These Roles We Play

A/n: Okay, I have some explaining to do. Regarding my absence there were many distractions that have occurred since the last time. Well, first is school, I've been studying to try to pass. Though to be honest, even now that the semester is over, I still haven't, well passed yet. So to speak. So I'll be busy once the fall semester rolls around again. As for what else has been preoccupying my time, it's a little embarrassing but while working on this, I sometimes stopped and looked through my game shelf and thought, Hey I didn't finished half of these. And so I distracted myself from finishing this chapter until around now. Ahaha, I'm sorry for any inconvenience this may have cause.

Nevertheless, here it is. Not my best work in my opinion. Oh, and if this seems rushed at the end, that's because it is. Mostly cause when I reached that point, I noticed 'Holy Crap, 7 pages already? Better wrap this up'. Thinking it over, I kind of want to go through the pre-game Noveria stuff quickly and get to the game stuff. Though there will be character developing! Particularly around Sol' from the previous chapter, keep an eye on him.

So I hope you enjoy, those who are still reading this anyway.

"So your current situation is that here, in this restricted and possibly heavily guarded lab, there is data and a prototype that your client has hired you to acquire, correct?" I ask as we walk are step right outside the elevator.

"That's the gist of it." Rumoi replies as I take a look around the lab. So far it's like one of those corridors, pristine white condition, neither speck of dust nor dirt to be seen. It's almost creepy how clean this place is, like one had thoroughly washed away all traces of well… anything. "However, I can tell you that the heavily guarded part is a lie," he corrects me with a smirk, "Despite boasting some of the tightest security measures, if you pay the right people just enough, they'll practically jump off a cliff if you wanted them to."

Ah good ol' bribery, one of the many signs of the hidden dark bits of society. Granted, it's not everywhere though, there are lots of good people for every bad person. Then again, everyone on Noveria has probably done something they may or may not be too proud of. "So what about cameras or any bugs?" I ask, to which Rumoi only shakes his head like I just said something stupid. What? It seemed like a legitimate question.

"You don't honestly think I'd just let us waltz in here without disabling those first now, would you?" Well, I've only known you for all of five minutes so I'm going to say that my worries were a little justified. Maybe.

"Right," I reply as we reach a split corridor, "Who exactly are we uh… acquiring this stuff form anyway?"

"The Hahne-Kedar Corporation," Smiling Bastard chimes in at this point, "Well, not the main branch anyways, the Shadow Division has a facility here on Noveria." Shadow Division? Hmm, the only thing I know about that is that it was a set of equipment that you had to hack the game or something to acquire "In case you're wondering, the Shadow Corps is Hahne-Kedar's way of letting the newer folks get… creative, so to speak. Most of the stuff that comes out is pretty top-quality surprisingly."

"…and it just so happens that my client wants to have a… sample of what's going on down here." Rumoi adds. Right, a 'sample', let's go with that then. Come to think of it, since this a tech research lab, it isn't impossible for them to test some of their stuff for security, the cameras are disabled and the guards gone, so maybe I don't really need to do much about this—

"Hold up." The older man puts an arm in front of me, the hall is quiet, at least until the distinct sound of something mechanical moving is heard. "Sounds like one of those LOKI mechs they've developed, figures." Rumoi snorted, "This is rather convenient timing though…"

"Oh! Does this mean I can go smash it?" Smiling Bastard sounds way too eager when he says that, biotics starting to flare up.

The response was instantaneous, "No," the biotics die down just as quickly as they flared up with a groan akin to a little boy being denied his toys, I admittedly found that amusing, "Your friend here will take care of it." Yes, Smiling Bastard, let me take care of—

"Me?" I almost shout out, "You want me to do it?"

"I did say earlier that you have to take care of all the tech stuff right?" He swings his thumb towards the direction of the LOKI mech with a smirk. "That over there is a machine, and therefore your job." Frick. "Not to worry though, those things are practically harmless on their own, and this would be a good chance to teach you a basic Tech skill," Rumoi explains, though was it me or did he sound awfully smug during that?

So I'm going to learn a skill and use it on the lone synthetic over there. That sounds conveniently simple, is it me or does this situation feel like some crappy tutorial?

"Now the skill you'll be using here is an Overload, it's one of the easier ones. You basically build up an electrical charge with your omni-tool." Ah, an Overload huh? I know what that does, "Then just point, press the button and let the omni-tool do the rest. You can do that much, right?" Well, it sounded easy enough to do.

