Chapter 1: Lilith 01:1 - Savior
"Ty. Tyreen." Normally, Troy does not intervene. But there's something almost perverse, and not in the way he usually likes in his frankly colorful ECHO net history, about seeing another siren flat on her back. He can pass it off as needing to rejuice. His twin is so used to needing to feed energy over to him. Sometimes being a parasite has its uses.
"Ugh. Fine." Tyreen steps away from her target, leaving the redhead stunned on her back as she swoops upon the vault key. With her free hand, she seizes Troy's outstretched flesh hand. Red and blue tattoos glow in sync.
"I'm gonna go check this thing out." The shorter twin says, "don't take too long."
In a flash of blue, she's gone. Troy watches the spot she disappeared from for a moment before turning back to the now former Firehawk.
"You gonna at least make it quick?" The redhead spits blood onto the ground. Without her powers, Lilith has definitely been in better shape. Cut off from her friends and allies, faced with a much more powerful enemy... saying that, the weakest bandit could probably take her out at the moment.
Troy surveys her for a moment. Honestly, it would probably be a lot less trouble if he DID just kill her. Something about it just feels wrong, though. When he was cut from Tyreen at birth, he got what was left. He supposes the now ordinary, injured woman on the ground is another leftover. Been there, done that.
"Fuck sake." As he approached her, he checked his arm, ensuring CH47 was secured and, more importantly, deactivated. Satisfied with his surveillance, he knelt down to the former siren.
"What, you want to spit on me before you kill me? Torture me? Go ahead. You have what you came for."
"Jeez. Shut up for one second, will you?" In one of the pockets of his coat, there's a health pack, containing several emergency health kits. Upon locating it, he popped the cap. "And hold still."
Neither party really believing what he was doing, he slammed the needle of the emergency health kit into her thigh and pressed the button. His supply is somewhat limited, but Tyreen keeps him pretty well juiced so long as he doesn't piss her off. What's one emergency kit? Besides, the former Firehawk sure as hell looks like she needs it more.
"Don't make me regret this." He seizes one of her shaking hands and clasps it round the slowly deploying syringe. "Hold this in place til it's empty. Wait five seconds before you pull the needle out."
Swiftly stepping away from her, he crosses the launchpad a good ten feet then vanishes in a burst of red light, leaving a stunned Lilith staring after him.
She's never been good at taking orders; she's used to giving the instructions herself, after all. Saying that, she's never really had to use an emergency health kit before, so following his instructions seems like a good idea.
Briefly it crosses her mind that it could be a trick, but she's also pretty sure that if Troy Calypso had wanted to kill her, he wouldn't have done it with a health kit. Or... Something disguised as a health kit.
She's still clutching the empty syringe when her friends reach her.
"Lil! You okay, there?" Ellie, larger than life in voice, personality, and physical size, reached her first.
"Where are her tattoos?" Moze next, the youngest of the new vault hunters. It was the new recruit who helped her to her feet, onto the ship.
"Tyreen must have taken her powers." Tannis concluded grimly as they crowded into the bridge together.
"Lil? Say somethin' will you? Startin' to scare me."
"Troy Calypso just saved my life." Her voice was hoarse as she spoke, and disbelief colored her tone as the words fell. She held the empty kit out to Tannis, who took it gingerly.
"It's custom. How fascinating. The technology in this... It could heal almost anything." Tannis could barely contain her curiosity. "I'll further examine this in the lab. I might be able to replicate it."
"Hang on. If that thing is so damn valuable, why would he just hand it over?" Ellie demanded.
"It's not valuable like money," Tannis explained, "more like a scientific advancement I am eager to explore."
"But he just gave it to you?" Moze interjected over the pair, staring at Lilith, "why?"
The former Firehawk gave a defeated shrug.
"I have... No idea."
"There some sort of code against killing other sirens?" Zane asked, eyeing Amara. She shook her head.
"Tyreen was about ready to fry her." Amara shrugged, "whatever his reason, it was personal."
Lilith's head was starting to hurt, and the bickering sure as hell wasn't helping.
"You guys got this for now? Cool. I'm gonna just... go lie down." She wasn't used to feeling weak, and needed to recover. Her friends needed her to lead them. She couldn't let a little thing like losing her powers stand in the way.
Besides, she had other matters to puzzle over. The health kit had been custom? That made Troy parting with it even stranger. As she reached her room and flopped onto her bunk, she sighed.
A deep sense of unease settled over her. She now owed Troy Calypso a favor, something she hated at the best of times. The fact that he was supposedly an enemy should have made it moot, but he had saved her life. Favor owed or not, she was determined to find out why.
Chapter 2: Troy - 02:2 - Reluctance
He's not sure why he did it. If Tyreen were to find out... He could never simply blame it on a moment of madness. Perhaps he could convince her it was to make the former Firehawk a better target for later? She might buy that.
Either way, he's just risked his neck for the enemy. Does that make HIM the enemy now? It's chewing him up inside, but he sure as hell isn't about to come clean about it.
He tries to tell himself it's just a matter of Siren Ethics, but that's not quite it. Sirens kill other sirens all the time. Well. Not quite all the time, but Tyreen was ready to wipe Lilith off the face of the planet. Surely he should have been, too.
Maybe, he thinks, it's because he's too used to being at his sister's mercy. Seeing another siren who now isn't quite a siren in the same position just seems wrong. Or maybe, maybe it was just a fleeting moment of compassion. Because he's been there. Been the one trying to convince Tyreen his life was worth something. Lilith hadn't even been accorded that opportunity. He's not sure if that's better or worse than what he got.
He's supposed to be writing a speech for Tyreen to give on a special sermon broadcast, but ever since the incident with the Firehawk, he's been going nuts, questioning himself. He loves his sister. She's family. The only family he's got, even if she treats him like absolute garbage off camera.
Helping the former Siren behind her back seems like a betrayal. And yet, he can't bring himself to regret it. He, too, is living proof of what's left over when Tyreen drains a person of their power. Perhaps it was that brief, fleeting similarity that had driven him to hand over one of his precious health kits.
The kits are custom, modified to heal a Siren body. He designed them a year or so back, got the tech funded through a stream. As such, they're not something he'd hand over easily. Even more puzzling to him. He sure wouldn't hand one over to just anyone, if anyone at all. And yet, there he had been.
He sighed. He had been pacing his work space again, tossing crumpled note paper over his shoulder as he had started and restarted his speech draft.
Annoyingly, he wanted to check up on their enemy. To see if the kit had helped her. Had she even survived? Why did he even care?
A small voice told him it was because he was so used to the way his sister treated him, seeing her do it to someone else had made him snap briefly. He ignored that treacherous voice and settled at his desk, pen tapping against the paper.
His eyes fell on a broken ECHO they had stolen from a dead Crimson Raider.
"For fuck sake." He was not stupid. He liked to pride himself on that. Contacting- or, attempting to contact- the Firehawk seemed like an extremely stupid idea. And yet, he knew he wouldn't be able to focus until he... what? Knew she was alright? The very idea was absurd, but he needed to know.
Scowling to himself, muttering about his own idiocy, he pulled the ECHO unit towards him with one hand, metal hand already reaching for his tool kit.
Chapter 3: Lilith - 03:3
The great thing about her friends is that Lilith doesn't have to pretend she's okay. Although that's her first instinct, nobody minds that she's retreated in on herself. The loss of her powers affects them all, the overall strength of the team. So yeah. Nobody blames her for hiding herself away.
On the plus side, it's given her time to puzzle things over with nobody bothering her. Puzzling things over, however, would imply she had solved the mystery, and she most certainly had not. In fact, she was no closer to understanding why Troy Calypso had spared her life now than she had been when it had happened.
Part of her suspects it may simply be so she presents as more of a challenge later on. Heal her up so they can make more of a show out of her death. The thing is, she doesn't really think that's the truth of it. Tyreen was ready to kill her then and there.
Perhaps, then, it was pure and simple pity.
That in itself annoys her. She doesn't need pity from anyone, let alone Troy Calypso. The entire concept makes her frustrated, angry enough to throw things around her room. Next time she's face to face with him, she swears, she'll demand to know why he did it.
Only. She can't very well ask why he gave up some of his own medical supplies for her in front of Tyreen. Something- just a hunch- tells her that Troy probably didn't inform his twin of his little assist. She can't see that going down well with the other Calypso.
Something she does ponder, though, laying on her bunk, tossing a rubiks cube between her hands, is Tyreen's hostility to her own brother.
Parasite, she had called him. Strange. Not to mention Troy's siren tattoos. As far as Lilith was aware, only women could be sirens. Perhaps he had lost all power when he had been separated from Tyreen. The raw end of the deal. One arm and no siren powers.
So why had Tyreen been so hostile? So adamant that she was the siren? Perhaps the rarity of Troy's condition made her feel... what? Overshadowed? Was it insecurity? Or basic sibling rivalry?
Lilith was an only child, but couldn't picture herself being cruel to family. The basis of the matter, she figured, was that Tyreen was an asshole. Up until recently she had pictured Troy as the same sort of two dimensional jerk too. Until he had saved her life. Her thought process then, following, was that perhaps it had been on impulse, simply to be the one pulling the strings for once.
Next time she saw him. Preferably without Tyreen around. She would ask him. Then, she figured almost bitterly, she would kill him.
Chapter 4: Lilith - 03:3.5
The rough estimate is that they are halfway to Promethea. Lilith has been doing all she can, throwing herself into leadership and ensuring everyone on board Sanctuary is safe and traveling well. The incident with Troy is nowhere near forgotten, but she's managed to push it to the back of her mind.
Of course, being the way of things, it's when she's not thinking about it that it begins to present itself in front of her. She's minding her own business in her room after another long day of dealing with Claptrap being insufferable, minor squabbles among the crew, and repairs to the ship. Really, she should be asleep already. Sleep is precious, now. Someone could come and wake her any moment needing something.
Instead, she's steadily throwing small, angled knives into a target on the wall. The loss of her powers has left her desperately wanting to sharpen her weapon skills.
With a dull thud, the last knife sinks into the middle circle of the target. Swearing under her breath, she crossed the small room to wrench it - and the others- free. She's in the process of steadily levering the deepest set one out of the target when her ECHO starts to vibrate at her hip.
"Talk to me," she responds, activating the hands-free on account of the knife problem; with a final wrench, she pulls it free.
"Huh! Holy shit, didn't think I'd even manage to get through. Guess I got the frequency right in the end."
She dropped the recently-freed knife.
Unless she was going insane, hearing shit like Tannis, then Troy Calypso was speaking to her through her ECHO.
"How did you get into this network?" She demanded, speaking in spite of herself.
"Found one of your old ECHO units when we were uhh... look, it may have been liberated from a dead Crimson Raider. How I got it doesn't matter."
"Like hell it doesn't matter. Are you TRACKING me right now?" She snatched the ECHO from her belt, preparing to launch it at the wall. She could always get a new one from the hold.
"No. I probably should be. If I was more of an asshole, I probably would be."
"So if you're not tracking me, why are you talking? Is this some sort of trick? Your sister about to blow us out of orbit?" Lilith glared at the ECHO in her hands as though he could somehow see her without the holo screen on.
"Actually.... Tyreen has no idea I'm talking to you." Guilt colored the enemy's tone.
"You expect me to believe that?"
"No. But it's the truth."
The annoying thing was, she believed him, which made the conversation even stranger.
"So if you're not tracking me, distracting me, or here to gloat... what do you want?"
There was a pause.
"This is gonna sound really freakin stupid. But I wanted to know if the health kit, you know? Helped?"
Lilith was too stunned to respond.
"Hello? Hey. Firehawk. You there?" There was the dull sound through the device of the other unit being smacked.
"Yeah, I'm here. Just. Wait. You expect me to believe you hacked into a looted ECHO... to ask how I'm doing?" She snorted. The entire thing was too ridiculous to believe.
"Uh.. Yeah pretty much."
Well. Now she kind of felt like an asshole.
"I'm fine." She replied shortly. There was no way she was about to tell a known enemy how shitty she had been feeling.
"That's a load of skag crap and we both know it." His answer was flat, tone missing his usual annoying cocky lilt.
"You don't know anything about me."
"True, but I DO know what it feels like when my sister drains everything you've got." As soon as he said it, she could tell he regretted saying it.
