Killshot Apocalypse 3

“Breaking news at PNS!”

“Ever since the ‘Neo Genesis’ event where humanity was abducted by the alien species referred to as the ‘Esvol,’ society has continued to rapidly fall towards the brink of collapse. All around the world, experts are describing the effects of integrating with the ‘System’ as ‘apocalyptic.’ Our Wolf News reporters are…”

“Places known as ‘Dungeons’ have been popping up in every country near densely populated locations, although some have been reported hidden far from any city or town.”

“Monstros foram vistos vagando pela selva…”

“Employees have been going on strike, refusing to return to their jobs—”


“Gates that supposedly lead to the multiverse have appeared in every major city—”

“Ratusan orang sendirian di Jakarta telah tewas saat mencoba mengatasi Dungeon di bawah kota!”

“No one has seen the entities calling themselves ‘Bob,’ ‘Mary,’ ‘Lee,’—” 

“Meer as ‘n miljard mense het nooit van hul ontvoering teruggekeer nie….”

“—and the so-called organisation that has had a meteoric rise to prominence online had this to say: 

The Precursors of Peace will represent humankind in the multiverse. If the world governments refuse to work together in this time of chaos, then we, the people, shall unite ourselves and establish a new world order. We shall pave the path for the rest of society and be the first ones to step through these Gates under the banner of peace!”

Trace turned off the television. “Holy fucking shit. It’s only been one week, and everybody is already going insane.”

“I mean, it is the apocalypse, right?” Liz leaned back on her seat, sipping on some coffee. “I’d be more worried if things were completely normal after all that’s happened.” Setting the cup down, she started for the door as Trace frowned.

“Where are you going?”

“Out,” Liz said. She grabbed a sheathed blade from a coat hanger, hefting it on her shoulder. Her sable hair was tied into a ponytail ready for battle, and her laidback brown eyes curled up as she grinned. “I got pretty far into the Dire Pits before that bladeworm snuck up on me and nicked me on the arm. I bet I could’ve gotten to the boss room if I hadn’t let my guard down.”

That was right. Unlike Trace who had mostly been recovering from the injuries she sustained during the tutorial and was adamantly against the insanity of it all, Liz had actually been going out and delving into these Dungeons and exploring the different structures that had appeared since Neo Genesis. Trace was only at level 4, while her best friend—

[Warrior – Lvl 8.]

“I still can’t believe you chose Warrior as your class. What were you thinking?” 

“Hey! I like hitting things. I used to box, remember?” When Liz was ten, she’d go to the Frenzydeck Gym for boxing lessons. That was when the pair first met and became friends. 

“I just didn’t expect you to, y’know, embrace this whole weird alien fuckery so quickly. You’re already close to level 10. Are you honestly looking forward to your class evolution?” Apparently, your class would undergo some sort of change at certain ‘capstone levels,’ as Ex put it.

“It is what it is, Trace.” Liz shrugged as she pushed open the metal door. “The Esvol came, they messed with our planet, and now we have to live with all the repercussions. There’s money to be made going into these Dungeons. It’s do or die out there. Dunno about you, but it’s do for me.” The door swung shut behind her, leaving Trace alone in the room.

* * *

The Evergreen Gun Range’s name led most to believe that it’d be the type of shooting range located 20 kilometres from Liberapolis, with a rolling grass field lined with targets in the great outdoors. What they’d realise when they arrived was that it was actually a small two-storey building about the size of a basketball court, just at the edge of the city. If that wasn’t already enough to upset them, the fact that it was closed during the so-called ‘apocalypse’ would draw flying spit from the deep well of their mouths.

What do you mean you’re not open? We need to buy an AR-15 to protect our homes from looters!” The man’s saliva spilt all over the countertop as a woman stood behind him, tightly hugging his arm.

Trace wiped at her face, offering him a very kind glare in return. “As I’ve said, sir, this establishment is closed. I’m well aware that times are tough right now— we’re all feeling it, not just you— but The Evergreen Gun Range has been closed all summer, and I don’t believe things will be different for autumn.”

“Look—” He set down a duffel bag in front of her. “If it’s a money thing, we have the cash.” That clearly didn’t sit well with his wife or girlfriend or whatever. “This is three thousand dollars,” he said. “You can keep it all for yourself. We just need a gun.”

Ah, shit. Trace felt really bad now, seeing the pleading look on the man’s face. She just assumed he was being entitled at first; nothing about him screamed that he was in trouble. But that was just the impression she got from his green polo shirt and rich sunglasses. If they were being this desperate, it must have truly been important.

There was, however, a problem.

