Hyperion Site: Project Odysseus: Technologies Department
The instant the headless creatures body hit the floor, the rest of the Pseudo-Sirens stopped their attack and started to move about listlessly, like automation that had the central control go down.
Gaige didn’t care about that, instead rushing over to her fallen friend. She slid up next to her and was instantly relieved to see the color returning to the girls’ face, as well as the fact that she was breathing, even if it was making a strange whistling noise as she did. Wishing that she had taken more medical training beyond the basics of First Aid, she spun to Deathtrap and managed to get out “W-wh-what d-do I d-do?”
He gently pushed her aside and ran his fingers down the unconscious girls’ neck, checking for fractures before turning to her and telling her what to do.
“R-right, sorry, I just, I thought she was…”
He patted her on the shoulder and looked around, they needed the girl to regain consciousness quickly, before these creatures regained whatever it was that drove them, or the troops upstairs figured out that these things weren’t moving and came down.
Gaige looked down and lightly tapped the other girl on the cheeks till her eyes started fluttering. Spotting this Deathtrap gently placed his hands on the girls’ forehead and sternum to prevent her from sitting up suddenly. Which is what she tried to do.
“Easy.” Gaige said as Artemis started to panic. It only took her a second for her eyes to stop flicking around the room and focus on Gaige.
“Wha?” The voice came out as more of a croak then anything.
“Can you feel your feet?”
Artemis paused and tried looking down, only to be held in place by the large metal hands.
“You nearly died, now can you feel your feet or not?”
“Um, I can’t feel my left foot.” She managed to get out, wincing in pain.
Gaige glared at her and hissed out “That’s cybernetic.”
“Oh yeah. Yes, I can feel my feet, why? Shouldn’t I?”
“Nope, I mean, yes you should, you know what, never mind.” And she injected her with a pair of Insta-Health vials.
Artemis looked like she was about to complain but Gaige cut her off with a “Shut it.” which she did.
Seconds later the scrapes on her skin vanished and Deathtrap removed his hands and offered one of them to help her up.
Once she got to her feet, Gaige slugged her in the shoulder.
“Ow! What was that for.”
Gaige held her fist up again causing the other girl to back away, rubbing her shoulder.
“That was…that was…” Gaige was trembling slightly and Artemis spotted what she thought might be tears at the corners of her eyes.
“You…you’re right, we are gonna have words.” Gaige said shaking her finger at her in warning.
“Can’t wait.” Artemis whispered hoarsely and took her guns back before following the other girl out of the room, with Deathtrap falling into place as the rearguard.
They slipped out of the room, checking for any sign of the troops and finding none they made their way down the stairwell, encountering no one till they found themselves in the lobby. They were about to start across when Artemis paused and cocked her head, before wincing and rubbing her neck.
Gaige stopped and looked around and a second later realized what the other girl was talking about, all of the corpses were missing. She looked around the room and shrugged, one of the worker creatures must have drug them off while they were upstairs. Creepy, yes, but not unexpected.
“Come on, let’s go.” She said heading for the door while Artemis followed her, still rubbing her neck.
When they got to the door, Artemis placed a hand on her shoulder and stepped in front. She leaned towards the opening and after a few seconds had passed, poked her head out. The rest of her followed and she slipped over to one of the pillars, a little louder than normal.
Just as she got there, gunfire erupted from above. Flattening herself against the pillar she froze. A second latter she cocked her head and looked out. Two floors above she could see the flashing lights of multiple muzzle flashes from what sounded like an entire squad of troops cutting loose. Leaning out slightly further she saw bits of white flying down and shattering against the Central Hub’s floor. It took her a second, but she eventually recognized it as part of the weird mannequins. It seemed that they had already found their way to the third floor.
Shuddering she turned and motioned for the others to make a break for it. Gaige slipped out and started tactically moving between pillars, so Artemis dashed over and hissed “Move.” before sprinting around the outside of the room, hugging the wall.
They made it around in no time and without being spotted and found themselves leaning against the inside of the Technologies department door. Gaige looked like she was about to start in on her when Deathtrap floated past and shook his head, motioning upward. Catching his drift, she shut her mouth, but set her lips in a displeased frown and followed along after him silently.
When they got to the next floor, she paused and shut and locked the blast door before moving on and quickly they found themselves outside of the room where Gaige and Deathtrap had been working on their device.
“Urggurarru” Deathtrap declared before floating off leaving the two girls standing awkwardly in the room.
“Uh, let’s check the download first.” Artemis said, nervously sliding over to the stairs, being tracked by Gaige’s flat glare.
