I popped out the old magazine and put in a new one as Lil came back over the headset. “Registering a total of 9 kills. I’ve tallied up the enemy combatants to a total of 78.” I felt my heart plummet into my stomach. “You have a total of 41 minutes to survive, please don’t die.” The AI was actually starting to sound concerned. I laughed, “Well, let’s at least make my dad proud!” I said before looking back down to the beady red eyes below as they raced after me. “Let’s get to killing then….”
I know I said that to sound cool, but… Tens of those mean- short assholes charged at once, their grimy chicken feet like hands holding different shaped clubs. I have a few minutes on them as they struggled against the slope. I took up an isosceles shooting stance as I pointed it down towards the horde of monsters and fired methodically for the ones that would trip their fellow uglies up.
Bang! Bang! Bang! Bang!
I could almost hear my dad standing next to me as I fell into a cadence. “Accuracy is for ranged targets, speed is for those standing within an arm’s length.” I never had any actual experience shooting at actual targets that fought back until today. With the hordes of monsters clamoring up the slope towards me, I felt that everything my dad had taught me wasn’t such a waste anymore. Just when I was getting into a groove, I felt something whistle past my ear and a burning sensation across my ear for I felt something warm dripping off it. I didn’t have time to check what the hell happened as what was whistling at me came to light.
One hit the rock below me, sending sparks flying as it tumbled away. Knowing what was coming at me, I quickly dropped back behind the rock and looked for another rock to leap-frog to only to find out that I ran myself up against a wall. Behind me was a steep cliff-wall that rose to almost fifty feet, its imposing height glistening in the silver moonlight like a tombstone as a few more arrows flew over my head. “Fuck…” I cursed as I looked to my left and right. The cliff wall stretched out to my left for another 100 or more feet while it reached to the mountain’s edge on my left.
From here to the other end where it sloped down enough to run up was open ground and I didn’t trust myself not to either die by an arrow or from a heart attack with the weight of the vest. Soldiers made it look easy, but these armor plates were heavy as hell! Just as I was going to make a run for it, more goblins appeared to my right, circling around with bows and arrows. “Damn it!” I yelled out. They weren’t making it easy.
I turned to charge to my left and ended up face to face with the club-wielding garden variety of goblins. Making a split second decision, I took my chances with the horde of clubs rather than the wall of arrows behind me. The runts didn’t expect me to charge them head-on as I unleashed a barrage of lead, aiming for the headshots and with them being so close – every shot hit their target.
The combination of up close muzzle fire and gunshot concussions disoriented the tens of tiny ankle biters, sending them toppling backward as I rushed them. Arrows from the right side began to cascade on me, but thankfully, they were as poor a shot as I was at that distance. Most of their arrows either struck the ground or got stuck in their friends. I was quite pleased with the latter outcome. However, that was quickly getting fixed as the goblin archers began to slowly zero in on me so I tried my best to move forward over the stumbling goblins as they tried their best to avoid the muzzle blasts and it’s friends – FMJ 9mm bullets.
“Notifying, 52 enemy combatants remaining. 14 minutes remaining until the main objective is completed.” Lil came over the headset. “Got it!” I yelled back as I found a small flat path to cross over to the right as the goblins I had passed without killing had decided they were brave little killing machines and chased after me yelling incoherent things. The archers hadn’t moved from their spot, but I came up to a long outcrop of rocks that put me out of their line of fire.
Using the opportunity, I dropped the dry magazine and popped in a new one. I was sweating profusely and I was a lot slower than when I had started then fight. I was seriously wondering how long I would last. The only thing in my favor was that these little munchkins’ stamina wasn’t that great. I may have been slacking in training, but I was in way better condition than them even after a crash landing. With a quick peek behind, a lot of the monsters were slowing down as they huffed and puffed. I fired a few shots into the group, all of them hitting, but only one dropped.
I turned my attention back forward and found that the outcrop was coming to an end, so I popped out behind the Goblin Archers that were still looking at the outcrop’s center. The goblin horde had come to a stop as they were trying to get around their injured kin since they couldn’t just step over them. Taking advantage of their dropped guard, I quickly took up my firing stance and began to opening fire on the six Goblin archers that stood around ten feet away.
I placed 3 to 4 shots into four of them before the slide locked back. I reloaded with much smoother movements compared to when I started the fight and I took down the last two as they tried to scramble up the cliff. “39 enemies remaining. 2 minutes left until mission completed. Unknown combatants entering the AO.” Off in the distance, I could see several torches bouncing out of towards the fight. They had appeared from the forest below in the valley. “I would suggest you commandeer the enemy’s ranged weapons to converse ammunition.”
Taking Lil’s suggestion, I put away the XM17. I quickly made my way to the nearest goblin that held a short bow. I ripped it from its freshly dead grip and pulled an arrow out of its quiver that was made from dirty cloth and vines. It took me a few precious seconds to figure out how to notch it decently enough to get it to shoot straight, but I managed to figure it out before the first goblin made it around the outcrop. I let the arrow loose and it stuck the goblin in its thigh.
I quickly notched another and shot it. This time, it hit dead center on its chest. I poured my all into keeping track of the horde and keeping a sustained fire on those turning around. I was already 12 arrows in when Lil called out again. “Mission completed.” As the sun began to rise to my left. I would have taken time to enjoy the view if not for the bundles of hated-filled killing machines scrambling around as the newcomers clashed with them.
