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The Worth of a Woman...

...The Cost in Blood

12 August
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  • dame_dagny@livejournal.com
  • CalypsoOfIsles
Name: Dagny Taggart

Book: Atlas Shrugged, by Ayn Rand

Genre: Philosophy/Science Fiction/Pseudo-historical fiction

Morality: Neutral

Job: Vice President of Taggart Transcontinental Railroad

Quote: Francisco: "Dagny, what would you say if I asked you to leave Taggart Transcontinental and let it all go to hell, as it will when your brother takes over?"

Dagny: "What would I say if you asked me to consider the idea of committing suicide?"

Profile: Dagny comes from a world of looters and men who make it a skill to live off of other men's work. Being skilled at a trade is no longer something valued, but it is considered an act of greed and indecency. Being skilled at persuading men in "Washington" and brown nosing to politicians is all that is really treasured. Oh, and of course, helping the little people. Charity to those who do not deserve it is the call of the day. Big companies are forced to cut their profits just so small companies can "survive". The last straw only
just happened. What one might call a moratorium on brains, all copy righted material has now been completely given to the public. No one can own their own ideas. Dagny has fought against these concepts all of her life, and as she sees them gain more control and her world fall into more depression, she feels helpless to stop it. All she can do is do the work at which she excels, running Taggart Transcontinental, and try to keep her family's own business afloat. That is, until they nationalize the railroads as well.

Skills: Dagny is a brilliant woman of mental and physical work ethic. She has a passion for numbers and business, and even against the most impossible of conditions she can find some solution to keep the business afloat. She started working as the night operator of Rockdale station, and worked her way up through the ranks of Taggart Transcontinental. Though her brother is the president, everyone in the business knows Dagny is who really runs the show.
She's also highly educated in classical music (though she only plays the piano) and literature. She is a renaissance woman, but all her passions and her work goes towards keeping that railroad running.

3. Background

The family, some might have once called them an empire, began with a man named Nathaniel Taggart. In a time where rail roads were still brand new, exciting technology and half the country was unexplored. A time where the line between hero, bandit, villain and genius was so blurred that a man could be all four at once. Nat Taggart was one of those men. In his day, his name was never uttered in awe or respect, but in whispered tones of someone who is a notorious villain or fraud. He, however, never worked one illegal day in his life, and
all of his fortune was got through legitimate business. He was no bandit, he was a business man before his times. He began working as a miner, but he saved, and slowly he bought. First a small company, but he used his sweat and his blood to build the railroad company larger. And when they told him it was dangerous to build a bridge over the Mississippi, he went down and started construction with his own hands. When they said the Rockies couldn't be
survived by a train, he began to lay the track. Nat Taggart laid the very first cross country railroad to every exist in the glory days of the USA. And Nat Taggart was Dagny Taggart's great grandfather.

The Taggart family, and fortune, grew over the generations between Nat and Dagny, but Dagny never forgot about the legend that was her great grandfather. Even as a child, before she understood what railroads and business was, she understood greatness. Nat Taggart was a great man, the last truly great man her family had seen. She wanted to be Great. However, the family intended that her younger brother Jim would be the great one. He was the man of the generation, he was supposed to have all the things needed to run the family business. He would be the figure head, at least, and Dagny would be married before she was 20. At least, that is how things should have worked. But, that's getting ahead of things.

Dagny, James, and Eddie Willers all grew up together on the great Taggart estate in New York. Eddie was the child of a line of men who had all worked closely for the Taggart family, and when his parents died, the Taggarts just brought him in beneath their wing to grow up and work for them just like his father, and his father before him. It was a rich life, all the best tutors, summers on the sea, charity balls in the lower levels of their estate on a monthly basis, and brushing elbows with the elite of the world. This included the d'Anconia's. A family born from Sebastian d'Anconia, a Spanish immigrant who with his sweat and blood built the greatest copper business the world had ever seen. The Taggarts and the d'Anconia's used to joke that if Sebastian and Nat knew each other, they would have been the best of friends or the worst of enemies. Dagny didn't much care for the d'Anconia's, but she was most fond of their young son Francisco. Francisco was the only heir to d'Anconia Copper. Every summer, he came for a month to play and interact with the Taggart children (after all, one must build good business relations while they are young). Dagny, Frisco, and Eddie played marvelously together. James always seemed slightly left behind the pack. James didn't care, he would get his revenge when he was running the family.

