Those Fleming luddites! WBWW pt2

“Calm the smeg down!” Solvay yelled as Justin scrabbled to regain his hold on Chrysler
“You need to leave now!” Alex shouted at Cass, who grabbed the satchel and scrambled up to run from the room without another word, her face a mask of abject misery
<end snip>

Where: Drive Room, Blue Dwarf

Seymour was taken aback by the ferocity of the former Blue Dwarf Captain. Sure he'd had 600 or so years to develop his anger, but Seymour was quite scared to see it firsthand.

He wheeled himself past Alex and Justin, as they held Jay down. Outside, Katrina was knelt down giving her young son a hug, which even made Seymour's cold heart warm slightly. Cass was jogging down the corridor away from him.
“Ms Jones!” He called. No response. “She probably didn't hear me.” Seymour muttered to himself. “Ms Jones? Ms Jones? Ms Jones? Ms Jones? Ms Jones?” He paused for breath. “Ms Jones?”

An irrigated Katrina nearby covered her son's ears, “For smeg's sake, she can't hear you!”
“Ahh, or is she choosing to not hear me?” Seymour said patronisingly, for which he only got a frown.

He pushed himself after Cass who was now out of sight. He decided to try a different tact. “Brittany?”
He heard the footsteps stop. He pushed himself down the corridor, and jumped when Cass stepped out of an alcove. Through gritted teeth she said “I'm NOT her!”
“Ah, yes. I heard.” Seymour said. “But I'm confused. She is Brittany? Brittany Queen of Great Britain and the commonwealth? MY Brittany?”

With that, Cass ran off, but this time Seymour didn't follow her.
“I haven't forgotten what you said to me about being in charge.” He said, then rubbed his chin, looking back towards the Drive Room where he could still hear Jay shouting angrily. “Maybe I've been ignoring this issue for too long.”


It was 1792 and Mr Fleming Niples arrived at the doorstep of his brother's grand townhouse. A butler took his coat and showed him to the drawing room where Richard and his wife were stood by a piano watching their small son play. Richard warmly greeted him.
“Welcome Fleming, you've met my wife...”
“Katherine, of course.” Fleming took her hand and kissed it. As he did, he looked at the note on his sleeve where he'd written the name of Richard's wife and son. He had a hard time remembering who he didn't directly care about.
“And this must be Tiny Trevor. Hello there sir!” He shook the hand of the minuscule person. The little boy giggled at the formality. Fleming was pleased with his ability to at least appear social and warm hearted, when really he wished he were on his own, simply reading a book. Spending time with others wasn't a pastime he particularly enjoyed.

Richard showed them into the dining room, where the servants had prepared an incredible feast. Most of which was going to waste, as they couldn't possibly eat it all. Fleming secretly liked this lavish luxury, and deliberately only ate a small amount of the beef, happy knowing that a cow had been slaughtered to only satisfy a small part of his hunger.

Richard though greedily ate as much as he could. His face sweating after finishing his second steak. “Are you sure you should be eating so much with your...” Fleming let his voice trail off, speaking of Dick's irrational bowel movements wasn't polite dinner conversation.

As they waited for dessert and drinks to be served, Richard started to speak of the mill.
“I had to let the rest go today.” He said with a look of regret. “It was horrible. I spoke to each of them individually, other employers wouldn't offer them the same gratitude.” He said.
“You're too kind to them, that's your problem!” Said Fleming. “Employees are merely the rungs on the ladder to success. Don't be afraid to step on them to get higher.”

Richard winced. “No, these are family, they're friends, they've helped the Mill thrive!” He looked around the room. “All this lavishness, this life of luxury we have is because of them. They're good workers! And we give them a good wage, better than many mills do.”
Fleming raised a finger in the air as he made his next point. “You give them too much credit brother. Let me ask you this... how do they repay you this... respect... you grant them?” He almost spat as he mouthed the word 'respect'. “They repay you with broken windows and hatred. I saw the rabble of luddites! They're nothing more than common scum!”

Richard's stomach started to make odd gurgly noises, so he stood up and pace around. “You're wrong brother. One day you might have a Mill of your own, you have to learn how to respect people, and to talk to them. They're unhappy because I've treated them unfairly, and I regret it, deeply I do.”

