Chapter 06 - Confrontation

Current Region: Verisimilar Veldt

How was he going to fight off this unknown assassin who had been assigned to target him? This gnawing uncertainty followed Brent as he trawled through a few more houses, but still had no luck finding ammunition.

A few blocks away from the plaza Brent came across a building that was a couple times larger than the other houses, with several of the same empty windows and an extended porch wrapping around its exterior.

He ventured inside to find a large chamber that was pitch black save for the dim sunlight filtering in through a doorway on the far side, the scant rays only touching a tiny portion of the floor. Brent brought out his flashlight attachment and turned it on.

Feeling braver, he walked further in, noticing that his footsteps didn’t echo as one would expect from a room of this size due to a heavy layer of dust and dirt covering the floor. In fact if he was careful they didn’t make much of a sound at all.

By the thin beam of his tiny flashlight Brent canvassed the chamber, illuminating a bevy of chairs and tables in various states of disrepair. From what he could tell the building was meant to be some kind of public meeting hall, like a forum.

He found the “usual” paltry loot drops in the corners, just more granola bars, stock attachments for guns he didn’t have, and a couple of potatoes. There was also a few small bundles of cash which he eagerly scooped up now that he knew their value. Although there was no telling when he would find another one of those… delivery checkouts? He decided he would just call them Vending Machines for now.

Brent left the building via the far side doorway, which opened up into another plaza area.

In the middle of this plaza there was a small circular well, two wooden stubs sticking out from the sides that must have been support struts for roof. And where there was a well there might be water. Perfect for Brent’s still dry throat, which hadn’t gotten any less parched from walking through this dead and dusty town.

He took out one of his empty water bottles and approached the well, peering over the edge. The well’s shaft was of course deep and dark, but there seemed to be a glistening at the bottom, like that of a liquid. Great. Now he just had to find a way to bring it up, as there wasn’t any bucket or obvious mechanism for drawing water nearby.


Brent jumped at the mention, his blood running cold. He hadn’t said that.

Someone else had just said his name. The voice was male, but wasn’t that of anyone he recognized, so if they knew what his name was...

-Then they must be his assassin.

The bounty tracker had indeed led them right here. He just hadn’t expected it so soon.

Clack! Brent looked down again to see his water bottle bounce off the side of the shaft and hit the bottom of the well with a splash, his now empty hand having dropped it on accident. Well, it was definitely getting filled up with water now.

Brent? Are you there?”

It was a trap, no doubt. The assassin was probably well equipped and confident he could win a fight, and so was trying to lure him out.

And he had just given away his damn location! Panic took hold of Brent’s mind as he pondered what to do. Think, Brent, think!

He still didn’t have a gun or any sort of ranged weapon, so he couldn’t fight. He also didn’t know where his hunter was, so if he ran he might end up running right into them.

The well lay before him, inviting him to jump into its dark depths to hide. It was a stupid idea; he would definitely break some bones and have no way back up, but as often happens in tense situations he kept coming back to it in lieu of coming up with a better one.

After what seemed like an eternity but was truly only a few seconds Brent forced his feet to move and tore himself away from the well. He had finally come up with another idea, which was almost as stupid- but he was desperate, and this one had a slightly better chance of actually working.

He dashed back into the meeting hall and immediately turned left into one of the darkened areas. He pressed his back up against a wall and willed himself to breathe as quietly as possible, though his heart was pounding in his head.

In his hand was the Noisy Cricket, his pistol. The idea was that while he knew he had no ammunition and his gun was unloaded, his would-be assassin did not. And in this hall there would be no sight and very little sound to give Brent away, guaranteeing that he would get the jump on them. And then- well, he was still working out what came next.

He waited. And waited. Then he heard slow footsteps, indicating someone was approaching the doorway he was positioned by. Good. It would have been more difficult if they had come from the other side, but now he could take them from behind.

Brent?” The voice was really close now.

Brent almost jumped again, but kept himself under control.

