Team Mafia 2018 Sign Ups

This forum contains signup threads for Mafia Games. Read about how our signups work here.
Ellibereth
Deus ex Machina
 
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Joined: November 06, 2009
Location: Location location location

Post Post #0  (ISO)  » Fri Jan 12, 2018 4:20 pm

UPDATE: viewtopic.php?p=9876612&f=1#p9876612, TEAMS ARE NOW 5 PLAYERS

This thread is ONLY for signing up. For complete information and discussion about Team Mafia 2018, please go here.
Please do not hesitate to contact me directly if you have any questions/comments/concerns.

1 team slot will be reserved for the defending champions until 1/18/2018 at 12:00 pm (Noon) EST.
If more than 1 member of the team changes, the remaining members will have to sign up normally.

Signups for the first 8 team slots open 1/13/2018 at 12:00 pm (Noon) EST.

Signups for the remaining 4-6 team slots open 1/18/2018 at 12:00 pm (Noon) EST.


Signups will be first come first serve.
DO NOT sign up without verifying with all your teammates that they are able to play the event. If the event fills and it turns out a player from a team can't play, said team will be moved to the bottom of the list in terms of signups and priority will be given to any full teams that missed out because of the event filling.

Spoiler: How to Sign Up
Each team will need a:
1. Team Name (you may change this after signing up), it may appear on the winning team's prize banner.
2. Team Captain (normally the person signing up, but it doesn't have to be)
3. The other fourplayer's names. These MUST be spelled correctly and in full or your sign up will be void.

Spoiler: Requirements for Each Player
1. No hydras
2. No secret alts. You may play on an alt account, but your "main" identity will be listed on the main thread.
3. Each player must have at least one completed game on the site and be in good standing (i.e. no banned players).
Last edited by Ellibereth on Thu Jan 18, 2018 12:00 pm, edited 14 times in total.
FLASH OF GREEN

