Author's Note

Well this is a new record for me: two updates in under two weeks. If I've managed to do that before, it certainly hasn't been for a while. I would've had it out sooner, but my birthday being a few days ago (the 15th) kinda set all my writing projects back a bit. Not really much to say besides the fact that you guys should definitely get analytical near the end of the chapter, as the last "Scene" is a hint to a subplot the story will be focusing on for the next few chapters, which instigates a big change for Maya. Not spoiling what, just know it's something special that I've been waiting to do since the Torgue DLC… (Knowing my luck, most of you will figure it out based just on that one sentence)

Chapter 21: Prison Break!: The Sequel

"Is it really necessary that I wear this thing?" Maya asked from her apartment window, having some difficulty walking. She had only worn heels once before in her life, and it was with good reason.

"We're not getting into Fort Haddock without an Assassin to escort us. Gaige is too short, and they would recognize Athena's voice. Unless you want to see Krieg try to wear it, we've got no other option." Axton reminded, waiting outside while Maya had gone into her apartment, which had surprisingly been left untouched regardless of its close proximity to Roland's place, to change into Ceresia's armor. He was already ready to go, wearing a set of Lance Engineer armor.

"You just knew putting that image in my head would get me to stop complaining, didn't you?" Maya asked, opening the door to her apartment.

"Pretty much." Axton laughed, watching as Maya stepped outside. The armor looked just a little bit too small for her, but it was still more than passable, the only modification being the addition of a black diagonal belt with Maya's Digistruct Inventory Device clipped near the back side. Axton probably wouldn't even know it was Maya underneath the helmet if she stayed quiet. "Not half bad."

"Ha ha, very funny. You're probably just saying that because it's a size or two too sm-" Maya started to retort, not remembering what Zed said about stairs until after the combination of metal high heels and no feeling in her right foot caused her to tumble down the stairs.

"Damn, you ok?" Axton asked, not realizing that it was a stupid question until after he said it.

"Yeah, I'm good. Wasn't expecting for what Zed said about going down stairs to be literal though. I honestly thought he was trying to hint at something." Maya assured, getting up on her own.

"What could you possibly have thought 'Be careful going down stairs' would be a metaphor for?" Axton asked, slightly confused.

"…That's not important. Let's see how the others are doing." Maya asserted, not wanting to answer that question. Walking up the road to a newly constructed Lance Outpost, the occupants of which had been killed in the fight earlier, they entered through one of the open garage doors to an interesting sight.

"So, care to tell me why he gets to go in disguised when I'm actually taller than he is?" Gaige questioned in annoyance as she gestured over to Salvador, who looked like the shortest Lance Infantry ever.

"Because he's got a voice that can pass for actual Lance Infantry. If they heard you say a single word, we'd look suspicious much faster." Athena reasoned, looking at the Vault Hunters' disguises. Gaige and Zero were dressed in their normal outfits, in order to play the role of the "prisoners" Axton had mentioned, Salvador looked like the aforementioned shortest Lance Infantry ever, and Krieg was dressed as a Badass Lance Defender.

"So, the plan is first we walk in the front door escorted by Maya. Once we're in, me and Zero will double back, kill the guards outside, and wait just in case more Lance show up while Maya finds Roland and the others. Gaige, Sal, and Krieg, I want you guys to split off from Maya when you get in and try to find some way to bring the base offline. I would prefer it to be done discreetly, but the bottom line is we need to make sure that place can't be used again, at least by the Lance. Also, if you can, see if there's anything good we can learn from the computers, but that's a secondary concern." Axton planned out, putting his helmet on. With everybody in agreement, the hunters went back down the road towards Scooter's garage, the Redneck mechanic having been asked to pull the old Transport Lancer out of storage.

"Hurry up and get in the back, Prisoner." Salvador taunted, prodding Gaige in the back with an AR490 Glorious Havoc Machine Gun.

"Say that again, and we'll see who ends up being the prisoner when this is over." Gaige threatened as she stepped into the back of the Transport Lancer, immediately causing Salvador to back off. With Axton and Zero also getting in the back, and Maya and Krieg in the two front-end seats, the group set off onto the highway.

"So, how far is this place exactly?" Gaige asked, having never seen or heard of this place before.

"Not far, the Lance built it only a day or two after they arrived. I still don't know how they made such time-efficient construction bots. The place was built so fast you would think it nearly popped up out of the ground." Athena answered over the ECHO, having stayed behind to start planning out their grand theft of Knoxx's Armory.

