Chapter 3: #Corridor Story
A/n: Nothing much for author's note so just responses to reviews.
Metimesthree: I didn't realise how poorly separated the POVs were that last chapter until you told me :O. Thanks, gonna make sure that doesn't happen again. Usually I separate them with a center-aligned '*'. Thanks again for the reminder.
Amorgan6704: Well uh... I'm honestly not sure how to respond to that so I'm gonna stick to school since I'm too young to get a job lol.
Anon: Thanks, anon! If it's one thing people sure do love it's a cliffhanger.
MaxZer0Always: Glad to know I helped you out with your stress stuff. :D Love your stories too xD
Sunshine Muncher: Thanks, Yeah I'll admit I was slacking a little before planning the sequel :L
Chapter Summary: Zero finds himself spawned in an odd location, but he soon finds it might be even more dangerous than he expected. Meanwhile, Maya and her deranged captor embark on their mission to kill some person, while dealing with surprisingly minimal threats.
Were there choirs on Pandora? He doubted it. No one was stupid enough to stand around singing all day on a bandit-infested planet. To make matters worse, his damned helmet was not working. Must have been the impact and the damage his body had taken when Maya killed the Warrior. Speaking of Maya, he could not see any sign of anyone else spawning here. And- oh god she had kissed him. Right there, he was willing to give up the whole cold, lone wolf image he had developed over the years all for her, but then the warrior literally blew up from the force of Maya's Phase Lock, and he found himself being swept off his feet. He reached out and pulled Maya towards him, keeping her pressed against his body, hoping that she would live through this. And if there was some sort of miracle, maybe he could too.
But the metal shrapnel that had lodged itself into his neck had swiftly ended what he thought was his last life and he found himself hoping she had not suffered the same fate. She might not have been so lucky as to get through respawn as he did, which was miraculous. How many functioning respawn stations were there on Pandora? Never mind. He had better things to do rather than to sit around asking questions he had no answers to. Still hopeful, he decided to answer the questions that clouded his mind on his own. His HUD was gone, and his minimap absent, making it hard for him to read the environment and pinpoint his exact location. Normally, he would pick out specific contour lines and remember the formation of rocks and ravines, memorising them and other landmarks. Without his ECHO, he would have to observe his surroundings the old fashioned way.
He stared at the ground around him- not sand or ice, like most of Pandora was covered with. That allowed him to eliminate a few options like the Fridge or the Dust- Which was good, since he would rather not have to endure the cold, relentless blizzards of Pandora's Tundra or deal with sunburns. He had respawned on grass- but not dying grass. The grass he stood on was a vibrant, rich green, as though someone had tended to it recently. He did not know of any gardeners on Pandora or anyone who had the privilege of having a yard to himself or herself. Either someone had wasted hours of their time watering the grass all day, or it rained here. He had seen blizzards, sandstorms, but never rain. In fact, he could distinctly recall Tannis telling them of Pandora's interesting climate, for it was one of the few planets that did not rain, hence explaining its mostly dead terrain. The Highlands maybe? That was a more likely explanation.
He looked around him instead. He was not in a field, so it was likely he was in a more confined area in the Highlands. Maybe he was in a crevasse somewhere or beneath a road. yet, he was not. The walls around him were not stone, but instead, concrete. It was a building. When he looked up, there was not a road, but instead, he found himself gazing up into the sun, and it was so bright that it literally scorched his eyes, forcing him to rip off the helmet to place his hands over his eyelids, rubbing them till his eyes reddened. That helmet wasn't working, anyway. He could simply leave it there. He turned back to look at the respawn station, which looked as abandoned as ever. It had rusted, but it didn't seem fully abandoned. Something was off about it. Next to it was a tree- likely an oak, he concluded, given the texture of its bark. Its leaves were falling off, some getting caught in the sunlight, creating an eerily beautiful sight of leaves falling to the ground. He'd never seen anything like it. Occasionally, a few would land on the respawn station, and come to rest atop its edges. And then he realized what was off. If it had been permanently abandoned and forgotten by the inhabitants of this odd place, there would be more leaves on it. It would probably be buried by leaves by now, had it been a month since someone had visited it. Someone must have been tending to this place.
