Night has fallen on Pandora, but even after keeping your eyes shut for hours you haven't managed to fall asleep. Instead, you've just been pretending to. The boredom sure beats another blunt force trauma-induced coma.
The campsite is suspiciously quiet. You crack an eye open.
Oh… Right. That one’s still offline.
You open your good eye and look around the re-purposed escape shuttle you've been using as a shelter.
The campfire has burned out, making it damn cold and difficult to see anything. Fiona is asleep at your feet, snoring quietly.
Outside, Pandora is quiet. No skags, no fiery space debris crashing down from the sky, nothing. The Stranger - the masked gunman who (quite literally) dragged you into this mess a few days ago - is nowhere in sight.
"Finally, some privacy..." You mutter to yourself. This is great. This is exactly the opportunity you've been waiting for!
You just, uh, have no idea what to do with it. Sure, you could make a break for it, but you're still very much tied up and there's no telling how far you'd get like that. Or you could wake Fiona up. Maybe she'd know what to do. ...'Course, she might get pissed off at you for waking her up, and her yelling could call the Stranger back. Or maybe she'd slow you down. Or maybe this is all a trick, and if you tell her you're escaping she'll turn you in and...
You take a deep breath. "Think, think, think. Where to start?"
I'd try to use my cybernetics to get my atlas-employees over here so they could bring me back to a save place (if I understood this rhys-takes-atlas-thing right, the company belongs to him now, so he could do this, right?)
Even if your arm was free you doubt it would have done you any good. You built this thing immediately after the incident a few months back, and have been so busy trying to get Atlas off the ground that you haven’t gotten around to fixing it up.
It’s nowhere near as elegant as your old one. No hacking utilities, no phone calls, nothing. Except a book light. Half the time it’s not even tactile, and you’ve snapped more than a few coffee mugs from over-applying pressure. It's a good thing you're left handed.
As for your ECHO eye… well, trying to find a cybernetics surgeon on Pandora with a medical license is like trying to find a pineapple pizza at a Psycho's party. No matter what the brochure says, you're in for a nasty surprise. You shoved a new lens in there and called it a day.
You wiggle your arm against the restraints, but it doesn’t budge.
“Okay. The next model is definitely getting super strength. Or inbuilt scissors. Or… something!"
My Rhys would try to think of a way to wake Fiona up without making any noise, like covering her mouth with his boot. (Gross, but hands aren't an option here). And so what if she gets more pissed, she's already angry. Whats more anger added?
I would wake up Fiona, because it'll be rude as hell to try and leave without her. Plus, two heads are better than one!
Gently kick Fiona to wake her up.
As much of a pain in the ass Fiona has been these past few days, you can’t bring yourself to ditch her. You gently nudge Fiona in the face with the toe of your boot.
She doesn’t seem to notice.
You shift your weight onto your other leg and try again.
WAIT. SHIT. THAT’S NOT WHAT YOU MEANT TO DO.
You didn't realize her face was that close! Fiona’s hat flies into the corner of the room. Before you can mourn the loss of your depth perception, she rolls onto her side and begins to say something. Figuring silence is key to your escape, you preemptively shut her up the only way you know how.
"Still less awkward than a headbutt to the teeth," you think to yourself.
Fiona would like to know what the hell you’re doing.
rhys tells her to be silent before he removes his foot, explaining that the stranger is gone, asking her if she maybe carries a knife or something sharp anywhere in her pockets. she's a pandoran, after all
Basically explain the situation - Stranger is gone and she better be quiet, because the noise could draw Stranger back. [...] Oh, and don't forget to remove the foot.
“Shh! Shhhhh shh shh-!”
Fiona wriggles around, trying to remove your boot from her face. It takes an awkward balancing act to keep her mouth covered.
“I’m going to take my foot back in a second, and when I do, pleaaaaaaaase don’t yell at me. Okay?”
Fiona gives you a blank stare in response. Figuring that’s as good an answer as you’re gonna get, you carefully retract your leg.
“Ugh.” Fiona does her best to wipe the dirt from her face onto her shoulder. “What the hell are those boots made out of? Feels like my head nearly split open.”
“I thought I told you to keep your voice down!”
“Right, right…” She yawns. “What do you want, Rhys?”
“Look, we don’t have a lot of time. The guy with the mask is gone, and I don’t want to be here when he gets back!”
“What?” Fiona struggles into a sitting position. “How long has he-”
“Don't know, wasn’t paying attention, don't really care. You’ve gotta cut us out of here!”
“You’re Pandoran! You people never go anywhere without stabby things!”
“Oh, so we’re back to this again, are we?” Fiona mutters something under her breath, then composes herself. “You're thinking of guns, Rhys. You ever tried throwing a knife at a guy with a gun? I have. It doesn’t work.”
“Well, I mean… Zer0 had a sword…”
“But they’re not here now, are they?”
You slump back against the wall with a sigh.
