Actions

Work Header

Vault of the Alchemist - Chapter 1: Invoking Thy Names

Chapter Text

The rakks screeched as they found yet another helpless human to feast upon. The target stopped, bending over to collect vegetables. A farmer. Good thing no-one would miss them. The wild beasts soared downwards, getting ready t-

ZZZZZZZZZZZZAP!

An electrifying aura surrounded the rakks, penetrating their flesh and searing from the inside as they let out cries of anguish. Their cooked bodies slid off to the side of the shield, landing in large meat bins. Quite a handy form of protection and (though it was unconventional) hunting.

The town was starting to awaken as the sun's first rays were being joined by many others. They first struck the twin peaks of such grand ruins, once home to such corrupt beings that plagued every business, every bank. Accountants.

The last few rays gently caressed a statue. It depicted a powerful man, one who changed history and made quite a daring move or two in the weapons industry, who seized a pitiful company and shaped it into something more grand. The plaque was worn, but the name "Rhys" was sprayed onto it for good measure.

The Children of Helios were thriving.

___________________________________________________________________________________________

One man lay in his bed, snoring loudly and displaying his muscled body. His room was not in the best condition, but luckily an assortment of potted plants and rare equipment strewn on the walls and shelves could distract anyone from that. An exercise bike was positioned near the window. From there, he could see the whole town square. It was no Sanctuary, but it was good.

On a metal desk were an assortment of objects: several ECHO logs (some received, some waiting to contain messages), parts for a Bandit pistol and other weapons from  popular manufacturers were strewn across it, a battered black office lamp labelled "HYPERION PROPERTY - DO NOT STEAL!" and a photograph of him with several other figures. A majority of them were smiling, except for a CL4P-TP unit, a robot that seemed to be made from different Hyperion parts and a humanoid figure wearing a helmet. The photograph looked like it had seen better days.

Loud knocks sounded from the door. The room's inhabitant groggily rose and proceeded to slip on a modified waistcoat adapted to the harsh climate of the desert wastes. The knocks sounded louder and faster.

"Hang on, I'm coming!" he yelled as he combed his facial hair.

"Sir" a muffled voice said in urgency, "you have a visitor outside the city!"

He opened the door, warmth gathering at his chest. He grabbed his psycho mask and a Hyperion shotgun. If anyone came close, they were gonna get more than a little shock. This was (VAUGHN: Don't count on it!)

He wandered through the city, admiring its architecture. It wasn't easy building this place, but five years had given him and his fellow Children enough time to take refuge in surviving shelters while they attempted to build the debris into a functioning home for many of the lost Hyperion salary people.

Sure enough, a car was outside of the city's entrance. It looked familiar in terms of model, from when Vaughn and his good friend Rhys stole one from Hugo Vasquez, enemy and all-around douchebag towards them. At least there was no way he'd show up any time soon. It was painted white and blue, with red streaks separating the two colours from each other. The right-hand passenger door was opened. The inside looked quite dark and foreboding, yet the refreshing coolness of air conditioning wafted from the inside. It was beckoning Vaughn for him to embrace it.

Reluctantly, he stepped inside. Just as both feet were planted inside the vehicle, the door shut without warning and the car was in motion.

________________________________________________________________________________________

A cooler sat beside him. Upon opening, Vaughn received a bottle of beer (as well as SMG ammo). It was cold to the touch. Without a second thought, he removed the mask and took a small sip. Hot damn was it nice! Had a slight...buzz to it.

"So!" A voice said cheerfully. "What do you think? It's our new Black Label Bolt, out next week to the general public!"

A television screen sat in front of Vaughn. On it was a shirtless young man with black hair, three sections of the fringe dyed different colours. A scar ran down the side of his neck; it was too large not to notice. He was grinning from ear to ear.

In quick response, Vaughn slid the mask back on in a panic. The man laughed heartily.

"No worries, man! I ain't here to cause any trouble. Just a smaaaaaaaaall business proposal."

"Uh... who ARE you?" Vaughn asked nervously, mask skewed to the side.

