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The Canamo Canal


Prymont

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A canal to connect the world. That is the ambitious project of one country, shooting well above its league, working hard with friends new and old to achieve the impossible. That country’s influence would be spread along the way, not only through the alliances they’d form but from the benefits of the canal. This undertaking would see shipping times cut drastically, which would benefit business partners and Admazon Prime users alike. With products arriving quicker, companies of the country of origin would see their profit margins grow, as they were able to deliver quicker and satisfy their customers. Great bonds would be formed with greater consequences, propelling this one country into global stardom. A newly adopted ideology would rise to prominence, spreading their beliefs and ideals to normalise their very unnatural, sinister goal.

This is not the Manamana Canal. This is more than the Manamana Canal.

This is the Canamo Canal.

The brainchild of the United States’ government, this canal aims to end the perilous shipping routes of the Argic Ocean through connecting the Canamo to the Mediargic. Avoiding icebergs and escorting some of the world’s largest cargo ships through some of the choppiest waters in the world had been the norm for the United States for decades. Quickly, a working relationship was established with the Islas Ultramares of @Iverica to fund and maintain an elaborate icebreaking fleet that would regularly clear a safe route and ensure that ships weren’t damaged. During the socialist days of Prymont, where high taxes meant the government could throw all the money in the world at whatever they wanted, this incredibly expensive mission was not an issue. However, as the country entered a new era of centre-right thinking and ‘Progress for the People’, these expenses were called into question.

Costs were cut. Jobs were lost. Ships were damaged beyond repair. Orders went undelivered. Slowly, countries were beginning to lose interest in trading with the United States. Cutting tariffs wasn’t feasible, unless the US wanted to lose more income. Compensating the damaged ships was already costly enough, and now the slowly rising taxation figures were painting a wealth-destroying picture. An alternative had to be found. Thankfully, they didn’t have to go looking far.

Iverican geographical surveying experts had been called into southern Hellenic Rus, to investigate a series of gorges that could be excavated and flooded to create an artificial waterway. Within weeks, they had their answer. It’d be possible, but expensive - an issue that the US had been hoping to avoid. Nevertheless, financial advisors promised that it’d be cheaper in the long term than continuing their icebreaking fleet, which was putting a serious strain on the annual budget. It was decided that the majority of the budget from the icebreaking fleet would go to the canal project, with further funding coming from Iverica and @Girkmand, two countries with a vested interest in the success of the canal. Additional revenue would be sought from public lotteries, which rewarded participants with tax-free cash prizes while also positively impacting public opinion of the monumental undertaking. Finally, future income would be guaranteed by charging usage fees, ensuring that the canal would be sufficiently maintained and workers would be generously paid.

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Part of the Krylov River, which would later be widened to form the Canamo Canal.

With the financing woes aside, new problems arose. The majority of the planned canal lay outside of the Hellenic Russian border - many would consider this to be a bigger problem than finding some money. In fact, this land was owned by the Ascorian Republic, a notoriously backwards nation that had experienced a few minor difficulties with Prymont in the past. Of course, the United States couldn’t just begin constructing such a canal without receiving consent, and preferably control of the land, from Ascor, but it was unlikely for the Ascorians to cooperate.

President Andrejew was not known to be a nice man, but then, Ascor was not known to be a nice country. The small, quiet country had lost considerable amounts of land during the Second Argic War, having been positioned on the losing side, and was still struggling to recover. Their economy depended upon cheap consumables, like grain and ore, alongside rip-off cars and weaponry. Their products were low quality and therefore undesirable, meaning that the few crutches they did have were ready to crumble, held together only by the budget sticky tape that was the somewhat stronger Hellenic Rus. Once their northern neighbours fell into chaos, Ascor was well and truly on its last legs. But President Andrejew was aware of the US’ plan for the canal. He was aware that it ran right through his borders. And he was aware of the potential gains to be had.

President Duval agreed to meet with Andrejew in April. It was to be a secret meeting, one kept away from the public eye, to protect Duval as much as it was to protect Andrejew’s public opinion. If he was to be seen working with the enemy, his days would be numbered. Congress would demand a snap election, his party would elect a new leader, and he’d be doomed to the life of a failure for the rest of his years. If there was any positive news to come from the meeting, it’d only be announced when the benefits were there to see for all. On paper, Andrejew had everything to gain, but in reality, it was all his to lose.

A satisfactory outcome was agreed upon after just three hours. For the sum of 4 trillion Prynds, the United States would purchase a 70,769km² plot of land from Ascor. Only 100 billion Prynds of this would be paid monetarily; the rest would go to free usage throughout the canal, considering the economic benefits and regeneration of the land that such a canal would bring. Ascor would lose a massive portion of their land and population, but would stand to gain significantly more from the purchase. The newly acquired land would become one with the Hellenic Rus, with the people gaining dual citizenship and free movement across the Ascorian-Hellenic Russian border. In return, the United States would receive undisputed control of four rivers, three of which would go on to form the canal.

Funding an evil country was something that would typically ensure that Duval wouldn’t be elected during the next campaign, and certainly wasn’t something he wanted to do, but it was a necessary evil. The news would be somewhat hidden from the people, with the government implying that the purchase was cheap and made through bank loans rather than from the taxpayer’s pocket. Regardless, the public would make their money back anyway with the Canamo Lottery, which had already paid out β4 million over the course of a month to several lucky winners. Advertising campaigns during prime daytime TV further improved public opinion, and with promises of higher prize winnings in the future as the canal progressed, the people were more on board with the idea with every passing day.