"You got a remedy for that? Or am I meant to just... not be a Siren anymore?" She was getting frustrated, the mystery of his sudden friendliness getting to her. She was certain there was a trap of some sort somewhere.
"You're stuck that way, Firehawk. Sorry. But I CAN tell you how to fix some of the side effects of being drained."
"Why?" She demanded, "why would you possibly want to help me? We aren't on the same side. Not even remotely."
"I dunno." On the other side of the unit, Troy was fidgeting uncomfortably. She wanted answers he simply didn't have.
"Why did you spare my life then? Surely you know the answer to that one."
"Like I said. I know what it's like. To be drained and on the brink of death. Nobody stood in her way for me. I had to fight to survive. I'd have liked it if I'd had someone there, you know?"
"So... what? You told her to let me go because it wasn't a fair fight? Since when do you care about that shit?"
"I don't. But you're a Siren. Or... You were. And you recognised me as one too. Nobody's ever recognised me as a Siren before."
Lilith stared at the ECHO unit in disbelief. He had spared her for such a simple reason?
"You let me live because I acknowledged you as a Siren?" It took a LOT of effort not to sound scathing: it was clear such a simple observation on her part had meant a lot to him.
"Is that stupid?"
"No." She found herself saying. "I mean. Maybe a little bit? But I'm grateful." She meant that.
"Yeah, yeah. Look, I need to go. I'll get back to you on remedies. I've got a whole bunch somewhere. But for now. Electrolytes. You know those mocktails you can get for post workout? Yeah. Take like... just juice yourself up. It'll help."
"... workout mocktails? Seriously?"
"No lie." There was a thud in the background. "Fuck, gotta bounce. Later, Firehawk."
"Wait just a -" the connection was dead. Frustrated beyond belief, Lilith swore before replacing the device at her hip.
Troy had saved her simply because she had acknowledged him as one of her own kind? The knowledge was both surprising and almost made her pity him. Perhaps.... she wondered, briefly, if he could ever be persuaded from his sister and that poisonous cult. To her, it seemed as though he simply wished to be seen for what he was, rather than a parasite, lesser than his twin.
She pondered this new knowledge as she shut her door behind her; If anyone could make a drink designed to restore electrolytes, it would be Moxxi. Besides. She could use a drink with all this new knowledge in her head. Answers to prior questions had simply raised new questions, ones she wasn't sure Troy would be so quick to answer.
It was, of course, possible that he was lying, but it just didn't seem likely. The biggest question was easily at the front of her mind: what would happen next? Where did they go from here? Him checking in on her displayed some sort of desire for an alliance of some sort, even if their respective clans still warred. Was she supposed to ignore the feud and war for the Vaults? Somehow, she didn't think so, more so suspecting that Troy viewed this as a separate entity to the war.
Maybe it would be better for everyone if she adopted a similar view, or simply ignored any future contact altogether. Saying that, with her ECHO still warm against her hip, she was pretty sure that would be far easier said than done.
"Damn the man," She muttered as she pushed open the door to Moxxi's bar. Time to see if the remedy he'd suggested would be any good.
Chapter 5: Troy - 04:4
Calling her on the ECHO had been exceptionally stupid, and for the next few days, Troy is the model of a perfect bandit cult leader. He speeds through cutting and editing a few new propaganda spots for the ECHO net, takes new footage as soon as Tyreen has an idea, and gets down her next speech in double time. Guilt is a great motivator, even though, really, he hasn't done anything wrong.
Tyreen left him in charge of dealing with Lilith. She never demanded he kill her. There certainly hadn't been any rule about hacking a stolen ECHO to contact her, either. Probably because his twin would probably never expect such a weird display of compassion from him. Not towards the enemy, anyway. That in itself is kind of worrying, in a way. He wouldn't usually expect that kind of crap from himself, either.
But here he was. The guy who had spared the Firehawk. Healed her, even. All because she had acknowledged him as a Siren. Seen him as one of her own kind. His own sister called him a parasite, and yet a sworn enemy had seen him for what he was. Or rather, what he appeared to be.
Even without powers- or, very limited powers- he was still a Siren, something Tyreen hated to admit. Perhaps the Firehawk's simple acknowledgment had thrown him off guard. She had been surprised, sure, but had accepted him as a Siren without scorn nor questioning. Nobody had ever done that.
In retrospect, it was probably a stupid reason to betray his own cause (if he even had) but he found himself not regretting his choice. Guilt and regret were not the same, and while he worked on some new footage, he found himself wondering whether the Crimson Raiders had reached Promethea yet.
Given Tyreen's newly acquired teleporting powers, it wouldn't be hard for them to turn up with a legion of followers. Not like they didn't already have a foothold on Promethea anyway, thanks to Katagawa of Maliwan. Troy snorted. Corporate wars. What a load of skag crap. Better to stay out of it, if they could, or at the very least use it to their advantage. Lending Katagawa a few troops so he could take over Atlas was a small price to pay for backup against the vault hunters.
If he was honest, he wanted to talk to Lilith again before they arrived on Promethea and had to actually acknowledge they were enemies again. She was right in what she had said; they were on opposing sides, right in the middle of a war. Irritatingly, if circumstances were different, he could picture them being good friends.
As it was, he simply wanted to see whether the remedies he had suggested had helped her at all. There was truth in what he had said; from the moment he had been separated from Tyreen, he had been weak. Only her powers, or rather, what scraps she transferred to him, kept him strong enough to survive. That and his own inventions.
He lived in a constant state of pain to varying degrees, constantly drained and exhausted if he went without a rejuice. He knew exactly how Lilith would have been feeling, and somehow that bothered him. He had never questioned his sister's methods or powers, they simply were the way things went. She was the siren. He was the parasite she so generously kept alive.
Only... That wasn't quite the truth of it. Ever since he was a small child, Troy had wondered what would happen if he were to get his hands on a decent supply of Eridium. Would he then, perhaps, boost his own powers back into existence? He didn't know, but had always wanted to try. Tyreen had made sure that had never come to fruition.
Perhaps, then, it had been a fleeting moment of frustration at his own predicament that had spawned compassion towards an enemy, albeit the only person who had ever simply acknowledged him as another siren.
He was over thinking things, over complicating matters. It would probably be best to simply let the matter go. And yet. The more he tried not to think about it, the more he gained the impulse to tap into that old ECHO unit again. Even if it was to be swiftly told to fuck off.
Saying that, he had questions, questions about sirens and Eridium that he was certain she could answer. Whether she would was another matter, but he could ask... couldn't he?
Why was his sister so afraid of him regaining his own power? Was she afraid he would outshine her? It was unlikely. He was good off camera, with written words and tech. She had the on-screen charisma.
It was a bitter realisation that she depended on him just as much, but would never acknowledge it. At least she wouldn't die without him. But she probably wouldn't have hit god status, without him, either.
It was that sort of thought that made him decide he would use the ECHO again, the decision setting in motion his plot to try and find a few moments alone where he surely would not be disturbed. He hoped, stupidly, that the enemy he had saved would perhaps have answers for him.
At this point, he thought, when it came to siren lore, perhaps the enemy would be a more reliable source than his own sister. The thought was worrying, but not new to him. He was used to Tyreen's mistreatment. The option of finding things out for himself from other sources, however, WAS new, but he was determined not to misuse it.
All he could do was hope he could trade his "I saved your life" card for some Siren lore.
Chapter 6: Lilith- 05:5
Another night, another electrolyte mocktail. Another substandard meal, but who was she going to complain to? With the way things had turned out, Lilith was glad there was food supplies on board at all.
That did not, however, mean she wasn't grossed out by yet another meal of charred rakk on a stick. She supposed she should be grateful, and really, even when she had still had her powers, she wouldn't have picked a fight with Marcus about his cooking. Not like she could really do better, what with the limited supplies.
Either way, she was stuck in her room again, in no mood to make conversation with anyone. Ellie was doing a damn good job of keeping the ship both running AND on course, but aside from her, Lilith couldn't care less for social niceties at the moment.
She couldn't be bothered explaining herself; she would make it up to them all when they arrived. Her contribution to the team would still mean something, and they'd probably forget her shitty attitude while they were at it. Besides, she didn't want to subject her friends to her bad mood. She was too stuck in her own head at the moment to be of any good company.
When her ECHO started vibrating, she almost ignored it. Almost. She'd set it aside for the night, put it on her metal nightstand on top of a pile of assorted junk. Unfortunately, her bad mood wasn't enough of an excuse to ignore a potentially important call. If it was an emergency, someone would come get her, sure, but in event of not being able to...
Sighing heavily, she reached for the ECHO. Her irritation was only made clearer when she realised she did not recognise the caller ID. Only one person had managed to contact her that way, and she wasn't entirely certain she wanted to speak to Troy again. Curiosity, however, got the better of her, and she chose to answer it. A grainy picture accompanied the call; she had not expected a video chat, but sure, why not?
Okay, so maybe she could have been a little nicer in how she answered the call, but that was almost POLITE considering they were nowhere near even friends.
"Damn, Firehawk, you look like shit."
"Did you hack onto a secure network just to insult me?" She supposed she wouldn't put it past him, even with all things considered.
He had the good graces, at least, to look abashed.
"What? No! I meant like... fuck. Have you been eating? Like. You look pissed... and hungry."
"Maybe because I'm dealing with you, yet again." She scowled. "But yeah, the food is pretty shit too, thanks for reminding me." She was pretty sure she still had a big candy bar stashed somewhere under her bed. With her free hand, she fished for it.
"Yeah, well. I'm not exactly calling to exchange pleasantries."
"Let me guess. You're about to fire on my ship?" She wasn't sure whether to be concerned, but also didn't think he would be so benevolent as to give forewarning of such an event.
"Nothing like that, either." He shook his head, threading mechanical fingers through his hair.
She had to admit, she was relieved.
"What do you want, then?" Her fingers found the reclusive candy bar; single handedly she tore the wrapper. If he wasn't about to announce impending doom, she figured she could humor him.
"I actually, uh, wanted to ask you some questions."
She figures she must look pretty fucking non intimidating right now, siren powerless, un-brushed hair, candy bar halfway to her mouth. Still, she's not sure she's the sort of person who screams "approachable", especially not to someone who is supposed to be an enemy. Saying that, she did already agree to herself to humor him.
"What sort of questions?" She stuffs a chunk of chocolate into her mouth. Jeez, she's missed candy bars. She's pretty sure she had this one since her last birthday, hiding it away for a time she really needed it.
"About sirens." Troy looks nervous as he says this, glancing over his shoulder in his little pixelated image.
"What, your sister need a tutorial for my powers?" The snap comes from Lilith before she can stop herself. Okay, so maybe she hasn't gotten over the theft of a part of herself like she's trying to present to her friends.
"No." He looks frustrated. "It's not for her."
The way he says it gets her attention, makes her decide to start taking this a little more seriously. She sits up, scoots her back up against the metal frame of her bunk.
"Your own powers, then?" From the way Tyreen had spoken about her brother, Lilith wouldn't be surprised if Troy didn't know how to use his own abilities.
"That's just the thing. I don't have any powers."
"What do you mean?" She stared at the little pixel image, "of course you do. I've seen your tattoos."
"I dunno, maybe I'm supposed to? But when we were kids... when dad cut me off Tyreen..."
"... You lost your powers?" Lilith had suspected this simply because of how easily she had thrown him around back on Pandora, but it was still eerie hearing it confirmed.
"It's like she got everything. And I have the tattoos still but I can barely keep myself alive without energy boosts from her." The holo Troy shook his head, "and I keep thinking. There's meant to be a great big stash of Eridium in vaults, right?"
"Right." She was starting to get an inkling of where this was going, and she wasn't sure whether she should confirm or deny what he was about to ask.
"So I was thinking. What would happen if a seriously underpowered siren got hold of a bunch of it, and just... absorbed it?" He made a hand-to-chest gesture.
"You know what happens. That's why you're asking me, right? You just want me to confirm what you already know." Lilith was very tired, all of a sudden, and strangely upset. Had he really only contacted her to ask how best to destroy the universe?
"Not really," he shook his head. "I mean... does it work for everyone? Or? Only when you specifically try to absorb a heap of Eridium?"
