The group had waited a little bit more, allowing the injured parts to recover once again with Maya's help, before heading back to the Aether, where the others were.
They had done it, they found both Lilith and Maya, and even if they went through some hardships to get them back, they fought through, defeated the Calypsos, again, saved this world from them and lived to tell the tale.
Also Maya got her revenge on both twins, which was a very welcomed bonus, if there was anyone that should have had the privilege to end them, it was her.
Those two would not bother anyone else ever again.
Once they got back to the Aether, they were immediately welcomed by Roland, Angel and the rest of their friends. The young Siren approaching them first with a beaming smile, obviously noticing the presence of both Lilith and Maya.
"You're back! I lost track of you so long ago, where did you end up to? We were worried."
"We ended up in the Abyss, Maya found herself in there, the Calypsos were using her for their own purposes." Lilith explained, she had a hand on the woman's shoulder the entire time as she did so, she gently squeezed, reminding her once again that it hadn't been her fault, and that she didn't need to talk about it if she didn't want to.
"Yes, but she beat them up, they're trapped now!" Ava beamed, obviously happy and also proud of her mentor's actions. She had seen a side of the woman that probably had been meant to be kept hidden away from her, Maya had always been very secretive about her past and her emotions, and she found out that she hadn't been that way just with her.
It had been crushing to see her beat herself up the way she did, in all aspects, so, she had been nothing but happy to see her react back and take the twins down on her own, to not let herself be taken away from bad thoughts again for their sake, but also for her own too.
"That is great news, means this place is safe now." Roland approached them too. "Though we have to apologize." he spoke this sentence looking directly in Maya's direction.
Angel also nodded, taking the woman's hands in her own. "We should have found you sooner, I'm sorry."
Maya's eyes widened, not expecting this. It took her a moment to process the words, she shook her head slowly. "It is okay, I should also apologize…"
It was the other woman's turn to shake her head. "No, I don't want any of that. I know what you did, that you were blaming yourself for what happened to me, for not managing to save me, but there's no one else to blame here but my father. You and the others fred me, I am safe here and in a better place where people love me, and where I can use my powers for a better purpose. So, I don't want to hear any of it."
The blue Siren lowered her head, it wasn't clear to tell what she was thinking, as her hair covered her face. It must not be easy for her to accept that she didn't have any faults for this, nor for anything else that happened, after believing and living with those thoughts for so long.
"Then…" she softly spoke. "I'm glad you're okay."
"I am too, and I'm also glad you're here."
"We all are." Roland added. "But, it is time for you and Lilith to return where you belong."
Lilith frowned. "You guys aren't coming with us?"
"Yeah, I promised Tina you'd be back too." Ava said, and she did promise to bring her friend back, along with the rest.
"I'm afraid that won't be possible young one."
"And why is that, Queen Dido?" Fl4k asked a question that was in everyone's mind.
"I saw the way each of you here died, and none of you have a body to return to, isn't that correct?"
It was true, Roland's one and Angel's too were probably nothing but debris, Scooter's one was lost in space, and both Lilith's and Maya's were disintegrated, they became fire and ashes respectively.
"True, and Tannis didn't tell us how this revival thing was going to happen either, but I suppose she has a plan?" Amara asked to no one in particular, she hoped the scientist had something going on in her head.
"When we lost track of you, we took our time to watch your friend's handiwork in the real world, we saw a machine she built, and from what we've heard it is supposed to reconstruct both of your body using your DNA to perfectly reproduce them the exact way they were before, minus your Siren powers, once you're out of here, you'll lose them." the old woman explained.
"But what has this to do with Roland and you others?" Zane frowned, couldn't she do the same, wasn't Tannis supposed to have data of all of them?
Lilith put a hand to her chin, thinking. "I think I know why, Tannis had information on all of us but then…"
"Sanctuary exploded, the first Sanctuary." Roland finished the sentence for her. "And she's lost what she had of the people who died before that happened, since her lab also got destroyed with it."
"Yeah, I remember she had to recollect all samples from each of us again, however she never got back the rest." the Firehawk sighed.
