Axton was leaning on the side of a building by the Fast Travel station, awaiting Zer0's arrival. He poked at something unknown that had gotten stuck between his back molars with his tongue. He glanced up to see a flock of rakk passing over the floating city. It had been about 30 minutes since he messaged Zer0, and the ex-soldier wondered what was taking so long.
Axton glanced over and smiled as Zer0 regenerated from the Fast Travel station. He walked over at a leisurely pace while rolling his shoulders, trying to remove the tension from resting on the hard wall. "Welcome back…" he stopped walking when he saw Zer0's posture. The usually tireless man now wore an air of fatigue; shoulders slouched and arms dangling with deadweight.
Axton's eyes drifted downward and saw the stalker attached to his leg, chewing away. "Uh, Zer0?" Said man only hummed in response. "You do know there's a, uhm, thing eating your leg, right?"
Zer0 glanced down, lifting up his leg slightly as if to get a better view. "…Yes. I do know." He set his leg back down. Axton raised an eyebrow and turned his nose up, eyes trained on the stalker. "Well, would you, I dunno… maybe want it off?" He looked back up to Zer0, who slowly nodded. "Yes, I would like that."
"Alrighty then," Axton said, cracking his neck. He went to grab the stalker, but Zer0 caught his wrist. "That's not a wise move/ I've tried it myself, trust me/ The bastard can bite." Axton straightened himself out and gave Zer0 a once over. "Maybe Hammerlock can help. Lilith should be able to wait a bit until we sort out this-" he gestured to the young stalker, which had stopped its gnawing to growl at him, "problem."
He flinched as the sound of Zer0's cracking shield burst through the air.
"How delightful, an infant stalker!" Hammerlock exclaimed taking a step closer to Zer0, who was sitting on one of the bar seats. "Now let's take a closer look here…" He bent forward, one hand behind his back and another stroking his mustache. "Hm, yes, I'd predict only about three months of age… and a needle stalker by the looks of the tail." Hammerlock circled around the stalker, who had braced itself by digging its tiny, sharp claws into Zer0's calf. It hissed and screeched at him, but showed no signs of running away.
Axton watched from the left-hand corner of the bar, near the slot machines. He had bent over the bar to talk a bit more closely with Moxxi. She seemed keen to his flirting, but didn't show any signs of not liking it. "And so that's about it. Zer0's been tryin' to get the thing away from him since about two hours ago, I'm thinking."
Moxxi pouted and turned to Zer0, who seemed to have recovered his stiff attitude. "Aw, poor thing; and I ain't talkin' about the stalker, sugar." Zer0 made no move to reply.
"You seem like you've had a rough day, big guy; how about a round o' drinks, on the house?" Moxxi went to place her hand on Zer0's shoulder, but pulled it away when Zer0 snapped his head in her direction, a clear warning to stay away.
Moxxi's eyes went wide for a moment before becoming half-lidded once more. She gave a crooked smile and shrugged her shoulders. "I don't mind you hard-to-get types. Lemme know if you change your mind." She turned and sauntered towards the back room.
Hammerlock continued his analysis. "Yes, the soft fur upon its back, legs and head will soon be replaced with smooth, durable armor. I'd say within 4 months' time. Hmm." Hammerlock leaned in closer, earning a growl from the stalker. "Its natural shield appears to be almost completely depleted. But they do replenish, given some time."
Hammerlock rose from one knee and brushed himself off from the dusty floor. It wasn't like Moxxi did a bang-up job cleaning the place, but no one seemed to care or complain. "My dear boy, if you don't mind, I'd like to remove this creature from your person and study it further. I have never gotten an opportunity to examine a live one at such close range, until now."
Zer0 held his leg out, the stalker pressing its head harder into his suit. "Go right ahead."
"Excellent," Hammerlock exclaimed. "I'll just need to contain it, then, do a dissection! In depth analysis, HO!"
Hammerlock reached down gruffly and began to pull the stalker off of Zer0's leg with his robotic arm. It squawked in complaint and scratched at the suit, trying to get a better grip. After it was completely removed, Zer0 reached down and felt his armor. The emoticon ':(' was displayed in front of his helmet as he fingered the laceration.
"We'll get it fixed, buddy." Axton said comfortingly, putting his hand on the other's shoulder.
Meanwhile, Hammerlock struggled with the stalker as it attacked his arm, biting the metal in rapid succession. He attempted to capture it with both hands, but every time he reached for it, the stalker went to rip his fingers off.
