The day passed by peacefully and it wasn't until eight o'clock that several soldiers came to find Daz and told him that a large number of people were waiting outside of the outer gate with a lot of supplies and vehicles.
Collecting himself and refocusing his mind, Daz said goodbye to Rose who replied with a short 'Yeah'. Clearly, she was too immersed in her new games to pay him much attention after their conversation a few hours ago.
Daz smiled bitterly and immediately left their cabin before heading to the outer wall. Waiting for him there was Crusher, Sandy, Madison and General Retford.
"What's the situation?" Daz asked.
General Retford stepped forwards, placed his fist on his chest, and said, "Roughly three-hundred people are spread out in the fields beyond the wall, Lord. They have three M1 trucks and several cars of various models that I can't identify with my limited knowledge."
Crusher frowned slightly. "It's just Ahab's dad, for fuck's sake. Let's let them in, show them to the dungeon, and move on. Why do we need to be so cautious?"
Madison shook her head cutely. "Caution. Always, advised."
Crusher shrugged. "I could kill them all if they really tried to turn on us."
"Crusher," Daz called. "Making them wait shows them our higher position in the relationship, and greeting them personally shows them that I'm willing to lower myself to be their equal."
"You and your stupid mind-games," Crusher groaned.
Daz laughed lightly. "These 'stupid mind-games' have won wars before."
Crusher shrugged once more and stopped talking. She knew that Daz was smarter than her, but her hands were itchy. She wanted to fight, so she was purposefully trying to rile up his feathers.
Noticing this, Daz said, "We can spar after they're all settled in, okay? Shouldn't take more than a few hours and you don't need much sleep anyway, since you're a Titan, right?"
Grinning wildly, Crusher replied, "Can't hide anything from you, huh? Hahaha! You're right, so that sounds good! In a few hours it is."
Sandy was busy grumbling to himself as this conversation was going on. "I wanna be in my bed, not out 'ere to tell some kids where to go in the morning to help with the construction."
"C'mon Sandy, it's only nine, you're not that old, are you?" Daz teased the man angrily puffing on his pipe.
"Fuck off," Sandy snorted back as his cheeks reddened a bit.
"Hahaha! I like you, Sandy!" Crusher Roared. "Y'know what, I'll help with the building tomorrow."
Looking at her from head to toe, Sandy shook his head. "You're clumsy, ain't ya?"
"A bit, yeah. Why?" Crusher responded.
"No reason. Ya can help with gathering materials from the city then if ya really wanna help." Sandy smirked a bit playfully.
"Will do, Boss." Crusher was now busy thinking of a nickname for Sandy that would suit him perfectly since she liked him. Crusher wasn't even aware that Sandy was a nickname.
Daz smiled upon seeing this interaction between his two friends before he started giving out instructions to General Retford. "I'll go out there and make them all my citizens. So, Will, you and your men, escort the soldiers, the ones dressed in the army gear I mentioned to you before, to Sandy once they're in the walls."
Sandy nodded to confirm this, so Daz continued, "After he's briefed them on their future jobs, bring them to the dungeon along with the other new citizens and make sure you station at least ten of your best men in and around the dungeon at all times. I also want you to personally guard it and watch over the new people, okay?" Daz asked.
Trying his best to ignore The Lord's nickname for him, General Retford put his fist to his chest and replied, "Yes, Sir."
"Great. Crusher, Maddy, come with me. I want you both to act as intimidation factors if anyone tries to step out of line or rebel as I take them in," Daz said as he began walking to the steel portcullis.
"Us, why?" Madison asked.
True, Crusher was somewhat frightening, but even Madison knew that she looked no different than any other girls her age, and her sword hardly made her scary... or at least she hoped so.
"The soldiers from Camp Waterford have seen both of you in action to one extent or the other, so it'll be best with you two," Daz explained.
Madison bobbed her head lightly, acknowledging Daz's logic, while Crusher shrugged in acceptance. The three then left the safety of the walls as soon as the gate guards had raised the portcullis for them.
Waiting outside was the familiar face of General Miller, his soldiers, and all of the citizens whom Daz had never directly seen before.
Coming forward to greet Daz, General Miller smiled a bit bitterly. "I couldn't convince everyone, but all of the regular people are here along with seventy-percent of my men. Your offer still stands, right?"
"Of course it does. Each and every one of you is welcome here at Fort Skip. I assume some of the people didn't agree with merging with us?" Daz said.
He had no idea who the ones that hadn't agreed could be since the only two people Daz knew from Camp Waterford were Greg and Major Kabatay, both of whom were here.
"Mmm, that's the gist of it. We can talk more later, but for now, do you mind bringing us in? It was a long walk here for the children and the elderly who we couldn't fit into the cars," Greg requested as he gestured to a group of twenty or so kids under the age of ten whose parents were nowhere to be seen and several people over the age of fifty tottering about by the M1 trucks and the cars.
"Of course," Daz replied immediately. "Leave the vehicles here. I'll have my soldiers bring them in this evening. If there's anyone injured, tell me. Crusher here will carry them through."
"We're all fine and healthy, thankfully," Greg said.
"Okay then." Daz held out his hand towards General Miller and smiled. "Welcome to Fort Skip, Greg. I'm glad you made the right choice."
Reluctantly taking Daz's hand, Greg replied, "I- No, we, will be in your care."
