Author's Notes: Back on the fanfic train, WOO WOO. Okay, sorry, that was pretty lame. Anyway. Decided to try my hand at writing a Mass Effect fanfic. So. Here it is. Yep. These author notes sure are scintillating. Banana. Were you paying attention?
I said "banana."
But yes, uh, so, this is a slash fic, obviously, so if you don't like slash you should not read it. I have no idea how long this will be, though I do have most of the plot worked out in my head. I've already written one fanfic for this pairing, and this is a sort of... un-condensed version. The rating is subject to change depending on how violent it gets, but for now I think I'm safe with a T. Anyway, hope you enjoy it! On with the story.
Kal'Reegar stared at the impassive, mirrored curve of the helmet belonging to the quarian seated in front of him, and desperately tried to remember the man's name. He couldn't.
The progress of the shuttle he was in was a little rocky, and it caused him to sway lightly in his seat from time to time. They had just left the Rayya-"they" being the small crew of quarians operating the shuttle, Kal'Reegar, a talkative quarian who had come to the Rayya on her own personal business, and the two figures sitting directly opposite the quarian marine.
He knew the female. Elan'Shiya was her name, and she was a doctor. The quarian next to her was her patient, in fact. Kal'Reegar continued to stare, too caught up in his own thoughts to wonder if it was rude, silently wracking his brain for the man's name.
He an this unnamed individual had gone to the Rayya for more or less the same thing, or, rather, the same person. A remarkable young lady by the name of Tali'Zorah vas Normandy had needed their help, and they'd been there to offer it. It turned out she had brought her own night in shining armor along, and Kal suspected that even if neither he nor Veetor had shown up, that human companion would have carried the day alone.
Wait. Veetor. That's right. That was his name. "Your name's Veetor'Nara, right?"
The quarian had been silently staring at the floor until spoken to, and now slowly, carefully brought his helmet up to regard the marine. His doctor also looked to Kal, though she moved quickly and attentively, alerted to anything involving to her patient. "Yes," the male finally replied, "and you're Kal'Reegar. You're Tali's friend."
"And Commander Shepard's, yes." Kal nodded.
Veetor repeated the gesture. "Me, too."
Kal'Reegar didn't know exactly what to say after that. He was quiet for a moment, and he could feel the penetrating stare of Elan'Shiya burning through his helmet as if it were made of nothing. He almost chuckled, but stopped himself. The doctor took her role seriously. This fragile man was in good hands.
He paused. Fragile? Maybe not. Veetor, after all, had been first to speak up at the trial. "I noticed you stood up for Tali before anyone else did."
"We both did," Veetor replied quietly.
"Yeah, but you went first. Thanks," Kal'Reegar nodded politely to him. "Means a lot t'me to know that she's appreciated."
Veetor stared back. Kal'Reegar could just make out the faint impression of the other quarian's eyes beneath his helmet-pale and slanted like his own-and then he nodded faintly and went back to staring at the floor. He was about to turn to the window when a faint movement caught his eye. Elan nodded to him, briefly, approvingly.
He was unaware of the significance of that short conversation.
The small shuttle was known simply as Kildeira. It had been built for speed, state-of-the-art in its time, a tiny streamlined curve of steel built by salarians so long ago that no-one was alive who remembered acquiring it. Kal'Reegar had ridden in it many times throughout his years of service to the quarian military.
It was currently on its way to rendezvous with a small cluster of quarian ships, an exploratory force that resided outside the Flotilla. Splinter groups of quarians were not unheard-of. Not too long ago, the Idenna had left the fleet on an isolated deep-space voyage.
This cluster of ships was currently moving through an area that Kal'Reegar had been ordered to investigate, so he had hopped a ride on this shuttle. The talkative quarian had made her business very plain; she was going back with her family, having visited the Rayya to drop off unneeded possessions and acquire as many spare parts as she could bring back to her family. Virtually all of the small crew of the Kildeira knew that these were part of a project her (in her own words) genius young son was working on.
Kal'Reegar had expected her to annoy him, and to be sure, he couldn't handle her ceaseless chatter all the time, but he had to admit her obvious love and pride for her offspring were a little touching.
