Hidden 4 mos ago 4 mos ago Post by NoPlayerGuild
Avatar of NoPlayerGuild

NoPlayerGuild Thanks Obamahz

Member Seen 0-24 hrs ago

Sevipia gave the turian equivalent of a thumbs up. She tapped the side of her helmet, indicating her ears are still ringing from the explosion.

The turian’s head dipped as he breathed a heavy sigh of relief. “Thank the Spirits.”

Standing back up, he offered his hand to help Sev up. “We still have to save the quarian!” He yelled, using his free hand to do his best impression of a quarian’s mask, hoping to make the girl smile.

And she did smile at Kysar's almost comedic impression. Sevipia accepted his hand, and proceeded toward Zenn.

Zenn kept his hand pressed tight against his wound attempting to prevent any more bleeding. Any minute now Sev would round the corner, tell him the plan worked, then patch him up. At least that’s what he was trying to tell himself before he heard the rockets explode in the lobby. Panic started to set in as he began to wonder if he may have given Sev bad intel and gotten the turian killed. He did his best to hold the grim thoughts at bay, a task that grew harder with every passing second, until he was finally put at ease by the sight of Sev and Kysar emerging from the lobby. Sev quickly applied Medi-Gel and properly dressed the wound. Time would tell if they were fast enough to prevent any infection, but at least whatever had started would become any worse.

Kysar paced back and forth as Sev looked over the quarian. Banes had fled the scene, as well as several members of Reds being let go by his comrades. Something clawed at him from deep inside the pit of his stomach, gnawing and biting, the Turian couldn't stand still.

His quest for vengeance had fallen short. Too many would live to see another day without righteous retribution and with the governments of those left in disarray, who knows what they'd get up to. He paused as Zenn left, massaging his temples with a single hand. A King Kong sized headache wasn't helping, his skull was being drummed upon from the inside out. It was all but impossible to think straight.

"I just don't get it!" He growled to no one in particular, "Why did we have to let so many go?" The Turian's eyes narrowed as he caught Weisman in his peripherals.

"I made a promise."

Marching over, Kysar brandished his rifle. Who knew how many shots it would take to penetrate the gang bosses armour but the Turian had nothing but rounds and time.

"What are you doing?" Sev called out. "Venator?"

The turian strode on without missing a single beat as the pitter patter of lighter feet caught up to him. Grabbing him on the arm, the medic asked him again, "What do you think you're doing?"

Her voice was stone, an unyielding tone that demanded an answer. "I made a promise, Godmother!" Kysar replied.

"So what? Do you think you're the only one who lost someone today? They were my team too Kysar, and Solveig's. It doesn't give you the right to just do as you please."

Venator shrugged off the other turian's hand and took another step towards Weisman.

"If you really want to do them a service, then that man, for all his evils, is the only way we all find out the truth." Sev's voice softened as Kysar raised his rifle. "Please."

"Gah fuck's sake!" Lowering the gun, Venator swivelled on his heels, storming off in the opposite direction.

"Where are you off to now?" Sev asked.

"To make sure everyone makes it home."

As Solveig walked with the hostage from the freezer, she glanced down at Weisman, and then at the back of Kysar. She hesitated as she and the hostage came closer, her hand twitched nervously as she felt the urge to address him. With her eyes to the floor, she spoke loud enough for him to hear. "Hard to kill people... Harder to not kill monsters, but... the right thing." Her nervous glance trailed upwards but she broke it before she met his eyes, motioning for the hostage to sit with the others while she took a more hurried pace to Katya.

Kysar paused, tilting his head towards the N7 operative. The two hadn't really spoken since either of them had rejoined SRN. Was he angry with her? Did he blame her for leaving? Would her being there had even made a difference or would she be another victim the turian was about to prep for evac?

Too many thoughts and questions, this whole thing had been too much. As she scurried off Kysar took a deep breath in. He wanted to say something, thank her for her help, tell her to look after Katya. Something, anything. The turian exhaled, his mouth grimacing as Solveig disappeared. He nodded in solace with her statement, even if she didn't know it, and continued on.

Amina walked into the lobby, her Vindicator hanging loose in her right hand and a disgusted look etched over her face. I had him! she cursed to herself. All she could do now was hope that Outcast could catch him in the jeep.

If they don’t ride off together wherever they were going…

Amina still did not trust Outcast in full. Sure, they had helped them get here and sure they had been a part of the attack. But what had they really done? Amina hadn’t watched the mysterious figure like a hawk obviously, and she wondered just what all was at play on Outcasts side of the table tonight.

Am I just overthinking this? What if my suspicions are sorely misplaced? I need to talk to Lizbeth about this Outcast. Later. Right now I’m just too fried.

Amina looked around the room. Everyone looked bushed and the Lobby was a scorched mess from the shooting and explosions. Zenn despite the hit earlier seemed to be fine. The other Turian, Kysar, looked like he wanted to pummel down a wall with his bare fists. Amina looked down at the defeated Weisman, her eyes drifting to the Geth weapon nearby. With a shrug to herself as much as anyone else she shouldered her Vindicator and stepped forward, reaching down for the heavy weapon.

Amina had seen these near the end of the war, the Geth assisting in the battle for Earth had deployed them against Reaper ground forces. She remembered they packed a bell of a punch too. No shame in it since no one else seems to want it.

“I’ll go check around.” Amina announced, heading back through the door she came in - brandishing her new toy.

As soon as Nadara applied the medi-gel Zenobia offered, she felt relief from the gunshot wound to her shoulder. It was enough for the pain to subside for the moment, but if she wanted to regain full use of her right arm, she would need to be seen by proper medics.

Sevipia was busy enough tending to Zenn and the other hostages that had yet to awaken from the comas the Reds had surely induced. And for what purpose? She thought to herself, holding back a shudder as she released the asari hostage from her bonds and carried her over to where others had laid the other unresponsive hostages. What animals, the human gang had been. From how Amina had described the slaughtering room she’d emerged in, the Reds demonstrated not an ounce of mercy on their victims. What’s worse, they’d revived Reaper methods and equipment. Having participated at the very top of society for numerous species—come to think of it, it was highly unlikely the Vorcha even had an upper class, much less any class at all…—and from her stint in the asari military, Nadara was accustomed to rubbing elbows with nefarious types, but she wasn’t certain she’d encountered such blatant disregard for life before now, discounting the Reapers, of course.

Her gaze fell on Weisman, the Red’s “boss” and her eyes narrowed. She had a hunch the fellow that was able to escape—Banes was it?—had been the true puppeteer, but Weisman deserved as much retribution as was possible to give for his role in leading these degenerates. While Nadara didn’t understand the weight Kysar, Solveig, or Sevipia felt from losing their team to the man, she did understand justice. If he didn’t present such a precious opportunity to obtain information about everything that had transpired, Nadara might have argued in favor of Kysar getting his revenge on the man. Sevipia’s medical ethics be damned.

As it was, the medic was able to calm him down, and Solveig’s words had their own effect. The air in the room was heavy, and not just because the stench from unknown numbers of decaying bodies still lingered. Goddess, when was the last time she’d showered? Thankfully, her helmet filtered the majority of the stench.

Amina came to a doorway, weapon raised. The door was locked, Amina carefully reaching out to switch the lock off and slide the door open. The door shrieked metallically as it opened making her hair stand on end. Amina took three steps inside when she heard a crashing to her left. She turned sharply, Geth weapon raised and was met by a surprised cry.

Ack! Please, don’t shoot!”

Standing in the corner of the room was an asari wearing a white dress uniform caked in dust and dirt. The asari was plastered back against the wall, arms raised defensively and a terrified look on her face. Amina lowered her weapon to her hip but said nothing, keeping her eyes on the asari.

“Who are you?” the asari asked shakily, “You don’t look like any of those thugs I have seen. I… heard all the shooting… the explosions…”

“My squad and I cleared the Reds out. We’re securing the facility now while we figure out what to do next.” Amina said roughly.

“Who are you with? The Alliance? Are you mercenaries?” the asari asked, deeming it safe to lower her hands even as she remained against the wall.

“Who are you?” Amina countered, eyes steely.

“Me? Well… I’m Zelifa D’Veo, renowned chef and owner of D’Veo’s Finer Culinary School on Thessia.”

Amina was taken aback. “What’s an asari chef doing on Earth and at a time like this?” she asked, one eyebrow arched sharply.

“Well,” Zelifa said, “I was here on Earth before the war broke out scouting to hopefully open a new school on the human homeworld. Needless to say when the Reaper things attacked I was… stranded here.”

“How did you end up with the Reds?” Amina inquired suspiciously.

“It wasn’t my wish, they did have me locked in this room for a reason after all. To make a long story short let us just say I was captured by them after the Reapers were wiped out and they wanted me to be a part of this… this slaughterhouse operation of theirs. It’s been… a terrible experience. Honestly I think they were just a hair away from killing me.”

Amina nodded slowly, eyes downcast.

“Can you get me out of here?” Zelifa asked, striding forward arms out. “I… really want to leave and I assume since you and this squad of yours killed all these thugs you are safer company than they are.”

“Bold assumption.”

Zelifa shrugged almost defeated.

Amina sighed, “Come on.”

As others shuffled off to perform various functions, Nadara decided she should investigate as well, and stumbled into a room of shipping crates of what appeared to be salarian organs. Sitting on a nearby table was a datapad along with a shipping manifest. From a quick overview, Nadara discovered the Reds had been luring salarians to Havana on the extranet, advertising an all inclusive travel package that even she would have been interested in, though the marketing and branding could be polished. As it was, they were able to abduct over a dozen salarians alone through this scam. The datapad held a number of messages between Weisman and Banes, revealing that it had been the latter who’d introduced the opportunity to sequester the salarian organs for sale to the Blood pack, further confirming Nadara’s earlier suspicions on Banes being the ultimate mastermind.

The blood pack? Wouldn’t anyone else be interested?

Best prices.
Too good to pass up. Suppose I can accept these terms.
They won't be coming after us with allied sanctions.

I’ll finalize the deal, prepare the shipments.
Aight. We still have the alliance to worry about…

Nadara continued scrolling through the files on the datapad until she reached a request form from a Blood Pack member specifying the salarian livers were “best served raw, as fear adds spice”, along with a response from the Reds, confirming the victims were kept conscious while being disemboweled. Her stomach rolled uncomfortably, and Nadara quickly shut off the datapad and placed it face down on the table. That was more than enough information.

A final look at the crates before she regrouped with the others to notify them of her find revealed one final piece of this monstrous puzzle. A sticky note on one of the crates revealed that at least one shipment was marked for experiments on “vorcha longevity”, whatever that meant. Nadara didn’t want to know the methods.

"...the hell?"

Zenobia had been busy setting up the stolen explosives to deal with the last of the dragon's teeth, and her traipsing through the facility to find the required combustibles (and perhaps find a hidden enemy to fight) had brought her to the room with the shipping crates. The smell was too familiar to make her stomach turn, though not for lack of trying. Her hand ran over the shipping containers one by one, until she spotted the datapad lying face down on the table. She hesitated, before turning it over and daring to read the contents.

She spent so long inside that her teammates were probably concerned that she hadn't rejoined them yet. Bracing herself on the table as the words spun in her head, drawing ragged, shuddering breaths that turned into a dark chuckle. She rapped her knuckles on the tablet, before slamming her fist down hard, shattering it on the table. She ran her hand across her brow, unintentionally smearing it with blood from her hand as she strode out of the base, the corners of her mouth twitching as unpleasant childhood memories rushed through her head. Emerging from the building without her usual bombast, she spotted the encounter with their hostage as Kysar was talked down.

Were she perhaps the same teenager that found herself subject to the Blood Packs and their accomplices back on Omega, things would have gone differently for the instigator of this little operation. Maybe she'd have that chance with the boss, but for now...well, she wasn't going to be any nicer to their captive then the other turian was.

“I found someone.”

Amina and the asari chef entered the lobby, Zelifa standing uncomfortably close to Amina’s side.

“Oh, my…” Zelifa‘s right hand clapped over her mouth as she surveyed the armed group and the scattered bodies before her.

As Nadara approached the lobby, Amina entered from the opposite end accompanied by a third asari. Nadara’s eyes widened and she removed her helmet, the momentary shock from an unexpectedly familiar face providing sufficient buffer from the disturbing smells. At least, for the moment.

“By the Godess, is that Zelifa D’Veo? Whatever is a celebrity chef doing in such a rancid place as this?” While Nadara had never been acquainted with the galaxy renowned chef, she had obviously heard of her, and even had the occasion to sample some of the asari’s legendary dishes. They were divine, to say the least. Though, now that she really took in the sight of her, Nadara realized Zelifa had quite let herself go. Were those… stains? How unseemly for one of her stature.

“Yes, it is I…” Zelifa said nervously, partially moving her hand from her face. “This… facility… was certainly not my first choice of places to be.”

The asari choked back a soured lump in her throat, “Or… Goddess… even the last.”

“She was locked up. She said the Reds captured her and tried to make her partake in the goings on here.” Amina said.

“Ah, well that explains it then, though how they would have been able to capture you is another story entirely,” Nadara said, turning from Amina back to Zelifa. “Once you’ve had a chance to rest, we would love to hear more. Perhaps… over a well crafted meal, even?” Nadara’s tone was hopeful. It had been ages since she’d sampled the chef’s delicacies and it would be just the treat to end the sour note this entire mission had turned out to be.

“I… uhm… we shall see. Perhaps yes. Right now I just want a nice bathing, new clothes, and a safe place to stay. My appetite is somewhat… culled for the time.” Zelifa said pinching at her nose.

“You and me both, I assure you. And on that note…” Nadara placed her helmet back on.

With the job completed, the group split off to tie up any loose ends that remained. While he wasn’t in shape to help with hostages or move about much, Zenn offered to take a look at the van now that he could at least stand.

“I've scrapped and repaired literal space crafts in worse condition than this. A crashed van should be a piece of cake!” Zenn reasoned. He limped out of the lobby and to the damaged vehicle. He managed to pry the hood open and began to inspect the engine. By the time everyone else was done wrapping up their last tasks, he closed up the hood and rejoined the group. He walked over to the nearest piece of furniture and began using it as a towel for the grease that covered his hands.

“So. Bad news. The radiator is smashed. I could probably patch it, but I can't exactly replace the radiator fluid it lost. On top of that most of the spark plugs are shattered, the battery is cracked, and that’s just the damage I could see. If I crawled under it I might find more, but I think it’s safe to say there’s nothing I can do.

Good news, air filters were still clean. So they won't have to worry about changing those…"

"Whew, close one, wasn't it?" Zenobia said with unsettling calmness to Weisman, coming up behind him. "Good thing you're useful, and it's lucky he wants to get to you first."

She lowered herself so her breath could almost tickle his ear. "Cute operation you had here. Reminds me of the ones back home. Seeing this practice alive and well, all happening because of people like you, well...that just gives me so many ideas. Maybe me and my friend will share some notes."

Zenobia reached around and patted Weisman on the cheek, leaving a faint bloody handprint and nothing else. Her fingertips singed with biotic energy as she fought every urge she had not to claw her hand and dig in until the screaming stopped.

"Don't be a stranger," she said with forced sweetness, striding to the van without a glance back. "Dragon's teeth are taken care of, now where's our ride out of here?"

"Wraith's got that covered." Lizbeth answered. "Hope you like seeing Captain Riley again."
4x Like Like
Hidden 4 mos ago 4 mos ago Post by NoPlayerGuild
Avatar of NoPlayerGuild

NoPlayerGuild Thanks Obamahz

Member Seen 0-24 hrs ago

Havana, Cuba
April 10, 2187
Windy, 20°C

Captain Riley couldn't believe what she had heard. A group of freelancers took out the Tenth Street Reds? Impossible. The Reds eluded both the alliance and Bragus Thul's enforcers for over a month, and now they just folded to a bunch of newcomers?

Solveig and Lizbeth sent Riley footage of SRN's raid; the captain was speechless. And at Sol's urging, she agreed to pick them up.

Shortly before Riley arrived, Outcast called back after being away for more than thirty minutes.

"I lost Banes!" Outcast radioed in. "Tell your friends at the spaceport to watch out for-"

Then Riley's M-080 APC pulled up to the front of the meat plant.

"Watch out for what?" Riley and her squad strode in. "Don't tell me you let them go, Wistrom."

"Like how she let this guy go?" Lizbeth pointed out the quarian hostage.

"I can hear you, you know." Riley quipped as her squad ripped Weisman out of his suit and tied up the quarian.

Turns out, Banes did get away through the spaceport. While Riley and some of her team went to the meat plant, a cloaked figure slipped through the less guarded perimeter. When they returned to the spaceport control tower, one shuttle had taken off without authorization. Surveillance cam footage showed only one person flying it: Armistan Banes. Thankfully, he didn't steal SRN's shuttle.

What followed was nearly three hours of debriefing. It started in the infirmary, where medics worked on the team's injuries as Riley made them talk through events of the night. About an hour in, Zenn and Nadara were allowed to leave for hospital care, if they wished.

Nadara only suffered a flesh wound on her shoulder. She got a sling for safety, though she should be swinging her arm as normal in a few days. Zenn, on the other hand, developed a minor calf infection. Thanks to quick actions from Sevipia, it was contained below his knee. However, Riley's medics had little quarian antibiotics available. This meant Zenn had to heal the old-fashioned way. His calf would be hurting for weeks unless...

...Kenn's crew provided the antibiotics! Surely enough, those quarians scrappers kept a better stocked medical crate. With the antibiotics administered, Zenn would recover as quickly as Nadara.

For the others, Riley wanted no details spared of their experiences. After hearing all of it, even a grizzled veteran like Riley was thoroughly disgusted by what the Reds' did. Still, she was glad to have Weisman locked up and the stolen T-5V suit back to its rightful owners. Weisman's bounty was transferred to SRN; each member of the team received 1200 credits (after processing fees).

Back to Kenn and his crew. As agreed upon, the quarians would be released for providing intel on the Reds. They became SRN employees, who would assume liabilities for their actions and deduct their initial wages to pay for damage caused by their looting. However, the snitch, who had ran from Riley straight into Reds captivity, was not included in the agreement. Riley didn't care for this one quarian, but Kenn and the others would absolutely not have the snitch back. In the end, Riley simply took the snitch's credits as fine and released them.

"Thank you, Zenobia! Thank you, SRN! Thank you, Captain Lee'Riley vas Wiley!" Kenn rejoiced at his freedom.

"And I suppose you too." He added for Solveig.

"No thanks to you." Kenn waved the snitch off.

Toward the end, Riley inquired about Outcast. They hadn't shown since driving off after Banes, only leaving two messages.

I can't be around the military; we may have misunderstandings.

I will tell you everything when you're not being watched.

Riley figured it was not worthwhile to prod further regarding Outcast. There were countless individuals with unknown pasts, and this one posted no threat to the alliance. She was, however, concerned about Banes. According to Riley, Banes was an undercover alliance asset presumed to have perished four years ago. Him resurfacing and masterminding the Reds was worrying. Riley said she would forward the reports directly to Admiral Singh.

Before letting the SRN team go, Riley pulled Solveig aside for an "alliance business chat".

It was noon when the team left Havana Spaceport. The immediate concern for some was Katya and Janiri. Riley's medics could not make any progress with them, and going through Havana's hospitals and clinics, neither could anyone else. The diagnosis was coma with possible brain damage, the prognosis was uncertain and the only treatment was "wait and see".

Eventually meeting back at Meliá Resort, the team found Lizbeth playing with Ranger in the courtyard. Ranger made a beeline for Zenn.

"I took care of the van business with Saneamiento; SRN's insurance partner will cover the repair." Lizbeth passed a dog toy to Zenn. "Lucky any of you didn't have to break the news to them. They're already not happy with Ranger relieving himself on their carpet."

Further inside the resort, the normalcy was staggering. Some guests were just waking up from a wild night of partying. All of them went about their day with no idea that an organ trafficking gang had been taken out in a explosive firefight. The cigar lounge was exactly as it were yesterday, wood furniture, classic decor, plush sofas and sitting on one was...Outcast?

Wearing a long hooded coat similar to the one worn by Amina, Outcast browsed a datapad with a glass of rum and case of cigars on the side table. Both the liquor and cigars were untouched. Approaching Outcast, the SRN team could finally see the face under the hood. It was a tangle of damaged implants among twisting scars; the sum of which could barely be called human.

"I imagine you have questions." Outcast's unfiltered voice was deep and guttural. "Let's start with my real name: Randall Ezno."

Randall, as they, or he ("it doesn't matter") was called, was a cerberus infiltrator. Having escaped horrific experiments on a secret research station (the source of his implants), Randall spent majority of the war hunting down the station's director. In the process, they passed on whatever they could to the alliance.

"Some call me a war asset," Randall recalled, "but others say a cerberus is always cerberus."

Toward the end of the war, Randall finally located and neutralized the director. But searching through the director's files, Randall found they weren't the last to receive such "upgrades". Sure, cerberus introduced reaper implants to its rank and file. But this special package, designed to give superhuman prowess and even confer biotic capabilities to those not born with them, was extremely rare. The director had a short list of candidates passed down from the Illusive Man himself.

"Most of them, including a squad leader codename 'Rogue', who has a preference for burst-fire rifles, were unavailable or KIA." Randall's eerily bright blue eyes glanced toward Amina. "But one has completed the procedures and is active in the field: Armistan Banes."

That's how Randall ended up on earth; Banes' last known assignment was aiding the Illusive Man's Citadel coup. When the crucible fired, many of Randall's implants fried, horrifically disfiguring them yet somehow sparing their life. This wasn't the case for all cerberus members, but it must've also been the case for Banes.

"Banes isn't working alone, and it's not just hired thugs like the Reds." Randall noticed. "Someone must be backing him up right now. How can one ex-cerberus agent gather enough credits to pay off the Reds and have the connections to broker a deal with the Blood Pack?"

Even so, Randall stated they would rather track Banes alone. Putting the SRN team on his trails would quickly alert Banes, and without knowing how the full extent of Bane's resources, they could blunder into another ambush.

Before leaving, Randall answered a few lingering questions.

"Like how I gained anonymous access to SRN?" Their deformed face curled up to something resembling a smirk. "I gave the director's data to the president of SRN. Your boss said it's a good trade."

With their business concluded, SRN team members enjoyed one free day in Havana. Then, on the 12th, a priority email came.

Lizbeth was quick to comment.

Welp, guess we're parting ways.

I got another email, and a promotion to manager of the SRN branch here in Havana.

Feels like all of you got the short end of the stick; tropical paradise to a frozen rock?

Just wanted say, it was a joy working with you all. We make a great team.

Watching that raid was quite a show. I went through two bags of popcorn. Almost puked in one...

Uh, forget what I just said.

Anyone wanna go grab a drink to celebrate. Nadara? I know this cool cabana bar.

BTW, Zenn, take Ranger with you, ok? That dog really likes you.
3x Like Like
Hidden 4 mos ago 4 mos ago Post by Auz
Avatar of Auz


Member Seen 21 hrs ago

Kysar Proctus


The wind howled as Kysar entered his new room. With his old one given away (a little too quickly in his opinion) the staff had sorted him a last minute replacement. Gravity felt heavier than usual as every single step towards his bed proved harder than the last. Saying he had had a long night felt like an understatement the size of a Reaper. Even Outcasts' little reveal had no effect on the Turian although Janiri in her coma would have guessed that he was Cerberus. Sure, the Hierarchy had released an APB on Randall some time ago but aside from that footnote as long as his gun pointed the same way as the SRN teams, the Tinman was ok with Kysar.

The Turian exhaled with a deep, almost pain sounding noise as he finally reached his bed. Removing his gear, he made sure to put his weapons within reach, even if the armour fell to the floor, clattering away. Flopping onto the spread, he ended up on his back before bringing up his omni-tool. Connecting wirelessly to the room he shut the window and the blinds, flicking away an option to turn on the lights. Comfortable in the dim orange glow, he quickly skimmed the hospital reports from Katya and Janiri, wondering if this new President in his little hidey-hole could help. Coma or not, they were still SRN and had almost given their lives for the mission.

Sighing, he moved on, noticing that his personal items had been brought to his room and placed on his bedside table. The sight of the letter from Sarah and the kids almost made him smile. Maybe I should write back? he thought. He hadn’t sent them any sort of response although he doubted that they would’ve heard about the ambush or his capture. A wave of tiredness washed over him from head to toe, pushing the Turian’s body deeper into the mattress. He waved the idea away, opting to transfer 200 credits to them instead. They were with the Alliance in some camp in London, at least their officials could be trusted to see the money get to the family.


A message from the Hierarchy appeared. Kysar snorted a curt laugh. Undoubtedly they had read his report and were pissed that he hadn’t given them Weisman. The Turian’s head tilted to the side. He could always give them Randall? Pausing for just a moment, he curled his lip and shook his head. Na, not yet at least.

Without even bothering to open the message, Kysar shooed his Omni-tool away leaving the room in complete darkness. Turning on his side, he drifted off to sleep.
5x Like Like
Hidden 4 mos ago 4 mos ago Post by Awesomoman64
Avatar of Awesomoman64

Awesomoman64 I should go

Member Seen 0-24 hrs ago

Zenn'Valin vas Konesh


Tired, injured, fighting a fever, and more than a little buzzed, Zenn dragged himself through the resort halls towards his room with Ranger happily trotting alongside him. He was still hesitant to take the dog, mostly because he was in no way prepared to be a pet owner. But Ranger didn't have anywhere else to go. Besides, Zenn got his start when random strangers took him in from off the street. How could he reject anyone in the same position, even if they were a dog?

Sluggishly he walked into his room and placed the brandy on a nightstand. He then carefully set his equipment against the adjacent wall while finishing the last sips of his drink. Meanwhile Ranger jumped on the bed and waited as Zenn placed the empty glass next to the bottle and slowly crawled onto the mattress. The dog started walking in circles for a few seconds before plopping down with his back against Zenn’s arm. Zenn let out a soft chuckle and gave the dog a few scratches.

As he lay there staring at the ceiling, his mind drifted back to the mission. Things hadn't exactly gone the way he thought they would. Banes got away, most of the original team was dead or comatose, and he and Nadara were injured. On the other hand, it was still a rousing success. The Red's whole operation had been shut down, they rescued most of the hostages, and with the info Outca- er, Randall gave them they had a better idea of what they were going up against. All in all they had gone above and beyond and proved themselves to be a formidable team! It really was a combined effort. They couldn't have pulled it off without each person playing their part. They may not all have been the SRN's first choice, but this team was ready for anything thrown at them. Zenn hoped the others shared his sentiment, but at the end of the day it was enough for him to know that they had made a difference; even if it was just for Havana. Of course, he wouldn't say no to a monetary reward, even if he did owe some of it to Nadara. Not to mention the much needed antibiotics from Kenn and the other quarians.

Overall, he felt satisfied with how everything turned out. A smile was printed on his face as his eyes slowly closed and he slipped into a much needed sleep.
4x Like Like
Hidden 4 mos ago Post by Shu
Avatar of Shu

Shu ☕️ 📿

Member Seen 0-24 hrs ago



Amina stepped out of the bathroom of her hotel room. She wore a heavy white robe over her underclothes for bed, her armor and kit propped up on the offside of the nightstand. Her hair, still a bit damp even after blow drying, hung loose around her neck and shoulders - Amina brushing loose strands from her face as she sat on the bedside. After everything that had transpired since arriving in Cuba a long scalding shower and some R&R after was much needed, even if short term. Amina had grabbed a bite earlier, the local cuisine satisfying to her pallet.

Amina gave her room a good once over. Her small amount of luggage was all piled on and around an end table against the far wall. Her pistol lay within easy reach on the nightstand while her rifle was propped against the front of it. The Geth weapon she acquired lay next to her armor where it took up a noticeable little amount of floor space. Cumbersome as it was to lug around Amina figured it would come in handy in the future, and if not she could trade it for something else or sell it somewhere if need be. Acquiring ammunition for it could be a real issue of course which suddenly made being rid of it soon a more attractive thought.

Well… I will worry about that later on. Amina thought, swinging both legs up on the bed as she sat back against the mound of pillows behind her. She reached over and picked up a round, flat object from the nightstand - her lucky dinar. A medieval era Arabic coin, Amina’s father had given it to her on her tenth birthday back on Terra Nova. Over twenty years ago now. Amina had carried the coin all her life; after leaving Terra Nova, during her time both with the Alliance and later Cerberus, and throughout the Reaper War. It had always been with her, a memento of her father and of a time passed. It was like carrying around a family photo yet it held a deeper sentiment. It was also a piece of history which made it even more valuable in a material sense. Amina imagined a collector would pay a hefty price for it if pressed, yet Amina had always swore to herself that she would never part with it and that held true today. Long ago she had drilled a small hole near the top and laced a cord through the coin to wear it like a medallion.

Amina rolled the coin over and between her fingers as her thoughts drifted to her parents and brother, she slipped the thin leather cord around her finger joints. How she hoped her family had made it through the war. That they had not succumbed to the cruelty of the Reapers genocidal efforts across Earth. The thought of her family being hauled away, sedated, melted down and pumped through cold, metal tubing into some mass - Stop.

Amina lay her lucky dinar back on the stand the cord draped over the edge. They are fine. Maybe… I can get SRN to track them down for me. As a favor for my service. Amina planned to ask very soon. When the team arrived at their next destination she would, when the time was appropriate, ask for a hand in locating her parents and brother. Amina felt an invigoration in her core. Her new employer could do what she had been unable to do amid and after the Reaper War. Surely they could! At the very least they could try - she could try. Amina felt a slight quirk at the corners of her mouth as the thought of, after so many months of no leads, finally someone giving her some answers. Even if her family had not survived the war she needed to know if at all possible. But they did. They are out there. I just need to find them.

Amina looked down and as she did she noticed something, ever so casually. A magazine it looked like had slipped down behind the nightstand, the covers peeled back and pages loosely open as the magazine lay back against the wall behind the piece of furniture. Curiously Amina reached down and snagged the magazine in her left hand, bringing it around to view the front cover. FORNAX, the cover read, This month featuring scenes with Eshokai Thionis and Adonis Swift! Amina’s eyes popped and her nose wrinkled at the imagery on the cover.

Geez… Amina jumped up from the bed, robe trailing, as she stamped towards the window. She had seen her fair share of Fornax issues over the years, tucked under the pillows of Alliance grunts and in the desks of Cerberus operatives, and they never failed to repel the human woman. I am not checking out of this room with this to be found in my wake. Sliding the window open Amina sent the magazine flying down towards the ground, then slamming the window shut and deciding it was definitely time to end the night - not noticing the curious Salarian down below that picked up the magazine, looked around, and scampered away item underarm.
1x Like Like 4x Laugh Laugh
Hidden 4 mos ago Post by spicykvnt
Avatar of spicykvnt

spicykvnt Sponsored by Yorkshire Gold

Member Seen 8 hrs ago



It was late when Solveig’s drink and food arrived. An expensive looking glass that was icy to the touch. In the gloom of the space, she smiled slightly. They knew to freeze their vodka - it could be a sign of a decent enough drink. There was a single, large cube of ice in the center that frosted the sides of the glass. It went down well in a single mouthful.

The woman didn’t make a habit of drinking to the point of inebriation, but she could appreciate a good spirit, it took a lot to give her a buzz. Something about her size for one thing, and her Viking blood as her father would say - nordic ancestors from a long, long, long time ago.

The food was a delightfully small offering - a pastry that seemed to be filled with various spiced vegetables, potato, and cheese. It was just enough to take away hunger's clawing edge. Something else in her also quietened with the addition of spirit to the soul.

The curtains were pulled shut, and the door was locked. She had showered, dressed into something comfortable, and sat cross legged on the bed, glancing at her omni-tool and the flickering of notifications. It wasn’t so much that she wanted to keep the night out of her room, more that she wanted to keep whatever was in those messages, a firm secret.

Her fingers twitched nervously as she opened the first.

From: Wistrom, Dr. Lars
Subject: Dearest

My dearest Sol,

I cannot express enough in words how sorry I was to hear of your mother’s passing.

I hadn’t spoken to her in many years since our separation. I have to admit, I feel a sadness within me anyway, afterall, we were married for 20 years. I know that you must feel so conflicted.

Call me when you are able,

All of my love, my busunge

Solveig felt her chest tighten, and she bit down on her lip, drawing her knees up to her chest and wrapping both arms around them until she was a ball atop the bed.

From: Wistrom, Dr. Lars
Subject: RE: Dearest

My Sol,

Are you alright? I heard you went to see Agnes, I hope it brought you some closure.

Where are you?

All of my love to where you are, over the oceans that separate us.

Call me soon.


A noise in the corridor startled her, and for a good ten minutes, she got up and simply paced the room silently, a knot forming in her stomach as her notifications continued to flash on screen. Eventually, she made her way back to bed, climbing under the covers this time, drawing them up to conceal half of her face - her bright blue-grey eyes illuminated by the light of the screen.

From: Wistrom, Dr. Lars
Subject: RE: RE: Dearest


Please, call me. I worry, I sense your spirit even now, as dark as things are my busunge, things will be alright.

I looked up at the stars today and was thankful to Agnes, she gave me you.

I need to hear from you, I am worried.


Solveig balled a fist up under the covers and closed her eyes tightly.

From: Wistrom, Dr. Lars
Subject: RE: RE: RE: Dearest

My daughter,

Perhaps you are happy? Are you finding yourself free from the constraints of her ambitions? I miss you, I still wish to hear from you and to see you soon. It has been too long.

I meditated today, and as I walked through the gardens I reflected on my life - we do not live long enough, there is so much for us to achieve when we are in balance and alignment. I know that you will find your way again.

I love you, all the way to the edge of the universe.


A tear rolled down her cheek, and still, she hesitated to reply. She could feel her father’s presence with her, and it was enough. She just… Didn’t have the words for him right now. She felt pangs of shame, panic, and anxiety and so she closed the messages. In Svalbard, she wouldn’t be too far from him… Perhaps?

She needed something to take her mind off it, and so she reached for the tv console. There had to be some noise to drown out the emotional stirring.

Godzilla vs. Gethzilla X: REDUX. Perfect.

Not long into the movie, she fell asleep - the flashing lights of the ridiculous action were like a broken neon sign on her window from the outside.

5x Like Like
Hidden 4 mos ago 2 mos ago Post by NoPlayerGuild
Avatar of NoPlayerGuild

NoPlayerGuild Thanks Obamahz

Member Seen 0-24 hrs ago

Longyearbyen, Svalbard
Evening, April 13, 2187
Snowing, -20°C

Svalbard was very cold.

The entirety of April 13 was taken up by a non-stop flight across the Atlantic and into the Arctic circle. There was scarcely any room in the shuttle. With seven active members, two unconscious members, a dog and all of their gear, it was barely possible to sit without bumping into the nearest living being. Sevipia did most of the flying, as she had piloting experience from her search and rescue background. It was a bumpy ride; the shuttle was in need of a tune-up and the turbulence threatened to toss passengers out of their seats. To make matters worse, Ranger vomited, and the only thing that resembled a lavatory was a dirty bucket behind a tools crate.

Finally, the pressurized shuttle door opened to the promise of much needed fresh air. Instead, the SRN team was blasted with a bitter faceful of icy wind. Swirls of white drifted down from the sky. The temperature was 40 degrees (celsius) colder than Cuba. Even Zenn, in his temperature controlled enviro suit, could feel the chill biting through.

It was already night, but the lights of Longyearbyen reflected brightly off of the snowscape. Svalbard Spaceport was active. Though not as busy as Havana, the SRN shuttle wasn't the only one touching down tonight. Several winterized vehicles and hovercrafts transported cargo and cleared snow on the tarmac. One of them, a tracked security transport bearing SRN's logo, approached the shuttle. Two armed security guards, a human and a salarian, came flanked by two LOKI mechs.

"Power down all systems and prepare for inspection!" The human ordered; their voice amplified by omni-tool loudspeakers to be heard over the howling winds.

Just as it happened, a sleek six-wheel rover pulled up next to the security. Painted on the rover's doors were the words ND-1 | Concept Vehicle. Those doors swung open diagonally and an important-looking human in thick winter parka hopped out.

"Mr. Saracino, the new arrival has not been cleared! It's dangerous for you-" The salarian warned. Charles Saracino gently waved the guard aside.

"It's alright, I invited them myself." Charles flashed the guards a faint smile, and both of them backed off. The LOKI mechs remained by Charles' side as he greeted the new arrivals.

"Welcome to Svalbard!" Charles shouted amid the snowstorm. He lowered his heavy hood, revealing a middle-aged man with short black hair and a long, thin scar across his face. "Come on, I'll give you a ride in the Nomad. You must be freezing out here!"

Ranger was the first one outside. Golden fur leaped onto the tarmac. Charles took a surprised step back, and both mechs took up position between him and Ranger.

"Ah, didn't know you had...no matter. You can leave your pet with security." He pulled the mechs back, but kept his distance from the dog. "Your equipment, too. Oh, and they can also transport Lieutenant Commander Serova and Specialist Danya. Sorry, my rover can't fit everyone."

"I'll stay with Katya and Janiri." Sevipia volunteered to go in the security truck.

For the other six, it was a tight fit in the rover. Perhaps sensing her unease around people, Charles invited Solveig to sit up front. The remaining five team members had to squeeze in between two cramped back rows. However, the interior was warm and comfortable, and the ride itself was so smooth that it barely felt like driving on snow.

Longyearbyen was even less affected by the war than Havana. According to Charles, no reaper ever landed on Svalbard. So most the majority of changes came from accommodating refugees. Svalbard's population doubled since before the war. Thousands fled there from northern Europe during the war, and thousands more arrived after war, attracted by advanced and fully-functioning infrastructure. The only obstacle to a population boom on the island, Charles claimed, was the weather.

But the main attraction of Svalbard, and the place Charles was taking everyone to, was the seed vault. The original vault was constructed in the early 21st century and later expanded by the alliance in the 22nd century. A second vault was commissioned by the Andromeda Initiative before their hasty departure last year, to house exoplanetary crop seeds suited for another galaxy. This meant Svalbard not only held the key to earth's agricultural recovery, but it was also one of the few places in sol with reserves of dextro crops.

The Nomad stopped at shielded perimeter on the outskirts of Longyearbyen. Outside of the perimeter were dozens of prefab hab units on top of flash-forged stilts. Hundreds of refugees of all species lived in there. Inside the perimeter were the vaults and miscellaneous buildings made from the highest grade carbon nanotube. Charles' office was the three-story central admin painted in blue and etched with SRN's logo. On the inside, there were still initiative logos not yet painted over with their SRN counterpart.

Sitting down at a holo-conference room, Charles was once against surrounded by two mechs. One of them brought refreshments for the guests, while the other stood guard by his side.

"First thing first," Charles helped himself to a cup of warm tea, "who is the team leader?"

The team had no leader.

"We'll have to figure this one out later." Charles handed his parka to his mech.

The second thing was contacting the security guards. They confirmed Sevipia and the comatose patients had checked into Longyearbyen Hospital. A renowned neurosurgeon, Dr. Bawirn Taua, would be arriving shortly. Currently, the security guards were en route to deliver Ranger and the team's belongings.

The third thing and the inevitable question were those mechs. Why Charles have them follow him around? They tend to break down after exposed to the crucible energy, so getting them up and running must've taken a lot of resources. The observant also noticed the scar on Charles' face; perhaps they were connected?

"There was an attempt on my life last week." Charles laid it out bluntly. "The assassin had been dealt with, but unfortunately, at the cost of Governor Blomdahl's life."

This was why Charles suspected infiltration within SRN. While visiting refugees with Svalbard's governor one week ago, someone jumped them with an omni-blade. The governor was impaled out of nowhere and died instantly. Then the attacker killed two bodyguards and slashed Charles' face before being shot dead. It was a low profile visit; scheduled only a day in advance and therefore had no stringent protective details.

As for rooting out subversion from SRN, the action they needed to take was...

"Nothing right now." Charles said. "For you, that is."

Time was needed to determine their next course of action. SRN's IT analysts found someone had accessed their encrypted database through a backdoor. This backdoor was used to both download Charles' daily schedules and hack into the first team's communication channels. The obvious suspect here was Armistan Banes. But masterminding an assassination while running a gang on the other side of the world? That seemed too much even for an elite ex-cerberus operative. Randall could right; Banes had powerful allies.

So Charles needed a few more days to track the backdoor's origins. In addition, he had upcoming meetings with SRN's stakeholders, the same rich and influential people that (narrowly) elected him president. No doubt the critics and oppositions among them would like to see Charles fall. Would any of them go the length of allying with Banes or arranging a hit? Charles intended to find out.

"Trust is hard to come by these days." Charles remarked, massaging his scar. "That is why I'm glad to be able to rely on all of you. We share a vision in making the solar system a better place."

The team got their next few days off. They would be staying in bunks, cots or sleeping pods in the staff housing complex. Compared to Meliá Resort, these accommodations were basic to say the least. There's no room service, bathrooms were shared, and the only dining option was a cafeteria serving instant coffee and reheated rations. However, all of Longyearbyen's hotels were fully booked, Charles reminded them. At least they were staying inside the vault compound perimeters; refugee housing outside tended to get...chaotic.

"I understand this leaves much to be desired, Ms. V'Lanis." Charles said before Nadara could speak up. "Rest assured we're working on improving comfort through the creation of an SRN hospitality division. In fact, I could think of no one better to head this division than you."

"Just something to think about for now. Of course, we have more urgent problems to deal with first."

While lacking in comfort, the facilities made up for it with utility. The security complex was equipped with a shooting range and an obstacle course, allowing team members to practice with their weapons and techniques. And speaking of weapons, an armory stocked with thermal clips, power cells and omni-gel should be perfect for a top up. Fabricators and workbenches at the engineering station enabled maintenance and modification of equipment. Heck, there's even a K9 section for Ranger.

When it came to acquiring new gear, the team was on their own. There were kiosks and acquisition terminals in the city, but the team had to pay with their own money. Charles' stock of guns, armor and vehicles was already stretched to the limit in order to beef up security.

"I do have this you." Charles beckoned his mech to present an all white rifle. "X5 Ghost; a state of the art prototype. Apparently it's good enough for another galaxy; just that I am not a good shot with it."

On the 14th, the team woke up to unread messages.

The first came from Sevipia. She was no longer a part of the team, as she decided to transfer to SRN's medical division. The horrors and dangers of the meat plant raid was too much for her. The turian medic did her best work caring for the wounded, and for that, there's no better place to be than a hospital.

On the topic of hospital, an update came regarding Katya and Janiri. Their comas were reported to have similarities with those experiencing reaper indoctrination. The neurosurgeons would experiment with anti-indoctrination treatments in the coming days. For Janiri in particular, the surgeons found a tracking chip at the base of her skull. It was manufactured by the Asari Republics, yet the transmission protocols within were Eclipse. Though chip was not active, it was taken out anyway to prevent complications.

Next was Lizbeth, who was emailing not just to say how much she missed everyone. No, she received a complaint after repatriating Tamás' body to the Citadel. Tamás' friends were bewildered to hear him killed on the first day of work, not to mention they were absolutely livid to find his remains having fallen out of the body bag during transit. So they demanded to see an SRN rep in person. Lizbeth was too busy in her new position to oblige, but hey, she heard the crisis team was taking a break from crises. How about a day trip to the Citadel?

Aside from team-wide messages, Zenobia received a personal one from the Eclipse. Somehow, one of their informants spotted Zenobia at Longyearbyen. The Eclipse didn't care much for her; the person they're after was Janiri. The message stated Janiri's tracking chip activated briefly, pinpointing her location and placing Zenobia as the nearest Eclipse personnel. Her order was to take the deserter Janiri and all of the stolen equipment to an Eclipse pickup point on earth.

Zenobia wasn't the only one ordered to apprehend Janiri. A message from asari high command found Nadara. It sounded like the chip transmitted to its original asari manufacturers as well. While Nadara's order was similar in taking Janiri to the nearest asari base, the tone of her message was vastly different than Zenobia's. The Eclipse merely wanted their assets back, whereas the asari military emphasized a grave responsibility. After all, she would have the honor of capturing an ardat-yakshi.
4x Like Like
Hidden 4 mos ago 4 mos ago Post by Awesomoman64
Avatar of Awesomoman64

Awesomoman64 I should go

Member Seen 0-24 hrs ago

Zenn'Valin vas Konesh


April 11th

Zenn paced back and forth next to the foot of his bed, occasionally limping from his still healing wound. While the others were out enjoying their day off, Zenn had spent most of the day in his room. Technically he was supposed to stay in bed to rest and recover from his injury, but at the moment he wasn’t able to sit still. He had been on the phone all day, using the down time to call contact after contact working his way up the chain of command with the Salarian Union. A certain incident between some quarians and salarians that had been on the news about a week back showed no signs of progress, and Zenn was getting to the bottom of it. Ranger was currently laying on the bed perfectly still, while on the screen across from the bed was a Salarian named Captain Pirdoc Nemin; head of the patrol that detained the quarian miners. The two were currently locked in a rather heated argument that could be heard just outside of the quarian’s door.

“I’m sorry Mr. Valin, but our hands are tied. We cannot release the miner’s or their ship.” The Salarian said in a very matter of fact tone.

“Can’t or won’t?” Zenn snapped. He stopped in front of the screen and pointed a finger at the salarian. “The Council has patrols going in and out everyday! You can spare the ships! So just send a squad to confirm their story! At the very least send them to make sure no one is actually in danger!”

“You know it’s not that simple.” Nemin replied. He placed a hand over his eyes and shook his head before he continued. “Look, even if we did believe the miner’s story, the debris fields in that area are off limits for a reason. We have specialists working around the clock to clear any potential hazard safely but until they can make a path to the coordinates we cannot justify sending any of our ships.”

“Then I’ll do it!” Zenn blurted out without hesitation.

Nemin’s head shot back up in shock at the comment. “Come again?”

Zenn readjusted as he spoke, attempting to stand at attention to make his words feel more official. He placed his hands behind his back and his legs shoulder width apart as the words came out. “On behalf of the Migrant Fleet Marines, I volunteer myself to investigate the distress signal. The fleet is fully aware of the dangers and will take full responsibility for any incident or injury that may occur during the mission. All we request from the Union are the coordinates and whatever access to Citadel space we’ll need. In return we will provide a full and detailed report of anything found so the Salarian Union can make an informed decision about the suspects.”

They both sat in silence, Zenn did his best to stay standing up straight despite the pain in his leg, while Nemin took a few seconds to contemplate the offer. “Do you even have the authority to make that kind of deal?”

“If you know any higher ranking officers in the fleet, by all means get them on the phone. But if not, guess you’ll just have to take my word for it.” Zenn replied with a smug smirk hidden behind his helmet.

“...Fair enough. I won’t be the one court-martialed if this goes wrong.” Nemin shrugged. “I’ll need to check with my superiors, but I think we can agree to that. However, I have to stress that this operation will be entirely in your hands. Neither the Union or any other council government will be providing any assistance; which means if you get stranded, we will not be organizing a rescue.”

“Understood. Send me any sort of paperwork you need from me to make this official and I’ll have it back to you by the end of day. And don’t keep me waiting.” Zenn’s eyes narrowed as he made his position clear. “I’m trying to avoid escalating this situation as much as I can, but I will be investigating that signal; sanctioned or not.”

Nemin nodded, and the call disconnected. Zenn let out a long exhale and dropped his arms to the side. He slowly leaned back until he fell backwards onto the bed. Not a single word of that was planned. He just started talking in hopes of getting results, and now he had taken on a mission he was woefully unprepared for. He looked over at Ranger who was now sitting up and staring down at him.

“I think that went well.” He said only partially being sarcastic.


“Now I just need to secure a shuttle and go navigate the massive debris field that was once the galactic fleet. A place filled with unexploded ordinance and potentially unstable reactors among other things. Just to check out a distress signal for something that may or may not be there. All by myself…”

Ranger lowered his head slightly and gave a soft whine.

“Of course I’d like to have the team join me, but how am I supposed to compensate them? There isn’t exactly a reward for this and they know I can’t pay much. If I keep asking for favors like this it'll look like I’m just taking advantage of them.”


“Alright alright I’ll ask them.” Zenn surrendered. “But not just yet. Once everything is finalized and I’ve worked out the details, then I’ll check with everyone. Just hope they take gratitude as payment…”

April 13th

For other species, being crammed into a tight space with little to no elbow room on a ship that felt like it was held together with duct tape and prayers might be the most uncomfortable and stressful ride of their lives. But for the quarian; it was Tuesday. Zenn wasn’t enjoying himself, per se, but he was in no way unfamiliar with these conditions. He had very little trouble staying in his seat even with all the turbulence, though he made it a point to apologize to anyone he bumped into; or that bumped into him. What he was unfamiliar with, was dealing with an air sick animal. The second Ranger threw up, Zenn could not stop saying sorry as he tried to figure out a way to clean the mess with what was available.

After that the ride became much more unbearable, as Zenn felt like he had caused an unnecessary inconvenience to everyone aboard. Once the shuttle finally came to stop, he was ready to jump out as quickly as possible. But as the doors opened and the arctic winds swept into the shuttle, Zenn immediately wished they would close back up.

“KEELAH! How is it this cold? It’s not even this bad in space!” Zenn remarked. He grabbed both his arms and began rubbing his hands up and down them in a vain attempt to warm himself.

Just as well, as the security team that approached the shuttle had ordered them to “prepare for inspection.” Zenn would have to release his arms in favor of using his hands to remove his weapons. Though he would hold on to them a little longer as the security team quickly stood aside and allowed their new boss, Charles Saracino, to greet the team. He invited them to depart the shuttle and join him in his Nomad. Not a huge step up, but a step up nonetheless. To everyone’s surprise, especially Charles, it was Ranger who accepted the offer first.

"Don’t worry. He doesn’t bite. At least he hasn’t yet…” Zenn quickly mentioned hoping it would put Charles, and in turn his mechs, at ease. The mechs did stand back, but Charles also remained at a distance.

With that situation defused, Zenn happily handed his weapons over to the security officers and commanded Ranger to follow them for now. He then climbed into the Nomad ready to sit shoulder to shoulder with the team again, only this time he wouldn’t have to worry about any vomit… Well, unless Amina’s stomach was acting up again.

The ride to the admin building was informative. It was almost impossible to believe there was yet another area on Earth unaffected by the reapers. Though considering the natural climate here, it made a bit more sense. The reapers probably assumed life was unsustainable out here and made it a low priority target. And considering this meant they completely missed the seed vault of all things, it was a huge stroke of luck. For a fleeting moment, Zenn wondered if the presence of dextro crops meant he could finally get a decent meal. Or at least resupply his nutrient paste if needed.

At the end of the ride, they were led into the large admin office and directed towards a holo-conference room. Once they were settled, the first question asked was who the leader was.

The answer was a deafening silence.

Zenn hadn’t actually thought about that, and clearly none of them had either. Thankfully Charles did not press them on that, and put a pin in the idea for the time being. For now, Charles would let them know the status of the original SRN team, as well as where Ranger and their stuff was. Once all that was out of the way, he explained why he brought them to Svalbard.

An assassination attempt. A close range attack, multiple dead, and the assailant brought down before he could finish the job. The details were unsettlingly familiar to the quarian. Zenn’s mind couldn’t help but flash back to that horrible moment. He could hear the screams of the onlookers drowned out by the sound of gun fire. His heart sinking into his stomach as he held the body of a turian soldier. His suit covered in his friend’s blood as he desperately tried to resuscitate him. Zenn’s hands began to tremble as Charles told the story. Slowly he folded his arms to pin them and started to control his breathing, all while trying to make his actions seem nonchalant.

The rest of the briefing was a bit of a blur as Zenn had to focus on calming himself down. By the time he had recentered himself, Charles was offering one of them a rifle. Zenn decided to take a page from Solveig’s book and excused himself before anyone claimed the weapon. If anything else was discussed he would have to have them fill him in later.

It took some wandering, but Zenn was able to find his way to the team’s quarters. He intended to find the closest bed and just try to sleep off whatever this feeling was. However, the minute he stepped through the doors and laid eyes on his animal companion, he walked up and wrapped his arms around the dog. Immediately he felt all the tension and anxiety melt away as he embraced his pet. It was strange. He had only known the dog for a few days, but he had already found himself growing attached to it. He wondered how the dog would fair on Rannoch, because he was coming with him once this was all over.

