No Escape: Heirloom

Trever Bierschbach
11 min readMar 9, 2024

This is a short fiction based on the game Escape from Tarkov from Battlestate Games.

“Puncher, catch,” Outbreak tossed a box of ammo to Puncher as he entered the basement turned headquarters. “Should fit your new weapon there.”

Puncher caught the box and checked the caliber, smiling and nodding his thanks. Wizard entered behind, looking at the door that gave them access to the surface.

“We’re going to need to do something to secure this door,” he said. “That’s something I need you to tackle.”

Puncher nodded, “Will do.”

“I take it the meeting went well,” Two-time asked from a makeshift aid station he had setting up using some crates and boards found deeper in the basement. He was taking inventory of the remainder of their medical supplies.

“It did,” Wizard set a bag of ammo, all old Russian surplus, and some weapons to match. “Prapor seems like he’s mostly honest. Picked up some supplies. We’ll have to use these until we can get our hands on the good stuff again.”

They were desperately short on NATO issue ammunition after their last mission so would have to resort to scavenging the odd antiques used by the local populace. It wasn’t ideal, but they’d manage.

“He has another job for us, and a possible contact with a local doctor,” Outbreak added.

“Doctor?” Two-time looked up. “We could use some supplies.”

“We’ll have to gather some supplies first,” Wizard said. “Seems the doctor has set up some sort of clinic for innocents caught in the crossfire here. They’re short of medicine. Prapor says if we can get some of what they need, the doctor might do business with us.”

“What about getting us out of here?” Archangel asked. He was looking through the bag and pulled out an old AK carbine with a look of displeasure.

“That’s going to take some time,” Wizard replied. “He has to make the right contacts for us, and then they have to get paid.”

“Of course they do,” Archangel grabbed two boxes of ammo and a couple spare mags and retreated to the far end of the basement to load them.

“So, what’s the mission boss?” Puncher looked up from filling his own magazines.

“We have to go over to the customs terminal. There’s some worker housing where we need to pick up the key to some dead guy’s truck. Prapor wants to send his watch back to his kid or something. While we’re out there be on the lookout for any quality medical supplies, especially the salewa kits. Seems the doctor is picky.”

“Seems easy enough,” Two-time was packing his med bag with supplies from their limited stock.

“Why, Two-time?” Outbreak said, while the others groaned.

“What, just because y’all are superstitious means I can’t say the word ‘easy’?” Everyone groaned again, and Archangel threw one of his MREs at the medic.

“All right, button it up,” Wizard barked. “Listen, the area is rumored to be controlled by one of the local warlords. Some thug named Rashala. Sounds like he controls the area between the dormitory and a service station on the main road. There’s also reports of several snipers holding positions overlooking our objective.”

Wizard looked around at his squad, realizing this was the first time they’d been up against serious opposition since arriving in Norvinsk. They’d seen action before, but the last few months have been a lot of sitting around, quiet patrols, and trying to stay awake at a guard post watching the entrance to the shipping yards. He was about to take them into the shit, and against local militia. He’d rather face enemy soldiers any day. Locals knew the area, the terrain, and fought like cornered rats most of the time.

“Archangel, I’ll need you spotting those snipers,” Wizard waited for his nod. “For the rest, we’ll find this guy’s apartment, and the key, and get our asses to the truck. No deviations from the mission. In and out as quick as we can, and no one gets show, understand me?”

A chorus of “Yes sirs” was his answer.


“Got that sniper spotted, boss,” Archangel’s voice came through Wizard’s headset. “Top of the factory building with line of sight on the road.”

“Hold there,” Wizard ordered. “When we’re out I’ll let you know. We don’t want to alert anyone too early.”

Wizard was looking up at a three-story apartment building that had seen better days. Standard Soviet Block architecture, all function and no form. The apartment they were looking for was on the second floor nearest the door he was watching. No one had gone in or out of the building since they took up positions in the surrounding trees. He looked to the rest of the team.

“Puncher will go up first, just take a look and see what we’re dealing with. If it’s clear, take up a position to cover the floor. Outbreak and I will follow. Intel is that the trucker’s apartment is just a couple doors in on the right,” they all nodded. “Two-time, you watch that door from here. Make sure no one follows us up.”


