Avatar of NoPlayerGuild


Recent Statuses

5 yrs ago
The most common color for highlighters is yellow because it doesn’t leave a shadow on the page when photocopied
8 yrs ago
40000 Americans are injured by toilets each year
8 yrs ago
A strawberry is not an actual berry, but a banana is.
8 yrs ago
No one knows who invented the fire hydrant because its patent was burned in a fire
8 yrs ago
Sea otters hold hands while sleeping so they don’t drift away from each other


Most Recent Posts

Meeting Room,Seed Vault Compound
Morning, April 16, 2187
-14°C Outside|19°C Inside

Magnus "Slim" Opedal woke up two hours before the cafeteria opened. By 0730, 30 minutes before the crisis teams' briefing, he was at the back of the meeting room with a mug of coffee in one hand, a datapad in the other and a security mech by his side. He had greeted Charles (who also had a mech with him), and before that, snagged an energy bar from the pantry thanks to his heightened clearance. Charles was busy setting up a holographic presentation, so Slim was more than happy remaining silent. He browsed the news as he waited; orange glow of the holo-projector reflected off his bald head while his boot-clad feet lightly tapped against the carpeted floor.

Looking out the window, Slim saw the days long snowstorm had ended. It was a bright and clear morning, but it was still well below freezing outside. It didn't really matter; the seed vault buildings are all connected and heated, and he had no reason to go outside today. Even if he did, the weather didn't bother him. Some newcomers arrived with childish glee on their faces, plucking snowflakes out of the air and marveling at this "winter wonderland". On the other end of the spectrum, rapid fire shivers and curses came out of the cold intolerant like M-76 Revenants. To Slim, it's just normal; it's just like home; it's just what it always was.

Slim paused near the end of SRN weekly. Explosion of popularity for quarian music covers and dance holos? A smile appeared on his face. He pulled up his omni-tool, accessed the security cam footage from Basecamp Spitsbergen last night and sure enough, there's the complete recording of team 2's quarian belting out Bohemian Rhapsody alongside team 3's drell infiltrator! Slim didn't even realize that old song was this popular among other species. Was it one of those soundtracks they sent out on the earliest space probes? Anyway, he sure was glad Basecamp upgraded their cams with 64k display and 3D sound.

Zenn and Playboy's performance was just uploaded to YouDupe (and a short version to FlipFlop) when teams 2 and 3 started filling the meeting room. Slim had seen most of them already, so he gave them curt greetings like "morning" and "take a seat". Team 2 sat on the left side of the table, while team 3 mostly sat on the right. Mostly, because the table was a bit too high for Cannonball, while the human-made chairs hardly fit an elcor like Tank. Still, given how rowdy the party got last night (and how he had to drive them back to the compound), Slim was surprised no one skipped the meeting because of hangovers. Hell, some had even grabbed the first servings of breakfast from the cafeteria. Speaking of which, Slim was eager to see if the new chef had improved their previously spartan provisions (intergalactic food with 600 year shelf life was basically all preservatives). Food could wait; if only Charles would get straight to the point for once...

Who was Slim kidding? Charles prattled on for 30 minutes, with much of it about useless BS like how "SRN is undertaking sensitive missions few are willing to consider for the betterment of the solar system". This whole meeting could've been an email, but no, Charles and his formalities and his love of big words. Slim zoned out halfway through. He remembered reading somewhere that the average human attention span only lasted around 15 minutes or something; too bad his own attention span didn't last for the entire article. If only there's a salarian in the room; he heard these guys practically can't sit still...

Right, salarian. That salarian doctor sent a message to Charles and Slim this morning saying a certain Katya Serova had regained consciousness for 3.14 minutes (among other medical lingo). Wasn't Charles supposed to forward it to someone else? Slim's pretty sure he hadn't. Maybe Charles forgot, or maybe he's holding it on purpose to avoid distracting crisis teams from their missions. Either way, he could deal with it after the briefing.

Speaking of the briefing, Charles was finally done. He passed the holo-projector's remote to Slim. "Mr. Opedal, please explain the operational details."

