A/N: Holy shit. I haven't even gotten into the first chapter yet, and already I have 26 reviews? This is a new record, I swear to God almighty.

With that said, we're back with more Mass Vexations 2! Needless to say, I'm glad I'm getting back into the groove, you know? So fun times will be had, and many, many things will happen.

And I will warn you now; starting from a development around the middle of MV, there will be quite a few departures from canon. Oddly, there will also be canon moments; the Overlord DLC is going to come up during MV2, so fun times will abound with that. Well... not so fun in the aftermath, but hey, what can you do? We'll be doing a lot of things slightly differently from the game... and, well, I hope you like what I do.

As well, Orange is going to bring a lot of questions. So, unlike the writers of Lost, I intend to answer any mysteries surrounding Orange throughout the MV saga. You'll see.

Oh, and before I start the chapter, one more thing! Armesan of DeviantArt was kind enough to take a commission from me. The results are this pic of MassVexations!Art with Tali: http:/ armesan. deviantart .com /#/d2w8v26

While you're there, check out the rest of her gallery; it's got a lot of great stuff for turian lovers and Garrus/F!Shepard shippers.

Other things, other things... Oh yeah! This chapter introduces one OC and mentions another. Neither are made by me. So... without further ado, another disclaimer!

Jenny McKansa does not belong to me. Her name and personality belong to judodave. I can't exactly say the same about her backstory, though. *sad face* Nogond'Viraliz nar Mindoir does not belong to me either. His name and background (and probably his personality, though I'm not sure) belong to a guy with the username of Nogond. (I swear, he needs to get back to me on the whole beta-reading thing I got started on with him...)

Anyhow, I've blabbed long enough. Here we go!


Chapter 1: How to Crash a Recruitment

The shuttle ride to Omega was largely uneventful. When I arrived, I ended up leaving a lot of my stuff at the spaceport's luggage room. I don't know how the hell I did it, but I guess I got away with it for the same reason Scott Shelby managed to get away with putting that box in row 18 locker 3 of that one train station in Heavy Rain for as long as he did. So I left my viola and other stuff there, took out my firearms, and waded straight into Omega.

And damn does this place look seedy. I never thought I'd ever see an area that was more dingy than downtown Miami. Guess I was wrong on that part. Then again, South Beach was a short highway ride away from downtown Miami if you excluded the ridiculous traffic, so I guess there was some beauty to be had there...

Here? All we have is Afterlife, and that's pretty much it. I don't even know if there's anything worth noting here...

I glance at the clock on my omni-tool. Right... Well... money can't buy me love, but it sure can buy me appointments with Aria T'Loak. To that end, I got a credit chit of a shit-ton of credits. Hopefully this time I won't get mugged by batarians the way I did when I first came to the Citadel. Because that would be disastrous. And uncool. After all, I need something to bribe the guards with...

Wow... I'll be bribing someone for the first (and hopefully only) time in my life. This... is going to get sticky. Mom and dad would both throw a fit the size of Jupiter if they ever found out. But... a guy's gotta do what a guy's gotta do.

So, I wander around Omega, thinking about what's going to go down when I see Aria T'Loak. Is she going to see me in the first place? Ah, whatever.

I walk over to Afterlife, looking around for the brightly-lit neon signs. And I see a whole ton of batarians around me... Yeah, I've got nothing. Seeing all of them glance at me is just a little bit unsettling, you know? I wonder how Shepard manages to go through here without losing her nerve. Well... then again, she does have a trusty three... er, five-person squad at her back, so people know not to fuck with her. I'm by myself, so yeah...

This will make life interesting when I have to bribe my way to the top. I mean, I can't just waltz in there and expect to meet Aria T'Loak right off the bat. I mean, TIM made the meeting possible for Shepard, so I can't expect to have that same balloon... So I brought a bunch of extra credits. Some to bribe her guards, and then some to... er... pay tribute to the woman herself. But only if need be. It'll be like selling myself to the devil if I wind up having to. But we'll see...

I finally find the club, the bright neon sign flaring overhead as I walk over there. I ready my Citadel ID, walking over to the batarian bouncer. There wasn't a line, (thank God) so I walked straight over to the bouncer and flashed my ID at him. He glanced at it briefly before nodding and keying something into his omnitool.

"All right," says the man. "Have fun, sir."

I nod politely at this, and then step into Afterlife.

And the first thing I feel is discomfort at all the loud techno music banging throughout the club. Jesus Christ, I hate techno. Except if Thomas Ades uses it, in which case, do what you will. I feel very uncomfortable in a club like this. I don't know why, as I know this certainly won't be the last time I come here. I can't tell if it's the asari strippers up on the platform or the smokey atmosphere of the club. Jeez, it feels like people also smoke pot here... I wonder if I'll get high just by smelling the fumes. Either way, I'm not overly comfortable...

I'm just not used to large club settings like this. Mainly if I drink I like to stick to bars. That's the way it was with Tonn Actus, that's the way it stayed when I moved in with Mangdalar and Yelena, and it's the way it'll stay until the day I die if I can help it... Well... I can't help it now, but still.

I'm a man with a mission, so I'll make do with the hand I'm given. Which isn't much, but it's better than nothing.

I don't even care to stop by the bar as I walk over to the area that I know Aria T'Loak is going to be at. Her guards eye me nervously, and I see a turian standing there with a pistol in his hands. As I approach, I see his expression form into a scowl.

Yeah, reception here is going to be really warm.

I approach him with a nod, looking over to him.

"What do you want, human?" asks the turian, spite over his voice.

... Asshole. Oh, well. I'll just have to grin and bear it. I place my hands behind my back as I look up, not daring to look away from his gaze.

"I want to see Aria T'Loak," I say. "She may have something I need."

"Aria T'Loak isn't seeing anyone right now," he replies. "Now beat it."

Well, that didn't work. All right... My fingers drum along the credit chit as I look over to him. Shit... how am I supposed to bribe someone when I've never done it before? Oh... Just get to it.

I pull out the credit chit, approaching him. He reels back at first, but when he feels the credit chit enter his pocket, he pauses. I look at him with a tilt of my head as my hand comes away, back to resting behind my back where it was before.

"I'll say it again," I reply. "I want to see Aria T'Loak."

The guard sighs, looking over to the platform that overlooks the entire nightclub. He nods to me, his mandibles huffing out.

"One moment," he sighed out.

And with this, he walked up the steps to the platform that Aria T'Loak was on. This left me to stand there waiting around. I looked up at Aria's platform, and then realized how loud the techno was. I was glad for the slight sound proofing up there; that would make my life a whole lot easier. Man, this techno music sucks... Well...

I begin to tap my hand against my arm as I look up. I bob my head to this pulse that is deliberately different from the club's pulse, and with this I hum one of the ostinatos from the third movement of Asyla. Which is technically techno-inspired, but it's a pretty cool way of doing it in classical music, so I won't complain too much. I bob my head to this beat, and allow myself to get lost in my own music.

And as I get lost, I begin to notice how it contrasts with the music beating around the rest of Afterlife. It's almost like a Charles Ives symphony, in a way. I wonder what would have happened if he was born much later than he was. I'd bet his 4th Symphony would use techno and disco in its incredibly crazy second movement instead of ragtime and marching band music. But hey, Ives is fine the way he is, and the second movement is awesome by sheer fact of how freaking manic it is. Almost like me, really; too much happening at once, but then there's something kind of cool about that. I'm glad I got to see it live before heading over here; I can't seem to find any performances of it in the area. I'll have to change that somehow...

I see the turian guard come down, nodding in my direction as my beat peters out of existence. I turn to him with an expectant look as he crosses his arms.

"She'll see you now," he said. "Don't fuck with her, and you should be fine."

All right! I got to see Aria T'Loak! I nod and give him a soft smile.

"Don't worry," I reply. "If that's the only rule of Omega, it shouldn't be too hard to follow."

And with this, I walked past him and up the steps. All right, so bribery works. Good thing Khalisa al-Jilani didn't follow me here, otherwise my career would be over. And it only just started, too... Ah, well. At least the film score will supercede my death. I have something to my legacy now... So I can more or less die in peace...

But I still don't really want to die...

I walk up the stairs, and I finally catch a glimpse of Aria. She's lounging on the chair there, and as soon as I step up to the platform her eyes go straight to me. She's surrounded by a batarian entourage, exactly the same as it was in the game. Okay... This is going to be fun. One asari, one human, and a ton of batarians. Yeah, there isn't going to be any hostility here at all...

As I walk over to Aria, I'm stopped by one of the batarians. He pulls out his gun, looking me over. He's not gonna shoot, I know that. So I simply eye him, raising one of my eyebrows as I suddenly find I'm not sure which pair of eyes I'm supposed to look at if I want to be intimidating. I dart between the two of them before the batarian snorts in laughter. Oh, great, here I am and before I can even get to talk to her I'm laughed at by a batarian. Oh yeah? We'll see who's laughing when I get Neo on your ass, you son of a bitch!

