Getting A Tannis
Grimm chuckled as he drove the buggy, "Jesus…"
"What?" Asked Kane from the passenger seat.
"That's…Tyreen Calypso?" Grimm kept his eyes on the road, "The leader of the COV?"
Fisher added, "Don't forget Troy."
"And Troy Calypso? Who the hell would wanna be led by those two jokers? How could these Crimson Raiders lose so badly to them?"
Wilkes quietly raged like a 5-year-old in the backseat, "Coulda had those assholes if they showed up!" He complained, "It woulda been fucking easy!"
Fisher calmly asked the hothead beside him, "And how do you think you woulda dealt with'em?"
Cocking his shotgun, Wilkes chuckled, "The old-fashioned way."
"And how did that work out for you when you barged into the Broadcast Center like an idiot?"
"Man, fuck you, Fisher! We woulda won!"
"No." Kane finally chimed in after listening to his friend's bullshit, "Here's what could've happened easily: We would've died trying to catch up to you, and you would've been human grub for the COV after the Calypsos make you blow your own head off by talking to you."
"Bullshit?" Fisher huffed as he took his eyes off the rapidly-darkening sky, "They weren't even there. But give it time, they will if they want access to this so-called Vault."
"That's why we need to be on our guard until we get off this rock." Said Kane, "Lilith, we have the Vault Map. But there might be a problem."
"What's wrong?" She asked over the radio.
"According to the 'God-Queen', the Vault Map seems to be busted." Kane explained further, "I don't if you're…do you know anyone who can fix such a thing?"
"I do." Confirmed the Firehawk, "Tannis. A fellow Crimson Raider, and friend. Sending coordinates now."
Eager to get the hell away from the Holy Broadcast Center as far as possible, Zeta Squad made their way to this Dr. Tannis. Anything was better than having to hear the Twin Calypsos run their mouths a second time. They'd rather "rejuvenate" for a bit before they encounter the leaders of the COV again, which was inevitable now that they had the Vault Map in their possession. The Twins were eventually gonna try to take it back and it was doubtful they were gonna do it peacefully, but then again, not much is feasible without violence on Pandora, and Zeta was about to find out that applies to the rest of the Borderlands as well.
After a short drive, Zeta Squad was back in The Droughts. The second they came, they received a transmission from somebody. The four dreaded the possibility of who might've been wanting to contact them.
"Hey, superfans!" Tyreen spoke to the four through the radio, "You sure you picked the right team? I mean, I get it. We all grew up wanting to be Vault Hunters. But I'm not a follower like you. I'm a God, and my followers will do anything I ask. Oh! Here! Quick demo! Hey, you! Cut off your favorite leg!"
A COV cultist screamed in the background, "FOR TYREEN!" Then came more screaming after Zeta heard a slashing sound from the other line, "AAAGGGGHHHHH!"
"I didn't say both!" Said Tyreen, "He cut off both. Ugh, now he's trying to stand on his stumps. One sec."
One whooshing sound later, "YAAAAGGHHHH!" After that, silence.
"Mmmm…they just taste better when they're afraid. What was my point? Oh, right! My followers will die for me. And when it's your turn, I'll let you know. Now run along, outsiders. Fix that map for me. Those Vaults are mine."
"Fucking annoying bitch." Wilkes muttered from the backseat.
Kane assured the hot-head, "Don't worry, Wilkes. She won't be able to do anything. Not on our watch."
After a lengthy drive back, Zeta tracked Tannis down to a location not too far from where they first encountered the COV. Parking the buggy nearby, the four Marines grabbed their guns and proceeded their way into their destination, just in time for them to get a transmission from someone. Sighing, Kane allowed it to come through despite who previously contacted them.
Wilkes spoke up, "Better be that Troy guy this time!"
"What?" Vaughn responded through the other end, "No, it's me, Vaughn! I have a proposition for you, Outsiders! I wanna stick it to those wannabe gods!"
The green-visored Marine retorted rudely, "Uh, the fuck you think we're doing out here? Mowing lawns to take those two idiots down?"
"At ease, Wilkes. What're you suggesting?" Kane asked.
