The Gaige Effect
Author's Note: In my word document I accidentally italicized the title at the top of the page, something I've rarely ever done. I only mention this because I feel it really fit the tone of the story I'm going for pretty well, and that was pretty striking for me.
Here's the hook; since the Mechromancer DLC has come out, I absolutely LOVE the character Gaige. She's rapidly taken the spot as one of my favorite characters in Borderlands, second only to Tannis and tied with Tiny Tina and Ellie. Also, it's completely conincidental that all these characters are women. Not my fault all the men's personalities are as flat as a slab of concrete. Saying that as a guy.
Anyways, I thought I'd take this opportunity to try and flesh out her character a bit more; a genius teenage girl stuck on a planet full of bandits occupied by a raving madman. What could go wrong? It'll coincide loosely with the story with character cameos and whatnot, but I don't have much of a timeframe for when this is taking place. It'll be humor with a splash of romance, but romance won't be the prevailing theme. I'm just going to be toying with the idea of Gaige crushing on some Pandora teen about her age. If that sounds like your thing, read on! If not... you've been warned.
It all started with the train-ride. Gaige had arrived on the planet just hours before, the transport craft dumping her off into the Hyperion space-port like a sack of garbage once they'd realized that Deathtrap didn't fare well on inter-planetary flights. And by didn't fare well, I of course mean "tried to kill all the other passengers." Gaige said sorry to the captain and offered to build a robot arm for the person Deathtrap had partially dismembered, but was tossed off nonetheless. She'd spent several hours after that dodging Hyperion soldiers all throughout the freshly-built space-port. After a few hours of desperate evasion, she'd caught a train out of the port and found herself in the quiet confines of a nearly empty car. Apparently she hadn't gone far enough away, however, since she soon found herself attacked from all sides by cleverly concealed Hyperion robots (the locals called them loaders, for whatever reason.) A tense gunfight later (or rather, the loaders had guns and she had a giant clawed robot) and she'd fled into another compartment completely loaded with explosives, as an apparent last-ditch effort to kill the vault-hunters that evaded the grasp of Hyperion's homicidal robots. The train then in short order, exploded in a massive fireball. Gaige was thrown free of the wreckage in an incredible example of why luck is the most important tool for a vault hunter to have. Unfortunately, Deathtrap was damaged in the explosion and deconstructed back into her robot arm, leaving him useless for the time being.
Gaige shivered in the cold as the ringing in her ears died a little and her vision came back into focus. She tried to stand for a moment, but fell back into the snow. She felt like a ship in the center of a hurricane, the entire world buckling every direction around her. When it showed no signs of stopping, she planted her human arm in the ground and had her brain firmly identify which way was down. With this feat accomplished, she was able to stand once again and take in her surroundings.
"What a way to make an entrance, Gaige." She muttered to herself. She was surrounded by flaming bits of what was previously a train car, with a few souls that hadn't been as lucky as herself bleeding out into the snow. Around her, a blizzard was picking up, flecks of ice flying into her face and catching in her hair. She shivered again, finally realizing how cold she was with just a skirt and vest. "It's probably 30 below out here!" She exclaimed to herself, if for no reason other than to see if her ears had decided to start working again. They had, sort of. Everything sounded a little fuzzy. Gaige assumed it'd wear off.
Out of the corner of her eye, Gaige spotted a discarded pistol. She picked it up without a second thought. After surviving such an epic crash, she wasn't about to let herself be killed because she didn't have a gun to defend herself with (a rare quality among the people of Pandora, or so she'd heard.) So, with the weapon in hand and no clear idea as to where she was or where she was going, she took a step as if to start walking when the blizzard cleared for 2 seconds and she spotted a cardboard sign planted in the ground. Her first thought was of amazement as she wondered how it hadn't been blown off or been buried yet. The second registered what it actually said; "This way!", painted with an exclamation point and an arrow pointing onward, as if to give a cheery connotation to the words. No soon had she read the sign than it did blow off in the wind, more snow and ice blowing in to obscure her vision in it's place. She shivered again and off she went, following the direction the sign had pointed out.
