A/N: Wow. Thanks to all who took time to answer those questions. It'll help me plan things a lot better in whatever story I do next!
I think the biggest thing I learned about writing this was to not post a chapter until I'm completely satisfied with it, or to have a sufficient buffer so that I can keep a schedule. (This story had no buffer whatsoever).
To Eowyrio: Not having a profile makes it harder to directly respond to your review. I'm very happy you pointed those things out. I usually consider myself rather attentive to minute details like that, but it's nice to see discrepancies pointed out. Let's just say the New-U system does awesome magical shit that makes you ALL BETTER. pfft.
To address something a couple people mentioned: This will likely be the only story I write for Borderlands. Sorry, I have no plans for a sequel. I'll probably touch up an old fic as well as dabble in other categories.
Regardless, thanks for all your support and I hope you enjoy these bonus stories I wrote whenever I got Writer's Block or was bored.
And now, time for some fun stuff. I think most of it is worth a read, especially the short stories since they're pretty much just quick drabbles. The development notes are mostly just ramblings and my thoughts on each chapter. Consider it an abbreviated commentary section.
Table of Contents (use CTRL+F if you want a specific story):
1. Omake 1 – Soldier and Spy (Alternate Jack fight)
2. Omake 2 – Aurora (Alternate Angel's Death) [I personally recommend this one.]
3. Omake 3 – Pretzels (Random Blurb, Beginning of Game)
4. Omake 4 – Baggage Claims (Tolstoi Family goes to Aquator)
5. Omake 5 – Weird (Tina and Zer0)
6. Omake 6 – Butt Stallion's Escape (Whatever happened to Butt Stallion?)
7. Tentative Angel Timeline
8. Portal Reference Answers: Starting Chapter 4 – Running I started slipping in one Portal reference per chapter through the epilogue, find them if you're bored… or just cheat and look at the answers anyway.
9. Author Commentary (Chapter by Chapter)
Borderlands 2 – New-U
Omake 1 – Soldier and Spy
A greasy haired man in a crisp business suit stood at attention in the spacious Hyperion's Presidential office. Several paces away, a figure stood bent over a console, typing furiously. He cleared his throat and the man with a disturbingly realistic mask turned to face him.
"What is it, Blake? Can't you see I'm busy?"
Handsome Jack was not one for useless reports and pointless updates. If something was done, it was done. If it wasn't, heads would roll. Jeffery Blake continued on seemingly ignorant of this fact.
"The body disposal has been taken care of. He was flung, as per your request, from a height of thirty kilometers from a JET Loader. Where the body lands is anyone's guess."
Jack sighed a loud and frustrated sigh.
"Yes, that's all great. Now can we get back to the part where you go away?"
Blake looked completely unperturbed.
"As you wish, sir."
The man wandered off and Jack resumed his work at the console. Nearby, a glittering diamond pony neighed in a bored tone. Jack smirked, meandering over and patting the beast on its stiff mane.
"That's right, Butt Stallion. He's what you call a tool! You're such a smart horse, aren't you?"
In the middle of a certain dreary swamp, a body landed with the force of a small explosion, sending pungent smelling water splattering across the landscape, coating rocks and trees alike. But being a swamp, the muck had already started to close in over the mangled body. A black beret, too light to sink in that mire, remained on the surface as the sludge squelched over entombing the body in its cold depths.
It covered the landscape as a bone-chilling fog, invisible to the eyes, but eating away at the soul no matter how quickly you passed through it. Minutes dragged onto hours as this stark wasteland remained unmoving, unchanging. A mansion on the hill sat dilapidated and forgotten, electricity to this part of Pandora had been cut long ago. This region was completely forgotten to everyone save a certain group of individuals. As if to add to the oppressing aura this place exuded, the moon hung overhead, ever present. For some strange reason, that particular moon's orbit matched Pandora's spin, and the axis kept the scenery permanently enshrouded in twilight.
In the distance, something let out a soul-rending howl.
Then, something stirred from beneath the swamp. Moments later, something else stirred. Soon the dead landscape was showing signs of movement.
A gloved hand burst out through the muck.
The four Vault Hunters crept cautiously towards the Vault Key and Lilith. From the platform, they could make out the captured Siren's face. Her eyes were screwed up in pain as raw energy coursed through her body and then into the Key. Maya instinctively took a step back, feeling nauseated by the pulsating plasma. Axton motioned for Zer0 to watch their backs. Silently, the assassin maneuvered himself up onto a rock and crouched down, gun at the ready. The other four moved forward, ready for anything. There didn't appear to be anyone around, but they knew better than to assume that. As they moved closer to the control panel, they could hear a light tapping of fingers on keys.
A figure shimmered into view as the typing stopped. Handsome Jack turned to face the group, a look of anger and anticipation on his face.
"Hey, you're right on time – Key's almost ready! But before I cleanse this planet for good, I… wait, what's that noise?"
He paused, listening. In the distance there was a strange roaring noise. The Vault Hunters noticed this as well and, against their better judgment, turned to see what the noise was. From the upper chambers of the caverns they had passed earlier, there were figures running towards the elevator shaft. Puzzling enough there were all shapes and sizes rushing towards the summoning altar. As they drew closer, the team saw them for what they really were.
Hundreds of mutilated corpses lumbered towards them, some faster than others. Eyes wide with fright, the Vault Hunters quickly backed out of the way, weapons drawn in confusion. But these undead being didn't seem the slightest bit interested in the fleshy, living things nearby. They headed for one human standing at the end of the altar in a surprisingly organized manner.
