Brute stood slumped against the crypt wall. Despite his apparent intoxication, Brute was very much aware of his companions. He was joined by two people, the first a woman called Claire. Claire was a member of The Order and didn't speak much. When Claire did talk she mostly ridiculed the other posse member; a large dark skinned man who called himself Cairo.
Brute had many skills, but more so than anything he knew how to read people. He recognised in Cairo a twang of an accent showing that he had spent at least a few years in Britain. Cairo also considered himself a learned and educated man, but Brute saw something that Cairo tried to keep hidden; a darker side, a bully and a strongman.
Brute's talents in regards to understanding others also stretched to making sure that others didn't understand him. Everything about Brute was tailored and designed around misdirection and misunderstanding. He was a waif of a man who had never thrown a punch in his life, but he went by his nickname of Brute. He found that in many cases this contradiction was enough to confuse people, to get them to drop their guard and give him the advantage he was after.
Ultimately Brute was a chancre and a trickster. He would go to gambling dens, play cards and play his game. While everyone else was playing odds, Brute was playing other people.
It was his talent with playing others against each other that Brute hoped would allow him to pull off his latest heist. His plan was simple; to provide misinformation to their leader, get her all riled up without even realising it until she does something to set off the muscles oaf. While they kill each other he makes sure to slip out with whatever loot they've gathered. The plan was so simple he was almost embarrassed to admit he had thought of it, but even more amused by the knowledge that he knew it would work.
Ahead of the two men Claire barked an order at them both, Cairo stopped and pulled out his two handed sword while Brute readied his revolver. Brute had no idea what Claire had said but there was no way he was going to get caught un-prepared.
The posse stood for a moment, they were in a large room covered in a sticky goo like mess. Brute thought of how it reminded him of the sweet candy his mother used to make when he was small. No one was breathing, everyone waited to see what, if anything, was going to happen.
After what felt like far too long Brute breathed out and lowered his revolver. He still had no idea what his boss had barked earlier, but they clearly weren't in any danger. That was when the first attack came.
From overhead a dark brown shape the size of a large dog dropped from the ceiling on top of Claire, at the same time two more slightly larger creatures rushed at Cairo. Brute stared at them almost dumbstruck as he saw their long spindly eight legs, their deep red eyes and venom filled fangs and he knew they were in a spider's best. It made no sense Brute thought to himself; they weren't supposed to reach the spider nest for another two levels. Clearly the information he had stolen was inaccurate.
Cairo swung wildly with his sword knocking one of the beasts away from him and he responded by diving onto it's squirming shell sinking his blade straight into it's back. As the creature squealed in pain the second spider launched it's own attack on the now prone Cairo.
Across the room Claire was struggling with her own monstrous spider, it tore at her clothing and stabbed at her chest and neck trying with everything it could to sink it's fangs deep into her flesh. Brute saw all of this as if in slow motion; the movement, the peril, all of it just a series of events that he could gamble with the outcome.
Brute readied his revolver at the creature scrambling over Claire and gently caressed the trigger sending a single bullet speeding out of the barrel and into the head of the beast. The bullet left a clean entry hole in the spider's head that soon began to sizzle and bubble as the caustic fluids held within the bullet were released inside the spider's head ensuring the creature died quickly yet painfully.
In a swift motion Brute spun on his heels to face Cairo who was also struggling with the third and final spider. As another moment past Brute released a second bullet in the direction of that beast.
The bullet hit the spider square in it's chest, the force of the shot knocking it off Cairo and onto the floor. Reacting to the opportunity Cairo unslung his shotgun from across his back and unloaded a cartridge into the spider's now bubbling chest turning it into nothing more than a gooey mess.
Claire readied herself for another attack, but when none presented itself she turned her attention to Brute.
"Poison bullets!" She called out, her anger echoing throughout the maze like corridors of the crypts "Since when did you have poison bullets?"
Brute stared at her with almost dead eyes. Without looking away he placed a thick wad of chewing tobacco in between his gums. He maintained eye contact as Claire's eyes flashed bright red causing her to blink and back away.
Brute had heard about the transformation that members of The Order were capable, he had heard that during this time they were capable of brutality, but afterwards they were left frail and weak. Brute knew that Claire had a vendetta down here in the crypts, and he knew that there was no way she would chance a premature transformation on an upstart team member. With all this knowledge he continued to stare into the back of Claire's head as she turned and walked away.
So you've seen the first three parts of my latest short story: The Reckoning.
I hope you're enjoying these and look forward to the fourth and final part due soon.
On that note; stay safe and I'll see you Cryptside!
- Your friendly neighbourhood Doctor Loxley