(2016-03-30) The Howard Carter Moment
The Howard Carter Moment
Summary: Mon and Elan go to clean out the auto repair shop. They unexpectedly find wondrous things…
Date: 2016.03.30
Related: None

Monica marches to the garage with a rake and a shovel, both borrowed from the apartment complex. It's going to be a lot of work to dung this place out, but she came prepared. She brought two things to make the work go faster. Her cart, for one. The cart balances lightly, especially empty, and it doesn't weigh all that much. She also brought Elan. "…Yeah, the tornado really filled the place with trash, even worse than it was. I don't know where we're gonna put all this, but… I need some serious work space, and the garage seems about right. Bonus points if I can get the lift working. Maybe… a little gas engine or that generator Piper found, I dunno…"

Elan follows along with Monica, carrying his hand tools with him as he speaks with her, "I can imagine. Yeah, we'll get it cleared out. The lift shouldn't be that much trouble, if we can power it…I'm sure there must be hydraulic fluid left in the hardware store…not exactly a high-demand item in an apocalypse," he surveys the building, then glances across to the fire station, before back to the repair shop, "If we're going to be doing a lot of work up here…it might be best if we keep it on the down-low. Only Bob, and people we know. Pretty sure Terry brought that new woman back to the camp, after Quin invited her…she's not a silencer, but it wouldn't surprise me if she was with those raiders, or whoever it was that was tracing us earlier. Until we get a wall across the north end, this is the weak point. I think there's likely to be an oxygen plant over there," he says, gesturing to the fire department, "…seems like something that we might want to get working, too."

Monica nods. "I've had a few ideas. I was thinking back over an article I read back in the world, where they plated iron oxide on nickel wool and got a very effective electrode for electrolysis. Now, I have no clue where to get nickel wool, but I'm wondering if plating steel wool with nickel would get anywhere close to the same efficiency. That, I can do. If I can find my book on plating metal. I think you can break nickel down in vinegar for nickel acetate, and then electropate that onto your target." She sighs. "I never gave much thought to the sheer volume of crap I shoveled into my head from the net." She sets the cart down and heads into the building. "So what's this new girl like? And yeah, Terry's got a thing about bringing new girls into camp." She smiles.

Elan walks into the shop behind Monica, grinning, "Yeah, at least you can remember what you learned from the net…I'm still trying to remember, beyond basic theory and principles, how to set up and calibrate an effective orthohydrogen or parahydrogen power cell," he scans over the room, putting his hands on his hips as he takes in the new disaster, "The new girl? Well, I moved my rifle off of her when she jumped up and drew so as not to frighten her worse…I figured Terry was drawn, which he wasn't…she tried to threaten and insult me in response to the gesture, I turned on my heel and ignored her, and went back to trying to figure out who was stalking in on us through the tall grass. All we found was a boot print. Beyond that, I don't know anything about her…except that she likes to flap her gums, and she's annoying as shit. Ought to fit right in, if she doesn't blow a hole in the wall and lead an army in on the place … Oh…now that looks handy."

Monica looks. "What?" She plows through a pile of garbage as tall as she is (but not as tall as Elan) to look. What she sees makes her mouth gape open. "Holy shit. Ho-le-shit. Gimme a hand. If this is what I think it is…" She attacks the piles of paper trash with a vengance. And a rake.

Elan moves over next to Monica without another word, beginning to dig garbage and debris out of the way.

Time elapses, after which they see:

Auto Repair Shop Stratford
Wed Mar 30, 2016 — Wed Mar 30 02:37:10 2016

For a building literally half-full of wind-blown garbage not long ago thanks to an open garage door, the auto repair shop excavations seem to be complete. It's a modest sized garage, four stalls, two of them that can be opened. The usual hydraulic lifts are in those, ready to lift nonexistent cars with nonexistent hydraulic pressure. The building has been here for nearly a century, and it shows. Where there could be two more stalls, there's a sagging roof over the tool storage room. Behind the big red Snap-On toolboxes is the welding area, with some gas bottles, an arc welder, and a plethora of welding rods. Bolted to the floor, and still there after 75 years because they're too heavy to bother moving, are a World War II vintage lathe, about three feet long, a similarly sized and aged horizontal mill, a big, belt driven drill press, and a shaper, an ancient machine tool for cutting flat surfaces. None of them look like they've been operated since the turn of the century. They're a little rusty, dinged up from propping up other things, and generally neglected. Still, the moisture-swollen cabinet has all the cutters and attachments for the tools.