Fiona flexes her fingers. “I still have my Derringer up my sleeve. Not sure if that helps the situation…”
“Wha- really? Why didn’t you just shoot him earlier when you had your hands free?!”
Fiona shrugs. “Didn’t want to.”
The hell is that supposed to mean? “Can you get it free?”
Then ask her what to do, because his earlier suggestion to run wasn't really successful.
“You got a plan, Rhys?”
“Uhh... not exactly. I was really banking on you having that knife. Or coming up with a plan.”
Fiona snickers. “I guess zig-zagging can only get you so far.”
“Wha- hey! That totally would have worked! It’s not my fault that fiery bullshit started raining down from the sky.”
“Whatever you say.” Fiona shuts her eyes for a moment, lost in thought. “Okay. We’ve got a few options.”
“One; we make a break for it. Outside is littered with sharp metal, so there’s gotta be something we can use to cut ourselves free. ’Course, if you trip and fall, I won’t be able to pick you up until my hands are free.”
“Plus I could get impaled. Okay. What’s number two?”
“I set you on fire.”
“I’m sorry - what.”
“My pistol shoots fire, remember? If I stand up, I should be able to shoot your restraints.”
“That sounds pretty lethal to me!”
“Not if you stop drop and roll. With a bit of luck it might burn off those ropes. It’d make a lot of noise, so we wouldn’t have as much time to get away. But having arms would be nice.”
“Or three; we stay here and go back to sleep.”
“And that would help us how, exactly?”
“Look, we don’t know what this guy wants out of us. Maybe it would just be better to keep telling the story until we do.”
“Fiona, he’s got two parts of Gortys and we’re almost out of story to tell! Do you really think he’ll need us alive when we’re done talking?”
She shrugs. “Then we make stuff up. Embellish a little. If we’re good, maybe he’ll untie us again so I can…” she trails off.
“…Can? Can what?”
Fiona shakes her head. “Never mind. That’s all I got. What do you wanna do?”
I vote for number 2. if fiona sets the part on fire where rhys' cybernetical arm is tied, he might even get out of there without burning-wounds. then it's pretty easy for him to untie fiona
“Okay… Can’t believe I’m saying this, but would you kindly shoot me in the shoulder?”
“Of course, Rhys!” She flashes you an enthusiastic smile. You can't tell if she was trying to lighten the mood or not.
Fiona is on her feet within a matter of seconds. With a flick of her wrist, the hidden mechanisms in her sleeve push the derringer into her hands.
“Right or left?” she asks, indicating your shoulders.
“Right. The metal one.”
She nods. “I probably should’ve thought of that.” She slides up to you, carefully balancing the gun against the top of the restraints. “Ready?”
“Not in the slightest.”
“Okay then. Sit still.”
Her index finger brushes against the trigger…
“You know, I've thought it over,” you start to say. “And I actually think I'd rather stick with plan A--”
Everything happens at once. The gun fires. The ropes ignite. The shelter lights up. Fiona drops the derringer. Your half-formed sentence trails off into a scream.
You struggle against the ropes…
…and successfully rip them apart. You spend your first few moments of freedom extinguishing a small shirt fire.
“Hah,” you puff. “I can’t believe that worked!”
Fiona doesn’t respond. You notice she isn’t looking at you.
You look outside. A pair of flashlights are just barely visible on the distant horizon.
“Shit!” Fiona turns to face you again. “Rhys, hurry it up!”
Try to untie Fiona. Yes, with hands. Imagine Rhys with a gun. Just no. If it takes too long, give up, take Fiona’s hat and derringer and run away while encouraging Fiona to run too.
You snatch Fiona’s hat and pistol off the ground. The gun is surprisingly light.
You flip it over in your hands, looking for the safety. You can’t find it. Does it even have one? Hyperion pistols do. You’ve never handled a non-Hyperion pistol before. Come to think of it, you haven’t touched any Hyperion firearm before either–
“Rhys.” Fiona’s voice is strained. “Focus.”
“R-right. I’m coming!” You shove the gun into your back pocket, say a silent prayer that you don’t accidentally trigger it and shoot yourself in the ass, then start on Fiona’s ropes.
“What’s the hold-up?” Fiona cranes her neck, trying to see what you’re doing.
“I can’t find the knot!”
“What do you mean you can’t–? Forget it! We have to go! Right now!”
“I know! I know!” You grab the ropes and make a rather pathetic attempt to tear them apart.
“Seriously?!” Fiona shrugs your hand away.
There’s a shout in the distance.
"Okay. Plan B."
“Huff… huff… huff…”
You zigzag blindly between pillars of stone and debris, trying to put as much distance between yourself and your former captor. Fiona, to her credit, is doing an amazing job of keeping the pace even with her arms tied. Has she done this before?
You, on the other hand, aren't doing quite as well. It doesn’t take long before years of sitting behind a desk starts to catch up with you. Your chest starts to burn. Breathing becomes a struggle. Vaughn was really on to something with that exercise bike of his--
A gunshot rings out from behind you. You dive to the right in a blind panic.