The plans had been to sculpt Dagny for a proper husband, to be the society wife that every Taggart wife was. However, those plans didn't seem to be going all that smoothly as Dagny showed no interest what so ever in men. The only one who caught her eye was Francisco. A few childhood kisses were shared, and perhaps deep down inside she loved him. But she had other goals, beyond perusing some copper-fortune heir and beyond her mother's social wishes. Dagny was going to run the railroad, she was going to be the next Nat Taggart, and she had a long up ward fight ahead of her. She knew her brother wasn't right for the position, it was just a matter of getting herself positioned to the point that she was.

She started when she was 17. Instead of getting married, she secured a job as the night operator at the Rockdale Station of Taggart Transcontinental. She had to work nights, because she was going to an engineering school in the days, brushing up on all her sciences and getting a degree saying she knew everything she already did know about a railroad. She never missed a night of work, and never a day of class. Her entire life was devoted to beginning her conquest of the business that should be rightfully hers. Francisco had gone off to Patrick Henry University, a prestigious school, and he was too busy for her. She would occasionally get a letter, but he was forgotten for the most part. She had more important things in life. Well, until that summer. She was off from school, so she increased her hours working at the station. It seemed Francisco was off as well, as he came back to visit her that summer. See the woman she had turned into. He hadn't been there for a summer in almost three years. They were both brilliant young adults now, and always, liked to push each other to their utmost limits.

Dagny was to sleep some of the day, but the morning he came in, even if she was working all night, she couldn't rest. Breakfast, some light catching up, and then he challenged her to a tennis match, and though he had a better game, she was determined not to lose. She would be as strong as her old childhood friend and rival. The match went on for hours. She thought it might never end. She pushed her body beyond limits she never even dreamed she had. She could not feel her legs or her arms by the end of the game, but she had won. Perhaps he had let her, but either way it was a victory. By the time she'd won, it was time for her to shower up and start walking for work. The Rockdale Station was an hour's walk away. Despite exhaustion, she got up and left for work. A 10 hour shift, and that morning, Francisco walked in the door. No explanation was needed. He had come to walk her back home. They did not make the whole walk, however. A patch of woods on the way home served as their first love bed, the passions from the day before and all the respect over the years finally having built to this. It was possibly the most beautiful moment of Dagny's life. But she never let it stop her.

The month he was there was beautiful, but he left for school, and she went back to work. He would visit on occasion, just stop in unexpectedly one weekend for passion, discussion, and business debate. It was in those weekends that Dagny felt more alive than she ever had before. And then the weekend would end, and they would go back to their respective lives. The affair lasted for the years Dagny was in school, and over her slow but sure promotions to bigger jobs at Taggart Transcontinental. Her father pulled no favours for her. If she was going to be an improper woman, she would do it all on her own. Eventually, she made it to being a regional manager. She even had her own office at the Taggart Building in New York City. It was during this year that Francisco changed. He hadn't come much, maybe once over the last 6 months, and then something shocking happened. The d'Anconia stock too a dive. Everyone said it was just temporary, the new heir to the fortune was a brilliant man, just he had a bit of a rocky start. Dagny knew there had to be some sort of purpose. When he finally summoned her to the Wayne-Falkland hotel one fatal evening, Dagny knew she'd only ever be left with questions. He begged her that night to "help him to remain." He spoke of things that were "hard to do." And lastly, he asked her to forgive him, though he could not tell her about what. That was their last meeting in years. Dagny continued to work, moving up in the ranks until she finally earned her title as the Vice President of Taggart Transcontinental. She had been running the place for months before she was given that distinction. She earned it. Her brother, meanwhile, sat in the President's seat. He lived off of her work, and he thought it was her right as her brother. James never did care to get his hands dirty, when someone else could get dirty for him.

Life would be fine, if things could stay status quo. But more and more men like James Taggart were getting in power. The world was becoming one of looters, with less and less things to loot. The depression that had cut across the US was only growing worse, and in this world, no war occurred to help them free of the depression's grasp. Men and women like Dagny Taggart did not really exist. At least, not nearly so much as in Nat Taggart's day. But one man still did exist, and he was fighting the same fight Dagny did. He was a man named Hank Rearden.

