The Foundry
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SURVIVAL DIFFICULTY:

Class 2

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Uppermost Foundry superstructure, as seen from the base platform.

The extradimensional area people have taken to calling “The Foundry” is, fortunately for us, not particularly complicated or dangerous - at least not compared to many, many other such areas we’ve discovered or stumbled into so far. In pursuit of academic completeness I will describe every part of this space, beginning with the least interesting.

The upper region of the Foundry space may be a sky, or it could be a ceiling. If it is a sky, it has no stars or any other identifiable celestial body. If it is a ceiling, it is too far away to be visible. So, when one looks up while visiting, one sees only blackness. It might be interesting to send a camera balloon to see how high up it really goes, but I suppose there are better uses for our very limited resources.

The lower region is what appears to be a sea of some glowing molten substance. As luck would have it, Slam City recently acquired a very frightened (but adjusting) volcanologist, of all people. Her assessment after being taken for a visit is that the substance is not magma, as some of us had guessed, but rather a more pure liquid. Her bet was on liquid iron, but admitted that it could be any metal with a similar melting point and density.

This ocean of liquid metal extends in all directions and is relatively static. There are occasional bubbles, which cause slight ripples in the surface, but it is otherwise still. We aren’t sure how it remains in its liquid state - it must be constantly heated by some enormous source of energy below the surface, but what that could be, or how far down the fluid goes, are mysteries for now.

Extending out of this reservoir is a support structure comprised of latticed beams and girders, with a number of central stanchions. This scaffolding holds up a platform, and on that platform is the facility that has been dubbed “The Foundry”.

This structure occupies about five cubic miles of space in total (as of last estimate). The platform foundation it is built onto occupies an area of about 3.5 square miles, as calculated from measurements of the perimeter. These dimensions have remained static at every measurement. The internal volume of the Foundry is subject to change, however, which I will elaborate on later in this document.

If I were to draw upon my industrial experience and compare the Foundry to a real-world facility of some kind, I would say it most resembles an oil refinery. Superficially, at least. It has the characteristic fungal cobwebbing of pipes and railings and ladders and smokestacks that, to someone not familiar with the place, must look terribly complex and confusing. And it often is. The Foundry exhibits more verticality than a terrestrial oil refinery, however - a true refinery needs room to spread out and occupy a wide area. The Foundry looks folded - stacked upon itself claustrophobically to make a genuinely imposing lump of machinery that soars high above your head, perched on its platform all by itself in this otherwise empty space. It brings to mind a great ball of string, almost. Or a heart.

I’m afraid that’s where the easy part of this report ends. It’s simple enough to describe the appearance of the Foundry, and I suppose that’s the case with many things. It’s the function of the facility that confounds. Its purpose, its method of operation, its origin - all of these are mysteries. It may have none of them at all, for all we know - we’ve certainly encountered other things in this adoptive otherworld that defy all reason. This could merely be another. That is a scientifically unhelpful perspective, however, and I will do my best to record what is known, and perhaps some speculation that is at least founded on reliable observations and good hard data.

PRODUCTION

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True to its name, the Foundry produces things. Believe me when I say I wish I could be more specific than that, but in this instance, truth rejects simplicity.

When arriving at the Foundry through one of its many doors (explained in more detail on subsequent pages), one will be presented with the “front” view of the structure. This facade, insofar as it could be called that, features the facility’s largest entrance. To the left and right are structures resembling cargo loading bays, as one might see in the rear of a large grocery store or similar. Recessed into these are eight padded hoppers, four to each bay, which each receive discharge from a number of pipes, conveyor runs, pneumatic tubes, and chutes. Things emerge from these transport mechanisms and land in the hoppers, each of which has a hatch on the side, apparently for ease of access by humans (or humanoids).

All goods produced by the Foundry are manufactured, in one way or another, whether rudimentary or complex. The goods are generally of industrial or military use, but there are frequent exceptions. There does not appear to be any kind of yet-recognizable pattern to the nature of these goods, their amount, or the frequency with which they appear, however I will provide here a brief1 list of examples of items that have been found in a receptacle after a discharge event.