“Fine, but the instant you’re done…” She said with a meaningful look.
Artemis swallowed painfully, though not near as bad as it had been when she had regained consciousness.
They made their way up the stairs and found the computer sitting on the floor and checking the screen attached to it, found that the download had finished.
Reading this, Gaige rounded on Artemis and thrust a finger into her chest with enough force to cause her to stagger back.
“What’s the big idea?” She yelled.
“Why are you trying to kill yourself?”
“Bull, I’ve seen how you fight, I know what your ‘Fight like you don’t care if you live’ looks like, and this ain’t it. You’re acting like you actively want to die.”
“And then you drag poor Deathtrap into your suicide attempt and try and get him to kill you!”
“What are you talking about?”
“Uh, just now, with that Siren thing, you wanted him to kill you both.”
“No, he wouldn’t 'ave killed me.”
“If he had fired, you’d be dead, and just think of how that would make him feel. Having killed one of his only friends.”
“He wouldn’t have hit me, I have faith in him.”
“And what? More than he has in himself? Is that it? You don’t think that he knows how good his aim is, is that it?”
“I never said”
“No, and you didn’t think it either did you? So what is it? Why do you want to die?”
“I don’t, it’s just that, well, I donno, I might be,” She sighed and tried to collect her thoughts before continuing “It’s just that you wanted to talk and”
“Oh, so this is my fault?” She practically shouted.
“No. It’s just that, well, I know what you’re gonna say, and I guess I didn’t want to hear it. But you’re right, it is unfair of me. So, when we get to Eden 5 I’ll try to smile and say good bye.”
“Wait, what? What are you talking about? What about Eden? What do, what did you… What did you think I was going to say?”
“You were gonna tell me that you finally realized that you don’t need me, that I’m a failure, that I’m just dragging you down and that you’d be better off without me. You were gonna tell me that once we got to Eden 5, we should part ways. That you were gonna stay there for a while and I should continue on. And I don’t blame you, I am a failure. Haven’t done anything right in a long time.”
“Stop! Stop stop stop stop stop stop. That’s what you thought I was going to say to you? And what? You were going to kill yourself because of it? That’s just…”
“No. I wasn’t thinking of killing myself. It’s just that, I guess some part of me figured it would be easier on you this way. Well, not easier, but you could have my ship, do whatever you wanted with it, maybe sell it or some of the stuff on it to get back home.”
“You think I want your ship?!”
“Well your wrong. I mean I do want your ship, but I want you with it. Wait that came out wrong.” Gaige took a moment and took a deep breath before continuing “What I’m trying to say is that I don’t want your ship, I want to travel in it, with you.”
“Oh, for the love of…How do I put this so you’ll understand, I don’t want your ship without you inside it. I like traveling with you. Deathtrap likes traveling with you. We don’t need to go to Eden 5, but if we do, I want you with, and I want to leave there with you. Understand?”
“I uh, I think so. But wait, if that wasn’t it, then what did you want to talk about?”
“First, I want you to think about something. If, and I do mean if, at some point, way, way down the road, I do decide to leave your ship, how am I supposed to do it with you acting like this? Do you want me to feel trapped by you? Don’t you think that I might start resenting you for it?”
“Urk. I uh…no, I just… sorry.”
“Just think from now on.” Gaige ended with a dramatic sigh. “What I wanted to talk about was something along these lines anyway. I just, I don’t really know how to say it. I think that’s why I let you convince me to put this conversation off, and that’s on me. It’s just that, now that I’ve got to say it, I can’t really, I mean the words…”
Artemis held her silence.
“I want to…I guess there’s a few things I want to say, kinda related to each other, and I guess in their own way to what we were just talking about, so here goes, I think, well…I want you to stand up for yourself. To me. To others. You need to stop letting me push you around. I mean if you don’t want to do something than say so, don’t let me tell you to do something and you just do it, offer suggestions, say no, and don’t always try to sacrifice something. If something is yours, it’s yours, you don’t need to try and give it to me, or offer to sell your stuff or give me things, I don’t know if you think that’s part of being a friend or if you think that it’s because you still feel that you owe me or what.”
“That’s another thing, stop acting like you owe me something, you don’t, and even if you think you did, you’ve long since payed it back and then some, if anything I feel that I owe you now, and I don’t want to, fell that I owe you or that you owe me I mean, I want us to be equals.”