“I really wish I could help you, sir. Unfortunately, I don’t have the keys to the gun safe.” Neither she nor Liz was given access to anything beyond a handgun by Mr Evergreen himself before he left on his trip. “The most I can get you is a Glock. Maybe a revolver?”

The man tightly gripped the edge of the counter. His face twisted, and he raised a fist. “You bitch!” He threw a punch as Trace’s eyes widened.

She took a step back, dodging the swing, and quickly drew the weapon at her waist. The man paused as the woman next to him gasped. “P-please don’t shoo—”

“I’ll only say this one time.” Trace aimed at the man’s bald head. “Fuck. Off.”

And they did. The woman dragged her boyfriend or husband or whatever behind her as he muttered something to himself to mend his wounded ego. They took their cash with them too, not that Trace cared much. Apparently, the value of the dollar was rapidly decreasing. The worst economic crisis in history, they kept saying in the news.

Trace locked the door after the ‘customers’ left. She left it unlocked because she didn’t want Liz to have trouble entering when she was back from Dungeon-diving, but if assholes and weirdos kept showing up, Trace would have no choice but to keep them out.

She glowered as she stalked through the empty room. It had a typical layout for an indoor gun range, with a counter at the front for payment, and some plastic tables and chairs set up around it as a makeshift waiting area. There was a drink fridge in the corner and a kitchen over at the back for those who were hungry or thirsty. A thick wall separated this room from the actual shooting area, with a thin glass window slicing horizontally through its middle. 

One of the dangling white lights overhead flickered.

“I’ve got to get that fixed, don’t I?” Trace slumped over on a chair, sighing. “The world is going mad. A week has passed, and everyone’s losing their shit.”

[Trace Taylor,] a voice in her head said.

Speaking of losing your shit… She sat up. “What is it, Ex?”

[It appears you nearly engaged in battle with that Warrior and Spellcaster. As both of their individual levels surpassed yours, it is not recommended that you try to instigate combat with them in the future.]

“Thanks for telling me this ten minutes too late.” Trace rolled her eyes. “Aren’t you supposed to be a super-advanced AI? You could’ve warned me of their levels beforehand.”

[My analytical capabilities are limited. I can only provide simple review and advice in regard to the System. Usually, when prompted.]

“Could have fooled me. You’re quite talkative, y’know.”

[Affirmative], he said. [My program is designed to offer guidance to those who appear to struggle acclimating with the System.]

“Are you calling me stupid?” 


“I’m pretty sure you just did, Ex.”

[Negative. While your impulsive and obstinate nature initially led me to believe so, I have discerned that there is a keen intuition beneath that façade of foolishness.]

“Oh, piss off.” Trace couldn’t lie and say she wasn’t a little bit offended by that, but she knew Ex meant no insult with what he said. So, that lessened the blow to a certain extent. Also, he was partially right.

Name: Trace Taylor

Race: Human (Earth A314) 

Class: Spellshot – Lvl 4

Vocation: N/A

Craft: Locked


Strength: E
Magic: F+
Endurance: F+
Vitality: F+
Dexterity: E+


Class Skills:
(G) Improved Accuracy – Lvl 4
(F) Deadly Sight – Lvl 3
(F+) Last in the Chamber – Lvl 2
(F+) Recall Weapon – Lvl 2

Trace reviewed her status as a translucent screen appeared in her vision. It was something she could dismiss and summon at a simple thought. It wasn’t even intrusive, either. When she brought it up but didn’t focus on it, it almost slinked into the background like her nose. 

She had only levelled once since the tutorial. It was shortly after. The damage she took healed quickly, for whatever reason, but it still pissed her off that she was hurt. So, she had been using the shooting range to vent her frustrations— until a homeless man tried breaking into the building. Trace’s warning shot nearly became a fatal shot because her aim was that much better now, ironically enough.

The ‘accumulated experience,’ as Ex called it, increased the level of her class and two of her skills. Improved Accuracy and Deadly Sight. She felt just how seamlessly her hand drifted to the man’s skull. If she had an itchy trigger finger—

Trace shuddered to even finish the thought.

[Have you made a decision?]

She blinked as she heard Ex’s voice. “Made a decision?”

[For your vocation,] he said. [You pulled up your status to choose a vocation, did you not?]

“Oh.” Trace shook her head, standing up. She glanced out the window and saw the sun setting over the horizon. “No, I have not.”

[While I would like to assist you with choosing a more specialised—]

“That’s not it.” Tapping a finger on her phone, she saw no new messages. She unlocked it as she headed to the back and started up the stairs. “I’m not avoiding choosing a vocation because the options you’ve given me are shite. In fact, I’d say they’re all pretty decent.”