With a nod, Wizard got up and led the way to the rusting metal stairs that climbed the outside of the building. They’d considered going in the front but that exposed them to the windows of another building across the small open square. Once he was near the second story door, Puncher edged by him and took up a position at the metal barrier. Wizard counted down from three with his fingers and Puncher opened the door on one. He peeked around the doorframe before entering the building, light machinegun raised to his shoulder.

Wizard and Outbreak waited, and soon received the hand signal through the door that all was clear for the moment. When they entered, they took up positions on either side of the hall in open doorways, covering the long hall. The place was a dump, even by Norvinsk standards. Furiture, clothing, and other refuse littered the hall as if the whole place had been ransacked. Some of the rooms were open and doors hung askew from broken hinges. Ahead, the hall was blocked by furniture piled up like a low barricade. Wizard moved up and tapped Puncher on the shoulder to indicate he should move forward. The heavy gunner moved over the barricade carefully and took up a position farther down the hall. The floor appeared to be clear but there were two more floors and a stairwell somewhere ahead.

Wizard signaled to Outbreak that he was going to move ahead. Outbreak moved to the left to cover and Wizard checked room numbers. He found the one he was looking for, right up against the barricade. He stepped up onto a bed and ducked into the room. Inside the place was a mess. A bunk, cabinet, and desk made up the rooms furnishings. Two jackets hung on hooks screwed into the wall. He started with the desk. No key, but he did find a first aid kit, mostly intact. He moved to the bunk, nothing under the mattress, and the cabinet was empty but for a worn pair of boots no one seemed to want. He checked the jackets last. Cigarettes in the one, jackpot in the second. A wad, maybe a hundred rubles, and in the other pocket a truck key. That’s when all hell broke loose in the hallway.

“One down!” He heard Puncher call after a burst of automatic fire that echoed down the hall like thunder. Puncher’s callout was followed by shouting in Russian and another burst of fire from both Pucher’s machinegun, and Outbreak’s scavenged AK.

“Everyone O.K.?” Wizard called. He didn’t look into the hall, not wanting to enter Outbreak’s field of fire.

“Yah, we’re good,” Outbreak called out. There was another burst of fire, from down the hall, and Puncher grunted, then replied with his own weapon report.

“Coming out!” Wizard hopped the barricade and ran back the way they came, ducking into the last doorway across from Outbreak. “Punch, you good?”

“Yah boss, took it in the vest!”

“Back off, we got the hall.”

There was more shouting in Russian, two or three unknown targets were taking cover down the hall.

“Do you think it’s Rashala and his boys?” Outbreak kept his eyes down the hall.

“I don’t know, let’s not find out,” Wizard keyed his mic. “We’re coming out Two-time, we got hostiles up here. I got the key.”

“I heard, no action on this side.”

“We got the hall Punch, fall back.”

Puncher didn’t hesitate. He turned and vaulted the barricade, and that’s when the Russians opened fire again. Flashes and thunder turned the hall into a tunnel of chaos. Outbreak responded but Pucher was coming through Wizard’s line of fire. Puncher went down to the floor with a curse and another body fell at the end of the hall.


“Shot me in the damn leg,” Pucher reported, keeping his head down behind the barricade. More Russians shouting from down the hall.

“Keep an eye on that Outbreak,” Wizard moved to grab Pucher’s harness and drag him back. “Can you walk?”

“We’ll find out,” Puncher said when they were in the doorway.

“Two-time says it’s clear outside, if you can walk, get yourself down those stairs.”

“I got this,” Outbreak reported.

“Follow him out,” Wizard handed Puncher the first aid kit and key and took up a covering position looking down the hall.

Puncher exited, followed closely by Outbreak, who kept a hand on the other’s rig to steady him on the stairs. Wizard waited until he got confirmation they were on the ground, then sent a full mag down the hall as he backed toward the exit himself. The Russians were either too scared, or too smart, to expose themselves and he made it outside to follow them down.

“How is he?” Wizard asked when he joined the others in the trees.

“Through and through, didn’t hit the bone. That kit you found came in handy, I hope our doctor friend doesn’t mind,” Two-time reported.

“She’ll have to make due,” Wizard was watching the door they came out, but no one was dumb enough to show themselves. “Archangel, we need to move fast. You’re clear to take that sniper.”

“Sniper down.”

They hadn’t heard the shot, but there was more shouting in Russian coming from the front of the dormitory.

“Time to move,” Wizard barked. “Let’s go, across the street and into that fuel yard!”