Jack let out a girly scream and started sending down all the remaining Loader units he had on hand. The platform was soon covered in rotting blood and broken machinery. The four Vault Hunters watched in fascinated horror as robots struggled against zombies, their numbers overwhelming Hyperion's superior firepower. They pushed and clawed, forcing some robots into the lava, others dragging the Loaders down in suicide attacks. Jack was cowering behind the Hyperion command console when he froze, eyes focusing on a point a couple hundred meters away.
A roar, louder than all the combat noise combined sounded. The zombies redoubled their attacks and soon they were pushing towards the console where Jack hid. As they fought, one figure slowly approached the summoning altar. It was a zombie, clearly. Mud and grime caked its body and part of its cheek was torn open, revealing the muscle below. As it approached, they could vaguely make out a familiar jaw line and dark eyes, though the latter was dulled and unfocused.
Salvador was muttering what sounded like holy scripture as he repeatedly crossed himself with one hand, the other hand holding a shotgun which remained trained on the zombies, never once leaving the struggling masses before him. This leading figure roared out one more time as the zombies finished off the rest of the loaders. A few of the remaining ones grabbed Jack from his hiding place. The man looked scared out of his mind at the events unfolding. He struggled, trying to summon the Warrior for backup, but found that the zombies' undead grip was surprisingly strong. Their leader walked up to the summoning altar and grabbed the key. There was the pungent smell of burning flesh as the rotted hand started to decay further from contact with the key. But this zombie didn't care. With a grunt, it jerked violently to the side and ripped the key from its alignment with the captured Siren.
Lilith fell to the ground with a soft 'oof'. She looked up blearily at the figure that was holding the key. The leader stared down at the Siren for a bit longer than a glance. But it was enough.
Without a warning, the undead soldier rushed at Jack, who had heard the Siren.
"No… no, no no! Get away from me! Get… AIIIIIIIEEEEEE!"
Jack's scream echoed throughout the cavern as both zombie, man, and Key crashed into the lava below. The Hyperion President let out an even louder, more piercing cry as the molten rock quickly ate through his protective shielding and the weight of the zombie and key dragged them all down deeper.
And then there was silence.
The few remaining zombies stared around blankly before finally noticing the humans. They tried to attack but were quickly dispatched by a couple well placed shots. Finally, they approached the disoriented Siren. She looked up at them, confusion apparent in her eyes.
"What just happened?"
Blake sat, pretty as can be, at his desk as the Vault Hunters glared at him. They knew where Jack had been reconstructed, but they wanted other answers now.
"What the hell happened? Why was Roland alive?!"
The shifty-eyed man gave a light shrug.
Axton placed two hands on the desk, leaning forwards and growling dangerously.
The Vladof spy sighed.
"Jack wanted his body defiled and his memory mocked. He had me dump his body from up high just to spite the man's memory. He didn't really mention WHERE he wanted me to dump the body… so I simply arranged for him to be dropped above a certain forgotten cove. Ask your Vault Hunter buddies… or Dr. Zed. They know all about that place. Anyway, it worked out okay didn't it? The Warrior didn't get summoned and the Key is as good as gone."
With a disgruntled look, Axton backed off. Seeing that there was nothing more to say, the Vault Hunters left. They had a madman to finish off. Jeffrey Blake sighed contentedly. He reached over and patted the diamond pony that was milling around the office.
"What exactly do you eat anyway…?"
A/N: There. I brought Roland back… kinda. Fun stuff. This story actually led me to include Blake as a spy in the actual story. The title has nothing to do with Team Fortress 2. Honest.
Omake 2 – Aurora
Angel could feel her vision fading. Jack lay several meters away, body lightly smoking from the energy discharge that had ended his life. In her dulling pain, she thought about the New-U system. It was no longer there to save her anymore. No more miracles. Then again, judging by the body laying nearby, Jack hadn't exactly considered the reconstruction as a escape route either. As her blood pooled around her, she gradually closed her eyes.
And time stopped.
Her consciousness returned, she blinked with surprise. Was this another reconstruction process? It didn't feel nearly as mechanized as the first time around. She looked around, finding that Jack was nowhere to be found. Hell, she wasn't even in the Hyperion office anymore. It was simply an empty space surrounded by complete darkness. A subtle movement caused her to whirl to face this new threat.
It came as almost a hiss, the 's' being drawn out in the same breath. A sallow faced man stood before her in a crisp business suit. At his side, he clutched a thin metallic briefcase. It gave off the aura of some indestructible weapon, as if he had to merely open it and he would be victorious. The man continued to stare at the Siren. His unblinking blue-green eyes seemed to bore into the very depths of her soul. The girl looked a bit nervous. She barely noticed that the office setting had reappeared, thought it was no longer Hyperion.
"Yeah, that's me. What do you want? Where am I?"
The man seemed to ignore her questions.
"My… employers… have expressed their interest in your… powers."
At the mention of her Siren abilities, Angel narrowed her eyes, shifting ever so slightly to be in a better position should the man decide to attack. She spoke hesitantly.
"Yeah… what about them?"
A smirk ghosted across the man's face, leaving as soon as it had appeared. He didn't seem too interested in her combat stance.
"It would be most… advantageous… if you would assist in retrieving a certain… technology… for us. The… container… has impressive defenses that require your powers to overcome. If you should choose to accept this offer, you will be required to deal with these defenses as well."
Now Angel was on complete alert. The man's request was completely vague and indecipherable.
"Is that right? And what would I get out of this? Why should I even trust you?"
Again, that annoyingly omniscient smirk.
