In my opinion, this fic will have hit its stride at chapter 5. If you still don't like it after that, go ahead. But do try to bear with it to that point before deciding.
Note: This is named after the best (imo) Tales from the Borderlands song. "To the Top by Twin Shadow" For best effect, listen to the song and you will understand and I feel it captures a lot of the characters in it.
This is entirely from Rhys' view. I will build him up from scratch, explore his character, and hopefully make a Tale From the Borderlands story worth reading. It will be canon but also have moments added where I think they can be explored further. I will also not quote too many things from the game. I am aiming for accuracy of character, but not going to quote every line.
I am also trying to do a certain plot device that is usually used in memory-fictions. The typical memory fiction has characters looking into a person's memory, and they make comments. This will be relatively similar, but different. And that is just how Tales from the Borderlands is done, and that is what I want to be true to right now.
Tales from the Borderlands was done as a gigantic flash-back/memory where the main character told the story to a guy, and the guy commented now and then or questioned their decisions. I'll try to be true to that.
So every now and then you may have moments where a character from outside the 'memory' or flash-back or Rhys-tale make a comment, and I'll try to be clear on that. If there is ever more than just one or two comments, followed by someone asking Rhys to continue, then I'll try to make it a whole separate scene for clarity sake.
At some point I may feel it necessary to drift from the canon plot and go AU, but that definitely won't be for the first couple episodes at least as they build up the group so well.
Prologue - Not the most… comfortable… of beginnings
Rhys blinked awake as a door swung open and a blaring light shot in his face. He lacked sleep and had no reference for time. Three times now he had been rudely awoken, beaten and roughed up a bit, and left to wonder when the next beat down would begin. As though these people had nothing better to do with their time.
As luck, or karma, would have it, this time was different. Rhys shielded his eye with his hand against the light and was promptly grabbed. The men were rat-tag and smelly as could be, but pulled him out of his cot and marched him through the prison with more purpose than he was used to seeing from people around here. If you wanted to peg a Pandoran, you watched their feet. They walked drunk, high, carefully, or a combination. These people marched. Very different. Spoke of some kind of organization.
Not to state the obvious or anything, but Rhys knew where he was and who held him. Even in his confused state he had an idea who wanted to talk with him. He was dragged to a room with a chair where he was strapped down. A light was put in his face, and he could barely make out no less than five soldiers with guns on him. Three more entered from the door, and these three were special. He recognized them by their voices.
Lilith, Mordecai, and Brick.
This group of people were created by a guy named Roland, who is now dead (this is Pandora, go figure.) and Lilith was his girlfriend who, naturally, grabbed everything he owned when he died. Which was fair. You see something, you take it. Being his girlfriend was as close to inheritance as it goes around here.
Mordecai was a typical Vault Hunter that took on being a leader to Roland's band with difficulty. He probably wanted to continue flying solo, but had found a home here.
Brick just wanted to punch stuff, and liked Roland. Simple guy, simple reasons.
Rhys had never met them, but he knew them. Oh… yes. He knew them. He knew them very well. They would want him dead the moment they knew how well. Unfortunately, they had a close idea… and that didn't bode well for him.
Rhys smirked as best he could. Even with one eye and one arm, he wasn't scared. He was afraid, but he wasn't scared. Funny how he felt there was a difference. But then, with what he's been through, he knew there was a difference. "Where's Athena? Thought she wouldn't want to miss the chance to punch my teeth in."
"She's too busy off training your ex-girlfriend." Mordecai said cooley. He grabbed a chair, spun it around, and sat in it backwards to lean against the back of it and face him.
"She's was never my girlfriend…" Rhys started, but shook his head. "Doesn't matter. Listen, I don't know what you want from me, not specifically anyway. I won't deny the obvious. I have Hyperion written all over me and… that is probably a million and one reasons right there to blow my brains out, but! If that is what you wanted, I would already be dead. Sorry, but Pandora is the shoot first, second, and third WHILE you talk kind of place"
More like you just keep shooting till the clip runs out and then wonder why your victim isn't joining in the conversation. So you unload a second clip of bullets just for aggravation, followed by a third for therapeutic relief.
"He has a point." Brick says.
"Guys." Lilith says patiently. "We're the ones in charge. We ask the questions."
"Yeah, but you have to admit, he has a point. We do kinda shoot second, fourth, sixth-"
"That's first, second, third, fourth, fifth, and sixth." Mordecai corrects him.
