Jump to content
notmuch_23

A long way down

Recommended Posts

Before he can even think about starting construction on the House Singlance "manor", Grant Knight tasked Thurgood Singlance to start the mining operation for the newly discovered mineral Vulcanium. The first step of this mining operation is, of course, excavating the shaft. Like all other underground mining operations, this shaft will be the only opening to the surface, bringing workers, machinery, and even the extracted material down and up, at least eight hundred feet each way.

The first piece of machinery on the scene, in parts, is a heavy gantry crane that can haul the blasted rock up from the shaft. It's waiting as Thurgood drives up in his Ford F-350 with his steam shovel on a flatbed trailer, to dig the soil away from the shaft. The site already has a hole down to the vulcanium, from when he cored down for petroleum exploration. Without a word, Thurgood starts a wood fire in the shovel's boiler as the rest of the crew starts assembling the crane pieces.

If this is a good strike, then House Singlance and House Senaria can completely arm the Veluriyam Empire's military, and possibly inject some epinephrine into Ursa Madeum's economy.

Edited by notmuch_23

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Grant Knight had been a soldier for as long as he could remember; and given the gaps in his memory, possibly even before he could remember. He had set foot in Terrenus, Genesaris, and Tellus Mater, and had also fought in all three. For years, combat had been his trade, and he had become very good at it. Becoming a Prince had required him to learn an entirely new skill set; things like diplomacy, and formality; solutions to problems more subtle than shooting and stabbing his way out of conflict. Now, as he came into view of the what would be the mine, he prepared to learn a new set of skills.

Instead of his normal formal attire, Grant was wearing a pair of blue jeans, a black work shirt, and work boots. He strode up to were Singlance was firing up the boiler and greeted him.

"Morning Singlance. Where do you need me?"

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

"Oh, Prince knight," Thurgood says as he stands up to greet Grant.

Grant's question though really isn't one Thurgood expected him to ask. After all, Thurgood considers Grant a superior, and thus this reverses how things should go.

"It's not really my place to order you around. In fact, I didn't even expect to see ya here."

Thurgood still can't shake his stereotype of nobles being stuck-up and spoiled, and can't shake his self-perception of being a "peasant" without status.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Grant smiled, "By now I thought you would have known me better than that Singlance! I've never been the sort of royal content to give orders and then leave the hard work to his subordinates. Also, while in Ursa Madeum at least, you and I are of equal station."

Though it wasn't clear how much longer it would stay that way. With the disappearance of his mother, his presence was increasingly required back in Hyperion, and therefore he wasn't sure if he could remain the Head of Senaria. Of course, he also wasn't sure who he would pick to replace him. He had no children of his own yet, and as far as he knew, he was Raveena's only surviving son, if only by marriage. I

He shook his head, clearing it of such thoughts. There would be a time to answer such questions, but for now there was work to be done right in front of him.

"So tell me, what needs doing?"

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

"Whelp, only thing other than diggin' down to the rock is to put the gantry crane together, 'less ya wanna drive one of the carts movin' the dirt," Thurgood tells Grant. Once the hole hits rock, the crane goes up, and the drills go down, using the steam shovel's boiler as a source of compressed gas. Then Thurgood plants the explosives and breaks the rock.

Honestly, the whole process, much like any other sort of construction, is very repetitive and tedious.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

With a nod, Grant takes up a position at the wheel of one of the carts in charge of carting the dirt away from the dig site. It was a monotonous process; pick up the dirt, drive it away from the hole, empty it out, repeat the process. Despite this, the Prince didn't mind the repetition, as it was easy to let himself get focused on the work, and not think about the myriad problems he had to deal with. Manual labor was good for providing that kind of distraction.

He would keep going until Thurgood told him to stop. Then he would offer his help with whatever came next. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It takes a number of days, but the steam shovel's bucket finally hits limestone, and the gantry crane finally went up, with both a personnel basket, and a large claw on its cables.

"Now we get to the fun part," Thurgood says as he attaches hoses to the steam shovel's auxillery boiler output, I mark the spots, we drill the holes, y'all get lifted out as I plant the explosive charges and delays, I get lifted out as cable unwinds, loud blasts, gantry lifts the rock, rinse and repeat in tiers until we reach the purple shit we're after. Any questions?"

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

By the time the earth moving was done, most of the men on the crew were like zombies, completely entranced by the unbroken rhythm of manual labor. Grant was no exception, and he was so deep in thought that one of the other men had to tap him on the shoulder to get his attention. Once they had all gathered around, Thurgood laid out the next phase of the operation. It sounded pretty straightforward, so there weren't any questions when he was done. Grant nodded, and stepped forward.

