Chapter 04 - Mob Farming

Brent woke up somewhat sore from lying on the ground instead of a bed, but felt none the worse for wear. He had a panicked that someone could have snuck into the cave while he was sleeping and taken his stuff, but he checked and everything was exactly the way he’d left it. On the other hand, this confirmed that what happened yesterday wasn’t just some bizarre dream, and he’d have to fight for his life today as well.

Peeking outside he gathered that it was the middle of the morning, roughly 10 o’clock, or at least that was his best guess as he had a poor sense of time without a clock. Come to think of it, shouldn’t his game interface thing have one? Brent spent the next few minutes trying various voice commands and browsing through the holographic windows for the option but either it didn’t exist or it was locked behind some obscure sequence.

With that settled, Brent packed up and left the cave to wander somewhat aimlessly through the countryside. It felt quite lonely as the houses and villages were in various states of disrepair and devoid of residents. What had become of the original inhabitants, if there were any?

For that matter, was Dombey telling the truth about having any wish granted? Whoever stitched this island together could be powerful enough to do that, but there was no telling if it was the same entity running this contest.

In an even crummier wooden shack than the one he’d nearly died in yesterday, Brent found an attachment that he could actually equip, a shiny black cylinder with a threaded stub on one end.

Attachment - Barrel
Rarity Uncommon
Compatible with Pistols
The product of years of research by Deaf Jam Industries, it almost lives up to its name in reducing fire noise.

Now this could be very useful. The silencer screwed neatly onto the Cricket’s barrel, although it looked almost comically over-sized sticking out of such a tiny pistol. Brent left the shack, glanced around to make sure no one was in the immediate vicinity, then test fired it at the ground.


It was very soft, so much so that Brent almost missed the sound. He pulled the trigger two more times.


It didn’t even sound like a gun, more like someone flipping a switch. He doubted it could be heard from even the next hill over. Just for comparison though, Brent removed the silencer and took a few shots without it.

Chirp. Chirp-chirp.

Turns out the Cricket just wasn’t that loud to begin with. Well, it would make for very stealthy shooting nonetheless. He could act like the Rogue class in RPGs and make sneak attacks. Would sneak attacks do bonus damage in this world? Brent hoped they would.




After traveling some more, Brent spotted what looked like a large shiny metal plate at the low point between two hills. He ventured down to take a closer look.

It was perfectly round and a sawtooth line down the middle split it in half. When Brent got within a few feet he started to hear a strange whirring noise that seemed to come from beneath the ground. He stopped short, and suddenly the two halves of the plate slid apart to reveal a deep hole.

Out of the hole rose something terrible: the robotic skeleton of an animatronic the same size and build of Dombey Uno, but stripped of clothes, fur, and anything else that usually made them more pleasing to the eye. It was a dull gray metal frame containing exposed motors and the machinery that made it move. Red dots appeared in the eye sockets of the thing’s skull, and its teeth were all filed to a point. It started gnashing those teeth mindlessly at a rate most creatures could not match, and stepped off the platform it had come up on towards Brent.

It was at this point Brent completely lost his nerve and ran for his life.

A- AAAAAAHHH!!!” he screamed as he dashed straight up and over a hill, adrenaline pushing his body to greater athletic heights than he had ever sought to achieve in his sedentary life at home.

It took a minute or two of this before he realized a few things:

1. His screaming would be as likely to to attract more enemies than help.

2. Now that he’d stopped screaming, the sound of that killer robot’s chattering jaws didn’t sound very close anymore.

3. He had a gun, so why couldn’t he fight back?

Brent took his pistol out and worked up the courage to stop running and turn around. When he did, he saw that the robot was some distance away, just standing in place. It then turned around and started briskly walking back towards the hole.

Someone else might have been confused by this and just taken this opportunity to leave, but to Brent the robot’s behavior looked very familiar. In an MMO, if you were being chased by a monster, running a certain distance outside of its zone would “break aggro”, causing it to give up pursuit and return to its spawn point regardless of the situation. That might be what was happening here.

Brent decided to put this to the test. He aimed at the robot and fired a shot.

Click. It was a near miss, but the machine didn’t react. Brent crept a bit closer and tried again. Click-ting! This time he hit, causing the robot to flinch and a holographic number ‘18’ in a bluish tint rose above its head for a moment, obviously an indicator of how much damage he’d done to it. Still no reaction came.

