Found Archive—One Last Chance details the accounts of a Regulator turned protector of a family trying to escape Princess Zhim's clutches. This story takes place primarily in the year 466 LV over a span of 11 months. It effectively ends during the 12th month of 468 LV. The whole account is found through the letters found being carried by a courier who was found dead by Sentinel Dinix
A total of 12cortex entries make reference to the Found Archive—One Last Chance.
All these entries are written by Burn Hardigan during the course of a year. A year later, Hardigan sends out these letters to his former boss through a courier. However, something happens to the courier, whose corpse is found by a Sentinel Dinix. All these were found during the Icetide of the year 468 LV.
(The following notes were recovered from a dead courier by SentinelDinix. Their author has not been located.).
Sitting here, looking at this tracking device glued to my nipple, and wondering where I glitched up.
As Zhim puts it, this is my "last chance." Posing as a hired gun, I'm to escort a strider across Bastion to the Antium Lock, and fight off anyone in the way. There, I'll hijack the strider, kill the crew, and transfer it to Zhim's axe-men. My pay is a "retirement" package and a one-way Regulator escort to the Mirelands. Guess I pissed Zhim off.
Never said why she wanted the strider. Must be important. Because she glued this tracker to my nipple.
It was my last good nipple, and I shall sorely miss it
Plan's working out so far. Got hired on the strider. Met the captain and crew. Three adults, two children, one infant. Nice little family.
Shame about that. Even if they get past Zhim'sRegulators, and me, for that matter, they're all too green for this. Their destination is some place east of Bastion. Outlaws or Scars would normally get 'em.
Anyway... just gotta keep my head down. Get them to Antium Lock. Do my job. Keep playing the emotionally distant, crabby gunslinger.
So, this is their plan: Captain Nolin, the father, is driving the strider through Antium Lock to the Great Expanse where they're "going to build a house and live free." It's laughable.
And the girl, Sala, all of four, has some kind of crush on me. I keep catching her spying while I'm cleaning the guns. They actually put flowers in her hair—I saw her mother doing it. Do they think this is a vacation?
Can't see what interest Zhim has in these people. Even their dreams have no value.
Then again... the hold is sealed. And they never open it.
Fought off an outlaw ambush near the Tears of Liatrelle. Nolin is passable with a rifle. His brother and wife, too. Sala and the young lad know their parts: hide in the strider's pantry, and don't come out until their dad comes to get 'em.
Actually, it's me who keeps messing up. Shared a brew with Nolin and his brother. Young Sala keeps leaving me flowers. Fresh ones. I stomp them on the floor and leave them for her to find. But they're gone every damn night, and there's always more on my pillow.
Never was too smart with my relations. I have to kill all these people when we reach Antium Lock. If I don't, Zhim'll commission a bullet for my brainpan.
On a rest stop, I left the strider to piss, then bloody Aushkiir, Zhim's court huntress, sneaks up and sticks a nine-inch dagger under my chin.
She says to respect the mission: Get the strider and the family to Antium Lock and kill 'em. Right then. Don't screw up.
I told her this was a mistake, that they can't have anything Zhim wants. But Aushkiir just shook her head. Said the family dug up something in the Sanctuary ruins at Dunar. It's locked it in the hold, and Zhim wants it. I'm on the hook to deliver.
Then she leaves me with my trousers down. And up to my neck in my own lousy intuition.
Got Captain Nolin drunk today and he spilled the beans. He's taking the strider out to a plot of land west of Primoris. They'll farm and sell stock along the strider route.
I shouted at him. Told him he was mad. That he had to give up this ridiculous daydream, go settle in Fort Tarsis, weave rugs or something. He's only gonna get himself and his family and little Sala killed.
He just shook his head at me and smiled. He's got a secret, and he's gonna die for it.
I've seen many things in this life. Today was a first.
Little Sala told me she likes growing things. "Yes, so does your father," I said. "He's gonna get you all killed." And then she sang a little "Nope, nope, nope" song and showed me a secret way into the hold.
It's a greenhouse. Stuffed with fat, juicy vegetables. And in the middle... a cursed Shaper artifact. Black as volcanic ice, radiating some kinda energy. No water or sunlight. Then Sala shows me her garden. A flower patch. All the colors of the rainbow.
I cried right there. My boss, Princess Zhim, will stop at nothing to take this artifact from these people. They'll all lie dead before the journey's done. And it'll be my fault.
At the next roadside stop, I ran into the trees, opened my shirt, said a prayer to the Shapers, and dug my nails under that tracker Zhim glued to my nipple.
Aushkiir was waiting for me.
She said I'd gone soft, that she'd already planted a tracker on the strider. That Aushkiir would kill the family herself.
I fought her. Somehow got her gun. But she stabbed me in the thigh with that glowing, green, nine-inch dagger of hers and ran. I ripped that tracker clean off. Made up a story about outlaw ambush and got everyone on the road again, double-time.
Got Nolin to take a weaving route to the Antium Lock. Made up a story about outlaws chasing. They've got no idea how bad it truly is. If that huntress and her Regulator buddies catch us, our bodies will feed the wolven.
I kept the stab wound a secret, but it's turning funny colors. Might be imagining it, but I'm having trouble with my eyes. It's all gone so wrong.
Trying to focus on finding the tracker. Maybe she put one on the strider, maybe it's a bluff. Somehow... I have to get us through the Antium Lock. Somehow. Before Zhim's thugs catch us.
I'm in my cot, under a blood-spattered sheet. I only remember a few things.
Aushkiir attacked us in Strider Way. The poison was killing me, but I held the strider long as I could. Fought to protect this little family and their dream. But what can three civvies and an aging gunslinger do against Zhim's best?.
Aushkiir was in her black Interceptor with her face shield up. She had us kneel—me, the father Nolin, his wife and brother. Said we'd die one at a time until the artifact was hers.
And then little Sala, who no one was watching, blew Aushkiir's face half-off with an SMG she took from a body.
They had no idea that I'd lied to them. That I'd been planted there by Zhim to kill this little family and take their treasure. Give it to Zhim as payment for my unsatisfactory service as a Regulator smuggler.
Sala was holding my leg. Only then did I notice my other leg. Amputated at the hip. They said it was infected from a stab wound I'd taken in the fight.