Chapter 02 - Looting and Shooting

AHHHHHHHHH!!!!!” Brent could barely hear himself scream over the sound of the wind rushing past him, although it was more of the therapeutic effect than the sound that mattered. He felt his skin rippling along his exposed arms and face as he plummeted at great speed.

Fwoosh. After what seemed an eternity his parachute deployed, giving a hard upward jerk to the torso as it slowed his descent.

Brent opened his eyes, and to his pleasant surprise he was still on track towards the area he’d been aiming for, a patch of farmland close to the edge of the island. The parachute was a garish pink with Dombey Uno’s head painted on the inside.

The rushing wind had eased into a gentle breeze that carried him along at a leisurely pace, helping Brent to relax and even enjoy the scenery as he drifted over the landscape.

99 remaining.

This was not to last though, as the breeze also carried the sounds of gunshots and screams from elsewhere on the island.

98 remaining.
97 remaining.

The player count continued to tick down. He hadn’t even landed yet, and people were already killing each other.

96 remaining.

Brent found that he could steer the parachute left and right to a certain extent by tugging on the lines connected to the respective shoulder of his harness. He decided to set a course for a small farmhouse somewhat inland. As he drew closer he spied some sort of long gun lying on the front porch and adjusted his trajectory to head directly towards it.

95 remaining.

He heard a whoosh from behind. Suddenly one parachute and then another swooped into view below him, descending far faster than him and headed straight towards the porch.

Try as he might, Brent couldn’t get his own chute to catch up. Within seconds the first parachuter had touched down on the ground, shaken off the harness, and run up to the porch to grab the long gun.

No!” The second one, a chubby boy with beady eyes, had landed a few seconds too late. “I was gonna get that gun!” he whined.

The gun wielder was a tall lanky dark-haired young man dressed in business casual. He smirked as he pushed his glasses up to reflect the sun. “Heh heh heh. Unfortunately for you, my body has a more aerodynamic shape, and my mind the intellect to leverage it.”

Shit!” the boy swore loudly. “What am I gonna do now?”

You’re going to die,” the man answered matter-of-factly, and shot him in the chest.

Brent had witnessed enough of this exchange to figure that this was no longer a good place to land, not if he wished to stay alive. He tugged hard on his right cord to veer away from the farmhouse.

He was greeted with the sight of several other parachuters descending on the surrounding area. Where had all these people come from? How had he not seen them just now?

Brent cursed internally and kept turning as he lost altitude. He found himself facing a small fishing village on the coast that looked relatively deserted, and so drifted the rest of the distance to the ground there.

His feet touched down on a dirt road a little harder than he was expecting. He took a few small steps experimentally before his parachute fell on top of him and tangled him up in the cords and fabric.

Ack!” It took him one or two minutes of frantic struggling to get free. He looked around nervously, but thankfully there wasn’t anyone around to take advantage of his moment of helplessness.

The village was composed mostly of squat one story buildings with scratchy monochrome paint jobs. Some of them were suspended over the water on stilts.

Brent knew he had to get geared up as soon as possible if he was to survive. The first building he checked was little more than a shack, and was bare save for a decrepit sofa and an old-fashioned TV set. A small stick-like object on the floor stood out to him, and he picked it up. To Brent, it looked like the handle of a one handed short sword without its blade, but of modern make and materials. The black plastic was molded with textured surface so that it would not easily slip out of his grasp.

But what was it really? If it was something useful that game-like interface system should have information on it. “Inventory,” he intoned, and a window appeared before him displaying a list with one entry in it. Selecting that entry outlined the item in a faint white light visible only to him, and a bubble popped out with its description:

Vertical Forward Grip
Attachment - Grip
Rarity Common
Compatible with Assault Rifles, SMGs, certain Light Machine Guns
Reduces bullet spread from sustained fire.

