At one time, Maya had thought Pandora was her home. But that was before. Before the Vault, before Hyperion, before Handsome Jack manipulated Angel and killed Roland. That was before the so-called “Heroes of Pandora” had ostracized the one person she felt was real. Krieg.
And as the small shuttle she hijacked from Hyperion’s moon base sped off into space, she glanced over at the displays. The next planet…. too far away for her to care. She had no way of knowing. No way of knowing how long it would take her to get there. No way of knowing if she was alone on the shuttle. And that, to be blunt, was a little unsettling to the sapphire-haired Siren.
The silence of deep space allowed her time. Time to think. Time to go over everything that had happened. To remember the very last thing she had told Lilith before she left the Hyperion Space Station. She could still see the look of utter betrayal in Tiny Tina’s eyes as she said what she did. Of course, the kid was upset; Roland had been her hero, her role model, her father figure. Even though she didn’t realize that her real father figure was right there. Even if he couldn’t remember much of it.
“You, of all people should know what it’s like to be looked at with utter fucking disgust,” Maya had said to Lilith. Krieg just wanted to come along, to help. In his way. And could she blame him for it? He had done everything he could to stay with her. Lilith had looked at Maya like she was insane, and maybe she was. “We’re Sirens, for fuck’s sake! People look at us and either want to worship the ground we walk on. Or they’re terrified.”
Her mind had flashed back to the man the Order had wanted her to kill. The UNARMED man the monks wanted her to just slaughter because he wasn’t paying the Monks enough money to keep them satisfied. “Maya, you’re missing the point,” Lilith had said. “He’s a Psycho. We kill people like him. Before they kill us.”
“You don’t see what I do when I look at him, then.” And, at that, Maya had turned on her heel and stormed off. Right to the shuttle with the loader parts littered around it. Some even still oozed corrosion from her Phase Lock. Some leaked with violet from slag, some still twitched at the electricity flowing through them, and some were on fire. It was just a side effect of what she was. What her skills could do.
The orange and green “wings” of energy that formed when she used her Phase Lock faded as she had climbed up the ramp to the shuttle. “Maya! No! Don’t go, please!” That voice alone had broken her heart. Tina. The only one who couldn’t understand why Lilith and the others hated Krieg so much. Even Tina didn’t hate the Bandits of Pandora. Only a few select ones, the ones who had sold information to Hyperion that eventually led to her parents’ deaths.
“I’m sorry, kiddo. I have to.” Even fucking Axton pleaded with her not to leave. She shouldn’t have been surprised. He’d always wanted a piece of her. And Zer0. He was…. uncharacteristically vocal. “Do you have to leave, Maya? Or is it because you want to leave?” She didn’t know how to answer that. Instead, she just let the doors to the shuttle close on her.
And as she sat in that chair, staring at an unchanging screen in front of her. She let out a cry of frustration, shoving herself to her feet. “Are they serious? Of fucking course, I left! They hate him! And for what? Because he’s different? God FUCKING DAMN IT!” She wasn’t prone to outbursts like this. But this was something altogether different for her. The energy wings formed again, her blue and violet energy surrounding her hand, and she punched a nearby chair. “Fucking idiots. They act as if he hurt them. On purpose. He never has. He’s… He’s never even hurt me.”
Not that she was talking to anyone in particular, nor would she know if she was. She was just screaming into the abyss that was open space until she felt better.
He was used to people judging him. All they had to do was take one good look at him, hear the big guy’s threats, look at those blood-soaked bandages and his notorious buzzsaw and he became the epitome of everything they fought against and more. He had a taste for blood, flesh, and gore, an affliction with violence that went way farther than anything that had been within the intent.
The pretty lady, the most beautiful woman he had ever seen, was leaving and he knew inwardly that it was his fault, both of his faults. Her voice was a beacon that set his mind aflame and he couldn’t hold it within himself, the growl from the big guy that became a snarl as screams filled the ship’s tiny hull and the air itself grew cold with the lack of sunlight.
She deserved better and he couldn’t see what she saw in him. He was ugly, disfigured, destroyed by what had been done by him. He could feel it, whenever he was around her.
