Story: So That Just Happened


(Will Couper) #1

The explosion rumbled up through Fendig’s feet while the Stingray stubbornly refused to be excavated. Over the rim of the crater he saw the flash of orange light. A billowing grey cloud expanded up into the sky blotting out Pandora and the Hyperion space station.

“Don’t like the look of that dust cloud,” he muttered to himself.

No one wanted to be around Fendig, partly because he was constantly muttering to himself. Then there was that business the claptrap eye, three goldfish and a Maliwan capacitor he was found with in one of Moxxi’s dumpsters. There was a perfectly reasonable explanation, but no one was willing to hear it. Even Crazy Earl acted stranger around him. And, worst of all, someone had moved his stuff out of his house and moved their own stuff in. There was nowhere for him to live in Concordia. It was a disaster all round.

It had been over a year and he was still forced to trudge out to the middle of Triton Flats, dodge meteor showers and avoid Shuguraths, to pull wreckage from the moon dust. There was usually some kind of salvage to be had from the half-molten twists of metal embedded in Elpis’s surface. The pickings were even better with those mad vault hunters sweeping through. A couple of close misses from lasers and bullets was a tiny price compared to how much he could sell a moon buggy engine back to Springs for. Picking bloody chunks out of the debris got tedious, but since no one trusted him to repair machinery around town anymore this was what he was reduced to.

Even before the vault hunters came explosions were a part of life on Elpis. The Scavs were touched in the head and tended to get trigger happy when they were bored. Technically Fendig was a Scav, too, but he only shot idiots who pulled a gun on him first – well mostly…some of the time. By and large. He didn’t shoot people who didn’t deserve it.

Mostly.

The explosion was at least a mile off, so he ignored it. There was enough time for him to get the choicest components. He might even have time to clean the blood off.

A scream distracted him.

Alert, he pulled out his dinky Dahl repeater. He spun left and right, ready to spray a moron full of bullets. There was no one else in the crater. No one on the rim, either. The crater was still deserted, save for him. He could still hear the screaming, distant and angry. It sounded like a Scav, but there were no Scavs around.

The screaming was still going on and getting closer. So close that he could make out individual words.

“…*kin’ arsehole! Bobbing s**t-dipper!” the mystery voice bellowed.

Fendig looked up and saw two gun-shaped objects tumbling through the air.

“You’ve renewed your passport to C**tville haven’t you! Roll on your back and show us y–”

THWUMP!

“–uu muph! Mmmpph mmm**uurr!”

The shotgun landed barrel-first into the dust and shook in time with the muffled talking. The other gun, a hot pink revolver, landed lightly on its side. He lost sight of the revolver from the cloud of dust kicked by the struggling shotgun.

“Rrrrss ummpppph uuummph! Mmmm**ph!”

He’d forgotten the Stingray now, fascinated by the screaming shotgun stuck barrel-first into the ground. He wasn’t so complacent as to put his gun away and he edged forward with it thrust out ahead. There could be some uncharacteristically sneaky Scav nearby, ready to mince him up good when he got too close to the shotgun.

“HHHHH*************PP!”

Nothing came screeching out of the dust cloud to spray him with bullets or eat him when he got to the shotgun. There was no doubt now the shotgun spoke. Or rather screamed incoherently into the dirt. With some hesitation he hauled the weapon from its landing place.

“…And then the fkin’ horse’ll kick you in the nuts!” the gun said. “Oh! Who the fk are you?”

Fendig winced. The shotgun’s voice was so nasally and obnoxious it felt like he was being stabbed in the eye with an ice pick.

“Fendig Logstick. You got a name?” Fendig replied.

“Glad you fkin’ asked. Me name’s Boggo. What the fk took you so long to get me outta the f**kin’ muck, mate?”

“I–”

“Never mind. Have you seen me friend?” Boggo asked and though the weapon possessed none, Fendig was sure it waggled its eyebrows at him.

“I haven’t seen anyone else. I’m the only person here.”

“Fkin’ club-meat hunk arsehole. He was supposed to keep a fkin’ hold of her.”

“Oh. You’re talking about the other gun.”

