New post is live! Echo's off to train in the best possible way that isn't beach vollyball.
I highly recommend either doing an all-in group collab, or if you think you can manage it, smaller/ more frequent collabs or posts that give everyone a chance to write and participate.
Good luck. ;D
Oh, if anything isn't clear or you need clarification, please let me know; I tried to get this done in a timely manner and didn't want to keep you guys waiting, so I may have overlooked details that may be of use.
Clyff, to be entirely honest, wasn’t used to drills. Not to say he’d never participated in them, but they never were like this. It was awkward, slapdash, and he believed that was the point. More so, he’d never worked with such a diverse group before. They all had skills that he didn’t even come close to possessing. That, along with being a mixture of aliens that he never worked with—well, he was a bit off his game.
The entire exercise ended abruptly before he actually got to shoot anyone. He’d laid down suppression fire, but what fun was that? But apparently, the Kit-Kat… Kett-Kats(?) had decided to raid defenseless scientists. Real classy, aliens. They were told to switch out their equipment, and Clyff may have let out a whistle of relief. These fake guns were way too light and he felt like he was one broad gesture away from throwing them halfway across the room. If he was lucky, it would have been at an opponent’s face. If he was unlucky, it would have been into an opponent’s open arms where they could have had the honor of shooting him with his own gun. Not a lot in war was truly disgraceful, but that one definitely would have taken the crown, cake, and the whole shebang.
On the ride over, the little salarian, Something Something—he really needed to learn names—stated their mission objectives and divided the teams accordingly based on function. Clyff was not surprised he was lumped into the “go shoot things dead” group. It would be strange if he wasn’t. Yet, as Sabrinaus spoke, he wondered if the Kett-Kats (he was aware they were just the Kett, but the name made him chuckle) always brought this sort of force with them. This seemed like a basic mission, for the enemy anyway, and that seemed little a lot of firepower. Maybe they just had that much at their disposal. He made a note to ask Anjor about that later. If this was their normal gaggle of minions, he’d hate to see their elite teams. No. Scratch that, he’d love to see their elite teams and feed them a lot of hot, burning bullets.
Touching down, Clyff pulled out his shotgun and used their moment of silence to activate his incendiary rounds. If they were going after the big ones first, he really needed all the firepower he could get. He then queued up his abilities that would be best for this fight.
One of his previous teammates spoke. He gave her a cursory glance. ”Great pep talk. A plus. I feel so ready to take on anything now.” His voice was flat. ”Though,” he looked over at the Krogan, Krogangrad. That was it, he was going to spend this evening writing their names down five times each. "A fiend, huh?” he asked, very rhetorically. “Didn’t realize your mom was here.”
Breathing in deep through her nose she held it for a few seconds before letting it out slowly. Dex starred down the old beater shuttle, freshly painted. Today was the day she’d pass the last medical examination that would approve her back into service. The last hurdle was flying the shuttle through a long stretch of trees in the course, beating a set time. Easy enough for even fledgling pilots, it was all about reflexes and listening to your instruments when a branch was too close. No shields to save you, marked on every scratch you earned on the shuttle.
On the platform surrounded by dense vegetation hacked away that morning, the air was humid with a faint smell of swamp gases always present. Home as she’d always known it to be, wild. Even after a couple centuries of turians establishing a colony the megafauna stage of Taetrus was in full force. Nature always waiting to reclaim back whatever they cut away. The definition of a ‘backwater’ colony according to the Hierarchy. The biggest worry they ever had was the plants. On closer inspection politics pushed and pushed for independence, a colony thought of so little by the Hierarchy and the homeworld Palaven, Taetrus was an entity strongly separate from the collective. Enough folk thought that way while others held strong to their culture rooted by the Hierarchy.
Dex looked down flexing her artificial fist. A long, dreadful year in rehabilitation. Boring, slow, with plenty of setbacks. She squeezed the talons shut, they responded with no lag. She sighed, thankful for cooperation. There were bad days where she’d break a glass from a slow reflex, a malfunction at the wrist bending the opposite way, some days where her arm was completely unresponsive. Jorrick Demanga, true to his word stuck by her in rehabilitation. Painstaking adjustments and talking her down from a meltdown. They became fast friends, he would be her number one news source on all things Facinus was up to. Particularly the good. They made a habit of being first responders to Taetrus natural disasters, dispatching pirates in Taetrus space, supporting colonial forces when they weren’t butting heads.
One of the officers who had escorted her to the platform pushed a datapad into her hands to sign off on, “Alright, sign here and your examiner will be with you shortly. Good luck, Noratus.” The nurse nodded curtly as she signed off. He carried on tucking the datapad under his arm, he kicked at some large leaf blocking the door back in. He grumbled about getting the clean up crews back out there.
Dex’s mandibles pressed tightly as she fidgeted with her prosthetic. She heard the door open and flinched.
“Dexuret Noratus, physical examination and pending final approval for reinstatement as a starship pilot.” The examiner stated, stepping up beside her. Dex recognized them immediately.
“C-Captain Indmus! Ma’am!” She stood at attention, without realizing she overshot her salut and nailed her head with her prosthetic hand. Slowly she closed her eyes, embarrassment crashing over her.
Captain Indmus laughed heartily, her dark blue facial tattoos perfectly lining the lengths of her mandibles and chin with imposing shadow. Bright yellow eyes peered at Dex, full of cheer. Brown carapace and darker brown skin, she played both mentor and role model for the likes of Dex. Captain Indmus took special attention to her as she did the other crew affected the day her ship was attacked by pirates. Vibitina didn’t escape that attack without a few scars of her own.
“At ease, Noratus. I’m here to conduct the examination but please relax. Nerves won’t do you any favours here today.” She said, “I do apologize for not visiting more, but I’m rather pleased to see you doing well enough to take the test. This is an important day.”
Dex nodded, “It’s okay Ma’am. No need to apologize for anything.” She said sincerely. “I really appreciate your being here today, Captain. I am ready to get back into service.”
Captain Indmus gently squeezed her right shoulder, soft hums of approval from her subharmonics. “That’s what I want to hear, now to prove it.” She gestured with her chin to the shuttle. Dex entered the shuttle sitting in the pilot’s seat with a contented hum, Vibitina took co-pilot’s seat.
Vibitina nodded for her to start. Dex reached with her left to start up the holographic display and verbally ran down the preflight checklist. Captain Indumus echoed the checklist, looking over the display. “Disengaging the shields.”
Dex nodded, another long held breath. She took off.
The thrusters adjusted, navigational instruments gave her the approximated altitude, air pressure, and a rough 3D rendering of her current surroundings. Orange glow casting across their features. Nav points to follow the course leading them into the dense wetlands. Vegetation grew in patches, small landmasses and the murky waters were never far below. Light filtered as the shuttle zipped by scaring wildlife away, retreating to safety. Dex gained some speed but her first set of obstacles were appearing on the environmental scans. Low hanging branch of an overachieving tree was coming up fast. She maneuvered below it earning her first ding by a suspiciously high rise bit of land, the thud across the bottom of the shuttle rattled a few seatbelts.