"That is why only you and my sire will be able to leave this place."
"Your sire? Wait… are you my…?" Maya's eyes widened, was she the woman that had passed her powers onto her when she was born?
"I'm your predecessor, that is correct." the old woman nodded. "And I waited long to meet you, my dear."
"I heard your name before, though the Order didn't speak of you often, you were the Queen of Athenas before, right?"
Dido nodded, though she smiled, it didn't reach her eyes. "Yes, the Order used to worship me when they came to Athenas, I never expected them to be such evil and scheming people as they had been with you, and thus, I wish to apologize. I indirectly bestowed this burden on your young shoulders."
"You couldn't know they would have done this." Maya replied lowly, she still couldn't get used to the fact of other apologizing to her.
"You are wise, but still, it doesn't stop me from regretting my actions. I knew your mother, she was a kind woman that assisted me in my last moments, and as a thank you, I left my powers to her unborn daughter. Perhaps I should have chosen better." the woman put a hand on Maya's cheek and she welcomed the contact, much to her surprise. She wasn't fond of contact from strangers, but the woman had something calming to her being that she couldn't help herself.
"But, looking at you and the woman you've become, I can't help but think that perhaps I was also correct. I am sorry for what happened to you in your youth, but also I am glad to have bestowed my powers to such a kind person. And I beg you, never doubt of yourself, the people that love you wouldn't do such thing, you are a good person, strong and caring, and people like you are rare. Be proud of yourself."
Maya just stared at the woman, her grey eyes shone with tears, her words moved her almost to the point of crying. She swallowed a lump in her throat, finding herself unable to speak, so she just nodded at her with a small smile.
"Take care of yourself and your friends when you'll be back in the living world." once again, Maya just nodded, then felt Ava hug her with her small arms, and she wrapped her own around her, holding her closer to her body.
"You've raised a fine girl, she's very brave, I'm sure she'll be perfect as the new Phaselocker."
"Yes… I am sure too." Maya replied, ruffling the kid's hair as a sign of affection.
"I'll do my best to not disappoint you." Ava said, and they knew she meant it.
There was a moment of silence, as no one wanted to disrupt the mood, but eventually, it had to be done, and Roland broke the silence.
"Well, I believe it is time for you all to go."
Lilith nodded. "It was good to see you all again, for what it lasted." she smiled, though it wasn't quite happy.
She was more than fine going back in the world of living, but, she would be lying if she said that she wouldn't miss them, after seeing them again after so many years.
"Just make sure to tell them we said hi, to my mom and sister, and all the others." Scooter than hadn't spoken until now said, with a beaming smile.
"And that we are fine, and watching over them." Angel added. "Like your Guardian Angels."
Zane grinned. "I'd be glad to have such a charming angel watching over me." he laughed, then coughed as Moze elbowed him in the stomach to get him to stop.
"Let's just go already." she said, gaining the approval of the rest.
The group began walking away, with a bit of reluctance from Lilith, who instead lagged behind the rest of them, her eyes kept looking back, she looked like she had something in mind, but that she couldn't decide whether she wanted to act or not.
The Firehawk stopped moving, turning back and staring at Roland with sad eyes, who also sat there, watching her.
Before anyone could ask what was wrong, Maya put a hand on the woman's shoulder, and gave her a gentle push, and Lilith turned towards her, and was met with a smile, as Maya motioned towards Roland with her head.
Without saying a word, the Siren Phasewalked from her friend and reappeared in front of Roland, taking his face in her hands as she kissed him, one last time. The man was startled for a moment, before he returned the gesture.
"Lilith… w…" he wanted to know why but she put a finger on his lips right after they parted.
"Goodbye…" she whispered, immediately turning back and rejoining the others. She loved him, but she couldn't stay here, she had to be back in the world of the living again.
"Goodbye, Lilith…" he said, as he watched her leave from the distance.
"Do not worry, she's in good hands." the old Siren Dido said, as she took her place at his side, looking at the group in front of them, as Maya held an arm around Lilith's shoulders to comfort her, gesture it looked like she had done plenty of times, given how easily the other woman accepted the contact.