A vocation was like a class, except not for fighting. In her status, it appeared right below her class, above her ‘locked’ craft. There wasn’t anything exceptional about a vocation. It was like a job, except you now had skills too.

“Builder, Fisher, Technician, Cleaner. Oh, and Secretary too.” These were examples of vocations Ex offered her. Other than Secretary, Trace found there to be merits for all of them. While Cleaner or Fisher sounded rather degrading, they would only be useful for her day-to-day life.

It was simple, straightforward, and much easier to understand than a ‘class.’ But that came with its own load of issues.

“I’m just not sure which of these vocations I’d like to choose, Ex. That’s all.” Trace’s indecision might have come from her upbringing and how everything was always decided for her. “They’re all neat, but that’s just it. Nothing really stands out to me. Not like having a craft would.”

Now, a craft actually piqued Trace’s interest. That was because it wasn’t just a handy extra thing to have. According to Ex, it was the pursuit of one’s passion. Art. Music. Ideas. Creativity. The System allowed it all to flow from the abstract into something more concrete.

Trace was pretty sure that meant she’d get a class but for leisure. Unfortunately, it was ‘locked.’

[Delaying choosing a vocation means delaying getting a craft, Trace Taylor.]

“I know that. I know that.” Ex had already explained it to her when she first left the tutorial: to unlock your craft, you needed to reach level 10 for both your class and your vocation.

It was an odd requirement. If Trace had to guess why that was the case, she’d assume it was to ensure that most people levelled their class and vocation, instead of focusing only on their craft.

Trace was always an artsy person. But her parents made her learn music instead. She spent so much time learning the piano and studying, she never could practice her art enough to get good at it. By the time she had any autonomy for herself, she had lost interest in art. Now, though, if she could have skills like she did for her class to help her rapidly improve her art, then she’d like to give it a try at least.

She pulled the door to her room open— a guest room, right across from Liz’s, with the bathroom smooshed in between. It was plain, not decorated with the posters she’d like to have on the walls since she left her home in a hurry. “I’ll figure it out later, Ex. When I wake up.”

With a yawn, she sank into her bed. She was an early bird, always waking up at dawn, a habit since young.

[Affirmative], Ex said and spoke no more.

Plugging in her phone to charge, Trace quickly unlocked it and opened her messenger app. She tapped on one of her contacts.

Liz the bitch <3:
– Hey
– Gonna b entering the D
– U shld come next time
– No connection inside, ttyl!

Trace T:
– kk
– when will you be back?

There was no response. Trace glanced at the top of the screen, right below Liz’s name.

Last seen:
– 9 hours ago

She sighed. You’re going to spend the night in the Dungeon again, aren’t you? Trace quickly typed one last message before putting her phone down and going to sleep.

Trace T:
– locked the door cuz weirdos keep showing up
– text me if u need me to open it

* * *

Trace jolted awake as she heard glass shattering from the first floor. She snatched her phone up, looking at the time. It was just past midnight. Liz hadn’t replied. And she pursed her lip. Just fucking great. It better not be another homeless—

There was a crash, and she hurriedly grabbed her gun as she got out of bed. Whoever was down there didn’t just wander in by accident. They were here with a purpose.

The couple from earlier?

She crept down the stairs, holding her breath, only to see a single figure standing inside the firing room. Trace narrowed her eyes.

Who the fuck is that?

He seemed to speak, a muffled voice seeping through the doorway. “How quaint, for such a place to be. I see. Mayhaps it’s best for me to take my leave.”

Is he high?

Previous Chapter

Next Chapter

Killshot Apocalypse 2

[Without a class, no experience is earned for the killing of a giant rat.]

Trace glowered, ignoring the voice in her head. Although it wasn’t entirely fair to call it just a voice. It was an artificial intelligence assistant with a complex and long name she didn’t want to memorise.

“I don’t care.” She stormed ahead, both hands tightly gripping onto her pistol, reaching the end of the corridor. The giant rat lay dead at her feet. It was a thin, misshapen creature, barely what she’d describe as a rat. More like a giant abomination of a creature. She was just as disgusted by it dead as when it was alive. “How do I get to the next floor?” Trace came to a stop right by the end of the corridor.

[There is a button to your left which calls down a lift. It will take you to the second level of this complex.]

“I see.” She pressed the button, and there was a ding. Stepping onto the lift, she had a thought. “XT, erm—”


“Right. Is there a shorter name I can call you by? Maybe a nickname?”

[The assignment of a nickname is allowed. What should I answer to?]

“I’m not sure. Maybe Ex?” Trace was never a very creative person. She called Liz ‘Liz’ because it was short for ‘Elizabeth’; not a lot of thought was put into it.