Dex let out a groan of annoyance.
Indmus gave no indication of disapproval but Dex could feel it. She adjusted then tackled the next obstacle, twining branches obscuring an exit with vines, throwing off the initial scans but a quick look to her 3D rendering told her the obscurity wasn’t a threat. Indmus stiffened when she saw Dex accelerate going for the space between. When they came out the other side vines being caught then whipped off by the wind.
“I knew it!” Dex pumped her fist then narrowly avoided a bird, readjusting. “Good thing there’s no low hanging vegetation in the vacuum of space, huh Captain?”
Indmus chuckled, “I suppose so. Good instincts.”
They flew on, smoothly moving through more obstacles making good time through the swamp. Dex was gaining confidence, only having a few shallow scratches and dents. They reached a terrifying portion of the swamp, light disappeared as they descended into a canopy. Dex slowed for good measure to give herself more reaction time, she felt the tell tale signs of a muscle spasm coming on and she quickly removed her prosthetic hand from the console. Reaching across her body to move levels on the dashboard, holding her arm to her chest. The spasm was incredibly distracting but she kept an eye on the 3D rendering. Swiping a message away.
The entirety of the exercise Dex struggled to hide her spasms, they persisted after generous breaks. Dex was growing frustrated - it was clear to Captain Indmus as well. She reached out squeezing her organic hand comfortingly. Indmus smiled, “You can do this.”
“Dexuret Noratus you stand accused of treason, espionage, and have been labelled a traitor to the Hierarchy. Witnesses will now stand in testimony to be questioned by the Hierarchy and Defense. You have plead not guilty with overwhelming evidence of the contrary. Today the witnesses I call will be providing the jury character accounts from close friends, relatives and your former superior officers. If evidence does not convince the jury then perhaps those you betrayed first will paint the picture.” The lawyer spoke in his opening statement, never taking his eyes off of a younger Dexuret, cuffed and sitting beside her own lawyer. The court martial had been a gruelling process, each day of the trial buffing away more of her will to fight. She looked miserable.
Dex knew the character accounts to simply add flavour to a trial already presumed to be won and over, brew an emotional statement against her. Help solidify her as a villain in the eye of the public. Deter any others from ever considering to follow a similar path. It worked in favour for both the Hierarchy and Facinus. Striking fear into potential rebels and inspiring loyalty within the rebels themselves.
For Dex it was about going out with a fight.
“I call Captain Vibitina Indmus to the stand.”
Dex froze then snapped around to see Captain Indmus walking down the aisle to enter the courtroom. Indmus’ demeanor was that of ice, barely contained contempt boiling underneath the surface. She didn’t spare to look at Dex as she took her seat on the stand. Swearing by her honour and station she would be truthful.
“Captain Indmus, we would like to verbally confirm a few facts today. You led the ship and crew of the SS Fade correct and for how long?” The Hierarchy’s lawyer began.
“Yes, that is correct.” Indmus replied. “For twenty two years.”
He nodded, Dex hunched over feeling the remaining fire drain out of her.
“How long did Noratus serve under you?” The next question came.
“Off and on a total of three years. She started her training as a pilot on my ship and after she had moved on to other crews, I had personally requested her next training cycle to be spent on my ship again.” Indmus said, her memory sharp. “Even before that, I had mentored her through bootcamp and encouraged her to study to become a pilot.”
“I have known Noratus for twelve years.”
The lawyer nodded, “A mentor you say? Could you clarify that with specifics?”
“I gave her advice, a line of support, and afterhours tutoring.” Indmus said, a note of bitterness. “I wanted her to be prepared for when she joined my crew.”
“I see, you’ve known Noratus for sometime and have maintained a close relationship with her.” The lawyer concluded he addressed the three judges, “We have established Captain Indmus a reliable source to comment on Noratus’ character.”
One of the judges, waved. “It has been established. Carry on.”
“So Captain, in your words would you like to share your thoughts on your former crew member with the court today?”
Vibitina finally looked Dex in the eye, “What is there to say beyond what the evidence has already told? What story could possibly convey my disappointment, rage and sadness?” She said quietly.
“How could I simply sum up my broken heart?” She said emotion humming through her subvocals. “Were it that easy. I say with a heavy heart that Noratus is a traitor of the worst degree. She failed in her loyalty to the Hierarchy, the very entity that had given her and her family their life - she sought to weaken it and the support it provides Taetrus. She failed in what she personally believed in as well, unable to own her failures as they are.” Indmus took a deep breath, showing incredible restraint. “Not a day goes by I question myself, where I went wrong. What blame I can take unto myself for Dex’s mistakes. I feel as though I will continue to ask that until the day I die.”
The silence that followed stretched in the courtroom. The lawyer looked taken aback, Captain Indmus apparently having tread off of rehearsed answers.
He coughed, “My questioning is complete, thank you Captain.”
The judges called Defense to cross examine.
Dex saw her vision tunnel, as every word felt like a needle prickling down her spine.
Her arm began to spasm for the first time in years.
I know it has been a long time since I last gave you an update. Been nothing really to update since the Borealis crew all split up you know? Hopping from job to job, fixing mechanics. I'd given up on looking for Vellios and was just kinda coasting, tail spinning would be a better way to describe it, aimlessly. Then I heard about the Andromeda Initative, and suddenly had another goal. This galaxy is harsh and polluted with hatred (and doomed to die if you believe commander Shepard and all those other 'Reaper' advocates). We've screwed up our chances here. But Andromeda, Andromeda is hundreds of years away. A new chance. A new beginning. You'd probably call me an idiot for going with it, Tonka already has. But hey, you know me. Ever naive, ever dreaming. Anyways, there was a point to this message, other than an update on how and what I'm doing. Since I'm going to be going a galaxy away, I just wanted to say goodbye. One last time. I'll never forget you, and all that you did for me. I'll rebuild that robot of yours (really sorry about getting him torn apart again. Who knew Vorcha could be so angry?) and commemorate you in Andromeda.
Goodbye, old friend.
Requiescat in pace,
Sent an hour before departure.
You fucking coward. You're a piece of shit, you know that? The motherfucking space jellyfishes have spine than you do. How fucking dare you. I can forgive you for running away with only a pathetic piece of shit of a letter as an apology. I can forgive you for hiding from me for fucking years and not even giving me one single shitty little update. I can forgive making me think you had died, because I thought surely, fucking surely, you wouldn't just disconnect from me completely if you were alive. You would have at least sent one little damn message to let me know you were alive, and why you couldn't contact me.
How fucking wrong I was!
I can forgive all of that Vellios. I really can. What I can't forgive, you son of a bitch, is suddenly showing up at the Andromeda convention, letting me see you, and then running away and hiding from me. I can't forgive you for being that much of a chickenshit. What are you afraid of Vellios? That I was gonna kick the shit out of you? Cause I was, and I am. You knew that. That I would suddenly see you as any less than I already have? Give me a fucking break. I've seen you at your worse. You're still high in my opinion. But you're absolute bastard. You're a fucking coward, and I never really thought of you as one until now.