Ellibereth
Deus ex Machina
 
User avatar
Joined: November 06, 2009
Location: Location location location

Post Post #1  (ISO)  » Fri Jan 12, 2018 4:20 pm

Team Name Player 1 Player 2 Player 3 Player 4 Player 5
1 Young and Beautiful wgeurts T-Bone Espeonage Spiffeh Aneninen
2 eddie cane skirt skirt Katyusha jjh927 Transcend Lycanfire
3 DEFCON Lady Lambdadelta Hinduragi Hebichan Llamarble Cabd
4 Team Cuddly RadiantCowbells Keychain Firebringer Postie Zachstralkita
5 Relaxed Nature Aristophanes Something_Smart Aeronaut Gamma Emerald Fro99er
6 God Save the Black Goo Cogito Ergo Sum Fenchurch Patrick ChannelDelibird Primate
7 Make Papa Proud Errantparabola Bins implosion SleepyKrew Marquis
8 Chillplay Bombahskiies Boonskiies Tchill13 Unabombah Srceenplay Dunkerdoodles
9 Queue Agents Bulbazak Ginngie EddieFenix mastina Thor665
10
Spoiler: Team Name
Code: Select all
Who is John Galt? The light was ebbing, and Eddie Willers could not distinguish the bum's  face. The bum had said it simply, without expression. But from the sunset far  at the end of the street, yellow glints caught his eyes, and the eyes looked  straight at Eddie Willers, mocking and still— as if the question had been  addressed to the causeless uneasiness within him.   Why did you say that? asked Eddie Willers, his voice tense.   The bum leaned against the side of the doorway; a wedge of broken glass  behind him reflected the metal yellow of the sky.   Why does it bother you? he asked.   It doesn't, snapped Eddie Willers.   He reached hastily into his pocket. The bum had stopped him and asked for  a dime, then had gone on talking, as if to kill that moment and postpone the  problem of the next. Pleas for dimes were so frequent in the streets these  days that it was not necessary to listen to explanations, and he had no  desire to hear the details of this bum's particular despair.   Go get your cup of coffee,  he said, handing the dime to the shadow that  had no face.   Thank you, sir,  said the voice, without interest, and the face leaned  forward for a moment. The face was wind-browned, cut by lines of weariness  and cynical resignation; the eyes were intelligent. Eddie Willers walked on,  wondering why he always felt it at this time of day, this sense of dread  without reason. No, he thought, not dread, there's nothing to fear: just an  immense, diffused apprehension, with no source or object. He had become  accustomed to the feeling, but he could find no explanation for it; yet the  bum had spoken as if he knew that Eddie felt it, as if he thought that one  should feel it, and more: as if he knew the reason.   Eddie Willers pulled his shoulders straight, in conscientious self-  discipline. He had to stop this, he thought; he was beginning to imagine  things. Had he always felt it? He was thirty-two years old. He tried to think  back. No, he hadn't; but he could not remember when it had started. The  feeling came to him Suddenly, at random intervals, and now it was coming more  often than ever. It's the twilight, he thought; I hate the twilight.   The clouds and the shafts of skyscrapers against them were turning brown,  like an old painting in oil, the color of a fading masterpiece. Long streaks  of grime ran from under the pinnacles down the slender, soot-eaten walls.  High on the side of a tower there was a crack in the shape of a motionless  lightning, the length of ten stories. A jagged object cut the sky above the  roofs; it was half a spire, still holding the glow of the sunset; the gold  leaf had long since peeled off the other half. The glow was red and still,  like the reflection of a fire: not an active fire, but a dying one which it  is too late to stop.   No, thought Eddie Willers, there was nothing disturbing in the sight of  the city. It looked as it had always looked.   He walked on, reminding himself that he was late in returning to the  office. He did not like the task which he had to perform on his return, but  it had to be done. So he did not attempt to delay it, but made himself walk  faster .   He turned a corner. In the narrow space between the dark silhouettes of  two buildings, as in the crack of a door, he saw the page of a gigantic  calendar suspended in the sky.   It was the calendar that the mayor of New York had erected last year on  the top of a building, so that citizens might tell the day of the month as  they told the hours of the day, by glancing up at a public tower. A white     rectangle hung over the city, imparting the date to the men in the streets  below. In the rusty light of this evening's sunset, the rectangle said:  September 2 .   Eddie Willers looked away. He had never liked the sight of that calendar.  It disturbed him, in a manner he could not explain or define. The feeling  seemed to blend with his sense of uneasiness; it had the same quality.   He thought suddenly that there was some phrase, a kind of quotation, that  expressed what the calendar seemed to suggest. But he could not recall it. He  walked, groping for a sentence that hung in his mind as an empty shape. He  could neither fill it nor dismiss it. He glanced back. The white rectangle  stood above the roofs, saying in immovable finality: September 2.   Eddie Willers shifted his glance down to the street, to a vegetable  pushcart at the stoop of a brownstone house. He saw a pile of bright gold  carrots and the fresh green of onions. He saw a clean white curtain blowing  at an open window. He saw a bus turning a corner, expertly steered. He  wondered why he felt reassured— and then, why he felt the sudden, inexplicable  wish that these things were not left in the open, unprotected against the  empty space above.   When he came to Fifth Avenue, he kept his eyes on the windows of the  stores he passed. There was nothing he needed or wished to buy; but he liked  to see the display of good?, any goods, objects made by men, to be used by  men. He enjoyed the sight of a prosperous street; not more than every fourth  one of the stores was out of business, its windows dark and empty.   He did not know why he suddenly thought of the oak tree. Nothing had  recalled it. But he thought of it and of his childhood summers on the Taggart  estate. He had spent most of his childhood with the Taggart children, and now  he worked for them, as his father and grandfather had worked for their father  and grandfather.   The great oak tree had stood on a hill over the Hudson, in a lonely spot  of the Taggart estate. Eddie Willers, aged seven, liked to come and look at  that tree. It had stood there for hundreds of years, and he thought it would  always stand there. Its roots clutched the hill like a fist with fingers sunk  into the soil, and he thought that if a giant were to seize it by the top, he  would not be able to uproot it, but would swing the hill and the whole of the  earth with it, like a ball at the end of a string. He felt safe in the oak  tree's presence; it was a thing that nothing could change or threaten; it was  his greatest symbol of strength.   One night, lightning struck the oak tree. Eddie saw it the next morning.  It lay broken in half, and he looked into its trunk as into the mouth of a  black tunnel. The trunk was only an empty shell; its heart had rotted away  long ago; there was nothing inside— just a thin gray dust that was being  dispersed by the whim of the faintest wind. The living power had gone, and  the shape it left had not been able to stand without it.   Years later, he heard it said that children should be protected from  shock, from their first knowledge of death, pain or fear. But these had never  scarred him; his shock came when he stood very quietly, looking into the  black hole of the trunk. It was an immense betrayal— the more terrible because  he could not grasp what it was that had been betrayed. It was not himself, he  knew, nor his trust; it was something else. He stood there for a while,  making no sound, then he walked back to the house. He never spoke about it to  anyone, then or since.   Eddie Willers shook his head, as the screech of a -rusty mechanism  changing a traffic light stopped him on the edge of a curb. He felt anger at  himself. There was no reason that he had to remember the oak tree tonight. It  meant nothing to him any longer, only a faint tinge of sadness— and somewhere  within him, a drop of pain moving briefly and vanishing, like a raindrop on  the glass of a window, its course in the shape of a question mark.     He wanted no sadness attached to his childhood; he loved its memories: any  day of it he remembered now seemed flooded by a still, brilliant sunlight. It  seemed to him as if a few rays from it reached into his present: not rays,  more like pinpoint spotlights that gave an occasional moment's glitter to his  job, to his lonely apartment, to the quiet, scrupulous progression of his  existence .   He thought of a summer day when he was ten years old. That day, in a  clearing of the woods, the one precious companion of his childhood told him  what they would do when they grew up. The words were harsh and glowing, like  the sunlight. He listened in admiration and in wonder. When he was asked what  he would want to do, he answered at once, Whatever is right,  and added,  You ought to do something great ... I mean, the two of us together.  What? she asked. He said, I don't know. That's what we ought to find out.  Not just what you said. Not just business and earning a living. Things like  winning battles, or saving people out of fires, or climbing mountains. What  for? she asked. He said, The minister said last Sunday that we must always  reach for the best within us. What do you suppose is the best within us? I  don't know. We'll have to find out. She did not answer; she was looking  away, up the railroad track.   Eddie Willers smiled. He had said, Whatever is right, twenty-two years  ago. He had kept that statement unchallenged ever since; the other questions  had faded in his mind; he had been too busy to ask them. But he still thought  it self-evident that one had to do what was right; he had never learned how  people could want to do otherwise; he had learned only that they did. It  still seemed simple and incomprehensible to him: simple that things should be  right, and incomprehensible that they weren't. He knew that they weren't. He  thought of that, as he turned a corner and came to the great building of  Taggart Transcontinental.   The building stood over the street as its tallest and proudest structure.  Eddie Willers always smiled at his first sight of it. Its long bands of  windows were unbroken, in contrast to those of its neighbors. Its rising  lines cut the sky, with no crumbling corners or worn edges. It seemed to  stand above the years, untouched. It would always stand there, thought Eddie  Willers .   Whenever he entered the Taggart Building, he felt relief and a sense of  security. This was a place of competence and power. The floors of its  hallways were mirrors made of marble. The frosted rectangles of its electric  fixtures were chips of solid light. Behind sheets of glass, rows of girls sat  at typewriters, the clicking of their keys like the sound of speeding train  wheels. And like an answering echo, a faint shudder went through the walls at  times, rising from under the building, from the tunnels of the great terminal  where trains started out to cross a continent and stopped after crossing it  again, as they had started and stopped for generation after generation.  Taggart Transcontinental, thought Eddie Willers, From Ocean to Ocean— the  proud slogan of his childhood, so much more shining and holy than any  commandment of the Bible. From Ocean to Ocean, forever— thought Eddie Willers,  in the manner of a rededication, as he walked through the spotless halls into  the heart of the building, into the office of James Taggart, President of  Taggart Transcontinental.   James Taggart sat at his desk. He looked like a man approaching fifty, who  had crossed into age from adolescence, without the intermediate stage of  youth. He had a small, petulant mouth, and thin hair clinging to a bald  forehead. His posture had a limp, decentralized sloppiness, as if in defiance  of his tall, slender body, a body with an elegance of line intended for the  confident poise of an aristocrat, but transformed into the gawkiness of a  lout. The flesh of his face was pale and soft. His eyes were pale and veiled,  with a glance that moved slowly, never quite stopping, gliding off and past     things in eternal resentment of their existence. He looked obstinate and  drained. He was thirty-nine years old.   He lifted his head with irritation, at the sound of the opening door.   Don't bother me, don't bother me, don't bother me, said James Taggart.   Eddie Willers walked toward the-desk.   It's important, Jim, he said, not raising his voice.  All right, all right, what is it?   Eddie Willers looked at a map on the wall of the office. The map's colors  had faded under the glass— he wondered dimly how many Taggart presidents had  sat before it and for how many years. The Taggart Transcontinental Railroad,  the network of red lines slashing the faded body of the country from New York  to San Francisco, looked like a system of blood vessels. It looked as if  once, long ago, the blood had shot down the main artery and, under the  pressure of its own overabundance, had branched out at random points, running  all over the country. One red streak twisted its way from Cheyenne, Wyoming,  down to El Paso, Texas— the Rio Norte Line of Taggart Transcontinental. New  tracing had been added recently and the red streak had been extended south  beyond El Paso— but Eddie Willers turned away hastily when his eyes reached  that point.   He looked at James Taggart and said, It's the Rio Norte Line. He noticed  Taggart ' s glance moving down to a corner of the desk. We've had another  wreck .    Railroad accidents happen every day. Did you have to bother me about  that?   You know what I'm saying, Jim. The Rio Norte is done for. That track is  shot. Down the whole line.   We are getting a new track.   Eddie Willers continued as if there had been no answer: That track is  shot. It's no use trying to run trains down there. People are giving up  trying to use them.   There is not a railroad in the country, it seems to me, that doesn't have  a few branches running at a deficit. We're not the only ones. It's a national  condition— a temporary national condition.   Eddie stood looking at him silently. What Taggart disliked about Eddie  Willers was this habit of looking straight into people's eyes. Eddie's eyes  were blue, wide and questioning; he had blond hair and a square face,  unremarkable except for that look of scrupulous attentiveness and open,  puzzled wonder.   What do you want? snapped Taggart.   I just came to tell you something you had to know, because somebody had  to tell you.   That we've had another accident?   That we can't give up the Rio Norte Line.   James Taggart seldom raised his head; when he looked at people, he did so  by lifting his heavy eyelids and staring upward from under the expanse of his  bald forehead.   Who's thinking of giving up the Rio Norte Line? he asked.   There's never been any question of giving it up. I resent your saying it.  I resent it very much.   But we haven't met a schedule for the last six months. We haven't  completed a run without some sort of breakdown, major or minor. We're losing  all our shippers, one after another. How long can we last?   You're a pessimist, Eddie. You lack faith. That's what undermines the  morale of an organization.   You mean that nothing's going to be done about the Rio Norte Line?   I haven't said that at all. Just as soon as we get the new track-     Jim, there isn't going to be any new track. He watched Taggart ' s eyelids  move up slowly. I've just come back from the office of Associated Steel.  I've spoken to Orren Boyle.   What did he say?   He spoke for an hour and a half and did not give me a single straight  answer .    What did you bother him for? I believe the first order of rail wasn't due  for delivery until next month.   And before that, it was due for delivery three months ago.   Unforeseen circumstances. Absolutely beyond Orren ' s control.   And before that, it was due six months earlier. Jim, we have waited for  Associated Steel to deliver that rail for thirteen months.   What do you want me to do? I can't run Orren Boyle's business.   I want you to understand that we can't wait.   Taggart asked slowly, his voice half-mocking, half-cautious, What did my  sister say?   She won't be back until tomorrow.  Well, what do you want me to do?  That's for you to decide.   Well, whatever else you say, there's one thing you're not going to  mention next— and that's Rearden Steel.   Eddie did not answer at once, then said quietly, All right, Jim. I won't  mention it.   Orren is my friend. He heard no answer. I resent your attitude. Orren  Boyle will deliver that rail just as soon as it's humanly possible. So long  as he can't deliver it, nobody can blame us.   Jim! What are you talking about? Don't you understand that the Rio Norte  Line is breaking up— whether anybody blames us or not?   People would put up with it— they'd have to— if it weren't for the Phoenix-  Durango. He saw Eddie's face tighten. Nobody ever complained about the Rio  Norte Line, until the Phoenix-Durango came on the scene.   The Phoenix-Durango is doing a brilliant job.   Imagine a thing called the Phoenix-Durango competing with Taggart  Transcontinental! It was nothing but a local milk line ten years ago.   It's got most of the freight traffic of Arizona, New Mexico and Colorado  now. Taggart did not answer. Jim, we can't lose Colorado. It's our last  hope. It's everybody's last hope. If we don't pull ourselves together, we'll  lose every big shipper in the state to the Phoenix-Durango. We've lost the  Wyatt oil fields.   I don't see why everybody keeps talking about the Wyatt oil fields.   Because Ellis Wyatt is a prodigy who—   Damn Ellis Wyatt!   Those oil wells, Eddie thought suddenly, didn't they have something in  common with the blood vessels on the map? Wasn't that the way the red stream  of Taggart Transcontinental had shot across the country, years ago, a feat  that seemed incredible now? He thought of the oil wells spouting a black  stream that ran over a continent almost faster than the trains of the  Phoenix-Durango could carry it. That oil field had been only a rocky patch in  the mountains of Colorado, given up as exhausted long ago. Ellis Wyatt ' s  father had managed to squeeze an obscure living to the end of his days, out  of the dying oil wells. Now it was as if somebody had given a shot of  adrenalin to the heart of the mountain, the heart had started pumping, the  black blood had burst through the rocks— of course it's blood, thought Eddie  Willers, because blood is supposed to feed, to give life, and that is what  Wyatt Oil had done. It had shocked empty slopes of ground into sudden  existence, it had brought new towns, new power plants, new factories to a  region nobody had ever noticed on any map. New factories, thought Eddie     Willers, at a time when the freight revenues from all the great old  industries were dropping slowly year by year; a rich new oil field, at a time  when the pumps were stopping in one famous field after another; a new  industrial state where nobody had expected anything but cattle and beets. One  man had done it, and he had done it in eight years; this, thought Eddie  Willers, was like the stories he had read in school books and never quite  believed, the stories of men who had lived in the days of the country's  youth. He wished he could meet Ellis Wyatt. There was a great deal of talk  about him, but few had ever met him; he seldom came to New York. They said he  was thirty-three years old and had a violent temper. He had discovered some  way to revive exhausted oil wells and he had proceeded to revive them.   Ellis Wyatt is a greedy bastard who's after nothing but money, said  James Taggart. It seems to me that there are more important things in life  than making money.   What are you talking about, Jim? What has that got to do with—  Besides, he's double-crossed us. We served the Wyatt oil fields for  years, most adequately. In the days of old man Wyatt, we ran a tank train a  week .    These are not the days of old man Wyatt, Jim. The Phoenix-Durango runs  two tank trains a day down there— and it runs them on schedule.  If he had given us time to grow along with him—  He has no time to waste.   What does he expect? That we drop all our other shippers, sacrifice the  interests of the whole country and give him all our trains?   Why, no. He doesn't expect anything. He just deals with the Phoenix-  Durango .    I think he's a destructive, unscrupulous ruffian. I think he's an  irresponsible upstart who's been grossly overrated. It was astonishing to  hear a sudden emotion in James Taggart 's lifeless voice. I'm not so sure  that his oil fields are such a beneficial achievement. It seems to me that  he's dislocated the economy of the whole country. Nobody expected Colorado to  become an industrial state. How can we have any security or plan anything if  everything changes all the time?   Good God, Jim! He's-   Yes, I know, I know, he's making money. But that is not the standard, it  seems to me, by which one gauges a man's value to society. And as for his  oil, he'd come crawling to us. and he'd wait his turn along with all the  other shippers, and he wouldn't demand more than his fair share of  transportation— if it weren't for the Phoenix-Durango. We can't help it if  we're up against destructive competition of that kind. Nobody can blame us.   The pressure in his chest and temples, thought Eddie Willers, was the  strain of the effort he was making; he had decided to make the issue clear  for once, and the issue was so clear, he thought, that nothing could bar it  from Taggart ' s understanding, unless it was the failure of his own  presentation. So he had tried hard, but he was failing, just as he had always  failed in all of their discussions; no matter what he said, they never seemed  to be talking about the same subject.   Jim, what are you saying? Does it matter that nobody blames us— when the  road is falling apart?   James Taggart smiled; it was a thin smile, amused and cold. It's  touching, Eddie, he said. It's touching— your devotion to Taggart  Transcontinental. If you don't look out, you'll turn into one of those real  feudal serfs .    That's what I am, Jim.   But may I ask whether it is your job to discuss these matters with me?  No, it isn't.     Then why don't you learn that we have departments to take care of things?  Why don't you report all this to whoever 's concerned? Why don't you cry on my  dear sister's shoulder?   Look. Jim, I know it's not my place to talk to you. But I can't  understand what's going on. I don't know what it is that your proper advisers  tell you, or why they can't make you understand. So I thought I'd try to tell  you myself .    I appreciate our childhood friendship, Eddie, but do you think that that  should entitle you to walk in here unannounced whenever you wish? Considering  your own rank, shouldn't you remember that I am president of Taggart  Transcontinental ?    This was wasted. Eddie Willers looked at him as usual, not hurt, merely  puzzled, and asked, Then you don't intend to do anything about the Rio Norte  Line?    I haven't said that. I haven't said that at all. Taggart was looking at  the map, at the red streak south of El Paso. Just as soon as the San  Sebastian Mines get going and our Mexican branch begins to pay off—   Don't let's talk about that, Jim. Taggart turned, startled by the  unprecedented phenomenon of an implacable anger in Eddie's voice. What's the  matter?   You know what's the matter. Your sister said—  Damn my sister! said James Taggart.   Eddie Willers did not move. He did not answer. He stood looking straight  ahead. But he did not see James Taggart or anything in the office.  After a moment, he bowed and walked out.   In the anteroom, the clerks of James Taggart 's personal staff were  switching off the lights, getting ready to leave for the day. But Pop Harper,  chief clerk, still sat at his desk, twisting the levers of a half -dismembered  typewriter. Everybody in the company had the impression that Pop Harper was  born in that particular corner at that particular desk and never intended to  leave it. He had been chief clerk for James Taggart ' s father.   Pop Harper glanced up at Eddie Willers as he came out of the president's  office. It was a wise, slow glance; it seemed to say that he knew that  Eddie's visit to their part of the building meant trouble on the line, knew  that nothing had come of the visit, and was completely indifferent to the  knowledge. It was the cynical indifference which Eddie Willers had seen in  the eyes of the bum on the street corner.   Say, Eddie, know where I could get some woolen undershirts? he asked,  Tried all over town, but nobody's got 'em.   I don't know, said Eddie, stopping. Why do you ask me?   I just ask everybody. Maybe somebody' ! ! tell me.   Eddie looked uneasily at the blank, emaciated face and white hair.  It's cold in this joint, said Pop Harper. It's going to be colder this  winter .    What are you doing? Eddie asked, pointing at the pieces of typewriter.   The damn thing's busted again. No use sending it out, took them three  months to fix it the last time. Thought I'd patch it up myself. Not for long,  I guess. He let his fist drop down on the keys. You're ready for the junk  pile, old pal. Your days are numbered.   Eddie started. That was the sentence he had tried to remember: Your days  are numbered. But he had forgotten in what connection he had tried to  remember it.   It's no use, Eddie, said Pop Harper.   What's no use?   Nothing. Anything.   What's the matter, Pop?     I'm not going to requisition a new typewriter. The new ones are made of  tin. When the old ones go, that will be the end of typewriting. There was an  accident in the subway this morning, their brakes wouldn't work. You ought to  go home, Eddie, turn on the radio and listen to a good dance band. Forget it,  boy. Trouble with you is you never had a hobby. Somebody stole the electric  light bulbs again, from off the staircase, down where I live. I've got a pain  in my chest. Couldn't get any cough drops this morning, the drugstore on our  corner went bankrupt last week. The Texas-Western Railroad went bankrupt last  month. They closed the Queensborough Bridge yesterday for temporary repairs.  Oh well, what's the use? Who is John Gait?   -k -k -k   She sat at the window of the train, her head thrown back, one leg  stretched across to the empty seat before her. The window frame trembled with  the speed of the motion, the pane hung over empty darkness, and dots of light  slashed across the glass as luminous streaks, once in a while.   Her leg, sculptured by the tight sheen of the stocking, its long line  running straight, over an arched instep, to the tip of a foot in a high-  heeled pump, had a feminine elegance that seemed out of place in the dusty  train car and oddly incongruous with the rest of her. She wore a battered  camel's hair coat that had been expensive, wrapped shapelessly about her  slender, nervous body. The coat collar was raised to the slanting brim of her  hat. A sweep of brown hair fell back, almost touching the line of her  shoulders. Her face was made of angular planes, the shape of her mouth clear-  cut, a sensual mouth held closed with inflexible precision. She kept her  hands in the coat pockets, her posture taut, as if she resented immobility,  and unfeminine, as if she were unconscious of her own body and that it was a  woman's body. She sat listening to the music. It was a symphony of triumph.  The notes flowed up, they spoke of rising and they were the rising itself,  they were the essence and the form of upward motion, they seemed to embody  every human act and thought that had ascent as its motive. It was a sunburst  of sound, breaking out of hiding and spreading open. It had the freedom of  release and the tension of purpose. It swept space clean, and left nothing  but the joy of an unobstructed effort. Only a faint echo within the sounds  spoke of that from which the music had escaped, but spoke in laughing  astonishment at the discovery that there was no ugliness or pain, and there  never had had to be. It was the song of an immense deliverance.   She thought: For just a few moments— while this lasts— it is all right to  surrender completely— to forget everything and just permit yourself to feel.  She thought: Let go— drop the controls— this is it.   Somewhere on the edge of her mind, under the music, she heard the sound of  train wheels. They knocked in an even rhythm, every fourth knock accented, as  if stressing a conscious purpose. She could relax, because she heard the  wheels. She listened to the symphony, thinking: This is why the wheels have  to be kept going, and this is where they're going.   She had never heard that symphony before, but she knew that it was written  by Richard Halley. She recognized the violence and the magnificent intensity.  She recognized the style of the theme; it was a clear, complex melody— at a  time when no one wrote melody any longer. . . . She sat looking up at the  ceiling of the car, but she did not see it and she had forgotten where she  was. She did not know whether she was hearing a full symphony orchestra or  only the theme; perhaps she was hearing the orchestration in her own mind.   She thought dimly that there had been premonitory echoes of this theme in  all of Richard Halley' s work, through all the years of his long struggle, to  the day, in his middle-age, when fame struck him suddenly and knocked him  out. This— she thought, listening to the symphony— had been the goal of his     struggle. She remembered half-hinted attempts in his music, phrases that  promised it, broken bits of melody that started but never quite reached it;  when Richard Halley wrote this, he . . . She sat up straight. When did  Richard Halley write this?   In the same instant, she realized where she was and wondered for the first  time where that music came from.   A few steps away, at the end of the car, a brakeman was adjusting the  controls of the air-conditioner. He was blond and young. He was whistling the  theme of the symphony. She realized that he had been whistling it for some  time and that this was all she had heard.   She watched him incredulously for a while, before she raised her voice to  ask, Tell me please, what are you whistling?   The boy turned to her. She met a direct glance and saw an open, eager  smile, as if he were sharing a confidence with a friend. She liked his face-  its lines were tight and firm, it did not have that look of loose muscles  evading the responsibility of a shape, which she had learned to expect in  people's faces.   It's the Halley Concerto, he answered, smiling.   Which one?   The Fifth.   She let a moment pass, before she said slowly and very carefully, Richard  Halley wrote only four concertos.   The boy's smile vanished. It was as if he were jolted back to reality,  just as she had been a few moments ago. It was as if a shutter were slammed  down, and what remained was a face without expression, impersonal,  indifferent and empty.   Yes, of course, he said. I'm wrong. I made a mistake.   Then what was it?   Something I heard somewhere.   What?   I don't know.   Where did you hear it?   I don't remember.   She paused helplessly; he was turning away from her without further  interest .   It sounded like a Halley theme, she said. But I know every note he's  ever written and he never wrote that.   There was still no expression, only a faint look of attentiveness on the  boy's face, as he turned back to her and asked, You like the music of  Richard Halley?   Yes, she said, I like it very much.   He considered her for a moment, as if hesitating, then he turned away. She  watched the expert efficiency of his movements as he went on working. He  worked in silence.   She had not slept for two nights, but she could not permit herself to  sleep; she had too many problems to consider and not much time: the train was  due in New York early in the morning. She needed the time, yet she wished the  train would go faster; but it was the Taggart Comet, the fastest train in the  country .   She tried to think; but the music remained on the edge of her mind and she  kept hearing it, in full chords, like the implacable steps of something that  could not be stopped. . . . She shook her head angrily, jerked her hat off  and lighted a cigarette.   She would not sleep, she thought; she could last until tomorrow night. . .  . The train wheels clicked in accented rhythm. She was so used to them that  she did not hear them consciously, but the sound became a sense of peace  within her. . . . When she extinguished her cigarette, she knew that she     needed another one, but thought that she would give herself a minute, just a  few minutes, before she would light it. . . .   She had fallen asleep and she awakened with a jolt, knowing that something  was wrong, before she knew what it was: the wheels had stopped. The car stood  soundless and dim in the blue glow of the night lamps. She glanced at her  watch: there was no reason for stopping. She looked out the window: the train  stood still in the middle of empty fields.   She heard someone moving in a seat across the aisle, and asked, How long  have we been standing?   A man's voice answered indifferently, About an hour. The man looked  after her, sleepily astonished, because she leaped to her feet and rushed to  the door. There was a cold wind outside, and an empty stretch of land under  an empty sky. She heard weeds rustling in the darkness. Far ahead, she saw  the figures of men standing by the engine— and above them, hanging detached in  the sky, the red light of a signal.   She walked rapidly toward them, past the motionless line of wheels. No one  paid attention to her when she approached. The train crew and a few  passengers stood clustered under the red light. They had stopped talking,  they seemed to be waiting in placid indifference.   What's the matter? she asked.   The engineer turned, astonished. Her question had sounded like an order,  not like the amateur curiosity of a passenger. She stood, hands in pockets,  coat collar raised, the wind beating her hair in strands across her face.   Red light, lady, he said, pointing up with his thumb.   How long has it been on?   An hour .    We're off the main track, aren't we?   That's right.   Why?   I don't know.   The conductor spoke up. I don't think we had any business being sent off  on a siding, that switch wasn't working right, and this thing's not working  at all. He jerked his head up at the red light. I don't think the signal's  going to change. I think it's busted.   Then what are you doing?   Waiting for it to change.   In her pause of startled anger, the fireman chuckled. Last week, the  crack special of the Atlantic Southern got left on a siding for two hours-  just somebody's mistake.   This is the Taggart Comet, she said. The Comet has never been late.   She's the only one in the country that hasn't, said the engineer.   There's always a first time, said the fireman.   You don't know about railroads, lady, said a passenger.   There's not a signal system or a dispatcher in the country that's worth a  damn .    She did not turn or notice him, but spoke to the engineer.   If you know that the signal is broken, what do you intend to do?   He did not like her tone of authority, and he could not understand why she  assumed it so naturally. She looked like a young girl; only her mouth and  eyes showed that she was a woman in her thirties. The dark gray eyes were  direct and disturbing, as if they cut through things, throwing the  inconsequential out of the way. The face seemed faintly familiar to him, but  he could not recall where he had seen it.   Lady, I don't intend to stick my neck out, he said.   He means, said the fireman, that our job's to wait for orders.   Your job is to run this train.   Not against a red light. If the light says stop, we stop.     A red light means danger, lady, said the passenger.   We're not taking any chances, said the engineer. Whoever's responsible  for it, he'll switch the blame to us if we move. So we're not moving till  somebody tells us to.   And if nobody does?   Somebody will turn up sooner or later.   How long do you propose to wait?   The engineer shrugged. Who is John Gait?   He means, said the fireman, don't ask questions nobody can answer.   She looked at the red light and at the rail that went off into the black,  untouched distance.   She said, Proceed with caution to the next signal. If it's in order,  proceed to the main track. Then stop at the first open office.   Yeah? Who says so?   I do.   Who are you?   It was only the briefest pause, a moment of astonishment at a question she  had not expected, but the engineer looked more closely at her face, and in  time with her answer he gasped, Good God!   She answered, not offensively, merely like a person who does not hear the  question often: Dagny Taggart.   Well, I'll be— said the fireman, and then they all remained silent. She  went on, in the same tone of unstressed authority. Proceed to the main track  and hold the train for me at the first open office.   Yes, Miss Taggart.   You'll have to make up time. You've got the rest of the night to do it.  Get the Comet in on schedule.  Yes, Miss Taggart.   She was turning to go, when the engineer asked, If there's any trouble,  are you taking the responsibility for it, Miss Taggart?  I am.   The conductor followed her as she walked back to her car. He was saying,  bewildered, But . . . just a seat in a day coach, Miss Taggart? But how  come? But why didn't you let us know?   She smiled easily. Had no time to be formal. Had my own car attached to  Number 22 out of Chicago, but got off at Cleveland— and Number 22 was running  late, so I let the car go. The Comet came next and I took it. There was no  sleeping-car space left.   The conductor shook his head. Your brother— he wouldn't have taken a  coach .    She laughed. No, he wouldn't have.   The men by the engine watched her walking away. The young brakeman was  among them. He asked, pointing after her, Who is that?   That's who runs Taggart Transcontinental, said the engineer; the respect  in his voice was genuine. That's the Vice-president in Charge of Operation.   When the train jolted forward, the blast of its whistle dying over the  fields, she sat by the window, lighting another cigarette. She thought: It's  cracking to pieces, like this, all over the country, you can expect it  anywhere, at any moment. But she felt no anger or anxiety; she had no time to  feel.   This would be just one more issue, to be settled along with the others.  She knew that the superintendent of the Ohio Division was no good and that he  was a friend of James Taggart. She had not insisted on throwing him out long  ago only because she had no better man to put in his place. Good men were so  strangely hard to find. But she would have to get rid of him, she thought,  and she would give his post to Owen Kellogg, the young engineer who was doing  a brilliant job as one of the assistants to the manager of the Taggart     Terminal in New York; it was Owen Kellogg who ran the Terminal. She had  watched his work for some time; she had always looked for sparks of  competence, like a diamond prospector in an unpromising wasteland. Kellogg  was still too young to be made superintendent of a division; she had wanted  to give him another year, but there was no time to wait. She would have to  speak to him as soon as she returned.   The strip of earth, faintly visible outside the window, was running faster  now, blending into a gray stream. Through the dry phrases of calculations in  her mind, she noticed that she did have time to feel something: it was the  hard, exhilarating pleasure of action.   -k -k -k   With the first whistling rush of air, as the Comet plunged into the  tunnels of the Taggart Terminal under the city of New York, Dagny Taggart sat  up straight. She always felt it when the train went underground— this sense of  eagerness, of hope and of secret excitement. It was as if normal existence  were a photograph of shapeless things in badly printed colors, but this was a  sketch done in a few sharp strokes that made things seem clean, important— and  worth doing.   She watched the tunnels as they flowed past: bare walls of concrete, a net  of pipes and wires, a web of rails that went off into black holes where green  and red lights hung as distant drops of color. There was nothing else,  nothing to dilute it, so that one could admire naked purpose and the  ingenuity that had achieved it. She thought of the Taggart Building standing  above her head at this moment, growing straight to the sky, and she thought:  These are the roots of the building, hollow roots twisting under the ground,  feeding the city.   When the train stopped, when she got off and heard the concrete of the  platform under her heels, she felt light, lifted, impelled to action.   She started off, walking fast, as if the speed of her steps could give  form to the things she felt. It was a few moments before she realized that  she was whistling a piece of music— and that it was the theme of Halley's  Fifth Concerto. She felt someone looking at her and turned. The young  brakeman stood watching her tensely.   She sat on the arm of the big chair facing James Taggart 's desk, her coat  thrown open over a wrinkled traveling suit. Eddie Willers sat across the  room, making notes once in a while. His title was that of Special Assistant  to the Vice-President in Charge of Operation, and his main duty was to be her  bodyguard against any waste of time. She asked him to be present at  interviews of this nature, because then she never had to explain anything to  him afterwards. James Taggart sat at his desk, his head drawn into his  shoulders .   The Rio Norte Line is a pile of junk from one end to the other, she  said. It's much worse than I thought. But we're going to save it.  Of course, said James Taggart.   Some of the rail can be salvaged. Not much and not for long. We'll start  laying new rail in the mountain sections, Colorado first. We'll get the new  rail in two months.   Oh, did Orren Boyle say he'll-   I've ordered the rail from Rearden Steel.   The slight, choked sound from Eddie Willers was his suppressed desire to  cheer .   James Taggart did not answer at once. Dagny, why don't you sit in the  chair as one is supposed to? he said at last; his voice was petulant.  Nobody holds business conferences this way.  I do.     She waited. He asked, his eyes avoiding hers, Did you say that you have  ordered the rail from Rearden?   Yesterday evening. I phoned him from Cleveland.   But the Board hasn't authorized it. I haven't authorized it. You haven't  consulted me .    She reached over, picked up the receiver of a telephone on his desk and  handed it to him.   Call Rearden and cancel it,  she said.   James Taggart moved back in his chair. I haven't said that, he answered  angrily. I haven't said that at all.  Then it stands?  I haven't said that, either.   She turned. Eddie, have them draw up the contract with Rearden Steel. Jim  will sign it. She took a crumpled piece of notepaper from her pocket and  tossed it to Eddie. There's the figures and terms.   Taggart said, But the Board hasn't—   The Board hasn't anything to do with it. They authorized you to buy the  rail thirteen months ago. Where you buy it is up to you.   I don't think it's proper to make such a decision without giving the  Board a chance to express an opinion. And I don't see why I should be made to  take the responsibility.   I am taking it.   What about the expenditure which—   Rearden is charging less than Orren Boyle's Associated Steel.  Yes, and what about Orren Boyle?   I've cancelled the contract. We had the right to cancel it six months  ago .    When did you do that?  Yesterday .    But he hasn't called to have me confirm it.  He won't.   Taggart sat looking down at his desk. She wondered why he resented the  necessity of dealing with Rearden, and why his resentment had such an odd,  evasive quality. Rearden Steel had been the chief supplier of Taggart  Transcontinental for ten years, ever since the first Rearden furnace was  fired, in the days when their father was president of the railroad. For ten  years, most of their rail had come from Rearden Steel. There were not many  firms in the country who delivered what was ordered, when and as ordered.  Rearden Steel was one of them.   If she were insane, thought Dagny, she would conclude that her brother  hated to deal with Rearden because Rearden did his job with superlative  efficiency; but she would not conclude it, because she thought that such a  feeling was not within the humanly possible.   It isn't fair, said James Taggart.   What isn't?   That we always give all our business to Rearden. It seems to me we should  give somebody else a chance, too. Rearden doesn't need us; he's plenty big  enough. We ought to help the smaller fellows to develop. Otherwise, we're  just encouraging a monopoly.   Don't talk tripe, Jim,   Why do we always have to get things from Rearden?  Because we always get them.  I don't like Henry Rearden.   I do. But what does that matter, one way or the other? We need rails and  he's the only one who can give them to us.   The human element is very important. You have no sense of the human  element at all.     We're talking about saving a railroad, Jim.   Yes, of course, of course, but still, you haven't any sense of the human  element .    No. I haven't.   If we give Rearden such a large order for steel rails—  They're not going to be steel. They're Rearden Metal.   She had always avoided personal reactions, but she was forced to break her  rule when she saw the expression on Taggart's face. She burst out laughing.   Rearden Metal was a new alloy, produced by Rearden after ten years of  experiments. He had placed it on the market recently. He had received no  orders and had found no customers.   Taggart could not understand the transition from the laughter to the  sudden tone of Dagny's voice; the voice was cold and harsh: Drop it, Jim. I  know everything you're going to say. Nobody's ever used it before. Nobody  approves of Rearden Metal. Nobody's interested in it. Nobody wants it. Still,  our rails are going to be made of Rearden Metal.   But ... said Taggart, but . . . but nobody's ever used it before!   He observed, with satisfaction, that she was silenced by anger. He liked  to observe emotions; they were like red lanterns strung along the dark  unknown of another's personality, marking vulnerable points. But how one  could feel a personal emotion about a metal alloy, and what such an emotion  indicated, was incomprehensible to him; so he could make no use of his  discovery .   The consensus of the best metallurgical authorities, he said, seems to  be highly skeptical about Rearden Metal, contending—  Drop it, Jim.    Well, whose opinion did you take?  I don't ask for opinions.  What do you go by?  Judgment .    Well, whose judgment did you take?  Mine.    But whom did you consult about it?  Nobody.    Then what on earth do you know about Rearden Metal?  That it's the greatest thing ever put on the market.  Why?   Because it's tougher than steel, cheaper than steel and will outlast any  hunk of metal in existence.  But who says so?   Jim, I studied engineering in college. When I see things, I see them.  What did you see?   Rearden 's formula and the tests he showed me.   Well, if it were any good, somebody would have used it, and nobody has.  He saw the flash of anger, and went on nervously: How can you know it's  good? How can you be sure? How can you decide?   Somebody decides such things, Jim. Who?   Well, I don't see why we have to be the first ones. I don't see it at  all.   Do you want to save the Rio Norte Line or not? He did not answer, If  the road could afford it, I would scrap every piece of rail over the whole  system and replace it with Rearden Metal. All of it needs replacing. None of  it will last much longer. But we can't afford it. We have to get out of a bad  hole, first. Do you want us to pull through or not?   We're still the best railroad in the country. The others are doing much  worse .    Then do you want us to remain in the hole?     I haven't said that! Why do you always oversimplify things that way? And  if you're worried about money, I don't see why you want to waste it on the  Rio Norte Line, when the Phoenix-Durango has robbed us of all our business  down there. Why spend money when we have no protection against a competitor  who'll destroy our investment?   Because the Phoenix-Durango is an excellent railroad, but I intend to  make the Rio Norte Line better than that. Because I'm going to beat the  Phoenix-Durango, if necessary— only it won't be necessary, because there will  be room for two or three railroads to make fortunes in Colorado. Because I'd  mortgage the system to build a branch to any district around Ellis Wyatt.   I'm sick of hearing about Ellis Wyatt.   He did not like the way her eyes moved to look at him and remained still,  looking, for a moment.   I don't see any need for immediate action, he said; he sounded offended.  Just what do you consider so alarming in the present situation of Taggart  Transcontinental ?    The consequences of your policies, Jim.   Which policies?   That thirteen months' experiment with Associated Steel, for one. Your  Mexican catastrophe, for another.   The Board approved the Associated Steel contract, he said hastily.   The Board voted to build the San Sebastian Line. Besides, I don't see why  you call it a catastrophe.   Because the Mexican government is going to nationalize your line any day  now .    That's a lie! His voice was almost a scream. That's nothing but vicious  rumors! I have it on very good inside authority that—   Don't show that you're scared, Jim, she said contemptuously. He did not  answer. It's no use getting panicky about it now, she said. All we can do  is try to cushion the blow. It's going to be a bad blow. Forty million  dollars is a loss from which we won't recover easily. But Taggart  transcontinental has withstood many bad shocks in the past. I'll see to it  that it withstands this one.   I refuse to consider, I absolutely refuse to consider the possibility of  the San Sebastian Line being nationalized!   All right. Don't consider it.   She remained silent. He said defensively, I don't see why you're so eager  to give a chance to Ellis Wyatt, yet you think it's wrong to take part in  developing an underprivileged country that never had a chance.   Ellis Wyatt is not asking anybody to give him a chance. And I'm not in  business to give chances. I'm running a railroad.   That's an extremely narrow view, it seems to me. I don't see why we  should want to help one man instead of a whole nation.   I'm not interested in. helping anybody. I want to make money.   That's an impractical attitude. Selfish greed for profit is a thing of  the past. It has been generally conceded that the interests of society as a  whole must always be placed first in any business undertaking which—   How long do you intend to talk in order to evade the issue, Jim?   What issue?   The order for Rearden Metal.   He did not answer. He sat studying her silently. Her slender body, about  to slump from exhaustion, was held erect by the straight line of the  shoulders, and the shoulders were held by a conscious effort of will. Few  people liked her face: the face was too cold, the eyes too intense; nothing  could ever lend her the charm of a soft focus. The beautiful legs, slanting  down from the chair's arm in the center of his vision, annoyed him; they  spoiled the rest of his estimate.     She remained silent; he was forced to ask, Did you decide to order it  just like that, on the spur of the moment, over a telephone?   I decided it six months ago. I was waiting for Hank Rearden to get ready  to go into production.   Don't call him Hank Rearden. It's vulgar.   That's what everybody calls him. Don't change the subject.  Why did you have to telephone him last night?  Couldn't reach him sooner.   Why didn't you wait until you got back to New York and—  Because I had seen the Rio Norte Line.   Well, I need time to consider it, to place the matter before the Board,  to consult the best—  There is no time.   You haven't given me a chance to form an opinion.   I don't give a damn about your opinion. I am not going to argue with you,  with your Board or with your professors. You have a choice to make and you're  going to make it now. Just say yes or no.   That's a preposterous, high-handed, arbitrary way of —    Yes or no?   That's the trouble with you. You always make it 'Yes' or 'No.' Things are  never absolute like that. Nothing is absolute.   Metal rails are. Whether we get them or not, is.  She waited. He did not answer. Well? she asked.  Are you taking the responsibility for it?  I am.   Go ahead, he said, and added, but at your own risk. I won't cancel it,  but I won't commit myself as to what I'll say to the Board.  Say anything you wish.   She rose to go. He leaned forward across the desk, reluctant to end the  interview and to end it so decisively.   You realize, of course, that a lengthy procedure will be necessary to put  this through, he said; the words sounded almost hopeful. It isn't as simple  as that.   Oh sure, she said. I'll send you a detailed report, which Eddie will  prepare and which you won't read. Eddie will help you put it through the  works. I'm going to Philadelphia tonight to see Rearden. He and I have a lot  of work to do. She added, It's as simple as that, Jim.   She had turned to go, when he spoke again— and what he said seemed  bewilderingly irrelevant. That's all right for you, because you're lucky.  Others can't do it.   Do what?   Other people are human. They're sensitive. They can't devote their whole  life to metals and engines. You're lucky— you've never had any feelings.  You've never felt anything at all.   As she looked at him, her dark gray eyes went slowly from astonishment to  stillness, then to a strange expression that resembled a look of weariness,  except that it seemed to reflect much more than the endurance of this one  moment .   No, Jim, she said quietly, I guess I've never felt anything at all.  Eddie Willers followed her to her office. Whenever she returned, he felt as  if the world became clear, simple, easy to face— and he forgot his moments of  shapeless apprehension. He was the only person who found it completely  natural that she should be the Operating Vice-President of a great railroad,  even though she was a woman. She had told him, when he was ten years old,  that she would run the railroad some day. It did not astonish him now, just  as it had not astonished him that day in a clearing of the woods.     When they entered her office, when he saw her sit down at the desk and  glance at the memos he had left for her— he felt as he did in his car when the  motor caught on and the wheels could move forward.   He was about to leave her office, when he remembered a matter he had not  reported. Owen Kellogg of the Terminal Division has asked me for an  appointment to see you, he said.   She looked up, astonished. That's funny. I was going to send for him.  Have him come up. I want to see him. . . . Eddie, she added suddenly,  before I start, tell them to get me Ayers of the Ayers Music Publishing  Company on the phone .    The Music Publishing Company? he repeated incredulously.   Yes. There's something I want to ask him.   When the voice of Mr. Ayers, courteously eager, inquired of what service  he could be to her, she asked, Can you tell me whether Richard Halley has  written a new piano concerto, the Fifth?   A fifth concerto, Miss Taggart? Why, no, of course he hasn't.   Are you sure?   Quite sure, Miss Taggart. He has not written anything for eight years.  Is he still alive?   Why, yes— that is, I can't say for certain, he has dropped out of public  life entirely— but I'm sure we would have heard of it if he had died.  If he wrote anything, would you know about it?   Of course. We would be the first to know. We publish all of his work. But  he has stopped writing.  I see. Thank you.   When Owen Kellogg entered her office, she looked at him with satisfaction.  She was glad to see that she had been right in her vague recollection of his  appearance— his face had the same quality as that of the young brakeman on the  train, the face of the kind of man with whom she could deal.   Sit down, Mr. Kellogg, she said, but he remained standing in front of  her desk.   You had asked me once to let you know if I ever decided to change my  employment, Miss Taggart, he said. So I came to tell you that I am  quitting .    She had expected anything but that; it took her a moment before she asked  quietly, Why?   For a personal reason.  Were you dissatisfied here?  No .    Have you received a better offer?  No.    What railroad are you going to?   I'm not going to any railroad, Miss Taggart.   Then what job are you taking?   I have not decided that yet.   She studied him, feeling slightly uneasy. There was no hostility in his  face; he looked straight at her, he answered simply, directly; he spoke like  one who has nothing to hide, or to show; the face was polite and empty.   Then why should you wish to quit?   It's a personal matter.   Are you ill? Is it a question of your health?  No .    Are you leaving the city?  No .    Have you inherited money that permits you to retire?  No.    Do you intend to continue working for a living?     Yes.   But you do not wish to work for Taggart Transcontinental?  No .    In that case, something must have happened here to cause your decision.  What?   Nothing, Miss Taggart.   I wish you'd tell me. I have a reason for wanting to know.  Would you take my word for it, Miss Taggart?  Yes .    No person, matter or event connected with my job here had any bearing  upon my decision.   You have no specific complaint against Taggart Transcontinental?  None.    Then I think you might reconsider when you hear what I have to offer  you .    I'm sorry, Miss Taggart. I can't.  May I tell you what I have in mind?  Yes, if you wish.   Would you take my word for it that I decided to offer you the post I'm  going to offer, before you asked to see me? I want you to know that.  I will always take your word, Miss Taggart.   It's the post of Superintendent of the Ohio Division. It's yours, if you  want it.   His face showed no reaction, as if the words had no more significance for  him than for a savage who had never heard of railroads.  I don't want it, Miss Taggart, he answered.   After a moment, she said, her voice tight, Write your own ticket,  Kellogg. Name your price, I want you to stay. I can match anything any other  railroad offers you.   I am not going to work for any other railroad.   I thought you loved your work.   This was the first sign of emotion in him, just a slight widening of his  eyes and an oddly quiet emphasis in his voice when he answered, I do.   Then tell me what it is that I should say in order to hold you! It had  been involuntary and so obviously frank that he looked at her as if it had  reached him.   Perhaps I am being unfair by coming here to tell you that I'm quitting,  Miss Taggart. I know that you asked me to tell you because you wanted to have  a chance to make me a counter-offer. So if I came, it looks as if I'm open to  a deal. But I'm not. I came only because I ... I wanted to keep my word to  you .    That one break in his voice was like a sudden flash that told her how much  her interest and her request had meant to him; and that his decision had not  been an easy one to make.   Kellogg, is there nothing I can offer you? she asked.   Nothing, Miss Taggart. Nothing on earth.   He turned to go. For the first time in her life, she felt helpless and  beaten .   Why? she asked, not addressing him.   He stopped. He shrugged and smiled— he was alive for a moment and it was  the strangest smile she had ever seen: it held secret amusement, and  heartbreak, and an infinite bitterness. He answered: Who is John Gait?     CHAPTER II  THE CHAIN     It began with a few lights. As a train of the Taggart line rolled toward  Philadelphia, a few brilliant, scattered lights appeared in the darkness;  they seemed purposeless in the empty plain, yet too powerful to have no  purpose. The passengers watched them idly, without interest.   The black shape of a structure came next, barely visible against the sky,  then a big building, close to the tracks; the building was dark, and the  reflections of the train lights streaked across the solid glass of its walls.   An oncoming freight train hid the view, filling the windows with a rushing  smear of noise. In a sudden break above the fiat cars, the passengers saw  distant structures under a faint, reddish glow in the sky; the glow moved in  irregular spasms, as if the structures were breathing.   When the freight train vanished, they saw angular buildings wrapped in  coils of steam. The rays of a few strong lights cut straight sheafs through  the coils. The steam was red as the sky.   The thing that came next did not look like a building, but like a shell of  checkered glass enclosing girders, cranes and trusses in a solid, blinding,  orange spread of flame.   The passengers could not grasp the complexity of what seemed to be a city  stretched for miles, active without sign of human presence. They saw towers  that looked like contorted skyscrapers, bridges hanging in mid-air, and  sudden wounds spurting fire from out of solid walls. They saw a line of  glowing cylinders moving through the night; the cylinders were red-hot metal.   An office building appeared, close to the tracks. The big neon sign on its  roof lighted the interiors of the coaches as they went by. It said: REARDEN  STEEL.   A passenger, who was a professor of economics, remarked to his companion:  Of what importance is an individual in the titanic collective achievements  of our industrial age? Another, who was a journalist, made a note for future  use in his column: Hank Rearden is the kind of man who sticks his name on  everything he touches. You may, from this, form your own opinion about the  character of Hank Rearden.   The train was speeding on into the darkness when a red gasp shot to the  sky from behind a long structure. The passengers paid no attention; one more  heat of steel being poured was not an event they had been taught to notice.   It was the first heat for the first order of Rearden Metal.   To the men at the tap-hole of the furnace inside the mills, the first  break of the liquid metal into the open came as a shocking sensation of  morning. The narrow streak pouring through space had the pure white color of  sunlight. Black coils of steam were boiling upward, streaked with violent  red. Fountains of sparks shot in beating spasms, as from broken arteries. The  air seemed torn to rags, reflecting a raging flame that was not there, red  blotches whirling and running through space, as if not to be contained within  a man-made structure, as if about to consume the columns, the girders, the  bridges of cranes overhead. But the liquid metal had no aspect of violence.  It was a long white curve with the texture of satin and the friendly radiance  of a smile. It flowed obediently through a spout of clay, with two brittle  borders to restrain it. It fell through twenty feet of space, down into a  ladle that held two hundred tons. A flow of stars hung above the stream,  leaping out of its placid smoothness, looking delicate as lace and innocent  as children's sparklers.   Only at a closer glance could one notice that the white satin was boiling.  Splashes flew out at times and fell to the ground below: they were metal and,  cooling while hitting the soil, they burst into flame.     Two hundred tons of a metal which was to be harder than steel, running  liquid at a temperature of four thousand degrees, had the power to annihilate  every wall of the structure and every one of the men who worked by the  stream. But every inch of its course, every pound of its pressure and the  content of every molecule within it, were controlled and made by a conscious  intention that had worked upon it for ten years.   Swinging through the darkness of the shed, the red glare kept stashing the  face of a man who stood in a distant corner; he stood leaning against a  column, watching. The glare cut a moment's wedge across his eyes, which had  the color and quality of pale blue ice— then across the black web of the metal  column and the ash-blond strands of his hair— then across the belt of his  trenchcoat and the pockets where he held his hands. His body was tall and  gaunt; he had always been too tall for those around him. His face was cut by  prominent cheekbones and by a few sharp lines; they were not the lines of  age, he had always had them: this had made him look old at twenty, and young  now, at forty-five.   Ever since he could remember, he had been told that his face was ugly,  because it was unyielding, and cruel, because it was expressionless. It  remained expressionless now, as he looked at the metal. He was Hank Rearden.   The metal came rising to the top of the ladle and went running over with  arrogant prodigality. Then the blinding white trickles turned to glowing  brown, and in one more instant they were black icicles of metal, starting to  crumble off. The slag was crusting in thick, brown ridges that looked like  the crust of the earth. As the crust grew thicker, a few craters broke open,  with the white liquid still boiling within.   A man came riding through the air, in the cab of a crane overhead. He  pulled a lever by the casual movement of one hand: steel hooks came down on a  chain, seized the handles of the ladle, lifted it smoothly like a bucket of  milk— and two hundred tons of metal went sailing through space toward a row of  molds waiting to be filled.   Hank Rearden leaned back, closing his eyes. He felt the column trembling  with the rumble of the crane. The job was done, he thought.   A worker saw him and grinned in understanding, like a fellow accomplice in  a great celebration, who knew why that tall, blond figure had to be present  here tonight. Rearden smiled in answer: it was the only salute he had  received. Then he started back for his office, once again a figure with an  expressionless face.   It was late when Hank Rearden left his office that night to walk from his  mills to his house. It was a walk of some miles through empty country, but he  had felt like doing it, without conscious reason.   He walked, keeping one hand in his pocket, his fingers closed about a  bracelet. It was made of Rearden Metal, in the shape of a chain. His fingers  moved, feeling its texture once in a while. It had taken ten years to make  that bracelet. Ten years, he thought, is a long time. The road was dark,  edged with trees. Looking up, he could see a few leaves against the stars;  the leaves were twisted and dry, ready to fall.   There were distant lights in the windows of houses scattered through the  countryside; but the lights made the road seem lonelier.   He never felt loneliness except when he was happy. He turned, once in a  while, to look back at the red glow of the sky over the mills. He did not  think of the ten years. What remained of them tonight was only a feeling  which he could not name, except that it was quiet and solemn. The feeling was  a sum, and he did not have to count again the parts that had gone to make it.  But the parts, unrecalled, were there, within the feeling. They were the  nights spent at scorching ovens in the research laboratory of the mills — the  nights spent in the workshop of his home, over sheets of paper which he  filled with formulas, then tore up in angry failure — the days when the young     scientists of the small staff he had chosen to assist him waited for  instructions like soldiers ready for a hopeless battle, having exhausted  their ingenuity, still willing, but silent, with the unspoken sentence  hanging in the air: Mr. Rearden, it can't be done— —the meals, interrupted  and abandoned at the sudden flash of a new thought, a thought to be pursued  at once, to be tried, to be tested, to be worked on for months, and to be  discarded as another failure — the moments snatched from conferences, from  contracts, from theduties of running the best steel mills in the country,  snatched almostguiltily, as for a secret love — the one thought held immovably  across a span of ten years, undereverything he did and everything he saw, the  thought held in his mindwhen he looked at the buildings of a city, at the  track of a railroad, atthe light in the windows of a distant farmhouse, at  the knife in the handsof a beautiful woman cutting a piece of fruit at a  banquet, the thought ofa metal alloy that would do more than steel had ever  done, a metal thatwould be to steel what steel had been to iron — the acts of  self-racking when he discarded a hope or a sample, not permitting himself to  know that he was tired, not giving himself timeto feel, driving himself  through the wringing torture of: not good enough . . . still not good enough  . . .  and going on with no motor save the conviction that it could be done—  —then the day when it was done and its result was called Rearden Metal— —  these were the things that had come to white heat, had melted and fused  within him, and their alloy was a strange, quiet feeling that made him smile  at the countryside in the darkness and wonder why happiness could hurt.   After a while, he realized that he was thinking of his past, as if certain  days of it were spread before him, demanding to be seen again. He did not  want to look at them; he despised memories as a pointless indulgence. But  then he understood that he thought of them tonight in honor of that piece of  metal in his pocket. Then he permitted himself to look.   He saw the day when he stood on a rocky ledge and felt a thread of sweat  running from his temple down his neck. He was fourteen years old and it was  his first day of work in the iron mines of Minnesota. He was trying to learn  to breathe against the scalding pain in his chest. He stood, cursing himself,  because he had made up his mind that he would not be tired. After a while, he  went back to his task; he decided that pain was not a valid reason for  stopping, He saw the day when he stood at the window of his office and looked  at the mines; he owned them as of that morning. He was thirty years old. What  had gone on in the years between did not matter, just as pain had not  mattered. He had worked in mines, in foundries, in the steel mills of the  north, moving toward the purpose he had chosen. All he remembered of those  jobs was that the men around him had never seemed to know what to do, while  he had always known. He remembered wondering why so many iron mines were  closing, just as these had been about to close until he took them over. He  looked at the shelves of rock in the distance. Workers were putting up a new  sign above a gate at the end of a road: Rearden Ore.   He saw an evening when he sat slumped across his desk in that office.   It was late and his staff had left; so he could lie there alone,  unwitnessed. He was tired. It was as if he had run a race against his own  body, and all the exhaustion of years, which he had refused to acknowledge,  had caught him at once and flattened him against the desk top. He felt  nothing, except the desire not to move. He did not have the strength to feel-  not even to suffer. He had burned everything there was to burn within him; he  had scattered so many sparks to start so many things— and he wondered whether  someone could give him now the spark he needed, now when he felt unable ever  to rise again. He asked himself who had started him and kept him going. Then  he raised his head.     Slowly, with the greatest effort of his life, he made his body rise until  he was able to sit upright with only one hand pressed to the desk and a  trembling arm to support him.   He never asked that question again. He saw the day when he stood on a hill  and looked at a grimy wasteland of structures that had been a steel plant. It  was closed and given up. He had bought it the night before. There was a  strong wind and a gray light squeezed from among the clouds. In that light,  he saw the brown-red of rust, like dead blood, on the steel of the giant  cranes— and bright, green, living weeds, like gorged cannibals, growing over  piles of broken glass at the foot of walls made of empty frames. At a gate in  the distance, he saw the black silhouettes of men. They were the unemployed  from the rotting hovels of what had once been a prosperous town.   They stood silently, looking at the glittering car he had left at the gate  of the mills; they wondered whether the man on the hill was the Hank Rearden  that people were talking about, and whether it was true that the mills were  to be reopened. The historical cycle of steel-making in Pennsylvania is  obviously running down,  a newspaper had said, and experts agree that Henry  Rearden 's venture into steel is hopeless. You may soon witness the  sensational end of the sensational Henry Rearden. That was ten years ago.  Tonight, the cold wind on his face felt like the wind of that day. He turned  to look back. The red glow of the mills breathed in the sky, a sight as life-  giving as a sunrise. These had been his stops, the stations which an express  had reached and passed. He remembered nothing distinct of the years between  them; the years were blurred, like a streak of speed.   Whatever it was, he thought, whatever the strain and the agony, they were  worth it, because they had made him reach this day— this day when the first  heat of the first order of Rearden Metal had been poured, to become rails for  Taggart Transcontinental.   He touched the bracelet in his pocket. He had had it made from that first  poured metal. It was for his wife. As he touched it, he realized suddenly  that he had thought of an abstraction called his wife— not of the woman to  whom he was married.   He felt a stab of regret, wishing he had not made the bracelet, then a  wave of self-reproach for the regret. He shook his head. This was not the  time for his old doubts. He felt that he could forgive anything to anyone,  because happiness was the greatest agent of purification. He felt certain  that every living being wished him well tonight. He wanted to meet someone,  to face the first stranger, to stand disarmed and open, and to say, Look at  me. People, he thought, were as hungry for a sight of joy as he had always  been— for a moment's relief from that gray load of suffering which seemed so  inexplicable and unnecessary. He had never been able to understand why men  should be unhappy.   The dark road had risen imperceptibly to the top of a hill. He stopped and  turned. The red glow was a narrow strip, far to the west. Above it, small at  a distance of miles, the words of a neon sign stood written on the blackness  of the sky: REARDEN STEEL. He stood straight, as if before a bench of  judgment. He thought that in the darkness of this night other signs were  lighted over the country: Rearden Ore— Rearden Coal— Rearden Limestone. He  thought of the days behind him. He wished it were possible to light a neon  sign above them, saying: Rearden Life.   He turned sharply and walked on. As the road came closer to his house, he  noticed that his steps were slowing down and that something was ebbing away  from his mood. He felt a dim reluctance to enter his home, which he did not  want to feel. No, he thought, not tonight; they'll understand it, tonight.  But he did not know, he had never defined, what it was that he wanted them to  understand.     He saw lights in the windows of the living room, when he approached his  house. The house stood on a hill, rising before him like a big white bulk; it  looked naked, with a few semi-colonial pillars for reluctant ornament; it had  the cheerless look of a nudity not worth revealing.   He was not certain whether his wife noticed him when he entered the living  room. She sat by the fireplace, talking, the curve of her arm floating in  graceful emphasis of her words. He heard a small break in her voice, and  thought that she had seen him, but she did not look up and her sentence went  on smoothly; he could not be certain, —but it's just that a man of culture  is bored with the alleged wonders of purely material ingenuity,  she was  saying. He simply refuses to get excited about plumbing.   Then she turned her head, looked at Rearden in the shadows across the long  room, and her arms spread gracefully, like two swan necks by her sides.   Why, darling, she said in a bright tone of amusement, isn't it too  early to come home? Wasn't there some slag to sweep or tuyeres to polish?   They all turned to him— his mother, his brother Philip and Paul Larkin,  their old friend.   I'm sorry, he answered. I know I'm late.   Don't say you're sorry, said his mother. You could have telephoned. He  looked at her, trying vaguely to remember something.  You promised to be here for dinner tonight.   Oh, that's right, I did. I'm sorry. But today at the mills, we poured—  He stopped; he did not know what made him unable to utter the one thing he  had come home to say; he added only, It's just that I . . . forgot.   That's what Mother means, said Philip.   Oh, let him get his bearings, he's not quite here yet, he's still at the  mills, his wife said gaily. Do take your coat off, Henry.   Paul Larkin was looking at him with the devoted eyes of an inhibited dog.  Hello, Paul, said Rearden. When did you get in?   Oh, I just hopped down on the five thirty-five from New York. Larkin was  smiling in gratitude for the attention.   Trouble?   Who hasn't got trouble these days? Larkin 's smile became resigned, to  indicate that the remark was merely philosophical. But no, no special  trouble this time. I just thought I'd drop in to see you.   His wife laughed. You've disappointed him, Paul. She turned to Rearden.  Is it an inferiority complex or a superiority one, Henry? Do you believe  that nobody can want to see you just for your own sake, or do you believe  that nobody can get along without your help?   He wanted to utter an angry denial, but she was smiling at him as if this  were merely a conversational joke, and he had no capacity for the sort of  conversations which were not supposed to be meant, so he did not answer. He  stood looking at her, wondering about the things he had never been able to  understand .   Lillian Rearden was generally regarded as a beautiful woman. She had a  tall, graceful body, the kind that looked well in high-waisted gowns of the  Empire style, which she made it a practice to wear. Her exquisite profile  belonged to a cameo of the same period: its pure, proud lines and the  lustrous, light brown waves of her hair, worn with classical simplicity,  suggested an austere, imperial beauty. But when she turned full-face, people  experienced a small shock of disappointment.   Her face was not beautiful. The eyes were the flaw: they were vaguely  pale, neither quite gray nor brown, lifelessly empty of expression. Rearden  had always wondered, since she seemed amused so often, why there was no  gaiety in her face.   We have met before, dear,  she said, in answer to his silent scrutiny,  though you don't seem to be sure of it.     Have you had any dinner, Henry? his mother asked; there was a  reproachful impatience in her voice, as if his hunger were a personal insult  to her.   Yes ... No ... I wasn't hungry.   I'd better ring to have them—
CHESSKID3 ActionDan Kagami Katsuki Smocaine
11 Serious Business northsidegal GuiltyLion Kmd4390 Mathdino davesaz
12 Dandy Irate Hoes brought to you by MATI energy Cheetory6 XRECKONERX hiplop Thestatusquo Radja
13 Backhanded Remarks Elena Fisher Dunnstral gerryoat Chara BigYoshiFan
14 Spam Squad LicketyQuickety Creature Mulch sheepsaysmeep UC Voyager
15 Sauciety Sauce Almost50 CheekyTeeky momo Toranaga
Last edited by Ellibereth on Thu Jan 18, 2018 5:25 pm, edited 10 times in total.
FLASH OF GREEN