He puts down his weapon, seeing that I mean no harm. He brings up his omni-tool and works on it a little. A scan of my body comes up soon after, and there are points there that pop up.

"Hold still," he says.

I blink, raising one of my eyebrows. "Uh, all the weapons I ever need are on my back," I point out. "If I wanted to kill someone, I probably would've done it earlier."

"It's standard procedure," replies the asari from behind him. Oh, hi Trinity. We're going to have some good times, huh? "Just do as he says."

I don't need her to continue to know what the thread left hanging means. Yeah, I'm not too keen on starting this conversation off on the wrong foot. So yeah, I'll just shut up now. I nod to him, and then stand as still as I can. How do scans like these feel anyhow...? If they're uncomfortable... I hope not, anyhow. I've never gotten an MRI, a scan like this probably won't be too good for my health...

"All right, you're clean," says the batarian with a nod. "You can speak with Aria now."

Oh. Well... that wasn't too bad. I didn't really feel anything. Then again, it was a scan of only my armor... So I guess I shouldn't be so surprised...

I nod at him as he walks off, the entourage mostly leaving to give Aria and myself a little bit of space. I look at the asari as she sits there. Yeah, she's just as decadent as she was in the game. Long dress, strange white vest, her blue skin sort of offset by the garish lighting of Afterlife. She's got that mischievous glint in her eye as if she has me exactly where she wants and that she knows what I'm up to. She just has this air of authority about her that she exudes so easily it's insane. It's kind of like an asari version of Vito Corleone in a way; fitting how they're both technically criminals, and how they both seem to know it and they just don't care because they have other things to worry about.

She gives me a rather disturbing smile as she looks me up and down.

"This your first time on Omega, kid?" she asks.

I frown at this, crossing my arms. "I'll have you know I turned 22 just a few weeks ago," I correct her. "And technically speaking, yes, this is my first time on Omega. On business, but still..."

"You have quite a mouth on you," she says. "My first suggestion? Keep it shut; it might get you into quite a lot of trouble here on Omega. Next question; I'm sure you know who I am, as most people who come to Omega for the first time don't really know the first thing about me or its only rule. And yet you know enough that you come straight here asking for me. So... Who am I?"

I nod at this. Well... this might turn around rather quickly. "Yeah, you're Aria T'Loak," I reply, gesturing out with my arms as I look out to the club. "You run the show here. For all intents and purposes, you're the queen of Omega."

"Feeling quite adventurous, I see..." she said, her mouth forming a smirk that showed she was flattered. "And its only rule?"

I tilt my head to the side (to the left so I don't unintentionally piss off the batarians) as I cross my arms.

"Don't fuck with Aria." I look up, crossing my arms. "Most people who fuck with you tend to die pretty easily so you can make an example of them. So if anyone fucks with you, they done goofed." I look right at Aria. "Which means that it's a line I'll try not to cross right now, because... well, you know..."

Her smirk holds as she sits at the little couch-thing. "I'm impressed," she said. "I never thought you to be the type to know these things, especially on a first visit to Omega." She shifts slightly, giving me a knowing look. "But, here you are. Take a seat."

Hey, I've been doing nothing but sitting for the past several hours! But... I guess I can't say no... So I walk over to a couch. This is the approximate place Shepard sits down, I think. I sit down, leaning forward as I do. I look at her as my hands begin playing with my fingers. I look to Aria, still with that smile on her face. She shifts, one of her legs coming over the other as her arms splay against the top of the couch she's sitting on.

"So, you're looking for information, Mr...?" she asks.

"*********," I reply. "You can call me Art."

She nods at this. "All right, Art..." she says. "What kind of information are you looking for?"

I glance at her briefly before I lean back, crossing my arms as I look at her. "I'm looking for someone," I reply. "I figured you might know where she is."

"And who is this 'someone'?" asked Aria.

I smirked at this, looking over to her. "I'm looking for Commander Shepard."

Her... eh... the asari's lack of eyebrows always seems to get to me somehow. So she raises whatever constitutes that, and she gives me a knowing look. "Commander Shepard?" she asked. "And what makes you think I know her?"

"I got a message from a friend," I reply. Well, at least I can be partly honest. "I figured I might check here to see what's up with her. I mean, really, when you've been declared dead for two years, where else can you go?"

She nods at this, her smile fading slightly. "Indeed," she says. "And why do you need to look for her?"

I raise one of my eyebrows. "I'm an old friend of hers," I reply. "From the Normandy. My friend told me she might need my help, so... here I am."

"Right..." she says, and I suddenly notice that she suspects me. "May I see this message?"

I blink, my mouth hanging open briefly before closing it. Yeah, that's not happening. Looks like it's time to provide a white lie... "With all due respect, Ms. T'Loak, I like to keep my messages to myself," I say. "It's vague enough that I don't think you'd get it anyhow."

The woman blinked, a small frown on her face. "You better not be fucking with me," she says.

I calmly placed my hands in my lap, shrugging briefly. "I wouldn't dream of it, Ms. T'Loak," I reply, my hands settling themselves squarely in my lap. "I'm generally not the type to fuck with the wrong people. Especially when I'm outnumbered five, six to one." With this, I gestured to her guards, who were sort of standing around there as if nothing was happening.

The asari glances over to her guards, and for a second I can't read her face. Asari should be fairly easy to read... But you never know. Finally she looks back to me and nods.

"All right then," she says. "So you're not fucking with me. What then?"

Oh. I guess she suspects I want to find her for something else... I lean forward, looking over to her. "It's a long story," I start. "So I'll give you the Sparknotes version: I know she's on a mission. I'm trying to see if I can help her on said mission. So you can either help me, or I can find her on my own. And if I find her on my own, we'll both have wasted our time sitting here talking. So... I'm asking for your help. Key word being asking."

I sit there for a few seconds longer as Aria regards me. Her mouth cracks into a smirk, and her hands come from the couch to settle in front of her as she crosses her legs.

"You're really not giving up on this, are you?" she asks.

I snort, shaking my head. "Believe you me, Ms. T'Loak, I'm not the type that gives up easily," I say.

"Very well then," she says. "She came to me about twenty minutes before you asked to see me." Oh... I just missed her! "She's gathering a team together; if you know she's on a mission, I'm sure you should know its objective."

I nod. "They're going to try to stop human colonies from disappearing," I reply.

"Good," continues Aria with a smile. "She's currently looking for the vigilante Archangel." Okay, so I have to crash Garrus' recruitment mission. Fun times. "He had a squad. Pissed off every merc company on Omega while he was at it. We don't know what happened to the squad, but they all vanished, so I am assuming they were all killed. All three of them are working together to bring him down. Blood Pack, Eclipse, Blue Suns, you name it, they're there. And they never work together unless shit is seroius. Right at the moment, Archangel is alone and trapped in a warehouse. He's really giving them hell, and all three merc companies are recruiting anyone with a gun in a few rooms over here and over here." She points at a few rooms down on the lower level of Afterlife. Huh, I thought they were somewhere else in the game. Well... It has been two years since I last played, so I guess I can't remember every detail. "I told Shepard pretty much the same thing. If you sign up, you should be able to find her. That's what I recommend doing."

I nod at this, looking over to Aria as she shifts where she sits. "All right," I say. "Look for the merc companies. Got it."

With this, I stand up, nodding to her as I smile. I place my hands on my legs and bow to her politely. "Thank you, Ms. T'Loak," I say.

"Spare me the thanks, kid," she replies. "Go get 'em."

I nodded. "I won't take any more of your time, then," I said. "Thank you once again, and... well... I guess I'll see you around."

I hear Aria mutter something along the lines of 'if you're lucky' as I turn around. As I nod to the batarian guards, I see them all resume their original stances. I wonder what would happen if Aria were to get into an all-black-leather get-up and decided to bring guns around. Ah, yes... And we'll need bullet time. Lots and lots of bullet time...

All right, I get to crash Garrus' recruitment mission. Hopefully I'll get in before Garrus gets those really bad face scars. And that means that Shepard will get two members of her old squad. I bet it'll do her some good to have an extra familiar face on the crew. She's likely to do better on the mission that way.

Speaking of the crew... I wonder what the status of her crew is now... Well... most people go with Mordin first when they tackle the Omega recruitments, and Zaeed is the easiest Omega recruitment there is since he just kind of goes to your ship, so I'll assume that Mordin and Zaeed are already both part of the squad. Which means I can expect Zaeed, Mordin, Miranda, and Jacob on Shepard's squad when I crash the party. And then Garrus is gonna be sniping from above, so I need to be careful once I enter the fray. Right...

