What is this?
Simply put: Fan Fiction. For several years, I’ve imagined what life in the Borderlands is like prior to vault hunting, how one might interact with their world, their motivations, etc.
How will it work?
Each week, I’ll add another dropdown with the date it was released and bump the post (thanks @Derch for the tip). Each update should be a short read, so you won’t dump a ton of time into it.
What do I need to know?
Hopefully not much. Without giving too much away, the initial setting is before the events in Borderlands 3, and attempts to give context to some of those events. I have ideas for things I might do later that overlap but not yet.
Vladof Property Loss Division
For Immediate Release - !
Name: Moserah Andreyevna
Wanted for: Becoming deceased before end of the contract. Theft of proprietary property. Improper bubble gum usage.
Task: enable completion of contact by ensuring deceased-ed-ness
Visual Description: wears standard-issue Vladof protective helmet + shoulder armor, face paint, short.
Corporate Fun Facts: Rude; ‘Explosive’ personality; !DO NOT CALL HER SHORT!
Moserah Hayussinian Yan-Lun al-Amir Andreyevna panted from behind the building’s clay wall while a thousand rounds of suppression fire pounded the concrete a few inches from her head. The hexagonal layer of protective shield energy fluttered on and off over her skin as beeps and buzzes sounded off warnings. Her personal shield couldn’t handle much more. She reloaded her standard-issue Vladof Glorious Revolution assault rifle and swung the barrel around the corner of the building, blindly returning fire. A Vladof repeater cluttered to the ground near the wall and the body of a mercenary tumbled past her.
Click Here to continue story
Her hand still exposed, the suppression fire reflected against her wrist as the last ounce of energy from her shield popped out with a loud hiss. She yanked her throbbing arm back, ignoring the pain. The shield had done its job as she still had a hand. She lowered her Revolution and flicked her wrist. A protean grenade printed itself into her palm. The munitions section in her heads-up-display ticked from a ‘1’ to a ‘0’. Her digital construction (digistruct) wallet no longer contained enough energy to construct more grenades. You’re getting too cocky, soldier, she told herself. She glanced down at the cantine-shaped Class Optimization Module (COM) where a tiny hologram read ‘23s’ then ‘22s’,
“This is it!" a voice shouted from the other side of the wall. "We’ve got the shorty pinned, get in there!”
You piece of sh……she took a breath. “What’s the deal guys?" she returned, “Don’t like picking on someone your own size?!”
A tussle of several footsteps padded toward the wall and straight into a rolling grenade. The explosive threw out electrified shrapnel into the incoming hoard and several mercenaries fell gurgling to the ground, while the rest stumbled behind new cover.
“Come on, boys!” she taunted, “Can’t handle a little girl?”
She threw down the Revolution and whipped out her Jacobs Unforgiven revolver, raised it forward and squeezed the trigger just on time for a mercenary’s helmet to appear. The stopping power from the slug threw him into a backwards somersault, knocking him into two more who rounded the corner just in time to be thrown onto their backs.
“Whelp! It’s time for me to go! See ya!” She took 3 steps away from the wall when a rocket flew into the side of the building, melting the three backward prone soldiers, and causing the wall to collapse. She crashed to the ground. The dirty asphalt hurt. Debris covered her eyes. A second rocket shushed over head.
The bottom corner of her heads-up-display turned yellow and the outline of a small robot with guns danced a short jig.
Moserah sneered at the enemy troops. Then, to herself, “That’s fine,” she growled, “I don’t pick on my own size either.”
Still prone, Moserah wiped her face, reached to her hip and tugged the small rabbit’s foot hanging from the side of the module. Instantly, she was lifted off the ground as a magical plethora of light, metal and armor formed around her.
The small cockpit digistructed over her shoulders and the familiar leather cushions pressed on her back as Iron Bear’s 15 tonnes of tri-tanium cranked and popped into existence. The buzz of Vladof rifles and rockets suddenly muffled, leaving simple zips and whooshes as they passed by the machine’s sensors. As the air blasted into the cockpit, lights flickered on around her, and three large UltraReal VR screens popped to life. Iron Bear completed his construction by raising a set of handles from the seat beneath. In 3/4ths a second, the 5’2" soldier had transformed from injured and helpless to a nearly 10’, massive two legged tank with arm-mounted heavy guns. Moserah gripped the controls, evil-grinned, and the machine lurched forward.
