The Right Weapon—Zaun


from The Right Weapon


Mauro wondered if the snobbish Piltovian pistol had heard his proclamation of Zaunite superiority. And if it made sense for him to wonder such a thing.

The Keeper brought forward a shiny black holster stamped with a corporate logo consisting of a neon green triangle with a metallic silver T carved into the center in aggressively angular lettering. It screamed innovation, it screamed give it a shot. It would shred that snippy Piltovian voice apart in a blast of eardrum-rupturing arena music. He felt sexier just looking at the thing’s holster.

He reached down and drew it. Wires and tubes everywhere. Why are there tubes on a gun? But when he gripped it, purple and green fluids began to bubble through the tubes, and spiky emitters sparked with stray energy.

“Three ammunition types, with a selector switch on the side,” the Keeper explained. “Standard round is a heavy metal slug. Works nicely on anything that doesn’t enjoy having a fist-sized hole torn out of it. Turn the switch and you get a null-magic penetrator round. I expect you run up against the, ah, magically gifted more often than most. There are a lot of spells that’ll turn a metal slug aside, even an enchanted one, but wards tend to slip off null penetrators like this. They tend to jam the barrel sometimes, though. Anyway, final setting is a pyrikhosian disruptor shell. Explodes with an extradimensional kick that’ll positively shred most necromantic or elemental auras. Not as sanctimonious about it as the Demacian broadsword, but quite emphatically gets the job done.”

Mauro hesitated. It was all very exciting, but…that was a bit of the problem. He wasn’t shopping for a toy to play with. But this thing wouldn’t stop urging him to spin that one shiny dial and pull the trigger a few times to see what happened. He had the vague sense that he needed to be tuning it right now to deal with an impending overload. This didn’t feel like something to secret away in your robes for a day you hoped would never come. It wanted to be used. Gleefully. Recklessly. Frequently.

And in its way, it was just as demanding as the Piltovian weapon. The Piltovian gun wanted to be understood and carefully maintained; this gun wanted to be upgraded. He got the feeling that it would get angry if he wasn’t modifying it on a weekly basis, or working out new ways to creatively misuse its mechanisms.

He felt like he’d been rejected by pieces of equipment enough for one day, however, and he fought to turn this around. It was a great gun, after all. Three settings!

He spoke to firm up his wavering thoughts. “Conventional, anti-magic, anti-construct. That pretty well covers it. This gun could kill just about anything! I can’t imagine why anyone would want the Piltovian gun, then. That just has the first setting, basically. Doesn’t it? Just a metal slug?”

The Keeper seemed to sense the fading enthusiasm in Mauro’ voice. The gun was getting impatient, and his eyes flicked down at it periodically, as though checking a fuse.

“Well. That gun you’re holding is a lot more versatile than the Piltovian gun. And probably packs a bigger punch, in terms of raw power. Sure. A zombie jumps out at you from the shadows at close range, and, if you’re quick enough with the dials and whatnot, this gun should put it down with one shot. On the other hand, let’s say you hear a gunshot from a rooftop a hundred yards away. That Piltovian pistol has the calibration to make the shot as sure as a braced rifle. Draw, aim, fire, hit. This one doesn’t work like that. You’d have to rely on being clever. Creative.”

Mauro frowned. The gun was sparking. Like a bored date glaring at him from across the table. He wasn’t any fun. The gun had places to be, explosions to cause.

He handed it back to the Keeper, who rather quickly adjusted some of the dials, then slid it into its holster. Mauro heard some of its mechanisms grumbling to a halt.

The Keeper looked Mauro over. After a few awkward seconds, Mauro asked, “What?”

“You seemed to like that Zaunite gun.”

“Yeah. But it didn’t like me. I don’t seem too popular with your wares.”

“Don’t be too broken up about it. Myself, I’m pretty suspicious of anybody that makes quick friends with things enchanted to kill. It’s rare for a mage as strong as a Summoner to find an enchanted companion weapon. At least, one as strongly enchanted as these are.”

Mauro did, in fact, feel a little better hearing that. “Well. I wouldn’t mind trying a few more of these. Even if none of them…like me.” Because, truth be told, this is kind of fun.

The Keeper grinned conspiratorially. “That glimmer in your eye…just now.”

“What do you mean?”

“Seems to me that you have a flair for the exotic. Well, alright. You want exotic? Let’s try exotic.”

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