With that said, Daz accepted each and every one of them as his citizens and gave them each an identification medal. Luckily, he had created quite a few in his spare time, so there was plenty for everyone.
After they had all been informed of where all of the important buildings were, General Retford and his soldiers led the new citizens to the dungeon.
Some of Greg's men weren't tired yet and wanted to help with the construction efforts, but Sandy told them that it was too dark and too late to bother right now.
Still, they insisted, so Sandy ended up taking them to the mines where they began working under Chris' supervision.
Regardless of the time of the day, Chris was always in the mines. Either he was working, teaching Robert, or he was sleeping at the front desk.
Even during the attack, he stayed in the mines and worked away. The deep underbelly that harboured many jewels and precious ores kept him from the cold of today's attack, so he didn't see the point of hiding away in the new dungeon since he'd die regardless if Daz and his fighters failed.
"New workers?" Robert, the ex-mayor of Waterford asked as he lifted his soot and dirt-covered face.
He took his mining helmet off and wiped the sweat from his brow. After working here for a few days now, Robert's previously chicken-like limbs had grown out and you could see the muscle slowly building up on him.
This was mostly due to the system's help, but it was hard to ignore his own hard work.
"Yo, Bob," Chris called as he led the eight soldiers that had insisted on working behind him, Major Kabatay included. "These guys are from the military camp. They really wanted to help as soon as they got here, so I want you to show them the ropes, 'kay?"
"Sure," Robert answered with a smile.
Major Kabatay stepped forward and offered him her hand. "I'm Melissa Kabatay. We'll be in your care."
'Huh? They don't recognise me?' Robert was confused. It was only last week that this young woman was holding him by his collar and threatening to throw him to the monsters after one of his many tantrums.
The memory of it left a sour taste in his mouth. 'I suppose I'm bigger now and my skin is a bit darker since I've been in the mines for a while... It's probably better if they forget about the old me completely...'
"Hi, I'm Bob," he said as he wiped his hand on his trousers and shook Melissa's hand. "I'm Chris' assistant and a recovering convict. Let's get along."
"Recovering convict?" Melissa asked with some suspicion and leeriness in her tone.
"Yeah," Robert replied before he walked over to a storage cabinet and began taking out a bunch of personal protective equipment and tools. "I tried to steal something and I lied about it, so the Lord sentenced me to eight days of community service. You didn't see the law signs in the middle of the residential quarters?"
Shaking her head, Melissa said, "Nope. We just got here, so we haven't looked around yet. The soldiers just told us where to find the restaurant, the barracks, the blacksmithy, the bank, and this place."
"It was probably on the list of things to teach you guys tomorrow then," Robert assumed as he started handing out the gear to the eight men and woman.
"Anyway, there are a few basic laws here. Don't kill, don't sexually assault, don't physically harm or mentally abuse another person, and finally, don't steal. The punishments vary from case to case, but basically, community service in the mines is where you'll go unless you're a real troublemaker." Robert picked up his pickaxe and walked back over to the ore-riddled wall.
"I see..." Melissa was somewhat curious about something. "You seem pretty happy for someone being forced to work here though?"
At that point, Chris laughed. "Bob's a changed man. Ain't that right?"
"Yes, Sir. Mining's given me a purpose that my old life never did or could have," Robert explained with a big grin on his face.
'What? He's unexpectedly handsome when he smiles,' Melissa noted in her mind, still unaware of this man's true identity.
"Anyway, mining's easy once you get the hang of it, okay? Simply swing your pick at the glowing points on this rock wall. Some of them are harder to hit than others like the gold ore and platinum ore, and jewels, in particular. Only Chris can mine those so far. He's pretty amazing and the Lord values him highly since the massive Golem, Rimmy, needs them," Robert explained diligently.
Pride filled Chris' face upon hearing the unexpected praise.
"But that stuff's useless to Fort Skip right now anyway, the rare metals, I mean." Robert rubbed his hand along the smooth stone and pointed out the small glowing orbs of light that varied in size and shape.
"Is this the system's doing?" Melissa asked.
Nodding, Chris said, "The Lord bought this place straight from the system, so it has special rules that make it easier for anyone to mine even with no prior knowledge or experience. There's also the benefit of gaining more strength and mining-related skills as you work here."
"We never had any buildings like this back at the base..." Melissa thought that all of this was very fascinating. Her usual hotheaded nature stemmed from her desire to get thing's done as quickly as possible, and this light-orb mechanic of the mine ignited that desire.
She rushed over to the wall and tried to strike one of the slightly smaller orbs with her pickaxe only to fail miserably and she ended up bouncing onto the floor from the recoil.
Chris laughed. "Eager, ain't we?"
Melissa blushed a bit before she got up and wiped the dirt and dust from herself.
"Well, I'm returning to the front room. It's time for my evening nap. Bob, help them mine out some iron and deliver it to the blacksmithy before you go home. Oh, also, don't keep your daughter waiting for too long, yeah? Even if she's busying herself with her show rehearsals, she's still a kid," Chris advised as he waved goodbye and left the mineshaft.
"You have a daughter?" Melissa asked.
Robert nodded. "Yes. Anyway, we should get started soon. We're going to need a lot of iron for the new houses."
"Okay." Melissa and the seven other people were excited and ready to help.
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