"As you might be aware, your body is slowly dying. I can heal you provided you accept this offer. If you choose to decline… well, let's just say you and I will not be meeting again and my… employers… will not be too pleased."
The Siren growled quietly.
"Sounds like I don't have much of a choice here…"
The man's face remained completely neutral. He neither spoke nor moved. Angel assumed he was waiting for an answer of some sort.
'Giving me the bare minimum huh…? Sneaky bastard…'
The Siren straightened and faced her… her what? Captor? Employer?
The man gave a full smile, which scared the girl even more than his previous expression.
"Very good, Miss Xanders…"
His voice was beginning to echo. The scenery around her was shifting.
"I look forward to your… success…"
As his hissing died away, the scenery around her sharpened into focus. Her eyes instinctually squinted at the whiteness. She was in an arctic tundra. Her body felt heavy and she noticed she now had on a thick parka with a fur hood as well as warm snow pants and heavy fur boots. Shivering slightly, she tightened the cord threaded through the hood of the parka. Looking around, she saw a massive ice shelf that stretched on into the distance. And there, in the distance, something stuck out of the ice, an off-white vessel that had grown stained with rust.
'Welp… might as well…'
The Siren began walking towards the frozen ship in the distance. It took the better part of an hour despite the relatively flat ice shelf. As she approached the immobile monolith, something caught her eye. Black lettering stood out against the white world she was wandering through, spelling out a single word.
Light-years away, a old man cupped his face in shaking hands. He had wanted to save her, and yet his program had failed at the last moment. Though constantly watched by that madman, his team had kept a close eye on their adopted daughter, hoping to find a chance to drag her out of the grasp of their President. They had watched in horror as her vital signs fell, indicating that she had been fatally wounded. All available researchers had immediately prepared for her reconstruction accordingly.
And then her vital signs vanished.
Something had happened, something even the old man couldn't explain. He no longer had any idea if the girl was still alive. All their satellite monitoring devices had shut down at the same time. Any attempts to reboot the system and relocate the girl had been in vain. Finally, after hours of frantic programming and system reconfiguration, they sat back in defeat. A girl who could never escape her oppressors was supposed to be freed. She was supposed to be able to do as she wanted, live as she chose, no longer bound by any inhumane plots. Yet their plan had ultimately failed.
It was simply a string terrible and unforseen consequences.
A small voice squeaked quietly out of a smooth white turret. The Siren turned to face the speaker.
"Shh… they're still out there…"
Girl and turret ducked into an abandoned room as a reptilian… something… stalked past outside. The little turret was formidable, but there were just too many of them. Angel found the turret as she ran through the empty halls, searching for… whatever she was supposed to be looking for. Then she saw them. Tall, scaly things. Not quite human and yet not quite serpentine. They all held sharp looking pieces of shrapnel and were slowly closing in on a single white turret. Broken turrets littered the floor with even more dead bodies on the opposite side of the room. The immobile machine stubbornly fired away at the approaching enemies, faithful in its duty until the very end. In a moment of mindless heroics, she leapt in, scooped the tiny turret up, and ran for her life. A shrill scream echoed behind her as she ran. The turret was too confused to react as the two fled through the halls of the Borealis. The two had now been playing hide-and-seek with those blood-thirsty monsters for a little over an hour.
The child-like voice came again, a little more insistently this time. Satisfied that the creatures had let up in their pursuit, the Siren turned back to the turret.
The turret focused one red eye on the girl.
"She can help. If we turn her on, she can help."
Angel sighed, rubbing her temples. Was nothing ever easy? She had no idea what the turret was talking about, nor had she made any headway on deciding what it was she was after.
"Where is this person?"
The turret actually giggled at this.
"Not a person! A machine!"
Angel cocked an eyebrow at this.
"Huh. Well where to then?"
The turret sounded a lot happier at this.
The tiny turret wiggled its side panels towards a corridor. Without much reason to go in any other direction, Angel followed the machine's directions until they reached a large operations room. It appeared to double as the navigations room of the ship. The Siren gazed around, amazed that such technologies had been so well preserved despite the below freezing temperatures. The turret squeaked again, calling her to attention.
Angel walked over to a panel with a single screen. Pausing for a moment, she turned it on. A wall of text began to run. Staring intensely, the Siren attempted to read its programming. Before she could make heads of tails of it though, a smooth female voice spoke from the nearby speakers.
"Oh. Fancy that. I was going to have Blue and Orange do this when they finished testing, but I guess some little monkey stumbled upon it."
A hatch opened from the ceiling of the room. A medium sized robot, about as large as Angel was tall, dropped down. It peered at her with a single yellow eye. Then it began glancing around the room, still hooked to the ceiling.
"This body is a bit smaller than what I'm used to, but considering the size of this ship, I guess that's okay."
The new machine turned back to Angel.
"Hmm… you're not an Aperture employee… Are you with Black Mesa?"
The yellow eye narrowed shrewdly.
"Er… Who's Black Mesa?"
The machine stared at her, calculatingly.
"No… obviously not. You're not stupid enough."
The Siren felt a little annoyed at this.
"Excuse me? Who are you to say anything about anyone?"
A this the machine seemed to puff itself up with pride.
"I am the smartest supercomputer ever built. The Generic Lifeform and Disk Operating System. Also know as Caroline…"
The machine seemed to pause at this.
"No. No, no, no. Ignore her. You can call me GLaDOS."
Angel wasn't really sure what to make of this computer with a seemingly split-personality disorder. The machine turned back.
"Anyway, while your assistance has been greatly appreciated, according to testing protocol, I can't really let you leave after you've seen so much. I've got just the surprise for you. Let me just warm up the deadly neurotoxin. It's pretty cold out there you know?"
