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The City With No Foundations…

Mornington was having fun on the rollable ladders that he had attached to his library cases in his home, he had spent the best part of 30 minutes now using his hooves to kick one wall and grinning in sheer happiness as the rollable ladders rolled him to the other side, and then kicking the wall on the other side and rolling along again.

After about 45 minutes of this, a screwdriver had dropped out of his pocket and fell on the rail.  On the return trip the ladder caught the screwdriver and stopped suddenly…Mornington however…didn’t.

The resulting crash had left Mornington under a pile of books in the corner of his study.  After getting up a single small book covered in dust landed edge first on his head, compounding the sore head he already had.  He picked up the book and looked at its old worn cover.

“A Essay on New Babbage.
The City with no Foundations.”

Mornington looked at the title and started chuckling.

“No foundation…amateur!  Ya gotta have foundations…”

Still, something niggled at the back of Morningtons mind about the subtitle of the book.  That evening, with a glass of Chivas and a cigar, he sat down, and started to read.


A Essay on New Babbage.
The City with no Foundations.

By Archibald Tennison-Major

Printed 1878

When Professor Thymes of Caledon University asked me to go on a short trip to the industrial heartlands of our age, The City State of New Babbage, my heart sank.  I was expecting to go to a nice place to write an essay, Steelhead, or New Toulouse, or any place where your not hacking your lungs up after an hour of normal breathing.  Professor Thymes was an old Babbager, he had moved away from the city and started his journeys across the known world, finally settling in Caledon where he was asked to be a professor of building and engineering.

The City of Babbage, or should i say ‘New Babbage’, has had a long and illustrious history within the industrial age we are now in.  A former township of the fallen Great Empire, a former garrison of the 2nd regiment of the Emperors guards and the main industrial site of mining and engineering for the entire western half of the original Great Empire.  When the empire fell, it was only a matter of time before Babbage claimed independence.  The actual history of the city pre empire and shortly after post empire is a sketchy one, and it was one which the good Professor hinted to me as I left on the Airship Jennifer, bound for Port Babbage.

“Look everywhere young Archibald…especially underneath” was Thymes parting words to me as i got on the massive airship.  “Underneath” I thought to myself…what a strange thing to say.

When i arrived in Port Babbage my immediate impression of the surrounding’s was of course, one of heavy industry.  Thick smog blankets the entire city during the night, and by day the fog mixes in with the already heavy air to give the city an almost impenetrable light red glowing blanket of air suspended soot.  Young urchins dart across the docks looking for things to take, or small jobs on offer, and all the while, to the west of the port, large towering chimneys belch out thick, black, soot laden smoke.  Not a very nice sight for someone like myself who i used to clean, fresh air.

I took up residence in one of the few small hotels dotted around the port, and got straight to work.

From a geologists standpoint, New Babbage is build on a large outdrop of brown creoform subterranean limestone.  Limestone itself is not an unusual thing, but a knurled outcropping of this size with a deepset edge into solid bedrock is unusual to say the least.  Upon inspecting the port docks and asking some dockworkers who were on a break they explained now the city was built on this limestone outcropping.

“Aye, piledriving ya see is useless sonny…ya gotta deep drive and drill iron shafts right into the gut o’ the limestone, 50 to 120 feet down sometimes sonny, takes days to set up a foundation…’course, that’s if yer lucky enough ta have a foundation”

It was the last part of this chat which got me interested ‘lucky enough to have a foundation’?

After further questioning it seems some of the city’s history started to come to light.

Around 4 decades previously, an estimated 4/6ths of the city was burned to the ground in what the locals call ‘The Great Fire’.  Such was the loss of life that it took New Babbage a further two decades to bring itself back up to speed, the city fully recovered around the 1850’s.  Previous to The Great Fire and placing the timeline deep into the era of the Great Empire, the township of Babbage was a port call dockland area surrounded by mines and coalworks.  The current Port Babbage, Babbage Square, Wheatstone Waterways and Babbage Canals are all parts of that original old town.  What happened next is something of a mystery.

Apparently Babbage Town started to grow exponentially, outer laying villages got engulfed in what was to become the Golden Age of Babbage.  The villiage of Clockhaven found itself surrounded by the expansion of the city, and as the city continued to grow, the excavation work on the bedrock continued.  So, 3 separate city’s in the one area.  The original City of Babbage, The Township of Babbage which was part of The Great Empire, and the current City State of New Babbage which is sitting on the remains of both the previous city’s.

Most of the City Hall records had been burnt in the Great Fire, which had left massive gaps in the knowledge of the city’s inhabitants, but piece by piece it was starting to come together.  

As I started to ask around town about the history of the city, I came across a rather unusual gentleman who was staggering out of a local bar.  He claimed his name was Emperor Crumb, and his family has been the rulers of this city since before the time of the Empire.  Seizing an opportunity I offered to buy this old man a few drinks, and obligingly he agreed.  After several large whiskeys Mr Crumb told me some of the gaps which needed filling.