"Tyreen's already the most powerful thing in the solar system," Lilith said, tiredly, "why would you want to see what happened if she absorbed a bunch of Eridium?"
"I've been talking about me." Troy reminded her, "I don't want to see what would happen if she did it. I want to know what would happen if I did."
"I don't know." The redhead admitted, "you could die. It's likely you'd die."
She nearly had, multiple times. Encouraging Eridium misuse wasn't exactly her deal, not even to a Calypso.
"I'm dying anyway," he reminded her, "You know that, right? It's not about me. The twin god thing. It's not about me. It's about her. I'm just doing... What I can, I guess. While I'm still around." He shrugged, "may as well tell you, right?"
Lilith blinked, confused and stunned by his candor.
"If you don't want to be a god, then why does it matter if you have powers or not?"
"Cause I wasn't old enough to know what I was missing when I lost them. Only that something was gone." His expression shifted into something like shame, embarrassed to admit it almost, "I just want to know what it's like. At least once. Before I die."
"I thought as long as Tyreen gave you energy, you were fine?"
"You think she's not getting tired of that? How much longer do you think she's going to keep me alive, Lilith? I'll tell you. Until I stop being useful."
It occurs to her this is the first time he's used her name, and it throws her off.
"If it doesn't kill you... absorbing Eridium would potentially reactivate any dormant abilities you might have." Lilith admitted. "But it's dangerous. You'd want... I don't know, you'd want to be supervised. Have someone you trust around to watch your back."
She was lucky, there. She had had Roland, gods rest his soul. Then Tannis. She had always had someone to protect her. Even when she hadn't needed it. Who, then, protected Troy Calypso?
"She can't know. That I'm trying to reactivate whatever she took. She's the siren. You heard her." There's a genuine hint of fear in his tone; if she were crueller, she could use that. A simple conversation with Tyreen could tear the Calypso duo apart. But she also knows, deep down, that it would cause a death, and bastard he may be, but Lilith owes him her life. Besides. Sirens don't kill sirens.
"Promethea." She says before she can stop herself, "If you promise not to kill me... I might be able to help you."
She can't believe what she's just offered, to an enemy nonetheless. But he's dying. He's dying and he's never known his own birthright, and gods damn it, maybe she's just stupid and has a complex about saving people.
"I could promise but you wouldn't believe me."
"No," She agrees, "I probably wouldn't."
"I'll find you on Promethea." He says, holo image glancing beyond his shoulder again. "I'll be alone. I'd rather you did the same."
"Deal." She figures, if it comes to a fight, she could probably take him. Maybe.
He makes some sort of mock salute at her, wry smirk in place, and the feed ends, leaving her clutching the now deactivated ECHO.
"What the fuck am I doing?" She mutters to herself. Is she really considering breaking into her last stash of now unneeded Eridium to help a dying enemy? Is he even an enemy, anymore? Honestly it sounds more like he's a prisoner to his own loyalty and love for his sister. A love and loyalty that is not returned. That in itself makes her irrationally angry. She wishes she still had someone like that.
Fucking Tyreen, she thinks, setting the ECHO back in place on her nightstand, her dismissal of her own brother might end up being her downfall.
Somehow, the knowledge does not give her triumph. She's more concerned, right now, with helping Troy rather than using his situation as a tactical advantage.
Strike one, she thinks to herself, pushing the uncomfortable thought back down into her brain. She's just going to help him a little. That's all. Not enough for him to overpower anyone. Just... enough to see if anything happens. Just to see if he DOES have any dormant power left.
She's not convinced she's doing the right thing, but she's also not about to go back on her word. Even if that brings consequences later down the track.
Chapter 7: Troy - 06:6
Promethea is colder than he's used to. Troy is used to the arid desert that is Pandora, not the lush landscape on the borders of Promethea's capital city.
Above him, the war rages on. Maliwan and Atlas ships blast each other into pieces in the cold vacuum of space. On the city streets, his bandit followers combine with Maliwan troopers to battle Atlas soldiers.
He couldn't care less for any of it. The war is a means to an end. Once Atlas falls - IF Atlas falls - it's just another step towards the vault. He isn't even sure there's anything in there for him, anymore. There is no way Tyreen will ever let him become as powerful as her. He is firmly entombed in the role of Shadow. Parasite. The inferior.
He doesn't care, much, for her cult following anymore, or his own. The chances are he'll be dead long before she destroys everyone in her way. Troy has been making himself very much acquainted with the reality of his own mortality, lately. He is no god, regardless of the way his sister tries to paint him. A formality, really. An empty title.
He does not want to be a god. He never has. His interest in power, in the vault, is fuelled only by his sister's obsession. Tyreen may resent him, but she is still his sister. Everything he has ever done has been to further her cause. He supposed he was blinded by familial love, hoping perhaps that his devotion to his sibling was returned.
It's become clear, recently, that that is not the case. She views him as a means to an end, no more, no less. He has no doubt, now, that once he becomes weaker, once he is no longer useful, she will dispose of him just as easily as she would have killed Lilith, had he not intervened.
Lilith. The entire reason he's resigned himself to sitting in a cave on the edge of the city, unaccompanied, with only a dead Retch for company. Aside from the faint glow of his sword and the creak of the empty supplies crate he's sitting on, he is alone.
He sent coordinates to her ECHO over an hour ago. He figures either she'll show up, or she won't. He also figures if she doesn't, she'll send an assassin in her place. He can't say he would blame her. It's something he would have done, if he were her.
"Troy, you asshole, you better be in here." He hears her before he sees her; he's on his feet just as she rounds the corner, armed with one of the deadliest looking SMGs he's ever seen. That's fair. He can't say he blames her for being over-armed. They are, after all, in a warzone.
"Nice gun." He holds his hands out in a gesture of surrender, "don't shoot."
She eyes him for a moment, readjusts the backpack she's hauling with her, but doesn't lower the gun.
"Yes. Well. I mean, the city is crawling with my sister's followers, but there's nobody here but me. You?"
"My vault hunters are trying to reach Atlas HQ before your people do." Lilith says, tone conversational, "may the best man win, so to speak."
He can tell she is in no way as disinterested in the war as she is making out to be. He also appreciates her not taking it out on him. He's just the propaganda guy. Tyreen calls all the shots.
"Guess so." He props his sword against the empty ammo drop crate. "Now I'm not armed, can you PLEASE point that thing somewhere else?"
She narrowed her eyes but lowered the gun.
"I brought Eridium." She said finally. "Not enough for you to overpower me, but enough to see if anything happens when you interact with it. Consider this a repayment for... You know."
"Saving your life?"
"Something like that." She clipped her weapon onto her belt and dropped her backpack to the ground. Nearby, a mortar connected with an abandoned vehicle. Neither party flinched.
"We're pretty well protected in here. I scoped the whole area before you got here." Troy is pretty sure she won't take his word for shit, but it makes him feel better to say it. To his surprise, she looks mildly relieved.
"Good to know. Getting blown up helping you is not the way I want to go." Lilith was rummaging through her backpack; she set aside a strange assortment of objects in her search. Troy identified a slingshot, a packet of cigarettes, a notebook, a bag of dog biscuits, rakk repellent, and a spare box of ammunition before she cleared her throat and regained his attention.
"Sorry, I had to bury it in here. Didn't want it to fall out in the drop." She shuddered; Troy figured she hadn't had as smooth descent to the surface as he had.
"Take it, before I change my mind." She held out her closed fist, opening it over his own outstretched hand to reveal a small chunk of Eridium. It was no bigger than his thumb nail, glowing faintly. He took it.
"What.... uh... what do I do with it?" He turned it between metal fingers, uncertain.
It took a great deal of strength of character not to roll her eyes.
"Put it in your other hand, for starters. The one with the tattoos."
"Oh." That made a lot more sense. Feeling exceptionally stupid, he swapped hands.
"Okay. Now focus."
"On what? How stupid I look?" He wondered, briefly, if this was some sort of prank. A distraction so her friends could surround them.
"No, on the Eridium. Feel the energy in it?"
He did, vaguely, he supposed.
"It's like... Its got a pulse?"
"Good. That's a good sign." She nodded encouragingly. " That means there's still a connection, somewhere. Just focus on that. Focus on the energy."
He did as she instructed, fingers clenched around the rock of Eridium, unsure whether it was the stone's pulse or his own he was feeling. A rush of cold washed over him; the Eridium seemed to liquify in his hand, absorbing into his skin like water into a sponge. His previously dormant tattoos lit up, giving the cave an eerie red glow. For the briefest moment, his pain vanished. He felt strong.
As quickly as the sensation had arrived, it vanished. He swore as a sharp pain tore through his side.
"Did you see that?" He stared at the former Firehawk for confirmation; had he merely imagined it? Please, let the pain have been worth it.
"I did." She looked troubled. "At least we know there's something in there... are you alright?"
"Sure. This is... pretty normal..."
She was looking at him with a mix of pity and interest.
"I would say if you absorbed a large enough chunk of Eridium it would activate your powers properly. Maybe permanently, or at least with a degree of permanence." She paused, "you need to find a way to overcome your other barriers, though."
"What, like the dying part?" He shook his head, "even if we could turn my sirenness back on? That's not going away. The stronger Tyreen gets the weaker I get. Even if I was a proper siren I doubt I would last long. It's some sort of genetic deterioration."
"Maybe there's a way to freeze the deterioration?" Lilith puzzled it over in her head as she spoke.
Troy snorted and slapped his own metal arm.
"Tried that. Trust me. It only slows it down."
She scowled, hands settling onto her hips.
"Listen, you. If I'm going to betray my own cause by meeting with you, supplying you with Eridium and, against my better judgment, starting to see you as a friend, you're going to have the good manners to stay alive."
He snorted again.
"Hate to disappoint you, but unless you can reverse a really shitty genetic condition, you're wasting your effort."
"Yeah, well." She frowned. "I can't, but I know a few people who might-"
It was a stupid suggestion. There was no way she could bring him on board Sanctuary. Even if she wanted to help him (which, let's face it, she did), she could not guarantee her friends safety if she brought him aboard. She also couldn't guarantee his.
"Your friends aren't going to help me, Lilith." He shook his head. "I appreciate it, really. You've done me a real favor just by meeting me here. Don't go jeopardizing yourself further."
He didn't expect further help from her. He had saved her life because she had acknowledged him as another siren. She had helped him in response, a simple payback of a debt. He was on his own, now. He could- and would - not ask her to betray her cause and her people to help him. Not when his own cause had stripped her of her own defenses. He also knew she would never betray her own for the likes of him.
"Good luck," She said finally. "Finding an Eridium source. There are plenty around. Just... keep practising. It'll stick eventually."
She gave him a sad smile.
"If only we were on the same side."
She did not give him a chance to respond, simply turning her back to him and leaving him alone in a cave that smelled of death and disappointment.
Chapter 8: Lilith - 07:7
For the few days, while they wait for the Vault Hunters to make contact with Rhys, Lilith keeps herself busy. There are odd jobs around the ship that need her attention, and she would rather be elbow deep in grease than alone with her thoughts.
She wanted to help Troy; there was something pitiable about him and his situation. The thing was, she wasn't sure how she feasibly COULD help him. The only people she knew would be able to help her, she wasn't sure how to get on board with the situation. She wanted to believe that he would sway to their side, but had zero confirmation of this, and as such, therefore no way of convincing her friends to help him. At least, not without conflict, and that was something she desperately needed to avoid right now.
After a few days of puzzling it over and general frustration, she decided to take a gamble. Too much of Troy's situation was familiar. She was reminded of herself when she was younger; a caged siren who was lashing out to cope with the reality of their situation. He reminded her, mostly, of another younger siren. One she had failed to save.
It could end disastrously, but she couldn't, feasibly, sit by and do nothing. Her best bet, then, was Tannis. All she could hope was that scientific curiosity would get the better of her friend. Knowing Tannis, she was pretty sure she would be easily convinced. Even so, she took her sweet time making her way from her cramped room to the lab. As much as she wanted her friend's help, she wasn't entirely keen on the outburst she knew she would face first.
The lab, was, as usual, not exactly the most welcoming place. A large dead skag occupied the main workbench, varying other creatures floating in tanks or frozen in permanent cryo. Still, she reminded herself, Tannis was her best bet.
"Tannis? You in here?" Her callout echoed in the gloomy space. "I have something you might be interested in."