The man leaned back and sighed with relief. "Ahhhh, straight to business, then? Name's Finnegan Crux, current CEO of Maliwan. If it ain't elemental, it ain't Maliwan!" He chuckled to himself. "Quite a catchy motto."

Vaughn sat in uncomfortable silence. Why did the head of a beer and gun company have business with him? Was this guy even who he claimed to be? Many similar thoughts rushed through his head.

"Anyways" Finnegan said, "I have received intelligence-"

"At least you have some!" A gruff voice behind the camera said jokingly.

"Dad! I'm in a meeting!" The CEO blushed, crossing his arms. The man laughed.

"Okay, okay. You take care of this, I'll go check on sales." Footsteps could be heard, followed by a door closing.

Finnegan blushed harder, putting his face in his hands. "God, that was embarrassing" he muffled.

"Uh..." Vaughn looked out of the window briefly. They were passing a bandit camp. The inhabitants were too busy carrying the dead bodies of fellow bandits to notice the car drive by. Several of the bodies looked charred, one of them having deep claw marks in the centre of a large burn. Whatever got him must have been one hell of a beast. "So, you were saying?"

Finnegan hastily resumed his composure. "So. I have received intelligence of a new Vault being discovered. And other companies have caught wind."

Vaughn tore off his mask. Did he just hear right? A new Vault? He hoped that what he thought was going to happen didn't happen.

"As a result," he continued, "we are in a race against time. I need you to take care of the guardian of the Vault."

Yep, it happened.

"W-wait, WHAT?!" Vaughn's face was stricken with panic. The Traveller wasn't vicious, but really hard to beat. How did this weird-haired surfer think HE could take it down by himself?

"You heard right!" The CEO of Maliwan slammed his fist on the table. "You have survived against the odds! You claimed the treasures of a Vault's guardian before! You are AWESOME!"

Sweat ran down Vaughn's face, cheeks blushing very lightly. He didn't think anyone else knew, or that he had a fan of sorts.

"Plus, if you agree, I can guarantee that Maliwan will help improve your home! Better shields, better security, better architecture! That's the Maliwan way!"

"That's my boy!" A gruff, muscular man was in view of the camera, tightly hugging Finnegan. Unlike the CEO, he wore a vest, sunglasses and a baseball cap that looked as if it had seen better days.

"DAD! FOR FUCK'S SAKE!" He pushed his dad away with force. "PLEASE don't embarrass me in front of a Vault Hunter!"

For a brief moment, Mr Crux looked shocked, stared at the camera and them slapped his son across the back of his head. "Once you're finished" he said in a low voice, every word filled with suppressed anger, "meet me in my office." He went off-screen and slammed the door.

It was nothing but awkward silence for at least a solid few minutes.

"I'll take the job."

"Huh?" Finnegan stared at his screen, surprised. "You'll.. You'll take the job?"

"Yeah. Yeah!" A smile spread across Vaughn's face. "Yeah! I'll take on the Vault! Gonna make this part two of my heroic story!"

"Awesome!"

_____________________________________________________________________________________

 

It was midday in the city. The car pulled up at the entrance. The door opened, revealing a Vaughn who was buzzing with alcohol and carrying the cooler full of Black Label Bolt. The words of Maliwan's CEO couldn't be heard from afar.

Plopping the cooler down on the floor near his wall of weapons, he collapsed onto the bed, embracing the warm covers. This time tomorrow, he'd be on a train to the town of Fester Creek.

Chapter Text

"What do you mean there's no new Horrorshow?!"

A plump middle-aged man stood at Marcus' Munitions, outraged. In terms of normal clothes, he wore a pair of worn jeans and thick rubber boots. Outside of the realm of normal, he wore shoulderpads made from bullymong bone and wore the skull of a Badass one to match. The pads were held together by leather straps with a shield clipped to it. His face was unclean, heavy bags under his eyes. Marcus had come across the most obnoxious Vladof fanboy yet. It was none other than (GAISER: Big man, little mercy!)