"Callsigns," Slim reminded him of the first OPSEC rule, "Regent."

"I stand corrected," Charles said in that annoyingly smooth politician tone, "Slim."

"Right, so you are two teams and there's three problems, as Regent explained." Slim started with the roster of both teams. "There's not enough people to split into three teams, so you need to decide which team handles what."

"First, Dr. Jelize needs us to find her lost contact, a turian C-SEC detective callsign Spyglass, and some 'enthrallment device' he was supposed to pick up on Europa." Slim recapped the first of three possible missions. The request Jelize sent to SRN yesterday now displayed. "Outcast also asks us to meet them there to dig into Bane's connection with Blood Pack."

"Europa's too far for the shuttle without a retrofit, so you’ll need find another there." Slim continued by pulling out a few news reports. "Jorgal Kargg's calling krogan warriors to help him take down Quash Hurgott, but I'm sure he'll let some of you in on it, too. The salarians are also making a move on Europa, and if SRN offers support, they should let one of our teams come along. Then there's new 'Chimera' merc group trying to take on the Blood Pack on their own; they aren't with the krogans or salarians, but I doubt they'll turn down help from us."

"Option two, Mars." Slim changed slides to maps of an alliance research facility amid a orange-red desert. "Eclipse locked themselves in the prothean archive, you know, where they say Shepard and T'Soni found plans for the Crucible. Anyway, alliance and asari troops got them surrounded but nobody's budging. So Captain Riley's asking us to diffuse the situation."

"In fact, Riley sent you a message first last night, Wraith, but she didn't get a reply from you." Slim highlighted Riley's message. "Doesn't matter. What matters is the data from the archive. It's better we hold on to it than Eclipse."

"Your shuttle can reach Mars; it's stretching its range but you get to decide how you go in. Alternatively, Riley is offering a ride on an alliance frigate. This one's safer, though Eclipse seeing us with the alliance may make negotiations harder. There's also a suspected Eclipse blockade runner leaving Iceland tomorrow. Sneaking on board might just get you directly into the archive."

"Closest problem is the assassination attempt. Me and Regent have, hmm, different opinions on how to handle this." Slim sipped his now lukewarm coffee, letting Charles explain his own plan.

"Understandably, Slim is concerned for my safety." As Charles spoke, his security mech twitched slightly behind him. "However, I believe the best course of action will be attending the memorial service in Geneva tomorrow. Should another assailant make an attempt on my life, we'll have the best opportunity to capture them there. Otherwise, we honor fallen heroes from the war and connect with leaders from across the solar system."

"Or we can follow the weapon." Slim set down his coffee mug and brought up an omni-blade schematic. "That assassin's omni-blade is a new Jormangund model, and the only Jormangund factory still running is in Malaysia."

"I admit, other SRN stakeholders have been expressing concerns over Jormangund sponsorship of our network." Charles beckoned for remote, and once he had it, he flipped to a batch of corporate logos. In particular, Charles zoomed in on the logos of two arms manufacturers. "Galina Rosenkova, president of Rosenkov Materials, offers full support in bringing Jormangund's assets under joint Rosenkov and SRN control."

"Last way to sort this out: go after the money." Charles returned the remote to Slim, who moved to credit transfer records. "IT found e-transfers from Istanbul to the assassin."

"Istanbul has one of the few surviving stock exchanges on earth, making the city a financial hub of Eurasia." The final slide was a series of stock chart, of which Charles pointed to one labeled JRMG; it had taken a recent dive into the red. "Stanwick Dobbs of Ascension Financial Services, the second largest financier of SRN, recommends taking over Jormangund's stocks by physically installing a virus to Borsa Istanbul."

"That's it. If anyone has questions or ideas, say it." Slim turned off the holo-projector. The warm orange glow vanished, leaving the meeting room in its plain white lights. "Otherwise, me and Regent will start assigning missions. All of you will be leaving later today."

"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.

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.

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.
© 2007-2023
BBCode Cheatsheet