The bribe of something interesting or a new thing to poke and prod at always brought Tannis out of hiding.
"It depends, our definitions of interesting are often vastly different." Tannis stepped out from behind one of the ammunition supply machines that she had been repairing. "But the way you're talking makes it seem like it might be worth my while."
The dark haired woman crossed her arms, staring at Lilith pointedly. The redhead realised that Tannis was expecting her to show her something or at the very least make what she had to say quick, so the other could judge whether it was of importance to her or not.
"You know everything there is to know about Sirens." She started.
"Naturally. I don't think I know how to get your powers back, though, Lilith dear." Tannis shook her head regretfully.
"That's not what I'm here about. What if I told you there was a siren who needed our help."
"Then I would ask why you don't have her here with you. I can't help from afar, you know." The dark haired scientist tutted at her, as if that were common knowledge.
"That's just the thing, though. It would be hard to get this particular siren here. It would cause a bit of an issue. That's why I need your help."
"My help? Lilith dear, you're the commander of the Crimson Raiders, what you say, goes. Why would anyone have an issue with helping another siren. Particularly when we've lost your advantage."
It was rude, but Lilith knew Tannis didn't mean it to be hurtful. It was a fact, and the other was nothing if not factual.
"Tannis. If I try to bring a sworn enemy into Sanctuary without someone to back me up, I won't be commander of anything except maybe being dead."
"An enemy? Who, exactly, are we discussing here?"
"I thought we were discussing sirens. Why in God's name would you want to bring that son of a -" the dark haired woman's voice steadily rose with each syllable.
"Because he's the siren." Lilith interrupted before Tannis could launch into a full tirade.
"That's impossible." Tannis began to pace agitatedly as Lilith spoke.
"It's not. I've seen his tattoos. He saved me. From his sister. He's got something wrong with him. It's like his body can't handle the siren DNA."
"Of course not. Men aren't designed to be sirens." Tannis pursed her lips. "You are absolutely certain?"
"Entirely certain. I gave him some Eridium and he lit up like a Mercenary's Day tree." Lilith admitted, "he saved my life, Tannis. He could have killed me himself, but he didn't. He healed me and he's dying. Some sort of genetic deterioration?"
The other resumed her pacing.
"I suppose you'd better bring him to me. I can't assess the condition from afar. I can't guarantee I can DO anything for him, mind. But I can at the very least back you up on why he's on board to begin with. You are responsible, though. And I mean you're to have a gun on him at all times." Tannis pursed her lips again, "and I can't promise the others won't kill him if can't help him."
"Good enough." Lilith admitted. Seriously. It was better than she had hoped for.
"I'll prepare a containment room. You can brief the others, I'll meet you on the bridge." Tannis made a shooing gesture, which Lilith gladly took advantage of.
Briefing the others on her plan to save an enemy disguised as a research experiment? Easy. Convincing Troy to come to Sanctuary and become a Crimson Raider? Not impossible, but definitely not something she was looking forward to. She supposed she had better speak to him, first. She made a beeline for her room, ECHO already in her hands.
After the meeting with Lilith, Troy spends a lot of time on his own, mostly trying to wrap his head around his new knowledge. He hadn't considered the possibility that he might still be a 'real' siren. He hadn't really wanted to, or had any reason to. After all, he had spent his entire life being told he was simply a mistake. A parasitic offcut of his twin sister.
The concept that he might actually be special in his own right was foreign, but a thought he actually entertained, now that he had seen what happened if he absorbed Eridium.
It was due to this that he had very cautiously started thinking of himself as a drained battery. His caution came not from pride but from the simple fact that he didn't want to be disappointed later on if his hypothesis was proven incorrect.
From what he had been able to work out, both with and without Lilith's help, was that he was some sort of conduit. He needed to be charged with Eridium in order for his powers to work. It wasn't the most conventional nor convenient, but he wanted to try it out again.
Unfortunately, getting his hands on Eridium was far easier said than done. He supposed he could ask Katagawa, but the boy was in his sister's pocket like a small marionette, and he couldn't risk discovery. As such, he hadn't yet had the opportunity to experiment further.
Over the course of the days that followed his initial meeting with Lilith, he found himself becoming more and more disillusioned with the empire he had been helping his sister create. What was the point of it all, really, beyond her own ego and desire to be all-powerful? It felt as though he had been asleep or under some sort of spell for the majority of his life, and was just now waking up.
It wasn't the most pleasant feeling, to walk around with this new sense of awareness. He felt more and more like a fraud with every passing minute that he spent around his sister and their followers, painfully out of place. Everyone seemed to have their purpose - Tyreen as the leader, every bandit clan a different specialty. What was his purpose here? To be belittled by his twin, to feel inferior? It no longer seemed right, no longer felt like his only option.
Of course, anything else would be heresy. Tyreen would probably never rest until she hunted him down and took what little power he had. She'd probably see it as reclaiming what he had stolen, simply by being born at the same time. He wasn't sure he wanted his fate to be so tied to hers anymore. Especially now he knew there was an alternative. Even if the alternative meant leaving Tyreen behind.
The sickening thing, the worst thing of all, was knowing that if the roles were reversed, she wouldn't have even considered him for a single moment. Tyreen had always only been out for herself. He wondered, briefly, whether she had even planned to keep him alive when she no longer needed him. It would be so easy to spin a narrative about his death. It wasn't exactly a secret that he was sick.
He wasn't even sure how to approach Lilith to ask for her help. What if she refused? What if she simply believed he was too far gone to be saved? He had heard about her battles against Handsome Jack. What if she thought he was another just like him?
Somehow, he didn't think so, but he still wasn't sure how to ask her for help. He wasn't used to asking for help. It wasn't something he'd ever been allowed to consider.
Maybe something or someone was watching over him (what was above a god? He wasn't sure, but he also wasn't sure he really counted as a god anyway). As he was mulling all this over, his ECHO began to vibrate. As he hit the answer button and Lilith's face pixelated into view, a wash of relief hit him.
"You have... honestly got the best timing." He admitted.
Her expression shifted to one of vague confusion.
"Why? What happened?"
He could tell she was perhaps expecting some sort of Eridium based accident.
"Do you ever feel like you don't belong where you are?" He asked, hesitant.
"Not really. I'm with my family."
"But what if you don't feel like you belong with your family?" He felt stupid saying it.
"Then you choose a new one. You go out into the world and you find people who make you better. Who love you no matter what." Her expression had become mildly concerned, "family isn't just blood, Troy."
He lowered his voice, hated how much it shook as he spoke again.
"She's going to let me die here."
He almost wanted Lilith to argue with him. To reassure him that no matter how dangerous and cruel his sister was, that she would never do such a thing to him. Instead, she said something better.
"How can I trust that? I'm the enemy."
"You don't have to be. We could be on the same side. There's good in you, and I know it."
"I'm dying, Lilith. You know that." He was grasping at last ditch straws, desperately trying to give her one last escape option.
"We can help you. All you have to do is ask."
He considered, peered over his shoulder quickly to ensure he wouldn't be overheard.
"Help me. Please. I don't want to die here. I don't want to be alone anymore."
He almost expected her to laugh at him. To yell 'sike!' and terminate the call. She didn't.
"Meet me back where we met last time. As soon as you can. Things will be tense for a while, but at least we can try sort out your health." Her tone was brisk, businesslike, but he knew she would do her best to help him. This was the girl who's life he had saved. The girl who had brought him a piece of Eridium to see whether he was still a real siren. He could trust her. He had to.
I literally didn't expect the amount of love this fic has generated when I first posted it. Honestly given the crackship I was expecting it to be overlooked or even heavily flamed. I am so grateful for every read, every kudos, every tweet or Tumblr post I see about my work. This fic is for each and every one of you.
Chapter 10: Lilith 09:9
For the second time in as many weeks, Lilith found herself in a small, dank cave on Promethea. This time, she was the first to arrive.
She had expected to have to convince Troy to trust her enough to at least be checked out on Sanctuary. She hadn't at all been prepared for his existential crisis and plea for help. She wasn't sure that, when it really came down to it, he would be able to fight against his twin sister, but that was a future dilemma. They could cross that bridge when they arrived at it.
For now, she just wanted to get him into Sanctuary and checked out.
Huh. Since when did she care so much about Troy Calypso and his welfare? That was new, and potentially troubling. Of course, she cared about all of her friends. The Raiders were her family, she worried for them all constantly. As well as a leader, she loved them all dearly and wanted to be a sister to most of them.
The thing was, her interest in Troy was definitely not sibling concern. He was still potentially an enemy. She shouldn't have been so worried about him, and yet all she wanted to do was annoy Tannis until she found a cure for whatever was making him so sick. She'd turn the entire planet inside out if there was a cure to be found. That in itself was dangerous. The last person she had felt this strongly about had been murdered in front of her.
She supposed it was about a fifty fifty chance that that would happen again. That or he would kill her first. That option seemed a little less likely, given their history. More likely, then, that his sister would kill them all.
She was just in the beginning stages of pondering what that sort of death would be like, when he ruined her thought process with his presence. Honestly, she thought, he dressed like a complete idiot, with no thought for the climate. Without his stream slash cult God persona in place, he looked like an awkward giraffe. It was almost endearing. Almost.
"Thought you were gonna stand me up for a sec, there." She said, tone light.
He managed an awkward half-smirk at the joke.
"Nah, that'd be pretty rude." He shifted awkwardly, "I hope I wasn't meant to bring anything?"
She noticed all he had on him, beside the clothes on his back, was his sword.
"Only things you won't want to go back for."
"I don't exactly care for material possessions." It was true; He had grown up with so little, he was used to minimalism. Tyreen had loved being rich. So had he, for a while. But money hadn't been able to buy health, or a sister who loved him.
"Well alright then." She eyed him again, then started out the cave, "let's go. Drop ship is waiting for us."
'Drop ship' was a slight stretch of the truth. It was a loader that Ellie had jury-rigged at the last second to be able to break and re enter atmosphere multiple times. It wasn't intended for more than a couple of uses, but it was better than the escape pod she had used the first time.
"Is that thing... safe?" Troy eyed the concealed vehicle with mild skepticism.
"Ellie built it, so yes. It's the safest unsafe way to travel back to Sanctuary." Lilith wrenched open the door to the makeshift airlock. "Get in."
"Unless you'd rather stay here?"
He supposed he'd travelled in worse. Besides, if he died now, it was a hell of a way to go. Shrugging, he followed her.
The journey back up was about as unpleasant as the trip down.
"You know I'm going to need to confiscate that, right?" She pointed at his sword once the pod had stopped shaking upon re-entry to Sanctuary's cargo bay.
"Yeah," he unstrapped the weapon from his back and passed it over, "If you can carry it, that is."
He had a fair point. The damn thing was almost as big as her, and too well crafted to just drag along. She put it aside.
"I'll get someone to get it later." She decided, pointedly ignoring his broad smirk. Apparently, being a pain in the ass wasn't just an act. Good to know.
"Come on. Everyone should still be asleep so I can probably get you to Tannis without detection."
Her vault hunters were still on the surface, and those who were awake aboard Sanctuary were probably too drunk at Moxxi's to notice anything odd. This played to their advantage.
"And this Ellie? Does she know that you were bringing me here?"
"Yes." Lilith said simply. Ellie was her best friend. She told her everything. She had, admittedly, waited til the last minute to tell her, but she had been honest.
"Bet she loved that."
"She wasn't a fan." Lilith agreed, "but she also trusts me and my judgment."
"I think your judgment is fucked, personally." He followed her out of the lander, across the cargo bay and up several flights of stairs.
"Depends." She said.
"On what?" There were so many goddamn stairs, he thought, and so many corridors.
"Whether you betray me and kill us all, I suppose." Her tone was light, as though discussing coffee preferences.
"That's the truth."
"I wouldn't do that. Not after everything you've done for me. I know it's asking a lot, but give me a little credit." He shook his head, and almost walked into her as she stopped abruptly outside one of the pressurised doors.
"I'm risking a lot, trusting you." She told him, "please don't make me regret it."
"I won't." He knew it wasn't something he could just say: he would have to prove this to her. She didn't speak to him again, just slapped the door release and led him through it into the strangest collection of rooms Troy had ever seen.