"Quiet the lively one, isn't he?" Hammerlock grumbled as he continued to wage war with the creature.
"Whoa, whoa, whoa! What the hell are you doin'?" All three turned to the back entrance of the bar as Mordecai stepped in; his new bird of prey perched on his shoulder. It had only been hatched a month ago, but could already glide small distances. Axton stepped forward and made to start talking, but Mordecai put his hand up. "I heard it all via ECHO, that's not what I'm asking."
He moved towards Hammerlock, the stalker stopped its rampage to spit out a hiss at Mordecai before locking eyes with his bird. "You're handling that thing all wrong," he said patiently. "Let me see-"
The stalker leapt from Hammerlock's grasp in an instant, sight set on the bird. The fledgling made to attack, but Mordecai quickly reached up and pulled his bird away, tucking it safely into his chest, extending his other hand to catch the stalker midair.
The stalker's front legs were pinned up to its neck, locked and unable to move by Mordecai's hand. It panicked a moment, scratching at his gloved hand with its back legs, trying to remove the tight grip. The man gently let his bloodwing down on his shoulder. It ruffled its feathers and let out a huff of annoyance, then lifted its wing to begin preening under it.
If Mordecai was angry, he didn't show it, the mask covering most of his emotions from the world. Hammerlock and the others watched as Mordecai hastily pinched the stalker's tail just where the small, black nubs grew at the end. He then proceeded to do the same with its neck, pinching the excess skin at the top like a mother cat would do to carry her young.
The tiny stalker squirmed a bit more before falling into fatigue. It let out a whimper of fear as Mordecai leaned his face towards it. "Don't go near my bird," he said threateningly, voice even and cold. The stalker pulled its arms up to his heaving chest, eyes darting from the bird, who wore an air of arrogance now, to Mordecai.
Hammerlock cleared his throat as he stepped forward to Mordecai. "Very good, sir; I can see that hunter instinct shines right and well, when you need it to." He gave a sly smile and bowed lightly, holding the now incapacitated stalker out to Hammerlock.
"Ah, not yet, not yet," the scholar waved his hand as he turned to walk. "Allow me to get my specimen preservation enclosure." Axton raised an eyebrow at him. "Uh, you mean a cage?"
Hammerlock looked back at him superciliously as he opened the door to the bar room of the bar. "Well, if you mind getting technical about it, yes."
Moxxi slipped passed him as he went into the storage room, carrying a crate of rakk ale. She eyed Mordecai for a moment before speaking. "Oh, I thought I heard a chickenrat scurrying around out here causing a commotion."
Mordecai merely looked about the floor for the animal in an over exaggerated manner, feigning ignorance. He looked back to Moxxi. "Yeah, damn things will always be around, especially when they smell something rotten."
Axton and Zer0 exchanged a turn of the head, Axton standing stiffly with his arms crossed and Zer0 picking at the cut in his suit. An ellipsis was displayed on his emotion reader, meaning he was waiting for the nuclear war head to hit the fan.
Moxxi hoisted the large crate and slammed it onto the top of the bar, the bottles inside clattering like a heavy wind chime in a dust storm. A few patrons stopped their knife-throwing and small talk to glace over, but quickly remembered that not minding your own business on Pandora with get you a few bullets to the head.
She glared at Mordecai, eyes like hot pokers. "You think you're funny, kid?" she spit, upper lip curled. The hunter only gave a dark chuckle as his bird slowly brought its weight from one foot to the next, warming up for an attack. "Callin' me a kid - at my age?" He took in a sharp breath, tilting his head inquisitively.
"That begs the question: what is all that make-up hiding?" Axton and Zer0 once again exchanged glances, the slight turn of Zer0's head the only indicator that he was making eye contact. Axton mouthed the word 'ouch' with a smile threatening to creep onto his lips. Zer0 nodded slightly as the word 'OWND' quickly came and went in front of his helmet.
They looked back at the sound of Moxxi seething, head tilted downward and eyes piercing right up into Mordecai's, who stood coolly with a look of triumph on his viewable features.
The stalker was still hanging daintily from his fingers, shaking as if it could feel the tension in the air.
Oh wow, chapter two is done after a long procrastination. Sorry for that, and thanks everyone who was patient and encouraged me with all the follows, favorites and reviews. I love reviews!
I'm glad with how the story is going so far, and I hope you are, too. :) If you have any suggestions or critique please let me know~
Also, if you find any punctuation/grammar errors PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE let me know!
Until next time, peace out, girl scout!