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Iron Quill (The Hunt): The A.E.O.N. Society


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1604 words, all ingredients STILL used


"I'd like to call the first meeting of the Adventuring Engineers Of Notoriety to order. Louis if you'd take the minutes please?" Pierre Michaux flicked the side of his glass to get the attention of the other two men in the parlor. He had invited Kirkpatrick MacMillan and Louis-guillame Perraux, two of his academic peers and closest companions, over for dinner an hour ago. After Pierre felt the appropriate amount of socializing had been reached, he had decided it was time for business.


"Care to explain to me why we're being so formal? " MacMillan asked, slapping his knee after draining the last of the scotch from his glass and looking at the empty glass appreciatively. "I mean here I am trying to enjoy a right sexy Islay, and you're ready to put on powdered wigs and hold Parliment. " Pierre shook his head slightly, taking a drink from his own glass.


"We're about to make history Kirkpatrick. I want to make sure it's recorded right so that the historians don't try to add their own foppish eccentricities to it." Louis looked up from the notes he was diligently taking, a thin cigarette hanging from his mouth.


"Perhaps you'd like your son to be included in history as well?" Louis asked, causing MacMillan to snort as he snagged the bottle from the center table and poured himself two fingers. Pierre did his best to not react to MacMillan's outburst before saying,


"My son has been grounded. Mr MacMillan's amusement at my proper parenting aside, my son needs to understand consequences."


"I believe what your son understood was 'that Basiloscope is a scientific instrument, not a child's toy!' " MacMillan replied, leaning back in his seat to watch Pierre's reaction. "Saints above man, that thing is designed to work deep under water. I dunnae think a little ten year old can break it."


"See, you say that, but you'll find that statistical abnormalities are much more common place when children are added to the equation." Pierre returned, matching MacMillan's gaze. Louis looked between the two, finally offering,


"Perhaps if he had a more hands on exposure to the sciences, he would learn about the necessity for respect?". Pierre looked between the two men, a bit of a smirk breaking through the serious facade.


"Fine... I swear if his mother was still around, she'd be having a coniption fit about you two being influences." Pierre raised his voice slightly. "Ernest! You can stop hiding at the top of the stairs and come into the parlor." The young boy bashfully entered the room, sitting cross-legged near the fireplace, and looking to Louis and MacMillan with gratitude. Pierre took another sip of his scotch then cleared his throat. "As the first quest of our intrepid group, I'd like to explore the recent mystery that our comrades in the M&SU have been dealing with." Pierre smiled at something that occurred in his mind, then looked to his son. "Ernest... using inductive reasoning, run us through the mystery as you see it."


"Sure thing Papa!" Ernest exclaimed, hopping to his feet and clearing his throat as if to give a report. "Mmm... there have been 4 similar animal attacks that have occurred against soulstone processing and collection waypoints over the past 3 weeks. The creature is supposedly a quadruped with three head, but not entirely a sabertooth cerebus. The attacks had similar notings of Guild articles found at the scene. The report of the Guardsman Tabitha Serling who was dispatched to inspect the claims is 'daft miners who can't hold their whiskey.' "


"Conclusions?" MacMillan asked, looking impressed at the recitation.


"The Guild are employing scare tactics to cover up stealing soulstones." Ernest remarked confidently. Louis reached for a small satchel he brought with him, pulling out a handful of papers.


"Lets see if your opinion changes with a bit more data." Louis commented, tapping some ashes from his cigarette into a clay ashtray resting on the chair arm. "I managed to get the sealed records from my friend in the Guild, and the Guardsmen badges we found all share a singular commonality: they're men who have been dead a minimum of a month or more. Second, the odd substance two of the miners had on them? A variant of formaldehyde. Third, Ms. Serling was just recently hired. One doesn't traditionally send a neophyte when trying to cover something up. Conclusions now?"


"Graverobbers." Ernest answered, a gleam of excitement in his eye. The men chuckled at the boys excitement, then MacMillan said,


"Aye. This is a honest to goodness monster hunt, and we've got a crack at it without the red tape snares of the Guild tripping us up. So... want to see something cool?"


Pierre led the group to the workshop annexed to his house, lighting the kerosene lamp waiting near the door on a hook. The workshop was a dense conglomeration of smithing tools, half-finished inventions, and its newest occupant, a 3 meter tall object covered by a thick tarp. Pierre grabbed an edge then yanked, exclaiming, "gentlemen! I give you the Hekatonkheries."


"Looks like a pepper pot with a spider glued on." MacMillan chortled, coughing the laugh down after the other three stared at him.