“Just stop for a second and think, what if I kept giving you things and saying that I owed you, I mean you helped me stop Holloway, you saved me from becoming a wedding day sacrifice, you put everything on hold to help me raise the money so that I can go see my parents, and you’ve never asked for anything in return. In fact, not only haven’t you not asked, but you’ve takin the short end of the stick every time. Hell, it wouldn’t have surprised me if you wanted to throw me off your ship. I mean I’ve been a terrible friend.”
“Stop, no you haven’t”
“Don’t interrupt me, and yes I have, it’s just that you don’t really have anyone to compare me to. And that sounded way more like an insult than I meant, see what I mean, I’m terrible at this. I mean, since you’ve met me, you’ve had nothing but bad things happen to you. I mean, you broke your wrist, got stabbed through the gut by exploding vehicle parts, nearly died I don’t know how many times, including just now, gotten slapped, insulted, and beaten up more times than I can count, and that’s just in the few weeks since we met, oh and I made you crawl through a sewer pipe, and some vents, run through a room of nightmare mannequins, and I’m probably forgetting something, that all adds up to me being a terrible friend who’s led you to nothing but one bad thing after another.”
“Is that what you think?” Artemis asked sadly “Really? That I’ve had nothing good happen to me since we’ve met? That…really hurts. I mean I thought we were having fun, at least some of the time. I thought you were feeling better, smiling more…genuinely, but I guess you didn’t feel that way, I shouldn’t be surprised that I misinterpreted what you were feeling, I just thought that, well, we were having a good time.”
“I, that’s not, I mean, there were some, it’s just that, well, I didn’t mean it like that. I just meant that”
“That just because some bad things happened, I should what? Hate you? Resent you? That’s not very fair to me, I broke my wrist, that was my choice.”
“You only had to make that choice because of me.”
“Or because of Holloway, or because of the tech who invented the EMP grenade, or because of your client for holding their wedding that day, or, or, or. But I made the choice to be there, I made the choice to intervene, I made the choice to use my backup piece, I made my own choices. Each time. Me. Not you, me. Blaming yourself is no different than Holloway blaming you for his daughter’s death, yes you played a part in it, but you didn’t steal the plans, you didn’t bribe the judges, you didn’t push yourself, yes, you made Deathtrap, and you may have miscalibrated something, but the rest of that was outside your control. So, let my choices be mine, if you don’t like something, then stop it. If you don’t want me to crawl through the sewer, don’t tell me to. I’m not doing it because you told me to, I did it because I figured that you knew more about this than me, so I agreed to follow your plan. I did it because I have faith in you.”
“Wow, uh, OK then. But you do need to speak up more, ask me if there’s another way.”
“I thought I did.”
“Did you? Maybe you did, but the other part still stands, you need to stop trying to give away what’s yours, it makes me feel like you think you need to bribe me to be your friend, and that just, it feels wrong.”
“I just wanted to help.”
“What happened to all that energy you just had? I expected a bit more push back on that.”
“What can I say, I thought I was trying to help, it’s just stuff.”
“But it’s your stuff.”
“Exactly, so why can’t I give it to you?”
“Because it feels like your trying to bribe me, that you don’t think I’d be your friend if you weren’t giving me stuff. Like you don’t think I’d want to be around you if I couldn’t get things from you.”
“I didn’t mean, I don’t think of, I, I…I don’t know how to be a friend. I thought that I was supposed to help, I didn’t realize that made things worse.”
“Oh, for the love of… You didn’t make things worse, and does it sound like I know how to be a good friend? I just said that I’m a terrible friend, so don’t feel bad, I just…Let me start over. What do you want? Do you want me on the ship? Or do you want me to leave?”
“Good, cause I wanted to stay. It’s just that, well, I don’t know what I have to offer you, other than pain, I mean, I’m hitching a ride on your ship, asking you to go wherever I want, and what are you getting out of it? Actually, I think that’s what I really wanted to ask you, beyond all the rest of this stuff, which did need to get out there, what I really wanted to ask was, why do you put up with me? What do you get out of this? And please don’t say it’s because you owed me.”
“Uh…” Artemis’s eyes flicked around the room as she bit her lower lip “I get…well, I guess, maybe, that is to say, um…I get to spend time with a person I like.” She eventually managed to squeeze out, her face turning bright red.
“Wow, uh, not what I expected. You’re really doing all of this because you like being around me?”
The other girl nodded.
“Huh, now I feel like a bit of a jerk for saying some of that stuff.”
“No, you were right, I do feel that I owe you, I understand that you don’t want to hear that, but it’s how I feel, I can’t help it, but more than that, I just want to be with you.”
“Aww, now I’m gonna blush.”
They fell into an awkward silence before Artemis cocked her head and asked “Would you really have been OK with not going home?”
