Rise of the Scorpion

a story
2014-10-25 14:56:00,
2015-02-27 19:29:37
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The First Bad Decision

Joel Arnett was a man not well known, although those who knew him will never forget him. However, he was not always this way. You see, out of his entire life he has made some decisions. We all make decisions. However... few have ever been made like these. Some of the worst decisions that had ever been made in his life were made in the time Joel Arnett was becoming a man. However... one decision... one decision was the best choice he ever made in his entire life.

And it turned a boy, into a man.

Joel Arnett was not a special kid. A mere nineteen years old, he grew up in the small mining town of Sorditudo. Sorditudo was a lot different from Argenstrath. Argenstrath had some of the best forms of public transportation out there. Arnett could almost completely lose himself in the amazingness of the big city. This is where he was meant to be. 

Joel’s eyes shot open. A glint in his eye showed he was well awake. Leaping from the large Vibranni powered trolley he dived into the crowd of Argenstrath. So many people. The streets were just as busy as the stations and shops. It didn't stop Arnett. Arnett nimbly leapt through the crowd, dodging people.

His first stop was a good friend of his. Well, not really a stop. Arnett needed to avoid the Yeti bakery so he took a long way round which brought him by his buddy’s fruit stand. Kasey’s Place was a very good Fruit Stand by many people’s standard, especially in a place like Antiford. However, it was often overlooked.

Kasey’s smile could be spotted from halfway down the street. His teeth stood out against his black as night skin. Kasey was always smiling, and that didn't change when his eyes landed on Arnett. Kasey was good like that; he always remembered you. A city of hundreds of people and he would always remember you.

“Well, I’ll be darned, Joel,” he yelled and waved.

“Morning, Kasey,” said Arnett, “And how is business.”

“Steady as usual,” said Kasey, “Now where on Orr are you off to at this time of day, Joel?”

“Why… you know. For company!”

“Oh, Joel… not again,” Kasey almost lost his smile as he shook his head, “Miss Badger’s Bunnies will throw you out one day when they've had enough of you, boy. You need to give them a rest sometime.”

“Oh, I highly doubt it,” bowed Joel, “With a face like mine? Come on.”

“Oh, Joel… can’t you find yourself a nice girl,” said Kasey, “With the right girl to put all that energy into you could-”

“Don’t have time, just need a quick pick up and lay down, mate,” said Arnett, “Catch you on my way back, Kasey.”

“Wasted talent, Joel,” yelled Kasey, “You could get out of this city, you know, if you tried!”

“Just practicing,” Yelled Joel, “Besides, I got out of one small town. Why would I ever leave this one!”

Joel took off once more into the crowd, and headed towards his true destination. Argenstrath Medical College, the premier medical school in all of Antiford. Medical students from all around the country ensured that they tried to get into this school to ensure they would become the greatest doctors in Orr. Unfortunately, this gave birth to two needs in Argenstrath. Money, and Companionship when away from home.

Thus the most successful brothel in all of Argenstrath was born. The locals didn't like to admit it existed, but all flocks of society, from Pirates and Bandits to Students and Aristocrats found their way through its doors.

The “Badger’s Den” was run by a woman known only as “Momma Badger”. The sign out front guaranteed a “refreshing dip into fresh water”. The “Badger’s Bunnies” were females, sometimes the very students you might go to class with, that insured you were refreshed after your visits.

Joel was eagerly making his way through the city towards this refreshing den. In the distance he could see the towering pillars and large stone walls of the Hospital. The giant statues of the Paorrian Sloth marked it as a medical school, and they held out their healing claws to the sick.

Many well-dressed students and teachers and doctors rushed around the streets to get in and out of the large building. Carts and carriages painted white demanded a path through the crowd as they tried to enter the large garage openings in the front of the building for them. One of them gave up on the crowd and pulled aside, almost hitting Arnett.