Huh, in that case… Brent kept shooting it, and after several hits and holographic ‘18’s the robot keeled over and fell to the ground, almost falling apart in the process. Come to think of it, wasn’t it supposed to deal 22 damage per hit? Perhaps the robot had armor or something that reduced it to 18.

Brent approached cautiously to confirm that it was ‘dead’. It was, and inside its chest cavity he found several stacks of cash. Jackpot! Though he still hadn’t seen any kind of store or place to spend money, he had a pretty good feeling now that there would be at some point. He stowed the money in his backpack.

Brent grinned as an idea began to formulate in his head. The hole had closed up again, but when he approached it the same thing happened, and another robot came out and started chasing him. This time though he fled at a leisurely jog, periodically looking behind him to make sure it hadn’t gotten too close.

After cresting over two hills the robot froze just like the first one, and as soon as it turned around Brent pumped it full of lead. It went down, and another bounty of bundled cash awaited him in its carcass. He reloaded his gun, returned to the hole and yet another animatronic appeared, clanking its jaws menacingly. However, now that he’d worked out the boundaries of the “aggro” zone it was barely even a threat.

He repeated this routine of running away and then shooting once the robot reset, killing it and claiming its stored cash. This… this was basically farming, wasn’t it? His accumulated knowledge from years of video games was finally coming in handy in this new world. Since his pistol was so quiet he figured he could keep at this robot farming for quite a while before anyone noticed. It might not be the best thing Brent could be doing at the moment but it was a routine that felt comfortable and familiar to him.

There were a few differences of course. The robot wasn’t dropping any items besides the cash, and he wasn’t gaining any sort of experience points from killing it. He supposed this was normal as from what little he knew of shooter games, they didn’t have levels or an XP system, at least not for individual characters.

Sadly this was not to last. As he was shooting a retreating robot, the Cricket let out a lower pitched click indicating the magazine was empty. Brent reached for a fresh magazine… only to find that there weren’t any more.

A notification appeared in his vision, the zero colored red and flashing.

Weapon Noisy Cricket (0/14)

He rummaged through his backpack in disbelief, but only found shotgun shells and those other ammunition types that wouldn’t work with his pistol. He really had used up all of his ammo. Granted, he hadn’t started with much to begin with, but… he facepalmed, feeling like an idiot for losing track of such a vital resource.

Brent’s stomach growled, interrupting his train of thought. He returned to the shack that he’d found the silencer in, popping a few trail mix bars washed down with a bottle of water. It could hardly be called a meal but it actually tasted higher quality than his usual instant noodles diet. He’d have to work on that if he ever made it back home.




It was a bit past noon when Brent reached the western edge of the farmlands zone, which on his Map screen was labeled as “Agrarian Acres”. Beyond were two different regions, joined to each other and the farmland with the same giant stitching along their borders. On the left was a gray, barren waste filled with the charred black frames of burned out trees, the island’s volcano looming in the distance. On the right was a savanna, filled with low shrubbery interspersed amid tall yellow grass. There were no names for these regions on the Map. He probably needed to explore them a certain amount for that.

In an MMO, scary or imposing locales were typically associated with a higher level zone, with powerful monsters but powerful gear drops as well. But that might not be how things worked here, and even if was the case, Brent felt his current gear was quite inadequate for challenging content. To the savanna it was then.

Wait, weren’t there lions and other dangerous animals here? Brent faintly recalled reading somewhere that the savanna was their natural habitat. Well, there didn’t seem to be any creatures as far as he could see.

He started trekking through. Occasionally he was spooked by flickers of something moving in the tall grass, but it was too far away to be sure.

The terrain grew more hilly and less grassy, and atop one such hill Brent spotted a large satellite dish attached to what looked like one of those self checkout machines that could be found at supermarkets these days. Could it be?

He jogged over. The machine sported a sleek, advanced looking touchscreen that lit up as he approached. It was… a shop interface!

The blue bar at the top showed a D-Bucks inserted” counter and a button to “View Shopping Cart (0)”. Ah, so it was one of those. Brent groaned internally.

Underneath the bar was a list of items for sale, each item’s entry had a preview button which would show a 3D model of a transparent mannequin holding it. Brent started swiping up to scroll through items, and boy were there a lot of those.

There were many different styles of backpacks, or “Back Bling” as the terminal called them, some of which didn’t actually look like they could hold anything, like “The Crystal Method” which was just a blue crystal floating next to the shoulder straps. In any case Brent already had a backpack. What he really needed right now was ammo for his pistol, he could always get any other stuff later.