Ellibereth
Deus ex Machina
 
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Joined: November 06, 2009
Location: Location location location

Post Post #2  (ISO)  » Sat Jan 13, 2018 11:58 am

REPLACEMENT LIST

Spoiler:
Image
Image
Image
Image
Image
Image
Image
Last edited by Ellibereth on Thu Jan 18, 2018 8:36 pm, edited 2 times in total.
FLASH OF GREEN

Ellibereth
Deus ex Machina
 
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Joined: November 06, 2009
Location: Location location location

Post Post #3  (ISO)  » Sat Jan 13, 2018 12:00 pm

REMEMBER TO SIGN UP WITH ALL THE RELEVANT INFORMATION
Last edited by Ellibereth on Sat Jan 13, 2018 12:00 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Katyusha
Mafia Scum
 
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Joined: November 07, 2017
Pronoun: She

Post Post #4  (ISO)  » Sat Jan 13, 2018 12:00 pm

Team Name: eddie cane
Team Captain: skirt skirt (alt of eddie cane)
Team Members: Katyusha (alt of gigabyteTroubadour), jjh927, Transcend

only one free rn to do sign ups hence why skirt skirt isn’t the one doing it lmao - everyone can and will be playing though

For clarification I am playing on Katyusha and not giga since Katy is generally for games I plan on counting. Eddie is also playing on skirt skirt.

Lady Lambdadelta
Nekonfidante
 
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Joined: August 31, 2010
Location: formerly in a Rage
Pronoun: She

Post Post #5  (ISO)  » Sat Jan 13, 2018 12:00 pm

Team DEFCON
Team Captain: Lady Lambdadelta
Team Members: Hinduragi , Hebichan , Llamarble
That which yields is not always weak. Read my new GTKAS here, ask some questions!
SleepyKrew (11:13): cat in a pretty good mood thanks for asking how about you
Three heads are better than one. Just ask us~.

RadiantCowbells
Smooth Criminal
 
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Joined: February 24, 2013
Pronoun: He

Post Post #6  (ISO)  » Sat Jan 13, 2018 12:00 pm

1. Team Cuddly
2. RadiantCowbells
3. Keychain Firebringer Postie
If you're Macho and someone tries to rolestop you, you never realise you're being targeted for a kill, so your machismo never gets challenged

Something_Smart
Jack of All Trades
 
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Joined: November 17, 2015
Location: Rochester Institute of Technology
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Post Post #7  (ISO)  » Sat Jan 13, 2018 12:00 pm

/in
Team Name: Relaxed Nature
Team Captain: Aristophanes
Team Members: Something_Smart, Aeronaut, Gamma Emerald

Fenchurch
Mafia Scum
 
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Joined: July 24, 2008
Location: Notts, UK
Pronoun: She

Post Post #8  (ISO)  » Sat Jan 13, 2018 12:00 pm

Team:
God Save the Black Goo

Captain:
Cogito Ergo Sum

Members:
Fenchurch
Patrick
ChannelDelibird

Errantparabola
Composed.
 