Veetor and Elan'Shiya were relocating to the isolated group for Veetor's health, as far as the marine could tell. Kal made it his business to know as much as he could about everything that was going on around him, but Veetor was something of a mystery, beyond the common knowledge that he was the sole survivor of a Collector attack. He was also obviously mentally imbalanced.
Apparently the isolation would be good for him, and he had his trusty doctor along, to further speed his recovery.
Kal'Reegar let his thoughts drift back to his own mission. The splinter group of scientists had uncovered another phenomenon like the one he'd come across on Haestrom. He wasn't urgently needed there yet, as they already had a basic military presence established, but certain factions of the Admiralty still believed that this dark matter phenomenon had something to do with the geth, and apparently expected them to show up any minute to crash the party.
Kal'Reegar was no scientist, but he did have his doubts as to the veracity of that theory. Still, he could be useful down there. Even if there were no geth to worry about, he could protect this splinter group from other very real threats, such as pirates or mercenary bands making a move on the sector. The Terminus systems were dangerous with or without the geth.
Aside from the fact that the scientists could have discovered something important, he felt a draw to this small group of his own people. If he were the psychoanalytical type, he might have wondered if this were a personal tendency of his, or just a manifestation of the deep sense of community that had been woven intricately into his mental upbringing. Quarians usually looked out for other quarians. It was natural to them.
He wasn't the psychoanalytical type, though, and as such, the subtle motivations that governed his behavior were lost on him. He was just there to shoot things.
The shuttle rocked.
Kal'Reegar was immediately alert, looking to the man standing at the end of their narrow seating area. This quarian performed the duty of attendant, guard, emergency medic, and messenger (the Kildeira had lost internal comm systems a month or so ago, and had yet to repair them). He ducked to the front of the ship and vanished.
Kal'Reegar looked after him tensely.
"What was that?" Veetor asked immediately.
"I'm sure it's nothing, Veetor," Elan said soothingly, placing her hand on his arm. "It's okay. This is, after all, an older ship."
"Are we being attacked? Why was the ship shaking?" he persisted.
The talkative quarian turned to him. "I'm sure it's fine. These old vessels all have their hiccups, you know. Nothing to worry about. For all we know it could have just been a glitch in the gravity generator. Wouldn't that be funny? All of us floating here until we arrived home?"
Kal'Reegar couldn't tell if her relentless cheer had calmed Veetor or just puzzled him into silence, but the other quarian said nothing. The woman went on, "That would be something to tell dear Shati when I got home. 'Guess what your mother did through three star systems? Floated upside-down!'"
The messenger returned and immediately caught Kal'Reegar's gaze. He nodded once to the front.
"'Scuse me," the marine said gruffly, standing and walking down the aisle into the short hallway separating the main control room from where they were sitting.
The attendant made sure they were out of earshot before he said, "Our engines just froze up for a second. We weren't sure if it was just this vessel malfunctioning, or what, but we're keeping an eye out for other vessels in the sector. We are altering course to orbit a small moon in an attempt to keep out of anything… harmful's way. The passengers will ask. Will you please do your best to keep them calm and explain that this is just a malfunction?"
With the captain busy at the command station, and most of the rest of the tiny crew working on ship repair, it seemed natural to ask the person with the most charisma to keep the rest of the passengers in line. Kal'Reegar nodded. "Will do. Call me if you need anything else."
He returned to find the talkative woman still nattering on, apparently to Elan, who was at least looking politely in her direction. Veetor couldn't seem to keep his eyes in any one place.
After a few moments the moon loomed into view. It was more like a planet than any moon, orbiting a massive blue gas giant. Its atmosphere was thin, but breathable. Kal'Reegar didn't know much about it, but luckily (or perhaps unluckily) for everyone in the shuttle, the talkative quarian did.
"Humans named this moon. They call it 'Shasta Trinity', apparently after a place that used to exist on Earth. Probably the climate was similar or something." The moon was predominantly brown from orbit, with swathes of incongruously dark green criss-crossing the surface. The talkative quarian half-turned in her seat and tapped at the window controls. A small magnification panel appeared over the lower portion of the screen, showing them a more intimate view of the landscape. "See?"