Ah, so it was a handle for a gun. That would be great, if he had an assault rifle or light machine gun. It might come in handy later, so Brent pocketed it and moved on to the next building.

In there he found another item, which looked like a single section of a telescope with a dial on the side. As he appraised it a bright purple outline surrounded it, indicating its higher rarity and thus quality. The description was a bit difficult for him to understand though.

2-4x variable ACOG
Attachment - Optic
Rarity Rare
Compatible with Assault Rifles, Sniper Rifles
The sight of choice for midranged marksmen, allowing a seamless transition from distance fighting to close quarters and back again.

After a while he began to grow frustrated as he continued going through broken down houses and found only more of these types of items. He needed an actual gun, not just the attachments for one! By now he had too many of them to fit in his pockets and hands. There was no way he was actually going to use them all, so he dropped a couple of the most common ones and stopped picking up attachments. He did keep that purple ACOG thing as it was rare and looked pretty high tech.

At last in an abandoned warehouse he found a small gray handgun with a rather thin barrel.

Celtic .22 rimfire “Noisy Cricket”
Rarity Uncommon
Damage 22
Firing Modes
Attachment slots
Optic, Barrel, Lower Rail
Possessing a similar size and firing sound to its namesake insect, the Cricket excels against unarmored and unarmed opponents.

It didn’t sound too great, but it was better than nothing. Brent examined the Cricket for a few minutes, turning it over in his hands. In the games he’d played, you just had to make sure the target was ‘selected’ and ranged weapon attacks would automatically hit. He suspected this wasn’t the case here and actual aiming would be involved. Gulping, he continued through the ramshackle village, the occasional echo of a distant gunshot putting him on edge.

It was at this point that he started to have misgivings regarding the inventory system, as a rusty kitchen knife he pulled out of a rack was considered to be a “tactical melee weapon” and a roll of white colored duct tape was labeled as “bandages”. Well, there were certainly worse things you could apply to an open wound.

Attention all!” the bright voice of Dombey Uno echoed through the island. It seemed to come from several directions, including one close by. “It’s been a nice little bloodbath so far, but we’ve noticed the death rate is going down because you’re too spaced out. Don’t worry, we’re going to help you all get a little closer to each other soon. The first halo has formed, and the storm will start closing in on it in three hours!”

So their mysterious captors weren’t going to let him just hide in some remote corner until the whole thing blew over. They used a rather strange term for it, but Brent pieced together that they meant to restrict the contestants into a smaller circular area. How exactly this would be enforced was unclear.

Now that he had some basic supplies Brent decided it was a good time to hunker down and plan out his next move. He went into one of the less run-down houses, closed all the doors he could find on the ground floor, then went upstairs and did the same thing before sitting down beside a window in one of the bedrooms. None of the doors had working locks, but he figured doing this would at least buy him some time to react if someone came by.


Name Brent Davies  
Race Human
Health   100/100
Adrenaline   0%
Weapon Noisy Cricket (14/14)
Helmet None
Armor None
Backpack Tote Bag (Level 1)

He’d picked up a small drawstring tote bag from one of the houses earlier, which had helped immensely in relieving the burden of carrying all those attachments on his hands and pockets. It was pink, and had a faded stencil of a rabbit head on one side. His status showed a level with it, indicating the potential for a future upgrade.

Rather than open up the bag and take everything out, Brent merely uttered “Inventory” for convenience’s sake:


Vertical Foregrip

2-4x variable ACOG

1x Red dot Reflex Sight

Shotgun shells (4)

Sniper rifle stock

7.62mm ammo (30)

Bandages (5)

Tactical Combat Knife

Apparently that single roll of white duct tape had five uses. He had also found a few boxes of ammunition, though they didn’t work with the pistol. In fact, the merit of holding onto most of these items was still in question, with no solid justification other than that they might be of future use.

Brent then opened what would prove to be the most useful feature of the interface: “Map.”

