Crucial Round Chapter 2


By John Boske

"Your boyfriend’s late, gypsy" remarked the tall blond woman. She waved the gun around the wagon interior.

"So is yours, lady. You really think John is going to just hand over what you want?" replied Eilie.

"Oh, I think he will, else I might have to get angry… and I have this nervous twitch in my hand when I get angry…" she smirked as she pointed the barrel straight at Eilie’s head. Eilie’s gaze focused on Elza’s index finger, which was indeed twitching. She could almost hear the trigger rattling.

John… Eilie’s heart raced at the thought of being able to see him again. What are you thinking!! This isn’t the time to worry about him! I’ve got to think of a way out of here! Eilie began to slide her hands down to her belt. It should be down here… good, she’s not looking. Now, let’s see… Her hands wrapped around the handle of a well-balanced throwing knife, perfectly concealed in her belt. Sliding the knife up to where her arms were bound, she began to saw at the rope around her wrists. She felt the first loop of rope break, when -

"What are you doing?! God damn it!" Elza slapped Eilie across the face with the butt of the pistol, and grabbed the throwing knife from Eilie with her free hand. "You just don’t know when to sit still, do you?! That does it, I’m through waiting for those slow bastards, you die here and now!"

Eilie licked the insides of her lips and tasted her own blood. She looked up and found herself staring down the barrel of the pistol. Time seemed to stop as she cocked the hammer back.


It took Eilie a few seconds to realize the sound wasn’t from the weapon. She opened her eyes and glanced at the now-open wagon door. She gasped - John stood there, along with a man in a black cape and that blacksmith she had met earlier. Words alone could not describe her relief; all she could manage was "John!!"

Elza turned to face the new arrivals. She grinned broadly as she recognized the blacksmith and the president of the republic. Then her eyes locked with Clive’s hard glare. "If it isn’t the hunter and his little friends…" She chuckled. "How kind of you to stop by."

Clive’s glare did not falter. "What is the meaning of this? Are you eager to end the chase?"

To this Elza replied "Something like that. There comes a time when the prey becomes the predator, and the predator the prey. Such is our time, Clive. It is my turn to hunt you."

Clive continued to glare at her, then his face faulted. He smiled a bit, and allowed a dry chuckle to escape his lips. His smile broadened as he began to laugh out loud. John and Maas, equally confused by the situation, started to play along and began to laugh as well.

Elza glared at Clive. "Clive." They continued to laugh. "Stop it!" No change. "I mean it!!!" She pointed her pistol straight at Clive’s head.

"Elza," Clive said between laughs "that is the single most ridiculous thing I have ever heard anyone say in my entire life! Congratulations, I have now lost all respect I ever had for you. For that, you will die painfully."

Elza gritted her teeth, and cocked back the hammer on her gun again.

Seeing an opportunity, Eilie kicked out with her right foot and slammed Elza’s knee hard from the back. Her knee buckled and Elza stumbled to the floor. Elza instinctively squeezed the trigger, but it was too late. The bullet shot harmlessly towards the ceiling, far above the head of Clive. She raised her gun to fire again, but felt her wrist being forcefully gripped. She turned to face her assailant - the blacksmith, Maas.

"You… how dare you interfere with our business! This is not your affair!" cried Elza. Her cry of anger turned to a cry of pain as she felt the blacksmith’s hand tighten around her wrist. She heard a sickening *crunch* a split second before a shock wave of pain shot through her arm. The gun slipped out of her hand as she tried to free herself from the iron grip of the blacksmith.

"You came into our peaceful community, waved some guns around, took a hostage, and you ask how I dare to do this?!" Maas shouted back at her. "I won’t let you leave this camp!"

Elza was about to reply before she felt the butt of Clive’s gun slam into her stomach, evacuating the air from her lungs. She fell to the ground, gasping for air.

Clive smirked. "How the mighty have fallen. Making friends just comes naturally to you, doesn’t it?" he remarked sarcastically. Elza said nothing, still gasping for air. She finally felt Maas’s hand loosen, and she instantly freed her wrist from his grip. Clive raised his rifle and took aim at Elza’s forehead. "I’ve been waiting for this for a long time."

Elza stared at the floor for a long time, then in one fluid motion sprang up and knocked the rifle out of Clive’s hands and onto a nearby couch. Before Maas could grab her again, she jumped back and wrapped her injured arm around Eilie’s neck, and pulled her second pistol from behind her back.

"Now this is how it goes. I leave here, alive, and then I kill this annoying little gypsy. Either of you get in the way, I kill you too… huh?" Elza noticed for the first time that John was nowhere to be seen. "Where the hell is -

Elza didn’t have time to finish the question before she felt something slam down hard on her good hand. She let out a cry of pain as her second gun fell harmlessly from her hands to the floor. She let go of Eilie and found herself face-to-face with the president of the republic, tonfa in hand. She didn’t have time to blink before she was hit by a flurry of blows from his weapons. She stumbled backwards, unable to breathe as blow after blow landed with impeccable accuracy. A sharp swing across the forehead signaled the end of the barrage as she fell to her knees once more.

"No… *cough* I… it can *cough* can’t… end… like this… *cough*" Elza spluttered. Her eyes were blinded by the blood from the head wound, but she didn’t need to see to know what was about to happen. The clicking sound of a rifle bullet being loaded into a chamber was enough of a clue.

"Elza, for your crimes, you have been judged as guilty and sentenced to death. No last words, no plea bargaining. Make your peace with whatever god you believe in, because you are about to meet them." Clive raised his rifle and pointed it square at Elza’a head. Clive took a deep breath, and squeezed the trigger without even flinching.


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