from the upstart power to the Eternal Foe. After the defeat at Daagsgrad, the High Elves had launched their squadrons to stalk the seas for Dark Elven warships and merchantmen to take advantage of their losses and diversion. Some of them outfitted with Infrastructural Guns to make already fearsome warships all the deadlier. The High Elves made good use of the new weapons against a largely distracted foe, taking out dozens of Dark Elven ships in a month with minimal losses and continued to make a good show even as the Dark Elves mustered a proper response. While there were plenty which felt that they were throwing in the towel too soon in the fight against Infrastructure few could argue that the shifting scenario meant that their Seaborn Strategic Situation had improved, even if there was still hard fighting ahead.

On a hot summer day south off the coast of the Protectorate of Nycon a trio of Arrowships spotted a Dark Elven light squadron of four ships. Two of which were brigs along with two sloops, one of which might have been a small frigate. A target large enough to be worth pursuing but weak enough for them to dispatch easily enough. The fact that they were all steamers was just icing on the cake to Commadore Liamir of House Rilhim, eager to avenge a lost father and sister. While they did not have Infrastructural Guns, about half their cannons were now rifled. They formed up to try to envelop the formation and moved to intercept. But as they closed it became clear that there was something strange about the largest vessel in that small force, especially when it began to motor towards them head on. The first salvos of the battle were arrows from the Waveriders bows, boosted to extreme range and carrying either a basic fire, rupture or rune eater spell. There was little effect as the crew and marines were below deck. But the real shocker came at a mile and a half as an Arrowship fired off eight Twenty Vel cannons into the drow waship. But while seven roundshot struck home, none did more than dent the Iron Hull of their target.

Onboard the armored wheelhouse of the Tanxal*, Captain Thalzarin ti'Volnan felt the ringing impacts watched as the first salvo was taken and took note as her gunners returned the favor. Eight silvery barrels poked out from her gunports and over a span of two seconds fired. As that return salvo was launched Thalzarin briefly mused on how the old way of reckoning things it was a fairly wimpy response as they fired a third of the weight on metal that the Arrowship did. Then shortly latter the first of those eight projectiles struck home. Two of them missed, two more slammed into their hulls doing moderate damage. But four of the Five-Vaul shells worked as intended, exploding either on or within the Arrowship shortly after impact. The sight of living wood and Illvanan Scum were blasted apart got her blood racing. It was not enough to kill her, but a few seconds latter a second salvo was off, then a third just before a ragged return volley was sent their way by the stricken craft. She did not know if the forth volley they sent to the Arrowship was necessary to finish her off and the fifth honestly just seemed redundant, but when dealing with the High King's Hypocrites it was better to play it safe and make sure they're dead.

By that time, however Tanxal was under fire from both port and starboard. One of the ships came about and cast a Shard into her hull. She had her mages brace the ship against this and the offending magical projectile skittered across it's bow carving a groove before being reflected into the waves to slice some random fish in half before fading away. Another cut across side a short while latter with same marginal effect while a third probably went a bit deeper. She grinned at that, Shards were useful in ambushes and taking out enemy masts but with mages and foresight a few of them were easy enough to counter iron hull or no. While they might get lucky and get one through a gunport if they they were down to using Shards like this they were getting desperate.

"Helm," she ordered letting only a glimmer of her satisfaction pass her lips "Maintain distance if possible. Tell gunnery to Fire At Will."

"Yes Mistress!" her helmsman and a junior officer Corused, enthusiasm dripping from their words. The metal hulled warship cut through the waves relentlessly, taking salvos in stride and replying with an erratic but steady hail of return fire. The rest of the squadron provided some assistance as well using more conventional naval artillery for what it was worth, though as far as she could tell most of what they did was provide a distraction. But none of that detracted from the savor of this triumph in progress. Every Drow aboard Tanxal was feeling some measure of Catharsis right now but the captain more than others. She was based on the Raethis, Valnothron's ill fated first Ironclad. A Revolutionary Warship that could and did successfully engage it's Coldlander Counterparts that was by all indications squandered in a suicidal charge against their full Line of Battle, along with one of her sisters. It was because of that loss that Lady Valcas recommended her as the commander of Tanxal. Vengeance against the Coldlanders would have to wait, but there were plenty of scores to settle with the Eternal Foe.

