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Ficlet Challenge: October 2022
The phrase prompt this month is ... QUEEN OF HEARTS

For the second challenge:

Start your ficlet with a character saying 'where I come from...'

Happy writing !
Well here goes, another 2 parter inspired by PC’s challenge. The second part is slighter over the limit…sorry!
But Lurena has come up with two piccies!!

The Queen of Hearts

It was the ship that caught Vila’s eye.
A silver vessel with large wheels on each side slowly making its way through the vastness of space, surrounded by several other smaller vessels.
They made for a strange sight, but the ship itself at the epicentre of the smaller vessels was lit up from the inside and it looked radiant.
Vila was entranced.
And then his gaze fell upon the symbol on the ship’s hull; a deep red heart surmounted by a red crown…

“The Queen of Hearts?” Vila asked, “Not THE Queen of Hearts?”
+If you are referring to the fabled ship that contains a variety of games of chance overseen by the lady herself, then yes. But I must warn you that…+
But Vila was in too much of a hurry. He had heard about this ship that travelled the far reaches of the known galaxy which catered for any delight that a gambler could ask for. It would only take a few minutes and he could experience the excitement he had heard some of the older inmates at the detention centre speak of.
“Come on Orac, be a sport. You could teleport me over there. Just for a few minutes. No-one would ever need to know…”

“You did what?” Blake was not pleased. Finding Orac in the teleport area and no sign of Vila was very worrying.
+I was requested to teleport Vila to that ship, the Queen of Hearts. He did request just a few minutes but did not specify exactly how many minutes. +
“How very convenient for you,” Avon said, as he fastened a teleport bracelet round his wrist.
“You’re going to get him?” Blake asked.
“It would seem prudent to do so. If this is the fabled Queen of Hearts, then we should, it is named the Queen of Hearts for a very good reason.”
“And what reason is that Avon?” Cally enquired.
“Put it this way. If you lose any of the games then it will cost you your heart and soul.”

Vila was glad that he had bought so much of the Liberator’s currency with him. He had had a winning streak, but was now losing heavily.
“I think it is time you called it a day, Vila.”
Avon was standing right by him.
“So Orac squealed did he? Never did trust that computer.”
“How much have you lost,” Blake asked, watching the roulette wheel spin.
“All of it. I was just going to ask for credit.”
“Don’t,” warned Avon, "It will do you more harm than good.”
“Just walk away from the table and we will leave, now,” Blake murmured.
But it was too late.
Their escape route was blocked by some very intimidating gentlemen.
Blake tried to reach for his teleport bracelet but a hand firmly prevented him.
“I’m sorry,” smiled the first gentleman, “But the house requires it debts paid in full…with interest.”
“Just how much does he owe?”
The gentleman held up a small screen.
“That much.”

Part Two

Aces High

“Where I come from…” began Blake, but he was interrupted by the Head Croupier.
“And just exactly where do you come from?”
“Earth. As I was about to explain, a man is usually allowed to make up for his, shall we say, shortcomings.”
“They are?” queried Vila nervously.
“On my ship,” Blake continued, “there is enough money to repay Vila’s entire debt, with interest.”
That intrigued the Head Croupier, “Very well, you have five minutes to fetch it.”
“Thank you. Jenna!”

Jenna appeared with seconds to spare and hoped that Blake had somehow picked up Cally’s telepathic message.
“My friend, Avon, would like to challenge the Queen of Hearts.” Obviously, he had ‘heard’ from Cally, but Avon evidently hadn’t.
“Yes, one card draw, Aces high, winner takes all, and that includes the poor unfortunates that you have incarcerated on this ship of yours, who don’t have the where with all to repay their debts.”
“Just what are you playing at?” Avon demanded.
“I’m playing for time and you’ve always considered yourself a gambler. Haven’t you?”

As they walked along the corridor towards the room where the Queen of Hearts resided, Blake quickly explained to Avon exactly what was going on. This ship, based upon an archaic first calendar paddle steamer that used to ply its trade along the rivers of Old Earth, was actually run by a Syndicate that specialized in extortion.
Everything that happened on this vessel was controlled by a computer and Orac needed time to reprogramme that computer and change the odds in favour of Blake…or at least Avon.
“This had better work, Blake,” Avon murmured.
“It will,” he replied confidently. But what if Orac hadn’t managed to access the master computer?
The one that also controlled the highly sophisticated android that Avon was about to face.
The Queen of Hearts was seated on an elegant throne. She didn’t move as the Head Croupier approached her and bowed.
“Your Highness, this is the man who challenges you. He requests a one card draw, Aces high, winner take all. Do you grant his request?”
She nodded.
“And what, sir, do you bring to the table?”
Blake cleared his throat, “Me; my crew and my ship. I think by now you know who we are and just how much the Federation will be willing to pay you.”
Vila paled, but neither Blake nor Avon showed the slightest concern.
Jenna smiled at him, “Don’t worry, I think even Avon is now aware of Orac’s plan.”
“Challenge accepted,” the almost lifelike queen purred,
Two brand new sealed packs of cards suddenly appeared on the table. The Head Croupier broke the seals.
“Let the challenge begin.”
The Queen raised her hand and allowed her fingers to reach for the deck of cards before lifting half the pack to reveal her choice of card.
“The Queen of Hearts,” Avon smiled, “How appropriate.”
“And now you,” she replied.
“I can’t look,” Vila said as Avon reached for his pack of cards.
“The Ace of Spades. My win I believe.”
“That’s impossible,” the Head Croupier bellowed as Blake and his erstwhile colleagues vanished from view.