What stood out the most was the arch of leaves and vines over it. Almost as though someone had worshipped this respawn station. Maybe it was a wedding arch? Maybe this was once the site for a wedding? He wouldn't blame the bride and groom. Despite the lack of space which would probably frighten claustrophobic guests, this was a rather serene place for a wedding. He wished he could have more time like this. Peace. Quiet.
But however, he decided he would never truly be happy if he was alone. Back on Eden, he'd always felt lonely. But upon his arrival to Pandora, he found his problem remedied. He liked being with the other vault hunters. With them, he was truly happy. But most importantly, he was happiest with Maya. Call it favouritism, but it was the truth. So he picked himself up, and headed to what seemed to be the exit to this small haven. That was a suitable name, fitting for a place this safe. In the future, he would refer to this as Haven- His personal sanctuary.
Wow, he'd just set foot on this strange place and he'd already claimed it for himself.
He was headed down a corridor. A rather dark one, he realized. While Haven had been bright and heavenly, this in comparison was a great contrast. Someone really needed to light this hallway up. Every now and then, he'd glance at his feet and hope he'd not trip on something. He nearly collided with a wall after staring at the ground for too long. It was hard to figure out if he even had feet at this point, as he wasn't actually fond of being completely in the dark, which was odd for an assassin. True, the shadows were his friend in most contracts, as he often used them as a cloak to hide from unsuspecting prey, but he'd used the night vision feature in his helmet. He found training one's eyes to see perfectly in the dark silly and cliched, in other words, a rather embarrassing waste of time. Who had the time to sit around in the dark all day trying to make out shapes and figures anyway? Well certainly not him, as he'd rather make money than sit around for hours trying to acquire night vision. When he looked up, he came face to face with a wall. Not a dead end, much to his relief, for it would be a waste to build a useless corridor.
The corridor took a turn to the right, and Zero's initial reaction to this building's odd layout was to criticise the poor architecture and planning. Fortunately, the light at the end of this corridor revealed a couple of doors, with a red one at the end of it. He assumed that this one had to be the exit and cautiously made his way past the doors, twisting the doorknob to the red door. It didn't budge the first time, but a few light shoves took care of it. But instead of being greeted with the vast green fields of the Highlands, he found himself in what looked like an old bedroom, with cobwebs on the ceiling and a few ants crawling across an empty bed frame.
There was a closet with several coats, shirts, hats and jeans hanging. This would be of use to him. People would very easily tell it was him even without the helmet, since he was wearing his suit which wasn't exactly subtle. Sighing, he threw on a pair of jeans, a beret, a blue shirt and a grey coat, with his suit under it. If someone were to shoot at him for no good reason, his suit should be able to withstand quite a few shots before tearing, giving him ample time to escape. Thankfully, his katana was still with him, and he pulled the bottom of his shirt down to conceal its hilt.
Zero found his disguise appropriate, despite how much he hated that beret, but he managed to pull it down a bit to the point where it concealed his eyes. He didn't know how they happened to be coloured so strangely, and neither was he sure if it was natural or artificial. It was more likely that it was artificial though, since he could recall being in a lab at one point in his life, cooped up in a cage all day and having needles poked into him like a literal lab rat. He didn't know where those memories came from, and he was also, too afraid to find out, so he tried not to think about it too often.
The window in the room was unfortunately, boarded up, and from the gaps he could make out a garden. He'd considered climbing over the fence in the garden, only to find that the scenery was merely a holograph. Whoever lived here had been staring at a screen, under the impression it was all really there. The thought was rather depressing, to be honest. He left the bedroom, turning his attention to the other four doors in the hallway. The first was locked, but he managed to get rid of it by kicking it open, only to reveal a bathroom with no windows. The other two doors led to empty rooms with ant trails and nests, but the last one led to another corridor, which was actually lit, except the door at the end of this corridor was made of stained glass framed by white wood.
As he made his way down this corridor, he found the choir getting louder, and the only logical explanation for that was that they were right behind this door. He rested his palm on the doorknob for a second, considering the dangers of revealing himself to the choir. They would either help him or attack him. In fear of the latter occurring, he kept his other hand on his hip, close enough to the hilt of his katana for him to retrieve and unsheathe it before anyone could pull out a weapon of sorts.