Okay, that takes care of that. Now... I better go see about the merc recruitment.

I walk back down to the lower level of Afterlife, the techno music coming back into prominence as I look around. Okay, there has to be something somewhere... Ah. I see a guy in Blue Suns armor looking at me suspiciously as I walk over. Okay, I guess I'll go in with the Blue Suns... I think Shepard went with the Blue Suns, anyhow. Yes... yes, the batarian from that one renegade interrupt by the airship was a Blue Suns. Okay, so I'll talk to the Blue Suns recruiter.

I approach the door and see a human in Blue Suns armor there. He nods to me, and I nod back.

"Is this where they're recruiting?" I ask.

"Yep," replies the human. "Hope you're in the mood for killin' turians today."

"Of course," I say, gesturing to the door. "Is someone in there right now?"

The man looked at the door briefly before nodding. "Yeah, some chick entered two minutes ago," he said. "She's been tryin' to sign up for some time now. She's throwin' a fit and everythin'."

I raise my eyebrow. "Really?" I ask. "Why won't they just recruit her and get it over with?"

"She ain't got a gun on her," he replies. "She's a real desperate chick, I'll tell ya that."

Hm. Woman comes in, asks to get in, doesn't have a gun on her that people can see... Hm... Somehow I get the feeling she's not really out for Archangel's blood. I don't know, but my instinct is telling me to trust this girl with my trying to get back into Shepard's squad. So... I guess I will. I've got mixed feelings about it, but hey, there's not much I can do about that, now is there?

I nod at this, crossing my arms. "So get her a gun and that's it?" I ask.

"Yeah," he says. "But she ain't leavin'. Not until she gets in there, I take it."

I sigh, shaking my head. "Look, I don't have time for this," I say. "Let me in. Now."

The man rose one of his eyebrows. "What, ya want in?" he asks.

"I can deal with the problem on the way," I say. "Maybe get her out of the office without too much of a problem. Now let me in."

He hesitates briefly, looking at the door. His expression shifts, and he lets out a sigh. He opens up his omni-tool and keys a few things in on it. I see the door open unceremoniously, and I see a rather young woman shouting at the recruiter. I can't hear her exact words as they're being drowned out by the techno music around us, but the batarian recruiter seems to be giving her a hard time.

Oh. That certainly doesn't help.

Right. I walk over into the recruitment room, and both people turn to look at me. The woman, now that I see her, looks a little like an Irish version of someone I know. She's got flaming red hair, green eyes... that whole ensemble. She's got quite a few freckles on her face, though, as I see when she turns to me. She's not even in armor, but that will change soon I'm sure. Or not. Either way, her simple colonist uniform doesn't do much for her.

I go up to the recruitment agent, the door closing behind me and instantly cutting off the techno music. I look over to the recruiter and nod.

"So I'm to understand that she doesn't have a gun?" I asked.

The recruiter nodded. "Yes," said the recruiter. "I don't see what this has to do with you, sir. I'm just doing my job, and-"

Before he can elaborate further, I reach for my handgun. He's suddenly quiet at this, but I look to the woman with a knowing nod. I plop the gun into her hands, and she takes it in surprise. She looks down at the pistol before looking back up at me in surprise, and I nod before turning to the recruiter.

"She's got one now," I point out. "I think you know what this means."

The recruiter looked between us briefly before letting out a soft sigh. "Oh, all right," he says, waving one of his hands in defeat. "I guess you have guns too."

I turn around to show him my magnetic rack, which has my shotgun, my assault rifle, and my sniper rifle. "Pick your poison," I joke as I tilt my head.

The batarian laughs at this, his mood improved. "Indeed," he says. "All right, I think we're good. Hang on a second..."

He keys a few things in his omni-tool as he glances back at us briefly. A ping sounds from it a few seconds later, and then he nods.

"All right, you two are all set to go," he said. "You'll be working on an aircraft with the leader of the Blue Suns, so you'll meet up with an escort just before then."

I nod at- wait, the airship? So... Wait... I've got a chance to avert Garrus getting a scar on his face! Sweet! I wonder if I can get this woman's help on that. "And where will the escort be?" I ask.

"He'll be waiting outside of Afterlife," he states. "Get a drink. He should be here in ten minutes."

I nod at this. "Thank you, sir," I reply.

The batarian nodded in agreement. "Of course," he says. "If you see Archangel, give 'im hell!"

With this, we both nod and go on our merry way. Neither of us speak as we leave the private room, so we end up just sitting at a small booth somewhere, looking at each other. The techno music beats overhead again as she looks at the handgun. I see her eyebrows raise in curiosity as she looks at the weapon. I see an asari waitress come up to us, and I ask for a screwdriver. The woman I'm with shakes her head, not wanting to drink anything at the moment. The waitress leaves, and then I glance at my new friend.

Hm... She's quite curious about the handgun it seems. Fun times, fun times. I lean over as I take the screwdriver in my hands. I take a short sip before setting it back down, looking at her as she admires the gun.

"It's a Carnifex hand cannon," I begin. "Military make. I've been holding on to that thing for quite some time now."

At this, she raises her eyebrows. "Mililtary make?" she asks, a light Irish accent gracing her words as she gestures to the handgun. "What's an Alliance marine like you doin' here?"

I shake my head. "I'm not Alliance," I reply with agesture. "Not any more, anyhow. I served on the SSV Normandy before retiring."

"The Normandy?" she asks, looking over to me with a new kind of awe in her eyes. "You didn't serve with Commander Shepard, did ya?"

I nod, smiling. "As a matter of fact, I did," I reply. "The name's ****** *********. You can call me Art for short, though."

She beamed at me brightly, setting the hand cannon down as the asari waitress came with my drink. "Jenny McKansa," she introduces herself. "I'm a fan of Shepard's!"

"I see..." I simply nod as I say this, looking to the young woman beside me. I briefly nod at the asari waitress, who leaves us alone now as I take my drink and sip lightly. She doesn't look that much older than me; in fact... No, the less I think about my standpartner from NYSMF the better. "Well, with any luck we might run into her here," I continue.

With this, Jenny arched one of her eyebrows. "But I thought she was dead, mate," she replied.

"Well, she must've come back to life or something," I reply without skipping a beat. "A friend of mine from the Normandy just so happened to run into her. I heard she was dealing in Omega, and, well, here I am."

"I see..." she said. "Do you think she's looking for Archangel?"

"Definitely," I reply. "I hear she's trying to get some kind of team together. But enough about me. What're you doing here?"

She glances to the side as she shifts in her seat. Oh, boy, this is gonna be fun. "Well, if you must know..." she began. "I'm here looking for a friend."

"Oh?" I ask. "And he's on Omega?"

She nodded. "But he was in Archangel's squad," she says. "I want to make sure he is all right; I heard that the rest of his squad..."

Oh, shit... This is not gonna turn out well. Garrus' squad all died in the game, so... I imagine their fate here is pretty bad. But I just don't think I can bring myself to tell Jenny that. Eh... it's probably better to let Garrus tell her himself. Yeah, it probably is... At any rate, I wonder how bad Garrus' blood-rage is in terms of Sidonis at this moment. It's probably pretty bad... I just hope I can deal with it, because I don't think I'll ever see Garrus get so thirsty for someone else's blood. If it doesn't scare me, I'll be greatly surprised.

"I see..." I say, setting down my screwdriver briefly. "So... this friend of yours..."

"He's a quarian." Ah, good to see Garrus is keeping up with the whole racial friendship thing. "He... he was born on Mindoir. The colony was attacked when he was only thirteen." Oh? Huh. I thought that nobody would survive Mindoir given that Shepard had the Spacer origin. Huh. "It's a wee bit odd how a quarian was the only survivor on a human colony. You know, mate?"

"So how'd you meet him?" I ask, leaning forward.

"He was relocated to the colony at Horizon while they decided what to do with him," she replies, her eyes lighting up. "That's where I met 'im. his name is Nogond'Viraliz."

"nar Mindoir, I take it?" I ask, taking up my screwdriver. "I don't think he's gone on his Pilgrimage."

She nods. "He went back to the fleet, but he never completed his Pilgrimage," she replies. "How do you know what that is, anyway?"

"Well," I say, taking a sip of my drink as a smile lights up my face. "That's one of the perks of having a good quarian friend yourself."

Jenny blinks violently, her eyes greatly registering surprise as she looks at me. "You too?" she asks.

"Yep," I reply, my eyes going skyward as I think of Tali. "Her name's Tali'Zorah nar Rayya. Well... it's vas Neema now, she completed her Pilgrimage. I met her when I served on the Normandy. And... well... she was a sweetheart. I'd go down to engineering sometimes, and I always loved to listen to her gush on and on and on about machines. And she always talked a lot about quarians. It was... interesting, hearing about their way of life. But she was also such a sweetie... I trust her with something I wouldn't even trust my biological family to know, and she hasn't told anyone... It's just so..."