A man walked into the room, wearing a blue backpack and a gray beanie hat. He didn’t seem to be holding anything. Brent held his breath and raised his weapon.

His hunter took a few more steps in, still unaware that there was anyone else. Just a little further…

The man was definitely going to spot him if he looked long enough, so it was now or never. Brent quickly strode up and poked the barrel- or rather the silencer protruding from the barrel- into the back of the man’s head. A shot like that would surely bring instant death no matter how low the gun’s damage was. Unless, of course, it wasn’t loaded at all.

D-don’t move. Or I’ll shoot you,” Brent stammered.

The words didn’t feel real to him, like someone else was saying them. It sounded like something a villain would say. A scared, trembling, nervous wreck of a villain.

The words seemed to have the desired effect though, as the man went stock still.

Uh hey, uh, let’s just take it easy here, eh? You don’t need to do this.”

He raised his hands up slowly revealing that they were indeed empty.

I won’t shoot if y-you don’t move,” Brent responded, keeping his weapon in contact with the man’s head. He wondered if the man could feel the shaking of his hands through it.

Yeah, I get that. Hey, you mind if I turn around and talk to you face to face? I think we got off on the wrong foot-”

Bad idea. Brent feared he might do one of those karate chop moves and knock the pistol out of his hands. “N-no,” he cut in, “I mean, stay right where you are. ...Or I b-blow your brains out.”

Alright, that’s fine, that’s fine.” The man sighed, and Brent caught a hint of a wistful expression from what little of his face could be seen. “Man, you really got me in a bind, eh?”

Brent didn’t respond to that. They remained in this position for a few seconds, as if frozen in a tableau.

The man spoke up first. “So, what happens now?”


I’m not moving, like you said. So what now, eh?”

Brent wasn’t doing anything externally, but inside his mind was racing at a million miles per hour. It worked! His bluff had actually worked, and his assassin was now at his mercy, or at least he had been tricked into thinking that was the case. Now he had to figure out what to do about it.

Brent opened his mouth. “O-okay, uh, first, lower your gun and put it on the f-floor.”

The man wiggled his fingers. “Not holding a gun, mate.”

Oh, right. “Uh, then… do you have any guns?”

Yeah. One.”

What a stupid question, of course he did, he was here to kill Brent, right? “Put it on the floor, uh, and then kick it to the side. S-slowly. If you try anything funny, you’re dead, got it?” He nudged the man’s head lightly with the pistol for emphasis.

Got it.” The man lifted a shoulder strap over his head.

This was the tricky part. If there was a best time for the guy to call Brent’s bluff it was now. And if he did call it, it was all over.

I’m putting it down now.” He squatted down, Brent keeping the Cricket on him as he laid the shoulder strap down along with the gun it was attached to.

He couldn’t make out the details in this light, but it was larger than a pistol, that was for sure. Brent considered picking it up and just shooting the assassin for real. But he might have to take his pistol off the man’s head while doing so, and leave himself open to some kind of attack. So many uncertainties.

There,” the man said as he straightened up, “I’m unarmed now. Happy?”

Another hurdle cleared.

Brent nodded, then remembered that the man couldn’t see that. “Yeah. Okay, now do the same thing with your backpack.” There was probably some useful loot inside.

Sure thing.” The man’s voice was level, and he seemed a lot calmer than Brent was in this situation, which led to the teen second guessing himself. Did the assassin know something that he didn’t? Were the tables about to be turned on him in a single moment?

The answer to both of these questions, it turned out, was yes.

Suddenly, two people entered the hall through the doorway on the far side, one a tall, dark skinned woman and the other a man with oriental features and spiked hair.

Everything okay?” the woman called. “We didn’t see you lea- Oh shit!”

Brent thought the same thing as the two raised their guns and started approaching.

Damn it Holmes, I told you this was a bad idea!” the spiky-haired man shouted.

So these two were his hunter’s friends! Or partners, allies, whatever. Brent almost choked up, but he had to say something.