“Who else would I be fkin’ talking about? A steamer-streak vault hunter? Those ferals are the reason I’m in this fkin’ mess. Where is she?”

Fendig tromped his way to the revolver.

“There’s me girl! D’you know how f**kin’ hard it is to find her?”

“No-o-o…”

Fendig holstered his repeater and lifted the revolver out of the dust. It had quite a heft. He looked through the circular sight. Something told him this was a powerful weapon.

“She’s a fkin’ beaut, isn’t she? Powerful too,” Boggo said. “Mash the bollocks off a fkin’ bloke at ten yards. It gets me workins goin’, if you know what I mean.”

Against all logic he got the impression of waggling eyebrows. This was getting weird. The talking gun had the hots for the pink gun.

“Does she talk too?” Fendig asked, still looking down the revolver’s sight.

“Maggie? Oh no. I got a couple of cousins on Pandora fkin’ talk plenty. One o’ them’s a bit touched in the AI, crazy as st. The other one’s a judgemental bitch. Maggie’s a silent lady. Take you apart as soon as f**kin’ look at ya.”

“That’s a hell of a boast, mate.”

“I’m no fkin’ slouch either and it’s not just about how hard I hit. I’m crafty as well, see. I can get you st you wouldn’t f**kin’ believe.”

Fendig narrowed his eyes at the shotgun. He didn’t like the tone the weapon used. It was odd, sinister and alluring.

He questioned his sanity, talking to a gun. Perhaps he’d gone loopy. It happened all the time. The Scavs had gone nuts when Dahl abandoned them on the moon, perhaps it was just his time.

No. The gun had mentioned AIs and he’d heard of weapons being fitted with artificial intelligence before. It was a bit of a strange one to simply spew out expletives, but then, it was a Scav gun and they weren’t known for their subtle understanding of electronics. He was more surprised it didn’t continuously make fart noises.

“Hey! You got fkin’ brain damage, ya ct?” Boggo asked. “You’ll wanna stop fkin’ dribblin’ on me and on me fkin’ lady. Especially on her. You need your fkin’ wits about you, cos there’re fkin’ Scavs comin’.”

He’d been so caught up talking to the gun he hadn’t noticed the moon buggy come over the rim of the crater. They hadn’t spotted him, so he scuttled behind the carcass of the Stingray. His own moon buggy was parked outside of the crater, so it wouldn’t give him away.

“You seem like a guy who f**kin’ wants somethin’.” Boggo said.

“Shut up, you’ll give me away.”

“Fkin’ serious, here. You’re fkin’ lookin’ for something, aren’t ya? Fkin’ tell yer old mate, Boggo, ya ct.”

“I want my home back. I want to live in Concordia again.”

“Hey, you fkin’ pansies!” Boggo screamed. “I heard you stupid fkin’ ferals couldn’t shoot worth a fkin’ st! I heard yer fkin’ dunnies double for washin’ yer fkin’ hair!”

Fendig looked frantically for a way to muffle Boggo’s voice, but he couldn’t see where the voice came from. He tried to shove Boggo, barrel-first into the dust, but he couldn’t push it in far enough.

“Are you just fkin’ gonna stand there? Do I need to stick my arse in the fkin’ air? Come an’ f**kin’ get it!”

Fendig lay on top of Boggo, but the sound was amplified even more.

“NAAAAAAAHHHH! C**************************************TS!”

The first laser beam sizzled over his head and cut off a chunk from the wrecked Stingray in a shower of sparks. Fendig flattened himself against ground and got a face full of dust. Shots hummed in the air around him. More dust blasted from the ground.

“C’mon, mate! Get f**kin’ on it!” Boggo said.

“Get on what? Getting killed? Having a Scav pee on my corpse?”

“Don’t be such a fkin’ downer, mate. You’ve got two of the best fkin’ buddies a bloke could f**kin’ have.”

“Hello there, my floppy-eared cactus hutch. I want slippers! Where are MY SLIPPERS!”

The Lunatic had managed to sneak up and now loomed over Fendig from the wreckage. A thin whine and the glowing buzz axe spun up to speed. The Lunatic raised the weapon over his head.