“Why did you actually not want me to go?”
“No! I want you to be able to see your family again, it’s just that I, well, I kinda thought that you’d be more excited to be going back.”
“I am, it’s just that…”
“Nah, it’s dumb.”
“After all this? Just tell me.”
Gaige sat in silence thinking and after giving her a few seconds, Artemis pressed “If we’re clearing the air, as you put it, then how do you expect me to talk to you unless you’re willing to talk to me, so tell me, please?”
“Fine, you’re right, but it’s stupid, but it’s just that, well, I’m a little scared is all. I mean I want to see my family, I really do, it’s just that, well,” She mulled over what she was about to say before letting out a sigh and continuing “What if I’ve disappointed them? I mean, they’ve, and my dad in particular, sacrificed so much for me, helped me get away, my dad sabotaged Holloway’s assassins at one point, then dedicated himself to getting the charges against me lessened, and what’ve I done? I did the whole Vault Hunter thing, but then what? I tried to do all kinds of things, Influencer, Engineer, I worked in an office for a day, I mean I did a lot of different jobs, and quit them all. The only one I had any real success at was the whole wedding planner thing, and I’ve quit that. And now I’m trying to go home, but what’ll they think of me? I’m scared they’ll be disappointed, that they’ll think I’m a failure. I mean, at this point, I’ll bet that two thirds of my high school class are married and more than half of those have kids, well I’m meaning the ones who are still alive. And then there’s me, no job, no marriage, not even a date in years. They’ll think I’m a loser.”
“Really?” Came the reply in a tone that was a lot less sympathetic then she had expected “You think that your dad, the one who did all that for you, him, would be disappointed to see you again? You think that just because you quit a job that you weren’t enjoying anymore, he’s gonna think you’re a failure? Sure, he might wish you were doing more with your life, but that’s cause he’s your dad. He always wants the best for you.”
“What makes you so sure?”
“Because I’m proud of you, and I’m not even related.”
“Besides, do you really think that being married with kids is the mark of success? That that automatically makes them happy?”
“No. It’s just, well, a goal for a lot of people.”
“Is it for you?”
“Well, I’d be lying if I said I never thought about it.”
“But do you think they’re happy? Or do you think that they wonder how their lives ended up like this?”
“I suppose not.”
“See, that wouldn’t necessarily make you happy. You don’t think that they would be envious of you? Being able to pick up and see the galaxy, to not be tied down by some dead-end job that they hate?
“But I can’t, I don’t have a ship.”
“But I do, and you’re part of the crew.”
“Not really, I mean I get what you’re saying, and I know intellectually that you’re probably right, but that doesn’t eliminate the worry, wish that it did, but sadly it doesn’t work that way.”
“Of course it doesn’t, if it did, we wouldn’t still have all these problems. You wouldn’t still be looking longingly at that margarita glass and I wouldn’t think that I’m a monster all the time, but we can’t just wish our problems away, we need to work at them, confront them when we can, and work through them as best we can, even though you know that they’ll rear their head up again the instant you’re down. That’s why it’s important to talk to me like this. And don’t worry, I’ll be there with you when you go home.”
Gaige leaned over and gave her a hug and whispered “Thank you, and you’re not a monster, just a freak.”
Pushing apart they found Deathtrap floating there looking pleased with himself.
“What’s up babe?” Gaige said with a lopsided grin.
“Really. Wait, how long have you been floating there listening to us?”
He turned his head away and tried to look as nonchalant as possible while he shrugged and under her persistent gaze eventually relented and answered “Urrg”
“Babe, not cool.”
“Eh, it’s alright, he was just concerned about us.”
“That might be, but he needs to learn some manners.”
“Well, why don’t we get this plugged in so that it can be, doing whatever it’s gonna do, then you can try and teach him?”
“Fine, you’re right, let’s go.”
They unplugged the computer and headed downstairs and entered the room where they found the finished device. It sat in the middle of the room, a series of mechanical devices that looked like arms either holding or curled in a massive tank, large enough to easily hold a person, that was filled with a strange slightly blue-green color. The two tanks of Bio-mass that Deathtrap had carried were sitting to the side with tanks filled with various other components, connected by long hoses. Electronics sat out on the floor, looking like a series of disassembled computers wired together.
Carefully stepping around the scattered bits, Gaige made her way to one of the parts and taking the computer that held all of A.I.ngel’s mind, carefully attached it. Stepping back to where the lone monitor was wired in, she slid in the ECHO’s they had found with Dr. Luca’s effects that was labeled ‘A.I.ngel body program’ and waited for it to boot up.
