Chapter 20 - Out with a Bang


A note from rykov00

Hey all! In celebration of getting to 20k views we're posting a bonus chapter. This is a little shorter than the ones we've been posting recently, but we'll pickup our regular schedule on Monday. This is written from Jason's perspective which is somewhat new, and hopefully he has an interesting enough voice to use again at some point.

"So kiddos, care to say why you ran off to kill monsters, by yourselves, right after Mark managed to break a few ribs?" Jason already had a hand up to his temple in his classic ‘We Are Not Amused’ pose. Getting to this point wasn’t taking very long anymore. Trying to play nice with Arthur had stressed him out and his nerves were pretty frayed.

"Well, couple reasons" replied Liz going into her logic mode while Mark did his best to vanish from the world. "First, something needed to be done. They locked the things in classrooms which seemed like a horrible idea in general. It was just an accident waiting to happen. Second, anything that was a real threat would have easily broken out of there so I knew it would be relatively safe. Thirdly, Mark had my back so I wasn’t going in blind and since we were expecting Fuuzer or Nerfling level threats I wasn’t too concerned. Lastly, if the door stopped them in the first place it would stop them in the second place and we could just close the door if things got bad."

"Well, you thought out some of the consequences at least. I have to admit I agree with your reasoning, especially on the point of not letting monsters randomly hang out in the school when nobody was properly armed.” Liz and Mark relaxed a bit, knowing they dodged a pretty large bullet. “Next item then, did you get any information from your friends? Sheriff Douglass wasn't overly forthcoming with me on what was going on.”

They took the next few moments comparing notes while Sam and Bob kept watch and steered the carriage along. Jocelyn also was listening with interested and periodically interjected with more information.

"We basically have been holed up the entire time and the Sheriff kept telling us horror stories about how bad it was out here." she looked around nervously "But it doesn't seem half so bad as he was making it out to be.

Just then a few lemur creatures hobbled into the street. They spooked a bit at the sight of the carriage but Liz didn't give them a chance to retreat. Two arrows flew off and impaled the creatures and the last one ended up skewered by one of Mark’s knives. Jason quickly hopped down to gather cores and retrieve ammo and he motioned Mark to sit down.

"Just rest a bit Mark, you're pretty beat up. Maybe focus on meditation and we'll get the small fry around here.”

Jocelyn had a look of wonder at how easily the trio dispatched creature after creature they encountered. Jason was also amazed, but he had a growing sense of frustration as well. His kids were stepping up admirably in these trying times, and doing everything he could have hoped for with their training. Those hard hours or work were paying off huge dividends. The problem was with his own skills. His bow work was good, sure, as was his longsword, but they didn't hold a candle to his skill with guns.

He put his hand on top of the glock at his hip, and took it out just to feel its weight. This weapon had won him last year's international practical shooting competition. It was light, easy to handle, and incredibly deadly. Unfortunately, right now it was just a useless hunk of composite material that would dissolve into nothing if he didn’t carry it around.

His annoyance bubbled up into a dull rage. He stared intensely enough at the gun that he could practically feel the weapon with his eyes. He knew the exact weight, how to hold it steady, how much force to use on the trigger, and how much strength he needed to avoid the recoil. He stared at it more and thought about the specific load out for the ammo. He had packed the bullets himself, and knew the exact number of milligrams each casing held had and knew the precise explosive power they imparted to the slug. Except, in this world he didn't. The careful precision pack of powder no longer had any meaning as it could explode the gun to smithereens just as easily as not go off at all. Guns were simply not usable. He had gone through several pieces in his arsenal before he had been able to admit that to himself.

The trip was uneventful, but filled with little interruptions. Liz's bow work was superb, and rarely did anyone have a chance to deal with any of the smaller spawns coming into view. The few times a larger creature did appear Liz let loose a Power Shot and only a large corpse with a hole in it's body was left. Jason was relegated to material gatherer, but at least he unlocked a Harvester skill as a result.

