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  • "I'd like to do this the 'right' way too. But we don't have the time." Ash set her jaw. "Stitch-Eyes might show up at any time. Can't dither about, earnin' our dust the hard way."

    "I'm not a damned bandit!" snapped Serge. "Of all the... Ash, we're not robbing a train."

    "Why not?" Seres turned to face Serge and looked down at him, resting her free hand on her hip. "What's the hurt? Things 're only what you need 'em for. And right now, we need powder a lot more than some guildy up north does."

    "What's the..." Serge spluttered as he stood up and glared into Seres' face. "You stupid girl, you think we can rob a train without hurting anyone? It'll be a damn miracle if no one dies. And afterwards? When you squeeze the people on top, it's the ones at the bottom who feel the pinch. And I should know." He looked down at the bottle Seres was holding and made a grab for it. Seres, surprised, let him pull it from her grasp. Then her face darkened and she pulled back a fist.

    "No!"

    "None of that, now!"

    Ash and Lans got up almost at the same time. They each grabbed one of Seres' arms just as she began to step forward, and she silently struggled against her grip. Serge stepped back, raising one arm defensively, but then lowered it when he saw that Seres wasn't getting free. He took a long pull on the bottle and glared at the three of them.

    When Seres stopped trying to pull herself free, Ash let go. Lans loosened his grip, but held on a little longer while he turned to Serge and spoke. "I don't like it, but Ash is correct." The old man shrugged. "The six of us face long odds against an entire outlaw gang and an anathema leading them. Dust would even those odds."

    "So would a battalion of soldiers," spat Serge. "Which we had! We could have stayed at Bronze Hill and we'd have their support!"

    "...and an entire town of folks in harm's way," Ash added on. Her tone was getting sterner by the moment. "Lost Souls don't care about who else gets hurt. I've seen it. You've seen it. I kept our group small because I didn't want to risk anyone else. Well, that means we've got to make up for our lack of numbers. And this is the only way I see to do it."

    Serge tried to stare Ash down. When that didn't work, he cussed and then stormed off, taking the whiskey with him.

    Bo had sat in silence through all of this, drawing her arms and legs into herself. Now she rose and walked up to Ash with a face full of misgivings.

    "I will talk to him," she said, nodding in the direction Serge had taken. "I... I do not like this path you are taking, Mistress Ash. But I will follow where you lead."

    "Thank you, Bo," Ash said, with some relief. "I do appreciate that."

    Bo nodded and departed. The others returned to their places around the circle.

    "Well then," said Ash, after some time had passed. "Are there any more objections?" She looked around the circle. No one would meet her eyes. "Good. Well, I've thought about it a bit, and I think our best bet is to start from the railway depot at Rustbank."

    "Where's that?" Seres asked quietly, leaning toward Lans.

    "South, southeast, if I remember," he answered. "Red Gulch built a refinery there in '47. Now most of the mining operations in the region bring raw dust there. They process it, and ship it all over."

    Ash nodded. "My thinkin' is, we can find schedules and shippin' manifests in the depot, find a train headin' north with wand-ready powder, and rob it on the way."

    Seres looked doubtful. "We can't carry that much dust between us. Not if we want to move fast."

    "Nope. So we'll have to either decouple the storage car or steal the whole train."

    Lans winced. "Steal the whole train? Ash, have you ever tried to wrangle a team of fire-yeddim before?" Ash frowned and shook her head, but Lans went on regardless. "They're sensitive beasts, for their size. I doubt they'll respond well to a sudden change of drivers. Even if they did, it takes at least three people to drive them, per shift. And if we brought them here, what would we do with them afterwards? Turn them loose?"

    "I wasn't thinkin' of usin' the tower, actually," Ash cut in when Lans paused to take a breath. "Don't you think it could push or pull a car or two?"

    Lans put a hand to his chin. "Hmmm... perhaps."

    Seres whistled. "Smart! We can loose the freight car from the drivers' car, hitch it to the tower, and haul it wherever we want!"

    Ash smiled. "That's the idea. So what do you think?"

    "It's risky, but it could work," Lans replied slowly. "But driving the tower takes three people - maybe two, if we pare it down to just the driver and a scout. That leaves just three or four of us to take the train. I'm sure the freight cars will have a guard, and the drivers won't sit and wait patiently while we sabotage the couplings. To say nothing of who else might be on the train..."

    Ash raised a hand. "Nobody said it would be easy, Lans. We're goin' to need coordination for this."

    "That, or ungodly good luck," huffed Lans.



    The posse set out for Rustbank the next morning - or at least, most of them did. During the night's plan-making, the possiblity had come up that, somehow, the Lost Souls were right behind them - after all, they seemed to have the ability to turn up anywhere. And so, leaving the tower behind at the old mine was a risky proposition. The solution was to leave someone behind to guard it.
    • Serge and Bo stayed at Ash's suggestion. Serge still seemed sore after the last night, and Ash felt it would be judicious not to force him to join an enterprise he disagreed with. On top of that, his ribs weren't healing quickly. Bo, hopefully, could help with both problems.
    • Lans and Seres volunteered. Or, more accurately, Lans volunteered and Seres refused to leave him alone.
    • Gaze, alone, would take up that task. She was the obvious choice - she wouldn't be able to do much at Rustbank, and if she couldn't defend the tower her ability to fly would help her to escape and warn the others.
    • Something else?