Once Zenn felt completely at ease, he released the dog and actually took a moment to survey the room.

“Well, this still beats the living quarters aboard the Chayym.” He thought aloud. “Though I’ve never had to figure out sleeping arrangements for a dog before.”

Ranger let out a soft “Ar?” and tilted his head to the side.

“These beds aren’t big enough for both of us.” Zenn shrugged. “Can’t just share one like in Havana. We’ll just have to find a spot on the floor for you or something.”

Ranger trotted forwards toward a bunk bed, then turned to sit facing Zenn and kept his back to the bed.

“Really?” Zenn raised an eyebrow and folded his arms. “With our limited space you’re suggesting we take up a whole bunk? And I suppose you get top bunk?”

Ranger gave an affirmative bark then quickly stood up, turned around, and lowered himself before jumping up into the top bunk.

“Hey! No!” Zenn angrily stated as he marched over to the bunk. He continued to try and coax Ranger off the bed, while the dog simply stared down, wagging its tail and occasionally barking.

April 14th

After a defeated night on the bottom bunk, Zenn awoke to several new messages. The first was Sevipia transferring from the crisis team to the medical division. Zenn honestly wasn’t too surprised by this. After everything that went down at the meat plant, it was a wonder any of them left with their sanity intact. There was also an update on Katya and Janiri’s conditions. Similarities to reaper indoctrinations? Seriously? Did Banes even see what happened to those indoctrinated? Why would anyone try to recreate that in any sense! He had to be stopped. Before more fell victim to his heinous experiments.

Next was a message from Captain Nemin. Zenn’s request had been reviewed and was now officially granted. Enclosed in the message were the coordinates for the signal and a clearance code that gave him access to the restricted zones. Excellent! All that was left was securing a way there. And it just so happened the next message was from Lizbeth asking them to meet someone on the Citadel. It was on the way and would give them access to the SRN shuttle. This was perfect! Everything was falling into place. All he needed now was a crew.

“Well. Here goes nothing.” Zenn whispered to himself as he typed out a message for the team.

Hey Everyone, I need your help with something. If you haven’t heard, there was an incident recently involving a quarian mining ship and the salarian union. The quarian’s crossed into whatever you’d call “citadel space” these days, which is completely off limits to everyone; especially civilians. They didn’t get far before salarian patrols apprehended them. The quarian’s claimed that they detected a distress signal from another quarian ship and were on course to assist, but the salarians in charge of patrolling the sector say they never detected anything like that. As of now the miners are detained and facing some serious charges, and the salarians aren’t about to use their own resources to investigate a “ghost” signal. Which means if someone is out there, help isn’t coming.

I cannot allow that. So in my down time I reached out to the salarians. As a migrant fleet marine I have more authority when it comes to these matters (and it helps that I actually asked them before trespassing in forbidden space.) The salarians agreed to give me the coordinates the miners claim the signal originated and full clearance to investigate on the condition I report everything I find to them first, even if it incriminates the miners. They also will not be assisting in any way. Which means transport, backup, supplies, that’s all on me.

I don’t think I need to tell any of you what it looks like near the citadel. Calling it a "ship graveyard" doesn’t even do it justice. Navigating the debris alone is a challenge not to mention we have no idea what other kinds of dangers and hazards could be waiting. I know we haven’t known each other long and this is a big ask, but I don’t know that I can do this alone. Any help will be more than appreciated and I promise to pay the favor back in any way I can.
5x Like Like
Hidden 4 mos ago 4 mos ago Post by Shift
Avatar of Shift


Member Seen 4 days ago

Nadara V’lanis


April 10

By the time the team returned to the hotel after debriefing with Captain Riley, it was past midday, with numerous hotel guests already lounging by the poolside and younger guests gleefully splashing in the cool water, all of which Nadara eyed longingly.

While enjoying the resort amenities was certainty still high on her list, the current top priority was a much-needed shower, followed by undisturbed sleep. Ever since the investigation in Cerro the previous evening, (Goddess, was that only last night? It seems to have been days ago.) everything happened one thing after the other in dizzying rapid fire. Focused on the mission at hand, Nadara had no chance to feel the aftereffects, but now that the adrenaline was wearing off, exhaustion was setting in quickly. Not to mention, her shoulder stung. She was told it would heal in a few days’ time and given a sling, which she wore dutifully until the moment the attending medic walked out of the room—it was simply not flattering. The hospital doctors claimed she suffered nothing over and above a flesh wound, which was surprising given the strength behind the warp ammo Arminstan Banes had used. The man must be an extremely powerful biotic. Nadara made a mental note to request a few medi-gel packets from the hotel staff. She had some in her room, of course, but preferred to leave her stock for emergencies.

As she made a beeline for the elevators after greeting Liz at the courtyard, who welcomed everyone back with a smile, Nadara noticed some of her teammates heading toward the cigar lounge where they had first met each other. Curious, she followed suit and was surprised to encounter Outcast, unmasked at last, though mostly still covered by a hood. She finally understood his earlier reluctance to remove his helmet. His features were a distorted series of scars which, along with his eyes, had an eerie glow typical of implants. His visage was an unsightly mess, and Nadara half wished he would wear the helmet once more. Even the sound of his voice, now unfiltered by the headgear, was rough and grating to the senses.

He introduced himself as Randall Enzo and provided background information on himself and Banes. The details he offered answering Nadara’s questions about the strength behind the latter’s biotic abilities. When he finished his initial remarks and asked if they had any questions, Nadara had many. Namely, how could they be sure he was truly on their side, and not just playing double agent? How much interaction had he had with Banes? And why did he insist on wearing such a terrible ensemble? Surely, anyone with eyes knew how horribly unbecoming the long, hooded coat he wore was. She could understand the hood, there was a definite need for it, but there were more appealing options than the one he chose. Her eyes drifted over to Amina, and she wondered if they’d purchased their coats from the same vendor.

Before she had a chance to raise any of these questions, Zenn spoke up. “Well I still don't understand the solo act. If you and the SRN were already sharing intel what was the point of keeping us out of the loop? Could have saved us a trip if we had known you were already taking care of things in Cerro. Nadara could have gone to Thul's party." Nadara’s affinity for the Quarian increased drastically at this comment.

"Cerro?" Enzo shrugged. "Didn't even know you were in the city until our...impromptu meeting.

If you're asking for an apology, then fine. Sorry Sunset missed her party, and sorry I tossed you."
Enzo looked back to Ranger. "On the bright side, you found a new friend."

“Acceptance of your apology is pending,” she said, finally finding her voice. More pressing than any of her initial questions, was the one she ended up asking. “Why were you AWOL during the raid? You did practically nothing—and let Banes escape.” Her arms were folded, her eyes narrowed, and her tone accusatory. Nadara would normally not have been so confrontational during an interaction as benign as this, particularly when being (fully) acquainted with someone, but the circumstances were far from normal. She was tired, wounded, dirty, and simply didn’t yet trust the man. Even so, she realized she could have left that last jab out of it.

"If you recall, it was your plan to have me positioned near dragon's teeth. And it was also your call to have me on standby the entire raid." Enzo replied nonchalantly. "Don't accept my apology; accept your own absentmindedness.

Make no mistake, there's no one else in the galaxy wanting to catch Banes more."
Enzo's voice suddenly tensed up. "I chased him around for thirty minutes, nearly crashed a dozen times before losing sight of him.

See for yourself."
Enzo handed the datapad to Nadara. On it were dash cam recordings from the jeep. Bane's motorcycle was clearly visible, zipping between traffic and through narrow streets, going twice the speed limit.

“Excuse me - absent mindedness? You were asked to set up the explosives and then join the main assault team. We didn’t know you could set them up remotely, but if you could do that from the beginning, the fact you didn’t immediately join us upon setting up the grenades is suspicious. Nothing absentminded about my questioning.” Nadara glanced at the datapad briefly, but didn’t care to watch too closely. “I have no doubt you chased Banes. This doesn’t dismiss my claim that you let him get away.

As for nearly crashing—”
Nadara paused for effect, motioning to the others around them. “We all put our lives on the line today. It’s only right you did too after leaving us high and dry in the firefight.”

"Glad you got that out of your system." Enzo leaned back in the sofa. "Now, anyone else having anything meaningful to say?"

The audacity of this man! He was more infuriating than Kysar. Nadara strained to remain composed, her voice maintaining steady, though she couldn’t keep the ice from her tone. “You’re avoiding my question about your actions during the raid. It’s pointless to ask if we have any questions if you won’t answer them.” She turned away from him. “I’m out. This is going nowhere.” Hopefully, the others would have better luck getting answers out of him, and they could fill her in on the rest of the conversation later.

For now, she needed to shower. Nadara wanted nothing more than to wash away the scum from Cerro, the disturbing smells from the meat plant, and the vexing memory of Outcast from her mind.

When she arrived in her room, she was pleased to find that housekeeping had indeed cleaned the room, changed the sheets, and left behind a few pieces of chocolate to apologize for the inconvenience to one of their valued customers. They had however, left the items from Kaya untouched. Images of the Salarian’s body who had previously resided in this room sprang in Nadara’s mind, unbidden, and she shivered at the recollection of what she and other victims of Banes’ horrendous objectives had suffered. On the desk were a pile of drawings that Nadara had initially ruffled through without care. Now, she reviewed them again, more delicately. Among various animals, Nadara found one with a striking resemblance to Ranger. She separated that one from the pile and arranged the others neatly once more, deciding to present them to Liz for distribution as she saw fit. As for Ranger’s drawing, perhaps Zenn might appreciate such a thing.

After peeling off her suit and the grimy underclothes she had worn to the meat plant, Nadara took a long and luxurious shower, taking pleasure in all of the lotions, soaps, perfumes, shampoos, and any additional toiletries the Mélia Resort had to offer, before drawing a bath and soaking in the hot water until her skin pruned.

Wrapped in a thick, plush towel, she sank into the soft bed. Now, this was what she deserved. Not crawling through unknown liquids, saving ungrateful Turians, and then being forced to lead a bunch of unruly excuses for teammates in a high stakes raid.

The thrill of battle had been gratifying, though. Nadara supposed she’d quite missed the action, despite the drawbacks of participating in such an organization as the SRN entailed.

When she opened her eyes to set the controls to dim the lights and lower blackout curtains, she realized something was missing from her room. Her purchases from the day before had yet to be delivered! Surely, they would be waiting downstairs and the resort staff had simply demonstrated a complete lack of client relations by failing to deliver them. Yawning, Nadara decided she would speak with management once she woke up. As far as she was aware, the next few days were unassigned, and she would have all the time in the world to reprimand those responsible, as well as finally enjoy her time as she’d intended all along. Perhaps Liz would be up for another party in the evening? Their celebrations had been cut short after all, and the woman seemed to know how to enjoy a drink. With pleasant thoughts of night clubs with thumping beats and swaying hips, Nadara fell asleep.

April 13

The flight into Svalbard was less than desirable. The shuttle was only able to perform slightly better than stalling throughout the entirety of the journey due to Sevipia’s steady piloting skills. As it was, it did stall a few times, particularly during the worst of the turbulence, which itself seemed never ending. Nadara couldn’t believe the SRN hadn’t provided better maintenance on their aircraft during the leisure days in Havana. However were they to be expected to perform at any level of competence if their equipment was horribly subpar? The crowning glory was when Ranger’s canine sensibilities were unable to handle the constant rocking of the ship, and the animal proceeded to vomit profusely. It hadn’t been until then that Nadara realized she could have lived with all of the other inflight issues just fine without also dealing with the disturbing sights and smells that came from the contents of the dog’s stomach. Thankfully, the event didn’t inspire any of her other teammates to react similarly, and by the time they were tucked together in Charles’ land vehicle, Nadara didn’t even notice the space was even more cramped than before. She was simply grateful to breathe air that wasn’t laced with regurgitated dog food.

In truth, Nadara had been quite excited to experience what Svalbard had to offer. Yes, the cold temperatures meant she would need to take extra precautions with her wardrobe, but that was easily corrected with some astute shopping on the extranet before departing from Cuba. Despite the unforeseen consequences of defeating the Reapers leading to devastating repercussions relating to VIs and the Geth, which ultimately splintered even to communications and the extranet, the prioritization of communication ensured that message boards, commerce, and banking were back online in no time. The correct dosage of shopping therapy would ensure she was able to thoroughly enjoy the snow-covered European Archipelago.

Nadara had established a copious amount of credit with Sartorial Nexus, known throughout the galaxy for their high fashion, and was able to secure a delivery to the SRN base prior to her arrival. Sartorial Nexus was the premier destination for fashion-forward individuals seeking unique and high-quality clothing options. Aside from personalized styling services, they offered exquisite tailoring, interstellar fashion trends, and exclusive designer collaborations. Nadara was particularly excited for one collection she purchased by Vara Sang, a Turian fashion designer known for her avant-garde creations and innovative use of bioluminescent fabrics. I only hope I don’t run into any further delivery issues… she thought, recalling the difficulty she had with the Mélia Resort.

Shaking her head free of the memory, Nadara left that to the past. They were in a winter wonderland now. Amazingly, the SRN was able to locate yet another idyllic setting untouched by the war. More and more, it was confirmed that joining this organization had been the right move for her. Before leaving Cuba, Nadara had secured an initial contract agreement for exclusive rights to partnership with the resort once her company was established. With an island getaway confirmed, she could turn her sights toward a winter package. Snow sports, hot springs, fine dining, and large windows to enjoy the views from beside the warmth of a fireplace. Surely, Nadara would be able to locate all of these things in the untouched snow country.

Her dreams were momentarily dashed when they arrived at the SRN base in Longyearbyen, where the seed vault Charles was going on about was located. Either the refugees would need to be cleared out, or she would need to pursue her venture in another city. Nadara considered all these options as their host droned on about details of a recent murder. When he deemed their next few days would be free, some of the initial spark returned to Nadara’s eyes as she considered next steps and potential day trips, that is, until Charles described what their living conditions were to be. Her face must have betrayed her thoughts because the SRN President was quick to speak up.

“I understand this leaves much to be desired, Ms. V'Lanis. Rest assured we're working on improving comfort through the creation of an SRN hospitality division. In fact, I could think of no one better to head this division than you."

“I would be honored,” she said with a wide smile after the shock wore off. “And to be quite honest, sir, I already have a number of ideas I can see the SRN implementing.” Things were just getting better and better.

Or so they seemed, until she reached the staff housing complex. At least she was met with a delivery from Sartorial Nexus sitting on her cot, along with the rest of her items.

April 14

Nadara awoke to a demanding pinging noise coming from her omni-tool that refused to be dismissed. Eyes bleary, she pulled open the message.

Nadara groaned loudly and turned on her stomach, face buried in the thin pillow the SRN staff housing was outfitted with. (I should start taking note of these things...) It’d been decades since she had left the Asari military, but of course, it should be no surprise they still tracked her location. The worst of it wasn’t even that she had been assigned the detail—Ardat Yakshi were to be taken seriously, after all, and she knew it was her duty to comply with the request—or even that the message dripped with the sarcasm and distrust that only her mother could code into her military babble. The worst of it was that the Asari contact that had been designated for pick-up was Lidanya herself. Did she not even believe Nadara capable of a simple ‘apprehend and deliver’ directive?

I’ve received confirmation that you have received and read our secure message.

Message received. You couldn’t have trusted me to deliver Janiri to anyone else, could you? Always micromanaging.

You misunderstand. This retrieval is important enough for me to personally oversee it.


I have secured transportation to Barentsburg, which should be a short trip from your current location. I will arrive in a few hours. Update me when you have secured Janiri.

Rolling her eyes, Nadara closed the message and lay on her back for a few more minutes, staring at the gray ceiling. Was everyone’s relationship with their mother as complicated as hers was with Lidanya?

She tried to soothe her own frayed nerves from the interaction with the knowledge that this would be the easiest money she ever made. Janiri was still unconscious in the hospital, and she was certain the SRN would loan her a vehicle for the delivery. Asari High Command didn't need to know those details of course and regardless, extra fees would be charged. Early wake-up call, request given during leisure day, and having to interact directly with Lidanya – this wouldn’t come cheap.

After getting dressed (Vara Sang, you’ve done it again!), Nadara made her way to the hospital where both Katya and Janiri were being observed. She showed the necessary documents to the nurses, who called the doctors to confirm before releasing Janiri into Nadara’s custody. They even allowed her to use one of their mobile gurneys. The SRN operative she spoke to about loaning a vehicle was still getting coffee and rubbing the sleep from their eyes when she approached but they gave her no difficulties. The keys were in Nadara’s hand before the mug of coffee was even a third of the way finished. Even the drive to Barentsburg was smooth, and before she knew it, the handover was completed and she was back in Longyearbyen, sitting in the mess hall where a good number of folks were still enjoying a late breakfast.

Eager to place more distance between herself and Lidanya, Nadara hadn’t even bothered to scout Barentsburg for any amenities it offered. That could be done another day. What she needed now was to shoot something. Sitting at the back of the room, she put on her virtual reality glasses and switched on the gamepad she always kept with her.
5x Like Like
Hidden 4 mos ago 4 mos ago Post by Shift
Avatar of Shift


Member Seen 4 days ago

A Daughter’s Mire: Part 1

Solveig had spent her morning first taking a run around the compound -- something about the familiar Nordic air was refreshing - the silence and blue sky offered her respite from the inner noise. It was nice to be alone for the sunrise.

The next thing, was to visit Katya again. She'd been in and out since the rescue. Feeling guilt, worry, and fear all at once. And of course, the familiar confusion of simply not knowing what to do, how to even begin to help.

This morning was different though, thing wing less busy. An empty bed. Janiri... Solveig immediately thought the worst, that the Asari had succumbed to the illness -- and that Katya would follow. But that wasn't the case.

Instinct led her quickly to the mess hall. She moved with more intensity and heat than she had on her run, her stare as piercing as ever, an awakening of anger simmering somewhere.

She approached her target and stood directly in front of her, casting an imposing shadow across Nadara.

"Why?" She asked.

Nadara blinked and removed the headset she’d been using to coordinate an attack on an enemy base with some young Batarians Goddess knew where.


Sol's head tilted just so, and she folded her arms across her chest, taking a breath.

"Why," she repeated, "did you move Janiri?" She would not be repeating the question again.

“Oh.” How strange, was Solveig upset? It was true Nadara didn’t know the woman well, but she’d never seen this from her before.

“I received an order from Asari High Command to bring her in. Turns out she’s Ardat Yakshi, and we tend to act quickly when we’re dealing with them,” she said, feeling no reason to keep the information hidden. After a brief pause she asked, “Is something wrong?”

Solveig thought for a moment. She couldn't really continue to argue about it. Janiri was an Asari, the orders to move her had come from Asari High Command. But still, surely there was benefit in the two patients being treated together - for both of their survival. Unless the Asari could provide a breakthrough too. Her face softened momentarily. "Fine," she relented. "I don't like it... But I understand you have your orders."

She didn't want to stick around and discuss it more, truthfully, she felt confused still. She turned and began walking away, she knew that the rest of the team may not feel the same way.

“Wait,” Nadara called out, standing. “Don’t like what?”

"We don't know what this is, how to fix. How to make it better." Solveig kept walking. "They might not be better separated."

She stopped in the doorway, and looked back over her shoulder. "Should have told us."

As Solveig walked away, Nadara considered her words, and realized that the others should indeed have been notified of her actions, since they were working together and particularly because Janiri was tied with the most recent case. When she’d received the directive from her mother, she’d acted out of instinct, and truth be told, hadn’t even considered that she even had a team, much less needed one to complete the mission. But not needing help was not an excuse for not keeping them notified. In fact, she also needed to communicate with SRN directly to notify them that everything had gone smoothly.

Something else Solveig said made Nadara pause. “How to fix it.” It was true, they weren’t sure what was wrong with either Janiri or Katya, but from the sound of Lidanya’s message and the brief interaction they shared in Barentsburg, they weren’t interested in treating Janiri, exactly. Ardat Yakshi that escaped were not viewed kindly, to say the least. …perhaps Nadara didn’t need to mention that last bit to the others.

She pulled out her omni-tool and realized there were two unread messages from earlier that she’d missed. One from Sevipia notifying them that she would no longer be part of the team. Unfortunate, having a medic at hand is always helpful. The other message was from Zenn, requesting help for some wild rescue. She’d deal with that one later.

For now, she sent an email to Charles notifying him of what happened, ensuring to attach all the relevant documents and information. Then, she opened a message prompt to the five remaining members of the group.

Everyone, this message is to notify you that Janiri was identified as an Ardat Yakshi. She has been apprehended and delivered to Asari High Command. I completed this order this morning and as such, she will no longer be treated at the local hospital.

That should clear things up right?

Solveig received, and read the message immediately between glances at her omni tool and Nadara.

She could see it in her eyes - the good intent, the meaning -- where it came from.

Just like the useless sniper rifle she picked up, she felt the message backfire and some kind of future vision appeared to her of a chain reaction of events - not that it was going to take a genius.

"Ah fuck..." Solveig said finally.

After sending his initial message to the team, as well as one to Lizbeth confirming he would take care of the job on the citadel in exchange for being able to use the shuttle for his own mission, Zenn spent the rest of his morning at the shooting range. Never too early to get in some practice! And he could check his messages between sets.

The first one to come in was from Solveig; she was joining him on his mission. A smile grew across his face as he hastily replied to thank her. He was about to load in a thermal clip and fire another set when a second message came in. It was from Nadara, but it wasn't regarding the mission…

"That crazy kiyet!" Zenn cursed and holstered his weapon as he hastily exited the shooting range. This was bad. Whether he agreed with her actions or not was irrelevant. What mattered now was making sure Nadara or anyone else on the team didn't do anything stupid.

Several minutes later, Zenn burst into the mess hall and scanned the room. The moment his eyes found the Asari, he made a beeline for her. The moment he reached her table, he pulled up a chair and took a seat. His gaze locked on her the whole time as he sat there. No words. Just slowly shaking his head.

Nadara blinked, confused. What was with these folks today? She quickly looked down to ensure she had remembered to properly adorn herself. Yes, Vara Sang’s outfit was impeccable, and Nadara had added a few personal touches to boot! It had to be something else.

“Um… hello? Everything alright?”

Sol watched as Zenn barreled in, and remained quiet as he took a seat. She stopped walking away, and chose to stand by the wall instead. One thing stuck with her -- that Janiri was Ardat-Yakshi. She didn't know enough about them to pass any comment, she knew that they were strong of mind. If that was the case, how could her mind be so easily shut down and overpowered?

Perhaps it wasn't the right way to think about it, but she did, and she thought of Katya again, frowning. Now wasn't the time to ask Nadara either. But really, and Ardat-Yakshi among them. Maybe she was better off in the care of the Asari - but it didn't seem much like caring as it did arrest and punishment.

"Oh. I'm sorry. That message I got must have been from another Nadara." Zenn stated in a very offhanded and sarcastic tone. He then leaned in closer, placing both hands on the table as he slowly stood from his seat. He continued to maintain eye contact as his tone shifted to a more serious one. "And I'm sure that Nadara double checked with her bosses that her actions were sanctioned with the actual ruling authority in the area. Otherwise something as extreme as say, extraditing a comatose kidnapping victim from a medical facility in a place the Asari have no jurisdiction, could look be really bad for relations between humans and Asari. I know a good solider follows orders, but it would just be careless to go along with something like that, right?"

Nadara did not know where all this hostility was coming from. She hadn’t done anything wrong. Ok, sure, she in fact hadn’t double checked with Charles before moving forward, but her mother had gotten all the appropriate confirmations and approvals. The sign off from SRN had been included in the documents she’d shown the hospital before being granted custody over Janiri, after all.

“Whoa there. Things were approved by the SRN. Asari High Command doesn’t just go around doing as they please. Everyone that needed to have been made aware were. You have to understand, this was a grave matter that required haste.”

"What the fuck?" Kysar said aloud as he read the first line of Nadara's message from his cosy little cot. Unlike most of his colleagues, the Turian capitalised on every opportunity he could to sleep in. Spirits knew he had had a lifetime without a goods night rest, so he felt he deserved it. Constantly.

"WHAT THE ACTUAL FUCK?!" His yell could be heard all the way down the end of the corridor as Kysar came to the end of the message. Rage, pure and blind, enveloped him. Vaulting from the bed, he hit the floor running.

Charging through the corridors, the Turian barreled through anyone who wasn't fast enough to get out of the way. There was no thought of what he was going to do when he got there but there he was going.

Bursting through the doors of the hospital he saw the empty bed next to Katya. Roaring, he grabbed the first nurse in reach by the scruff of her scrubs, hoisting her off her feet. "Where is she?!"

Fear gripped the poor orderly as she scrounged around for answers. "The... they took her in the early hours of..."

"NO!" He yelled, unable to stop himself. "The Asari, the one who took her, where is she?!"


Kysar dropped the nurse without a second thought, marching back towards the hall.


Venator kicked the swinging door of the mess open with such force the hinges loosened from the wall. The Turian didn't even feel himself reach for his sidearm but there he was, pointing it towards Nadara.

"What the fuck have you done Asari?!"

Zenn was stunned. Was she telling the truth? The SRN had approved this? When did they plan on sharing that news with them? And the Alliance. We're they okay just handing over someone that could be a potential witness or at least evidence in convicting Weisman? His head was swarming with questions, but he wouldn't have time to formulate any follow up. His fixed gaze was immediately pulled from Nadara as Kysar practically broke the doors down as he entered, and pulled a gun on Nadara. This is what he was afraid of.

Instinctively, Zenn drew his own pistol and pointed at the turian while simultaneously positioning himself between Kysar and Nadara.

"Put it away, Kysar!" Zenn commanded. "We all want answers but nobody needs to get hurt for them."

"Hurt?" Kysar scoffed as the gun in his hand held steady. "Oh it's already too late for that. She took our severely injured comrade out of the only place that could help her." The Turian looked beyond Zenn towards Nadara. "Isn't that right Asari? Your people are going to stuff her in some hole and just wait for her to waste away. I've seen enough of what you do to your enemies." Spitting on the floor he refused to back down.

Nadara barely finished her statement in response to Zenn when her least favorite member of their group charged in, pistol pointed. Yet another confirmation I should’ve left him in Cerro, she thought to herself, disgusted by the man’s actions. Before she could react, Zenn pulled out his own gun and the two stood there, glaring at each other. Now him, I knew I liked.

Others in the mess hall had raised an eyebrow at the exchange between Nadara and Solveig, even started listening in with curiosity when Zenn approached, but immediately feigned disinterest as Kysar hurled toward the group. When weapons were drawn, the room cleared out quickly. No one wanted to be involved. Perhaps a few might have even called for security.

Nadara was shocked. Was there something in the water in this place? The air? Everyone seemed to be going nuts.

“First of all, Turian,” she spat, mimicking his vocabulary. “I’m the only reason you’re even standing here now. Show some respect and get that gun out of my face. You’re putting all of us in danger and making a spectacle.” She gestured around the empty room for emphasis. “Secondly, what I’ve done is protect the lives of everyone in Janiri’s radius should she regain consciousness, as well as ensure that her own safety is accounted for.” In all honesty, Nadara wasn’t sure what would become of Janiri. Would they imprison her, and continue treatment under Asari care? They were the best minds in the galaxy after all, where better to find a cure for whatever was ailing her? Or might they just… well, better not dwell on that. One thing Nadara knew for certain, Ardat Yakshi were safer under the watchful eye of Asari High Command, where they could ensure no melding took place.

There was a sharp clattering from behind Kysar, at the door. Amina stood just outside the dilapidated entrance, frozen in place, as she stared at the scene before her. At her feet was a pile of shattered glass, a deep brown liquid spattered across the tiles. Amina’s eyes darted around at the scene before her, her arm half raised as she about to check the second message of the day she had received only walk into see half the team drawing their weapons on each other.

"You better put those guns down and cool off, both of you," Sol said, moving from the wall to come as close to both as she could without standing directly in the middle. "Civilian facility, we don't want casualities of any kind. And goddamnit," she sighed, exasperated - in disbelief that she was the one providing reason, "we have goddamn fucking names."

She let her words hang in the air for a few seconds before her voice commanded out again; "Did I stucking futter?"


Zenn's eyes darted from Kysar's only for a couple brief moments. First towards Amina when she walked in and dropped her glass, then towards Sol when she moved forward and practically ordered them to put their guns down. Each time he quickly switched his gaze back to the turian. Sol was right, though. They needed to disengage if there was any hope of diffusing the tension.

Zenn gave Kysar a quick nod, and slowly took his finger off the trigger while lowered his weapon.

"I seem to be a bit late to the Invictus standoff..."

Zenobia appears almost out of nowhere on the scene, moving to stand where Nadara and Kysar could both see her, completely unarmed but the biotic energy flickering behind her eyes.

"But you're not going to accomplish anything now. She did what she had to do. Now let's all cool down and stop with the chest thumping."

This seems...very uncharacteristic for Zenobia, who you'd think would be the one brandishing guns at Nadara alongside Kysar.

“Protect lives?! Spirits you are just so full of yourself. Do you have any idea what this girl did the first day of us landing in that bullshit desert? She got off the ship and immediately got to work helping the locals. I mean shit,” Kysar thought back, almost smiling at the thought. “She could barely hold a gun let alone fire one. Janiri couldn’t hurt a fly if she tried.”

She wanted to be a farmer.

The Turian looked around, the scene was a mess, anyone who wasn’t a part of the team had split save a few civilians hiding in the corner. Sol was right, in her own awkward way of course, there had been too much innocent blood shed already.

“If you had bothered for one moment to think of someone else, maybe you would’ve found that out.” The gun lowered. “Where does shit like this end Nadara? What if your precious high command asks for Sol next or Zenn? I’ll tell you where it ends for me, right here. You do anything to anyone else and you’ll find out why they call me Venator.”

Holstering his pistol, Kysar turned to the group. “Do any of you know what it’s like to be branded as an outcast from birth? What it’s like being locked away in a prison? Think about that before you’re so quick to defends someone’s bullshit ‘duty’.” The Turian turned and headed towards the door.

“There better be some people to kill in space Zenn!” He said as he left.

Zenobia took a deep breath, muttering it more to herself then to anyone there, least of all Kysar.

"Yeah. Yeah I do." She pinched the bridge of her nose, visibly frustrated.

“What is going on?” Amina blurted, stepping over the mess she had made. Resisting the urge to reach and place a hand on the handle of her pistol as she walked towards the others.

Zenn holstered his gun when Zenobia stepped in. Between her and Solveig, it was pretty clear he had to fear a pummeling more than getting shot. He remained silent as Kysar spoke, not wanting to even risk starting up another showdown. Once the turian had said his piece and left, Zenn let out a deep sigh. That could have ended horribly. At least now no one was leaving with any physical wounds, but there was plenty of emotion damage to go around.

Amina finally entered the room and asked what was going on. Zenn simply shook his head and said, "Just ask Nadara. Apparently she's the only one informed here..."

Zenn stood there for another moment. Completely still and quiet. Kysar’s words still echoing in his mind.

"He's not wrong, Nadara." Zenn said somberly as he too made his exit. Though he did not turn back to even look at the asari. "Everyone has their allegiances, and you've shown us where yours lie..."

Zenobia can't quite believe the side she's found herself on this time, and a part of her isn't exactly happy about it. Since when was nuance HER thing?

Amina raised an eyebrow as the Quarian walked past her. She glanced back in the direction of Nadara and the others. Hmm…

Amina brought up her omni-tool and took a look at the most recent message which sent to her by Nadara. So that is what is going on. Amina had personally handed over or allowed Janiri, the Asari rescued back in Cuba, to be taken by the Asari High Command.

An Ardat Yakshi… Amina had heard of the Ardat Yakshi though she on the whole knew little of them. In crude, common terms they were like some kind of Asari succubus, when they “melded” with others it caused severe neurological shock or something to that effect - killing the victim.

And Janiri was part of Kysar and Solveig’s original team. Well, this is certainly problematic.

Amina did not know what to say really. She closed her omni-tool and stepped in a little closer as her mind raced. She still did hand a member of SRN over without even notifying the rest of us beforehand. Did Saracino know at the least? Amina knew enough that the Asari took these Ardat Yakshi very serious and they were seen as a capital threat among their people. Perhaps Saracino did not wish to have an incident with the Asari. Then again to just hand over a member of his organization like that… If he did know. Did Nadara sneak her out of here or did she have SRN resources help? …Did she really think that sending that abrupt, sudden message like that would ease this through?

On one hand Nadara should have reached out to everyone else, or at least Solveig and Kysar. But at the same time Nadara was just following orders, and maybe she or Asari command wanted to keep this quiet? Obviously not the latter since Nadara did send that short little message just earlier.

Nadara sat back down at the table, her gamepad lay forgotten on the table before her, where an image of her character lay dead flashing on the screen, likely sniped after she put the headset down when Solveig first arrived. That would be the last time those Batarians would allow her to join their team. It seemed like they weren’t the only ones who would be satisfied with removing Nadara as a member…

She was in a state of shock as she massaged her temple, mentally reviewing the interactions that had just taken place. She hadn’t expected anyone to have such a reactionary response to her actions, much less question her loyalty, but now that it had been laid out for her, she couldn’t deny the way it appeared. This was no good. SRN had proven to be a good decision for her, and she needed it to work out, terrible relations with her teammates would simply not do. Unpopular team members were rarely promoted, and Nadara definitely didn’t want the offer from Charles pulled out from under her. Not to mention, she would rather avoid awkwardness from hurt feelings in future assigned missions.

Her eyes slid upwards to Amina, Zenobia, and Solveig, who surprisingly had not left with the other two. She knew Solveig didn’t approve of her actions, that Zenobia at least seemed to understand she had done what she needed to do, but Nadara had no clue what was going on in Amina’s mind. The woman already seemed to be distrustful of ‘aliens’, Goddess knows what she thinks now.

“I think this is all a horrible misunderstanding,” she said, not sure where to start. “I don’t know how much you all know of Ardat Yakshi, but they are extremely dangerous and I needed to act quickly.” Nadara made eye contact with Solveig. “I would never simply deliver you or any others on our team to Asari High Command without question, even if they would never demand such a thing. I hope you know that.” Aside from the fact that Asari had no reason to apprehend other species aside from criminal activity or involvement, and that apprehending Ardat Yakshi was an immense obligation, Nadara hadn’t considered Janiri to be part of their team. In fact, she hadn’t considered that she was part of a team at all until just now. She needed to fix this.

As Nadara stood once more to further explain herself, two armed mechs with weapons drawn approached along with a human in SRN uniform, whose own hand was resting on his holstered pistol. “I received reports of guns being drawn in the mess hall.” He looked around at the empty room and approached the four women.

Solveig gave something of a reassuring shrug in Nadara's direction. The whole situation was a mess and it was likely the team needed to break off to cool down. She was at least glad Kysar would be accompanying her to Zenn's mission. It would give him enough space. The tension between the Turian and Quarian would hopefully be relieved too.

Turning to the mechs and the human, Solveig shrugged again. "Issue is resolved, no guns now."

The woman began on her way to the door, but didn't leave before grabbing a handful of napkins to wipe up the liquid on the floor and collect some of the sharp bits and pieces.

The man who must have been an SRN security narrowed his eyes but motioned for his mechs to lower their weapons.

“Hm. Well, I’ll have to report this anyway. Please try to refrain from unholstering your hand weapons in the future.” With a final glance around the room, the man and the two mechs headed out, awkwardly pausing as he reached Solveig. “Ah, thank you…” then he continued in a louder tone so the others could overhear, “You will of course, be charged for the repair costs for the door.” After clearing his throat, the man exited with his mechs a few steps behind him.

“Not me.” Amina blurted very loudly. I will be damned if I am paying someone else’s repair bill.

Amina looked at Nadara and then to Zenobia, then back to Nadara. Amina felt something tugging at her, she was not sure why or even what it was but something was nagging at her to speak to Nadara. To say something.

“You…” Amina started, shuffling forward, eyes downcast for a second.

“…you faced a tough decision,” Amina forced out, “I know what that’s like.”

“But… you should have consulted everyone beforehand. Or at least Solveig and the Turian. I mean… that was their teammate you had carried away. Asari succubus or not.”

“I appreciate the sentiment.” Nadara knew Amina was trying to offer consolation, even if her version of it was a bit.. skewed. “Perhaps I should have discussed it with Solveig and Kysar,” she said, stressing the Turian’s name out of principle. Solveig had been right, they all had names, and if Nadara wanted to make any headway towards fixing what she’d done, she needed to learn to use them. They were all very different, with even more varying levels of fashion. Accepting these disparities might be difficult, but she would try.

“And it’s pronounced Ardat Yakshi,” she added, unable to prevent the annoyance from being corrected. “Regardless, I appreciate your support in this.” She looked from Amina to Zenobia. “Both of you. If I can even call it that.” Nadara sighed. “I wonder if there might not be something I can do to remedy the situation.” She paused, considering for a moment before continuing, “If… if I need it, would I be able to count on your assistance?” This was a first for her. Of course, she’d worked as part of a unit before, particularly when she was in the Asari Military, but never had she felt any need to request assistance outside of assigned missions.

“Could you maybe get her… back?” Amina asked. She let her query hang in the air for a minute. Amina found herself pondering in the silence. These Ardat Yakshi were supposed to be highly dangerous, but only if they melded with you as Amina remembered. Even if that were wrong SRN obviously trusted Janiri enough to bring her on, even if they did not know of her identity, and Kysar and Solveig seemed to really hold her to close importance. Convincing the Asari to release Janiri would be no easy feat but it was not impossible, was it?

"Next to impossible, if half of what I've heard about these Night Demons are true."

“Could you talk to your superiors? Make an appeal to Saracino? Did he know about this, by the way?”

Nadara blinked. This was nothing like what she was considering. She’d thought an “I’m sorry” cake or some fresh outfits from Sartorial Nexus for the three who’d departed might make her sentiments clear. Kysar for one, really needed it. An updated appearance might just make up for his sour attitude. But honestly, Amina could do with a new outfit as well, and if Nadara was going to buy all four new outfits, she couldn’t very well leave Zenobia out of it.

Get her back? That couldn’t be possible. And even if it was, Nadara would have to assume full responsibility should Janiri ever … slip up. Was she willing to take that kind of weight on? His tone and demeanor were atrocious, but the way Kysar spoke of Janiri made it seem like she hadn’t caused any trouble, that she had an honest yearning to help others. Nadara wondered how many lives this ‘demure’ Ardat Yakshi had taken.

“I didn’t speak with Charles directly,” she responded. “But I assume my— ah, Asari High Command did, since I was forwarded all the appropriate documents. I sent him an email notifying him of the completion of the mission. I haven’t checked for a response since, but it hasn’t been that long.

As for my superiors… I don’t know. That is quite a large request. Never, at least as far as I am aware, has an Ardat Yakshi ever been released to the public. They pose far too much danger, and may cause interspecies disputes which Asari would rather avoid.”

I would not be surprised if Saracino was never the wiser. That email she sent him may very well be as big a shock for Saracino as her message was to the whole team. She may very well have just cost herself her place in SRN…

But why did Amina really care? Nadara was a valuable team member of course and it was only natural not to want to lose someone so useful, so skilled. But Amina also felt a sort of angst, like she worried about Saracino or the others booting Nadara right out of the front door. And why?

Because you sympathize that much with her, Amina realized, she may be an alien, and a thick-headed one oft enough, but she also was given an assignment and she did as was expected of her by her longtime superiors. You’ve always respected those that could do the hard things, even if oblivious to it in some cases. Amina wondered if she had not left the Alliance and Cerberus behind what she might do in a time like this, who would she turn on or mislead? Amina had followed a lot of orders in the past decade, some a lot harder than others, most of the tougher ones during her time with Cerberus. But when orders were given by your superiors you were to carry them out. That is just how it went.

You stopped following orders for both the Alliance and Cerberus in time. Because they were stupid orders. Senseless. Bad ones. And maybe Nadara should not have followed on this one.

Amina’s mouth opened but she struggled to even make a sound. She just stood there, eyes glazed and no words crossing her lips.

"In a vacuum I wouldn't be happy about this, and I get where Kysar's coming from, but...well, I know how hardcore the Ardat-Yakshi can get. And I know how hardcore the Asari can get about keeping them secret. If I were them, I'd be even more desperate to keep this from getting out now." She sighs. "Back in Eclipse, I knew a gal who was in the Asari Navy, or whatever you guys called it. Had an incident where a couple of Ardat-Yakshi got into a shuttle and escaped from wherever they were being kept. She quit the day after because her superiors ordered a fucking bombing run on the city to stop them from escaping the planet."

“Asari Military,” Nadara corrected, after nodding solemnly at Zenobia’s recollection. It wasn’t uncommon for drastic measures to be taken when it came to Ardat Yakshi. “Best I can do is look into this and see what I can find,” she said finally. “But I wouldn’t hold my breath for any Hail Marys.” She grabbed the gamepad from the table along with her headset. So much for time off…

With a nod to Amina and Zenobia, Nadara headed out of the mess hall, which had started to slowly repopulate. Some were still commenting on the dispute, while others pointed openly between the doors and the women who still remained. Now that no weapons were drawn, they found their courage, it seemed.

From the mess hall, Nadara reached her cramped assigned quarters. Her first thought had been that she needed a place to think away from the ever present and curious eyes of SRN operatives that swarmed the facility like cockroaches. It was only after closing the door behind her that she remembered the tight space and lack of typical room adornments that she had normally been accustomed to. Before she could decide on another place to seclude herself, a priority message from the SRN president came through.

Must be his response to my message earlier, she thought, opening the message on her omni-tool.

As Nadara read the message, she’d drifted over to her cot absentmindedly and sat, mouth agape as she realized the level of sentiment her team had expected from her, as opposed to the detached message she’d sent earlier. Well, how was she to know the others considered Janiri part of their team? Upon finishing the message, Nadara found herself on the cot and decided to simply stay put. Something was itching at the back of her mind that made this whole story with Janiri seem strange, and she didn’t want to have to look for a more comfortable space before looking into it.

From how Kysar had spoken of her, and from her involvement in the SRN, it didn’t seem as though she had quite gotten to the point of ‘addiction’ that her mother had made seem as certainty among Ardat Yakshi. Of course, there were a large quantity who became prolific in the number of victims whose lives they stole, but there were also many more who resided together in abstinence and had never taken a life. They remained isolated and under observation, of course, to prevent any inclinations that might stem from interactions with others, but they were otherwise harmless.

Nadara used her mother’s credentials to enter into Asari Military encrypted extranet. She’d been quite young when she’d stolen the password and a brief tryst with a Salarian, who was quite the wiz at computer systems, allowed her to easily bypass the biometric verification requirements. The relationship had ended, but the benefits she had earned from them were still useful. In no time, she was able to pull Janiri’s file.

The first thing Nadara noticed was that there were no recorded deaths, which typically were listed at the very top of an Ardat Yakshi’s file, denoting how dangerous they were. Further digging into her medical files—Nadara couldn’t make heads or tails of the raw data, but thankfully there were copious memos included at each pertinent section—revealed that Janiri barely even qualified as an Ardat Yakshi in the first place. Nadara was unfamiliar with the intricate details of the genetic condition, but based on the notes she found, Janiri was not nearly as dangerous as she had been made out to be.

Nadara frowned. Why did Lidanya make it seem like she was such an important target if she’d never even taken a life? And then go so far as to come to Earth from her precious Citadel to personally collect her? Things just weren’t lining up.

The mystery was deepening. There was no use in continuing with these burning questions when she could simply reach out to Lidanya directly. Nadara sighed heavily, dreading direct contact with her mother (and for the third time today!), but her desire to get to the truth was now larger than her disdain.

Why was Janiri such an important asset?

This is hardly of any concern to you, Nadara. You’re no longer even associated with the military.

Considering I’m the reason you even have her right now, I deserve some answers.
Why is she so valuable to you, and what are your intentions with her?

Alright. Perhaps your interest in Asari affairs is a good indication.
Janiri is valuable due to the vast wealth of information we can gain from her unique genetic make-up.
As a sedated and easily managed subject, the wealth of information we can gain from research and testing might mean invaluable breakthroughs for the Ardat Yakshi condition.

“Sedated… subject”
You never intend to get her back to consciousness, do you?
Was your agreement with the SRN all a lie?

Don’t be so crass, Nadara.
Of course we will uphold our end of the bargain to President Saracino.
While we conduct our own research, which will take priority over whatever this current condition is she’s found herself in, we will also share whatever we discover that’s pertinent.

Sure. I can read through the lines here perfectly well.
Answer me this. What if she’s an ‘unviable subject’ for your experiments?

As with any failed attempt, the experiment will be terminated.

Nadara closed out of the messaging system on her omni-tool in disgust. She was familiar enough with her mother’s way of speaking to understand that Janiri’s life was in danger. That she was going to be used as nothing more than a pumping heart so Asari researchers could extract whatever valuable information they could from her, and then toss her aside when they were finished. All because she was an Ardat Yakshi—barely even one at that. Part of Nadara understood the necessity to undergo research. If there was a way to offer novel treatment for this uncurable condition, everything would change. Asari that had been kept isolated for hundreds upon hundreds of years, would be able to walk free. But was the life of one innocent Asari worth all that?

This was much too dense for Nadara, especially so early in the day. A quick look at the time and she realized she’d be missing lunch today. Not that the slop they served in the mess hall was anything near what a meal should actually be, anyway.

Nadara didn’t need to answer the difficult questions. In truth, she didn’t want to—leave the thinking to the academics. All she knew, all she had to know, was that this changed everything about her outlook from this morning. She thought she was capturing a murderer, someone who had taken lives and would continue to take lives indiscriminately as every escaped Ardat Yakshi did, she thought she was ensuring that her people’s reputation would be saved, that further unnecessary murder would be prevented. Instead, all she did was deliver her sim’re, an innocent Asari, a team member (out of commission, but still), to a life of unending experiments and medical tests. Essentially no life at all.

If the others knew this…

Nadara stood, pulling on her gear before she’d fully considered the implications of her actions. First, she sent one final message to Lidanya.

When will you be returning to the Citadel?

This evening, why?

Good. There’s still time.

Next, Nadara sent a message to Amina and Zenobia, to which she didn’t bother waiting for a response before darting out of her room to secure transportation.

Gear up and meet me at the entrance.
We’re going to get Janiri back.
5x Like Like
Hidden 3 mos ago Post by Shift
Avatar of Shift


Member Seen 4 days ago

A Daughter’s Mire: Part 2

Nadara easily secured another transport vehicle from SRN, but this time she was required to pay a fee.

“What do you mean you didn’t pay it last time? This is regulation!” Apparently, there were some perks to doing things early in the morning.

After avoiding questions on who she’d worked with that morning, and finally obtaining the keys to another unit, Nadara made her way to the entrance where Amina and Zenobia were waiting, geared up. Nadara wasn’t sure how much resistance they would encounter, she would try the diplomatic route first, but her mother had traveled with security and they might pose a problem. Better to be prepared.

The side doors lifted open, and Nadara leaned over the back of her chair in the driver’s seat, making eye contact with the two women outside. “Get in, ladies. We’re going to Barentsberg.”

"See this...THIS is the kind of insanity I can get behind." Zenobia, fully loaded and ready to go, hops into the seat to ride shotgun alongside her. "So what's the deal here? I assume you're not bringing me along because this is a delicate diplomatic situation."

Nadara settled back into the seat. “Uh, well.” The truth was, Zenobia and Amina were the only ones who didn’t currently hate her. Plus, the others had all departed to help Zenn with his rescue as far as she was aware. “Let’s say you’re part of the safety net should the diplomatic attempt fail.”

"Aha, checks out," Zenobia grins, drumming her hands on the dashboard. "Just in case though, who exactly are we planning to 'negotiate' with to get our friend back?” Privately, Zenobia wondered what had gotten her to change course on this issue. Perhaps like her friend back in Eclipse, Nadara just couldn't cope with letting the Asari go too far with how they dealt with their little problem. Or more likely, someone lied to her about the super secret mission they put her on. That seemed in character for the Republic given all the nasty rumors she heard.

“We’re not killing a bunch of ranking Asari are we?” Amina asked cautiously as she slid into the backseat behind Zenobia. Amina had left her Geth Spitfire behind but suddenly felt very… naked without it. Amina had brought her rifle, pistol, and other equipment though and was fully suited up in her armor all the way to the helmet. Just what are you thinking, Amina thought, eyes burning through her visor at the back of Nadara’s head, I guess you have finally made the decision that some orders are not worth seeing through all the way. Amina ignored the wistful deja vu tugging at her subconscious and awaited Nadara’s answer.

With both women safely inside, the door slid closed again and the trio took off. Since Nadara had been forced to pay a fee, she requested a sleek air shuttle so the trip would be faster. Might as well get the best, if I’m paying, she’d thought. This way there was also no risk of missing the window before Lidanya returned to the Citadel.

Nadara kept her eyes head, but quickly glanced back at Amina before answering her question. “There’s only one high ranking Asari we’ll have to worry about. And killing her is entirely off the table.” Her eyes slid over to Zenobia. “Under no circumstances is she to be threatened with physical violence,” she stressed. “But to answer your question,” she directed back to Amina, “Lidanya is the head of Asari forces in Sol, Captain of the Destiny Ascension, and is currently leading efforts to restore the Citadel. She came to Earth personally to collect Janiri, which I found strange after what I discovered.” Nadara continued to elaborate on the details she’d been able to find about Janiri, but conveniently left out the details of just how she was able to get this information. “Anyway, Lidanya had security detail with her. They were an all Asari team, but I didn’t recognize any as being important. They’re the ones we’re hoping to avoid confrontation with.”

“Matriarch… Lidanya.” Amina repeated. Well, this is certainly going to be interesting. Amina did not like this. At all. She highly doubted that this was going to go smoothly. If the head of Asari forces in the system wanted Janiri, or at least took enough interest in a personal pickup, then odds were she was not at all interested in handing Janiri back over. And so abruptly at that. Well, I have my flashbangs. Amina thought as she sat back, crossing one leg over the other. “I really hope you know just what you are doing, Bubbles. Especially with us involved.”

Nadara raised an eyebrow at the nickname but otherwise didn’t comment. Goddess knew she needed these women’s help, and if being named after hollow, floating spheres was how she accomplished it, so be it. Nadara couldn’t for the life of her understand why Amina chose that name though. “You’re both just insurance. I’ve been told you have it because it’s good to, but that you don’t usually use it.”

And when you do actually try to use it it wants to renegotiate on you. Amina thought looking out the nearby port window. “Well, let us just hope that this goes well and we needn’t fire a shot.”

Zenobia leaned back with a look of surprise. "Someone that important, coming to collect her personally? That's very interesting... Still, if you think you have a chance of talking this lady out of taking Janiri, more power to ya. Can't say I'd make the same choice, but...." She shrugs.

Nadara grimaced. “I don’t think I’ll be able to talk her out of it.” She sighed, thinking of the headache from the conversation she was about to walk in to. “Probably should have discussed my reservations with Charles before leaving, actually. He might have been able to offer some help, politically speaking. But I didn’t think of that until just now.” She shrugged. “Well, no going back now.”

"Hey if it all goes to shit, least you can reassure yourself with how you're doin the right thing." She winks at Nadara. "You've NO idea how nice that is when you can tell that to yourself."

Nadara smiled in response. She normally felt like she was doing the right thing, and rarely had to question her own actions or even backpedal as she was now. The most recent memory of such an occurrence having been when she’d chosen the wrong outfit for a prominent centennial bash.

The shuttle she’d rented flew smoothly and she could see the outline of the city ahead. Holding the steering with one hand, Nadara reached into a specialized pocket in her armored suit and produced a stick of Bubbalicious. “Gum?” She asked, hoping they would politely decline. Between her irritation with Kysar and disappointment with the conditions on the SRN base in Svalbard, her stores were running thin. “We’ll be touching down shortly.”

"Uh, sure..." Zenobia takes a stick, not entirely certain of what to do with it.

“No thanks, Bubbles.” Amina slightly shook her head, eyes still trained out the viewport.