In a blur of panic Fendig snatched up the Maggie and pumped the trigger. Most of the shots missed as the kick swung Fendig’s arm up. One hit was enough. The Lunatic’s head became a burst of red mist. Without the power to fight the low gravity, the headless body floated up and away. Fendig stared at the gun and laughed.

“Pay fkin’ attention, ya fkin’ d**k!” Boggo said.

A Scav dropped down close by. Fendig had Boggo in his hand without thinking. The Scav let out a squeak of surprise before a torrent of shot sent him flying backwards.

“Hey! You can’t do that! He’s the designated driver!” another Scav shouted.

“Drive this!” Fendig said and wondered why.

“Ha ha ha! Fk you, ya fkin’ fk-dunkin’ fk!” Boggo cried.

Shots from both the Maggie and Boggo blasted the Scav almost into orbit. Fendig sat on the floor of the crater, arms aching, unable to believe what just happened. The haze of blood and the gently tumbling corpses made him think of Mercenary Day. Elpis dust was snow-like, with some extra choking.

He gasped, laughed and clutched the two new weapons to his chest.

“F**kin’ steady on, mate!” Boggo said.

Fendig didn’t listen to the weapon. He’d never done anything like that. It was the sort of thing he heard about vault hunters doing, but he was some homeless schlub from Concordia. His former career as a Dahl technician was almost a weird, distant dream. Now he shot people in the back of the head when they tried to steal his stuff. He didn’t get into fire fights with a bunch of mad Scavs. He didn’t win fire fights with mad Scavs.

He felt great.

“You can fkin’ keep this st going, mate,” Boggo said.

Fendig blinked in confusion. “What do you mean, Boggo?”

“I happen to fkin’ know there’s a fkin’ Scav boss a couple of fkin’ miles away from here. You jump in that fkin’ moon buggy over there and you can f**kin’ take over, mate.”

“Why would I want to do that? I’m not a Scav. I’m not a Scav boss…” Fendig stopped and thought a moment. “That’s Summer Erinsborough! He hates me!”

“It’ll make it fkin’ easier to kill the fkin’ dag, right?”

“He’s got a whole gang! Some of Redbelly’s men work for him now and they thinks he’s insane. And they are all nuts.”

“Will you fkin’ trust me? With me and me lady here, you’ll fkin’ walk in, no problems.”

“How is that going to get me back into Concordia?”

“You have to have some fkin’ faith in me, mate. I’ve got a fkin’ plan, haven’t I?”

This was getting ridiculous. He should drop the two guns in the dust and finish collecting stuff from the wrecked Stingray. What Boggo suggested was suicide. He’d been lucky to survive the fight with three insane Scavs, to stomp into a camp full of them was more trouble than kicking a scag in the mouth. At least a scag would just eat him and not spend the next week sawing bits off him.

Instead he found he was walking over to the Scavs’ moon buggy. It looked funky. He was glad the atmosphere was too thin to carry the smell from the vehicle. Those chairs weren’t glistening because of the high quality leather interior. Things moved on the floor, skittery things. There wasn’t much of the floor to be seen in any case, with food containers, spent gun magazines, empty cartridges and less identifiable things strewn across it. If he was lucky he would die from some ruthlessly efficient disease before he made it to Erinsborough’s camp.

He tossed the two weapons into the buggy, squelched into the seat and took off. In the distance a shuggurath spun around and sent crackling balls of plasma high in the air. Fendig coaxed more speed out of the moon buggy. He suddenly didn’t want to die. If he could get a single shot off at Erinsborough before the Scavs made him oven-ready it would be a good day.

Fendig had been in a low-level dispute with Erinsborough for months about who could take salvage from Triton Flats. Fendig thought there was enough scrap around for everyone, Erinsborough thought I will cram you full of bullets if I see you again. There wasn’t much in the way of common ground between them, scavenging and bloody death notwithstanding.

The blank landscape dotted with craters, hills and some functional buildings used to depress him. Since his expulsion from Concordia it made him angry. Elpis should have been a place of opportunity, instead what happened was the Crackening and Dahl abandoned everyone but a few of their executives.

