Life. Life never goes as planned. One day you are achieving your goals and working with friends the next? Well, the next you are gone. Nothing. Ash. Life is never fair. It is never easy. It’s a constant struggle. It’s vindictive and cruel. Let’s look at one such story……..
“Jerrick Von Taielson?”
“Sir!” A young man in a senior’s high collared uniform stood at attention. Short scruffy steel blue hair with piercing golden eyes. His shoulders narrow and his overall build was…. unimpressive. But those eyes showed an intensity far greater than his 20 years should have. His hands were scarred and calloused, showing hard work. His movements, quick and precise. At first glance, he was nothing special, but the finer details betrayed a more interesting lad.
“This is what you present for your graduation project?” Curiosity tinged with disappointment painted the professor’s voice. He was holding a small firearm. A rotating cylinder in the centre of the frame with a small lever at the back. A 9-inch barrel extended out. Sat on the desk were 6 bullets.
“It is sir!” Jerrick spoke with confidence and a slight grin.
“I’m sorry Mr Taielson, but I don’t quite understand? The barrel is too small to fit a round shot? The ammunition you have provided makes no sense? It’s too small to have any real impact?”
“May I show you sir?” His grin grew slightly. He was finally going to have some recognition!
The professor nodded and gestured for him to step forward. The crowd watched murmuring.
Jayce stepped forward and took his weapon.
“Sir, first you pull this” pulling on a small rod below the barrel. The cylinder popped out. “Now you load the bullets here” he loaded each round into the slots in the cylinder. “Now you pop it back in until you hear it click” he flicked his wrist and with a click, the cylinder was back in position.
“Now pull the hammer down” placing his thumb on the lever he pulled it back in a single fluid movement with a satisfying click. “Finally you take aim and squeeze″ he spun around and with a crack like thunder fired a shot into the target dummy. It landed with the sound of tearing metal between where the eyes would be on a man, In no more than a second he fired his remaining 5 shots. Bang! Chest, Bang! Right wrist Bang! Left wrist, Bang! Left knee, Bang! Right knee.
A faint trail of smoke billowed from his gun as he spun and holstered it. He paused and unholstered the gun, handing it grip first to the professor, who was staring in stunned silence. The entire crowd was silent. So silent that you could hear the grinding of teeth from the front row. A silver-haired bear of a man, Waxed moustache and the platinum rank of the nobility on his collar. Fredrick von Taielson the noble lord in charge of arming the high city and a purist. Sat next to him was a beautiful young lady of 13 years. lyanna Von Taielson the youngest child of the Taielson family.
Jerrick winked at her grinning, enjoying his father’s frustration. He felt a familiar itch in his back as he remembered his father’s…...lessons. Lyanna covered her mouth to stop from laughing. Turning back to face his professor. “As you can see sir, this allows you to fire 6 shots in rapid succession, it is more accurate with greater range than our current muzzle-loading single-shot pistols. It can also be reloaded in a much faster time frame. Such a weapon would be invaluable in the hands of our soldiers it’s……”
“IT’S A DAMNED TRAVESTY IS WHAT IT IS!” Roared Frederick, his outburst bringing gasps from the crowd. “It is a pitiful design that lacks the robust nature our current weapons have. We are at the pinnacle of military technology. There are NO improvements to be made. I’ve told you this many times boy! Why do you continue to shame me? To shame the family! Jerrick's eyes narrowed at his fathers outburst.
“I’ve told you before, what good is a weapon that is so fragile that it Jams? The more parts, the more prone to failure. Simple and robust is key!”
“SIT DOWN LORD TAIELSON” the professor’s voice boomed. “Out there you may have a higher station but in here I rule. Now be seated or I’ll have you removed!”
Frederick huffed and threw himself back in his seat.
“Now Jerrick this is indeed a marvellous piece, but your father has a point. Every multishot weapon ever created has been more prone to failure. And as such, they’ve been deemed impractical.”
“I am aware of this sir, however, this is different. I have tested it for hours. Have run thousands of shots through the prototypes in various situations and found that’s it’s rate of failure is only 5% greater than the current guns. It’s also lighter, as is the ammunition. Which means carrying multiple weapons is easier. Carrying 2 of these with 60 rounds is the equivalent in weight to carrying one of our current design with 30 rounds. As such we counteract the slight increase of failure and then some.
“Hrmm if it’s as you say you may have a point. How about production time?”
“Well production is a little more complicated, but a small workshop can produce about 10 of these a day. Which is lower than the 40 odd that can be produced of our current weapons. However, it is still something I believe outweighs our current stagnating equipment. We are supposed to be the preeminent nation, yet our foes are now brave enough to challenge us. If we continue to stagnate we will find ourselves choked by the enemies at our borders.”