"Overload is good for taking down Shields and Synthetics in general, but it can also be used to short out the locks if you don't have the time to hack them," Rumoi continued as the synthetic sounds seem to move further away "It's not a very subtle approach though, and may not always work depending on the system so it's better to just work on your hacking." Fair enough explanation, and it sounds easy enough to do anyways.

"It's coming back, you better get ready." Rumoi suddenly ordered. It didn't scare me though, not at all, my hand was most certainly not shaking when I pressed the buttons on my omni-tool after he shouted. Once it had charged up, I stuck myself to the wall and waited. Waiting for what? To be honest, I'm not entirely certain as to why; perhaps it is just the nerves getting to me. Right, you can do this, just point and press the button.

"Don't forget Little Puppy, you're still down here in a business suit, so keep in mind that those don't come with shields or anything like that," Smiling Bastard pipes up, smiling as he looks down at me, "So careful not to get shot now, this heist won't be as fun if you died,"

Thanks for the bout of encouragement there, I take a deep breath as I see that the Overload is ready and I move out of cover and see the target in question. Wasting no time, I point the Omni-tool in the synthetic's direction and watch as the mech started to twitch rather violently, sparks sputtering about.

And then watched as it was subsequently thrown obviously via biotics several yards into the nearest wall and exploding into many pieces. If that didn't alert whatever was in the area, I'll eat my hat, well, if I had one anyways.

I turn to see the culprit standing up, a pleased smirk on his face before he turned back to the two whom were looking at him, "What?" Smiling Bastard shrugged, "It's much more fun to see a robot explode than just fizzle out like that, right? Besides, not like there's anything to worry about down here, right 'Rumoi'?" There was something about how he said Rumoi's name that bothered me, and there's still the fact that that name sounds familiar.

"Whatever," the man responds as he passes by the both of us, "Let's get moving then. Kid, come with me." I raise an eyebrow as to why when he promptly added, "I doubt we'll be running into much resistance, but I'll show you a few more tricks you can do with that Omnitool of yours." Oh, well, that would be helpful. I quickly catch up to him as we continue walking down the hall, passing by the shattered remains of the mech.

Well, at a glance, it is a LOKI Mech, but upon further examination it looks rather different, though I suppose that would be because we are currently two—no, three years before the game they 'debuted' in. I suppose that means this little guy's many 'children' will be superior in ability. It's almost kind of sad if you think about it in that aspect—

"Hey kid, you paying attention?" I'm not a 'kid', I'm almost twenty, "I'm not repeating any of this again, just so you know," Eh? Why not? Well, no matter, it best I pay attention then.

"Okay, now there should be some programs installed in your omni-tool, a basic Sabotage program as Damping…"

After a few brief explanations and some fiddling with the omni-tool for a moment, I think I'm getting the hang of this. So I have some of the Tech skills now, granted, aside from Overload I haven't actually tried them out. I admit though, Rumoi's explanations were rather easy to follow and understandable.

If I heard him correctly, then the Sabotage program works after directing the omni-tool towards the target. Sabotage was designed specifically to target weaponry, I don't remember the exact details, but it basically creates an insanely large amount of friction within the weapon to levels that basically force the weapon into needing to cooldown.

As for Damping, Damping has the omni-tool send out a signal that 'attacks' either omni-tool or the biotic implants and amps in biotics. This shorts them out and crippling the usefulness of the target.

I must admit, it was a rather interesting way that the abilities in the game be applied to 'real world' terms. Although, aside from Overload, the skills were only there in the first game, in this 'reality version' of the Mass Effect universe, would this mean that there would be something developed in the future that would render them obsolete in terms of combat utility?

Perhaps, considering when Heat Clips come into play, oh well, I don't have to worry about it for a while anyhow. It should be something that I have to think about later.

"Dammit, I thought a heist would be more exciting, but so far, I've only got to destroy one synthetic. One."

"It's only been twenty minutes since we left the elevator." I reply dryly.

Oh yes, one more thing I've also learned was that Smiling Bastard liked to complain a lot when he was 'bored', or perhaps it could just be a result of his disappointment at the near total lack of resistance down here. Granted, this place is apparently a secret and Rumoi said he took care of most of the main security measures. I'm rather glad for that, but apparently Smiling Bastard had expected Rumoi to 'critical fail' in some way.

"I'm aware of that," Smiling Bastard replies, making some sort of whiny sound, "But it wouldn't hurt for something exciting to happen."