"Look, buddy" Marcus said in an exhausted tone, "I got no shipment of Vladof weapons today. Try waiting or buy a different gun."

There was no going back from that. Gaiser's head shook violently, getting angrier slowly with every shake.

"A different gun... A different gun?!" He stuck his arms through the metal bars that separated the counter, grabbing frantically at the air. "I demand a god-damn HORRORSH-"

Marcus cocked a shotgun and aimed it at his face, hesitant to shoot. "I'm giving you a chance to be patient, friend." He smiled in a fake manner. "Maybe come back later, yes?"

Gaiser sighed in annoyance and pulled his arms back. "Fine. But you better have one by tomorrow."

The barbarian stormed out of the shop, heading to the Fast Travel so that he can go back to his home in Windshear Wastes.

 

_________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

 

It was quite fortunate that Gaiser found such a place in the frozen wastelands. Sure there were a lot of dead CL4P-TP units lying around the place, but at least there was some shelter from the blistering arctic winds, as well as the odd chance of a weapon shipment going astray from a cargo train. Not to mention the amount of bullymongs that had claimed the surrounding wilderness.

Dusk had fallen, and he was reading a magazine in an armchair. Whoever owned this place previously had a poor choice in reading material, but quite a taste in feeling material. He hoped that one day Moxxi would give him a shot, like she did in Issue #916 of GUNS AND BOOBS. Quite a fitting title, he thought to himself. She could handle my rocket launcher any day.

A thud sounded from outside. Looks like a new shipment arrived.

Gaiser zipped up his trousers, grabbed his trusty Renegade assault rifle and headed into the chilly wastes. A familiar sight lay before him: debris from an old Hyperion train, with many dead bodies scattered throughout the snow (sadly looted of their money and weapons long ago). An aurora was in the sky tonight, beauty ever-captivating. Of course, it got old after a month or so. To him, anyways. 

A stray cargo carriage or two would drop by onto the snow from the now-dysfunctional train tracks. Looks like some poor sods were to be cheated out of a shipment or two.

Upon inspection, the crate had two stamps: one was the address ("TO MR KINCAID"), the other bearing a symbol; the symbol of Vladof. The barbaric fanboy squealed with delight at his find. Without hesitation, he dragged the crate inside. Mercenary Day had come early for the beloved war-lover!

 

____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

 

Gaiser pried open the crate with a stray mop, after much difficulty. The first thing he noticed was a letter addressed to Marcus. Surely a quick peek wouldn't hurt.

"Dear Mr Kincaid,

Find enclosed a new shipment of quality guns, including a new Horrorshow. Your faith to us is admirable."

Gaiser glanced at the crate to find an assortment of pistols and assault rifles, even a Horrorshow with the slag attribute! Despite the fact that Eridium was in such scarce supply, there was more than enough slag to go around.

"Speaking of which, this customer you order our weapons for has sparked interest in our company. Have him call the attached number.

"Kind regards,

"Comrade Vladof"

He was speechless. The company he loved wanted to speak to him? What an honour! He dialled the number on his ECHOcast and waited with anticipation as it rang. The tension was so high.

"Hello? Who's this?" A hoarse voice spoke.

On this rare occasion, Gaiser was lost for words. He knew the voice; he was speaking to none other than Comrade Vladof himself.

"Hello? Answer me!"

"H-Hello Comrade!" Barely ten seconds in and the bullymong-eating brute was sweating furiously.

"Who is this? I don't want your stupid Truth Broadcast!" He had suddenly

"N-No Comrade, you w-wanted me to call you?"

"Ah" C.V. said, voice sounding calmer. "Apologies. Ignorant reporters keep trying to sign me up to Hyperion Truth Broadcasting. Really pitiful."

"Heh, yeah... So, what is it you needed, sir?" Gaiser's hands were clenched tightly on the arms of his chair in suspense. If he held on any tighter, it would be very likely for him to end up breaking it.

C.V. cleared his throat. "We have gathered information on a new Vault. As reward for loyalty, we would like you to undertake this job for us."