    On the frontier of the Wild South, there's only one woman with the grit to take on its most dangerous outlaws and bring them Back Alive, or Maybe Dead.

    Avatar by K.S. Brenowitz

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    • I think Serge and Bo should stay behind. Lans and Seres are heavy hitters, and Gaze, if nothing else, can perform as scout. Serge is hard to leave behind but I don't want to force him into it. Others' thoughts?


      I post Artifacts in this thread. How I make them is in this thread.
      I have made many tools and other things for 3rd Edition. I now host all of my creations on my Google site: The Vault of the Unsung Hero

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      • Originally posted by The Unsung Hero View Post
        I think Serge and Bo should stay behind. Lans and Seres are heavy hitters, and Gaze, if nothing else, can perform as scout. Serge is hard to leave behind but I don't want to force him into it. Others' thoughts?
        Agreed. Although, I suspect the challenges to be "tailored" to the skills of those who go along......

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        • Gaze, alone, would take up that task. She was the obvious choice - she wouldn't be able to do much at Rustbank, and if she couldn't defend the tower her ability to fly would help her to escape and warn the others.

          ...I mostly just want more of her perching on top like a bird XD


          The artist behind the quests From Out of a Dream (complete) and Back Alive, or Maybe Dead (running!). Go give a read and make your choice!

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          • "I'd like to do this the right way too. But we don't have time, Stitch Eyes might show up at any moment. Can't either about. So unless one of you has another idea?"


            Thoughts ripple out, birthing others

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            • Originally posted by FallenEco View Post
              "I'd like to do this the right way too. But we don't have time, Stitch Eyes might show up at any moment. Can't either about. So unless one of you has another idea?"
              You're about a week late for that vote, but if it's any consolidation, that's what was already selected.


              I post Artifacts in this thread. How I make them is in this thread.
              I have made many tools and other things for 3rd Edition. I now host all of my creations on my Google site: The Vault of the Unsung Hero

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              • Originally posted by midnightcyclist View Post
                Gaze, alone, would take up that task. She was the obvious choice - she wouldn't be able to do much at Rustbank, and if she couldn't defend the tower her ability to fly would help her to escape and warn the others.

                ...I mostly just want more of her perching on top like a bird XD
                https://goo.gl/images/gCyisP

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                • Originally posted by The Unsung Hero View Post

                  You're about a week late for that vote, but if it's any consolidation, that's what was already selected.
                  Dang. Sorry


                  Thoughts ripple out, birthing others

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                  • Serge and Bo stayed at Ash's suggestion. Serge still seemed sore after the last night, and Ash felt it would be judicious not to force him to join an enterprise he disagreed with. On top of that, his ribs weren't healing quickly. Bo, hopefully, could help with both problems

                    Gaze flew on ahead - presumably to scout - while the rest rode the train alongside the tracks. Once or twice they had to make way for oncoming fire yeddim, and watched as the the mighty beasts passed with a convoy of cars behind them. Then they rode on through the immense dust clouds the train left behind.

                    The tracks led between hills, between the walls of a canyon, and finally into a wide, low valley that housed Rustbank itself.

                    Legends said this place used to be a river delta - water running down from the north through the canyon flowed here and then spread into many smaller streams and creeks. But the Rustbank of the modern day was a dry place, served by wells and water collectors. The troughs in the land now carried rail freight between there and most parts of Fire's Edge.

                    Rustbank got its name for the rusty color of its soil. Said soil made a fine base for adobe, and most of the standing structures in the town were built from it. From a distance, it almost looked like a collection of houses had risen fully-formed out the mud, with the tracks laid around them. It was not a large town - in those days, almost all of the housing was taken up by those working for Red Gulch, and anything left over was rented out to miners passing through. Even so, tent-camps and shanties were thick along the south side of the town, where people who waited to get enough money for a chance to go somewhere else bided their time.

                    The railway depot lay at the center of the town, with one modest station for managing passengers and a few more for managing freight. Stabling for the yeddim was kept nearby. On the east side lay the refinery, as near to the tracks as its builders dared make it. On the west were residences, and whatever businesses not related to dust that Rustbank could sustain.

                    As they came out of the canyon, Seres whistled as the sight below. "I ain't never seen so much track in one place before."

                    Lans, riding beside her, nodded. "It's grown since I was here last. Although, I don't see as many trains as I would have thought."

                    Ash privately agreed. Thinking back, it felt strange that they hadn't encountered more trains on the trip south. And there was only one more readying to leave as they watched. At the moment yeddim and laborers were towing cars into place and hitching them together. The drivers' wagon was empty.

                    Seres leaned over to Ash and pointed at that train - such as it was. "What about that one?"