"Personally I'd prefer keeping my heists as uneventful as this." Rumoi responds this time, at least he's admitting this is a crime. "Ah, here we are. The target should be right through here." He says as he stops in front of the door and steps to the side and looks to me. I arch an eyebrow, what?

Smiling Bastard then nudges me forward towards the door. Oh! Right, I'm supposed to handle the tech related stuff as part of my 'training'. I approach the door, opening up my omni-tool as I start up the hacking program, and after a moment, I am presented with many lines of code appearing on the omni-tool's screen.

Okay, slightly more complicated than a hotel room door, I'm sure. I push my glasses back into place as I begin typing on the, I guess 'holographic' would be the appropriate word, keyboard that was being displayed. I've already done this several times during my secretary work, but it still feels so cool to do.

I open the door with relative ease. It is just a door after all, it's like working a lock pick, only an electronic one… actually, I'm not entirely sure where I'm going with that train of thought.

I check for anything that looked suspicious inside the room, but I did not see anything of the sort, so that meant it was safe to enter right?

"Well, that was rather anti-climactic, but I did it" I say to no one as I walk through the door. Nope, no alarm triggered, or at least no obvious one anyway.

The room I just broke into looked like an office, a rather unkempt one if you ask for my opinion on it, among some other items of question lying around, it all looks rather expensive, I wonder if the owner of this office is one of those eccentric types? I probably won't get an actual answer to that question, but it is a rather curious thing to wonder about.

"Blueprints should be in their computers here. You know the drill, kid." Rumoi motions to the computer on the desk. Future models definitely look cooler than the ones we had, that's for sure. Alright then, I fire myself up as I start up both the computer and my omni-tool at the same time. This shouldn't be too hard.

Ah, how horribly wrong I was.

First try, failed, as I learned the hard way that while the hacking module can take care of most basic hacking, it falls flat when it goes up against the more sophisticated system, or so I assume when I was suddenly forced out of the system. I sigh; I really should have expected that. The men behind me both appear amused by this. They aren't worried that I may screw up really badly? No no, bad idea to get irritated by those two, especially that bastard. Okay, slipped up a little there, but I can do this.

Second try; this one went a bit more smoothly, at least until a slip of the fingers ending up undoing all the work I had done. Frick, oh well, third time's the charm right?

Third try then went through; dammit to hell… again! I hear nothing from behind, though I can practically feel the stares boring into my back. Turning to the omni-tool once more, I get to work. I will break into this, even if it kills me!

It was not until a long while later that, with some frustration as well as Rumoi's eventual instruction (was it me or did he sound like he was enjoying this?), I was able to hack into the files of the offending computer, and not even two seconds pass as I can already hear the mocking applause coming from Smiling Bastard behind me.

Rumoi pats my shoulder in a comforting way, though part of me believes it may have been patronizing.

"Don't worry, with enough practice, you'll be able to tackle other simple targets like that no problem," he says with a playful tone in his voice.

Patronizing, definitely patronizing.

Ignoring the urge to just overload the system by literal (yet futile) smashing, I start looking through the files. It was mostly a bunch of research data of weapons that, to be honest, I was not really all that interested in. I'm assuming that the man looking over my shoulder would stop me when I found what he wanted. It rather sucks that the files are numbered rather than given actual names, if only I knew how to narrow this list down.

That aside, the silence is rather unnerving for me, "So, what is your client going do with this data anyway?"

"To be honest, I don't really care what they do with this, so long as they hold up their end of the bargain," was the answer I got, followed by "Though if I had to guess, I would say something along the lines of just using the information to make their own project to counter and hopefully outdo the competition's. Or in a less 'friendly' scenario, just create and distribute what's on these plans first and claim it as their own." Rumoi sighs, "Honestly, these corporate types are no different than those high school girls you see in the vids, nice around most others while resorting to underhanded tactics in order to get what they want."

"Says the man who relies on robbery for a living," I dryly reply.

"But on the contrary, I make more than enough with my day job, the heist thing is more of a… hobby. I've become rather fond of the thrill of the hunt, getting something in return for acquiring these things is simply an added consolation." Oh, good to know there, I now feel so much better now that I know I was shoehorned into someone's hobby. I could probably just get up and waltz right out of this place and away from Smiling Bastard and the stupid crap he will most likely put me through in the future.

However, given what has happened in the past two days or so I've been here, as much as I would dislike admitting it, the bastard has been overall helpful. It would be improper to not return the favor and play along for a while, just at least until I know what I'm getting into.