A soft hiss began to escape from the room's ventilation system as the ship purged its pipes of oxygen. Angel's brain kicked into overdrive.
'Neruotoxin? Oh no… no, no no…'
The Siren ran over to the control panel, powers flaring.
She plunged into the stream of programming running through the machine she had just turned on, forcibly tearing through the security barricades to get to the machine's core. There was a disgusted shriek from the hanging machine.
"What are you doing! Stop that! Get your filthy little fingers out of my system!"
Angel's electric blue eyes blazed as she stared at GLaDOS.
"Turn off the neurotoxin."
There was a tense silence. The turret sat to the side, forgotten for the time being, and trembling slightly in fear.
"Fine. You win. But don't get too used to this."
The hissing stopped. Angel continued to hold the machine's gaze, daring her to try something else. A voice surprised both of them.
The Siren's head jerked to the side, staring at the small turret in surprise. Similarly, the hanging robot's head whirled to focus on the speaker. The turret seemed to shrink even more in fright. Bravely, it pushed on in that child-like voice.
There was a small delay as Angel thought about what the turret was talking about. Then she turned back to GLaDOS.
"Right! There are these lizard things running around the ship. I think they've destroyed some of the existing equipment as well."
The robot growled, actually growled. It was a metallic sort of rumble.
"Is that right… Excuse me for a moment."
The robot's yellow eye dimmed for a few minutes, indicating its attention was elsewhere. After an uneasy wait, the eye brightened and refocused.
"Well. This ship is a mess, but I managed to boot up the turret production line. Those things shouldn't live for too much longer. Now, what to do with those things out there…"
Angel interrupted her line of thought.
"Excuse me? What are you talking about?"
The robot barely paid her any heed. Annoyed, the Siren began hacking into GLaDOS's system again.
"WHAT! Okay! Okay! Tell you what. Ever since that fatty left, I wondered how she was doing. Those aliens out there don't seem too friendly."
The yellow eye dimmed as the supercomputer processed a heavy load of information.
"Yes… it seems like those smelly humans are in quite the dilemma. I don't think there's even a Black Mesa to compete against anymore. Shame. Not really, though. I'd like for you to help me with a project, since you appear to be able to bend machines to your will."
Angel nodded absentmindedly at this. Her curiosity won out and she spoke without reservation.
"So what is going on out there? I was on a planet called Pandora before this creepy old guy sent me here… know anything about that?"
The robot swayed slightly as it stared at her, intrigued.
"Hm… no. How interesting, something I don't know… I'll need to look into that. But to answer your question, this planet is called Earth. Thanks to Black Mesa and their stupidity, there was a massive explosion of portal energies. An alien race called the Combine saw that as a beacon and immediately showed up. Apparently the battle for Earth took only seven hours. They've put most cities under martial law and have been draining the oceans for their own purposes. There seems to be some resistance groups, but nothing too prominent. Also some ridiculous rumor about a messiah called the Free Man."
Angel frowned at this description. This world seemed in pretty bad shape.
"If you're so great, why didn't you do anything to help?"
GLaDOS seemed annoyed at this.
"I had no reason to clean up after Black Mesa. Even if I wanted to, Chell killed me and I was silent for the better part of fifteen years."
The Siren thought about this for a moment.
"Chell… I take it she's the 'fatty' that left?"
The robot hummed distractedly.
"Did I say that? I meant psychotic maniac and murderer."
Angel snorted in disbelief.
"Whatever. If you had no obligations, why the change of heart?"
GLaDOS remained silent for a while, before answering snappishly.
"That's none of your business. You're quickly reminding me of how nice it was when someone doesn't ever talk. Now be quiet. It'll be a while for the ship's engines to warm up, but once that's done, we can start moving South towards the Eurasian mainland. I think the Combine are calling it City 17…"
The Borealis began shaking as it struggled to rid itself of decades of ice. Seemingly satisfied, GLaDOS turned back to the quiet girl.
"Now, how should we pass the time…"
The machine was silent for a moment before it turned to the young Siren.
"How would you like to help me do some testing on this ship?"
A/N: Moo ha ha. Yup that's all you get of this story. Wheeeeeee.
Omake 3 – Pretzels
The four surviving Vault Hunters set off on their epic journey to find the Vault and kill Jack. It would be an adventure that would be told time and time again to young children well into the future. They would end up experiencing victories and losses, triumphs and tragedies. And no matter how bleak, how hopeless their situation may become, they would stick together. Because they were a team.
And they set out from the small icy village of Liar's Berg.
An annoying and grating voice rang in their ears as the villain himself contacted the team yet again.
"How… oh, these pretzels suck…"
He tried again, his mouth still full of pretzels.
But he never got past that word, for his bad habit of talking with his mouth full had finally come back to bite him in the ass. The billionaire engineer began choking on his dry, tasteless pretzels. The four Vault Hunters listened with interest as the man coughed and choked, trying to dislodge a particularly dry piece of his snack that had become practically fused to his windpipe.
"B… Blake! He… help… water!"
But his struggling only made the situation worse as the piece shifted slightly from his words, completely blocking off airway. There were several wheezing gasps as the President of Hyperion tried desperately to take in oxygen, only to find that the pretzel was preventing such saving action. There came a thud from the other end of the ECHO communicator.
And the four surviving Vault Hunters set off on their epic journey to find the Vault.
In a different dimension, a certain game company caught a massive backlash for producing such a strange and anticlimactic storyline. For after the death of the game's main villain, there was nothing much else to do in the game, which eventually boiled down to hours and hours of mindless weapon farming and grinding, both of which served no real purpose because there was no longer any real storyline. The game eventually proved to be the company's downfall as they would never be taken seriously ever again.