There wasn't much to see. Rocky terrain marched across the screen, the higher peaks dusted with snow, the lower gouges filled with the icy slashes of glacial lakes, all of it interspersed with stands alien conifer trees. Brown, white, green, and blue, all melding together over the moon's lonely, desolate surface.
"But why," the talkative quarian finally had the presence of mind to ask, "are we here?"
Kal'Reegar stared at the landscape slowly drifting by for a moment before he said, "Well-"
He was rather rudely cut off by the ship bucking wildly. Elan'Shiya and Veetor were thrown from their seats, and the talkative quarian was banged against the window. Only Kal'Reegar had reacted quickly enough to keep himself from being knocked to the floor. He stood as soon as he was able.
"Everyone!" The attendant had returned, his voice shrill with panic. "Get to the lifeboats. We're under fire-" he was interrupted by another mighty surge. Kal'Reegar stubbornly maintained his footing.
Elan'Shiya was trying to get Veetor to stand, to move, but the quarian had seized up and was babbling frantically, not making any sense in his raw panic. The talkative quarian dithered, confused and still in shock from the sudden turn of events.
Which left it all up to Kal'Reegar, of course.
"Now!" he bellowed. All eyes turned to him. "Come on." He knelt and pulled Veetor to his feet by the other quarian's elbow, nodding to Elan. "Lifeboats are in the rear. Can't fit more'n one per person. Move!"
She nodded and led him off. Veetor numbly allowed himself to be pulled, his babbling silenced for the moment.
Kal'Reegar told Shati's mother where to go, and she nodded, scurrying off. The attendant looked to him. "We've got more than enough lifeboats for the crew, but we're going to try and land. I think… I think they're slavers, Reegar." He shook his head. "We'll need this ship's longer-range distress signal to get any kind of help."
The ship shuddered again. Kal stumbled and caught the doorframe to keep from being knocked off his feet. "I'll try and keep the crew together. Our best bet down there is to try and elude 'em, but failing that…" He tapped the compressed assault rifle attached to his hip. "We hole up an' hold 'em off." He had faced tougher foes than simple slavers.
The attendant nodded. "We'll do our best to rendezvous. Keep everyone together, if you can!"
Kal'Reegar nodded and turned, running to the back of the ship. The shuttle had been designed with simple, cold salarian logic. On the aft end of the ship there was one group of lifeboats, and another at the fore, the idea being that any pursuers would have difficulty pursing both groups of boats. This gave a section of the crew a better chance to survive without hopelessly scattering them.
Still, Kal'Reegar thought as he slammed his fist into the panel that opened up his own distressingly coffin-shaped lifeboat, it's going to be hell getting us all back in one squad.
With practiced ease, he slid inside, flipped the controls, and with a sharp hiss, a bulkhead sealed him in. There was a jolt of sensation, and then Kal'Reegar was launched away from the ship, hurtling towards the moon's surface.
He descended rapidly, his lifeboat tearing a screaming trail through the atmosphere, the quarian inside it buffeted mercilessly in the rattling dark of its interior. There was nothing quite like riding a personal lifeboat. It was terrifying, too horrible for the mind to comprehend, moving at such a speed and yet being unable to move, feeling the weight and pressure of the cosmos so close to one's body.
The mind sort of shut off in those moments, did whatever it could to ignore the terrifying reality that it had been plunged into.
Kal'Reegar was trained to handle this, but even he felt his resolve stretched to its breaking point as his lifeboat raged through the atmosphere.
And then there was a deafening, shattering thud, and he was tumbling end over end. Instead of landing in soft dirt, he had doubtless hit some unyielding cliff side. Well, that was just perfect. The lifeboat spun and bounced, the quarian warrior helpless to halt the fury of its descent, until with a bone-rattling jolt, it finally stilled.
Kal'Reegar's body was already shaking as the adrenaline drained from his limbs. Part of him-a very, very small part-wanted to stop a moment and rest, but he knew better. He had a job to do.
He flipped the release. A few agonizing moments later, with a great symphony of hisses and squeals, the lid of the lifeboat opened to a gray overcast sky. Kal'Reegar swung himself out of his lifeboat and stood up straight on the loose, rocky soil where his lifeboat had come to rest.
He had a job to do.