Discharge Event Items Dispensed
#4, Receptacle 2, date 11NOV44 Nine unmarked 9mm handguns (with magazines), approximately 360 9mm handgun cartridges, eleven sledgehammers, six reels of copper wire, twelve Leatherman-style multitools, 23 Mason jars (most shattered on contact with the receptacle bottom), one cast-iron teapot, approximately 500 carpenter’s nails
#224, Receptacle 7, date 09JUN46 Nine cast-iron frying pans, 256 serrated hunting knives, approximately 800 lag bolts, 53 12-inch adjustable wrenches, 144 rolls of industrial duct tape, three hacksaws, one desk fan (cherry red)
#603, Receptacle 4, date 18OCT47 17 complete oxyacetylene welding/cutting apparatus (including torches, pressure regulators, hoses, and tanks pressurized with clean oxyacetylene fuel), 49 SCBA tanks with harnesses and regulators (not pressurized), 19 pairs of rubberized working gloves (and one stray left glove), 38 boilersuits, 51 electric screwdrivers (each with a fully-charged battery pack)
#1028, Receptacle 8, date 02FEB49 241 steel ingots (believed to be of tool steel specifically, after stress and hardness testing), 29 12-gauge pump-action shotguns, approximately 450 shotgun shells (#00 buckshot), five sliding T bevels, one I-beam (22 feet long), 683 rebar safety caps (orange), 13 spools of large-gauge wire rope, one lava lamp (purple, dispensed in styrofoam to avoid shattering), one plastic-wrapped bundle of components of initially unknown purpose (later determined to be a swingset)

The Foundry’s dispensation bays are under continual watch by a combination of Slam City militia and Watchdog volunteers, and all its products are to be remanded to the office of the Chief Engineer for resource allocation (in the case of practically useful items) or community lottery (as with items such as the lava lamp).

It is the reader’s guess as well as mine what meaning any of this has, if any. The facility is clearly capable of producing a wide array of materials with an enormous number of machining and manufacturing methods. In fact, it is categorically impossible for a single facility to produce this many different kinds of objects while remaining the size it appears to be, assuming the absence of any arcane forces. An assumption that does not hold water in this case, unfortunately.

INTERNAL STRUCTURE

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The Foundry is at least partially traversable and technically inhabitable, though it is dangerous enough that strict access controls have been put in place to prevent further casualties.

As mentioned previously, the internal configuration of the Foundry does not conform to our understanding of terrestrial physics. Multiple attempts to map the Foundry’s layout have been attempted, and some (with the aid of our excellent surveying team) were even partially successful. However, it was found on subsequent dives that the facility’s internals change dramatically and often, with no external indications whatsoever that a change has taken place. Some of the surveying team have offered the theory that these changes might even occur with people still inside (there is of course no particular guarantee or reason they wouldn’t), and this could be the explanation for a number of still-missing personnel.

Not only does the floor plan of the building change, but its dimensions are also spatially inconsistent. To wit, the Foundry is larger on the inside than it is on the outside. By a significant margin - specifics are obviously difficult to attain, but recent estimates have provided for an internal volume at least ten times larger than the amount visible from outside the structure. It could be more than that. Considering where we find ourselves, it could very well be infinite, for all we know - though what this infinity would be in aid of is anyone’s guess.

The substance of the place is perhaps easier to contend with than its arrangement. The meat of the Foundry, as it were, is largely homogeneous.

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The ground-level and superstructure sections of the Foundry are comprised mainly of passageways of variable width and flooring, hemmed in on either side by ductwork, wiring brackets, electrical panels, and other such industrial goulash. Occasionally one might pass by a running electrohydraulic pump, turbogenerator, or steam generator. Running equipment has been recorded as cycling on or off from time to time, but generally is found on - this gives the entire facility a constant hum of running machinery. There are access gantries that walk above humming banks of circuit breakers and load centers, some of which are nearly the size of a football pitch. Transformer boxes with their characteristic single tone song can be found in nearly every hallway. If I put on my old material condition inspector’s hat, I would judge all of the spaces on this level… barely acceptable, with a stern warning to the foreman and a re-inspection due very shortly. There is a fog of age about the place. None of the machinery appears to be in quite desperate need of maintenance, but the floors are fairly dirty. Much of the machinery could do with a new coat of paint. Rust can be found on quite a bit of the pipeworks, particularly the steam subsystems, which appear to have been uniformly laid in with poor gasketing, causing valve and union hissing to be a regular occurrence. For a man of my professional background, just standing in the place is maddening to a minor degree.

The situation changes as one descends the Foundry’s levels - and not for the better. The Foundry does have basement sublevels. To preempt the inevitable confusion, no, not even the brightest of us are quite sure how a facility suspended on bare scaffolding above an ocean of liquid metal could have levels below the ground floor, but the fact is undeniable.