A Vault? A goddamn VAULT?! He couldn't believe it! The amount of guns and money he'd get would be phenomenal! Gaiser could picture things clearly: Gaiser, the Vault King of Ice. He'd be living in a fortress with hundreds of bandits at his command, the entire snowlands in his iron fist. It would be his big break.

"So, do we have a deal, comrade?"

"Y-YES! No problem, Comrade Vladof, sir!"

"Excellent." A cold laugh could be heard. "There is large continent across the sea in your location. You'll need a boat to get to Redhand." The connection was cut off.

Gaiser sighed with relief, feeling excited. It wasn't every day your idol asked you to undertake a mission of great importance. He knew where to get a boat, but it was going to take a lot of fighting, maybe even some begging. Still, asking the King of the Rippers for assistance was better than nothing. Or...maybe assassinating him would do the trick.

Chapter Text

On Pandora, the sun was setting. From the Highlands, the grass was bathed with a faint orange, running water embedded with streaks of gold. From the Holy Spirits, the sound of many drunkards singing ancient tunes could be heard from afar.

However, hundreds of kilometres away from the atmosphere of the planet, Dahl soldiers were awake and training for combat.

The S.S. York was a small ship in comparison to the gargantuan space stations many soldiers lived and trained on, but it was large enough to hold 350 brave souls. Many were eating breakfast in the mess hall (who doesn't love eating tasteless oats for breakfast?), some were in the showers recovering from a recent conflict with uncivil native Pandorans, few were at the shooting range with their standard-issue pistols and assault rifles. From the windows, the horizon of the lawless planet could be seen in all its glory. Of course, the story was quite different once you landed there.

The hallways were void of human life and, in terms of appearance, excitement. Every wall was a dull grey, the only remarkable things being the recycling bins in the corners and the numerous displays which concerned Dahl. At times, it would change from company statistics to a memorial for the brave soldiers who died in battle (there were far too many to count) or, though very rare, a list of deserters. Many names were at the bottom of the screen, but at the very top was a picture of a smug-looking man with short hair and the traditional Dahl sergeant attire. He was Axton, and no-one knew of his fate since he slunk away to whatever godforsaken part of the galaxy he could find.

Among the few soldiers in the shooting range was a slender robot who towered over everyone slightly. Like its human comrades, it was adorned with the company's trademark on the chest and had a colour scheme almost identical to the guns produced. It scanned the target with its neon green eye and digistructed a revolving cannon; each slot had a different gun assigned to it (in this case only a Carbine assault rifle was equipped). With a mechanical whir and a quick spin, many bullets found their mark on the psycho-looking dummy. Upon closer examination, the bullets found their mark in the head and torso. This was one of Dahl's remarkable robotic soldiers, known by its fellow comrades as (BASIL: It's 845-1L to you).

One of the soldiers stopped briefly, taking a look at the bullet marks. "Damn, Bas!" The young man ran his fingers across them, amazed. "You're really getting better at this!"

"...Thanks." Basil said in a monotonous voice. If it was capable of feeling pride, that would be how it would feel at that moment.

Proud of their work, the human soldiers headed to the mess hall, laughing and cheering. Basil followed behind, remaining as stern and serious as possible.

 

_________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

 

A year ago, Dahl unveiled their newest form of soldier: the Dahl Mechanical Soldier, or DMS for short. At the beginning, many people were sceptical. The initial belief was that the DMS were going to replace the armed forces, unit by unit. After many negotiations, the number of new robotic soldiers were decreased to 1 per unit. While lacking emotion, they proved to be quite formidable soldiers. Plus, in the eyes of many anti-DMS soldiers, they were merely expendable.

Basil was initially met with hesitant welcomes, and targeted by a brutish corporal known as Maxwell. While everyone warmed up to their metallic co-worker, he made sure that life was as close to Hell as possible.

"Alright, maggots!" Maxwell's voice boomed over the speakers. "We got intel of a Vault on Pandora and I need EVERYONE to haul their sorry asses over to the pod bay NOW!"