"That's what I said."
"Not unless you use a double-barreled shotgun. Then the big guy's right." Rhys supplies.
Brick's eyes widen and he goes, "Whoa…" Mind successfully blown.
"I use a sniper rifle, not a shotgun." Mordecai argues. "So it's more like I shoot first, reload, first, reload, first, reload-"
Lilith face-palms. "Guys! He's drawing you into his pace. He- you know what, forget it!" Lilith stomps forward and takes position in front of Rhys. "A lot, a LOT of people are dead because of you." Rhys flinches. Despite himself, the guilt was close to his skin. "And you are going to tell us what happened."
What happened… And to be fair, Rhys did owe them an explanation. He screwed up, royally, and it was the kind of mistake that would take his whole life to fix.
"It's kinda complicated… and explaining properly would take a while."
"We have time." Lilith responded.
"Alright." Rhys nodded. Not like he was going anywhere. Rhys started his tale.
My tale is also not exactly a fairy tale. There was no magical ending made of a series of pitch-perfect moments. I did my best, and time and time again I failed. Sometimes that failure resulted in something as minor as having an A.I. shoved into my brain, and other times it got people I cared about hurt.
But my tale is one worth telling.
Not because I did anything as epic as say… a Vault Hunter. I didn't bring Pandora to its knees like Handsome Jack. Hell, I was a wimp. I was a simple programmer. I was an opportunist, a corporation shark. I saw opportunities, sometimes of a less legal nature, and I took them.
Perhaps it was that nature that made my tale what it would be… As a motivational poster, of Jack, says: "The difference between a great man and a nobody, is that the nobody sees opportunity… and doesn't take it."
Okay! So it might have actually been an ad for his city of Opportunity! But I still think it fits.
Brick interrupted to ask, "Should I get popcorn? I'll get some popcorn. Be right back."
Lilith rolled her eyes. "Continue."
Like many other tales, this started as a promise of riches and loss in equal measure. It wasn't a magical moment, nor one worth putting in the history books, but for me… it was the beginning. When I learned what a hero was.
My parents were Hyperion, through and through.
"No surprise there." Mordecai added.
Dad was an engineer and programmer. A brilliant man, I think I got my smarts from him. He was a bit cold though. Not that it was anything bad, he just had trouble with emotions and people in general. He was eccentric like that.
Mom was almost the opposite. She wasn't brilliant, but she had a trusting heart and cared about people. Unfortunately a big heart isn't something that works in Hyperion, so she could only go so far up the ladder. She was handicapped in her career.
That's about all I remember at least. Dad was eccentric and brilliant, and mom was a caring person. They were average people simply doing their best from day to day. The promise of work, and a promotion, on Pandora was a big deal. Even as young as I was, being seven, I saw how excited they were and what it could mean for us.
It was also too good to be true.
Some woman named Zarpedon and her army called the 'Lost Legion' attacked the Hyperion space station, and we were caught in an explosion in the initial assault.
The explosion threw me right out the front door of our apartment and into the collapsing hallway. Rubble and debris and metal fell all around me and all I knew was a burning sensation, a sharp snapping pain all down my left side, and brightness. Thank God I fell into a coma…
Some guys found me in the wreckage as they fled the scene and stopped long enough to pull me out. I was broken. The entire left side of my body was crushed from all the crap that fell on me. My parents were dead. The corporation put all of its focus on defensive matters rather than bothering to care about sudden orphans that needed to be in a hospital.
But Jack changed all that.
Sure, he killed a lot of people on his way to the top, but he did what no other Hyperion was going to do! He stopped the Lost Legion, he saved the company, he diverted funds to taking care of the damage and losses… including what it took for the hospital to fix me up.
Perhaps it had been just an afterthought to him, a moment of conscience, a way of buying loyalty and looking like a guy who took care of his own. Hell, he might have lost a bet for all I know, but that didn't matter.
As I laid there in the hospital bed with tubes in me watching Hyperion news with cybernetics replacing the entire left side of my body, knowing that my family's death had been avenged and the fact that a NOBODY named Jack had done it all… and that he had made it possible for me to be alive again.
He was my hero.
He was my idol.
That thinking was the first mistake down a long road of failures…
"I'll save you the ending and say you really screwed up thinking that." Lilith commented.
"I was a kid!" Rhys argued.
"I got popcorn!" Brick yells from the hall.