A whole section was dedicated to colored spray paint cans that each sprayed a preset graffiti pattern, and another to… emotes and dances? They didn’t seem very practical, and Brent wondered how you could even buy a dance in this situation.

Growing impatient he scrolled down faster, and at last reached the section containing ammunition.


9mm Parabellum
Rarity Common

A reliable cartridge used by most pistols and a few submachine guns.

Si vis pacem, para bellum.

Units to Purchase

Brent wasn’t too familiar with firearm terms, but this looked like what he needed. Instead of a mannequin, the preview only displayed a square yellow box. He hit the Add to Cart button and tried to check out, but got an error popup prompting him to insert the aforementioned “D-Bucks”.

He looked down and spotted a couple of vending machine-esque slots made to accept cash and coins below the touchscreen. It was quite a feat of engineering, how this device managed to fuse two different types of shopping experiences into some kind of twisted hybrid. Brent started feeding dollar bills into the slot, which emitted an artificial “Nom nom nom” sound effect as it took them in. He put in only the bare minimum before trying to check out again.


Thank you for your purchase!

A congratulatory message popped up for a brief moment before disappearing. Brent stared at the machine in silence for a few seconds, expecting something else to happen, but nothing did. No internal whirring, no thunking of any items dropping into a receptacle below that he could pick up.

Confused, Brent opened up his inventory menu, hoping that perhaps the ammo had been teleported directly into his backpack somehow. It hadn’t.

Confusion turned to frustration. Had he been played like a chump? Was this machine just a trap designed to suck up all his money?

It certainly wouldn’t be the first time. But just to be sure, Brent walked around to the other side of the machine to check if there was any hidden receptacle he might have missed.

Paff! Brent’s attention was drawn by the sound of a small impact. He looked back to the front to see that a small cloud of dust particles had been stirred up around a newly formed hole in the ground. A bullet hole.

Was someone shooting at him? But he hadn’t seen anyone on the way here.

His ears picked up the sound of a distant gunshot, and suddenly the machine’s touchscreen exploded, sending shards of glass everywhere. Brent dove to the ground in a panic, clutching his head.

It was a sniper! Brent wracked his brains as he curled up behind the machine, making sure no part of him was exposed. Another powerful shot hit the side of the machine, and Brent felt it rattle against his back.

Whoever was attacking him was firing from quite some distance away. They had likely been lying in wait this whole time, waiting to snipe someone as they were busy browsing the shop menu.

At least he knew for certain that the checkout machine was between him and the sniper. Brent contemplated peeking around the edge to try to spot his attacker. No, that was stupid. He’d just get his head blown off, just like that soldier in this old movie he’d seen featuring trench warfare.

Or was it? He was wearing a helmet, and the description did say it reduced headshot damage. Then again, the sniper’s weapon was quite powerful judging from the impact. 75% of the damage might still be lethal, and the rest of his body was unprotected. It was not something he wanted to put to the test.

Even if he did find the sniper, there was no way his pistol would reach that far, and Brent didn’t trust his aim with his life. How could he fight back against something like that? This game just kept getting more and more unfair, and that wasn’t even considering the fact that he didn’t have any ammunition because the damn vending machine was a scam.

Best to just run. Brent moved to get up, then caught himself. There was that same issue of his head sticking up over the machine, especially since the screen on top had been destroyed.

Remaining seated, he started to scoot forward as the machine was hit again. Slowly, he inched his way down the back side of the hill the machine was on, wincing at each subsequent sniper shot. After the third shot, there was silence, confirming his unseen attacker had similarly lost sight of him. Brent kept scooting, dirt and bits of yellow grass accumulating on the butt of his pants as he slid downward. At last he felt confident that the hill’s height was more than sufficient to cover his own.

He stood up, dusted himself off, and ran like hell, not daring to look back.

A note from vauntless

LIke many other things, the process of going to a store and buying something in video games is so much more convenient than it is in real life. Just click, tap or press a button on the item you want, and it's yours; the cost is automatically deducted and the product appears in your inventory. No need to scan a barcode, cut coupons, or handle a mile-long receipt. Even with online shopping in real life, you have to add stuff to a virtual cart, select payment method, etc.

So I thought, if a game were to be truly realistic, why not have the shopping be as annoying as it is in real life? Thus, the Battleground Surival Legends E-Commerce Station™ was born!

if you like what you're reading, please leave a rating, review, comment, and/or boost my story on TopWebFiction at 

About the author


Bio: if only I had thorns like a thistle

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