Within days, the Ivericans and Girkmandians had arrived. With the Prymontians they set up camp at the Krylov River, where the water soon dried out and became the Muzhi gorge. There would be a heavy military presence, to protect the workers from any angry locals and to calm and inform the locals of the good work that was going on. The first step would be to prepare the area for the excavation of the gorge and widening of the river. Villages nestled on the edge of the Krylov would receive protection through natural defence solutions as the United States attempted to please the residents and refrain from interfering with their livelihoods. Special fishing zones would be allocated for them further down the river, so they could continue to earn a living as the canal was constructed. Existing bridges would be extensively modified or rebuilt entirely to accommodate the future colossal vessels that would pass by. Unlike the peacekeeping missions in the Hellenic Rus, the Prymontians would be as accommodating and helpful as possible. This canal would change the entirety of the shipping industry in northern Argis, and it all started with one quiet, gentle river.

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Construction experts work to form a defence barrier and ditch to protect local villages.

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  • 4 weeks later...

Canamo Camp Bravo | 1212hrs
18th September 2018
Krylov River
Southern Prymontian Rus

 

"It does not look much like a canal."

"That's because it's not ready yet, comrade."

Sergei and Vlad, two soldiers of the Sarov Resistance Army, were enjoying their sandwiches during their lunch break as they overlooked the early progress of the Canamo Canal. Along with four thousand others, they'd been sent to the Krylov River to act as glorified security guards for the Prymontian, @Iverican and @Girkmandian workers. Their days were spent patrolling the river, handling disputes from angry locals, teaching Ivericans how to swear in Prymontian, and trying not to go insane from the boredom of it all. After fighting the Circle of Death in the war torn capital for months, patrolling a canal was quite the step back. Many soldiers struggled to stay awake during the day, and were often found snoozing under the shade of trees in the afternoon when they'd dozed off during their lunch breaks. Instead of being barked at by their commanders and forced to do press-ups as a punishment, they simply received glares and mutters of disapproval from the workers. They could live with that.

Such an expensive international project required armed protection. The spearheads of the project were unable to provide that themselves, as the USPGF were still busy bringing aid to the unsettled southern lands. Sending more soldiers to the canal would raise costs further, and the public were already unhappy with the recent tax increases. So, the only solution left were the Sarov Resistance Army, who had been established in mid-2017 when the country began to crumble. Quickly they'd been rounded up and organised by Iverican intelligence forces, and were now controlled by Prymontian politicians in Salonica, who took orders from military officials in New Halsham. The chain of command was quite long, but at the end of it, the Sarov men were left to do as they pleased, so long as they didn't delay construction.

Progress so far had been slow. Thousands of previously unemployed nationals sought cheap, unskilled work around the canal. While the more executive, highly skilled jobs were left to the three funding countries, the locals sought to widen the existing river and implement temporary flood defence measures to protect coastal villages. Many were trained to use heavy machinery, providing them with skills for life. Further on, engineers and geographical experts created the foundations for state-of-the-art locks and spillways, while the Muzhi gorge to the west was excavated and dredged. It was still only early days, and due to the monumental scale of the project, progress would be rather slow.

"How is your cat?"

"She is fine. People at the camp feed her meat from their sandwiches. She is learning to catch fish from the river. She is a happy kitten."

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Sergei posing with his kitten.

"Have you decided on a name for her yet?"

"Damian, the little boy from the village, you know? He likes to come and play with her in the evening. He calls her Tiger."

"She is grey though."

"She is a cat. She does not care what she is called."

Sergei had adopted Tiger upon arriving at Canamo Camp B, having found her as a stray. She had been sat by the river, shaking and thin, when he scooped her up, wrapped her in his coat, and took her to his tent to share some tinned tuna. Since then, she had become a staple of the camp, entertaining the kids that visited daily from the neighbouring village and keeping Sergei cosy at night. Many pets resided in the camp, with inhabitants adopting local strays or even bringing their own pets from home. In fact, the atmosphere in Canamo Camp B was very friendly indeed, as the workers, volunteers, and soldiers all found that, while they were just here to do a job, it was better to make friends and pass the time.

Prymontians brought their iconic sloe whiskey, and were the first to hand out spare warm gear on the colder nights. They told tales of being snowed in for days, and fantasised over the warmer shores of the Mediargic Sea that they'd be reaching next year upon the completion of the canal. The fiery, cheerful Ivericans were keen to share fruity wines and luxury craft beers, their vibrant accents heating up the camp in the evenings. Even the Girkmandians joined in on the fun, with their traditional ales being a cheap, easy way to make new friends and encourage some sleep. 

Together, the people of the canal were taught Standard Prymontian by their ever patient hosts, who would do anything to help the newcomers settle in and work to full capacity. While the ulterior motives of completing the canal for the economic and political gains loomed ahead, everyone here had quickly realised that there was more to this project than endless work. As small, diverse communities were established along the river, friendships were too. 

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  • 1 year later...

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 (see edit history)
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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 as 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. Signalling that things would get warmer still was the perceptible approach of the decade's first summer. Under such conditions 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-less sea level. A blessed convenience of some divine's wurldbuilding 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 Eurth shook. Scarcely a millisecond had passed when (no other way to describe it really), a great bloody bang, like the wurld'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 it'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 collapse 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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