Eden in Paradise:
Report of the Althing External Security Committee,
Declassified and transcribed ©2010 by Walter D. Reimer
Technical advice supplied by Eric O. Costello and M. Mitch Marmel
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Section II. Overview of Transportation and Infrastructure.
“I do not propose, sir, to choke myself to death on another fur’s vomit.”
-- Attributed to Leonard, Viscount Allworthy (“Fat Leon”), ca. 1934
Although usually associated with lawlessness, Krupmark Island is actually a rather unfortunate place. Most of its history has been centered on its only settlement, Fort Bob. An accurate census of the island is impossible, but estimates made by the Spontoon Islands Constabulary and the Rain Island Intelligence Service range from two to three thousand persons as of 1936. This population is concentrated in one general area, on an island roughly ten miles wide by twenty long.
From its presumed foundation in 1909 to 1937, Fort Bob's infrastructure has been largely the result of capricious whim or occasional schemes that never amounted to much. Roads were little better than dirt tracks, and there was no electrical service apart from private generators (subject to theft or utility piracy). Water sources were cisterns and wells, and sewage removal consisted of cesspools and readily available latrines and ditches. Several furs ran honey wagons for collection of sewage for the latifundia run by several members of the ruling clique.
To say sanitary conditions in Fort Bob were problematic would be understating things. There are indications of at least two cholera outbreaks during the settlement’s first three decades and dysentery may have been endemic in most of the town's population. Fire was the only means of clearing the place of debris.
The idea of a criminal haven being a viable community may sound silly, but it became a concern to several members of the island's ruling faction starting in mid-1937. This shift was not the result of any altruistic impulse; rather it was the product of a need for increased efficiency and nostalgia.
Work on improvements began in late 1937 with a bus service running between the airfield and ‘The Beach,’ the collection of brothels south of the town. This service was a GMC flatbed truck with armored sides to protect riders from stray bullets. Fares were sometimes collected in kind, or in trade.
As always, a monopoly attracts competition and an armored Fjord truck started running the same route. Conflicts inevitably arose, requiring the driver to have a guard literally riding shotgun, while armed guards in the back fended off attackers and protected riders.
These jitneys required improvements in the roads, starting with widening the main artery and paving it with gravel from crushed volcanic rock. Several new roads were also started running directly north from The Beach to Fort Bob (the original road hugs the coastline before turning west and moving inland to the airfield).
A flywheel-driven trolley was brought to the island from Spontoon in early 1938 after it had been salvaged from the lagoon near Meeting Island. The member of the ruling clique who brought the trolley to Krupmark, one “Black Fritz” Schurke, seems to have been motivated by nostalgia (he was originally from Braunschweig in Weimaraner Germany, which had an extensive public transit system).
Trolley construction requires laying rails, and this demanded armed guards. Tracks and roadbeds set down during the day ran the risk of being sabotaged or torn up and stolen during the night. Eventually the so-called "B+K" trolley started daily runs from the Thieves' Bazaar to the airstrip. The Krupmark tradition of betting on the trolley runs started here, as wagers were laid on whether or not the car would reach the bumpers at either of the termini on its run. As it was, it was derailed seven times over its history, including twice by bombs and once by collision. Many times it was used for target practice.
The advance from the armored trucks and flywheel trolley to electrically-driven transport required the development of a stable source of power. Krupmark has no reserves of gas or oil, and stockpiles of fuel are subject to piracy, theft or interdiction by law enforcement. Biomass methane generators building off the work done by two competing German scientists on Spontoon were introduced, and a source of geothermal power from Mount Krupp was discovered in 1935 but not fully exploited until mid-1938. Nine separate power companies were started in 1938, with a savage level of competition. Other improvements followed including Krupmark's first deepwater port at Smuggler's Cove in the fall of the year.
Nineteen thirty-nine saw a devastating fire sweep through Fort Bob, leading to some civic improvements including a plumbing network. Regular trolley service was inaugurated in late 1938. Betting on the trolleys (which were still armed and armored, with the crews and sometimes the passengers shooting at the competitors) swiftly became a greater source of revenue than actual fares.
It must be noted that these infrastructure improvements were not hampered by anything other than theft or attacks by competitors. Krupmark's advances were brought about by slave labor and lavish applications of money, unimpeded by safety regulations, public opinion, private property, unions or any other semblance of what passes for civilized behavior. The casualty rates for slaves on these public works is not recorded, but may be guessed at over two hundred in the case of the Vixen's Curve trolley track.
Improvements were also made to Fort Bob's airfield, with an improved airstrip and the island's first actual control point. Antiaircraft artillery protection was also improved. It must be noted here that the airfield and the radiotelegraph station are the only cases of a long-term cooperative effort by the entire ruling clique.
By the end of 1939, the number of power grids had dwindled to four and the trolley service was reduced to two ferociously competing lines. Both were owned by the power companies, with one (Krupmark Illumination, or KILL) displaying a top-down management paradigm, while the Ft. Bob United & Consolidated Public Service Company (FUCuPS) operated by a syndicate of the employees. Nineteen-forty saw a further consolidation to two utilities and the acquisition of a radar (RDF) system for the airfield. Monkey copies of the radar sets were sited on Mt. Krupp and Traitor's Ridge.
At the start of the new decade two milestones were reached: one hundred miles of roads, and a population of nearly six thousand furs, mostly refugees from the various war zones throughout the Pacific Basin. These new arrivals faced the same ruthless exploitation and poverty as their antecedents, but at least they had running water, electric lighting and public transport.
As of this writing, rumors have surfaced that Krupmark has concluded an agreement with Cranium Island that involves a "radium engine." It is unknown whether this is a power source - or a weapon.