"So what's the point of even destroying it if they'll just build these places faster than we can tear them down?" Gaige wondered, not seeing the logic.

"Because with great speed comes great resources. They aren't counting on a bunch of dumb Bandits to take the place out, so the massive amount of resources that went into its construction is still justified. If the place is actually taken out of commission, it'll be a big financial hit to the Lance's operations." Athena explained, the fact that it was one of the Lance's most expensive construction projects, second only to the Armory itself, being one of the few things she understood about Fort Haddock.

"Ah, that makes sense. But still, if we've never seen this place before, how big could it possibly be?" Gaige asked, having just enough time to get her sentence out before the Transport Lancer got off at an exit they had never taken before, which led them underneath the highway to a nearly awe-inspiring building.

The front building was a massive, almost refinery-like black building, with flags adorned by the Crimson Lance logo flapping in the wind on various rooftops. Connected to it were a series of smaller, matching buildings, which gave off the appearance of a walled in, impenetrable complex. Pulling up to the front of the base, the hunters got out of their Lancer and fell into formation, with Maya in the front, and Zero and Gaige behind her with their hands behind their heads. Sal and Axton were positioned behind them, aiming their guns at the backs of their "prisoners" in order to make it more believable, and with Krieg in the very back, shield in one hand and Jakobs Slick Wheelgun revolver in the other.

"You guys Unit 6?" A Lance Engineer standing guard at the door questioned, looking over the troops walking up to the gate.

"Yeah…Can we go in?" Maya asked, her voice betraying a complete lack of confidence and believability.

"Sure, just scan your right hand on the panel right over here." The Lance Engineer pointed out, stepping out of the way to reveal a hand scanner.

"Oh, so I don't actually need you to let me in?" Maya asked in slight surprise.

"Nope, as long as you have the proper access, you can go in whenever you please." The Lance Engineer confirmed, unknowingly sealing his fate.

"Ok. Boys, I believe you know what to do." Maya half-ordered, stepping out of the way as Axton and Salvador stepped out in front, gunning down the Engineer and an accompanying Infantry. In the same second, Zero, who had been holding a Kunai in each hand, removed his hands from behind his head and threw them at the two gate security cameras in one fluid motion.

"Well, now that we have that taken care of, you guys go inside as planned. Zero, help me move the bodies, then take up a position in one of the guard towers." Axton ordered, really getting a feel for leading a group again.

"Go get the others / I won't let anything through / This will be easy." Zero said to Maya, essentially giving his word to stop anything that would try to come in behind them. With that, Axton and Zero searched for the nearest dumpster while Maya let the rest of them inside.

"Ok…it says the prison block is down that way." Maya read off the board, gesturing to a hall that lead to their right. "And that Critical Systems is down to the left. Security will probably be tight on our friends, so let's go after them together, then you guys double back and find something to bring this place down while me and the others find a way out."

"Why not just use the Transport Lancer we came here in?" Gaige questioned, not understanding what made it a bad choice.

"I dunno, I just get the feeling that it won't last once this place comes down." Maya answered as the group walked down the right hallway. Looking at the architecture, the hunters could almost feel the ominous presence that the building gave off as they walked through the black and crimson halls. Passing by some red translucent glass, the hunters saw what was possibly the worst thing imaginable.

"Mierda (Shit), them again?" Salvador groaned, looking at what was going on in the room to their right. There was what looked to be a group of Lance Engineers, all armed with Incendiary weapons, surrounding a civilian scientist. The scientist was edging close to a bloody Lance Infantry, whose posture and open wounds showed was actually a Zombie. Presumably trying to get the Zombie to identify the scientist as friendly, this failed as the Zombie lunged at the man, only to be roasted to ash along with the scientist by the Incendiary Engineers in a hail of gunfire.

"Looks like they're trying to weaponize it. All the more reason to bring this place down in an explosive finale." Maya guessed, essentially ignoring Axton's earlier request about bringing the base offline discreetly.

"Hey, is there something I'm missing here? Because I don't remember anything about Zombies." Gaige asked, completely confused.

"Long story short is Dr. Ned-" Maya started to explain.

"Don't you mean Zed?" Gaige asked, having never heard of Ned.

"Evil twin brother with a really fake-looking mustache."

