Edge of the Terminus Systems, 2184
Unlike its namesake, the Eyas soared through the dark void with Kori’Andh nar Chayym at its controls. Not that she had much to do at the moment - she had already plotted the course to the nearest Mass Relay at the edge of the system and the navigational computer was doing the actual flying and microadjustments to dodge bits of space junk and asteroids. Still, Kori checked and rechecked all the flight paths and sensors to make sure they were still on course. A good pilot didn’t get overly comfortable. The Quarian pilot stood up and stretched after she had done her second check of the instrumentation.
The Eyas was not a big ship by most standards, perhaps 25-ish meters long, but Kori loved it. She had practically built it from scratch. It was a converted survey shuttle, meant to be launched from much larger ships to scan and land planetside, and capable of limited FTL flight (though, it mostly relied on Mass Relays for longer trips). From what she had seen first hand and info she had dug up on the extranet, the main compartment of the ship had originally held sophisticated sensor gear for planetary scan. Of course, by the time she had found the ship, the equipment was useless and barely more than scrap electronics. So, Kori had stripped it out and functionally turned it into a small freighter. When she was ‘enlisted’ by Aria’s Organisation they had insisted she turn it into a troop transport as well as cargo hauler. She had dutifully installed cargo netting that could be flipped down to double as seats, which they currently were.
Kori sat back down and tapped the control panel to check on her passengers. She had been instructed by Gallienus that a freelance group of mercs needed transportation to a nearby system and that they’d be afforded a portion of the payment if she flew them out. Knowing that she didn’t really have a choice in the matter, and she’d only get about 10% of the credits anyway, Kori agreed. The Quarian glanced over at the camera feed displaying the cargo hold. Six of them in total, still there. Surprisingly they hadn’t murdered each other yet. She had seen a krogan and a turian go at each other last time. Naturally, she was a bit wary about giving another group of freelancers a lift.
She had no idea what their mission was and didn’t plan on finding out. All Kori’Andh knew was that their destination was some colony named New Syrtis and that it was civilised enough that she would nap on the ship while they did whatever violent acts the employer requested, and then fly them back to Omega. No blood on her hands and everyone was happy. The Pilot leaned back in her chair and put her feet on the control panel. They still had a fair few hours before they hit the Relay, might as well relax. Using her Omnitool, she set an alarm in her suit to let her know when they were a few minutes out from the relay and then drifted off into a half-sleep.
A soft beeping and blinking light on her suit’s visor shook Kori’Andh out of her stupor and she straightened up in her chair, quickly tapping a few buttons to make certain they were still on course. Thankfully, they were. The Quarian Pilot reverted the Eyas to manual control and guided the shuttle towards the approach corridor with one hand, deftly typing in the mass of the shuttle and transmitting the data and coordinates to the Mass Relay, which angled itself towards their destination as they entered the mass-free lane generated by the relay, catapulting the ship and everyone in it towards New Syrtis. A moment later, they blinked into existence a few light-seconds away from the verdant colony. Kori was surprised to see that the orbit of New Syrtis was abuzz with space-traffic, ships coming and going from the planetside spaceport. The most striking sight was a civilian cruise ship, slowly drifting in orbit over the ocean of the planet like some spacebound grazing animal. A cursory scan revealed the name of the ship to be the Ecliptic Moonrise, a passenger liner that made trips out to all the outer colonies in the Terminus Systems and Attican Traverse.
Kori’s suit visor auto-dimmed. She squinted to see what had caused it to engage. Sunrise? She manually shut off the light-protection function and looked again. The Ecliptic Moonrise it was gone.
In its place, a second sun.
“Keelah…” Kori whispered as she grabbed hold of the controls and swerved to avoid wreckage propelled toward them by the blast. She guided the shuttle to a safe distance and stared, in shock, at the data file she had brought up about the Ecliptic Moonrise. 533 people had been on board. Already, emergency shuttles were swarming like blinking flies over a fresh corpse.
Kori blinked and snapped out of her daze, she quickly tapped into the nearest comm buoy to see what was going on and if it was even still safe to land. The extranet connection pinged affirmative and the Pilot’s Omnitool was immediately bombarded with warnings about six suspects who were thought to have destroyed the passenger ship Ecliptic Moonrise in a bombing. Six suspects? The Quarian brought their pictures up on one screen and opened another. She flicked on on the cargo hold camera feed and compared the twelve individuals.
It was impossible! Someone was framing them! Kori’s mind raced with questions and courses of action but she sat, immobilised by her own fear. She should tell them right? They can’t land on the planet anyway, so they need to know that at least. Nervously, Kori got to her feet. She paced the length of the small cockpit and fiddled with her Omnitool. The report listed them as armed and extremely dangerous terrorists. To be shot on sight. The Quarian Pilot’s blood rapidly froze and then thawed as she checked - again - that she hadn’t been added to the list. Her blood cooled again when she realised C-Sec or whatever authorities were out here probably wouldn’t play too nicely with an associate of armed terrorists. She put a three-fingered hand on her own chest and bid herself to calm down.
Once she had regained her composure - mostly - she punched the cockpit door controls and passed into the makeshift passenger compartment. Deep breaths.
“We can’t land on the planet. There was a bombing and… they are blaming you.” Kori explained her breathless words belying her nervousness. To further provide proof of her claims she held up her Omnitool and displayed the APB. Sure enough, six rotating models of the six freelancers’ heads flickered into existence over her palm, alongside crimes such as ‘𝟱𝟯𝟯 𝗰𝗼𝘂𝗻𝘁𝘀 𝗼𝗳 𝗺𝘂𝗿𝗱𝗲𝗿 𝗶𝗻 𝗹𝗼𝘄 𝗼𝗿𝗯𝗶𝘁’ and ‘𝟰 𝗰𝗼𝘂𝗻𝘁𝘀 𝗼𝗳 𝗱𝗲𝘁𝗼𝗻𝗮𝘁𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝗺𝗶𝗹𝗶𝘁𝗮𝗿𝘆-𝗴𝗿𝗮𝗱𝗲 𝗲𝘅𝗽𝗹𝗼𝘀𝗶𝘃𝗲𝘀 𝗮𝗯𝗼𝗮𝗿𝗱 𝗮 𝗰𝗶𝘃𝗶𝗹𝗶𝗮𝗻 𝘃𝗲𝘀𝘀𝗲𝗹.’ Kori turned off her Omnitool and looked out at the group, at a loss for ideas and looking for guidance.