I thought I wasn’t going to be shocked considering there were goblins attacking me, but I saw real magic. Actual magic. A woman who couldn’t have been older than me fired what I could only call a fireball that exploded in the horde’s center. “23 enemy combatants remaining.” Then four men and women dressed in leather armor and wielding shortswords jumped into the fray as the goblins tried to escape.
I wasn’t going to be outdone by the new guys, so those who came running towards me were quickly dispatched with arrows. Well, a few arrows. I could hit targets running towards me, not away. It took a few times, but I wasn’t keen on using my sidearm in front of these strangers just in case if I had to use it against them. I applauded myself in my head at how calm I was that I could even think that right now. “All enemy combatants have been neutralized. Destruction of enemy forces not within the mission time frame, no bonuses will be rewarded.” Lil stopped for a moment. “But I’m glad you’re alive.”
I wasn’t going to nitpick why the AI said that. I was happy to be alive as well. Well, for now. It turned into a classic Texas showdown as they wearily sized me up as I had the bow and arrow at the ready. “You are…?” One of the men closest to me. His face was mostly covered by the leather helm he wore, but I could see a grey beard sticking out from under there. “Isaac.” I replied briefly. One of the girls behind him looked at the ridge that was dotted with dead goblins, most of them hadn’t been killed by them, but me.
“You kill all of those?” The girl asked. “The one and only,” I said. I was the only damn person on this hill!” She looked at me in disbelief. “How-” I cut her off. “Look, no disrespect to you ma’am, but if you ask one more stupid question, we might as well fight it out because I don’t have the mental capacity at the moment to answer those questions.” The girl looked like would have liked that, but the man stopped her. “Stop Jessica. The boy has obviously been fighting for a while against that Goblin horde.” He gave me a pitying side eye.
I looked down confused and noticed how badly I actually came out. My nice comfortable pyjamas were torn all over with the right pant leg even missing. My legs had large purple spots from where the clubs got me and blood was dripping off my ear. I looked like a homeless man that just raided a gun store and had just been beaten up by the law enforcement. “So are we going to fight?” I asked. I didn’t have any more energy to fight, to be honest. All that adrenaline had left me and I was standing purely on will power now. “Your vital signs suggest you cannot enter another confrontation,” Lil stated.
As much as I wanted to rebuke the AI for stating the obvious. “Hold on there kid. We don’t want to fight, you. You need healing rather than fighting some more.” Hearing that, I just felt my legs buckle from under me as my body finally gave out. As much as it felt stupid to believe the man, I didn’t really have a choice at this point in time. I had enough fighting for one day as I laid there exhausted, covered in the goblin blood and my own.
. . . . . .
I woke up to a gentle breeze that brought the scent of fresh mountain air as I opened my eyes. A vast bright blue sky with thin clouds grazing through welcomed me. I tried to move but ended up groaning as every sore muscle protested in response. I was able to sit up without any problems. Then I freaked out – my plate carrier wasn’t on me anymore. I wasn’t even in my pajamas. “Hold on there kid. Take it easy. I just patched you up and I don’t want you to hurt yourself again.” A man around my brother’s age greeted me as he gently stopped me from turning over to look for my carrier.
I was about to ask where my stuff was, but apparently, he knew the fish out of water reaction well enough. “Your gear is behind you on the blanket. Sorry about your clothes though. It was too torn up so a few men from the village scrapped together some good pieces of clothing to give you.” He had a strangely reassuring smile. “It’s the least we could do to thank you.” He laughed before helping me sit up and handed me a wooden cup filled with water. “You’ve been out for a few hours. I thought you were going to sleep for the rest of the day.”
He turned around and pulled picked up a wooden bowl from behind him. “It’s a miracle you’re still alive. Fighting off that many goblins, most people would have been killed within the first few minutes of fighting them head on like you did.” His tone was slowly growing grimmer. “That was quite reckless coming out here by yourself. If we hadn’t known the Goblin Horde was coming, we wouldn’t have had adventurers on standby to see you dancing around on the ridge.”
“Here’s some food. It’s a mountain goat and rice.” I looked into the bowl and felt my stomach growl like a lion as he handed me a wooden spoon. I didn’t even bother to check the food if it was edible and just chowed down. “We tried to remove that weird device off your forearm, but it wouldn’t budge, thankfully you weren’t wounded there so we just left it.” He pointed to the screen that was black. “I’m the village’s doctor, but people just call me healer here.” Healer introduced himself. “Isaac,” I said with a nod.
“Well, I’ll let you eat in peace. We’re still cleaning up all the dead goblins you all killed earlier.” He got up and went off towards where the Blackhawk crashed. I stared at it momentarily before looking at the ridge now. It wasn’t steep, but it was a lot bigger than I thought it was. I looked up and saw the mountain was shaped like a dragon. “Isaac.” I heard Lil’s voice coming from my arm. “Wow, you’re still working?” I asked as I brought the screen to eye level. “I’m happy that you’re okay. That doctor was using medical procedures I am unfamiliar with and cannot condone. However, you appear to have healed well enough.”
I nodded at that and looked behind me “Your gear is below operational standards. Plate carrier had been cut to be removed. Your original clothing has been burned due to the blood on it…” Lil stopped talking as I watched the screen change as it gave me the run down. “God also rewarded you with a loot-crate.”