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Prymont

The Canamo Canal

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The Canamo Canal is set to be one of Prymont's most significant economic achievements in modern times. The country's economy had skyrocketed after abandoning socialism in 2017 and trade agreements with countries across the wurld were established. While the takeover of the former Hellenic Rus had been questionable at the best of times, it did mean the United States could significantly lower fuel prices due to the new access to copious amounts of crude oil. The Prymontian Rus also granted them access to the Mediargic Sea, which was something the country so sorely needed. A canal was a new dream - no longer would the United States have to rely on an expansive fleet of icebreakers to work through the unforgiving waters of the Argic Ocean, and once captains began refusing to sail to Prymont, they had to turn to air and road cargo. Finally, there was the potential to link the Canamo to the Mediargic and forget the woes of relying on the road networks of @North Dniester and @Ahrana or the high cost that came with air cargo. Sea trade was a possibility once more, and with a promising economic outlook, it was coming at the perfect time.

At least, that's what the Ministry of Transport told the people. They conveniently left out that the economy had slowed as the estimated completion date of the project came and went while the canal was nowhere near ready. The icebreaker fleet had been retired for over a year, meaning that sea trade in Prymont was virtually dead. The country needed this canal but it just wasn't coming together. The blame was initially placed on building contractors. They'd come from mainland United States and refused to work in the Prymontian Rus when health and safety standards began to fall. Firm nudges from the Prymontian Rus Sarov Army were unsuccessful and a legal battle loomed. Fortunately there was an abundance of unemployed workers in the Prymontian Rus who were chomping at the bit to get back to work and earn some money. They were trained up, new machinery was purchased, and construction continued, albeit at great expense.

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Construction of the southern portion of the Canamo Canal by the Mediargic Sea.

Recently, the troublemakers had shifted from homeland workers to local villagers. The canal was set to carve through countless towns and settlements and while the people were constantly reminded of the eventual benefits due to the upturn in footfall and the potential to create 'canal cities', there was still significant unrest. Homes were destroyed, communities torn apart, families turned on their heads, and for what? So one country could access the rest of the world? The people of the canal had been open to discussion and consideration, but when their planning committee meetings and objection tribunals were ignored by the Prymontians, they turned vicious. The Sarov were already having a tough time policing the area. They could do without the risk of a civil war.

To make matters worse, the money was drying up fast. The canal had turned into a financial sinkhole and now the government had committed this much there was no turning back. Money trickled in from @Iverica and @Girkmand but the vast majority of the project was paid for by the Prymontian taxpayer, and cuts were being made wherever possible to ensure election promises were met of freezing income tax. The Prymontian Rus had ruled out any funding from the start since they already had access to the Mediargic, as did Dniester and Ahrana, and there was nobody else to benefit from the canal. Prymont had to pick up the slack, but they themselves were slacking. 

Political and economic commentators had picked up on the slowdown of work carried out on the canal. Criticism was thrown at the government left right and centre for committing to an overwhelmingly expensive project that was unnecessary in the grand scheme of things, since the Prymontian Rus had Mediargic access. The scheme was dubbed an excellent way to burn money and drown the hopes of the taxpayer in a better, cheaper tomorrow. Petitions with tens of thousands of signatures were submitted to the government asking for reviews and explanations only to be forgotten about through filibustering. Interviews were sidetracked as journalists queried representatives on the canal's progress, only for empty promises and vague answers to be issued. We're on track, we'll get there eventually, the opening of the canal will mark a great day for the United States

Many words could describe the canal, particularly those of a colourful vocabulary, but 'great' was not one of them, at least in a positive context. Perhaps a great failure, or the People's Party's great scam, but certainly not a great day for Prymont. Up to now, the canal had been a great waste of time, money, and effort. Would putting it right be worth it, or would it be best to leave as an eyesore, a permanent reminder of the incompetence and impossibly high hopes of these lowly northern dreamers?

Edited by Prymont
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"The WHAT in the Canamo Locks WHAT?", roared the Assistant Project Manager of the forward clearing group.

 

The Manager struggled to hear the report of one Field Engineer, a man from a concrete laying team assigned to wall the canal banks with a slope of concrete. Hearing was poor because at this exact moment, the Manager was watching a pair of sweaty Sarov workers pulverise a boulder obstructing the embankment face with a power jack. The clatter of steel on rock was quite tremendous.

The sun beat down on the stretch on the canal known was the Quarterway Turn, where the snake-like procession of gradual construction was currently boring into. It was hotter this far inland, as climes turned more temperate and less frigid and compounded by the approaching first summer of the new decade, workers were sweating in the noon rays despite the pleasant 16-degree centigrade ambient temperature.

The man opened his mouth to shout the report out again, taking advantage of a brief respite in the rock-breaking team's furious chiselling work. But just as he got the first word out, the burly Russian resumed with renewed enthusiasm, laying into the rock as though it was some cathartic release of pent up Slavic hormones.

 

"Oh, for Taco's sake! Saviour on a stick!", the Manager cursed, though not a soul could hear.

 

He signalled for the Field Engineer to follow him, and started walking northwards, down the path the construction had come from and away from the din of power tools.

The Manager looked over the edge of the canal--he and the Field Engineer had been standing quite close to the ledge that plummeted a good 2 dozen metres into the gorge floor. Below them, separate teams of workers worked on removing obstructions for the concrete laying crews that would follow. Further southward, from the direction they had come, a steady trickle of workers had gathered to watch a demolition team set over a hundred pounds in explosive charges lain deep in the heart of a pile of pre-historic gravel, stones, and soil that split this stretch of gorge from the next.