"What?"

"Yeah, none of us really understood it either. Anyway, long story short, he made a virus that turned people into zombies as some doomed-to-fail power plot, then tried to use Skag DNA as part of an antidote, but just ended up making WereSkags in the process. We were payed by Jakobs to go to Jakobs Cove, and ended up killing him. We were chased out of there by a small army of WereSkags, which is why our arrival looked so frantic when we met you."

"Ah. That makes sense…somewhat." Gaige replied, still not quite grasping the whole evil twin brother thing. Deciding to drop it, they came to a door with an overhead sign that read "Cell Block 3". Using her fake status as an Assassin to open the door, Maya led the group in, where they came face to face with their prize. Lilith was in the front, followed by Mordecai, then Roland, then Brick. An armed Lance Engineer was positioned behind each of them, prodding them along in a single file line, coming to a stop in the open room as the hunters entered.

"Lilith, get down!" Maya yelled, pulling out one of Ceresia's swords. Recognizing Maya's voice, Lilith immediately dove for the floor, the Engineer behind her unable to open fire as Maya threw her sword. Watching as the blade speared the Engineer in the throat, Maya broke into a full sprint towards him, using the augmented agility granted by the armor to run up the Engineer's chest, grab her sword from his throat, and kick off the dead man's back. Going right over Mordecai's head, Maya came down in an overhead diagonal slash, cleaving the next Engineer in two. Watching in soon-to-be horror as the Engineer behind Roland prepared to open fire, the man was abruptly stopped as Gaige, who was no longer playing prisoner, dropped him with a round from her Jakobs Horse Scarab. Not needing anyone to save him, Brick pivoted on his heel, breaking the last Engineer's neck with a single, heavy backhand.

"You know, you're a little short to pass as Lance Infantry." Lilith joked, looking at Salvador's out of place disguise.

"Ha ha, muy divertido (very funny)." Salvador responded sarcastically, handing Lilith the HX 4 C Combustion Hellfire SMG that one of the Lance Engineers was carrying.

"I appreciate the rescue, but-" Roland started to ask, being interrupted as another squad of Lance stormed in the door. With Sal, Krieg, and Gaige running towards their fellow hunters, the Vault Hunters proceeded to flip some of the metal tables on their side for cover.

"So, care to explain why you're dressed like that?" Lilith inquired as the gunfire erupted, flaying a Lance Infantryman from a second squad alive as his unit joined in.

"First: it wasn't my idea. We needed an Assassin in order to get in, and Gaige is too short, so I was the only one that qualified." Maya explained, taking a shot at a Lance Pyro who stood up to fire, hitting the man in the shoulder with her Patton revolver.

"I heard that!" Gaige called out, firing her Horse Scarab at a Lance Engineer. Two rounds to the chest made him stumble back against a wall, before a third bullet went right through his helmet's visor.

"I appreciate you guys coming to get us, but is the key shard still safe? We're getting just about nowhere without it." Mordecai wondered, firing a Jakobs DL300 Savage Masher, which he had acquired from his Digistruct Inventory after taking it back from a dead Lanceman. Catching the man in the throat, he could only listen from behind cover as the grenade his target was holding went off on the Lance's side of the fight.

"Surprisingly enough, Leeroy didn't lose it. Athena's up there with him now, and we pretty much cleared the Lance out of T-Bone Junction, so it should be there when we get back." Maya answered, firing another couple rounds from her Patton before an unexpected sight made her freeze up.

"Uh, the hell is that?" Gaige asked, examining the newly entered Lance. He was tall, resembling a 10-foot tall Badass Lance Infantry. The main differences were a more curved, smooth chest-plate, which rose up on all sides to conceal the Lanceman's neck, stopping just below the visor. Strapped to the front of his chest-plate were two vertical rows of grenades, which were lit up in all sorts of different colors, indicating a myriad of different grenade mods on them. The abdomen was exposed, covered only by the regular red garment worn by typical Lance Infantry.

The waist was adorned with the same belt as the normal Lance Infantry, which connected to large, white thigh armor. Connected to this was equally clunky white armored boots, the entire thing besides the bottom being made of armor unlike the normal Infantry's front-facing strapped shin plates. The shoulder-pads were upsized versions of normal Lance Infantry pads, completely concealing the shoulders, with the Crimson Lance symbol adorning the right one. The man possessed the same forearm shields as Badass Lance Infantry, and carried a peculiar gun.