His stomach gurgled again, and he quickly excused himself and left the room, heading straight to the nearest room with a chamber pot.

It was the morning when Fleming heard about his brother's death.
“Dysentery?” He said to the messenger who had brought him the note. “My brother? The poor sole! I had no idea he was ill... oh, actually that does make sense, he did occasionally shit himself.”

Fleming was called into the Solicitors to read the will. Sat next to Dick's crying wife and Tiny Trevor who didn't seem to understand yet that his father was never coming home, that was when Fleming learned of his new job of foreman of the Mill.

“Me? The Mill?” Fleming said aghast. “Didn't he leave me any money?”
Katherine put a hand on his leg, and spoke through her dark funeral veil. “Dick thought a great deal of you Fleming, you're the only one he trusts with his precious Mill.”
“Yes but... no money or anything? Just... a Mill?”
“The Mill is very profitable Mr Niples.” Said the Solicitor, an older man with bushy white sideburns.
“Yes but...” He thought about the crowd of angry luddites.

The angry mob was there when he visited the Mill that same afternoon. They waved pitchforks above their heads. “I think you need to speak to them.” Said Katherine, as they pushed their way through the crowd. “Richard would be able to calm these people down.”
“Well I'm not bloody Richard, okay!” Fleming said, entering the building and locking himself in the office for the rest of the afternoon, where he could still hear them shouting and chanting outside about the “infernal machines” that had taken their jobs.

Fleming went to see the machines, they were completely operational now, and were spinning wool at an incredible speed. They still needed employees of course, who were transporting fabric away and bringing new sacks of wool. The largest section of the workforce were children, who were small enough to fit between the machines and clear out the dirt and grim that collected in the small nooks and crannies.

Fleming was surprised to see Tiny Trevor poking his head up from between some machines. “Trevor, that's dangerous, get out of there!” He shouted. Trevor ducked and was gone, somewhere between the brass pipes, cogs and springs.
“Dick didn't mind him working here.” Came Katherine's voice behind him. “He said if it's safe for peasant boys to work, it's safe for his own son.”
“Well it's not safe!” Fleming said. “Look at how fast the machines spin, Tiny Trevor could be shredded into a paste!”
“Dick always wanted this to be a family business...” Katherine said.

The rabble outside remained until way after sunset. Before she left, Katherine came and lit a candle in Fleming's office. “The crowd's got worse. You need to talk to them.”
“They'll leave soon.” Said Fleming, pretending to be uninterested, when in reality they terrified him.
“More people are joining them. The workers from canalside.”
“What? Those work-dodging slackers! I'll reduce their pay!” Fleming slammed his fist on the desk.
“They know there'll be no pay! The think the machines will take over.”
“Nonsense, I always need staff to maintain the machines.”
Katherine shrugged. “They're angry. They want to demolish the machines, they're planning to-”

A smash downstairs caught both their attention, and the sound of the crowd rushing into the building and causing havoc. Both Fleming and Katherine ran down the stone stairs to see the crowd smashing up the machines, and throwing gas lanterns, which threatened to set the entire mill on fire.

“You have to talk to them!”
“You're their foreman!”
The crowd exited and moved onto the next building where similar sounds of destruction could be heard. “Just go out there and talk to them. You can stop this!” She said. “Dick would!”

Despite the raising heat, Fleming froze. He saw the crowd outside, unhappy and angry. He looked around for any distraction he could.

“Where's Tiny Trevor?”
“He was cleaning the machin-” She screamed with fright as she saw a crispy hand waving out from behind the burning brass machine.
“Stay back, I'll get him.” Said Fleming, removing his overcoat and hitting the flames. He prized himself between the technology, eventually getting to Tiny Trevor who had found a small alcove where the fire hadn't reached him. “I'm scared.” the small boy said.
“I know.” Said Fleming, thinking about how powerless he felt against the crowd.

A burning beam blocked their only way out. Fleming managed to lift it high enough for the tiny boy to crawl through and escape, but just before he did he turned back and reached with his hand. “You coming?” He asked in his squeaky voice.

The sound of smashing glass and destruction continued outside. Fleming knew that he could fix it by talking to them, he probably had the power. But he refused to use it.

“No child. I'm staying here.” He said, as the mill burned around him.

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