After returning the pack to its special pocket, Nadara glanced over to Zenobia, who was still inspecting the gum. “Chew it,” she explained, half exasperated and half amused. If Nadara was going to lose out on a precious piece, it better be thoroughly enjoyed!

"Oh...I uh...knew that..." Zenobia does so, a bit awkwardly at first, but she gets the rhythm going.

Lidanya was lodged in an abandoned coal mine on the outskirts of Barentsberg. It was a large facility, but the reason Nadara assumed she’d selected the location was to be as discreet as possible. Nadara had questioned why of course, particularly when there must have been a few upscale hotels in the city proper that would have been much more accommodating, but hadn’t bothered to ask any questions lest she extended the interaction more than necessary. An Asari transporting another Asari didn’t seem suspicious in the least to Nadara and she couldn’t understand at first why her mother had used such discretion.

Even now, with the knowledge that Janiri was a high value target, Nadara couldn’t quite understand the secrecy. Sure, Asari didn’t necessarily want much information about Ardat Yakshi known by the general public, but it wasn’t as though Ardat Yakshi could be identified on sight.

The borrowed SRN shuttle touched down in the vast and empty parking lot in front of the brick building that had to have been the main administration for the coal mines below.

Nadara frowned, stepping out of the vehicle and looking around. “Strange, they came out to meet me as soon as I arrived earlier. I suppose now that they have what they want, polite conventions have gone out of the window.” Nadara motioned to the front doors with a nod. “Shall we?”

"Everyone remember where we parked..." Zenobia vaults from the car door, punching a fist into her hand with a biotic spark.

Amina followed behind, firmly gripping her Vindicator at a half-raised position. She looked around, mind crawling with suspicion and worried concern. I have a feeling this is going to go straight south.

Ensuring the doors closed behind them Amina stepped in close behind Nadara. “So your plan is… what again?”

Nadara placed a hand on Amina’s weapon, firmly pressing down. “Let’s not go in guns blazing, shall we? As for my plan…” She considered for a moment. “I’ll be honest, I don’t have much of one. Attempting to reason with Lidanya comes first, of course. But in all likelihood, we’ll just find Janiri and take her.” She shrugged nonchalantly. Nadara was thankful the two weren’t asking too many questions. She didn’t want to have to explain why she wasn’t too worried about getting court martialed for essentially kidnapping and abetting a criminal. “M— Lidanya’s security detail might object of course, which is why we have to be ready for a fight.”

Zenobia tilted her head slightly at Nadara's stutter, but didn't dwell on it. Hell, she'd be nervous too. She'd tangled with asari plenty of times back in her mercenary days, and they weren't really found in places like...this. What was it the humans tried to dig up here, coal? "I think if they're holed up here then their position may not be very secure," she pointed out. "Might be something we can use to our advantage."

If it was anyone else, Nadara might not have bothered with the niceties of diplomacy, but while she and her mother didn’t get along, she wouldn’t outright attack. “Perhaps so. Keep an eye out as we get inside.” Nadara made eye contact with both women upon reaching the doors, but when she pulled on the handles, they were locked. “What the?” Now, this was unexpected. It was still the early afternoon, Lidanya should not have left yet.

"I don't suppose you have a key?" Zenobia rolls her shoulders plants her feet. "I happen to have one, if you don't care about property damage."

Nadara tilted her head. “Why.. no, how.. do you have a key to an abandoned coal mine?”

"KNOCK KNOCK!" With a metallic crunch, Zenobia launches forward and violently kicks the door open, splintering the offending chair in the process.

“Oh, I see.” Inside, the lobby was empty and dark. Nadara hadn’t gone inside when she’d delivered Janiri, so she wasn’t sure which way to go. Where was her mother, and why was no one here? “Hello?” She called out, but only a small echo responded.

"You sure you got the right place?" She muttered, looking around the suspiciously abandoned room.


"Hmmm...either way, someone didn't want us getting in so easily..." Zenobia looks at the broken chair again. "Let's snoop..."

“Seemed easy enough from where I was standing…”

Amina sighed and stepped inside, albeit it slowly. She kept her weapon low, even with her hips - granted her hands were in place to bring it up and fire at a moments’ notice. “If anyone is here they just are too far back to have heard you or they are trying to keep low.” Amina said to Nadara. “Or they’re moving to ambush us as we speak.” Amina felt that she probably should not have said that out loud. With the unhinged Turian present she might start slinging biotic energy at every shadow.

Zenobia was feeling a bit uneasy at this. If this was her mission, she'd have started slinging biotic energy at every shadow by now. "Or they took a leave of absence..." She looks around for another door...

There are two doors on either end of the back wall, behind the remains of a reception desk. Both are closed, though there are indications around the door to the left that it has been recently opened. Namely, the impression of the door’s swing on the thick blanket of dust on the ground, along with a scattering of footprints all around the interior of the room they were in.

She tries that left door! Unfortunately, it too, is locked.

"Well luckily I have a master key..."
“I’m not sure that’s the best—”


"OW! Shit....okay, master key's broken." She rubs her shoulder irritably.

Nadara placed a hand on Zenobia’s unwounded shoulder for comfort. “Would’ve been too simple.” She then made eye contact with Amina. “Rogue, do you have any ‘keys’?”

“Keys, no. But I do have these.” Amina let’s her rifle slip to her side as she pulls a frag grenade from her belt and holds it out in her left hand. “I snagged them back at ‘base’.”

"I....okay that works." She moves behind cover, pulling Nadara with her.

In different circumstances, Nadara would have had no issues with tearing the place down, but as it was, there was no way to tell who was inside the locked room.

“No, it’s too excessive,” she said, pulling back from Zenobia. Instead, Nadara knocked loudly on the door. “Lidanya?”

There was no response after a moment, and just as Nadara was about to suggest they try to bust it down again (preferably sans explosives), her mother’s voice could be heard through the other side of the door. “Nadara?” She sounded shocked, no, more than that, affronted. “You’re part of this?”

“Part of what?”

Suddenly, two Asari in full gear burst into the room from the other set of doors which lead into a corridor. Weapons drawn and trained on the unsuspecting trio, they held their position.

“What’s going on here?” Nadara yelled, surprised. She immediately recognized one of the Asari as having been part of her mother’s security detail. “Call them off!”

"....ah, found the welcoming party." Zenobia clenched her fists, a biotic field stirring up around her...

One of the agents before them held a hand up to her ear as if she was receiving a message, before nodding to her companion in confirmation. Both raised their weapons to take aim at the trio.

Nadara’s mouth gaped open. Why was her mother attacking!? Ok, well, it wasn’t Lidanya directly, but these Asari worked for her, Nadara was sure of it. She distinctly remembered having the thought that one of the Asari’s features would be much better accentuated with the addition of white markings.

“I said, call them off!” Nadara prepared a biotic shield to cover herself as well as Amina and Zenobia from the oncoming fire.

Amina raised her weapon but did not fire. Eyes training down through the scope on one of the Asari. She may not get the first shots in but she intended for them to hit true - the dot of her scope right on the left Asari’s face.

The assailants let loose a volley of firepower but they were no match for Nadara’s biotic sphere that provided full coverage for herself and her two teammates.

"Well so much for the diplomatic efforts," Zenobia declares, charging ahead and calling forth a singularity on the three of them. The charge, for whatever reason, proves unstable, mostly just pulling Zenobia towards its center, and not doing much to throw off the guards.

Dammit! Amina managed to hold her aim steady thanks to years of training and no shortage of combat experience, the rising nerves from the sudden escalation not enough to throw her. The shield will cover us!

Amina pulled the trigger, a triple burst cutting through the air and striking the target Asari directly in the head. Amina felt a surge of grim satisfaction as the target fell backward behind a spray of purple and crumpled to the floor. Amina swiveled her rifle to the right to take aim at the other Asari.

Zenobia’s singularity failed, landing much too close to to be effective against the enemy, instead pulling Zenobia outside of Nadara’s sphere. Why is everything backwards today!? If they didn’t act quickly her body would be riddled with bullets. Thankfully, both Nadara and Amina were able to keep their balance, with Amina even swiftly taking out one of the agents.

“Good shot,” Nadara yelled as she gathered the biotic energy from the sphere into a single point and taking aim at the second agent. With a crackle of static, the biotic charge shot forward and struck true, the force slamming the unknown Asari against the opposite wall, where she slumped over. “You alright, Lunatic?”

"Gluh....yup...." Zenobia gets back to her feet, punching the desk as she got her balance back. "Only thing hurt's my pride." Probably to vent some frustration, Lunatic lives up to her name and violently kicks in the other locked door. "Afternoon ma'am, we're here to negotiate."

The room behind the locked door was fairly small. Toward the back lay Janiri’s unconscious form, beside which sat an obviously injured Asari, who gripped her side that was wet with blood. Next to the door were the remains of an old couch and shelving unit that appeared to have been hastily pushed out of the way.

Lidanya’s sidearm was raised, pointed directly at Zenobia’s face.

“Put it down!” Nadara yelled, stepping forward.

Lidanya seemed surprised to see her daughter. A disappointment Nadara was accustomed to seeing was clear on her face, the unmasked hurt however was new. “So you really are part of this.”

“Part of what!?”

“The attack on my life, Nadara, don’t play dumb!” Lidanya’s weapon was still raised, and she switched from aiming at Zenobia to Amina, and finally, to Nadara herself.

Amina stood to the side of Nadara, weapon raised though she was not actively training her aim down her scope. She merely remained at the ready, finger on the trigger as she surveyed the Asari before herself and her companions. Whatever clarity was to come would hopefully come forth before more bullets started to fly.

"Nadara actually made things very clear that we WEREN'T going to attack you," Zenobia coolly said. "Whoever's after you, it's not us." She glances over at Janiri. "Something to do with her, perhaps?"

Nadara couldn’t believe her mother would point a gun at her. She felt a righteous indignation flaring up inside her, and opened her mouth to speak, but found Zenobia answering for her, defending her. And to her other side, Nadara found Amina, poised and ready should action be needed. This.. this was a new feeling.

Lidanya faltered momentarily, her weapon lowering slightly, though her finger remained on the trigger. “So, you’re not here for Janiri?”

Clearing her throat, Nadara found her composure. Things were a little too hot to get into that right away. “Let’s put the weapons down and you can explain what happened here.”

Lidanya’s eyes met Nadara’s for a brief moment, and the Matriarch gave a short nod. She holstered her sidearm and moved aside, allowing the three to enter the room as she glanced into the lobby, surveying the results of the firefight she’d overheard.

“There should be three more,” Lidanya said, just as a bullet grazed the doorframe, almost striking her.

Nadara pulled her mother into the room and shut the door in one quick movement.

“Verified.” Amina said almost mechanically. Amina darted to the side and plastered herself to the wall to the right of the door, tightly gripping her Vindicator. We have the numbers. We just need to be smart about this and we can roll them. Amina’s tactical sense flaring up in her mind. “Just three more?” Amina blurted out questioningly.

Lidanya pinched the bridge of her nose. “As far as I know.”

Opposite to Amina, Nadara made eye contact as she reached for the handle. “Shall we put that grenade to use, now?” She asked with a smirk.

"Please do, I can only contain my excitement for SO long."

Amina slipped away the frag and switched it for a flashbang. Even if the attackers went for cover the flash and ear-splitting sound could still debilitate them. Amina readied the grenade and with a nod to and from Nadara the Asari flung the door open and Amina pitched the grenade around the doorframe as bullets streaked inside.

“Heads down!” Amina shouted as the flashbang bounced across the floor into the lobby. Amina and Nadara pulled away from the door, the flashbang going off less than three seconds later. The flash lit up the lobby and the sharp crack made Amina’s ears ache even under the confines of her helmet. There was no sound to be heard, no scurrying of boots or loud screams of agony. Dammit! Did they dive for cover that quickly? Amina cursed to herself. Tempted as she was she did not peek around the corner or even blind-fire, instead keeping totally in cover.

Nadara, who hadn't been expecting a flashbang after suggesting the grenade, didn't know to protect her eyes, and kept them fully opened as Amina tossed the item out of the door, intending to spot the enemies in their rush to cover. Instead, all she witnessed was a blinding white light which burned her eyes. Ducking for cover with her hands over her watery eyes, she groaned.

"Did you not learn this lesson from the meat plant, Rogue!? You have to warn us about flashbangs." Her tone was slightly louder than normal, indicating Nadara's hearing had also been affected.

The blinding white and piercing sound of the flashbang only barely covered up the distinct crash of a desk being hurled across the room beyond and the accompanying surge of biotic energy. When everything comes back, Zenobia is suspiciously absent. "HEY IF YOU'RE ALL COOL IN THERE, TWO OF THEM JUST TOOK COVER BEHIND THE DESK I LAUNCHED."

Lidanya pulled her lieutenant and Janiri toward a back corner of the room. “I’m not sure I approve of the company you keep, Nadara.” She yelled, over the noise. “Such unconventional means of battle!”

Nadara saw the blurry image of her mother, who seemed to be saying something, but Nadara couldn’t make it out. “What?”

After Zenobia launched the desk into the lobby, it landed on one of the Asari agents, taking her out immediately due to the powerful force behind her biotics. The two remaining Asari assailants however quickly utilized the desk for cover and retaliated with a biotic attack of their own. One lifted the Turian into the air, while the other readied an attack.

After ensuring Janiri and the lieutenant were sufficiently blocked from the sight of any enemies outside, Lidanya stood to join in the counterattack. As a matriarch she could not sit idly by.

Just as the second Asari agent was taking aim at the vulnerable Turian held in the air, Lidanya sent her own biotic shockwave, striking the enemy in the side and causing her to miss her target. Zenobia was still safe for now but remained entirely vulnerable to attack in her suspended state.

Amina whirled around the doorframe and took aim with her rifle. She could see Zenobia floating in the air, like fish in a barrel an easy target for the attackers. Amina looked down her scope at the assailant whom she could see was keeping Zenobia suspended upward, the Asari rippling with the telltale blue energy of biotics.

Amina hadn’t the time to line up another perfect headshot, Zenobia needed free now or else be plinked to death by a volley of gunfire. The time Lidanya had bought with her staggering attack was mere seconds. Amina placed the red dot of her scope on the attackers’ midsection and fired, the stability dampener making up for the drift. The shots connected, the Asari staggering backward as her effort was disrupted causing Zenobia to plummet downward.

Nadara gripped her head and blinked furiously through the tears as the fuzzy surroundings of the abandoned building began to sharpen into focus. While her vision hadn’t fully returned yet, she was able to see the last few moments play out as her mother prevented Zenobia from being wounded or worse, and then as Amina prepared a shot beside her.

Nadara had spent enough time keeping her balance under the influence of alcohol, to be able to stand and offer assistance. Head piercing and a loud whooshing still audible, a blue current of energy nonetheless began coursing through her. As Amina’s shot struck the Asari agent, Nadara reached out with her own biotics to Zenobia. From the height she’d been held, she could have easily broken a bone from the fall, but Nadara was able to righten the Turian and slow the rate of her descent slightly so she landed on her feet.

Despite landing on her feet, the aforementioned tossing around like a ragdoll took a bit out of Zenobia and she stumbled before finding her footing again, doing the rare thing of drawing her sidearm with an angry flourish. "That was...unpleasant."

The Asari struck by Amina’s shot ducked behind the desk, likely to attend to her wound. The second remaining enemy had been staggered by Lidanya’s attack, but quickly recovered. Perhaps fed up with the lack of success from the firearm she’d been using, the Asari relied instead on her biotics. Noticing a plank of wood near Amina, she used her power to slam the item into the human, sending her to the floor under the piece of wood.

Damn! Amina’s vision spun and her head panged, as did her entire torso. Even with the armor to protect her the sudden physical hit paired with a biotic charge and a hard landing shook up Amina. Her rifle had slipped from her hand and lay about three feet away just out of reach. Amina’s hair bristled and her stomach summersaulted inside her as she heard the continuing of gunfire. Where she lay she was a sitting target. Get up! Amina urged herself, managing to wiggle her forearms and hands under the large plank and frantically pushing upward. Her head pounded but she ignored it, needing to get up off the floor immediately.

Nadara’s vision and hearing had now mostly returned to normal. She and her mother made eye contact, and Nadara nodded toward Amina as Lidanya confirmed her nod towards the Asari agents still using the desk Zenobia launched into the lobby for cover. As she rushed to Amina’s aide, she pulled up a second biotic shield to prevent any stray bullets from finding their mark. The plank over Amina was heavier than it seemed, and as Nadara pushed it up and off the human, she wished she’d used her biotics instead.

Once the door was finally shoved aside, Nadara reached for Amina’s arm with a secure grip. “I got you,” she said, pulling her up to her feet and guiding her back behind the door for cover.

While this took place, Lidanya’s body glowed blue with the static of her biotic powers. She was about to show these younger Asari what it meant to be a Matriarch. The strength of Lidanya’s resulting shockwave aimed at the Asari who’d slammed Amina with the plank was palpable even to those who weren’t along its path of destruction.

The threads of blue energy rose high in the air, crackling like lightning as they tore easily through the desk, leaving it in splinters, before fully eliminating her target.

Now, only the Asari who Amina had wounded remained. With the desk no more than a pile of sawdust and splinters, she had nowhere to hide.

The remaining agent stood, releasing her hold of the side where Amina’s bullet had punctured, blood flowing freely as she tossed aside her gun and raised her hands in an effort to pull forth all her remaining strength into a final biotic attack.

Zenobia pounded on an overturned shelf with her fist as she regained her bearings, an unpleasant looking snarl on her face as she warmed up a biotic attack. Charging into the path of whoever the last asari's next victim would be, she ripped her from the earth and hoisted her high into the air, making her easy pickings for her crew.

Amina looked back and saw Zenobia lifting the last of the attackers up into the air. Despite her battered state Amina felt an instinctive rush - that “take control combat drive” she would have - just wanting to finish off the opposition and secure the situation. Amina pulled loose from Nadara’s grip and reached to her hip for her pistol, slipping her other hand under her helmet and lifting it off. Amina’s vision was a bit fuzzy but nothing terribly offsetting. Despite the lingering pain Amina brought up her pistol and took aim, lining her sights up on the elevated Asari as best she could.

Amina unloaded her pistol as they say, index finger snapping against the trigger again and again as the immobilized Asari was pelted with rounds, blood splattering down across the floor from above. Amina kept squeezing at the trigger until she felt a sudden expulsion of heat from her pistol and the rounds stopped coming. The Asari, still elevated by Zenobia’s biotics, floated limp in the air.

“Look at that.” Amina said with abrasive randomness as she popped out the expended thermal clip from her pistol.

Zenobia tossed the dead asari across the room with a lazy flick of her wrist and turned back to Lidanya with an amused look. "So....care to explain why we just painted the walls with your lackeys?"

Nadara was surprised at the consecutive bullets Amina continued firing when the enemy had clearly died after the first two. She shrugged, eyebrows raised at the questioning glance from her mother.

Lidanya frowned, walking up to the body of one of the Asari to remove her Omni-tool. “They were not my ‘lackeys’,” she responded in a dry tone.

“Then who were they?” Nadara asked, glancing around the lobby once more to ensure there weren’t any more of them lying in wait.

After a quick search through the tool the Matriarch stood tall and motioned for them to head back into the small room. The lieutenant they had left was unconscious by this time, and Lidanya added another medi-gel packet to her wound and checked on Janiri before turning her attention back to the trio. During this, Nadara raised her hands in defense at the annoyed glances from her teammates. She was just as keen on getting the information as they were, but she knew Lidanya was always on her own time.

“Turns out they were Eclipse agents according to the omni-tool,” she finally responded, tossing the tool to Zenobia. “I knew someone was after her, but wasn’t sure who, which is why I tried to keep everything as quiet as possible. Turns out, the merchants I hired for security ended up working for the enemy all along.”

"....Eclipse?" Zenobia turns back to look at where the asari the team took down were strewn about. "Explains a lot....definitely the kind of underhanded shit we'd pull off."

“We?” Lidanya stressed, an eyebrow raised. Her hand inched closer to the gun holstered at her hip. “So you are with them.”

Amina looked around at Zenobia, a fresh thermal clip in her pistol. That is a… dumb admission. Unless?… “You mean formerly?”

“Even if she doesn’t mean that, we had nothing to do with this attack.” Nadara’s eyes shifted to Zenobia, a worry set in her brow. “Right?”

Zenobia blinks, realizing that an admission like that sounds a bit iffy. "Ex-Eclipse," she hastily points out. "Least I am. I more or less walked after the Reaper War after the rest of the team I knew were too dead or damaged for mercenary work. Hell, I didn't know we still had any active units in the Sol sector."

Lidanya narrowed her eyes, her hand now resting on the holster. “Why are you here?” She turned to Nadara. “You asked me when I would be leaving and then went dark. Next thing I know you arrive right after Ta’nee and I were ambushed by the Eclipse. Had you all not assisted in taking them out, I would have thought surely you were part of this plot to take Janiri. As it is, I still need convincing.”

"Well that's the funny thing, we WERE here to try and get Janiri back...just not by hitting anyone." Zenobia folds her arms. "Why Eclipse would be after her, I don't know. Something to do with the Night Demon stuff?"

Lidanya stood and walked over to where Janiri lay, standing before her. She unclipped the holstered weapon, and held it, barrel aimed at the floor. “Enough with the toying. You are after her as I suspected.” She shot an accusatory stare at Nadara, unsurprised. “I just don’t understand the purpose of delivering her first. Did you send the Eclipse as a diversion? Is this all some twisted game to you?”

“Mother, I would never jeopardize your life. I promise you we had nothing to do with the Eclipse attack. We were just as surprised to find this situation as you were when we arrived.”

“Then why are you after Janiri?”

‘Mother?’ Amina thought. Well this was a surprise, to Amina anyway. She is the daughter of a an Asari Matriarch. This… explains a good bit in itself. Well if anything hopefully this would offer an advantage to trying to get Janiri back to SRN. Then again, and maybe Amina was reading things wrong, but it could just bolster the opposite effect.

Zenobia thought, exchanging a look with Amina. That definitely does explain a lot, and makes things interesting on top of that.[/i]

“Look,” Nadara started, trying to find the right words. This was not what her teammates were accustomed to seeing from her. Poise, confidence, self assurance, these were common traits, but before her mother, the commonly outspoken Asari seemed unsure of herself. “Bringing her here—”

Suddenly multiple things happened at once.

The Asari Nadara had launched into the wall when they were first ambushed after entering the abandoned building had only been knocked unconscious. She awoke during the ensuing battle, but maintained her position to avoid detection. Once everyone walked back inside the room, she picked herself up and secured a weapon from one of her fallen comrades.

The Eclipse agent now stood at the door, weapon raised and aimed directly at Lidanya. “Should have made sure we were dead,” she spat, making her presence known.

There was little time to act, but as the Eclipse agent began to pull the trigger, Janiri stood unexpectedly, placing herself in front of Lidanya.

The orders from the Ecplise had been clear. The missing agent, Janiri, was to be apprehended and brought back into their ranks, but no harm was to come to her. The agent had no choice but to lift her arm, the shot missing its target by a wide margin, instead striking the cement wall to the left of Lidanya.

Without turning around, Janiri reached behind her and lifted Lidanya’s hand which still held her SMG, with unfocused eyes, she was still able to take aim at the Eclipse agent and press Lidanya’s finger, pulling the trigger. The resulting shot hit the enemy Asari in the neck, and she fell to the floor, sputtering as she attempted to take her final breaths.

With the threat attended to, Janiri promptly buckled under her own weight and would have fallen to the floor had Lidanya not supported her.

Nadara, closest to the two, rushed forward, and helped ease Janiri to the floor. “You’re awake!?”

“She was,” interjected Lidanya, who stepped between Janiri and Nadara as soon as the former had been safely placed on the ground. “She’s gone back under.”

Zenobia blinked as blood splattered across her face, the Eclipse soldier crumpling shortly after. Snickering, she strode over to the dead body. "Not that it matters at this point," she snarked. "But you're fired."

Amina shook her head. The Asari mercenary was right, they should have made sure every enemy was dead first thing. Deciding there was no point in dwelling on the error Amina turned and walked up beside Nadara and Lidanya, looking at Janiri with uncertainty.

The attackers are dealt with. Now what about getting her back to SRN? Amina had sized up the Matriarch somewhat so far, and frankly she expected that less than half their job had been finished. If Asari Matriarchs were anything like Amina imagined then odds were they would not be getting Janiri out of here or they would have to knock Lidanya in the head and run. The latter feeling even more unlikely now knowing that Lidanya was Nadara’s mother. Not to mention assaulting a ranking Asari and swiping away someone SRN already agreed to hand over would not doubt have severe ramification.

“We should get her back to the SRN hospital. This should get looked at immediately, and travel to the Citadel will take too long— we’re not sure what kind of reaper technology she was subjected to.” Nadara crossed her arms.

“She’ll be looked at by the top Asari doctors available on the Citadel. With Eclipse and Goddess knows who else after her, I won’t delay our departure any longer.”

"And how well is your speedy departure going so far?" Zenobia makes her point by shoving over the body of the Eclipse soldier with her foot.

Lidanya narrowed her eyes, but quickly brushed the quip off, feigning indifference. “We will be taking our departure as soon as you all move out of our way.” The Matriarch’s right arm displayed the signature blue glow of biotic power and both her Lieutenant’s and Janiri’s body were raised off the floor, floating at hip height. “If you’ll excuse us.”

Nadara refused to move aside, her arms stayed crossed over her chest. A display of defiance, but also so no one noticed her hands shake.

“I’m afraid I can’t step aside.”

“Oh? So you’ve finally come to your senses and will be joining me on the Citadel. It’s about time you’ve started to take things seriously, Nadara.”

“We’re not having this argument again!” Nadara huffed.

Zenobia moves with Nadara to stand in her mother's way, her own arms displaying the same blue spark of biotic power, albeit more chaotic and unfettered then the matron's controlled glow. "I think you've demonstrated that you can't exactly be responsible for keeping her safe, lady."

“Are you threatening me?”

“No,” Nadara answered for Zenobia, pushing the Turian’s arms down. She looked Zenobia in the eye as she continued, “We’re not.”

Zenobia grunts irritably, but acquiesces.

Nadara knew what they had witnessed had been just a fraction of her mother’s true power. If the others had been upset by her handing over Janiri, she didn’t even want to think about their reactions if she got one of their teammates outright killed.

Amina stepped in close beside Nadara, weapon low, but eyes full of defiance through the slit of her visor. “We’re taking Janiri back to SRN with us. We did mot come here to fight you, we came to recover Janiri. She is part of our organization, part of the team.”

Nadara cringed slightly. This was not going well. Perhaps she should have thought better than to bring along a “Lunatic” and a “Rogue.” What they needed now was diplomacy, logic, reasoning, not threats and demands. Especially when such demands were emotionally based, which her mother had never entertained.

Lidanya let out a condescending scoff at Amina. “She is no longer part of your organization, or your team. I have the documents to prove it, while all you three seem to have are some misdirected desires. I have been granted custody of Janiri. Not only does she no longer have any ties with the SRN, she is a wanted criminal, and a dangerous Ardat Yakshi. There is absolutely no reason for me to hand her over to a trio of incompetent children.”

“Enough!” Lidanya seemed surprised at Nadara’s outburst, in a way that someone would be surprised to find a child throwing a tantrum in a public place. It happened, but you never expected it, and it was always distasteful.

Nadara held her arms out, making some space between herself and her teammates. She needed to breathe.

“Mother,” she began after a moment, her tone calmer. “Janiri is not some object to be won or locked away and mined for treasure. When I brought her to you, I wasn’t given all the information, and it doesn’t seem as though the SRN was made privy to all the relevant details either, or I honestly doubt Charles would have agreed to handing her over.

She’s never taken a life. I’m unable to speak for her,”
Nadara paused and glanced at the Asari who hung limply in the air. How had she suddenly woken up? Why had she gone right back to ‘sleep’, as it were? Nadara didn’t want to think about those details. “And she’s currently unable to speak for herself, but from what I have learned, she was a good teammate and wanted to help others. I don’t understand the science, but Janiri barely qualifies as an Ardat Yakshi, and perhaps that has everything to do with your wanting to experiment on her—”

“That’s classified information, Nadara,” Lidanya interrupted, but Nadara pushed through.

“She doesn’t deserve to be treated as a danger when she hasn’t posed any to anyone, or to be treated as an object to be discarded. As a Matriarch, you should be helping your people, as an Asari, you should want to do what’s best for your sisters.”

“I will not be taking life advice from the likes of you, Nadara, who has scarcely been able to make a contribution through yours.”

Nadara gritted her teeth and ignored the barb. It wasn’t as if she hadn’t become accustomed to the constant criticism from her mother. “She should be returned to the SRN. It’s the right thing to do.”

Amina felt a spike in her chest. This Matriarch wants Janiri strapped down in a lab for the rest of her life. To be poked and prodded at all for the sake of ‘science’. She does not care about Janiri being a criminal’, not really. It is just a scapegoat. The spike turned to a low boiling in the pit of Amina’s gut as images flashed through her mind, images from her time with Cerberus.

Needles, serums, element zero exposure, scaldings, shocks, screams-

Anima felt a bead of sweat sliding down her temple as the boiling in her torso just seemed to rise up past her chest and shoulders and into her head. She imagined if she took her helmet off her face would be a deep red tone. Amina had seen and done a lot of things during her time with Cerberus that she was not proud of, and what Lidanya seemed to want out of Janiri was dragging up all those terrible memories and the feelings with them - the drive that pushed her to leave Cerberus was now pushing her to lash out at this stuffy Asari Matriarch.

“It is the right thing to do,” Amina said, throat tight, “and you could use some life lessons indeed if your daughter, whom you have centuries on, can settle for what is right over what is wrong easier than you can.” Amina’s throat constricted more but she maintained a steady tone as she spoke, “I think there are bigger problems in this galaxy, in this system right now, than nabbing some mutant because of old laws. Everyone is saying Janiri is not even dangerous. Besides, this is not even about safety or law, you just want to gouge and prickle at her on a cold table. Stop hiding behind a veil and just say that is all that it is about. Try owning it.”

Lidanya rolled her eyes. “I have no need to explain myself to you. The fact Nadara chose to share classified information only goes to show me she is not to be trusted. It does not in the least imply that I should do the same.”

Tortured and abused because of an accident of one's birth. How dreadfully familiar that was. And for this girl, it was probably worse then Zenobia ever had it. What was a cracked skull and a near-death experience compared to whatever those butchers had in mind for her? "I always thought we were bad about biotics," Zenobia scoffed. "And yet here you are. Least I can say I wasn't treated like a varrin to be dissected and used."

They were getting off track. Nadara raised her hands. “Look,” she said. “Your top priority is medical research. There’s no reason why the SRN can’t be the facility where that takes place.”

I guess being stubborn is part of living for a thousand some-odd years. Amina thought pettily, fighting the odd urge to start tapping her foot in annoyance. How in the hell is this going to end? Amina felt her temper rising further, both at knowing what Lidanya’s motives were and at this whole obnoxious family spat between two Asari. Lidanya was not going to agree with having what was apparently a highly classified project be done on turf that was not her own, so to speak, and Nadara could not let this opportunity for righting her wrong slip away. Amina also now felt a strange obligation of her own to help out a stop to whatever was meant for Janiri, even if the affairs of aliens meant nothing to her. Usually.

Nadara looked to either side of her where Amina and Zenobia still stood. She appreciated their presence, how they were willing to stand by her, and follow her requests, but was it too much to ask for them to offer reasons of their own? Her mind on overdrive, Nadara handled this as she would have a delicate disagreement among a galactic diplomat and a wealthy land owner.

“Lidanya, the fact of the matter is that Janiri is being tracked. Her safety is paramount to you due to the potential medical benefits research would allow. I understand how valuable that is. I can’t imagine how many Asari lives would benefit from a treatment for the Ardat Yakshi condition.” Her mother nodded in agreement. Good.. Now she just needed to rope her in.

“Well, the Eclipse are clearly after her for Goddess knows what reason, and you yourself mentioned there might be others seeking her out as well. The Eclipse know she’s with you now.” Nadara motioned to the agent Janiri had killed. “Surely a message was sent about their failure to capture her and more agents will be sent.

What if you were able to send her somewhere her location couldn’t be tracked? Somewhere she wouldn’t be expected to be? All the while being able to maintain full oversight of medical research and discovery. This is what I’m offering you by taking her back to the SRN.

She saved your life just now, mother. Save hers in return.”

“It is a solid offer.” Amina added, “She will be easier to look after given the SRN facility is a smaller, isolated, and possibly a more secure area than a larger base or a vessel. Not to mention cooperation from her will be more apt letting her act on her own free will with friendly and familiar faces around. I am sure President Saracino would even compromise so far as to allow Asari Command to have appointed personnel on site, as an olive branch so to speak.”

"Not to mention I think we just proved we could handle defending her just fine," Zenobia smirked.

Nadara nodded vigorously, agreeing with both points. “We should move now. Before they get a chance to send reinforcements.”

Lidanya opened her mouth as if to argue some more but stopped herself short. Even she had to admit the motley crew was making some good points. She relied on the Eclipse mercenaries she’d unknowingly employed for transportation, and surely more would be back here before she could make other arrangements. Her lieutenant was also growing quite pale, having already lost a significant amount of blood.

“I will need to confirm the details with President Saracino myself,” she said finally, and Nadara felt the weight she’d been carrying drop from her shoulders as she signed in relief. “Until we have agreed on terms, Janiri is to stay under my supervision at all times.”

“I can agree to that. Let’s go.”

Well, this was better than nothing - definitely a better deal to work with rather than Lidanya just leaving with Janiri without so much as a “kiss my ass” for all the trouble. Why do you even really care this much? Amina felt herself riveted by the sudden emergent thought. Why did she care all of a sudden? No, just all of a sudden, and not just this business with Janiri and Nadara. As far back to her considerations during their time back in Cuba.

These are my teammates. Amina seemed to assure herself, Helping each other and camaraderie in battle is just part of it all. And just since when were aliens Amina’s comrades? There was a time where just sharing a space with non-humans would have her on edge and fully agitated, and now here she was caught up in their familial drama. Realizing that the others were ready to depart Amina decided to just silently go along and sort through her mental dissension later after a hot meal and a shower.
4x Like Like
Hidden 3 mos ago Post by Awesomoman64
Avatar of Awesomoman64

Awesomoman64 I should go

Member Seen 0-24 hrs ago

Daring Rescue: Part 1

The shuttle ride to the Citadel was as long as it was awkward. The three sat in almost complete silence as Zenn flew them to their first destination. They were still getting over the altercation that nearly turned into a shootout earlier that morning. Despite everything that had happened, Kysar still agreed to accompany Zenn and Solveig on both the trip to the citadel as well as the mission afterwards. The quarian suspected Kysar agreeing to go had more to do with honoring his fallen comrade and his anger at Nadara more than wanting to assist Zenn. Regardless of Kysar's reasons, Zenn was just happy to have any help he could get.

Their business at the Citadel went much smoother than anticipated. Tamas’ friends were understandably angry, but it was ultimately more about their loss than mismanaged transport of the body. They just needed someone to vent their frustrations to more than anything, and nobody was better suited for that than two squadmates who served with the fallen SRN operative. As for Zenn, he stayed back and let the others talk. Afterall, not only did he not know the human, but if he had been a few seconds faster, Tamas might actually still be alive… In any case, Tamas’ friends were more than satisfied with their conversation with the SRN team.

Once the matter was concluded, the trio found themselves departing just as quickly as they had arrived. As Zenn shifted uncomfortably in his seat as he guided the shuttle towards the debris filled no man’s land. There was something on his mind. Something he wanted to say, but he couldn’t really come up with the words. Finally he decided to just say it.

“Hey, Kysar. What happened early… I hope you don’t think it was personal. I would have done the same thing for you if someone else came in pointing a gun at you."

Kysar was lost in the deep void of space. Though he couldn't see it from the back of the shuttle, he still gazed at the wall, imagining himself out there in the peace and quiet of it all. Between Nadara, Janiri and now Tamas, the Turian had almost forgotten about Zenn waving a gun in his face.

Shifting his stance, he turned to the back of the Quarians head as he piloted the shuttle into position. Truth be told, Kysar didn't actually care too much about what he had done, in fact it was probably the only thing that really worked in calming him down. No doubt his team-mate was overthinking it, he seemed the type.

"Don't sweat it," Sparky? No, Zippy? Ugh, no. ”Zenn." Turning back to the shuttle wall, the Turian continued. ”I get why you did what you did. I mean shit," he chuckled. ”Between the gun and Awks's trademark speech, not sure there was anything else that would've stopped me."

Kysar looked Sol's way to shoot a quick smile before returning sombrely to position. “They keep telling me the war's over, yet here I am still losing people." He shuddered, realizing he'd let an actual real life feeling out.

"Quick Awks, give us another speech. Steal that spotlight."

"Sorry, I'm not a thief," Sol answered absent mindedly as she sat in her seat, her foot resting on the adjacent knee, and her elbow propped up to hold her chin. ”Besides, not got any spotlights in this shuttle."

After a moment, ”oh... right. You. Meant joke…"

Snot shot from Kysar's nose as he doubled over, holding onto his sides for dear life as he laughed. ”Spirits, love ya Awks."

And just like that, all the tension in the air was gone as both Zenn and Kysar were caught up in laughter from Sol’s response. Zenn had to try his best to compose himself and keep the shuttle flying on course. ”Never change, Solveig. Never change."

As they drew closer to the border of the debris fields, a patrol ship pulled up alongside them and a notification of a hailing appeared on the controls. Zenn tapped a button and the holographic image of a Salarian appeared on the center of the dash.

“Attention unidentified shuttle. You are entering a restricted area. Turn back now!" The Salarian warned.

Zenn cleared his throat, still trying to hold back his laughter. “This is Zenn’Valin vas Konesh. My crew and I have authorization to be here."

The Salarian looked at their omni-tool for a few seconds, then nodded. "Authorization confirmed. You are clear to enter." The projection dispersed and the ship disengaged from the shuttle.

Looking out ahead, Zenn could see why this area had been closed off. Clustered in this one section of space lay thousands of ships from every species in the galaxy. Once part of the monumental Sword Team, these were the unlucky ships that met their end at the hands of the reapers. Now all that remained were their metal corpses, a haunting reminder of just how daunting the reaper threat was. Debris from the carnage littered the void between the ships. The scattered remains ensuring travel through there would be perilous.

“Alright everyone, buckle up back there." Zenn called back to his teammates. "This ride is about to get bumpy."

Kysar pulled a helmet out from under the seat, clicking it into place. His HUD indicated his oxygen tanks were full and vital signs were nominal. Activating his tech armour, he strapped himself into his seat. Ready for action, he gave a thumbs up to his nervous compatriot.

"Punch it!"

Behind her own helmet, Sol smiled. Nobody had ever really given her a nickname before. Not one that was meant to be endearing anyway, and even inadvertently she made them both laugh in a good way? Maybe. They weren't laughing at her like others had. Weren't name calling her like others had... It was a nice feeling, she decided.

"You can do it Shadow, take your time and go the long way if you have to."

As they flew closer and closer, the amount of scrap floating around slowly began to increase until they were basically surrounded by various bits and parts. The series of metallic raps as they bounced off the hull announced to the crew that they had entered the debris field. Zenn didn't need to worry about the small items, even with the shuttle in less than ideal conditions. It was the large stuff he had to be wary of. He kept his eyes peeled as they flew deeper in and did his best to monitor all the scanners that were illuminated across the dashboard. As well as recall what all of them meant. It had been a long time since he was behind the controls, but he was sure he remembered enough to get through.

After a few minutes he checked back in with his team. "You both doing alright back there?"

Sol chuckled slightly. ”This is a breeze," she gripped the seat as it bumped again. ”You didn't get to fly Katya Airways to Cuba…"

Kysar smiled at the memory before turning his attention back to Zenn. ”I thought you all grew up on ships? Shouldn't Quarian's be master pilots?'

Zenn smiled at Sol's comment. It was comforting how much faith she had in him, and it was good to know he wasn't completely rusty at this. But that smile just as quickly faded when Kysar spoke up. Zenn made an audible grumble before responding.

"Look, just because we live on ships doesn't mean we're experts at everything with them. I mean, yes we all learn how to fly for our pilgrimage, but after that it's very rare any of us pursue that career. It's not like we need a lot of backup pilots."

As Zenn continued his rant about quarian stereotypes, a blip appeared on one of the sensors.

"Even if we were to have four pilots per ship, that's only two hundred thousand quarians out of seventeen million! That's barely even one percent!"

The blip grew larger and the consol started beeping.

"By that logic people should also assume we're master gardeners since we have a comparable number of people in agriculture! But when I tell people my dad is a botanist they act surprised we even know what plants are! Like do they just think the food on the flotilla magically appears?"

The blip started to separate into multiple, and the sensor began wildly beeping.

"Sh-Shadow," Solveig said quietly at first as Zenn carried on with his explanation. ”Shadow-" she said again, pointing to the sensor.

"Shadow!" She spoke one last time, louder, stepping up from her seat, grabbing a handrail on the ceiling of the shuttle. ”Eyes forward!"

As entertaining as Zenn's monologuing was for Kysar, wild blips on radar were almost never a good thing. Solveig had said all that was needed to say, hopefully getting the Quarian's attention.

The Turian, on the other hand, removed the rifle from his back. Might be time to give this bad boy a test run. He thought, stroking his new Ghost.

Zenn jumped in his seat, startled by Solveig suddenly standing right next to him and loudly interrupting to tell him to pay attention.

“Huh? Oh! Right!" He said, scrambling to pull up the sensor details. His eyes grew wide as he looked at the readings on the screen. "Solveig, get in your seat. We’ve got three ships coming in and they are headed directly for us. They look to be small strike craft, probably how they slipped past the patrols. I’ll see if I can lose them. You two see if there’s something you can do to slow them down or stop them."

The shuttle launched forward as Zenn hit the accelerator. Thanks to Solveig they had seen them soon enough to avoid being caught unaware, but the ships were still gaining on the shuttle. In a few seconds they were in view. They appeared to be shuttles similar to the one the team was flying, only these ones were painted black and blue with very distinct logos on the side.

As Solveig saw the logo on the shuttles she scowled. ”CAT6," she began.

She took her seat as instructed and immediately picked up her rifle. ”They're not here to say hello. Be careful Shadow."

Solveig then looked at Kysar, "you're going to get your wish for a fight."

The Turian smiled, giddy like a schoolgirl. ”Finally!" He said, clasping his hands together.

Undoing his seatbelt Kysar stood, carefully making his way to the door as the shuttle weaved back and forth. ”Hold on to your hats people, I'm opening the side hatch." Luckily the mass effect fields stopped everything not nailed to the hold from flying out, including the passengers.

Still, there was a whoosh as the air inside escaped out into space. Debris was all around them as the CAT6 ships moved into position behind the trio. The Turian had checked and rechecked his omni-tool this time round, there'd be no more misfires from it he was sure.

Holding onto the rail, Kysar leaned out of the door, bringing up his arm and loosing an overload towards one of the shuttles.


The shot found its target. Sparks and electrical discharges zapped out from the ship on the far left as the whole thing lost power. It sagged pathetically to the side, careening towards a particularly thick bit of debris. Connecting, there was a small explosion as the air inside ignited and the rest of the ship tore apart.

"Aw, it's just not the same without atmosphere and the noise." Kysar lamented to himself.

"I disagree, Venator," Solveig said as she moved to the door too, keeping her footing steady as she started lining up a shot of her own. "There's something beautiful about silent chaos."

She took aim at the pilot of the second shuttle and pulled the trigger, but the shot was not successful - something about aiming out of an open shuttle in motion through a field of debris... Still, the shot hit the shuttle, but not enough to slow anything down or stop them.

"Damnit, I missed," she muttered. Lining up for another turn when they were in a better position. ”I guess they get a few more minutes of life. Maybe they can use it for some self-reflection…"

“But can you really call it an explosion if there’s no sound?" Zenn piped in as he tried to keep the ship flying steady. "Without the ‘ka-boom’ it loses the pizzazz!"

With one of their shuttles down, the other two CAT6 vehicles picked up speed. Seemed they were holding back a bit, while the SRN shuttle was unfortunately at its limit. And now that the SRN had engaged them they were going all in. Even the shots from Solveig did little to deter the pilot of one shuttle, though he did move his head down behind the dash for cover; temporarily obstructing his vision. Zenn glanced back to see the action happening, then turned forward and spotted the derelict half of a turian cruiser up ahead. A crazy thought popped into his mind.

“Hey Solveig. er Wraith. Keep shooting at the pilots." Zenn ordered while he changed course to the cruiser. "I think I have an idea."

Kysar, meanwhile, had one of his own.

Something had been gnawing away at the back of his mind since the meat packing plant. The destruction of the second orb had him returning to that strange sunken place, seemingly feeling outside of the bounds of time and space. The presence of that place still lingered and more than that, it had started to grow. It was as if he could sense those around him, as if everyone possessed a sort of energy he could tap in to.

Heading back in the shuttle, Kysar slowly moved to the back wall. With his eyes firmly shut, he cast his mind adrift, projecting the oddly placed feeling towards the shuttles behind him. Suddenly he was overwhelmed, a feeling of hatred and fury engulfed him, fuelled by a sadness over the loss of comrades. Though he recognised them, these emotions were not of his own, they were alien, artificially inserted and flowing through the Turian. Odd, he thought, I think I can feel the pilot of the other shuttle?

How Venator did what he did next was almost unknown to him but latching onto those feelings, he dragged them into the bizarre sunken place. This time, he was the presence, lurking in the shadows, while the pilot of the shuttle stood in the centre.

A feeling of absolute authority consumed the Turian, causing formation of an idea. "Ram them, ram the other shuttle." Kysar commanded.

The pilot of the shuttle closest to them suddenly had the idea in his head to ram a shuttle, as if the thought had been planted in his brain. But he didn't look at his allied shuttle; his mind was focused on the SRN shuttle. Considering he had been shot at and just watched his squadmates crash, it was really sounding like a good idea. Not to mention they had more speed, and the SRN shuttle wasn't in the best shape. One solid hit could destabilize their mass effect generator and leave them sitting ducks. At the very least knock Kysar and or Solveig out the door.

It wasn't the plan, but screw it. The pilot floored it! The shuttle accelerated to higher speeds aimed straight for the SRN shuttle.

Solveig watched as Kysar shifted himself, and she felt the aura around him change too. Like a dark spell that while she could not see it, she knew it was there - burning around the Turian. "Uhhhh…" She sounded out, quietly as she watched, slightly awestruck by it, her own heart racing as it felt like her nerves were being pressed on by the oppressive energy.

Whatever it was, it didn't last too long.

Solveig's eyes widened as the shuttle started to accelerate towards them, taking aim she gave another attempt to take the pilot out - but the bullet went astray. Something about trying to hold your footing on a moving ship, perhaps. Still, she admonished herself internally for missing again. There was never a good reason to miss her shot. She'd landed harder ones. Her mothers voice sounded in her head. All that training, all those enhancements, all that money and still you fail, Soldier cruel words of disappointment. ”Sorry," she said instinctively before moving from the door - reaching again for the handle. No time to dwell. Shadow and Venator need you. That was the good voice, the one that seemed to growing louder and breaking free...

"Shadow, I hope this idea is good, we need to get out of the line of impact -- and fast."

"Line of Impact? What do you- OH VOT!" Zenn exclaimed as he looked back just in time to see the enemy closing the distance. "Hold tight!" He warned before he pulled the shuttle to the right.

The CAT6 shuttle narrowly missed them, scraping against the side. But in the pilot's haste to act on his impulse, he forgot to tell his passengers what he was doing. As they saw their target getting close, they opened the door and leaned out to return fire, only to realize impact was imminent and jumped back in. Unfortunately for them, they lost their footing in the sideswipe. The shuttles were now side by side, with the CAT6 mercs on the ground and the door wide open.

The return to reality was like plunging deep into ice cold water. Kysar convulsed heavily, gasping for air only to hear Zenn shout to hold on. The split second in between shout and movement was enough for the Turian to instinctively grab the rifle from his back. It was not, however, enough time to properly steel himself.

Tumbling forward, Kysar rolled towards the open door, only just managing to stop mere inches away from complete disaster. The good news was that he had managed to land somewhat upright, in a crouched position. The bad news was... well there was no bad news, only better news.

Opposite to their shuttle flew the enemy, door wide open and several soldiers all in a heap in the back. I swear the human's have a saying for this. The Turian mandibles quivered in excitement as he took aim with his brand new rifle. Some sort of animal in... a hole?

The Ghost had a clip size of 75 rounds and boy howdy did those bad boys fly out. Birds? No. Rats? No, no. Kysar thought as he riddled the squad in the opposing shuttle without mercy. Fish? Oh yeah! Fish!

"Like shooting fish in a hole ay Awks!"

"What fish?" She asked aloud, hanging on to the handle as the ship jostled and moved. While Kysar was flung around, Solveig just hung rather gracefully (considering the circumstances) and then dropped down when they seemed to have been stabilised. ”What hole?!"

While she could speak English, many of their phrases and metaphors did allude her. There were three languages in her mind, it was hard to keep track of them.

"It seems an ineffective way to hunt," she said, once more lining up for the shot. This time it felt clean and steady. Heck, she almost felt bad for the pilot as she pulled the trigger and landed it right in the side of his head, above his ear. ”The flesh will be riddled with bullet holes!"

Again with the nickname though, she could tell that Kysar meant no insult - but what a strange creature to be comparing her to.

Popping the thermal clip, Kysar gave an exaggerated shrug. "Why you asking me for? You're the human."

Watching the enemies shuttle start to drift towards the surrounding debris field, the Turian gave a succinct nod to his team mate. "Nice shot Wraith. You ready for round 3?" He said, gesturing towards the third and final shuttle.

"Thank you!" Solveig answered sincerely, smiling behind her mask. ”You too Venator, good... blasting! Of course I'm ready. How about you Shadow? How's it looking in front?"

“Almost there!" Zenn replied, maintaining course for the cruiser. Since it appeared shooting at the shuttles wasn’t really effective unless they were right next to each other, keeping the pilot busy wasn’t an option. But maybe they wouldn’t have to.

“Wraith, when I give the signal, hit them with sabotage. Venator, I need you on standby if that doesn’t work. But most importantly, I need you both to hang on tight!" Zenn gave the instructions to his team while closely monitoring their distance from the cruiser. They were getting very close to it. Perhaps too close. No, definitely too close! At this rate they were going to crash!

“NOW!" Zenn called to Wraith. Just as she would hit the last shuttle, Zenn would pull the ship up to fly alongside the cruiser. Timing would be everything. At the last minute, he mashed the button on the controls.

It was the wrong button.

The shuttle came to a complete and immediate stop. Everyone was thrown to the front of the shuttle; including Zenn. Apparently a certain group of quarians had inadvertently loosened the bolts for the seatbelt in the pilot's chair, causing it to fail. Zenn slammed into the dash, the force of the impact left him dazed and stunned, along with damaging the console and his pride

And Sabotage she did.

She watched as the enemy shuttle seized, halted, shuddered and then veered off below - sinking down into the blackness before making impact against the remains of the cruiser. "Round 3 was short."

But then.

So did their shuttle. Everything stopped, and everyone moved. Solveig was able to once again use the handle to her advantage, quick reflexes sprung to action and instead of hurtling forward, she carefully spun and landed rather acrobatically on her feet in a crouch - one hand to the side, the other flat on the ground. Balanced and unharmed.

The same could not be said for Zenn. While Kysar too had crashed through the ship, Zenn had really been slammed forward. "Shadow!" Solveig yelled out, rushing to his side - when she got there she wasn't quite sure what to do with her hands. She had no real knowledge of Quarian biology - she didn't know if lifting him up would hurt him more. She settled for placing a hand on his shoulder. Goddamnit, she cursed herself. Had she Sabotaged their own shuttle too?

"Do you hear me Shadow?"

She gave a sidelong glance to Kysar too, to check that he was also able to get to his feet.

The Turian had been bounced around the shuttle like a pinball, finally coming to a stop with his back hitting against the wall of the entrance to the cockpit.