He let out an inaudible sigh, before twisting the doorknob and stepping out of the corridor. Instead of a group of people however, there was only an old woman and a radio. What seemed to be the religious singing from before was all just coming from that radio, but what was weirder was the woman. She had her back turned to him, and was… Conducting the choir (which was a radio sitting on a stool).
All of a sudden, the music stopped, and she turned to face him.
"Goodness me, child. You've interrupted us!" She began, a frail smile on her face. Well, didn't look like she'd be attacking him anytime soon. He stuffed his hands in his pockets.
"Sorry…" He mumbled. How long had it been since he'd spoken? Not counting his encounter with the Engineer back in Opportunity, it must have been years.
"Where am-" He paused mid-sentence, realising he'd constructed a haiku in his head and was about to say it. Without the mask, it would seem odd.
"Um… Where am I?" He asked, trying to sound as casual as it could, but it was weird, not having spoken for a few years.
"Why, you're in the church of the Impending Storm, my child. Home of the order. A place of justice. The heart of Athenas."
The girl had brought Maya to a nearby Catch-A-Ride and made her drive. When asked why she didn't want to drive, the girl simply responded,"I'm not too good with vehicles." Maya had seriously considered driving over to a bandit camp somewhere, crashing into a tent and running the hell out of there, hoping the girl would be gunned down. The only problem was that the girl kept a gun to her head at all times, and was reading directions out on a map to her. They had driven out into the Dust at this point, and Maya's hands were starting to ache.
"Ah, shit, the map's malfunctioning. It's like someone's jamming my ECHO or something." The girl groaned, pointing at something above her brow, which was where Maya assumed her minimap was. "We gotta get like… Proper directions now. Come on, let's head on over to Ellie's." The girl suggested.
"Wait… Ellie's?" Maya asked, sounding quite surprised. She didn't think Ellie associated with bandits.
"Yeah, Ellie's. You know, fat chick with the garage?" The girl responded rudely, pointing over to Ellie's garage which was further out in the distance. Well, this girl was as stupid as she looked. Escaping from her would be easy. Ellie would for sure help her get rid of this somewhat annoying girl.
"Okay, sure." Maya replied, sounding a little too excited in the process. The girl glanced at her for a moment, having noticed her excitement, before shrugging it off and leaning back into her chair.
This girl was so dead.
Athenas. Fantastic. Zero didn't know how he even made it here. For now, he would have to entertain this old lady.
"Child, you have been chosen by the goddess. She has chosen for you to be reborn, for you to be cleansed." The lady gestured to the really freakishly huge stained glass windows behind her. Zero had to squint to see it, but he finally made out the shapes. And on the stained glass, was Maya, her hair long enough to reach the ground, wearing purple robes.
"Maya?" Zero asked, not sure what to make out of this situation.
"Oh dear, the goddess has not only given you the gift of a second life, but she has chosen to bless you with her name? Why… Child, this is a sign. She has chosen you." Zero wasn't exactly surprised, I mean she did in fact choose him over a maniacal psycho, a depressed soldier and a Pandoran midget, which was quite flattering and very strange for him, but he guessed she was referring to something else.
"She has chosen you… For-" She was cut off when someone threw the main doors to the church open. In strode a man with black robes and pale white hair. (If you need visualization, picture Frollo from the Hunchback, Disney edition.)
"Bethel, that man is no angel."
"But Brother Ius-!"
"Silence, Bethel! He is not an angel! He is but an unholy monster! A bane to our goddess' existence!"
Brother Ius turned his attention to Zero, who was resting his hand on his hilt at this point, ready to unsheathe it and slice this man's neck.
"Well, well, well. I expected you to return some day, being the one our Goddess cared for the most. It was only logical that out of all people, she'd choose you to be reborn."
And Zero pulled his katana out, thrusting it into Brother Ius' chest, before twisting it, scowling at the elder man. He had no idea what this man was talking about, but he wasn't going to listen to any more of it.
Before Zero could make out what was happening next, Bethel had let out a blood curling scream, and he found himself crashing through the stained glass, out into the Streets of Athenas.
This went through like 5 rounds of editing. Also corridors.