Click Here to Read Part 2
The glass bottle shattered against the jagged stones as the hot star beamed down on the shards. The glitter danced against his angry face as Zane Flynt - Intergalactic Contractor and Assassin for Hire™- scowled at the pieces as they settled into the dust. The smell of sulfur pierced the air and hot sand slowly blew across the rocky earth, irradiating the landscape with a light-bending aura that looked like gas rising from a furnace.
“I’ve been to shyte planets, killed shyte soldiers, hunted shyte treasures, and literally walked in shyte, but I’ve never been on a planet that had such shyte whisky!” He turned to his companion who nodded in agreement. “Wha’der YOU lookin’ at, boyo?! You don’t even drink!! You NEVER even drink-ed!” He stumbled against a boulder that he’d been sitting on, overlooking the old stone city. “Drank? Drink…ed?!” he slurred, grabbing his companion’s shoulder. After a brief serious stare, he burst into laughter and toppled to the ground.
“Ah…this place’ll be tha death o’v me, I swear!” He leaned against the stones – the shadow of which half covered his short, greying hair – looked at his friend and smiled, “At least I’ve got you, buddy.”
At that moment the digital projection, an exact replica of the contractor, fizzled away as his COM shut off to begin recharging.
Zane’s smile faded. Alone again, he looked toward the city. “Figures…”
Down the hill, the firefight in the valley brewed on as small arms gunfire echoed against old buildings. Periodically a building would crumble to dust under the weight of the battle. The old clay walls had been designed to weather the elements, not to handle endless gunfire from a Vladof mercenary brigade on a search and destroy mission.
He fumbled with his belt clip, and freed his COM, which doubles as binoculars. Raising it to his eyes, and toggling a switch, Zane peered at the battle as a single small soldier sprinted down a hill merely meters ahead of ten or twelve firing troops.
The battle didn’t look like a normal fight, rather like a chase between a cat and a very cunning mouse. The chase continued for several minutes as cat would hiss and flail his claws and the mouse would bite back from hiding. Steadily, the mouse removed one claw at a time. Each time, the cat would regroup, destroy the mouse’s hiding hole, and the pursuit would enter a new alley or flatten a new building.
Through his COM, Zane targeted the mouse with a green dot and watched in admiration at the artful nature by which she declawed her predator. She predicted every flanking maneuver, knew when to peak, dropped grenades, and taunted her enemies into frustrated frenzies. While she was outnumbered and out-gunned, very chaotic step was planned and methodical.
Of course, it was all in vain. Zane knew this story. He’d seen it played out on planets from Eden 6 to Promethea. There was no limit to the funds of cheap mercenary labor–any company who desired it enough could buy any service they needed. He even knew the costs - he’d been that service before. Once, while visiting Opportunity on a “trash cleaning” job, he witnessed a defunct Atlas executive executed in the streets by four assassins in plain sight. No onlooker said a word, simply, the assassins exchanged bribes with a Hyperion cleaning crew (along with accompanying paperwork, of course), who began to work on the mess. If there’s one truth in these galaxies, it’s that, when a corporation wants you dead, you’re dead.
In any case, it wouldn’t be long now. The soldier was out of safe havens as she’d reached the outskirts of the abandoned town. Zane had hoped to see her kill more before he scouted the Vladof camp on the other side of the valley. The looting is easier when everyone’s dead after all. Besides, that Vladof dropship was his only ticket off this shyte-for-whisky planet. The fewer the guards, the easier the hijacking.
By now, the soldier hid behind a wall in a last stand. She threw a grenade, and pulled out a side arm, always the sign of the end. She made a final attempt to escape when the lucky blast from rocket blew her onto her side.
Guess things nev’r change, Zane shrugged to himself. Damn, the dropship guard count was still quite high. Hijacking the ship was going to be difficult now.
Then, in a wonderful plot twist, the soldier crashed out of the debris digistructing a fully loaded Vladof mechanized tank. The mercenaries reeled in surprise and Zane laughed with excitement.
