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Reforging Everrun

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"What happened here?"

John Wilder's words echoed in the silence that filled the burnt ruins of Everrun. When last he had been here the people were rejoicing after having taken their homes back from a horde of bandits. He had left to pursue his own goals, promising to return one day. It had only been a year since he had taken one last look at the city before riding off.

Now all that was left of the settlement were the burnt out husks of a few buildings. The smell of burnt wood still lingered in the air, but other than that there was nothing. No sound. No movement. No life. What could have happened here?

Dismounting his Owlbear, he walked through the remains of the city. A great sadness filled his heart at the loss of a city and its people that he had been quite fond of. But he could not deny that this suited his needs perfectly. He had come here to make a proposal, but now that was no longer necessary. 

He turned to the mercenaries and fellow gangsters behind him and grinned, "This is where we make our city."

@Csl @supernal @Dredge @Aleksei @sorainvoked @Laughingmad

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She never cared much to see the ruin and damage brought on by a raid. It often reminded her of what she was, and the countless lives she had ruined or outright ended due to her greed. The idea that she was doing it for her family had faded from her mind under the heavy realization that she simply enjoyed it. Much like these bandits she enjoyed the thrill of the heist, the battle that ensued, and the power she felt when taking something that didn’t belong to her and removing anyone that got in her way. She was really good at it, and it gave her an excuse to be a bad mother and terrible spouse. Patricia didn’t want to be that person anymore though. She didn’t want to be Miss Blonde and the woman who wore that mask. So the chance to rebuild something. The chance to take something ruined and fix it. Well that was the first step on a long and bumpy road to redemption. 

 

Where Jack had decided to ride his Owlbear that he had secured in the mountains of Terrenus, Patricia preferred more dignified and modern forms of transit. Stepping out of a magitech vehicle, her driver formally of the name Mister Orange and now Tim was also without the mask in order to join Patricia in retirement and redemption. He had joined her and made sure that his boss was taken care of and well protected. Approaching Jack from behind, Patricia have a somber nod to her boyfriend followed by a weak smile. It wasn’t a moment for jokes and merriment but to hit the pavement running after due ceremony and grieving for the loss this place had suffered. 

 

”If you need a moment.” Patricia said in a soft voice. 

 

Miss Blonde had run enough planets and dealt with enough intergalactic trade and nations to repair one small town and build it into a city. Though this was Jack’s passion project and she’d simply slip into a supporting role rather than take full charge like she was often so used to. Regardless she’d soon hopefully call for the combat engineer corps of her cloned children to assist in this endeavor soon enough. For now she would see where she was needed most. 

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Jack embraced his lover, "I'm okay my love. Tonight, we pay tribute to the dead. Tomorrow, we move forward."

The postponing of the start of construction was not only due to the memorial for the dead villagers. By tomorrow the combat engineer corps would be here, and they would have everything they needed to get to work. The troops that were here deserved a rest as well. It had been a long drive from Lunaris to get here, and some time to rest, eat, and drink would help to keep morale up.

By sundown they had set up camp. The cooks had prepared a fine meal, and they had broken out a few cases of alcohol. At the center of the assembly was a large bonfire that John had ordered to be kept going until sunrise. Holding a torch, the gangster looked out at the troops.

"For Everrun!"

A chorus of cheers went up from the crowd, and he tossed the torch onto the pile of wood. It went up in seconds, and the night was soon filled with eating, drinking, and all sorts of revelry. Towards the end of the night, John sauntered over to Patricia, a familiar gleam in his eye.

"I think I shall retire to our accommodations for the evening... care to join me?"

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As John and Patricia head to their lodging, the unmistakable sound of a diesel engine would cut through the somber silence, whining as Thurgood drives to the ruined city as fast as his pickup will roll across this terrain. The boat bringing him and Aveline back from Port Kyros had to divert around a storm, so it got back to Casper far later than he planned on.