I wasn't going to send this last night. I figured I was having a knee jerk reaction, and it wouldn't help to send you such an angry message. But you know what? Fuck that and fuck you.
Don't fucking die in Andromeda. I'm going to find you and kick the ever living shit out of you. Then I'm dragging your ass back to meet the rest of the crew who came along, so they can kick the shit out of you.
You asked for a meme? Instead you get a Nexus Archive post. Enjoy!
The Andromeda Initiative Offices on the Citadel
The recruitment office for the Andromeda Initiative was about as clean and shiny as a robot’s ass. Clyff couldn’t help himself, as he sat in the waiting room, he moved a vase towards the edge of the table. The receptionist eyed him. Her sterile white gown, headpiece, and condescending glare culminated down to: don’t you dare. Clyff didn’t shove it off or anything. He just let it sit there and then drummed on knees.
The receptionist touched her headset, the light emanating from it was a sharp blue. “He's ready to see you, Mr. Ward.
He placed his hands on his knees and pushed himself up. “About fucking time.”
The woman ignored him and went back to her screen, probably relieved. She’d been less than happy when he showed up in citizen clothes. Apparently, this was supposed to be a very rigid interview. He hadn’t pulled out his Alliance suit, he wore that practically every day, and today was his off day. So, boots, jeans, a tacky Hawaiian shirt (hey, he tucked it in), and his hair a bit bed-ruffled was what she got.
If he thought the interviewer would be any better, he thought wrong. He was younger than Clyff and sat behind a clear desk, his screen easily viewed from the other side as he slid his fingers over the tiles, glancing at the Gunnery Chief only for a second. His hair was black and shiny, he was clean-shaven, and there was a light scent of some flower that filled the room. Clyff sat across from him in a chair that was made to hold a small child. He tried to get comfortable, only for the thing to groan and whine at his weight.
“Fucking piece of shit,” Clyff grumbled.
“Right, let’s start with that,” the interviewer said. Clyff could see that he pulled up the man’s disciplinary record. It wasn’t lengthy, but the notes in it did have a lot of red lettering. “It says that you’re prone to sudden fits of anger and violence.”
“Yeah,” Clyff said, pointing to the bridge of his nose that was knotted with scar tissue. “How do you think I got this sweet ass honker.”
“Yes, I’ve been reading about your extensive injury list.” He tapped something on his screen.
“Well, when you decide on a career in shooting assholes in the face, you’re met with a lot of bullets and explosions.” He then held his finger up, “except for this,” he opened his mouth up, pointing to the braces on the backs of his teeth. “I took a krogan to the face.”
The interviewer paused and held his pen above the screen. “And what exactly happened there?”
Clyff smirked. “I’m not talking about a sexual maneuver or anything. Though, I’d be down for any species, with the exception of--”
“That’s fine Mr. Ward.”
Clyff went on, ignoring the man. “Elcor. You know how odd that would be?” He starts imitating their flat drone, “ ’With forced enthusiasm, you’re great in bed.’ Boom All the romance, gone.” He was joking. He couldn’t stand the both literal and figurative wedgie this entire experience was giving him.
The interviewer exhaled, sliding over a few more tiles. Now he was in Clyff’s experience. Now that was a list. He scrolled down to something that the Gunnery Chief knew would come up. “It says here you were present on Torfan.” The man leaned in, pressing his elbows on the flat glass table. “Tell me, how has that affected you?”
“Well, I took mine to the face. So, that accounts for this,” he pointed to the metal staple in his ear and the long gouge across his mouth and cheek, “and I also have a hearing aid for the tinnitus.”
“I mean psychologically.”
“Right.” He shrugged. “I mean, I’m going to avoid moons that rhyme with ‘orphan,’ but other than that I’m fine.” He may not have been entirely fine, but he wasn’t going to snap at the slightest mention of the mission. Unlike many of his fellow Alliance Navy members, he hadn’t seen the worst of it.
The man lowered his voice, “Batarians are going to be on arks, as well, Mister Ward. Are you hostile towards them?”
“Are they being hostile towards me?”
“This isn’t a hypothetical situation, Mr. Ward.” The interviewer bored his young, soft eyes into Clyff’s own narrowed ones.
“Oh,” Clyff said, dragging it out. “You’re asking me if I’m racist. Nah. But, I mean, it’s kind of hard to be nice to Batarians. They’re always so aggressive.”
“So are you, Mr. Ward.”
“Fair,” he said with a shrug.
The interviewer closed out Clyff’s record and brought up a blank screen, and a keyboard formed underneath the man’s fingers. “Now onto to the important question. Why do you want to join the Andromeda Initiative?”
Clyff’s cocky smirk dissipated and he focused on the window behind the interviewer, towards the Citadel. His gaze became distant. “My daughter.”
6 years previously…
Isabella stood at the top of a small step ladder, placing an ornament on the very plastic, very non-tree-like Christmas tree. She backed off the ladder and looked it over. “Look even to you?” she asked, turning back to Clyff. He wasn’t looking at the tree. He was looking at her.
“Yeah,” he said, taking a swig of beer.
“You aren’t even looking at it, you big oaf.” She rolled her eyes. “I have no idea why we are doing this. There’s aliens. There’s Protheans. There’s space travel. If it isn’t more obvious there is no God, I have no idea what would convince you.”
“Now Izzy,” he said, lowering his beer on their coffee table. “You know I come from an Irish-Catholic family. There will always be a God.”
“Even if a magical space deity appears and defames your Earth god as nothing but trivial nonsense?”
“Especially if that happens.” He smiled. “My mother would shake her head and go ‘I don’t believe you. Bring back the angry one with the beard and uncompromising rules about living your life.’”
Isabella snorted out a laugh. “Fair enough.” She looked back at the tree. “But I like decorating the tree. It’s oddly comforting.” She sighed. “But so tacky. You better be happy that I like dumb and ugly things.”
“Awe,” he said, acting upset. “That’s so mean.”
“But it’s so true,” she crooned with a smile. It dissipated for a second--but only for a second as Clyff swooped in and took her hand and placed his other on her waist. “W-what are you doing?” she asked.
“I love this song,” he said to the Christmas song playing in the background. It had been the same song for at least two minutes now, but he didn’t care. Anything to have her in his arms. She smiled at let him lead as they danced around their living room that was far too small for anything other than a prom waddle. But it was a graceful prom waddle.
Isabella placed her head on his chest. “I’m still amazed that you know how to dance.”
“Well, it was me and my sisters growing up, and there were two of them and one of me.” He sighed. “So, we got to participate in one after-school activity, due to being crazy poor, and my sisters outvoted me on dance.”
“But you were like, what, four? You’ve obviously kept it up.”
