It’s been a lot of years since I last sat down and played some Table Top roleplaying (TTRPG for those who like their acronyms). This past year, a happenstance allowed me to make some new friends online and join a virtual table playing Bunkers & Badasses, a new TTRPG system from Nerdvana Games, based on the Borderlands video game. And while that game has morphed over the months, I have been having a blast with my character, Jax. I decided that it was time to share some of Jax’s journey with you in this place. I haven’t really done a lot of creative writing output on this site, so we’ll see what happens with this!

This story follows the adventures of Jax, and the Vault Hunters he meets along the way, through his ECHO recordings that he is sending to his wife, Penny. Before we get to the first ECHO recording, it’s time to meet Jax!

Jax: The tracker from Lynchwood who shoots first. That’s it. No questions.

You see a man board the transport…

The man is lean, not particularly tall, but he can probably reach the top shelf. Outfitted in a leather trench coat with what is left of a suit and tie, he approaches purposefully. You’ve seen that stride before, somebody who is used to getting his way. A bowler hat with goggles rests on his head, likely to keep off the sun. It sure isn’t for the style. He looks like a local, hailing from Lynchwood, and you think you remember him in the waiting area keeping to himself, quiet. He has that Vault Hunter look about him. And that massive bird. What was that all about?

He seems to be getting closer, eyeing the open seat next to you. His eyes are dark, but you can’t tell if they’re brown, or dark brown, or dark dark brown. His face seems pretty generic, like somebody used to disappearing in a crowd, but his ears are just a bit too pointed.

“This seat taken?”

As he sits down next to you, he leans right in and starts chatting. Immediately talking about how he’s getting into this vault hunting business for the cash. And some other reasons.

Which he doesn’t particularly want to tell you right now. After all, you just met!

It takes at least 5 more minutes into the ride before he just won’t stop talking about it. His name is Jax and his winged friend, Kaylee, has been with him for the last 4 years and is always by his side. Unless Kaylee is hungry, in which case, Kaylee goes pretty much wherever she wants. Right now, Kaylee is eyeing you with what you can only hope is mistrust, and not hunger.

As Jax speaks, you see him fingering an engraved pocketwatch. A gift from Penny, he says. You immediately regret it as the words slip out of your mouth:

“Who is Penny?”

A slight smile appears on Jax’s face, as he leans back into his seat.

“So, this is the part where I tell you the sad story that led me to a life of violence, danger, and mayhem. Right? Orphaned by the corporations? Enslaved in a gladiatorial ring? Former soldier turned mercenary after a horrifying experience of genocide or murder? Nah, none of those things. Strap in, bucko. This is a love story.

Her name was Penny. Best sheriff I ever worked with. Knew how to talk them down or take them down, sometimes both. I was her tracker for almost 10 years. For eight of those I wore a ring.

Still do.

They came at night, loaded up and looking for something. Bashed down the door I had just replaced, without even a polite knock. Neither of us are stupid. The perimeter sensors gave us the heads up 10 minutes before they got to the porch. They came in guns blazing and one of them ruined my favourite chair. That jerk got the first bullet. I still remember the look on those faces as they turned to face the cracked window the bullet had just gone through. I got another one off before we had to be on the move.

Turns out, though, whomever sent these idiots was smarter than most. That bunch of skags weren’t the kill squad. We ran into the real mercs as we headed down the backside of the hill. Penny took the shot in her shoulder and then bodied me out of the way as a rocket launcher erased her from the spot. My shield held and I headed for our meetup point. I knew I could lose them, I knew these hills. Penny should have been by the nearest New-U. But she wasn’t.

I’ve been trying to track down whomever sent that squad since. I tried asking politely, but those mercs proved to be of little help, with few clues on them. I gave them each a few traumatic regenerations until their accounts were dry, but got nothing but some vague hints in some ECHO recordings. That was two years ago.

A little Vault Hunting will pay the bills for the search, and maybe one of those alien techs will be able to bring Penny back. And maybe, just maybe, I’ll find some more hints as to who came for us that night. I have a favour to return.”

“It’s time to see what Brymstone has to offer.”

It’s at this point that you realize there is at least another two hours of travel before the Brymstone stop. Why couldn’t the conference have been on Pandora?

To be continued…

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