I HAVE SWALLOWED THE BEES AND MY STOMACH IS FILLED WITH THEM.
Shuttup, willya? We don’t need to be caught.
My vengeance will be swift and full of existential pleasures like pain and blood and MEATTTTT.
Well, you got me there.
He shifts unevenly in that little space he’s found, legs twisted over one another, his buzzsaw breaking through the bandages on his arms to stick into the hardened flesh of his arms, already broken by the touch of his fingernails. He could hear her, his valkyrie. His damsel in distress. She was angry.
Perhaps it was anger with him. Perhaps it was anger with the rest.
They would travel for as long as they could but hopefully, they had enough food to last the distance. He didn’t know if he could survive, the lack of killing that psychos were known for. Wherever they settled, death would follow.
We’ll shatter their bones and strip the flesh. BLOOD FOR THE BLOOD GOD AND MEAT FOR THE MEATCYCLE.
No, not yet. Quiet.
It’s all for her. Only for her. They would never leave otherwise. She doesn’t know they’re here, doesn’t know that she is about to have a scare. There is movement above, the opening of doors and the approaching sound of pitter-pattering feet.
She has to know.
Be quiet. Be nice… She mustn’t be approached before she’s ready.
His body moves on its open, pressing buttons, pushing at the doors. There’s the sound of broken electrical equipment and bent metal before the buzzsaw is turned on and pushed through metal, showering hot sparks upon them before he bursts free. BADBADBADBADBAD
He breaks through the surface and immediately sets to hammering his head against a very large, very heavy metal support beam. It bends and bulges around our head, showering us in little streaks of blood.
MY LIPS ARE CLOSED AND FULL OF LEAD AND IRON AND THE VOICES OF THE DEAD.
Why must you make my life so hard? Why is it that you mu–
His voice is interrupted. The ground under them grows uneven. They fall and tumble to the floor.
He shifts and then falls to one knee, the world spinning and bulging beneath. When the world stops spinning, he can’t breathe. The mask is heavy, rebreathers gurgling what must be our blood. The world is beginning to grow dark.
FEEL THE RAGE AND THE PAIN FOR I AM THE CONDUCTOR OF THE POOP TRAIN AND THE VALKYRIE IS CLOSE.
It was the sound of crashing, the sound of metal being bent, that caught her attention. Her brows knitted together, a frown touching her lips. Had she been less suspicious of her surroundings, she might have questioned why it was the Hornet she almost always reached for. The small, black and green pistol almost heavy in her hands.
I swear I killed all of the loaders, she thought. What the hell is going on? Silently, she was hoping that it wasn’t Tina, hoping that the girl hadn’t decided to stow herself away on the ship and tag along.
It was the scream that told her that she was wrong. It wasn’t Tna. But it was a cry that she would know anywhere. The Siren sighed, pinching the bridge of her nose before holstering her pistol once more, stalking forward. She wasn’t angry with him. But she wasn’t one to like surprises.
If she could just distract him for a little longer, she could figure out where the ship was going to end up and shove him into cryosleep. She just needed some time. “Damn it,” she muttered, pushing a hand through her blue hair.
She rounded a corner, lifting her hand as those “wings” of hers made an appearance once more, and the blue and violet energy surrounded her hand. Her Phase Lock was aimed right at him, none of the elemental damage being used this time. She just wanted him to stop. He was hurting himself, and the idea that it might be her fault made her uneasy.
“KRIEG! What in the hell are you doing?” Part of her was considering drawing the Hornet once more and peppering his legs with a few rounds. But in deep space, the ammo was hard to come by, and she didn’t know when she’d be able to restock.
Her stomach churned as she looked at him, but not out of disgust. It was a feeling of unease, one of sadness. “Please,” she muttered. “Stop that. You’re just going to hurt yourself. Or break the shuttle. And I don’t want to be marooned out here in the middle of nowhere. I’m sure you don’t either.”