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All appears as it ever does within the Foundry, until one reaches an uncertain depth. This specific limit has changed somewhat between descents, but the average appears to be around Sublevel 30. At this depth, human traversability begins to corrode. The relatively ordered separation between floors and arrangement of passageways loses cohesion. Ladderwells sometimes go nowhere. Gantries fly out over enormous, yawning cavern spaces that exhibit no deliberation to their arrangement at all apart from housing yet more machinery. Many of these are simply not able to be traveled - walkways terminate, ladders veer off at useless right angles from the ground and slam into walls, passages circle back upon one another or rise up and then down at angles in such a way that the crests are not able to be climbed. The logic begins to drain out, like used oil. All here is still operational. The equipment still runs, the lights are on, the conditions are essentially unchanged - but it has all become indifferent to the notion of use. Human-agnostic, I have come to think of it. Engineering with no ingenuity. Design without consciousness. I remember once, at this level, I saw a centrifugal booster pump mounted in the ceiling. Cofferdam and all. More than thirty feet up, impossible to service, where no engineer with any sense at all would have ordered it installed. Machinery and architecture placed with all the agency of a tree deciding where to place its roots.

This changes, if one descends further. Few teams have, at this juncture - it is difficult to find people with the athleticism and climbing skills necessary to continue, as floors gradually become more and more optional. What little has been seen of sublevels 100 and below is quite different in character from what is seen above. The inexplicable disorganization continues, and in fact worsens, but is joined by degradation as well. Machinery runs only intermittently at this depth, and often poorly, if operational at all. There are shaft misalignments, causing terrible shrieking. Pressure regulators are in a state of semi-failure, simply hissing their contents into the atmosphere. These contents are occasionally atomized hydraulic fluid or extremely high-temperature steam, making these regions all the more hazardous to explore. Flooding is common, where there is floor for fluids to collect. These liquids can be water, oil, hydraulic fluid, even combustible hydrocarbons like heavy fuel oil or gasoline.

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Perhaps worst of all, lighting begins to fail. Fixtures appear to still be in place in many cases, but are simply semi-operational or non-operational at all. In some cases expeditionary teams have been able to restore lighting to sections of the Foundry at this depth by physically tracing wires to junction boxes and actuating their breakers, but due to the structure’s internal shifts, this is only ever a temporary solution. There have been reports of Foundry levels, further down than these, where lighting fails entirely, and there is no machinery noise whatsoever. What these “dead levels” could contain is anyone’s guess, but neither myself nor the Mayor are curious and cruel enough to even ask for volunteers to investigate them. Our brave men and women who have gone that far down come back with enough fright as it is.2

The notion that a structure like this could be somehow idiopathic rankles the mind very terribly, but as one wanders through the intestines of the place, it becomes apparent that, somehow, that is all the Foundry is - intestine. A ball of guts. We have so far found no hint of a central command center with operational controls or monitoring equipment. We have yet to find a single camera or loudspeaker. There are no rooms designed to facilitate human habitation. No vending machines. No bathrooms. No chairs. In fact, there is no evidence of human existence within the Foundry, apart from the machinery designs conforming with those commonly found on Earth, both in size and ostensible purpose. We have yet to find any writing within the Foundry. There is none. Not one label or sign with legible lettering in any language. In fact, aside from the ones on the outside used to enter it, the Foundry doesn’t even contain any doors.

And, of course, no inhabitants have been found within the Foundry. The Foundry does not have any sort of employees, staff, caretakers, workers, or inhabitants of any kind. Regardless of what you may have heard. This counts double for any reports of “monsters” or any such similar thing. People have gone missing or gotten hurt within the Foundry, yes, but these casualties can easily be explained by the dangers inherent in a structure of this layout and behavior. There are no confirmed reports of any sort of animate thing, human or otherwise, within the Foundry. At any depth explored thus far.

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There is a latticework of questions surrounding the Foundry, as manifold and labyrinthine as the place itself is. We do not know who or what built the Foundry, how, or why. We do not know why it produces things that appear to be specifically made for our use, or how its internal facilities could possibly correlate to the materials and processes needed to produce them. We do not know what pattern there is, if any, to the amount or kind of things it makes, nor do we know of any way to influence the Foundry’s “behavior”. We do not know how the Foundry itself is supplied with power, oil, water, maintenance, or anything else a structure like this would regularly require in order to continue functioning. For all we know, the Foundry itself could very well be sentient in some way, though such a thing is as impossible to verify as any of the other hundreds of possible questions that could flow from this document, and is perhaps foolish to even speculate upon.