“Well, as Baby Clyff quickly learned, he wasn’t going to be sexy or charismatic. Might as well have something for Adult Clyff to do to woo the ladies.” He twirled her. “Baby Clyff was a fucking genius.”
Isabella pulled away and paused. “Speaking of baby.” She exhaled. “I’m pregnant.”
Clyff paused, almost laughed, didn’t, and stared. “That was… a segue… of… sorts.” He looked her in the eyes. Her lips were drawn tight.
“W-what do you think?”
He placed a hand on her cheek. “Looks like we’re going to have to get fucking married.”
Isabella laughed and leaned into him. "Even your marriage proposal is dumb. But, I accept."
He wrapped his arms around her, kissing the top of her head.back at the interview...
He thought that was the happiest moment of his life. He’d been wrong. It’d been when Sofia was born. The saddest was when Isabella died. And the most terrifying was when he had to protect Sofia in the Citadel. There was nothing he could do as showers of fire and ash rained down on them. If the interviewer had asked about that day, he might have been greeted with the psychological shudder that he'd wanted from Clyff.
“My daughter,” Clyff said again. “The only thing I have in this galaxy.”
Second nexus post! Now I can clear the doc for actual posts - oops
Taetrus - 2168
The bright sun in Vallum shone through a receding rainstorm while proceedings hammered out mountains of paperwork, freeing Dex of her trial and exiling her in the same keystroke. In her arms was her clothes, a bin filled with correspondance chips, a few other bits of her belongings. Her feet splashed as she peered around, Jorrick Demanga was at her side.
He tugged on her arm, “Come on Dex, Lorthan is waiting.”
“Thanks for sticking your neck out for me, Jorrick. I don’t think I’m quite ready to thank you for this arrangement yet.” She said bluntly.
Jorrick levelled an exhausted sigh, it spoke volumes. This trial was a burden not solely on her.
The media was waiting with their hovering cameras, recorders and in a small group. Hoping to get a quote for the shitstorm that was the case. All it took was meddling in the trial, dirt and messing with the hands on the wheel. Even the Hierarchy in all its glory wasn’t exempt. The irony was entirely bitter, a spy on trial going free because of spying.
The bin she carried was filled to the brim of all the letters she received while incarcerated. Spewing hate, dishonour, death threats, everything under the sun from both sides. The rebels hated her as much as the Hierarchy did now. The reporters came surging up to meet her, surrounding her and Jorrick with waves of questions. Jorrick whispered, “Shut up, don’t comment. You’ve done really well not to feed them so far.”
“Demanga! Can we get a quote if Noratus is keeping tight lipped? We need something for the breaking headlines!” A female turian reporter said, her omnitool up and ready to record anything.
“No comment, you can ask the lawyers for your quote.” Demanga replied, tugging on her arm again but Dex refused to move.
Over the crowd she could see a shuttle arrive, the door opened and a teal faced male turian ducked his head out nodding her over. Demanga waved then tugged again, more insistently he hissed, “Don’t fucking think about it, Dex.”
She ripped her arm out of his hand. “You want a quote?”
The reporters all agreed, quieting for her to speak.
Demanga shook his head folding his hands.
She shuffled her belongings over to Jorrick, holding the bin in her arms. “Here’s a bunch of fucking quotes.” Shaking the bin around, she reached in picking at one familiar chip, “This one details how I should have rot in my cell without a window.”
She dropped it then smashed it with her heel. The reporters took pictures.
“This one is how I should expect to walk in the crosshairs of a scope for the rest of my life, a bit more poetic.” She dropped it then smashed it with her other foot. Picking up a green one, “She told me 'may my disloyalty forever haunt my children’s children'.”
“All these red ones? Same person telling me I should fucking die, including execution by firing squad.” Dex stomped repeatedly. “All these letters of the same bullshit vitriol. I hope folks really enjoyed writing those pissy childish words.”
“It’ll be last time anyone knows where to find me.”
She brought the bin above her head and dumped it all. Stepping directly onto the pile then through it, the reporters all surged for the data chips. Dex walked up to the shuttle, stepping into it sitting across from Lorthan, Demanga climbed in beside her.
“Was that really necessary?” Jorrick asked. “You’re going to cause a stir before you’re even off the fucking planet.”
Dex shrugged staring down Lorthan. “Doesn’t really matter, just switched chains from one hand to another.”
Galentos laughed, “I feel like your employment with me won’t be comparable to a life in confinement. A flair for the dramatic, huh Demanga?”
Jorrick glowered, “As I’m sure you’ll find out.”
“I’m grateful for what you did Jorrick, but seriously. You saddled me with debt,” She pointed at Galentos. “Debt in which I’m going to work off - fast. Trust me, Lorthan I won’t be around long enough.”
Alrighty gang, we're wrapping up this fight and going to move things along, so if you have final posts to get up before we time skip, this will be the last round of posting before the team heads up for some R&R.
Alrighty gang, we're wrapping up this fight and going to move things along, so if you have final posts to get up before we time skip, this will be the last round of posting before the team heads up for some R&R.
Thanks, just sort of need a few posts before my wrap up one. XD Thankfully, Ryria got to avoid any heavy combat this time.
Here's some Nexus Network goodness for you all. Sabinus' mom is a special lady.
Palaven, some years ago…
”Y’know, I’ve heard Palaven was a bright and shiny planet that wants to give me skin cancer, but you never told me it was going to burn out my retinas.” Tanya said, shielding her eyes as she looked out of the terminal window at the surrounding space port. The entire planet was shiny, impossibly so, and the architecture was largely the straight, hard angles that turians seemed to favour, as if curvature was offensive. She wore long sleeves and pants, gloves, and a wide-brimmed hat that covered her face and neck, along with the strongest sunscreen they could find at the duty-free. She was finding that her decision to forego any kind of sunglasses was a poor one. An arm came around her waist, pulling her close to Sabinus, who gave her an affectionate squeeze as they looked out at the Palaven horizon together.
“You’re lucky we’re not doing any sight-seeing today, you’d need a more protective outfit.” he said, looking down at his shorter partner, seeing mostly dark hat brim and the faintest suggestion of a chin. He breathed out, his vocal chords vibrating in a faint hmm. ”I honestly didn’t know if and when I’d step foot on Palaven again, you don’t decide to lose yourself on Elysium if you plan on moving around on a whim. It’s still beautiful, still home, just… there’s a bit of discomfort being here. I left for a reason.” he admitted, staring out into a familiar skyline he was never sure when he’d see again. The thought it was going to be the very last time was sobering.
”It’s like Terra Nova for me. I haven’t dared thinking of returning there since the standoff.” Tanya replied, avoiding loaded words that would bring back what she had done. ”The place was the only home I’d known for so long. I close my eyes sometimes and I feel the warm desert heat, the music the neighbours played, the festivities downtown. It hurts knowing that I’ll never have that again, but… I have you, and you have me. You’re not facing this alone.”
The turian chuckled, almost pitifully. ”Oh, trust me. You’re going to wish I was. My parents aren’t exactly the easiest to get along with. Don’t be surprised if mother interrogates you.” from his tone, Tanya couldn’t tell if he was joking or entirely serious.