"See," he muttered throughout panted breath, gesturing to himself, ”Tech Armour." Other than a bit of wind being knocked loose out of him, Kysar was ok. Looking up and over, he could see Zenn had got the worst of it. Sol was hunched over the Quarian, awkwardly fawning over him, seemingly unsure what to do.

"Hmm." The Turian stroked the bottom of his helmet as he mulled over their next move. Sure, the battle was over but he knew that the war had just begun. Moving towards the open side door Kysar peered out into space. ”No movement... yet."

Putting his head back inside he turned to Sol. “We've got to move, more will come and with this shuttle out of commission, we're sitting ducks." Looking down towards Zenn, Kysar could tell he was in a bad way but had no way of knowing if it was serious or not.

"I'll need you to carry him Wraith if he doesn't come round in the next few moments. I'll take point and keep a look out for an entrance to the cruiser. If Shadow does have any spinal injuries, the zero G of space will help alleviate any pain."

"Got it," Solveig answered with a nod.

"Those CAT6... They're no joke. I'll be watching your back."

Zenn laid there completely still. His body slumped over the sparking dashboard. As Solveig placed her hand on his shoulder, he slowly slid backwards and flopped into his chair.

"Wrong… button… meant to… go up." Zenn was barely able to form any words at the moment. His head was spinning, physically and mentally, and it wasn't just the stars in space he was seeing around him.

"Did… plan… work?"

"No, no it didn't. We got the enemies though." Solveig answered truthfully, looking closely at the faint outlines she could make of his face and eyes from behind his mask. ”But plans don't always work, so it's time for plan B."

She glanced across at Kysar again and shook her head, ”Shadow can't walk like this."

She gave a slight pause before turning back to Zenn. "Do you ever, uhhh, piggyback? On the flotilla?"

Pigs back? Kysar shook his head and sighed. He'd spent too long around human's with their weird analogies.

"Put your arm under his if he can't walk, or better yet, use your fancy arm to throw him over your shoulder if you have to. I don't want to hang around much longer."

"Oh… Sorry…" Zenn apologized. Of course it was a stupid plan. Why did he think it would work? At least Sol and Kysar were able to take care of the last shuttle. Now they just had to figure out how they were going to get out of this.

"Pig Back..? On flotilla..?" Zenn replied completely misunderstanding the question. "No… Vegetarian…"

"Don't apologise," Solveig said as she started shuffling around - now that she had Kysar getting antsy about it all. With a quick motion, she had Zenn on her back and they were ready to go. It wasn't the best, but she'd at least be able to move quickly this way and there was no worry about further concussing him. ”It's alright, we're okay, we just improvise now. Let's move Venator."

But to where? Kysar looked around frantically. Towering over them was the nose of a Turian cruiser that had been sheared in half. A hiding spot maybe, to relax and recover but a dead end as well. The lifeboats were at the back of the craft and that whole end was missing. All it would be is their eventual grave.

Looking around he could see anything except for chunks of debris drifting in space.

Think Kysar, think. The lives of your teammates and the fate of this mission depend upon you. Shutting his eyes tight he prayed to the Spirits. I know I don’t call on you as often as I should and mother would scold me for that. But if you can help this one time I promise I’ll never again…

Right in that moment, the Turian felt a slight shunt. Opening his eyes, Kysar’s jaw dropped. It was the second shuttle! The one that he and Sol had wasted the occupants of, gently drifting into the side of their shuttle.

The Turian looked around, turning his head from side to side. Surely this was some kind of joke right? Shrugging, he thought once more of the Spirits, Haha suckers, I give up nothing!

“Awks, cmon, taxi’s here."

As the shuttle descended down before them, Solveig felt relieved. ”Fortune favours the bold," she said.

"Who's flying this thing now? Not him," she said, gesturing to Zenn. He was in no position for it. ”Let him rest a bit... I can try it. If some disgraced Alliance punk can do it, how hard can it even be?"

Kysar chuckled looking at poor Shadow, unsure if that was the first ever joke from Sol.

“I learnt how to pilot in the Cabals but that was about a decade ago. Got anything we could use to flip for it?"

"We could rock, paper, scissors?" Solveig suggested with a pause before she smirked to herself.

"Or, how about an arm wrestle?"

The Turian laughed, that one had to be a joke. “If that’s the route we’re going, let’s just declare you the winner. We’re already one down and I need my arm for… the enemy." Kysar cleared his throat, giving a cheeky smile behind his mask.

“Pass me ole sleepy there and head for the cockpit. I’ll strap Shadow in and, er, jettison the old ‘cargo’."

"Such a waste of life... Of potential…" Solveig said as she stepped in, glancing over the 'cargo' as Kysar had said. She let Zenn down so that Kysar could take him. She gave something of an awkward thumbs up to both.

"Okay so.... Uhhh, where are we going? Can we hook up the distress signal?"

Zenn activated his omni-tool and waved his hand. "Here…" he had the coordinates saved, he just had to transfer them to the shuttle’s navigation. It took a few seconds longer than usual for obvious reasons, but he was able to mash the buttons needed to get the coordinates into the system. "Ready."

Kysar had made the jump across first, watching carefully as Sol and Zenn crossed. Letting the Quarian finish doing his thing, the Turian slid his arm under his shoulder, helping him across to some seats in the back of the shuttle.

“I knew you were out to prove that not all Quarian’s were pilots with that monologue." Kysar said, setting Zenn down in the chair. "I just didn’t realise you’d try to show me too." He snickered.

“Call me if you need anything Shadow."

Moving off towards the door, he began rolling the former occupants out. ”Ready to move out whenever you are Awks."

Zenn lay on the seats in the back. Kysar had a point, he really did kind of botch it as the pilot. As he watched Sol take the helm he thought maybe they would be in better hands if-

The shuttle lunged forward as Sol accidentally hit accelerator to max, and just as quickly pulled it back to stop the shuttle. Zenn was tossed out of his seat and slammed against the shuttle floor.

“OW! Keelah! Solveig, careful! Ease into the thrust you can’t just full send it!" He said. The sudden hit must have provided enough shock to finally snap him out of his dazed state.

The stress of the chase before must have gotten to her as she chose instead to exit the pilot seat and give the controls to Kysar. Zenn was worried he might have offended her. He was definitely frustrated, but not at any of them. In all honesty he was just trying to give her advice. He carefully started to try and stand while he explained himself.

“Sorry, Solveig. I didn’t mean to-”

The shuttle immediately swung left as Kysar mistakenly hit the command to yaw left at full force, then swiftly overcorrected to stop the shuttle. Still not fully balanced, Zenn was thrown to the side and crashed right into the shuttle wall.

“OW! Dammit! Kysar, easy! You gotta use gentle motions! Don’t just swing your hands!" Zenn said. Kysar grumbled something under his breath, then he too abandoned the cockpit in frustration.

“Wait, Kysar, come on. Everyone makes that mistake…" Zenn attempted to explain, but at that point it was clear who would be flying. "Alright. Fine, I’ll do it. I only have about two concussions and a fractured everything. This’ll be great!" Zenn murmured as he pushed himself off the wall and stumbled into the pilots chair.

Despite his current state, the flight from there was just as smooth as it had been when they first entered the debris field. As their destination started to come into view he thought aloud “Huh. Maybe we are natural pilots."

The coordinates of the distress signal lay dead ahead, and they led directly to a quarian frigate.

Making up the bulk of the Migrant Fleet Navy, it wasn't a surprise to find a ship like this out in the debris. Even Zenn's ship, the Konesh, was of a similar design. What was out of place was the condition of the ship. Though it lay dead in space like every other craft around it, there was no visible damage to be seen. It wasn’t exactly "pristine", but from the outside it looked ready to fly and even fit for combat. Something wasn't right.

Zenn ran a quick scan using whatever systems their new shuttle had on board. Nothing. None of the systems were online, but there were no oddities of any kind either. The scan also revealed that there were no obvious or traditional openings. The docking bays were sealed shut and no escape pods had left. The only thing that looked promising was one of the tail segments. It had come unattached from the adjoining segment, leaving the door to it exposed to space, and there was plenty of room for them to dock the shuttle.

Not seeing any other options, Zenn brought the shuttle in, and parked it right up against the exposed door. Trying to force open one of the massive bay doors would have been impossible, but a standard automatic door for personnel? Sol could probably open it with one hand. Zenn stood up from the pilot's seat and opened up the shuttle door. Before he even attempted to breach, he looked back at his companions.

"Everyone stay alert. I've got a bad feeling about this place…"

Strange was an understatement. It was like something out of a horror vid. A completely intact, yet abandoned, ship.

Kysar did a full check of his weaponry and armour, including quickly igniting his electrified Omni-blade on and off again. He was ready to go.

“Shadow, can you hack the enemies comms channel from this ship? Might give us a heads up if they’re inside the ship or in the vicinity."

Solveig also got everything ready. Unlike Zenn, and to a lesser degree, Kysar, she had gotten through the trip here unscathed. She scanned her surroundings before stepping to the doorway in front of them, heeding Zenn's words.

She knew if anything burst through the door, they'd be ready, yet she still gave them a nod. "Opening," she said before punching one side of the door, the strength of her biotic arm pushed through the material but didn't create a complete hole. The crunch of it still echoed through the space. From there, Solveig gripped at the warped metal having made a makeshift handle. The way that the metal of the door bent, surrendered, and moved to her will seemed effortless.

The path forward was clear.

Zenn shook his head at Kysar. “I don't know if this is CAT6's doing. While they were able to hide out here without the patrols noticing, the shuttle didn't have these coordinates; meaning they've never been out here before. And the way they came right at us before we even got close, it felt like they knew we were coming rather than spotted us. I think someone sent them after us. For what reason I have no idea, but maybe we'll find answers… when… we…"

Zenn trailed off as he watched Solveig use her arm to smash the door in. The way she grabbed the warped shape and ripped it open like it was made of paper. He hadn't really seen the strength of her bionics before, but now that he had witnessed it up close… The quarian's face changed to a light tint of red, which appeared purple through his blue visor. He stood there staring for a moment before he came back to reality and violently shook his head to try and refocus.

"Uhh where was I? Oh, yeah. We might get answers checking this shuttle afterwards." He finished his thought awkwardly.

The room in front of them was pitch black. Not a single light or any type of illumination remained beyond those doors. Once inside, they would have to heavily rely on their flashlights.

The first person to ignite their flashlight and shine it into the void would find a mostly vacant room. To the right was a large viewing window pointed out towards space, though the window itself was cracked and chipped as if someone had taken a steel blade to it. Parallel to the window was several rows of seats. They, too, were cut and broken most likely by the same thing that attacked the window. This room was no doubt an observation deck. Not too uncommon to see on any ship, even a quarian vessel. But someone or something did not get the same calming or relaxing experience one would normally get in this room and had torn it apart.

The pathway on the floor directed them to two different doors. The one to their left was shut tight, sealed by a thick armored blast door. Not even the combined strength and biotic ability of the team would be able to open it, and with no power, they wouldn’t be able to hack it open either. Their only other route was the door across from their entrance. It was open, but not in a way that gave them any hope. Something had ripped this door down just as Sol had to get them in, but the floor leading to the door was smeared with a trail of blood.


This whole thing smelt of a black op gone wrong. Between the expendable troops of CAT6, a perfectly intact ship in the middle of a war zone, a lockdown and now blood smears and shattered metal doors, this had government cover up all written all over it. This was the sort of stuff the Cabals lived and breathed.

Taking point, Kysar shone his torch around the room. Aside from the blood, there wasn’t much else to see and the door that was open led to the tail end of the ship. No chance to get the power on heading down that way I suppose. He thought, going on to wonder if there might be any sort of ventilation system they could use to bypass the locked door.

“Shadow, what are we looking for here exactly?" The Turian was careful to whisper, inching forward as quietly as he could.

As Solveig walked in, the atmosphere hit her. If it had already felt ominous outside, then the moment she pulled back the door it was much worse. For once, she found the dead silence eery.

The woman eyed over the bloodstains, feeling an unknown energy, it didn't feel too disimilar to how she felt when she first encountered the Orb - just the overwhelming sensation of horrible, dark mystery.

"I don't like this," she stated clearly, a slight vulnerability in her voice that wasn't usually there.

“I… I don’t actually know." Zenn admitted. His voice was audibly shaky from a mix of fear and confusion. He was just as lost as everyone else. "All we know is a distress signal came from this ship. But even that fact is disputed…" Zenn walked towards the destroyed chairs, looking them over thoroughly as he tried to make sense of everything. "I have no idea what’s going on here. It could be a trap for all I know. What’s the saying? The blind leading the blind?" The light from his flashlight moved as his eyes followed the cracks of the window. It lingered there for a pause, Zenn trying to decide if it was smart to continue. Or more importantly, if he could even make himself turn back.

After a few seconds he spoke up again. "If either of you want to go back to the shuttle, I understand. This isn’t what you signed up for. But… If there’s even a chance that someone here is in trouble." His gaze switched from the window to the bloodied doorway that lay ahead, "then I can’t turn away."

"Not going back. Knew what I was accepting, Shadow. We see this through no matter what." Fear or no fear, her words rang true, and she nodded in the direction of the Quarian.

“Pfft I can’t even fly that damn thing anyway." Kysar said with a small chuckle. Nudging Shadow gently with his elbow he continued. “C’mon, there’s only one way to go anyway so it’s not like we need much of a plan. I’ll take point and you two can watch the sides."

Bring the stock of his Ghost to position against his shoulder, the Turian began forward. “Call out anything weird and we’ll try our best to clear rooms as we go. Anything else you two want to add?"

"If I call out anything weird here, I'll be talking more than I have my whole life…" Solveig said with a shrug, her own rifle held out steadily.

“Thanks. Both of you." Zenn said with a faint smile. While he was used to facing the unknown alone, having these two at his side gave him a strong sense of comfort even in this grim setting. But at the same time he was still worried about their safety. He couldn’t scout ahead and inform them of any dangers they were up against. They would just have to roll with whatever they came up against and keep each other safe.

“Alright, Kysar. Lead the way."

As the trio entered the next room, their lights would reveal the sickening conclusion of the bloodstain; the mutilated corpse of a quarian. Something had torn them up just as it had the observation deck. The rest of the room only contained more horrors. What was supposed to be a med bay looked more like the meat plant back in Havana. Blood covered the room with multiple bodies strewn about. Medical equipment littered the ground, with even some of the beds being ripped from their mounts.

Both exits in the room were open this time, both with the same signs of destruction from the way they entered. On the counter to the left was a stash of medi-gel, miraculously still intact and fully usable. On the other side of the room was a datapad laying in a pool of blood next to a quarian slumped motionless against the counter.


Whatever it was was big and powerful. Kysar wracked his brain, wondering what kind of creature could do this. Sure, Krogan's had the strength for something like this but there was something undeniably animalistic about this carnage.

Surveying the room he noted the medical supplies and the notepad. Glancing from side to side at his companions, the Turian frowned as his chest tightened. Sol seemed unnerved and not in her usual awkward way, maybe it was something about the dark or emptiness of this place. Zenn on the other hand, well, Kysar knew what it was like to lose people in a horrific manner.

They needed action, something to keep them moving forward so as not to dwell on such savagery.

"Shadow," Kysar whispered. “You should grab the medi-gel and check the surroundings for anything medical-Quarian related for any survivors we find."

Turning back towards Sol, the Turian continued. “Wraith, there's a datapad across the room, do you see it?" Flashing his light on the pool of blood, he nodded. ”I'll cover you."

Stepping into the med bay was like once again passing through and into another wave of energy. As each of the flashlights moved around, they danced across each reflective surface. Every scalpel, every blade, every bedframe and mirror became a series of flashing images to Sol. A swirling mosaic of silver and red, blood pooled and splattered - corpses strewn around in various stages of mutilation.

Solveig had never seen a Quarian's real face before - the one behind the mask. This wasn't how she had expected to ever see one. It felt wrong, an intimate violation. She closed her eyes and turned from that one, giving them their privacy back.

Medical bays were difficult enough in the daylight. This was something else entirely. Her gaze landed on a scalpel on the floor and she felt a knot form in her stomach. It took her less than a moment to walk past it. The data pad, right.

Whatever she felt, whatever feelings were triggered by the surroundings - this was worse for Zenn. She knew that.

She knelt down and picked it up.

Years of training, countless missions, none of that prepared Zenn for the scene in front of him. He slowly stepped ahead of Kysar, and panned his light across the room. So many of his people lay dead. Slaughtered in such grotesque and horrific ways. What monster was capable of this? He didn't have any words. Every inch he saw only mortified him further. Spiraling him into a void of dread trying to make sense of it all. It was only Kysar’s voice that brought him out of it.

"Y-yeah. I'll… I'll get on it…" Zenn replied, but made no effort to move. He was still in shock, and barely even able to force the words out.

Meanwhile, as Solveig reached down to pick up the datapad, the quarian corpse laying next to it sprung to life and grabbed her arm. It let out a blood curdling snarl from behind its mask as it pulled her closer. She drew her weapon and tried to shoot the corpse, but it was able to grab the gun and prevent her from pointing the barrel at it.

Kysar reacted quickly and aimed his rifle at the corpse, but with Solveig still locked in its grip, he couldn't get a clear shot. He kept his rifle at the ready, desperate to find an opening, when the sound of a sniper went off.

Seeing his teammate in danger was more than enough to pull Zenn out of his shock. He instinctively placed his scope over his eye and found and found a clean shot. He placed a bullet right through the corpse's head without even touching Solveig's shields. The corpse went limp, releasing its grip on Solveig as it flopped to the ground. Lifeless once more.

Silence hung in the air. They knew what just happened. What that was. How could any of them forget? The snarl they still heard in their nightmares. The image of glowing indigo eyes illuminated against a pale white face that was burned into their minds. There was no mistake.

"Venator… Wraith…" Zenn softly called to them, the fear in his voice now accompanied by a fierce rage. "Please tell me that wasn't a fucking husk."
3x Like Like
Hidden 3 mos ago Post by Awesomoman64
Avatar of Awesomoman64

Awesomoman64 I should go

Member Seen 0-24 hrs ago

Daring Rescue: Part 2

"Helvete!" she called out as she wrestled away from the husk as it dropped - her skin crawling.

Solveig wasn't about to be caught off guard again. There was a mixed feeling of embarrassment and fear, and as she glanced over at Zenn, his rifle still in hand she felt a gratitude and respect. Grateful for the two of them.

"How is that possible?" She asked, breathing heavily, crossing the room to get back to her team-mates - even if she felt smaller, and her posture reflected the scare she'd just had. She still had hold of the data pad.

"It's gotta be some sort of black op. Some kind of experimentation gone array." Kysar said, voicing an earlier thought. Putting a hand on Sol's shoulder he tried giving a reassuring nod ok.

"One thing's for certain, we're going to have to scuttle the ship." Looking between the two, the Turian shook his head. ”Hell, I don't even know about turning in any evidence we find."

Kysar's brow furrowed in frustration. Truth of the matter was that this wasn't his mission, nor were they his people. ”]At least that's my thoughts Shadow but none of this is my call and I'll back you with whatever way you decide to move forward."

Zenn did not say anything. His mind was filled with questions. How did a husk get on board? Were there more of them? What Kysar was saying sort of made sense, but who in their right mind would ever screw around with reaper tech after everything that had happened? And the distress signal. Was that part of some twisted plan as well?

"No." Zenn stated plainly. "There could still be survivors. If not, then at least there should be some answers. Whatever the case, I'm not leaving until I know what happened here."

His head snapped to Solveig, then down to the datapad she held. There must be something in there. He needed to see it.

"Wraith." Zenn started, ready to ask her to read it or hand it over before he glanced back at her face. The fear in eyes from what just transpired reminded him that while he was on the warpath, this wasn't just about him. His team was his first priority. "...You okay?" He asked instead.

A trembling hand passed the data pad to Zenn. "Yes. Thank you. Of course. I'm... all good here," she lied, which was something she was terrible at. "We should keep moving, if anything else is here... They know that we are too now."

Zenn nodded to Solveig and took the datapad. She didn't look or sound okay, but he didn't want to add any more stress and push the subject. She was right, they needed to move, but which way?

On a whim, he pointed to the door to the left. “Through here." He said, heading to the exit away from the husk.

As they walked, he satiated his curiosity and read the datapad
["I knew it! I knew that maniac Caeh would be the death of us! I warned the captain over and over not to listen to him, that the device was dangerous. We should have left it on Kaddi, but no. "It would be our secret weapon. This would be our moment of glory!" My only solace is knowing those bosh’tets went first. We might be paying for their arrogance, but they already have."]

It was an immediate relief to leave that room, and Solveig listened carefully to the words from the datapad. ”Ah," she sighed.

"Secret weapons... Device... Glory." Solveig shook her head disapprovingly.

So why was CAT6 here? Kysar thought. Has some other organisation caught wind of this? Or was this Caeh in cahoots?

The Turian had heard of Kaddi, a former colony of the Quarian's turned Geth world. Though he'd never heard of anything significant being discovered or have happened there before. Maybe the Reapers had churned up something ancient on the planets surface.

Kysar shook his head, regardless, at least they had some info about what went down. "Shadow, do you know this 'Caeh' character?"

"A fine line between bravery and stupidity." Zenn grumbled as he tossed the datapad aside. ”and it sounds like this captain fit the latter. But that doesn't explain why there are still husks here. The crucible destroyed them. At the very least none should be functional."

Kysar then asked if Zenn knew the quarian named in the log. Caeh. Unfortunately, Zenn shook his head. "Name doesn't sound familiar. But judging from that they were someone of importance. If I had to guess, I’d say someone who worked closely with this device and either got arrogant or fell victim to indoctrination. I’m sure there’s something here that will tell us for sure."

The Turian frowned and his stomach churned. It all felt too blind and unknown, stumbling through the ship with only god knows what around the corner. The three of them alone couldn’t hope to clear a full ship of hostiles.

“So what’s the plan here Shadow? Are you familiar with the layout of this type of ship?" Kysar’s hands dropped behind his back as he begun to pace around. Thinking back to earlier on when Zenn had mentioned the goal was to save anyone who was left, the Turian queried. ”As for survivors, anyway we can get the power turned back on? We need some way to be able to pinpoint anyone who’s left. Could we get comms up or do you guys track bio-signatures of crew? I’m a pretty confident guy but even I’m not sure about taking on a whole ships worth of enemies."

"I do not posses any hacking skills beyond sabotaging," Sol clarified.

"I might suggest finding an alternate path through the ship," she said as she ran her hand across the wall, as if searching for a weak point in the material.

"I wonder if there is a way to access anything else on board with the datapad... We know it is working."

Zenn let out a sigh and leaned back against one of the counters. Kysar was making excellent points. With every step they were walking further into danger, and any answers had just created more questions. Not to mention the three of them searching an entire frigate would certainly take longer than they had.

“If anyone is trying to use comms, it’s not coming through. Otherwise our omni-tools would be going crazy. Bio-signatures are kinda out of the question since. Well. This is where we’d normally find them." He stated and gestured to the trashed med bay they stood in. "Datapad wouldn't do us much good. It runs on its own power source independent of the ship, and without the ship's power there isn't a network for it to connect to. Speaking of power, our best bet would be engineering, and as luck would have it we are headed that way…" Zenn placed his hand under his chin as he gave the situation some serious thought. He was going about this all wrong. Instead of jumping in head first as the rescuer, he had to think if he was a survivor. What would he do?

“Okay." He spoke up after a few seconds. “Our first destination will be the armory. It’s actually not far from here, and if my ship was being boarded or overtaken, it's where I would hold up. If no one is there, we finish our route to engineering and see what the damage is. If we can get the power restored it should be enough to help us pinpoint the survivors, or at the very least call for backup."

Zenn pushed himself away from the counter and took his rifle in his hands once more. ”Again, I won't hold it against any of you if you wish to return to the shuttle. I'm the one who can't let this go. I won't make you follow me into madness."

"Just so we're clear," stepping away from the wall, Solveig brought herself to Zenn's side. ”]Not going back to the shuttle, Shadow.

“I volunteered to be here."
She looked back to Kysar too. "Besides, starting to think we work well together."

She steadied herself, already feeling calmer from moments before. "And by the looks of this place, you might need me to open another door."

From behind his helmet, Kysar smiled at Sol, it was nice to see her coming out of her shell. Turning the Zenn he reiterated. ”And I’ve already told both of you that I can’t fly that silly human contraption. So y’know, gotta protect the only guy who can." Glancing at Solveig, he shrugged. ”No offence Awks."

The woman was right of course, despite some mishaps, the three gelled well as a team. Together they had taken down three enemy shuttles and navigated through a minefield of debris. Whatever was ahead, Kysar had confidence in each of them to see it through.

And yet, his stomach still churned. A fear had been planted all the way back in Africa, one that had only grown with each encounter. Galactic victory over the Reapers had been costly, with a large power vacuum forming as a result. Evil men such as Banes had used advanced Reaper tech to launch their own bid for power and now it was happening all over again.

Turning back to Zenn, the Turian’s tone switched, dropping into a serious pitch. ”Shadow, I’m with you on finding out what happened and trying to save anyone who’s alive in this mess but after that, please think about destroying what we found here."

Kysar turned away from both of them. ”In the wrong hands, or hell, maybe even in the right ones, something like this could have dire consequences for your people and what’s left of the galaxy."

“Yes please." Zenn whispered in response to Sol’s door comment. His face immediately turned red upon realizing the thought that was supposed to remain in his head had escaped into words. ”I mean yes! I too think we work well together and am pleased you are sticking with me! Thank you both." He said genuinely meaning it, but avoiding eye contact with his teammates.

When Kysar brought up the subject of destroying whatever they found, Zenn was able to recompose himself and faced him as he answered. "Agreed. I don't know what this crew found, but if it's reaper tech, it has to be destroyed. No matter the cost."

The Turian, feeling a small sense of relief wash over him, shouldered his rifle, giving Zenn a polite nod. "Lead on Shadow. I’m right behind you."

This was difficult for Solveig. The talk of destroying everything, she couldn't say she disagreed with them, but there was a cloying feeling, the Alliance Soldier in her knew it had to be reported, that something had to be shared. The Alliance had to be informed of this.

Don't they? I should... But...

She'd deal with it later, and, confused, she pushed onwards. ”Let's get to the armourory." That didn't sound right "Uh. The army." Neither did that "The place!"

Moving further along, the team would find the next room less horrific than the med bay, but still not a comforting sight. In the corners it would appear to be a cargo hold, with storage crates stacked to the ceiling, though a few had been knocked over. Yet along the walls several rows of bunk beds, some knocked over as well, but the ones still standing were placed almost side by side with barely enough room for a quarian to fit between them. And unfortunately, this room, too, had blood and bodies scattered about, but not to the same extent as the med bay. Unlike all the rooms before, this one only had one other doorway to their right. In front of it were three husks shambling around in the darkness. Somehow they had not heard the shot from the previous encounter, but as soon as the team’s lights spotted them, they cranked their heads to look at the team, and let out a filtered shriek from their cracked yet intact masks.


Ready for the husks this time, the trio lined up. Kysar in the middle, Zenn to the left and Sol on the right. Zenn fired first, placing a bullet right between the center husk’s eyes. It dropped to the ground with its arms outstretched and its claws caught the legs of the other two husks tripping them up. Unfortunately, they fell to the ground just as Kysar and Sol fired, causing them to miss their targets.

Pulling themselves back up, the husks started to run at the trio again, but both were quickly dispatched. One gunned down from Kysar’s rifle, the other meeting the same fate as its companion by another round from Zenn’s sniper. Sol, too, landed her shot, though she was a second too late and hit the husk Kysar had just killed.

“Alright. I think we’re getting the hang of this." Zenn said, impressed with how effectively they cleared the room.

Kysar nodded in agreement, popping his thermal clip and chambering in a fresh one. ”Reckon there's anything of use in these crates Shadow?"

"They have no business moving that fast," Solveig said, rolling her shoulder and catching her breath.

“Well, given this is a civilian overflow, probably just spare parts, tools, and other standard equipment. Though some of these should be stuffed with nutrient paste if you’re hungry?" Zenn said with a shrug.

Something had caught Solveig's attention, she recalled the last rooms and hallways, almost everytime, there had been a trail of blood through the exit. As if something had continued through. The husks, at least, remained in one spot. ”Uhm, Shadow... Venator," she said as she shone her flashlight against the next doorway.

"Don't you think that looks... Like something has travelled?"

Kysar's stomach rumbled at the mention of food. He made a mental note to grab any pocket sized dextro bits he found along the way.

Turning his attention to Sol, the Turian shone his flashlight along the ground and up towards the door. She was right, while there were random markings, there was also a direction flow to a large amount of the stains. ”Yeah Wraith, you're right."

Zenn hadn’t been paying much attention to the trail, focusing more on the enemies and immediate threats. But now that Sol mentioned it, there absolutely was a trail led from room to room. "I think you’re onto something, Wraith. We need to stay on high alert. Whatever made those… Well I don’t want it getting the drop on us."

"We should hurry," Solveig said, ”we can't allow it to get the drop on any survivors either."

The next room looked similar to the med bay, both in layout and desolation. The key differences were the lack of any beds, and the large device near the back wall. It was clearly not the one they were looking for, as it was quarian in design. It was also completely destroyed, covered in scorch marks and even melted in some places. Whatever this device was used for, it clearly failed. The exits were both sealed off, but the one head of them was not blocked with the blast doors. Instead a makeshift barricade of crates and other various furniture covered the doorway.

The final feature that really drew their attention was the massive pool of blood in front of the device. It may not have seemed odd after what they had witnessed before, but it definitely stood out once they noted the lack of any bodies in the room.


"I thought the bad juju couldn't get any worse," Solveig muttered as she observed the room.

"Device," she repeated, thinking back to the datapad as she looked at the console in the centre.

Zenn walked up to the broken device, carefully looking it over. "This is a containment projector. It generates a field of energy meant to hold something almost in perfect stasis. These are highly experimental. I’ve never seen one on a military vessel before, they’re usually almost exclusively used on science vessels. They wouldn’t move one here unless they were transporting something very unstable. And clearly it wasn’t enough…"

"Here I was thinking they found some sort of device. Looks like instead they've found some sort of creature." Kysar had shaken his head so much that his neck was getting tired. ”A creature that can turn Quarian's into husks? Or is there more to this?"

Looking over at the make shift barrier, some of the items looked on the heavy side of things. ”Wraith, you wanna put that arm to some more use and dismantle that thing? Shadow and I will stand back and provide overwatch."

Solveig nodded - time was still of the essence. The barricade was made up of all kinds of items that were wedged tightly into the door frame. Worryingly, more of the trail of blood was underneath it all.

As with the entrance to the ship, the woman handled it with ease, pushing the items into the side - the strength behind her arm caused the boxes to ripple and flatten. Much like someone might do to a soft drink can.

She left enough space for them all to pass through. ”Ready when you are."

Zenn nodded to Kysar and stood in position with him, watching carefully as Solvieg pulled apart the makeshift barricade. The first instance she crushed a box one handed, Zenn had to force himself to stay focused and push away the feelings that had previously left him flustered. Given the atmosphere and everything they had gone through, he was able to remain alert and in the moment. Everyone, in fact, was taking extra caution and minding their surroundings thanks to Sol’s observation of the bloodstains. Which is why when she finished, all of them could feel the rumbling in the floor.

“Wraith! Get away from there!" Zenn practically screamed. Sol was able to quickly reposition back with the others just before the barricade blew apart. All the items of the barricade flew across the room as they were smashed aside, revealing what it was meant to keep in.

Towering in the remains of the barricade was a monstrous amalgamation of steel and several quarians fused together. Its hands mutated into large grotesque claws dripping with blood. The massacred crew, the completely smashed in doors, even how parts of the ship secured into the floor were ripped from their mounts, it all made sense now. It may not have been made from turians or krogans, but the trio knew all too well the destructive capabilities of a brute. And they had just set it free.

Going against a brute in such close quarters was basically suicide. Even krogan were at a disadvantage against these things. But in that moment Zenn didn’t feel terror or fear. He did not see a hulk of death, but instead the beast that had taken countless lives aboard this ship. Without hesitation he opened his omni-tool and performed a scan on the brute. It transferred the data in real time to all three party members, giving them a holographic overlay that highlighted weak points in the brutes armor. Now they knew where to hit it.

This was a problem, Sol thought as she assessed the surroundings. She had only a moment to do it. To act on the intrusive thought that occurred as soon as her omni-tool blipped with information. How would they be able to hit that thing if it moved even half as fast as what she expected it would. How would they avoid its dangerous attacks?

"Got an idea," she said before she burst off. ”Venator, get ready with those biotics."

Then, she moved to the wall, running as fast as she could with such a short distance. She leapt, the attention of the brute was on her.

She'd been feeling stronger lately, invigorated, and it came to the surface now. She got height for her next jump from the wall - pushing off with her foot to launch into the air. Towards the brute.

She hadn't thought about this enough, this was something Zenobia would do. Hell, maybe the Turian's energy had rubbed off on her, because it was not befitting of an Alliance soldier that was to be sure. The fall felt like it was in slow motion, and her heart raced as she landed on the things neck, it's entire back was adorned with all manner of shrapnels so it wasn't exactly comfortable, but she firmly wrapped her legs over the shoulders, a foot wedged under each of its arms and she curled her bionic arm around its neck, pulling it upwards until the thing was still, locked, and open. She could feel it fighting against her - they would have only seconds before she'd need to move.

"Now Venator! Shadow! Take the shot!"

As stunning as what Sol had done was, Kysar needed to focus. He had faced brutes before, during the war. Tough and hardy fuckers that never came down easy.

A blue hue ignited, emanating from all over the Turian’s body. Roaring, he fired a warp from hand right at the beast, hitting it square in the chest.

The brute flailed its arms in the air, trying with all its might to reach Solveig, but its mass betrayed it. Its shoulders were too thick for it to reach its head and pull Solveig off. It continued to focus on Solveig, unphased by Kysar’s warp attack, but the results spoke for themselves. The armor plating began to burn and disintegrate and expose more weak points. While its arms waved wildly back and forth, its legs hardly moved from their position. The armor that once protected its knees had turned to dust. The tactical scan identified this and immediately notified Zenn and Kysar of the opening.

“Venator! Its knees! I’ve got left!" Zenn called out. He lined up the shot, exhaled, then fired. The bullet ripped through the brute’s left knee. It fell to the side, as its left leg buckled.

"Hurry Venator," Sol called out through gritted teeth as the brute flailed at her, she couldn't hold it for much longer, but if they could get both legs, she knew she could try to floor it.

They didn’t have to tell Kysar twice, without a thought the Turian brandished his rifle and fired at the right leg. The rounds sheared straight through and the beast began to collapse.

Even as it lay on the ground, the brute continued to desperately swing its arms up to snatch Solveig or at least a chuck of her. It was no use. She had an even better hold and position on it now, and with its legs out of the equation, it couldn’t exactly try anything else. The once unstoppable force was now completely helpless; And Zenn had the perfect shot. His reticle was lined up with the brute’s unarmored head. One last shot would put an end to its rampage. Zenn pulled the trigger.


Zenn took his eye from the scope and looked to the side of the gun. The indicator showed that it had overheated. Somehow during this whole mission, he never once thought to load in a new thermal clip…Oops.

With Sol on top and the beast on the ground, the margin for error had increased. Too much for Kysars liking. Returning the rifle to its place on his back, he approached the thing as it thrashed hopelessly against Wraith’s iron grip.

Forming a tightly wound fist, Kysar blade lit up around his forearm. Electricity crackled as the Turian moved into position over the brute, watching as the warp chewed through the armour like butter, stripping away the protection from the chest. ”Time to die fucker!"

Bringing down the blade, Kysar stuck it right in the middle of his chest.

Blade through its chest, Solveig could feel the brute giving out, she practically felt it take in its last breath - there was surely nowhere for a breath to go now that Kysar had stabbed it straight through. A death groan rattled out of its maw.

Still, she couldn't resist -- as she released her arm from the neck of the brute, she brought it back swinging against its jaw, clapping it clean off with a spray of blood and bone.

She too, had no breath, and as it dropped properly she stumbled forward, her eyes wide as an unfamiliar sound rattled in her own chest. A quiet and short, yet unmistakable, laugh.

"Keelah… We actually killed it!" Zenn blurted out, unable to contain his excitement. "Wraith, that was amazing! That was like one of those martial arts holovids! And Venator! You've got biotics that would make an asari jealous! I mean wow!"

He may have been going overboard, but who could blame him? They had just taken down one of the strongest husk variants with little planning or preparation beforehand. Yet they still managed to work together flawlessly, as if their minds had become one. Zenn had not worked this well with a team since his days with the ghosts.

"Couldn't have…" Sol breathed.

"Without your…" She breathed in and out again, placing a hand on her chest.

"Tactical blippy scans…" She swallowed down more air and stood back upright.

"I have to say too. You are a remarkable sniper…"

“Ha! Spirits, that was wild. I’ve never seen one of these bastards go down so quick. First rounds on me when we get back." Extending a hand to Sol to help her properly stand up, Kysar remarked. ”Hell, maybe we could clear this whole ship together."

Sol took his hand and nodded in appreciation, placing her other hand at the small of her back and stretching. ”Happy to fight with you Venator but... Respectfully... No more please."

The urge for Zenn to call for a group hug was strong; especially with his two teammates standing next to each other. However, it was still too soon to really celebrate. They still had a few rooms to clear, though he seriously doubted whatever they held would pose a threat after this.

"Yeah, I think I'll pass on taking on any more of those. After this, I hope to never see a husk of any kind again. Though I will be taking you up on that drink! Probably going to need more than one."

Kysar popped the thermal clip of his rifle once more, shooting Zenn an obvious look as he did so. The Turian also cleared his throat, hoping his message was clear.

“Ready to move when you two are."

"That is…" probably the first time colleagues have invited me for drinks… ”a great idea." Solveig said quietly, and appreciatively.

"But um, yes... Uhh, let's finish this. Come on," Solveig readied her rifle, and began back in the direction of the barricade.

“Oh. Right. Duh." Zenn said with embarrassment. He ejected the thermal clip of his sniper and loaded a new one in. "Ready."

Across the threshold of the ruined barricade was the armory. While there was the unfortunately now familiar sight of death in the room, there were also signs of a fierce battle. Bullet holes could be seen on every inch of the wall, every body was clutching a weapon and wearing armor over their suits. It made sense now why the brute was damaged before they faced it, it first had to go through this group. The weapons lockers have been knocked over, even tossed across the room and lodged into the walls. All of them have been smashed open save for one directly to their left. There are two workbenches in the room, one in the center, and one against the right wall. On the bench against the wall, a datapad has managed to remain intact. And there isn’t a body laying next to it! Only one other exit is in this room, and it has been sealed tight with the blast doors. There is severe damage to it, no doubt from the brute attempting to escape, but it still holds strong with no way to budge it.


Whatever brief reprieve she felt from defeating the brute, was all but washed away when they walked into the next room. The scene of the struggle was horrible to look at.

Her eyes tracked the room and her gaze landed on the datapad in the center. Solveig shook her head. “Uhhhh... yeah, not this time boys," she said before directing her attention elsewhere to what appeared to be the only locked weapons locker in the room.

After a quick sleight of hand, it was off its hinges.

Inside there was a heavy weapon laid out. Some kind of projector that Sol was unfamiliar with, still she picked it up and held it out. "Might be useful."

Zenn surveyed the armory when his eyes locked onto the datapad. The one before had given them insight, maybe this one also had something useful? He walked over to the bench and read it aloud for the others.
["We took the final vote today. It was unanimous. We’re going to destroy the device. We cannot wait for help that isn’t coming. We refuse to go mad as our food and oxygen slowly diminishes. We have accepted our deaths. At least this way they will mean something.

We can’t make a push for the device with that “thing” still roaming the halls, so we’ve devised a plan. My team will set a trap, rig the controls to the blast door in the armory to overload. All we have to do is give it a bit of power from our omni-tools and it will trigger them to close. If it triggers prematurely, we can still try to escape via the maintenance hatch. Meanwhile, Leena will take the main force and clear a path to engineering. If all goes according to plan, we will rendezvous with her and begin the main assault.

I pray this message will never be read. But if someone has found it, it means my team has failed. I beg of you. Destroy the device. Destroy the Roma if you have to. It cannot survive."]

"There may still be survivors! If we can just find that maintenance hatch we might be able to reach them!"

Kysar had wandered off around the room as the other two made their beelines. After listening to Zenn read the tablet out loud he began a thorough search. Quickly ducking a look under each workbench, he found nothing. I suppose if the hatch was that obvious, these Quarians might have made it out.

The Turians brow furrowed as his lips pursed to the side. Where could it be? What’s out of place? Incessantly tapping his foot, he shone his flashlight all around the room.


Off in the far corner of the room, lay a pair of lockers in a heap. They had fallen in an odd matter, for if they had been simply knocked over, they’d be lying in a slanted position.

Getting in for a closer look, Kysar leaned over the lockers and managed to squeeze his claw between them and the wall. As he stretched his talon down, he could feel a grate.

“Hey Awks, over here, I’m gonna need that arm of yours again." He said, waving over Sol.

"I'm going to drill you both at the gym after this, you know," Solveig said as she approached the spot and got to work in clearing the space.

Sure enough, there was a hatch.

Kysar chuckled. "Why work hard when you can work smart?"

The Turian turned to Zenn. "Speaking of, Shadow, you’re up."

"I might not always be here to open doors for you, then your smarts will be tested," Solveig smirked.

“You’re going to what?" Zenn asked Sol before he turned and saw her lift the first locker out of the way. "Oh…" Zenn could feel his face start to burn again. He quickly hid his face behind the datapad in his hands and gently started hitting his forehead.

Get your act together, Zenn! She might have caught you off guard the first time, but the rest is on you. This is not the time to be distracted by tall beautiful strong women.

He took a long deep breath, then lowered the datapad revealing he was completely fine. Kysar then asked for his help, which he was more than happy to provide.

“So the thing with hatches like these." Zenn started before igniting his omni-blade and stabbing into the latch. He then simply grabbed the handle and pulled it open. "They don’t have any sort of reinforcements." With the hatch open, he took hold of the ladder and slowly climbed down. "Oh and watch your head down here. These were built for quarians and we usually don’t reach six feet."

Solveig blinked over at Zenn, about to ask him if he was feeling okay. She did worry if he was really healed from his injury on the last mission, she knew that Quarian's were prone to infection, but she didn't think a fever would be this sporadic. Maybe it was the concussion? Soon enough as it started, he was fine.

"After you Venator - gents first."

Kysar groaned. At 6 '5, he was the tallest member of the team, not to mention the fact that he was also quite wide for a Turian and packed on some serious kilos. ”Fine, but if I get stuck, you’re pushing me."

Climbing down into the cramped vent, the Turian squeezed his way through, grumbling as he once again cursed another species' ship design.

"If you get stuck, I could always open fire," Solveig said with a deadpan delivery and a shrug as she peered over the vent and looked down, watching as Kysar headed disappeared. ”Like a fish in a hole."

Soon enough she began her own descent not too long after him. Small spaces were not a bother to her. She glanced over her shoulder. "That would get you moving, no?"

Kysar gave Sol a very sarcastic laugh as the trio squeezed into the maintenance tunnel. They quickly found that Zenn was not exaggerating about how cramped it would be. It was a tight fit for the group. Sol and Kysar had to hunch down the whole way, and Kysar nearly did get stuck at one point. After heading through the tunnel for a few minutes, they came across another hatch. Zenn was able to ‘unlock’ it just as before and push it open. As he climbed up the ladder, however, several lights all shined directly on him; with an equal amount of guns attached to them.

“Whoa hey friendly! We’re friendly!" He spoke up.

“We?" An unknown filtered voice asked. ”Alright, all of you out of the shaft. Slowly."

Zenn pulled himself up, then motioned for the others to do the same.

At the top of the ladder, they would find themselves in a small hallway. They were currently surrounded by four quarians, all with weapons trained on them. One of them had stepped forward; a female quarian wearing armor with the Migrant Fleet insignia on it. She looked very similar to Zenn, only red.

“Identify yourselves and tell me what you’re doing on my ship! Now!" She ordered.

“I'm Zenn’Valin vas Konesh. We're not looters or anything. My friends and I came here to rescue you."

“Vas Konesh? Wow. Didn’t think the fleet would send you crazy bosh’tets after us." She stated with a chuckle, then signaled for the rest of the quarians to lower their weapons. ”]I’m Chief Security Officer Leena’Razna vas Roma, but these days I’m acting captain. Not my cup of tea, but I’d say it’s an improvement after what the last one put us through… Tell me. Did you happen to come across another group of us? They were supposed to meet us here."

Lowering his arms to his side, Kysar looked between his two team mates. Awks wasn't one for speeches and Zenn had had that weird moment back there just before the vents.

"They err... I'm sorry, they didn't make it."

She'd only just found herself somewhat accustomed to speaking to Kysar and Zenn without hiccup, and then that new found confidence went right back in the box in the presence of other strangers. She was glad to have found people alive but...

Solveig decided to leave this one to them.

"Damn it!" Leena cursed. ”Well did they at least cage that brute? Not that it matters, I guess. We don't have the numbers to take back engineering now, even without having to worry about that thing blindsiding us."

"They did manage to cage it but we stumbled across it." Kysar scratched the back of his head awkwardly. ”We managed to take it out though, so it won't be a problem going forward. What's the situation in engineering?"

"Wait. You killed that thing? No fucking way!" Leena was genuinely thrilled by this news. The other quarians looked taken aback as well. ”I assume you've seen the status of the Roma? The husks, the fact we're stranded in fucking space! Yeah, the thing that caused it is in engineering, guarded by who knows how many husks. We were going to use high explosive charges to blow the damn thing, but we'd need to get close to it first. Hence why we needed the brute gone, and more men. If you all are badass enough to take that brute down, we might still be able to pull this off! Assuming you'll help us?"

Solveig glanced sidelong at Zenn with a raised brow. Surely there couldn't be any more? she thought. She gave him a nod anyway, they'd come this far, might as well go the whole way.

Kysar sighed, slightly annoyed at the lack of information from the officer. He had meant the specifics of what's inside the engineering but it was obvious no-one had reconned the room.

"Do we have any info that could help us? How does the device work? Is it connected to the husks? Anyway we can recon the room or do we just have to kick down the doors and hope for the best?" The Turian had a million other questions loaded and ready to go but he did his best to bite his tongue and wait for an answer.

"Don't know the specifics, but from what we've gathered the Device itself functions similar to one of those Dragon's Teeth, except this one seems to have greater control on the husks. They seem drawn to it. First time it activated it wiped half the crew, turned them into husks, then sabotaged the ship."

"As for engineering, I can give you a layout of the room, but we don't know how many are in there. We evacuated shortly after the device went off the second time."

Zenn raised and eyebrow at Leena's second statement. ”Second time? How did a reaper device trigger after the crucible?"

Leena became visibly uncomfortable. The question Zenn asked bothered her, but she still obliged him. “We... Reactivated it."

While she had no words, she couldn't stay quiet. Sol let out a small laugh of disbelief, her fist clenched into a ball and she closed her eyes. Doing the best she could to bite her tongue.

She'd fought on the front lines as an N7 to bring the reapers down. I still have the fucking scars, she thought. And here they were, playing with reaper tech as if the lessons hadn't just been learned.

"Fuck," she ended up muttering through a clenched jaw. Why?" She added, breaking the tension. Her stare had darkened.

"We didn't have any other choice! Hell it wasn't even our idea! None of this was!" Leena turned and punched the wall, the anger in her voice felt like it was directed at herself more than anyone else.

"Every bit of equipment in this place was fried. Even all our eezo was drained. The only thing we got working was a short range comm beacon. I couldn't even tell you how long we waited until someone finally answered. We tried to explain our situation, but they just told us it was too dangerous. They couldn't send help. Then they suggested if the device had taken so much power, then maybe it had stored it and we could use it to power the ship. So we moved it from the lab to here. Hooked it up. And wouldn't you know it, the thing turned right back on but instead of powering the ship, it just destroyed our comms and brought the fucking husks back."

They'd lost enough, she thought, and held back any more words she had to berate their choices. What would it do, really? Save for waste time? She also thought about the datapad they had found. About using it as a weapon, the tone there. She reserved her thoughts, she didn't know if Kysar would.

"Let's finish the job then," was all she could manage.

"This is the type of shit I was telling you about Zenn." Kysar's frustration was too much to contain, though his threshold for keeping opinions to himself was never quite so high to begin with. ”Don't matter whose hands this falls into, it's always 'we had no choice' or 'someone else made us do it'. Bullshit you had no choice. Some of your comrades got nabbed trying to get to you and now we're here."

The Turian raised his hand to his face, massaging his temples in an attempt to calm down. ”I mean it's Reaper tech for fucks sake. Spirits, and now your crew is dead and for what? I mean -"

"Venator," Solveig expressed from behind him, reaching out to touch his arm. She was as angry on the inside as he was outside.

She couldn't even tell him it was okay, or ask him if he was okay. Fucking obviously not. She looked to Zenn for guidance, for the next move, for him to step in.

"Hey!" Leena stomped toward Kysar getting right up in his face, or as much as she could, being almost a foot shorter than him. ”You think I wanted any of this? If it had been up to me, that thing would have never been on board in the first place! If you want to blame anyone, blame that ax'kah Caeh’Fegar!"

While Solveig tried to calm down Kysar, Zenn pushed himself between him and Leena to try and separate the two. "Caeh. We read about him in one of the datapads. Whoever wrote it seemed to share your grievance about him and the previous captain."

Leena took a step back and focused on her breathing, trying not to let her anger get the better of her.

"Yeah. Head of our science team. He's the one who found the thing on Kaddi. Had it contained and transported here for 'study'. Day and night he spent tinkering with it, all the while on the holo with that salarian buddy of his. The two were convinced it could be used to override reaper control of husks. That somehow we could use it against the reapers. None of us bought it; except for the captain…" As Leena continued, her voice began to tremble. Fighting tears behind her mask. When we got the call to come to Earth, I begged him to toss it out the airlock... He dismissed me and told everyone to man their stations and prepare for battle... We barely even got out here when... Well you know the rest... After that we just did what we could to survive, but…"

"But it just got more people killed." Zenn finished for her, shaking his head. ”And so you decided you'd make sure no one made the same mistakes and destroy the device even at the cost of your own lives."

Still holding Kysar's arm, something that was said didn't sit right, ”wait…" Solveig stepped forward from the back. ”A Salarian?" she asked intensely.

"Who is the Salarian?"

"I don't know. Caeh and I weren't on good terms, so I never got the guy's name. Never asked, honestly. Why?" Leena asked at the line of inquiry. Of all the info she gave, she felt that was the least relevant. But Zenn seemed to be on the same page as Sol.

"Because the only reason we're here is because the Salarian Union let us." Zenn stated. ”They have the whole area locked off due to potential hazards... That call you got, the one that told you to hook up the device. They wouldn't have happened to be salarian as well?"

Leena's eyes grew wide and slowly filled with rage. ”That Bosh'tet…"

And suddenly, it all clicked into place. CAT6, expendable mercs hired to kill anything that entered or exited, payment to such an organisation during such times would’ve been easy to wipe from record. Quarians, an alien race with a history of messing with tech they shouldn’t. All of it, so easy to deny, so easy to sweep under the rug. So easy, as long no one looked hard enough.

Kysar was right, it was a black op. A fucking STG black op. Those slippery fuckers are looking for the advantage. Something in him snapped, something far beyond the realm of anger. The Turian felt his eyes glaze over as he breathed in deep through his nose and out his mouth. A feeling of cold nothingness swept through his body like a blizzard. It was a similar feeling to the one he had felt upon witnessing the horrors of death his old comrades had faced.


“We need to gather every bit of evidence we can find tying the Salarians to this." He said calmly. "I’m going to take it and make sure they all burn for this."

Leena shook her head. "I've been up and down these halls for who knows how long and I've found nothing connecting STG to this. Not to mention once we blow this device the whole ship could be taken out."

"There is one option…" Zenn said. He couldn't believe the words coming out of his mouth, but someone had to say it. ”We leave the device."

"Are you insane? Have you not been paying attention to anything we've said!" Leena practically screamed at Zenn.