Lilith glanced back over her shoulder, mostly to make sure he hadn't bolted at first sight of the lab. It wasn't the most welcoming place, that was for sure. But Tannis did her best work in her lab, and they NEEDED Tannis. Lilith had lost count of how many times the other woman had saved her ass.
The woman in question was currently staring them down with her arms crossed.
Tannis wrinkled her nose at the sight of Troy.
"What in seven hells are you wearing? God, you'll need a full decontamination shower before I even THINK about checking you over."
Noticing his baffled expression, Lilith had to muffle a laugh.
"Right. This way," She led him past Tannis, throwing the scientist an apologetic look as they went.
The decontamination shower was a small room adjoining the laboratory the way an ensuite would attach to a bedroom.
"You get used to Tannis," Lilith explained, " She means well, she just doesn't bullshit. Right, you'll want to strip down and use the shower. Water is usually recycled and limited for showers, the decontamination unit is an exception. Has its own tank."
She turned around while Troy stripped down and stepped into the shower unit as instructed.
"Pretty sure she wants to shoot me."
"That's a common feeling up here. You'll get used to that, too. Be a decent enough person and eventually they'll stop wanting to shoot you." Lilith frowned as she collected his discarded clothing and headed for the drop chute.
"Hey, where are you taking that?"
"What am I supposed to WEAR then?" He demanded, then swore as lightly bleached water sprayed into his eye.
Instead of answering, Lilith dropped his clothing into the incineration chute and headed for the supply locker by the door. She had confiscated his ECHO already, and would debug it later.
The locker contained a stack of basic jeans and t shirts. Nothing fancy. Things that were easily worn and thrown away again. She snorted when she realised each pair of jeans had the Crimson Raiders logo sewn onto the back pocket. Same with the shirts.
"Clothes are on the bench." She pointedly turned her back to the shower. As tempted as she was to peek, she wasn't that sort of pervert.
Within a few minutes, the hiss of bleach-tinged water disappeared; there were vague sounds reminiscent of someone drying off behind her, then fabric tearing. Weird.
"You can turn around."
He had torn the sleeves off the shirt so his strange prosthetic could fit, but other than that, he actually looked respectable.
"Huh. You look completely different." She didn't point out that he looked like some sort of punk band member. His ego didn't need feeding.
"Honestly, I'd rather ditch the shirt."
"Civilised people wear shirts."
"The fu-" he began, but stopped at the look she gave him.
"Please don't freak Tannis out any more than she already is." Lilith almost pleaded. Everything depended so heavily on Tannis; annoying her or upsetting her was a terrible idea.
"Alright. Is that everything?" He scratched at the back of his neck awkwardly. She nodded. He sighed, then gestured to the door. "Shall we?"
Tannis was waiting for them, sitting cross-legged on one of her workstools with a small gun in her lap.
"Are we all clear to proceed, Lilith?"
"Clean as a whistle." The redhead replied.
"Excellent." The scientist's irritated demeanor shifted almost immediately to a brisk, almost cheerful attitude. "Shall we begin, then?"
Troy realised he was being spoken to.
"Uh? I guess? What exactly are you going to do?"
"Nothing particularly strenuous for now. A blood draw, for starters. Then perhaps a bone marrow sample if needed, which I suspect it will be. I'll also collect saliva, you can get a lot of information from that."
"That's it?" He wasn't looking forward to being poked for bone marrow, but it wasn't as intrusive as first expected.
"For initial testing? Sure. It won't take long. I'll give you a painkiller shot after the marrow draw, then you can sleep." Tannis frowned, "assuming Lilith has somewhere for you to sleep."
"I've got it all sorted." The redhead agreed, wincing as she caught sight of the needle Tannis was preparing for the marrow draw.
"Good. Lets get these tests over with, shall we?"
One thing was for sure, Troy thought as he hobbled along behind Lilith to the secure containment room she had set up for him, Tannis had definitely stretched the truth when she had said 'nothing strenuous'.
Sure, the blood draw and saliva test had been nothing, but the bone marrow sample collection had hurt like a bitch. He was glad he would get a day or two to recover while the scientist analysed his DNA. Tannis had even promised she would hold off on a brain scan, though only after Lilith had insisted. Probably because he had almost fainted when he had stood up.
Still, he found himself enjoying his new surroundings. Sanctuary was a pleasant spaceship, with plenty of room. Lilith had pointed out different places as they walked; the infirmary, ammunition depot, crew quarters and common room, the bar....
"Your room is next to mine. I'm responsible for you and I need to still tell the others that you're here, so it's easier to keep an eye on you."
"I was expecting a cell." He admitted.
"We thought about it." She replied simply, then placed her hand on the scanner to open the door.
His room was small, but not terrible. It had a bunk- metal framed, bolted to the ground- a few shelves in the wall, a small desk and cupboard attacked to it, and a storage chest, which, upon a glance, was full of blankets.
"It gets real cold overnight." She followed his gaze, "Someone will bring you food in the morning. Try get some sleep."
She was already back in the doorway when he spoke.
"Yeah. Whatever." She let the door close between them, leaving him staring at the metal where she had been for a good few seconds after.
Forcing herself not to over think, she headed into her own room. Tomorrow, she thought, she would have to tell her friends about their new arrival.
For now? For now she needed rest.
Chapter 11: 11:11
The concept of being spared another invasive test had been great at the time. Within the first twelve hours, however, Troy was bored.
There wasn't a great deal to do in his room. He had, thankfully, found an old ECHO in the desk drawer. It was too old to connect to the net, but it was loaded with old shows and movies.
True to her word, Lilith sent someone to bring him a meal twice in the first twelve hours. It wasn't bad, either. He had expected prison-quality food, but she was clearly making sure he was eating okay. Maybe she felt bad for him or something. Either way, Troy wasn't complaining. Nobody came through the door and shot him, either, so he supposed that either Lilith had talked her friends round, or they didn't know about his presence yet.
Something told him it was the first one. Lilith may not be a Siren anymore, but she was still the leader of the Crimson Raiders, and what she said was law. It definitely didn't stop him wishing that he had something to defend himself with, though.
After eighteen hours of boredom, but with nobody kicking down his door and shooting him in the face, Troy decided to face the facts. It didn't seem like anyone was going to kill him, at least not in his room.
That seemed like a good thing, until just after the twenty-five hour mark. Troy hadn't been without a rejuice for this long for a very long time, and he was starting to feel it. It crept in, slowly at first, like one of those headaches you don't feel until it hits you like a sledgehammer.
He could never quite pinpoint where the pain would start. Sometimes, it would start in his head. Other times, his legs, spine (or what remained of his natural spine, anyway), or the joint of his shoulder where his arm should have been. Regardless of where it started, it would always end up all over.
The thing was, in the past, he had had Tyreen to help. A quick boost from his twin would usually ease the pain from catastrophic back to a bearable annoyance. He had never known what it was like to not be in some form of pain. The question was, whether anyone aboard Sanctuary would know about this particular side effect, and moreso would they do anything about it? Perhaps that was the plan. To let him rot away and die in agony alone in this small room. He supposed he could see how, to them, it would seem like a deserved fate.
Somehow, somewhere around the thirty-six hour mark, he managed to get his prosthetic arm off. The thing weighed a tonne, and when he was this deep in a pain cycle, it was an extra burden. He figured he would be a hell of an easy target right about now. Saying that, he'd honestly half welcome a bullet right now.
The pain was amplified to an extreme; he could swear every single nerve, ligament and muscle in his body was on fire, struggling to consume enough energy to keep going. Something deep down told him it was his particular chromosome combination rejecting siren traits, but he'd survived this long. He wasn't about to let a little thing like choosing a different path for himself kill him.
At least, that was what he told himself.
It had been thirty six hours since she had checked in on Troy, a thought that unsettled Lilith. She hadn't meant to leave him alone for so long, but telling her friends that he was on board hadn't been an easy task. She was extremely grateful for the support of Ellie and Tannis. Between the three of them, they had managed to talk the others round and successfully avoid an all-out mutiny.
She was almost apologetic as she ran her fingerprints through the scanner to access his room-slash-jail, ready to at least make sure he was comfortable and had been fed and cared for. She didn't like the idea of him being mistreated. He was, however tentatively, one of them now.
When the door slid open, though, her apology died on her tongue. Her first thought was that he looked completely different; he had taken his prosthetic off, leaving it propped against the wall.
She wasn't sure if he was asleep or just in some sort of fever dream. His dark skin was terribly, uncharacteristically pale, covered in a thin sheen of sweat, and he appeared to be shaking.
"Aw shit," she hit the button on her ECHO. "Tannis?"
"Yes?" thankfully the scientist was always prompt in her answers.
"Get down here, stat. And bring some Eridium." There was no time for pleasantries.
"No time to explain just DO IT." Cutting off the communication line, Lilith approached him with faint caution. She hadn't ever seen this sort of thing before, but presumed it was a side effect of not having his genetic state and sirenness stabilised by his sister.
"You better not die on me now," she muttered, feeling his forehead with her now tattooless hand. "I almost got thrown out an airlock for you today."
A slight truth stretch- it had been Claptrap's suggestion and of course nobody would take his suggestion seriously, but she wanted to provoke some sort of response from him.
In his delirious state he gave a half-snort.
"Yeah, go on and laugh at me." She encouraged, "just don't die."
The door slid open again, revealing a very annoyed looking Tannis, carrying a medical bag.
The redhead stepped aside.
"Hold." An IV bag full of a dark purple sludge was pressed into her hands.
"Liquefied Eridium. It bonds to the plasma in red blood cells really nicely. Makes it an easy siren medical patch." Tannis pulled the cap off a syringe, poking at Troy's one good arm for a suitable attachment spot.
"That'd be strong..." Lilith, had she still had powers, would have almost been tempted by the drug.
"Yes. I've been working on it for a while. Your new friend here just rushed the demand for the supply. I'm sure I can perfect it at some point but this will do for now." Tannis adjusted the now-inserted needle, taping it in place. " Hold that bag upright."
The scientist retreated back towards the door.
"When he's awake give him some water and an hour to recover. Then I want you both in my lab."
"You're leaving?" Lilith stared at her friend.
"I'm a scientist, dear, not a nurse." Tannis scoffed, "you'll manage."
With a final appraising glance, she was gone, leaving the former Firehawk staring after her in a mixture of annoyance and gratitude.
She supposed all there was to do now, was wait.
Chapter 12: 12:12
Troy wasn't sure how long he had been out for; he vaguely recalled being in excruciating pain and taking off his prosthetic arm to relieve some of it, but not much beyond that. Very slowly, the room blurred into focus; he had managed to stay on his bed, at least. There had been a few times in the past where he had simply fallen down and ended up on the floor somewhere.
His arm itched. Upon a half-glance down, he noticed the needle attached to him, the tubing steadily filling with the dregs of a dark purple sludge.
He hadn't noticed Lilith at first, sitting right next to him on the floor, holding the IV bag upright.
"No idea. Tannis is a genius. Said it bonds to plasma really well. Like a siren healthpack."
That sounded about right. If anyone could juryrig siren medicine, it would be Tannis. From what Troy had seen of her, she was terrifyingly smart. He was more than wary of her, fringing on a little scared. If there was one thing Troy was good at, it was survival, and he was willing to bet the best way to survive up here was to stay on Tannis' good side.
"Is this... normal for you?" The redhead was staring at him in a mixture of concern and interest. At least it wasn't pity or frustration. Those were the two emotions Troy was most used to in regards to his medical conditions.
He shrugged, suddenly eager to try and play it off as nothing.
"You know we can't help you if you're not honest." Clearly, Lilith had seen right through his attempt to shrug everything off. Good to know.
"It's pretty common if I don't get a rejuice. I guess this goo your friend came up with works just as well?" He eyed the now-empty IV bag.
"I kind of thought you were gonna die." She admitted.
Another shrug. "Might have, if you hadn't found me in time."
That was, as far as he was aware, a truth. He was pretty sure he had been dying when she had found him, or pretty close to it. He sure as hell hadn't felt that sick in a long time. As much as his sister was a terrible person, she very rarely let him get that sick. He probably should have told his new allies on Sanctuary about his health problems, but honestly, it had slipped his mind somehow.