Jenny blinks before smirking playfully. "You didn't happen to link environments, did you?" she asks, her tone infinitely playful.

Wait, what? No! "What?" I ask, jumping back in my seat, setting my glass on the table violently. She looks at me for all of two seconds before she starts laughing. "No! I did not do anything like that with her!"

She shakes her head, her laughter dying down quickly. Her smirk hasn't dimished, though. I'm taking that as a bad sign. "I dunno, mate," she says. "From the sound of things, it looks like ya wanna screw her, yes?"

I swear I can feel my cheeks are on fire right now. "No!" I reply, holding my hands up defensively. "That's not how it-! No! Just no! Why would you-? No! No! Just... No! That's not cool! No no no no no! No! Hell no! I refu-! No! No!"

And the entire time, Jenny is laughing her ass off as I get all defensive, so much so that I'm almost afraid her laugh is projecting over the techno music in all the nearby booths. She quiets down... eventually. And when she does, she's got the broadest smile on her face. "Oh, come on," she says. "You mean you really can't bloody tell by this point?"

"Well, I mean, we were always strictly best friends forever..." I say. "...I guess...?"

She nods. "Yeah, you definitely feel for 'er, mate," she replies. I shoot her one last glare, but her smile doesn't fade at all. "But anyway, we're gettin' off topic here. Nogond and I met at Horizon. He and I came onto each other, ya know? He's like the younger brother I never had."

Now it's my turn to smirk. "I bet that's a euphemism for wanting to get into his enviro-suit..." I say.

But instead of getting all defensive, she shakes her head. "Not happenin', mate," she replies. "He... doesn't lean that way. If you know what I mean."

I blink at this, my eyes suddenly gazing down to my hands and then back to her. "Oh." Well... that's interesting... A gay quarian, eh? Huh. "Oh... I see." I shrug at this, smiling. "Must be interesting having a gay best friend."

"You mean you're not even a wee bit bothered?" she asks.

I shake my head. "I'd be lying if I said I was," I reply. "Trust me, I'm a musician who grew up on Earth, I grew up around a lot of them."

She nods at this, getting my meaning at this. "He doesn't like it when it's brought up," she says. "But... I figured you should know. Just so I don't go on a massive no escapade the way you just did."

Oh, son of a bitch! "Right," I say, shaking my head. "But still... Are you sure?"

"Well... he doesn't like to expound on it unless you ask," he said. "And he doesn't really make it a point of flaunting it around, so if you slip up he'll be able to tell that it was my doing."

"I see..." I say, drumming my fingers on the table. 'So... what happened after you met him?"

She nods. "He left Horizon after about two months," she continued. "But we always talked after we had met. He told me he had joined Archangel's squad a year or so back. He's a biotic, you know; they could use that."

I arched my eyebrows, my neck stiffening. Wait, what? "A quarian biotic?" I ask. "I didn't even know such a thing existed! I mean, yeah, I've heard of krogan biotics, but a quarian biotic?"

"They're incredibly rare," she replies. "But that's a story you can probably ask your friend about. I heard that Archangel's squad had been attacked... And I want to see Archangel himself, if only to know that Nogond is still alive..."

I nod. "Well, I'm not too keen on killing Archangel either," I reply. "So... I guess it's up to us to sabotage the Blue Suns side of things, eh?"

Jenny smirks as I take another sip of my screwdriver. "That it is," she replies, a smile coming on her face. "Ya wanna see what happens with this air vehicle and play it off from there?"

I nod, setting down the screwdriver and leaving the tab there. "Sure," I say with a broad smile. "Let the good times roll?"

She nods, her eyes gleaming with a mischievous air as she looks at me. "Let 'em roll."

And with this, we both stand up, the tab paid for as we walk out of Afterlife, the woman still holding my hand cannon and with a big spring in her step as we leave the... er...

What do you call a night club in a place that doesn't have a proper night cycle?


We meet up with our batarian escort just a few minutes later. We're escorted from there to the warehouse that Garrus is holed up in. Okay, this is going to be pretty fun. I just hope we don't come across Shepard first, because that would mean the end of a lot of our plans. So we simply walk along, Jenny grasping my pistol as we move along.

As we move along, we see a bunch of mercs getting into formation. I... I see. Well... if memory serves me correctly, the krogan and the vorcha are Blood Pack, the batarians, turians, and humans are Blue Suns, and the humans and the asari are Eclipse. And all around them are various no-gooders in armor, and they're all running around doing stuff. Okay. This sounds like a plan in motion indeed. I wonder if I can see any of Shepard's squad in here.

I look around, grasping Jenny's arm as I do so. I look for any signs of someone... Okay... Nobody over by the Blood Pack side of things... I think. Shepard is probably already somewhere else within Blue Suns territory... Hm... What about...?

Aha! I catch sight of a salarian within the Eclipse crowd with fairly brownish skin. He's also got a lot of scars on his face, and is in red and white armor. Okay, it's Mordin! So he is on the crew of the Normandy. Okay... Good choice, good choice. Having a functional med-bay is always nice, as Chakwas can't do everything. So yeah, fun times. And standing next to him is a brown haired woman in a white skin-tight suit. Okay... Ah, yes, and the Cerberus logo is there. Okay, that's Miranda... Oh, thank god the uncanny valley for her didn't carry over from the game. I always thought her eyes were a bit creepy, but here... Yeah, she just looks stunning. It doesn't mean she'll be allowed to flaunt her genetic perfectness while I'm here, but hey, at least I can kind of see why every shot of her ass is gratuitous...

Okay... That's in the Eclipse crowd, and looking over I can't seem to find anyone. Maybe she just took three squadmates for this one... Or maybe the rest of her squad is with her. Right.

Well, I know for sure I'm in the right recruitment mission now. Thank God for that. I wonder what Jenny and I are gonna do...

We're escorted away from the rest of the gathering forces by our batarian escort rather quickly, however, and he brings us out to another side of the warehouse. We can see that there's a huge hole in said warehouse, and I guess that's where the airship is going to be going in through. All right. Fun times with that... We go past more people coming in. Shepard's gonna have her hands full. Good thing I'm here to help however I can...

And eventually, we're brought into a hangar, where we see a batarian working on armor plating the ship. Huh, this is the area Shepard was supposed to go through. Looks like she didn't take the Renegade interrupt. Well... I can see how this could work, but... We'd have to gauge our abilities first.

I see another batarian in Blue Suns armor watching over the repairs on the gunship, and as the two of us are brought in our escort says something to the other man. Their conversation is brief, and then I see him eye us. Well, with one of his eyes anyhow. I fidget between them again as he comes forward. He stops in front of us, looking us over thoroughly and nodding.

"Not what I expected, but it'll do," he said. "I take it you two know what we are fighting?"

We both nod politely. "That we do... uh...?" I ask, gesturing for a name.

"Tarak," he replies. Ah, so this is the guy who's supposed to pilot the gunship... "And you are...?"

"McFly," I reply. Jenny turns to look at me with confused eyes, but I elbow her as discreetly as I can. "Marty McFly. And this is my girlfriend, Jennifer Parker."

Jenny hesitates, but she takes the hint. Without saying anything she turns back to Tarak. "Uh, hi, sir," she replies nervously.

The batarian simply tilts his head to the right. Yeah, that's the insulting gesture. Fuck my life. "Welcome," he said. "I don't think you've been briefed on the attacks?"

I shake my head. "No, sir," I reply. "The people in the recruitment office were a bit... touchy. You have a plan?"

"It's the closest thing we can amount to one, anyway," replies the airship operator. "The Blood Pack is going in first with a rush attack. If that doesn't work, then the Eclipse will be rushing in. And if that doesn't work, we'll be coming in. Seems a bit excessive, but Archangel is one tough son of a bitch to kill." Yeah, well, don't expect Operation Zerg Rush there to work too well. Garrus is one hard son of a bitch to kill, even when you nail him in the face with a missile. And with Shepard there... Yeah, you're fucked. But... I can't really say anything about that, can I?

"I can imagine, sir," I reply as he gestures to us. "So what are we doing?"

"Well..." said the batarian. "Do either of you know how to man an airship?"

I freeze up. Shit, airship experience? But... Oh, damn it!

But Jenny comes to my rescue. "I do, sir," she says. "And he's got some experience manning an airship gun."

He nods. "All right," he says. "Miss, I'll need you to pilot my airship. Marty can likely stay down with the main Blue Suns ground team. When our attack comes in, we're going to swoop in through that hole you saw earlier. Can you handle a tight maneuver like that?"

"I believe so, sir," replies Jenny.