It consisted of a pistol grip, concealed on the sides by a blast shield-like frame, and was connected to a large, cylindrical, revolver-like magazine. The barrel extended about five inches forward from the revolver mag, and was adorned on the top by a tactical rail. Placed on the rail was a somewhat boxy, square electronic sight, as well as a post at the tip of the rail's barrel end, which looked like it was meant for estimating trajectory. Hanging in front of the mag, underneath the barrel, was a massive bayonet knife, which extended about three inches past the barrel.

"Grenadier!" Roland called out, firing a CR28 U Urban Raven as the large Grenadier opened fire, lobbing three grenades towards them. The second surprise came when one of the grenades instantly warped to its destination, another stuck to one of the overturned tables, and the third started to bounce haphazardly around the room.

"Great…He shoots modded grenades too." Lilith groaned, jumping out of the way of the Rubberized grenade as it bounced up from behind them. Going into Phasewalk, Lilith made her way across the room before popping back into this plane in a fiery explosion right behind the Grenadier. Knocking the Grenadier forward, Lilith was almost caught off guard as the giant regained his footing, attempting a 180 spin and decapitation swing with his launcher's bayonet. Missing, the man was knocked forward again as Salvador threw an Explosive Contact grenade at his back. Turning his back to Lilith once again, the Grenadier was now assaulted by Bloodwing, who had previously been restrained in a cage carried by one of the initial prisoner escorts. Flying directly at the man's helmet, Bloodwing's feet collided with enough force to make the Grenadier take a step back.

Trying to swat the bird away, the Grenadier repeatedly failed to hit Bloodwing with his bayonet. Continuing to demonstrate his restricted field of view, the Grenadier was oblivious as Maya rushed in, stepping up the man's thighs before taking his right arm off at the elbow with one of Ceresia's swords.

Continuing up his chest, Maya made it up to his chest-plate before jumping over the lumbering Lanceman's head, landing behind him about five feet away. Watching as the Grenadier turned to face her, Maya pulled out Ceresia's second sword as well, holding both upside down in preparation.

"Your move." Maya taunted, matching the Grenadier's stare. Poorly deciding to rush straight forward, the Grenadier stomped in a straight line as Maya replicated the action, diving forward in a roll with both swords facing outwards. Literally diving through the man's abdomen, Maya calmly straightened out as the Grenadier collapsed to his knees before finally falling over.

"Damn, did Zero teach you a thing or two?" Gaige questioned, being quite impressed.

"Nah, I was honestly just winging it based on the tutorials programmed into the suit." Maya confessed, not even attempting to act like she knew what she was doing during that fight.

"Never knew the Lance even had tutorial programs with people like Leeroy around. But, more on point, did you guys have an escape plan when you got here?" Lilith asked, hoping that they wouldn't have to wing their escape too.

"Right, you four come with me to find some transport for all of us to leave in while Gaige, Sal, and Krieg find a way to bring this place down. Axton and Zero will be waiting for us outside when we're done." Maya explained, almost taking up a leader role in Axton's absence.

"Ok…anybody see something about a reactor or some other power supply?" Gaige asked as Maya, Roland, Lilith, Mord, and Brick took off down a different hallway. Noticing a sign further down the hall directly in front of them that read "Main Reactor". Starting to head for it, both Gaige and Salvador pulled back around the corner as a squad of Lance came in through a turn further down the hallway, opening fire on sight.

"Think they're just now noticing the pobres bastardos (poor bastards) out front that aren't picking up the radio?" Salvador asked as he opened fire down the hall, catching one Infantry in the leg.

"Wouldn't be surprised. A base this big though, I'm just hoping none come in behind us." Gaige worried, putting a round through the head of the Infantry Salvador had wounded. True to her statement, they were essentially at the top end of a T-formation hallway, with a hall going to their right, another going to their left, the one in front of them with the Lance present, and the Cell Block door behind them.

"Move." Krieg said abruptly, forcefully shoving Salvador out of his way. Stepping out into the hallway, Krieg lifted the shield he was carrying, before tearing down the hall in full sprint, almost voiding the whole point of it.

"Hey! The shield only works if we're right behind you!" Gaige called out, quickly giving up in favor of taking off after Krieg. With Salvador behind her, the two short hunters attempted to catch up with Krieg, quickly opening fire to their sides without stopping as they passed whatever Lance Krieg didn't outright kill.