The hallways were bustling with hushed chatter. Basil knew very little about a Vault; all it was aware of was that they were guarded by a fierce guardian. Judging the number of available soldiers and their skill, there was a high rate of death. If anything, it was going to be a suicide mission.

One by one, the whole unit rushed into their pods, anxiously grasping their firearms. For many of these brave soldiers, it was their first major assignment.

Three young soldiers whistled at Basil, beckoning it to their pod. Once everyone was inside, a siren sounded; a second later, the pods were launched. Slowly, they hurtled towards Pandora.

 

_________________________________________________________________________________________________

 

Ten minutes in, the four soldiers decided to get to know each other. Everyone knew Basil, seeing as it was the only one of its kind on the S.S. York.

Firstly, there was Betty "Atom". With her short dirty-blonde hair and grimy appearance, she was known as a remarkable engineer. With her guidance, the crew of the S.S. York's lives were improved with better utilities.

Then, there was her brother Richard. While his sister was tall and built like a soldier, he was quite short and lacked muscles. Despite this, he proved to be quite a crafty shock trooper and formidable with an SMG.

Finally, there was Grey. No-one knew his real name, but was nicknamed Grey due to his hair colour. He had seen battle more frequently than his fellow crew members, and was said to be capable of holding down a fort with only three grenades and one shot from a rocket launcher.

While everyone was bonding, the speakers crackled.

"Attention passengers, this is your master speaking." Maxwell said in a bored tone, "We got another half-hour until we reach Pandora, and there are zero bathrooms available. So STOP complaining about it to me! I have a promotion to focus on!"

"Psh, what a dick" Betty said to herself.

Everyone murmured in agreement, Basil remaining somewhat silent.

"Question." Basil raised his hand, grazing the roof of the pod.

"Shoot," Grey said in a hushed tone.

"Why do you refer to Corporal Maxwell as male genitalia?"

After a brief pause, everyone started laughing. Richard laughed the hardest, tears escaping his eyes.

"Oh man, Bas, you are a gem!" he giggled.

Basil turned its head to the view of Pandora. "Is it true that many robots have free will?"

Betty and co. looked at him, surprised. "Yeah, why?" Betty asked.

"I have heard reports of Hyperion robots exhibiting traits of individuality. I am curious about the concept."

As soon as the name Hyperion was mentioned, everyone turned away and made disgusted noises. It was clear that mentioning the infamous company still left bad memories in the minds of many.

"Well," Betty grasped at the miniature toolkit attached to her belt, "I could help with that."

It scanned the toolkit, glanced at Betty and moved away slightly. "Tampering with equipment owned by the Dahl corporation is an offence punishable with at least a fine. Furthermore, repl-"

Richard groaned. "Buddy, she wants to help. How you gonna find out what it's like to live if you don't take a risk?"

After calculating internally for a solid minute, Basil responded with "Do it while I am powered down, Engineer Betty."

"Dahl Mechanical Soldier 845-1L" whirring and clicking could be heard coming from within Basil, "is offline."

 

_______________________________________________________________________________________________________

 

Upon being reactivated, Basil knew something was wrong.

"-race for impact everyone! I repeat, brace for impact!"

The voice belonged to Corporal Maxwell, sounding panicked. Upon observation, red lights were flashing all around and a warning siren was blaring. Richard and Grey were strapping themselves in to their seats, while Betty was securing the robot's main access panel.

"You're awake, buddy! How you feeling?" Betty's voice and face showed that she was scared, yet tried to sound calm.

"What is going on?" It flexed its hand, hoping to find that something was different. It failed, of course.

"WE'RE GONNA DIEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!" Richard screamed, limbs flailing around in his seat. Grey smacked him across the face with force.

"We have a minute or two until this thing crashes, idiot!" Grey's voice sounded slightly shaken, but still stern. "Just pull your lever!"

Richard nodded. Upon pulling a small lever on the chair, it was sucked out of the pod. A parachute opened, the distance between the shock trooper and his small family drifting apart. In quick succession, Grey followed suit.

Betty teared up, hugging Basil. She looked up at him and smiled. "I'll see you soon, you hear me?"