ADVISORY

As our time studying the Foundry has progressed, it has come to our attention that a number of personnel have taken to entering the Foundry for the purposes of mapping, studying, maintaining, and even, in some cases, cleaning the inside of the facility and its associated equipment. On their own time, with no direction or oversight. While I have respect for the personal initiative this displays, I once again remind all those assigned to this research project that the Foundry is imminently dangerous, even at the ground level. Structural shifts take place on a regular basis, equipment malfunctions, people become lost. In the last month, we have lost track of four personnel who took it upon themselves to enter the Foundry with no notification or assistance of any kind. This has included personnel assigned to guard the Foundry’s production sites, with no claim to a research position of any kind.

This loss is as tragic as it is unacceptable. As such, I am as of now coordinating with the Slam City Vanguard and the Watchdogs to place the Foundry’s known entrances under armed guard, until such time that an organized and methodical approach to its exploration can be devised with the resources available. The Foundry is not to be entered under any circumstances without the direct, written and signed permission of both myself and Mayor Hallstead until further notice.

EXTRASPATIAL HERNIATION

Reports from both Vanguard outriders and Watchdog patrol teams have, as of at least 23SEP54, indicated that the internal space of the Foundry may be even more volatile than previously estimated.

On that date, a Vanguard expedition team into hitherto-unsurveyed spatial aperture led to a cave-like environment with freezing cold temperatures and precipitation in the form of snow, despite there not being a visible sky of any kind. The team ventured into the unknown space, but underestimated the effects of windchill, and of course were not adequately equipped for arctic exploration. In the subterranean blizzard, they lost track of the location of the exit warp, and claim they would have expired from exposure, had they not made a very fortunate discovery. Isolated in the middle of a clearing relatively free of stalagmites, one of the Vanguard spotted an unusual light. With no alternative, they traveled toward it.

What they found was a structural support beam rising from the ground, similar to the sort found in many industrial buildings. Wired to the stanchion was a bank of lamps, orange-amber in color and well-lit. By the beam was a running electrical generator, apparently powered by a steam connection, the source of which appeared to be an outlet pipe set directly into the stone of the cavern floor. The pressure manifold to the generator was in relatively poor condition, and leaking steam into the air. Nearby was also some miscellaneous electrical equipment of unknown function, a junction box for the light fixture, and looped sections of warm ductwork exiting and entering the stone as the steam pipe did, with an unknown fluid running inside. No such equipment was seen anywhere else nearby. In fact, this space had exhibited no sign whatsoever of sapient life, aside from this jumble of apparently purposeless machinery. A little island of industrial equipment. The team was able to use the steam and warm metal to reconstitute themselves and rest safely, while using the lights to identify their path through the snow and find the way back.

One of the team, a Mr. Kendall Mathers, had been, by happenstance, previously on an expedition into the lower levels of the Foundry before volunteering for an outrider tour. Mr. Mathers claimed with absolute conviction that the strange machinery in the middle of nowhere looked exactly like the sort of thing he had seen everywhere in the Foundry, down to the characteristic radiator fins on the generator, the sound of its hum, and the specific orange-amber color of the light fixture.

Since then, we have received multiple similar reports from Vanguard teams traveling beyond the borders of Slam City, and even into other transdimensional spaces. Each is similar - identification of Foundry machinery is often easy, due to its conspicuous lack of upkeep and the distinctive color of its safety lights. A small number of these reports even describe enormous sections of space completely “taken over” by Foundry machinery, occupying hundreds of cubic feet, in places that would not possibly have ever had previous human traffic, or occasionally in places that had been explored previously with no record of such machinery being present.

In one notable instance, a Vanguard team in a poorly-surveyed otherspace resembling an “infinite Edwardian palace” were being chased by that space’s natives, firmly categorized as Hostile Nonhuman Entities. In their attempt to elude the HNEs, the team entered a door that did not resemble any of the wooden, decorative doors they had encountered until that point. This door was metal, heavy, and in need of both grinding and a new coat of paint, according to one scout.

This door deposited them at the Foundry platform, just as the one discovered in the Slam City materials warehouse does. In fact, once the thumping and shrieking on the other side had subsided, the team opened the door again, and found that it had somehow reconnected to the warehouse entrance, bringing them home.

I have gone over each of these reports, and must against my better nature resign to the obvious conclusion - that the Foundry is capable of “spreading”, via some mechanism just as unknown as the rest of it. It apparently possesses the ability to traverse dimensional barriers and “grow” into worlds beyond its own, reminiscent of tumor metastasis or organ herniation, if one will pardon a medical metaphor. The significance of this, or what ramifications it could have, are as yet unknown.

But research is, as always, ongoing.


this document compiled and maintained by:
Dr. Ashley Graham, Chief Engineer, Slam City Administrative Council

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