Outside of Greenland the landscape was rife with wreckage. Cloudhawk’s fledgling territory was a place encased in ancient ruins.
These ruins were different from the sort around Sandspire. Those were what remained of an ancient industrial metropolis with warehouses and manufacturing plants. So vast was it that even to this day scavengers were still pulling out valuable pieces of equipment to be traded. Although the ruins at the borders of Greenland were similarly vast, they were merely what was left of an ancient city.
Cities had relatively fewer items of worth waiting to be excavated. What’s more, the environment outside of the oasis itself was quite harsh. A thousand years of erosion and the blazing sun have reduced what could be used to ruin.
Now the wreckage had become a playground for all manner of vicious wasteland beats. Enormous, savage creatures were a common sight lumbering among the slowly rotting husks of buildings. There were also hordes of infected things and feral mutants. It was a place where danger lurked around every corner. No one was eager to live in such a place.
However, it was a mistake to assume there was nothing of use out there. It was large enough that ten Greenland Cities could fit inside, a complicated maze of jagged skyscrapers.
Ordinarily it made for a fine protective buffer between the outside world and Greenland. Dangers from elsewhere were loathe to risk passing through such an inhospitable place. Now as the city grew, they found that the ruins were also a good place to install hidden watch posts. If an invading power tried to sneak up on them Greenland would know well in advance and could prepare.
Dawn was seated uncomfortably in a small plane with Terrangelica in her lap. The vehicle took her away from Greenland and as they crossed the enchantment’s border the vast ruins spread out before her.
She looked at it with wide eyes. The world was a swath of rusty yellow that stretched far into the distance. Broken remains of what once were towering building were laid here and there, fallen monuments to an age long passed. It didn’t matter how glorious they used to be, now they were only piles of metal and concrete, barely discernible from the sand that half-swallowed them.
She had to ask herself; is an Elysian still an Elysian when they left home?
Dawn peaked over the side, at the expanse of ruins that flowed beneath her. It was a vision that made her mind wander. She didn’t regret leaving Skycloud and taking shelter with Cloudhawk, but she wasn’t alone. A hundred members of her estranged family had followed her out into this place. What was in store for them?
When she first defected from Skycloud, the only thought on Dawn’s mind was vengeance. The enmity in her heart cooled through the following months, however, and as time stretched on she was confronted with how improbably revenge really was.
Arcturus Cloude was a cunning genius. There had to be a reason why he hadn’t culled the weeds in his garden, allowing Dawn and Cloudhawk to live. After all, if he wanted them dead he was more than powerful enough to see it done.
Ever since committed herself to this course, Dawn had come up with a number of schemes and plans to make Arcturus pay. None of them seemed plausible, none of them offered any hope. And if there was no hope, what point was there in sticking to a doomed mission? She wasn’t afraid of dying, but she was afraid for Cloudhawk and the others.
Roc broke into her reverie with a quiet word. “We’re nearly there, Miss.”
Dawn nodded and prepared herself.
The Polaris family’s young mistress had changed a lot. Roc remembered that the Dawn of yesteryear had never kept secrets. Lawless, reckless, always free with her thoughts and emotions. These days he often saw her in silence, mulling over something. When she took action, she did so much more carefully. Was she even the same devil woman everyone in Skycloud had tiptoed around?
A lot had changed when the general died.
If he’d lived to return to Skycloud, Dawn would have continued to live happily under his guidance. Perhaps Cloudhawk would have taken his post as general and married Dawn. Life would have looked so much different.
Both passengers lapsed once again into silence as the plane made its descent somewhere on the borders of Greenland.
Dawn disembarked onto a relatively empty expanse among the ruins. It was clearly a spot that was carefully chosen. On all sides the husks of buildings were heaped up tall as mountains to form a sort of border wall. There was no way in or out, except vertically.
Inconvenient, but safe. Wandering wasteland critters wouldn’t trouble them here.
Central to this isolated area was a camp of average size. With some work it could easily be converted into a station for ten or twenty thirty thousand people.
With the help of Terrangelica and the Heart of the Mire, Dawn had already terraformed the area as needed. Not only was it perfectly flat, but the soil was also soft and ready to be tilled. And that was exactly what they would do here, in Greenland’s first agricultural community.
Dawn had come here personally to see it get up and running.
“Miss Dawn, you’ve arrived.”
A bespectacled elderly scientist greeted her. He welcome Dawn with great respect, for though he didn’t know her whole background her worth to Greenland was unassailable. Through her efforts Greenland City’s infrastructure had exploded into a period of unprecedented growth. That was enough to earn everyone’s respect. If these agricultural communities took off that would only raise her esteem among the people all the more.
Dawn rested Terrangelica against her shoulder and looked over the area. “How are things coming along?”
The scientist shoved his glasses higher on the bridge of his nose. “Very smoothly, Miss, very smoothly. Our first test field has already produced a yield. Please, come see for yourself.”
Dawn allowed herself to be led to where they’d begun planting crops. The whole thing was covered in white plants.
It was a carpet of mushrooms roughly the size of a fingernail. They spread far across the field like a carpet. She watched for a moment as several hired hands from Greenland stooped among them, plucking the mature mushrooms for harvest. However there were far too many for so few workers. They would have to work all day and all night to harvest them all.