[Affirmative,] it said. [I will now be answering to the name ‘Ex.’]

“What about a pronoun?”

[A pronoun is not necessary as I do not have a biological sex.]

“Can I… give you one?” Wait, was that offensive? But Trace found herself uncomfortable referring to Ex as an ‘it’ all the time.


“Your voice kind of sounds like a man’s. So, ‘he’ should work.”

There was a bump as the lift reached the next floor. Ex now had a name, much to Trace’s relief. She’d rather be holding a conversation with what she thought was a person rather than a mindless voice.

She exited the lift and cursed. “Fucking hell.” Three giant rats stood before her in a box room. There was no hallway leading down to another lift. Rather, there was a stairwell at the other side of the room. “Do I have to kill these giant rats as well?”

[It is recommended—]

“But not necessary, got it.” Trace made a break for it. She darted past the giant rats, narrowly avoiding their frenzied bites. She reached the stairwell and bolted her way up as the monsters stopped their pursuit. “Take that, dipshits!” Victorious laughter carried her up to the next floor. “They were so slow. What level even were they?”

[Those giant rats were level 1 each.]

“So, just like that one on the first floor?”


The third floor was far larger than the first and second combined. It held over a dozen giant rats within, but they were not waiting to pounce on Trace when she arrived. There was a pit at the centre of the room housing the giant rats, and a ladder on each end climbing down the vertical wall.

“What is this?” She stared at the milling monsters.

[This is a nest belonging to the giant rats,] Ex said.

“Are they not going to try and stop me? I can just hug the side of the room and enter the lift without trouble, can’t I?”


“What’s the point of this room then?”

[Eliminating the giant rats will award you with experience to level your class. This room of the tutorial level is designed to let you decide how much experience you wish to gain before proceeding.]

Trace nodded as Ex explained. She tilted her head back, a thoughtful look on her face. “Good thing I don’t have a damn class, huh?” She went around the pit, entering the lift without any trouble just as she said she could.

Ex did not speak, which made the ride up awkward for Trace. She expected some kind of retort. But that was probably because she was too used to Liz.

Is Liz going through this same thing? I just hope she’s fine. There was no music. There was only a silence followed by a ding as the lift doors opened. This time, Trace did not step into a danger-free room. It was the exact opposite.

Six giant rats waited for her, already growling.

“Erm, what level are these guys?”

[Giant Rat – Lvl 2,] Ex repeated six times.

“Thought so.” Trace ran, and the giant rats leapt at her. She barely managed to roll under the terrible jaw of one of the monsters as they crashed into each other.

Scrambling to her feet, she glanced back to see four of them had been caught in a pile. Only two of them kept up with her. If the fourth floor were a simple box, Trace would’ve gotten away scot-free. But it mirrored the first floor in shape, with an even longer corridor to reach the end. A set of stairs waited for her. Her liberation.

A giant rat scratched her left leg, and she screamed. “You’ve gotta be shitting—” She kicked it back and fired off a single round at its skull. She missed, grazing the giant rat’s stomach instead.

[It appears you have been wounded.]

“I fucking know that.”

[It is recommended that you use your primary weapon to dispose of the monsters.] 

“I only have a single magazine, Ex. I’m not going to waste all of it on those assfuck-looking things—” Trace snapped the back of her pistol at the second pursuing monster. It reeled back from the hit, giving her the distance she needed to reach the stairway. “Not when I still have this last floor of even more of them to deal with.”

[Then I recommend accepting one of the basic classes offered to you.]

“Oh, you can piss right off.”

She thought she escaped— her previous run ended once she reached the end of the room— but this chase was far from over.

“What the fuck?” A giant rat snapped its jaw at her. It nearly nipped her red scarf! “Why are they still chasing me?” She flew up the steps as all six of the giant rats poured after her.

[The fourth floor only ends when you reach the final room.]

“And you didn’t think to tell me that?” Trace was shouting as she whirled around a corner. A pair of double doors stood at the top of the last flight of stairs. Glancing back, she fired another shot at the foremost giant rat. This time, it struck true.

[You have defeated a Giant Rat – Lvl 2!]

The monster tumbled back down, taking its pack to the very bottom with it.

“Gotcha!”  She didn’t waste time, climbing up to the double door and slamming it shut behind her. With a sigh of relief, she slumped against the wall and slid to her knees. “That was too close for comfort.” Trace glanced around the room, finding herself in a large hall with a stage and a pedestal in the middle. “This is the final floor?”

[Affirmative,] Ex said.

“There is nothing here.”


Trace massaged her forehead. “Ex, could you please explain what’s going on instead of saying ‘affirmative’ over and over again?” 