For a brief moment, the DMS unit felt something. It was...indescribable. Could it have been sadness?

Basil gently patted her on the back. "We will reunite and have an enjoyable event."

One goodbye later, Betty evacuated the falling pod. Basil could only watch as the earth of Pandora came into view.

 

_____________________________________________________________________________________________

 

Basil was functioning, being slightly wounded. Its metallic skin was built to withstand high amounts of tension. It climbed out of the wreckage, scanning the area. According to the unit's UI system, it was located in The Dust. There were many pieces of debris scattered across the sandy plain, the sounds of dying soldiers drowned out by a sandstorm. Equipping its digistruct cannon, it wandered the surrounding land for shelter.

For the first time since its creation, Basil felt determined. Determined to find its fellow teammates. Determined to show Pandora and the anti-DMS that it was capable of survival.

Determined to find the Vault.

Chapter Text

Tediore was known for being a small company, compared to other popular ones. One of their offices and workshops were tucked away in the oceans of Pandora, hidden in the dark depths away from prying eyes. It resembled a small industrial town, the brickwork old and dirty with soot. And of course, they were separated from the waters with three airtight layers of glass. It wasn't a good design choice, seeing as the glass could break with around 5 explosions per layer, but it was somewhat better than having to rely on a shield.

The workshops were equally dirty, employees dressed head to toe in protective uniforms coloured grey with vibrant yellow edges. Truly a fashion guru's nightmare. Some of the employees were at tables, giving colour to an assortment of parts. Some were on the conveyor belts, putting together the gun parts and adding digistruct ID tags (what's the point of having a Tediore gun that doesn't spawn a new one after use?) lined with a small explosive. Others were at a shooting range, testing new weapons so that they met quality control. The job was somewhat mind-numbing, but at least the pay and benefits were reasonable.

Then there's the Research and Development department, where few lucky people had the chance to modify the designs of guns and grenades for a better financial investment. Room 810 was a tad cleaner than the workshop, but very unkempt. A large desk preoccupied the centre of the room, fitted with a decent computer and a scorched lamp. Piles upon piles of materials and documents were stacked against the walls; one wall was plastered with posters of famous icons and locations to hide the obvious marks that were evidence of numerous explosions.

The owner of the room was asleep on the floor, curled up on a bed of blueprint. Her long black hair was all over the place, sprawled all over the place; her yellow dyed tips made it look like some sort of electronic eldritch creature was crawling around. Like her co-workers, she was dressed in dark clothes and sporting the company logo on the back of her waistcoat. The outline of a large tattoo decorated part of her arm. She was known as (MARTHA: Boom shakka-lakka!)

A siren started blaring, a booming voice saying "MARTHA AUGEAU TO THE BOSSES OFFICE. MARTHA AUGEAU TO THE BOSSES OFFICE."

The technician woke with a start and rushed to the door, giving no time for the rest of her body to awaken. Because of this, she ended up running into the door and lying against it for a few seconds.

 

____________________________________________________________

 

Martha burst into the office, panting. The chairwoman looked at her, almost repulsed. She pressed a button near a microphone and said "Never mind, she's here."

The chairwoman was quite a mature woman, dressed in proper business attire. Unlike her employees, she was clad in a black suit with red edges and spectacles in a matching colour scheme. The atmosphere she radiated was cold, probably from her time working at Hyperion. After she escaped the devastation on Helios, it was said that she cheated and bartered her way into Tediore's corporate ladder, claiming that the company would thrive under her watchful eye. Of course, she managed to increase sales in the urban areas of Pandora, as well as making a generous sum of money selling to the bandits. As long as she fulfilled a quota, she was satisfied.

Chairwoman Ana gave Martha an ice-cold gaze, the feeling of daggers embedded in her mind. "Take a seat, dear."

She quickly sat down, sweating slightly. It was never a good thing to be called into the office.