"Good," says Tarak. "Normally, I wouldn't trust human pilots, but I can tell you know what you're doing. That's good." He moves over to the airship. "It frees up my hands for the gunner's seat. Makes me have to do less work, and allows me to concentrate on firing the guns."

Ah, so there's a second seat... Hm... I begin to form a plan in my mind... Okay... Yes, that should work.

"And as for Marty, you can go with the two other batarians in the room to join the rest of the ground team," says Tarak. "Is this understood?"

"Of course," I say with a nod.

"Good," replies the batarian, gesturing to his friends. "You can probably head to the rest of the team while we're waiting."

I raise my eyebrows, looking at him. "Actually, sir," I say. "I was wondering if I had enough time to talk to Jenny alone?"

The batarian looks at me, and looks to the other two people there. They both shrug, and the guy who was repairing the airship has more than a few things to check. "They do, sir," says the repairman. "Maybe we should...?"

I can see Tarak glance back, annoyance in this gesture. "Are you sure that's a good idea?" he asks.

Hm... I think he might suspect us... Not happening yet. "Well, what harm could it do?" asks the lieutenant. "Maybe it's just a last goodbye or something. Who knows?"

Tarak glances at us... Yeah, four eyed glances are creepy... Yeah, those bullies from school really better retract their four-eyes stance, or else bullets are gonna fly. Finally, he turns to us and nods.

"Fine," he says. "Find somewhere private and talk."

I nod, a brief 'thank you' coming out of my mouth as I look to Jenny. She nods, and then we both walk away to somewhere private. We see a small room, and then enter it quickly. When we enter, they're just minding their own business. As the door hisses shut behind us, I glance at the door and bite my lower lip. As soon as I feel the coast is clear, I nod to my companion.

"All right, how do you want to do this?" I ask.

She nods. "I really do have the airship experience," she says. "Growing up on Horizon had a lot of that, you know. I got to ride the airships there all the time. And then I got to pilot one, and I learned how to fly it."

I nod. Ah, so colonies involve vehicular experience, eh? Shepard should've been a colonist; maybe then, she could've reigned the Mako a bit from its bounciness. Oh well. You can't always get what you want, you know.

"Of course," I say. "So... We hijack the airship, cause hell for the Blue Suns, and save Archangel." I smirk as I look over to her. "Sounds dangerous. And explosive. I'm in."

"So am I," she replies, a smirk coming to her own face. "But how are we going to get rid of Tarak?"

I shrug, gesturing to the door. "Well, I have to go with the two batarians to the rest of the Blue Suns ground team," I say. "So... I could always eliminate them before we reconvene with the Blue Suns, and then I can come back and get Tarak somehow."

"How do you plan on doing that?" she asks.

"Sniper rifle," I reply, patting it on my weapons rack. "I come back somehow, set up in my hiding spot, and right when he calls on you, I snipe his ass into hell."

Jenny chuckles at this. "Shows them to invade our colonies, ya know?" she asks.

I raise my eyebrow, looking to the door. "I dunno, Jenny," I say. "Sometimes life isn't all that simple."

She snorts at this, her expression turning sour. "Look, we know how bad batarians can be, all right?" she asks. "We all have to learn how to defend ourselves against batarians, because the Alliance is rarely a help against them. I think I've got a bloody good reason to want a batarian dead, mate."

Yeah, and I've got an even better reason to not want one dead that starts and ends with an 'r' and may or may not include the letters 'e', 'a', and 'p'. I shrug, looking to the door.

"Have it your way," I reply. Racist. "Just, don't jump the gun, and don't try to kill Tarak by yourself. If you do, things will get out of control very fast, and we could have the entire Blue Suns on Omega on our asses. And that would be a bad thing. So yes, you might not like this, but for now you'll just have to grin and bear it. Okeday?"

She sighs, her expression no less worse for wear. "Fine," she says. "I'll work with 'em. For now."

She bends down and works on something on her leg. "Oh, and before we leave," she says. "Ya might want to take this..."

Jenny then unbuckles something, and when she lifts it up I see a brown leather holster for a dagger in her hands. Inside there is a rather ornate hilt for a dagger, and it just screams 'I want to kill something'. Wow, so Jenny keeps a knife hidden at all times? Ooh. Fun times abound.

"Nogond gave it to me," she continues. "He says it usually helps to surprise people. Strap it around your leg, and make it fast. Try to get one of 'em in the eyes; it really hurts from what I hear."

I blink at the dagger. I... am not an expert with knife-play. I don't think... But... I'll humor her for now, as I do need to be silent. I take the knife, and look down to my leg. Okay... Hm... Yeah, this might go best just under my knee. I bend down and work the strap through the are just under my kneecap, and after a bit of effort I work the knife strap in there. I buckle up, and then note that the dagger is outside of my right leg. Okay, that'll make things easier.

I smile. "Okay," I say, gesturing to the door. "So, let's get going."

"Yeah," she says, nodding her head in a sour mood.

... Wow, she must really hate batarians. Right... I should lighten up the mood.

"Commencing Phase 1 of Operation Guardian Angel, now," I say as we come to the door.

I hear her giggle from behind as the door whooshes open. I smile, glad that I was able to give her a last bit of humor before we do what we have to do.

We both exit the room, and the three batarians are still there. It doesn't look like they've overheard us (thank God), so they turn to us. They nod, and then they turn around. Right, that's my cue to follow them. They step forward, and then I walk past Jenny and Tarak as I follow. They go around a table, and then to a beeline to a door out of the warehouse.

As I walk behind them, Jenny stops by Tarak. I spare a glance back as I walk behind them, and I wink at her. Okay... I'll get through this, Jenny. Don't you worry about me. I'll kill them somehow. She seems to get the message, and looks over to the batarian as I walk out of the warehouse. The door closes, and I can see the distance we've walked and the hole that opens into the warehouse. The sound of gunfire is flying from all over in there. Huh, looks like the Blood Pack attack has begun.

Okay... I need to act fast. And quietly. Preferably both. If a batarian starts screaming about betrayal within the Blue Suns, all this will have been for naught. Okay... So... I wonder if these batarians really are as intelligent as they think they are, with their high-and-mighty attitudes about having more eyes than the rest of us...

...And now I'm a little racist. Yeah, great going there with the consistency and everything, Art.

Okay... I bend down and draw my dagger quietly. Neither of them suspect a thing... Okay, who do I go for first...?

Well, the repairman is moving forward very quickly, and I see the other guy lag behind. He's close enough that I can catch him by surprise... Okay, so I'll go for the other guy then. Concealing the knife behind my forearm, I approach the batarian from behind.

Okay... You gotta time this just right... Okay... Closer... I'm almost on top of him... Now!

I grab the batarian, throwing my arm around his neck. Okay... Now! I slit his throat, clasping the dagger hand over his mouth so that the gurgle doesn't come out. I gently lower him onto the floor, and he dies almost as soon as I set him on the ground. Blood pools around him, and then I look to the other batarian.

Okay, one down... one to go.

I quickly but quietly sneak up to the other batarian... Okay... do the same thing... Get close... Almost on top... Now!

I then rush up to the repairman, flinging my arm around his neck and bringing the dagger up to his throat. I slit it quickly, and then gently let him down on the floor as blood gets all over the ground. He gurgles a little longer before he finally stills, but this time it's not as much of an issue since the sounds of a guy gurgling in his death throes are probably not going to be heard over that kind of gunfire.

I look at both dead batarians, looking around for a place to hide them. I don't see any real place to hid them, so... My eyes fall on some kind of waste thing.

Ah. That will do nicely.

It's a small effort, but I am able to eventually hoist both dead batarians into the waste thing. I can't do anything about the blood, but it blends well enough. So unless someone steps in it, they won't notice. Speaking of which... this is a lot of blood. Tim Burton really wasn't kidding with the amount of blood he used in Sweeney Todd. I guess George Hearn's stage blood bit wasn't good enough. For some reason, getting your throat slit always seemed a bit... cleaner in most media.

Oh, well. If none of their souls were saved, they went to their maker impeccably shaved.

Right. Now that that's over with, it's time to get back to Jenny.

So I rush back to the warehouse from where I was, finding it quickly and realizing I still need a way in. Hm... Well, the air vehicle has to come out of somewhere, right...?

Right, yeah. That sounds about correct. So where...

Hm... Maybe there's some kind of skylight it can come out of? It's my only chance. Only question is... How in the fuck do I get there...?

I look to the side and see another one of those waste things. I look further, and see that the distance between the warehouse and the next building isn't too bad. Hm... I could probably wall-jump between the two walls... And then if I do that enough I can get onto the roof from there. And then I can see what's in store.

Oh, goody. I get to climb up the side of a precarious building with almost no footholds or anything. Good thing I learned how to do the asari version of le parkour over the past two years. That'll come in handy. Right...

