Author's Notice:

Though I haven't been getting any complaints yet, I wish to apologize for the incredibly sloppy editing and grammatical errors in the earlier chapters. Furthermore, I should apologize even more for my laziness in not fixing them. I'm certain the poor paragraphing, random forum code (from my initial Mass Effect Fanfiction Forums posting), the grammar, and even plot holes (seriously, why the heck did I call Burke 'Evan' in the second chapter?) have drawn people away, and I can't say I really blame them. Expect edits in the future when I finally get off my keister to do so.

Also, please somebody review my chapter. I will stop posting new content if you all don't. :(

Heh. Just kidding. This story is going to get finished with, or without reviews. Though I admit, it still would be pretty nice if I got a few from my dear readers. :)

Now have a cup o' joe, sit back, relax, and read the longest chapter in Cyan Steel yet!

Chapter 26 – Cat and Mouse (Part 1)

The knife's edge severed the piece of the fine cuisine from its larger body, the fork descending in to spear and take claim of the segment. The piece of amber colored resin was laid within the maw of Ukoirnas, where eventually the entirety of the dessert would meet its fate.

The Maul's starboard-stern observation deck was more opulent than it should have been, with a golden ceiling, white ivory walls, deep red asari carpeting trimmed with silver, and a massive vanilla white wood table, draped in a large cloth. Near the edge of the room beside the beverage box were two sofas and an oak billiards table. This lavishness was only further fortified by Tchaikovsky's 'Vals de la flores' that played on the overhead speakers. The outer doors were closed The general primarily used this chamber for meetings, officer-only dinners or having a thought in solitude while his personal guard stood outside and warded off drunken crewmen or soldiers that wanted to pass out on the carpet or on top of the pool table.

After nodding to the checkpoint guards, Major Yardie entered through the automatic door, the small crow-like eyes of Ukoirnas and those of three other officers in the room with him turning to acknowledge his presence. "Mr. Yardie arrives!" Urkoirnas declared after sawing off another piece of the resinous desert. Griggs, the Chief Quartermaster for Ukoirnas' fleet of marauders was carefully shifting his movement as he aimed down the line of his billiard stick, striking the cue ball which tumbled a cubit and smashed into the five, paying the favor forward to the eleven and six.

Ironically, all aforementioned balls found their way into the pits as soon as Yardie opened the keypad operated liquor cabinet. Ukoirnas used a napkin to wipe his shell-like mug, making it proper as he turned to face his second in command. "Get me some Waldu 2174 will you?"

"One for me as well, if you don't mind sir!" Frigate commander Pollius spoke, sitting at the opposite end of the table. The purpose of his presence was not entirely evident to the major, though he had a decent idea of what it might have been.

"Now, now, commander. A drink is not necessary for you, since you're obviously here for business." Ukoirnas spoke, continuing to wither down the size of his dessert. "Present yourself respectably."

Though the commander was adequately puzzled at the general's hypocrisy, he would not dare make this opinion vocal. He was bold enough asking the major for a drink, but that was only because Yardie had a reputation of being easy to get along with, which was uncommon for most right-hand men, let alone Blue Suns. The batarian major withdrew a nearly pyramidal shaped glass of batarian ale as well as an ornate canister of turian wine, setting them on the table.

"I know it's out of place in this time to give you such bad news..." Yardie began. "...but we've lost contact with the Ble'Gan mining outpost."

Ukoirnas planted an elbow on the chair's arm, leaning over to his executive officer, a confident, almost condescending manner strewn about his expression. "They only hit harder than I thought they would. Trust me when I say that the problem is in capable hands." He signaled Grossin, the captain of his personal guard. "Bring the slab over here."

The turian captain nodded, gathering a smooth, sloped segment of refined metal and placing it on the table in front of commander Pollius. The general leaned over, facing his underling, the expression of one eye not matching up with the other. "Commander. This... is our very own metal; cyan steel."

"One of the strongest metals in existence." Griggs explained, firing another jab at his cue ball which bounced around and throttled a few other balls in its wake. He then stood up and placed the shaft end of his cue stick on the carpet, one hand on his hip. "It's a bitch and a half to penetrate, and we're proud of it."

Pollius nodded, reaching over and feeling of the material. "This what the War Drum armor is made of?"

"More or less." Ukoirnas nodded, leaning back and finishing his dessert.

"We wanted to make sure that you know..." Griggs continued, chalking the tip of his pool cue. "That your frigate, the Phasewalker will be getting five of the suits on board."

With this, Pollius was somewhat surprised, though extremely flattered. "I will see to it that they be put to good use." He nodded.

"Well, that's where you're wrong." Ukoirnas carved the remaining piece of resin into two halves, impaling one of them and looking toward the commander.

Pollius' mandibles perked up. "Do you mean these are defective combat suits?"

"Not essentially." He placed the slice in his mouth, chewing it. "It's just that starting now, the Phasewalker is under new management."

The shot rang out before Pollius was even close to displaying his reaction. The commander fell face first onto the sheathed table, his fringed head being slowly surrounded by purple blood. The slab of cyan steel sported a small, smoky hole where the single pistol shot that went through the skull of the turian landed, less than an inch deep.

Grossin holstered the pistol, stepping away from the back of the deceased Pollius' chair. Ukoirnas had just finished the final piece of resin as he picked up the plate and set it elsewhere. "Cowardice holds no rewards. He should have eradicated those salarian ships, chased down Craddock, and finished it right there, but he didn't."