"Good thing I did, then." She stretched and handed him a glass of water, "you need to drink this, then Tannis wants to see us. Probably to make sure you're not about to drop dead on us and start an even bigger war."
He snorted as he took the water.
"What?" The redhead was staring to seem very confused.
"I'm not worth starting a war over. Trust me. She'd be pissed, but not enough to rain hell down on you." He stretched his good arm, pulling the needle out with his teeth. She winced. He did not.
"You're her brother!" Lilith protested.
Troy smiled wryly. He wasn't sure anyone would quite understand the complicated relationship he had with his sister. His entire life he had relied on Tyreen for everything, true, but she had always made him regret it. Troy was pretty certain she didn't give a damn about him, that losing him in one way or another would be seen as a relief. One less obstacle.
"Trust me when I say that doesn't matter to her."
"But she always goes on about family on stream? She makes it sound super important!"
Troy rolled his eyes.
"Yeah, of course she's going to say that on air to a bunch of stupid bandits. They want nothing more than to be important to their God Queen. Trust me, she doesn't give a fuck about anyone but herself. Family is just another thing she uses as a means to an end." It felt good to get it all out, to finally acknowledge the truth he had always known, even if a small part of him told him it was treasonous.
It hurt to say it, of course, but Troy had long since realised his sister just saw him as another obstacle, another thing in her way. A parasite.
Lilith was an only child; she had always wanted a younger sibling of some sort, perhaps that was why she took on such an older sibling approach to the Raiders. She had always assumed siblings would be close, like Ellie and her brother had been.
Perhaps she had assumed the Calypsos were close too, given they'd started a literal cult together. Learning the extent of Tyreen's indifference to her twin was foreign to her, and if she was honest? It kind of pissed her off. If Troy was telling the truth, his sister didn't deserve the kind of loyalty he'd been giving out.
"Hey, look, don't over stress it too much, alright? It's just how shit is." He handed her the empty glass and stretched, "c'mon, you said Tannis wanted to see me?"
Although he liked that someone was getting mad on his behalf, it also made him a little uncomfortable. He simply wasn't used to people having empathy for him, at least not in a way that wasn't forged from pity.
Thankfully, Lilith was smart enough to know when to drop a subject. She couldn't see any point in pushing him. Her gaze turned instead to his oversized prosthetic.
"You need help putting that back on?"
He eyed it. It seemed unnecessary, here.
"Nah. Leave it off. It's heavy."
"I'm sure Ellie could make you something a little more manageable?" Lilith suggested. She was pretty sure her friend would jump at the chance to build something like that.
Troy was a little surprised at the suggestion. He was honestly expecting to just deal with having one arm; he had gone most of his life with just one and managed just fine. The prosthetic was mostly for show. It wasn't a necessity.
"Uh? If? You think that'd be okay?"
"We can always ask. But yeah, we should go see Tannis first. Keeping her waiting is never a good idea." Lilith admitted, shuddering at the thought.
As expected, the scientist was waiting for them.
"Well, you aren't dead, so I can presume the Eridium pack worked." Tannis gave Troy an appraising look, "but I suppose you can tell me?"
"Whether it was as helpful as a 'rejuice', as you called it." Tannis eyed him as though he were being deliberately stupid.
"I mean... I'm not dead? And I guess my pain levels are? Low?"
"Lower than usual or an average for you?"
"Not sure yet," he admitted, "It seems like a little from both right now?"
"An after effect, then. We'll see how you feel in about ten minutes."
"So... do you know what's wrong with me yet?"
Tannis snorted. "Of course I do, that was simple. Isolating the Eridium pack took longer."
When both gave her an incredulous look, she rolled her eyes.
"It's a very simple genetic mutation. Troy, you're a male. Men simply aren't built to be sirens. When you were attached to your sister as a small child, your bodies behaved as one siren. One power split across two bodies. When you were detached, you kept your half. Given that you're male, it's a real puzzler that you've survived this long. But by my calculations, with regular Eridium infusions you'll survive. Less pain. Less cell degeneration. You may even be able to use your half of the siren abilities."
"That... again? In layman's terms, doc?"
"Regular transfusions of these Eridium packs like the one you just used will improve your health. You may get to a point where you can use your powers and not need the transfusions. Look at it like a temporary dialysis course."
"So... you think if I have enough Eridium... I'll get... better?"
"Possibly. It's a possibility. Nothing is set in stone."
"But I'm not going to die?"
Tannis snorted. "Unless someone puts a bullet in you, it's very unlikely. I'm quite good at what I do, you know."
The scientist handed over a device that looked very much like the epipen-type medical kit that Troy had once given Lilith to survive. Instead of glowing red, though, it glowed purple, and had a pop-out compartment on the side.
"You'll need two of these every day to start with. The refills are in the side. There's a week's worth in there. Come back when you need more, I'll be working on isolating it into a more concentrated solution so you'll eventually only need one a week."
Troy took it, incredulous.
"That's- that's it? You're just? Going to give me something to save my life? Even though we were enemies three days ago?"
Tannis rolled her eyes again.
"Lilith trusts you. I trust her. If you betray us, I will personally make your death a slow and painful one."
With that threat hanging in the air, the scientist all but shoved them out of her lab with an approximation of a wave and cheery smile.
Lilith smirked at his dumbfounded expression.
"You get used to her, don't worry." She said, watching him hook the Eridium dispenser to his belt with the titanium clip attached.
"Is she uh? Always like that?"
"Nah. She gets worse." Lilith grinned broadly, "c'mon, let's go see what Ellie can make you for an arm."
Still a little shocked at everything, Troy meekly followed.
Chapter 13: 13:13
The cargo bay was one of Lilith's favorite places on Sanctuary. Ellie had managed to make the place almost cozy, even though it was an enormous space. It was the first place Lilith would go for a mug of hot coffee and someone to talk to. She wasn't quite sure when Ellie had become her best friend, but after everything that had happened, it was nice to have one. After they briefly returned to Troy's room to collect his metal arm, the cargo bay was their next stop.
Troy wasn't exactly sure what to expect; Lilith had mentioned Ellie several times to him, enough that he could gather that she meant a great deal to the redhead. He supposed he had gotten a picture in his head of what Lilith's best friend might look like. He had perhaps expected another siren, or something.
He was pleasantly surprised, then, to find he had been completely wrong in assumption. Ellie was a totally normal, non siren, larger than life woman with a heavy accent and a big smile. Whilst he was pretty sure she could knock him out with one hit if he pissed her off, he couldn't help but warm to her straight away.
"So you're what Lil dragged in, hm?" Ellie fiddled with the straps of her overalls, giving him an extremely appraising look, "well, I s'pose you did save her life."
To his surprise, she held out a small cooler filled with snacks.
"You look like you're about to faint on us. They not feed you on Pandora or somethin'?" She shook the container, "go on now, it ain't poison."
He wasn't about to argue, and, weirdly, he was feeling hungry again. The normal kind, not the in need of a rejuice kind. A little sheepish, he took a protein bar.
"Alrighty, so, what can I do for ya?" Satisfied that she had made sure Troy wasn't about to fall over, Ellie turned her attention to Lilith.
"I was hoping you could make something up to replace this?" Lilith dumped the metal arm onto the nearest work bench.
"Oh, well sure! That'll be easy! Course it won't be no fancy Atlas prosthetic or nothing, but I can make an improvement on the last one."
"It was kind of for show," Troy admitted through a mouthful of food.
"Well no kiddin!" Ellie rolled her eyes, "I can still make a lil compartment for your robot buddy if you want though!"
Troy wasn't sure if Ch47 would still work after he had basically pulled the metal arm off unceremoniously and thrown it across the room. Perhaps his uncertainty showed in his expression, because Ellie gave him a reassuring grin.
"Don't worry, I'll give him a full debug, make sure he's doin' okay." She was giving the arm a thorough inspection, "a lot of this I can salvage to make something new out of. If y'all can manage without it for a couple days, I can fix you up something real nice."
He certainly wasn't about to look a gift horse in the mouth.
"That sounds good?"
Ellie's smile was more genuine and reassuring this time.
"Don't you worry, you'll fit in just fine round here if you really want to be one of us. Y'all are always welcome down here if you need somewhere to be."
Ellie's attitude was one of Lilith's favourite things about her. She was always willing to give anyone a chance to be a friend. She knew that if Troy was going to fit in and genuinely support their cause, he would need friends here. Ellie's automatic acceptance meant a lot.
"So, what do we do in the meantime?" Troy was half expecting to be banished back to his room, but had a strange feeling that after his medical episode, Lilith wasn't so keen on leaving him alone. It was nice, actually, to have people worried about him.
Lilith stared at him for a moment. She knew she probably should send him back to his room, but alienating him when he should be integrating into the group was a stupid idea. He would never be one of them if she didn't give him the opportunity.
"Well, how about we find you something clean to wear?"
That sounded nice. He was pretty sure he had blood and sweat all over his tanktop and pants.
"You think you have anything that'll fit?" He eyed his new friend in amusement. Lilith was at least a foot and a half shorter than him.
"Pants wise? Yes. Shirts... maybe." Any shirt she had that would fit him was one of Roland's old ones. She would have perhaps felt a bit weird about giving one away, usually, but it had been almost eight years.... and somehow, she could see Roland perhaps liking Troy. Roland had always seen the good in everyone, wanted to give everyone a chance. She had hoped she was honoring that.
"It gets real cold overnight," Ellie had come back from looking around for parts, a folded sweater in her hands. "It'll be a bit big on you cause you ain't as wide as me, but it'll fit ya length wise."
It was an ordinary, grey knitted sweater, a little lumpy, but clearly handmade. Troy had never had any sort of hand knitted clothing before. He and Tyreen had purchased expensive outfits to fit their Twin God personas. The sweater felt more personal.
"It ain't much, I'm a bit better at making 'em now, but it'll keep you warm." She held it out. Hesitantly, he took it.
It was the softest thing he'd held in a long time.
"If you wanna put it on now I can pin the spare arm for y'all."
He did, he definitely did want to put it on now. He didn't care whether he was going to look stupid, either. He pulled the sweater over his head awkwardly with one arm. It was stupidly baggy, yes, but it was perfect lengthwise and in the arms. Ellie reached over and neatly folded the spare arm up, pinning it to the shoulder of the sweater.
"Mmhmm," she nodded approvingly, "now you just need clean pants."
"Thanks..." He knew it was probably weird, getting all emotional over a sweater, but as Ellie waved them out of the cargo bay with a promise of a new prosthetic within a few days, he had a sudden strange warm feeling, accompanied by a strong desire to protect Lilith and Ellie from anyone who might want to harm them.
Chapter 14: 14:14
Troy half expects to feel vulnerable walking around Sanctuary without his arm. It's been his primary defense since arriving on Pandora, as well as simply making him look tougher. Truth be told, he's pretty certain Lilith and her friends would have a lot to say if anyone put a hand on him. If he was anyone else, maybe he'd feel a bit embarrassed about being protected by a bunch of women, but growing up relying on Tyreen has taught him that sexism has no place anywhere near him.
For the first couple of days, he just follows Lilith around as much as he can. When Tannis summons him to the lab, he turns up on time and tries not to complain at the amount of needles she pokes and prods him with. He tries to convince himself that it's all for his own good, but a small part of him is pretty certain Tannis just has some perverse interest in causing misery for the name of science. He can't say he dislikes her, though. Mostly, she works in silence. He appreciates that. When she's not ignoring him, she's explaining the latest tests and experiments she's trying. He likes that. She doesn't pretend to like him any more than as an interesting lab rat, and he doesn't have to try and find something to talk about with her.
The time he spends in the cargo bay is the complete opposite; he finds himself spending a lot of time in Ellie's company. It beats sitting in his room by himself, and he's not allowed on the bridge while Lilith and the others are discussing official Crimson Raiders business. He figures that's fair enough; they probably haven't decided if he's a traitor or not yet.
It has crossed his mind several times, now that he knows how to cure himself, that he could simply steal the dropship and return to his sister. The idea isn't particularly appealing, seeing as aside from a slight dip in propaganda video quality, Tyreen doesn't seem to care that he's disappeared. He's never usually gone this long, but he supposes it's not entirely uncharacteristic for him to disappear on benders or something.