They moved through the trees toward the walled area where the fuel truck was located. They saw two locals on the road, both on alert, but uncertain where the danger was. That cost both of them their lives. The squad rushed across, Puncher limping but moving as fast as he could, and they all made it through a gap in the wall. Wizard took a moment to assess the situation with the solid wall at their back. Archangel joined them through another gap farther down the wall, and gestured toward a row of oil storage tanks. He indicated that he heard something, so they moved forward while Outbreak covered their rear.

“Sniper’s down but I heard someone call out somewhere ahead,” Archange whispered when they met him by the tanks.

“O.K.,” Wizard nodded. “Puncher, you cover the rear. Move with us but keep that gap covered. Outbreak and Two-time, you’re with me. Sweep and clear to the truck. Archangel, eyes on those rooftops. Too many high points for my liking.”

The squad moved forward through the storage tanks. Puncher followed, walking backward with his eyes on the gap in the wall they’d come through. Outbreak, in the lead, took a knee at the end of one of the tanks and signaled everyone to hold while he scanned the way ahead. After a moment, he waved them forward. Two-time passed by him and took up a position at the next container. He peeked around the corner and held up one finger, indicating he could see one target. He then took aim and fired two rounds in quick succession. His next move indicated the target was down. He waited another moment and waved them forward.

The squad did another sweep when they could see more of the yard. They heard shouts in Russian behind them, but the area appeared to be clear. Wizard pointed each to cover, and Outbreak tossed him the key before moving to a spot to watch the north side of the area. Wizard cross the open space to the truck at a run and got the door open. While he was searching the cab of the rig he heard the crack of a bullet breaking the sound barrier nearby and a shower of glass as the truck’s windshield fell in around him.

“Sniper!” Puncher called out.

“Where?” Archangel’s calm response came over their headsets.

“Has to be east, up high.”

Wizard took cover behind the cab of the truck and the unseen shooter took aim at another of his squad, sending up showers of concrete fragments as a bullet hit the parking lot near Puncher’s cover.

“Archangel, get eyes on that shooter!” Wizard shouted, looking for an avenue of escape for himself and his men.

“Working on it, Boss.” He was always so calm, sometimes it irritated Wizard, but it made him good at his job.

“I’ll see if I can draw his fire,” Outbreak shouted.

“I’d rather you didn’t,” Wizard knew it was pointless, but he had to voice his disagreement.

Of course, Outbreak didn’t listen. He jumped from his cover and sprinted for a break in the concrete wall west of the truck. Sure enough, the sniper opened fire, shows landing all around Outbreak sending showers of dust and debris into the air but blessedly none of them hit home.

“There,” Archangel’s calm voice came over the mic. A heartbeat later the suppressed report of his rifle ended the sniper’s hail of bullets.

“We’ve got company!” Puncher shouted when Outbreak reached the gap in the wall. His warning was followed by another short burst from his weapon.

“Move!” Wizard shouted, waving Two-time to follow Outbreak through the gap. He fired a quick burst back the way they came from. “Puncher, I got you. Move!”

Puncher rushed through the gap, followed closely by Archangel. They both took up positions at the wall to cover Wizard.

“Let’s go, boss!” Pucher called.

Shouting Russian voices followed him toward his team. Puncher and Archangel responded with lead, keeping the locals under cover in the shadow of the tankers.

“This way,” Outbreak called from the cover of a low concrete wall farther on. “There’s a gate we can get through.”

The squad followed at a run, passing some storage buildings. A checkpoint lay ahead on an old broken road. A floodlight illuminated an abandoned truck, and an old soviet tank. The area was clear, but they could hear shouts behind them in the night. Outbreak pushed through the gate behind the truck, holding it open for Two-time who was close behind. Archangel was helping Puncher, and they both took up positions at the tank to cover Wizard’s retreat.

“There,” Puncher raised his gun and fired into the night. Someone screamed and more shouting in Russian could be heard. “Go, I’m right behind you.”

Archangel didn’t argue. He followed the rest through the heavy steel gate where Outbreak and Wizard had taken up cover positions. “Let’s go Punch, we got your back.”

With a groan, Puncher limped from cover and through the metal gate. Outbreak fired a few shots to cover his retreat, but they didn’t hear or see any other sign of the enemy. They Closed the gate and blocked it with a heavy bar lying in a pile of junk on the other side. With their backs covered, they made their way back to their temporary home.