Naive. That’s what Lilith had called her. Naive for trusting a Psycho, naive for treating him like he was just another Vault Hunter. But, wasn’t that what he was? He had saved her life, even if she would have just regenerated at the nearest New-U station in a few minutes. He had seen how she had started to attack him with no questions asked, and he still put himself on the line and saved her. Sure, the big guy spouted a lot of nonsense, and he had trouble communicating, but the more time Maya spent with him, the more she started to understand him.
“If you calm down, I won’t Phase you, okay? Just talk to me? Well… your way of talking, I mean.” But, that was when he fell to the ground. The wings and energy around her hand faded, and she moved to kneel next to him. “Damn it, Krieg,” she muttered. She still had that twinge of guilt, the memory of throwing Roland right back in Lilith’s face right before she left. “If anyone can understand feeling like an outcast, it should be you. Didn’t Roland look past you being a Siren and see you as a person? Or are we just going to forget him now?” She felt bad about what she had said, felt horrible that Lilith turned her head, and Maya had seen the tear slip from her face.
Mordecai, the drunk, had still tried to calm Maya down. He had tried to make her see reason, calling to her more logical side. “Come on, Maya,” he had said. “You didn’t have to say that, amiga. Just come back to Sanctuary with us. We’ll go on a job together. What d’ya say?” She had scoffed and shook her head. She had apologized, telling him that she normally wouldn’t mind, but this was different.
She’d been used all her life, turned into a weapon for the people she thought had cared for her. And Krieg, well, he didn’t make her feel like she was being used.
She reached into a pouch near the “book” on her hip that was glowing golden. And out of it, she pulled a syringe with some sort of red liquid inside. It glowed with a bright light, and she held it tightly in her hand. “I’ve got one of those “feel good needles” for you, okay? We’ll get you fixed up.” And as much as she wanted to plunge that needle into his chest, right into his heart to heal him, she waited. She wanted to hear his voice first. And she wanted him to know that none of her anger was directed at him.
How could it have been? He hadn’t betrayed her. He hadn’t cast her out because of the choices she made. For. Herself. She hadn’t made those choices for anyone else, especially not Lilith. “Hey, big guy, you gonna answer me? Or did you finally knock yourself out slamming your face into something?” She tried to keep herself as distant as possible. At least, for now, she tried. But that didn’t stop worry from seeping into her silver eyes.
He wasn’t sure whether he liked the pain or if it was just something he had been conditioned into since Hyperion had taken him when he was just a child, born in the wilds of Pandora. His eye, single eye, looks at her as if looking at the most beautiful thing in the world and violet energy and wings give her the appearance of an angel.
Tell her she’s beautiful. Tell her that we’ll do anything for her.
“Over here, my sweetmeat, your prince of justice and genocide has something to say: Gone are the days of the tentacle and the age of the gods and mercy is far away… We are fighters of the middle, the second act in the three-part MEAT play, AND I WILL WIN BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR!”
He stops, if not because she is telling him to than because she is looking at him with a look of unease and sadness.
You dufus, you’ve upset her.
The big man growls and then rams his head against that support beam one more time. Then he steps back as the hull begins to crunch and vibrate, little bolts and washers falling and flying around him as he falls back against the hard ground and settles, digging fingernails into the palms of his hands so that the ground is peppered with his blood and those cloth bandages are silhouetted.
“I AM THE CONDUCTOR OF THE POOP TRAIN AND WE HAVE PEPPERED THE MEAT”
He answers her as truthfully as he can, even though in his mind, the reason why and what he’s doing makes so much more sense than what comes past his lips.
“Love me harder.”
He twists his head, reaching down to fiddle with the cloth at his hands. He doesn’t know how to answer her but he does want to talk. They have had moments in the past where both were conscious of the way they were acting with one another and he stumbles and fiddles forth, scooting his large body across the floor as if he were a dog scraping the remnants of shit from their ass after being constipated for days.
“I can’t see her anymore… She was so clear and bright… but the blood is in my eyes, and now I can only watch the ocean of blood… Its waves crash against my forehead again and again, AND I JUST NEED TO LEARN HOW TO SURF!!”
That was almost emotional, big guy. Keep up the good work.
He stops just short of her, tilting his head as she pulls out that needle. He stumbles to his feet, pushing off the ground with those bloodied hands of his before all else and holds his hands out to her.
