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Book 6, Chapter 46 - Urbanization

 The Green Alliance entered into a period of expansion. Towns and settlements around Greenland city were first to see the effects.

Sandspire was among them. It was a settlement of many names, such as the City of Artifacts, the Land of Machines and so on. It was also one of the first cities to be relocated.

Red Spider was a citizen of Sandspire, albeit one who was often on the move. She wasn't born here, but was a Seeker who had come from outside to further her research. Judging by wasteland standards she was a rare beauty, with an alluring figure and a pretty face. Although the harsh environment had darkened her skin and made it tough, it only added to her wild flavor of charm.

But if one thought the pretty girl was easily bullied, that would be a dire mistake! What traveler of the wastes didn't have some way to protect themselves?

As a member of the Seekers, Red Spider was specialized in medicine and pharmaceuticals. In addition she knew a fair amount about mechanical engineering, as indicated by the mechanical spider armor she wore. Even at a glance it was clear the carapace was no typical protection.

Batteries were installed within the armor which provided an electric current. Its energy use was efficient and the power it could release at any one time was impressive. It allowed her relatively frail figure to lift several tons without much effort.

With her were two robots. Ugly and crude, they were nonetheless greatly capable companions. One of them could single-handedly take on three maneater mutants. Added together, there was no question how Red Spider had managed to survive and thrive out in the wastelands.

She'd first come to Sandspire to find materials for a mechanical arm. It was also a fine place to go in order to see the cutting edge of wasteland robotic progress. A few months in the city had a drastic effect on her life.

She heard from the natives about Greenland. Over time, being so close to the Green Alliance's capital, she began to see how it shaped the wastes.

Especially enticing was the story of the great wasteland hero, Cloudhawk. A savage and brutal warrior who almost single-handedly took down an Elysian fortress. The stories got her blood racing. She never thought there would be such an interesting wastelander. Sadly, she'd come at the wrong time to get involved.

When she arrived at Sandspire the Green Alliance was embroiled in the Polar Conflict. At the time Greenland had closed its borders to prevent spies from entering. All she could do was remain in Sandspire and wait.

But when she heard about the effort to urbanize the wastes, Red Spider knew it was her chance! The city was going to expand by as much as ten times its current size! So she packed up her things, and with two enormous sacks on her shoulders made for Greenland.

She came across many oddities on the road there, as well as many travelers like herself. Motorcades from all sorts of different places were converging on Greenland, all with the same goal of changing their lives.

The route was policed by Green Alliance soldiers. They were marked by their green cloaks or rode on domesticated beasts, or buzzed along the sides of the caravans in cars. Their job was to patrol for danger, but they also helped the pilgrims with food and water. They wanted to make sure the migrants reached their goal.

Red Spider wasn't sure if the Green Alliance patrols were working or if it was some deeper reason, but all throughout the journey she didn't see any trace of violence. No murder, no looting, no corpses. Much to her surprise, there were even former Sweepers trundling along the road with everyone else. They came from thousands of kilometers away like pilgrims. A scene like this had never appeared in the wastelands before today.

It was incredible! It was clearer to her now than ever before, the wastelands were changing. Greenland had become a holy land to the people of the barren world.

With every step Red Spider felt more excited. Soon she arrived at the border of the city where the once desolate ruins were now a busy expanse. All sorts of machinery was rumbling along hard at work. Beasts of burden were moving stone to help with construction. Swaths of land were being cleared to grow food while groups of hunters culled the surroundings to make them safe. There had to be at least tens of thousands of people toiling out here in the rubble.

Signs and directions pointed Red Spider toward the registration compound. A pair of Talon soldiers from Skycloud were here, responsible for grading everyone who came through.

"Name?"

"Red Spider."

"Any special skills?"

"Pharmaceuticals and machinery."

The soldiers seemed surprised by her answer. They looked her up and down and noted the strange armor she wore. Wrapped around her waist was a belt packed with various liquids and medicinal materials. On her back were sacks containing two massive robots.

It sure seemed she was telling the truth. The soldiers looked at each other, nodded, then one of them addressed her. "You've got two choices. You can register as a citizen of this new city and help people build it. Greenland will supply all the food and water you'd need. Or, you can apply to join the inner city based on your special abilities."

So that was the deal. Greenland was accepting everyone who came, but if they were skilled in something special or could fight well, they'd be let into the city proper. A citizen of Greenland.