Soon enough the High Elven Squadron was nothing more than burning wreckage. As she admired the floating piles of burning flotsam, she was soon met by a lieutenant as she began to make her way below deck. "Mistress. I am glad to report that damage was minimal and we have suffered no loss of crew. Two Sailors and a slave have suffered minor wounds from iron splinters, a slave's foot was crushed by a gun carriage and another was concussed when he stumbled into a bulkhead after loosing his footing. All are expected to make a full recovery."

"Very good. What of the rest of the squadron?"

"I'll check on that now." He said as he ran to a small compartment near the forecastle where an odd device was secured in a specially designed table with a couple of sailors operated it. One of which put a device to his ear and spoke into a trumpet, both connected to the contrivance by wires. He quickly jotted down the message onto a piece of paper, gave it to the lieutenant and returned to his CO.

"Thirteen wounded in total, three seriously. One sailor and two slaves dead on Tharlim and one dead slave on Qailneth**. Minor hull damage and one broken spar. The Commadore sends his congratulations."

"A victory without loss of life on our part would have been a fine thing to boast about, but all and all the I feel that this has been an overwhelming success." Up until now a trio of arrowships would have a notable if not insurmountable advantage over a full squadron of four frigates and almost any engagement with them, even if they were victorious would be hard fought and bloody. A handful of casualties and some minor damage for what mostly a light squadron was an incredible run of luck. So far, House Valcas' second Ironclad warship had passed its first trial by fire with flying colors and the Radio equipped experimental squadron had fared quite well even if the thing were finicky and temperamental. By all indications she'd had gotten lucky this time in that they were not expecting an Ironclad, but as it stood she felt she could take on a high elven Tempest and at least hurt a Maelstrom. Not that she'd engage with heavier elements if it could be avoided, her job was as much to test this craft out under live fire conditions to train up crews and provide House Valcas' shipwrights with notes to help them make better Ironclads for them to man. But bloodying the High Elves for minimal losses was always worthwhile. "Relay my gratitude to the Commadore. Have the Kitchen to prepare a feast and get the Venoan wine out. This calls for a celebration."

*Crossbow Bolt
**Both brigs were named for villages in Valnothron.

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In the months following the conclusion of the escort war, tens of thousands of people were honorably discharged from the Infrastructural Military. It was the logical move economically and from the perspective of morale. A respectable number were still retained, among them a few wartime recruits but also many of the prewar career soldiers and sailors. Admiral Petrov Miles was firmly in the latter category, having been in the Infrastructural Military from it's earliest days as the Dalatyr Militia and for all of that he still had a few years left in him before mandatory retirement. Those decades in uniform had instilled in him a strong sense of duty and he knew that the Navy could use an experienced flag officer with the respect of it's crews, even if there was a promising new generation on the rise. In the days following the Peace Treaty the crew of the Avatar had been given shore leave and spent some time admiring the old city's grand architecture, a few truly excellent meals and shopping through the markets and shops. Despite spending a few months at sea leading a convoy escort to the colonies, it was well worth it when he returned home.

About six kilometers out of Borogskov was a villa. One of a series of homes built by Black Port Slaver Lords that had been confiscated by the Infrastructural Army when they were conquered and subsequently auctioned off or given to prominent servants of the state. It was a far cry from some of the villas and manors that foreign elites had built for themselves, but even before it had been renovated with improved heating, electrification and running water it was still far beyond the log cabin of his childhood or the Barracks of his early adulthood. On a warm summer evening he rolled up to it in a Navy Roadsteamer and with the assistance of his attendant and the house's two servants brought in a number of parcels containing linen, fine porcelain and glasswork, perfume, cheese, a couple of dresses and several bottles of wine, one of which he brought. When he came in, he saw something that he'd all to little of. A solidly built woman who'd helped him through a quarter of a century of conflict. His wife Anastasia. She'd been to him a lover and a friend, a mooring through turmoil, one to whom he could drop the facade of military stoicism and tempered bravado. A mother to three children, two of which had started promising careers and the youngest had excellent grades.

"Well, I hoped you had fun at sea darling." She said in just the right tone.