Well, that, and figuring that by myself, I'd probably get myself beaten to death and/or mugged by a batarian within the first ten minutes or something stupid like that. I suppose I should be somewhat fortunate I ended up here instead of somewhere like the Citadel or hell, Omega.

So, as I've decided, I'm going to play along with the bastard, regar—

"There's the file. Make a copy and transfer it over to my OSD. I'll take care of the rest from here." Rumoi stops me at a certain file. The contents itself was something of little interest to me, something about weapons technology. Something that didn't seem all too useful to me, but I realize that I'm in a research lab whose main projects consist mostly of weaponry.

Maybe there would be something useful in these projects. After uploading the data Rumoi needed, I stay in my seat and skim through the files again, not much useful or plausible at the moment but maybe there's something—Oh hello… what do we have here?

Ah, this definitely looks interesting. The big question is, however, do I take this and make use of it? Would this greatly affect how the story plays out? Granted, in most stories involving this sort of thing, changes to the original plot usually turn out either extremely well or end up horribly messing things up even more.

Then again, my presence as well as choices has most likely changed parts of the timeline already and since this isn't something pre-programmed, or so I would like to think, there are most likely many other factors I can't see that may be affect whenever I do anything here.

In that case, then what's one little… borrowing of data going to do then? Should be inconsequential at most, right? Right. Just have to transfer the data over to my omni-tool—

"Well aren't we up to something naughty." A voice chimes in my left ear, causing me to almost jump out of my seat. It was when I quickly noticed that it was that bastard leering over my shoulder like those creepy sort of people who you suddenly find standing there, that sort of thing can give me the shivers.

"When did you get here? Aren't you supposed to be keeping watch or something?"

Smiling Bastard shrugged, "Yeah, but that was getting so very dull, and you're much more interesting to watch." He inches closer to me as he says this, I inch away, part of me is certain he may be doing this intentionally.

"I'm just taking a couple plans that I can probably make use of."

"And how can you use plans for prototype weapons and explosives in a place like this?" Rumoi asks, eyes narrowed, to be honest, for a moment I forgot the man was there. Let's see, have to think of an excuse quick or something.

"It's a hobby." I quickly blurt out. Crap, was that really the best I could come up with? "I like to make things like this whenever I get bored," A total lie, but my mouth seems to be speeding way ahead of my brain here, "I don't get many chances to get my hands on plans like these, so I thought, why not?"

I glance over to my right for a moment before turning back, damn, I can't really tell what sort of expression he has now. Best to say something to reassure him noting bad would happen.

"Not to worry though, my hobby will not disrupt anything going on here. You'll barely a small explosion from my room." Also a lie, a very bad one at that.

"Uh-huh…" My head almost drops at the suspicious stare he's giving me, I kind of want to just go crawl under the desk for a little while. This has not been my day… days, whatever.

"Look, 'Rumoi'," I say his name as if there were something that was crawling out of my mouth, "I know this all seems rather suspicious, but I'm not going to do anything bad with this and what I am doing won't affect you or anyone else," at least here in the very least. "I have plans for the future," I start.

Though the full extent of the plan at the moment is 'Take Anoleis down, somehow join up with Shepard, exciting stuff happens, then profi—er I'm home free'. I really need to work on speaking after being caught in a lie, so to speak. My planned responses are going out the window!

"I just think that these blueprints will assist in… expediting those plans." Yeah, hiding under this desk is getting more appealing by the second. "They won't involve you in any way," at least I hope not, "Well, er, unless you want to get involved—that is, I mean, only if you're interested in what I'm planning on doing that involves these blueprints for…"

Stop! Stop right now before you dig yourself any deeper you idiot! I stop before I utter another word and just sigh, not even making eye contact at this point. "So, can I just take these or not?" I lamely ask after a moment of wallowing in embarrassment.

Rumoi only shrugs, "Sure, go ahead."

"Wait, just like that?"

"To be honest, I don't really care if you've wiped the whole system at this point. I already got what I needed. Would've said that earlier, but it was much more fun to see you stuttering like some blushing schoolboy." 'Rumoi' grins for a moment.

I would take the time to make some sort of angry response, but I'm far too ashamed of myself at the moment. So my best reaction was to just continue downloading those prints and disconnecting the omni-tool.

"Right, I got what I need. Now what?"

"Now, the two of you can leave. It should still be safe, I'll handle the rest of the dirty work." I raise an eyebrow at this, that's it, really? Smiling Bastard easily complies as he heads toward the door, looking back to see if I would follow.