"I'm just saying, if we destroy that thing then we have nothing but witness statements. STG will deny and cover up everything and then it's our word against theirs. Who do you think the council will side with then?" Zenn started pacing the halls. ”But if we leave it. We could use it and the whole ship as evidence. It might not be airtight, but we would have a much stronger case…" He was going back and forth. These people deserved justice. His people. The STG or whoever helped orchestrate this needed to pay. But then the device would still be around, and could just as easily fall into the wrong hands. Any hands. Zenn hated this. He knew this choice would haunt him, but there was only one option.

"It's just like I told you, Kysar. It has to be destroyed at all costs. Even justice…"

The severe shift in Kysar's energy was felt by Solveig and she quickly took her hand off him, and back to her own side as a prolonged chill crawled up her spine. It was off-putting, it wasn't Kysar - or maybe it exactly was. The woman couldn't bring herself to meet his eyes, and his words worried her. That darkness rearing its head again just like at the meat plant, just like on the shuttle. Still, she held between him and the quarians.

"My mission here was to rescue survivors...-" she said to Zenn - the decision was his.

There was more she wanted to say to him, and the way she paused suggested so too, but she didnt. Not now.

Kysar stood silent, reacting to neither of the words said by his colleagues. He was focused, honed in on a goal. Caeh was the answer, he'd have evidence not even the STG could get to. Pulling the rifle from his back, he began checking the sights.

"Leena, we'll be needing that layout."

Leena nodded, also ready to put an end to this and move on. She pulled up her omni-tool, which flickered and blurred as it was clearly almost out of power itself. It projected a holographic display of engineering.

All terminals, equipment and anything else one would expect from this room had been gutted, making room for the giant reaper artifact. It looked similar in design to dragon’s teeth, but with several more spikes protruding from one master antenna. The ground floor was not marred with blood and bodies this time, well, not dead bodies. Husk bodies, on the other hand, filled the room. The creatures stumbled around in the dark as they swarmed the low level.

The plan was this: The team would enter at the top of an overlook, with a set of stairs on either side. With the high ground advantage, it would be like shooting fish in a hole, but they still had to reach the device and set the charges. Even with the extra firepower of the SRN team, clearing the whole room would be nearly impossible. Their best bet would be to clear a path for a single runner. They would reach the base of the device, set the charges, then run back. Should the runner fall, another would have to go retrieve the charges and take their place. When everything was in place, they would collapse a set of storage containers they set up to block the door and prevent the husks from chasing them. Then it was a matter of getting to the shuttle and watching the fireworks from a safe distance.

“The runner's job is by far the most dangerous." Leena explained. ”They’ll be right in the middle of all those husks. I wouldn’t ask it of anyone. Which is why I’ll-”

“I’ll do it." Zenn interrupted. "I’m no stranger to running through enemy lines. I should be able to find a clear path, set the charges, and get back in no time. They might not even know I’m there."

Leena rolled her eyes. ”Really? You think you can slip through a swarm of husks undetected?"

“They don’t call me ‘Shadow’ for nothing." Zenn boasted and pointed at himself with his thumb.

“Who does?" Leena asked.

“Uhh. They do." Zenn gestured to his team.

“Uh-huh. And did one of them give you that name or did you request it?"

“I think we’re getting off topic." Zenn said, avoiding the question. ”Point is, I have the skills to do this and I’m not about to let you or any one else we came to rescue put your lives at risk."

Kysar didn't like their plan. It was too risky and Zenn was a little too keen to throw himself into a dangerous situation. A bleeding heart was not enough of a reason to run such a risk.

"Any access tunnels like the one we just crawled through?"

"All of this is risky," Solveig said. “Venator is right," she added - eyeing Zenn up and down with an almost curious expression - deep in thought.

She believed he probably could make the run, but, ”have to minimise risk."

"Well, there is an access hatch in there, but it's locked." Leena explained.

"Don't worry. I have a key." Zenn ignited his omni-blade, then quickly retracted it. Leena did not look impressed.

"Fantastic. Alright then. Zenn you take the vents and signal us when you're in. We'll draw their attention the same way we planned, then you slip out once you have the charges planted and we'll retreat as planned. Heh, we might actually pull this off."

"Then let's not waste any more time! Hand me those charges and let’s have a blast!" Zenn said and held out his hand towards the quarian carrying the charges.

Leena and the other quarian’s just stared at him silently before she turned to Kysar and asked “Is he always like this?"

“Willing to risk his life for others?" Kysar almost smiled as he looked towards Zenn. ”Yeah, he is."

Turning to face the group, the Turian addressed everyone. "I’ll need two of you to help me focus heavy fire down the staircase, we don’t want to get overwhelmed. The rest of you can shoot over the railings. Covering us while we reload” Pausing, he rolled his head around and flexed his back muscles, limbering up before the fight. ”And if anyone spots Caeh, call out. I’ll be needing his body."

"Where do you want me?" Solveig asked. ”I can take the stairs, or the railing."

She held her arm out, rolling it at the wrist, and then back through the shoulder. It made a gentle mechanical thrum as she did.

Kysar, still calm and collected, spoke with nothing but certainty. ”Take the railings to start, from there you can watch out for Zenn just in case. We’ll see how we go after that. Might have to put that arm to use if the fight gets too close to home on the staircase."

"You got it," she replied with a nod. ”I'll set up with cryo ammo, that should keep things clear."

For the third or fourth time on this mission Zenn’s face began to turn red, though this time it was due to Kysar’s statement. He was not prepared for such kind words even if he did really appreciate them. Behind his mask, Zenn had a rather large smile.

The quarian’s all nodded in agreement. Kysar’s plan was a solid improvement to their original idea. All they needed now was a little luck and they could pull this off! Leena grabbed the charges from the quarian holding them and tossed the bag over to Zenn as she gave them a final speech. ”Alright. You know your jobs. Stick to them and do not leave your position until we give the signal. This is it. We either stop that thing or die trying! Keelah Se'lai!"
3x Like Like
Hidden 3 mos ago Post by Awesomoman64
Avatar of Awesomoman64

Awesomoman64 I should go

Member Seen 0-24 hrs ago

Daring Rescue: Part 3

The teams moved into their respective positions. Zenn crawled through the tunnels under the ship, while the quarians along with Kysar and Sol crept through the door on the overlook but kept a low profile to not disturb the countless husks that stumbled in the depths. It looked exactly as Leena had described, but there was still one key feature that hadn’t been discussed; the radiating light from the reaper device made this the only room illuminated without any flashlights. It would make things much easier for both teams, but it did mean Zenn would have to be more aware of where he was when his cloak wore off.

Well, no time like the present. ”This is Shadow. I’m heading in." Zenn announced on comms. He proceeded to slice the lock on the hatch to the room, then activated his cloak and crawled out. He paused for a moment, analyzing the best route he could run without bumping into any husks. His best bet would be to stick to the walls. He pressed up against the wall and carefully slid along. His cloak wouldn’t last long enough to go this way, so he would have to make a run for it the second he found an opening.

His cloak was nearly half gone when he finally spotted a section where the husks had parted. Without hesitation he made a break for it and bolted towards the device. He was fast, maybe too fast. He got through the crowd of husks, but didn’t see one of the long bundles of cables on the ground. The cables caught his foot and tripped him to the ground. It was a good thing he was invisible, so nobody saw. At least he really really hoped they hadn’t.

Pulling himself up, he finished his run to the device, just in time for his cloak to wear off. The moment it dropped, a number of husks turned their heads looking directly at him.

“I’m spotted! Open fire!" Zenn alerted over comms.

The Quarian's weren't kidding, the number of husks crammed into the engineering room was almost unbelievable. It was almost as if half the ships population was in one room. A swarm of rotting, twisted corpses stood with their attention focused on the device. Whatever it was, it shone bright like a star, mesmerizing in its own way.

Strange. Kysar thought, I think.. I think I can feel its energy. It was a feeling reminiscent of earlier, when he had tapped into the dark energy of the pilot, only scaled up.

Zenn's frantic call over the comm link shook the Turian from his trance. "Now! Fire!" Focusing on those closest to the bottom of the staircase, he let loose, mowing down all in the path of his rifle with others nearby starting to turn their attention.

Solveig stood up on the balcony with some of the other Quarians, assault rifle in hand and her cryo ammo loaded. On Kysar's word she began shooting, the husks she shot became hardened with the bright blue bullets, before shattering like crystal, and bursting into billowing clouds of dust.

As she glanced to the side, she saw the Quarians wavering, even those with Kysar below.

Solveig reloaded and took aim again, her stare focused and menacing. She hoped the Quarians would get their confidence. Zenn needed them.

“Keelah… There’s so many of them…" One of the quarians said, and even began to slowly back up towards the door. The sight of so many husks piled in made him second guess this plan, even if it was their best if not only chance to stop them.

Leena did not hesitate to grab the quarian by the collar and pull him back. ”You’re not going anywhere! We need everyone firing if we want to get out of this. These people gave us another shot at taking this thing down, we are not about to abandon them now!" She practically tossed him to the edge of the railing where he was supposed to be positioned. ”That goes for all of you! Anyone else tries to leave, and I’ll make you wish the husks caught you!"

Their bravery renewed, or their fear of their commander outweighing that of the husks, the quarians snapped out of it and resumed their positions.

Meanwhile, Zenn kneeled by the device and began pulling out the charges. One by one, he carefully attached them to the device while occasionally looking over his shoulder to be sure none of the husks were coming his way.

It wasn’t enough. Even with their commander kicking the Quarians into gear, the whole team combined still weren’t turning enough of the husks heads. Worse still, it looked as if some were noticing Zenn.

“Wraith," Kysar cried out over the comms. "How’s our boy doing out there?"

Amongst the crowd of husks, Solveig could see Zenn, ”his best," she answered, before evaluating the situation - the big picture. ”But it's not enough. Coming down to you!"

She launched over the railings quickly, and found herself back to back with her Turian team-mate.

"Thinking this might do something," she said - holding out the arc projector, pressing her finger against the trigger - bringing the strange new weapon to life. ”Need help though. Make them look at me."

Kysar nodded, holstering his rifle and stepping out from the line. An aura of blue biotics began to emanate from his core as the Turian arms spread wide. His slam technique had been honed to take one heavy object and drive it down into the earth rather than a group of lighter objects. Husks, however, were relatively light so he had to make this one a spectacle.

Snapping his hands together, Kysar caught a husk in his biotic blue web, hoisting the creature into the sky above. Holding in the air for just a moment longer, the Turian hoped he could outshine the device and gather the attention of as many of the husks as possible.

Swiftly, Kysar roared as he brought the creature down, rocketing it into the floor as quickly as he could. Guts and chunks of flesh rained down upon everyone in the surrounding area as the husk exploded on impact. The Turian looked back over his shoulder at Sol, hoping he not only gave her the display needed but the time to charge the weapon to fire.

Kysar got the attention she had wanted him to and Solveig watched his biotic manoeuvre, impressed by his display. Just like that, a row of them began surround both Solveig and Kysar in a circle, lunging forwards. “Nice!" She called out, pointing the gun forwards.

A second light burst forth to illuminate the room from the barrel of the arc projector. The lightning hit the husk closest to Sol first, and the bolt continued its trajectory in a spectacular fashion from husk to husk in a line.

Solveig had made a web of her own, crackling and snapping through bodies quickly. But what to do now? The weapon felt hot in her hand, and it kept going until it curled and sparked near Kysar. The best she could do was drop the damn thing. It had overheated in her hand, and the husks were still moving in. They were off Zenn, but moving in a second wave.

“Gah, fuck!"

As the bolts from the arc projector rippled through the crowd, one had snapped back at Kysar, zapping his wrist. The Turian hadn’t had the time to grab a gun from his back and now he was flicking his hand to try and shoo the pain away.

Unfortunately this gave time for the enemy to close the gap. One husk had somehow dodged the round of lightning and had set its sights on the Turian. Kysar, as cocky as ever smiled as the creature leapt towards him, flicking his wrist to ignite his Omni-blade.

“What the fuck?" Was all he managed to get out before the husk was on him. His Omni tool had failed, sparking and fluttering, the orange hue of the device refused to properly start up. No doubt it was due to the arc projector but that was the least of the Turians troubles. Gnashing and clawing, the creature attacked Kysar with mindless ferocity. All he could was try and hold it back from biting anything vital.

Skita! she cursed, watching as Kysar was suddenly swarmed, the fucking projector. Damn guns, she thought before pushing forward to his left, pulling back her arm to slam a solid punch on the husk - it ended up going right through its centre, and whatever was inside of it became a grotesque bracelet of sorts as she pulled her arm back.

Solveig wondered why she had been using guns at all in these close quarters. Knowing that Kysar would be fine, she swung forwards, launching more melee attacks in front of her - fast and graceful, her tactical cloak shimmered and flickered as she danced around until she became as her callsign suggested.

The quarians too, were invigorated, and a final push began.

All the charges were in place. Now all that was left was setting the detonators. Each one had to be properly connected to the explosive and then wired to the timer. It was a delicate process. One wrong move and the whole thing could go up in flames. On top of that, the husks were starting to get wise to the real threat.

Even with Kysar, Sol, and the quarians giving them hell, a handful of husks were still pushing their way to Zenn. He kept a close eye on the ones who weren’t getting distracted, and when they got past his comfort zone, he pulled out his pistol and began dropping them. He could feel himself sweating in his suit as he fired with one hand, and punched in the code to prime the timer with the other. They were cutting this close. He just needed a few more-


“Timer is set and the charges are active! Everyone out now!" Zenn called over comms as he jumped away from the device and activated his cloak. Once more he ran through the crowd of husks, only this time he wasn’t trying to be discreet as he simply shoved any of them out of his way and practically dove into the maintenance tunnel. He slammed the hatch behind him and took off, hoping he would meet his team on the other side.

Kysar wiped the muck from his armour. It was the second time in the last minute he'd been showered in the guts of husks and the smell was starting to get to him. Rising to his feet, the Turian's muscles cried out in pain, an acidic burn of pure exhaustion. It was clear that his adrenaline levels were wasting away.

Around him, the situation was no better. Both Kysar and Sol had been encircled while the Quarian's position was close to being overrun. Enough husks had died beneath the railings that others were using their bodies as boosts to climb up and over. The creatures had also swarmed the stairs en-masse, cutting off everyone's exit.

Sol might make it. The Turian's grim thought echoed throughout his mind. She's cloaked, I could tell her to find Zenn's vent and get out of here. Kysar looked up and towards the Quarians, the survivors of a disgusting plot that they had fought so hard to find. No, she wouldn't leave them and maybe not me either.

Ammo was low and with his arm injured, he'd resorted to his sidearm. The Turian dropped one husk after the other but they just kept coming, getting closer and closer with each shot. This can't be it, we can't have come all this way for nothing. This fucking device won't... wait...

That was it! Of course, he'd felt it earlier. The husks weren't fully machines, they were synthetic, a hybrid of both organic and machine. Which meant... So is the device.

"Wraith cover me, I've got an idea."

At this last minute? Sol thought to herself, furrowing her brow. Still, they'd made it this far on each other's ideas, hadn't they?

"Then make it fast!" She answered, pulling out her assault rifle and bringing herself as close to the Turian as she could. Zenn was already back in the tunnel - this was about buying time.

Closing his eyes, Kysar walled off the noise around him, focusing on the pulse of the device. This time around breaking off from reality happened frighteningly quick. His mind plunged into what felt like a fathomless pool of freezing water, being dragged deeper and deeper into a dark abyss by an unknown force.

Flashes of Quarian's crying out in pain and terror flooded in and all around. Emotion so raw he could feel everything that made them an individual, sentient being be ripped to shreds. They wailed, crying out in inaudible words as their souls were torn from their bodies and replaced with cold hard logic. One by one their life was snuffed out, the device leaving nothing but lobotomised husks in its wake.

This is what the reapers had done to so many, gutted everything that made them what they were, leaving nothing but empty shells. The device itself appeared as if it was a great eye, commanding it's troops to march forward and spread. It demanded more victims and more power.

Kysar could feel it, the eye cast itself towards him, threatening to gut him too. Dark blue blood began to stream from the Turian nose as his spirit fought on. I... must... do... this... Thoughts of this twisted fate befalling his comrades came into view. He could not fail. He would not fail.

Approaching the great eye the Turian shouted with all his might, commanding, ”SLEEP!"

All husks dropped to the floor as did Kysar. The device dimmed leaving the room in a dull moonlight.

What kind of dark puppetry...? Sol asked herself as she witnessed the dimming of the lights in the room, and everything else. Something was seeping from Kysar, that same aura that had glimmered forth earlier - the energy all consuming and suffocating.

Something switched in her mind, a fear took over. Not one of being hurt by the husks, not one of dying on the ship - but a fear for Kysar, for his very spirit. That kind of dark magic was dangerous, like a drug that would draw you in and she had already seen him skirt on the fringes of his anger at the meat plant. No. She thought, as she moved into action - in her mind, a monologue rattled off the reasons why this was dangerous and she realised how eloquent she was in thought, her mother tongue. She wished it wouldn't betray her so much each time she opened her mouth.

She ducked to run her arm under his, gripping him at the waist. Why are you so wide? she thought as she took a good grip and rose to her full height with as much of his weight on her as she could manage. Deadlifting a Turian hadn't been on her list of things to do today, but nor had giving a piggyback to a Quarian.

If the situation wasn't so dire, she'd have laughed.

"Walk it off, Venator," she muttered, "we have to get to the barrier yet."

What were you thinking? She thought too, as she moved as fast as she could toward it, dragging him if she had to until he found his own strength again.

"Sh-Shadow, keep going - we're right behind you," she said over their comms. Solveig wasn't about to turn back and view the scene again, and she wasn't going to leave him behind. Onward only.

Stumbling along haphazardly with Sol, Kysar left the engineering room behind. Unslinging himself from his team mate, the Turian found the closest wall and leant back first into it. Slumping to the floor, he waved away the concerned Quarians.

“Just… need… a sec." Kysar said as he wiped some of the blood from his nose to stop it from leaking into his mouth. Looking up at Sol he croaked. "I’ll.. I’ll be ok. Hit the barrier."

"You better be," Solveig said softly as she let Kysar sit so she could get to work releasing the crates. I'm not carrying you all the way back."

She punched and crushed a few of them in together, compacting them for a tighter barrier that wouldn't just slide away or be moved, and it began to dawn on her just how much they'd come up against since leaving SRN earlier. It was time for their last run.

As Sol collapsed the makeshift barricade around the door and smashed it firmly into place, the faint sound of husks resumed as they returned to life and started smashing against the barricade. It did not budge. They were sealed inside. One of the quarians walked over to Kysar ready with an application of medi-gel, but he was waved away. The turian’s injury wasn’t one that could be ‘healed’, he just needed a stiff drink and soft bed.

“We did it… I can’t believe we actually-” One of the quarians started to say between heavy breaths, but was quickly interrupted by Leena.

“Not yet we haven’t." Leena corrected him.

“Once we’re on their shuttle flying as far away from this hell as we can, then we’ll have done it. Now where the hell is your other teammate?" She asked, glancing at Sol and Kysar.

“Present!" Zenn’s voice echoed out of the hatch before he slowly pulled himself out. ”We should have plenty of time but we should still start- Keelah, Kysar!" Zenn immediately ran over to his bleeding teammate. ”What happened to you? Are you alright?"

“I’m fine." Kysar coughed, holding up a hand so no one got closer. ”I’m fine, we should get moving." The Turian stood slowly, spitting a large gob of phlegm and dried blood as he did so.

Turning to Sol, he smiled weakly. ”Don’t worry, I’ll carry myself."

Solveig nodded at Kysar, with the slightest of smiles appearing too. She was glad he was back on his feet, but mostly she wanted to get back to the shuttle. She felt sore all over, and her shoulders especially were tingling from all of the effort of the mission. ”R-ready to go," she said.

“Alright. If you're sure you’re fine. Let’s get out of here!" Zenn stated and motioned for everyone to follow.

The group retraced their steps through the ship, only this time they rushed past each room instead of proceeding with caution. They had time, but they still didn’t want to risk getting delayed. It was due to their haste, however, that they didn’t notice the lights coming from the observation deck until they stepped inside. Outside the window, a salarian patrol craft had its lights shining in to illuminate the room and connected to it was the CAT6 shuttle. Inside standing in front of the exit was a face most hadn’t seen before, but was very familiar to Zenn: Captain Pirdoc Nemin.

“Captain Nemin…" Zenn said glaring at the salarian.

Nemin stepped forward toward the group and spoke in a rather pleasant voice. ”Ah Mr. Valin! We were just preparing to come in to assist you, but I see you and your team were successful without us. I am impressed."

“Save it!" Zenn blurted out. "We know the STG played a part in the fate of this ship! Then they tried to cover it up by tricking the survivors into reactivating the device! Now I know why you wouldn’t send any help. You probably thought we’d die out here too."

Nemin froze in place, stunned by Zenn’s words. At least that’s what he appeared to be, before he suddenly broke into laughter. ”Bravo, Mr. Valin! You and your group really are more capable than I thought. We probably could have done a lot of business with you and the SRN. A pity you had to go sticking your nose where it didn’t belong."

Nemin snapped his fingers, and a squad of salarian commandos surrounding the group uncloaked. They easily outnumbered the group and slowly moved in with weapons drawn. ”I’m afraid none of you will be leaving this ship. But since you came all this way, I will humor any questions you may have. And yes, I am aware of your plan to blow up the device, but I assure you we have plenty of time to deal with that."

Kysar spat on the floor, had he not just flayed his own mind on the husks he would have come up with some creative ways to go down swinging. The offer of information had sparked a question though, the final piece of the puzzle that the Turian just couldn’t work out.

“Why leak the story? You couldn’t have known the SRN would respond but you knew someone would. The STG would’ve covered a mess like this up a lot easier if you hadn’t done that. What is it you’re after?"

As Kysar asked his questions, Solveig moved slowly and carefully backwards, and to the side until she was standing in front of the other quarians. She stretched out her arm at her side like a shield, keeping them behind her as the commandos moved in toward them all.

"Why indeed?" Nemin said, shooting a nasty glare at his men. Each one seemed to shift uncomfortably, as if they were hiding something. ”In truth, turian, even I don't know. Even with the quarian miners discovering the signal we could have easily handled things quietly, but once the media got involved it became... Complicated. Our plan was to wait it out. Simply lock off the sector until the public attention turned elsewhere. But then your annoying quarian friend got involved. He just would not let it go."

"Let me guess," Zenn jumped in. "You realized the only way to shut me up would be to let me in. Then when the husks or CAT6 killed us you could double down on the area being 'hazardous'. Thus silencing me and ensuring no one tried to disturb your work after that?"

"...I take it I'm not the first person to try this on you?" Nemin asked with a raised eyebrow.

"I have a habit of volunteering for things that should kill me." Zenn shrugged.

Kysar began to laugh. A hand dropped to his stomach as the other slapped Zenn on the shoulder. The Turian's whole body shuddered into a howling roar. ”Aha Spirits! I get it now."

Kysar threw his hands up, inching forward slowly towards Nemin, careful to not make any sudden movements but still giggling away. ”You know, I knew a guy like you once. So deeply entrenched in the power play of the espionage world that he would do anything to be top dog." The Turian looked around at the STG soldiers. ”]Shit, not even the members of his own team were sacred to him. He'd have thrown each and every single one of them to the varrens just to get a shot at power. Isn't that right Nemin?"

Stopping a few steps away from the Salarian, Kysar continued before he could even answer. ”But what he didn't realise was that moves like this isolated him. Made him weak when he thought he was in a position of strength. That if the group worked together, they could, oh I don't know, pin a move he made that went way too far on him and him alone. What do you think guys?" The Turian gestured to both friend and foe, hoping that either he was able to convince the STG or that he was serving as a good enough distraction for his allies to try something.

"Think of this situation," Solveig added, glancing to Kysar. She knew what he was doing.

"Imagine the Alliance coming into this area," she paused, still in a protective stance ahead of the quarians. "To find a missing N7."

“And the missing daughter of a Vice Admiral."

She scowled over towards Nemin through her nerves. It was the truth, to an extent. ”That would make you all look very not great now... Don't think he'll admit to it."

Kysar eyes widened for a split second as he wondered how true Sol’s story was. Shaking the thought loose, the Turian smiled, partly proud of his team mate for stepping out of her comfort zone and partly proud of the fact she had just created some more icing for the cake.

“Just how much can you cover up? A prominent missing alliance figure, three of the top SRN agents," A small bead of sweat dripped down the back of the Turians head as his words spilled out. "Spirits, even the Hierarchy will ask questions about me."

The room fell silent. All the salarians looked at one another, but remained at the ready. After a moment, the silence was finally broken by a chuckle from Nemin. ”Really? That's the best you had? You think my men would turn on me just because of a few 'heroic' speeches and idle threats? I guess after all this I was expecting more from you all. No matter. If you're finished we have things to attend to. Soldiers. Open fire."

As Nemin gave the command, the silence of the room returned. None of them pulled the trigger. After a second or two, one of them lowered their weapon. Another followed, and another, until soon not one gun was pointing at the SRN team or the quarians.

"What? What do you think you're doing? I said fire!" Nemin practically screamed at his men.

"They're right, Captain." One of them spoke up. ”This has gone too far. Hell, we passed too far on the way to get where we are now. Your obsession with this reaper device has cost too many lives, and we all went along with it. But no more. We're taking these people home. After that we'll be contacting Colonel Vaykom and telling him all about what you've been up to. I'm sure he'll find a nice cell for you to spend the rest of your days in. And if we end up there with you, then so be it."

Nemin's face twisted. Everything was falling apart around him. Just when he thought he had control, the situation completely turned on him. ”Fine! Turn me in! But you're mistaken if you think I'll go down for this! I have connections all over the citadel! I won't spend a day in jail while the rest of you will spend the remainder of your lives locked away for insubordination and treason! Mark my words, you will regret-" Nemin was unable to finish his monologue due to the bottom of Zenn's pistol connecting with the side of his head. Nemin fell to the ground, his helmet absorbed most of the impact, but the shock was still enough to leave him stunned.

Up until now, the quarian had remained quiet to let his friends speak and watch the salarians at last stand up against this madman. However, what Nemin was saying made sense. If he was STG, he'd have all kinds of strings he could pull. He might even be able to disappear and live the rest of his days in some secluded part of the system while everyone else takes the fall. The very idea that Nemin even had a chance of getting away with this. The slaughter. The betrayal. He couldn't take that risk.

Zenn placed his foot on Nemin's chest and leaned close. ”You think after everything you've done you get to walk away?" Zenn's voice was different from normal. It was cold. Emotionless. As he spoke, he reached down and grabbed Nemin by his collar, pulling him closer. The salarian's face turned pale as his eyes met the quarian's callus gaze. ”All the lies you told? All the people you killed? No. No you won't be going to jail. You're not even going to the citadel." Zenn pressed his arc pistol against Nemin's head. It began to hum softly as the gun started to charge. ”You're going to die here, with all the others you condemned on this ship."

Everything had escalated so quickly, and yet it all played out so slowly - every movement, every word that built up the moment to its crescendo. Solveig felt the air turn cold, Zenn, gun in hand held against Nemin - was about to pull the trigger.

She couldn't let it happen. Not him, not like this. The Salarian was deserving of it, wasn't he? A monster that was about to kill them all for the gift of getting away with everything monstrous on this ship.

Hell, she didn't know Zenn well but she knew enough to find it hard to recognise him right now. She knew too well the price of pulling that trigger.

He can't do this.

Was anyone going to stop him? Was it going to have to be her? She twitched, clenched and flexed her hand, opening and closing her palm. She felt numb from her elbow to her fingertips, a migraine starting behind her eyes. What could she even say?

"Zenn!" Solveig yelled out before her mind had even put the words together. Fuck.

She croaked as everyone's heads turned to her - at least, it felt like they did. Snapping in unison to her direction to watch her fumble, stutter, or say the wrong thing. Make it worse.

Then it came to her - her father, the feeling of him holding her hand - his touch had always been so warm and grounding.

She recalled words he'd told her once too, a message she had once needed, and she repeated it to Zenn. Slowly. Enunciating everything.

"You can not... Honour anyone," she paused, softening her words - she felt the heat of the moments spotlight burning at her face, drying out her throat but she didn't want the words to die in there, no matter how heavy they felt.

"If you dishonour your values…"

The shot had startled Kysar. So much so, that he had instinctually drawn his own side arm, thinking one of the Salarians had had a change of heart.

Instead Zenn rushed into view, rage spewing from the Quarian like hot lava as he closed in for the kill. On the outside, Kysar froze. His mind had severed communication with his body to focus every bit of power it had on its synapses. The Turian's life flashed before his eyes.

The betrayal of his Cabal commander Scipio, the betrayal of his team in letting him take the fall, the sentencing to Purgatory prison, the change he had to make from a creature of unbridled rage to a cold calculating monster. The thing he had to become just to survive that place, something as soulless as the husks they fought. A moment like this was the catalyst.

The world around Kysar had been shut out, as if a spotlight had fallen on Zenn and Nemin alone. Though their adventure between the three of them had been brief, the Turian had felt something blossom over this journey. Friendship, something that had been so alien to him for so long. What was happening right now was a mistake, one that would affect the soul of his new found friend forever.

He couldn't let Zenn do this. He couldn't let the Quarian become a monster but Kysar, ah yes, he was already there. A soul already hopelessly lost, what was one more murder? One more act of evil from someone who deserved no redemption. He could do it, the Turian could be what maybe he always was.

Lowering his pistol, Kysar took aim at Nemin's head and fired.

Zenn kept eye contact with Nemin as Sol called out to him. His finger didn't move, keeping the gun charged, but not pulling the trigger just yet. There wasn't much Sol could say to stop him, but he would still listen, he owed her that much. What she said, however, did give him pause.

His values? She was trying to argue this was against his values? Nemin was a threat to the system. Maybe Sol had forgotten, but Zenn was a soldier. And if there was one thing he specialized in; it was eliminating threats.

"Sol…" Zenn said softly, trying to find the words to explain what he was about to do. ”I-"


Zenn was cut off by the sound of a gunshot. His helmet was covered in a splatter of green blood as Nemin's head burst in front of him. Zenn blinked a few times, taking a moment to process what had just happened. His head slowly turned to look in the direction the shot came from to see Kysar holding a gun pointed at Nemin.

Oh. So that's what this was. A distraction. Sol didn't really care, she just wanted to stall him so Kysar could claim the kill and take the fall for this instead. What? Did they not think he could handle this? That he wasn't prepared for what he was about to do? Zenn kept a firm gaze with the turian as he released his grip and let Nemin's body fall to the ground.

"Really?" Zenn asked. His voice had returned to the cold tone he had used before. ”I'm more than capable of following through with my own threats, Kysar. Next time you get an itchy trigger finger, find your own target."

The Turian's mouth opened. There was so much he wanted to say, so many things he wanted to explain. That this wasn't about capability at all. That for the first time in a long time, he didn't act out of anger or hate, he did what he did to save someone he cared about. That he himself had been down this path and he had seen everything that came with it.

Kysar's stomach sank deeper then it had ever done before. He felt as if his heart was stuck in his throat. Croaking, there were no words to be found. Let him be angry at you. He needs this and I can take being hated.

Holstering his pistol the Turian looked away from both of his team members and headed for the shuttle.

Solveig's jaw clenched and her eyes closed tight when the shot was fired. She flinched at the impact. Thankfully, the gasp was drowned out by the sound of blood, and of Zenn's voice.

She took a breath or two. Her legs felt like they were going to collapse under her, but since Kysar had left the scene, there were things to be done.

She avoided Zenn's gaze too, and made way with her head lowered to the commando she assumed was next best in line. To talk about this, to try and come to a resolution.

She felt so much damned disappointment in them both. But why? They're just teammates, this is just another mission, it'll be over soon.

Her fingers danced nervously over a small compartment of the armour on her leg. She thought back to earlier, when they both had guns pointed at each other - it's just a fucking mission Sol, stop it. You're done with this when Katya wakes up.

Zenn continued to watch as Kysar turned away from him as he headed to the shuttle without saying a word. He then shifted to look at Sol, who was also avoiding his gaze and not saying anything. Were they really just going to avoid him now? Not even address what happened? His hands clenched into fists. Things were going so well. Why did they have to mess them up? And now they didn't even have the guts to look at him. Fine. Be that way. Zenn thought as he turned away from Sol.

The salarian Sol walked up to was the one who stood up to Nemin. Seemed he was now the spokesman for the commandos as he was the first to speak up again. ”What do we do now? The salarian union will not look kindly on SRN operatives killing a member of the STG, even if he was a monster. Not to mention we all stood by while it happened. When they find out, all sorts of hell will rain down on all of us."

"Then they won't find out." Zenn replied, almost eerily calm. He casually holstered his weapon and began wiping the blood from his suit. ”When you report to Vaykom, tell him that Nemin decided to investigate the signal afterall and brought you all along. You found the ship, the reaper device, and the survivors. You helped destroy it, but Nemin was killed in action. You'll look like heroes for stopping a possible reaper resurgence and rescuing the quarians, while the STG will believe their tracks are covered and won't look further into this."

"But what about you?" The salarian asked. "What will you tell your employer?"

"We ran into some technical troubles and never made it to the coordinates. You found us on the way back and towed our shuttle to the citadel. A quick check of our flight logs will confirm those events." Zenn stated.

The salarian looked at him in complete disbelief. ”So you're really just going to give us all the credit? Let the system think we saved the quarians and paint Nemin's death as some noble sacrifice?"

"So long as everyone makes it out of this, I'll tell whatever story the higher-ups want to hear." Zenn shrugged. ”I... We don't do this for the glory." He finished before heading to the shuttle himself.

As alone as she was with the Salarians, Solveig took the time to see them back into their ship. Not saying much at all as she went.

In the quiet, she felt familiar pains in her body. Migraine, trembling, patches of her skin that felt like they were on fire.

She also felt... embarrassed. Those last few moments gnawing at her. The voice in her head that sounded just like her mother began to chastise and mock her. She knew the ride was about to be especially uncomfortable.

Solveig took another deep breath, tensing her arm, and headed over to the shuttle too.
3x Like Like
Hidden 3 mos ago Post by Shu
Avatar of Shu

Shu ☕️ 📿

Member Seen 0-24 hrs ago

Longyearbyen, Svalbard
Evening, April 14

From: Sunset
To: Shadow, Wraith, Venator, Rogue, Lunatic


I have an update on Janiri. Let’s meet in the mess hall once everyone has returned to base.

Nadara entered the mess hall, where a number of others were chatting amicably and finishing their dinners. Only a few glances came her way, though likely more so because they admired her figure than due to any lasting memories of her involvement in the dispute from earlier.

She sat at an empty table and began squeezing her favored stress ball.

After a few minutes of extended thought, Nadara decided to send a second message.

From: Sunset
To: Shadow, Wraith, Venator, Rogue, Lunatic


Kysar, guns won’t be necessary. It’s good news.

From one of the tables in the back of the mess hall, Solveig stood up. A shower and a change of clothes had done her some good (as well as two plates of food).

With her trademark intense expression she began her way over to Nadara's table, third plate in hand - some steamed greens and rice, she sat back down in front of the Asari, giving her a curt nod and nothing else before she got back to finishing the food in silence.

Quickly putting the stress ball away at Solveig’s presence, Nadara instead leaned her head on her hand, watching the human eat. “We should really demand better quality food,” she said offhandedly. Nadara assumed Solveig wouldn’t need to be told she was waiting for everyone to arrive before going into the details. “Rescue go alright?”

"I don't mind this," Solveig answered with a slight shrug. "Simple, but fine. Rescue wasn't so simple, but was fine. I suppose." An underwhelming response that she stated with an air of discomfort. She wasn't really sure how she was feeling after the mission. She wasn't sure how Zenn and Kysar would be feeling either.

"Uhhhh-" Solveig began after a pause. "I... you're well?"

Nadara sighed dramatically, dropping her head to the table, only to remember where she was, and quickly raised her head again. Goddess knows the last time they provided a deep cleaning on these tables.

“Fine, fine. Had a run in with my mother though, so— you know,” Nadara waved her hand in the air absently, “still recovering.”

Solveig gave a slight smile, "Good luck with that." she said with a knowing glance, taking the last few bites of food from the plate.

Amina came strolling in, shed of her armor and kit she wore a simple black turtleneck she had grabbed earlier and a pair of sleek, olive colored trousers to go with. Even as plain as the choice in clothing was it gave the militaristic woman a very unique pedestrian look compared to the usual.
Amina passed Nadara and Solveig up initially, taking the time to get her meal in order before sitting with the two.

“Well?” Amina asked expectantly as she dove into her food, ears open.

Nadara blinked a few times when she realized the person sitting down was Amina. Where has she been hiding this outfit? She thought, appreciating the way the ensemble accentuated her lovely form. Probably under that horrible coat, she added, unable to stop herself. It should be burned.
“Oh,” Nadara finally said aloud, realizing Rogue was waiting for a response. “Let’s wait for the others, shall we? I don’t want to have to repeat myself multiple times over.”

Kysar was in the med-bay when he got the message. Officially, their trip had been uneventful leaving the Turian to claim that a bumpy ride through a debris field had been the cause of his battered look.

“Fuck me.” Kysar said aloud. Up until now the Turian had been deathly silent, his face long with self pity and devastation. “Here we go ag-“ His train of thought stopped dead as the nurse jabbed at his arm rather pointedly.

“Oh.. sorry.” The nurse said, seemingly with a tone. Side-eying the human, Kysar wondered if he had seen her in the mess hall earlier on. A ping from his now working Omni-tool drew his attention away from his staring. It was Nadara again, specifically addressing him. Spirits, she really needs to learn how to send messages. He thought as his eyes rolled.

Discharging himself from the hospital the Turian limped across the halls. His stomach churned, feeling as if he was having to hold down vomit that was sitting in his throat. Not only did he not know what Nad thought good news looked like but she’d also called the whole team there. Kysar hadn’t said a word on the ride home but could feel the tension from both Zenn and Sol.

Sheepishly, the Turian opened the swing doors of the mess hall. Though fixed, they made a horrible squealing sound, drawing the attention of a few eating their dinner. He wasn’t sure but Kysar swore he saw them try to wolf down their food as he approached the others. Nadara, Sol and Amina all sat at the table together off to one side of the room. The Turian sat at the table behind the trio without a word but in view of Nad. Keen to avoid her gaze, he’d sat directly behind Sol, hoping she wouldn’t turn around. Folding his arms tightly over one another he breathed a heavy sigh. Okay, I’m here, let’s get this over with.

"Please excuse me, Nadara." Solveig said, glancing to those at the table. She'd felt Kysar's presence, and without looking had heard the limp in his step. She stopped thinking about how tense things felt and for a moment just felt bad for him. They'd all taken a beaten afterall.

She rose from her seat, the legs of the chair scraping loudly and for too long on the floor. Solveig picked up her empty plate. It was bothersome for it to just be sitting in front of her, especially if this was about to be an entire meeting. As she turned around from the table and began walking, she quirked a brow momentarily in his direction and looked at his leg. It was like a question that just wasn't given any words.
Soon enough she was past him and had headed to go wash her plate. She hoped everyone would be in attendance by the time she was done.

The shuttle ride back to base was no less awkward than when they had first departed. Zenn was still stewing in his own frustrations at how his teammates had stepped in at the end; but also at how he had reacted. His anger and embarrassment clouded his mind and kept him from being able to articulate his feelings in any meaningful way. When they finally landed, Zenn exited the shuttle without a word and went straight for his bunk to grab Ranger. He needed a long walk in the cold, and he was sure Ranger was tired of being cooped up as well.

The two strolled through the frozen streets of Longyearbyen. Zenn moved at a rather slow pace, barely lifting his head to see the sights around him. His suit’s temperature regulation kept him from freezing, but he could still feel the bite of the wind swirling around him and the chill of the snow layering on his suit. Ranger, on the other hand, was having a great time! Running around Zenn at full speed, occasionally stopping to roll in the snow or jump into snow piles he found. The quarian would watch him go, and wished nothing more than to trade places.

Zenn’s pace eventually slowed to a stop. He lifted his head and looked up to the brilliant night sky above as he finally was able to bring his thoughts to words.

“Why did they do it?” He thought aloud. “I had him. I could have killed him myself. I had a plan and everything to cover it up, but they just had to jump in instead. Why? There wasn’t a bounty or reward to claim. And he wasn’t exactly a threat. There’s only one reason and that’s they didn’t think I was capable of going through with it. They thought I was some helpless ke'sed trying to act tough. Well… I guess there is one other reason...”

Ranger walked up to Zenn and tilted his head to the side. Zenn looked down at his animal companion and elaborated.

“That they actually cared. That Sol was trying to stop me because she believed what I was doing was wrong. And Kysar, while misguided, was genuinely doing what he thought would save me from making a huge mistake. But that’s impossible, right? Why would anyone actually care about me? I mean, look at me! I'm nothing special! I’m just another soldier among millions! I'm not even on their level! Compared to them I’m an expendable asset! The only thing I know how to do is point and shoot! Beyond that I’m worthless! Nothing but a tak’tal!”

Zenn dropped to the ground, placed his arms against his legs, and buried his face in his hands. “So why did they go out there with me? There wasn't anything in it for them, and if I didn't make it they could easily replace me. Yet they still went anyway. Followed me into the unknown risking their lives standing side by side with me… and I scolded them because they stopped me from shooting an unarmed man… Keelah I’m not just worthless; I’m completely pathetic.”

Ranger whimpered and moved closer. He pressed his nose against the side of Zenn’s helmet, then started pushing him to pull his head up.

“This is why I don’t make friends. Sooner or later I screw things up. Happened with the Ghosts, and now it's happening with this group."

Ranger responded with a few barks.

“Of course I want to fix things! But what would I even say? ‘Sorry I snapped at you two. I just assumed your actions were based on a lack of trust in my competency because I invest all my self-worth in my ability to complete assignments due to the fact I don't believe I have any value as a person beyond that’? Yeah. I'm sure unloading my insecurities on them will mend things and not make me look insane…"

Zenn glanced at his omni-tool, finally reading the message Nadara had sent everyone requesting they meet in the mess hall. He let out a soft chuckle at the immediate followup message she sent as well.

"But, I guess I gotta start somewhere if I want to make this work.” Zenn said as he pushed himself off the ground. "Come on, boy. Let's see if there's still time to repair things."

Zenobia eventually wanders her way into the mess hall again, looking a fair bit more rattled then the last time she was here. And the last time involved someone close to getting shot!

"I'm here...." Zenobia announces flatly. "Hold your applause."

A moment after Zenobia arrived Sol came back from the kitchen. Without a plate but with a mug of hot tea in hand. She took her seat again, this time beside Zenn who she gave a quick glance of awkward acknowledgement, as she shuffled and brought her seat closer to the table. Sol also nodded at Zenobia. I was not about applaud? she thought to herself.

At Kysar’s presence, Nadara felt herself straighten, even though her posture was already impeccable. Her eyes wandered over the Turian’s form and she was surprised to see he had indeed left a firearm behind, but perhaps more suspiciously, he was in much worse form than usual. Kysar was often unkempt but his current state was downright disheveled. What has he gotten himself into now? She raised an eyebrow at his nod but otherwise didn’t say anything, instead acknowledging Solveig’s departure as she took her empty plate away.

Nadara hadn’t eaten yet. Between the detritus that was commonly served in the mess hall and the agitation of mediating the meeting between Lidanya and Charles she’d had neither the time nor inclination.

Zenn approached next, and something about him seemed off too. The normally chipper Quarian was sullen and withdrawn, leaving Nadara to wonder if the reactions from the three were related to the disagreement from earlier, or if something else had happened.

When Zenobia finally arrived looking shaken, Nadara looked between her and Kysar, wondering if the two had perhaps gotten into it? She hadn’t taken Lunatic to be Venator’s type, but she couldn’t deny the former’s charm. If there weren’t more pressing matters to attend to Nadara would have dug a little deeper into that curiosity.

“Thank you all for coming. I’ll get straight to the point. Janiri has been returned to the SRN.”

Everyone’s attention turned to Nadara.

“Wh-“ Kysar’s voice croaked as his feelings betrayed him. The Turian straightened himself in his seat, uncomfortable with thought. Maybe there was no use in pretending anymore? Yes, he did care about his comrades and Janiri had always been one of them. Clearing his throat he pressed. “What’s her condition?”

Sol straightened up in her seat. That was a surprise. It could have also been a message, she thought, but reserved that for herself. It was good news of course. But she knew enough about the Asari to know that wouldn't have been an easy feat.

"And on what condition?" Solveig asked, tacking on to Kysar's question.

"Same as before, though she did come around long enough to help us out of a jam," Zenobia said taking a seat, seeming a little more at ease now that she could inject herself into the group again. "Good thing too, turns out my old gang and I weren't exactly keen on a reunion."

Nadara nodded. “Janiri is stable for the moment,” she responded to Kysar before turning to Solveig, who always seemed to ask the questions that got right to the heart of the matter. Very perceptive. “An agreement had to be made with Matriarch Lidanya, whom I delivered her to earlier.” Nadara paused and sighed before locking eyes with Kysar. “I did what I thought was right this morning. You may not be aware of Ardat Yakshi but they truly are dangerous killers addicted to their art form. I was given the information that Janiri suffered from this condition and needed to be turned in. I acted out of instinct and necessity, not allegiance. Though I will admit I didn’t consider her part of our team—” Nadara looked from Kysar to Solveig and back again, “I didn’t consider that you and Sol might.”

Nadara sighed and crossed her arms. “I don’t condone your reaction to my decision,” she continued, suddenly finding interest in observing someone in the distance who was leaned over their plate. “But I’d be remiss if I didn’t admit it gave me pause. More so because you weren’t the only one offended by my actions.” Nadara focused her attention back to the group momentarily, her gaze lingering on Zenn and Solveig before inspecting her nails. She’d need a manicure soon.

“Ultimately, there were some inconsistencies and curiosities involved with Janiri’s case. When I looked into it, I didn’t expect what I discovered.” Nadara explained in detail what she had shared with Amina and Zenobia earlier on the shuttle about Janiri’s past, her records, and the Asari High Command’s intentions with her. “Amina, Zenobia, and I went back to Matriarch Lidanya to retrieve her, but we met some resistance from Eclipse members who were after her as well. We handled the threat and convinced Lidanya that the safest place for Janiri would be here, where her presence would be unexpected. Charles has agreed to allow Asari medics appointed by Lidanya to lead Janiri’s care. There were a few other points in the agreement, but suffice to say, she’s back in the hospital next to Katya.”

Nadara took a breath, realizing this was most she had ever said at one time to anyone on the team, much less to all of them. “That should cover everything. But in future,” she said, narrowing her eyes at Kysar. “Do refrain from pulling a gun on me, or questioning my loyalties again.”

Ever talkative, Solveig simply took several long sips from the mug, mulling over Nadara's words and listening to the recap of the events. She'd noted the point about Eclipse members - and Zenobia's own confession which caused her to raise a brow. But all in all the explanation sufficed and seemed correct. Finally, she placed her mug down and took a breath. "Fair." Solveig said with a grateful nod, before going back to the drink.

Nadara glanced at Zenobia. “I’ll let you field this one, ex-Eclipse.

Zenobia scratches the side of her head. "Pretty unlikely. Eclipse doesn't have anywhere near the pull it had back in the glory days, and they have even less now with a good chunk of them scattered through the Sol system. Otherwise I'd still be with them, but now? Barely worth it." She chuckles, noticing most of the group didn't exactly find the comment funny, and went on with a small clearing of the throat.

"We didn't leave any of the hit squad standing and there wasn't enough time for them to communicate off-base. If I was running that operation I'd assume that Nadara's mother fought them off and got Janiri to her destination, and I'd focus on the Asari. Even if I knew SRN got involved, I wouldn't assume that a matriarch would just hand off something that valuable to us.

"Long story short, this shouldn't bring down any heat on us that we couldn't handle already."

Kysar slammed the table. Not enough to damage it but more than enough to turn heads. He was tired, oh so damn tired of everything. After all this time it was Nadara's mother who had taken Janiri? A fact so obviously cast to the side by the Asari throughout her whole 'tale'. The Turian could feel his mandibles scrunch up, he was just sick of it all.

Maybe she was being honest and she had thought about others or maybe it was another ruse to get back in the everyone's good books. Kysar didn't know and frankly, in this moment, he was beyond caring. He wanted to yell, to scream but not at Nad, not anymore, just at the world around him.

The slam was all he could do to keep from erupting like a volcano. Even getting angry was starting to get old. This day had felt like weeks.

The Turian's chair screeched as he pushed it back from the table, standing without looking anyone's way. He wished harder than he ever had done before that he had Zenn's ability to cloak. To disappear before everyone without drawing attention to himself.

Kysar turned and hobbled towards the door. He needed air and he needed to see Janiri.

Nadara raised her hands as she expelled a breath, shaking her head in Kysar’s direction.

"He took it better than expected."

“He yells when I take her, he slams things when we bring her back. I don’t understand that man.”

"Let him be.” Sol said quickly.

"Don't you get it?" Zenn said as he slowly stood from his seat. He took a step towards Nadara, but in a very calm manner. He was clearly trying to avoid the conversation from escalating further. "Nadara. What you did could have cost an innocent woman her life and you only considered the consequences when it directly affected you; not her or anyone else around you! We understand now why you did it, but that doesn't mean any of us have to agree with it."

Zenn paused for a second to recompose himself and gather his thoughts. "you are right. What happened this morning was unfair to you. I can't speak for everyone, but I need to take responsibility for my own actions. I jumped to conclusions I shouldn't have and made terrible accusations about you," Zenn turned his head to look at Solveig, ”something I've come to realize I do too often." His gaze lingered on her for a moment as he wished she could see the sorrow in his eyes before he turned back to Nadara. "In any case, I was wrong and I'm sorry. You weren't acting recklessly or choosing a side. You were doing what you honestly believed was right at the time and I should have talked to you first before making any assumptions."

Directly affected me? Nadara thought, indignant. As if my life would have been any different had I just left things as they were. In fact, due to the actions she’d taken, her relationship with her mother was more tenuous than ever.

“I accept your apology, Shadow. But it seems you’re still making some of those assumptions.” Nadara stood from the table. “If there’s nothing else…” she said, excusing herself from the others. She didn’t need this, she thought to herself, surprised that for once, Nadara agreed with Kysar.

Zenn just stood there with a bewildered stare as Nadara left. He was glad she accepted his apology, but he was still making assumptions? Like what? He had no idea which part she meant and now that she had exited he couldn't ask any follow-up questions.

He turned to face the others at the table. "Did I say something wrong?" He asked with genuine worry. He still had more apologies to make and wanted to be sure he wasn't doing something wrong.

Sol recalled a moment before everyone else had arrived, a throwaway comment by Nadara about her mother that had started to make sense, given light of everything else. She sighed, closing her eyes. Not sure how to answer Zenn's question, or how to difuse the situation. "Zenn, it's okay, uhh...

It's... not you. Not wrong, I... It will be okay..."
If there was something she understood, it was that relationships with parents could be difficult.

"Janiri is back," she said, "let's... I mean. Thank you, Rogue, Lunatic." Solveig then looked to the door, thank you Sunset - wanting to also escape the room, or have the floor open up and swallow her whole. "It's good that Janiri is back - it's, let's just... Let it settle."

Something that was not settling, was her own nerves. Sol felt like an idiot, tumbling blindly through an awkward situation.

I wonder if SRN has a psychologist on hand. Amina wondered cynically as she pulled her plate back close, having shoved it away during Kysar’s momentary outburst expecting a fight.

“Well,” Amina spoke up as she lifted some food up from her plate, “Nadara did what needed to be done. Corrected her error and Janiri is back. Let us just hope that this case is closed now. At least somewhat.”
Amina hesitated, almost taking the food she had into her mouth, then stopping and looking between Solveig and Zenn, “Nadara was hellbent on getting Janiri back. She was not leaving that place until she had righted what was wrong.”

Solveig nodded sincerely at Amina's words. "I understand."