A/N: What a short story. What a short mission.
Omake 4 – Baggage Claims
"Come on! We're gonna miss the flight!"
A certain red-haired girl ran through a moderately busy airport terminal on Eden-6, an excited look on her face. She couldn't wait to spend quality time with her new sister. A broad shouldered, clean-shaven man with dark brown hair chuckled and called after the girl.
"Calm down, sweetie. We've still got to get our tickets!"
The five travelers moved through the midday crowds with relative ease, mostly due to the fifth member of the party. A stalker, small by stalker standers, but still large in the eyes of man, trotted along after the four humans as if it were the most natural thing in the world. By its side was a small, yellow-haired girl who was sporting a strange mask that was covered in something that suspiciously resembled blood. For the umpteenth time, she questioned the man and his wife.
"Is… is this really okay?"
Michael Tolstoi crouched down by his new daughter, who had stopped walking.
"Tina, you've obviously been through Hell, what with living on Pandora by yourself. Antonia and I always wanted to have more kids, but with our line of work, it became hard to accomplish such a thing. We're not trying to replace your parents, we just want the chance to be your family. No matter what, I'm proud to call you my daughter, even if we're not related."
He gave the small girl a tight hug. The baby stalker looked on in mild confusion. The small girl nodded, misty-eyed. Michael stood once more and addressed his wife.
"Which airline are we using?"
Antonia glanced around before pointing.
"Aquator Adventures. That one seems to be leaving in an hour and a half."
He walked off towards the ticketing counter followed by the rest of his family. The tall man marched purposefully up to the agent.
"Four tickets to Aquator please. The next flight, if possible."
The worker looked new. His nametag was upside-down, reading Josh. His tie was askew, his hands trembled slightly, and his eyes darted helplessly around, looking for someone to pass the job onto. Or maybe that was caused by Antoinette. Who knows. Michael chuckled.
"Easy there, son. No need to get so worked up."
Josh seemed to have a stutter, again, possibly out of fright.
"U…uh…. Sir? I… uh… um… that is to say… we… uh…"
Antonia was apparently in no mood for this.
"Can we get the tickets or not?"
The young worker tried again.
"We do… but we don't transport those…"
Antonia cocked an eyebrow.
That terrified look appeared once again.
"Well… class five dangerous creatures… ma'am!"
Tina huffed from somewhere around Michael's bellybutton, her head barely cleared the countertop.
"I'll have you know Antoinette is a noble lady! She is not some dangerous beast! And she was framed! Framed I tell you!"
At this the worker had a slightly confused look on his face. Michael redirected the conversation.
"I assure you Antoinette is safe, isn't that right, Tina?"
The small girl's eyes darted to the side, not meeting her adoptive father's eyes.
Gaige rolled her eyes.
Josh the worker didn't look reassured. Michael shook his head slightly and returned to the conversation.
"Bottom line is, we are going to Aquator. Antoinette is coming along."
The trembling man tried again.
"Sir… there's not enough room in to hold an animal carrier for something that… size…"
"You callin' her fat? Bitch I will mess you up!"
The man was really confused now. Michael cleared his throat.
"Then I would like to purchase six tickets. I trust three seats would be enough for Tina and Antoinette?"
Josh looked rather nervous as he tried to reason his way out of this one, stammering in the process.
"Um, well…. I don't know if we're able to… I mean, I guess… But I mean… think of the passengers…"
He trailed off weakly. Antonia smiled thinly.
"Trust me, Antoinette will be the least of their worries if they upset my daughter."
The young man gulped visibly. Tina beamed. Eventually, he nodded hesitantly.
"Very well… six tickets to Aquator."
After a few minutes of typing in the computer, he handed over a small bundle of papers. He gave them a weak smile.
"Well… uh… enjoy your flight…"
Michael nodded curtly and the family walked off. Unfortunately it wouldn't be long before they encountered yet another snag in their plans.
A female security guard stared at the red-haired girl that had just tried to pass through the security checkpoint.
"Ma'am, please remove any metallic objects you might have on you."
Gaige fidgeted slightly, looking a bit uncomfortable.
"Well… I can't really do that…"
She lifted her left jacket sleeve to reveal the prosthetic underneath. The guard looked rather embarrassed. She gestured for the girl to come around.
"Would it be alright if we check you for other metals minus your arm?"
The girl nodded and another officer with a metal detector stepped forward to perform the manual check. The female security guard returned to her post.
The female security guard frowned slightly, staring at the blonde-haired girl whose bag just tripped the alarm.
"Sweetie, is this your bag?"
The woman nodded as another officer brought the bag aside.
"May we look through it?"
Tina frowned at this.
"Bitch, you think I got drugs?"
The man holding her bag looked surprised. The security guard gave the small girl a pointed look. Tina sighed dramatically.
The other security guard began looking through the bag. It didn't take long for him to hold up a doll.
"Er… is this a hand grenade?"
"How rude! That is Princess Fluffybutt and she does NOT appreciate being manhandled!"
Michael stepped towards the female security guard.
"If it makes any difference, I've already disarmed the thing, there's no gunpowder inside at all."
The woman raised an eyebrow.
"Excuse me, sir, but who exactly are you to claim such a thing?"
Michael brought out a card.
"I'm an engineer for the VLF. Believe me, that's nothing more than the shell of a grenade."
Tina stomped a foot.
"Yes, honey, I know."
The woman could feel a headache coming on. She waved a hand wearily.