”You never mentioned what they thought of you dating a human.” Tanya observed, picking up her bag again as they headed towards the terminal’s exit. Sabinus was quiet for a few moments, something that wasn’t exactly uncommon. He did not mind taking a few moments of silence to provide thoughtful answers. He was not the kind of man who spouted off the first thing that came to his mind or acted out of strong emotions.
”Honestly? Couldn’t make heads or tails of it, I think that’s the expression. Mother seemed curious, although my father muttered something about it being the fate of those who lived off-world. I think he’s more pissed off that he’s not getting grandchildren.” He replied after a spell.
An impish grin crossed Tanya’s face as she playfully shoved an elbow into Sabinus’ flank. ”Well, it’s never too late to adopt a kid and abandon it on their doorstep.”
That earned a surprised and barely restrained snicker. ”Spirits, there’s something wrong with you.” he retorted, playfully winking. ”We’ll see if there’s time to swing by a local orphanage if they bring it up.”
From the terminal, it was simply a matter of chartering a skycar, the fee covered by the veteran’s association for members of turian society who were injured in the line of duty, and they shot off through the Cipritine skyline, the sharply angled skyscrapers appearing to be flat blades cutting through the golden air. Tanya was transfixed; she’d never thought she’d find herself on the turian homeworld, and though she’d had her fair share of encounters with turians over the years, it was always on something of a home or neutral turf. Here she truly felt alien; there weren’t many non-turians on Palaven on account of its harsh ecosystem and high solar radiation that gave almost all the indigenous life metallic carapaces. She smiled to herself, reflecting on how awful it must have been for the earliest spaceport metal detectors when they received their first turian passengers coming into human worlds.
Cipritine struck Tanya as the strongest argument for humans that compared turians to birds; everything seemed like it was silver and impossibly shiny, as if the entire society was what would happen if magpies became the dominant species on Earth. Everything seemed impossibly advanced, especially compared to the human standards she was accustomed to. She excitedly watched the city pass by and looked over to Sabinus, who had a stern and somewhat rigid expression. She could tell he was anxious. Taking his large two fingered hand into her own, she offered him a reassuring squeeze. ”Don’t worry about all of this, Sabinus. I’m a real charmer when it comes to parents.”
He grunted, his eyes fixed on a tower in the distance that was approaching fast. ”Uh-huh. How many were turian anti-insurgency agents?” ”Just the one. I heard she’s really going to like me. Say, do they have a car or appliance that needs repairs? That old party trick usually breaks the ice.” ”You can ask them yourself; we’re here.” He sighed, straightening out his coat. ”Showtime.” Tanya took Sabinus’ hand in both of hers, forcing him to face her. ”Sabinus, this is the last time you’ll get to see your family again. This is your chance to say goodbye and make amends, your parents know it too. They wouldn’t have invited us to stay with them for the month if they didn’t care about you. You’re a good man, I know it and they know it. Besides, I’m a big girl; I can handle a few snarky comments.” she reassured him, kissing him on the half-mandible. That made him smile.
”Well, I suppose you have a knack for winning over turians. Thank you, I know I should be excited about this, seeing them again I mean. Time has a way of distorting your vision, and I know I owe it to them to try.” ”So, which one’s theirs?” she asked as the skycar came in to the central landing area of the massive tower. Sabinus grinned, looking Tanya in the eye. ”Oh, just the 236th through 238th floors. We turians aren’t fond of large individual estates, but partitioning large sections of buildings is our way of wealthy indulgence. Helps us reconcile the needs of the community before the individuals with displays of wealth and status. It’s kind of like the quarians if they weren’t trapped on small ships with limited resources and had room to expand.”
Tanya blinked, looking around at the opulent-looking masonry and shaped alloys of the landing level. ”You grew up here? Makes my two bedroom, single floor, 5 cell prefab home on Terra Nova look like a shithole in a post-apocalyptic dystopia vid.”
The skycar landed in the drop-off zone, settling down with well-practiced hands. The shift from momentum to a complete stop was barely felt. Tanya went to tip the driver, who looked at her with a puzzled expression. ”Oh, we don’t do that here. Tips could be looked at like bribes under certain circumstances.” Sabinus explained, heading out of the car. Tanya followed suit, apologizing to the driver with genuine embarrassment. After retrieving their belongings, she looked around at the cavernous landing area, shaped like a hollowed out and squared off Mayan pyramid in the center of the tower with generous lighting on each of the “steps”. It struck Tanya as a luxury hotel, although it was more simplistic and practical than what she’d expect on most human worlds. The architecture was refined enough to seem pleasing to the eye without seeming excessive. Turians were nothing if no-nonsense people.
As they stepped through the open doors that headed into a lobby that contained a communal area, small convenience store, and a fitness center, a familiar-looking pair of turians stood in the way, and from the colour of the female’s eyes, it was definitely Atia and Quinnus Tannyx, Sabinus’ mother and father. Atia was garbed in a black and white business suit, giving the impression that even in her own home she made the effort to appear authoritative, and Quinnus in a pleasing-looking purple jacket. His facial structure definitely was more in line with his son, save for Sabinus’ nose and eyes.
“Welcome home, Sabinus. We’ve been checking on your voyage daily, I trust it went smoothly?” Quinnus asked.
”About as well as you can expect from public shuttles from halfway across the galaxy. Mother, father, this is-“
“Tanya Carson.” Atia interrupted, looking over Tanya with an unwavering stare, as if diagnosing a medical patient. “Age 48, Earthborn, naturalized Terra Novan citizen. Former Systems Alliance Marine, 6th Fleet, 63rd Division. Served as infantry and mechanical engineer, a decorated veteran of the Mindoir campaigns with a Distinguished Service Medal. Honourable discharge on the 7th year of service, went off the grid to work as a mercenary after being reassigned to reserve units after Mindoir due to untreated post-traumatic stress disorder. Ended vocation as a mercenary after an incident on Terra Nova where Belle Carson and other Terra Firma party aligned individuals held up a Systems Alliance recruitment office and Belle Carson was neutralized when she refused to release a hostage she was holding by her own daughter.
“After being cleared of criminal charges due to acting in the defense of others and holding a funeral for her mother, Tanya Carson would go on to Elysium to isolate herself from her previous associations and used what little credits she retained from mercenary contracts to open an automotive repair shop where she remained until she caught the attention of the Andromeda Initiative. That brings her here, at the cusp of entering my home, on the arm of my only son.” Atia bowed her head as a sign of respect, although it was hard to tell if it was a formality or genuine. “It is my honour to welcome you into the family, as Sabinus might not have returned to us at all had he not come into your life.”
