Shelly was taken aback by the two people blocking her way as she entered Starr Park.
"Come on, Shelly," one of them dragged her to a spot marked with a cross. "We've been waiting for you."
She examined him closely. He had bright red hair and his face was badly scarred. He was wearing a Kevlar vest, but she wondered whether they were bulletproof. He was also holding two revolvers, and she knew immediately that he was no amateur in firearms.
"Who are you?" she asked. He looked unsettlingly familiar, but again she just couldn't recall it.
"I'm Colt, and he's Poco. I don't think you remember us?" Shelly shook her head and he sighed. "Typical mind-control symptoms. Don't worry, you can retrieve your memories soon." Colt was saying this as if he had experienced this before because he really had.
It was only now that she paid attention to the other person known only as Poco. He was unlike any other person Shelly had seen. He was no more than a skeleton, and his face was oddly tattooed. He was wearing a suit and a bow tie, which seemed out of place in this environment. He was also holding a ukulele, obviously home-made.
"Shelly, do you understand the situation we are now in?" asked Poco. "I will be brief. The owner of this so-called 'Starr Park' has been using humans to do experiments for over fifty years. He is a psychopath who is trying to control people's minds and unfortunately, we are the subject for the experiment. They conducted many tests, and this is one of them."
Now that Poco mentioned it, she began to wonder where they were. She could see train tracks snaking around the place, and there were some walls and bushes between them. She could just make out a gem mine in the distance. A minecart occasionally appeared and travelled the full length of the tracks. Then it disappeared into the unknown.
"This whole thing is madness," gasped Shelly. "I must be hallucinating."
"No, you are not," said Colt, and slapped Shelly hard on the face. She jerked and cried in pain. Poco, who was also about to slap her, laughed like mad.
"So, back to business," said Colt, "our task is to grab ten gems and keep them for fifteen seconds. There will be a non-human trio trying to fight against us, so we have to kill them or simply keep them at bay."
"Great," muttered Shelly, "there will be at least three goners in this fight."
"In fact," began Poco, "they had their souls cloned somewhere and that psychopath stored them somewhere in liquid argon. In fact, our souls were also cloned, but yours aren't, which leads to another problem..."
"If you get killed, you stay dead," continued Colt, "while we can respawn safely here."
"The point is, you have to remain in a safe location throughout the battle. Don't join the fight," said Poco. "There will be a health bar projected on everyone's heads, so you can always check it to see whether you are safe or not. Don't be hit by the mine carts because they can..."
Deafening pop music began to blare from invisible speakers, and Poco's words were no longer audible. It felt like a mountain crushing at them and they all had to cover their ears. The music continued playing for around a minute when a whistle blew. Poco and Colt seemed to know what they were doing and began trotting towards the gem mine. Shelly, whose hearing still hadn't recovered fully, followed suit.
She looked at her health bar, which said 3800. Colt's and Poco's said 2800 and 4000 respectively. Why did they have different health? Was it because of some disease? She felt like her memory was rattling the metal bars of its cage and wished she could find the key to unlock them.
She was so engrossed in her thoughts that she found herself staring into Colt's health bar, which now said 1300. Poco's situation was not much better either. She had to rescue her teammates as soon as possible.
She dashed forward and she could now see her enemies clearly. As Colt had stated, they were inhuman. The first one was a cuddly cactus and Shelly would have hugged him without hesitation if it was not her enemy. The other was a crow in a black jacket who seemed to be a biker. To Shelly's surprise, the last one was actually undead. He had bright purple hair and holding an evil-looking shovel. Just the sight of him was enough to give her the goosebumps.
A whimper from Colt reminded her of the urgency of the situation. She glanced at the health bars of her enemies. She decided to attack Crow, who had the least health left. She was just about to approach him when a minecart whizzed past a millimetre in front of her.
"Be more careful next time," said Poco, who was pulling her collar to prevent her from hitting the minecart.
She thanked him and realized that the minecart had saved her. As the minecart veered away, she noticed three daggers sticking out from the minecart out of the corner of her eye. God knows what would happen if she was hit by them. That also meant one thing: Crow had spotted her. I have to be stealthier than that, she thought.
She moved forward, crouching low. She stuck to the bushes and hid behind walls as much as possible. When she had to cross the tracks, she did it quickly. She hoped that Crow had lost sight of her now that she was more careful not to reveal herself.
A sudden gush of wind to her right alerted her senses. She turned and found Undead swinging his shovel at her, dashing at every swing. Having no time to take aim, she fired three shots at him, but only one found its mark. He winced a little and then swung his shovel at her, sending a ripple of pain into her stomach.
Panic was the last thing you wanted in a fight, but this was exactly how Shelly felt as Undead attacked her twice more, still dashing at every swing. Blood surged from three ugly wounds on her gut and she wanted to beg him for mercy, but she knew immediately that he had none. It was just not in his blood.
Could she run into the tunnel where the minecarts came out? No, she would be run over almost immediately. She could also tell one was coming out from the rumble of the tracks. If she didn't go soon, she would be killed, and he might get away with his dashes. An idea began to form in her mind, but it would require split-second timing and she was not sure whether her enemy would fall for the trap. She considered it for a moment and considered she had no other option but to give it a try.
She bolted towards the tunnel where the minecart was coming. His pursuer seemed to hesitate for a moment but eventually decided to chase her. She reloaded as quickly as possible and fired a warning shot behind her. He dodged instinctively which slowed him down, but he dashed forward almost immediately and quickened his pace.
