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Out In The Cold

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Chapter One: Windshear Waste

 

Axton lifted his head, eyebrows quirking up in confusion at the little grumbling robot he could barely make out in the distance through the falling snow. Everything hurt. Oh that's right, some A-hole had tried to blow him up. Now he was bleeding in the middle of nowhere, elbow deep in the snow, and surrounded by the remnants of an exploded train.

"Great another dead vault hunter. Handsome Jack has been busy." The little robot moaned sadly as it dug around in the snow and debris.

There was a dark blur of movement to Axton's left that drew his gaze. It was that tall quiet fellow from the train. His helmet was still on and he seemed to be relatively unharmed. "Lucky bastard," Axton grumbled to himseIf as he began to crawl forward.

The stranger knelt down in the snow placing a gentle hand on his back to halt his pathetic movements, before sliding his hands under Axton's arms and lifting him up into a sitting position.

"Rise and shine, Soldier./" The voice sounded strange; it must have been coming through a speaker in the helmet. "/Now is no time for sleeping./ It is too cold here."

Axton blinked at him in confusion. It was a pleasant enough voice, but there was something a little off about the words.

"Are you badly hurt ?/" Gentle hands brushed over his arms and shoulders checking for injuries. One hand moved up to his face, taking hold of his chin and turning his head from side to side. " / Good, no sign of concussion. / Bruised, but still alive."

"Yeah. It'll take more than that little explosion to put me out of the fight."

The helmet tilted to the side and a red image lit up in front of it. "0.o"

"Little explosion? / You are a strange man-" He drew out the last word and let his sentence drop off as if waiting for something.

"Oh. Uh, name's Axton." Real smooth, he chided himself.

"-Axton./ " He finally finished. Standing up, he offered a hand to the soldier. "/Search for survivors?"

"That's probably a good idea," he said excepting the hand and pulling himself up. "So what do I call you, friend?"

"Friend? I would like that./"

The red glowy icon appeared again in front of the stranger's helmet. This time it flashed a question mark that quickly morphed into ... was that a smiley face?

"/Please call me Zer0, Axton./" Zer0 turned to survey the area and pointed at one of the bodies. "/Is that the siren?"

He watched the tall man walk off toward a prone figure in the snow and was instantly distracted by the obnoxious loud little robot that declared its name was CL4P-TP or Claptrap.

"Heeeey! You're not dead!" It declared cheerfully. "YES! Now I can get off this glacier! Claptrap, your metaphorical ship has finally come in!!"

Axton endured the cheery little robot's dialogue and retrieved several echo communicators for his trouble. There were only two other survivors, a short bulky guy (dwarf?) named Salvadore and the siren, Maya. He watched her as she bitched out a confused Zer0, who was just trying to be helpful. She was cute, but (dang!) she was so angry. The dwarf was just weird, flitting between Spanish and English and expecting them to follow his crazy talk; well, they all were a little weird.

There wasn't much to salvage from the train's wreckage, but they did manage to find a few weapons. Salvadore cried dibs on a pair of sub-machine guns, while Maya took a pistol with a scope and Zer0 appropriated the only undamaged sniper rifle. That left Axton with a pretty crappy assault rifle, but he wasn't complaining. Any weapon was better than the alternative and frankly he had always felt more naked without a gun than without clothes.

They followed CL4P-TP across the snow covered landscape and Axton prayed silently that the little weirdo knew where it was going. He huffed out a sigh of relief and a thank you under his breath, when they finally arrived at the door to a bunker. He was freezing.

The CL4P-TP unit opened a rather elaborate security door for the middle of nowhere and led them down a short tunnel to a decent sized if messy room filled with a variety of junk.

"Sorry about the mess. Everything Jack kills, he dumps here -- bandits, Vault Hunters, Claptrap units... If I sound pleased about this, it's only because my programmers made this my default tone of voice! I'm actually quite depressed!" 

As Claptrap puttered around the room explaining the dangers of giant bullymongs, Axton passed around the extra echo communicators. One to each of the other survivors.

 

Later Axton would re-examine his behavior and fret a bit over it, but at the time he didn't think there was anything particularly weird about what he did. He passed the electronics over to Maya and Salvadore without blinking, but instead of just handing the device to Zer0, he felt compelled to attach it to the tall man's belt, turn it on, and calibrate it himself.

" ':| " Flashed above Zer0 as he tilted his head in confusion at the soldier.

Axton tilted his head as well and looked at the red display again. "Oh, cool. You *are* making faces. "

" :) "

Smiling back at the taller man, Axton clapped him on the shoulder and moved to look around the room. He laughed as Maya opened a closet and half a dozen broken defunct claptrap units spilled out onto her, startling them all. Salvadore was examining (and stealing) from a mock poker game that Claptrap had obviously been playing with himself via some defunct CL4P-TP units as opponents.

The little robot had no sooner finished remarking on how bullymongs would rip your eyes out, if you weren't careful, than the threat proved itself very real. He was suddenly tackled and pulled into cover by Zer0 as a giant bullymong came into the bunker through a hole in the ceiling and grabbed the little robot. Claptrap screeched in fear as the bullymong, so appropriately named Knuckle Dragger, ripped out his eye and fled with his new treasure. Zer0 stood once the coast was clear and helped Axton up as well. That was a bit too ironic for the soldier's taste.

"The gun ... the gun in the cabinet," gasped the little stunned robot, as it wheeled blindly across the room.

Axton watched as Zer0 followed the bot across the room straight to the cabinet Claptrap had obviously been referring to and opened it . A single pistol, assorted ammo, and several health vials spilled out onto the floor. Claptrap was apparently not any better at packing cabinets than closets; he was clearly a stack it haphazardly/let's play Jenga kind of person.

Zer0 picked up one of the medical vials and tossed it to Axton. "Health here." Then he tossed one each to Salvadore and Maya as well.

Axton looked at the vial in his hand and then back at Zer0. "Are you sure you don't need this?" He asked the assassin, as the other two survivors popped theirs without hesitation. Just because Zer0 didn't look hurt, didn't mean he wasn't.

"I am well enough. /Do not worry about me. /"

"If you're sure ..."

"/ I am sure, go on. "

"Aren't you two just so sweet? It's making me ill. " Maya griped as she walked over to start sorting through the ammo on the floor.

Zer0's red emoticon display flashed the message "3MT43" briefly before being replaced with a scowl " >:( ".

Salvadore had spotted the rude message though and let out a short loud belly laugh, to which Maya gave the dwarf a scowl of her own.

Axton grinned at them both from where Maya couldn't see him.

"Apart from the excruciating pain, this is great! I've been waiting for a mighty Vault Hunter to help me reach Sanctuary." Claptrap rolled passed them and through a door shaped just like himself. From the other side they heard buttons being pressed, as the robot called out to them. "I will be your wise leader, and you shall be my fearsome minion! Bwhahaha ha hahaha!" 

" Really? " Zer0 asked in unamused disbelief, as his red display showed "WTF BRO".

Maya snorted and followed the robot through the human sized door that was now open.

Salvadore laughed again before shouting and bounding after them, "This is going to be AWESOME!"

"I think this is likely to hurt us more than anything, Salvadore." Zer0 called after the small enthusiastic man.

Axton grinned at Zer0 as he picked up and loaded the crap pistol from the cabinet, before handing it to him.

"Yeah, but it's not fun unless it hurts a little, right?" Axton said still grinning widely and winked at him.

Zero rewarded Axton with a brief wicked smile emoticon " >:] " before following him and the others through the door.