[This is the boss room of the tutorial. You have reached the top of the tower and will now face the Rat King before you are returned to Earth.]

“Boss… room?” Her eyes grew wide as the ceiling opened.

A creature crashed down, kicking a cloud of dust up around it. What stood before Trace was not a giant rat. It looked similar to a giant rat in that it had wretched claws and fangs, but this creature was vaguely humanoid in shape.

It bore the wrinkled skin of a shaved cat, with the protruding face of a rabid dog. And yet, it stood on two feet, a pair of lanky arms falling to its knees: a two-metre monster ready to strike.

[Rat King – Lvl 5.]

Trace raised her pistol, and it snarled.


“What the fuck is that thing?” She fired a bullet, nicking it in the shoulder.

[The Rat King is—]

“I didn’t ask for a bloody explanation!” Trace ran for the stage and shot another round at the Rat King.

It leaped to the side, easily dodging the bullet from a fucking gun like it was nothing before pouncing on her. She ducked under the first swing, only to be kicked through the air like a ragdoll a second later.

[Trace Taylor,]— Ex’s voice sounded urgent— [it is imperative for you to choose a class to defeat the Rat King.]

“Why?” She gritted her teeth, getting back to her feet. “Why do I have to chooseone of the classes you’ve forced onto me, huh?”

[The tutorial monsters are designed to be less lethal than real monsters. However, that will not stop them from killing you if you cannot protect yourself. Choose a class.]


The Rat King climbed up to the stage, its black eyes focused only on Trace. She shot at the monster once again, this time hitting it in the other shoulder. It growled.

One left. She steadied herself, tightly holding onto the grip with both her hands. Don’t squeeze the trigger. Just move the trigger. That way, you’re less likely to miss. Trace waited for the Rat King to reach her before firing. She didn’t miss. She couldn’t miss. Because it didn’t dodge.

Instead, it swung its claws and blocked the bullet, before knocking the gun away and grabbing the redhead. She was held up by the neck, choking, gasping for air. But it didn’t kill her. It tossed her aside, and she slid across the stage floor.

Trace landed just a few feet away from her pistol. She tried to grab for it, only to be pulled back by her leg. The Rat King dragged her as she squirmed and cursed, unable to break free. And for the first time, Ex asked her a real question.

[Why will you not choose a class?]

The Rat King threw her against a wall, her back slamming into it hard. Trace coughed and stood back up. Why don’t I just choose a class? …

Trace wasn’t sure. She just knew that she was never someone who fit in. She wasn’t born in this country. Her family moved to the United States when she was barely a seven-year-old. Because of her English accent, she was bullied in elementary school, mocked for the way she spoke. Especially so when she had to turn boys and girls down.

She never had a choice in the matter; her parents dictated that she left all her friends behind for a strange place where she knew no one. But what she hated was not that she had no say in that decision. In fact, she never hated that she didn’t fit in. No, what Trace hated was that the other available options were always worse.

If she did fit in, she’d be friends with a bunch of bullies. If she stayed with her grandma in London, she wouldn’t get to see her parents.

“Because—” Trace punched the nose of the Rat King. It barely budged. “Your classes are dogshit.”

It kneed her in the stomach, causing her to double over. It wasn’t going to bite off her head or finish the job— this was a tutorial monster— but it would keep tossing her around until she died from breaking all her bones.

[Affirmative,] Ex said, and Trace’s eye twitched.


[Beginning class customisation process for Trace Taylor.]

The Rat King loomed over her as she blinked. “What?”

[Name: Trace Taylor. Age: Eighteen. Country of Birth: England.


Strength: E-
Magic: G
Endurance: F+
Vitality: F
Dexterity: E

Primary Weapon: Cel-Dec BMR-31.

Personality Type: Brash, stubborn, and intuitive.  

Searching for basic classes which fit these criteria…]

“Ex, what are you— urk!” Trace found herself being picked up by the neck once more.

[Search complete. Class is found. Listing result:

Spellshot – A basic class specialised for the unconventional combat of utilising magitech weapons.

Trait Growth:

Strength: E- to E
Magic: G to F+
Endurance: F+ to F+
Vitality: F to F+
Dexterity: E to E+

Skills Gained:

(G) Improved Accuracy – Your accuracy is permanently improved.

(F) Deadly Sight – You can pinpoint the most vulnerable body parts of any creature up to 5 levels above you. Will increase for each skill level gained and increase by two.

(F+) Last in the Chamber – You can fire a powerful magical bullet when your magazine is emptied. Can be used once an hour. Cooldown will decrease for each skill level gained.

(F+) Recall Weapon – You can summon the last weapon you were holding if it is within 10 metres of you. Range will increase for each skill level gained. Can be used once an hour.