“Oooohohoho, please no…” you drag yourself behind a boulder.
You press up against the boulder and try to slow your breathing.
Wait- where’s Fiona? Did she keep running? She didn’t trip, did she? You peer cautiously around the edge, trying to catch a glimpse of her.
Footsteps. A pair of flashlights. You pull yourself back behind your hiding place and wait for them to pass. Annoyingly, your pursuers slow right outside your hiding spot.
“I don’t recall asking for your help,” the masked gunman mutters. A flashlight beam sweeps past.
“Oh, I ain’t doing this for you.” A second voice. A familiar one, at that. “Relax. You’ll get your bandit. I just want a little bit of upfront payment first. That’s all.”
The gunman does not respond. “Where’d that gangly piece of shit get to? I know I saw him take a dive.”
I suggest that rhys uses his echo-eye to hack the hyperion-gun of the stranger, just as he did with vasquez’ gun. then he blows it up.
I wonder if Jack_Hax.exe is still--
A sharp stabbing sensation hits your temple. You reflexively bite your hand to avoid crying out. Aaaaaaaaaagh shitgoddamnit not again!
You don’t know if the pain is your cybernetics trying to tell you that you're missing something vital, or if a wire that came loose in your skull after you took to it with a shard of glass. Maybe it’s both. Either way, it serves as a rather unpleasant reminder that the days of Jack’s assistance are long gone, giving you a splitting headache any time you try to use your old Hyperion software.
The pain clears quickly. The frustration, less so. You rummage through your pockets, trying to find something of use.
Things were soooo much easier when he was around…
Welp, no time to look for Fiona now. Sorry Fi. Try to throw the “Weird Fruit” from the inventory so that it makes some sound to distract the persuers and run in the opposite direction.
You give the fruit a careful squish. As you suspected, three days of being stuffed in your pocket has softened it into something totally inedible. Deciding that there’s no point in keeping it when it’s like that, you wait for landmine-chin to start talking again and launch it over your shoulder.
“You’d better not have been wastin’ my time here,” Finch says. (Or was it Kroger? You never did ask who was who.) “First it’s all ‘go chase down a cult!’. Then it’s ‘hunt your own payment!”
“Go back to the car. You’re far too noisy.”
“Uh-uh. I ain’t goin’–”
“The hell was that?!”
Good question, but not good enough to risk sticking around.
You scramble in the opposite direction.
As you hurry away, you hear the unmistakable shriek of a Skag followed by a volley of gunfire. There’s a sickening crunch and Finch (Kroger?) cusses louder than ever.
You don’t look back. Standard Pandoran sounds like that don’t phase you as much as they used to.
The debris begins to thin out. You duck behind an escape pod and pause for breath, assessing your surroundings as you do so. There’s a vehicle on your left - one of those bandit trucks with more spikes than moving parts. Kroger’s, probably.
It’s just sitting there, right out in the open. You glance back the way you came. There’s only one flashlight now, reflecting off the twisted metal hulls of Helios escape pods.
You weigh the situation up in your head. The car isn’t far from you, but there’s no way to it without breaking cover…
one of them is waiting in the car! I BET IT!
GO FOR IT RHYS, RUN FOR THE CAR!
You briefly consider lying low. Causing a distraction and sneaking away worked before, but hitting that skag was a fluke and you doubt you could pull of a distraction of that magnitude again. As the flashlight draws ever closer you consider the possibility of having to walk the Pandoran desert a second time. Your stomach drops.
You make a snap decision and bolt to the truck.
You don't see anyone in the gunner's seat as you approach, nor anyone in the driver's cabin.
Weird. Has Kroger ever done anything without his buddy backing him up? Where the hell is he?
Certain that this is too good to be true, you peer cautiously around the back of the truck, cybernetic fist raised and ready to go.
Still nothing? Huh. You thought for sure you’d have to punch someone out there.
Drive drive drive! As far away as possible!
Time to go.
The cab door swings open easily. You haul yourself into the driver’s seat.
Luckily for you, nearly every Pandoran-made vehicle operates just fine without keys. Maybe Scooter knew that the kinds of people who owned these things would be the kind to drop their keys into a corpse or a toilet or a crater. Maybe he figured more stolen vehicles meant more Catch-A-Ride purchases. Or maybe he just forgot.
Guess that’s one mystery you’ll never know the answer to, now.
The ignition switch is a little finicky, but after a couple of tries the engine springs to life. Finally, you can get back to your own life!
There’s movement in the corner of your vision. You glance up, just as the stranger levels his gun.
Aaaagh! What the hell is this guy’s problem?! Is he actually trying to get you killed now?
You grit your teeth and reach for the gearbox. Ohh, it is so tempting just to run him over…
I say we knock this dude over and get away! DRIVE, RHYS!