Solveig too, thought it best to take her leave, something was gnawing at her, a feeling to go and seek out Kysar. She wasn't sure if he would be happy to see her, after all, they'd spent a very icy ride back from the Citadel earlier. It just seemed the right thing to do. On her way past, another fleeting feeling had her reach out and place a hand on Zenn's shoulder. She gave him a reassuring squeeze - pausing as if to say something, but the words didn't come. Sol wondered if Kysar would be making his way to Janiri. She also wanted to see the young Asari, and Katya too.

As Sol placed her hand on Zenn’s shoulder, he looked up to her, then simply let out a sigh and nodded. She was right. There was no point dwelling on the subject. Janiri had been brought back safely and that’s what was important. For now he still needed to talk to her and Kysar, which meant he needed to follow the turian. As she started to leave, he quickly grabbed her arm.

“Wait.” Zenn said and immediately released his grip. “If you’re going to find Kysar, I’ll come with you.”

He looked back at Amina and Zenobia. “I know Sol already said it, but truly, thank you both for going with Nadara. I’m glad she didn’t have to do that alone.” He said before following behind Sol.

Kysar hobbled his way through the doors of the med-bay, heading straight for Janiri and Katya's room. Spotting a nurse making her rounds through the hallway, the Turian stopped to ask about the Asari.

"Excuse me?" He said in his politest tone. The human looked up from her flip chart at the Turian and her eyes narrowed. Stepping back with one foot, her arms tightly folded over one another.


No doubt the woman had heard of Kysar lifting one of her colleagues up in a fit of rage earlier. The Turian felt as if someone yanked a cord tied to his heart. He deserved this and more.

"I... er... am here to see Janiri. I was hoping- I mean- do you have an update on her condition?"

The nurses eyes lightly fluttered shut as the woman sighed. No Mr. Proctus, I am not assigned to our Asari friend. I can, however, fetch the doctor."

"Yes." His voice croaked. "Yes please." The nurse turned, heading off down a corridor. "Oh and Katya's too... please." He called, hoping the nurse wouldn't ignore him.

Reaching their room, the Turian stood in the hallway, leaning up on the viewing window. With his forehead was pressed against his forearm, Kysar let out a long sigh. Maybe Nadara wasn't lying? He looked over Janiri with a keen eye but she appeared just as she had before. Perhaps the medical team had bathed her before returning the Asari to her bed. This time anyway. Kysar shrugged.

The walk to the med bay had been mostly silent, Solveig leading the way and Zenn following her. Just as she thought, they did see Kysar outside of the room, staring in from the window. Perhaps he was too afraid to go inside. She slowed down slightly as she approached so as not to startle him. Even in heavy boots, her steps were near silent. She stopped in the doorway for a moment, before turning to look at him.

Solveig then walked through, Katya was closest to the window, and she moved to her side - Sol lifted Katya's hand from it's still position, holding it gently in her own before placing a small kiss on the back of it. "Hello cousin." Solveig said with a rare, and very brief smile before taking a seat and once more glancing at Kysar and Zenn, waving a hand to invite them in.

The Turian had felt a chill down his spine as the two approached. Why were they here? To spread the good news of Nadara? He wasn't interested in that right now.

Surprisingly, Sol said nothing, just walking past and into the room. Watching her in his peripherals, Kysar's eyes followed her as she entered the room. His head cocked to the side as she approached Katya. He'd never seen the woman be so... human. So soft and gentle, warm even. Following her gesture to enter, the Turian saddled up beside her.

"Cousin, aye? Hey Zenn, I thought I saw a Quarian woman roaming around earlier, is she your sister?" Kysar coughed, masking a laugh that had escaped. He'd almost forgotten about their situation. Moving forward, the Turian approached Janiri, standing over her but not daring to touch as Sol had.

Zenn initially stepped into the room when Sol gestured for them to join, but stopped after watching the two of them with Katya and Janiri. These were their teammates; even family in Sol's case. It wouldn't feel right being at their bedside when he hardly knew them, but he still wanted to be there for support if his friends needed him. He decided instead to stay back near the entrance and give them plenty of space.

"Yes," Sol clarified with a raised brow. "My father's brother's son... He is Katya's husband." Did the man not believe her? She sat up straight in her chair, propping an elbow on the table to the side.

Zenn was standing in the back, Sol wasn't sure if he felt too nervous to come closer, or if he just didn't want to be there. "Please, you should sit," Sol motioned to a chair closer to the two patients. "You did help to save them.

“You know,"
Sol began again turning to Kysar who was watching over Janiri, "they say they can hear you if you talk to them." She then sank back down into her chair, fidgeting slightly.

Standing over Janiri the Turian pondered, wondering what he could possibly say to her. Maybe good job for saving Nadara's mother? How unlike her and yet like her, her dramatic rise from her coma was? Possibly that he was just happy that she was back?

"Ugh." Kysar grumbled, scrunching his face in frustration. "She wouldn't want to hear anything from someone like me anyway." Moving away from the Asari, he took a seat in an empty chair nearby.

Sol seemed very insistent that Zenn be by their side, but he was still very hesitant. Until Kysar started speaking ill of himself. Zenn took a half step, paused, then finally walked forward and grabbed the chair Sol had motioned for. He placed it in front of Kysar, then sat down staring straight at the turian.

"You mean someone Willing to risk his life for others?" Zenn said quoting what Kysar had said about him on the ship. "Someone ready to fight for the people close to him or come to the defense of anyone in need of help? Because that's who you are Kysar. And if I was in Janiri's place, hearing anything from you would put me at ease. Because I know you're looking out for me." Zenn reached out and placed his hand on Kysar's shoulder.

"For all of us."

"I-" Kysar's voice croaked, breaking under the pressure of it all. The Turian looked down to the floor as his shoulders slumped. "I'm sorry Zenn, for er.. for what happened on the ship."

With his eyes still firmly glued to the floor, Kysar’s head turned Sol's way. "You too, I'm sorry for everything. I just..." Kysar felt his fists ball tightly together, constricting themselves, mimicking the feeling in his chest. "I just couldn't let you do it Zenn."

The Turian turned back to his friend, still unable to look him in the eye. "Those things you say, they're not true. It's... it's why I did it, why I killed Nemin. I couldn't let you become like me."

How can you induce a coma, and quickly? Sol thought as she felt the mood in the room shift. She was unsure if they were expecting a response. She was sinking lower into the chair until she realized that the fabric of her pants was making an obnoxious squeaking sound as it resisted the similar fabric of the chair.

"I- uhhh," she had no thoughts, just a slight redness on her cheeks from the nerves. She sighed. "Kysar you- you're... You're not someone to not... want to be like, or I-" she fumbled her way through trying to say something nice until she simply gave up. Why did you have to butt in like that? Leave them to it. She hoped someone would take over.

Zenn grinned behind his mask as Sol spoke, attempting to help him comfort their friend. When she fumbled, Zenn was quick to pick up for her. "I think what Sol is trying to say is that you are someone we'd want to be like."

"I don't know who you were or what you did before SRN, but none of that matters. All of us have done bad things. Things we regret…" It was Zenn's turn to look away from Kysar as he talked. His voice became shaky, and his arm trembled but remained on his friend's shoulder. "What happened with Nemin… It wouldn't have been the first time I killed someone like that… But it was the first time anyone has tried to stop me. And you were right to. Both of you… I'm sorry for how I reacted back there…"

Zenn shook his head quickly and looked back up at Kysar. He was getting off topic. He could apologize later. Right now he needed to focus on Kysar. "Look since we met you, you have gone out of your way to protect us. Stick up for us. Hell you stayed with us in that ship and fought tooth and nail for those quarians even though you had nothing to gain! Sure, your anger has gotten the better of you at times. You've made mistakes. But you're learning to control it. You're trying to be better. That's an example the galaxy could learn from."

Kysar cleared his throat. What Zenn was saying, it was nice but he didn’t believe him. A few good deeds couldn’t make up for a lifetime of horrible crimes, could it?

“I.. erm.. fuck.” The Turian muttered, shifting in his chair uncomfortably. “Spirits, I could use a drink right about now.”

Sol had been listening to Zenn, just watching him talk; noting how easily words of encouragement came to him. She admired that, and she didn't realise she had been staring across at him until Kysar spoke up. She blinked and moved back into her chair, giving the cupboard next to Katya's bed a kick until it opened up. She reached in, to the secret spot in the back, and pulled out a bottle of vodka she'd hidden in there for her visits.

"Skål...?" Sol said sheepishly with a slight smile holding the bottle out.

Zenn gave Kysar a firm pat on the shoulder before finally letting go. Kysar was clearly struggling with all this, but that was okay. Hopefully he would realize he was becoming a better person, but that would take time. For now, drinks sounded amazing.

"Then let's go get some. I believe you promised to buy the first-" Zenn was stopped mid sentence by the sound of Sol kicking a cupboard near Katya. He watched as she reached in and produced a bottle of vodka.

"Or Solveig can have us covered!" Zenn said a bit surprised.

"Russian medicine." Sol said quickly, with another shrug.

Kysar smiled, a mild grin but a smile nonetheless.

Standing, the Turian went out into the hall to a water cooler he’d seen earlier. Grabbing three plastic cups, he went back inside and shared them among the others. Gently, he took the bottle from Sol and poured out three shots.
“As I understand, there’s a human custom where you touch the cups together before drinking, is that right Awks?”

"That's correct," Solveig answered as she took her own cup. "And we say cheers - or, well, in my country we say skål."

"Well if that's how you do it, then skål it is!" Zenn said as he took his cup. "Uh. You didn't happen to see any straws out there, did you? Actually, never mind. I think I can make it work."

“You should really carry a straw around with you, how do you usually hydrate yourself?” Kysar asked as he put his cup in the middle of the three of them.
“And Awks,” he continued, turning to the woman. “Why do you touch cups to the head bone? It’s not even your strongest one.”

Solveig narrowed her eyes for a moment, trying to deduce what Kysar meant. Oh no, and strangely, she couldn't help but chuckle. She would have the opportunity this time. "Because of this," she then reached forward to touch her cup to theirs one at a time, and then, she touched her forehead with it "skål!" She said, before downing the shot - hiding a tiny smirk behind the cup.

Humans. Kysar thought, shaking his head. Even though the Turian had spent the better part of a decade in prison with them, he'd still could never understand their strange traditions and sayings. Shrugging, Kysar followed Sol's direction, touching his cup to theirs before bumping it on his forehead. "Skull!" The liquid burned his throat as he downed the shot.

"Phew," Kysar said, clearing his throat. "Not bad at all."

Zenn did not question it. He was just happy things seemed to be patched up between everyone. He followed Sol's instructions, touching his cup to each of theirs, then the top of his helmet and saying, "Skål!" before waterfalling the drink.

As the drink splashed down Zenn's throat, he started coughing and hacking, unprepared for how strong the alcohol was. After a few seconds, he was able to get his coughing under control. He took a few deep breaths, then held out his cup. "Another!"

“I sincerely hope the three of you are not intent on becoming intoxicated and causing a disturbance in this facility.”

Standing just inside the door was a Salarian in a sleek white medical uniform who had seemingly appeared from thin air. It was Doctor Bawrin Taua, head of medical staff and research and personal physician of Charles Saracino and other ranking SRN members. In her hands the Salarian female bore a sturdy tablet the size of a clipboard which she was apparently about to consult when entering to find Solveig, Kysar, and Zenn breaking out a drink. The green-skinned Salarian’s face was taut and her otherwise bulbous eyes narrowed at the site of three individuals in her wards drinking of all things.

"No ma'am," Solveig said immediately, straightening up as any soldier would in front of authority. She turned to face the Salarian, any traces of a smirk were erased. "Just a toast. Just the one." She placed her cup down on the table closest to Katya's bed, and kept her hands neatly at her side.

Bawrin’s dark orbs just seemed to disappear further beneath her emerald eyelids as she looked between the three. “You are here to visit the patients, obviously,” Bawrin stepped closer, “but that does not entitle intoxicative beverages within the intern of an official medical amenity. Now, if you have spent all the quality time needed with the patients I ask that you remove yourself unless you have any questions you wanted answered.”

"Er.. yes, Doctor." Kysar stood, leaving the empty cup on his chair as he did so. "We actually came in for an update on their condition, is there anything?"

The Turian's hands wrung together as he felt his chest tighten once more.

After another second of glaring Bawrin’s face almost immediately went from agitated and fuming to stoically businesslike as she glanced down at her data pad.

“The Asari patient is suffering from lasting brain damage, however overall she is in a stable condition.” Bawrin said mechanically, “She will be off her feet for some time. I would say a month or perhaps slightly less.”

“The human patient,” Bawrin continued, “is in a comparably less desirable state. She is comatose… but scans showed no severe damage to the brain or body. I have instructed the application of some new experimental de-indoctrination procedures given what the report I was given said about the patient when she was found in Cuba. I cannot give an estimate on recovery just yet.”

Startled by Bawrin, Zenn pulled his hand into his chest and crushed up his cup as if doing so would hide it. Once the subject had changed to the patient's condition, he slowly scooted backwards to allow Kysar and Sol to be in front of him.

"Brain damage?" Solveig asked, having listened to the Doctor speak.

"De-indoctrination?” She added, her body felt suddenly hot and cold all at once.

A horrible feeling she had been trying to keep squashed bubbled up to the surface. Guilt. Coiled up in her stomach like a snake, burning like venom.

All of her emotions caught up with her eventually.

Could it have been a different scenario if she hadn't been off planet? She looked down to the floor. It should be you in there. She has too much to lose, doesn't she? Husband... Children. You let this happen. It shouldn't have ever been her life at risk. None of the team should have been killed. You're her only family here... She was trying to help you find something and you left...

She has children.

Solveig couldn't focus with these feelings, the voice in her head growing louder.

Here she was, toasting and making jokes, when it should never have been Katya in the bed. Get your shit together. She felt her chest tighten with the shame, that same snake constricting her. Selfish. Even now you’re thinking of yourself.

Solveig closed her eyes, feeling the hand at her side start to tremble.

Kysar had spent a lifetime looking out for himself. Isolating himself as if he were a cancer in other people's lives, infecting those around him with nothing but terminal misery. As lonely as this life was, the one silver lining was that he never had any true attachments. To love, to care, to experience heart break were all feelings that had existed on the fringe of his world.

That changed with the war. By the end of it a seed had been planted, only growing as time a part of the SRN went on. Hell, even moments ago, Zenn had accused the Turian of caring, of protecting those around him.

And so, as he watched the life drain from Sol's face and her body begin to tremble, Kysar's heart broke. Not just for her but for their team mates lying in the bed. An overwhelming feeling of sadness drenched his body, washing away the happiness from moments ago. Like someone had taken his heart and torn it apart at the seams.

No. He thought, looking around at his team. I have to do something, I can't let everyone down. The Turian felt his fists tighten, a fire had been lit inside of him but not one of anger, no, it was one of warmth, of duty to his compatriots.

Kysar reached out, grabbing Sol's trembling hand. "Thank you Doctor, I'm sure your team is doing everything they can." The Turian squeezed his teammates hand, hoping to let her know he was there. "Please, I know we may not deserve it but if we can have some alone time with our comrades?"

“Why do you need such time?” Bawrin asked flatly. There was no malice nor challenge to her voice. The Salarians’ face was blank, save for a feint glimmer of irritation.

“I have work to be done and I need access to the patients now rather than later.”

Slowly, Solveig looked up and through the doctor, at some point beyond her. Squashing it all back down again with some deep breaths. The slight trace of tears in her waterline was overshadowed by the glazed appearance of her eyes, and a smile that wasn't hers crept across her face. "Of course," she said calmly.

"I think. I'll just... Take a walk." Solveig wriggled her hand free from Kysar's grip and made her way to the door at a languid pace.

Zenn watched as his friend’s heart was shattered in front of him. His brain was scrambling for words, something to try and ease her pain. He hoped Kysar taking her hand would have helped, but when it was clear they wouldn’t be allowed to stay, Sol quickly moved to escape. Her voice sounded calm, but her body language showed just how distraught she really was. This was too much for her. He needed to do something. He couldn’t let her just run away like that. But he also wasn’t about to force her to stay. That left one option. He looked over to Kysar, nodded, and immediately moved past the doctor without saying anything.

He quickly caught up to her, and matched her pace. He walked by her side to make sure she was aware of his presence. He wasn't here to sneak up on or startle her.

“Sol… I-" Zenn started and reached out to grab she shoulder, but his arm froze, lingering in the air before he ultimately decided to pull it back. "I just want you to know we’re here for you. If you need someone to talk to, something to break, or if you just want to sit in silence, just know you don’t have to do it alone.”

"Fucks sake Doc." Kysar said as he followed Zenn past the Salarian. "Learn to read a room!"

Catching up with Sol, the Turian took the other side of his teammate, following the Quarian's lead of walking beside her.

"Yeah, Sol I-" Kysar scratched the back of his head. Handling something this delicate was new to him. Better to follow Zenn on this one.

"Whatever you need, we're both here for you."

Solveig stopped, her eyes softening once she realised that she didn't know where she was going or what she was doing. The voices of Kysar and Zenn behind her bringing her back to reality. Nobody had ever done that before, she thought, and so the woman turned back around to face them. Finally, she nodded and exhaled a long, shaky sigh, waiting for a moment before speaking. "Not g-good at this. This isn't... I just… it's not what I do." She was clearly uncomfortable, her fingers tapped nervously against her leg. She lowered her head, letting her hair hide her face. "I find it... hard.” she admitted defeatedly.

There was a lot on her mind, more words in there - poetry that slipped through her bloodstream and became fire in her belly, but could never make it out. "Let's just... Sleep. Try again tomorrow."

Kysar shrugged. “I’m not any good with this shi-uh… stuff either.”

The Turian rubbed his chin and chuckled awkwardly. This is nothing like shooting fish in a hole. Unsure of what to do next, Kysar slowly reached out, retreating momentarily before deciding to commit. Placing his hand on Sol’s shoulder, he patted his friend, just as Zenn had done to him earlier. “Sleep sounds like a good idea. We’ve got the party tomorrow, maybe then we can have a drink and swap some war stories or whatever.”

Looking to Zenn the Turian shrugged again. Kysar hoped he’d be able to confirm whether this was a good idea or not. After all, the Quarian was the expert.

Sol seemed to be on the verge of tears and Kysar was now looking at him for guidance, but Zenn still didn't know what to say. There was really only one thing that would help him in this situation, but he wasn't sure if it would work for them...

Ah, screw it.

Carefully, Zenn reached his arms around his teammates and very gently pulled them in closer.
3x Like Like
Hidden 2 mos ago 2 mos ago Post by NoPlayerGuild
Avatar of NoPlayerGuild

NoPlayerGuild Thanks Obamahz

Member Seen 0-24 hrs ago

Basecamp Spitsbergen, Longyearbyen
Evening,April 15

On a Mid-April night on Svalbard, the sun would not set until an hour before midnight. But April 15 was not a sunny day. In the sky above, desolate swirls of white snowflakes with gray dust particles blotted out the sun. It wasn't just the intermittent snow storms. No, earth was heading toward a "nuclear winter" after the reaper war. Widespread devastation kicked up massive amounts of pollutants into the atmosphere. And when the polar vortex carried them into the arctic circle, Svalbard became colder than ever.

But inside the brightly colored buildings of Longyearbyen, warmth blossomed from wood burning fireplaces to miniaturized fusion reactors. One such building was Basecamp Spitsbergen, the best rated lodge in the entire city. In the past month, its rustic yet renowned dining room was filled with refugees. The loss of its chef, who had volunteered to fight in mainland Norway and never returned, doomed the establishment to become a soup kitchen. However, its fortunes had returned in recent days. A newly fabricated food bank building finally allowed the throng of hungry mouths to depart. A replacement chef came in the form of an asari culinary celebrity. Best of all, SRN paid generously for a private dinner party.

The dinner was a traditional Scandinavian-inspired buffet. A long wooden table bisected the dinning hall in half, with a larger levo food and beverage section on one side, and a smaller, yet still more than generous dextro section on the other side. Further inside the hall was a small lounge of soft cushioned sofas, wooden coffee tables and cute round stools. There was even a makeshift stage, and on it was a holo-karaoke set!

The first one inside Basecamp was...an elcor? Tank arrived well before everyone else, even Charles himself. He was so early that the asari chef was still preparing food inside the kitchen. When Charles did arrive later and the chef was bringing out trays with her staff, they found a big elcor looking very much out of place among the wooden furniture.

"I see you've gotten the invitation." Charles looked at Tank with a bit of apprehension. Unlike everyone else later on, Charles did not offer Tank a handshake. Was handshaking even a thing for elcors?

"You did get the entire invitation, did you? Was there an error in time conversation?" Charles opened his omni-tool to check, however, the asari chef was asking for his attention.

"Ah, you can set the akevitt there. Yes, the largest glasses, so they don't drink directly from the bottle." Charles said to the asari chef. "Thank you again for coming to Svalbard; good food and good drinks will lift a lot of people's spirits in SRN."

Speaking of people, other guests started arriving one by one. Members of the new crisis response team had reached Svalbard yesterday and earlier today. Charles notified the older team yesterday, though most of them were too busy on their personal escapades to notice until this morning.

Once all 12 guests - and possibly a dog - were in, Charles made a brief introduction of the new team. This was their first impression of SRN, and Charles told them to enjoy themselves and enjoy the company.

"Moments like this are what makes our hard work worth it." Charles told everyone. "And can we agree this is far more enjoyable than impromptu suicide missions?."

Unfortunately, Charles himself would not stay for the evening. He needed to finalize plans for the missions tomorrow. He grabbed a bite-sized meat roll and washed it down a long swig of akevitt. Then Charles took a bite of a blue asari marinaded kilxen, cringed at its arcane aftertaste as he headed back out into the cold.

Standing at the front of the scene, now occupying the space where Charles had been, was none other than Zelfia D’Veo - the Asari chef that SRN had saved back in Cuba, practically unrecognizable at first by comparison to her disheveled state she was found in back at Havana.

After her rescue Zelifa had been placed under SRN’s protective custody wherein she offered her services as a cuisiner. Seeing a golden opportunity for both PR growth and for better quality food at Svalbard, Charles Saracino provided immediate transport across the Atlantic for D’Veo and procured for her everything she needed to run a proper eatery on Svalbard. With quality facilities, equipment, ingredients, and assistance Zelifa had gone all out to provide the best of the best for her new “coworkers”.

“Well, welcome all of you,” Zelifa beamed with a pearly smile, “it is good to be here and to serve to you the best that I could provide, especially for my rescuers.”

D’Veo’s eyes drifted between the familiar faces of the Cuba team, lingering on Nadara and Amina before she continued, “My new assistant, Karl, and I put all we had into making this grand buffet for all of you, and I have a little treat shortly on for those who want things to be a little more… loose. For now, sate your appetites, fill those stomachs, Karl and I will be on hand if anyone needs or wants anything else!”

Earlier that day, Solveig had wanted to speak with Nadara, to express her thanks for returning Janiri. While there, she had stumbled upon the Asari's treasure trove of clothing, and after a few awkward moments, and an agreement - Solveig decided to let Nadara dress her for the party. It hadn't taken too much persuasion, really the woman didn't want to turn up in a hoodie, and it wasn't like she had a whole lot else to choose from.

More awkwardness followed as Sol tried on a number of outfits. Several growls and scowls later, they'd decided on a simple black dress with long sleeves. Nadara had spent a while convincing Sol that she looked nice, and eventually, Sol went with it.

Now, however, in the room with her peers, she fiddled with the hem of the dress, trying to pull it lower. It had looked so much longer on Nadara.

Even worse of a feeling, was a sense of absolute and immediate irritation at the person next to her. Another human, shorter than her, but he was watching around everyone like a hawk, and with a playful smirk too. He must have sensed her own gaze because he quickly turned to look at her and offered a smile, raising a brow at her from behind his glasses. Sol didn't give him a chance to speak before she had shuffled away elsewhere in the direction of the food - leaving him to his own devices.

"Something I said?" he asked with his thick London accent, punctuating with a short laugh. He brought his hands together, rubbing them happily with his trademark smirk - casting a glance to one of the Drells in the room, to whom he also raised a knowing brow. New people to get amongst, he thought to himself - eyes then taken by an Asari, then by another human woman. Where to begin?

“Interesting fact; Elcors do not actually sit on human chairs… In fact… in our own culture… we take our meals-”

Kysar’s eyes rolled harder than a washing machine set to maximum spin. All he’d made was a joke about the alien standing and now he was stuck listening to the giant's life story. The Turian’s hand dragged down his face almost as slow as the Elcor talked. Spirits, he’s worse than Zenn talking about the Quarians.

A wash of relief rolled over Kysar as down the opposite end of the table, Zelifa gave the go ahead to hit the buffet. The Turian maneuvered his cape to one side, careful not to step on it as he practically leapt to his feet. He’d not been to many formal events since leaving prison and as such, had no real clothing for the event bar one get-up. The suit he’d worn to meet with their Earth side Primarch, Invictus. A very formal black number, made of the finest Turian threads with a cape that was worn over the front and back of his right shoulder. The mantle was also slit up the middle to allow his arm to protrude. Kysar stretched, “Yeah, very interesting chat… uh, your name?”

Realising he’d not properly introduced himself, Tank’s face flushed a mild tinge of red. Quite the faux pas, what would the Elcor council say about such a thing? “Apologetic Introduction; Apologies Turian SRN mem-”

Kysar’s hand shot to his temples once more. “Yeah, tell you what, why don’t you keep that sentence going and by the time I get back, I can catch the tail end of it.” Patting the Elcor on the shoulder, the Turian left for the buffet, making a beeline towards Sol.

“Awks, swap seats with- woah, wait." Putting most of his weight on his back foot, Kysar looked the woman up and down. "What are you wearing?"

"A dress. Nadara's dress," Solveig answered quickly, turning to face the Turian, surprised as well to see him in something other than armor for once. She would have found a compliment for him if she was not instead preparing for whatever wisecrack he was brewing.

"Wait... seats? Swap?"

Kysar took a few steps forward, circling Sol. "Yeah... a painfully slow Elcor." He said, waving the conversation away. "But, yeah, a dress. Oh, I. Can. See. That." Pausing for a moment, Ky brought his hand to his chin. "I suppose I'm not used to seeing you in anything bar the guts of some husks but, hmm…”

The Turian's eyes narrowed as a big grin came over him. "Now, you wouldn't be trying to impress someone would you?"

Sol's own eyes narrowed at Kysar as he drew closer. Impress someone? she wondered. Can't I just wear a dress? "Watch it. Might be in skirt but... can still kick you in the face." The slightest of smirks flashed at him, if he blinked, he'd have missed it.

Kysar threw up his hands, gesturing a fake surrender. "Aha, okay, then girl but I've got my eyes on you." He said, backing away while at the same time pointing two fingers at his own eyes and then at Sol.

Nadara surveyed the room as chef D'Veo excused herself. Finally some sustenance I'll enjoy consuming. she thought, manipulating the gemstone necklace she wore. It was more subtle than the accessories she typically adorned, and this was only so as to highlight the Dolbana & Galce dress she'd stored away for a party such as this. The iridescent silk fabric hugged her form in a luxurious gown with a plunging neckline. To honor the momentous occasion, Nadara had also adorned her fringe with delicate beads that captured the light in an alluring display akin to her own bioluminescent skin patterns.

She watched the exchange between Solveig and Kysar with a satisfied expression. As soon as the typically verbally challenged human came to her, she'd planned on fulfilling one of the immediate desires she'd had upon meeting the woman, lending her clothes that would be better suited to someone of her stature. Accentuating her long, slender legs. Nadara had no doubt Sol would draw attention from many eyes, even her own had a difficult time pulling away, but there was so much to see in the room, it was quite literally a feast for the eyes as well as the stomach. Such is the power of a little black Goorxi dress.

It seemed they weren't the only ones to put in some effort in their attire. As Sol and Kysar bantered, Nadara couldn't help but realize the Turian could actually appear quite... I did not just consider him handsome. she thought, shuddering and deciding to turn her attention elsewhere.

The SRN had apparently contracted a new team, and... my did they add a certain appeal. Nadara found herself smiling and fluttering her fingers at a human man in glasses.

Playboy waggled his eyebrows at his friend when he noticed a delightful Asari waving at Himbo from across the room. The man had pulled the likes of which he'd never seen, and Playboy admired the hell out of it. Not wanting to be left in the dust, he pulled on his collar and offered his most charming smile to the human woman beside him. She seemed a bit stoic, but perhaps she was just nervous. A little conversational lubricant might help ease things along. "I might need a map to keep from getting lost in those beautiful eyes," he said, holding out his hand. "May I know your name?"

Sitting near the corner of the room, a grumpy looking quarian sipped at a glass of whiskey while glancing around at everyone. They all looked amazing. Nadara obviously looked stunning as usual, but even Kysar was “dressed to the nines” as the humans said. And Sol in that dress… She was really turning heads. There was even a human and drell making their rounds who were absolutely striking.

Then there was Zenn. Still in the same suit adorned in the same fabrics, but hey, at least he had attempted to wash and clean it up a bit. It was more than he’d usually do for these events. Usually he just wouldn’t even show up! But he was still trying to build and even mend relationships with the team. Worst case he could just finish his drink, say hi, then slip out without anyone noticing. Except someone had noticed. Standing just behind Zenn was a Volus in a bright red pressure suit.

“HEY!” The volus suddenly exclaimed

Zenn nearly spat his drink out in surprise “Keelah! Where did you come from?”


“I’m just, not a big party guy, alright?" Zenn explained trying to recompose himself after that scare "If it were up to me I’d be out looking into those assassins. You know, following leads, maybe doing a stakeout.”

“SOUNDS LIKE YOU’RE WORKING TOO HARD! THE ff0000BALL THINKS YOU NEED TO TAKE A BREAK. LEARN TO CUT. LOOSE!” The Cannonball started pumping their fists into the air.

Zenn rolled his eyes “And how do you suggest I do that? By stuffing my face or getting completely drunk while trying not to think there are people out there who we could be helping instead?”


Zenn slowly moved his head close to the volus’ and stated “You need. To lower. Your voice.” Zenn quickly looked around to make sure he hadn’t drawn any unwanted attention before letting out a sigh and releasing the volus. “If I go talk to people, will that satisfy you?”


“Fine. I’ll go 'socialize'." Zenn said as he shook his head and stood up from his chair. "Maybe I'll get lucky and get someone to point a gun at me."

Across the room Kysar's ear's felt warm, noticing his Quarian friend out of the corner of his eye. Scooping up a few more dextro delights onto his already overpacked plate, the Turian whisked back over towards Zenn, gracefully pirouetting anyone who got in the way.

"Hey Zenn, wanna trade sea-'' Looking over the Quarian's shoulder, Kysar saw who Zenn had sat next to and groaned. "Fuck me, not 'The Pinball'. What rock did Charles look under to find these goons?"

The Turian did his best to shoo away the memory of bumping into 'The Cannonball' on his way to the event by continuing before Zenn could answer. "Oh and have you seen Sol? She wore a whole dress! Here I was thinking she was going to wear a hoodie or something."

"Oh. She is? I hadn't noticed." Zenn replied to Kysar a bit nervously before taking another sip of his whiskey. "Maybe I'll see her sometime tonight."


"Cannonball, I swear by Rannoch I will end you!" Zenn said, shooting a nasty glare at the volus.

The Turian's eyes widened as his head cocked to the side. Slowly, Kysar slid between the Volus and Zenn as if he were gliding into frame. "Aha, um, WHAT?!"

"They're confused. I've been watching everyone. Clocking each person as they walk in. Maybe I saw her and didn't recognize her or something." Zenn tried to excuse the volus' statement, all while avoiding eye contact with Kysar. His face was starting to turn his now signature shade of red.

"REALLY?" Cannonball said quizzically. They jumped on the seat next to Zenn to get a better look at the crowd to make sure they were talking about the same person. "ALL THIS TIME AND YOU'VE BEEN STARING AND YOU DIDN'T SEE HER ROBOT ARM? THE ff0000BALL FINDS THAT HARD TO BELIEVE!"

"And I find it hard to believe you're still talking, but here we are.” Zenn grumbled under his breath.

Himbo noted the waving from the Asari, and offered her a smile from across the room, as well as a flagrant look up and down. The kind that only implied he'd be seeing her shortly.

Sensing a commotion from another corner - particularly, the loud and proud voice of his team-mate, he made his way over with a confidence in his stride. He stood close with a grin. "Alright lads?" He gave Cannonball a slap on the shoulder and a nod. "Good line up on your crew man." he said to both Zenn and Kysar, his eyes on Playboy trying it on with a woman across the way.

Nadara noticed the handsome human approach Kysar, Zenn, and one of the new members— she’d forgotten his call sign. She wasn’t quite yet comfortable with Zenn and Kysar after their last interaction, but what better place than a party to get things headed in a better direction?

She walked by the group, nodded to Zenn, and paused briefly. “Seems you know how to clean up nicely when you’re not waving guns around in people’s faces,” she said to Kysar before offering a nod to the short, loud, round one. Nadara then locked eyes with the handsome human, offering him a sultry smile, her eyebrow twitching in humor and intrigue.

As she made her way towards Sol, Nadara swayed her hips, knowing their eyes would follow her.

“We’ll teach you that move next,” she said upon reaching Solveig with a wink. “But I must say, you look even better here in a more proper environment than those stuffy excuses for rooms they gave us. The boys can’t keep their eyes off you.”

Sol was halfway through a strawberry, a glass of champagne in the other hand and her gaze tilted upwards at one of the paintings in the basecamp. This one in particular was a nod to her own ancestry and Sol couldn't help but admire it quietly.

"Move?" She asked Nadara, before watching exactly what the Asari meant. "Oh... uh," she muttered, her cheeks turning slightly red. Where was her tactical cloak tonight? she thought. "Not doing that. Don't want... eyes on me, keep it to themselves," she said uncomfortably. Downing the last of the drink before placing the glass down so she could fidget with the hem again. It still wasn't budging any lower than her upper thigh.

Amina pressed her right forearm into the chest of the Drell that had invaded her personal space and gave him a firm push back as she stepped past him. She had already politely given him her name despite his obvious attempt at bizarre flirtation. Apparently the piercing look she had flashed him as she tightly shook his hand did not land an obvious enough hint so now she had to be blatantly rude as he probed on, something she did not wish to spend the evening doing. Tempted as she was to make a scathing side remark, Amina resisted and instead made her way to the buffet line to get a plate.

Amina was attired somewhat “dress-casual”, wearing a black turtleneck and a pair of beige dress slacks bottomed off with brown loafers. She had never been one for dresses, the last time she had worn a dress or skirt was when she graduated high school over ten years ago and it was at the heavy insistence of her parents - namely her mother. Amina had always found them too fussy a thing to wear, inconvenient, and just not suitable for her.

Hopefully the drell wanting in was the worst of tonight, Amina thought as she scraped away with a spoon, piling food onto her plate, what am I saying? This will be nice.

This Team 3 is almost as relentless as Nadara crying for attention. Kysar scoffed, rolling his eyes at the commotion behind him. Regardless, the Turian had just been given the news of the century! He wasn't about to let anyone get in the way of that.

Grabbing hold of Zenn by the arm to ensure there was no cloaking away, Kysar turned to the others. "Oh yes, the Asari especially is into Volus's. Pin- I, er, mean, Cannonball, you should definitely introduce yourself. And you," the Turian looked the human up and down, "Whatever your superpower is, see that beautiful human female at the buffet? She pushed away your Drell friend because she's really into human males. Plus you might be able to make the Asari jealous. Now scoot along!"

Dragging Zenn as best as he could to the side, Kysar's eyes lit up as he giggled once more like a schoolgirl. "Spirits, it all makes sense now! On the ship I thought you were being weird, that maybe your suit was malfunctioning and cutting off circulation to your brain but now I know. You've got a crush on Awks."

"I don't think you understand," Himbo said to Kysar, his eyes trailing the Asari as she moved through the room. He wasn't falling for whatever tricks he was playing. "That one is signed and sealed, I just have to deliver..." and with that, he was off in her direction.

Nadara pouted at Solveig, not understanding why the woman wouldn’t want attention. It was so easy to get it from men. Regardless of species.

“Stop that,” she said, lightly brushing Sol’s hand away from the hemline. She was about to continue their conversation but noticed the handsome man approaching from the corner of her eye.

“About time,” she muttered to Sol. “Enjoy yourself,” she urged, stepping away from the woman and towards a more secluded section of the large room they were in. She feigned interest in the decor, though really, she’d seen better in a hovel.

Ready for another drink, Solveig saw Amina at the buffet table - having witnessed the woman rebuke the advances of the new Drell, she felt like she could do with her company. She approached quietly, grabbing another glass of champagne. "Be careful of that one," she indicated to Himbo, who was now with Nadara. "He has a perverts eyes..."

“Ha, thank you for the warning.” Amina said to Solveig as she finished heaping her plate full.

“You do not have to remind me!” Amina chuckled as she started on her food, digging her fork in. “It is always the worst at lower ranks. They think they can get away with it.”

Tank stood at the table, waiting patiently for his new Turian friend to return so he could finish introducing himself. It sure was an exciting event to have all these new people in a room alongside his team.

The Elcor's stomach growled, reminding him that he'd been waiting to eat for quite a while, seeing as he was the first to arrive. But what to do? He didn't want to appear rude to his new friend, who'd been kind enough to break the ice with jokes.

Looking over at the buffet, Tank knew it would take some time to move across. Looking back over at the Turian, he seemed to be heavily engaged with a Quarian. Hopeful Observation: My new compatriot looks quite engaged. Perhaps I will return in time for introductions.

And with that the Elcor set off, one very slow step at a time, towards the buffet.

Playboy had played it off good naturedly when Anima walked away. He figured she was shy and simply couldn’t handle the charm he was dishing out. The touch to his chest was evidence enough she’d had some interest in him, otherwise why the physical contact?

He smiled to himself and brought a glass of alcohol to his lips, taking a few long drags before standing. Himbo was closing in on his target already, who seemed just as eager for his company. Hm, Playboy thought, glancing around the room.

His teammate was alone and he couldn’t very well have that. “Viper,” he greeted after walking over to her, with a dip of his head. “The lack of humidity here is quite agreeable, but I must say, the temperatures are much too low. We might need to keep each other warm tonight.”

Nearby, Viper was enjoying a glass of champagne when Playboy approached her, not even bothering a proper “get to know you better” before tossing her his little pickup line.

The female drell squinted in what appeared to be annoyance before smirking suddenly and looking into her champagne, giving it a good stir. “Well, we could. But I’m sure that Volus over there could keep you just as warm. Or that dog I saw earlier.”

Viper took a slow sip of her drink as her eyes glinted in prodding glee at Playboy, awaiting his response.

“Sure,” Playboy said, nodding as he leaned against the back of a chair. “But they wouldn’t be half as much fun as you.”

“I am very fun indeed.” Viper said flatly to Playboy, “But I think you need to work on your, what do humans call it, ‘pitch’ a little.”

Playboy chuckled and rubbed the back of his neck in embarrassment. “You’re probably right,” he admitted. “Beautiful women just make me a little tongue tied and I end up making a fool of myself.” He pulled the chair away from the table and sat. “Shall I try another ‘pitch’? If there’s even a chance one of them hits home, I’ll practice all night.”

“Well…” Viper let a slight grin escape, “am I as or more beautiful than that dark-skinned human I saw you leaning in to? Hmm?”

Playboy shook his head with a laugh. “No no, I’m not falling for that one. I know better.” He found an empty glass and poured himself another drink. “I’d never dare compare one woman against another. It’s as if asking which is more beautiful, the desert rose or the orchid. Both exemplify the best of their own species,” he finished with a wink and a sip.

"THE CANNONBALL DOES NOT HAVE TIME FOR FLIRTATION!" The Cannonball exclaimed in response to Kysar’s suggestion. However, they happened to catch a glance of Amina avoiding conversation. Granted it was mostly with Playboy and Himbo, but she still needed to mingle! "BUT THERE ARE OTHERS WHO NEED TO LEARN HOW TO. GET. DOOOOWN!" They strummed their arms as if they were holding a guitar then jumped off their seat and waddled across the room towards Amina.

By the time they got there, they found that Sol had beat them to the punch. WELL ALRIGHT! They thought to themself and shot two thumbs up at the two. Looks like neither of them needed their help after all!

"Oh-" Sol said at the Volus in front of them both. Once more, she downed her champagne and took another glass - scooting away from him, offering a rather timid thumbs up in return.

“That Volus is strange.” Amina said casually, talking to Solveig directly.

"Very... Excited to be here..." Solveig responded to the Volus. "I am, not feeling quite as... In the spirits, I think. Uhhh," she mumbled, sipping the champagne this time. The bubbles were starting to make her head tingle.

Amina and Sol were covered, but there was one person who was noticeably being left out. Cannonball turned their attention from the humans and walked to the lone elcor at the buffet.


Kysar’s hand on Zenn's arm felt like a handcuff had been slapped on him. There was no escape from this, was there? This. This is why he hated parties. Defeated, Zenn willingly went with Kysar as he was dragged away from the others. He sat there still avoiding eye contact when Kysar accused him of having a crush on Sol. Slowly, Zenn placed his straw in his mouth and proceeded to suck down the rest of the whiskey in his glass. Once the last drop was gone, he finally spoke in a very hushed voice.

"So what if I do?"

Releasing Zenn, Kysar slid his arm around the Quarian, chuckling to himself in delight. Sure, his plan to annoy Nadara hadn't worked out but this was much better.

"Zenn old pal, we're gonna need more drinks, cause we're going to get you a date."

A date? Zenn could feel his stomach twisting into knots at the idea. How would he even ask Sol on a date? Would she even be interested in him? There was no way, right? He had none of the looks or charm as half the people in here.

"Kysar. I appreciate that you want to help me, but that's a job so impossible even I wouldn't take it." Zenn said and hung his head as if already defeated. "I mean, just look at me. I'm short, scrawny, and I can't exactly improve my image stuck in a spacesuit. On top of that I've got about as much charm as a vorcha compared to everyone else… Keelah I need to refill this glass."

Kysar chuckled, leading his friend towards the booze end of the table. "Zenn, first off, that's what the alcohol is for, to take this sad, defeatist attitude off the table." Grabbing the Quarian's cup from him and then reaching for one himself, the Turian continued. "Secondly, you're both weird, awkward creatures who excel at killing stuff. It's so perfect I almost wish I thought of it myself."

Grabbing a bottle of the dextro-whiskey, Kysar popped the top and gave it a smell. The fumes burned the end of his nostrils as the Turian pulled back. "Phew! Oh yeah, that's gonna work." Pouring out a double into both cups, Ky handed the cup back to Zenn. "Alright my guy, lay it on me. Pretend I'm Sol and you're gonna ask me out."

Putting a hand on the top of his head, he covered one eye with his fingers, mimicking the way Sol's hair covered half her face. Pouting, Kysar looked down and off to the side.

Tank's smile beamed as his teammate approached. Though they had not known each other for long, Cannonball's upbeat enthusiasm had left the Elcor feeling elated with every conversation.

"Utter Delight: Cannonball... my friend... I have engaged in conversation... once so far... it was... exhilarating."

Moving closer to the buffet, Tank reached for an empty plate and placed it on the table. Of course it would be rude to eat while in the presence of company and worse still to feed himself first. "Polite Enquiry: Cannonball... may I gather some... nourishment... for you?"

"THAT. IS. WONDERFUL!" Cannonball raised their hand for a high three from their elcor pal.

Tank's hand slowly rose to bump Cannonball's before reaching over to the buffet. Suddenly, the Elcor froze. Beads of sweat began to form on the top of his head as he felt his cheeks flush. What did Volus eat? The pit of his stomach dropped, overpowering his own hunger.


Turning, steadily, Tank faced Cannonball. "Embarrassing and Apologetic Admission: My dear friend... I do not know... what your species... eats... please... forgive my... ignorance... if you could... educate me... so I may... provide... you... with nourishment..."

Meanwhile, at the other end of the room, Himbo had brought himself close to Nadara, as smooth as anything he'd placed his hand gently against the small of her back in the way he knew women appreciated. "You wear that dress very well," he whispered in her ear. "I'm Jonah, by the way."

Nadara shivered from Jonah’s soft breath against her skin. Goddess.

She turned slowly, disappointed at having to depart from his gentle touch on her back. “Nadara,” she replied in a low voice. “I’ll admit I am delighted to make your acquaintance.” She held out her hand so he would take it.

And Jonah did take her hand, but not before taking a few steps back, and pulling her in close to him, the music of the room as his guide. "I'd be delighted to dance with you, Nadara."

Nadara blinked, but acquiesced to his gentle tug, laying her other hand on his upper chest. “My,” she murmured, swaying against him. “You certainly know how to keep a woman on her toes.”

"Of course, especially the beautiful ones," Jonah answered, swaying her in time with the music. "So I know your name..." he smiled at her, "tell me what there is to know about you... Who are you?"

“Excuse me…”

Amina, halfway through her plate of food, looked around to see Zelifa D’Veo approach from the side. The chef was still adorned in her white uniform from the kitchens.

“I remember you…” Amina acknowledged awkwardly, unsure of what else to say. D’Veo flashed a pearly white smile at the human, extending one hand out and offering not a shake but a tall glass of alcohol.

Esala,” Zelifa explained,” from Thessia. I had a reserve bottle or two on hand and thought I would personally offer the first glass to my hero - heroine rather.”

“Thank… you,” Amina managed, setting her plate down on the edge of the table and gingerly taking the glass, “I have never had… much al- asari spirits.”

“Go on, try!” Zelifa encouraged. “But be careful, it is very potent.”

Amina found out the hard way, taking a liberal swig from the glass despite Zelifa and feeling an immediate cool sensation rising in the back of her skull as the strong taste lingered in her mouth and her throat burned a bit. Amina blinked a time or two as she looked down at the odd-colored liquid. “A few glasses of this and this whole resort would be a nightclub.”

“Maybe.” Zelifa smiled.

Amina sharply cleared her throat and raised an eyebrow at Zelifa, “You know it was not just me that saved you.”

“I guess not,” Zelfia shrugged, “so should I specially serve everyone this?”

“Actually…” Amina considered as she slowly raised the glass again.

As Amina left, Solveig remained in her spot, looking awkwardly around the room. Everyone seemed to have someone to talk to at this point. Nadara was with the new human, Amina sampling a new drink by the looks of things. She thought about joining Zenn and Kysar, but after looking over at their table and being unable to deduce whatever strange situation it was she decided against it.

Are you that drunk already? she wondered with a raised brow and a quirked frown. Leave you to it then. She couldn't see Zenobia - probably for the best, the Turian might just be swimming in a keg somewhere. Oh well, grabbing more fruit into a small bowl, she made her way back to peruse the artwork. Somehow having managed to obtain her 6th glass of champagne. It went down so easily, she thought.

"Is. Is this really necessary?" Zenn started nervously looking around. What if the others were watching? What if Sol was watching? Screw it. If Kysar believed in him, then he at least had to give it a try. Besides, this way when he inevitably failed it wouldn't haunt him forever, right?

Zenn grabbed his glass from Kysar and took a large swig of whiskey. He made a face behind his mask as the liquid burned down his throat. He was starting to feel the effects of having two glasses so quickly, but he would need to be numb and lose to get through this. He took a deep breath, then looked straight at Kysar.

"Hey Sol. Looking good tonight! Not to say you don't normally look good. Just tonight you look especially… I mean compared to… Vot, I'm out of practice. Let me start over." Zenn fumbled, taking another swig from his glass before giving it another go. "Hey Solveig… How are you… Enjoying the party?"

"Zenn.." Kysar had lowered his pitch considerably, talking in an almost quiet muffle. "Am well.. parties.. too many people and too much attention. Like hiding in shadows and maiming creatures with my cool arm."

Still not looking up from the floor, the Turian flicked his head back, pretending to get the hair out of his face. "You need something?"

Zenn stood with a blank stare. Kysar mentioning Sol’s arm had his mind drift back to the image of Sol pinning that reaper brute. After a few seconds he snapped out of it “Yeah yeah. Parties aren’t really my thing either… Um. I uh. I do need something. Well more want something. And only if you want to as well, you know, maybe… After a mission one of these days… You and me… Hang out… Alone?” Zenn finally managed to get out, then slowly lifted his drink to his mouth. A rapid clicking could be heard as the ice in his drink tapped against the glass in his trembling hand.


Zelifa D’Veo approached the pair of drell, smiling up to her ears as she presented tall, full glasses of pale green liquid. Viper looked down at the near empty glass of champagne she had and shrugged.

“I haven’t had any good esala in forever. It certainly is a better choice than this human crap.” she said.

Viper swapped her glass out as Zelifa handed the other to “Playboy”. The female drell took a long drink and had to brace herself as she felt her knees wanting to lax a bit. She embraced that cool sensation that washed over her skull as her senses felt numbed.

“That… hits the spot!” Viper smiled looking to Playboy, “Enough of this big man and you might just start to look good enough to kiss.”

Playboy’s eyebrows raised in pleasant surprise before he turned to the Asari chef. “By all means, bring us a separate bottle,” he requested, gladly exchanging his glass for the esala.

“While we wait on that,” he held out his now full glass toward Viper to clink her own against, “here’s to exciting possibilities.”

Nadara’s eyes flashed and she turned her body, pressing her back against Jonah as she brought his hands to her hips which continued their rhythmic movement.

“Careful, Jonah,” she said. “I’m a dangerous woman.” Nadara turned her head to the side to address him. “I’m not yet certain you’re worthy of knowing more of me.” She smiled coyly.

"How do you know I'm not dangerous?" Jonah responded, simply enjoying the moment and the desire to sweep her off her feet. That was, until he felt a familiar sensation in his stomach. His face didn't change, and instead, he twirled her around. "How rude of me though," he said with a smile, "I haven't even got you a drink yet. Let me fix that." With that, he let go of her hand and slow walked backwards from her, leaving her with a wink as he turned around and headed into the room.

A strange sight took his attention, the Turian and the Quarian seemed to be.... flirting? Or sharing some kind of tender moment. Tank and Cannonball having a grand old time at the buffet. Legs were in the corner just staring at a wall. Playboy was... making some moves. He gave a smile at it before finding a safe area to let go.

A prolonged and steady note that seemed to curl into a question at the end and then punctuate itself with a short, sharp exclamation mark.

He thought it best to keep moving, leave it behind as he searched for suitable drinks.

Nadara sighed in disappointment, though she couldn’t deny she’d welcome a drink. In fact, she hadn’t had anything to drink yet other than the few sips she’d taken as accompaniment to the delectable spread the renowned chef had made for them. How unlike her.

Now that her attention wasn’t so singularly focused, Nadara surveyed the room and saw Sol swaying slightly as she looked at one of the pieces that tried to pass itself off as art on the walls.

“Why are you standing here on your own?” She asked after walking over, tilting her head to look at the painting in the same way Solveig was doing. Could it be that she saw something worth noticing in this drab piece?

"Just looking at this," Solveig mumbled. "Colourful," she added with a mild shrug.

"That man has pervert face," she added, turning to face Nadara. "Not sure what else.... to do. Do we go home yet?" She asked, finishing her champagne.

Nadara frowned at her comment. Apparently, aside from assistance in the wardrobe department, Sol would also need to be shown what real art was.

“What man? Wait— what do you mean ‘go home’? The party hasn’t even gotten started yet!” Nadara groaned and rolled her eyes. Goddess, Solveig has so much to learn. “Come, let’s put on some music you like,” she said, pulling at the woman’s arm toward the stereo system where the karaoke was also set up. “That might perk you up some.”

"You know what man I'm talking of," Solveig answered with narrowed eyes, following Nadara anyway. She hoped that the woman wasn't going to try and make her sing, she hoped even more that she wasn't going to have to watch everyone else drunkenly stumble through karaoke. She'd seen her father at it enough to know she'd seen it enough.

"I'll sit..." she said, raising her hands up - somewhere along the walk from the corner to the couches she'd picked up more champagne. The woman sat down onto the couch, fluffing a pillow behind her. "This is nice... Thank you Nadara."


Though on the outside Tank barely moved, had another Elcor been in the room, they would've noticed the joy pour forth in the form of subtle movements and pheromones. Similar to a child seeing a rainbow. "Extreme happiness: An interesting fact... Cannonball... I will... fetch you... something appropriate."