Tanya, to her credit, didn’t visibly recoil from the blunt assessment Atia had given her; Sabinus had prepared her well for his mother’s mannerisms. Interrogating prisoners was no different than interrogating people who became integrated into her life, and Tanya had years to come to terms with the fact that people would be using her mother against her. If it wasn’t batarian related or a demon from her own mind, Tanya was an extremely difficult person to unnerve. Instead, she grinned and replied, ”You forgot recovering alcoholic and semi-professional painter. I hope having to shoot my deranged mother in the face isn’t a detriment in an otherwise glowing career path of scorching earth and regrowth, but from what I’ve heard about your career in the hastatim, it’s not uncommon to have to do the same thing to extended family. Greater good and all that, yeah?”
Atia chuckled, a dark rumble that sounded cavernous with the turian’s natural vocal flange. “On the contrary, I quite admire your resolve and ability to put aside personal emotions for the greater good, as you put it. I am not without heart, I have sympathies for your mother’s fate, but despite your… uniquely personal attributes, I feel that you would have had an exemplary service in the Hierarchy. My son chose well. Please, let me take your bags. You must be fatigued from your travels.”
Tanya didn’t resist the offer, holding it out like it was a briefcase of credit chits, which the turian took. ”I appreciate that. Of course, mom was a bit troubled and fucked up after I came back a bit of a mess from the Alliance, so you’ll have to take me at my word that considering that was the first time I’d seen her in years, I’d have preferred to sit down and look at one another over coffee than down a gun sight.” she said, looking around casually. The way she was working her fingers, like when she was operating her omni-tool, told Sabinus that she was struggling to maintain her composure. As much rehearsal as she might have had for this moment, she was still struggling with the raw emotions of it all. However, she changed track, and Atia having been satisfied at the human woman’s resolve, elected to let that line of conversation dissolve.
”Beautiful building you call home, by the way. This reminds me of a lot of places that I’d been turned down a room for the night. You’d think military service would pay better.” she observed, and the four headed down the corridor to a glass lift at the end of it. ”Did you take the house over after evicting the previous owner from having ties to Facinus?” she asked cheerfully.
Sabinus tensed up, not at all anticipating the backhanded compliment and insinuating Atia had destroyed a person’s life to get ahead. Instead, his mother laughed and actually seemed… amused? He shared a look with his father, whose smirk and continued silence meant he was happy being the observer, as per usual.
Atia replied, placing a hand on Tanya’s shoulder. She towered over the human. “You are bold and sharp-tongued. I like you, Corporal Carson. You stand your ground and look for weaknesses in your adversary’s defences... There’s a fire in your spirit that I rather admire, I do admit. But no, the suite is mostly thanks to Quinnus’ work and smart investment practices. He’s the planner in our marriage, I’m the doer. Where I see weeds that need to be plucked from the garden, he’s the one who finds ways to prevent them from coming back. It’s complimentary, shoring up weaknesses. From what I’ve studied about the dossier I’ve had compiled about you and Sabinus’ infrequent messages to us, I can see that he found that in you.”
Quinnus finally spoke, walking astride of Tanya. His disposition was far more casual and relaxed, and if Atia was a viper waiting to strike, he was an elephant, self-assured that nothing challenged his security. “I’ve actually taken quite an interest in your paintings, Tanya. My wife found your art portfolio and store; try to conceal your surprise. The one called, Shit Happens, I think it was? The one with the asteroid smashing through the Citadel? That is cathartic for me. You would not believe the amount of hurdles Citadel authorities make you jump through, even with high Hierarchy clearance, to access the historical archives. It’s improper for me to say, but I’ve often wished for a scenario such as that to clear away the bureaucrats that are the bane of my career. Is there a reason you composed that particular piece the way you did?” he asked, earnestly excited. Quinnus was the imaginative one of his parents, Sabinus recalled.
“Honestly, I just have things pop up in my mind throughout the day, and sometimes it lingers long enough for me to get onto a canvas. I guess I just thought it was an amusing enough thought that the unassailable and invincible seat of galactic government was just taken out by the most mundane of galactic coincidences. It’s like an upscaled auto wreckage, it happens every day, but once in a while it’s close enough to matter.” she explained.
”She’s also done a few rather unflattering portraits of her former crewmembers who are joining the Initiative. She mailed them off to their families as a sort of farewell prank that they will be 600 years too late to stop.” Sabinus interjected. He’d asked Atia to hunt those particular addresses down, and a look of recognition crossed her face. They stepped into the lift after another enamored couple stepped off of it, heading into the fitness facility.
“You had me use government resources to track down addresses across the galaxy so you could play a joke on your friends?” Atia asked quizzically.
”What’s the point of having sort of in-laws if you can’t abuse some old fashioned nepotism?”
It was another cocktail party on the Citadel for the bureaucratics to celebrate something. It was always something. Any excuse to pull out the crystal glasses and exquisite Champagne and put it on ice. Everything about the night screamed opulence. From the lavish spread of food to the plush red carpet which lined the floor. Nothing here was cheap, and the Asari scientist happily sipped from her glass as she drank in the scene from the floor to ceiling windows. It was a view she would never tire of despite it being a wallpaper which had coated her life thus far. It was just so vast and beautiful and represented opportunities as endless as the galaxy itself. She smiled and took the last of the champagne.
She could feel a presence behind her looking her up and down - and she could also just make out the reflection in the glass. She raised an eyebrow, knowing that in this dress, she did look good. She was oozing opulence too…
“Hello there…” she spoke softly as she turned around to face a human male. With a single look she took in every inch of him and sized him up - he was taller than her, had the most beautifully dark eyes, and was well built. She could see the curve of his thick arms through his jacket. The attraction was instant. He fumbled his response to her; “I, I, I am sorry Ma’am, I was just watching you there…” there was just a slight sprinkling of arrogance peppered in his tone. As if he was allowed to look and entitled to it. “I felt you looking at me…” she smirked as she took a step closer to him. He smelt heavenly, like amber and cognac. Masculine.
“My glass is empty, I am going to refill. Maybe I will see you later” and she walked away from the mysterious gentleman. She took a slower than usual walk to the cocktail bar, making sure to make each step count, letting her hips sashay but only subtly. She leant against the bar and arched her naked back just so. Thank the Goddess for backless dresses...
He followed swiftly and stood beside her at the bar - also leaning up against the mahogany. His eyes locked onto hers with purpose. “Later never comes, there is only now.” This time he had the nerve to eye her from head to foot to her face. She studied his clothing, his jacket fell a little lower than most other humans - to just above his knees. It looked like the material was lighter too, and it was emblazoned with embroidery around the shoulder and down the lapels. It was obviously some kind of cultural wear. “That’s true” she began in a honeyed voice “so just who are you, anyway?”
“Of course, my apologies, my name is Dr Aaron Swan."
"This is my first venture to the Citadel you see, I’m going to be working here in the labs and in the Huerta Memorial Hospital.”
“I see. So, Dr Aaron Swan, so this is your cocktail party then?” she waved a hand in motion at the banner above the door which read “Welcome to New Citadel Staff”. For an evening of such luxury, they really could have written something more descriptive and special. “Ahh, unfortunately not. I believe this is an evening for the new Spectre recruits. I somehow doubt that they would throw such an outrageously extravagant suaray for doctors and nurses.” As he spoke, a soft laugh escaped his lips.
