It would be about an hour’s walk to Skywatch from the Palace of Fallen Stars, but that gave Bliks the opportunity to survey the damage the city had sustained for herself. As was unexpected, the Inner Sector had seen the least of the focus of the demons; her theory that they favoured easier targets first and ignored abandoned buildings for living creatures to torment played out across the city. Thus it was the Killbox was hit the hardest of Starfall’s districts.
On the western side of the Street of Lights, Killbox was a district she had personally focused most of her attention on when it came to redeveloping Starfall from its poor management under the Technic League. While the entire city had suffered under their brutal oppression and flagrant pollution, nowhere had it been as bad as in Killbox. From the point of view of the League, this dense slum’s population was only a source of cheap labour and experimental subjects. The only exception was the dwarven managed refuse dump of Scraphole, where the final dregs of Androffan technology often ended up after they had been picked clean.
It had taken some work, and the city council had refused to allocate funds for it, but redevelopment of Killbox had been underway before the demonic attack. With Bliks’ urging, Hex paid out for entire neighbourhoods to be temporarily housed in local flop houses while their shacks and hovels were demolished and replaced by still dense but much more sturdy and comfortable living quarters; newly expanded Gearsman patrols ensured that only the original residents were allowed to move back in, plus residents from the next neighbourhood that was randomly selected. As much as possible local labour was used in constructing these new apartment blocks, but where the work was unsafe or unsuitable for humans, a veritable army of Mannequin robots were available, sometimes customized for specific tasks, overseen by Director robots, and always assisted by Heavy Repair drones.
Those apartment blocks had saved many lives, not just in the short term by improving living conditions, but by providing a safe refuge from the packs of demons that savaged that district. While Bliks had tried to ensure that no particular area had been given preferential treatment for the redevelopment work, she was sure to hear from the councillors representing Killbox that, because of her decisions, this or that family would have lived, regardless of the silence of the councillors whose constituents had been saved.
Even from her relatively distant vantage point, Bliks could see entire neighbourhood where demons had wantonly blasted everything in sight, crushing rickety tenements under their bulk or smashing through thin walls and ravaging those inside. At least now, with areas that had been particularly hard hit, there would be cleared areas for new construction; perhaps that would be the way, Bliks considered, to address the complaints of unequal redevelopment. A brutal realigning of her original plans, but it was a silver lining
For her own and both the Church of Brigh and Numerian Institute of Technology’s part, they had focused on the problem of food, water, and waste in the city. The water problem was one that was easily solved; Bottomless Water Jugs, or as some called them Lesser Decanters of Endless Water. Easier and cheaper to enchant and without the dangerous ‘geyser’ setting, in short order the various mostly criminal guilds that had grown fat on importing water were driven out of business; Bliks had ensured that a few organizations, all willing to get out of the ‘smashers’ racket, where thugs would be hired to smash rain barrels, would survive this economic upset. That the water produced from a Bottomless Water Jug didn’t last more than a day meant a constant demand without having to take the expensive step of building sewers.
A few of the water storage facilities had been breached or corrupted by demonic taint, but the latter was barely a problem as the water was magically refreshed. Rebuilding the water tanks would be problematic for those industries that relied upon large stores of water, but the average Starfall citizen’s interaction with a Bottomless Water Jug was similar to a local water pump and so almost no one had been without clean water since the attack.
The problem of food and waste was handled in one technological step. As the Divinity had to survive for years in space without resupply, their waste recycling systems were highly advanced but relatively simple to relocate. Into warehouses across the city, labourers would haul spoiled food, agricultural cast offs, dead animals, even so called night soil collected from both chamber pots and stables. There burners, employees who used to work in the incinerators, would load this mixture of materials into the Androffan recyclers and, with power provided by solar panels installed on the roof, convert the waste into the goopy contents of the so called ‘goo tubes’.
This highly efficient recycling, combined with the new farmland surrounding Starfall, made the metropolis far less dependant upon imports than they had been. The farmland had resulted from using the organic material left behind after the transplanted jungles surrounding Starfall that had failed to survive the winter combined with a fleet of Terraformer robots raising the water table and enriching the native soil. That the Technic League had never even tried that feat had changed many Numerians view of technology from that of a Gearsman brutally enforcing tyranny to the quietly enigmatic Terraformers making the land bloom.
Fortunately the demons had focused their efforts on the city rather than spreading out over the fields that had only recently had their hay harvest brought in. While she hadn’t heard specific reports back yet, Bliks expected the wheat harvest would go forward in Arodus, two months away. The recycling centers were a different matter. The equipment inside the warehouses were of typical Androffan industrial construction, quite resilient and not an easy target for a demon’s destructive nature, but the solar panels had almost universally been smashed across the Killbox district. An improvised system of ferrying charged silverdisks from the reactors in the basement of the Clockwork Cathedral had been set up, but it reinforced the dependence of that poor neighbourhood on the largess of those who had greater access to Androffan technology, a staple of the Technic League which Bliks was trying to distance their administration from.
Her survey noted the sharp difference between the damage done in Killbox and in Sovereign’s Watch, the affluent district of Starfall. Here, despite their repeated demands for funds, the locals had been expected to pay for the boons Bliks had focused on Killbox. Less had changed here than anywhere else in the city, so entrenched were these Kellid families in the ways they enjoyed doing things. The thin population, combined with a stronger private security presence made for less enjoyable prey to the demonic mind, but even then there were signs of battle. The most extreme example was one mansion that had been imploded by a Pulsepounder robot equipped with an experimental Vortex Gun after an Observer swarm had confirmed there were only demons left alive inside.
As she neared Skywatch, Bliks wondered how many of those kinds of weapons they would be able to field against the demons. If the worst had come to pass, and the wardstones were no longer containing the Abyssal hordes, the ubiquitous lasers and plasma weapons would do little to impede the incursion. Looking back at the ruined sections of Starfall, she knew that if war truly came to Numeria from the north, while they might fare better than Sarkoris before it was engulfed by the Worldwound, the outcome seemed to be inevitable.