Perusing the table, Tank noticed a section for blended shakes. Moving closer to the small paper plaque in front of the beverages, the Elcor read aloud. "Important information: These are... blended vegetarian meals... for some our... non-common... mouthed guests."

Reaching out, Tank picked up a silly straw that was tangled into a fun web that made him chuckle on the inside. Putting the straw into one of the shakes, he steadily handed it to Cannonball before taking his time to do the same for himself. "Utterly content: Enjoy this... beverage... with... me... friend. To.. team three.”

“HELL YEAH!” Cannonball happily took the smoothie Tank offered and was ready to toast the team, when they had another idea. “STAY RIGHT THERE, TANK!” Cannonball instructed. They scrambled onto the table, then jumped onto the elcor and pulled themselves on top of Tank’s back. The volus raised their smoothie and called out to the entire room

3x Like Like
Hidden 2 mos ago 2 mos ago Post by NoPlayerGuild
Avatar of NoPlayerGuild

NoPlayerGuild Thanks Obamahz

Member Seen 0-24 hrs ago

Basecamp Spitsbergen
21°C Inside |-20°C Outside

Tank froze. Not daring to move an inch as he supported his compatriot. It was a bizzare feeling having such a tiny creature on his back. The Volus was a feather compared to his normal railgun and as such, could fall with one simple movement. So the Elcor waited with patient excitement for his friend to finish his speech.

Spirits, he's in shape worse than I thought. Kysar considered as in the background 'the Pinball' made a ruckus. As fun as it had been impersonating Sol, Zenn was a mess, even with alcohol in his system. Allowing the 'Wraith' persona to fade and standing back upright, the Turian closed the gap between the two, placing a hand on the Quarian's shoulder.

"Ok look Zenn, let me break down how this is really going to go. I, er, well I study people. I've read all your dossier and try to observe as many patterns of behaviour as I can. In fact, this kind of stuff is how I got my name, 'Venator'." An image of an old acquaintance flashed through Kysar's mind as he quickly waved both the thought and that part of the conversation away.

"Anyway, see out there those two idiots from team 3?" The Turian gestured out to the crowd, his hand finding the direction of both Himbo and Playboy. "These guys aren't serious about any of the women, or men, here. They lay lines on them, treat them like they know them when all they really see is the physical. It's a cheap trick that'll last a night or two."

Turning back to the Quarian, Kysar pointed at his chest with his free hand. "You feel something different and the truth is, well, Sol is scared of that. You saw how she broke down in the hospital and ran. She's not going to understand anything until you literally say those words to her and then she's going to run. Just as you might if she was so open with you." The Turian grimaced, unsure if this would help or harm the situation. "But you've got to stick it out, be open and honest and give her space and time to digest it. Ease her into it just as you did that hug."

Standing back upright and letting go of Zenn's shoulder, Kysar straightened his outfit. "Whether you do it tonight, or do it some other time. I'll be here for you. Just don't get too drunk and do it. That'll be a disaster."

"You're right. I just need to be myself. Speak from the heart and just tell her how I feel. I had no problem doing it in the hospital, I can do it here!” Zenn said with a new found confidence Kysar had given him. He scanned the room, located Sol sitting on a couch talking with Nadara, took one last sip from his drink, then handed it to Kysar. “Thank you, Kysar. You’re a true friend.” He gave the turian a pat on the shoulder, then stepped past him towards Solveig.

With each step he built up his courage. Thinking of what to say and hyping himself up. Until he found himself standing in front of the two women. He paused and took a deep breath.

Okay. Be direct. Be honest. Tell her how you feel then give her time and space to process it. You got this.

“Sol. There’s something I need to tell…” Zenn started to say, but his voice trailed off. He stood there completely frozen. His confidence vanished the instant he looked into her smoky eyes staring back at him. He had to snap out of it. He had to say something! “Nadara!” He finally finished. “There’s something I need to tell Nadara so I’m going to borrow her for a moment.”

He grabbed the asari’s arm and pulled her aside, away from Sol.

You coward.

Nadara rolled her eyes at Solveig’s antics and reached forward once more, pulling at her free hand.

“No, no, it’s not sitting time.”

Where had that new drink appeared from? How many drinks had the human already downed? From experience, Nadara knew most humans couldn’t handle their liquor quite as well as she, but Sol was so statuesque, perhaps her stature offered a buffer against the stuff.

Just then, the small round one yelled out a cheer and Nadara noticed the other new team 3 members raise their glasses in response. The male Drell even shouting a hearty “Here, here!” How strange. Was Nadara the most sober one at this party? That was a first.

Ignoring the others, she turned her attention back to Solveig who was sinking further into the couch in protest to her pulling.

“Let’s get you on your fee—” Nadara was interrupted by Zenn’s approach. Hm.. is he deflecting, or does he really have something to say to me? she wondered, allowing the Quarian to pull her aside.

“Didn’t seem like it was me you wanted to talk to,” she admitted with a sly smile.

Before Solveig even had time to say "hello", Zenn was whisking Nadara away. How bizarre, she thought to herself before realising that Zenn had distracted Nadara enough that she could escape for a moment, from whatever the Asari had been planning. Maybe that had been his plan? Had he sensed her discomfort? She got up from her seat, and began walking away - back to the buffet table.

"What? No, of course I wanted to talk to you." Zenn stammered out, looking around the room trying to come up with something. "I just… Wanted to tell you… that… Ranger misses you! Yeah he's been acting kinda down and I'm pretty sure a visit from you would boost his spirits…" Zenn said with feigned sincerity, though he knew Nadara wouldn't buy it.

Nadara raised an eyebrow in response. “Uh-huh,” she said, deadpan. Nadara leaned over and saw Sol had left the couch and was now over near Amina by the buffet. “She’s out of ear shot, you can come clean.” Nadara placed a finger on her chin, considering. What could it have been? “It’s not like you were about to confess to her or something right?” She giggled at the absurdity.

“Oh…” Amina groaned, taking a seat near the buffet line, I downed that last drink way too fast… damned asari poison…

Amina had just finished her second tall glass of esala and found herself feeling the effects hard. After getting through the first drink well enough and getting used to the “hit”Amina had helped herself to a second serving - not just “helped herself” but asked D’Veo for more. She was right, that stuff is potent - maybe made by a soft people but certainly not a soft drink.

Amina was not feeling sick per se but her head was starting to feel heavier and she had started to teeter a bit before sitting down. Another full glass drank so fluidly was out of the question for the moment.

I will not be the first to hit the floor. I never have been and never will be. I just need to sit for a moment.

Amina looked around the room, everyone seemed to be having a fun time. That was good. After recent events they all deserved to unwind in whatever form they needed. Amina saw Solveig coming and sat up as straight as she could in her seat, reaching back for the half eaten plate of food she had left earlier.

Solveig had been making her way to Kysar, there was something on her chest that the champagne had revealed... But at the table there, Amina took her eye instead. Swaying slightly, until she sat up suddenly. He could wait, she thought.

On her way to Amina, she picked up a jug of ice water - placing her own glass of champagne down to grab two more empty glasses.

"Amina," she said quietly. "I see you... Uh, enjoying the beverages..." She poured them both a glass of water. The champagne had started to taste like shit and the bubbles were making her brain tingle. This wasn't like vodka at all - still, she felt only slightly off kilter.

"This might... help to wash it down - and out," she added with a shrug, before drinking from her own glass, as if to say it was fine. "Proper hydration technique... Makes for better... Uh, stamina for things like this."

Amina had waved off the glass of water, more intent on finishing her plate of food - albeit slowly. She wanted to try out a few more fishes before calling it a night. So far Amina had only touched the “human food”, namely the Scandinavian dishes. Amina would have preferred something more centered around her upbringing but this would have to do.

“Have you tried any of that asari food?” Amina asked.

Sol raised a brow, but left the water anyway - refilling her own glass. "I have," she answered plainly. "It's good. Most are good. Didn't try the meat options... Appetite.... Uhh, changed recently."

Amina sighed, “How I miss my mothers’ mandi and flatbread. I have not had any in…”

Amina stopped herself, “Pardon me, ma’am. I should not gush. Not even in a social setting.”

Solveig was taken slightly aback by the formal address and tilted her head at it. "I miss my father's kladdkaka," she said with a shrug, her gaze roaming the room. "Fine to miss things, I think."

“So long as we do not let wistfulness distract from what matters at hand I think.” Amina shrugged as she scraped the last of the plate clean. I guess I really did pile it high.

“I think I could use a little water.” Amina said, reaching for the cup and taking a drink. After swallowing a mouthful Amina looked at Solveig, her vision a little flickering but not too bad.

“I must say it is an honor to serve with an N7. Even if technically now formerly N7.”

"Thank you," Solveig answered, taking a sip of the water - almost having finished the second glass. As she listened to Amina, she felt a deep sense of responsibility. Like the woman would really listen to what she had to say, and take it in. She wanted to get the words right. "It was my honour to serve. Lifelong dream fulfilled," she added with a sigh. "It's my honour to work with you too, you are a good soldier," she said sincerely - looking down at her.

“I suppose that is up for debate, miss.” Amina said suddenly. She took another swig of water, slower this time, and continued, “As a soldier I abandoned my post. Twice. But I did it for what I thought was correct… I suppose. What is a good soldier? One who just does what they are expected, taking their orders from whom they swore to serve like pills, or one who uses their training for what they believe in as right?”

The booze is getting louder.

Amina shook her head, clamming up as she studied her glass.

"I think if you look hard enough... Will find the answer to your own question." Truthfully, Sol didn't know the answer either. Eleven years as a weapon of the Alliance, achieving her dream of N7 status, but lately she had been wondering if that was really her dream. Where was she now that it was done? What was her dream now?

"Galaxy has changed," she said after a long silence. "So must we."

“I suppose so… yes… miss.” Amina stumbled. Amina stood slowly, bracing herself in case she started to fall but thankfully did not.

“Maybe the answer is at the bottom of one of these bottles around here.” Amina managed a smile. Deciding not to continue with melancholic ramble Amina sat the glass of water aside and grabbed a smaller plate, deciding to help herself to a little more food on the buffet. After that? She would probably drink the rest of this little party away.

“How do you feel serving with so many aliens, miss?” Amina asked slowly as she scraped some kind of casserole from a pan and onto her plate.

Amina's question gave her pause, and she felt the weight of responsibility crush in her chest. She recalled back to the meat plant... Amina had made a comment, and Sol had since regretted biting her tongue. She knew where the comment came from. She waited a moment, letting the words fall into place in her mind before she gave them a voice.

"Privilege to work with exceptional individuals. Honour to work alongside them." She looked at Kysar and Zenn - Nadara too. "Call them friends."

She glanced down at Amina and watched her for a moment. "Take a bullet for any of them.

How do you think they feel here? With us? With Saracino?"

Friends… take a bullet for them… Amina felt these words processing upstairs as she moved further down the table and then back once she grabbed what she had her eyes on, some kind of roll thing but a brilliant yellow color rather than white or brown.

“Miss,” Amina moved back closer, “there was a time when I would have not even blinked and said to you that I did not even remotely care how they felt. From one human to another we need stronger unity and insularity, I would have said. And as an N7 I would have felt that you should know better than to say what you just did.”

Amina paused, then continued.

“But now… I do not know… I guess they are putting a lot of hefty trust into working for SRN, in working for Saracino. But I still feel…”

Amina stopped and scowled, hesitant to continue.

"Would be disappointed to hear them," Solveig said bluntly, narrowing her eyes to a stare. She softened her own expression and sighed. Amina seemed to be having a crisis of sorts but, hell, she was not the person to be asking. But... Who else? Who else could be responsible for helping to change the thoughts and beliefs of a human, than another human. She couldn't put the responsibility solely on the team. She had to be the better example to look to. It started with her.

"More than trust. More than that... Picture is bigger than Earth, bigger than humanity alone, or we just are humanity, alone."

She topped off Amina's glass of water again, before giving her a nod. "Answers not in bottle, by the way." She needed a drink, this was... Hard. She hoped the woman would listen. "Answer out there," she indicated across the tables of SRN members. "Try exploring," she finished, before helping herself to the vodka, finally, and making her way back to the centre. All this talk of them... She wanted to talk to everyone, she decided - there might be something to find in the party afterall.

Amina slammed the glass down on the table, water splashing across her hand and on the wood of the tabletop. Despite her extremely buzzed state Amina felt a different sort of heat rising inside of her, that same fire that she felt back at the old facility when they were going to retrieve Janiri. A resentful, searing boil that did not subside.

What? Did you expect her to agree with you? To nudge up next to you and whisper about how the two of you should poison all the aliens’ booze?

Amina shook her head slowly to herself as she raised the water glass back up to her lips, wiping her other hand off on her sweater front.

You know what is true though? You are alone.

Amina glanced around - at the two drell drinking and stumbling about together, at Kysar and Zenn and Nadara talking like the oldest friends, at the energetic volus moving about the room, at everyone. And where was she? Where was Amina? Standing alone half drunk at the end of a table with only her bad mood, dogmatic idealism, and alcohol for company.

Stop being so weak! What do you care about? You have always been a loner. In the Alliance, in Cerberus, and now here. That is just who you are. Do not throw away what you believe in to suck ass to a bunch of aliens. You do not need anyone, you have what you are, what you stand for.

“Alliance bootlick…” Amina hissed through tight lips to herself. Whether Solveig was N7 or not Amina would not suffer lecture. Attitudes like Solveig’s reminded her of the likes of Udina and Alliance Parliament, “build bridges, make friends, we are all in this together” - yet the aliens have never wanted to help. They did not help at Eden Prime, they did not help during the colonial disappearances in Terminus, they sat on their asses and forced humanity to do all the world during the Reaper War. What have they done for humanity despite everything humanity did for them?

They are helping now. A lot. You are too. But unlike them you are making this about ‘us versus them’ instead of all of us as one.

Amina lowered her glass from another drink as her mind became more tumultuous. She glanced around at the assembled group, the assembled people - her teammates and coworkers.

Go talk to them. Try. Open your mind.

This thought immediately just seemed to heighten the agitation within Amina.

Yes. Open your mind. Go crawl at the aliens’ feet and ask them to educate you in their ways and ‘cultures’. Appease them.

Amina started to take slow steps across the room away from the buffet table. The buzz remained but she could walk.

Be true to yourself. You can work with them, you can share a common goal. But they are aliens, you are human. Nothing will change this. They have no business being here, this is not their world…

By now Amina was speed walking straight towards the door, shoes clopping against the rustic floor as she beelined to escape the party. She caught movement in the corner of her eye and saw it was Zelifa D’Veo, the asari coming straight for her. What do you want?

“I thought you could use one more-“ Zelifa’s smiling words were cut off as a hard shove sent her backward and made her spill the glass of esala all over her chef's uniform.

“Hey!” Zelifa shouted with the shocked indignation of a child, Amina was already gone out the door.

"Ha! Haha! Yes! That would have been ridiculous!" Zenn practically blurted out in a very awkward tone. He quickly cleared his throat and lowered his voice as he continued talking. "But hypothetically speaking. Let's say, someone not in your league wanted to ask you out, but they didn't have the courage to do it. What would you suggest to help them? Hypothetically speaking, of course."

Just as he finished speaking, Himbo returned. Zenn tilted his head to the side and watched as the man casually whispered to Nadara and handed her a drink in a very cool and confident manner.

"Oh... Were you and he... Did I interrupt something?"

Nadara’s eyes narrowed slightly at Zenn’s awkward laugh and then widened at his question. My my, she thought, how unexpected. A knowing smile crept onto her lips.

Far from wanting to embarrass the man, Nadara would answer the question just as hypothetically as he made it out. She opened her mouth to reply, but promptly snapped it shut at the feel of Jonah’s breath against her skin once more. Goddess she wanted this man.

Nadara’s smile changed, taking on a more seductive appeal, her eyes smoldering as she took the glass from Jonah, allowing her fingers to brush against his suggestively. “Thank you,” she said, motioning to the drink with a glance as she brought it up to her lips slowly for a sip. “My favorite.”

“No,” she responded to Zenn’s second question, knowing how the effect Jonah had on her might make him feel given his initial question. She’d have all night to enjoy the luscious man undisturbed later, for now, she was still enjoying the party.

Nadara’s eyes smoldered as she glanced back at Jonah. “I’ll just be a moment,” she promised.

It took some effort to clear the man from her mind, but Nadara shook her head slightly to recall Zenn’s first question and smiled kindly at him once more.

Kysar had been stuffing his face at the end of the buffet. Both teams had been eating food like starved varren and the Turian would be damned if he didn't get his freebies in.

Spotting Sol out of the corner of his eye, Kysar put the plate down. Finally, Cerbs is done with her and I can lay some groundwork for Zenn. The Turian took not but two steps towards her when he heard the commotion coming from the door.

Catching the back of Amina's turtleneck and a rather startled Zelifa, Kysar's head cocked. Huh, weird. What was all that about? The Turian continued forward, heading towards Sol when a little Zenn-like voice appeared from somewhere deep within his mind. You should go after her, she looks upset. Kysar groaned internally, I'm already doing too many selfless things today, I can't solve everyone's problems. I've got needs to y'know. The thought of his Quarian teammate standing there with his arms tightly folded appeared for just a moment.

Ugh, fine. I can't even see your face but there's no need to look so disappointed.

Diverting his path from Sol, the Turian briskly walked after Amina, stopping at the door for just a moment in front of the Asari. "Sorry, she's just... are you ok?" Kysar flashed her a warm smile, his ice blue eyes shining under the lights of the cabin.


"Ugh, sorry, I'll be back." Following Amina out into the cold, Kysar was somewhat thankful he'd already had a few shots to keep him warm.

Did I do something wrong? Sol wondered as she watched Kysar leave after Amina. She thought too about chasing after the woman -- had she been harsh? There wasn't a whole lot of time to think, soon enough she had company in the form of Team 3's human member.

Himbo walked across the room, noticing that Sol was alone, and Nadara was busy. "Alright?" He asked, his eyes landing on Sol's hand - which she noticed immediately, and in response folded her arms to hide it.

"No." She said, not as an answer to his question - but as a statement to his presence.

"Painful, isn't it?" He asked, motioning to the hand. Bionics intrigued him, his stature had changed, he appeared softer, quieter - his bravado had been left beside Nadara perhaps.

His comment still rubbed Sol the wrong way, and any attempt at sincerity from him just caused her face to darken. This wasn't the place, and he wasn't the person.

"I don't know, you tell me," she said under her breath, balling up a fist and holding it close to her chest threateningly.

Himbo immediately backed off "Woah! Woah!" He said with his hands up through a laugh, before conceding defeat and walking away again.

After he left, Solveig took a steadying breath, his cologne had lingered, it wasn't great. "Smells like a pervert too," she grumbled, to nobody but herself.

"Amina!" The Turian was at least smart enough to recognise this was not the time for her to find out her latest nickname. "Amina! Wait up! What's going on?" The whiskey was doing the talking for him, words flowed a lot easier than they would normally have.

Amina came to a standstill in the snow, so caught up in her state of confusion and distress the freezing wind and showering of snow against her tender face barely went noticed by her. She had recognized the voice behind her, Kysar.

The T-

Amina turned slowly, she and Kysar stood a few feet apart. He had obviously been intent on catching up with her. Amina instantly felt embarrassed, her face flushing and her ears taking a red hue at the tip and just just from the relentless cold. The last thing she wanted to do was make a scene and yet here she was now, acting like a schoolgirl after being told no to a dance by a boy. It was humiliating.

“I…” Amina started, her voice catching in her throat as she tried to shut out the pessimistic, cynical voice deep within her psyche. Forget him. Just walk away.

“I am…” Amina slowly continued, “just fighting some inner turmoil right now. I would not expect the likes of you to understand. No offense.”

The wind was freezing. Though stylish, Kysar's getup had not been designed with any sort of insulation in mind. Snow that had latched to his shins on the way over began to melt, seeping freezing water onto the Turians legs. Had there not been such an uneasy look on Amina's face, or were he not mere moments away from becoming the first avian-like popsicle, Kysar would have belly laughed at such a statement.

"You know, the other day when Nadara took Janiri, I burst into the med bay." Distraction was key, suck out the oxygen and there would be no fuel to the fire. "I was so angry, furious about what had happened. I lifted one of the staff clean off the ground, demanding to know where Nadara was."

Kysar inched closer, pushing through the cold and the snow, feeling as if he was talking someone down from a ledge. "The poor woman was so scared but she still managed to tell me what I wanted. I dropped her to the floor and left without a second thought. She could've been injured but all I thought about was myself and how angry I was."

Getting closer, the Turian was able to lower his voice. "I've been back to that hospital since and I haven't even been able to bring myself to ask about her, or say sorry to anyone. I-" Kysar gulped, his teeth were beginning to chatter.

"I'm a monster Amina, I've done so many terrible things. Things so much worse than what happened with the nurse. But as I sat in that hospital room with Sol, Zenn, Janiri and Katya, the others told me that they saw so much good in me." The Turian looked down at his hands, this conversation had started with his team mate in mind but the words wouldn't stop.

"How can I be what they say I am? How can they say these things about me when I can't even say sorry to someone I hurt? Maybe you're right, maybe what you're going through is different to me. But maybe we're not so different, you and I."

“No so different?…” Amina repeated questioningly. She took two steps back but maintained eye contact with Kysar - with those beady Turian eyes…

“We may be the same in that we have killed people. That we both have… tempers…”

Why are you even remotely relating yourself to this Turian?

Amina forced the persistent buzzing thoughts from her mind as best she could as she continued. “Let me ask you; why have you killed? And how much have you killed?”

Memories spilled through Kysar's mind as if a full glass had been shattered. His time in the Cabal's fighting a cloak and dagger war with the Blue Suns for the supposed protection of Turian ideals. "Duty..."

He thought of Sarah, cradling her dead husband in her arms, her kids screaming for him to wake up as he took down husk after husk. "Survival..."

Fire sparked in his heart as Scipio was next to appear. A furious bile of hatred still existed for the man who had tried to take everything from Kysar and whom Kysar had taken everything from. "Anger... hatred..."

Finally there was Purgatory. The void in his soul that place created that not only swallowed the anger but any feeling he'd ever had. There the true monster was born, the death of Kerry had sealed it all. "Vengeance..."

Faces that had haunted the Turian's dreams for as long as he could remember came into view, peppering his mind relentlessly. "I-I've killed more than I can count. I can't even say that I remember all of them."

Kysar looked up from his hands, directly at Amina. "And you, Amina? Please tell me this is where we are different. Spirits, I wouldn't wish this burden on anybody."

Amina smirked dryly, her eyes showing no emotion as she rocked back on one foot and crossed her arms. By now the petty prickling voice of thought in her head had subsided, given up as she gave to the discourse she now shared with the alien before her.

“I have killed in the name of duty and ideology,” she said calmly, “and killing itself is no overbearing burden for me. To take a life is no small thing of course, but… when you take that life for a greater good then you are not a monster. Perhaps not a hero, actually usually never a hero. But… you did it for a reason.”

Amina uncrossed her arms and looked down, shuffling one foot in the snow. By now white flakes coated her sweater and slacks but she cared not, she felt the cold but found she was not heavily bothered by it.

“Do you know why I first joined Cerberus?” Amina looked back at Kysar.

Not a monster. This was the third person to claim as such and Kysar could never have guessed Amina of all people would say such a thing. The Turian paused, a frog caught in his throat as he tried to quell his own inner voice. She was not there, she doesn't know I am a murderer. I am a-

Kysar shook the thought loose, now was not the time. “Tell me.”

Amina snorted and wiped a thin layer of flakes from her forehead and dark brown hair, taking in a short breath as she prepared to spill more than she knew she should.

“I joined Cerberus when I stopped believing in the Alliance. Not in humanity, but… ‘the system’. My father told me stories about… Shanxi…” Amina hesitated slightly in mentioning the First Contact War but continued on, “He told me how the Turians were relentless. Your people killed without mercy Kysar, destroyed whole colonies on that planet and forced thousands into prisoner camps. Then Alliance Parliament goes and makes nice with the Council. The Turians were given the benefit of the doubt because of their species’ place among the Council races and then we spent the next decades cloying for Council favor, all the while so many of those who suffered on Shanxi were denied reparations or a voice - it might shake up diplomacy with the Council.”

Amina recrossed her arms, keeping level eye contact with Kysar, her face filled not with resentment or accusation - but desperation.

“And then came Elysium and Mindoir, thousands killed and enslaved by the Batarians, never to be seen again by their families, with no action by the other Council races other than verbal condemnation.

“And then Eden Prime, Terra Nova - my birth home - and then the Terminus colonies. It was always the same,”
Amina’s voice started to rise as her brow crinkled, “weak consolation by the aliens of the Council and lip service from the human politicians as human lives just continued to be snuffed out. People like me were angry, we felt lost, we felt betrayed and forgotten by bootlicks on the Citadel who claimed to represent our interests.”

Amina’s shoulders slumped but her visage held its fiery defiance, “I did not join Cerberus, did not leave the Alliance, because I deeply hated aliens, not because I hated your kind, Kysar. But because I believed that Cerberus was just that - a guardian hound against the snake politicians and non-human aggression. That they were fighting for a better galaxy for my kind. And I still believe that in some sense they were - right up until…”

Amina exhaled, dense white condensation expelling past her lips.

“Right up until its leadership went mad with ambition.”

Anima turned around, her back to Kysar as she looked out into the swirling snowstorm that besieged the humble Norse islands.

The Turian hugged his body tightly, the cold had cut to the bone and he was doing his best to keep his torso warm. Had his cheeks any feeling left in them, they would have been coloured an embarrassed pinkish red. Cerberus' name carried a certain weight to it outside of humanity, especially given the war. Most members were easy to dismiss as simple racists, spouting their heretical, shrewd views. Kysar could've kicked himself for not seeing something more. Afterall, he'd just finished telling Zenn about his analysing of others.

"Out of everyone, I am the last to defend the actions of the Hierarchy. Despite what they drill into our heads about working as a cohesive unit, I've been an outcast since birth and treated as such." Kysar could still feel the sting of the needle from his tattoos, burning his face.

"But you must understand, humanity was spared the horrors of the Rachni wars and the Krogan Rebellions. Neither of these enemies showed our colonies, nor our people any mercy. The only thing they understood was aggression and total annihilation, so this became our tactic. Galactic wars have a way of branding your peoples way of life, as humans now know." The Turian looked up at the sickened sky, frowning.

"My people believe that the universe is a cruel place where only the strong can survive. They see what you have mentioned as trials, ones that will make your people or break them." Kysar looked down, smiling as he did so. "But fuck them. You're right, humanity should not have been left on their own to prove themselves. All of us have paid for this viewpoint. There wasn't one race who won this war. We did it together, despite our differences."

The Turian trudged through the snow, standing side by side with Amina. "I've never known what it was like to carry the weight of my entire race on my back. Seems like you have for a long time, maybe even forever. I can't hate you for that Amina. I just think... I dunno. Humanities failures aren't your own, just as the Hierarchy's are not mine. We just have to make do with what we've got and right now that's the SRN and this weird mismatch of a team."

Kysar's hand rose, touching the butt of his chin; partly to make sure it was still there but partly to think. "Fuck, I dunno. We're doing some good out there, I think. At least we're trying to and you're a part of that. Giving hope to others and all that nice stuff. Plus we also got to kill those pieces of shit organ traffickers. That sure felt nice."

Amina cut her eyes to the side at Kysar before looking back ahead. Why was this Turian making so much sense? He was right; they were all doing good work - together. Just like that in the end, as much as she hated to admit it deep down, humanity could not have defeated the Reapers without the other species of the galaxy, all of them - but why hate the honest truth so passionately?

Like Amina, Kysar had held the actions of his species’ authoritative figures to question, in the end they both had been pawns on a chessboard. Maybe they did have quite a bit in common, even if their likeness did not mirror perfectly.

Like it even matters.

Amina exhaled again in frustration. She looked down at her clothes, now plastered with snowflakes as was her loose hanging hair. The severity of the cold seemed to be settling in by the second as Amina really started to shiver hard. She still felt wobbly at the knees and her head was still light. All she wanted to do now was go and lay down and process this for the rest of the night until she fell asleep.

“Hey…” Amina said out of the corner of her mouth, “nice little talk. Maybe another time. Maybe not. But… thanks for what it is worth.” With that Amina trudged off away from Kysar in search of her bunk.

Kysar smiled, chuckling to himself as he watched Amina trek back towards their base. "Yeah.. maybe."

Part of him had hoped their chat would've been enough to bring her back to the party but he also understood the peace of solitude in a time like this. Turning back around, the Turian walked with as much pace as his legs would allow, making his way through snow and muck back to the cabin.

Finally back in the warmth he shook loose water like ranger after a bath. The party looked to be in full swing with everyone up and about. Playboy looked as if he was headed towards the stage, while Zenn chatted to the new, and rather attractive, Quarian he'd seen earlier. Smiles were worn all round with chatter and laughter filling the cosy little cabin.

Quickly ducking over to Zelifa, Kysar offered a quick apology. "Sorry about all that, Amina has asked me to apologise on her behalf. She's just got some things going on at the moment."

Turning to leave the Turian's head cocked to one side with an idea. "Oh," he said, swivelling back, "She also said something about me getting a bottle of esala for myself? Too kind of her I thought but do you have another? I'll be warming up on the couch by the fire." Kysar paused, pointing over to the fireplace, offering a just as warm smile. "Perhaps we could share." Smirking, he turned and headed over.
5x Like Like
Hidden 2 mos ago 2 mos ago Post by NoPlayerGuild
Avatar of NoPlayerGuild

NoPlayerGuild Thanks Obamahz

Member Seen 0-24 hrs ago

Karaoke Stage, Basecamp Spitsbergen
Evening, April 15

After sharing a few glasses, suggestive looks, and surprisingly pleasing banter with Viper, Playboy excused himself. The seed had been sown, and now he just needed to be patient for the eventual blossom.

Besides, he desperately needed to use the restroom after all the beverages he’d consumed already.

When he returned to the main room, everything was essentially as he’d left it, but Himbo was now on his own. A perfect time to get the lowdown, Playboy thought, knowing his friend would have everyone clocked by this time.

When he reached the human, Playboy had his hand covering his nose and mouth. “Walked through a minefield on the way here. Had to have been you. Have you no mercy?”

Zenn could feel his heart sink into his stomach as Nadara spoke. Her advice was almost exactly the same as Kysar’s, and if that didn’t give him the confidence to talk to Sol or even fake it before, then maybe he just wasn’t ready no matter how much he wanted to be. Zenn let out a very sorrowful sigh and nodded his head. “Thanks, Nadara. I’ll let you get back to the party now…” Zenn took a few steps away, before he stopped and looked back over his shoulder. “You know. Kysar told me something very similar. I think you two would really get along if you actually sat down and talked one of these days. Just, maybe don’t do it in the mess hall. Your track record there isn’t great.”

As he walked away from Nadara, he happened to catch the final moments of Himbo attempting to lay the moves on Sol. He watched as she very openly rejected him, only for him to walk away unphased and reconvene with his pal Playboy. At that moment, the quarian felt a flame ignite in him. It may have been fueled by alcohol, and maybe a little bit of jealousy, but mostly it was his team’s reactions. Kysar called them idiots. Sol was disgusted with them. Even Amina had to push them away. The only ones who seemed to enjoy them were Nadara and possibly the other drell. And they didn’t even seem to care!

This wouldn’t do. If Zenn couldn’t find the courage to talk to Sol, then he would at least try and get these two to behave. Glancing around the room, he locked onto the glass of whiskey he had handed to Kysar, grabbed and chugged the rest, then slammed the glass down and marched over to Himbo and Playboy.

“Hey. You two. Let’s chat.” Zenn called out to the two ‘smooth talkers’. His voice boomed a little louder than he intended, but he wanted to be sure he had their attention as he put an arm around each of them and pulled them into a sort of huddle. Once he had them, he lowered his voice and tried his best to not sound as aggressive. “This is my team’s first impression of you. You’re supposed to be fostering trust and confidence, yet you’re using it to try and shamelessly bed everything with a pulse. Is this what you want our takeaway to be? That you see us as nothing more than notches in your bunks? Because let me tell you; right now most of us would trust the volus keep a secret more than we would trust you two with any responsibility. So, how about you cool it with the lines, keep it in your pants, and try to actually get to know us a bit. Alright?”

Someone’s insecure. Playboy thought.

“Sorry to hear that’s your opinion, friend. I’ve talked to only three people so far, including him,” Playboy cocked his head to Himbo, “and only one of whom is even on your team. Besides, I barely introduced myself to Amina before she darted off.”

Playboy shrugged with an easy smile and held out his hand. “Start fresh?” He asked. “Nice to meet you, I’m Play—” He paused and chuckled. “Well this isn’t going to help my case at all,” he said sideways to Himbo before turning back to the Quarian. “I’m Playboy.”

He was about to clap his hands and get into it with Playboy. Get the gossip on how things were going - and apologize for his, flatulence. But instead, Himbo was met with an arm around him of Team 2's Quarian. Before he could even speak, Playboy had answered for himself. He gave a smirk, thinking to match energy with the Quarian, but he did wonder if that would just start a brawl.

"Woah!" He began, clutching his chest as if he was wounded. "I'm hurt man... We're good alright?" He began, looking at Zenn with a softer expression, probably best not to fuel him up. "I'm only going to try it with Nadara, and to be honest man, however I feel about her she feels the same about me - I'm here for a good time, you know? I'm not deceiving her. She knows what I'm about already." Himbo looked over to her and chuckled, "she is something though," he sighed - wanting to go back to her now she was free again.

"Me and my boy, well definitely me - I'm in the moment. Might be dead tomorrow, so tonight is for no regrets, you get me?" He turned to properly face the Quarian with a relaxed smile, one hand in the pocket of his jacket, the other extended. "But alright, you're right -- first impressions count a lot man. I'm Jonah, friends and colleagues call me Himbo."

“We’re divulging real names, now?” Playboy asked in surprise as an aside. “That would’ve helped my case.” he mumbled.

"Even I can't take Doctor-Fucking-Himbo seriously man," Himbo laughed in response. "That woman is into you though!" He added, holding out a fist for Playboy to bump.

Playboy looked down at the hand he still held out to the Quarian, and decided against removing it, instead lifting his other hand to fist bump Himbo. “You too! I saw those dance moves, you rascal.”

Himbo and Playboy? Are they messing with me?

Zenn thought as he looked at them with a blank, unamused stare. They had initially attempted to smooth things over, only for them to quickly devolve into ‘bro’ mode.

Oh, Keelah, they’re serious…

Well if he wanted this to go anywhere, he'd have to play nice. Reluctantly, Zenn took Playboy’s hand and shook it. “Shadow, but call me Zenn." He let go of Playboy’s hand and proceeded to fold his arms and shake his head.

“Look. I’m just trying to give you two a heads up. You've been laying it on so thick that everyone in this room already has you figured out despite talking to less than half of them. The general opinion of you is low, with a few notable exceptions. If you want to change that, just dial it back a bit."

Himbo turned his head back to face Zenn, running his hand through his beard thoughtfully as he considered in his mind the two options. Fuel. No fuel.

Fuel. No fuel.

He didn't really want to be told what to do, he hadn't done anything wrong. Fuel.

But it was a new team, he could dial it back. No fuel.

But they'd done nothing wrong. Fuel.

"To be honest, Zenn, I think Nadara wants me to dial it up with her. Like I said, here for a good time. Me and her know what we want." He shrugged, glancing back over to the Asari, "I haven't talked to anybody else man."

“That’s kinda my point, Jonah.” Zenn replied with a shrug. “How many people besides Nadara have even let you talk to them? How many have even approached you? You haven’t talked to anyone else because they don’t want to talk to you.”

Himbo rolled his eyes, knowing he wasn't going to change Zenn's mind anytime soon. So he chose to smile, letting the comment slide like water off a duck's back. "You got my ticket," he said, throwing his hands up once more in defeat. "I am, definitely, an arsehole. But you're still wrong about me - I ain't judging you man, you still seem cool enough to me, just go enjoy yourself!" he added. "If you don't mind gents..." With that, he began moving away from the group, shuffling skillfully in time with the music back towards Nadara, with a drink in one hand, he pushed his glasses back up the bridge of his nose with the other.

Playboy watched the exchange between the two as one would a tennis match, his head bouncing back and forth from one volley to the other. Zenn seemed too uptight about this, they were at a dinner party after all, what was the harm in having some fun?

“We really mean no harm,” he said finally as Himbo shuffled off. “Why not give us the benefit of the doubt and enjoy the night?” He tilted his head toward the karaoke set up. “Fancy a duet?”

Playboy figured if Zenn was able to let loose a bit, he might let this all go. The man needed some stress relief, and since he was so opposed to the kind Himbo and Playboy enjoyed receiving from women, belting out some tunes had to be the next best thing. “You seem like you’d have a great set of pipes behind that suit, friend!”

As Himbo dismissed himself from the conversation to go dance with Nadara, Zenn thought of a quip to say, but Playboy jumped in before he could deliver it. While he still wasn’t willing to alter his behavior at all, he did offer an unusual olive branch to end the discussion. A duet… Under normal circumstances, Zenn would have declined, but tonight had so far been a bust for him. He needed something to raise his spirits, and maybe it was the whiskey talking, but karaoke sounded pretty fun right now.

Zenn simply chuckled before throwing his arms up. “Sure. Why not? Let’s hit the stage!”

Playboy smiled widely, “That’s the spirit, Zenn!” He slapped the Quarian on the back and they walked to the stage, where Playboy ensured the mic was on. “Ladies and gentlemen,” he said smoothly. “We’re about to get this party started.”

Zenn’s parting words to Nadara had given her pause. It was unexpected to discover she and Kysar, of all people, had offered similar advice. What did he know of the delicate nature of affection? But she supposed he could surprise her again, he did show up tonight in quite the getup and she had not in the least been prepared to witness that.

Curious about where he’d gone off to, Nadara glanced around the room. She was unable to find him, but did see Zenn discussing with Jonah and the male Drell. From his body language she could tell he wasn’t pleased.

Is he making his case for me? She wondered, noticing the back and forth between him and Jonah with interest. Just when she thought it would come to blows through, Jonah smoothed away from the other two, and began heading her way. Seems the better of the two has won.

As she and Jonah locked eyes, Nadara began swaying her way toward him, moving in tune to the music, only to stop part way with an announcement from the Drell over the microphone.

Oh no, she lamented to herself. Anything but amateur singing.

"Mmmph...stage? Holy shit, are we doing karaoke?"

Stopping only to wipe off the meat juice that slipped down her jaw when she got up too fast, Zenobia wolfed down the last of the drumstick she was eating and got to her feet. She was NOT going to miss that; singing off-key in front of everyone was a great ice breaker, and frankly she felt that she had been skimping on the meet and greet for Team 3 since she was so hungry. Was it not her duty to make the newcomers feel welcome and accommodate them as proper members of the SRN, with no ulterior motives whatsoever?

Well maybe she should at least start with the surly helmet sitting off in the corner fileting a kebab.

"Heyo, welcome to the team," Zenobia declared brightly, jumping backwards into a chair across from the ornery quarian focusing on her meal. "You're a...Acid, right?"

Acid's green eyes behind her helmet narrowed, her temples still throbbing from the last dredges of withdrawal. Going cold turkey had of course done little to improve the criminal quarian's mood over this whole arrangement, but admittedly, this turian looked roguish enough that she didn't immediately want to stab her in the eye.

"Yeah...?" she said slowly.

Zenobia hesitated a bit before deciding, as usual, to do something stupid. "Heard you were some criminal, right? Real big shot in the Blood Pack? I was an Eclipse leader around the same time.”

"Worked with them, wasn't one of them," Acid said grumpily.

"Yeah, no shit. You're not the type."

Acid froze, looking up coldly at the turian to analyze her. The scar, the physicality, the hint of biotic energy clinging to her bare knuckles, that smarmy grin. This bitch was testing her, no doubt about it. "You think that I'm soft, Blue?"

"Nah, I've heard enough of you to know better. Probably why the bosses warned me to keep an eye on you, and to put you down if needed."

The quarian chuckled darkly. "I'm really that expendable?"

"Or I am." Zenobia smirked.

The two shared an incredibly long stare, before they both relaxed, coming to an unspoken understanding.

"I think you should stop skulking around and get to know your team, by the way," Zenobia said, getting to her feet. "I can tell you don't want to be here, but if you don't build some semblance of trust you're only going to get out of SRN in a plastic box." And with a rough pat on the shoulder, Lunatic was gone, off to flirt with one of the other new team members. Shrugging, Acid got unsteadily to her feet, grabbed a drink and silently crept towards what looked like the safest option to start a conversation with.

"Well now," she announced, walking up behind Zenn. "Seems we're a bit far from home, aren't we?"

Zenn was about to follow Playboy to the stage, when he heard the voice of a fellow quarian from behind. Zenn delayed his advancement to the stage for a moment and turned to greet the team 3 sentinel.

"Tell me about it." He chuckled at Acid's comment. "First time in generations our people actually have a home, and we managed to get stuck light years away from it. I guess we still have to say Keelah Se'lai, right?"

Zenn glanced over his shoulder and saw that the stage had already been set. It was time for him to take his place. "Uh, sorry, looks like I’m up so I have to run. Maybe we'll get to chat more later? My name is Zenn, by the way." He extended his hand out towards the other quarian "Zenn'Valin vas Konesh. But my callsign is Shadow."

"Julu'Laagar nar Seeleya," she recited tersely, shaking his hand in an attempt to be friendly. "Callsign's Acid. And yeah, we should definitely talk later."

With Cannonball off his back and pinging around the room, Tank had made several attempts to reach other members of team 2 to introduce himself. Unfortunately for the Elcor, most had zipped around the room (some even out the door) before he could reach them.

Lucky for Tank, however, there was one member of team 2 who had been glued to the wall for some time. Absent-mindedly staring into space. Slowly, the Elcor approached from the side, doing his best not to startle her.

“Rushed introduction: Human female… of Team 2… my name is… Tank… it has… been… a pleasure… to meet… your team…what… is… your name?”

Rolling her shoulder back, and tilting her head until her neck cracked in the way that was satisfying and brought relief, Solveig turned her head to the side to see that she had been snuck up on. Without saying a word, she patiently let him make his charming introduction. Sol did not feel any sense of urgency or rush to respond, and finally she answered back in a mirrored, but genuine, cadence.

"It's a pleasure... To be meeting you, Tank. Yes, I am of Team 2. Wraith, but please call me Solveig," she extended a hand for him to shake.

Tank froze in horror, staring at the human female's hand. Pheromones poured from him as he panicked, only thankful that humans could not detect such things. This action was not covered by the Elder's, they had only stressed the fact that he must announce his feelings verbatim with every sentence so as not to cause any diplomatic incidents or cause others undue stress.

"Embarrassingly confused: I do... apologise. hum-Solvieg..." Gods above, he had almost called her human as well. The poor Elcor could feel his knee's almost buckle out of shame. Taking a big gulp, he continued. "I am... unfamiliar... with this... human gesture... would you... please... educate me?"

"No offence taken here," Solveig said slowly, demonstrating the gesture to Tank, talking out each part, "extend arm... Open hand... touch hands... close hands... shake."

She brought her hand back to her side, before sticking it out again for him. "If you want... Practice. But... I don't like the gesture so much, anyway... Just an... orbilterry..." that didn't sound right. "Formality.”

Tank looked at the woman’s arm, studying it intently. Such soft squishy creatures they were, how could you close hands and not break such a thing? Perhaps he could shake with a Krogan or maybe…

“Polite Request: Solveig… would it be… possible… to shake… your mechanical… arm?”

Ordinarily, Solveig might have responded with a scowl, but Tank had made his intent very clear. A polite request. If only everyone communicated like that, she thought. It would be so much easier to gauge their intent instead of deciphering meaning from words that strangers tended to just hurtle out at a rapid pace, all the while stringing together your own response.

"Of course." A very pleasant individual she thought, sticking out her arm as per his polite request.

Extend arm. Tank’s mammoth of a hand, raised up from the ground, carefully moving towards Sol’s. Open hand. The Elcor’s palm was the size of a watermelon, daunting the woman’s as he steadily approached. Touch hands. Despite the warm atmosphere around them, the metal was cool to touch. Close hands.

Relief flooded Tank as he could feel Sol’s powerful bionics work against the strength of his touch, equaling each other out. Shake. He was doing it! He was really doing it! What elation he felt.

“Ecstatic happiness: Solveig… this interaction… has made… my night… thank you… friend.”

Tank was as strong as his name and size suggested, even with the bionics. His reaction surprised her, and she couldn't help it. Her lips curled upwards into a small smile, and a giggle that she almost forgot existed briefly escaped.

"Genuine joy. Tank, my pleasure."

Not wanting to ruin a perfectly fine moment, she set off from Tank in the direction of Kysar who had just sat down by the fire.

"Venat- I mean, Kysar," she said. Her bionic hand in the pocket of her dress, the other holding a full glass of vodka. "If you have a moment?"

Kysar's head whipped around, looking round the room. Sure, it wasn't the company he was expecting but Sol was cool and he was pretty happy to see the bottle of vodka. "Ah Awks, take a seat and pass me a drink. Spirits, it's been a long evening already."

"Amina is okay? I was talking to her..." She began, taking a seat, passing the vodka to Kysar. "You're okay?" she added as a follow up.

The Turian grabbed the bottle, taking a rather long swig, hoping Sol wouldn't mind too much. Finishing with a refreshing 'aah', Kysar wiped his mouth and handed the bottle back to the woman. "Yeah, I think she's ok. Or she will be. I wouldn't worry about her if that's what you're asking."

Leaning back into the soda, Kysar's head flopped onto the top of the backrest. "Me? I'm ok, I've done enough talking tonight to last me the rest of my life." He sighed loudly, signing it off with a small chuckle. Turning to Sol the Turian raised an eyebrow. "Why? Everything okay with you?"

She scoffed at that - a loaded question. Sitting with it for a moment, Sol brought her glass to her lips - staring off into the middle distance quietly. "Ok as I could be," she said finally, snapping back out of whatever thought had drawn her attention to look back at him. "Wanted to actually say something to you."

She took a sip first, "yesterday. In the hospital. Thank you for that."

Kysar chuckled softly, waving it off. "Don't mention it." The Turian sat up, turning to face Sol. "It's okay, things are okay." He smiled at the woman, taking a moment to think if he should pat her on the shoulder or not.

Deciding against it, he leant back into the couch. "But seriously, don't mention it. I wouldn't want anyone to think I'm just handing them out." He laughed, a half joke if there ever was one.

"And don't go thinking you'll get away with it again," Sol retorted, eyeing him quickly, only half joking too.

The Turian threw his hands up. "Don't blame me, it was Zenn's idea!" Kysar laughed heartily, slapping himself on the knee before recomposing. "Ahh. He's an oddball isn't he, Zenn that is. What do you think of him?"

"Oddball?" Sol asked, lowering her head and taking a quick glance at Kysar. "I think he's... fine," she continued with a shrug, casting another sidelong glance at him before looking away to take a longer sip from her glass.

"Yeah, you're both kind of similar like that. Awkward, shy, that kind of stuff." Kysar paused, partly to look Sol over but partly to gesture for the bottle. Hog.

"But you're also different. He likes to talk and is open with his feelings n'all that. Where as you..." The Turian looked his friend up and down, giving her a cheeky grin.
"Well, you're different. I think you guys would work well together."

Sol passed the bottle back to him with her usual raised brow.

"We do work well together, the three of us worked very well together yesterday. You were there."

Kysar smiled, slyly, taking the bottle and following it up with a decent swig. "Oh, I'm not talking about that kind of work together Awks. I think you guys would make a good couple, y'know. Romantic couple."

The Turian smiled a cheesy grin, promptly handing back the bottle. She was going to need it.

A smile inadvertently crept upon Sol's lips at the thought until it immediately dropped when she saw Kysar's. "I-I-- You, keep that. Thoughts. Thinking... that's your thoughts from your... brain not mine and not from me." She stammered out, feeling her cheeks heat up.

The smile snuck back, and she had to focus to squash it yet again. A glass was no good. She did need the bottle. After a long swig, she turned to look at her Turian frien with a moderately serious expression, tinged with red cheeks. "Tell anyone about this," she started, leaning in close to him, "I will find 1000 ways to torture you."

An array of feelings- namely embarrassment, washed over her - but there was also an unusual flicker of amusement at the exchange. Still, she wanted to escape it and so she removed herself very quickly from the chair, leaving the bottle with Kysar.

Kysar sunk back into the couch for a final time, quite pleased with himself. Stretching out his arms he used his hands to cradle the back of his head. "Alright Sol, I'll keep your secret." The Turian whispered to himself.

"KARAOKE? HELL YEAH! THIS PARTY IS ABOUT TO START ROCKIIIIING!" Cannonball yelled out once again strumming an air guitar as they spoke. They then proceeded to do a front flip off of Tank and sprinted as fast as their little legs could take them to the front row of the stage.

Zenn gave Acid a nod, then quickly excused himself to take his place on the stage. Despite everything that had led him there, he was completely calm. All the nerves, all the reservations, they were just gone. Maybe he had finally buried his insecurities, or maybe he just didn't care anymore. Whatever the case, he found himself relaxed and ready when he took hold of the mic.

After quickly setting up both mics at center stage, Zenn and Playboy found a book listing all the song options they had to choose from.

His eyes sparkled in delight as they fell on one option and he pointed with his finger. “Can never go wrong with this,” he said. “You know it?”

Playboy pointed out a specific song on the list, to which Zenn snickered. "Oh please. I'm pretty sure even the protheans knew this one. Kick it, Playboy!"

Once the play button was pressed, Zenn closed his eyes, took a deep breath, and let the lyrics come out as his voice and the drell's harmonized together.

🎵Is this the real life?
Is this just fantasy?
Caught in a landside,
No escape from reality.
Open your eyes,
Look up to the skies and see

Whatever was possessing him to do this in the first place had completely taken over at this point, as Zenn took the lead with Playboy providing the backing vocals.

🎵I'm just a poor boy, I need no sympathy,
Because I'm easy come, easy go,
Little high, little low,
Any way the wind blows doesn't really matter to me.
To me…

It had been many years since Playboy sang beside someone as skilled as Zenn was vocally. In fact, he was perhaps the most talented person Playboy had ever heard. What’s he doing working for the SRN? He thought incredulously. The lyrics poured from the Quarian like smooth, syrupy honey coating you in its intoxicatingly sweet embrace. It was all Playboy could do to harmonize and provide the backup vocals, in shock as he was from the unexpected brilliance of his duet partner.

After the first few lines however, he got into the zone, allowing the music to take control as he and Zenn took turns as the lead, throwing it to one another as if they had sung this song together a dozen times.

Just killed a man,
Put a gun against his head,
Pulled my trigger, now he’s dead
Life had just begun,
But now I’ve gone and thrown it all awayyyy…

They were such timeless lyrics, transcending species and even galaxies. Anyone who had spent time in battle would relate to the song, and even those who hadn’t loved to sing along. Too caught up in the vocals and accompanying gestures, Playboy didn’t even glance at the crowd, instead only responding and reacting to the man beside him.

Playboy returned to the background for the next bit, placing his arm around Zenn’s shoulders as they both swayed from side to side.

🎶Mama, (oooh)
Didn’t mean to make you cry,
If I’m not back again this time tomorrow,
Carry on, (carry on), as if nothing really matters…

The sound coming out of Zenn was as much of a surprise to him as it was to anyone else. This kind of thing was something he had always avoided, especially in public. With Playboy it made sense. He no doubt had serenaded his fair share of dates or audiences. But with Zenn? At most he'd sing to himself when he was alone, but the power and control he had over his vocal cords gave the illusion that he had been performing for years.

🎵Too late, my time has come,
Sends shivers down my spine, body's aching all
The time…

Accompanied by and even backing Playboy’s own exquisite singing voice as the two switched parts almost naturally, and the act quickly turned from an amateur performance to a full display of talent. Maybe if things didn't work out as soldiers and mercenaries, they could fall back on a musical career! Though that could just be the liquor talking…

🎵Goodbye, everybody, I've got to go,
Gotta leave you all behind and face the truth.