Roland slowly nodded. "I know…"
"They will be fine, as long as they have one another."
"So… are you girls ready?" Moze asked the two soon to be former Sirens, as they arrived to the portal they came from, almost surprised to find it still open.
"I am not quite sure how this whole thing will work, but then again, the future holds many mysteries." Maya replied. "If you had told me that I'd come back to life months ago, I probably wouldn't have believed it."
Lilith chuckled. "Me neither, but here we are, might as well go along with it, and see what else Tannis has planned for us."
"And also meet your friends again, I am sure they are waiting for us." Ava added, she couldn't wait to be out here with both women back with them, and also to reunite Maya with her companions that came to Nekrotefayo for her from whatever corner of the universe they had been, and without hesitation.
"Then let us not have them wait any longer." Maya replied, she had made everyone lose more than enough time for what she had done before. It was time to gather the courage she had and face the others again, after not having seen them for such a long time, and dying in the process too.
They must have been sad to hear the news, she didn't have any doubts about it, actually, sad was an understatement, she just hoped they had managed to cope with it well enough, especially Krieg… oh he had been so attached to her, she knew, even if he couldn't tell her directly.
He was the one she feared seeing again the most, she had made him a promise too, that she didn't keep, and she had no idea how he would react once they would be face to face again. Would he be angry at her? Or would he understand the reason she had sacrificed herself for? There was no way to tell for now.
She felt Lilith wrap her arm around her waist, pulling her forward with her, encouraging her to move and step through the portal, she wanted them to take their first step back in the real world together.
And so, they did, closing their eyes as a blinding light enveloped them both.
Once they stepped through, the Vault Hunters and Ava were met with the sight of both Tannis and Gaige still hunched over on the machine, they appeared tired, but otherwise unharmed. And from the commotion nearby, they assumed the rest was outside of the lab, either fighting or keeping watch.
However, they did notice the absence of both their Siren friends.
"Wait… where's Maya? And Lilith?" Ava asked, looking around to find the two.
"Keep calm, kid, I'm working on it." Tannis replied, as she typed on a console, for what they didn't know, but they did recall the whole thing about the two not having a body anymore. Was she reconstructing them right now?
"Also congratulations on the successful mission, I can confidently confirm that both of our Siren companions are here with us." she announced, as she walked towards a curtain that they didn't recall was there before. "Behind here my machine is now working to rebuild their bodies using their DNA, their souls are currently there, waiting to occupy them once they are ready. It shouldn't take much longer from now."
"Why the curtain though?" Amara frowned.
"Well, have you ever seen a human being born with clothes on? I believe some privacy had to be necessary." the woman explained, and right now they had noticed the stack of clothes close by, that belonged to the two women.
Zane then awkwardly coughed in his hand. "Then I guess we just wait now."
"I'll go get the others, they've been on guard the entire time. Maliwan actually tried to attack us again but we managed to drive them off." Gaige said, rushing out of the lab to notify her friends.
"We haven't been gone for long, haven't we?" Fl4k asked, they couldn't quite tell how time changed from where they were.
"Three days." came Tannis' reply.
"What? It only felt like a few hours." Moze frowned, it was also true that they had been stuck in Maya's memories for a while, and then in the Abyss, where there was no sunlight, so it wasn't quite possible to see if the other realm possessed a night cycle or not.
There was some movement from behind the curtain, sounds of metal clicking and moving, probably the process of reconstruction was over, and the sound of the two females speaking only confirmed it. So Tannis moved their clothes, passing them behind the thick cloth so they could dress and look decent.
"That was pretty damn unpleasant…" Lilith whined from the other side.
"I don't know, it wasn't quite as bad as other things." Maya replied to her. "I much rather prefer my body being made up rather than it being dissolved into nothingness."
"I suppose that's true."
There was a shuffling of cloth, and not much after the two stepped out, dressed up and looking exactly how they were before, as if nothing had happened. Well… minus the tattoos, those weren't coming back.
Ava immediately went over to hug Maya, so happy that everything worked fine, and the woman lifted her up so she could wrap her arms around her neck.