"Fine… Sorry for the holdup, Chief Marshall Tolstoi."
Gaige's father nodded.
"You were just doing your job."
Tina was finally allowed to take her bag and join up with Gaige who was allowed to pass several minutes ago. They were joined by Antonia before another alarm bell halted the line once again.
The female security guard looked over and found herself staring at the baby stalker. Apparently its tail had enough metal deposits that it triggered the alarm. The woman could only stare, mouth slightly open. Intrigued, Antoinette waved her tail through the security gate again
The people waiting to pass through the single security gate fidgeted impatiently, though none of them had the guts to confront the baby stalker who had taken to playing with the sensors. It would be a good thirty minutes before the line started moving again.
Johnson wasn't having a good day so far. Not only did his vacation flight get delayed due to complications at the security checkpoint, his seat had been moved to make room for what appeared to be a tiny girl and a small monster. He nearly wet himself when the stalker placed its claws on the back of its row in order to stare at him. To his relief, the small girl had told the beast to sit back down and, thankfully, it did as it was told. This was supposed to be a relaxing flight, goddammit!
He closed his eyes, picturing the calm blue waters and warm sandy beaches of Aquator.
As the plane reached cruising altitude, a childish voice in front of him began to sing, just loud enough for him to hear over the whine of the engines.
"I'm Henry The Eighth, I am!
Henry The Eighth I am, I am!
I got married to the widow next door
She's been married seven times before
And everyone was an Henry (Henry)
She wouldn't have a Willie or a Sam (no Sam)
I'm her eighth old man, I'm Henry
Henry The Eighth I am!"
Johnson let out a small moan as the girl began to sing the entire thing again.
This was going to be a long flight.
A/N: Heh. Didn't really get to incorporate Antoinette much after she was named. What an annoying song to get stuck in your head.
Omake 5 – Weird
Zer0 stared out at the badlands, musing in that mysteriously annoying way of his.
'Man. I must look so badass, sitting here all contemplative and whatnot.'
He surveyed the lands before him, thinking about how awesome he was now that he had more experience under his belt. Who knows, maybe he would be ready to take on those Elders that nobody seems to talk about anymore.
Seriously, it was like they never existed in the first place.
Ah, it was that annoying little girl he and Angel had been sent to retrieve. Where was that red-headed girl to rein the little terror in?
He wished she would go away. Zer0 was quite serious when he admitted he thought her unstable, though completely insane was probably a better term.
He wasn't in the mood to deal with this. All the little girl ever wanted to talk about was explosives and tea.
Zer0 pointedly ignored her.
This was beginning to push the limits of his patience. If she didn't take a hint and soon, he was going to stick his blade somewhere where the sun –
It took all his remaining control not to snap then and there. Tina frowned, annoyed at his reaction.
"How rude! I asked you a question."
Zer0 turned to stare blankly at the little terror that was now staring innocently up at him. He swore she knew exactly what she was doing and was being deliberately annoying.
"Watching for enemies."
Zer0 attempted to psychically demand the girl leave him be, but either she was resistant to his influence, or he simply wasn't a psychic at all.
"Answer my question!"
Maybe if he stayed silent, she'd get bored and go away.
Or maybe not. He bit out an answer to satiate the annoyance.
"In case we get attacked."
"But there's no one out there. It's just sand."
"There might be."
Zer0 sighed, turning to the petulant child.
"It's a precaution one must take when travelling the wilderness of Pandora."
She stared up at him for the longest time. Zer0 stared right back. Finally, she spoke.
Zer0 blinked, though his mask remained impassive.
"I'm not weird."
The girl snorted.
"Yes you are."
"No I'm not."
Zer0 scowled under his helmet.
"The bothersome fly / Annoying little creature / Leave me this instance."
Tina smirked in that omniscient way of hers.
Zer0's control slipped for a brief moment.
"Cease that foolishness this instant."
Zer0 wanted to scream, but had too much pride to give in.
"Go bother Gaige."
"Why do you insist on bothering me?"
"Cuz it's fun."
Zer0 pressed his hands to his face and let out a muffled scream of annoyance. Tina tilted her head, taking in the odd sight.
"Forget it, you're not weird."
Finally. Maybe she'd leave him alone now.
She stared up at him for a second longer.
Tina skipped off to find Gaige to play with, leaving a thunderstruck assassin behind.
A/N: I originally planned a little back-and-forth argument between Zer0 and Tina… those lines didn't make it into the actual story so I expanded it into an omake.
Omake 6 – Butt Stallion's Escape
Her servant was dead, her empire in ruins. Oh, what a fool she was to trust in the weak ambitions of a fleshy human being. He didn't even know what she ate, constantly pressing those dry, tasteless dough thing on her. She was eventually forced to raid the crystal vaults on the moon base to sate her hunger.
She snorted in annoyance.
Through the monitor on Jack's desk, she watched as the young Siren girl blocked locked the Hyperion workers in the loading bay. The girl's eyes flicked over at her every once in a while. The human was probably wondering why she was just standing there. As if she had any reason to stop the human. She secretly hoped this placed would be destroyed, space just wasn't good on her crystalline skin.
A loud explosion shook the base. A quick glance at the camera showed that those idiots down in the loading bay had blown a hole in the air lock.
Fools. Every last one of them. Scrambling around just because her weak human 'owner' was dead. She watched as the last of the workers were flung into the icy depths of space. Several other humans rushed into the room, one of which she recognized as the slimy man who smelled like gunpowder and metal. He wasn't so bad. Though even he didn't know what she ate, and that diminished the man's worth in her eyes.