If Fendig ever met ‘General’ Eustace Belfry, the man in charge of Fendig’s department, he would put a whole magazine’s worth of bullets in his crotch. Then he would kill him – General Belfry famously had a cybernetic crotch.

Erinsborough’s camp came into view over the horizon. A cluster of makeshift shelters covered by a huge air dome clung to the cliff created by the crater’s side.

“Turn fkin’ right, here, mate. We’re gonna give ‘em a big fkin’ surprise,” Boggo said.

Fendig turned. Boggo gave him some more instructions and it was obvious what Boggo wanted Fendig to do once the buggy started to climb up the lip of the crater. At any moment Fendig expected a shot to burn through the side of the buggy, they weren’t hiding their presence. Maybe being shot wasn’t a bad idea, given how high Boggo was encouraging Fendig to drive.

“This is just the right f**kin’ spot!”

“Are you sure about this, Boggo?” Fendig asked.

The centre of the encampment was at least five hundred feet below the buggy. The front of the buggy pointed towards the settlement and the edge of the cliff.

“Fkin’ hell, mate,” Boggo replied. “You’ll be fine. You didn’t fkin’ expect to just walk in the front door, did you? Those c**ts would’ve turned you inside out and stuffed you with buggy spare parts.”

“I thought you could have got me in.”

“Maggie and I are fkin’ guns, mate. We’re not fkin’ shields. I don’t know what kind of shield would get past that bunch of insane f**kers.”

“Now what?”

“What the f**k do you mean, now what?”

“I thought you would have some kind of inspired plan.”

“You don’t get much more fkin’ inspired than stamping on the fkin’ gas, mate. Drive it right in their arses!”

Fendig looked at the gun. He didn’t know what he expected to see other than a chunky triple-barrelled beast of a shotgun sat in the back of the buggy. Maybe some indication of its sentience and its intelligence, because he now doubted how smart Boggo was.

“You’ve got about forty f**kin’ seconds.”

“For what?”

“You f**kin’ know what. Thirty seconds.”

“Dammit.”

The buggy surged forward as fast as the gravity allowed. He’d never dropped from such a distance before. He crushed the brakes…as the buggy shot off the cliff.

“That’s it! Ride the f**ker!”

Even though the gravity was low and the buggy wasn’t dropping very fast, the way Fendig’s stomach lurched it felt like he tumbled down at MACH three. He wrenched the wheel one way and then the other. The whole time he screamed and gibbered. He pumped the brakes. The buggy whipped past the highest structures and he was greeted by the surprised faces of Scavs.

The end of the drop came suddenly. The buggy crunched into the dust, its wheels flew off. Over the crash of smashing metal Fendig heard a loud splat. He felt like he’d been shaken by a Goliath trying to dislodge his teeth. His vision wouldn’t stay in one piece and he couldn’t focus on one thing anyway.

“Come on, mate! You’ve done the f**kin’ hard part!” Boggo encouraged.

“Whu?”

“Get outta the fkin’ buggy. We’ve got a few fkin’ smeg-lumps to bloody up!”

Fendig, still woozy, grabbed up Boggo and the Maggie and stepped out of the stricken buggy. His foot squelched into something. The dust under the buggy was stained dark red. A twitching arm poked out from under the twisted bodywork. The badly-drawn tattoos told Fendig this was the remains of Summer Erinsborough.

Maybe Boggo wasn’t so dumb after all.

His stomach heaved, but he didn’t have time to think about it as a burly Scav lumbered up. This Scav was at least two feet taller than Fendig, wearing heavy armour and carried a mean-looking Vladof minigun.

“That was my boss you just killed. Where d’you get off doing that?” the Scav demanded. “He’d got me something really good for me birthday.”

“No he hadn’t, Divet. He only said that so he could laugh at you when you opened the box,” another Scav shouted.

Divet laughed. “Summer, what a bloody joker. Maybe you did me a favour, little guy. Still I think I’ll–”

“F**kin’ shoot ‘im!” cried Boggo.