It was at that moment when the minecart appeared from the tunnel. Shelly made it just in time to leap through the tracks. She could even feel it brush against her thigh. Undead was not so lucky. He dashed right into the minecart, killing him on spot. When the minecart stormed away, she picked up the gems that he had left behind. One. Two. Three. Four. Five. There were five gems in total. Five more and they could win the game.
She walked across the opening and found Colt, who was hiding in a bush, occasionally sniping at Crow or Cactus. "How many gems have you got?" asked Shelly.
"None," sighed Colt, "And Poco can't do a lot of damage with his guitar. I don't think you have any gems with you?"
Shelly showed him the five gems she had and told him about her fight with Undead. Colt nodded approvingly, "That was very smart of you, using the minecart."
A gem popped out of the gem mine and Colt approached it cautiously to pick it up, only to be attacked by Cactus who was hiding in a nearby bush. Colt was hit by three consecutive shots and died almost instantly. To Shelly's surprise, Cactus's grenades sent out six needles that flew in different directions. One of them hit her square in the chest, revealing her position to her enemies.
Cactus scooped up the gem, but instead of attacking Shelly, he retreated. She immediately decided to follow him to get the gem back. She crossed the tracks cautiously, sticking to the shadows and keeping some distance from him to avoid being found.
Shelly watched quietly as Cactus entered a bush and vanished from sight. She waited for a moment or two and went into the bush to find them because her shotgun could do more damage at short range. As she pushed away the tall grass brushing her face, she found herself staring at not one but two enemies, Crow and Cactus.
She hesitated a millisecond before firing, but it was already one millisecond too long. Crow had fired three poisonous daggers, and one hit Shelly in the shoulder. She fired three shots, each one seriously injuring them, but it was not enough to kill them. She was wondering whether she could go to heaven when she heard a distant cry, "Shelly! Shelly!"
"Poco!" she cried back. Poco must have heard the gunshots! She muttered a prayer of thanks and fired another shot at Crow. He immediately crumpled to ashes. Seeing this, Cactus fled immediately.
"Poco, keep the gems," said Shelly and gave Poco all the gems she had. "I am going to chase the cactus."
Poco was about to utter something but Shelly was already out of shouting range. She zigzagged across the opening and was about to fire at Cactus when she heard a whimper behind her. She turned just in time as Undead swung his shovel at Poco. He stretched out a hand at Shelly. The meaning was clear. Help.
Hissing a curse under her breath, she ran towards Undead as he picked up the gems that Poco had dropped. Although he didn't notice her, he was already dashing away and Shelly couldn't catch him. A conch horn blew and a countdown began. She had to kill at least of them to get ten gems before it was too late.
Colt was rushing towards the gem mine when the horn blew. "Shelly," panted Colt. "The gems..."
"I know," said Shelly impatiently. "Now, don't argue and give me your revolvers."
Colt handed one of them to Shelly. "Both of them." Colt shook his head but gave her the pistol obediently.
She examined them and found the thing she was looking for. Perfect. "Loaded?" asked Shelly. Colt nodded.
She waited at the mouth of the tunnel where the minecart would soon burst out of. Colt, who was still catching his breath. understood what she was trying to do and said, "Are you..."
"Crazy?" replied Shelly. "Yes, perhaps, but this is the only thing I can do."
A moment later, the minecart burst out of the tunnel and Shelly leapt. To anyone watching this, it was suicidal. She could never make it onto the minecart and would be doomed to be crushed. But Colt knew better. Shelly had a pair of powerful legs and she had a 50% chance of success at most.
The odds were in her favour. She managed to land directly on the minecart. After taking aim briefly at the three figures running away from the gem mine, she pressed the concealed yellow buttons on the two revolvers. A massive volley of bullets burst out from the revolvers, destroying all the bushes and walls they came into contact with. As the minecart travelled at high speed across the area, the bullets hit formed a line of destruction just like a person was stripped naked. The three non-humans stood, awestruck, watching the bullets sweeping the whole area. It was too late for them when they realized that the bullets were coming for them. They disintegrated to ashes in a matter of seconds.
As the minecart began to turn at a corner, Shelly realized that there was another problem to solve. The bullets had destroyed not only the bushes and walls but also a large part of the tracks. If the minecart continued to travel at this speed, it would soon derail, throwing off all of its goods and passengers. That would guarantee a journey to death, and a painful one too. If she jumped off the minecart, it would definitely hurt a lot, but there was a slim chance that she could live. She had made a decision in her mind.
As the minecart was getting closer and closer to the gems dropped by the enemies, she leapt off the side of the cart, burying her head into her arms to protect her head. She could hear the deafening noise of the minecart as it derailed and all the gems on it were thrown off.
Meanwhile, Shelly landed on where a bush had been earlier before her spectacular attack. There was an unmistakable cracking sound of her bones and she couldn't move. The pain was so unbearable that it was impossible to describe in words. That is the amazing thing about pain. There is no maximum to it. You think that the pain cannot go any worse, but then it can evolve to a whole new level and taunt you until you give in, perhaps not even after you have given in. That was exactly what Shelly was feeling now.
Suddenly, a pair of skeletal arms came into vision and dragged her away. She could easily imagine another red-haired man struggling to carry ten gems all by himself. Then the whole world went black.
This is the link to chapter 1, just in case you missed it: https://brawlstars.fandom.com/f/p/4400000000000015163