“STRANGER DANGER. I CAN’T EVEN FEEL THE KNIFE IN MY SPINE”
He looks at her as if suspicious though she is his Valkyrie and he trusts her immensely. He holds out his arm.
“Don’t make this weird.”
“HURT THE ONE YOU LOVE. DO IT”
It was hard for her to make sense of him sometimes, even though she tried so desperately to. But there was one thing she’d started to notice. He always did this to himself when she seemed upset, and she wasn’t really in the mood to vent and rage like he often did. No, she preferred to let herself fall into the trap that was killing and going out on jobs to make things seem clearer in her head. But, out in dead space, there wasn’t really a chance for that.
She knew she wouldn’t be able to stop him from hurting himself unless she Phaselocked him, and she’d told him she wouldn’t if he calmed down. Instead, she stood up off of the floor, and she moved over to him. As she jabbed the needle into his arm, she sighed. “I’m not angry with you, Krieg.” She should have been, though. At least, that’s what the other Crimson Raiders would have had her do. After a moment, she sat down next to him, crossing her legs beneath her.
Her lips were a straight, thin line across her face, silver eyes burning with rage. “I was angry with them,” she said after a moment. There was a hardness to her voice, one she didn’t even realize that she was capable of. “How is it possible for them to be so fucking stupid? So what if you’re different? I’m a Siren, for fuck’s sake. I’m about as different as you can get, and they welcomed me with open arms.”
She sighed. She knew that there had to be some part of him that understood why she was so angry. That understood why she wanted to prove them wrong. She looked over at him with those silver eyes, eyes that seemed almost darker with her anger. “I don’t know where we’re gonna end up, big guy. But, I won’t leave, okay?” She reached her hand, the one closest to him, and her fingers trembled slightly. She wanted to touch him, to offer some reassurance, but she wasn’t sure how he’d react to it.
It took a moment, but she dropped her hand back into her lap, glancing away from him. She wanted to comfort him, but she didn’t know how the hell to do something like that. Her position shifted, her knees being brought up to her chest, arms wrapping around her legs. “I shouldn’t be over here ranting. I’m sorry.” She leaned her forehead against her knees, taking one last glance towards the cockpit before she couldn’t see it anymore. She turned her head, looking over at him again.
“Hey, when we get where we’re going, you wanna go kill something?”
She was a siren and there were other sirens out there just like her but she was his siren whether she knew it or not. He didn’t want to be too overbearing, didn’t want to be too rough, but he did want to be with her one way or another. Things felt off when they weren’t and she had tried to leave without saying anything or giving him a choice in the matter of him being with her when she went off to explore another planet. He could feel that rage bubbling in his chest like a slag ripping into him but it only made the heat stirring deep within him froth and explode into a foray of feelings and emotions he couldn’t understand.
In the needle went, the feel-good needle jabbed directly into his arm and not in a location that was devoid of pain but into a scarred, knotted place where his shoulders met the underside of his arm-pit.
“FRIENDSHIP IS PAIN AND I CAN FEEL YOUR SPANKING”
Did you really have to go there? Comfort her. Or at least let me take over so I can do it.
“NEVER. NOT SO LONG AS I LIVE”
He looks frustrated, annoyed, but then calm as she reaches a hand toward him but then stops mid-way, settling that hand back and into her lap.
“You don’t deserve this. I do.”
He reaches out with that bloody hand, still not quite sure what she used on him. He’s beginning to feel sleepy, sleepy and damned cold. But he likes the flush of coolness that tempers the heat exploding in an array of stars within his chest. Figures, right? He grabs her hand and pulls it to his chest. Even as the beast roars in that head of his, him momentarily taking over, he pulls the mask up over his head just a little so that his scarred lips are barred and then smiles at her, giving just the faintest glimpse of emotion.
Then he tugs that mask back down. He mustn’t expose himself. She wouldn’t understand. She’ll be disgusted. He knows it, the big guy knows it which is why they consider rampaging their way to the small ships docking quarters.
They don’t, though.
Killing things. Yes… They need that.
I AM DEATH AND DEATH BECOMES ME.