“Ah!!! This got a bit more int’resting!” he chirped. He reached down to his hip, pressed a button, and his clone re-emerged, ready for more action. “We’re gonna enjoy this one!” He said to himself-clone “Let’s get a front r’ow seat.”
With that, he shook off the dizziness from the whiskey, hopped a rock and shuffled off into the valley.
Click Here to Read Part 3
On the newly lit screens, ahead stood three Vladof mercenaries, well, more like ‘targets’ now, one with a glowing fire-augmented semi-automatic rocket launcher. It was trained in on her hulking war machine; a two legged-tank which now protected her with explosive resistant plates and EMP resistant rubber web filament.
Moserah pivoted the left arm-mounted rail gun towards the three “!!!” above the rocket and squeezed.
“Oh god…I nearly paid off the house…” the target uttered just before a meter-wide beam of pure fire burst from Iron Bear’s elbow and disintegrated everything living thing in front of it. He evaporated into a red mist.
This reignited Mozerah’s confidence. Nothing could hurt her now. She stepped on her right pedal, charging forward at the two remaining targets. Both stumbled backwards falling over each other. Their cheap Vladof issue repeaters crumpled under Iron Bear’s hooves, leaving only broken fiberglass and metal behind.
As Moserah galloped behind them, she reached into the dirty cupholder to her right and fished around for a few seconds. “Iron Bear! Where’s my lucky S&S Bubble chew!?” she asked “I left it here last time!” A small glob of used gum teleported into the cupholder and a green light pinged in acknowledgement. “Thanks IB! You’re the best!” Moserah grabbed old gum, blew off the dirt and chucked it into her mouth.
“Iron Bear, play me some classical music.” The speaker to her right chirped issuing in the familiar, soothing sound of gentle symbols. The voice of an ancient, brilliant lyricist hummed in the speaker.
“Show me how to lie
you’re getting better all the time
And turning all against the one
Is an art that’s hard to teach…”
Now that the important stuff was out of the way, she cranked down on the gas as the seat cushions pressed around her back. Iron Bear’s gigantic feet thumped a deep thud from under her, and while silent from inside, produced a titanic and frightening clunk-clunk to anyone running away, which, Moserah had come to notice, they did a lot.
“…Another clever word
Sets off an unsuspecting herd
And as you step back into line
A mob jumps to their feet…”
The targets futilely stumbled away as Iron Bear’s huge paws inched ever closer.
“…Now dance f*cker dance
Man, he never had a chance…”
Thud thud thud Squish. “OH! Ouch! Not fun!" She quipped. Iron Bear turned as the remaining target squealed and redoubled his effort to escape. Thunk thunk - A hundred more feet, at this point she was playing with her prey. “Not so big now are ya–coming after me and mine!”
Around her now, Moserah had crossed out of the town. Metal walls stood on either side; a makeshift Vladof camp she’d looted earlier. Platforms 15 feet high on several sides contains empty supply chests she had pillaged for Iron Bear parts and other important items, like bubble chew.
The whimpering target stumbled to the ground and wriggled backwards. “I told y’all to leave me alone!” She shouted, “Send my regards to your commander!” Iron Bear’s huge foot raised over her target.
“…Nice work you did,
You’re gonna go far kid…”
The massive weight of the foot swung downward but didn’t make contact. At the last second, several small arms Torgue shotgun rounds exploded on the front of her VR screens.
Iron Bear’s armor rating dipped a few percentage points as he stumbled backwards. Moserah swiveled toward the gunfire. Bear’s right arm fired a barrage of V-35 grenades. The gravity rounds sucked the culprits into the air where the railgun made quick work of them.
“Hit 'em right between the eyes
Hit 'em right between the eyes”
More Vladof ARs pelted the metal Bear from behind. Minimal armor damage. She flung around, swapped the V-35 out for ballistic rockets and fired 6 heat seeking rounds towards the targets. 3 made contact with red splats, the rest overshot the platforms.
Flashes of light, Explosions™ from Torgue weapons, and enemy casualties continued for another short moment until of the troops who ambushed, three remained. Then, as quickly as they had appeared they retreated. The area fell silent, but for the mechanical clutter of tank outside and the music.