                    Ash shook her head and frowned. "No. We'll need time to get ready, and I'd like at least one whole day to do it. By the time we get back to the tower and get it ready, that one will be long gone." She leaned forward in her saddle and absentminded rubbed King's head. "We've got to find a schedule, a shippin' manifest. Something to let us know where things'll be ahead of time." She paused, and then thought out loud:
                    • "Somewhere in the refinery, they've got to keep records of what they're shippin' out. Orders from clients, bills. We can guess where our train is from those."
                    • "The depot should have a schedule. A place this size won't work without one."
                    • "We should ask around in the town, or the camp. Whoever's runnin' the freight gangs would know what's goin' where."
                    • Something else?
                    OOC Commentary
                    In some ways, Creation's technology is surprisingly advanced. In others, it's still quite primitive. For example, the Realm can produce enough steel to support building a network of railroads, but the vehicles that run on these railroads are still pulled by glorified pack animals. The end result is impressive in its way, but it has certain limitations that the technology it is emulating does not.

                    The logistics of real-world railroads was supported by relatively widespread literacy, clockwork timepieces, and the telegraph. Creation is mostly illiterate, clockworks are very rare, and the fastest nonmagical means of communication is still semaphore towers. The end result of this is that global scheduling for the railroads used in this story is somewhere in between "impossible" and "too expensive to be worth doing." Instead, a number of workarounds have to be implemented to allow individual town stations to manage their own schedules ad hoc without getting in each other's way:

                    * Tracks running east-west or north-south are almost always laid side-by-side . Using the same track alternately for trains headed in opposite directions is rarely done.
                    * Schedules are based around general times of day (e.g. "mid-morning", "afternoon", "evening twilight") instead of numerical time.
                    * Each station regularly shares scheduling information with the stations adjacent to it, and only those stations. Chaining schedules like this makes planning long-distance trains possible, if a bit imprecise.
                    * Only a few people running a train station need to be able to read - senior conductors, station managers, and clerks. Instructions from these top people and liberal use of pictographs are sufficient to organize larger groups of illiterate workers.
                    * Passengers on trains are not expected to read either. They ask the station manager what train to board and when, or refer to notice boards that also make use of pictographs. They buy unmarked chits rather than tickets, which are sold by the station managers and collected by the conductors.



                    On the frontier of the Wild South, there's only one woman with the grit to take on its most dangerous outlaws and bring them Back Alive, or Maybe Dead.

                    Avatar by K.S. Brenowitz

                    Comment


                    • "Somewhere in the refinery, they've got to keep records of what they're shippin' out. Orders from clients, bills. We can guess where our train is from those."

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                      • Originally posted by KFinigan View Post
                        "Somewhere in the refinery, they've got to keep records of what they're shippin' out. Orders from clients, bills. We can guess where our train is from those."
                        This. I would also like to pointout the refinery will tell us the best target.


                        Thoughts ripple out, birthing others

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                        • "Somewhere in the refinery, they've got to keep records of what they're shippin' out. Orders from clients, bills. We can guess where our train is from those."

                          "I'd look for the stationmaster's log, personally," replied Lans. "The refinery might keep track of shipping, but the schedule is set by the railroad men."

                          "Why not talk to the folks in the freight gangs?" Seres suggested. "They'll know what's goin' on the next train. Even better, they might know if there'll be more guards or a bigger team drivin' it."

                          Ash looked at the other two, then shrugged. "Alright. We'll split up and try all three." She flicked King's reigns, and the lizard started to walk down the slope. "Be back here after sundown!"


                          The refinery was a collection of discrete buildings, some placed conspicuously further away from the others. The whole of it was surrounded by a rude stone wall, about six feet high, with noticeably jagged bits of rock lining the top.

                          There was a big wooden gate in the wall, facing west towards the train yard. From here, Ash could see a couple of guards taking their ease just outside the entrance. The gate was wide invitingly open.

                          Ash glanced at the skyline. Dusk was coming on. Soon, the day-shift would go home for the night, and the gates would close.

                          After a bit of thought, she decided...

                          • ...to sneak in under cover of night.
                          • ...to go around the side and vault over the wall, with King's help.
                          • ...to try bluffing her way through the gate.
                          • Something else?



                          On the frontier of the Wild South, there's only one woman with the grit to take on its most dangerous outlaws and bring them Back Alive, or Maybe Dead.

                          Avatar by K.S. Brenowitz

                          Comment


                          • Mmmm I really want to bluff because bluffing is fun, but I'm going to go with vault over the wall with King's help because we don't use King enough.


                            I post Artifacts in this thread. How I make them is in this thread.
                            I have made many tools and other things for 3rd Edition. I now host all of my creations on my Google site: The Vault of the Unsung Hero

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                            • Originally posted by The Unsung Hero View Post
                              Mmmm I really want to bluff because bluffing is fun, but I'm going to go with vault over the wall with King's help because we don't use King enough.
                              I wanted to vote bluff too. Until your comment. King ftw!

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                              • Originally posted by The Unsung Hero View Post
                                Mmmm I really want to bluff because bluffing is fun, but I'm going to go with vault over the wall with King's help because we don't use King enough.
                                Thirded. Maybe we can get one of the others make a distraction


                                Thoughts ripple out, birthing others

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