Every planet that’s been terraformed has its own little quirks, and Three Hills is no exception. Much of the planet’s surface water is trapped in brackish lakes and basins and is unfit for consumption by man or beast. Fortunately, the groundwater is a different story. Trouble is, that groundwater is difficult to come by – aquifers are located deep below the planet’s surface in isolated pockets and it requires significant effort to extract and process water usable for drinking and irrigation.
So it was blind luck that a homestead transport captained by a man named Dale Evans landed almost directly on top of a sizeable underground source of water located at the base of a steep, sweeping ridge. One or two hydrogeologic surveys later and he was in business.
Naming his settlement “Evan’s City” turned out to be overly optimistic on Dale’s part – disease wiped out the entire party of settlers almost before they got done turning their rockets into roofs. But the name stuck, albeit with a dropped apostrophe.
Some time later, an enterprising businessman looking for an out of the way place to conduct his affairs picked up the water rights to Evans City for a song and set up shop amid the fledgling town’s ghostly remains. Sai McKittrick built a sprawling, ostentatious two-storey ranch house complete with gable dormer windows and an enclosed porch near the base of the ridge. He cleared a large patch of land behind his house and set about filling it with starships and parts of starships. Among many other things, McKittrick was in the salvage and reclamation business, and sold used starships on the side.
McKittrick’s operation was definitely under the radar – a used starship lot in the middle of nowhere doesn’t reel in customers on its own, but he wasn’t complaining. He hired a handful of mechanics to keep up appearances and do repairs as needed, but otherwise settled back in his ranch house and did a whole lot of nothing.
His house had cost him a pretty penny but he sunk an equal amount of money into the deep extraction wells left behind by the town founder. Turns out it was money well spent – it wasn’t long before representatives from the burgeoning livestock industry came to call. Ranching was becoming a going concern on this side of Three Hills, and a lack of road or magrail infrastructure coupled with wide, wide open spaces made it necessary to string together an overland stock route for driving cattle to cargo transfer points where they could be shipped offworld. For the right price, McKittrick told the ranchers, Evans City could be added to the route.
McKittrick was more interested in money than ranching, so he hired a local rancher, Errol Carter, to handle Evans City’s new lease on life as a cattle station. Carter built a corral, a trade station and other outbuildings and kicked back a portion of his earnings to McKittrick, and that was pretty much that.
Every ranching community has to deal with those who’d like to steal cattle rather than pay for them, so the powers-that-be contracted a private security firm to set up shop in town to keep an eye out for rustlers and other miscreants.
Evans City is laid out along a main drag that leads straight to the shipyard at the base of the ridge. Only McKittrick’s residence has a second storey. The geography is such that anyone looking to get to the shipyard – a collection of rusting, sandblasted spacecraft – has to walk down Main Street.
The town is little more than a scattering of shacks and buildings that look slapped together from adobe, plastic and timber sitting at the foot of Evans Ridge, which brackets the town on both sides.
Evans City is the very definition of a one-mule town. It has less than fifty permanent residents, although the population does swell seasonally during the cattle drives.
Generator House: The power plant and engine of the original homestead transport used to settle this area of Three Hills has been pressed into service as the town’s power supply. It is old and rickety, but does the trick, given the low energy requirements of the locals.
Water Tower and Pump House: The town’s water supply is contained in the cylindrical water tower, which sits on four stubby legs underneath which is housed the pumping machinery that keeps the tower full. EVANS CITY is emblazoned on the side of the tower in red block letters in both English and Chinese.
McKittrick’s Mansion: Sai McKittrick’s place is the largest building in town and sits astride Main Street. Anyone who comes into town can’t miss the place, or the wealth it represents.
McKittrick’s Shipyard: A combination sales office and machine shop is located a stone’s throw away from McKittrick’s private residence. His mechanics work to keep the few ships on site in working condition. A series of motion detectors are strung out over the perimeter of his used starship lot.
McKittrick has few customers and only a handful of the ships on his lot look spaceworthy. The best of the bunch is a battered Firefly that appears to have been salvaged from the wrecks of two separate vessels, if its mismatched paintjob is any indication.
Maria’s: Maria Cahill is the eponymous owner of the local watering hole and seasonal boarding house. She provides libations for the locals and for those just passing through. It’s as well-kept as any other building in town, and McKittrick, who has been wooing Ms. Cahill since she breezed into town some years ago, has spared no expense keeping the bar stocked. A large stylized gong hangs within easy reach over the bar, and the townsfolk have learned that when the gong is rung, there’s trouble brewing.
Police Station: A squat blockhouse-style structure, the police station contains a jail, the sheriff’s office, armory, communications & traffic control array (including landlock facilities), and storage lockers. Heavy-duty shutters can be released to cover the tiny cross-shaped windows. A stairway leads to the second level where the deputies can access the roof for defensive actions (the roof is surrounded by a four foot high wall to allow for cover). A second, smaller building behind the blockhouse contains half a dozen dirt bikes and a large utility mule for anti-rustling patrols.
The EC Corral: Evans City is a stop on the cattle-driving trail that snakes across Three Hills and as such a large corral, feed silo, warehouse and veterinary clinic is available for ranchers when their cattle needs a place to be penned up and cared for.
Currently a herd of about 200 cattle is grazing in the large oval cattle yard while their handlers, a trio of ranchers from the nearby Lazy Diamond ranch, boozes it up at Maria’s.
Evans City Trade Station: Owned by the EC Corral, the trade station stocks the basics and not much else.
Doc Garland’s: There is a small clinic in town that is clean and well-maintained, slightly larger than a field infirmary but not by much.
The Church: Located across the street from the police station, the small church sits about 100 and features a 40-foot bell tower and steeple constructed from the engine housing of the original homestead transport. The town Shepherd lives in a small room in the basement. The church holds regular services and is the venue for semi-regular town meetings.