Chapter

1

The sun was rising, a soft warm breeze was lingering by, and the sound of saxophones accompanied with drums and bass filled the early morning. Creak… creak went the rocking chair on a porch situated on the east side of the shack.

The porch and house sat in a shallow valley, overrun with wild flora and heaps of trash. A creek ran through the middle of the valley and under the shack. Four wheels spun slowly as the water pushed the attached paddles. These wheels were connected to a generator giving power to the small hut.

A skinny kid with dirty blonde hair, long on top, short around the sides and back, sat in a rocking chair on his porch. He had blue eye and a dirty freckled face with thick brown glasses, complimented by an old ratted shirt and dusty jeans. Toby, on most mornings, sat with a bottle of Skag's Finest light beer and his Jakobs shotgun, waiting for Skags to investigate the raw meat hanging from a nearby tree.

The radio buzzed a jazzy tune before being interrupted by a New Haven commercial, one that played multiple times a day - to the point of becoming annoying.

"Have you ever wanted to find the Vault, become the legendary vault hunter of Pandora? Would like to be the one to hold the riches of the universe?" the raspy voiced enticed. "Then come on down to New Haven and join the search for the vault keys! According to the great, late Patricia Tannis we are coming up on the five-year mark in the countdown-" the voice blabbered on, but Toby paid it no mind. He had heard that same advertisement a million times, around or about.

"Well, Spud, what you wanna do today?" Toby asked a dwarf Skag. It chirped back at him and slobbered on the ground. "Yea', I thought so, too," Toby agreed. "We should definitely go Rakk hunting."

Toby killed his bottle of beer and threw it at a nearby trash heap. He grabbed his shotgun, whistled for his hard-skinned buddy, and set off to a nearby Rakk hive. The march wasn't long; the Rakk hive was just over the hill next to the boy's house.

By noon Toby and Spud returned from their joyous hunting trip. Toby was carrying two dead Rakks and a gash across his shoulder. Upon arriving at his shack, he threw the Rakks on the porch to skin and carve later, and made his way to the kitchen to clean off his shoulder. He'd sustained his injury fighting off a family of Skags while out hunting. This was partially due to his old and weak shield he had acquired from a Skag's belly some time ago. The Skag tore through the barrier in two slashes, but was dispatched by Toby's Jakobs Matadore Double-Tap shotgun.

Toby kicked up the grill and turned up the radio. He cracked open another bottle of Skag's Finest and grabbed his butcher's knife. Spud watched as his master chopped and hacked the dead bodies. Once the meat was all carved away and cleaned, he threw it on the grill.

"Have you ever wanted to find the Vault, become the legendary-" The commercial came again, but was quickly drowned out by a passing Buzzard. Toby looked up and watched it fly by. "Wonder what they're chasin'?" he wondered aloud. Just then, Toby heard a rustling come from inside his shack. He dropped his spatula and picked up his knife again. He tiptoed quietly through the doorway, unafraid and ready for action. His hand clenched tight around his knife.

"Hello, is anyone here?" asked Toby.

He crept into the small living room, and that was where he saw it: a small yellow robot, hiding behind his TV.

"Hello there, stranger!" the robot exclaimed.

"Who – er, what are you?" said Toby.

"Sssh," the small robot said. "They'll hear you!"

Toby looked dumbfounded, but then what was he supposed to think with a small robot in his living room telling him to shush? "What are you-" Just then, Toby was cut off by yet another noise coming from his kitchen. He kept an eye on the robot as he made his way, back to the wall, towards the kitchen.

"Excuse me, meat bag, but please do NOT go in there!" said the robot. Toby paid him no head. He stepped into his kitchen with knife raised, ready for an attack. But again, his almost hope for a Bandit Raider thwarted, his master plan to gloriously engage in mortal combat and defeat a Meat Popsicle squashed. Instead he found a chubby girl he guessed was around 17. She looked odd to Toby. "What 're them blue lines on your body? Tattoos?"

The girl nodded. She was quite a bit shorter than he was. She had neon green hair pulled back in a puffed ponytail, shaved on the sides. She was dressed in a maroon and orange tank top, frilly, with multi colored spandex pants.

"Yes, they are," the girl said.

"What's your name, girl?" inquired Toby.

"My name's Abaline, please don't hurt me!" she pleaded.

Toby began to feel bad for the fat girl; he lowered his weapon and leaned against the wall. "What are y'all doin' here? And who is that robot?"

"I am formally named CL4P-TP, but you may call me Claptrap!" the robot chimed.

"We are hiding, please don't give us up," Abaline said.

Toby raised his eyebrow in a quizzical fashion. "Y'all keep sayin' that. But who are y'all hidin' fr-" Before Toby could finish his question, his voice was drowned out by the loud engines of the Buzzard that had passed by minutes beforehand.