"On the bright side, this certainly beats being trapped in a corner!" Salvador cheered, blazing his MG at whatever looked like it was still moving.

"Wait, where's Krieg?" Gaige asked, coming out of her adrenaline rush to notice that Krieg was pretty much gone. Before she could get an answer, Maya spoke up on the ECHO.

"Alright, we found a confiscated Bandit Technical in one of the garages. It'll be a tight fit, but it should work. Let us know when you're ready to bring the house down." Maya announced, the sound of a loud engine roaring in the background as their technicals started up.

"Well this is just great: we lost Krieg, and we can't find the reactor." Gaige started to complain, leaning up against a wall. Unknowingly leaning on a door switch, the sound of two large metal plates shifting out of view to her right caught the Mechromancer's attention. Peering inside, both hunters saw a long hallway filled with terminals, and at the end was a tall, metal, column-like device, which radiated with energy. Walking down the hall, the hunters made it up to the terminal, where Gaige began examining it.

"So, you know how to set this thing off?" Salvador asked, not making heads nor tails of the main console in front of them.

"Well, I doubt they explicitly have a button for sending it into meltdown, but I'm sure if I push it just right, we'll get what we're looking for." Gaige explained with near-confidence, starting to poke away at the terminal. Getting enveloped in the intricacies of the terminal, neither hunter was paying attention as the prison's Commanding Officer snuck up on them.

"Get the hell away from that!" The man, a Lance Rocketeer named Ajax, yelled as he attempted to behead Gaige with a large knife, similar in design to Roland's. Ducking out of the way, Gaige caught the large man's arm as he attempted another swing, almost overpowering him with her cybernetic arm. Seeing that he was losing, Ajax used his free hand to give Gaige a hard left hook to the cheek, knocking her to the floor.

About to deliver a fatal stab, Ajax was cut off when a burst of gunfire went off behind him. Confused, the Rocketeer turned around to see Salvador, still wielding his Machine Gun. Not understanding what happened, Ajax followed a pointing gesture from Salvador, which led his eyes to his perforated, soon to malfunction jetpack.

"Oh…Fuck m-" Ajax started to groan, being abruptly carried off mid-sentence by his jetpack directly into the reactor. Crashing into it with a loud bang, the jetpack seemed to set off a critical reaction, indicated by text on the terminal that read "Reactor Meltdown: 50 seconds".

"What?! No! No, shut down dammit! Ugh, come on! There's gotta be some way to delay it!" Gaige started to yell in panic, frantically pecking away at the digital keyboard.

"Oye, no me mires! Sé menos de estas cosas que tú! (Hey, don't look at me! I know less about these things than you do!)" Salvador started to instinctively yell in Spanish, feeling the need to defend himself since he technically sent Ajax into the reactor. Rolling her eyes, Gaige took the wrench out of her shin holster and lifted it above her head, bringing it down on the back of Salvador's head.

"English please! I don't speak Spanish!" Gaige continued to panic, not needing a screaming Spanish midget on top of the threat of blowing up.

"Ay, diablos fue eso?! (Ow, the hell was that for?!)" Salvador continued to yell in Spanish, not calming down either.

"Ugh, for the love of-" Gaige started to groan in annoyance, cutting herself off mid-sentence to grab Salvador by the back of his chest-plate. Literally dragging him with her cybernetic arm, Gaige hauled Salvador out into the hall before shutting the door to the reactor. Once the door closed, Salvador had come to his senses enough to follow Gaige as both hunters sprinted for the exit.

Meanwhile, outside…

"Shit, I thought all the patrols were already in." Axton groaned to himself, watching as a Lancer pulled up and its occupants got out. The group was comprised of a Badass Infantry, a Combat Medic, and two Engineers.

"Soldier, we got a report that there are escaped prisoners and men down in the prison block. We need you to get clearance from your CO and let us in." The Badass Infantry started to order, walking over to Axton.

"Uhm…You sure?" Axton blurted, trying to think of a way to keep the Badass Infantry away, the man stopping in his tracks out of confusion. "I mean… you sure it wasn't another base?"

"I'm quite sure. Now get your CO on the line and let us in." The Badass ordered, not moving forward anymore.

"No, really, I just talked with one of the guys inside, and they said things are just fine. You've most likely got the wrong base." Axton continued to stall, hoping the others would just hurry up already.