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Joined: March 13, 2015

Post Post #9  (ISO)  » Sat Jan 13, 2018 12:00 pm

Signing up.

Team Name: Make Papa Proud
Team Captain: Errantparabola

Players:
Bins
Errantparabola
implosion
SleepyKrew
Today's modern mafia consumer demands dozens, nay, hundreds of roles that are vanilla cops. --implosion

Boonskiies
That's Not All, Folks!
 
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Joined: June 12, 2014
Location: East Bay
Pronoun: He

Post Post #10  (ISO)  » Sat Jan 13, 2018 12:00 pm

1. Name: Chillplay Bombahskiies
2. Captain: Boonskiies
3. Members: Tchill13, Unabombah, Srceenplay
“Let it be known that almost everything Boonskiies said is either hilarious or annoying." - Shinobi

Yes, I'm Flavor Leaf. That's my main; I just mod on Boonskiies.

Bulbazak
Survivor
 
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Joined: November 18, 2012
Location: Thataway, Thataway, Betwixt the Presidents
Pronoun: He

Post Post #11  (ISO)  » Sat Jan 13, 2018 12:01 pm

/in as Queue Agents
Team of Bulbazak, Ginngie, EddieFenix, and mastina
Team Captain: Bulbazak (may change this one later)
Bulbazak is so town that everytime someone votes him Mastin coughs blood. - Nachomamma8, Maniacal Street Mafia

V/LA during weekends. Now leave me alone!

ActionDan
Jack of All Trades
 
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Joined: November 15, 2011
Location: Inside the Trojan Horse
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Post Post #12  (ISO)  » Sat Jan 13, 2018 12:01 pm

1. 2 BANS 2 FURIOUS
2. CHESSKID
3. ActionDan; Kagami; Hot Chocolate
I'll give you a moment to let that sink in

ActionDan
Jack of All Trades
 
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Joined: November 15, 2011
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Post Post #13  (ISO)  » Sat Jan 13, 2018 12:01 pm

jesus
I'll give you a moment to let that sink in

mhsmith0
Balancing Act
 
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Joined: March 07, 2016
Location: Phoenix, AZ
Pronoun: He

Post Post #14  (ISO)  » Sat Jan 13, 2018 12:01 pm

Holy shot that’s a fast signup

Ps thought latyusha was giggles yay Smith :)
Show

Ellibereth
Deus ex Machina
 
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Joined: November 06, 2009
Location: Location location location

Post Post #15  (ISO)  » Sat Jan 13, 2018 12:04 pm


IF YOU HAVE A COMPLETED TEAM THAT DIDN'T GET IN PM ME - WE'RE MEASURING INTEREST

IF YOU DON'T PM ME, WE MAY NOT OPEN ENOUGH SLOTS - WE WILL NOT CHANGE THE FORMAT MORE THAN ONCE.
FLASH OF GREEN

Ellibereth
Deus ex Machina
 
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Joined: November 06, 2009
Location: Location location location

Post Post #16  (ISO)  » Thu Jan 18, 2018 11:47 am

Signups open in a little under 15 minutes!

MAKE SURE YOU ARE SIGNING UP WITH ALL THE REQUIRED INFORMATION

Best wishes to everyone trying to get a slot but there are options if you do miss out:

1) You can /in as a replacement. A list of these will be compiled and be publicly available. Please note that teams will be contacting and choosing replacements themselves so that your placement on the list matters very little other than for cosmetics. Full details on the replacement process will be available after all the teams have been selected.

2) You can PM ME if you are interested in playing the tiebreak game. There will be an internal selection process for this and I'll get back to everyone who wants to do it ASAP. If you are selected to play in the tiebreak game you can no longer be a replacement.
FLASH OF GREEN