"Im s-so sorry ma'am!" Martha said frantically, sounding as if she was on the brink of tears. "I was w-working late and didn't g-get time to go home so I... I'M SO SORRY!" She buried her face in her hands. It wasn't surprising that Ana would let go employees who weren't working as efficiently as the others.

"Miss Augeau, please. Let. Me. Speak." There was a strong dose of annoyance in the chairwoman's voice.

After briefly regaining her composure, Martha looked away from her boss with embarrassment. Breaking down in front of your superior? Definitely not so good.

"Martha, you've been working with us since you were...8 years old, correct?"

She nodded. The memories were faint, but she remembered two people (presumably her parents) pushing her into the ocean to escape something. After a few days, the boat found its way onto the shores of Tediore's offices and was reluctantly adopted by the company. After a lot of arrangements were made, she was forced into work. When Martha was 14, she was moved into Research and Development; not only did she help the company, but she was also receiving an education. And now, aged 22, she had been part of the Tediore family for a majority of her life and had rarely seen the surface of Pandora.

"Normally, if you were here, I would fire you." Ana straightened some documents and tucked them into a file. "Not today, though. I have an assignment for you, and it's big."

At that moment, several thoughts started stirring. The chairwoman handed out assignments only to capable sponsors and mercenaries, sometimes giving them out to failing employees as a way to redeem themselves or die trying.

"At Hyperion, we took pride in finding one thing. Vaults. I have learned that one has been discovered, and I need someone capable to deal with the situation. I need you to do this."

Martha was lost for words. She stared in amazement, mouth agape. The boss wanted her of all people to find a Vault.

"We will be swimming in money if this goes to plan. You can choose to leave the company and make a living with your cut of the deal, or receive a promotion to my assistant."

 

___________________________________________________________________________

 

Despite the light levels outside being extremely dark, night had fallen on Pandora. Martha opened the door to her home, the warmth radiated from the heaters ever-inviting. Her guardian, a gruff old man who was lacking hair and smooth skin, sat in a stained armchair, scowling at her. "Do you know what time it is, young lady?!" he snapped.

The technician sighed. "Henry, please. I had a long day and have things to do." She slid off her shoes and walked into the messy area she called her room.

"YOU had a busy day? I don't recall you being the person who had to fill in for three slackers this afternoon and do their jobs!" He sighed in exhaustion. "I'm not as young and dashing as I used to be..."

"Finally", Martha said as she poked her head out of the doorway, "something we can both agree on!"

The old worker spluttered and complained. Just as he was about to give her an earful, she stepped out in a more casual outfit. However, something was off: she had a small bag clipped to her waist, as well as a shield and pistol. "What the hell you dressed like that for?"

Martha smiled cheerfully, giggling. "I'm going to the surface!"

"Oh, Martha" he sighed, "how many times do I have to say this? You're forbidden by the company to go. I heard that they're going to exte-"

"Chairwoman Ana gave me an assignment. I need to leave as soon as possible." Without a warning, she opened the door and walked out. Her adoptive father sighed in sadness as he left the cosy home he called his armchair and slowly hurried after her.

 

_____________________________________________________________________________

 

The next rocket pod was due in a few minutes. It gave Martha plenty of time to check her equipment. Shield? Check. Money? Check. Pistol and ammo? Check. Grenades? Shit. There was no time. Just as she was about to head to the bay, she could hear Henry calling out for her. Eventually, he made it (though he was quite exhausted).

"Martha" he gasped, "you are REALLY fucking fast."

She sighed. "Look, I'm going to the surface and you can't stop me. My future is at stake!"

He grimaced, and handed her a Contact Grenade mod. She was surprised, as they had long been discontinued. "Pandora's a wild place, dear. I pray that you'll be able to survive."

Martha was about to speak, when a robotic voice said "Attention passengers. You have: two minutes, and: 52 seconds, until the rocket pod launches." She sighed and gave Henry a quick hug goodbye.

"I'll be home as soon as I can~!" she yelled as she hurried to the pod.

Two minutes later, the pod flew up the glass tunnels and into the skies of Pandora. The view was breath-taking for the Tediore-raised girl. She hoped that the planet was ready for her.