But now, bouncing over the ground in four-wheel drive, Thurgood thunders into what used to be New Everrun, and skids to a stop not far from John and Patricia, quickly turns off the engine, cranks on the parking brake, then jumps out and sprints to them.

"Sorry I'm -huf- late," he says, panting, "Our boat from -huff- Port Kyros took longer than i thought it would. But I'm -huff- ready to start buildin' shit."

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"Thurgood! You're not late at all my friend. Construction doesn't start until tomorrow."

Thurgood Singlance had been the de facto second in command of the Wild Hearts for years. He had been one of the first to join the gang, and was currently its longest serving member besides John himself. Their partnership had been a natural one. As the owner of the only gun store in Taen, Thurgood had been able to contribute plenty of hardware to the gang. Whatsmore, his knowledge of logistics had proven to be vital in helping the Wild Hearts establish and maintain supply lines. 

Jack was undoubtedly the face of the gang; the charismatic leader with the big picture squarely in mind. Thurgood was the man who thought out the details to make the picture a reality.

He put his arm around Thurgood, "Get something to eat! Get a drink! Find a woman if you're feeling frisky. Tonight we celebrate the people of Everrun, but tomorrow we begin the next chapter!"

With that, he patted Thurgood on the back, and disappeared into his tent with his lover.


The next morning the men stood assembled before a hastily built stage. Jack strode onto the stage, flanked by Blonde and Thurgood.

"Alright, here's how this is going to work. For those of you who don't know, this" he gestured to Thurgood, "Is Thurgood Singlance. He is in charge of this project. You will follow his orders as though they were my own. I'll let him give you the details."

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"As much as I'm sure y'all wanna get the houses, workplaces, and markets back up," Thurgood says, "this place ain't gonna be worth livin' in without fresh water, a way to get rid of the literal shit, and ways to get around. First though, we gotta start the roads so we can get supplies for everything else here. It's gonna be long, hard, dirty work, but it's gotta get done. There's gonna be four main work groups: one to bust up rocks into gravel and split slate into pavers, one to actually lay the roadbed and pavers, one to cart sand from the coast, and one to cart the gravel to the road and dirt away. I'll be in the steam shovel diggin' out the bed, and any cuts we may need. Anybody here know how to drive a steam roller?"

Thurgood has been building a lot of roads lately; from Ursa Madeum to the Moss Forest Highway, he's gotten a lot of experience doing it, and for good reason. Roads are vital infrastructure. Without good roads, a civilization cannot live up to its full potential. In this case especially, Thurgood will need to bring in large amounts of heavy pipe. Try doing that over crude dirt tracks...

...after a heavy rain.

"Everybody wears hard hats and safety glasses," Thurgood says, "I've got enough for everybody. Stay clear of the heavy machinery unless you absolutely need to get close, watch what you're doing, as well as everybody around you, and we should all get out of this with all our fingers and toes. Unfortunately, since I still need to survey the road paths, and the rest of the old town, the current tasks will be breaking rock, splitting slate, and getting a supply of sand up here. That also means I'll need a survey team, and preferably somebody else that knows how to use an analog theodolite, unless there has already been a survey done that I don't know about. Any questions?"

After Thurgood ate last night, he passed up pussy to start surveying as much of the road path as he could before this meeting, identifying a cut he will need to dig, which will give him the soil to fill in another part to a gentler grade, using small flashlights on a couple sighting poles.

Edited by notmuch_23

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Her mind couldn’t focus on the project. Rebuilding a settlement and turning it into a prosperous city was something she could handle. The former crime lord had managed entire star sectors with populaces that grew and expanded as her criminal empire did. Yet, for some reason she just couldn’t allow her hands to touch this city. She couldn’t bring herself to do that. Not out of some self centered notion that she was above such things or that Jack couldn’t handle something on this scale. She didn’t want to touch this because it was pure. It was a blank slate in which to create something truly special. To her, she was beneath such things. It was too good for her and she didn’t deserve to be a part of something that was pure and without the horrors of her former life. 