A moment later the screen lit up with all kinds of data flying past and eventually changed to a wireframe of the tank with a prompt over it asking if they wanted to continue.
Gaige took a moment to look to the other two, and when they both nodded, she reached over and hit ‘accept’. The instant she did the prompt disappeared and the tank started to bubble. The screen stayed the same, but a percentage bar on the side started counting up the hundredths of the percent as well as starting an estimated time remaining clock that read one hour and thirty minutes.
“Huh, faster than I thought it would be.” Gaige said sitting back before rounding on Deathtrap, who glance around like ‘Who, Me?’ and she said with a bit of menace. “Now then.”
“I’ll, uh, go prep some food up by the secretaries’ desk, so, ah, take your time.” And with an apologetic look to the robot, dashed out of the room yelling back as she cleared the door “Try and be gentle with him.”
Leaving Gaige to her lecturing, Artemis made her way upstairs and started to dig through her pack. It didn’t take her that long to have the food and drinks sorted, and the spread laid out. Not wanting to start before Gaige got there, she stepped into the office that had until recently been A.I.ngels home and looked around.
Other then the black screen on the other wall, she really hadn’t looked around that much in the previous times she had been in the room, so this time she started with the shelves, looking at the books that lined the walls, which mostly consisted of various tomes on robotics, electronics and metallurgy. She didn’t find any of them too appealing, but made a metal note to ask Gaige if she wanted to keep any of them. It took her a few minutes to circle the room, taking extra care to avoid the case where A.I.ngel had lived, since the bomb was still active, and when she made her way back to the door realized that she hadn’t found anything personal on any of the shelves.
She looked around the carefully wrapped up body in the corner and cautiously poked around her effects, but found only scraps of paper and some dirty cloths. She glanced at the pile of waste in the corner and the odd little machines that had been set up around it, which as best she could tell helped eliminate the odor that must have once been coming off of it.
She sighed and walked over to the door and poked her head out, the other two still weren’t there. And a thought ran through her head, had she mistaken where they were going to meet? Was she supposed to come back down, or where they still talking? She didn’t want to go down and interrupt them, but if they were waiting for her, then one of them would have to go and find the other. Well, she decided, Gaige knew where she was, so she would just wait.
To distract herself she went over to the computer that had been on the desk in front of where A.I.ngel had lived and spun the monitor around while grabbing the keyboard. She started flicking through the different cameras to see what the others still on the station were up to.
On one of them she saw the large dog headed man still standing in the Central Hub giving orders. On another she spotted the hall where they had first encountered one of the Pseudo-Sirens. And then she found one that showed the other side of the security door that they had closed behind them. It turned out that it had been a wise move, because on the other side of it was teeming with troops. Most of them were dressed in heavy black armor, though there were a few bandits and even one of the first group they had fought in the mix. It seemed that one of them was relaying orders and others were hauling tanks over to start trying to cut through the door.
She stood up and turned only to see Deathtrap floating in the doorway, waiting for her to notice him. She gave a wave and walked over and after stepping out, found Gaige looking at the food longingly. Noticing her the other girl declared “About time. You trying to torture me, setting out all this food and then making me wait to eat it?”
“Yeah, you need to wait a little longer.”
“You need to see this.”
Gaige walked over and followed her into the room, and then at her direction looked at the screen.
“Well that’s not good.” She declared.
“You know more about this then I do, how long is it gonna take for them to cut through?”
“Depends on a lot of factors, but I’d say we have at least an hour, probably two, depending on what they’ve got in those tanks.”
“Enough time for the process to be finished?”
Gaige thought about it “Should. But not much more than that.”
“Well at least that’s something. But we’re gonna need to either fight them, or find another way out of here.”
Gaige stopped and thought about it for a moment before turning to Deathtrap and asking him “Babe, do you mind checking something for me? I need you to go down a floor and test the walls around the door. The one on that end. Yeah, the sealed one that leads to the Central Hub. Thanks.”
As he floated off, Artemis cocked her head and asked “If that way would be easier, then why are they cutting through the door?”
“It could be one of a few things, they may have got to the security door and got fixated on getting through it. Or they might have tried what I’m thinking of and figured out it wouldn’t work. Or, and this is what I’m hoping, they just didn’t think about it.”
“And what are you planning?”
“Before I answer that, what would you do?”
“Let’s see, you said something about the walls, are you planning on going through the wall?”
“Close, I was going to try and use some of the tanks of gas still in the labs, strategically placed, and blow the wall.”
“That should work.”
“Depends on the wall. Now, changing subjects, while he’s testing that, can we eat?”