A large window popped into view displaying a top down view of the island. Most of it was gray and featureless save for a small region in the northeast corner, in the center of which a green arrow indicated his current position. A white ring lay over the terrain, just slightly smaller than the island, presumably the “halo” Dombey had mentioned earlier.

He was almost inside the ring already, and judging from the scale it would only be a short walk. As far as he was concerned he had plenty of time before he actually had to move. In fact, he could probably just stay holed up here for the entire duration-

Creak. Brent heard the front door open below, and his train of thought evaporated.

The footsteps were slow but each one sounded as loud as a thunderclap to Brent’s panicked mind. He sprung into action, seeing if he could escape through the room’s window, but it was the fixed kind that didn’t open.

If flight was out of the question, he’d have to fight. Brent equipped the Cricket pistol and slowly opened the door.

He was fortunate, arriving at the top of the stairs just as the other person was at the bottom. He raised the gun-

Wait! Don’t shoot!”

It was a young man who looked roughly the same age as Brent. He also had a gun holstered at his side, but his hands were up. Brent’s finger was on the trigger, but… was he really prepared to take someone’s life? This whole contest seemed a lot like a video game, but any death would likely be permanent.

After a moment, he lowered his pistol. Both boys breathed out in relief.

So… truce?” Brent offered.

Sure,” the other replied, and thus a temporary alliance was formed.

He introduced himself as “Duck”, and as it turned out he had played this type of game before, albeit the virtual variety. Duck confirmed that when the halo closed anyone still outside would be subjected to some sort of pain field that constantly damaged them until they died.

Brent had already looted the house so there wasn’t much reason for them to stay. They left the house and started walking towards the nearest part of the halo indicated on the map.

As they reached the edge of the fishing village Dombey Uno’s voice rang out again with another announcement. “Two hours left until the first halo closes!” Brent pinpointed the source of the sound as a loudspeaker mounted high up on a tall metal pole. There were probably others like it scattered across the island.

Duck wasn’t much for conversation, so Brent continued surveying the scenery. As the farmlands from before came into view he noticed something he’d missed on the way down. There was a clear border between the village area and this one, the muddy earth abruptly turning into grassy hills along a jagged edge lined with numerous metal tubes going in and out of the ground. It was almost as if the regions had been stitched together by some massive needle, a literal patchwork quilt of land.

How was this place built… and who could have made it?” Brent wondered.

Dunno,” Duck replied, “but they must be hella powerful.”

A few more minutes passed before Brent broke the silence again. “Hey, seems like I’ve looted a lot of stuff I can’t use right now, you want to trade? You could probably use them better.”

Sure,” Duck shrugged. Brent started taking items out of his pack and presenting them.

Nope, nope, nope… oh yeah, I can use that,” Duck said of the reflex sight, a small black-framed pane of glass with a red dot in the middle.

Brent handed it over, and Duck promptly attached it to his pistol, a light click sounding as it slid into place on top. “Nice, thanks.”

Hold on… Brent frowned. He checked his own pistol and found it had the exact same slot.

Alright, here’s what I’ve got, take your pick.” Duck emptied his pockets to reveal more incompatible attachments, a few bullets, and some bandages.

Brent had the sinking feeling that he’d just been taken advantage of. “Actually, can I just have that back?”

No,” Duck responded with surprising firmness. “Why? Wasn’t this your idea?”

Sighing internally, Brent decided it wasn’t worth arguing over such a small thing, especially when he didn’t even know what good it was. He went with the roll of bandages in exchange.

They say teamwork makes the dream work, but Brent wasn’t really feeling the team work here.

A note from vauntless

I realize it's quite a common experience in these games to get into a firefight right away, but those stories tend to be rather... short lived. Don't worry, you'll see some action soon.

If you're liking the story so far, please rate, review, or just leave a comment about some typo I made or a trash teammate you got matched with. You can also boost me on TopWebFiction at

About the author


Bio: if only I had thorns like a thistle

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