“See the lightning in your eyes
See them running for their lives”
“That’s right, you cowards!” she shouted, “This is what you get when you mess with the Vladof mechanized infantry!” She looked around for several seconds, almost unsure what to do. The stillness was unnerving and deceptively calming. For a moment, it felt like she was back with her comrades, victorious again, standing in a pile of rubble and chewing bubble gum together, not alone on a foreign planet, trying to forget everything.
The serine moment was short lived, however, because suddenly, no fewer than nine rocket troopers appeared from behind various walls. All nine carried armor corrosive Norfleet Eridium-tech mortars. All nine launchers pulsed green and synchronously flashed. All nine rockets branched into three bombs each, trajectory: the classical music.
“…Nice work you did,
You’re gonna go far kid…”
Moserah’s mouth fell agape, bubble gum hanging from her bottom lip as the mortars careened downward. “Oh sh–”
Click To Read Part 4
– IRON BEAR UNIT #B3@R_Vl@d_M0Ze EVENT LOG –
– ALERT –
INCOMING ENEMY MORTARS. IMPACT UNAVOIDABLE. MAJOR HULL DAMAGE EXPECTED
– RECEIVING EXTREME STRESS RESPONSE FROM PILOT –
– TEXT DISPLAY –
“Mozera, I am unable to sustain against the incoming artillery. Please take immediate action.”
– USER INPUT RECEIVED –
“No ■■■■, IB. Engage Security Bear and get back in my C.O.M.! We’re hoofin’ it.”
– COMMAND ACKNOWLEDGED –
DOWNLOADING SYSTEM PERSONALITY INTO PILOT CLASS OPTIMIZATION MODULE; ABANDONING VEHICLE.
– OBSERVATION –
ENEMY MORTARS CAUSING SEVERE SECURITY ARMOR FAILURE
– ARMOR STATUS –
45% HULL INTEGRITY
– !!!WARNING!!! –
CATASTROPHIC ARMOR FAILURE IMMINENT: SIGNALING “Pilot is screwed” WARNING LIGHT
– AUTO-EJECTING PILOT –
CODE NAMED: BUBBLE GUM SMACK TALK ESCAPE
– ARMOR STATUS –
13% HULL INTEGRITY
– AUTO BEAR TARGETING A.I. BOOT SEQUENCE –
AUTO BEAR TARGETING SYSTEM: GREEN
– OBSERVATION –
PILOT FULLY EJECTED - PILOT USING AUTO BEAR BODY AS COVER FROM ENEMY FIRE
– AUTO BEAR TURRETS ENGAGING ENEMY –
SIX TARGETS ELIMINATED
– ARMOR STATUS –
4% HULL INTEGRITY
– SYSTEM STATUS –
SYSTEM PERSONALITY AND SPECS FULLY DOWNLOADED TO PILOT C.O.M. – A.I. WILL NOW SURVIVE VEHICLE DESTRUCTION
– SENDING TEXT TO PILOT H.U.D. –
“It has been an honor to serve you, Mozera.”
– ARMOR AT 0% SHUTTING OFF –
Click to Read Part 5
“Shut it, IB! We’re not dead yet!” Mozera shouted at her belt clip, where IB’s AI now resided. A Vladof round ricocheted from the quickly melting body of her tank as the armor protected her one last time. From behind one of the giant legs, Mosera returned fire with her revolver until she heard a loud snap, as the hammer made contact with the empty cylinder. Mozera pressed her palm on her digistruct wallet and waited for more rounds. Two bullets appeared in her hand and the corner of her Heads Up Display turned a bright red "zero”.
Meanwhile, three Norfleets on a platform a few meters above clanked and clammered to reload, supported by several small arms infantry. Before shutting down, Iron Bear’s auto turrets had managed to remove an entire wall of the surrounding arena, protecting the pilot from flanking fire. However, IB’s melting legs wouldn’t last long.
Mozera pressed her back against the tank, took a deep breath, and swung around, squeezing the trigger twice. Before she’d even regained her cover, two launchers followed by two bodies thumped onto the dirt below. A tiny glimmer of hope tumbled to a stop a few feet away, kicking dust into a cloud: the Vladof ship’s navigation module had fallen off of one of the officers. If she could just… pop… a round reflected off the dirt, and she yanked her arm back. It wasn’t possible. Too much fire, too little cover, too few bullets. The nav module was there to mock her, nothing more.