The moment didn't last long, sounds of heavy and hurried footsteps rushed over to them.
"PRETTY LADY!" Maya would recognize that yell over thousands of others. Krieg was the first to rush over to them, she let go of Ava so she could throw herself in his arms.
He caught her with ease, as she nuzzled into his neck, she felt the presence of the others too, as Gaige also hugged her, she recognized her from the metallic arm around her waist. She recognized Axton's arm around her shoulders, as he pressed into her back, while another set of arms, even more muscly than the Commando's held her legs, as now she was pretty much seated on Sal's shoulders. She couldn't feel Zer0, but she was sure he was somewhere close by, she could see a red light in the corner of her eye, most likely it was him smiling to them.
The group stayed there for a while, and Maya relinquished in the warmth of her friends around her, their voices had become a chorus of "we missed you", and sure they did, just as much as she missed them too.
They let go of each other eventually, but still they stayed close.
"I'm sorry I made you all worry." Maya's voice broke the silence. "I guess I am not good at keeping promises after all." she looked at Krieg with sad eyes, and she hoped he would understand. She couldn't have left Ava to die, she was her kid, and she had to protect her.
The Psycho stared at her for a moment, it was impossible to tell at what he was thinking. "You're here now, it is what it counts." he spoke with his now normal voice, and he did not expect Maya to look quite so shocked like she did.
"Krieg… you…" she couldn't believe it, he was talking!
"Yes, we healed." he stroked her cheek with one of his big hands. "It was thanks to you."
"Thanks... to me? I haven't done anything…" she did not understand, this was almost surreal.
"You believed in us, and we pushed ourselves to heal, so we could be normal again, so we could tell you how grateful we are."
Maya just stood there, taken aback from the whole thing, she knew Krieg had been different, that he showed to be somewhat coherent from time to time, she knew of the experiments he had been put through, they had found out eventually, but she did not expect him to be able to fully recover and return to being the person he was before. And he did it because she believed and trusted him.
She didn't know whether to feel happy, flattered or excited, these and a million of other emotions mixed together in her, and none of them were negative. This made her heart swell.
"I… I don't know what to say…" she was a total loss of words.
"Don't say anything then, you being here with us is more than enough." he replied, smiling behind the mask, she couldn't see it, but he was sure she knew he was.
"Krieg is right! We came here for you, the rest doesn't matter." Axton nodded.
"Even though / our commander is here too / this is awkward."
"That's right, sorry Lilith, we're happy for you too." the Soldier scratched the back of his head. "Hope you didn't get offended."
She just shook her head. "Absolutely not, I know how much you guys care about Maya."
"We should go back to Sanctuary, the rest of the crew must be waiting, they stayed there to protect the ship." Ava said. "I'm sure Brick, Mordecai and Tina will be happy to see you, and the others too, we can throw a party!"
"Heck yeah! I'm in for it." Gaige grinned.
"I am sure that is what is going to happen." Lilith laughed. "Let's go home."
The trip back didn't take long, and when they arrived, the entire crew was ecstatic to have the two women back with them. Lilith had been immediately caught into Brick's arms and then lifted onto his shoulders, Mordecai standing close with a huge grin on his face, Tina bounced with excitement around them, and Talon happily chirped.
The Vault Hunters delivered the messages given to them from Roland and Scooter too. Tina hadn't been super happy to hear the news, but she understood that not everything was meant to go in a good way, she had still been happy to hear that he was doing good in the afterlife, and that, alongside their two friends being back, had been enough to lift her mood again.
Meanwhile Moxxi and Ellie both reacted in different ways to Scooter sending them a salute, his sister had simply laughed it off, while his mother smiled, shedding a few tears as she did so. But both were also content to hear of him.
With the mission having been a total success, the entire Sanctuary crew partied for long, until they were too exhausted to continue and fell asleep under the stars.
This, had been an adventure, surreal and impossible, however they had made it, and lived to tell the tale. And they were sure, that whatever awaited them, they would face it all together, like the family they were, stronger and more united than ever before.