The Inner City and the New City had significant differences.

Inner City had the benefit of years of development already. Especially in the two years after Cloudhawk's return, Greenland's growth had exploded. The conditions and benefits of being a citizen were far better than elsewhere. The New City was still under construction but was coming along quickly. All food and water was provided for so long as you worked. Living conditions were a hell of a lot better than most wasteland settlements.

Red Spider had always wanted to be allowed into Greenland. But the more she thought about it, she realized the city had to be full to the rafters with talented people already. Geniuses on every corner, or so she figured. If she tried her luck right away it would be difficult for her to make a name for herself. Better, it seemed, to work her way out from New City. Spend some time developing a reputation and earning prestige, then she could enter Greenland on better terms.

"I'll help with the New City."

Her decision was not what the soldiers were expecting. But when their surprise passed the men respected her choice. It wasn't the first time someone had come up with a similar plan. One of the soldiers presented Red Spider with a bag full of goods and explained. "This is the city's currency, from Greenland. Everyone who agrees to help build the city will get a subsidy of fifty coins to buy food, water and medicine."

"Coins? Never heard of a wasteland city using coins to buy things."

"You're right, nowhere else in the wastes does. But we're a unified land now. These coins are accepted in any place under the banner of the Green Alliance. Present them and you will be given all the food and water Greenland has provided. You can also exchange them for Elysian currency."

The wastes had always been a place built on bartering. It was an often troublesome and sometimes complicated way to enact trade. Greenland started producing coins to make the process easier, promote the wasteland's fledgling economy, and increase the distribution of resources. What's more, the wastes also accepted Elysian coins for the same purpose.

The lowest legal tender in Skycloud - the copper coin - was equal to one Greenland dollar.

It wasn't possible to use Elysian money to directly purchase goods. It was a measure to ensure ill-meaning Elysians didn't snatch up all the resources for themselves and leave wastelanders with nothing. Instead Elysian money was regulated to have the same purchasing power as wastelander currency.

Red Spider was having a hard time understanding. "How is the wasteland circulating Elysian money? Do you actual expect Elysian merchants here?"

In response, the soldier pointed toward the sky. Red Spider raised her head and saw ships hovering above her, Elysian ships. They were laden with all sorts of materials and pallets full of food. They took turns descending to clear section of the construction site so they could unload their goods.

Red Spider's eyes nearly popped out of her skull. "How in the world!"

The Green Alliance and Skycloud had hated each other so much they recently had a war. Both their High Priest and Governor died as a result. Now, only a month later, Elysian ships were deep in wasteland territory helping their former enemy!

The Talon soldier explained. "Times are changing, the war between Elysians and wastelanders is over. Even their Cloud God has accepted it. The current Governor, Selene Cloude, is cautious but optimistic about closer ties. The two realms are still separated, but the borderlands are accessible by both."

The series of revelations had Red Spider listening with open shock. There was really a chance for peace between Skycloud and the wastelands! Before this moment Red Spider wouldn't have even entertained the idea. But she didn't press them for more information, there was a line of people behind her waiting their time. Taking the bag of coins, she left.

She stepped out into the construction area which was in full swing. Everywhere she looked, little by little the ruins were being transformed into a functional city.

This place was going to be totally different from every city that came before it. There were neatly organized residential areas, proper streets, libraries, music halls, movie theaters and all sorts of factories.

It didn't take long for Red Spider to become a celebrity. She did it by giving her anesthetic recipe to Greenland scientists without being asked. She earned three thousand dollars as a reward.

Her secret formula would find great use in both the military and civilian sectors. Best of all, aside from the money, Red Spider was also awarded a patent. If in the future someone wanted to mass produce it they would have to pay her for the privilege.

She wasn't afraid to spend her newfound riches. After essentials, she had enough to buy the finest materials the city could offer, as well as its most sophisticated tools. From textbooks to machinery, she had access to nearly everything she wanted.

Her next accomplishment came when she published her mechanical designs. Once again, she earned a hefty sum of money for the rights to produce it. With these bonuses Red Spider was finding life in Greenland quite comfortable. She was surprised at how easy it was to make money.

The beginnings of a strong wasteland economy and society were sprouting from the desert. And this was just the beginning. Red Spider was very much looking forward to what was coming. This new city was sure to make wasteland life better.

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