This RP is part of the Great Reformation arc.
Synopsis: Croix starts the day by organizing some of her workers to dig a grave pit for the bodies of dead Infected and gathers another group to turn one of the buildings into a stable for horses that will be arriving soon. While everyone finishes up their breakfast meals, Milon follows after her to question her plans for a stable. Unsatisfied with her answer, he proposes a separate plan that would save them time and resources. Liking his plan, she agrees to it and gives him the quick tour of what is the Cross' Headquarters. She mentions the new payment system she plans on implementing soon and gets his opinion on it. Liking the idea, Milon agrees to let the others know about the new system and scores some brownie points with Croix by showing her his unique weapon design.
Characters: Croix and Milon
Location: Derelict Apartments, East Ankou Ennis
The apartment buildings crowding the factories of a once prosperous era look like brick hospitals; their architecture wasn't intended to charm but to be practical and inexpensive during their original construction. They boast a drab, box-like exterior, their bricks stained with the dirt of centuries' neglect and total abandonment. Their interiors also speak of minimalism and utilitarian design, but such is their selling point: they can house thousands of people. Some buildings are too far-gone and have been boarded up to prevent access while others are undergoing gradual renovations. Barbed fencing to protect the district's inhabitants surrounds the entire area, making it a safe zone.
Croix's boots crunched on the ground as she marched down the stoop of the new Headquarters building, stopped at the bottom to look side-to-side, and then continued on her way. Dawn was only just starting to break but people were already getting up and scarfing down leftover stew from the night before with pieces of hardened bread. Those who didn't know her before the previous night watched her from the corners of their eyes and behind the rims of their bowls as she passed by, while those who had already met her didn't seem to pay her mind. She approached a group of people, pausing directly in their line of sight to get their attention, and spoke. "Ah need two of you t'head ovah to the abandoned lot a few blocks that way and finish diggin' a pit for the bodies. Bah midday, two more of you'll go out and take ovah for them so they can come back and work on somethin' else. The pit's already started, and there are shovels there, so you just needa head ovah there when you're done here eatin'. Don't fahget to take a canteen ah watah witchu. George's guardin' the barrel we got, so see him first. And don't trah anythin' funny." Light-hearted as it was said, it was still a warning. "The rest of you'll join me when you're done; we're gonna build a stable. Figure out who all will work on the pit before you break." A couple of them nodded or grunted their understanding through a mouthful of food before she started turning away.
Milon listened to Croix give orders and stayed quiet as others nodded, but when she started to turn away, he shot up to his feet to follow her. "Wait, I have a question," he said, setting his bowl on the ground and hurrying after her. "Where are we gonna build a stable? This place is packed with buildings, and the only empty lot we have is being used as a graveyard." He wore his usual weathered black coat, but it was unbuttoned, revealing his sweat and age-stained shirt and worn holster vest lined with self-made explosives, a pump-action pistol, and ammunition. His pump-action rifle was strapped to his back, though. He also wore boots, but they were thick, black, and laced up. There was an elastic cloth wrapped around his neck that was used to pull over his face in case he needed to prevent dust or stink from entering his nose.
Croix glanced over her shoulder when he called out, but she kept on walking, figuring he'd follow after her if he really wanted to talk to her. "Ah was thinkin' of blowin' up one of the buildings to make way. That's where Ah was hopin' you'd come in. Ahab says you're handy with explosives. Think you can do it?" she asked, returning to Headquarters and climbing back up its stoop. At the top, she reached for the handle of one of the double doors and held it open for Milon to step through.
Milon's eyebrows pinched together in confusion as he climbed the steps after her and then stepped into the building in front. He recognized the building since everyone had slept upstairs the night before – everyone except Croix, anyway. He turned around to look at her and asked, "Why do you wanna blow up a perfectly good building? If you're just blowing down four walls just to build four walls, why not just leave the four walls standing and change things around to fit your needs?"
It was Croix's turn to be confused. "What do you mean?" she asked for clarification, following into the building after him and closing the door behind herself. They were in a tight foyer that had stairs on one side that led up and an apartment door beside the stairway, which no one had been permitted to enter the day before. There, she paused to look at him.
"I mean," he started, "just blow up the walls inside the building and leave the outside walls in tact. That way you have less work overall. Because what you're proposing is that we blow up perfectly good walls and a perfectly good roof just to build – what? a less sturdy set of walls and roof? These buildings have lasted for years. Why not make good use of them just the way they are?"
Croix stopped in her tracks to stare at him and consider what he was saying. She nodded, "Yeah... you're rahght. But wouldn't we be weakenin' the infrastructure bah blowin' up the inside walls that're keepin' the buildin' up?"
Milon had to think about it. "...Yeah, I guess you're right. But if we pick a small enough building and find the support beams first, then it shouldn't be a problem. Once we find them, we flag them, and then have people tear down the walls around them. It shouldn't take more than half a day if the building is small enough."