"No, they're here!" screamed Abaline. The Claptrap was hiding, shivering in the corner behind the TV, sputtering, "Please don't let them hurt me, please don't let them hurt me-"

Toby took a deep sigh. This was his moment. All his training, gaming, led to this one moment. He grabbed his shotgun and looked at the girl. "Stay in here." He stepped outside on his porch. The sun was up and in blinding power. The Buzzard hovered ten feet above the ground.

There was a Bandit Raider piloting the vehicle. He looked crazed. "Hand over the girl and the Claptrap!" he screamed.

Toby played with the trigger of his gun. "I don't know what you're talkin' 'bout," he said with a loogy.

"What did you say?" shouted the bandit, "Time to DIE!" and with that the Buzzard took off high into the sky and unloaded a barrage of bullets on Toby and his house. Toby quickly dove behind a metal sheet on his porch. There was no way he was going to bring that bandit down with just his shotgun. He scampered hastily into his house. Particles were flying everywhere, bits of furniture and electronics. Shock struck Toby when he saw his XBOX 1080 blown to pieces. His eyes welled up with tears. "You… bastards…" he groaned.

Toby ducked and dodged his way through the rain of bullets and shrapnel to his bedroom. There lay a metallic armband, big and clunky in a glass case. Toby broke the glass and clasped the gauntlet around his left forearm. "It's time you met your maker!" he said.

Toby jumped out his bedroom window to avoid gunfire, his house was being torn apart. The Buzzard was around the back end of the house, raining down hell on the kitchen. Out of the corner of his eye, Toby managed to catch a glimpse of the fat girl and the robot running behind a pile of trash. He turned his focus back to the destruction and made his way into plain sight. The Buzzard had not seen the thin boy. Toby brought his arm in line with the hovering vehicle, flipped the safety switch off, which prompted a targeting device to pop up, and took aim. A trigger flipped into his hand, the hunky bracer transformed around Toby's hand. The full-fledged transformation looked like a blaster, something akin to one of the many video games he'd played.

Toby had already sighted in, but it was too late. The bandit spotted him and flew up and around the torn up shack and a few trash heaps. Toby dove out of the way of oncoming fire and scrambled under, and then behind, the bandit. He lifted his arm again and sighted in, pulled the trigger, and was thrown to the dirt. A large blast of heated energy, otherwise known as a laser beam, launched up into the air striking and destroying the Buzzard in an explosion of metal and guts.

"Holy shit!" Toby cried in excitement and surprise. Toby had done it. He was a hero! He'd beaten a Bandit Raider and lived to tell all. This was a glorious moment for him, one which was soon interrupted. The fat girl and the robot wondered up to him. Oh yeah, he thought. Toby glanced at his arm cannon and noticed the energy bar was empty and slowly filling. He flipped the safety back on and the gauntlet transformed giving him his hand back.

"That was awesome!" Abaline exclaimed. "Where did you get that thing?"

"I made it. It's after my favorite video game," Toby replied.

Abaline looked at Claptrap. "So we were saved by a dork?"

"What? 'Ey, 'ey, y'all 're lucky I was here to save your asses!" Toby said.

"My gratitude, bullet sponge!" Claptrap said, thrusting its tiny little hand out at Toby. Toby shook it politely.

"Why thank you, little robo dude."

The three looked at the wreckage that was Toby's shack, "I'm sorry, man, that sucks," Abaline said, shaking her head.

"Yeah, it's all good," Toby said. "Say, why was that bandit after you guys, anyways?"

The girl nodded at her companion, and Claptrap began putting on a show of charades while explaining. "Let me begin, human, by first asking if you've heard of The Vault?"

"Course I have, silly robot," Toby said.

"Let me see," said Claptrap. "Let me start by telling you that my fleshy friend here is a Siren, one of six. Softy here is the great, great granddaughter of the Great Siren Lilith. The Maliwan Corporation has ordered for all the Sirens to be captured and brought to their home base on the planet Serenity. Fleshies like her have special powers. Abaline's is Phasestalking."

"Okay…"

"I'm trying to tell you! Listen to me with your ears and see my words!" demanded the robot. Toby was a bit confused. "Hyperion has fallen as champion of weapons, and Maliwan looks to enhance their elemental weapons using the power of the Sirens. In addition to that, a new corporation has started within the years called The Huntsmen Guild. The time for the Vault's opening is near and they seek to gain access to its powers and riches!"

"So…"

"Are you not hearing my words?" exclaimed the tiny robot. "I have the location to the key pieces. That's why they hired the bandits to catch me and bring me to their leader, Glorious Black."

"So let me get this straight," said Toby. "Maliwan wants to enslave Abaline here for her powers to use for their own ends?"

"Correct!" Claptrap said, enthused.

"And The Huntsmen Guild wants you for the sacred Vault key locations?"

"Exactly, yoooou got it!" Claptrap exclaimed loudly.

"Then that means one thing," Toby said to himself. "There's gonna be an adventure."