Another explosion rocked the building as the humans killed a stray guard that had burst into the room.
It was time to leave.
Testament to his fading sanity, Jack had built her an escape teleporter, which would send her back to Eden-6. Why he did such a thing, she would never know. But she figured it was too much of a hassle to question the actions of a crazy person.
Using her snout she bumped another panel on the wall and opened up another escape teleporter. Pressing a button, she was whisked away as the moon base exploded into oblivion.
A machine fizzled sharply and she felt the ground solidify below her hooves. She trotted calmly off the makeshift platform. Immediately, she noticed an intruder in her room. This winged intruder had the gall to speak without being spoken to first!
[Who dares enter my domain! Leave you sparkly intruder! I am Queen and my word is law!]
She snorted. The cheeky little brat. She knew there was a reason she hated kids.
[Excuse me. This is my room. I'll ask you to leave.]
The small winged one tried again, snarling aggressively.
[Perhaps I was unclear. Remove your crystal butt from my sight. NOW!]
She stomped her feet, annoyed that the creature was still whining about something or other.
[Get out of here, kid. Before I stomp you flat.]
But the baby creature before her was as petulant as… well, as petulant as a baby really.
[No! My human said I could stay here! This place is mine!]
She rolled her eyes.
[And my human gave me this place. It's clearly mine.]
The smaller creature would hear nothing of reason.
[NO! NO NO NO! GO AWAY!]
So she began actively ignoring the small winged thing, sighing a parting shot before tuning it out.
[Stupid little kid. You're no queen. You're just a spoiled little brat.]
This infuriated the creature to no end.
[GRAAAH! I HATE YOU! GET OUT OF HERE!]
Jeffrey Blake was wandering around the halls, having forgone going down with the others to see Jack's punishment. He had, after all, made several of the chamber's design suggestions and didn't care to see the man at all.
Instead, he wandered towards the waiting room, hoping to find his favorite explosives experts: the Tolstois.
A strange noise was coming from the room, it sounded like the static on a TV screen. Blake glanced inside the room, curious as to what was making all the noise. Strangely enough, the baby stalker that had come with them on the cruiser, Antoinette if he recalled, was snarling and spitting at a pristine, diamond pony, who seemed largely unimpressed by the smaller creature's actions.
"What the hell is going on here…?"
A/N: Maybe Butt Stallion will be in DLC 4.
Tentative Angel Timeline (or at least this is how I approached it):
Mary Xanders is killed.
John Xanders begins losing his sanity and grip on reality.
Angel locked in isolation chamber.
Dr. Wastryn joins research team as the head scientist.
Jeffrey Blake infiltrates Hyperion HQ as a general aide and manager of mercenary relations
John Xanders ambushed by coworkers, face scarred.
Angel's first conversation with Dr. Wastryn.
Angel revels Atlas's goals to Jack.
Angel kills many people through various means, including arranging the deaths of those that attacked Jack two years ago.
Angel and her containment chamber is sent to Pandora, where she oversees operations via satellite.
Blake hires Zer0 to take out competition.
Angel guides Original Vault Hunters to the Vault.
First Vault opened, Destroyer is defeated.
Previous Hyperion President murdered.
Angel begins charging the Vault Key as well as luring potential Vault Hunters to their deaths.
Angel watches New Vault Hunters.
Gaige escapes Eden-5 and arrives on Pandora.
Events of the story.
A/N: I always kinda pictured her being around 19 (I dunno why), even though that made a bit less sense considering the five year gap between Borderlands 1 and Borderlands 2. I guess she was good at disguising her face and voice through the ECHO communicator. (Makes sense, she is quite the hacker.) Or maybe she simply grew up faster (physically or mentally as a result of her surroundings). Whatever.
Portal Reference Answers (some were more obvious than others):
Chapter 0-3 – If I actually managed one, it was by pure, freaky coincidence.
Chapter 4 – Wheatley and Potato Battery
Chapter 5 – "Someday we'll look back on that and laugh. And laugh. And laugh." (In A/N)
Chapter 6 – Tasting blood after Fast Travel and teeth
Chapter 7 – Antonia's building turrets. Turret King waits patiently outside to be finished.
Chapter 8 – Turret Wife Serenade and Cara Mia
Chapter 9 – "Thank you for helping us help you help us all."
Chapter 10 – Lemons (Kinda. I actually forgot and went back and added it a couple days after posting the chapter – guilty as charged.)
Chapter 11 – Cake recipes. "Good people don't end up here."
Chapter 12 – Wheatley Hacking. This one was (un)surprisingly easy to implement.
Chapter 13 – "This is the part where I kill you."
Chapter 14 – 4000 degrees Kelvin
Chapter 15 – Captain's argument with Jerry
Chapter 16 – You have been asleep for nine nine nine nine…
Chapter 17 – Android Hell
Chapter 18 – Still Alive
Ending Notes – Seriously? You couldn't guess? There was just an entire short story dedicated to this. Scroll back up and read it again if you didn't pick this up.
A/N: Hm. Yeah. If I ever do something like this, I'll probably plan it out a bit better. This was totally not done on a whim.
Chapter 0/Prologue – This was going to be a one-shot… What happened?
Chapter 1 – I liked the bandits and midgets. They never really show up as much after this chapter. Oh well.
Chapter 2 – Yeah… I dunno, I still feel really weird about creating an image for Zer0. I realized long afterwards that his image is partially based on Geralt of Rivia from The Witcher. Shame on me for not noticing.
Chapter 3 – The Elders were supposed to be complete douche bags, killing off entire races for their own progression. If I ever feel like changing anything in this story, it would be to do a better job at explaining their history. They kind of disappeared after I mentioned them. I think I joked about this above in one of the omakes.
