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Vault of the Alchemist - Chapter 1: Invoking Thy Names

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The rakks screeched as they found yet another helpless human to feast upon. The target stopped, bending over to collect vegetables. A farmer. Good thing no-one would miss them. The wild beasts soared downwards, getting ready t-

ZZZZZZZZZZZZAP!

An electrifying aura surrounded the rakks, penetrating their flesh and searing from the inside as they let out cries of anguish. Their cooked bodies slid off to the side of the shield, landing in large meat bins. Quite a handy form of protection and (though it was unconventional) hunting.

The town was starting to awaken as the sun's first rays were being joined by many others. They first struck the twin peaks of such grand ruins, once home to such corrupt beings that plagued every business, every bank. Accountants.

The last few rays gently caressed a statue. It depicted a powerful man, one who changed history and made quite a daring move or two in the weapons industry, who seized a pitiful company and shaped it into something more grand. The plaque was worn, but the name "Rhys" was sprayed onto it for good measure.

The Children of Helios were thriving.

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One man lay in his bed, snoring loudly and displaying his muscled body. His room was not in the best condition, but luckily an assortment of potted plants and rare equipment strewn on the walls and shelves could distract anyone from that. An exercise bike was positioned near the window. From there, he could see the whole town square. It was no Sanctuary, but it was good.

On a metal desk were an assortment of objects: several ECHO logs (some received, some waiting to contain messages), parts for a Bandit pistol and other weapons from  popular manufacturers were strewn across it, a battered black office lamp labelled "HYPERION PROPERTY - DO NOT STEAL!" and a photograph of him with several other figures. A majority of them were smiling, except for a CL4P-TP unit, a robot that seemed to be made from different Hyperion parts and a humanoid figure wearing a helmet. The photograph looked like it had seen better days.

Loud knocks sounded from the door. The room's inhabitant groggily rose and proceeded to slip on a modified waistcoat adapted to the harsh climate of the desert wastes. The knocks sounded louder and faster.

"Hang on, I'm coming!" he yelled as he combed his facial hair.

"Sir" a muffled voice said in urgency, "you have a visitor outside the city!"

He opened the door, warmth gathering at his chest. He grabbed his psycho mask and a Hyperion shotgun. If anyone came close, they were gonna get more than a little shock. This was (VAUGHN: Don't count on it!)

He wandered through the city, admiring its architecture. It wasn't easy building this place, but five years had given him and his fellow Children enough time to take refuge in surviving shelters while they attempted to build the debris into a functioning home for many of the lost Hyperion salary people.

Sure enough, a car was outside of the city's entrance. It looked familiar in terms of model, from when Vaughn and his good friend Rhys stole one from Hugo Vasquez, enemy and all-around douchebag towards them. At least there was no way he'd show up any time soon. It was painted white and blue, with red streaks separating the two colours from each other. The right-hand passenger door was opened. The inside looked quite dark and foreboding, yet the refreshing coolness of air conditioning wafted from the inside. It was beckoning Vaughn for him to embrace it.

Reluctantly, he stepped inside. Just as both feet were planted inside the vehicle, the door shut without warning and the car was in motion.

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A cooler sat beside him. Upon opening, Vaughn received a bottle of beer (as well as SMG ammo). It was cold to the touch. Without a second thought, he removed the mask and took a small sip. Hot damn was it nice! Had a slight...buzz to it.

"So!" A voice said cheerfully. "What do you think? It's our new Black Label Bolt, out next week to the general public!"

A television screen sat in front of Vaughn. On it was a shirtless young man with black hair, three sections of the fringe dyed different colours. A scar ran down the side of his neck; it was too large not to notice. He was grinning from ear to ear.

In quick response, Vaughn slid the mask back on in a panic. The man laughed heartily.

"No worries, man! I ain't here to cause any trouble. Just a smaaaaaaaaall business proposal."

"Uh... who ARE you?" Vaughn asked nervously, mask skewed to the side.

The man leaned back and sighed with relief. "Ahhhh, straight to business, then? Name's Finnegan Crux, current CEO of Maliwan. If it ain't elemental, it ain't Maliwan!" He chuckled to himself. "Quite a catchy motto."

Vaughn sat in uncomfortable silence. Why did the head of a beer and gun company have business with him? Was this guy even who he claimed to be? Many similar thoughts rushed through his head.

"Anyways" Finnegan said, "I have received intelligence-"

"At least you have some!" A gruff voice behind the camera said jokingly.

"Dad! I'm in a meeting!" The CEO blushed, crossing his arms. The man laughed.

"Okay, okay. You take care of this, I'll go check on sales." Footsteps could be heard, followed by a door closing.

Finnegan blushed harder, putting his face in his hands. "God, that was embarrassing" he muffled.

"Uh..." Vaughn looked out of the window briefly. They were passing a bandit camp. The inhabitants were too busy carrying the dead bodies of fellow bandits to notice the car drive by. Several of the bodies looked charred, one of them having deep claw marks in the centre of a large burn. Whatever got him must have been one hell of a beast. "So, you were saying?"

Finnegan hastily resumed his composure. "So. I have received intelligence of a new Vault being discovered. And other companies have caught wind."

Vaughn tore off his mask. Did he just hear right? A new Vault? He hoped that what he thought was going to happen didn't happen.

"As a result," he continued, "we are in a race against time. I need you to take care of the guardian of the Vault."

Yep, it happened.

"W-wait, WHAT?!" Vaughn's face was stricken with panic. The Traveller wasn't vicious, but really hard to beat. How did this weird-haired surfer think HE could take it down by himself?

"You heard right!" The CEO of Maliwan slammed his fist on the table. "You have survived against the odds! You claimed the treasures of a Vault's guardian before! You are AWESOME!"

Sweat ran down Vaughn's face, cheeks blushing very lightly. He didn't think anyone else knew, or that he had a fan of sorts.

"Plus, if you agree, I can guarantee that Maliwan will help improve your home! Better shields, better security, better architecture! That's the Maliwan way!"

"That's my boy!" A gruff, muscular man was in view of the camera, tightly hugging Finnegan. Unlike the CEO, he wore a vest, sunglasses and a baseball cap that looked as if it had seen better days.

"DAD! FOR FUCK'S SAKE!" He pushed his dad away with force. "PLEASE don't embarrass me in front of a Vault Hunter!"

For a brief moment, Mr Crux looked shocked, stared at the camera and them slapped his son across the back of his head. "Once you're finished" he said in a low voice, every word filled with suppressed anger, "meet me in my office." He went off-screen and slammed the door.

It was nothing but awkward silence for at least a solid few minutes.

"I'll take the job."

"Huh?" Finnegan stared at his screen, surprised. "You'll.. You'll take the job?"

"Yeah. Yeah!" A smile spread across Vaughn's face. "Yeah! I'll take on the Vault! Gonna make this part two of my heroic story!"

"Awesome!"

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It was midday in the city. The car pulled up at the entrance. The door opened, revealing a Vaughn who was buzzing with alcohol and carrying the cooler full of Black Label Bolt. The words of Maliwan's CEO couldn't be heard from afar.

Plopping the cooler down on the floor near his wall of weapons, he collapsed onto the bed, embracing the warm covers. This time tomorrow, he'd be on a train to the town of Fester Creek.