Do you accept this class?]

Ex’s words were all Trace could focus on, even as she was being strangled by the Rat King. She was lifted off her feet, held face-to-face with the monster. Right now, she had a choice. Either she was slowly killed in this tutorial sequence, or she became a Spellshot.

Unlike the other basic classes that didn’t pertain to Trace in any way, this class was tailored to suit her. In fact, it almost seemed to give her everything she needed to come out of this fight alive. It was a better alternative. 

“Y-yes.” Trace didn’t speak as much as choke.

[Affirmative,] Ex said. [You are now a Spellshot.]

And suddenly, Trace felt everything change. Her blurry vision sharpened as she analysed the Rat King. It was about to throw her, but she held out a hand.

“Recall Weapon.” Her pistol flashed, swallowed by a brilliant blue light. It was sucked right into Trace’s fingers, already aimed at the chest of the monster. “Small brain, but a really big heart. You kind of remind me of myself, you know?”

The Rat King threw her, and she fired. Her magazine was empty, but that was why it worked. Last in the Chamber. She soared through the air as the monster’s chest burst open, its heart exploding from the piercing magical bullet. Its body slowly fell as she rolled to a stop, laughing.

“Take that, you fucking arsehole!”

It collapsed with a loud thud, and Ex spoke in her head.

[You have defeated the Rat King – Lvl 5! Additional experience is earned for killing a boss monster!

(G) Improved Accuracy has reached level 2!

(G) Improved Accuracy has reached level 3!

(F) Deadly Sight has reached level 2!

(F+) Recall Weapon has reached level 2!

(F+) Last in the Chamber has reached level 2!

Spellshot has reached level 2! 

Spellshot has reached level 3!]

Name: Trace Taylor

Race: Human (Earth A314) 

Class: Spellshot – Lvl 3

Vocation: N/A

Craft: Locked


Strength: E
Magic: F+
Endurance: F+
Vitality: F+
Dexterity: E+


Class Skills:
(G) Improved Accuracy – Lvl 3
(F) Deadly Sight – Lvl 2
(F+) Last in the Chamber – Lvl 2
(F+) Recall Weapon – Lvl 2

Trace’s mind was flooded with messages. She ignored most of them, simply lying, satisfied. “I did it! I’m not dead!” For a minute there, she thought she was actually going to die at the hands of the Rat King. She would have lain there forever, until a bright light appeared in her peripheral vision.

There was a glow coming from the pedestal on the stage. It seemed to call to her. Trace got to her feet, stumbling over to the light and—

[Tutorial sequence complete. Commencing return to Earth.]

“Wait, wha—” Everything around Trace spun as she was pulled into the light. And it was over. The world was forever changed.

Previous Chapter

Next Chapter

Killshot Apocalypse 1


Figures stirred in the darkness. They turned to the screen as its number ticked up. Finally, the threshold had been met. The screen flickered, showing various scenes from the blue planet. 

A child stood on barren ground: soil deprived of life on its shivering blackened surface, holding nothing but the quietus of all that it took. Insects crawled over his scrawny arms like they were the shaking branches of a tree as his frail body creaked back. Rain fell from above, and his hollow gaze turned towards the heavens. His tongue, trembling and thin, slowly stuck out of his mouth. A single water droplet splashed on its tip. He licked his lips.

And the scene changed.

This one thinks it is too early. This one believes that Humanity is not ready.

There was a sprawling city, densely packed with buildings and people alike. A stone jungle of concrete, monolithic edifices towering threateningly towards the smog-smeared sky. Cars were beeping their horns as men and women walked without purpose to their jobs, mere phantoms going through the cycle of their day. Rehearsed. Practised. Without a soul.

And the scene changed.

You. Would. Pro. Pose. A. De. Lay?

Now, it showed a suburban neighbourhood. A young woman stood on the bristly welcome mat of a house, arms crossed, staring at a pair of older humans. They gesticulated wildly, their mouths moved with an exaggerated motion, and they pointed at their feet in a way that exuded a sense of finality. But she simply stormed off. 

The first who spoke uttered a weak sigh.


The young woman crunched through the fallen leaves that carpeted the tarmac a vibrant orange. She shivered and adjusted her red scarf, the same colour as her hair, whispering something to herself under a misty breath.


Boarding a bus, she tapped a card on its payment machine and found a seat. The destination sign flashed a name. That of a city. And just as she settled down, a man walked up to her with a smile. A short conversation ensued. The man began to shout, but she simply plugged her ears with a set of wireless earphones, ignoring him until he left. 


And the scene changed.

