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Lord Byron

Iron Quill - The Price of Progress - Miner's Bluff

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Words: 1733

 

Theme: The Price of Progress, Item :Incomplete Deck of Cards

 

Miner’s Bluff

 

Rick looked down at the mismatched cards in his hand, and at the mix of cards layed out on the table. He had one pair of sixes, and from the looks in the eyes of his young opponents they thought they had something a lot better. Gazing at them he made eye contact with his one good eye, the other half of his bald skull was a dull steel that went down his side and replaced what had once been an arm as strong as his muscled right side, but was now only mix of steel and gears. He chuckled, his poker hand probably looked like him, a jumble of different cards slammed onto the original deck to fix the damage from blood spilled a year ago. Flexing his arm a little it made a series of clicks and a slight hiss. This always unnerved the younger members of the chapter house, they talked big about how tough they were and what they’d fight for, but the sight of the cost of standing up to the Guild to make life better always made them queasy.

 

“I’ll Raise you two guilders,” Rick said, and threw in the chips with his good arm. He saw the hesitation in the others eyes, it was a steep bet for a greenhorn. He chuckled in his head, they had never known what it was like to not have anything. Before him and the boys had stood up and helped make the union, they were lucky to make as much money as was in that bet after six months of labor. They hadn’t been around long enough to deal with the guild, and Rick hoped they never would, but in his soul he knew that sooner or later they’d each have their own run ins with them.

 

Two of the kids threw their cards in, sighing and leaning back in their chairs. The last one threw in two chips, “Call,” was all he said, and grinned at Rick.

 

The smile reminded him of himself back before the riot, or “incident” as the guild preferred to call it, at this very same chapter house a year ago. He hadn’t believed the guild would ever show up, they had won the fight, the union was established. Their pumping station had just come on line and everyone was heady with the feeling of unity and power that they had shown to the guild. It had all been shattered in an instant.

 

Rick watched the next card flip over, but his mind was elsewhere, remembering the door bursting in, he had been playing poke then too. No one had expected them, the red and black clothed guards filling the room by the door in an instant, leveling their pistols and ordering everyone to lay down. They claimed that the Union was hiding Arcanist rebels in the place, something completely ridiculous and trumped up as a reason to arrest everyone there. All of them had stood up and squared off against them, it didn’t matter that they weren’t hiding anyone, this wasn’t going to stand.

 

“You gonna bet old man?” the kid asked, pulling Rick back to the present, he thought the kid’s name was Jackson or something.

 

“Hold your horses, man’s gotta think things over.” Rick replied. After a moment all he did was knock on the table, signaling his check.

 

The kid just grunted, knocking on the table as well, and flipped over the last card of the of the hand. Before either of them got a look at it there was a bang on the door.

 

“Guild, open up!” came a shout through the door, and a repeated blow came on the wood of the door. The kids all jumped up and reached for whatever weapon they had nearby.

 

“Sit back down you idiots, do you want to end up like me?” Rick glared at them all, and they slowly sat back down.

 

“It’s unlocked, you can come in any time officers.” He shouted back.

 

The door clicked and in walked a memory a year old. There stood the same Officer who had walked in the first time and read them the charges leveled against them. It was the same bastard who had cost Rick his arm and part of his face. The memory came rushing back, as he read off the exact same charges.

 

“You are all accused of conspiring to hide Arcanist rebels, and aid them in the downfall of society! Submit yourself for arrest, or suffer the consequences.” The Officer was reading from a scrap of paper held out in front of him, a giant red rams head emblazoned on the back.

 

That had set the group in the house a year ago on fire, and they all had surged forward to pummel the guards into the ground. The first round of fire killed all the men in front, and Rick was in the next line, he leaped over the man in front of him as he fell and tackled the nearest guard before he had a chance to get his next shot off. They rolled on the floor for a brief moment before Rick got the upper hand by ending the roll with him on top. He had punched the man’s face until it turned bloody, and his eye was swelling shut, the man’s arms crossed in front of him in a futile attempt to fend off the blows.

 

Suddenly Rick felt a horrible pain shoot through his left side, looking down he saw a sword poking through his shoulder, slick with blood. He grabbed at the blade, trying to push it out of him, but before he could reach it he felt a boot planted in his backside pushing him off. As he fell, he twisted around to get a look at his attacker saw the Officer smiling down at him, the rest of the fight had stopped, the miners had been defeated, only Rick had been left wailing on this guard.