And with that man who'd started as a humble fisherman's brash son who'd come to lead soldiers, cannons and ships. Who'd faced down bandits, warrior hosts, slavers, pirates and the fleets of the Dark Elves. Who'd met with warlords, officers, captains, nobles, patricians, doges and frequently dealt with Committee Members. Who'd helped build an Army, a Navy and a Nation. Quietly wept. "A bit my dear, but it's good to be home."
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Re: Infrastructure (Original and Illustrated)

Post by Zor » 2020-07-11 12:27am

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n the spring of 37 IA, the maritime policy of Infrastructure changed. Demilitarization was part of this, Work ceased on new warships and Shchuka Boats with partially completed craft either being scraped for parts or converted into cargo ships, fishing boats or pleasure craft. Similarly a good number of naval craft in service were put up in drydock or slated for breakup or disassembly. Overall construction was reduced to the relief of overworked workers, but a few projects were accelerated. Similarly Infrastructure could afford to loosen up it's policy in regards to transoceanic transport. Smaller convoys launched more regularly with only one escort. This reduced costs, accelerated efforts and granted a greater degree of flexibility as far as meeting the needs of a growing colony was concerned. In one of those convoys was a ship launched three months earlier than was planned when she was first laid down under the command of captain Fenya Morisleb, simply named Bottle.

The first of her kind Bottle was 60 meters long, 8 in breadth and weighed in at 1,000 tonnes. Her rear mounted triple expansion engine could make up to 1,400 Kw of power despite being smaller than that on a Dalatyr class freighter, allowing her to make up to 30km/h in emergencies and maintain a steady cruising speed of up to 25. She had a crew of 30 sailors who were quartered in her prow underneath her sole 7.5cm defensive cannon. Her cargo space lay in her center and was in truth basically a separate hull in of itself with only a thin spacing with a few pipes and cables between it and the water. Said inner chamber had a few wells for Bottle's emergency sails breaking it up as well as some structural elements and a single airtight corridor through which one could go from the engine room to the crew quarters below deck and drains in it's bottom through which fluids could be pumped in or out with a total volume of just over 1,300 cubic meters. She had three sisters under construction: Barrel, Cask and Flask which would be entering service over the next nine months. The names of the first ships of the Bottle Class were not idly chosen, all of them were vessels for transporting liquids. Infrastructure built fleets, fought wars and reached around the world to fill the tanks of ships such as her.

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The Bottle's voyage proceeded without incident and soon arrived at the Colony on a pleasantly mild evening. She and her convoy were soon docked at a newly built harbor for vitaling, with most of her crew receiving a stint of shore leave for the next week. The next day captain Morisleb and four of her sailors took her out and puttered along to a secondary docking facility a kilometer up river. A rough palisade wall enclosed an small area under the watch of a guardtower that contained a single proper building, an sheltered open air workspace (both of which had solar panel lined roofs, a sign of the importance the Committee gave it), a paddock for draft animals (including oxen and the strange shaggy behemoths of this land), some machinery and piping a pair of large cisterns looking like oversized squat beer barrels. A fair number of stevedores worried about the area and to her surprise to see a Committee Member monitoring the operation which came to meet her. More specifically she was Transition Of Mobile Macrofauna From Marine To Terrestrial Enviroments-402122 (Transition) and she made a quick inspection of the Bottle before declaring that everything was in order and that loading would begin.

A long hose of Rubberized canvas was soon unpacked and affixed to a specialized crane before being affixed to one of the two cargo port. Soon a big electric motor began to rumble, the hoses began to shake and petroleum flowed from the cistern's to the Bottle's Bunkers. Over the next hour, a thousand cubic meters of the black liquid were poured into the hold, leaving the tanker heavy and low in the water. After everything was secured, the Bottle puttered back to the main port where her own fuel tanks would be filled with Kerosene.

At this time, Infrastructure had set up a couple of Oil Wells nearby operate infrequently due to security reasons and the colony's limited storage and transport capacity. These filled wooden barrels a few of which were decanted refined for local use or, with the majority of them, loadup as regular cargo on return voyages to the Coldlands for study, stockpiling and the limited distillation efforts already in place. It was an expensive, ungainly and unsafe set up which was not viable for the Committee's long term goals. It would still take years to expand the Petroleum Colony to meet said goals, but with the war over that was simply a matter of Infrastructural Development.
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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