Chapter 5:

Chapter 5 - Deadly Double

GUN SALAD


Roulette’s SMG dispensed the bullets in a rapid burst, pelting the bartender’s unprotected chest. For a moment the impact appeared to send him reeling, but it soon became clear that it was the innate shock of being shot–rather than the strength of her attack–that had put the man off-balance. In reality, Lady Luck’s volley had accomplished no more than the girl’s pellet gun had done all those years ago: superficial damage, too ineffectual to break a layer of skin or tin.

She tried not to let her disappointment show, but her enemy’s eyes centered on her set jaw with laser-like focus. He could see that the pitifulness of her attack had disturbed her, and worse: that it failed to surprise her. The girl’s submachine gun, majestic-looking as it was, had let her down again.

“Well, I cannot say that I am surprised,” he sighed, his demeanor reeking of condescension, “You show all the hallmarks of a novice, after all. Fortunately, the helpless are my favorite prey.” He smiled again, just as he’d done earlier that day when she’d first walked through the door of the Totin’ Teetotaller… Only, this time, something was off. The look in his eyes had become off-puttingly eager, and the way his lips curled up at the sides was downright reptilian.

For the first time since the start of their confrontation, he raised his weapon from the man on the ground and put the girl in his sights.

“How many drunks have I ended when they lingered a little too long after last call?” he mused. “How many deadbeats have I followed into deserted alleys, intending to take my pound of flesh in lieu of the slugs they owe?”

Roulette managed to stand her ground, but it wasn’t easy; the man’s killing intent was growing by the second, as if he’d resolved to cast aside every shred of humanity he normally faked to make himself personable.

“I believe I have lost count,” he concluded in a self-satisfied purr. “But foolish, outspoken little girls? You will be my first…”

There were those words again.

The moment he spoke them, every trace of fear disappeared from Roulette’s heart. She sprung into action, throwing herself out of the line of fire as she sprinted for a squat stone fence to her right. Her enemy’s aim tracked her with calm precision, but even so she managed to dive behind it before he managed to squeeze the trigger. She came down in someone’s front yard, her back pressing flush to the partition as she paused to catch her breath.

“Oh, by all means, take your time!” her pursuer taunted, stalking toward the fence at a leisurely pace, “You only delay the inevitable. That toy gun of yours makes me laugh–you may as well be unarmed!”

Roulette continued to fume as she crawled alongside the protective barrier, trying her best to close the distance between them. He was absolutely right–in a straight-up fight, he held every advantage. Her only hope was to stay out of his line of sight and turn the tables somehow…

He loosed a shot as she was forced to dash from one side of the wall to the other, braving the empty space that would normally host the fence’s open gate. He’d been anticipating the move, and his aim was true: her foreleg took a direct hit from the ice pellet just before she reached the other side, her tights soaking through with ethanol.

“Shit..! Shit!” she squeaked, her free hand trembling as it hovered over the point of impact. She longed to wring it out, to squeeze the intoxicating liquid from her clothes, but logic told her that doing so would only expose it to the bare skin of her hand as well; her only hope was to carry on and ride out the effects.

“How is it? To your liking, I hope?” the bartender gloated, making a beeline for the portion of fence that constituted her most likely hiding place. He opened his mouth to speak again–to issue another gibe, no doubt–when Roulette suddenly streaked over the wall, charging headlong into him from a few feet away. Her head collided with his chest, blasting the breath from his lungs. He managed to maintain his grip on the Doppelglock, but could do little to stop the girl as she barrelled past him toward the house across the way.

The man whipped around as soon as he’d regained his bearings, his gun already leveled in anticipation of an opportunity to fire. He found one: the girl had been too bold, eschewing the protection of the fence in favor of making a mad dash alongside the house. He got a bead on her just before she slipped out of sight behind the structure, his gun issuing a sharp, pneumatic crack as it released another ice pellet in her direction.

Roulette stumbled into the backyard, resisting the urge to clap her hand to the fresh welt that had sprung up on her arm. She cussed again, wheezing in desperation as she worked to come to terms with her predicament. She’d already been struggling to run in a straight line during her rush to the back of the house, and the combination of exertion, dehydration and bountiful sunlight had put her on the verge of overheating; what would another helping of power-infused ethanol do to her system?

The answer: nothing good. Roulette could barely keep her feet as she trundled across the yard, maintaining only a dim awareness of her surroundings. A lemon tree. A spade buried in the earth near some newly-planted flowers. A fire burning low beneath a recently-used skillet (which Roulette, in her confusion, knocked over on the way by). A small shed, no doubt crammed full of gardening tools…

By the time she spied the rain barrel at the far end of the yard, she was fit to collapse. Somehow she managed to cover the distance before succumbing to oblivion, though, her heavy foot colliding with a nearby bucket as she thrust her head into the depths of the lukewarm water. Her mouth gaped wide, practically inhaling the life-giving fluid as she raced to outpace the growing extent of her drunkenness.

It didn’t do much, but it kept her upright. After a long drink she withdrew her head from the barrel, makeup running down her face in rivulets, as she rested her arm on the rim and turned slowly to regard the ground she’d just covered.

As expected, the bartender had caught up with her. He stood in the middle of the yard near the fallen skillet, his free hand clasping the wrist of his gun arm in front of his apron. His posture was relaxed, as if he’d been waiting patiently for her to finish–or waiting patiently for the opportunity to finish her.

She burped.

“Charming,” he quipped, clearly secure in the knowledge that her fate was in his hands. “Was that really the best you can do?”

“‘Fraid so,” she slurred.

“I see. Well, I wish I could say I expected more.” He shook his head in a patronizing manner, chuckling darkly to himself. “Happy hour is over; it is time for last call. Have you anything more to say before I close up?”

The look in Roulette’s eyes sharpened, suddenly, as if the adrenaline of the moment had given her access to hidden reserves of clarity. Still, her expectant executioner made no move to brace himself or interfere.

“Y’know, when I first got to Trigger City… Life was hard…” she recalled, leaning heavily on the barrel for support. “Didn’t know nobody… Nobody t’look out for me. Had t’look out for myself…”

The bartender stood stock still, with a look on his face that made clear he was savoring her last words like fine wine.

Roulette paused, allowing herself a single hiccup before going on.

“Had t’steal. All th’time. T’eat, t’live. Wun’t proud of it. Still not. But I did get good at it…”

She reached behind herself, producing a bottle of rum from where she’d tied it in her gunsling–the same bottle the bartender had produced earlier in the middle of his demonstration, which she’d no doubt pilfered from beneath his apron during their recent collision. He frowned at the sight of it, but remained unconcerned; how could a bottle of rum possibly threaten him, after all?

That’s when she threw it. It sailed through the air, and as it did she lifted her gun in both hands and aimed down the sights. Deep breaths, she thought.

The bartender startled, eyes following the arc of the bottle as it flew toward him.

Feet planted.

He looked all around in a panic, realizing the danger presented by the fire pit at his side too late.

Get ready for the recoil…

He shouted something incoherent, lifting his gun quickly in an effort to beat her to the punch.

And…

He moved to squeeze the trigger, praying that he wasn’t too late.

Fire.

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Yuuki
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Dischtopia
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