"The COV have been leaving these suck-butt statues all over Pandora! I wanna make statues in MY image and – "
The four shut off communication with Vaughn for the time being. They had more pressing concerns at the moment.
Proceeding through a single path between two rocky mountains, the Outsiders found themselves in a small quarry. This quarry was occupied by a small shack, various high-tech equipment, and a single windmill made of scrap. Cautious over the visual lack of human presence, the four kept their grips on their guns tight as they made their way to the shack. As they approached the shack, they stopped dead in their tracks when they heard someone's voice.
"Hello, person trampling my valuable and irreplaceable dig site." Said a female from inside the shack, "May I help you?"
A woman shortly walked out of the shack. She was short-haired, wore a set of goggles and a long, dark crimson duster. Zeta took notice of how clean she looked compared to the bandits they faced and did not attempt to murder them while screaming religious nonsense, prompting them to lower their weapons.
"Tannis, I presume?" Asked Kane.
She went on, "Ah, yes. You must be…you don't look like Vault Hunters."
"Then what brings you here, outsiders?"
Kane presented Tannis the Vault Map, "This."
"The giant ice cream cone!" Grimm snarked, earning a turnaround from Kane.
Sighing, Fisher snatched the Vault Map from Kane's hand and handed it to Tannis.
"Lilith said you can fix that thing?"
Tannis spoke excitedly, "Why yes, outsiders! I certainly can! While I examine this unimaginably complex and priceless alien artifact, or 'ice cream cone' as some barbarians call it, you may wait outside and steal anything not nailed down!"
Wilkes chuckled at Tannis's comment, "You hear that, Grimm? That's what you get for calling that ice cream cone a – Hey!"
Grimm was certainly now chuckling.
While Tannis was busy working on the Vault Map, Zeta was left outside to stand around. While Wilkes and Grimm conversed with one another about the good times in their old missions, Kane and Fisher sharply checked their surroundings for any more COV. No doubt Tyreen and Troy were watching closely, waiting patiently or impatiently for their tool to supposed godhood to be fully repaired so they could steal it right back.
"As I suspected, Tyreen Calypso is a Siren." Said Tannis via radio, "She seems to feed on the lifeforce of others."
Kane recalled, "That explains the corpses we passed by in the Broadcast Center."
"Yes! Clearly her cult is her power source."
Fisher wanted to ask Tannis something, "Hey, uh…Tannis. What can you tell me about these Vaults? That annoying woman and the guy with the big-ass metal arm seem really invested in them."
"Well, what I can tell you, outsider, is that the Vaults hold unimaginable power." Tannis explained, "Definitely beyond the understanding of individuals such as yourself. I shudder to think what might happen the Calypso Twins reach them first."
The machine gunner huffed, "Thank you…I think. Definitely beyond my understanding."
"Oh, no need to be ashamed!" She continued, "It is to many out here! It's also rare to see someone on Pandora know even the most basic concepts of math and science!"
While they were busy peacefully guarding the outside, the peace had finally went away. Suddenly, the four Marines could hear screaming, prompting them to stop what they were doing and get back on guard as it rapidly got louder.
"Do your hear screaming or am I having another one of my episodes?" Asked Tannis.
Kane mumbled, "Probably both."
"Nothing." Kane got in front of the other three, "Keep doing what you're doing, Tannis! We'll take care of the COV!"
Kane signaled his friends to get into position. Grimm took this as his queue to get somewhere high. He climbed the shack so he could use the roof as his vantage point. Kane stayed put in front of Tannis's shack while Fisher got to cover behind a metal barricade to provide support. Wilkes meanwhile backtracked toward the path they took to get to her shack, but stayed close enough to be within earshot of his fellow Marines.