Mozera had been here before. Enemy rounds zipping by, bullets reflecting against low shielding, while she took her last breath. In the past, right now, Sasha, Mila, or Annika in their own bears would crash down between her and the enemy. In the past, Polina would pull her off the ground and scold her for being stupid. In the past, they would all scowl at her, but with the loving kind of scowl you give your sister when she does that thing you love to hate. In the past…they were all alive….
Now, for the first time, resting against the shell of her last friend, in a cloud of gunfire, it was beginning to feel like IB might be right. It had been an honor. She placed her hand on her C.O.M., hugging IB for one last time. She eyed the nav module and wiped her palm on her hip.
“Here’s the mission, soldier,” her old commander’s voice echoed in her mind. “Sprint - Grab - Run - Escape! That’s it. It’s that simple!”
Repeating it to herself, she rehearsed:
- Sprint - get shot in the side.
- Grab - fall onto the module.
- Run - and by that, I mean ‘crawl’!
- Escape - well, ‘die’, anyway.
”Get to it, soldier! What are you waiting for?!”
“Sir, yes sir!” she automatically thought. It made as much sense as anything. One last mission. “Go out like you should have when they all went. One last fight. Your sisters would be proud….soldier…"
She wiped the hot sweat from her chin with the back of her glove and squinted. Her escape rested peacefully five feet away. All it would take is a sprint through gunfire, not an unfamiliar feeling, just one she’d rarely done without IB. This way out was no picnic, but one way or another, she was leaving this sweltering hell-hole of a planet.
She hopped up into a squat, open-palmed the dust, closed her eyes, and counted to herself, three, two, one. At that moment the last enemy mortar erupted from the platform above, indicating this was as good a time as any.
SPRINT - She vaulted forward with the help of IB’s knee and the dust. The noise around her muffled as time slowed. Tiny bullets zipped past her helmet and the green mortar fire above cast a shadow. Unseen debris tripped her to the ground, sending her rolling toward her goal.
GRAB - She flung herself onto the device and cradled it like a baby. It wouldn’t be long now. The flame was just over-head.
RUN - She began crawling forward.
ESCAPE - The flame was here. Nothing to do now. She turned toward the fire and closed her eyes….
…but nothing happened. Instead, the sound of gunfire was replaced by the familiar loud hisses of an energy shield absorbing bullets. She opened her eyes just in time to see and hear the liquid fire splash around her and onto a large bubble of energy. A perfect circle of melting rock formed as the shield redirected the liquid flame.
Mozera leapt to her feet as the darkness from the goo’s shadow cleared and the sun beamed down on the shield with her inside. A tiny drone buzzed past her head and flew up to the platform.
“Shyte Shyte Shyte! What are you even doing, boyo?!” a middle aged man in leather chaps tumbled past her, leaving the smell of whiskey behind. Mozera stood dumbfounded as he sprinted directly into the gunfire, becoming even more confused when the hundreds of rounds did nothing to him as he suddenly faded away, leaving behind a silvery replica of himself. A second man in chaps then stepped from behind the soldiers above and fired several rounds before they could respond. The drone pelted one of them who crumpled to the ground; another fell off the platform. The remaining soldiers returned fire on their ambusher, but again, the man faded away. The first man suddenly popped back to life, regained color, and shouted, “That’s right! He’s the real Zane! Keep shooting!”
This swapping occurred twice more. The “real Zane” would appear above, then below, firing and then disappearing just on time to avoid gunfire. Soon, every soldier lay on the platform fell to the dirt. As the dust settled, the shield around her flicked off, and the silvery outline standing near her filled in again. The grey haired, leather chapped, ghost-man raised his hand as his drone landed on his forearm like a trained eagle.
He sighed in satisfaction, looked her in the eye and asked, “What? No applause? Do I have to do everything meself?”. He then began a facetious slow-clap.
Please keep in mind that lore related elements are done with as much good faith research as possible with my available time. I do my best to use my imagination to bridge game elements with realism in the story, as you’ll see. I have played likely thousands of hours of Borderlands games overall, so I’m not new to the lore, even if I miss a few details. If you notice something worth updating, I invite you to let me know.