After the collapse of The Great Empire, and the loss of actual power to drive machines which came with it…that in itself is another whole story…Babbage started to shrink.  At its height The City of Babbage had reached the fells and went no further.  To the north was the fells, to the south the sea, to the west peat bogs and marshlands and to the east more seas.  When the collapse of the Great Empire happened everyone knew it was coming.  The 2nd regiment garrison fled their post as the citizens of Babbage took up arms and drove out the remainders of the Empires army.  The surrounding villages of Falun, Bump, and Topperwick including the mine’s surrounding those villages was offered protection by the newly named Independent State of New Babbage.  The villi ages gladly agreed.

However, the loss of The Great Empire meant trading routes by land, air and sea, collapsed.  For an entire decade bankruptcy of the former towns and city’s that made the empire was the normality of everyday life.  Half the population of the now renamed City State of New Babbage had fled to the country in order to grow their own food to stave off starvation.  It was only during the early part of the 1800’s, a full five decades after the collapse of the Empire that New Babbage found its footing again.

It was in 1804, during major excavations along what was the original outer boundary of the old Empire town of Babbage that they found an old wall.  This old wall stretched from one end of the city to the other, it was a massive undertaking and the foundation’s of this wall went right down through the limestone and hit bedrock…and no one knew who built it.  The wall was restored and garrison Tesla guns placed ontop as protection.  As excavations was ongoing with what was to be named the “Palisade Wall” engineers and diggers kept hitting what seemed to be small caverns deep below the roadways and paths leading up to the under parts of this old wall.  The engineers thought nothing of it, thinking this was natural limestone caverns.  They simply drove down thick iron pilings, bolstered them up with quicklime set in rocks and topped them out.

However…Mr Crumb pointed me in the direction of what was Clockhaven.

In 1705, Clockhaven was a bustling village, surrounded by the Township of Babbage.  It was the last haven of the old clockwork makers, the final refuge of a bygone era which was now replaced by steam.  By the time the empire was collapsing, Clockhaven had become a ghost town.  By the time I arrived here in 1878, it was a crumbling ruinous long forgotten part of old Babbage.  As Mr Crumb guided me through the narrow street he led me into a row of buildings along the center.  One of these buildings had a collapsed basement.  Upon further inspection with a length of long rope I estimated that the cavern below was at least 140 feet deep, extending the full length of the central portion of the entire region.  I was shocked.

After extending a Jacobs ladder down and with a large lantern i descended down into the cavern.  On the ground below was remnants of old brick built houses, large towering colonnade structures supporting a thick layer of limestone bedrock above.  The ground below was a quagmire, full of the filth and effluence of decades worth of industry.  As I climbed back up and dusted myself off, Mr Crumb took me to Babbage Square, on a large empty flat piece of land which Mr Crumb jokingly said would make a good place to build a new City Hall he stated that some of the old clockwork minded folks said there’s a deep well down there, built during a long forgotten era of a much earlier town of Babbage.  Of course no one believed them and the city doesn’t have the necessary monetary fund for an excavation that deep.

Mr Crumb then took me to an area of land which was virtually empty, north of Port Babbage, he then told me to start an official University of Caledon excavation on the eastern flank of this empty land, next to the sealed border of what Crumb said was ‘The Old Quarter’.

After 3 weeks of digging down, the drill head fell…into another large cavern, again estimated to be at least 200 feet down.  Upon inspection this cavern was almost identical to the one in clockhaven, old ruined foundations of buildings far below, large colonnade towers supporting the limestone ceiling…with the current ground right ontop of it.

After small drillings across the entire City State, i have came across a lot more of these large cavernous drops into the remains of a city which no one knows about, and which predates anything on the records.  Old Mr Crumb in a singular moment of soberness turned to me and simply said “if they only knew what they are living ontop off”…with that, he walked away, taking large swigs of the bottle of wine that i gave him.

Perhaps old Crumb has the right idea, stay drunk, forget whats down below.

In this year of 1878, as i sit back in my comfortable bed, in my house, on solid bedrock in Caledon, I think back to the early part of this year, and wonder just how long it will be before the citizens of the City State of New Babbage start to ask the simple question of ‘What came before us’?  How long will it be before further excavations into the original first founding township of babbage, with its ruined foundations sitting below ancient towering pillars of granite which hold up the ground of the current city, take place.

One can only hope that someday, the history of that first town is uncovered.


Mornington droppped the book on the ground…stood up, and thumped the floor of his house.

“I think i need to get insurance….”

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  1. Junie Ginsburg Junie Ginsburg May 11, 2012

    Good luck with that, Victor.

    *flicks some cigar ashes into the gaping hole in the Gangplank basement*

  2. Ceejay Writer Ceejay Writer May 11, 2012

    You might want to spend an evening having drinks with Mister Biggins.  I bet he has some stories…

  3. Emerson Lighthouse Emerson Lighthouse May 11, 2012

    *reads twice and takes notes*


  4. Avariel Falcon Avariel Falcon May 12, 2012

    Unit #6 continued following the cooling system pipes further into the deeper depths of the power staiton, below the sub levels where the last of the new electric lights ran out…

    Occasionally the dark was punctuated by one of the ancient clockwork arc lamps that clicked and fizzled, casting a strange flickering blue glow…

    Deeper and deeper Unit #6 stomped, through tunnels thick with dust and lined with ancient clockwork junk…

  5. Kristos Sonnerstein Kristos Sonnerstein May 12, 2012

    ::looks down at the candy shop floor under his feet and wonders uncertainly::

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