Jason also felt naked with the lack of additional armament. His sword was a perfectly fine weapon but he regretted being so hasty in giving up all the rest of of his weaponry. Sure, it was both helping out the group and snubbing the sheriff’s stupid policy not to arm people in one action, which was nice, but without a ranged weapon he felt he was contributing very little to getting them home safely.

The trickle of rage he felt earlier continued to bubble up and he increasingly squeezed his fists frustration. His entire arsenal was built around gunpowder, and the fact it was now useless burned in the back of his mind. He had enough smokeless powder to fill another ten thousand bullets on top of the near ten thousand he had stockpiled right now. How the heck could he have known that the entire world would go haywire and the laws of physics would betray him?

They were making good time and they were on track to make it back within a half hour. Even so, they increased their speed further by ignoring the harvesting of cores as Jocelyn had started making increasingly urgent sounds of pain. She was trying to hold it in and not be a bother, but something was obviously very wrong. Bob flicked the reigns to pick up some speed and the carriage bounded forward.

Unfortunately, nothing ever goes smoothly, and as they got to the last few blocks a shriek sounded overhead. "Batwing Ducks at my one!" Shouted Liz in warning.

Her shots were accurately aimed, but as Elly had warned them, the things were ridiculously agile in the air. Her arrows flew true and fast, but hitting a bird on the wing was hard enough. Jerky bat like motions and actively dodge incoming fire made the shots nearly impossible. Forward progress had stopped as the swooping things had spooked the horses and Bob and Sam fought to keep the carriage under control.

Jason had jumped in front of the gelding with his sword drawn to protect it from any attacks, but his rage had bloomed into a pretty solid fire at this point. He swiped at the diving ducks but they seemed to mock him as they dodged out of his range. The things further annoyed them by timing their attacks between Liz's shots. She was starting to run low on arrows and was trying to line up a perfect shot which just wasn’t forthcoming.

After one more swoop, Jason felt the floodgates open. He began actively shouting in rage at the ducks, cussing loudly and insulting their ancestry in oddly creative ways. Mark and Liz were unsettled by Jason’s screams. Seeing their dad lose his temper in this way was pretty unusual. Sure, he may lose it when Mark did something particularly heinous or the sheriff pushed a bit much, but he almost never went into this sort of burning rage. Staring down adversity was Jason’s element, and seeing him collapse into rage this way shocked them.

It didn’t matter because Jason was done. He let his rage flow out and directed his ire to his gun. If the god damn thing would just work he would be set. WHY DIDN'T HIS STRONGEST WEAPON DO WHAT HE WANTED. He willed it to just fire the way it was supposed to. He didn't demand anything more, just perform like you need to. He lifted his head back and let out a yell, cursing both at the monsters flying overhead and expressing his rage at the situation.

In the silence after, Mark and Liz were at a loss of what to do. After a few moments of incredibly uncomfortable waiting the tension on Jason’s face had vanished. They both shifted nervously as they noticed the smile on their dad's face. It was the creepiest smile they had ever seen.

Jason took a deep breath, letting the rage drain from him.

"Sorry kiddos, I lost my cool there for a moment, and that was wrong in this situation. I know you expect more from me, so I'll make sure I do better going forward." Jason didn't like admitting his errors, but he rarely hesitated to own up to them.

Without another word his hand flew to his side and he drew his glock. Fire percussive sounds later, five batwing ducks fell to the ground. Everyone looked at him amazed and in awe. The level of skill he had just shown was something out of a carnival event, but the kids knew he was capable of even more. The real shock was how he had managed to actually use the firearm without the ill effects that had been described to them before. Jason just smiled letting all the day’s stress drain from his body as he looked over the last few notifications he got

Core Notification

Ability Gained - Mana Manipulation

Core Notification

Ability Gained - Gun Fu

Core Notification

Ability Gained - Gun Fu : Magic Bullet

It seemed like things were going to be getting better for him.

A note from rykov00

Let me know if you'd like to see any other character perspectives as well. We don't have a set plan for bonus content so I'd be interested in hearing from everyone on who they would like to learn more about.

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