By that point, Zenn had followed Playboy’s lead and was completely lost in the song. Everything beyond the stage ceased to exist. No crowd, no party, no distractions. In that moment there was only the stage and the music.

🎵Mama, oooh
I don't want to die,
I sometimes wish I'd never been born at all.

Sol stood to the back of the room, a fresh drink in hand when the karaoke started. To her surprise, it was Zenn and one of the Team 3 members. To even greater surprise, they were both good.

She tilted her head, her gaze falling on Zenn, as he sang through the lyrics. There was a sensation through her body that seemed to make her feel lighter and her eyes turned hazy as she simply watched and listened from her own darkened corner.

At the front of the stage, Himbo reappeared behind Nadara, wrapping his big arms around her waist to sway her in time to the music. Proud of his friend for turning a sour situation good.

“No fucking way.” Kysar had practically leapt off the couch as he heard Zenn’s tuned voice break out. Making his way over, the Turian stood at the back of the crowd.

Saddling up beside him, Tank looked at Kysar nervously out of the corner of his eye. “Tank!” He blurted out.

Kysar nearly jumped, thinking the great beast had sneezed or something. “Are you ok?”

Tank was sweating bullets, he was breaking every protocol he’d been taught by the Elders. But he did so for good reason. “My name… Tank.”

The Turian couldn’t help but smile. “Kysar.”

“Grateful relief: thank-“

The Turian held up a finger. “Let’s not ruin this, ok?”

The Elcor nodded, over the moon at another successful interaction. More friends.

Nadara turned her head casually, and when she realized it was Himbo who had wrapped his arms around her, she smiled, sinking into his embrace.

“Thought you’d never find your way back here,” she whispered into his ear.

As the song went into its second guitar solo, Playboy turned to Zenn with wide eyes and an even wider smile. He pulled the man’s hand and gripped it tightly while using the other to slap him on the shoulder, laughing all the while. He hadn’t expected it to go this well, but was fully enjoying the moment as well as the instant camaraderie he felt with the Team 2 member.

As the next section began, both men jumped back to their mics, and they evenly split the lines.

🎶I see a little silhouetto of a man,
Scaramouch, scaramouch, will you do the Fandango

🎵Thunderbolts and lightning,
Very, very frightening me
Galileo, Galileo
Galileo, Galileo,
Galileo, Figaroooo

Playboy and Zenn shared eye contact before seamlessly finalizing this section of the song and delving into the next, perfectly setting up the lines for each other.

I’m just a poor boy, nobody loves me
He’s just a poor boy from a poor family,
Spare him his life for his monstrosity

Zenn reciprocated Playboy’s gesture. If his face wasn't obscured by a mask, Playboy would have seen him mouth "Thank you." This was the first time in possibly a decade Zenn was able to really let loose and enjoy himself. He still had his reservations about the drell and his pal's promiscuous behavior, but Zenn had to admit, he knew how to have fun. For the next few verses, they each took a part and stuck with it going back and forth.

🎵Easy come, easy go, will you let me go
Bismillah! No, we will not let you go
(Let him go!) Bismillah! We will not let you go
(Let him go!) Bismillah! We will not let you go
(Let me go) Will not let you go
(Let me go)(Never) Never let you go
(Let me go) (Never) let you go (Let me go)
No, no, no, no, no, no, no
Oh mama mia, mama mia, mama mia, let me go
Beelzebub has a devil put aside for me, for me,
For meee…

As the guitars started shredding, Zenn was fully immersed. He raised his fist in the air as his whole body rocked back and forth to the beat. Cannonball matched his energy from the crowd and the two rocked out in sync until Zenn grabbed the mic from its stand and did a knee slide to the edge of the stage as he sang the next part with all his heart.

🎵So you think you can stop me and spit in my eye
So you think you can love me and leave me to die
Oh, baby, can't do this to me, baby,
Just gotta get out, just gotta get right outta here…

Jumping back to his feet, Zenn continued to rock out hoping to hype up more of the crowd. Aside from Cannonball who needed no such help. As the guitar solos lowered in tempo and the song began to come to an end, Zenn stepped back to Playboy and once again wrapped his arm around the drell's shoulder as they both sang the final lyrics to close out their set.

🎵Nothing really matters, Anyone can see,
Nothing really matters,
Nothing really matters to me
Any way the wind blows…

Now leaning against the wall, one foot against it, the other on the floor, Sol held her glass in the bionic hand. She was hiding from the riotous party that was occurring at the stage. Cannonball, in particular, was loving every moment.

Solveig brought the glass to her lips, her storm-like gaze fixed on Zenn, and all that he was doing on stage.

She began drinking, slow sips of the water in the glass, either unable or unwilling to break her gaze.

By the time they finished, her drink was gone, and only a few dregs of ice water remained. As she lowered it, she became aware of her heart pounding in her chest and that she was squeezing the glass.


Immediately it shattered in the grip of her hand - spraying glass around her and breaking whatever spell had been cast - several of the shards ended up wedged in the joints of her metal fingers. “Skita.” she said aloud, then realizing her face felt hot too. Whatever had just possessed her had left as soon as it had arrived, and embarrassment remained.

She knelt to the floor to start wiping up her mess, and to pluck at her fingers that were now crunching up the stuck glass into dust.
4x Like Like
Hidden 2 mos ago 2 mos ago Post by NoPlayerGuild
Avatar of NoPlayerGuild

NoPlayerGuild Thanks Obamahz

Member Seen 0-24 hrs ago

"Thank you! Thank you!" Zenn said as he took a bow. "Now someone trade me this mic for a glass of something strong so I can keep this buzz going…"

As Zenn looked out to the crowd waiting to see who would take his place, his attention was drawn to the back by the sound of glass shattering. There his gaze locked once again on Sol. It looked as though she was on the ground cleaning up a mess of some sort, and she seemed rather upset about it. Whatever had happened, Zenn needed to make sure she was okay.

He placed his mic back in the stand, then looked over to Playboy with a big smile. "Hey, Playboy. Thank you. Seriously. This was a blast! If you'll excuse me though… There’s something I've needed to do all night."

Zenn jumped off the stage and ran right past everyone else towards Sol. He slowed his pace to a walk as he approached her, then slowly knelt to the ground next to her once he was at her side.

"Everything alright?"

Even though Zenn made all attempts to make his presence known, Solveig's attention was focused on wiping up the pieces of glass. No damage done to the hand, but a bitch to clean up. There was always a piece that got left behind, ready to claim a barefoot another day.

It wasn't until Zenn was right there that Solveig spotted him. "Zenn!" she said, surprised, scooping away the last of the glass from the floor. Oh, god.

"I -- uhh, just... A glitch. Own strength. Don't know it sometimes." She blinked several times at him to readjust her stare. "Hi." Say something. "Didn't know... Didn't know you sang, Zenn," she said, tucking her hair behind her ear.

“Yeah… Neither did I. Not really one to perform normally, but, thought I’d give it a try. Do something… Different…” Zenn was doing his best to act casual, but yet again the moment he laid eyes on her face, he found himself petrified. Her eyes shimmering like a cluster of stars made even brighter by her dark eyeshadow. The way her black as night hair effortlessly flowed around her like silk across her glowing pale skin. The magnificent display of artwork she had that traveled from her neck down to her arms. Everything about her was enchanting.

So why did he think he even had a chance?

Zenn’s thoughts began to spiral back to what he had told Kysar. How he didn’t feel he measured up to Sol. It wasn’t just physically, either. Zenn had seen Sol in action and her level of skill was beyond anything he could ever achieve. She deserved someone who was her equal. Someone who-

Be confident, even if you must fake it. But let your true colors shine through.

Zenn could hear Nadara’s voice in his head push away all the negative thoughts. He had to be confident. Be himself. Just step up like he did on that stage and let the moment play out.

Finally out of his head, Zenn cleared his throat and said “So look… I may have lied earlier. I actually wanted to talk to you about something.”

As Sol listened to Zenn, she couldn't help but notice he seemed to disappear somewhere, like his attention was caught up in a thought. Was he worried about something? Where did you go? It was a curious thing that he did, intense and yet... So still. Different to the wild energy he had on the stage.

She met his gaze with concern, unsure what he'd need to speak to her about - let alone lie about it first. "Is everything alright?" She began, "Is this about yesterday?" She lowered her voice -- unsure just what the others knew about it all, instinct told her to lean in closer to Zenn, to keep it quiet and between them.

"What do you need?" She asked, having assumed that he needed help with something again. Carefully, she reached out to place a hand on his arm, unsure of why she was about to do that. She brought it back to her side.

“No. Well, kind of. Maybe? It was yesterday, but not not just yesterday… Even in Havana I… Watching you… Being around you… It was… I felt…” Zenn was fumbling with his words. He knew what he wanted to say, but had no idea how to actually say it. He couldn’t just sit there silently staring at her again, but he also needed to stop spewing out random words. What was the right phrase? What if he said something wrong?

Be open and honest and give her space and time to digest it. Ease her into it just as you did that hug.

This time it was Kysar’s voice that snapped him out of his panic. Open and honest. Ease her into it, then give her room to respond in kind. He had to stop over analyzing and just say what he felt.

Out of the corner of his eye, he saw Sol reach her hand towards him, then quickly pulled it back. Without thinking, Zenn gently reached out his hand and took her’s. He paused for a moment, his heart beating out of his chest and his whole body was softly trembling. Here we go. He breathed in deep, then finally let it out.

“I like you. A lot. I think you are amazing in so many ways and I really want to get to know you more. You don’t have to answer right away, but I would love to take you out on a date sometime. Preferably some place that doesn’t involve getting shot at.” As he finished speaking, he shut his eyes tight and tensed up. He didn’t know how she would react, but it was out there now. Nothing else he could do but brace himself.

Playboy took to the mic once more. “Who’s next?” He asked, looking out into the crowd. His eyes fell on Cannonball, who was always certain to keep the party going. “How ‘bout you, Cannon?” He asked, jumping down from the stage, toward the Volus, and gesturing that the stage was all his.

"I'll hop on stage with him!" Zenobia declares, vaulting over a table and clearly a drink or two in at this point. Hardly makes a difference with her, but it's good to know.

"Yeah!” Himbo yelled out, stepping back from Nadara so as not to straight up yell at her face. "That's my best friend right there!" He yelled again, clapping his hands with a laugh in Playboy's direction before moving back in on Nadara, planting a kiss on the back of her neck. "I'm all yours now," he said as they danced together.

That wasn't so bad, Acid thought to herself as the other quarian ran on stage and belted out his tune. Given her line of work, she rarely if ever got to talk to her own people and every time it did it was a sobering experience. They really did have an innocence to them that she got drilled out of her a long time ago, maybe because she didn't live and die by the same dream of seeing Rannoch reclaimed that the rest of her species did. Hard to say.

Regardless, the tiny interaction went well enough, so she figured it wouldn't hurt to try again. This....'Himbo' character seemed safe enough. "Hmm..." she muttered, wandering next to him as the turian who bullied her into being social tried to hop on stage. "Awfully tame entertainment by my standards.”

"Night's still young kid," Himbo answered Acid in between planting kisses on Nadara, swaying her in time to the music. Moving around the Quarian now too, but giving her a friendly smile all the same. "You must be Acid, yeah?"

Nadara relished in the attention Jonah gave her. His hands were certifiably skilled. The man knew exactly where to hold her, just where to add pressure, and the feel of his lips against her neck sent luxurious shivers down her body, gathering into a concentration of pure electricity at the base of her stomach. Sparks cascaded from there to lower extremities, and Nadara restrained herself from taking their heavy flirtation even further.

Just as she was about ready to turn and face the man to invite him to a more secluded room, the new team’s Quarian approached the couple. No social awareness, she hissed in her mind, shoo! The woman hadn’t even bothered to accessorize— there were clearly some screws missing, or perhaps they had used one too many on that suit and one had pierced where it shouldn’t?

Nadara thought the lack of enthusiastic response from Jonah would inspire the Quarian to seek attention elsewhere, but she didn’t budge.

With a dramatic sigh, Nadara pulled away from Jonah for what she hoped would be the last time that evening. After giving Acid a thorough stare down, she returned her focus to Jonah, eyes piercing into his. She bit her lower lip as she leaned in towards him and whispered in his ear, “Find me when you’re ready to get out of here.” She offered a playful nibble on his earlobe before heading to get another drink. An unexpected, but not in the least unwelcome response came immediately as those skilled hands reached out and squeezed Nadara’s backside before she was out of reach. She turned her head and winked, sending Jonah a kiss through the air.

As Nadara worked her way across the room, she saw two figures hunched over toward the back and realized Zenn and Sol were… collecting trash from the floor?

Bewildered, she watched further, and couldn’t help but notice their body language, which was practically screaming. Ah, so it wasn’t me after all.

Finally pulling her eyes away from the two, Nadara found herself standing beside the massive Elcor and Kysar, who also seemed interested in what was transpiring between their teammates in the back. The pleased smile and glint in his eyes were something Nadara hadn’t expected from him.

“Think he’ll manage to pull through?” She asked the Turian.

Himbo watched as Nadara walked away - letting out a long sigh as she did, his eyes tracking her off the dance floor, his thoughts running wild. It was probably for the best that she'd walked away when she did... Yeah.

Then, there was 'Julee' beside him, and she was an entirely different energy. Spiky and tough, not at all like Nadara. "Julee yeah? You can call me Jonah... That means we're the J J gang!" He grinned and held out a fist for her to bump if she was so inclined. He suspected she wouldn't, but people were often surprising.

"This ain't a mess, this is a good time. Get amongst it Jujube," he added swaying to the side in front of her, to see if he could at least get her to try dancing. Everyone loved dancing, right?

Tank stood wide eyed at Nadara's presence. With no context as to what was going on between Zenn and Sol, the giant Elcor had just been basking in the glow of a successful interaction with the Turian. Now with the Asari's appearance, this was something different altogether. She had spent the night displaying such public and personal signs of affection, ones that would be strictly outlawed in public on the Elcor homeworld.

The giant was sweating so badly, it would've actually been visible to those around. What to do? He'd been ordered to remain completely diplomatic at all times and he'd already broken protocol with Kysar. Interaction with someone who had committed such actions surely was off the table but he'd also promised his new team to make friends with all of team 2.

Perhaps if he stood perfectly still and closed his eyes, everything would be ok.

Kysar, on the other hand, had been watching on, smiling intently as the two fumbled their way through basic sentence structure. C'mon Zenn, stick the landing.

So engrossed in their situation, the Turian answered Nadara quite absentmindedly. "Yeah, he's got this."

Realising where he was, Kysar looked over to see the last person he thought would ask, speaking to him. Straightening up, he folded his arms together, standing on his back foot. "Get bored of your little plaything?" He said, looking over towards Himbo. Shocked to see the human chatting with the Quarian, Kysar raised an eyebrow. "Or maybe he's got bored of you by the looks of things? No, that's impossible right?" He smirked.

That was. A lot. Of words. Sol exhaled out a long breath as she let what Zenn said sit with her for a moment. She could feel his own trembling just from his hand. He's acting too nervous, but not in the dishonest way... He's not lying to you, was what she told herself as she squeezed at his hand as if to try and stop his nerves.

It was an overwhelming amount of words to think about. How he felt so strongly and could be so open. Sol hoped he wasn't expecting that back...

She did like him, though. In a different way than she'd liked anyone for a long time and that was a truth that would normally bring her great concern and panic.

Sol chose not to question the things Zenn had said about her, and maybe that was because he'd already worn her down without knowing when he'd taken to the stage. Sol had no idea why that was so effective and attractive. It was so good that she was almost annoyed at it. Getting to know each other. She could try that.

You're overanalysing this. Just say something. Do something.

She wasn't ready to give a speech like Zenn, he was just going to have to wait for that, but two syllables were manageable in the moment. Two syllables and...

She pulled him in, just as he had done to her and Kysar - only this time it was just the two of them, and she hugged him - probably harder than she'd intended too, whispering a nervous, but sincere "o...kay."

Zenn’s body remained tense and stiff as a statue, but his eyes opened up wide as Sol pulled him in and hugged him. His entire face turned red and all the voices that had been screaming in his head went completely silent. She might have been squeezing him a bit tight, but he wouldn’t have had it any other way.

“O…kay?” he repeated, still in complete shock and even disbelief as he processed what was happening. It took him a second or two, but it did eventually register. She had accepted! “Okay!” He repeated again as his body relaxed and he wrapped his arms around her. A feeling of joy and excitement that he hadn’t felt in a long, long time overwhelmed him. Not even what he felt on stage or after a mission could top this.

Nadara chuckled at Kysar’s question, the pair’s eyes glued to the couple in the back as though they were watching an intense match that had a number of credits on the line.

“That would be unheard of, yes.” For the briefest of moments, Nadara glanced back at Jonah and the electricity inside her buzzed anew. She could only imagine how things were going for Solveig and Zenn internally. They were both so different from Nadara, who sought only a good time, nothing serious or long term. Asari outlived too many species to form any lasting bonds, but with no strings attached, both she and her partners could enjoy themselves thoroughly, living purely in the moment.

As she watched Zenn reach out his hand, the gesture so gentle and cautious, so open and vulnerable, Nadara knew that what they shared was entirely different to what she had with Jonah. Instead of raw attraction, a blazing fire that would consume the hosts and subsequently be snuffed out, their connection was softer, something that needed tending to, but that could ultimately become stronger than anything Nadara had experienced.

“We’re just keeping the fire from spreading too fast,” she said absently. “And you?” Nadara blinked, suddenly recalling who she was talking to. “No declarations of affection planned for tonight?”

Kysar side-eyed the woman. No snarky remarks? No digs or quips? Who was he talking to? Perhaps Himbo, Spirits what a name. had found a switch to get the gears turning off her mechanical heart. That was more believable than just her having a relaxed conversation with the Turian. Could there be more than just thoughts on fashion behind those eyes?

Kysar shook loose, No, don’t be ridiculous. as he realised he’d been staring at the Asari for a moment too long. “I’ve done more than enough work this party,” he remarked, looking back at the hugging couple. “I’ll leave it to the Spirits decide the rest of the night.”

The Turian smiled, yes he was happy for his friends but there was a hint of something more. Kysar had seen a great romance once before, his parents. A moment like this brought a memory long hidden away to the front of his mind. “I do plan on another drink though.”

“I’ll join you as soon as we determine if—” Suddenly, Solveig was returning Zenn’s gesture with one of her own, a full hug. “Well,” she said, a smile on her lips. “Here's our answer.” Seems he didn’t need any further advice after all.

It was a tender sight, awkward though it was, with both of them still crouched on the floor. Why were they picking up trash anyway? Such a strange mating ritual, but Nadara supposed for the bleeding heart he was, it made sense for Zenn. Sol better not ruin that outfit. she suddenly thought, urging the woman to stand quickly with her thoughts.

The Turian cocked his head to the side. First Amina, now Nadara? Was there something in the vodka?

Kysar opened his mouth, taking a deep breath in about to question it when he thought. I better just see where this goes, maybe there’s an agenda, maybe it really is the Spirits.

Closing his mouth, Kysar nodded. “Sure, they probably deserve some privacy anyway.” The Turian thought, leaving Tank whose eyes were still closed and giving Nadara a nod to follow along.

Honestly, I’m more surprised that they both didn’t cloak up to do this.

The hug was nice, Sol thought to herself, and very briefly there was a moment of quiet in her mind. Remembering where they were, she slowly let him go and stood back up again. "You know... Actually Zenn I wanted to talk to you too. Feels... Silly now, but still. Would you... A drink? Maybe? And to sit with me - I won't keep you. If you wanted to... Sing again, or anything else."

Gods, who gave that Volus a microphone? She looked across and saw that Zenobia too had taken to the stage. Things were about to get painfully loud.

“Oh. Y-yes! Yes I would love to have a drink with you!” Zenn said as he too pushed himself up from the floor. If he was being honest, he could have spent the rest of the night in Sol’s arms. But it was probably best they didn’t do that here. It hadn’t even occurred to him until then, but someone could have been watching… Whatever. He had nothing to be ashamed of. He could take whatever teasing the others might have ready for him.

“Don’t worry. I think I’ve had my fill of singing for tonight.” Zenn chuckled and scratched the back of his neck. He glanced around the room to find a good spot for them to sit when he spotted Kysar and Nadara talking with each other. “However, I do need to have a quick word with those two. How about you grab a seat on one of the couches and I’ll grab the drinks and join you as soon as I can?”

"Alright, I'll be waiting," Sol answered with a nod before heading off.

As she sat down, while nobody was looking, she smiled in the dark, wrapping her arms around herself as if it would bring the feeling back. She wasn't quite seizing the moment, as it seemed to just be seizing her.

Walking up behind Kysar and Nadara, Zenn put an arm around each of them and pulled them in toward him. His mask concealed the huge grin he had on his face as he looked back and forth between them.

“You two. I cannot thank you enough! I owe you both big time. If you ever need anything from me, just name it!” He said and gave them both a firm pat on the back.

Nadara nodded to Kysar and pulled her gaze away from the other two. Before stepping away, she glanced up at the Elcor who stood still as a statue with his eyes closed. Were they prone to meditation? She never interacted much with their species, much too slow and glued to their strict rules of engagement to match her high energy. This one didn’t seem any different from the rest.

“Feel free to join us,” she said anyway, knowing by the time the massive thing started moving they’d likely have already downed their drinks.

Nadara easily caught up to Kysar but before they reached the bar, another set of hands lobbed themselves around her, granted, around her shoulders this time. The cool touch of the Quarian’s suit was enough of a giveaway as to who it was, but Zenn’s cheery thanks still came as a surprise.

It was a useful thing to have a Quarian’s debt. He’d already demonstrated a willingness to make good on what he owed, and their kind was typically honest and dependable.

“I’ll keep that in mind,” she responded, unable to keep a smile from forming at his infectious giddiness. “Do feel free to run your date ideas by me too,” she offered. This was just the start after all, and Zenn still had a ways to go before things solidified. “Just.. perhaps not tonight. I anticipate I’ll be a bit preoccupied.”

Kysar, taller than both the others by a considerable amount, was yanked down towards Zenn practically choking on his happiness. "Yes," the Turian replied through struggled breath, "Very happy for you. Probably for the best if we don't keep score."

Kysar slipped out from under his arm and to the alcohol end of the table. "Afterall, you'll need something left to take her out." Grabbing more vodka, a drink he knew they all could share, the Turian placed out three cups, one of which with a straw. Pouring a double for the trio, Kysar turned his attention to Nadara.

"Anticipating anything else? Mrs Himbo on the horizon at all?" He said, hiding a smile behind his own cup.

Nadara took the glass with an amused smile. This was much more pleasant than having a gun waved in her face and receiving an earful. Had that only been yesterday? Seemed like forever ago now.

“Goddess, that callsign,” Nadara groaned, rolling her eyes. “He should consider himself lucky for you to even suggest as much.” She took a long slow sip from the glass, side eyeing both men as she did. “More likely to hear wedding bells from these new love birds.” She cocked her head toward Zenn.

It wasn’t that Nadara didn’t consider Jonah worthy as a partner, much to the contrary, she was ready to enjoy his partnership all night long. She simply wasn’t ready to settle down quite so early in life.

Date ideas? Zenn's beaming smile vanished in an instant. Vot! I have no idea what kind of date Sol would like, let alone any human.

Grabbing the glass with the straw, Zenn took a large swig to restore the buzz he had going. Though at that point in the night he might have been crossing into tipsy. In either case, the vodka was just the thing he needed to dispel those thoughts. He didn't need to worry about what they would do now. He had plenty of time to plan something later. For now he just wanted to enjoy the night now that he has finally overcome his nerves.

"I don't know, Nadara." Zenn said while stirring his drink with the straw. "A handsome doctor like him? If it turns out he's rich then it might be worth settling down for a hundred years. But, uh, might want to invest in one of these." He smirked and tapped on his mask.

The end of Zenn's sentence caused Kysar's eyebrow to raise. Does he mean that the human is diseased? He thought, looking over towards Himbo shimmying across the gap between him and the female Quarian. Eh, he's probably not wrong.

"And if not him, who else? A thousand years seems like a long time to spend alone. One night can only go so far." The Turian took a rather long sip, almost hiccupping after. Was the alcohol starting to get to him?

Nadara looked from one man to the other, uncertain of how she’d gotten into this predicament of discussing her love life. It shouldn’t be a surprise I suppose, given their lack of experience.

“First of all, I need no rich man,” she directed to Zenn. “My financial needs are perfectly met by my own assets.” As for his second comment, Nadara wasn’t sure how to respond. What did he mean? It couldn’t possibly be a suggestion for bedroom play— regardless of how many drinks the Quarian had consumed she just couldn’t picture him speaking of those matters in such an offhand manner.

Before she could think of a reply, Kysar took Nadara’s attention. “Doesn’t have to be only one night,” she explained casually. “And you shouldn’t equate being single with being alone. If I feel like sharing my bed, it’s hardly a matter of how, as it is a who and when. In any case, a thousand years is much too long to think about now.” Nadara raised her glass in a cheer and downed the rest of the alcohol, shaking her head which then caused the rest of her to shimmy in turn. She popped the glass on the table and began refilling it. “Let’s enjoy tonight instead.” She smiled playfully, holding the bottle out as if to refill their glasses as well.

Zenn could tell from the confused faces from his friends that his comment went over them. Had they not noticed? Maybe it wasn't as apparent to them as he thought, but each time Himbo was around Zenn's suit detected a change in air quality. Oh well. If they didn't notice anything then it probably wasn't actually that bad. And he wasn't about to ruin this moment by explaining that, especially now that Nadara was offering a toast to them enjoying the night.

"I’ll drink to that!” Zenn cheered, raising his glass with her, then chugging the rest as fast as he could through a straw. His face twisted up a bit as he felt the vodka burn down his throat, but he powered through it. Once he was sure he had it all down, he held out his glass to Nadara for a refill, but also grabbed a second glass for her to fill. “Well, if you two will excuse me, there’s a beautiful woman who just agreed to go out with me waiting for me to bring her a drink. I’ll catch you both later!” He said and let out a small excited giggle before stepping away.

Walking across the room to Sol, Zenn had a bit of trouble keeping in a straight line. That last glass of vodka must have already been taking effect, but he already did what he came here to do. If this next glass with Sol was enough to get him fully inebriated, then so be it.

"Sorry to keep you waiting." He said as he sat down next to her and held out the spare glass of vodka for her. "So. What did you want to talk to me about?"

The way that Zenn swayed over was a curious thing. How much of the vodka has he had? Sol asked herself, slightly amused. It was for the best he'd sat down for now.

"Right..." She began, taking the glass from him.

"Yesterday, you helped me with something... Of a small personal matter-" Sol fidgeted in her seat slightly, crossing one leg over the other and bringing her hand into her lap. "I - well, just know that I appreciate it." She retreated to the glass.

"Hey, it was nothing. I just wanted to make sure you knew we were here for you." Zenn placed his hand on Sol's shoulder as he spoke. "We're a team. That means we look after each other. No matter what you're facing, you can always count on us!" Zenn lifted his glass towards her's as a way to initiate that human custom she had taught him and Kysar before.

The courage to tell him that it meant more to her than nothing wasn't there, maybe it had all been used up earlier. Instead, Sol lifted her glass to him and gave a slight smile. "You're right," she added, touching the glass to his before drinking down the shot, having forgotten her own practical joke.

"So..." Sol wanted to keep the conversation going - mostly to keep Zenn in her company at least a little longer before he went off for more fun. This was the first time she'd even spoken to him alone, she realised.

"Tell me... About yourself. Your skills - I'm curious about how you learned to shoot so well."

Zenn touched the glass to his forehead only to see Sol down her's without doing the same. He raised an eyebrow at her, confused how she could miss such an important step, but ultimately assumed she was probably just too eager for the drink. Regardless he took a full swig from his glass before answering her question.

"I was an orphan raised by hanar assassins. They trained me to be an unstoppable killer." Zenn explained with a serious tone, but his mask hid a mischievous smile. "I was offered a position as a spectre, but I had to turn them down so I could track down my parent's murderer…Hehehe." Zenn started snickering, unable to keep up the ruse. "I'm sorry. That was the plot of Blasto 3. Truth is I ran with some ex-turian spec ops during my pilgrimage. They literally taught me everything. Before that I had barely even held a gun let alone fired one."

"What about you?" Zenn asked and leaned in a bit closer to Sol. He rested his elbow on the back of the couch and placed his head against his hand. "How did you become a badass N7 operative?"

For a moment or two, Sol was hanging on Zenn's words as if they were truth - and when he finally revealed they weren't she narrowed and rolled her eyes playfully, before resuming to listen to him.

"Well... I was an Alliance Cadet at 15 and worked through the academy for 5 years until-" she paused, noticing then that he'd moved closer to her. Her gaze softened. "I uhhh, not really a badass move on my end." She was nervous. "Ummm... just needed the resources for the Reaper threat, and brought me in... Not a lot of Special Ops happening that were more important than that at the time..."

"Not badass?" Zenn blurted out in disbelief at what he heard "Sol. I watched you jump on and subdue a brute! Crush solid steel like it was paper! You even sniped a guy from a tower and took his place without any of his allies noticing! Meanwhile, I tried to throw Outcast when we met him and he pinned me to the floor. Then Amina hit me in the stomach with a briefcase… Then later I got shot in the leg…" Zenn trailed off, looking into his drink as he twirled the glass to spin the straw around until it rested in a spot he could drink from. "What I'm trying to say is, you're not just a 'needed resource'. You're an incredible operative!"

"Ahhh..." Sol began, fixing her hair behind an ear again. "So you have been watching me..." she added in a coy fashion, turning her face away from him, her cheeks slightly red. All of those things were true, but to her, simply her job. It was nice to be noticed positively, by him especially, she felt.

"Don't be so hard on yourself Zenn. You saved me from the husk... You set off that device on the ship with tactical thinking... Not to mention your wonderful piloting..." Sol felt more at ease, maybe the alcohol was taking a positive hold of her, allowing her words to come forward - even if they were spoken quietly.

"Oh yes. My piloting was so wonderful I smashed into the controls breaking the damn thing and probably gave myself a concussion…" Zenn chuckled sarcastically. Followed by one of his signature pauses as he stared at Sol tucking her hair and blushing. "Keelah you're cute…"

Zenn's eyes grew large as he realized he had just said out loud what was supposed to stay in a thought bubble. He needed to change the subject and hope she didn't get too flustered. And stop staring at her like a creep!

He shifted in his seat to sit forward and face the party instead of Sol while holding his drink with both hands. "So what made you join the SRN? You could have remained with the Alliance." He asked rather quickly before sipping more vodka from his straw.

Did he just call me cute?

Sol too, straightened up quickly, sidling away from Zenn, and cleared her throat. Calm down. Back off. she told herself.

"I... am still with the Alliance... I suppose," she stammered out again, whatever cool ease she'd just had was gone. "Between handlers right now, and... Here to see Katya to be better. Leave of absence... She... She brought me to SRN.

And you?"
She quickly added. "What brought you here?"

"The war." Zenn replied very straightforward. "They needed more troops on the ground in London for operation hammer, so me and handful of quarians volunteered... Of course the admiralty didn't tell us they planned on leaving us behind... Not that it matters I guess. My whole squad was wiped. Heck it's a miracle I even made it out, so it makes sense they didn't even try an extraction... Can't risk the safety of the flotilla, right?" Zenn said trying his best to feign an uncaring attitude, but there was a distinct pain in his voice he couldn't hide.

Looking at Zenn with concern in her eyes, Sol felt the pain that he was trying to bury. "Zenn," Sol said quietly. "I... I'm so sorry," her brows furrowed. "I had no idea... I'm sorry."

She admired him, for being able to carry himself with such a positive attitude all the time, and for the way he always reached out to others. Their pain wasn't too dissimilar and yet on the surface they handled it so differently. She wished there was more that she could say. She settled for placing a hand on his, just so.

"It-It's fine. Really." Zenn was still attempting to put on a strong appearance, but with all the drinks he had combined with Sol's hand on his, the facade was failing. "I mean. If they had, I wouldn't have joined the SRN and met all of you! And we're doing good work out here! We even just saved a group of quarians so it's kinda like I'm still in the marines. So it all worked out! It's not like I wanted to set foot on a home world I fought nine years for. Or see my parents just to let them know I'm still alive…" At this moment, the quarian was extremely grateful for his mask as it hid the tears rolling down his cheeks.

"S-Sorry." Zenn shook his head trying to snap out of this depressive spiral he was on. "This is supposed to be a party and I'm killing the mood. Let's, uh, let's change the subject."

"You're killing nothing," Sol said quickly, squeezing his hand. "Besides, I'm hardly Miss Party... Bonanza over here." She chuckled slightly, taking note of all he said of his family. His home planet. She wouldn't push him on it if he didn't want to talk.

"My last party was..." Sol broke for a moment while she really thought about it, the last party she'd been to. "Eleven years ago. And Wistrom family parties were never done unless at least 3 people were in tears, someone has been punched, and my dad is shit off his face and responsible for all of it."

Zenn gripped her hand back, maybe a little too tight, but he was still trying to get a hold of himself. Sol's story definitely helped, though, as he let out a genuine chuckle as she finished. "Your family sounds like a wild bunch. I'm sure there was never a dull moment in your household... but I have to ask. What happened? Why didn't you attend any of those parties for eleven years? The Alliance can't be that strict on leave time, can they?"

"I mean... Now that you mention it, a Wedding but," Sol glanced down. Zenn had just shared something so vulnerable with her and she knew she didn't want to open that box herself. Her eyes fell on her arm, and even just thinking about it again... "I just, changed...

If I told you about it... We'd have nothing to talk about on our date..."
Sol tried to make it sound more intentional, alluring. More than the real reason - that she was just scared. That she just wasn't ready.

"Oh. Right. Sorry. That's a bit too personal. Guess I got a little carried away there." Zenn admitted. He could tell Sol was getting uncomfortable with this line of questions. He briefly looked away from her and sucked down the rest of his vodka, but intentionally didn't let go of Sol's hand the whole time. Once his glass was empty he set it down and turned back to her with a new determination to brighten the mood. "Alright. New topic. What do you think about dogs? Be honest because it has recently become a big deal for me."

"That dog of yours is a serving SRN member," Sol said. "He was with us in Windhoek. I don't remember so much detail but... He was there." She smiled, and began rubbing her thumb against the back of Zenn's hand absentmindedly. "I like dogs, and I like that dog."

Kysar swirled the vodka around the cup, eying off Nadara. Everything was just so surface level with her. It was to the point where he'd wondered if there really was anything underneath. Were there any deep thoughts or did nothing extend beyond her own nose?

Time to find out. He decided.

"Two nights, four, a week, a month." The Turian shrugged, taking a quick shot of vodka. "It doesn't matter, that's not what I was alluding to..." Kysar let the sentence trail off, taking a moment to refill his drink.

"And, of course, being single does not mean loneliness, companions come in all shapes and forms. Zenn is friends with a slobbery human animal of all things. But all living creatures need camaraderie, you can only survive for so long on your own." Kysar took another shot, watching the Asari out of the corner of his eye. "And as I said, you've got the longest out of any of us."

Nadara laughed as Zenn walked, or better, stumbled his way back to Solveig, and she was impressed to see him actually make it. How far he would continue to make it was now the only question.

When she turned back to Kysar however, her mirth was quickly dispelled. Seemed the man was intent on discussing morbid issues. After filling his glass, she placed the bottle back on the table.

“I’ll need the stronger stuff for where you’re headed,” she said, looking around for a bottle of esala. “I need no reminders of how long I have.”

Nadara didn’t want to think about how she would outlive almost everyone she met outside her own species save some Krogans. Didn’t want to remember how there were already countless who had succumbed to old age given their short lifespans. How much harder it was if you allowed them to take residence in your heart.

Finally locating the bottle she sought, Nadara quickly downed the remaining vodka and refilled the glass once more with the pale green liquid that quite complimented her own skin tone. Aside from the delectable taste, Nadara loved the aesthetic of the Asari drink.

“Companionship does come in many forms,” she agreed, after taking a sip (esala was best savored in small quantities at a time). She realized her extended silence wasn’t going to bring a change of subject from the Turian. Why was he so prone to philosophizing? Well, if that’s what he wants…

“Unfortunately, the example you touched on is far too similar to what Asari experience with most species. Your lives are short, and ours are long. Much like it is with humans and their dogs. Just as this doesn’t prevent them from seeking out these interspecies friendships, we’ve learned there is much benefit to doing the same.”

Nadara closed her heart to the pain of that loss long ago. “I’ve learned the best way forward is to live in the present, enjoying the time yet available, and honoring each by living those short moments to the fullest.” She took another sip, relishing the effect the alcohol was finally having on her. Memories faded into a haze, and she was left with a soft buzzing feeling in her mind. “I have traveled far in my years, Kysar. I have befriended many and met even more. I have no shortage of acquaintances in this galaxy.” A light smile played on her lips.

Zenn rested his head against the back of the couch and turned to look at Sol as he listened to her. It overjoyed him to hear her speak of his companion in high regards. Ranger really was a great companion and Zenn was lucky to have him.

When she was finished, Zenn simply continued to sit there in silence. Just staring at her yet again. At least, that's how it appeared at first. But Sol would quickly notice his hand go limp in her's, and his empty glass slip from his other hand and clatter on the ground. The quarian had been running around all night, dealing with a lot of emotional stress, and drinking a bit more than he should and it had all finally caught up to him.

Sol had settled back into the couch too, feeling a rare sense of relaxation as she held Zenn's hand in her own. When it went limp, she looked in his direction and smiled slightly. Party's over she thought, grabbing the nearest blanket to drape across him. Wistrom family parties often ended this way too, someone on the couch needing a cushion and blanket. "Sweet dreams, Zenn."

As she went to get up herself, and pick Zenn's glass up off the floor, a searing pain throbbed in her back and she took in a sharp breath, having to push herself up from the couch using her arm with a groan. Scowl replaced smile and her eyes narrowed. She let the pain go through its cycle of burning white hot through her system until it simmered to an ache. Best to leave before everyone else flooded out.

Wrestling a brute, lifting a Turian, and ripping through a Quarian ship, while badass, was not easy on the body. But that was her job. Victory at all costs, and always keep going.

Mission tomorrow. She needed her sleep, she needed the pills that were stowed in her belongings. Party's over for me too.

With that, she lowered herself back onto the couch, rolling her shoulder back to relieve a twitch that was stuck somewhere through her arm. Whenever everyone was ready to leave, so was she.

Kysar leaned up against the table, crossing his arms over as he watched Nadara. His line of questioning had made her look uncomfortable, perhaps even a little irritated. Good. He thought. Means there is something more there. The team was only as strong as its weakest member and that went for mentally as much as it did physically.

The Turian continued to watch and listen, making mental notes as the Asari phrased her sentences in interesting ways. As she finished, two things stuck out to him. She had claimed to befriend many but then referred to them as acquaintances in the very next sentence, could've been a slip of the tongue, or something more. Kysar stroked his chin, choosing his next words carefully.

"Interesting you say 'short moments'. A relative term to use. What's short for me would be long for a creature like Ranger. What's long for me would be short for you. Seems to me what you mean to say is 'shallow moments'." The Turian stood, shrugging his shoulders and closing the gap between the two. "I'm not having a go at you Nadara, maybe just trying to give you something to think about. It's hard to live something to the fullest where there is no depth."

“You can think me shallow if it suits you,” Nadara said, not taking offense to Kysar’s words. She kept most at an arm’s length, and was unsurprised that some would think as much of her. “I appreciate you might be trying to teach me something, but I’m not a certain one who hasn’t lived as long as I have, nor can fathom the entirety of the life I will live, should I survive these missions, knows enough to offer the lesson it seems you wish to impart.” She paused then, considering her next words.

After taking another slow and deliberate sip, she continued, “Still, I appreciate your wisdom, and will leave you with some of my own.

“Have you been to the ocean?”
Kysar shook his head. “So you’ve never seen water so clear, the bottom of the sea is exposed for all to witness.” At this, he shrugged, seeming as though he wanted her to get to the point already. “The thing about clear water, Kysar, is that you can never be sure how deep it is simply because it seems exposed. Might be shallow enough to reach your knees, or it could drown you with its depth.” She shrugged then and gave a friendly laugh. “But what would I know of such things? I’d rather stay ashore, or better yet, on a boat, and delight in sunbathing after all.”

Kysar sighed, holding the bridge of his nose. No, he didn't find her shallow, just her these so called moments she chose to 'live' in. But how could you go about explaining a point to someone who didn't want to listen? Were the only people she listened to even older than her? The Turian smiled as he imagined Nadara's mother might have something to say about that.

Kysar was also frustrated with her water analogy. Despite never being to the beach he understood what she meant. Ironically, he was trying to prove there was some depth to her. "I-er... yeah, sure. Sunbathe away I guess." The Turian said, somewhat defeated.

She wondered what his momentary smile had meant but brushed it off as unimportant after his final addition. Apparently the discussion wasn’t going as far as she’d initially thought it might. Good, she was ready to return to the finer things in life anyway. Speaking of which… Where is Jonah…

It was Nadara’s turn to shrug now, but she still held her smile. “You know,” she added before Kysar walked away. “It’s much easier to talk to you when you’re not waving a gun in my face.” She blinked innocently and took another sip from her glass. “Makes it easier to actually hear what you’re saying.”

Kysar smiled again. “What? I thought you’re the one who’s always talking about accessorising. Isn’t that what a side arm is?”

Stepping away, the Turian half turned back. “Have a good night Heels.”

Nadara laughed sincerely and unguarded at the unexpected joke.

She raised her glass to him. Perhaps there was more to him than met the eye. “You too, Ky.”

Playboy enjoyed the party thoroughly. He’d bantered with his new teammate, shared a song with Zenn from team two, and was entertained by the subsequent performances from Cannonball and the wild female Turian he hadn’t personally spoken with yet.

When things started to calm down, he’d found the chef, D’Veo, taking away some dishes and replenishing others should any of their party feel like a final bite before leaving. After flashing her his most charming half-smile offering some disarming conversation while refilling his glass, she’d agreed to meet him for after dinner drinks when she was done for the night.

“I needed the break,” she said.

With an easy smile, and feeling lighter than he had all night, Playboy noticed his new friend asleep on the couch.

A mischievous smile crept on his lips as he approached the Quarian, already uncapping a marker he’d found in his jacket pocket, but was quickly dispelled when he noticed Zenn had a guard dog sitting next to him. Having already walked that way, he quickly straightened himself and his smile, giving the human woman beside him a nod.

“Didn’t get the chance to make your acquaintance,” he said. “But I hope you had a fine evening of it,” he nodded to Zenn. “Thankfully not quite as fine as his.” He gave a friendly chuckle. “I’m sure we’ll see each other at tomorrow’s debriefing, until then.” With that, Playboy gave a short bow and skirted back over to the table lest the woman notice him discreetly placing the marker back in his pocket.

Carrying on, Kysar reached the lounge to find the new happy couple splayed out over the seat. Sol looked as if the world had just finished sitting on her shoulders while Zenn looked… “Is… is he dead?” Kysar tapped on the Quarian’s helmet as if politely knocking at someone’s door.

“Not exactly who I thought I’d be taking home tonight.” The Turian chuckled, looking over at Sol. “Don’t worry, this time I’ll do the carrying.” Hoisting his little buddy up as if the two were crossing the threshold together, Kysar remarked. “Let’s get outta here.”

"Sleeping," Sol replied with a light shrug before getting herself back up again. She walked across the room slightly faster than Kysar, until she was stopped by another of the basecamp staff. They seemed insistent on her taking a voucher for a free double room for the night.

She took it in her hand. Truthfully, the thought of a proper bed was very tempting, but as Sol looked over her shoulder to watch the two behind her, she sighed. She waved off the voucher - indicating without words for the attendant to give it to them. It probably wasn't the best idea for Zenn to be cramped into an hour-long shuttle ride home. Besides, maybe they both deserved a better rest too.

As everything seemed to finally be winding down, Himbo felt himself getting wound back up. He watched the room for Nadara, and spotted her on the outskirts of the room with one of the Turians from Team 2. What was his name? Chrysler? Schneider? Eh, whatever.He had to take care of something before he made his way back over.

While the music still played out, he added some melody of his own. A defeated trumpet, with a couple of snare drum hits kicked in at the end. Once again, he left it behind him.

As he approached Nadara, he wrapped an arm around her waist and whispered against her neck, kissing at her, "The doctor will see you now..."

Nadara felt the familiar buzz of electricity in her core at Jonah’s touch and turned toward its cause after quickly placing her glass of remaining esala on the table. Her eyes blazed seductively and she wasted no time in gripping the collar of the man’s jacket.

“Good,” she purred in response, pulling him after her. “The examination room is this way.” Nadara led him farther into the back of the basecamp where private rooms had been made available for rent.
4x Like Like
Hidden 2 mos ago 2 mos ago Post by Shu
Avatar of Shu

Shu ☕️ 📿

Member Seen 0-24 hrs ago



Amina slipped a fresh thermal clip into her Mattock rifle, then raising her head up slightly to survey the carnage around her. Black smoke boiled up all around, pouring from the flaming, crumbled debris of the shuttle nearby as well as the surrounding foliage that had caught fire in the fighting. Bodies were littered about, human and turian namely. The human corpses clad in white and black trimmed armor with Cerberus emblems stamped across the helmets and shoulders. Amina wore the same armor, as did the unconscious soldier slumped over next to her in the crater she and pulled him down into when the fighting first began. Craters dotted the small clearing and discarded weapons and burned out clips were strewn about.

It had all happened so fast. Aminas’ unit were tasked with snagging up a piece of alien technology located in an underground cavern, the entrance to which was right behind her at the foot of a small cliff. The item had been found originally by a Turian geological survey team, the world in question being on the fringes of Turian-Council space. Cerberus had found out about the tech thanks to one of their usual taps into alien coms and when the Illusive Man learned of the find he sent Aminas’ team straightaway to pick up the relic by any means necessary and bring it to Cronos Station.

By the time Amina and her unit had arrived a turian response team was on scene, granted in small numbers. The shuttle made a softening strafe on them and Amina and her comrades rappelled down catching the turians in a blitz. Those that survived scattered. The CO ordered the Cerberus force to dig in and hold position while the relic was brought up out of the cavern. The relic had just been loaded onboard the shuttle when it was hit by a barrage of rockets from the nearby ridge, destroying the shuttle and presumably the relic. Turian forces took up positions on nearby ridges and the last thirty minutes had been a short but vicious firefight, turians perched on the cliffs rained down rockets and sniper fire while the Cerberus troops spread out and relied on their own scopes and marksmanship. Amina’s ears still rang from the constant blasting of the Mattocks and the explosions. The turian forces had pulled back again just minutes ago after suffering more losses.

Amina glanced around looking for surviving members of her group. She had seen at least three duck back inside the shaft for cover and two more had dove into a crater on the opposite of the destroyed shuttle. The man next to her, Geoff, had been knocked out by the force of a blast that had also charred his armor. He was alive but wounded, blood caked on his arms and legs. Their transport was destroyed and with the presumed destruction of the relic their mission failed. There were no other Cerberus vessels or personnel nearby to help and Amina knew that if captured escape from the turians would be anlmost totally impossible. At least she would get to perish on a beautiful planet with its’ bright red and gold colored fauna that snaked and wrapped around the nearby hills and ravines like something from a poem. She knew Cerberus would tell her family, in that Amina held comfort as she rested her weapon on the edge of the crater and placed her finger on the trigger - ready to die for the true human cause and take as many turians with her as she could.

A shot rang out nearby followed by a scream, and then another shot and a scream. Amina’s head swiveled to see the most bizarre of sights. From behind the blackened wreckage of the shuttle came an asari, strolling in the most casual way unconcerned with the bloody battlefield on which she walked. In her right hand was a pistol and of all the things to be wearing she had on… a dress. The asari had rather uncommon minty green skin and white face tattoos and even from meters away Amina could see her smiling - looking directly at Amina. Amina spun around and impulsively raised her rifle, about to call out for the asari to freeze and drop her weapon, when she felt a tap on her left shoulder.

Amina turned around again to be met with a towering turian, face tattooed white and patterned into a grinning skull. Amina froze, unable to move and wanting to scream. The turian smiled at her just as the asari had - or as close a thing to smile as his kind could manage - then raising a large pistol of his own and blowing Amina’s brains out of the back of her head.

Amina breathed in sharply as her eyes opened. She was “back” in Svalbard, laying in her bunk curled into a fetal position the sheets twisted around her. Her heart was hammering and her forehead moist. It was night still, after the party and after Amina had gotten a ride back and retired to her own bed for the night. Her head swimmed and pounded, a potent hangover taking up the whole of her skull. Damnable asari booze. Amina reached back and rubbed at her head fiercely as she unwound the wadded up sheets from her legs and lower body, rolling over on her back. She remembered that flop of a mission so well - too well. She remembered how after she and her surviving comrades drove the turians back they managed to hijack a turian long range shuttle and get off-world. She remembered how they barely got out of turian space and dumped the craft in Council turf before having to manage a flight to where the closest Cerberus contact was to be found. And she remembered how displeased the Illusive Man was at the loss of the relic. His men too, but mostly the relic.

Amina recalled what the relic looked like. An eight foot pillar of a deep blue color and twined with hose-like cables and topped with a spiked pedestal. Reaper tech - she had seen enough of it on Cronos Station in the labs, and then there were those fragments of Sovereign. In hindsight she was glad that she and the others did not have to ride with that thing all the way back to the Horsehead Nebula. They say indoctrination is that way, some can last for days or longer without so much as a twitch while others’ fates are sealed within just an hour of being around a Reaper device. Amina often wondered how long she could resist the sway of a Reaper, or if she had already been tainted by them during the war only to be saved by their eradication breaking their subtle link over her. She found her thoughts drifting to Janiri and how the asari had been exposed to that orb that Banes and his lackeys had. The Reapers were gone and yet their black legacy remained, their stain on the fabric of the galaxy. Amina hoped the asari was not a liability, as cold as it was to feel that way, and that she was under constant monitoring and tight security.

Amina placed her open palms over her eyes and made slow circling motions, groaning ever slightly. She had experienced her fair share of hangovers but this was just all but unbearable. Soft people, hard drinks. She could only imagine how bad it would be had she gotten completely tanked off of the esala. She knew not what the time was but guessed it to be between two and four in the morning, if not a little earlier. Some water would be good but Amina was not in the mood to get up and walk about. Besides, she did not wish to stumble into Nadara or Solveig or Zelifa or anyone else who may have stayed up extra late. Amina knew “running” was childish and futile and she would have to address her storming out like that at some point, but not now. Right now she was just too embarrassed - and angry about many things.

What is wrong with me? Why am I feeling like this? Why did I act like that last night? It is because… is it because they wear the masks of my enemies? Those once my enemies, now my allies? Amina felt a cold, treacherous chill roll down her neck and spine.

As she lay there awake for perhaps half an hour Amina realized more and more what she really wanted was for this inner turmoil to end. It had to, as she could not truly face up to any of the others - the aliens namely - until she had come to some inner resolution. Whatever it may be. How does one go from hating a race and thriving off of killing those among it to serving beside members of that race and calling them brothers and sisters in arms? Can it even be done? Can I… change my outlook on things? Can I put aside what so long I embraced as a truth - as my own truth? Who is wrong? Me? SRN? What is truly right and wrong about all this? Were the things Amina did during her time with Cerberus truly part of a fight for greater things, or had it always been just a narrow minded bigots’ way of seizing power and conquering those deemed lesser? Was Solveig right? Did Amina just need to open her mind and soul up and cast aside the propaganda pumped into her by Cerberus in their now obvious bid for greater power? Was Amina the brainwashed bootlicker and not Solveig? Had it all been for nothing? Leaving the Alliance, abandoning her service and life because of a paranoid fragile outlook on the galaxy? Was she doomed to live and die alone and mangled of the mind and heart - her only thing to hold close and cling to a crumbling racist ideology she had been taken in by?

For a long time Amina lay there, one arm across her throbbing eyes, deep in anxious thought - her mind swirling. At some point the hangover and fatigue took over and Amina finally slipped back to sleep for the rest of the night.
5x Like Like
↑ Top
© 2007-2023
BBCode Cheatsheet