"Just tell me where you need me."

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

"Down with me; grab a drill and step in the cage," Thurgood tells Grant as he hefts one of the large drills over his shoulder before picking up a can of spray paint.

The work is monotinous, but Thurgood makes sure to take care of them. Not only does every worker have appropriate safety gear, but he got Osiria and Roy out here to make foid for the laborers, and now he knows where Bobby gets his culinary talent from. In fact, everybidy can smell dinner cooking right now. jungle pig chunks are getting browned as various vegetables get chopped up for tonight's chilli. It'll take hours to get it just right though.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Grant nod's silently and grabs one of the drills one handed, displaying little if any effort while doing so. Sometimes it was easy to forget just how strong he was, though it was certainly coming in handy today. Once in the cage, the pair descended until they were at the designated spot, and stepped out. Looking up, he could still just barely see the sunshine up above. He turned and looked at Thurgood.

"What now?"

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It wasn't just Thurgood and Grant in that cage, a few other workers followed them down as well.

"Hook your drills up to those steam hoses while I mark the holes," Thurgood says, "Wherever you see an 'x', start drillin' there."

Right after that, Thurgood starts spraying a spiral pattern of holes. At first they're about a foot from each other, but gradually get further towards the edge of a five-foot square where they're about three feet apart. The blasting will be done in three tiers. The center will require the most explosives, sonce there's only the core hole for the rock to move into. Once that first shot gets cleared out, they'll drill the first tier on the lower layer, and the second tier, a teen-foot square on the upper layer, which will require less explosive, and then the third tier to finish that layer of shaft, a twenty-foot square.

Down the crew will go, drilling and blasting an inverted pyramid, then lifting and carting away the rock to crushers for aggregate and raw materials for cement, the rest of the eight-hundred feet or so to the vulcanium deposit.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Grant followed Thurgood as he moved through the tunnel, drilling in the spots the other man had marked. Drilling the holes of course takes longer than it does to paint them, so he lags a few behind as they keep going. As he understood things, the next step would be to place explosives into the holes, then blast their way toward the vulcanium. At one point he thought about mentioning that he could probably attack with enough force to accomplish that goal if he powered up, but thought better of it. The blasting would need to be more precise than that. So he simply followed after Thurgood, drilling until he had caught up with the other man.

"I think that's all of them."

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Of course Grant can't drill holes as fast as Thurgood can mark them: that's what everybody else is here for.

When the holes get done though, the manbasket comes back down.

"It's too dangerous to have y'all down here for the next part," Thurgoos tells everybody else, "just send the spool of yellow detcord and the orange crate if you would please."

Once the detcord spool and crate of caps comes down, so does a tank of liquid marked "explosive" with a spool of flattened plastic tube and a heat-crimper.

Thurgood filles the tubes with methyl nitrate up to the surface in each hole, sticks a cap in the top, and heat-seals the seam for as little time as needed to keep from setting off the cap, then connects the cap's tails to the main line of detcord he's stringing, which have delay coils in a few key places.

When all the charges have been poured, sealed, and connected, Thurgood brings the caps and detcord spool into the manbasket, playing out cord while it rises. At the top, he connects that to a wired cap, splices those to a spool of two-conductor cable while the gantry crane moves away from the hole. Now with everybody at a safe distance, Thurgood wires the other end of the wires into the initiator's binding posts, flips the safety switch, then hands it out to Grant as workers crank warning sirens.

"Would you like the honor?"

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Grant took the device and grinned, "I was hoping you would ask. Fire in the hole!"

With the press of a button the ground shook, and a sound like a thunderclap and a freight train combined that seemed to almost be a physical presence. Dirt and stone were thrown into the air before vanishing back from which it had come. Soon the ground stopped shaking, and the dust began to settle over the area. Grant looked over at Singlance with a smile.

"I love blowing shit up."

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The blast, to untrained ears not damaged by previous reports to be just one large blast. Thurgood hears it differently from his chocleae that have been damaged by years of infrequent shooting without hearing protection: there are four distinct blasts, each one separated by about half a second. Workers spray a mist of water into the hole to remove the dust from the air as the gantry crane moves over the hole with a clamshell bucket.

1 hour ago, danzilla3 said:

"I love blowing shit up."

"Welp, pleeenty more blasts comin'," Thurgood says, "followed by all the time to get the rock out."

Upon meeting the siblings, Grant likely noticed that Thurgood and Aveline talk louder than most people find normal, and instinctively lean in a bit and turn their head so the closer ear can pick up the sound better. Forget hearing aids, they'll need cochlear implants by the time they're fifty.

"Twelve feet down, about seven-hundred eighty-eight to go."

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×