S-stop! Don’t come any closer!” he stammered, waving his pistol. “Put your guns down! Or- or your friend here dies!Crap. Now he really sounded like a villain.

They did stop, but spiky-hair was still pointing his long rifle straight at Brent. “Just try it! If he dies, then you die.

Yep, things had gone horribly wrong. Brent considered his options. He could dash to either side and take cover in the darkness of the chamber, but that would only buy time. In order to leave the building he would need to go through one of the doorways, and they would be able to see him clearly then. It seemed like there was just no way out.

Whoa whoa whoa, let’s everyone just chill out, eh?” Brent’s hunter turned hostage boomed over them, raising his hands again but this time in more of an interposing manner. “No one has to die here. Put it down, Ray.

Tell that to the guy holding you at gunpoint,Ray shot back, “I’m trying to save your dumb ass here.

I get that, but just hold on for a minute, okay? I think we can work this out. I have a good feeling about this guy.

Ray groaned. “You want to throw your life away, be my guest. I’m not going to shoot first, but if he tries to attack us all bets are off.”

I suppose that’ll have to do.

The man, Holmes turned his head a bit to the left. “So, my friend in the back. Brent. Is it alright if I call you that?”

Uh… yeah?”

Great. Now, Brent, you can see how the situation has changed. You’re outnumbered three to one. If it came to a fight you might take down one or even two of us, but you would still lose in the end. But I’d rather it didn’t come to a fight. So how about you put that gun down and let me go, and my friends back off, and we all walk out of here alive, eh?

Put it on the ground, he means,Ray added. “So we know you aren’t armed.”

Yeah, what he said.

Brent couldn’t tell if he was being sincere. But aren’t I your target for the assassin event? How do I know you won’t just kill me anyway?

See, that’s just the thing, Brent. I didn’t come here to kill you.


He waggled his hands again. “Yeah, sorry, probably should have led with that. I was going to see if you wanted to make an alliance with us, join our merry little band here. Strength in numbers, eh?

Was this a trick? No, now that Brent thought about it, he had come into the hall unarmed. And with the odds so stacked in his favor at the moment there was no real need for tricks.

Oh, and by the way, I’m not your assassin. That would be Ray over there. Says so right on his display thing- ah, I suppose you can’t see it. You’ll just have to take our word for it.

Brent glanced over. If Ray was his hunter, then he could shoot him right now and claim the prize. The only reason he wouldn’t have already was...

Brent sighed. He really didn’t see any other way out of this. “You promise you won’t hurt me?

Pinky swear, mate. We’re not level with this whole assassin thing, and frankly not sure about this whole death game either.”

Brent felt the same way, and so decided to trust him. Alright then.” He backed off while taking the pistol off Holmes’ head.

Slowly,” Ray cautioned.

Right. In a neat facsimile of what his former hostage did earlier, Brent lowered the Cricket onto the floor and nudged it to the side.

Ray holstered his rifle, and a collective sigh passed through the chamber.

Whew,” Holmes took off his beanie and whipped around a mop of curly brown hair. “Now that was a right stressful situation. But I worked it out in the end, huh Ray?”

Yeah, looks like you did,” Ray grumbled.

Holmes turned around to show a friendly face ringed by a short but well groomed beard. He and his two companions stared at Brent, who was for some reason still standing there.

Brent stared back. “So… what happens now?”

A note from vauntless

There's not a cell phone or stat block in sight for this chapter, just people living in the moment.

As I've been saying for the past five chapters now, I welcome ratings, reviews, comments you care to contribute. Oh, and vote in the poll I put on this chapter too.

Give my story a boost at

What's your opinion on the amount of stat blocks in this story?
Too Damn High
11.11% 11.11% of votes
Not Enough
55.56% 55.56% of votes
Just Right
33.33% 33.33% of votes
Total: 9 vote(s)

About the author


Bio: if only I had thorns like a thistle

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