With Nine-toes out of the picture we could direct our efforts to getting more information about the vault. The first thing we did was repair the local Catch-A-Ride so we could get around a little easier.
"Killings a bunch of bandits is getting us nowhere." Mordecai said.
"Well you got a better idea?" I said.
"We go higher." Brick said.
"You mean like take out the boss?" Lilith asked.
"Hmm." He nodded.
"Well that'd be Sledge." Zed chimed in from across the street "Most of the other locals beat feet out of here when you guys got the Catch-A-Rise working, don't know how many would have made it past him though, there's a young guy at the crossroads not far from here named Shep, he might be able to get you into the mines Sledge is at."
"Seems like we at least have an idea where to go." I said.
"Then let's get going." Roland said without much more word.
We hopped into the runners we had, Lilith and Roland shared with her driving while the rest of us were relegated to one, me driving with Mordecai on the turret and Brick riding on the back.
"You know you're really throwing off the weight distribution on this thing." I told Brick.
"You wanna ride on the back?" he asked.
"Nah I'm good." I laughed taking a turn.
We stopped and found a young man named Shep who had an axe to grind with a bandit named Sledge and with some persuasion he let us take the key to the mines.
"Sledge is dangerous." He warned "I heard he's been digging for something too, just stay away from him, ever since he found that doodad, he's been on a warpath looking for more artifacts."
"We can handle it." Roland told him.
We hopped back in and drove off to the gate to the mines.
"Well this is easier than expected." I said as the gate rose up.
"Way to jinx it." Lilith laughed as we headed through "If this sledge guy has an artifact it could be related to the Vault."
"See looking into this paid off." I smiled.
We soon arrived at a mining operation teaming with bandits who all wanted us dead. So, we started moving through and clearing them out, gunfire ringing out and the smell of gunpowder drifting into the air.
"HMPH!" I ducked back behind a box as I threw my firework spinner out and let it start shooting off explosions "Up on that roof, Rocket Launcher!"
"I got it." Mordecai pulled out a sniper rifle and blew the bandit's head off before he could react.
"I'll take this." I said grabbing the launcher as it rolled off the roof "Good quality so…Fire!"
I pulled the trigger and shot off a rocket that blasted into the ground in a fiery blast.
"I could get use to this thing." I laughed moving it to my back.
"Why are there always so many?" Lilith asked shooting over a barricade without looking.
"This planet's full of old convicts from Dahl mining." Roland said "So when they pulled out and left them all behind, they went back to old habits."
"How kind of them." I said firing two shots with my pistol to take out a psycho on Brick's back "Take over an alien planet and turn tail and run when it doesn't go your way."
We pushed up more and got to the main building and kicked down the door to get inside. We moved through the mill and found the main room where Sledge was.
He was a big guy covered in a metal helmet and armor plates, in one hand he had a shotgun and the other a massive cobbled together sledge hammer.
"Sledge no like you, Sledge kill you now!" he yelled shooting at us.
"Nice to know we're making friends." Lilith laughed.
"Yeah we're the life of the party." Mordecai smirked leaning over the railing.
The three of us let off a blast of shots, most of which bounced off either his shield or his armor.
"That's gonna be a problem!" I yelled.
"RAAH!" Brick just ran in and grabbed Sledge's hammer before he could slam it down again and knocked him back.
Roland deployed his turret and we tried to get more shots in but nothing was making a dent.
"RAAH!" I let off a rocket shot but not even that was making enough of a difference.
"He can't hold up forever keep going." Roland said.
"Easier said than done I'm running out of bullets." I said throwing a grenade and my disc, setting off a chain of explosions.
"HMPH!" Mordecai aimed up and shot a chain that knocked an engine of some kind off the upper level, slamming it into the bandit.
"There went the shield!" Lilith yelled "Brick!"
"RAAAH!" the large man started punching him with a flurry of blows.
"There!" we all laid into his open chest with bullets, riddling him till he fell.
"I think we got him." Lilith panted.
"That was…rough." I immediately light a smoke and tossing Sledge's shotgun to Brick.
We took what we needed in terms of ammo, cash and weapons before we found a big trunk stuffed with cash.
"Looks important." Mordecai opened it.
Inside was a pile of money, and one strange triangle shaped purple tinted rock.
"I ain't ever seen anything like that." I said.
"…yeah…" Lilith rubbed her head.
"You alright?" Roland asked.
"Thanks for the concern, just a headache from all the gunshot's ringing out." She said picking it up "We should probably get back to Fyrestone and regroup, figure out what this thing is."
"The Vault is real." The voice suddenly appeared in the fog of our minds "What you have there is the key…or part of it, I knew you were the right choice."
"Her again, I wonder who she is." I tapped my cigarette out and placed it back in my mouth.
We started heading back, loading into the runners and driving off, we barely got back on the road before our Echos squeaked.
"This is Commandant Steele of the Atlas Corporation Crimson Lance." A gruff woman's voice said "I have been informed of your arrival in search of the vault and how within minutes you have started killing locals and causing a disturbance."
"That's what we're doing." I said making a turn.
"This planet is under the authority of the Atlas Corporation and any Eridian artifacts found here is Atlas property and any possession of such property carries a stiff penalty. Turn yourself in at once to the nearest Lance outpost and surrender any information or artifacts you have in possession; this is your only warning."
"Well she seems just peachy." I said.
We got back to Fyrestone and decided to rest for a bit and figure out our next move.
"We really wanna trust some magic voice?" Roland asked.
"You have any better ideas?" Lilith said.
"No but…I think we need to be careful." He said.
"Hmm." I blew out smoke why I made a few adjustments on the Rocket Launcher I found.
"Zed said something about helping us get in touch with a woman who might know more about the Vault." Roland said "I'll go ask."
He left while I kept working.
"Should you be smoking around explosives?" Lilith asked
"I know how to be careful." I said looking at some ammo I got from the machine "I've only blown myself up a few times."
She took a step back "A few?"
"You know how to handle your fancy magic powers I know how to handle things that explode." I said "I'm just messing with the barrel not the ammo so there's no live powder…well not enough to be concerned about. I've had my share of run ins with getting maimed so I know when I can push my limits."
I spit out my butt.
"You work with this stuff for long?" she asked.
"Since I was a kid." I put it down "I appreciate the small talk but…nah."
"Huh, what you don't want friends?" she asked.
"That's not what I meant." I laughed "Never mind, mixed signals happen."
"Mixed…you thought?!" she laughed "NO!"
"I know." I smirked "Because I saw the way you looked at him."
I gestured to Roland.
"It's getting late might as well get some rest yeah, probably got a long drive tomorrow.
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