“I shall confer with the other judges and we will issue our verdict soon, you are dismissed for now”
“Yes sir” he saluted, left fist with thumb out across his chest. Then left, stealing a glance at his fuming father. He began to whistle.
WHAM! A door slammed as Fredderick and Lyanna entered the family Manor. Fredderick was seething. “That insolent brat!, I gave him everything, an education, a home, his tuition and THIS is how he repays me! It’s high time that boy learns respect!”
Lyanna winced, she well knew the treatment that Jerrick went through from their father, while he would never raise a hand against her, Jerrick was another story. Their father had beaten him within an inch of his life on a regular basis, trying to break him, to kill his creative spark. However, each beating only drove him on further.
Jerrick had gone from striving to gain his father’s approval to striving to outperform him. “I've been too soft on him. After Tara passed away I was left to raise the children alone.
Rickard sadly passed away in a border conflict with those savage southerners, he was a good and obedient boy, but never had the gift, while that OTHER one could be the best of us, but he squanders it on his fanciful designs! Pathetic!”
Lyanna moved slowly towards her room, eavesdropping on her father’s mad ravings. Any warning she could give to Jerrick would be worthwhile…..
“I’ll have him expelled, that’s it, threaten the Universities funding and have them fail him. Yes, perfect, force him into an apprenticeship here. If he wants to have any future then he will do it through ME! I'll finally get rid of these stupid ideas of his!!
Lyanna gasped and rushed to her room. She immediately began to scrawl out a letter to her brother.
Father has gone too far this time, he is planning to leverage the schools funding to have you expelled and force you into an apprenticeship with him! Please be careful brother and no matter what know I love you.
You will make the right choice I am sure!
Once her letter was written she traced a rune over the top and flicked her quill. With a puff of silver smoke, the letter vanished.
“What are you doing father? She muttered to herself.
A door slammed downstairs, she got up and parted her curtain slightly looking outside and saw her father in his official uniform striding purposefully down the street.
Lyanna grabbed a backpack and silently moved downstairs to her father’s office.
His desk was well appointed. Mahogany with gold leaf engravings. Several silver gas lamps adorned the walls, controlled by a dial inside the door. Paintings of the Von Taileson line adorned the walls. His desk was covered in papers. Set on the wall behind the desk were two mounted guns. She walked over to these and twisted them to run parallel to each other.
A satisfying *click* sounded and a panel on the western wall shifted revealing a safe.
She opened the safe door, having seen her father enter the combination many times.
Inside was sacks upon sacks of gold, silver and platinum. Hundreds of documents and several blank letters of marks. She retrieved a diary detailing the family funds and scanned down the list of entries.
Biting her lip as she edited numbers, forging her father’s handwriting.
She then grabbed a sack containing 300 platinum and 3000 gold and dropped it into the bag. She took a letter of mark and made it out to the sum of 30,000 gold pieces. Her manipulation of her father’s records would not be revealed for months as it was not uncommon for father to rely on her as his scribe.
She rolled it up and sealed it safely in an engraved scroll case, adding it to the bag. Upstairs she began to clear out Jerrick's room, his notes, books, sketches, every design he had ever made at home. She grabbed several days of clothes, both work clothes and formal attire, anything that may be useful. At this point she was struggling with the bag, it was full of books, papers, clothes and heavy coins.
The last thing she grabbed was his tool kits which she fastened to the side. Hitching the bag she left the house, heading towards a place Jerrick once took her when she was young, a place he said was his “special place” a place he went to think or work. A place she knew that if he were to leave, he would go to first. She was the only one he had ever taken there, it was a safe place.
Jerrick was sat at his desk going through his research notes. 5 years of study in the academy, 17 years of punishment by his father but soon it would all pay off. Soon he would be his own man and would leave his father in the dust, broken and ashamed. He would take the family name and make it greater than it had ever been. Show his father that he was a short-sighted fool. Soon, soon. A grin cracked across his face, remembering his father’s outrage during his presentation.
The other students had submitted the same tired old ideas. The same designs, nothing new or drastically different. One had submitted a longer musket, that slightly increased range, but it’s accuracy suffered. One had submitted a fragmentation grenade, made from ceramic and black powder. An effective idea but nothing groundbreaking and not terribly effective against plate armoured enemies. Another submitted a scattershot. Now the idea behind that was...interesting, but its design was terribly flawed. The tester actually lost 3 fingers when the 3rd shot detonated in the barrel. He began scribbling away on a blank page in his journal, a shorter barrel than his current rifle design, but thicker, a lever to reload and side loader. He jotted down a few notes and closed the thick leather-bound tome, tying it shut.
