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A week later... The Romanov Pub, Novo Oymyakon...

Mykola looked at the cards he was handed, tapping his fingers gently against the table as he then quietly glanced over the expressions of everyone else at the table. All flat faces, not a single gleam of life in any of them. Typical, given the group that always accompanied him at the table.

No one dared to fold, given the rules of the pub stated that if they did, it would mean they would buy everyone else a drink. It was worth losing only a few Uryurov's rather than paying 500 or so per drink.

Mykola looked down at his hand, four cards that were two 3's, an 8 and a 5. A terrible fucking hand. Idea of the game was to get doubles or triples, which could then be added to and even numbers or face cards. Odd numbers and jacks would subtract from the total. Whoever had the highest number at the end would win the hand. Mykola had a 9 total, not even breaking into the double digits.

Mykola laid his cards face down, looking at everyone else as most others did the same. Vadim pressed in his lot, 1480 Uryurov's. He looked at everyone else, before laughing and asking: «What the hell is the matter with you! You all fucking pussies?»

«Shut the fuck up!» Another player responded, as he pushed his Uryurov's into the centre of the table, a grand total of 2350 Uryurov's.

Vadim shook his head, flipping his cards up as he revealed the total he had: 22. The other player threw his hands up, showing his total as he had only 20. Everyone else flipped up their cards: a 14, a 12... Mykola's 9.

«You are fucking terrible at this game, Educated Shit!» Vadim responded, picking up his bottle as he took a quick swig of it.

«Shut the fuck up, this is a fucking game of luck!» Mykola replied, standing up from the table.

«Are you seriously going to fucking quit?» Vadim called out, «You know the rule!»

Everyone else at the table laughed, many of them yelling: «Drink!» as they pushed their cards back in to Vadim. Mykola shook his head, looking towards Vadim before he replied: «It is your money!»

Mykola removed the roll of Uryurov's that he won from the game just an hour ago, as Vadim ducked his head and muttered to himself. Mykola approached the bar, placing the money down on the counter as he then jumped over it.

He didn't even know why he bothered to get drinks for anyone. Sure, it was locked inside the counter but everyone in the bar and the city knew the code to the fucking safe. Vadim probably didn't even give a shit if people took from it themselves without paying.

Eventually, the lock came undone and Mykola fetched the necessary amount of bottles to bring to the table as he walked around towards the group. As he handed out the drinks, there wad a rumble at the door. Everyone turned towards it instinctively, as the padded door eventually came undone and a group of three men in police attire stepped into the door.

Yellow chested suits with navy-blue arms and legs, wrapped around tightly with silver reflectors. Their thermal masks were coloured yellow as well, and had silver eyepieces. All three wore officer's hats, though only one had a red brimmed one. An assortment of badges decorated each one, as they all moved to remove their thermal masks. One, the lead officer by the coloured brim of the hat stepped forward.

He was much older than the other two officers, greying hair and black eyes. His skin was worn, adored with plenty of burn marks from thermal mask malfunctions. He looked directly at the group, stepping around as he looked down at the game.

He looked directly at the set of cards Mykola had, before he looked towards him—deducting from the empty seat that it was him. «A fucking nine?»

Mykola shook his head as the other two officers placed their thermal masks on the bar. «I haven't seen a number like that for five years.» The senior officer said, «Are you that same player?»

The table laughed as Mykola muttered: «It is a game of fucking luck!»

«Officer Kuptov! Perhaps you will show our Educated Shit here how to play Shlyukha?» Vadim asked, as he accepted the four cards from Kuptov to place back into the deck.

«Not in this place.» Kuptov replied, «This place is a shithole.»

«A shithole I don't pay city fees for, but still keep together with the funds I get from games like this!» Vadim replied, opening the new bottle that was brought to him.

«Don't pride yourself too much on it, no one here fucking pays taxes. And I don't think anyone ever will.»

Vadim laughed shortly with the rest of the table, as he looked towards Mykola: «Get a drink for these three! Make yourself useful for once!»

But Kuptov shook his hand, «Unfortunately I am not here to have a drink from your tax-evading establishment, Vadim. You want to tell me what happened a week ago?»

«Same thing that is happening right now.» Vadim replied sharply. Kuptov leaned into the table, «Cut the bullshit, because you and me and everyone here knows that isn't just what happened.»

Vadim groaned, placing a hand over his face as he then said: «Don't tell me this is about the Ice Bastard!»

«Well it is. Because of you, this Ice Bastard went to a UEG establishment and filed a complaint. They came down with him to our department to process the complaint, so I took it in.»

«What, you are going to arrest us?»

«You didn't let me finish. So I listened to him, wrote down some fake names at a fake place. So the 'crime' happened, but at a place and with people that will never fucking exist.»

«Exactly what I—» Vadim was interrupted by the raising of Kuptov's hand. The officer looked coldly at the Oymyakonian, before speaking slowly: «But the UEG isn't happy about all of this.»