Mon stands a moment, staring at the equipment, virtually a time capsule from before the world ended, and a long time before that. She listens to Elan, who's already talking.

"…looks like this town had more going for it than I expected." Elan says, "…we're going to have to dig a pit to throw all of this crap in, or we're going to have it mounded up too high when we go to dump it…" he starts tossing it into a pile in an empty space away from them,

Monica shakes off the spell she was under and rakes garbage out the door and into the back of her cart. "I dunno. Maybe find the dump, or go way outside town and build a fire maybe. Or dump it in the basement of one of those houses that got flattened. It's going to be a while before we have a pretty town. I'll settle for one with flush toilets and electricity, you know?" She whistles again as she finally gets close to the lathe. "Gotta be World War II vintage. Look at it. Hasn't been run in a long time… but you can fix these. Babbitt bearings, all of it's adjustable… I see why they left it. You'd need a forklift to get it out of here." She looks at Elan. "You ever read about when Howard Carter first stuck his head and a candle in King Tut's tomb?"

Elan nods in agreement with Monica, "I imagine a lot of folks would appreciate toilets and electricity, sure." He grins at Monica, then, looking into her eyes with a sudden glimmer, "Actually, yes…I was obsessed with Carter's work and his expeditions when I was a kid…with Egyptology in general, but especially with Carter's work," his eyes go back to the machinery, "Yeah…that's the benefit of it. We can refit it and get it working…and keep it working. Damn. I don't think we could have done much better than this, Monica," he looks back to her with a glint of concern in his eyes, "…until we have this part of town secured…we'd probably better watch what we say, to anyone who hasn't been here longer than we have. …and keep the doors closed, and carry materials in and out only under cover of darkness and from positions well off of the two camps. If anything happened to this building or this equipment, it would be a massive setback. Whatever the solution to defeating the enemy is…we need fabrication equipment, and I can't imagine that we're going to be able to move this sort of equipment into town from somewhere else, if it's destroyed."

Monica digs into a pile of trash and hits wood. She beams at Elan. "Oh, it would be sweet if that's what I think it is…" She sighs a little. "I have a hard time with the camp hoarding all our goodies for ourselves. I mean… if they're human, we owe it to other people to help them. It's self interest. We don't have enough individuals to make a breeding pool yet. Plus… you know. Them verses us. Well, the aliens are them. Humans are us." She uncovers the front of the cabinet and opens a drawer. "Sweet… look at this. Morse tapers, collets, all the accessories… cutters… mm. Pretty rusty. The roof must leak at this end… but still. This puts me like six months ahead of the game. Maybe a year. I was going to make smaller models of all this from beer cans, but it's a butt-ton of work."

Elan examines the items in the drawer Monica's going through, "We can clean them up…penetrating oil should also still be around the hardware store somewhere, I expect. Rubber's going to be scarce, but I should be able to replace the best part of the belts on this equipment with leather, as necessary…there must be leather working tools around town somewhere…" He then looks back to Monica, "I'm not at all opposed to sharing with other people, only to inviting sabotage for lack of a security culture. If you know others that are capable of making use of this equipment, then yeah, I'd definitely agree that they should have access to it. We should probably have guards posted, too, though…this equipment might well be the most valuable asset at our disposal, and I expect that the others would agree that a northern and eastern wall are a priority, when we tell them what we have here," he looks back to the door, "…not trying to alienate anyone. Hell, I don't spend that much time in town. Not sure why I stopped here…" he looks back to Monica again, "…except that I know you have a mind to fight back, and so do I." He then smirks at her a little, "Just getting what we have here in working order is going to be a butt-ton of work. I'm amazed we have it, though…it's still sinking in. Weren't we just here, a few evenings ago?"