Shortly after getting into position, the cultists arrived just in time. Wilkes was the first to take a shot, particularly at the head of the first cultist that came in, blowing his head in half. Using his sniper, Grimm quickly took out the biggest COV, one that looked a lot like Mouthpiece to the point that he looked identical. One bullet was enough to put him out of commission forever. Kane and Fisher provided supporting fire soon after, taking out a whole wave of nameless goons born to be pawns of the Calypsos. Despite the responding wave of lead that came their way, some managed to get lucky and survive the onslaught. One tried taking a swing of his buzz axe at Wilkes only to meet his end by shotgun blast to the chest. Three cultists made their way toward Kane, but Fisher stopped them dead in their tracks, literally speaking thanks to his machine gun. One COV however, armed with a Jakobs sniper rifle, was lucky enough to get a shot at Fisher's helmet before meeting his end with several 5.56 rounds in his chest. While the bullet didn't kill him, it did manage to shoot the helmet right off his head, rendering it non-functional.
"Fuck!" Fisher put his non-firing hand on the side of his head right after losing the one thing designed to protect it.
With no helmet, Fisher had to take cover behind the barricade. Kane rushed to his friend immediately to check up on him and ensure the same thing doesn't happen twice. Thanks to Fisher's distraction, the sole survivor of Zeta's curb-stomp battle, a COV cultist took the opportunity to run up to the shack where Grimm was positioned. Eager to put the eagle eye to pasture, the sole cultist climbed her way up the roof through some crates stationed against a wall. She was just about to get on the roof, but Grimm's silenced sidearm put a stop to her before she had the chance to stand up on it.
Still on the ground, Kane and Wilkes searched around the area to check for more COV. They didn't think it was gonna be over just like that, but there was no other COV in the vicinity, leaving just them and Tannis. Helmetless, Fisher stayed put, letting out a sigh of relief as he stroked his black hair. He tried to overcome any thoughts about what might've happened had that bandit shot a different spot on his head.
"Clear." Kane said to the others, "How're the repairs, Tann – "
Kane, Fisher, and Grimm sighed as soon as they heard that very voice. Wilkes on the other hand went straight to swearing.
"What?" Kane asked in an irritated voice.
"Oh, just wonderin, did you fix the map yet?"
"None of your fuckin business!" Wilkes said to her with his usual aggression, "Why don't you go and fuck your followers!? Go make a heir to your scrapheap throne or somethin!?"
"Just hand it over!" She kept going despite Wilkes's taunting, "And then you can join our family!"
Grimm joked once he jumped back down, "What? You lookin for a harem or somethin?" He chuckled, "Sorry, we ain't got much to offer aside from testosterone and half-eaten crayons. Fisher's always free though so…I guess it's a start!"
"Hm, noted. K, gave you all a chance. Real bummer!"
Troy finally spoke up for the first time since the squad last saw him in the Broadcast Center, "So long, Outsiders!"
The two stopped talking to the delight of the four vigilant Marines.
Finding his helmet laying in the sand, Fisher gave Grimm the lovable bird when the sniper reunited with him. Holding it before his exposed, icy blue eyes, Fisher first inspected the blue visor. It was at least half-functioning, if constant flickers and cracked glass counted as functioning. Moving one hand across the top part's hard surface, his teeth gritted from the sudden feeling that it could just split in half if he played with it any further. With this conclusion in mind, he stopped inspecting it and grabbed his machine gun.
"What? Got your sights on Lilith already?" Grimm asked his machine-gunning friend.
"At least Lily doesn't talk about ribcage spelunkers, mystical alien artifacts, or being a God-Bitch." Fisher told Grimm with eyes still focused on the entrance to the shack.
"You hear that Tannis?" Grimm spoke to the scientist via ECHO, "He ain't gonna sniff up your ass till tomorrow! He needs today to bring the Cold Support to the Firehawk!"
"I'm sorry, what did you say?" Asked Tannis.
Kane finally stepped in before Grimm could reveal what he said, "Cut the chatter. We've got a job to do, and apparently a whole region of space to save."
Troy expressed disgust from the other line, "Ugh, please don't, you know, say anything stupidly heroic like that when we kill you. I'd have to dub over it."
Grimm smiled at Kane, "In other words, keep doing what you're doing!"
Letting out a big sigh, Kane power-walked over to Tannis's door to check up on her.
"Are you done?" He asked after much patience, "We're burnin too much time out here!"
