DUN. DUN. DUN. It is here. The sequel to "Mass Mayhem" that I've been working on for about 1.5 months now, the thing I broke my brain trying to come up with and probably has ended up a lot bigger (or more pretentious) than I first planned. There will be a few nods to "Mass Mayhem" around the place, but "Chessboard" pretty much stands on its own, mostly because those two are extremely different from each other.

So! Let's get to it.

I do not own Mass Effect. BioWare and EA do.



Chessboard
by Universitas

Prologue
2170 CE

The Tenth Street Reds called him the Old Man. He wasn't really that old, only about thirty, but he was the oldest, and that's what counted. Victor thought he liked the name because it made other people underestimate him. Not a lot of people knew he used to be a soldier for the UNAS. But what Victor really liked about the Old Man was his ambition, all his talks about "expanding the Reds" and making it a lot more than just a gang on the streets of New York. More than a gang on the streets of Earth.

The Old Man paced around a narrow alley. Even now, he had that "fuck with me and you'll pay" kind of look that made all the other Reds complete pussies around him. But it was a different story for Victor and Jake.

"I don't teach this shit to everyone, but you two are the smartest kids in the Reds." A holographic glove—an omni-tool—appeared around the Old Man's arm. "I'll show you what I know, but you'll have to learn the rest on your own."

The two listened intently, absorbing every word he said.

But the Old Man was gone. Done in by the goddamn police after a fight with the rival Fangs turned horribly wrong. Victor wasn't there; the Old Man didn't let him brawl, told him that he was too important to his long-term plans to get knifed or shot. But Jake was there, and he told him every detail. The sirens coming out of nowhere, the Fangs running for whatever hiding spots they had, police speeders swarming the lot, the Old Man roaring for the rest of the Reds to run. Victor didn't get it. If the Old Man worked his ass off for his plans, then why did he let himself get arrested—or worse? Why didn't he just leave someone else behind for the feds? And who would replace him as the Reds' leader?

Only the last question was answered.

The Reds had gathered around Jake, who was seated on a trashcan. Victor, as always, stood right by him. "The Old Man told me that if something happened, he wanted me to take over. So I am, I'm the new leader. If anyone's got a problem with that…" He brandished his pistol. "Then they better shut the fuck up."

Nobody said anything.

Victor supposed that dead men still held power.