"This 'pepper pot' represents the cutting edge technology we three can muster. I had to scavenge bits from the pedivores to create a power source robust enough for field work, but I think she'll do the trick." Pierre commented, patting the side of the robot with pride. "Gentlemen... shall we go monster hunting?"




MacMillan nearly tripped over one of the headstones hidden from the moonlight as he ambled about the graveyard, singing at the top of his lungs. The items the men could identify from the previous disturbances all lead to the cemetery for Guild killed in the line of duty. They just hoped the creature would still be on a spree. MacMillan stopped walking when he heard what sounded like hissing coming from a few rows over. He caught a brief flash of fur, then nothing. MacMillan made a show of stumbling about more, hoping the creature they stalked would sense an easy meal.


He began working his way back to the trap they had set up when he saw the razor spines poke out over some tombstones. Still trying to display that he was oblivious of what was following him, MacMillan caught bits and glimpses as he moved: scales and fur, a slightly rotted smell accented by what could have been fresh blood. "Chimera." MacMillan muttered under his breath as he continued to move along, the hairs on the back of his neck.


MacMillan rounded a corner to find two men slowly shambling towards him, the moonlight casting shadows over their faces. Their bodies told MacMillan everything he needed to know however. One man was missing an arm, and moonlight came through the shotgun hole in the chest of the other. "Well aren't I just the belle of the ball." MacMillan commented out loud. "Gentlemen I realize you're a bit slow to catch on, but I'm not in the mood for a bite to eat, so in the words of my friend Pierre, alon-sy!"


MacMillan bolted off towards the trap they had set, hearing the powerful footsteps of the Chimera behind him, the snake head making a striking noise near where the zombies were. The sounds of ripping dirt, crumbling stones, and finally a paralyzing roar from the sabertooth head chased after MacMillan as he slid to a halt in front of a mausoleum, and took off running to the left, barely avoiding getting hit with the torn up bodies of the guild zombies being flung at him.


Pierre began cranking the lever on the side of the Hekatonkheries as he could hear his friend approaching with a frantic "Come on ya stupid Frankenstein! I'll show you what science has to say about you!" Louis began turning pressure valves on the back of the automaton, watching as the machine began to shake to life. The two could see the creature following their friend and were struck by a mixture of terror and awe. It was as if someone had taken the body of a sabertooth cerberus, replaced one of the heads with a razorspine rattler, and replaced the second head with something that was degraded to the point of being unrecognizable.


The two men jumped back as the Hekatonkheries lurched forward, the lower body spinning like a saucer as it rolled. MacMillan barely slid under one arm as the automaton barreled head-first into the Chimera, causing a horrendous creaking noise to come out of its frame. The men watched as the two behemoths slugged away at each other, the fast gyrations of the arms rending decayed flesh, and the natural fury stripping away the scientific carapace. Pierre winced as chunks of panel flew off haphazardly, pieces he had spent hours molding. The Chimera's snake head lunged forward when it could get at enough of the Hekatonkheries' insides and hit a steam compressor. The Chimera roiled backwards at the jets of steam, howling in unholy fury. The Chimera bolted off as the Hekatonkheries slowly slumped to the ground, sounding like a tea kettle being taken off the flame.


The three men looked solemnly at the automaton, the adrenaline of the fight they had just witnessed wearing off, followed by a frantic run back to their caravan as they realized their one defense was an inert hunk of metal.  


"So what now?” Louis finally asked as they rode away.


“Make a Mk. 2, obviously.” MacMillan replied, grinning from ear to ear.

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I agree, I like this draft better than the first. You still managed to retain the original idea but smooth it out and refine it. There are only two things that stick out in my mind. First, does the Chimera bolt off into the night? It seems like the men feel safe enough even though their automaton is disabled, that they do not worry about the Chimera circling round. Which brings me to my next point; What about the Guild Autopsies? MacMillan runs past them, converses briefly with them, but then after the Chimera (who may have ran off) is gone the group seems to not worry about the possibility of an impending run in with them. I suppose it could be that they are confident that could out run them but then they would not have the time to remove the Hekatonkheries, and they seem like the type to reuse what they have available to them and would not throw away such a promising rig.


These may just be my mind questioning things that do not need answers but I figure some criticism is better than no criticism.


As always,

The Grue

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  • 3 weeks later...

This was fun - I appreciated the lighter tone, and I feel that the greatest strength of this piece comes from the dialogue. The three men of A.E.O.N.S. are exactly what they should be - inventors reveling in their trade and doing what they love. The conversations and interactions with each other reflected this, and your word choice was impeccable I have no major criticisms of this piece; I didn't read the first draft but the final product is strong and unique. You really have a knack for good dialogue! My favorite sentence was probably "I want to make sure it's recorded right so that the historians don't try to add their own foppish eccentricities to it." :D

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