Croix watched him closely, scrutinizing him carefully with her black, almond-shaped eyes. A slanted smile formed on her lips, and she lifted her chin, satisfied. "Welcome to Cross Headquarters, bah the way," she drawled, finally turning her attention from him to the door beside the stairs and turned the knob. She pushed the door open and led the way through. "It's not much, but we only just started clearin' things out and makin' plans for the place, obviously. Ah figured settin' the first floor as the main base of operations and the othah floors as where people sleep, we'd get more done in the long run." The entrance into the apartment was a tight fit thanks to the stairway that led up, but there was a small closet underneath the stairs to make some use of the space there. The short, narrow hallway spilled out into a living room with an antiquated kitchen and a couple of doors where one likely led to a bedroom and the other to a bathroom. The ceiling and walls had water stains and mildew, and the antiquated wallpaper was peeling in most places. The floorboards creaked under their feet. Besides those features, the place had been dusted and the old, beat-up furniture that hadn't been destroyed over the centuries had been carefully arranged in the living room. The couch was torn up and disgusting, and that probably explained why it had been pushed off to one side where a pile of broken furniture had been stacked to be thrown out at some point. "This place will be where a lot of stuff is gonna get done. It's important we all have a place to get information from, where we can hear about what the next project is, figure out who's gettin' involved, and so on. It's also where everyone will come to to get compensated fah their work. Ah'm gonna start payin' y'all soon, and with your new money, you'll be able to bah more meals, bettah supplies, and maybe eventually rent an apartment. Instead of livin' upstairs, cooped up with everyone else and with no privacy. What do you think?"
Milon followed her change of direction by turning his attention to the interior of the apartment. He looked around as he walked slowly through, hesitant to travel a step further. Buildings were always death traps, and although the whole area had been cleared of Infected, he still couldn't help that trained instinct to avoid places that were easy for Infected to hide in. He paused at the mouth of the living room to look around, taking in the pile of trash and the giant mildew stain on the ceiling. He turned his attention to her then and said, "You mean like what the city folk do? Exchange cog pieces with each other for things?"
Croix answered, "Not quite lahke that. When you get paid, the coins are gonna represent a numbah of hours worked. So the more you work, the more your total worth, and the more you can afford with what you get paid. As far as Ah can tell, the way the money system in the survivah city works isn't so clear since there isn't this clear definition of what's worth what. If you work fahve hours, you get paid the worth of fahve hours of work, and then you can exchange that tahme worked fah somethin' that is either worth fahve hours or fahve different things that are worth one hour of work each. Cogs are worthless to me, but the tahme you work isn't. It's the best way of me keepin' track of how much people work and bein' able to reward them for it. Say, for example, you worked ten hours while someone else said they worked ten hours, but really they only did six; how do Ah know you two worked ten hours? If Ah assume everyone works the same as everyone else, some people would get cheated 'cause othahs wanna cut cornahs to get away with workin' less while makin' just as much as the one who did work the full ten hours. With mah money, Ah'll know how much more valuable you are to that one guy, and Ah'll be able to give you things worth what you worked. It's the perfect measurin' system."
Milon cupped his hand over his mouth as he thought about her explanation. "Okay, sure, but how do you decide what things are worth?" It was a fair question.
Croix was pleased with how clever he was. "That's a little more technical, but let me give it a trah." She inhaled slowly as she considered her answer. "It's based on a relationship between the total numbah of coins and the desire for and availability of certain goods. Say there is a lot of wood. Everybody needs wood for fire, right? If people start buyin' wood, the price will be cheap because there's so much of it to start and everyone's payin' for it. But as people keep buyin', eventually the amount of wood you have goes down. This drahves up the value of the wood because everybody still needs it, but there's only so much left. It becomes a scarce resource. We undahstand this innately. It's wah we fahght ovah food and sheltah but not ovah air. Plenty of air to go around but not a whole lot of food or sheltah."
Milon nodded slowly. He thought she explained it really well. "I see what you're saying. In that case, to answer your original question, I think it's a great idea. My question now is, when do you plan on paying us with these coins?"
Croix smiled. "Ah'm startin' tomorrow. Can you spread the word?"
Milon smiled back, "Yeah. I can do that."
Croix replied, "Lovely. Now let's get back outsahde so we can start makin' ourselves a stable. You got explosives, rahght?"
Milon nodded, "Yeah, I've got a few. I could use some more, though."
Croix said, "Tell me what you need and Ah can supply you with it. We'll carve out a little nook fah you so you can work makin' bombs for us."
Milon liked the sound of that. "I can make other weapons, too."
Croix quirked an eyebrow and canted her head at him. "Oh, really," she drawled, intrigued.
Milon pulled out his pump-action pistol to show it off to her. "You see this right here? This is where you put the bullet, and then you just pull this lever out like so," he demonstrated by grabbing the end of a lever that hugged the top of the pistol and pulled it upward and out before pushing it back into place. Coming back, the lever resisted against him because of the air pressure, but it eventually clicked back into place. "And then you aim and shoot." He smiled at her proud of himself.
Croix just stared at him wide-eyed with her mouth agape. "No...gun-powdah?"
Milon shook his head. "That's too scarce of a resource in the East. I had to find a quick, easy way of loading and firing my weapons, so by trial and error, I eventually came to this."
Croix asked, "What the hell gave you that ahdea?" in exasperation, totally amazed.
Milon laughed. "I almost lost an eye trying to open a pipe filled with too much pressure inside. I realized then that all I needed to do was figure out how to trap and compress air and then release it with precision."
Croix was completely astonished. "You're definitely gettin' your own little work space. You oughta meet mah boy Bartholomew. He's incredibly clever, too. Ah'm sure you two would get along quite well." She was smiling to herself, incredibly impressed with Milon's mind and excited by the thought of him and Bartholomew meeting. "But enough of that," she added, not letting herself get hung up too long. "Let's be off now so we can get some work done." Turning from the living room, she led the way through the apartment's door and out of the building. The group from earlier was waiting for her. When Milon emerged, they'd all go in search of an ideal building and transform it into a stable. They certainly had the day's work cut out for them. The good news was that they were going to learn about the new payment system that was to start the following day. Something told her that no one would be against the new payment system. Milon had given her confidence in that.