The doors opened wide and the doctors inside leapt out, demanding a path through the crowd. They dragged out a stretcher and carried it on their shoulders. On the stretcher an elderly man lay quiet. He seemed to be hurt, and his brown suit looked worn and beaten. A wool coat was folded up next to him and a strange brown hat rested on his chest. After he was taken through the crowd two men leapt out  and turned to Arnett, one of the men stepping closer.

“Who are you looking at?”

“Enough, come on,” said the other man, helping a woman out of the back of the ambulance.

Then the three disappeared into the crowd after the stretcher.

Arnett didn't need to gawk at them, however, and he ignored the statues’ healing gaze as he hurried past the crowds and around the back of the massive structure. Along the side street, Arnett spotted the doors to the Den. Arnett wasted no time ducking inside, running his fingers through his short brown hair.
Inside, the atmosphere was vastly different. Through the door was an immediate small staircase leading down to a vast structure. The lighting was dimmed and his eyes had to adjust. Thanks to his many trips here his eyes had learned to adjust faster than a normal visitor.

A large, beast of a woman waited down by a desk next to one of the most beautiful girls in the city, her daughter. They gave blank stares to Arnett as he made his way down the stairs.

“Arnett, you bastard,” scowled the woman, her shotgun’s safety switching on as he was deemed not a threat, “Weren't you just here?”

“You complaining, Badge?” asked Arnett, his greatest smile being put on for her, “I’m paying for your retirement, aren’t I?”

“What you looking for now?” asked the large woman, placing her gun down on the table, “How about some Native pleasure this day? I have some nice Demons who’d be your angels. How about you conquer some Prush lands this day? I’ve got a special.”

“Naw, actually… I was thinking Linda,” asked Arnett.

“Hip deep in business.”

“Laura?” asked Arnett.

“Tied up…”

“Any ‘L’s?”

“Why don’t I surprise you?” said the woman.

“Want to truly surprise me? How about Irene?”

The woman’s face changed, and she stole a glance to her daughter, who was showing no emotional reaction to being talked about.  The woman, however, her face turned into a glare and her hand went for her shotgun again. Arnett’s hands raised, his smile growing.

“Ha, ha,” said Arnett, “Surprise me. Someone small.”

The woman’s eyes narrowed, and she pulled out a room key and tossed it to him. Arnett caught the key, and nodded to the woman. 