Everything was packed, his journal, while heavy was always carried on his belt. A large case sat on his bed, he added the last few scraps of paper to it. A smaller case sat on his desk, he flicked open the clasps and took a deep breath before opening it.
Resting inside was his work, a 6 shot gun, 3-speed loaders already filled, a custom-crafted holster and 40 spare rounds. He pulled out the holster and fastened it, retrieved the gun, tracing his fingers over the engravings.
He spun the weapon and holstered it, clipped the loaders inside his jacket and then added the case to his packed things. You wouldn’t think a noble’s son could pack his life into one case. But Jerrick was not a typical noble.
He was a radical, a freer thinker than most here. He straightened his jacket and took one last look around his room, smiling sadly. His years here had been better than any at home with his father, but now it was time to look to the future. He turned to leave, as he reached the door he heard a faint *pop* and turned back curiously to see a scroll on his empty desk.
Walking over he saw his sisters handwriting, reaching for the scroll he unwound it, his eyes going wide and filled with rage. “That….FUCK” slamming his fist down on the desk, cracking it, he stood there silently, shaking with rage, as blood dripped slowly from his wounded hand. Turning to look out the window at the setting sun, he noticed his father talking with the principal in the courtyard. His father had a look of smug satisfaction, while the principal was animated, before his shoulders slumped, defeated. Jerrick knew then that his father had succeeded.
Jerrick, seething with rage strode out the door, his case in one hand, the other twitching as if reaching for the gun on his hip. He headed towards the double staircase and saw his father and the principal walk through the ornate double doors of the academy. The principal looked up at Jerrick and visibly winced, hesitating before his father pushed him forward, an evil, smug look poorly concealed.
“Tell him” commanded Fredderick, his voice soft and venomous.
“Uhh Mr.Taielson I am sorry to inform you that…..”
“Cut the crap!” Jerrick snapped. “ I know what you are about to say and you can save it. My so-called father has threatened to shut you down if you don’t expel me into his care, is that right?”
“Umm well, yes….but how..how d-d-did you know?”
Jerrick looked at the headmaster, his face deadpan. “Do you really think I don’t know what kind of snake my father is...sir? I know what he’s like…. Don’t worry, you don’t have to expel me, I quit.” With his proclamation he grabbed his case and started down the stairs, pushing past them. Fredderick’s face went from smug satisfaction to rage,
“JERRICK!” he roared, snapping his arm out pulling Jerrick back, “YOU WILL RETURN HOME AT ONCE AND STOP THIS FOOLISHNESS! I WILL NO LONGER TOLERATE YOU SHAMING MY NAME! DO YOU UNDERSTAND ME!”
Jerrick turned back, his eyes cold as steel. “No Fredderick, I will not return home, and you need no help shaming your name, you do that plenty well on your own.
His father’s eyes bulged with rage, “HOW DARE YOU BRAT! YOU WILL SHOW ME RESPECT! I AM YOUR FATHER AND YOU WILL CALL ME SUCH!” spittle flying from his lips as he roared.
Jerrick pulled his arm out from Fredericks vice grip. “Respect is earnt Freddy, and you lost mine a long time ago. You are not my father and I will surpass you and see you ruined.”
He continued down the stairs after straightening his coat.
“BANG” a gunshot tore through the entryway, the round ball of lead whizzing past Jerricks ear. His eyes narrowed as he turned to look at his father, holding a smoking flintlock.
In a voice as cold as ice Fredderick spoke “I have been too lenient on you, you will return home, one way or another and I will…..correct this attitude of yours. Come quietly and don’t make me hurt you.”
Jerrick closed his eyes, took a deep breath and in less than half a second unholstered his own gun firing a shot, the bullet hitting the barrel of his father’s, tearing the weapon from his grip and breaking the index finger, the casing of his round clanged softly on the marble staircase.
“Are you sure this is the game you wish to play Freddy?” whispered Jerrick, his voice soft but dangerous. “I have 5 more shots, you have a broken finger and no time to draw another gun before I fire again…….pick your next move carefully.”
Fredderick scowled and spluttered at his son, nursing his damaged hand. His finger was twisted and deformed, a shard of bone poking through the skin, dripping blood.
“You bring shame on the house Taielson Jerrick, one way or another I will correct your insolence, go if you think it will change anything, but I will catch you and you will suffer for it when I do”
Jerrick sighed, closing his eyes.
“No, you bring shame. Maybe one day you will see what could have been”
Turning his back he walked down the stairs, leaving his father stammering with impotent rage.