 

She never really told Jack the extent of the evil she had done. He had seen her do acts of evil out of necessity, but never for the sheer thrill of the hunt and the chase. He’d never seen her fall from a bright eyed enforcer of the law into the crime lord who bombarded a city from orbit for revenge. He’d never seen her move through a military academy and gun down the young officers of tomorrow because their government tried to bring her to justice by placing a bounty on her head. But most of all, he hadn’t seen what she did at the scrap heap. None of it was out of necessity or to save her children, it was because she enjoyed it. 

 

So as Jack and his friend got to work with their civic engineering. She made sure to seclude herself and do what she did best. Day drink. Finding one of the unopened bottles of libations from last night’s get together she dropped the act she often put on for her family and took a deep swig of liquor. Doodling on her data pad she’d start to flick through the design plans of the city for the hell of it. She had nothing to do while in the tent anyways. With a bottle in one hand and the pad in the other she silently went over things and drank. 

Edited by Dredge

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Three large trucks trundle into the work space, not the more high-tech ones driven by Patricia's clone children, but they are hauling things important to the work: the steam roller that compacted the dirt for the Moss Forest highway, the smaller steam shovel that dug out the road bed, Thurgood's new steam shovel, twice as big as the other one, and a bunch of coal to fuel them. All the steam engines are now condensing engines, either by design or retrofit, which means they do not require nearly as much water. The survey team, actual surveyors, go out to the road path to do what they do best, Thurgood starts a fire in the big shovel's boiler. The machines will need to roll off the trailers under their own power.

While getting the shovel, he looked into getting a rock crusher that didn't need electricity. Every rock crusher that doesn't have a built-in motor has a belt pulley for an external source of rotational energy. Of course, he could use the steam roller, with a belt from the flywheel, but instead, he actually bought a used steam traction engine, since the roller will be in constant use, and the traction engine can do other things when not powering the rock crusher, like dragging fallen trees away and ripping out stumps. Of course, it's been retrofitted to be a condensing engine.

Those aren't here yet though, but they don't need to be to start digging and compacting the road bed, and slate splitting still needs to be done by hand.

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Though he had no need of a hardhat, nor any of the other protective gear on offer, Jack wore them to promote group unity. He happily took a place on the rock-crushing team; a job that played to his strengths. With the sheer physical power he could bring to bear, turning stone to gravel was child's play. Not to mention that with his stamina, he could work for hours on end without getting tired. Even as his men took breaks for lunch and rest, he kept going. This seemed to inspire some of them to try harder, and keep up with his example.

Only once the sun began to hang low in the sky did he lay down his hammer and wipe the sweat from his brow. By now he had pulverized god only knew how much stone, and workers came and went from the large pile he had left. Deciding he was done for the day, he put his protective gear back where it belonged, and made his way to his tent.

Upon arrival he found Patricia passed out at a table, a discarded data pad and an empty bottle of booze telling him the story. Silently, he picked her up and carried her over to their bed. He lay there, holding her for a long time until she began to stir. When she did, he was quick to soothe her.

"Everything's alright my darling," he whispered, "But it would be even better if you would talk to me."

@notmuch_23 @Dredge

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With somebody like John Wilder, one wonders why Thurgood would need a rock crusher. Well, not even the mighty Smiling Jack has the stamina of a machine, and a crusher gives more control over the size of the gravel. Instead of sleeping though, Thurgood keeps working, and will continue to work long after the crew goes to bed. Earlier, while digging the first cut, he hit rock. It will be useful for gravel, once he can get it out of the ground. to that end, he's got air-driven jack-leg drills, and plenty of explosives. The drills will get their power from the steam shovel's boiler, even though it will use up water, and the crew will have a very loud wakeup call in the morning, along with a bunch more rock to move and break.

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