«Naturally.» Vadim replied.

«Shut the fuck up and let me speak. The UEG told me that they are going to speak with the bastards up at Earth to make sure they get a detachment of UNSC soldiers sent here.»

Everyone looked at Kuptov as he said this, the officer removing a black roll of paper and a tube of tobacco from his heavy coat. He slowly rolled up a cigar, motioning towards Mykola to bring him a lighter. Mykola fetched a metal-plated lighter, walking over to the table as he handed it to Kuptov. The officer nodded his head in thanks, before flicking the lighter on as he puffed on his cigar.

«You got to be fucking kidding me!» Mykola muttered, before he picked up an empty bottle at the table.

«They will be here in six hours, according to what the UEG had said... and they expect me to follow their command. The bastards have even established a temporary state of martial law. To ensure the situation is safe and securable. And when this placed becomes safe and secure, they will come with even more miners.»

«A slap right to the fucking face!» Someone from the table cried, «Why the fuck do they listen to the Ice Bastards but not us? We are second-class or some shit on our own planet?»

«Every establishment has been warned about this, and that they must get ready to make room for our incoming guests Kuptov continued, «I recommend you hold back from hell.»

«Fuck no.» Vadim replied flatly, «I am sick of disrespectful sons of bitches showing up. They are putting our people out in the fucking street because they are the priority of the UEG. So we should fucking die so that they can fucking live?»

«Me and my fellow officers share the same grievances.» Kuptov said, «But the UEG is having none of it. So here is what I will do.»

Kuptov took a puff of his cigar, bringing his chair further into the table. «There is a lay-over period between the time the UNSC will touch down and by the time they will move into our department. We have to make room for their equipment. So I need people to help clean it up.»

Kuptov looked up at everyone around the table, «We don't keep a register of our equipment because we never need to use it. The Oymyakonian's do a good enough job at abusing and brutalising each other—you should know this. But in the case that the UNSC overstay their welcome...»

Everyone at the table looked at each other, as Mykola looked back to the two officers. They looked back at him, nodding their heads grimly. Kuptov stepped up from the table, taking the last puff of his cigar before he dropped it on the ground and stomped it out.

«You know where the station is. Be there if you want your weapons.» Kuptov finished, as he stepped towards the door.

«Well we will need a plan for if we do intend to remove the fuckers from this planet!» Mykola stated, as Kuptov looked towards him: «You really are an Educated Shit. I know most of you know where I live. Pick out the brightest amongst yourselves and come when we retire for the night.»

Kuptov stepped towards the door, before spotting the roll of Uryurov's that Mykola left on the table. The officer took the roll of money, pocketing it before he grabbed his thermal mask off the table and his officer's hat from the rack. He placed on the thermal mask and the hat, as the other two officers did the same thing.

Kuptov opened the padded door, before stepping outside in the snow. The last officer closed the door behind the three, as Mykola looked back at the table. Everyone was deathly silent, as eventually Vadim stepped up from the table and walked around to the bar. He placed his bottle on the counter, swearing silently as he looked back to the group.

«They shouldn't have fucking done it... We shouldn't have fucking done it!»

«What the fuck do you mean?» Mykola asked.

«Well what the fuck do you think I mean, Mykola? Should have just poisoned the bastard and tossed him out in the fucking snow!» Vadim replied.

«We now have a fucking chance to take back what is ours!» Mykola said sharply, «If we fucking pull us off and declare our retirement from the UEG, then what choice do they have?»

«You think you can fight a UNSC marine, Educated Shit?» Vadim asked, «I mean, me and everyone else here can't fucking read for shit! Sure we can hit hard, and I am guessing we all know how to shoot a fucking gun, but how the hell do you expect us to survive?»

«Then listen to what we fucking tell you to do and we will push them out!» Mykola replied, as Vadim yelled back: «So you are a fucking general now?»

Mykola fell silent, as Vadim shook his head. «Mykola, I fucking hate you... you know that. But what are the majority of Oymyakonian's going to do the second they get a weapon and try to fight? Kill a fucking friendly because they screwed their wife or some shit! How are we going to survive?»

«How well do you know the city?» Mykola asked as Vadim shrugged: «Like the bitch I fucked last night, of course I know the city well! Can navigate it while drunk!»

«And the UNSC?» Mykola then asked, as Vadim looked at him oddly. Suddenly Vadim smiled a bit, as he nodded his head: «Yes, fucking yes! They don't!»

«Doesn't need to be a suicide charge, doesn't even fucking need to be an entire army we assemble!» Mykola replied, «Break them off during patrol and kill them or force them to surrender... we then gather the rest of the Ice Bastards...»

«And do the fucking same!» Someone from the table announced, as Vadim looked back towards Mykola: «Maybe you are a fucking general! Fuck! Alright then, we just need to head to the department station and supply as many people as fucking possible!»

«And meet with Kuptov!» Another from the table spoke.

«And take our fucking planet back!»

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