I look at the waste thing, and take in a few breaths. Okay... Ready... now!

I rush over to the waste thing, making sure I hang by the wall opposite my destination. Okay, build momentum... I see the waste thing rush up... now!

I jump onto the waste thing, my momentum carrying me up and in front of the wall. Without hesitating, I begin to run up the wall, taking about three steps up before I turn to the other wall and jump off. I gain a little bit of vertical distance as my feet connect with the other wall, and before I can really think about it too hard my feet kick off, and I fly towards the warehouse wall. Okay, vertical distance gain... Jump off the wall again, and face the other way. Okay, one more jump should do the trick...

And it does. My hands are able to grasp onto the top of the warehouse, and I'm hanging on the ledge. Okay... Yeah, this probably wasn't the best idea with standard-issue armor on. But hey, I don't really have much else to go on. Besides, I've got less time to work with now that the Blood Pack attack has likely gone to hell. I hope Miranda and Mordin are doing a good job of distracting the Eclipse mercs... If they do, that'll buy me more time.

Right, now's not the time to think on all of that. I hoist myself up onto the roof, and look at the roof from here. Okay, I knew Omega didn't have weather, so... Okay, the warehouse roof is made of some kind of clear material. I hope it's fragile. Okay... Yeah, this might work.

I creep closer to the warehouse, pulling out my sniper rifle quietly as I edge over to there... I peer out and into the warehouse. Okay, Jenny's keeping Tarak occupied. All right, that works to my advantage. Hopefully Tarak hasn't received the call yet, and it's good to see that Jenny hasn't taken the initiative yet.

At least she follows orders. I'm thankful for that. I look along and see a part of the window that's... different from the rest. Oh, great, is this like how in the old adventure games the thing you needed to go to was always a different color from the rest of the area? Jesus Christ on a pikestaff, this is heavy. Well... Hey, the window is slightly out of place... Hm... I sidle over slowly, keeping one eye trained on Tarak as I move, still holding the sniper rifle in my hand. Okay... I eventually get to the panel, and look at the glass.

Hm... It seems a bit too... clear... Hm...

I slowly bring my hand out, and suddenly realize to my great shock that someone obviously forgot to insert an actual window there.

...

Really? Someone was actually this stupid? You always cover a warehouse with something! Not always with glass, mind you, as it makes it way too easy to break in, but still! You couldn't even be bothered to add one freaking pane of something? Jesus Christ on a pikestaff, the guys who made this warehouse are even dumber than basically every single museum architect in the history of film making... Man, this is really kind of infuriating.

But that works for my advantage. So I'll chalk it up to happening because the plot says so.

Right. I pull out my sniper rifle and peer through the scope. My scope settles on Tarak, and I hope to God he can't see me. Okay... just stay calm... Breathe in, breathe out.

A finger calmly rests on the trigger of the rifle, and I look at Tarak as Jenny says something. I can't really hear the conversation she's saying, but... it works for me either way. Right... Okay... Three... Two... One...

Tarak turns around and sees me. But by then, it's too late, my finger is already pulling on the trigger.

And so, I get Tarak right in one of the eyes. Oh, boy. Yeah, that's a sight for sore eyes. As his eyeball explodes, I fire again just for safety as he collapses. I peer through the scope, and upon seeing that he's not moving, I nod.

But before I can take my eyes away, I hear some more gunshots. More blood pools on the ground around the dead batarian, and I look past my scope to Jenny. Well... It's a good thing she waited until now to fire the Carnifex. And a good way to take initiative.

I see her look up to me in slight surprise. I give her a thumbs up, and I flash her a smile.

All right, that's Phase 1 of Operation Guardian Angel out of the way. Now... to get down there...


When I finally hit the ground, Jenny's waiting, the door of the warehouse open as she looks at me. "What took ya?" she asked.

I brush my arms as I look at her. "Sorry," I reply. "I had to dispose of the bodies of those guys somehow, you know."

She nods at this, looking at me and then back at the airship. "Right," she says. "Let's not waste any more bloody time, mate. The Eclipse people are getting overwhelmed."

I raise my eyebrows at this. I already know why, but I should humor her. "Really?" I ask as we reenter the warehouse. "I didn't think one guy alone could take that entire Eclipse contingent down..."

"From what Tarak was telling me, someone in both the Blood Pack and the Eclipse factions went rogue," she said. "Now Archangel's got at least five other people helping him out of there."

I nod at this. "That sounds like Commander Shepard, all right," I say, a small grin coming to my face. "And soon that number's going to increase to seven, you know?"

Jenny smiles at this. "That it is, Art," she says. "Come on."

I walk over to the airship as the cockpit lies open. Okay, it's like the Disneyland Splash Mountain cars where it's one person in front and one person behind. Okay, I can get behind that. I see steering apparati in front of the seat in the front, with a slightly elevated seat behind with a whole bunch of things. Right. I'm guessing the gunner sits behind the pilot on these things if there is a gunner. Tarak seemed to manage fine by himself in the games... Hm, maybe there's weapon function for the pilots? It would certainly explain things.

Well, the renegade interrupt wasn't taken, so... We'll be at full armor. Which will help against all the Blue Suns mercs. Poor fuckers won't stand a chance against a combined wave of airship, Garrus' marksmanship, and Shepard's squad. I almost feel bad for them, really. But hey, what can I do, you know?

I step into the back seat of the cockpit, with Jenny stepping into the front of it quickly. Now that we're both in position...

Wait, I'm suddenly reminded of something as the glass closes over us. I look around as a bunch of things light up. Okay, you were in the Mako once or twice, you can run these guns... Well... I hope. This interface looks simple enough to figure out, anyway. Right... Those are guns, those are missiles... Yeah...

Hm... I wonder...

"Does this thing have something that broadcasts sound out of the vehicle?" I ask.

Jenny doesn't look at me as she calibrates everything, but I know she hears my question.

"Yeah, mate," she says. "Why do ya ask?"

Oh, boy. Things are about to get ridiculously awesome. I give as evil a smirk as I can manage.

"We're gonna give 'em hell while we kick their asses," I reply smugly. "So when we turn on them, turn it on. I plan to have a little bit of fun with these people while I'm mowing them down..."

She chooses not to reply to this as she gets some last-minute calibrating done. I can tell she's doing it to shake off the implications of what could happen next. Frankly, with all the obscenities I'm going to be shouting, I can't say I blame her...

Finally, all systems are go. She looks back to me and gives me a thumbs up. I give her my own thumbs up, being careful not to set off anything with an accidental touch of my thumb. Just a few seconds afterwards, the airship's comm unit cackles to life, and a turian voice comes over the air.

"All Blue Suns units, at attention! Our attack is beginning now! Eclipse has fallen; it's up to us to stop Archangel! Airship, head to the warehouse! We'll wait until you are in position to begin our attack!"

I smile at this, nodding to Jenny. I'm going to let her take care of the comm chat between us and the Blue Suns.

"All systems are a go, sir," says the woman as she powers the engines. The hum fills my ears as she continues speaking. "Moving into position."

And I feel the airship lift off, and see everything around us. I calibrate a targeting reticule just a little bit, but mostly fidgeting with numbers as we move along. Wow... I suddenly feel a lot like Michelle Rodriguez' character in Avatar in any scene where she goes around shooting things in the air. This is going to be quite a new experience. And hey, it'll be a great war story to tell people when I grow old and die. Times are fun like that.

We come to a stop just in front of the large hole that is our position. Okay. We're the last attack of the day. There will be blood. That much is for sure.

"We're in position, sir," says Jenny, preparing to come into the battle.

"Excellent," says the turian voice. "Now when we enter, we hit them hard, and we hit them fast. Airship, take the upper tier. It's where Archangel will be. I want that place destroyed, you hear me?"

I smirk as Jenny replies in the affirmative. Yeah, we're gonna destroy you. And there's nothing you can do about it!

We wait a few seconds, and then...

"Charge!"

And so the zerg rush begins. Jenny pilots the airship through as the first of the Suns get taken down. Okay... Jenny flies in, and then I can see the crew of the Normandy perfectly well from where I sit. We hover in front of their bridge, and then I see them all peer up in shock from their cover... All right, Miranda and Mordin are there... Oh, sweet, Shepard's there too! Good times, good times. All right, who else... Well, there's an old son of a bitch in really heavy armor and stuff... And one of his eyes looks like it's been through hell. Right, that's Zaeed. I wonder if he's carrying Jessie with him right now... Okay, who...

Bald woman with a bunch of tattoos on her body? Wait... What the fuck is Jack doing here? Huh. Most people take on Jack after the Omega recruitments. So why...? Oh, well. I guess I really can't explain it all that much. Maybe Shepard tackled her dossier before even setting foot on Omega. Either way, there shall be fun times.