 

The officer sneered at him, and raised his pistol, “Scum” was all he said and the next thing Rick felt was a rush of warmth, followed by darkness and the cold. When he woke up, he was looking at the top of a ceiling that wasn’t his own, and he’d been given his new arm, a new face, and his deck of cards lay on his chest, ruined by his own blood that covered it.

 

Snapping back to the present as the Officer read off the charges for the second time in a year, Rick stood up and stared at the man. Everyone in the room froze and looked at him, the kids hesitantly reaching for their weapons, the Officer stopping what he said, eyes slowly going wide with recognition as he saw Rick’s face.

 

“You came here a year ago and said the same thing, you remember what happened that day, same as I.” Rick slowly spoke the words, trying through clenched teeth to hold his anger in check. His arm hissed and clicked as the his metal fist clicked open and shut in agitation. “We aren’t as helpless as we were back then, and we damn sure won’t let you beat us into the dirt this time. There’s still no Arcanists here, just like your last walkthrough, but if you try and make us submit again you won’t make it out of here.” While he said this he had slowly come around the table, stopping only a few feet from the Officer, the other guards alternating their aim from his chest and back to the others in the room.

 

Slowly the other miners of the house lined up behind him, those who hadn’t been in the room before had come down when they heard all the noise. As the Officer looked around Rick could see him adding up the number of men present, and the realization that him and his men wouldn’t survive a second encounter.

 

The Officer opened his mouth to speak, but Rick cut him off, “Go now, before you make a bad decision.”

 

“We’ll be back Miner, and next time you and your kind won’t be able to hold us back!” With that the Officer slowly backed out of the door, and waved for his men to join him.
 

As they left, Rick stepped forward and slammed the door shut behind them. Then he turned to the room full of friends, and his brothers in arms.

 

“Well, time to get ready boys, send a message to the Pump Station, let them know we’re gearing up for a fight and there’ll be blood if Old Ramos can’t get the Guild to settle.” With that the room burst into action, men running to lockers to get their guns, others running to make sure the windows got boarded and to rig explosives. During all the hustle Rick walked over to the book case full of Union reports and forms on the wall behind the poker table.

 

He stepped on a panel hidden in the bottom of the shelf, and gave a gentle push against a book, labeled Union vs. Guild, a Report on the Progress of the Common Man, in the Uncommon Malifaux.

 

With that there was a click and the shelf swung back to reveal an opening into a tunnel headed down into the earth. The rest of the chapterhouse staunchly ignored what was happening and he went down the stairs dug out of the earth. Reaching the bottom he looked around at the small group sitting down there reading by candlelight, and nodded at each of them.

 

“The guild seems to think we’ve got some Arcanists holed up here, where they got that idea I’ll never know. Either way, you had all better get ready for a fight if they find that shelf. I don’t think when they come back they’ll be particularly chatty after what me and the boys are gonna say to them.” He smiled as he said it, noticed a few of them smiling back, and then he headed back up the stairs. He heard some chanting and felt heat, cold and electricity fill the air as he shut the shelf behind him. There might not have been Arcanists here a year ago, but the Guild would be in for more than they bargained for if they decided to push the issue this time around.

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Excellent, I really enjoyed this. If you don't mind though, I'd like to make a few suggestions? 

 

 and replaced what had once been a an arm as strong as his muscled right side

 

you need to get rid of the extra 'a'

 

“You came here a year ago and said the same thing, you remember what happened that day, same as I.” Rick slowly spoke the words, trying through clenched teeth to hold his anger in check. His arm hissed and clicked as the his metal fist clicked open and shut in agitation.

 

“We aren’t as helpless as we were back then, and we damn sure won’t let you beat us into the dirt this time. There’s still no Arcanists here, just like your last walkthrough, but if you try and make us submit again you won’t make it out of here.” While he said this he had slowly come around the table, stopping only a few feet from the Officer, the other guards alternating their aim from his chest and back to the others in the room.

 

I think it would be better if the second part wasn't a separate paragraph because it makes it read as if someone else is talking imo

 

But as I said, I think this is excellent, thanks for writing it.

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Thanks for the heads up! Extra sneaky A is now removed, and the Paragraph has been connected to show continuity. I forgot that since it's the same person speaking I don't have to separate the sections to denot a new speaker. >.<

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