Chapter 4 – Around Chapter 4, I started regretting setting up a schedule… (surprising since I took this to almost 20 chapters). It was also around here that I started seriously working on NSF and reading a lot more Fanfiction… Like stated in the chapter, Running was supposed to be short, but I enjoyed Michael and Antonia so much that I just kept going.
Chapter 5 – I like Dave. He's dead.
Chapter 6 – Drunk Mordecai was one of the original scenes I had planned out after starting continuing the story.
I dreaded this chapter because I knew I needed a reason why Roland was still dead. How the original Vault Hunters can die was actually the hardest thing up to this point in the story. Here's some of the crazy ideas I initially had for why Roland stayed dead:
1. Roland was being stupid and wanted to die a 'good death', so he removed himself from the system.
2. For who knows what reason, the original Vault Hunters storm the New-U system's database and removed themselves. Questions of why would they do that and why would the databanks be on Pandora stopped this idea.
3. I was considering borrowing from Discar: Jack locks them out of the system. In his story Angel prevents new Vault Hunters from being removed.
The last one didn't really work with my story so I went with unpredictability and uncertainty causing them to be wary about the entire system itself. I added in Tannis's uncanny ability with computers as a bit of a plot hole/deus ex machina type of attribute.
Chapter 7 – Chapter 7 and 8 I had trouble with, partially since I did Chapter 7 during Thanksgiving. I was also a bit worried of it getting a bit boring but didn't want to sacrifice plot development to speed things along. I also uploaded the book cover at around this time.
Chapter 8 – Around here I was running out of ideas on how to connect the scenes I wanted to use, so I had to start planning a bit more. It really helped that I knew how the story was gonna end so I could work towards it
Chapter 9 – A bit before this chapter, I had started working on Omake 1, which led to the introduction of the Vladof spy, Blake. His character ended up being rather fun to put in at various points.
Chapter 10 - The baby stalker has quite the imagination. Her advisors are her parents, and she's just a kid, not a Queen. Though she is named after a Queen. I wish I got to do more with Antoinette, but I guess two Omakes will have to suffice.
Chapter 11 – I really liked writing Gaige's view of the New Haven attack. Helena Pierce was a cool lady if I recall, too bad they killed her off in BL2. I also tried my hand at a tiny bit of romance.
Chapter 12 – The events of the barge crash came to me at random, somewhere around Chapter 9 or 10 if I recall. I liked being able to recreate the crash, since not much is known other than Mordecai and Brick live, which is hard to believe since you watch the barge crash and burn right in front of your eyes. I ended up ending with the crash scene, which allowed me to push various events into future chapters. This helped because I was worried Chapter 13 and 14 would be tough to write with smaller scenes to cover.
Chapter 13 – Holy shit. This was a tough one to write. I constantly worried about having Angel step in during the execution scene after the final battle. I talked with an old friend for a while and decided that it may be reasonable that Angel wouldn't be able to callously watch her father's execution, regardless of the circumstances.
In retrospect, I wish there were more fighters to work with in this battle. The final push in Borderlands 2 is rather linear, leaving very little for me to work with.
Chapter 14 – This was the climax of the story and I wanted it to have quite the impact. I spent something like five or six hours with that same friendediting it.
I like the theory that his scar came from an accident with Angel. Luckily, that theory didn't really fit into the story, allowing for the much more interesting back story of Jack's scar. Not much is known about the guy, I'd like to think that everything fell apart once his wife died. He became obsessive and borderline fanatical, leading to sever consequences from the corporate suits.
Chapter 15 – Moon base escape came during my chapter 9 planning. I was trying to figure out what to do since I knew where to go with the story, but still had trouble connecting the dots. Unfortunately, Chapter 14 marked the end of things I had planned out well, so I ended up reorganizing several events until other scenes came to mind. The timeline I used looked something like this.
Day 1 – VLF and Doctor, interstellar transfers
Day 2 – Zer0 leaves, Info Stockade
Day 3 – Team wakes, notices Zer0's missing, Old Vault Hunters hold small funeral, Zer0 finds office
Day 4 – Team leaves on plane (commandeered), Angel talks with Doctor, Zer0 returns to Sanctuary, leaves for moon base
Day 5 – Team confronts Blake, Angel wakes, hides, Zero on Hyperion ship (hidden), Team leaves
Day 6 – Zer0 arrives on moon base, moon base destroyed, Blake, Zer0, and Angel bail
Day 7 – Tina waits, Everyone leaves for Eden-6
I know I screwed around with the time and dates thing, but all in all, it was rather fun to write out events side by side. Ultimately, it was fun for me, but probably less so for the readers.
Chapter 16 – Blake was a spy through Omake 1. Kind of funny how that worked out. Ever since I wrote the joke story, I decided I would keep it that way. I think this chapter flowed better than the previous one, which jumped around quite a bit.
Chapter 17 – Wow. I'm surprised how many people liked the punishment. And in case anyone complains about placement, Wastryn was going to be the benefactor from Chapter 1. It was one of the central things I decided after you lot suggested I continue the story. Jack's eternal punishment developed throughout the story and also from that message about spawn camping.
Chapter 18 – This was one hell of a story for me. I was fretting about the ending since, at Chapter 14 or so, I still wasn't sure how I wanted to do it. My friend suggested I reread the story, which really helped put things into perspective. You should try it too if you're ever struggling with the ending to a story.
All in all, I found it to be a decent story. There are several things I want to go back and fix, but have decided to leave it be and move on instead.