Once again Arnett’s eyes adjusted as he stepped out of the den. He smiled at the reduced crowds. The morning rush was dying down and everyone was either home, at work, or in classes. The streets were still what he would consider busy, but he could manage through it without much fear of running into too many people.
A beautiful lass carrying an armful of books walked past Arnett, and he smiled, bowing low for her. She hurried away, shooting him a worried look. Arnett shot out an over-pouted lip before allowing his usual smile to spread across his face. Running his fingers through his unkempt hair, he gazed around the street, unsure of what to do with himself.
A commotion sounded and broke through the crowd, and Arnett could see a crowd backing away from the front of Argenstrath Medical College.  Arnett decided to check it out. Keeping by a public trashcan, he looked over the crowd that was pushing back from the scene unfolding.
An older gentlemen was in the center of it all. With a pair of handcuffs on his right hand, the other cuff dangling at his side, and a large metal poll in his hands, he swung at a group of men and women forming around him. He had on a long brown overcoat and he wore a strange hat on his head, the large brim tucked over his eyes. His eyes were dark under the brim, but Arnett could see them shift from person to person. The only other distinguished feature was a large mustache, salt and peppered with age.
One of the men surrounding him yelled out at him, and rushed forward. The old man swung the bar with such skill, side-stepping the man and slamming the bar into his back. Another man rushing from behind him met a similar face as the old man turned around and slammed the bar into his face, causing his head and neck to fly back as his feet shot up from underneath him.
Arnett gawked in amazement. Maybe this man wasn’t as old as he thought. He was taking on at least four or five other men. One of which Arnett recognized. Arnett snapped his fingers and pointed as he remembered the strange man who yelled at him in the crowd earlier, from the medical cart. Then Arnett looked at the old man. He was on the stretcher… hurt. Damn, thought Arnett, he could fight after that?
The woman from the cart was making her way down the stairs, her head looked bruised but not bad.
“Mr. Flint, please!” she yelled, “Al, don’t you dare hurt him! Step away! Flint, please! Listen to reason, sir!”
The man who Arnett recognized pulled a pistol on the old man, and he yelled out, “Drop it, man, or I’ll drop you!”
Arnett didn't know why…
Maybe he thought it was an unfair fight. Arnett liked a good fight. Maybe his recent display of testosterone fueled him with a lust to prove himself. Maybe fate knew better. Maybe Arnett knew…
Arnett barely had time to think as he brought the trashcan down on the man with the pistol, and the trashcan broke under the force. The man dropped his pistol, and slumped to the street. The pistol skidded across the ground, to the old man’s feet. Immediately the other guards, or whomever, rushed forward at once. The old man ducked down for the pistol.
One of the men came at Arnett, who dodged his punch and slammed his knee into the man’s stomach. Arnett used the adrenaline and ran forward to sink his foot into the side of another man.
A shot rang out. Arnett’s heart seemed to stop. He raised his hands and stepped back. The other men did the same, and the woman was screaming something inaudible. The old man, however, rose from the ground and pointed the pistol at the group. Rushing forward, he pushed Arnett forward.
“Move, boy, before they draw on us,” The man spat.
Arnett was about to object but the man gave him another shove. Arnett ran forward, further into the street. Arnett could hear the men shouting orders, and the old man fired another shot into the air. Arnett found himself running down the street, the old man running beside him.
“Here” Arnett yelled, spotting one of the city’s trolleys.
The trolley man saw the two running towards them, and he shook his head. The old man pointed the pistol at him. The Vibranni and the man dived out the side of the Trolly. Arnett was running alongside the trolley and leapt up to the door, opening it. Just as soon as he had the older man leapt inside, and dragged Arnett inside after him.
Shutting the door, Arnett was suddenly thrust into reality, and threw up his hands.
“Woah, old man, I’m not comfortable with this. That was an unfair fight and all but I don’t know who you are.”
“Shut up,” ordered the old man, “I need to get home. They’ll be after my family next.”
“That’s cool,” said Arnett, shrugging, “I just think you got yourself a nice trolley now… and a gun, and I don’t see why you’d need a man like me.”
“I don’t, you got yourself into this,” said the man, cranking up the Trolley’s throttle and allowing it to jump forward on the tracks.
“Yeah, well. I’m not too interested in dying or anything,” said Arnett, who could feel the heat under his shirt as his heart raced, “You don’t want me to get… angry… or anything. I’m the son… or the… police chief… of Argenstrath! And… there will be hell to pay!”
“Oh, good, a cop’s kid,” said the old man, “When we’re out of this I’ll need you to help me. Wait… where are we?”
Just then a back mirror got shot out, and the passengers in the Trolley screamed, several jumping off the trolley. The old man looked back out the window and saw two steam-biked speeding down the street after them.
“What? Come… on!” said the old man, “Look, kid, these guys don’t care about police. I need to get home. These guys are bad news. I’ll need the help of the police to get back to Grindton and get to my family.”
“Grindton? Never heard of it,” said Arnett, looking back out the window.
The steam-bike riders were gaining on them, and they had rifles this time. Arnett’s eyes widened.