Though Fendig felt like a flattened steak, he whipped up the shotgun. Divet heard Boggo too, but was a second too late to open fire. Fendig held down the trigger until there was a loud click. Divet staggered back, chunks of his armour sparked away under the barrage and puffs of blood dissipated into the air. He still stood. He was unsteady on his feet, but Divet was still ready to murder Fendig.

“That’s a f**kin’ novelty and no mistake,” Boggo said.

“Tuh…talking gun, eh,” Divet gasped. “I’ll take that…and only eat your legs.”

“No deal,” Fendig replied. Where was he coming up with this?

The Maggie was firing before Divet could rush forward. Fendig expected the ridiculous recoil this time and blasted away at Divet’s head. More armour tumbled away from Divet’s shoulders and then his head popped.

Fendig took advantage of the stunned inaction while Divet’s headless body toppled backwards to refill Boggo’s huge magazine. The frozen moment wouldn’t last for long and he wanted to be prepared for the tide of onrushing nutcases and gunfire.

“Yeah! Yeah, f**kin gimme it!” Boggo said.

“You’re not really helping when you say that, you know. It’s really off-putting,” Fendig said.

“Don’t stop! Don’t f**kin’ stop!”

“You have a severe problem, Boggo.”

After what felt like forever Fendig had Boggo ready and aimed at the crowd around him. They weren’t the mass of murder-hungry fiends he expected. He didn’t expect to be looked at with such puppy-like adoration. The round of applause was a big swirl of cream on top of the bizarre cake.

Fendig readied himself when one of the smaller Scavs broke off from the group. The Scav stopped clapping and held his hands up. He didn’t have a gun in his hands. Fendig debated whether he should turn him into a cloud of meat mist, to be on the safe side.

“C’mon, now, mate. You’ve dropped a buggy on the boss’s head, I think we all know who the new boss is,” the Scav said.

“Not you,” Fendig said and started to worry about where this was coming from.

He didn’t worry so much about shooting the Scav four times with Boggo. When the Scav came to rest, Fendig shot him twice more with the Maggie.

“That was fkin’ smart, mate. That was Ramsay, Summer’s fkin’ second in command,” Boggo said in admiration.

“Anybody else want to discuss the new leadership arrangements? My personal assistant, Boggo will set up a meeting.”

The crowd cheered.

“Let’s show him his new digs!” one of them shouted.

The crowd surged away and Fendig felt it would be rude to not follow them. He was still wary. His new digs could be a lava-filled pit. If they decided to toss him in a pool of magma, he would at least take a couple of them with him. Boggo would make sure of that, seconds before it was taken from Fendig.

They didn’t seem to be heading towards a volcanic hotspot, which was an encouraging start. They wound through the small, ramshackle settlement towards the largest structure there. It looked like it was built around an old methane pumping substation. The place was solid, with some messy additions by the Scavs. Two big skulls, cut from sheet metal stood at either side of the entrance, in between these skulls was a scrawled sign saying, ‘SUMMER’S PLACE’.

A Scav at the head of the group opened the door, but no one went in. The crowd parted in front of Fendig and watched with awe as he made his way towards Summer Erinsborough’s former home.

Even as he closed the door behind him, he expected a shot to tear him in half. Nothing happened and he stood in the huge room, stunned.

“Well, fk me with a fkin’ side of beef. This place is f**kin’ huge!” Boggo said.

Fendig nodded. The room was huge, but was also an industrial nightmare. Pipes ranging in size from finger diameter to big enough for him to walk through twisted through the place. At the far wall, perched in an extremely tight knot of pipes, was what could be described as a throne. It was could have less loosely been called a ‘pile of rubbish’, organised rubbish, with a distinct pretention towards chair-hood. He liked the idea of a throne better.

He settled down into the crap-throne and it was surprisingly comfortable. It didn’t feel right. This wasn’t his place. It was a poor substitute for his small home in Concordia.

“Oh, don’t fkin’ worry, mate,” Boggo said, reading Fendig’s mood. “There’s a lot more to go. Fkin’ trust me.”

Fendig sat back in the throne and wondered how much he could, or should, trust a foul-mouthed shotgun. For the moment he had to wait.


Previously posted on the old forum. There’s a slight adaptation for the new forum.