Jenny hovers there for about five seconds, letting our presence get known. I grin at them. Man, it feels good to be back in the groove. Especially as far as the thing goes.

Right. Only one thing could make this more awesome.

I open up my omni-tool, going down my musical playlist quickly. I've saved quite a few songs onto my playlist now, and, well, there's nothing that'll complement a total beatdown like a rock song, is there?

My hands scroll... Okay, no Aerosmith... None of that either... Beatles are too soft...

Aha! That will do just nicely. Good times will be had with this one, I know.

"Jenny, turn us around and activate the outer broadcast!" I say.

And she does just that. I see her lift a thumb up as we look at all the Blue Suns mercs. I see a light go on just above me, and I smirk evilly.

My hand presses play on my omni-tool, and I'm greeted with a satisfying guitar riff to start the song. I suddenly see the Blue Suns look up, and I can just imagine the 'oh, crap' expressions on their faces.

But, they don't get too long, as the song proper starts.

And now... let the carnage begin!

"Fuckers!" I scream out, making the sound go out through my throat to make it grainy. With this cry, I let loose the guns, and the Blue Suns mercs get sprayed with gun fire. Wow, these guns are hella powerful. Their shields go down faster than usual, and then they all fall. I think the element of surprise worked in our favor as well, as they suddenly scramble to reaim their assault rifles. But I'm out of breath as this happens, and as the rock continues sounding out of my omni-tool, I look at the confused mercs as chaos suddenly breaks out.

"Motherfuckers!" I cry out then in the same manner. I spray the mercs with a lot more gunfire, and by this time I think Shepard's squad has caught on. More Blue Suns mercs have started coming in, and I can barely hear over the comm chatter about how they need to send everyone left inside. I fire the guns, a wicked smile on my face as more mercs go down. But this time, Shepard and the crew are whittling away at their shields too. I swear I can also see a couple of things being biotically shifted about, as some blue auras surround a few things.

"Fuck you motherfuckers!" I yell out then, spraying out more bullets than I care to count. The Blue Suns are swarming us now, but with Jenny flying about and Shepard's squad providing plenty of fire, they're dropping like flies. Yeah, Operation Zerg Rush didn't work out for you so well, did it, mercs? "Fuck you motherfuckers!" I reiterate as I see the Blue Suns mercs pour in. Now there's plenty of dying or already dead mercs on the ground... Yeesh, the sight is a bit disturbing. But... Keep in character, and it'll be all right. Just don't think about it...

"Fuckers!" I shout out again as I hail in gunfire. "Fuckers! Fuckers!" I repeat the word a few more times as I loose some bullets out on the crowd. By now, they're easily overwhelmed. Some manage to take aim, but they only get one shot on our shields before they're taken down either by the barrage of bullets from Shepard's team or from the barrage of bullets from us. Their numbers are dwindling quickly, but I'm saving the best for last.

"Motherfuckers!" I scream out. Man, my throat's starting to hurt. Good thing the Blue Suns numbers are dwindling. But still, how many of these people are there? I keep hearing comm chatter that's getting increasingly more frantic, but we're just hailing bullets on every merc we see. This is really history's biggest curb stomp battle. It's probably even worse than the Reapers owning the Protheans all to hell. Nobody's getting a good shot on us, and eventually...

"Forget it! All units, pack in there! We're taking that airship by force!"

I smirk. They forget I haven't used a single missile yet. This shall be supreme fun indeed...

And after that, we see a whole ton of mercs come rushing into the place, weapons drawn and already firing. More of them come in than have ever come in before, and they don't waste a second in opening fire. Our shields begin to deplete, but I still have one last trump card. Okay... Wait for it... All right, no more mercs are pouring in. They've been constantly coming in, but now that they're not, I assume they've run out of units.

Looks like it's time for the explosive finale!

I engage the missles on the entire ground, smirking evilly as I do so. I then ready them for launch, and my smirk only intensifies.

"Everybody die! Everybody die!"

And with this cry, I let loose a whole ton of missles on everyone. They impact the ground rapidly, and then all I see for the next few seconds are explosion after explosion after yet another explosion. Dirt, dust, mercs, everything goes boom in the next twenty or so seconds. The frantic comm chatter eventually gets cut off abruptly as the basic entirety of Blue Suns gets their asses handed to them by missile. Hah! That's for attempting to scar Garrus, bitch! And we do such a number that eventually when the explosions die down the lower floors are nothing but a mess of black with only a few splotches of color. There are dead mercs everywhere, and I know the explosions did their work.

They did their work a little too well, in fact. For a scant two seconds after the explosions die down, I hear this massive creaking noise. Before I can figure it out, the walls collapse into the warehouse floor, and the ceiling comes down. Part of it brushes against the nose of the aircraft, but Jenny is able to pull us back away in time to avoid a major catastrophe. A loud metallic moan sounds out as the metal crashes into the floor, crushing all the merc bodies and stuff. It also throws up a whole ton of dust once the roof comes down on the floor, and there's so much dust thrown up it obscures the glass viewport for a few seconds.

When it clears... Wow... We just destroyed a warehouse. Yeah, I did not think this would be how Garrus' recruitment ended. Somehow, though, this just makes it that much more epic. We look at the carnage we've wrought, and then I blink.

The comm comes to life. "Well..." Ah, so now it's Shepard's voice. I see she hacked into the comm link. "You certainly annihilated them..."

Man, it's good to hear the sound of your voice again, Shepard! Two years is too long!

I beam and reply back. "Yes we did!" I shout, still doing the voice. Yeah, now that I think about it, we really did annihilate the Blue Suns mercs. And the warehouse. And everything in between.

Next time? We're talking about NES accessories.

"You think you can come downstairs so we can see who you are?" asks Shepard.

"Yes we can!" I shout out, still doing the voice despite the raging protest of my throat. Jenny takes the hint, and she lowers the airship slowly. We don't bother to turn back to look at the people we just worked with. It's kind of mutual anyhow. They're not gonna shoot us, and we're not gonna shoot them. Symbiotic relationships are beautiful like that.

As the airship lands, we see the full ensemble come down. Shepard and Garrus are at the head. Okay, good to know Garrus won't get a metal plate on his face. Well, with Tarak dead thats a given, but still, it's nice to see they're not trying to rush him back to the Normandy. Miranda and Mordin come up behind them, and then Zaeed and Jack clamber in shortly after. Jenny is busy taking down a few systems, including the broadcast systems. The vehicle powers down eventually, and then the cockpit opens, and we see them clearly.

And almost as soon as it opens, the protest in my throat gets to me. As Jenny steps out, I begin hacking away. Ow, my throat. Ow. Okay. The awesomeness wasn't worth it, because now my throat hurts. Ow. Ow. I cough a little bit, beating my chest with a fist as Jenny comes around. Shepard steps closer, as does Garrus, and before I know it, my eyes are watering from how much I'm coughing. Eventually, I stop caughing, and then Jenny helps me out of the cockpit, and as I step down, I ignore Shepard for a moment.

"Okay, I'm stopping with the voice now," I say out loud, shaking my head. "Another second of that and I think I'm going to commit murder on my throat."

Shepard gives me a smile, and throws her arms open. "Art!" she says. "I'll be damned! How've you been?"

I nod, smiling back as I look to her squad. "I've been great!" I say. "I don't think being dead was too kind to you, eh, Shepard?"

"That it was not," she says, shaking her head. "How'd you get over here?"

I shrug. "Well, I actually spent a lot of it on the Citadel," I reply. "But I got a message from Tali after you ran into her on Freedom's Progress. One thing leads to another, and, well, here I am, kicking Blue Suns ass. Told me about your mission and everything, too. I had a run-in with Aria T'Loak, and, well, here I am. Along with my lovely assistant, Jenny McKansa." I gesture over to the colonist with my hands. Upon seeing this, she flashes a cheerful smile before waving and letting out a short 'hi'.

And then I look over to Garrus, a smile taking on my lips. "And I run into another old friend too," I say, crossing my arms and shaking my head. "I should've known you would be bad at at staying out of trouble, Garrus. I mean, I know you were always on Pallin's bad side, but now it's every merc company on Omega? What the hell did ya do?"

The turian shrugs, his mandibles flaring out in a smile. "Well, I ran a vigilante operation," he says. "It just fell apart..."

I nod at this. "Yeah, Jenny has something to ask you about that," I say, gesturing to her. "But we'll get to that later." I nod as I look over Garrus. "You know, when I first heard 'Archangel', I was expecting some kind of retired C-Sec officer. If I had known it was you..." I chuckle at this, crossing my arms. "Don't make me have to pull another obscure extranet-related reference again just to save your ass from getting killed."

At this, Garrus shakes his head. "I dunno, Art," he says. "I think I liked you better when you were shouting like a turian rocker. Distracts from your usual voice, if you know what I mean."