* * *

“Stupid. Fucking. Arseholes!” Three shots rang out. Each accentuated a word. Trace Taylor lowered the handgun. It was a standard eight-rounder pistol, an extra round loaded in the chamber, fairly easy to use. She was normally not much of a gun person herself, however she had to vent right now. 

“Yo, chill out Trace.” Liz whistled. “Never seen you this pissed before. Not gonna lie, don’t you think that’s going a little too far?” 

Snorting, Trace released the magazine before swiftly loading a new set of bullets into it. With a click, she switched the safety back on. “I’m not talking about my parents. They’re just idiots. I’m talking about those fucking cocksuckers I rejected on the bus, mocking me for my bloody accent. It’s not my fault I don’t pronounce ‘literally’ as ‘lid-uh-ra-lee.’” 

“If it makes you feel any better, I think your British accent is lovely,” Liz said in a faux posh voice. 

“It’s an Estuary English accent.” Trace rolled her eyes. “Also, not helping, Liz.”

“That’s what best friends are for!” 

They were practically sisters at this point. Elizabeth Evergreen, better known as Liz, was the only daughter of Jason Evergreen, the owner of the small gun range Trace was currently crashing in: The Evergreen Gun Range. It was located right at the edge of Liberapolis, a rather large city, even for the east coast. And since Jason Evergreen was abroad on a trip with his mistress right now, business was closed, leaving only the pair to use the facilities to their hearts’ delight.

“So, why did you run away?” Liz leaned back on her chair, speaking casually. “What kinda drama-filled day led to you storming out this time?”

“It wasn’t just one single event. You know that as well as I do. It’s everything about them.”

Trace sighed as she glanced at the hanging lights.

“They’re control freaks. They just don’t understand that college is—” Looking back down, she paused. “Liz?” 

Her friend was gone. The chair Liz had been sitting in was now empty. The room was dead silent, no signs of life anywhere. 

“Hello?” No response. The redhead pursed her lips. “Liz, this isn’t funny—” 

And the world around her vanished. The floor dissolved as the ceiling bubbled up into foam. The walls collapsed, peeling off like old paint. Everything rapidly shifted. A new platform rose beneath her, and a sable dome fell overhead. 

Trace stumbled back, her eyes bulging from their sockets. “Wha—” 


A voice interrupted her. It was almost a shout. She jerked and spun around, facing the only figure standing amidst the darkness. “Wh-who are you?” 

The figure stepped forward, a green snout emerging from the shadows. Yellow eyes, slit-like pupils, and granular scales. “NAME: TRACE TAYLOR. AGE: EIGHTEEN. COUNTRY OF BIRTH: ENGLAND. GREETINGS, I AM BOB OF THE ESVOL, AND I COME IN PEACE.” 

The realisation of what this figure was slowly sank into Trace’s mind. It was a lizard person. “Holy shit.” No, not a lizard person. “You’re a fucking alien!” She aimed her pistol at the reptilian’s skull warningly. “Stay back! Don’t you fucking dare probe me!” 


“Yeah right!” Trace flicked the safety off as perspiration trickled down her fingertips. “This is the part where you do the opposite of that and enslave humanity, isn’t it? I’m not falling for your bullshit!”   


“How astute. Did me telling you to ‘fuck off’ clue you in on that?” 

Ignoring her, he continued to himself. “I HAVE NO CHOICE BUT TO ATTEMPT ADVANCED DIPLOMACY.” 

Trace blinked. Advanced diplomacy? Oh fuck, if he dared to try and brainwash her— 

Spreading his arms wide, ‘Bob’ began to shift. His form flickered as a ripple washed over his scales. Each small section of his body was being flipped, replaced by a fairer skin tone as his face grew inwards. The lizard person had become, well, a regular person. 

Now with brown hair, blue eyes, and a charming smile on his face, he strolled up to Trace and proffered her his hand. “Apologies, m’lady.” He tipped a black cap at her.

And she pistol-whipped him. He grasped at his chin, slowly transforming back to his reptilian form. 

“Stay the fuck away from me, you freak!” 

“ADVANCED DIPLOMACY FAILED. SEEKING ALTERNATE PATHS.” ‘Bob’s’ eyes flickered. His irises slid behind his eyelids before returning a different colour. A pale gold. “BRUTEFORCE EXPLANATION SEEMS TO BE THE ONLY VIABLE ROUTE. BEGINNING INTRODUCTION SPEECH.” 

“What are you… on about?”


Multiverse? Pocket dimension? Initiation? What the fuck was going on?! Her mind raced with all these words she had only ever heard in science fiction movies. She opened her mouth to ask a question, but ‘Bob’ spoke over her. 


Trace narrowed her eyes. “Wait, you’re going to insert a fucking microchip in me?” 