"That's it? You're just going to finish up here and… leave?" Kind of feels like a cop-out to me for some reason. I learned only a minimal of knowledge on Tech stuff and we're ending like this? There weren't even any enemies around.

"Well, I was planning on leaving after this," 'Rumoi' looks up from the screen, "but I think I'll stick around, even teach you a few more advanced 'tricks' you can do with that omni-tool of yours." Please clarify, "Like Jack said, you're… interesting, for some reason, can't put my finger on why. I'm also quite curious as to what this plan of yours is, I want to see what happens." So I left a good impression on him then? I'm not quite sure how that is so, I mean, I was not exactly at my best during this mission, if you could even call it that. But, who am I to argue this?

"Very well then, I'm not going to stop you," I answer, "but I have to ask. What is your real name?"

'Rumoi' laughs at this, "That obvious?"

"Intuition really,"

"Heh, I didn't expect to be using that old name in a while, but our friend over there insisted," He said while glance over at the Smiling Bastard before turning to face me again, "Well, you can call me Keiji. Keiji Okuda, one of the best information thieves you can find." He reintroduces himself with a proud tone in his voice. Keiji Okuda huh…

Sounds like a nice name, why can't I have a cooler name like that?

"Hey Puppy! You coming or what?" Smiling Bastard's call snaps me out of that train of thought. Right, getting myself distracted, I should go and sleep and brace myself for the next day tomorrow. Today's assisted felony brought about something unexpected. Something I probably won't be able to use for a while.

Anyway, whatever deity is currently watching over me, please grant me the endurance to wait this out. As I feel I'm going to be doing for a while before anything happens.

I knew I shouldn't have jinxed myself back then.

It has been a couple weeks or so since then and I haven't heard from Keiji since that little 'heist'. Though Smiling Bastard says that he's still around, just not in the open. I will have to ask about further lessons in tech skills later then. Though I have to say, that name seems familiar for some reason. It doesn't help that it's been a while since I've played the games.

In regards to other matters, I've yet to meet up with Lorik Qui'in, mostly due to the fact that Anoleis has me working practically overtime. Then again, I should've expected this, this being a secretarial job after all. Have to worker harder and excel, I can't get fired now.

Then after work was a trip to the Corporate Lounge where I hit up the bar and find to my disappointment that I, once again, missed Lorik'Quinn, according to Sol.

Sol has been pretty cool, probably the coolest guy/turian in this place that I know. Or rather, he's the only one I know, since I usually go out of the way to chat with him during the emptier hours.

As for the Smiling Bastard, he has been quiet for a while aside from the occasion popping into my room at the ungodly hours of the morning.

This was my routine for quite a while, with no openings for me to exploit in sight. That is until one cold day…

"Ayatsuji, I see that your work the past few days has been improving,"

"Thank you Mr. Anoleis sir."

"Yes yes. Good to know you're becoming less of a hindrance, though I doubt you'll be improving any further. Now go take a quick break," Anoleis? Giving me a break? Did I die of tedium somehow? Did Noveria turn into a tropical paradise? "I've received control over the revenue from lab rentals a few days ago and the reports are due soon. I require to be alone to work on them." Ah, of course-wait.

Lab rentals? Wasn't that what… I smile and bow courteously, "Of course, my apologies Mr. Anoleis, sir."

Well, this was unexpected, but just what I was waiting for. I quickly go over to the computer at my desk and start typing away a message to be sent over a private line to Noveria's Admiralty Board. I look over the message quickly after I finish, before sending it towards the board.

[Subject: Request for Investigation of Administrator Anoleis Under Suspicion of Corruption successfully sent]

I smile as I read the little notification. Okay, step complete, just have to hope everything plays out at least close to what I'm expecting from the games. Or close enough, considering my current position. Though to continue that, I need to get to that freaking turian!

Not wasting any more time, I rush out of the office and to the elevators as quick as I can, or rather, as quick as running in a business suit can go without tripping me up.

For the moment, things are going on smoothly. I just need to set up the rest of the pieces just right and with the right amount of patience, everything will fall into place.

I can count on that.

A/N: And I'm cutting off here. Thank you for taking the time to read this, I would appreciate it if you left a review. Constructive criticism is welcome as well. Or if you have any question, I will try to answer them to the best of my ability. Still, I'm sorry if the chapter was particularly lacking. The next few will be much better next time.

Until then, may you all have a wonderful day and may the next be good as well.