“Oh please, once you’ve been on the Citadel for long enough you’ll learn that they will throw something like this for just about anyone. It’s any excuse to wine, dine, and dress divine after all.”
“Ha, well I hope I’m stationed long enough to enjoy one or two more.”
“I’m Naryxa, by the way. I work in the Memorial Hospital some days, mostly on research in recreational drugs and plants and the like.”
“Looking at you I wouldn’t have believed it-”
She cut him off, almost offended “what does that mean exactly?”
“Oh I do not mean to offend you Ma’am, I can just see from your physique that you are in quite incredible shape that one would believe that you were a talented mercenary of some sort. That or…. Well, allow me to say it, a dancer.”
She laughed and loosened up; “you’re right on both counts my new friend. I have in the past worked as a mercenary, and I spent what would be a very long time to you, dancing my way across the Milky Way. But now I’m slowing down.”
“I would have very much liked to see you dance your way around the stars…”
She hadn’t noticed until he had finished his sentence that he had moved closer to her and placed an arm around her waist, his fingers brushed against the bare skin of the small of her back which caused her to feel something akin to electricity throughout her entire body. She liked this one. She liked him a lot.
She drew her lips close to his neck, leaning up to his ear before whispering softly into it “maybe I can show you later…”
She removed his hand from her back with a smirk. He was good, he was very, very, very good. But she wasn’t going to give in to him that easily, not just now, and so she sashayed away again, giving him one last flirtatious glance over her shoulder - where she saw him mouthing words at her;
Ryria scrutinized at the name on her Omni-tool. Her lips curled into a frown and flipped back to the cryo pod’s console display, pulling up the listed occupant’s information. Hazan Volintis...Turian, male and a part of the APEX team. At least this one wasn't dead, she thought. Her hand shoved away the confirmation information before her ears caught a young nurse step closer, her timid voice stated what Ryria already knew.
“None of these pods have the individual we are looking for, should we check another room?”
The Nexus systems had been damaged, first during the crash with the Scourge and then during the mutiny. Engineers had been primarily focused on getting the primary systems up for survival rather than the less important ones. Like the pod lists, forcing most the medical staff to manually check each individual pods for their target patients and deceased.
Straightening upright, Ryia shook her head, “No, I found him. Prep the examination table and the tools.”
“Yes, doctor.” Came the quick reply before the woman walked to the cabinet.
As the nurse did her job, Ryria went to work on hers. Her hand flew across the pod console causing it to pop up he vital signs, followed by temperature and finally the code pad. Wasting little time, the asari punched into the eight digits of numbers and letters. The pod quietly hummed as it injected a murky fluid into the host’s carapace near the neck. Its main purpose was to revive and encourage his vital organs to once more pick up their biological functions. While waiting, Ryria carefully monitored his vitals to prevent any complications. Then came the temperature, the degrees slowly raising.
She couldn't help but notice there was some appeal to his facial features, easily seeing why some females would find him attractive. When the procedure drew to its end, Ryria stepped back far enough her patient could exit his pod. However she remained near enough to assist should his body fail to hold him upright.
A blinding light flashed before Hazan's eyes as he woke, followed immediately by a rush of blood to his face and ears, along with everywhere else. He woke up with a gasp and nearly smacked his forehead against the glass of his pod, just barely remembering that he was even in one. The stiffness in his very bones gave him the answer to the first question that formed in his mind. His sleep was over. The Nexus was in Andromeda.
As his eyes adjusted to the light, he noticed an asari standing just shy of the pod as it hissed and opened up. Still very weak, he clung to the sides of the pod and pulled himself slowly into a sitting position, catching his breath and looking around the chamber.
”Woah… so that's what it feels like to sleep for six centuries. Damn.”
“Yes, but better than being a skeleton or corpse,” Ryria shot off in a crisp, clear tone, “Describe what you're feeling to me and remain sitting upright.”
She stepped closer then placed a single device upon Hazen’s chest. It was a high tech stethoscope as it counted, monitored and reported his heartbeat back to her omnitool. Her eyes fixed on it while she listened to the turian’s report.
”Well… I feel like the whole world's spinning, my bones ache really badly, I'm really really hungry and also kinda groggy. And tired. Wait, did you say corpse? What happened while I was asleep?”
“Short version: on route to the new system, some of the cryo pods were damaged. Some didn't make it.” Ryria said cold and bluntly.
”Woah… You're telling me some of the colonists are dead? Shit… Wait, that means-”
Hazan started out of his pod but sat back down, his head still swimming as he groaned and held his forehead in his talons. His vision went blurry as he tried to regain his focus after six hundred years of sleep.
“Take it easy,” Ryria snapped abruptly. As she spotted Hazan’s figure give out from under him, her mind immediately went to vertigo and stress for the cause and checked his vitals.
“Getting worked up isn’t going to save someone that doesn’t need it, focus on yourself first. Then you can worry about what comes next,” The asari medic explained.
Her hands then tilted up his jawline enough she could examine each eye, noting any imperfection caused by the de-thawing process. Gently she shifted the head side to side before releasing her grip. She held a blank expression, giving nothing away, before she typed something into her notes and then held one finger up.
“Follow my finger with your eyes only,” Ryria requested, her finger drifted slowly from right to left then back. Noting the whole time how well he was tracking it.
He tracked her finger well enough, eyes following the digit left and right and back again as he laid down and tried to relax. A million questions swam through his head but he kept quiet for the sake of recovering faster and getting answers further down the line.
”Am I okay, doc? I feel okay...ish.”
“I’m just checking all my bases. So far your ocular responses are normal for your experience, but you if feel a slight pinch behind your eye or something off then let me know immediately. It could be a nerve had suffered frostbite.” Ryria answered then removed her finger and constructed a omnitool light.
She leaned in, “Stare ahead and don’t blink. Tell me about the earliest you recall to ensure there’s no memory issues.”
”Earliest...my time in the military back on Palaven. Scout training. And before that...school. Hearing about the First Contact war on the news.”
Ryria noted as she took stock of his eye movements, any word slurring, or notable concern in his speech. She typed another observation in her omnitool before she urged him on, “Alright, what about your last memory before the cryo pods?”
Before cryo? Hazan chuckled.
”The party. Finding my friends and knowing that I wouldn’t be alone, coming to Andromeda.”
Ryria nodded, then asked, “Now, raise your arms at about ninety-degree angles from your torso and wiggling your talons.”
Hazan nodded and raised both his arms rather unsteadily to the position the doctor required, giving his cold talons a little weak wiggle.
“Any odd sensation or stiffness?” Ryria asked, observing the fingers’ wiggle pace and the movements. Her fingers darted over her omnitool for a moment to update her notes.
He shook his head.
”Nope. Just cold and weak. Like I haven’t exercised in a while.”