Oh, dear, this again? We've barely been reunited and already we're getting started with this! Right... "Well, Detective Vakarian," I state, crossing my arms. "You may have to be careful where you go with that unless you want me to whack your head off with a mess tray."

Garrus chortles, and this time I can hear Jack and Zaeed chuckle as well. "I like this kid already," says the human merc lead... well, former leader as he looks at me. "He's got a pretty good sense o' humor."

The turian shakes his head as he crosses his arms. "I'd pay to see you do that to anyone," he says. Oh dear... Why do I get the feeling this is gonna bite me in the ass later?

I nod, looking over to Shepard.

"So Tali told you about the mission..." says Shepard. "So does this mean...?"

I nod, holding behind my hands. "I don't know about Jenny here, but I'm certainly on track," I say. "I mean... sure, it sounds dangerous. But if Sovereign was any indication, you're gonna pull the impossible on us again. So I'm game."

"Hold on a second..." says Miranda, looking over to me with an inquisitive look. Yeah, you know, for being the XO of the Normandy and all that, you really don't talk much. "Art? As in, ****** *********, the composer?"

"You got that right, M-ma'am," I reply. Oh, wow, I almost said her name there. "What, did my bio forget to mention that I served on the Normandy before I made it big writing music for collaborative turian-human vids?"

Miranda shakes her head. "Well, from the way you were shouting earlier, I think you were enjoying bringing carnage on the Blue Suns a little too much. Aside from that"

"Oh, shut up, cheerleader." Ah, Jack. "He can kill shit."

"Well, we can never be certain of his abilities," reiterates the Australian. "What if he has lost his touch?"

I blink, a frown forming on my face. Great. I didn't even like Miranda all that much to begin with, and already she's giving me more reasons to dislike her. Fortunately, Shepard steps in looking to Miranda. "I may remind you that he became a valued member of my squad within weeks, and that was without even knowing how to even hold a gun when I first met him," she replies. "If he's lost his touch, he can get it back very quickly."

"That, and I am a close friend of the Commander," I point out. "And I'm going out of my way to join her on a mission that I could probably die during. You need that kind of loyalty during a mission like the kind that this is, ma'am."

The Australian looks over to me as I see Mordin glance between us. Hm... He hasn't said anything as of yet. Strange. I would've thought we would hear him chatter something by now... I'm sure I'll hear his voice by the end of the day.

"Commander shares sacred trust with Mr. *********," he says. Ah, right on cue. Nice. "This would be a good course of action. Not sure about abilities, but loyalty already in place. Will help in mission."

And with this, Miranda sighs with one final look from the Commander. "All right," she states. "I expect you will be able to hold your own on the battlefield."

I blink, raising one of my eyebrows. "Uh, were you paying any attention to that?" I ask, gesturing to the collapsed warehouse just a few feet away from us. She clamps her mouth shut, and out of the corner of my eye I can see Jack sniggering. Why do I get the feeling she's liking me already? Oh, well. At Miranda's silence, I cross my arms. "That's what I thought."

I look over to Jenny, nodding to the colonist as she nods.

"And as for me..." she says. "Well, I only came here for Archangel." Garrus perks up at this, but Jenny simply approaches. "I need to ask ya something. Something important to me."

Garrus looks to the rest of us before nodding. "You help a friend of mine out with saving me?" he asks. "That's a bit of a distance to ask me something..."

She shakes her head. "I'm not a fangirl, believe me," she says. "I... Would you be able to tell me if Nogond'Viraliz nar Mindoir is all right?"

Oh... Oh, shit, this is not going to turn out well... Yeah, this isn't gonna be pretty. Garrus is gonna get all emotionally wrecked again, Jenny is going to be a blubbering mess, and we're all going to have a tough time maintaining cover. Well... Not like being outside of a collapsed warehouse is maintaining cover, but still, I'd like to be tear-free when I pick up my stuff at the spaceport. You know?

"Oh, you're that Jenny McKansa," says the turian. "He talks about you a lot, you know. You're like a sister to him."

Jenny nods, a soft smile coming to her face. "And he's like a brother to me, sir," she replies. "Is he all right?"

"Yes," he says casually. "He and several others of my squad managed to get off of Omega. Some died, but Nogond is alright."

Yeah, there goes the sadness, and-

...

Wait.

...

What the flying fuck?

No... There's no way in hell that's possible. No. No no no no no. Garrus' squad was supposed to die! What the hell is this about most of it surviving? No. That goes against all logic! But Sidonis betrayed the squad! And then they killed everyone except Garrus and Sidonis! How the hell are there still squad members alive?

There's no fucking way this is right! No. His squad can't be alive! There's no possible way they could be alive right now! No way whatsoever!

That's not true! That's impossible!

"Oh, Thank the Lord," Jenny says, letting out an exasperated breath. "I still can't believe it though."

"Well, think about it," comments Garrus. "He's a quarian biotic. I'm sure you know it's true somehow."

...

Nooooooooooooooooooooooo!

This can't be happening! What the fuck is Garrus' loyalty going to be now? Now he has less reason to want Sidonis dead! I mean, come on, most of his squad was saved! And... No, this opens up plot holes too! How the hell did his squad survive? How do we know the mercs won't chase them? What do I do now? How am I gonna break this to Tali? More importantly, how the fuck did the squad find out before the attack? How the fuck did they survive? And where the fuck does Sidonis fit into this? Why, God, why?

No... No no no no no. No. No. Hell no. No. No. I can't believe... No. No.

Not one drop! I'll taste it for you!

I chew my lower lip relentlessly as I watch this, trying my damndest not to look perturbed. Shit... I think I'm failing, and I bring my arms behind me. Shit...

This is not good. I've just lost my ability to tell the future.

And the craziest part is, I don't even know what I did to change things this drastically. Well, the face scar bit I can understand. But the squad? Where the hell did that come from?

... Ah, Jesus Christ on a pikestaff. I hope I get answers on that soon. Because until then... Man, I'm going to have a lot to discuss with Tali next time I talk with her. Because this is a lot to process...

It's so much to process I end up missing a lot of the ensuing conversation. It's so much so that when Jenny comes over, she gives me a nod.

"Well, Art, thanks for the help," she says, smiling. "That was pretty cool what you did there."

Oh... Uh... "I guess I can say the same thing for you," I say, chuckling nervously. "What are you doing now?"

She blinks, and her facial expression is clearly unamused. "Were ya listenin' to what I was just saying?"

Oh dear... How do catch a cloud and pin it down... Uh...

"Maybe not?" I offer, giving a goofy expression and shrugging.

She simply lets out an annoyed groan before shaking her head. "I'm taking a shuttle back to Horizon," she says. "I'm glad he's at least alive now. I'll send him a message when I can."

Wait, Horizon? Oh, shit! She's gonna be on the colony that gets attacked. Fuck... Well... I need to warn her somehow. Tell her to be careful.

I nod at this. "Yeah, I caught that," I catch myself. "I just wanted to make sure." Yeah. I just wanted to make sure.

Jenny doesn't buy it, but she decides not to dwell on it. She nods, and smiles at me. "I'll follow you guys to the spaceport."

"Agreed..." I hear Shepard say from behind me. "I've had enough action for now. I just hope a warehouse doesn't collapse on us like that again."

"Oh, come on!" moans Jack. "You're seriously telling me that wasn't one of the most fucking awesome things you've seen in your life?"

"Yeah, I gotta agree with Tattoos here on that one," adds Zaeed as we begin to walk off. "That was bloody impressive the way he blew all those mercs straight to hell."

I chuckle nervously. Okay, I've found my footing back to normal Earth again. "Oh, dear..." I say. "We've got two bloodthirsty people, a fast-talking salarian, an uptight woman with an Australian accent, Garrus, myself, and you, Shepard. I always knew you were a magnet for oddities, but damn. I'm pretty sure you just started assembling your team, and already I'm afraid for what little sanity I have left."

Shepard chuckles at this. "Welcome back to the Normandy," she says. "All in a day's work for you, I'm sure."

I crack a smile at this. "It sure feels good to be back, though," I reply. "That's one thing I can't deny."

Joc smiles back, and then we settle into a groove all the way back to the spaceport. It's mostly genial conversation as we did just get two old friends of hers onto the mission. And I think Jack and Zaeed are already impressed with me. I mean, I did take down a warehouse, so... Props to me, I guess? Yes? No? Maybe?

Whatever.

I'm back on the crew of the Normandy, and I'm feelin' real good...

...Well, except for the whole Garrus' squad bit. But I'm sure I'll find out about that in time.

In the meantime, we walk back into the heart of Omega, just a group of friends chatting amongst themselves about how we just owned every single merc company on Omega and how I rejoined the crew of the Normandy.

Fun times abound.