Across from the workers were scientists busily pouring fertilizer. Of the mushrooms that were plucked, spores remained that were primed for the next round. The scientists used modified spray bottles to wet the ground with eboncrys-infused fertilizer, and in just a few moment tiny sprinkles of white started to sprout from the ground.
In other words, the new harvest was growing up just as the old one was being gathered! Dozens of workers spent days toiling in the fields to gather these mushrooms, only to turn back when the job was done and find the fields replenished. It was endless work but provided stupendous yield.
The Polaris family representatives gaped at the scene, and their shock deepened when bags of previous harvested mushrooms were laid out before them.
It wasn’t very long ago that Greenland was in a serious food crisis. Now it seemed like their crisis would be eating it all before it spoiled!
The mushrooms Cloudhawk brought back from his journeys were immensely useful, even more than a trove of high-grade relics. If this had been available from the start, so many lives could have been spared from starvation. On the contrary, the wastelands would probably be booming!
“Originally they would only grow in association with the electric mushrooms. They’re perfectly edible, non-toxic, delicious – altogether a remarkable fungus.”
The scientist’s voice adopted a tone of reverence.
“Hellflower is an incredible woman. She was the one who figured out how to separate them, and now without the electric mushrooms they’ve become a constant bumper crop.”
Dawn couldn’t help but sniff in displeasure at the mention of Hellflower. But even she had to admit the woman had some skill.
Of course Dawn wasn’t about to roll over, either. There was only so much usable space in Greenland and it was Dawn’s idea to terraform land in the ruins outside to make their agricultural communities. Communities just like this one. If they used all the available land, this area alone was enough to support Greenland City.
Dawn was the only one who could accomplish such a thing.
Undoubtedly one of the best aspects of this fungus was its ability to grow anywhere, but throw it in a barren desert and it would grow much slower. Much better results were earned with suitable soil and tending.
As for space, Greenland was pretty packed. It didn’t have the space to accommodate a plot of land this large. When Dawn selected this area she first began by molded its surface with Terrangelica. She turned up the soil so that its more nutrient rich deeper levels were churned to the surface. Afterward she used the Heart of the Mire to transform it even further, preparing the soil for planting.
The fungus performed in the same way as the mother plants they were gathered from in that alien world. So long as there was suitable energy to consume, they grew at truly stupendous rates. This was facilitated with the specially crafted agricultural plots, and the fertilizer with eboncrys ground inside.
Two or three days was all it took for the crop to mature. Pretty damn good, by any standard.
Out in the wastelands, food was the most treasured commodity. If you could promise people a mouthful a day they would pledge their lives to your service. Dawn knew that if Greenland really wanted to establish itself, then this food source was the cornerstone.
What’s more, Dawn saw this as more than just a form. If they brought some people from Greenland and set them up here, they could both protect the farmers and act as a periphery guard for the city itself. This wasn’t the only agricultural community, either. What was stopping them from making a second, a third, and so on?
Her vision was to eventually surround Greenland city with places like this. A screen against outside threat that produced sustenance for their people. Her plans aimed to strengthen her new home on two fronts.
She shared her thoughts with Roc, who also thought it was a fine idea.
Few places in the wastelands were suitable for large numbers of people to gather. What if they turned Greenland into such a place where hundreds of thousands of people could live and prosper? Would it be like another Elysian realm?
War was on the horizon. Before long there would be scores of wastelander communities displaced by the conflicts. It presented them with an opportunity to gather more under their banner. Perhaps they could try Dawn’s plan then.
“Time to get to work.”
Dawn hefted her sword and did just as she promised. A place this large would take more than a day or two to transform completely.
She toiled for much of that day and when she was finished the Polaris heir was covered in dirt and sweat. Yet despite her exhaustion, she looked out over her efforts with a satisfied smile.
Roc couldn’t help but take notice. “Miss, take a rest. You’ve already done a lot erecting buildings in the city. Running out here and working yourself so hard without taking a break, eventually your body will give in.”
“Oh, what do you know? This is just a sort of training. Out here, doing this, in this part of the world, I can feel my mental energies improving. In all my life I don’t think I’ve ever really worked this hard. If we don’t put in the effort now then how can we succeed? How could we win vengeance?”
“Nothing needs to be said. Maybe we can’t beat Arcturus, but at least we can bring grandfather’s killers to justice. Frost, Clay and that snake bastard Inkspecter. I need you to keep an eye out and tell me know the moment any of those criminals show up in the wastelands.”
“Of course, Miss.”
Dawn crossed her arms and looked around. “Too few people here. Organize some soldiers from the family and establish a small garrison. It’s protected from the ground but there is still a threat from the air.”
“As you command.”
With that Dawn’s work was done for the day. She boarded the airplane and returned to Greenland City for her customary three hours of sleep. Every waking hour she dedicated to work and though it was difficult, she performed her duties with resolve. At least she was here, with the people she cared about, working together toward a noble purpose. When she thought about how much they were changing this place for the better, Dawn was filled with a sense of achievement.Previous Chapter Next Chapter