Kagami
Jack of All Trades
 
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Joined: November 05, 2013

Post Post #17  (ISO)  » Thu Jan 18, 2018 12:00 pm

Captain: Chesskid3
Members: ActionDan; Kagami; Katsuki; Smocaine

Spoiler: Team Name
Code: Select all
Who is John Galt? The light was ebbing, and Eddie Willers could not distinguish the bum's  face. The bum had said it simply, without expression. But from the sunset far  at the end of the street, yellow glints caught his eyes, and the eyes looked  straight at Eddie Willers, mocking and still— as if the question had been  addressed to the causeless uneasiness within him.   Why did you say that? asked Eddie Willers, his voice tense.   The bum leaned against the side of the doorway; a wedge of broken glass  behind him reflected the metal yellow of the sky.   Why does it bother you? he asked.   It doesn't, snapped Eddie Willers.   He reached hastily into his pocket. The bum had stopped him and asked for  a dime, then had gone on talking, as if to kill that moment and postpone the  problem of the next. Pleas for dimes were so frequent in the streets these  days that it was not necessary to listen to explanations, and he had no  desire to hear the details of this bum's particular despair.   Go get your cup of coffee,  he said, handing the dime to the shadow that  had no face.   Thank you, sir,  said the voice, without interest, and the face leaned  forward for a moment. The face was wind-browned, cut by lines of weariness  and cynical resignation; the eyes were intelligent. Eddie Willers walked on,  wondering why he always felt it at this time of day, this sense of dread  without reason. No, he thought, not dread, there's nothing to fear: just an  immense, diffused apprehension, with no source or object. He had become  accustomed to the feeling, but he could find no explanation for it; yet the  bum had spoken as if he knew that Eddie felt it, as if he thought that one  should feel it, and more: as if he knew the reason.   Eddie Willers pulled his shoulders straight, in conscientious self-  discipline. He had to stop this, he thought; he was beginning to imagine  things. Had he always felt it? He was thirty-two years old. He tried to think  back. No, he hadn't; but he could not remember when it had started. The  feeling came to him Suddenly, at random intervals, and now it was coming more  often than ever. It's the twilight, he thought; I hate the twilight.   The clouds and the shafts of skyscrapers against them were turning brown,  like an old painting in oil, the color of a fading masterpiece. Long streaks  of grime ran from under the pinnacles down the slender, soot-eaten walls.  High on the side of a tower there was a crack in the shape of a motionless  lightning, the length of ten stories. A jagged object cut the sky above the  roofs; it was half a spire, still holding the glow of the sunset; the gold  leaf had long since peeled off the other half. The glow was red and still,  like the reflection of a fire: not an active fire, but a dying one which it  is too late to stop.   No, thought Eddie Willers, there was nothing disturbing in the sight of  the city. It looked as it had always looked.   He walked on, reminding himself that he was late in returning to the  office. He did not like the task which he had to perform on his return, but  it had to be done. So he did not attempt to delay it, but made himself walk  faster .   He turned a corner. In the narrow space between the dark silhouettes of  two buildings, as in the crack of a door, he saw the page of a gigantic  calendar suspended in the sky.   It was the calendar that the mayor of New York had erected last year on  the top of a building, so that citizens might tell the day of the month as  they told the hours of the day, by glancing up at a public tower. A white     rectangle hung over the city, imparting the date to the men in the streets  below. In the rusty light of this evening's sunset, the rectangle said:  September 2 .   Eddie Willers looked away. He had never liked the sight of that calendar.  It disturbed him, in a manner he could not explain or define. The feeling  seemed to blend with his sense of uneasiness; it had the same quality.   He thought suddenly that there was some phrase, a kind of quotation, that  expressed what the calendar seemed to suggest. But he could not recall it. He  walked, groping for a sentence that hung in his mind as an empty shape. He  could neither fill it nor dismiss it. He glanced back. The white rectangle  stood above the roofs, saying in immovable finality: September 2.   Eddie Willers shifted his glance down to the street, to a vegetable  pushcart at the stoop of a brownstone house. He saw a pile of bright gold  carrots and the fresh green of onions. He saw a clean white curtain blowing  at an open window. He saw a bus turning a corner, expertly steered. He  wondered why he felt reassured— and then, why he felt the sudden, inexplicable  wish that these things were not left in the open, unprotected against the  empty space above.   When he came to Fifth Avenue, he kept his eyes on the windows of the  stores he passed. There was nothing he needed or wished to buy; but he liked  to see the display of good?, any goods, objects made by men, to be used by  men. He enjoyed the sight of a prosperous street; not more than every fourth  one of the stores was out of business, its windows dark and empty.   He did not know why he suddenly thought of the oak tree. Nothing had  recalled it. But he thought of it and of his childhood summers on the Taggart  estate. He had spent most of his childhood with the Taggart children, and now  he worked for them, as his father and grandfather had worked for their father  and grandfather.   The great oak tree had stood on a hill over the Hudson, in a lonely spot  of the Taggart estate. Eddie Willers, aged seven, liked to come and look at  that tree. It had stood there for hundreds of years, and he thought it would  always stand there. Its roots clutched the hill like a fist with fingers sunk  into the soil, and he thought that if a giant were to seize it by the top, he  would not be able to uproot it, but would swing the hill and the whole of the  earth with it, like a ball at the end of a string. He felt safe in the oak  tree's presence; it was a thing that nothing could change or threaten; it was  his greatest symbol of strength.   One night, lightning struck the oak tree. Eddie saw it the next morning.  It lay broken in half, and he looked into its trunk as into the mouth of a  black tunnel. The trunk was only an empty shell; its heart had rotted away  long ago; there was nothing inside— just a thin gray dust that was being  dispersed by the whim of the faintest wind. The living power had gone, and  the shape it left had not been able to stand without it.   Years later, he heard it said that children should be protected from  shock, from their first knowledge of death, pain or fear. But these had never  scarred him; his shock came when he stood very quietly, looking into the  black hole of the trunk. It was an immense betrayal— the more terrible because  he could not grasp what it was that had been betrayed. It was not himself, he  knew, nor his trust; it was something else. He stood there for a while,  making no sound, then he walked back to the house. He never spoke about it to  anyone, then or since.   Eddie Willers shook his head, as the screech of a -rusty mechanism  changing a traffic light stopped him on the edge of a curb. He felt anger at  himself. There was no reason that he had to remember the oak tree tonight. It  meant nothing to him any longer, only a faint tinge of sadness— and somewhere  within him, a drop of pain moving briefly and vanishing, like a raindrop on  the glass of a window, its course in the shape of a question mark.     He wanted no sadness attached to his childhood; he loved its memories: any  day of it he remembered now seemed flooded by a still, brilliant sunlight. It  seemed to him as if a few rays from it reached into his present: not rays,  more like pinpoint spotlights that gave an occasional moment's glitter to his  job, to his lonely apartment, to the quiet, scrupulous progression of his  existence .   He thought of a summer day when he was ten years old. That day, in a  clearing of the woods, the one precious companion of his childhood told him  what they would do when they grew up. The words were harsh and glowing, like  the sunlight. He listened in admiration and in wonder. When he was asked what  he would want to do, he answered at once, Whatever is right,  and added,  You ought to do something great ... I mean, the two of us together.  What? she asked. He said, I don't know. That's what we ought to find out.  Not just what you said. Not just business and earning a living. Things like  winning battles, or saving people out of fires, or climbing mountains. What  for? she asked. He said, The minister said last Sunday that we must always  reach for the best within us. What do you suppose is the best within us? I  don't know. We'll have to find out. She did not answer; she was looking  away, up the railroad track.   Eddie Willers smiled. He had said, Whatever is right, twenty-two years  ago. He had kept that statement unchallenged ever since; the other questions  had faded in his mind; he had been too busy to ask them. But he still thought  it self-evident that one had to do what was right; he had never learned how  people could want to do otherwise; he had learned only that they did. It  still seemed simple and incomprehensible to him: simple that things should be  right, and incomprehensible that they weren't. He knew that they weren't. He  thought of that, as he turned a corner and came to the great building of  Taggart Transcontinental.   The building stood over the street as its tallest and proudest structure.  Eddie Willers always smiled at his first sight of it. Its long bands of  windows were unbroken, in contrast to those of its neighbors. Its rising  lines cut the sky, with no crumbling corners or worn edges. It seemed to  stand above the years, untouched. It would always stand there, thought Eddie  Willers .   Whenever he entered the Taggart Building, he felt relief and a sense of  security. This was a place of competence and power. The floors of its  hallways were mirrors made of marble. The frosted rectangles of its electric  fixtures were chips of solid light. Behind sheets of glass, rows of girls sat  at typewriters, the clicking of their keys like the sound of speeding train  wheels. And like an answering echo, a faint shudder went through the walls at  times, rising from under the building, from the tunnels of the great terminal  where trains started out to cross a continent and stopped after crossing it  again, as they had started and stopped for generation after generation.  Taggart Transcontinental, thought Eddie Willers, From Ocean to Ocean— the  proud slogan of his childhood, so much more shining and holy than any  commandment of the Bible. From Ocean to Ocean, forever— thought Eddie Willers,  in the manner of a rededication, as he walked through the spotless halls into  the heart of the building, into the office of James Taggart, President of  Taggart Transcontinental.   James Taggart sat at his desk. He looked like a man approaching fifty, who  had crossed into age from adolescence, without the intermediate stage of  youth. He had a small, petulant mouth, and thin hair clinging to a bald  forehead. His posture had a limp, decentralized sloppiness, as if in defiance  of his tall, slender body, a body with an elegance of line intended for the  confident poise of an aristocrat, but transformed into the gawkiness of a  lout. The flesh of his face was pale and soft. His eyes were pale and veiled,  with a glance that moved slowly, never quite stopping, gliding off and past     things in eternal resentment of their existence. He looked obstinate and  drained. He was thirty-nine years old.   He lifted his head with irritation, at the sound of the opening door.   Don't bother me, don't bother me, don't bother me, said James Taggart.   Eddie Willers walked toward the-desk.   It's important, Jim, he said, not raising his voice.  All right, all right, what is it?   Eddie Willers looked at a map on the wall of the office. The map's colors  had faded under the glass— he wondered dimly how many Taggart presidents had  sat before it and for how many years. The Taggart Transcontinental Railroad,  the network of red lines slashing the faded body of the country from New York  to San Francisco, looked like a system of blood vessels. It looked as if  once, long ago, the blood had shot down the main artery and, under the  pressure of its own overabundance, had branched out at random points, running  all over the country. One red streak twisted its way from Cheyenne, Wyoming,  down to El Paso, Texas— the Rio Norte Line of Taggart Transcontinental. New  tracing had been added recently and the red streak had been extended south  beyond El Paso— but Eddie Willers turned away hastily when his eyes reached  that point.   He looked at James Taggart and said, It's the Rio Norte Line. He noticed  Taggart ' s glance moving down to a corner of the desk. We've had another  wreck .    Railroad accidents happen every day. Did you have to bother me about  that?   You know what I'm saying, Jim. The Rio Norte is done for. That track is  shot. Down the whole line.   We are getting a new track.   Eddie Willers continued as if there had been no answer: That track is  shot. It's no use trying to run trains down there. People are giving up  trying to use them.   There is not a railroad in the country, it seems to me, that doesn't have  a few branches running at a deficit. We're not the only ones. It's a national  condition— a temporary national condition.   Eddie stood looking at him silently. What Taggart disliked about Eddie  Willers was this habit of looking straight into people's eyes. Eddie's eyes  were blue, wide and questioning; he had blond hair and a square face,  unremarkable except for that look of scrupulous attentiveness and open,  puzzled wonder.   What do you want? snapped Taggart.   I just came to tell you something you had to know, because somebody had  to tell you.   That we've had another accident?   That we can't give up the Rio Norte Line.   James Taggart seldom raised his head; when he looked at people, he did so  by lifting his heavy eyelids and staring upward from under the expanse of his  bald forehead.   Who's thinking of giving up the Rio Norte Line? he asked.   There's never been any question of giving it up. I resent your saying it.  I resent it very much.   But we haven't met a schedule for the last six months. We haven't  completed a run without some sort of breakdown, major or minor. We're losing  all our shippers, one after another. How long can we last?   You're a pessimist, Eddie. You lack faith. That's what undermines the  morale of an organization.   You mean that nothing's going to be done about the Rio Norte Line?   I haven't said that at all. Just as soon as we get the new track-     Jim, there isn't going to be any new track. He watched Taggart ' s eyelids  move up slowly. I've just come back from the office of Associated Steel.  I've spoken to Orren Boyle.   What did he say?   He spoke for an hour and a half and did not give me a single straight  answer .    What did you bother him for? I believe the first order of rail wasn't due  for delivery until next month.   And before that, it was due for delivery three months ago.   Unforeseen circumstances. Absolutely beyond Orren ' s control.   And before that, it was due six months earlier. Jim, we have waited for  Associated Steel to deliver that rail for thirteen months.   What do you want me to do? I can't run Orren Boyle's business.   I want you to understand that we can't wait.   Taggart asked slowly, his voice half-mocking, half-cautious, What did my  sister say?   She won't be back until tomorrow.  Well, what do you want me to do?  That's for you to decide.   Well, whatever else you say, there's one thing you're not going to  mention next— and that's Rearden Steel.   Eddie did not answer at once, then said quietly, All right, Jim. I won't  mention it.   Orren is my friend. He heard no answer. I resent your attitude. Orren  Boyle will deliver that rail just as soon as it's humanly possible. So long  as he can't deliver it, nobody can blame us.   Jim! What are you talking about? Don't you understand that the Rio Norte  Line is breaking up— whether anybody blames us or not?   People would put up with it— they'd have to— if it weren't for the Phoenix-  Durango. He saw Eddie's face tighten. Nobody ever complained about the Rio  Norte Line, until the Phoenix-Durango came on the scene.   The Phoenix-Durango is doing a brilliant job.   Imagine a thing called the Phoenix-Durango competing with Taggart  Transcontinental! It was nothing but a local milk line ten years ago.   It's got most of the freight traffic of Arizona, New Mexico and Colorado  now. Taggart did not answer. Jim, we can't lose Colorado. It's our last  hope. It's everybody's last hope. If we don't pull ourselves together, we'll  lose every big shipper in the state to the Phoenix-Durango. We've lost the  Wyatt oil fields.   I don't see why everybody keeps talking about the Wyatt oil fields.   Because Ellis Wyatt is a prodigy who—   Damn Ellis Wyatt!   Those oil wells, Eddie thought suddenly, didn't they have something in  common with the blood vessels on the map? Wasn't that the way the red stream  of Taggart Transcontinental had shot across the country, years ago, a feat  that seemed incredible now? He thought of the oil wells spouting a black  stream that ran over a continent almost faster than the trains of the  Phoenix-Durango could carry it. That oil field had been only a rocky patch in  the mountains of Colorado, given up as exhausted long ago. Ellis Wyatt ' s  father had managed to squeeze an obscure living to the end of his days, out  of the dying oil wells. Now it was as if somebody had given a shot of  adrenalin to the heart of the mountain, the heart had started pumping, the  black blood had burst through the rocks— of course it's blood, thought Eddie  Willers, because blood is supposed to feed, to give life, and that is what  Wyatt Oil had done. It had shocked empty slopes of ground into sudden  existence, it had brought new towns, new power plants, new factories to a  region nobody had ever noticed on any map. New factories, thought Eddie     Willers, at a time when the freight revenues from all the great old  industries were dropping slowly year by year; a rich new oil field, at a time  when the pumps were stopping in one famous field after another; a new  industrial state where nobody had expected anything but cattle and beets. One  man had done it, and he had done it in eight years; this, thought Eddie  Willers, was like the stories he had read in school books and never quite  believed, the stories of men who had lived in the days of the country's  youth. He wished he could meet Ellis Wyatt. There was a great deal of talk  about him, but few had ever met him; he seldom came to New York. They said he  was thirty-three years old and had a violent temper. He had discovered some  way to revive exhausted oil wells and he had proceeded to revive them.   Ellis Wyatt is a greedy bastard who's after nothing but money, said  James Taggart. It seems to me that there are more important things in life  than making money.   What are you talking about, Jim? What has that got to do with—  Besides, he's double-crossed us. We served the Wyatt oil fields for  years, most adequately. In the days of old man Wyatt, we ran a tank train a  week .    These are not the days of old man Wyatt, Jim. The Phoenix-Durango runs  two tank trains a day down there— and it runs them on schedule.  If he had given us time to grow along with him—  He has no time to waste.   What does he expect? That we drop all our other shippers, sacrifice the  interests of the whole country and give him all our trains?   Why, no. He doesn't expect anything. He just deals with the Phoenix-  Durango .    I think he's a destructive, unscrupulous ruffian. I think he's an  irresponsible upstart who's been grossly overrated. It was astonishing to  hear a sudden emotion in James Taggart 's lifeless voice. I'm not so sure  that his oil fields are such a beneficial achievement. It seems to me that  he's dislocated the economy of the whole country. Nobody expected Colorado to  become an industrial state. How can we have any security or plan anything if  everything changes all the time?   Good God, Jim! He's-   Yes, I know, I know, he's making money. But that is not the standard, it  seems to me, by which one gauges a man's value to society. And as for his  oil, he'd come crawling to us. and he'd wait his turn along with all the  other shippers, and he wouldn't demand more than his fair share of  transportation— if it weren't for the Phoenix-Durango. We can't help it if  we're up against destructive competition of that kind. Nobody can blame us.   The pressure in his chest and temples, thought Eddie Willers, was the  strain of the effort he was making; he had decided to make the issue clear  for once, and the issue was so clear, he thought, that nothing could bar it  from Taggart ' s understanding, unless it was the failure of his own  presentation. So he had tried hard, but he was failing, just as he had always  failed in all of their discussions; no matter what he said, they never seemed  to be talking about the same subject.   Jim, what are you saying? Does it matter that nobody blames us— when the  road is falling apart?   James Taggart smiled; it was a thin smile, amused and cold. It's  touching, Eddie, he said. It's touching— your devotion to Taggart  Transcontinental. If you don't look out, you'll turn into one of those real  feudal serfs .    That's what I am, Jim.   But may I ask whether it is your job to discuss these matters with me?  No, it isn't.     Then why don't you learn that we have departments to take care of things?  Why don't you report all this to whoever 's concerned? Why don't you cry on my  dear sister's shoulder?   Look. Jim, I know it's not my place to talk to you. But I can't  understand what's going on. I don't know what it is that your proper advisers  tell you, or why they can't make you understand. So I thought I'd try to tell  you myself .    I appreciate our childhood friendship, Eddie, but do you think that that  should entitle you to walk in here unannounced whenever you wish? Considering  your own rank, shouldn't you remember that I am president of Taggart  Transcontinental ?    This was wasted. Eddie Willers looked at him as usual, not hurt, merely  puzzled, and asked, Then you don't intend to do anything about the Rio Norte  Line?    I haven't said that. I haven't said that at all. Taggart was looking at  the map, at the red streak south of El Paso. Just as soon as the San  Sebastian Mines get going and our Mexican branch begins to pay off—   Don't let's talk about that, Jim. Taggart turned, startled by the  unprecedented phenomenon of an implacable anger in Eddie's voice. What's the  matter?   You know what's the matter. Your sister said—  Damn my sister! said James Taggart.   Eddie Willers did not move. He did not answer. He stood looking straight  ahead. But he did not see James Taggart or anything in the office.  After a moment, he bowed and walked out.   In the anteroom, the clerks of James Taggart 's personal staff were  switching off the lights, getting ready to leave for the day. But Pop Harper,  chief clerk, still sat at his desk, twisting the levers of a half -dismembered  typewriter. Everybody in the company had the impression that Pop Harper was  born in that particular corner at that particular desk and never intended to  leave it. He had been chief clerk for James Taggart ' s father.   Pop Harper glanced up at Eddie Willers as he came out of the president's  office. It was a wise, slow glance; it seemed to say that he knew that  Eddie's visit to their part of the building meant trouble on the line, knew  that nothing had come of the visit, and was completely indifferent to the  knowledge. It was the cynical indifference which Eddie Willers had seen in  the eyes of the bum on the street corner.   Say, Eddie, know where I could get some woolen undershirts? he asked,  Tried all over town, but nobody's got 'em.   I don't know, said Eddie, stopping. Why do you ask me?   I just ask everybody. Maybe somebody' ! ! tell me.   Eddie looked uneasily at the blank, emaciated face and white hair.  It's cold in this joint, said Pop Harper. It's going to be colder this  winter .    What are you doing? Eddie asked, pointing at the pieces of typewriter.   The damn thing's busted again. No use sending it out, took them three  months to fix it the last time. Thought I'd patch it up myself. Not for long,  I guess. He let his fist drop down on the keys. You're ready for the junk  pile, old pal. Your days are numbered.   Eddie started. That was the sentence he had tried to remember: Your days  are numbered. But he had forgotten in what connection he had tried to  remember it.   It's no use, Eddie, said Pop Harper.   What's no use?   Nothing. Anything.   What's the matter, Pop?     I'm not going to requisition a new typewriter. The new ones are made of  tin. When the old ones go, that will be the end of typewriting. There was an  accident in the subway this morning, their brakes wouldn't work. You ought to  go home, Eddie, turn on the radio and listen to a good dance band. Forget it,  boy. Trouble with you is you never had a hobby. Somebody stole the electric  light bulbs again, from off the staircase, down where I live. I've got a pain  in my chest. Couldn't get any cough drops this morning, the drugstore on our  corner went bankrupt last week. The Texas-Western Railroad went bankrupt last  month. They closed the Queensborough Bridge yesterday for temporary repairs.  Oh well, what's the use? Who is John Gait?   -k -k -k   She sat at the window of the train, her head thrown back, one leg  stretched across to the empty seat before her. The window frame trembled with  the speed of the motion, the pane hung over empty darkness, and dots of light  slashed across the glass as luminous streaks, once in a while.   Her leg, sculptured by the tight sheen of the stocking, its long line  running straight, over an arched instep, to the tip of a foot in a high-  heeled pump, had a feminine elegance that seemed out of place in the dusty  train car and oddly incongruous with the rest of her. She wore a battered  camel's hair coat that had been expensive, wrapped shapelessly about her  slender, nervous body. The coat collar was raised to the slanting brim of her  hat. A sweep of brown hair fell back, almost touching the line of her  shoulders. Her face was made of angular planes, the shape of her mouth clear-  cut, a sensual mouth held closed with inflexible precision. She kept her  hands in the coat pockets, her posture taut, as if she resented immobility,  and unfeminine, as if she were unconscious of her own body and that it was a  woman's body. She sat listening to the music. It was a symphony of triumph.  The notes flowed up, they spoke of rising and they were the rising itself,  they were the essence and the form of upward motion, they seemed to embody  every human act and thought that had ascent as its motive. It was a sunburst  of sound, breaking out of hiding and spreading open. It had the freedom of  release and the tension of purpose. It swept space clean, and left nothing  but the joy of an unobstructed effort. Only a faint echo within the sounds  spoke of that from which the music had escaped, but spoke in laughing  astonishment at the discovery that there was no ugliness or pain, and there  never had had to be. It was the song of an immense deliverance.   She thought: For just a few moments— while this lasts— it is all right to  surrender completely— to forget everything and just permit yourself to feel.  She thought: Let go— drop the controls— this is it.   Somewhere on the edge of her mind, under the music, she heard the sound of  train wheels. They knocked in an even rhythm, every fourth knock accented, as  if stressing a conscious purpose. She could relax, because she heard the  wheels. She listened to the symphony, thinking: This is why the wheels have  to be kept going, and this is where they're going.   She had never heard that symphony before, but she knew that it was written  by Richard Halley. She recognized the violence and the magnificent intensity.  She recognized the style of the theme; it was a clear, complex melody— at a  time when no one wrote melody any longer. . . . She sat looking up at the  ceiling of the car, but she did not see it and she had forgotten where she  was. She did not know whether she was hearing a full symphony orchestra or  only the theme; perhaps she was hearing the orchestration in her own mind.   She thought dimly that there had been premonitory echoes of this theme in  all of Richard Halley' s work, through all the years of his long struggle, to  the day, in his middle-age, when fame struck him suddenly and knocked him  out. This— she thought, listening to the symphony— had been the goal of his     struggle. She remembered half-hinted attempts in his music, phrases that  promised it, broken bits of melody that started but never quite reached it;  when Richard Halley wrote this, he . . . She sat up straight. When did  Richard Halley write this?   In the same instant, she realized where she was and wondered for the first  time where that music came from.   A few steps away, at the end of the car, a brakeman was adjusting the  controls of the air-conditioner. He was blond and young. He was whistling the  theme of the symphony. She realized that he had been whistling it for some  time and that this was all she had heard.   She watched him incredulously for a while, before she raised her voice to  ask, Tell me please, what are you whistling?   The boy turned to her. She met a direct glance and saw an open, eager  smile, as if he were sharing a confidence with a friend. She liked his face-  its lines were tight and firm, it did not have that look of loose muscles  evading the responsibility of a shape, which she had learned to expect in  people's faces.   It's the Halley Concerto, he answered, smiling.   Which one?   The Fifth.   She let a moment pass, before she said slowly and very carefully, Richard  Halley wrote only four concertos.   The boy's smile vanished. It was as if he were jolted back to reality,  just as she had been a few moments ago. It was as if a shutter were slammed  down, and what remained was a face without expression, impersonal,  indifferent and empty.   Yes, of course, he said. I'm wrong. I made a mistake.   Then what was it?   Something I heard somewhere.   What?   I don't know.   Where did you hear it?   I don't remember.   She paused helplessly; he was turning away from her without further  interest .   It sounded like a Halley theme, she said. But I know every note he's  ever written and he never wrote that.   There was still no expression, only a faint look of attentiveness on the  boy's face, as he turned back to her and asked, You like the music of  Richard Halley?   Yes, she said, I like it very much.   He considered her for a moment, as if hesitating, then he turned away. She  watched the expert efficiency of his movements as he went on working. He  worked in silence.   She had not slept for two nights, but she could not permit herself to  sleep; she had too many problems to consider and not much time: the train was  due in New York early in the morning. She needed the time, yet she wished the  train would go faster; but it was the Taggart Comet, the fastest train in the  country .   She tried to think; but the music remained on the edge of her mind and she  kept hearing it, in full chords, like the implacable steps of something that  could not be stopped. . . . She shook her head angrily, jerked her hat off  and lighted a cigarette.   She would not sleep, she thought; she could last until tomorrow night. . .  . The train wheels clicked in accented rhythm. She was so used to them that  she did not hear them consciously, but the sound became a sense of peace  within her. . . . When she extinguished her cigarette, she knew that she     needed another one, but thought that she would give herself a minute, just a  few minutes, before she would light it. . . .   She had fallen asleep and she awakened with a jolt, knowing that something  was wrong, before she knew what it was: the wheels had stopped. The car stood  soundless and dim in the blue glow of the night lamps. She glanced at her  watch: there was no reason for stopping. She looked out the window: the train  stood still in the middle of empty fields.   She heard someone moving in a seat across the aisle, and asked, How long  have we been standing?   A man's voice answered indifferently, About an hour. The man looked  after her, sleepily astonished, because she leaped to her feet and rushed to  the door. There was a cold wind outside, and an empty stretch of land under  an empty sky. She heard weeds rustling in the darkness. Far ahead, she saw  the figures of men standing by the engine— and above them, hanging detached in  the sky, the red light of a signal.   She walked rapidly toward them, past the motionless line of wheels. No one  paid attention to her when she approached. The train crew and a few  passengers stood clustered under the red light. They had stopped talking,  they seemed to be waiting in placid indifference.   What's the matter? she asked.   The engineer turned, astonished. Her question had sounded like an order,  not like the amateur curiosity of a passenger. She stood, hands in pockets,  coat collar raised, the wind beating her hair in strands across her face.   Red light, lady, he said, pointing up with his thumb.   How long has it been on?   An hour .    We're off the main track, aren't we?   That's right.   Why?   I don't know.   The conductor spoke up. I don't think we had any business being sent off  on a siding, that switch wasn't working right, and this thing's not working  at all. He jerked his head up at the red light. I don't think the signal's  going to change. I think it's busted.   Then what are you doing?   Waiting for it to change.   In her pause of startled anger, the fireman chuckled. Last week, the  crack special of the Atlantic Southern got left on a siding for two hours-  just somebody's mistake.   This is the Taggart Comet, she said. The Comet has never been late.   She's the only one in the country that hasn't, said the engineer.   There's always a first time, said the fireman.   You don't know about railroads, lady, said a passenger.   There's not a signal system or a dispatcher in the country that's worth a  damn .    She did not turn or notice him, but spoke to the engineer.   If you know that the signal is broken, what do you intend to do?   He did not like her tone of authority, and he could not understand why she  assumed it so naturally. She looked like a young girl; only her mouth and  eyes showed that she was a woman in her thirties. The dark gray eyes were  direct and disturbing, as if they cut through things, throwing the  inconsequential out of the way. The face seemed faintly familiar to him, but  he could not recall where he had seen it.   Lady, I don't intend to stick my neck out, he said.   He means, said the fireman, that our job's to wait for orders.   Your job is to run this train.   Not against a red light. If the light says stop, we stop.     A red light means danger, lady, said the passenger.   We're not taking any chances, said the engineer. Whoever's responsible  for it, he'll switch the blame to us if we move. So we're not moving till  somebody tells us to.   And if nobody does?   Somebody will turn up sooner or later.   How long do you propose to wait?   The engineer shrugged. Who is John Gait?   He means, said the fireman, don't ask questions nobody can answer.   She looked at the red light and at the rail that went off into the black,  untouched distance.   She said, Proceed with caution to the next signal. If it's in order,  proceed to the main track. Then stop at the first open office.   Yeah? Who says so?   I do.   Who are you?   It was only the briefest pause, a moment of astonishment at a question she  had not expected, but the engineer looked more closely at her face, and in  time with her answer he gasped, Good God!   She answered, not offensively, merely like a person who does not hear the  question often: Dagny Taggart.   Well, I'll be— said the fireman, and then they all remained silent. She  went on, in the same tone of unstressed authority. Proceed to the main track  and hold the train for me at the first open office.   Yes, Miss Taggart.   You'll have to make up time. You've got the rest of the night to do it.  Get the Comet in on schedule.  Yes, Miss Taggart.   She was turning to go, when the engineer asked, If there's any trouble,  are you taking the responsibility for it, Miss Taggart?  I am.   The conductor followed her as she walked back to her car. He was saying,  bewildered, But . . . just a seat in a day coach, Miss Taggart? But how  come? But why didn't you let us know?   She smiled easily. Had no time to be formal. Had my own car attached to  Number 22 out of Chicago, but got off at Cleveland— and Number 22 was running  late, so I let the car go. The Comet came next and I took it. There was no  sleeping-car space left.   The conductor shook his head. Your brother— he wouldn't have taken a  coach .    She laughed. No, he wouldn't have.   The men by the engine watched her walking away. The young brakeman was  among them. He asked, pointing after her, Who is that?   That's who runs Taggart Transcontinental, said the engineer; the respect  in his voice was genuine. That's the Vice-president in Charge of Operation.   When the train jolted forward, the blast of its whistle dying over the  fields, she sat by the window, lighting another cigarette. She thought: It's  cracking to pieces, like this, all over the country, you can expect it  anywhere, at any moment. But she felt no anger or anxiety; she had no time to  feel.   This would be just one more issue, to be settled along with the others.  She knew that the superintendent of the Ohio Division was no good and that he  was a friend of James Taggart. She had not insisted on throwing him out long  ago only because she had no better man to put in his place. Good men were so  strangely hard to find. But she would have to get rid of him, she thought,  and she would give his post to Owen Kellogg, the young engineer who was doing  a brilliant job as one of the assistants to the manager of the Taggart     Terminal in New York; it was Owen Kellogg who ran the Terminal. She had  watched his work for some time; she had always looked for sparks of  competence, like a diamond prospector in an unpromising wasteland. Kellogg  was still too young to be made superintendent of a division; she had wanted  to give him another year, but there was no time to wait. She would have to  speak to him as soon as she returned.   The strip of earth, faintly visible outside the window, was running faster  now, blending into a gray stream. Through the dry phrases of calculations in  her mind, she noticed that she did have time to feel something: it was the  hard, exhilarating pleasure of action.   -k -k -k   With the first whistling rush of air, as the Comet plunged into the  tunnels of the Taggart Terminal under the city of New York, Dagny Taggart sat  up straight. She always felt it when the train went underground— this sense of  eagerness, of hope and of secret excitement. It was as if normal existence  were a photograph of shapeless things in badly printed colors, but this was a  sketch done in a few sharp strokes that made things seem clean, important— and  worth doing.   She watched the tunnels as they flowed past: bare walls of concrete, a net  of pipes and wires, a web of rails that went off into black holes where green  and red lights hung as distant drops of color. There was nothing else,  nothing to dilute it, so that one could admire naked purpose and the  ingenuity that had achieved it. She thought of the Taggart Building standing  above her head at this moment, growing straight to the sky, and she thought:  These are the roots of the building, hollow roots twisting under the ground,  feeding the city.   When the train stopped, when she got off and heard the concrete of the  platform under her heels, she felt light, lifted, impelled to action.   She started off, walking fast, as if the speed of her steps could give  form to the things she felt. It was a few moments before she realized that  she was whistling a piece of music— and that it was the theme of Halley's  Fifth Concerto. She felt someone looking at her and turned. The young  brakeman stood watching her tensely.   She sat on the arm of the big chair facing James Taggart 's desk, her coat  thrown open over a wrinkled traveling suit. Eddie Willers sat across the  room, making notes once in a while. His title was that of Special Assistant  to the Vice-President in Charge of Operation, and his main duty was to be her  bodyguard against any waste of time. She asked him to be present at  interviews of this nature, because then she never had to explain anything to  him afterwards. James Taggart sat at his desk, his head drawn into his  shoulders .   The Rio Norte Line is a pile of junk from one end to the other, she  said. It's much worse than I thought. But we're going to save it.  Of course, said James Taggart.   Some of the rail can be salvaged. Not much and not for long. We'll start  laying new rail in the mountain sections, Colorado first. We'll get the new  rail in two months.   Oh, did Orren Boyle say he'll-   I've ordered the rail from Rearden Steel.   The slight, choked sound from Eddie Willers was his suppressed desire to  cheer .   James Taggart did not answer at once. Dagny, why don't you sit in the  chair as one is supposed to? he said at last; his voice was petulant.  Nobody holds business conferences this way.  I do.     She waited. He asked, his eyes avoiding hers, Did you say that you have  ordered the rail from Rearden?   Yesterday evening. I phoned him from Cleveland.   But the Board hasn't authorized it. I haven't authorized it. You haven't  consulted me .    She reached over, picked up the receiver of a telephone on his desk and  handed it to him.   Call Rearden and cancel it,  she said.   James Taggart moved back in his chair. I haven't said that, he answered  angrily. I haven't said that at all.  Then it stands?  I haven't said that, either.   She turned. Eddie, have them draw up the contract with Rearden Steel. Jim  will sign it. She took a crumpled piece of notepaper from her pocket and  tossed it to Eddie. There's the figures and terms.   Taggart said, But the Board hasn't—   The Board hasn't anything to do with it. They authorized you to buy the  rail thirteen months ago. Where you buy it is up to you.   I don't think it's proper to make such a decision without giving the  Board a chance to express an opinion. And I don't see why I should be made to  take the responsibility.   I am taking it.   What about the expenditure which—   Rearden is charging less than Orren Boyle's Associated Steel.  Yes, and what about Orren Boyle?   I've cancelled the contract. We had the right to cancel it six months  ago .    When did you do that?  Yesterday .    But he hasn't called to have me confirm it.  He won't.   Taggart sat looking down at his desk. She wondered why he resented the  necessity of dealing with Rearden, and why his resentment had such an odd,  evasive quality. Rearden Steel had been the chief supplier of Taggart  Transcontinental for ten years, ever since the first Rearden furnace was  fired, in the days when their father was president of the railroad. For ten  years, most of their rail had come from Rearden Steel. There were not many  firms in the country who delivered what was ordered, when and as ordered.  Rearden Steel was one of them.   If she were insane, thought Dagny, she would conclude that her brother  hated to deal with Rearden because Rearden did his job with superlative  efficiency; but she would not conclude it, because she thought that such a  feeling was not within the humanly possible.   It isn't fair, said James Taggart.   What isn't?   That we always give all our business to Rearden. It seems to me we should  give somebody else a chance, too. Rearden doesn't need us; he's plenty big  enough. We ought to help the smaller fellows to develop. Otherwise, we're  just encouraging a monopoly.   Don't talk tripe, Jim,   Why do we always have to get things from Rearden?  Because we always get them.  I don't like Henry Rearden.   I do. But what does that matter, one way or the other? We need rails and  he's the only one who can give them to us.   The human element is very important. You have no sense of the human  element at all.     We're talking about saving a railroad, Jim.   Yes, of course, of course, but still, you haven't any sense of the human  element .    No. I haven't.   If we give Rearden such a large order for steel rails—  They're not going to be steel. They're Rearden Metal.   She had always avoided personal reactions, but she was forced to break her  rule when she saw the expression on Taggart's face. She burst out laughing.   Rearden Metal was a new alloy, produced by Rearden after ten years of  experiments. He had placed it on the market recently. He had received no  orders and had found no customers.   Taggart could not understand the transition from the laughter to the  sudden tone of Dagny's voice; the voice was cold and harsh: Drop it, Jim. I  know everything you're going to say. Nobody's ever used it before. Nobody  approves of Rearden Metal. Nobody's interested in it. Nobody wants it. Still,  our rails are going to be made of Rearden Metal.   But ... said Taggart, but . . . but nobody's ever used it before!   He observed, with satisfaction, that she was silenced by anger. He liked  to observe emotions; they were like red lanterns strung along the dark  unknown of another's personality, marking vulnerable points. But how one  could feel a personal emotion about a metal alloy, and what such an emotion  indicated, was incomprehensible to him; so he could make no use of his  discovery .   The consensus of the best metallurgical authorities, he said, seems to  be highly skeptical about Rearden Metal, contending—  Drop it, Jim.    Well, whose opinion did you take?  I don't ask for opinions.  What do you go by?  Judgment .    Well, whose judgment did you take?  Mine.    But whom did you consult about it?  Nobody.    Then what on earth do you know about Rearden Metal?  That it's the greatest thing ever put on the market.  Why?   Because it's tougher than steel, cheaper than steel and will outlast any  hunk of metal in existence.  But who says so?   Jim, I studied engineering in college. When I see things, I see them.  What did you see?   Rearden 's formula and the tests he showed me.   Well, if it were any good, somebody would have used it, and nobody has.  He saw the flash of anger, and went on nervously: How can you know it's  good? How can you be sure? How can you decide?   Somebody decides such things, Jim. Who?   Well, I don't see why we have to be the first ones. I don't see it at  all.   Do you want to save the Rio Norte Line or not? He did not answer, If  the road could afford it, I would scrap every piece of rail over the whole  system and replace it with Rearden Metal. All of it needs replacing. None of  it will last much longer. But we can't afford it. We have to get out of a bad  hole, first. Do you want us to pull through or not?   We're still the best railroad in the country. The others are doing much  worse .    Then do you want us to remain in the hole?     I haven't said that! Why do you always oversimplify things that way? And  if you're worried about money, I don't see why you want to waste it on the  Rio Norte Line, when the Phoenix-Durango has robbed us of all our business  down there. Why spend money when we have no protection against a competitor  who'll destroy our investment?   Because the Phoenix-Durango is an excellent railroad, but I intend to  make the Rio Norte Line better than that. Because I'm going to beat the  Phoenix-Durango, if necessary— only it won't be necessary, because there will  be room for two or three railroads to make fortunes in Colorado. Because I'd  mortgage the system to build a branch to any district around Ellis Wyatt.   I'm sick of hearing about Ellis Wyatt.   He did not like the way her eyes moved to look at him and remained still,  looking, for a moment.   I don't see any need for immediate action, he said; he sounded offended.  Just what do you consider so alarming in the present situation of Taggart  Transcontinental ?    The consequences of your policies, Jim.   Which policies?   That thirteen months' experiment with Associated Steel, for one. Your  Mexican catastrophe, for another.   The Board approved the Associated Steel contract, he said hastily.   The Board voted to build the San Sebastian Line. Besides, I don't see why  you call it a catastrophe.   Because the Mexican government is going to nationalize your line any day  now .    That's a lie! His voice was almost a scream. That's nothing but vicious  rumors! I have it on very good inside authority that—   Don't show that you're scared, Jim, she said contemptuously. He did not  answer. It's no use getting panicky about it now, she said. All we can do  is try to cushion the blow. It's going to be a bad blow. Forty million  dollars is a loss from which we won't recover easily. But Taggart  transcontinental has withstood many bad shocks in the past. I'll see to it  that it withstands this one.   I refuse to consider, I absolutely refuse to consider the possibility of  the San Sebastian Line being nationalized!   All right. Don't consider it.   She remained silent. He said defensively, I don't see why you're so eager  to give a chance to Ellis Wyatt, yet you think it's wrong to take part in  developing an underprivileged country that never had a chance.   Ellis Wyatt is not asking anybody to give him a chance. And I'm not in  business to give chances. I'm running a railroad.   That's an extremely narrow view, it seems to me. I don't see why we  should want to help one man instead of a whole nation.   I'm not interested in. helping anybody. I want to make money.   That's an impractical attitude. Selfish greed for profit is a thing of  the past. It has been generally conceded that the interests of society as a  whole must always be placed first in any business undertaking which—   How long do you intend to talk in order to evade the issue, Jim?   What issue?   The order for Rearden Metal.   He did not answer. He sat studying her silently. Her slender body, about  to slump from exhaustion, was held erect by the straight line of the  shoulders, and the shoulders were held by a conscious effort of will. Few  people liked her face: the face was too cold, the eyes too intense; nothing  could ever lend her the charm of a soft focus. The beautiful legs, slanting  down from the chair's arm in the center of his vision, annoyed him; they  spoiled the rest of his estimate.     She remained silent; he was forced to ask, Did you decide to order it  just like that, on the spur of the moment, over a telephone?   I decided it six months ago. I was waiting for Hank Rearden to get ready  to go into production.   Don't call him Hank Rearden. It's vulgar.   That's what everybody calls him. Don't change the subject.  Why did you have to telephone him last night?  Couldn't reach him sooner.   Why didn't you wait until you got back to New York and—  Because I had seen the Rio Norte Line.   Well, I need time to consider it, to place the matter before the Board,  to consult the best—  There is no time.   You haven't given me a chance to form an opinion.   I don't give a damn about your opinion. I am not going to argue with you,  with your Board or with your professors. You have a choice to make and you're  going to make it now. Just say yes or no.   That's a preposterous, high-handed, arbitrary way of —    Yes or no?   That's the trouble with you. You always make it 'Yes' or 'No.' Things are  never absolute like that. Nothing is absolute.   Metal rails are. Whether we get them or not, is.  She waited. He did not answer. Well? she asked.  Are you taking the responsibility for it?  I am.   Go ahead, he said, and added, but at your own risk. I won't cancel it,  but I won't commit myself as to what I'll say to the Board.  Say anything you wish.   She rose to go. He leaned forward across the desk, reluctant to end the  interview and to end it so decisively.   You realize, of course, that a lengthy procedure will be necessary to put  this through, he said; the words sounded almost hopeful. It isn't as simple  as that.   Oh sure, she said. I'll send you a detailed report, which Eddie will  prepare and which you won't read. Eddie will help you put it through the  works. I'm going to Philadelphia tonight to see Rearden. He and I have a lot  of work to do. She added, It's as simple as that, Jim.   She had turned to go, when he spoke again— and what he said seemed  bewilderingly irrelevant. That's all right for you, because you're lucky.  Others can't do it.   Do what?   Other people are human. They're sensitive. They can't devote their whole  life to metals and engines. You're lucky— you've never had any feelings.  You've never felt anything at all.   As she looked at him, her dark gray eyes went slowly from astonishment to  stillness, then to a strange expression that resembled a look of weariness,  except that it seemed to reflect much more than the endurance of this one  moment .   No, Jim, she said quietly, I guess I've never felt anything at all.  Eddie Willers followed her to her office. Whenever she returned, he felt as  if the world became clear, simple, easy to face— and he forgot his moments of  shapeless apprehension. He was the only person who found it completely  natural that she should be the Operating Vice-President of a great railroad,  even though she was a woman. She had told him, when he was ten years old,  that she would run the railroad some day. It did not astonish him now, just  as it had not astonished him that day in a clearing of the woods.     When they entered her office, when he saw her sit down at the desk and  glance at the memos he had left for her— he felt as he did in his car when the  motor caught on and the wheels could move forward.   He was about to leave her office, when he remembered a matter he had not  reported. Owen Kellogg of the Terminal Division has asked me for an  appointment to see you, he said.   She looked up, astonished. That's funny. I was going to send for him.  Have him come up. I want to see him. . . . Eddie, she added suddenly,  before I start, tell them to get me Ayers of the Ayers Music Publishing  Company on the phone .    The Music Publishing Company? he repeated incredulously.   Yes. There's something I want to ask him.   When the voice of Mr. Ayers, courteously eager, inquired of what service  he could be to her, she asked, Can you tell me whether Richard Halley has  written a new piano concerto, the Fifth?   A fifth concerto, Miss Taggart? Why, no, of course he hasn't.   Are you sure?   Quite sure, Miss Taggart. He has not written anything for eight years.  Is he still alive?   Why, yes— that is, I can't say for certain, he has dropped out of public  life entirely— but I'm sure we would have heard of it if he had died.  If he wrote anything, would you know about it?   Of course. We would be the first to know. We publish all of his work. But  he has stopped writing.  I see. Thank you.   When Owen Kellogg entered her office, she looked at him with satisfaction.  She was glad to see that she had been right in her vague recollection of his  appearance— his face had the same quality as that of the young brakeman on the  train, the face of the kind of man with whom she could deal.   Sit down, Mr. Kellogg, she said, but he remained standing in front of  her desk.   You had asked me once to let you know if I ever decided to change my  employment, Miss Taggart, he said. So I came to tell you that I am  quitting .    She had expected anything but that; it took her a moment before she asked  quietly, Why?   For a personal reason.  Were you dissatisfied here?  No .    Have you received a better offer?  No.    What railroad are you going to?   I'm not going to any railroad, Miss Taggart.   Then what job are you taking?   I have not decided that yet.   She studied him, feeling slightly uneasy. There was no hostility in his  face; he looked straight at her, he answered simply, directly; he spoke like  one who has nothing to hide, or to show; the face was polite and empty.   Then why should you wish to quit?   It's a personal matter.   Are you ill? Is it a question of your health?  No .    Are you leaving the city?  No .    Have you inherited money that permits you to retire?  No.    Do you intend to continue working for a living?     Yes.   But you do not wish to work for Taggart Transcontinental?  No .    In that case, something must have happened here to cause your decision.  What?   Nothing, Miss Taggart.   I wish you'd tell me. I have a reason for wanting to know.  Would you take my word for it, Miss Taggart?  Yes .    No person, matter or event connected with my job here had any bearing  upon my decision.   You have no specific complaint against Taggart Transcontinental?  None.    Then I think you might reconsider when you hear what I have to offer  you .    I'm sorry, Miss Taggart. I can't.  May I tell you what I have in mind?  Yes, if you wish.   Would you take my word for it that I decided to offer you the post I'm  going to offer, before you asked to see me? I want you to know that.  I will always take your word, Miss Taggart.   It's the post of Superintendent of the Ohio Division. It's yours, if you  want it.   His face showed no reaction, as if the words had no more significance for  him than for a savage who had never heard of railroads.  I don't want it, Miss Taggart, he answered.   After a moment, she said, her voice tight, Write your own ticket,  Kellogg. Name your price, I want you to stay. I can match anything any other  railroad offers you.   I am not going to work for any other railroad.   I thought you loved your work.   This was the first sign of emotion in him, just a slight widening of his  eyes and an oddly quiet emphasis in his voice when he answered, I do.   Then tell me what it is that I should say in order to hold you! It had  been involuntary and so obviously frank that he looked at her as if it had  reached him.   Perhaps I am being unfair by coming here to tell you that I'm quitting,  Miss Taggart. I know that you asked me to tell you because you wanted to have  a chance to make me a counter-offer. So if I came, it looks as if I'm open to  a deal. But I'm not. I came only because I ... I wanted to keep my word to  you .    That one break in his voice was like a sudden flash that told her how much  her interest and her request had meant to him; and that his decision had not  been an easy one to make.   Kellogg, is there nothing I can offer you? she asked.   Nothing, Miss Taggart. Nothing on earth.   He turned to go. For the first time in her life, she felt helpless and  beaten .   Why? she asked, not addressing him.   He stopped. He shrugged and smiled— he was alive for a moment and it was  the strangest smile she had ever seen: it held secret amusement, and  heartbreak, and an infinite bitterness. He answered: Who is John Gait?     CHAPTER II  THE CHAIN     It began with a few lights. As a train of the Taggart line rolled toward  Philadelphia, a few brilliant, scattered lights appeared in the darkness;  they seemed purposeless in the empty plain, yet too powerful to have no  purpose. The passengers watched them idly, without interest.   The black shape of a structure came next, barely visible against the sky,  then a big building, close to the tracks; the building was dark, and the  reflections of the train lights streaked across the solid glass of its walls.   An oncoming freight train hid the view, filling the windows with a rushing  smear of noise. In a sudden break above the fiat cars, the passengers saw  distant structures under a faint, reddish glow in the sky; the glow moved in  irregular spasms, as if the structures were breathing.   When the freight train vanished, they saw angular buildings wrapped in  coils of steam. The rays of a few strong lights cut straight sheafs through  the coils. The steam was red as the sky.   The thing that came next did not look like a building, but like a shell of  checkered glass enclosing girders, cranes and trusses in a solid, blinding,  orange spread of flame.   The passengers could not grasp the complexity of what seemed to be a city  stretched for miles, active without sign of human presence. They saw towers  that looked like contorted skyscrapers, bridges hanging in mid-air, and  sudden wounds spurting fire from out of solid walls. They saw a line of  glowing cylinders moving through the night; the cylinders were red-hot metal.   An office building appeared, close to the tracks. The big neon sign on its  roof lighted the interiors of the coaches as they went by. It said: REARDEN  STEEL.   A passenger, who was a professor of economics, remarked to his companion:  Of what importance is an individual in the titanic collective achievements  of our industrial age? Another, who was a journalist, made a note for future  use in his column: Hank Rearden is the kind of man who sticks his name on  everything he touches. You may, from this, form your own opinion about the  character of Hank Rearden.   The train was speeding on into the darkness when a red gasp shot to the  sky from behind a long structure. The passengers paid no attention; one more  heat of steel being poured was not an event they had been taught to notice.   It was the first heat for the first order of Rearden Metal.   To the men at the tap-hole of the furnace inside the mills, the first  break of the liquid metal into the open came as a shocking sensation of  morning. The narrow streak pouring through space had the pure white color of  sunlight. Black coils of steam were boiling upward, streaked with violent  red. Fountains of sparks shot in beating spasms, as from broken arteries. The  air seemed torn to rags, reflecting a raging flame that was not there, red  blotches whirling and running through space, as if not to be contained within  a man-made structure, as if about to consume the columns, the girders, the  bridges of cranes overhead. But the liquid metal had no aspect of violence.  It was a long white curve with the texture of satin and the friendly radiance  of a smile. It flowed obediently through a spout of clay, with two brittle  borders to restrain it. It fell through twenty feet of space, down into a  ladle that held two hundred tons. A flow of stars hung above the stream,  leaping out of its placid smoothness, looking delicate as lace and innocent  as children's sparklers.   Only at a closer glance could one notice that the white satin was boiling.  Splashes flew out at times and fell to the ground below: they were metal and,  cooling while hitting the soil, they burst into flame.     Two hundred tons of a metal which was to be harder than steel, running  liquid at a temperature of four thousand degrees, had the power to annihilate  every wall of the structure and every one of the men who worked by the  stream. But every inch of its course, every pound of its pressure and the  content of every molecule within it, were controlled and made by a conscious  intention that had worked upon it for ten years.   Swinging through the darkness of the shed, the red glare kept stashing the  face of a man who stood in a distant corner; he stood leaning against a  column, watching. The glare cut a moment's wedge across his eyes, which had  the color and quality of pale blue ice— then across the black web of the metal  column and the ash-blond strands of his hair— then across the belt of his  trenchcoat and the pockets where he held his hands. His body was tall and  gaunt; he had always been too tall for those around him. His face was cut by  prominent cheekbones and by a few sharp lines; they were not the lines of  age, he had always had them: this had made him look old at twenty, and young  now, at forty-five.   Ever since he could remember, he had been told that his face was ugly,  because it was unyielding, and cruel, because it was expressionless. It  remained expressionless now, as he looked at the metal. He was Hank Rearden.   The metal came rising to the top of the ladle and went running over with  arrogant prodigality. Then the blinding white trickles turned to glowing  brown, and in one more instant they were black icicles of metal, starting to  crumble off. The slag was crusting in thick, brown ridges that looked like  the crust of the earth. As the crust grew thicker, a few craters broke open,  with the white liquid still boiling within.   A man came riding through the air, in the cab of a crane overhead. He  pulled a lever by the casual movement of one hand: steel hooks came down on a  chain, seized the handles of the ladle, lifted it smoothly like a bucket of  milk— and two hundred tons of metal went sailing through space toward a row of  molds waiting to be filled.   Hank Rearden leaned back, closing his eyes. He felt the column trembling  with the rumble of the crane. The job was done, he thought.   A worker saw him and grinned in understanding, like a fellow accomplice in  a great celebration, who knew why that tall, blond figure had to be present  here tonight. Rearden smiled in answer: it was the only salute he had  received. Then he started back for his office, once again a figure with an  expressionless face.   It was late when Hank Rearden left his office that night to walk from his  mills to his house. It was a walk of some miles through empty country, but he  had felt like doing it, without conscious reason.   He walked, keeping one hand in his pocket, his fingers closed about a  bracelet. It was made of Rearden Metal, in the shape of a chain. His fingers  moved, feeling its texture once in a while. It had taken ten years to make  that bracelet. Ten years, he thought, is a long time. The road was dark,  edged with trees. Looking up, he could see a few leaves against the stars;  the leaves were twisted and dry, ready to fall.   There were distant lights in the windows of houses scattered through the  countryside; but the lights made the road seem lonelier.   He never felt loneliness except when he was happy. He turned, once in a  while, to look back at the red glow of the sky over the mills. He did not  think of the ten years. What remained of them tonight was only a feeling  which he could not name, except that it was quiet and solemn. The feeling was  a sum, and he did not have to count again the parts that had gone to make it.  But the parts, unrecalled, were there, within the feeling. They were the  nights spent at scorching ovens in the research laboratory of the mills — the  nights spent in the workshop of his home, over sheets of paper which he  filled with formulas, then tore up in angry failure — the days when the young     scientists of the small staff he had chosen to assist him waited for  instructions like soldiers ready for a hopeless battle, having exhausted  their ingenuity, still willing, but silent, with the unspoken sentence  hanging in the air: Mr. Rearden, it can't be done— —the meals, interrupted  and abandoned at the sudden flash of a new thought, a thought to be pursued  at once, to be tried, to be tested, to be worked on for months, and to be  discarded as another failure — the moments snatched from conferences, from  contracts, from theduties of running the best steel mills in the country,  snatched almostguiltily, as for a secret love — the one thought held immovably  across a span of ten years, undereverything he did and everything he saw, the  thought held in his mindwhen he looked at the buildings of a city, at the  track of a railroad, atthe light in the windows of a distant farmhouse, at  the knife in the handsof a beautiful woman cutting a piece of fruit at a  banquet, the thought ofa metal alloy that would do more than steel had ever  done, a metal thatwould be to steel what steel had been to iron — the acts of  self-racking when he discarded a hope or a sample, not permitting himself to  know that he was tired, not giving himself timeto feel, driving himself  through the wringing torture of: not good enough . . . still not good enough  . . .  and going on with no motor save the conviction that it could be done—  —then the day when it was done and its result was called Rearden Metal— —  these were the things that had come to white heat, had melted and fused  within him, and their alloy was a strange, quiet feeling that made him smile  at the countryside in the darkness and wonder why happiness could hurt.   After a while, he realized that he was thinking of his past, as if certain  days of it were spread before him, demanding to be seen again. He did not  want to look at them; he despised memories as a pointless indulgence. But  then he understood that he thought of them tonight in honor of that piece of  metal in his pocket. Then he permitted himself to look.   He saw the day when he stood on a rocky ledge and felt a thread of sweat  running from his temple down his neck. He was fourteen years old and it was  his first day of work in the iron mines of Minnesota. He was trying to learn  to breathe against the scalding pain in his chest. He stood, cursing himself,  because he had made up his mind that he would not be tired. After a while, he  went back to his task; he decided that pain was not a valid reason for  stopping, He saw the day when he stood at the window of his office and looked  at the mines; he owned them as of that morning. He was thirty years old. What  had gone on in the years between did not matter, just as pain had not  mattered. He had worked in mines, in foundries, in the steel mills of the  north, moving toward the purpose he had chosen. All he remembered of those  jobs was that the men around him had never seemed to know what to do, while  he had always known. He remembered wondering why so many iron mines were  closing, just as these had been about to close until he took them over. He  looked at the shelves of rock in the distance. Workers were putting up a new  sign above a gate at the end of a road: Rearden Ore.   He saw an evening when he sat slumped across his desk in that office.   It was late and his staff had left; so he could lie there alone,  unwitnessed. He was tired. It was as if he had run a race against his own  body, and all the exhaustion of years, which he had refused to acknowledge,  had caught him at once and flattened him against the desk top. He felt  nothing, except the desire not to move. He did not have the strength to feel-  not even to suffer. He had burned everything there was to burn within him; he  had scattered so many sparks to start so many things— and he wondered whether  someone could give him now the spark he needed, now when he felt unable ever  to rise again. He asked himself who had started him and kept him going. Then  he raised his head.     Slowly, with the greatest effort of his life, he made his body rise until  he was able to sit upright with only one hand pressed to the desk and a  trembling arm to support him.   He never asked that question again. He saw the day when he stood on a hill  and looked at a grimy wasteland of structures that had been a steel plant. It  was closed and given up. He had bought it the night before. There was a  strong wind and a gray light squeezed from among the clouds. In that light,  he saw the brown-red of rust, like dead blood, on the steel of the giant  cranes— and bright, green, living weeds, like gorged cannibals, growing over  piles of broken glass at the foot of walls made of empty frames. At a gate in  the distance, he saw the black silhouettes of men. They were the unemployed  from the rotting hovels of what had once been a prosperous town.   They stood silently, looking at the glittering car he had left at the gate  of the mills; they wondered whether the man on the hill was the Hank Rearden  that people were talking about, and whether it was true that the mills were  to be reopened. The historical cycle of steel-making in Pennsylvania is  obviously running down,  a newspaper had said, and experts agree that Henry  Rearden 's venture into steel is hopeless. You may soon witness the  sensational end of the sensational Henry Rearden. That was ten years ago.  Tonight, the cold wind on his face felt like the wind of that day. He turned  to look back. The red glow of the mills breathed in the sky, a sight as life-  giving as a sunrise. These had been his stops, the stations which an express  had reached and passed. He remembered nothing distinct of the years between  them; the years were blurred, like a streak of speed.   Whatever it was, he thought, whatever the strain and the agony, they were  worth it, because they had made him reach this day— this day when the first  heat of the first order of Rearden Metal had been poured, to become rails for  Taggart Transcontinental.   He touched the bracelet in his pocket. He had had it made from that first  poured metal. It was for his wife. As he touched it, he realized suddenly  that he had thought of an abstraction called his wife— not of the woman to  whom he was married.   He felt a stab of regret, wishing he had not made the bracelet, then a  wave of self-reproach for the regret. He shook his head. This was not the  time for his old doubts. He felt that he could forgive anything to anyone,  because happiness was the greatest agent of purification. He felt certain  that every living being wished him well tonight. He wanted to meet someone,  to face the first stranger, to stand disarmed and open, and to say, Look at  me. People, he thought, were as hungry for a sight of joy as he had always  been— for a moment's relief from that gray load of suffering which seemed so  inexplicable and unnecessary. He had never been able to understand why men  should be unhappy.   The dark road had risen imperceptibly to the top of a hill. He stopped and  turned. The red glow was a narrow strip, far to the west. Above it, small at  a distance of miles, the words of a neon sign stood written on the blackness  of the sky: REARDEN STEEL. He stood straight, as if before a bench of  judgment. He thought that in the darkness of this night other signs were  lighted over the country: Rearden Ore— Rearden Coal— Rearden Limestone. He  thought of the days behind him. He wished it were possible to light a neon  sign above them, saying: Rearden Life.   He turned sharply and walked on. As the road came closer to his house, he  noticed that his steps were slowing down and that something was ebbing away  from his mood. He felt a dim reluctance to enter his home, which he did not  want to feel. No, he thought, not tonight; they'll understand it, tonight.  But he did not know, he had never defined, what it was that he wanted them to  understand.     He saw lights in the windows of the living room, when he approached his  house. The house stood on a hill, rising before him like a big white bulk; it  looked naked, with a few semi-colonial pillars for reluctant ornament; it had  the cheerless look of a nudity not worth revealing.   He was not certain whether his wife noticed him when he entered the living  room. She sat by the fireplace, talking, the curve of her arm floating in  graceful emphasis of her words. He heard a small break in her voice, and  thought that she had seen him, but she did not look up and her sentence went  on smoothly; he could not be certain, —but it's just that a man of culture  is bored with the alleged wonders of purely material ingenuity,  she was  saying. He simply refuses to get excited about plumbing.   Then she turned her head, looked at Rearden in the shadows across the long  room, and her arms spread gracefully, like two swan necks by her sides.   Why, darling, she said in a bright tone of amusement, isn't it too  early to come home? Wasn't there some slag to sweep or tuyeres to polish?   They all turned to him— his mother, his brother Philip and Paul Larkin,  their old friend.   I'm sorry, he answered. I know I'm late.   Don't say you're sorry, said his mother. You could have telephoned. He  looked at her, trying vaguely to remember something.  You promised to be here for dinner tonight.   Oh, that's right, I did. I'm sorry. But today at the mills, we poured—  He stopped; he did not know what made him unable to utter the one thing he  had come home to say; he added only, It's just that I . . . forgot.   That's what Mother means, said Philip.   Oh, let him get his bearings, he's not quite here yet, he's still at the  mills, his wife said gaily. Do take your coat off, Henry.   Paul Larkin was looking at him with the devoted eyes of an inhibited dog.  Hello, Paul, said Rearden. When did you get in?   Oh, I just hopped down on the five thirty-five from New York. Larkin was  smiling in gratitude for the attention.   Trouble?   Who hasn't got trouble these days? Larkin 's smile became resigned, to  indicate that the remark was merely philosophical. But no, no special  trouble this time. I just thought I'd drop in to see you.   His wife laughed. You've disappointed him, Paul. She turned to Rearden.  Is it an inferiority complex or a superiority one, Henry? Do you believe  that nobody can want to see you just for your own sake, or do you believe  that nobody can get along without your help?   He wanted to utter an angry denial, but she was smiling at him as if this  were merely a conversational joke, and he had no capacity for the sort of  conversations which were not supposed to be meant, so he did not answer. He  stood looking at her, wondering about the things he had never been able to  understand .   Lillian Rearden was generally regarded as a beautiful woman. She had a  tall, graceful body, the kind that looked well in high-waisted gowns of the  Empire style, which she made it a practice to wear. Her exquisite profile  belonged to a cameo of the same period: its pure, proud lines and the  lustrous, light brown waves of her hair, worn with classical simplicity,  suggested an austere, imperial beauty. But when she turned full-face, people  experienced a small shock of disappointment.   Her face was not beautiful. The eyes were the flaw: they were vaguely  pale, neither quite gray nor brown, lifelessly empty of expression. Rearden  had always wondered, since she seemed amused so often, why there was no  gaiety in her face.   We have met before, dear,  she said, in answer to his silent scrutiny,  though you don't seem to be sure of it.     Have you had any dinner, Henry? his mother asked; there was a  reproachful impatience in her voice, as if his hunger were a personal insult  to her.   Yes ... No ... I wasn't hungry.   I'd better ring to have them—
Last edited by Ellibereth on Thu Jan 18, 2018 5:21 pm, edited 1 time in total.