Luckily, it wasn't far from her crash site to the destination. A monumental hill of ice was sitting in front her, surrounded by the piles of garbage so typical of Pandora. The storm wasn't letting up however, so she didn't take time to appreciate the architecture of the ice pile and instead ran for the door, hoping to get inside before she froze to death. She pounded on it once with her robotic arm, and the door simply caved in under the force. It broke in two, the separate pieces sliding down a tunnel into the ice fort. The temperature instantly shot up 10 degrees.
The hallway was decorated with robots of a kind Gaige had only heard about. Claptrap robots, a design purchased and built by every major manufacturer in the galaxy (save Atlas) before a slew of design flaws and an unattractive personality matrix resulted them in being pulled from shelves across the known universe. Apparently, most of them had ended up in the trash heaps of Pandora. Who would've thought?
At the end of the hallway she discovered a big room, complete with furniture and a furnace and decorated with even more defunct claptrap units. The claptraps were posed in different positions, with a couple playing cards at a table and a pair relaxing on the couch. They were accompanied by a myriad of dead bodies, or in some cases, pieces of dead bodies, which would've smelled appalling if not for the fact that most of them had refrozen since they'd been moved anyway.
In front of the furnace was an active echo recorder with a nearly dead battery. Apparently whoever had recorded on it had forgotten to switch it off before dropping it. Gaige grabbed it up and huddled in front of the fire, warming her frozen fingers as the message played.
A video appeared, showing a yellow-white version of the claptrap, referencing that it had probably been built at one time by Hyperion. "Hello, future vault hunter!" It said in a cheery mechanical voice. "I am CL4P-TP! But you can call me Claptrap! Or at least, you would be able to, were you in the room with me right now and not looking at this ECHO recorder! That's right, I'm not actually in the room with you! This is a recording! And let me just say, congratulations for surviving that horrible train-wreck that probably brought you here. Your seeming invulnerability to explosions will be Handsome Jack's downfall! And that's actually a useful skill! Unlike some vault-hunters, whose abilities only extend to being able to walk in a straight line." At this, the robot looked away from the camera and shouted "No minion! I told you not to touch that!" Behind him, a door clicked open and a few more claptrap chassis' flew across the room. The claptrap in front of the camera made a sound like a man who'd been kicked in the balls crossed with a grunt of surprise, then continued. "Also, let me congratulate you on your initiation into my future army! That's right, just by making it to this glacier intact automatically qualifies you to be one of my future minions. Come see me in Sanctuary, and we'll see about your embarrassing initiation ceremony. But until then, so long future minion! The growling at the top of my cave is telling me that bullymongs have found a way into my home, and I'm probably about to die a slow and painful death! RUUUUN!" Strangely, he still sounded kind of thrilled about the prospect.
Gaige set down the recorder with a giggle. She couldn't help it, the little robot had been pretty funny, even if it was in an I'm-about-to-have-my-eyeball-ripped-out sort of way. She felt sufficiently warmed to try and find a way off the glacier, and was considering checking out the other end of the house before she noticed that the claptrap had stumbled back into the field of the camera's recorder. "Future minion!" He said, rolling around and trying to find the recorder and tripping over just about everything in the process. "I don't know where you are, but I've got to go get my eye back with the help of my new current minions! Come find me in Sanctuary! You don't want to miss your initiation!" With that, he rolled off, followed by four sets of legs, one set considerably stubbier than the others'.
Gaige looked around for a fast-travel station. They'd been suspiciously absent in the Hyperion space-port, despite fast travel being one of Pandora's most well known experiments. As luck would have it, she found it in a closet on the other side of the room. It activated at her touch, but only one location was available; someplace called three-horns divide. Gaige shrugged. Anywhere was better than here. "Here we go!" She said, and the station beamed her off.