“They have big guns, governor,” said Arnett, “Who the hell are these guys?”
“Bad guys, they tried to kill me not too long ago,” said the man, “Looks like they want me alive. They would have blown more holes in this little Trolley if they didn't. Get down, boy.”
The steam bikes could be heard getting closer when Arnett followed instruction and ducked down. The old man threw back his overcoat and stuffed the pistol in a holster strapped to his leg. The old man picked up a crowbar leaning next to the controls and ducked down by the door.
In a few seconds, the door to the drivers place opened, and one of the steambike passengers jumped in. Before they could raise their rifle, the old man hit them with the metal crowbar and tossed them out of the trolley. On Arnett’s side, the window burst as the other passenger of the steambike broke through the window and lunged at the old man.
The man stepped aside, throwing a punch directly in the man’s face. The man grasped at his nose, stunned. The man used this time to swing the crowbar, knocking him back onto the floor.
“Who the hell are you?” asked Arnett, “You’re no old man I know.”
“I’m not old yet,” said the man, “And the name’s Lieutenant to you. Lieutenant Flint. Now, we got to get out of here!”
The man, now known as the Lieutenant, walked up to the side Arnett was pressed against, and looked out of the window. The other steambike was pulling up alongside the trolley again. Lieutenant aimed the pistol out the window at him, causing him to break quickly and pull to the other side of the trolley, dipping out of sight of his gun. Flint smiled, holstering the pistol once more.
“Jump,” he demanded, “Quick.”
“What? Out of a moving Trolley, are you mad?” asked Arnett.
“I don’t have time for this shit anymore,” said Flint.
He knelt over and grabbed Arnett by the collar. Arnett tried to fight, but in a few seconds he was tossed from the Trolley. Falling towards the earth, Arnett could see that the trolley must have just been on one of the bridges of Argenstrath. Arnett could see him falling, the trolley getting farther away. Right behind him, the old man, Flint, leapt out of the window, and glided through the air behind Arnett.
Arnett had the wind knocked out of him as he landed, hard, into something. A few seconds later he could hear the Lieutenant landing somewhere further back. After he gasped for breathe, Arnett rolled over and got up. He could see they were on some sort of train car, and he had fallen into a mass amount of sand.
“Sand?” asked the old man, “The hell you need a train car full of sand for?”
“Huge sandstorm a few days ago,” said Arnett, still gasping for air, “They’re removing sand from the city still.”
The Lieutenant began to cough more heavily, his body shaking from the fits. He stood and looked around.
“I’m a bit farther from home then I thought,” said he, “Where am I? You said something?”
“Argenstrath,” said Arnett, shaking his head, “Man, how do you not know that? Everyone’s heard of us.”
“Not me,” said the Lieutenant, “What country am I in?”
“Wow, you really are lost,” said Arnett, trying to stand, “Hey, that’s a nice hat. Where’d you learn all those… moves.”
“Not my first rodeo,” said the Lieutenant, fighting another coughing fit, “Man, I don’t feel so good.”
“Yeah, that tends to happen with age,” said Arnett, “You begin forgetting things… you get older… you can’t do a bunch of cool shit without SOME sort of side effect.”
“Shut up, kid,” warned the Lieutenant, “I just need to get back to Grindton.”
“Now you’ve got me confused,” said Arnett, “So. Cool hat, again.”
“Yeah, it’s a Fedora.”
“Whatever… Where’s Grindton, ‘Lieutenant’?”
“Outside of Chicago.”
“Chicago? Where’s Chicago?” asked Arnett.
The man threw up his arms, “Illinois, the United States of America. Ever heard of that?”
“United States of America?” asked Arnett, his eyebrows rising, “Is that so…”
“Oh… don’t even!” the man began to pace, looking around him, “There’s no way a big city like this hasn’t heard of the United States. Come on what country is this?”
“Damn…” spat the man, putting his hands on his hips, “I am a long way from home. Where the hell his Antiford?”
“Araz… ok, man, now YOU are worrying me.”
A noise cause the Lieutenant to flinch. Arnett turned around, but he couldn’t hear anything over the coughing fit the Lieutenant broke into once more.
“You going to make it?”
“Told you I didn’t feel well,” said the man, walking closer to Arnett and pointing towards and alley, “Come on, we got to get out of here before they turn back. We caused enough trouble today.”
“Nuh-uh… you did,” said Arnett, following the man off the car, “This is all you… crazy old man… from the Ungaurded States.”
“United States of America!”
They leapt down from the train car, and they disappeared back into the city.