He wonders how long it might take her to find out where exactly he's gone. That in itself is amusing to him. He doesn't pretend to know his sister very well; as they got older she's become more and more unrecognizable to him. If he knows one thing, though, it's that the God Queen will definitely not take kindly to her own twin brother running off to join the Crimson Raiders.
Troy has seen firsthand what Tyreen does to heretics, knows what she did to Lilith was a small fraction of what she could - and would- have done if he hadn't stopped her. Somehow, he doesn't think the fact that he's her brother will spare him from her rage. Not now.
Maybe if he were more of a coward, that would be enough to send him back. But he likes it where he is. He likes sitting awkwardly on a work bench while Ellie rips apart his old mech arm, cussing it out but at the same time praising his ingenuity for building it out of scrap to begin with. He likes wearing the sweaters she gave him - She gave him a second one so the first could be washed after he got coolant down it while helping Marcus repair one of his vending machines.
He likes drinking at Moxxi's bar, even though she both terrifies and kind of turns him on at the same time. He likes hearing Marcus' crazy stories. In the week that he's really been allowed to walk around the ship, he's awkwardly found a place among the group. Without his eyeliner and mech arm, he looks nothing like the bandit king they all wanted to kill recently.
Of course a part of him misses his sister, but he knows she's not the girl he grew up with anymore. The God Queen persona has taken over entirely. Consumed whatever good was once in his sister. Can he really be blamed for wanting to survive? For choosing a better path for himself? He hates himself for choosing; he's spent his entire life being a parasite, second to Tyreen. It feels wrong to make a choice for himself, a decision that impacts her but only improves his life.
"You gotta be selfish sometimes, to survive." Ellie tells him as she wrenches apart the last piece of his former arm. He's spent the last hour talking pretty candidly about everything to her and Lilith, who's sitting over on another bench, swinging her legs. She had come in halfway through the conversation. He's pretty sure he's high on whatever Tannis stabbed him with before she took a bone marrow sample, because he wouldn't normally be so honest about something that could get him killed.
"She's still my sister."
"Is she though? I mean, from what y'all told me, she's spent all the time y'all were on Pandora just tryin' to benefit herself. She called you names and told you she was only keeping you around to be useful. That don't sound like a healthy sibling relationship no more." Ellie lays out the pieces, starting to set aside anything she can salvage for the new build.
"She's always been like that," Troy muttered, "can't help it, I guess, it's how we were raised."
"Well y'all's daddy sounds like he needs a good kick in the ass too. Who has two kids and ignores one? Specially the sick one." Ellie shook her head in disgust. "No offense, but your family sucks."
"Lilith says the same thing." Troy agreed, "though I figure she's got more right, given... y'know?"
The redhead made a scoffing sound but didn't speak.
"What so she's allowed to hate your sister but you're not allowed to even decide to be free from her? That don't sound fair, hon. It just ain't right. You're a person in your own right."
"Am I though? I don't think I was even meant to survive." Troy stretched, wincing as his spinal implant tensed. "I mean have you seen how fucked up my body is?"
"What, one missing arm? That's not so bad." Lilith stretched, "give yourself some credit."
It suddenly occurs to Troy that only Tannis has seen the extent of his injuries and deformities.
"Yeah, uh, maybe you should see what you're actually dealing with." He was pretty good at getting clothes off with one hand; the sweater came off easily. "See?"
Lilith swore. She had known he had issues, given the pain he was usually in, even with the Eridium dosages. She knew he had lost his arm at a very young age. She had seen a lot of injuries, a lot of implants. Even so, she wasn't prepared for the sleek black implants that encased the top half of Troy's spine.
"Not just a fashion statement," he ran his fingers over the collar he always wore, "keeps people from seeing 'em. Always hated being stared at."
"The hell happened to you?"
"Well, when you're in close proximity to a leech siren..." He shrugged, almost sheepish, "accidents happen."
"Tyreen did that?" Ellie looked horrified.
"My bones used to be pretty brittle anyway..." He rubbed the stump of his arm self consciously.
"We had a fight. Stupid teenage shit. We'd just arrived on Pandora. And she couldn't win the bandits over. She was getting pissed, and hungry I guess."
"And she- what? Broke your back?"
"I said some pretty mean shit. Then I was stupid enough to turn my back. She can't control what she does when she's upset. She hit me in the back." He shifted from one foot to the other. He didn't like talking about it.
"H-how are you alive?"
"We already had a small stream following. We pooled all our money for implants from Hyperion." He shrugged, "I can still walk because of them. Plus it helped with the weight of my arm, when I built it."
Troy had to admit he was pretty uncomfortable with the horrified looks on both women's faces. The accident had just been a fact of life for him. Something else he had gone through with his sister.
"It was just an accident." He told Lilith as they left the cargo bay to obtain coffee. "I don't see what the big deal is."
"She shattered your spine..." Lilith didn't look at him.
"Not deliberately! I mean... She was pissed we had to pool our money to fix it, but..."
The redhead stopped dead in her tracks, turned to face him with a fierce glare fixed in place.
"You can't go back."
"What? I'm not going t-"
"Don't say you haven't considered it. Of course you have. She's your family. But Troy, if you go back... she'll kill you."
"She'll kill us all, when she finds out where I am." He tried to lighten the mood and failed miserably.
"Not if we stop her. I'm serious. If you go back..." She shook her head, "promise me you won't go back."
He wasn't quite sure where this fierce intensity had come from, but he knew better than to fight her on it. It made him feel wanted and cared for, for the first time since he was a very small child.
"I won't go back."
"Good." She nodded. "If we're going to die..."
"We'll die together, I guess."
It felt very weird to say, and once said, a strange feeling overcame him. That was something to be explored later; he wasn't sure he would ever really understand why he had chosen to throw himself in with a bunch of vault hunters and heretics, but he was pretty certain it had everything to do with the former Siren who was giving him a very strange look.
"Together it is." She nodded finally, "Ellie is right. You are your own person. You choose your path."
He shifted awkwardly. "I think I'm on the right one, now. Thanks to you, I guess."
Her reply, whatever it would have been, was drowned out by the alarm on his ECHO signalling he needed to report to Tannis for a higher Eridium dose.
"We'll talk later. I'll get Ellie's coffee. You just head off to the lab." Lilith encouraged. She was almost grateful for the alarm. Perhaps it had just saved her from saying- or doing - something very stupid. What the HELL was wrong with her?
Chapter 15: Tyreen - 15:15
It's unusual for Troy to be gone for this long. It wasn't like he didn't disappear sometimes, usually for days-long parties involving a lot of sex, drugs, and alcohol. Tyreen didn't tend to pry into his business for that reason; nothing was worse than picturing whatever shit he got up to. Even so, this length of time was unusual. He wasn't answering his ECHO, either.
She figured when he wanted to be found, she would get a call. In the meantime, she didn't particularly care. Without her brother around, she didn't have to spend excess energy giving him a rejuice. Troy had always relied on her from a young age. She sometimes wondered if he would have had to if their father hadn't separated them. The thought repulsed her.
She had spent her entire life being taught that Troy was a parasite. He hadn't been supposed to survive. She was the siren. The powers were hers. He was the parasite, the weakling who needed her help to survive. Their father had suspected he had only survived because they had been attached. If they hadn't been, Troy would probably never have even been born alive. The thought didn't cause her nearly as much distress as it should have. Having constant company was nice, she supposed, but her brother had always just been a means to an end, more of a burden than a help.
She supposed he had been helpful, crafting her online persona that had gotten her so many followers. She also hadn't forgotten that they had lived in poverty for the first year they had been on Pandora, living in their ship, scavenging and trading and killing to survive. All because of him. Because he'd been stupid enough to provoke her then turn his back on her. It wasn't her fault. It hadn't been her fault. He had shouted at her. Told her he should have just left her behind. She hadn't been able to control it, only knowing that she wanted to hurt him as much as he hurt her.
All she could really remember, clear as day, was him curled in on himself, black bruises spreading down his spine. Her staring at him in absolute horror (and fascination, because who knew she could do THAT?) for a moment before she fumbled for her ECHO, thinking of who to call for help.
"You complete idiot." She had said as she recalled the trade they'd made with Hyperion recently. Surely they'd have tech that could fix whatever she had damaged, "look what you made me do."
That had worked out in his favor, though, hadn't it? He had ended up with implants that made him stronger. He had built himself his mech arm because of it.
"May as well go full cyborg," he had said.
She sighed. He was useless, weak and she barely cared to have him around anymore except to catch good footage and talk her down when she got particularly impulsive. He was, however, still her brother, and it was a bad look for the God Queen to have her brother go missing.
Katagawa was still on her ECHO speed dial.
"Tyreen? Another business deal for me?"
"Not quite. My brother appears to have wandered. If you or any of your people happen to see him on your travels, let me know, would you?"
"Troy? Haven't seen him since Promethea. One of my agents saw him on the outskirts of the city. He appeared to be alone. I'll get my people on it."
"Good. Keep me informed."
"Of course. If you have any spare people you can send to the effort..."
"I'll send another drop ship." What was another cargo of bandits to her? Troy was the most valuable pawn Tyreen had under her thumb. Perhaps that was why she kept him alive. He was easy to manipulate.
The Maliwan CEO had spies and people everywhere. Tyreen had no doubt that Katagawa would find her brother's location a lot faster than she herself would be able to. Being a sellout definitely had its perks. Troy had been right about that one. She yawned. Hopefully he would turn up soon. She had work for him to do.
Chapter 16: 16:16
When Troy finished up in the lab, he figured he would head back to the cargo bay to see if Ellie and Lilith were still there. Unfortunately, there was no sign of either. Ellie, he figured, had probably finally decided to get some sleep. He knew she had been awake for the better part of thirty hours tearing his old arm apart, and no amount of coffee could put sleep off forever.
His next thought, then, was to find Lilith, though he had a suspicion that seeing as she had not come to meet him at the lab, she probably didn't want to be found.
That didn't stop him, however, from braving the sea of glares in the crew common room to look for her. With a mumbled apology for disturbing everyone, he went on his way. He doubled back to the lab, just to make sure she hadn't turned up in the meantime.
"You don't want to give me another bone sample, do you?" Tannis barely glanced up from her microscope. Troy could swear her peripherals were amazing.
"Uh... not really, doc. Have you seen Lilith? I thought she might have come to look for me."
Tannis rolled her eyes and made a very disparaging noise.
"You shouldn't be such a lost puppy, dear. It's most unbecoming."
Perhaps his confused expression made him look stupid, because she rolled her eyes again and spoke very slowly, as though explaining something to a toddler.
"I'm sure she's fine. Check the bar or her room."
He was very used to being dismissed in this manner, and swiftly made his exit before she made good on taking another bone sample. His kneecap still hurt from the last one.
Fidgeting nervously in his borrowed sweater, he decided to skip checking the bar and head straight towards the part of Sanctuary where their rooms were. It didn't seem particularly in line with the mood Lilith had been in when he had last seen her to find her in the bar. Saying that, of course, he could be mistaken, and if she wasn't in her room then he could always go back and look.
Approaching their part of crew quarters, he found himself hesitating. The entire time he had been on board, and even before, Lilith had always made herself approachable to him. It was very strange for her to just disappear now. He was honestly worried that he might have done something wrong, though he wasn't sure what. In his opinion, he was adjusting very well. Considering the majority of the raiders were still relatively hostile towards him, he figured he was doing a pretty good job of keeping the peace.
Maybe then, it was to do with how fired up she had gotten before, talking about his sister. It was true, though, he shouldn't go back. Returning would only result in his own death, whether quick or prolonged. Knowing how Tyreen liked to play with her food, he was pretty sure she'd vivisect him and force him to watch her kill everyone who had helped him escape her to begin with.
It felt strange, to know how much Lilith worried about him. It was not unwelcome, he just wasn't used to genuine concern for his wellbeing. The kindness he had been shown by Lilith, Ellie, and a handful of others, was more than he'd had in the vast majority of his life. He barely remembered his mother; his early memories were mostly of being berated by his father for being a monster. A freak. Well, he hadn't asked to be born. He hadn't asked to survive, not until recently. He was still adjusting to being more than his sister's parasite.
Not a parasite, he corrected himself. Lilith got upset when he called himself a parasite. Even that was taking some getting used to. He was so used to casually insulting himself; after all, it was what he was used to, thanks to Tyreen and their father.