northsidegal
no expectations
 
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Post Post #18  (ISO)  » Thu Jan 18, 2018 12:00 pm

1. Team Name:
Serious Business
2. Team Captain:
northsidegal
3. Other three player's names:
Mathdino
GuiltyLion
Kmd4390
davesaz

ActionDan
Jack of All Trades
 
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Joined: November 15, 2011
Location: Inside the Trojan Horse
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Post Post #19  (ISO)  » Thu Jan 18, 2018 12:00 pm

Captain: CHESSKID
Members: ActionDan; Kagami; Katsuki; Smocaine
Team Name: Who is John Galt?
Last edited by Ellibereth on Thu Jan 18, 2018 5:21 pm, edited 1 time in total.
I'll give you a moment to let that sink in

Thestatusquo
Shea
 
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Joined: July 28, 2006
Location: Chicago!

Post Post #20  (ISO)  » Thu Jan 18, 2018 12:00 pm

1. Drunken Dabs
2. Cheetory6
3. Thestatusquo, XRECKONERX, hiplop, Radja
SleepyKrew: The dankest memer east or west of the Mississippi
only 5 slots left in Bad Idea Mafia!
SleepyKrew: The dankest memer east or west of the Mississippi

Cheetory6
Jack of All Trades
 
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Post Post #21  (ISO)  » Thu Jan 18, 2018 12:00 pm

1. Drunken Dabs
2. Cheetory6
3. Thestatusquo, XRECKONERX, hiplop, Radja

Elena Fisher
Mafia Scum
 
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Post Post #22  (ISO)  » Thu Jan 18, 2018 12:00 pm

Team name: Backhanded Remarks
Team Captain: Elena Fisher
Other players: Chara Dunnstral gerryoat BigYoshiFan

sheepsaysmeep
Mafia Scum
 
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Location: Alcatraz Federal Penitentiary
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Post Post #23  (ISO)  » Thu Jan 18, 2018 12:00 pm

Team Name: Spam Squad
Team Captain: LicketyQuickety
Team Members: Creature, Mulch, sheepsaysmeep, UC Voyager

Sauce
Goon
 
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Joined: November 22, 2017

Post Post #24  (ISO)  » Thu Jan 18, 2018 12:01 pm

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