“You’ve been in cryo for over a few decades, that’s natural.” Ryria leaned forward then held out out finger, “Now lowers your arms and touch my finger.”
The turian silently complied, lowering his arms first, then reaching forward to touch her finger with the tip of his talon.
“Alright, good,” She pulled back then made another quick clicks in her report. "Now stand upright for me and take your time. I can’t have you falling over from vertigo.”
Hazan took a bit to collect himself before slowly pushing himself to sit on the edge of the cryo pod, legs hanging off it. He slowly lowered himself until his feet were firmly planted on the floor, then stood up very, very slowly, wobbling a little to either side since his legs were still rather weak.
Ryria watched carefully. Her biotics on standby to catch the patient and gently push him back onto the table, preventing serious damage. She had even stopped typing to witness his wobbly victory.
“Any pain, discomfort or odd sensation?”
He shook his head and steadied himself against the side of the cryo pod.
”N-nope. Just wobbly, feeling a little light-headed from the cryo.”
“I see, give me a moment,” Ryria shifted over to look through the various medical cabinets.
After a few moments of searching, she pulled a small bottle out then popped two out. She then passed the small capsules over to Hazan, “The light-headedness is expected from the cryo sleep, but take these to help reduce it faster. Then do a squat for me.”
The turian took the two capsules in his talon and swallowed them right down. After a moment or so of letting his head rest, he slowly lowered himself into a squat on the floor of the med-bay, then stood back up, taking his time to do so.
Ryria studied each movement with intense scrutiny. Her fingers making notes then sliding her pad to the side, typing additional tidbits before she came to a stop. Placing her omnitool away, she addressed Haze.
“Now, how do you feel? Any sudden pain or unnatural stiffness?”
”Just a little dizzy, kinda weak, but that’s to be expected, right doc?”
“Yes, I’ll have you assigned a small dosage for two to three days since stock is limited. If it hasn’t faded by then, notify me immediately. It might be connected to a more serious problem,” Ryria stated as she returned to the cabinet. Her arm reached for the medicine and poured about four proper doses into a new bottle, her hand ticking off the number in the stock listing. She then handed the bottle to her patient.
“I believe you’re fit for duty now and can leave through that exit,” she pointed to the nearest door that several patients were already departing at.
”Thanks doc. Hopefully I, uh, won’t be seeing you so soon.” The turian extended a hand for her to shake as a gesture of thanks, trying to suppress a shiver now that he realised the room was freezing.
Ryria paused. Her hands still close to her as she eyed up the gesture, raising a tattooed eyebrow.
“That isn’t necessary. I assume you’ve been around a few humans and that’s where you learned that gesture?”
Hazan nodded. ”C’mon doc, indulge me. Treat it like you’re the welcoming committee, y’know?”
“There’s other people actually better suited for that-”
“Ryria, will you just shake his talons and stop stalling. You still have another patient waiting for cryo defrost,” came a shout from a Turian nurse, her tag printed with the words Surerax Leneiros on it.
Ryria exhaled, then cautiously took Hazen’s outstretched hand. She gave it a brief, but firm shake before retracting it back to her side.
He returned the handshake warmly and gave Ryria a smile. ”Cheer up doc. New galaxy, new future! Don’t have to be such a sour fruit all the time.”
“It could be off to a better start,” Ryria replied, through her tone held a hint of sadness. She checked down at her omnitool for the next patient’s name, “If you don’t mind, I have a turian female to dethaw and pair of asari on my list to ensure are still alive.”
”Right then. See you on the flip side, doc. Maybe a bit later when everything’s settled down, if you want to have a brandy with me.”
Before Ryria could decline, Surerax popped in.
“Yes, she would. I’ll make sure she’s ready...What time?”
”Maybe after work. I’ll send you my omnitool address.”
Surerax ignored the glare Ryria’s frowning face gave her, finally resigning herself to whatever fate her companion was setting up for her.
“Deal, she’ll be ready and waiting.”
Hazan chuckled and made his way out of the cryo bay to go find whoever was in charge of APEX. He had a recruitment interview to sit through.
Video Log Date: 1992 CE Location: Ignis Colony, Trategos
Darkness swirled then recoiled from Ryria’s consciousness. Artificial light filtered through the hazy shadows of her returning vision. The single color sharpened into shapes, then disjointed images and finally it became a familiar place. The house unit’s kitchen. She tried to remember why she was on the floor but something made her stomach churn. The memories refused to surface causing an urgency to pick herself up. It was a mistake that she shortly regretted.
Pain flooded the back of her skull. She dropped abruptly, her lithe form curled into a tight ball and a whimper came. Slowly the cold chill of the floor began to numb it away. Time passed into minutes before she again attempted to move. This time very slowly to avoid the sudden pain. Slowly her hand gripped the counter’s edge then finished pulling herself onto her feet. Her head itched as something dry and flaky clung to her crest. Ryria frowned. Timidly her right hand reached to the back and touched it.
An unfamiliar edge drew fear into her heart.
Her lungs seemed to deflate in her chest while her heart raced rapidly against her ribs. Each time it rammed full force into her sternum and threatening to break her bones. Dizziness swept into her head as she leaned heavily on the counter’s edge, fighting gravity’s pull on her stunned body. Through the corner of her eyes, Ryria could easily see the light violet blood flakes on her fingers. Vertigo hammered her fragile balance all the way to the bathroom. Her arms reached out for any solid masses, from walls to doorways, to steady herself. A sourness engulfed her taste and churned at the back of her throat, threatening to spew across the floor. Ryria swallowed it back down. Getting sick now wouldn’t solve anything.
Finally, she faced the mirror. Cartilage was difficult to fracture, let along the break, as her fingers ran down the length of what remained. The tips on her left side were broken clean off leaving it disfigured close to the scalp. No words could easily describe her pain at seeing the destruction wrought upon her. The right side had suffered only the edge tip fractured, leaving nothing but the pain in its wake. Discoloration crept along her cheeks then rounded about her eye sides. Perfect impressions of where her father had gripped her face then slammed her into the floor.
Memories flooded back at the realization.
Yes… his talons had a vice-like grip along her face sides and forehead then repeatedly driven her into the floor. Her hands struggled against their grip while she pleaded for mercy. Her blue eyes streamed with tears, but he was too drunk to see them. Over and over, each sickening shove back caused her skull new pain until she pleaded for it to end. At last, she fell into blissful peace called unconsciousness.
Ryria’s arms rose across her chest, silently hugging herself. Fresh salty tears stung at her eyes making her vision blur slightly, but she didn’t care now. Next came the strangled sobs from her throat fueled by the reality she hated. It felt like an endless torrent of betrayal and pain stirred in her core. Forever tainting her until the last bitter moment.
She couldn’t hold it back any longer. Her stomach promptly emptied into the basin, staining the metal surface with vomit. As the last of her meal spilled out, the asari child rose upright once more. What she saw in the mirror disgusted her enough she twisted about then lowered herself onto the ground. Her knees curled into her chest as she let her emotions overwhelm her control once again.