You say, "Yeah, but…" She looks. "Those toolboxes were against the door, and I thought that was the edge of the building. And the trash was already pretty deep then. And yeah… but did you know that battery plates have all the right metals to make Babbitt from? Not exactly the right proportions but… easier than finding it all from scratch." The evening wears on as they dig and dig and dig, eventually exposing bare floor throughout the shop by the time the sunlight fades. "Shit. This is a hell of a score." She rests her hands on her hips, breathing a few moments. "I guess we could move it to the compound. That'd be the easy way. We don't really need the floor lift.” She pauses. “Well. Easy… moving fragile, multi-ton equipment without proper tools…"

Elan leans back against one of the benches as he listens to Monica, looking over the newly cleared floor, "Yeah…trying to move it is going to require some pretty serious rope-and-pulley work to move it without cracking or breaking something…and if we do break it, it's irreplaceable…" He looks back to Monica then, "…and the floor lift might come in handy, too," He then looks back at the floor, obviously fatigued from the day in the field, followed by a night of work, "Is there a pit? There must be a pit under all this shit, right? What if we were to tunnel…I mean, tunnel like fifteen meters…deeper than the crater that got blown into the east end…without it being overtly obvious that we were moving this equipment into a protected position…"

You say, "Tunnel? You mean moving all this crap by hand wasn't hard enough?" She laughs softly. "I dunno. We need to talk to Bob, for one thing, and the other camp… elders, for want of a better word. I mean, we've got infrastructure, and we're busy making more."

Elan nods to Monica, "Definitely, yes…need their counsel," he runs his hand over his brow, finally resting back fully against the work bench, "Moving it across town would be more difficult than moving it through a confined space…and with the sort of centralization that's taken place, there's no doubt that the complex on 8th street is going to be a primary target. Where bombs brought in are concerned, deep dug-outs are no doubt our best protection. Where shit like what happened in the second wave is concerned…" he looks back over at the door again, saying in a slightly more grim tone, "Well, there is no protection," He straightens himself up and turns to face Monica completely, trying to sound more cheerful, offering a slight chuckle, "Well then, do you think what we have here will keep you entertained for awhile?"

Monica sags next to Elan. "You're a barrel of laughs, tonight, Elan. Yeah, I think we just found my new home away from home. As far as centralization… it seems to me like even though we've got a lot of stuff here, would it make sense to bomb us? I mean… there are what, forty of us now? That's hardly worth the trouble. With all this and some power, we'll be at a 1940s level of technology. So what? All this lets us do is not worry about dying of… water borne disease, starvation, overgrazing and hunting… freezing to death or if I can get things going before summer, dying of heat prostration. From a strategic perspective, we're irrelevant. Yet. Something will eventually get their attention. The question is what?

Elan looks Monica in the eye, "I expect that there were fewer here, the last time it was bombed," He then smiles again, "-BUT-, with some very basic precautions, we'll be at less of a risk in the future…and I'll encourage everything to be done to make our new home as safe as possible," he looks around the shop again, sagging back on the bench with Monica, "I don't know what it is that gets their attention. I don't think it's particulars, so much as opportunity…and until we're able to monitor and verify their movements, we wont understand what constitutes sound opportunity, in their stratagem."

Monica nods. She scratches at the floor with her rake. "But this is how we fight. For now, this is what it takes. We dig in, get our longer-term survival sorted out. Keep the tech alive, and write it down. We can't let there be a dark ages. If we have to put ourselves at risk and trade locally printed books, maybe even run a radio station to keep the knowledge out there, then that's what we have to do." She looks away. "if it were my camp, anyway."

Elan hmm's thoughtfully, stroking his chin, "A radio transmission would probably serve as a homing beacon unlike anything else present out there, at the moment…but printing. We can run a printing press, and we can…" he glances towards the door, "…Monica…we should be able to make paper from the grass, when we begin to run out. …and ink. I think we can fabricate everything we need for printing. …and they can't determine the source," he looks back to her again, "We could pass information on basic skills on to the other camps, in that manner. Eventually, some of us will have to range out, to make contact with other still-surviving populations." He grins, "…and it's as much your camp as it is anyone's. Leastwise, you're one of the only people within a thousand miles or more of here who can bring the equipment in this building online."

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