After a quick pause at that sight, the pair moved further down and away from the bustle of activity, the further north they went, the more orderly and artificial the gorge embankments and floor become. They followed a dirt road marked by wheel furrows and used to ferry men and resources north and south. Here and there along the parallel ledges of the soon-to-be canal, shipping containers and neat stacks of rebar lay, waiting for the next phase of the construction.

 

"Sorry sir, we're getting a bit of interference on the radio, couldn't relay this on the net. Cell signal is pretty shit too", apologised the Field Engineer as he fell into step with the Manager.

"I see... So, what did you say about the Canamo Locks?", asked the Manager.

"Well, sir... You see--"

"Coming Through! Move aside sirs!", announced a man in yellow reflector vest, coming down the road mounted on a quadbike. He waved them to the curb of the rut-road. A bright signal baton waved lazily in one hand. 

 

Rumbling down the dirt path, a small electric buggy trundled. It sped quickly, but carefully down the road, a palette with an orange hard-plastic crate marked with the "explosive" symbol (a fragmenting ball) clearly visible on its side. Hanging on to the buggy's rear were two Sarov guards, one of whom waved cheerfully at the Manager.

 

"Demo, reckoned that the obstacle was a bit denser. I hear they just had a second look at the rock wall with the new LIDAR equipment from Toledo. Requisitioned a touch more boom-stuff from logi--the damn laggards!", reflector vest man remarked, not harshly. He tipped his hardhat, gunned the quad and chased after the buggy.

 

A few more buggies came rolling down the road, so the pair decided to pull off the dirt path. Just past the shoulder of the road was a slight rise, something of a very short and squat hillock. Within a few seconds they had a slight vantage over the road and the gorge further below.

The construction was moving from the northern access point (at a river that fed the Canamo), southward until it hit the progress of the Mediargic team. The operation was segmented, with locks, turns, and "reaches" marking milestone points in the project. LIDAR survey and careful pre-plotting helped determine an accurate and easy to bore path. The idea was also to coordinate a Canamo team and a Mediargic team and have them eventually meet at the Midway Reach in the future. It was only by sheer grace of the divine that the topography was more-or-sea level. A blessed convenience of some divine's worldbuilding that this stretch of narrow land between Canamo and Mediargic just so happened to be flat, with wide gorges perforating the way, a sedimentary easy to bore geology, and at bloody sea-level. If it hadn't been, a canal of this length would require too many locks and the cost would render it utterly unfeasible.

Progress from the Canamo team had begun with an excavation team using a combination of controlled blasts and heavy boring and excavation equipment to widen and smoothen the banks, further inland such as now in the Quarterway reach the advance excavation team had to deal with clearing kilometres worth of rock and soil between the natural gorges that made up the pre-historic river. Following behind them (by a few kilometres) were corps of logistical units, masonry-laying crews, and engineers who were preparing the canal ways with concrete embankments, power generators, reservoirs and auxiliary pumps for the locks--and all that was just the bare minimum. After which still lay the process of installing the longest series of waterway locks the Eurth had ever seen--a first that was still in the finalising stage. 

 

"Now then. What was that?", queried the Manager.

"Well sir, to put it--", stuttered the Field Engineer.

"Yes?", said the Manager impatiently.

"Sir the err, embankment--the laying team--"

"Taco man! Out with it!", the Manager interrupted irritably.

"There's been a--"

"Damn your eyes, can't you just say it?"

"I'm trying si--"

"Well?"

 

The Field Engineer opened his mouth again, but just as he spoke, the earth shook. Scarcely a millisecond had passed when (no other way to describe it really), a great bloody bang, like the world's largest paper bag explosion clapped through the entire valley. A spectacular spike of acoustic interruption that made everyone in the area temporarily deaf and probably gave a few not wearing ear-protection tinnitus.

From their vantage, the pair could see the great rock and soil barrier between gorges vanish in a cloud of dust and smoke as it came crashing down in a controlled blast. Great trunks, jets of water pumped at high-pressure surrounded the blast site, forming a screen of watery mist around it to prevent a dust cloud from forming.

The Manager, briefly stunned by the explosion had been gaping at it. Coming to his senses, he turned back to the Field Engineer, who was likewise stunned and gaping.

The Field Engineer turned to the Manager and delivered his message. Though a look of horror was now in his eyes.

 

"I've been told to ask you not to trigger the explosives."

 

The Manager looked glassy eyed. He swivelled on his hips to look at the contained geyser of dirt and dust that had just bloomed from hundreds of kilos of explosives being detonated. The pillar of greyish dust rose lazily against the bright blue noon sky. He swivelled back to the Field Engineer. He was speechless.

 

"I suppose its's a bit... late for that", the Field Engineer followed up.

 

There was an awkward silence.

The Manager lifted an arm and vaguely flailed it at the dust cloud. He did not look amused.

 

---

 

Apparently, some overlooked geological faults had caused a section of an embankment wall further back to buckle. An entire segment had threatened to collpase as it teetered and groaned precariously on one side of the canal. Fearing a total collapse, the manager in charge of the embankment construction tried to cancel the scheduled blast out of fear that the shockwave would be the last nail in the segment's coffin.

The dispatched engineer had arrived too late, and the ensuing explosion caused approximately 18 metric tons of concrete to collapse.

 

---

 

OOC: Creative liberties--they would have sounded a siren for a good few minutes before using explosives that and there should have been ear protection for everyone working with loud power tools and within good earshot of the blast zone.

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