"Yes…my repairs on the Vault Map are complete!" Tannis confirmed, "I shall join you all outside!"
Kane was delighted to hear this. Standing around having to listen to the Calypsos proved not to be a fun pastime for Zeta Squad. With the Vault Map in her hand, Patricia Tannis herself walked out of her personal shack. Zeta hastily reunited fully to regroup with her. Fisher was the last to arrive with one hand on his machine gun and the other his broken helmet. Walking out of her shack, Tannis held the Vault Map with both hands for she valued the alien artifact unlike the four Marines that stood before, none of whom understood it nor cared for the moment.
Having just been the five of them at the time, Zeta and Tannis got an unexpected visitor. It wasn't the Calypsos as the squad was anticipating. Coming in via explosive teleportation 20 centimeters away was the Firehawk herself. The sound of the big, bright boom left little to their imaginations. Tannis and the Squad all turned around to see the protector of Pandora walk up to them.
Eyes widened by a now-helmetless Robert Fisher, Lilith asked him, "What happened to your helmet?"
Fisher first got a look at the Firehawk before looking down at his own helmet. The Firehawk stared at his noticeable face the whole time.
"COV antics." He told her calmly before turning to the scientist, "Tannis, can you fix this?"
As Fisher presented his helmet to her, Tannis snatched the cracked helmet and inspected it.
"Yes." She said excitedly, "I believe I can. I can give this a modern touch if you want!"
Fisher shrugged, "Whatever keeps my head from being sniper bait - "
He looked down at his helmet.
Lilith displayed a brief smile before focusing her attention onto Tannis, "Tell me you got the Vault Map working."
The scientist said, "I did what I could, Liliith. Given my vast intellect but limited resources. Shall we give it a go?"
Approaching a small table, Tannis set down both the Vault Map. She carefully set aside the cracked helmet, placing it next to the Eridian artifact Zeta fought (and audibly endured) to recover. Pressing a small button, the Vault Map summoned a red holographic display, revealing a symbol not known to Zeta Squad, who knew next to nothing about the Vaults and their significance in the Borderlands. What they did take notice of was the single planet presented above the symbol. The four looked to a cross-armed Lilith, who sternly examined the display while Tannis smiled in awe like God himself appeared before her.
"Hmm…Some data has been corrupted." Tannis pointed at the hologram, "It seems the map has sustained significant damage. Hypothesis! Tyreen Calypso attempted to charge the map, but her powers drained it further! Unfortunately, I can make out a single planet – Promethea! Of course!"
"Promethea?" Grimm stared up at the display of the planet.
"Yes! It is where Typhon DeLeon discovered the first Vault!"
Lilith put her hands to her hips, "Promethea…Good work, Tannis."
Grimm asked the two Crimson Raiders, "I take it that's where you're heading off to after this?"
"If we're gonna take the fight to the Calypsos, then that's where we're going." Lilith confirmed, "Could use your guys' help. You four look like you can handle yourselves."
"Agreed." Kane told the two impulsively, "Those Calypsos seem like they're gonna be burdens on the entire Borderlands."
"Hell yeah." Wilkes was of course really motivated to continue the fight.
"Don't really know about jumping into a war we know nothing about." Fisher expressed hesitance as he collected his helmet.
"Yeah, are you sure?" Grimm looked down on his helmet, "We kinda don't know what's going on. Not fully, at least."
As Tannis deactivated the Vault Map for now, Lilith said to the four, "Hm…we can cross that bridge when we come to it. But for right now, let's just go to the ship. Hopefully, Ellie's got it fully running by now. Hope you guys don't mind a little teleportation."
Wilkes chuckled, "Teleportation? Like hell – "
Using her teleporting abilities, the Firehawk took herself, Tannis, and Zeta Squad out of the dig site, setting off a big, fiery flash in the area much bigger than usual. With the Vault Map fixed, the Crimson Raiders and their new outside allies knew that there was no time to waste. The Calypsos were coming to claim what they deluded themselves into thinking they deserve, and only four men not of the Borderlands nor its savagery were the Raiders' only hope in stopping them…