Hank had been working for 10 years on a formula for a new metal that would be lighter, stronger, and last longer than the current steel on the market. He funded his work through a steel company he had started long ago with his own sweat and blood. But his dream was to find this metal. Just a few months after Dagny became titled Vice President of Taggart Transcontinental, Hank too achieved his goal. He found a formula for Rearden Metal which would make him millions and innovate the entire industry, if anyone would trust it. When he went public, though, no one would. No one, but Dagny Taggart. She saw his work, his formula and the tests done, and she believed with him that it could work. It was cheaper, stronger, and more long lasting that conventional Steel, and it would be what might save Taggart Transcontinental from the depression. She wanted to rebuild an entire branch of the railroad in Colorado. And she wanted to rebuild it in Rearden Metal.

The papers, however, were screaming against the metal. They said it was unsafe, that surely there was a breaking point, that putting a train on Rearden Metal tracks was a health hazard. Dagny didn't care. She trusted science more than any reporter, and she trusted that Rearden Metal could work. The board of directors of Taggart Transcontinental, however, did not. It took much negotiations, but eventually, Dagny agreed to start up a side company of her own. And her company alone would build the John Galt Line in Colorado. (Named John Galt for a popular saying of the time: "Who is John Galt?, which essentially means do not ask the impossible.) If the line was a success, then Taggart Transcontinental would take it back over. If not, Dagny would take the losses. She agreed, even if the company was taking complete advantage of her. She would do anything to be able to make this project work. So, she met up with Hank Rearden, and together they began work on the John Galt Line. The line would serve Ellis Wyatt, a new, blossoming oil tycoon who had developed a special means of processing oil that meant he could use all the oil in the Rockies, where other men could not refine it. He too was one of the few brilliant minds left in the world.

Despite all the opposite, despite the press' complaints and the distrust of Rearden Metal, Dagny Taggart and Hank Rearden completed the project. They completed it because of all the protests, to show the world they actually could do it. What Dagny didn't expect was that she would so completely admire the man behind Rearden Metal. He was the sort of man she'd only met once before in her life, when she knew Francisco d'Anconia before. But Francisco,according to the presses, had turned into a drunk playboy. A complete fool. Dagny had tried to completely write him off, though she could never really understand why she couldn't. At least with Hank, there was another man she could admire. He was married, though. It would never go beyond admiration.

Or so she thought. But the night after they took their first run (completely successful as well) on the John Galt line, Dagny found out otherwise. Ellis Wyatt invited her and Hank up to his house in the mountains, at the far end of the John Galt line. After a dinner celebration of their success, Dagny and Hank retired upstairs, to the same room. He claimed her almost like a possession, just like the metal was his, like the John Galt line was theirs. Dagny had never known such complete surrender, and she loved it. All thought of morals and of his wife left her mind. She didn't care. This felt right. This felt moral. It was just like the rail, the whole world said they shouldn't build it, but they did. They flew in the face of the world and won. And now, they would take their spoils.

The affair continued over months and through the ever growing depression. They kept it discreet, but any time Hank was in New York, he was at Dagny's side every night. And when they could travel together, they would. At least things in their world were right, even if the rest of the world was going to hell. The government was instituting more and more socialized laws, fair-share legislation, and equalization practices. Just 6 months after the John Galt Line was the success of the decade, Ellis Wyatt was forced to cut back his oil refining by almost over half, in order to give his competitors a fair share. He did more than that. He set fire to every oil field on that mountain and destroyed all his records before disappearing into oblivion. The oil industry crashed. And that was only the first of many industries and many brilliant minds to go through such a break down. Person by person, the greats of the world begun to disappear. To where, Dagny nor Hank ever knew. But they were determined to continue to fight, even as the depression grew and industry fell harder and harder. They fought, because it's all they knew how to do.

Dagny fought, until she could fight no longer. And that was the day they put a moratorium on brains. Directive 10-289. The long and the short of it was now did they not only regulate profits and business, but they regulated ideas. No man could get a new job or quit his old. The economy would be put on pause before it could get its feet back. No new inventions could be made, and all current copy rights and patents would become public property. Including things like Rearden Metal. This directive was to be put into effect on May 1st. It was now mid April. The moment Dagny read the directive that was going to be law, she picked up from her desk and walked out. She called Hank, told him she was leaving. She had given up. He didn't blame her. She was going to an old cabin her family had owned, to get away from society, and so she did. Only Eddie Willers and Hank knew where she would be, and that is how she wanted it. Dagny Taggart had given up on the world.