Louis approached the point of the deal, the overcast skies raining ash and blowing cold wind accross the Texan wasteland. Little did he know the simple agreement, a quick exchange of oil and weaponry, would become the basis of one of the strongest post-rupture nations."Tell me," said the old man, Eddie Rowling. "Do you know the significance of where we are, the symbolism apparent in this forgotten stretch of highway?""Mmhmm," replied Louis, unimpressed by the former magnate's grandiose appearance, tainted by the falling ash."We're at the crossroads.""I never took you for a big blues fan Louis," laughed Eddie."I'm not," quickly replied Louis, "believe it or not I was a preacher before all this." The old man laughed again, the stark contrast of his dusty suit and his wealthy roots evident to all but himself."So tell me then, *father* Louis, do you believe in it? That a man once sold his soul at a place much like this? That a man would lose himself just for some skill at the guitar, just for some friends and some wealth?""No, no I don't," Louis replied, "way I see it, a man's soul isn't his to sell, not his to corrupt, or to save, but god alone's.""Good," replied Eddie, "then we're in business."They shook hands, the cold flesh of the the old man's skin meeting the ashy black of Louis's glove. And with that, a nation was born, of greed and necessity, exchanging the spirit of the people for survival in the ashen wasteland of the post-rupture world. In mere months time the alliance world grow to a para-military group, then, taking the centers of Texan industry, a fledgling nation, becoming known as the Lone Fort State, their Texas Expeditionary Force becoming one of the first armies to venture into the Ashlands, securing wealth in the leftover oil fields, opened anew by the immediate tremors after the erruption, making the Lone Fort State the lifeline of industrial production in the outer Ashlands.