"Soldier: Your CO. Now." The Badass demanded, now getting quite impatient.

"Seriously, there's nothing to see h-" Axton started to reaffirm, being cut off as a massive explosion erupted behind him, the fire and debris cloud reaching almost fifty feet into the air. The first explosion was followed by a cacophony of smaller explosions, causing the entire base to go up like a box of flaming fireworks. Looking back at the Badass, Axton was expecting a very bad situation until a sharp crack resounded through the air as Zero sniped the Badass. As if things weren't crazy enough, the large metal doors behind him slid open as Gaige and Sal exited the building.

"I said to off the building quietly!" Axton clarified, still having a hard time understanding just what was going on as the compound continued to go up in flames.

"Sorry, a big Rocketeer flew into one of the reactors and put it on meltdown. Couldn't stop it." Gaige apologized, killing the Combat Medic with a quick burst of gunfire.

"What?" Axton asked in confusion, having heard nothing of a reactor from Athena before they left. Looking back at the Lance in front of them, Axton made one of the Engineers run for cover behind the Lancer, before being incapacitated with a sniper round to the back of the shin from Zero.

"Long story. Think we should get the Transport Lancer ready?" Gaige suggested, watching as a piece of debris fell from the building, crushing the Transport Lancer right in front of them.

"Looks like she was right when she said the Lancer wouldn't make it." Sal contemplated, hearing another set of doors slide open further down the wall as a Bandit Technical sped out. It was being driven by Roland, with Brick in the Sawblade turret and Mordecai, Krieg, Maya, and Lilith riding in the back.

"Ride's here, let's hurry up and go!" Axton yelled, sprinting for the Technical as it pulled up. Climbing into the back, Axton did a quick headcount as Zero leapt down from his perch, having been able to go straight from the guard tower into the Technical's bed. With Gaige having also climbed in, i was just down to Salvador, whose short legs were making climbing into the back quite problematic.

"Shit, more debris!" Maya pointed out, watching as another large chunk of the building started to come down on them. Flooring it on the gas, Roland sped up to avoid it, which made Salvador lose his grip on the back of the vehicle. Luckily, Gaige had managed to catch his hand.

"God, how much do you weigh?!" Gaige questioned in a mixture of pain and confusion, having grabbed the midget with her biological arm.

"Is this really the time for a fat joke?" Salvador asked, feeling insulted as he nearly skidded along the ground. Being prodded by his inner conscience, Salvador was saved as Krieg moved over, grabbing Salvador by the arm and Gaige by the hood of her jacket. Pulling both of them back, Krieg accidentally pulled Salvador too hard, causing him to go over Brick and land on the hood of the Technical.

"Oi! This is no better!" Salvador yelled, clinging onto the grill for dear life as Roland, who was now being pursued by more Lance in Runners, could not slow down.

"So, were you drawn here by tales of other Sirens too?" Maya asked Lilith, completely ignoring Salvador's pleas for help as she passed Lilith an AR590 Glorious Massacre Machine Gun, she herself holding an AR490 Steel Mauler Machine Gun.

"Is this really the time to ask?" Lilith questioned as the two Sirens opened fire on the Runners chasing them.

"Well, we never really got to talk, and I figured now would be as good a time as ever: you just escaped Lance captivity, I'll get to change out of this suit soon, and we both got to watch a prison go up in smoke." Maya reasoned, her logic probably sounding incredibly nuts to an outsider.

"Good point. I actually heard that some of the old ruins here have the same markings as our tattoos, but the thought of more Sirens coming here did cross my mind a couple times." Lilith explained, popping the tire on a Runner as it swerved off the highway.

"Huh, I actually think it was you that I heard about before coming here. Glad you stayed, otherwise I would've had less justification when I shot Brother Sophis and came here." Maya contemplated, not meaning to mention Sophis out loud.

"Who?" Lilith asked in confusion, shooting down a Lance Probe that started to tail them.

"Long story. I'll have to explain it if we get a minute or two to ourselves." Maya answered, destroying the last Runner by shooting out its driver.

'Hey, T-Bone's in sight!" Roland called out, trying to get every last bit of horsepower out of the Technical as they neared the energy gate.