“That does not make things better—” He tapped a sharp finger on her forehead, and she reeled. “Ouch— the fuck? Was that the femtochip?”


“Take it out, you shitheel!” She fired a shot at him.


“How does that even work? What even is this ‘System?’ That doesn’t make any sense! Go and fuck—” A stinging sensation caused Trace to wince. She grabbed for her head, but her hand turned into a blur. Dizziness settled over the redhead. “What is? …”

“IT HAS BEEN DONE. INITIALISING TUTORIAL SEQUENCE.” With a snap of his fingers, the dark curtain shrouding over them vanished. A light engulfed him as his body dematerialised along with the pocket dimension.

“Fuck…you…” Trace collapsed, her mind spinning as the shadows from the walls crept up over her eyes. 


* * *

[Tutorial sequence initiated,] a monotonous voice said as Trace woke up. 

She rubbed her eyes and stretched her back, a yawn escaping through her lips. Then she remembered the events of earlier. Trace leapt to her feet, gun still in hand, glancing around warily. “Where am I? Who said that?” 

[Hello, I am your artificial intelligence assistant, XTR-4715. You are currently undergoing the tutorial sequence.] 

“XTR-4715— wait, are you that femtochip they forced in my head?” 


She wanted to curse, to tell the AI to get out of her head, but she knew the blame would be misplaced. If anyone was at fault, it was that ‘Bob.’ “Ugh, where did that bastard go?”

Trace stood and took in the room around her. The floors and walls were white— like the kind you’d see in a laboratory. There was a hallway before her, brightly lit, with a creature standing at the very end. It looked like a giant rat with no tail and no fur. A pair of fangs stabbed down from its crooked jaw as it stared at her with hollow black eyes. 

“What the fuck is that?” She fell back to the ground, pointing a shaking finger at the creature. 

[Giant Rat – Lvl 1.] 

The voice in her head did not elaborate. It felt quite odd, having something speak from inside of her. It sounded like a second set of thoughts— one which she had no control over.

Taking a few calming breaths, Trace steadied herself back to her feet. 

“Hey, to the AI in my head, could you please explain why that giant fucking rat is standing before me?” she asked kindly. 

[Objective: Reach the fifth floor of the tutorial tower to complete the sequence. It is recommended that a basic class is chosen to eliminate the giant rats in each room.]

Reach the fifth floor? Trace glanced up at a glowing number just above the corridor. She was apparently on the first floor. “Alright, and what are these classes?” 

[The commonly chosen basic classes are as follows: 

Warrior – A basic class specialised in close-quarters combat. 

Ranger – A basic class specialised in long-range combat. 

Rogue – A basic class specialised in mixed combat.

Spellcaster – A basic class specialised in magical combat.

“This sounds like a video game…” She tilted her head back. “Say, erm, XS—” 


“Right, that. Do you know what each of these classes does?” 

[Each class will offer different skills and bonuses to your traits. These will all reflect in not just your status, but also in what you are capable of accomplishing.]

“My status?” Her eyes widened as a screen appeared before her.

Name: Trace Taylor

Race: Human (Earth A314) 

Class: N/A

Vocation: N/A

Craft: Locked


Strength: E-
Magic: G
Endurance: F+
Vitality: F
Dexterity: E



“What is all this?” 

[It is an overview of your person. Would you like me to explain each section of your status screen?]

Shaking her head, Trace leaned against the wall and massaged her temples. “No, I think I’ve got the gist of it.” Magic was a thing too. She’d have been more surprised, if not for how absolutely exhausted she was right now. “Just… let me complete this tutorial and go home. I think I need to lie down.” 

She forced herself forward, stopping right at the entrance of the hallway and staring at the giant rat. The screen was almost invisible when she wasn’t focusing on it. The AI’s voice echoed in her head, warning her of what was to come. 

[Trace Taylor, you have not yet chosen a class to battle the giant rat. The tutorial has begun. If you do not choose a class, you will be ripped to shreds.]

Choose a class? There were a few options. But did she really have a choice if it was all being imposed on her? She hated the restrictions Mum and Dad always placed on her, which was part of the reason why she left just earlier today. 

And now, even if she was faced with a monster, she had a choice. An actual choice for herself to make. Death wasn’t certain, unlike with ‘Bob.’ Choosing a class was merely recommended by the tutorial. So, she made her own decision. 

A shot rang out, and there was a thud. Trace lowered her pistol.

“I think I’m good.” 

[You have defeated a Giant Rat – Lvl 1!] Its voice was unnaturally excited for a brief moment, then it returned to its monotonous tone. [Wait, that was not supposed to happen.] 


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