“But how?” Vila demanded.
“Orac had reprogrammed the entire computer system,” Blake explained, “and it made sure that the brand new cards meant for Avon were all the same; the Ace of Spades.”
“That’s cheating!”
Cally smiled, “That syndicate has been cheating their guests for years. It should be interesting to see how they manage now, with an honest computer running the whole enterprise.”
“Orac? Honest? Like to bet on that?”

Cold! You don't know the meaning of the word cold!
Cold is when you have ice on the INSIDE of your window!!

Sue's Book Shelf

Rebel Run Video
Nice one again, Sue. Neatly link between the two prompts, too.
"You're not sulking, I hope?"

M1795537OCVirn wrote:

Nice one again, Sue. Neatly link between the two prompts, too.

Many thanks for your kind words.
Cold! You don't know the meaning of the word cold!
Cold is when you have ice on the INSIDE of your window!!

Sue's Book Shelf

Rebel Run Video
Not really sure how this works, but I tried writing a piece based off second prompt, so here goes.

Distress Signal

“Well, I don’t know about you lot, but where I come from, it’s bad luck to say nothing could go wrong!” Vila voiced his pessimistic opinion from his seat on the sofa.
The others were standing around Blake, who stood in front of Zen, trying to convince them all to investigate the abandoned ship they’d stumbled across in deep space, far from any sort of civilization. That alone was suspicious in Vila’s book, but the odd, continuous signal it was emitting further heightened his anxiety.
“But it could be a distress call!” Cally argued, evidently not knowing about jinxes.
“And as I said, you can teleport us back the second anything goes wrong. It’s perfectly safe,” Blake assured them.
“You don’t know that,” Avon muttered cynically. For once, he and Vila agreed.
“I don’t know, Blake, we don’t know that it’s a distress beacon,” Jenna said hesitantly. Her gaze swiveled between Blake and Avon, not sure who to agree with.
“Oh, listen to Jenna!” Vila begged, clutching his glass of adrenaline and soma tighter to his chest.
“Alright, you can all stay here. Cally and I will go.” Blake turned without further comment and marched in the direction of the teleport room, Cally close at his heels.
“I’ll operate the teleport then, if you are so keen on charging blindly into a situation that has the potential to prove lethal.” Avon followed the two of them, leaving Vila to glance nervously at Zen, who continued to replay the chilling signal over and over.
It sounded like a recording of an old earth animal he’d once heard, he believed it was called a coyote. The drawn out, melancholy sound made his skin crawl, but Jenna seemed indifferent to it as she checked over the readouts on her console.
“Vila, I’m going to make sure that Avon doesn’t decide to leave them there, call if the signal changes.”
“He wouldn’t do that, would he?” Vila asked, not really wanting to think about the answer.
“He tried to, once.” Jenna left him alone.
“Oh, why’d you all have to go?” Vila whimpered, bringing his knees closer to his chest and pressing into the cushy leather sofa.
He scrunched his eyes shut and tried not to listen to the signal, but it floated around his head like the dismal wail of a ghost. Quickly, he banished that thought from his head, before he started to believe that there really was a ghost on the ship.
All of a sudden, the low howl turned into a high scream, with no warning or transition of any kind. Vila let out a shriek of his own, jumping to his feet and holding his hands over his ears, allowing his glass to shatter to the floor.
“Jenna!” He shouted. “Jenna!”
He headed for the door and ran down the corridor to the teleport room. Avon and Jenna looked thoroughly bored sitting at the controls, but they immediately sat up straight, faces drawn in alarm, when he came bursting in.
“What is it?” Jenna demanded.
“The signal, it’s…I don’t know, some sort of alarm!”
Avon held the button for communication and called into the device, “Blake, Cally!”
He received no response.
“Just bring them up!” Vila said worriedly.
Jenna nodded at Avon and they pressed the correct buttons before Avon flipped the switch to teleport Blake and Cally back to the Liberator. Vila turned to watch as their familiar forms fluctuated into view. They both almost fell forward as they fully materialized, and Vila and Jenna were at their sides in an instant. Avon watched from the controls in passive interest.
“What happened?” Jenna asked.
“Are you alright?” Vila put in before they could answer.
Cally nodded, but held a hand to her head. “Yes, we’re alright.”
“We were caught in some sort of paralyzing field the second we got there,” Blake explained.
“Some sort of defense system?” Avon suggested.
“Yes, probably,” Blake said.
“It was defiantly abandoned,” Cally added, taking off her bracelet and dropping it back into its slot. Blake did the same.
“It seems we’ll never know what happened. How does your curiosity take that, Blake?” Avon grinned.
“I’ll tell you how I take it, I told you so!” Vila answered for him. “Never claim nothing could go wrong, it always will! Maybe next time, you’ll listen to me for a change.”
Vila held his head up snootily, but didn’t miss Cally shaking her head or Jenna and Blake exchanging looks before he turned to march to the flight deck and clean up the glass. He didn’t stop to look, but he was fairly sure that Avon was shooting him glares.
The Blake’s 7 section of my blog, where I post fics, art, essays, etcetera.
Great stuff, NerdyTeenGirl! So good have your contribution. (This is exactly how it works).
"You're not sulking, I hope?"

M1795537OCVirn wrote:

Great stuff, NerdyTeenGirl! So good have your contribution. (This is exactly how it works).

Thank you! Smile I was reading back through the other challenges and you all are so good! I don’t know how you all can put so much emotional impact in a short bit of fiction, but it’s fantastic.
The Blake’s 7 section of my blog, where I post fics, art, essays, etcetera.
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