"Oh mierda (Oh crap)." Salvador lightly whined in panic, bracing himself as they reached the gate, his position on the hood making him the first to go through. Making it through the energy gate, Roland slammed on the brakes, causing the Technical to screech to a halt. Being shaken around a bit as it stopped, the Vault Hunters started to disembark, starting with Salvador, who simply fell limply off the grill.

"To be honest: I wasn't expecting to make it back from that. If what you said is true, we should rest up while the Lance don't have a presence here. You've all earned it." Roland spoke to the entire group, helping Salvador to his feet. Not feeling that words were very necessary, the two groups split and went back to their respective apartments.

"Well, that was eventful." Axton yawned as he, Zero, Maya, Gaige, Salvador, and Krieg walked to Maya's apartment. Making it to the door, history attempted to repeat itself as Salvador made a B-line for Maya's bed.

"Hell no, you little runt." Maya half-threatened, Phaselocking Salvador in the middle of the room. While it started off innocently, it quickly went south as Maya's tired mind caused the Phaselock bubble to go haywire, flinging Salvador out of the row of windows to their left. Disappearing out of sight, all that could be heard was Salvador's screams, followed by the loud, metallic thump of him landing in an open dumpster.

"Uhm…I should probably go get him, shouldn't I?" Maya asked, feeling bad. When Axton and Gaige both nodded slowly and silently, Maya quickly walked back out the door. History did successfully repeat itself however, as Axton, Gaige, Zero and Krieg could here the metallic rattling of Maya's armor as she fell down the stairs again, this time with a series of profane statements and non-directed threats mixed in as she tumbled down the staircase.

The Next Day, Moxxi's Red Light…

"You sure about this sugar?" Moxxi asked, handing Maya a bottle of Rakk-Ale.

"Yeah. Mord told me this stuff is the easiest way to kill pain on this planet besides dying, and I feel like I need it after falling down my apartment stairs. Twice." Maya assured, now back in her normal, High Heel-less outfit. Popping the cap off, Maya took a quick sip, having to almost brace herself as she downed the strong drink for the first time. Once she came back to her senses, Maya noticed something very peculiar: The radio was playing a song from before Pandora was even discovered. Listening to the rhythmic guitar riff, Maya almost went into a small drift of drinking and listening.

"You wired me awake and hit me with a hand of broken nails." The singer started. Maya continued to listen until a series of footsteps behind her caught her attention. It was a group of five tall, robed men. Their robes completely concealed their physical details from head to toe, and were yellow in color with black detailing. Their faces were hidden by black gas mask-like apparatuses, with blue LED-like lights shimmering from under their hoods where the eyes should be. They were all armed with matching Maliwan Consummate Gospel SMGs, and were standing in a perfect side-by-side line, about six feet back from the bar.

But I'm gonna break. I'm gonna break my…

Realizing they intended to shoot, Maya quickly grabbed the man seated next to her, holding him in front like a human shield. Watching as they opened fire, Maya retaliated by drawing her Patton revolver, blowing the brains of one of the men clean out. Aiming at the next in the line, Maya became frustrated when the gun let out a click instead of a bang.

I'm gonna break my rusty cage and run…

Pushing the perforated corpse into the assassins, Maya grabbed her bottle of Rakk-Ale, breaking it over one of the robed men's heads. At least it was supposed to break, but due to Rakk-Ale bottles being reinforced to compensate for the admittedly volatile nature of the drink, it only caused a bad bruise. Dropping the bottle, Maya batted one of the gunman's SMGs away before drawing the knife Krieg gave her, which was previously clipped on her belt, before slashing the man's throat. Turning back to the man who was thumped on the head, Maya finished it by driving the knife through the back of the keeled-over man's neck, before pulling it out and throwing it at gunman 4. Now down to one, Maya quickly reached for one of the dead gunmen's sidearms, a Maliwan Inflammatory Animosity. Grabbing hold of it, Maya was grabbed by the now unarmed man, who didn't count on Maya pressing the gun up to his stomach and pulling the trigger. Firing three rounds, Maya let the man's corpse fall backwards to the floor.

"Now, who the hell are you guys?" Maya asked herself, examining one of the men's insignias. What she saw made her heart nearly drop.

The insignia was a pair of lightning bolts contained within a triangle, and surrounding that was a wavy formation like a cloud. Below it read the text Order of the Impending Storm.

I'm gonna break my rusty cage…And run…

Post Chapter Note

Song used at the end is Rusty Cage by Johnny Cash