He found himself in front of Lilith's door far sooner than he would have liked, solely because he wasn't entirely prepared on what exactly he was supposed to say. He wasn't sure if she was angry at him for some reason. Perhaps he had been making himself too welcome amongst the Raiders. Did she still want him to be an enemy? He didn't think so.
Then again, he didn't trust his own opinion much anymore. Regardless of how his sister had treated him, he had always thought he would live and die by her hand. He had never expected anyone to change him quite like Lilith had. He wasn't sure she even knew how much she had truly done for him, continued to do. Weird, his thoughts concerning her. They had gone from dislike to pity to gratitude to... whatever the hell he was feeling now. He wasn't quite sure, but it sure was friendly, putting it lightly. Her determination that he never return to the COV, the way she had risked everything to bring him onto Sanctuary and save his life... Nobody had done that for him before.
The hydraulic door slid open after he hammered on it with his good - currently only - hand. He had planned on saying something witty or sarcastic. He was good at being a smartass.
Instead, what came out was completely different when he was face to face with her. She looked tired. Awfully small and vulnerable without her glowing tattoos.
"Why did you do this?" He stepped past her into the room. The door hissed closed.
"Do what? Open the door? You wouldn't stop trying to break the thing down."
"Not what I meant. Why did you bring me here? Why do you care whether I go back? Is it just some tactics thing? Now I'm getting better? You don't want Tyreen to have the advantage?"
She sighed, ran thin fingers through her impossibly red hair. Was it naturally that bright, he wondered, or was it a dye?
"I owed you. You saved my life. And you seemed... Like you needed saving too." She was missing her usual attitude, seemingly too worn down to be a smartass. " I'm not going to stop you from going back, if you want."
"But it would bother you?"
"Because you don't want her to have the advantage?"
"Because I don't want to fight you. We've put a lot of our resources into helping you. It would be a shame to see you go. Is that why you came? To say goodbye?" Her eyes narrowed, but there was a resolve behind her expression.
He froze. Was that what she really thought?
"What? No. I couldn't find you and I was worried." He shook his head, "I told you, I'm not leaving."
"You were worried?"
"I know how stupid that sounds."
"It's not stupid. I'm sorry. I thought-"
"That I was going to go back to Tyreen?"
"She's your sister."
"She'd vivisect me and make me watch as she killed you all." He shook his head, "trust me, I was only family as long as I had a use. Now I don't, and I don't want to play along with her shit any more."
"We're all going to die." Lilith told him, tone full of bitterness, "She's too strong. Without my po-"
"You've got me. And your friend, the one on Athenas that we're going to meet."
"You were listening?"
"I'm observant." He shrugged, "look. Two sirens is better than none. I know you want your powers back. But there's no shame in not having them. Sometimes you have to just pick up a gun and shoot your way out."
She gave him a weak smile. "Guess you'd know."
"Trust me. I'm the best dude to ask about missing your siren powers."
"I just feel so useless without them. How can I protect my friends without it?"
"You protected me without it." He reminded her, "and they've stepped up. You don't have to be the one watching over everyone all the time. Share the load. Pretty sure they're happy to have to repay you for years of you watching their asses."
"Real way with words, don't you?" She snorted.
"I... I mean I wrote the propaganda for a reason."
"Yikes." She was smiling, though, so he knew he hadn't upset her too much.
"Yeah, maybe too soon." He agreed, trying not to grin himself. "Point is, I'm not going back. Thought I already told you, I'm staying here."
"To die with us all, right." She nodded.
He rolled his eyes.
"More like, to keep you from dying."
"Yeah, then I'll owe you twice." She agreed.
"I think you've already repaid any debt you think you had." He lifted his wrist, showing off the newest addition. It looked like just a bulky wristwatch, the sort that could digistruct things. Instead, it housed a tiny needle and microdoses of super concentrated Eridium. It was a test device, Tannis had said, and he was still to carry a syringe on him for emergencies, but he was pretty damn sure the thing was scientifically sound.
She frowned. "I guess so."
"I never considered it a debt." He clarified, suddenly overwhelmed by the need to explain, "You saved me. You brought me here even though your friends might have killed us both. You took me to Tannis, and Ellie. You fought for me. Like I was worth something. Even though we weren't friends then."
"That's kind of what I do." She sighed, "its been detrimental, in the past."
"What, being a good person?"
He hadn't quite expected her to be that upfront and honest. Of course he had hoped his own emotional investment would be mutual, but he hadn't expected anything.
"What, you think I would do all this without caring a little? Don't be stupid."
"We're on the same side, aren't we? Why are you so... upset?"
"It's not about who you are, or were." She shook her head, "the last person I got close to... He died. Horribly. Right in front of me."
Troy finally understood. Her hesitation then, was not to do with him. Nothing to do with who he had once been. Nothing to do with what he was. It was a trauma thing. Something had hurt her in the past and made her afraid.
"I don't know how many times I have to tell you." He shook his head, ran shaking fingers through his overgrown hair, "I'm not planning on dying."
"You don't know that! Anything could happen!" She knew she was holding herself back, trying to put things into a box and kick them away into a dark corner. That only works for so long.
"You're right," He agreed, "we could die, sure. Or we could live. We could take out that entire corrupt cult, Maliwan, every other fucker who's ever come for either of us, and still be standing."
"I can't protect us."
"No, but I can." He reached for her. "You gave that to me." His hand was glowing faintly with the rest of his arm, "See?"
"Why would you do that for me?"
"Because you did it for me. You reached out and saved me when I didn't deserve it. Even though my sister took your powers and hurt you... you still saw past what I was pretending to be."
"I'm not good at being a damsel." She warned him.
"Nobody said you had to be one. Last I checked, you're still a badass."
She laughed weakly; he was still holding out his hand. Although unsure, she reached out to take it. She could trust him. She had to.
"Not so hard, is it?" Her voice shook, and he could tell she was talking more to herself. Assuring herself, perhaps?
Oh, fuck it. If he was going to push his luck, he'd push it all the way. If she beat his ass, he'd take it. At least he'd know where the line was drawn.
"Hey. Heads up."
As she looked up, he pulled her in, much closer than anyone had been in a long time. At least, with any intention that wasn't purely lecherous.
Fingers still interlocked with hers, he leaned down and kissed her, fully expecting to be swiftly punched in the side of the head.
Lilith hadn't seen the kiss coming. Perhaps she had wanted it to, but she had thought she had been imagining it. She did not hit him. Instead, cautiously, she kissed him back, steadying herself against him.
They perhaps would have stayed that way a little longer than they did, had the glowing not distracted him.
"Your arm-" his breath was still warm against her lips.
"Wha-?" She almost ignored him. Almost dragged him into another kiss. Fuck, she wanted to. But the glowing caught her attention.
Where their hands were joined, his tattoos were glowing. That wasn't the strange part. The strange part was that, faintly, beneath her skin, the pattern of her own tattoos glowed too.
"How-?" She stared at her arm in shock.
"Are you just trying to get out of here?" She was dimly afraid that he was regretting his actions. He understood and recognised her fear and swiftly moved to assure her.
"I'm not just bullshitting you so I can bail, trust me, I would uh, much rather still be doing that. But you're not meant to be a Siren anymore. And you're glowing. And I don't know why. The look on your face says you don't, either."
"Yeah. You're right. Tannis."
"Want me to come?"
"Saves her hunting you down later." Was what Lilith said. Really, though, she was scared, unsure of what was going on, and she just wanted him to be there with her. He at least seemed equally as bewildered. He hadn't meant to do anything to her.
They could talk about the kiss later, if she wanted. Right now, he just wanted to get to Tannis and find out what was going on.
If Tannis had an issue with the pair of them practically bursting into her lab, the vocalising of any such objection died upon seeing the state they were in. Bad at reading body language and situations as she was, even Tannis recognised that something unusual must have happened, given how anxious both looked and the manner in which they had entered the lab.
Perhaps, then, she had expected something. She was used to Troy drifting around Sanctuary looking flustered, but it wasn't a regular look for Lilith, and Tannis did not like it. A lot of her calm came from the reassurance that Lilith had everything under control. Even without her siren powers. Tannis hadn't seen her this rattled in a long time.
"Her arm." Troy spoke first, "I touched her and her tattoos... it's like they're under her skin. We could see them."
Tannis wrinkled her nose. That didn't sound possible, but she had wondered whether Troy was some sort of reverse-leech, his sister's power but flipped. Perhaps that theory of hers was proving to be correct. Typical. She was almost sick of being right all the time.
"Can you show me?" She crossed her arms and waited, oblivious to the uncomfortable looks on the duo's faces.
"I'm not sure it just... works like that?" Lilith started, but Troy shrugged.
"To be fair we'd never actually touched siren hands before." He pointed out, "so it could work. Like I'm some sort of conduit?" He glanced at Tannis for confirmation.
The scientist shrugged.
"That is one possibility. The other being that now you're running at optimal capacity, your powers are actually developing. Whereas your sister can leech power, you may be able to put power back into other people."
Troy stared at her.
"Wait so like... Tyreen but flipped? Like? I have my own thing?" The concept that he may even have his own abilities, wasn't just a parasite, was astounding. He had never even considered the idea, been stuck in the idea that he was a parasite, weak and facing certain death without his sister.
It made sense, though, that if he was a siren in his own right, he would have his own abilities. He had expected them to be a mirror image of Tyreen's, not a reversal.
There was only one way to find out, though, if this was true and that it hadn't just been a fluke or trick of light. Troy was almost afraid - almost - as he held out his hand. Over time, he had had to force himself not to be afraid. He kind of prefered his false persona in that regard. The god king was never afraid, but Troy was.
There was something to be grateful for, though, in the fact that Lilith didn't leave him hanging. She was as curious about the situation as he was; could it really be possible that he could return power to her? Even temporarily? That would be an enormous tactical advantage, even if he couldn't. He could boost Maya's powers, or Tannis'...
She reached out and clasped his hand in hers. Three sirens waited with held breath, as slowly but surely, Troy's red tattoos began to glow. For a few moments, nothing else happened, but then he began to focus. It was a conscious decision, at first. He pictured himself moving some of his power over to Lilith, and somehow... somehow his body obeyed him. Steadily, her skin began to glow faintly.
"I don't believe it," Tannis was staring at them both, "absolutely fascinating. I'm pretty certain then, that the Eridium solution I divised to improve your health condition, has in fact amplified your own dormant siren abilities."
Lilith frowned at her friend.
"And you didn't think to mention this?"
The scientist shrugged.
"I didn't want to placebo either of you, or give any sort of hope where there may have been none. It seemed cruel to disclose a hypothesis that would affect you both, when it was simply that: a theory."
Tannis sure did pick her moments to become aware of social cues and what was and wasn't kind and acceptable, Lilith thought, but there was little point in being exasperated with her. At least the information had come to light when needed. It would have been much worse if they had come to Tannis looking for answers, only to find out that she had none.
Troy was looking uncharacteristically pale, or at least, as pale as he could with his dark skin.
"You okay?" She understood it must be a lot to take in. First he had thought he would die. Then he had come to terms with being able to survive without Tyreen. The knowledge that he had his own siren powers, that he wasn't simply a mistake of nature, Lilith knew that would be a lot for him to take in.
Troy ran his hand over his face, uncomfortably aware that he was being watched. It was a lot to take in. Switching sides, being able to survive thanks to Tannis, his feelings for Lilith, and now this? It was too much. The idea that he wasn't just a parasite. Wasn't just a waste of space... what else had Tyreen been wrong about?
"I need a drink." He said finally. He could think about all of this with a hangover, surely. Tannis was still looking at him in mild concern, but with his new tech, he would be fine, medically speaking.
Lilith, thankfully, understood. When she met his gaze, she nodded.
"A drink sounds good. C'mon."
A discussion regarding their relationship, the kiss, and even his newly discovered powers could wait. Right now, she understood he was overwhelmed, and nothing was more calming than some spiced whiskey and ice.
Troy was eternally grateful for the fact that she did not push discussion, simply led him along the walkway to Moxxi's. They could talk later. Right now his priority was getting a drink, calming the fuck down, and processing the reality in which he found himself.
Yeah so this is short and took forever. Ooft. I'll try and get back into a schedule of updating. Don't forget to like, follow, and obey