Two enormous, fully armored bodyguards strolled in through the blast door after it popped open, walking over to the table and picking all the objects off of it, setting them to the wayside. They then picked up the commander's body and placed it closer to the center of the table, wrapping him in the tablecloth.

Ukoirnas took a sip of wine after pouring a glass, Yardie drinking batarian ale directly from the bottle, sampling it as he looked at the corpse of the turian. Both were now near the billiards table, the general clinking his glass into the others vessel. "Here's to the men I can trust. Those with spines."

"And what of those with brains, sir?" Yardie immediately queried. Tempted to question his superior a bit more than usual.

A cluster of wine was poured into the general's gullet. "For junior and middle grade officers, intelligence can only get them so far. Plus, we all know that commander Pollius is a few brains short right now."

Yardie uttered a fake chuckle, Grossin bursting into a small fit of psychotic laughter. Ukoirnas nodded slowly, laughing a bit as well. "I really don't know where I'd be without you all. My true band of brothers and sisters, as well as the six-hundred-fifty others who serve under me."

"Gee, I'm getting all misty eyed." Griggs cackled, setting the pool cue down and heading to grab a bottle of scotch as well as a shot glass with the blue suns logo taped to its side. The tawny colored liquid fell out of the lips and into the glass neatly, filling a third of it. The quartermaster's omni tool's pager chime rang off sharply. The glass was neatly set down on the edge of the table. "Be right back, gotta take a quick inventory. Take over for me will ya, Yardstick?" He pitched the pool cue toward the batarian major, who caught it with both hands, Griggs disappearing behind the blast door as it hissed within its egress. The cleanup crew with the wrapped corpse they carried followed behind, heading to eject Pollius' cadaver out of the nearest airlock.

While Yardie wielded the pool stick, Ukoirnas stood and gazed out the fifteen-by-eight observation window. The stars stared back at him, and the turian felt himself shudder. "It's almost as if they want me gone."

"Who does?" Yardie asked, lining up a shot to the que ball, which was parked very close to a cluster.

"The stars." Ukoirnas added. "They're like a myriad of angry eyes belonging to a morbid god."

"I see..." Yardie muttered, pulling the cue back and forth. " you think you've done something wrong to warrant this observation?"

"Getting psychological on me, eh Yardie?" Ukoirnas chuckled. "I can diagnose myself..." He took a sip of wine. "I have done nothing wrong. As a human proverb speaks, evil is in the eye of the beholder."

Yardie did not answer. He took a stab at the cue ball which grazed the flanks of the cattle spheres and met its end in a corner pocket. None of the other balls went in.

Ukoirnas continued. "I merely am who I was wrought to be. I chose this path, and others, be they friends, bureaucrats, or enemies helped me shape who I am. Each were hands that melded the clay of my personality." He turned and glared at him. "The same happened to him." He pointed toward his bodyguard commander. "As for him." He then beckoned toward the escort frigate out of the window. "Everyone onboard that ship. Everyone under my command, the entirety of the galaxy. That is who we are. That is chaos. We are the agents of chaos."

Yardie propped the cue against the edge of the table. "I can't be certain I identify as an agent of chaos, general."

Ukoirnas' mandibles fluttered. "Of course you don't. Every varren beast has its share of compassion. You are that soul trait in my organization." The general smirked. "Speaking of chaos, I do admit, I am tempted to go check on the progress of Ble'Gan's situation." He downed the rest of his wine. "If you want..."

"I think I've earned myself some rest and relaxation, general." Yardie explained.

Ukoirnas tilted his head toward the ground, his mandibles dancing. Somehow, this angle caused his face to be bathed in shadow. "But of course you have. See you later."

By the time the blast door closed behind the general, Yardie was left abandoned in deep thought.

Burke's omni tool initiated a failure message on his second attempt in hacking the security panel beside the very large door to the mining area, which was built into the caveside. The terraformed winds of Ble'Gan shrieked overhead, schlepping the dust around the nearly razed mining outpost.

"I said leave this to me!" Gardner yelled over the channel while inside the Mako, fiddling with her superior omni-tool. "The more you dick around on your end, the tougher it is for me to actually get something done."

"Just trying to help." Burke replied, his gloved hand leaning against the concrete segment of the wall. At the time, Gardner had broken through two of the internal computer nodes, effectively hacking into the system.

"Craddock, I'll be willing to bet my tits that you know about computers and hacking as much as a flamingo knows about naval aviation." The utility screen of the Mako lit up, granular surveillance footage being tapped through it. Five armed Sun troopers sat inside behind swirling orange energy barricades which were divided into large triangular segments. Quickly, Gardner forwarded the feed to the omni tools of her compatriots. "Get a load of this."

"Looks like quite the slumber party in there." Martello was outside with Beecher, the latter stepping around the ruins and executing the wounded mercenaries with his assault rifle. No one else was sure what to think of this action, especially Brooklyn, who was certain the marine was not doing this for the sole satisfaction of ending their suffering.

Darius switched off his omni tool, speaking over the channel as he secured the east perimeter. "It's all clear over here. Just bodies. Better get in there quick, I'll be right behind you sooner or later."

"Affirmative." Martello replied. "Juding by the schematics there should be another entrance at the top. We can bypass these- Burke... what are you doing?"

Burke had already grabbed two timed charges from his pack and stuck them in the center of the door. "Fire in the hole!" He screamed, running in the other direction. Martello shouted some sort of profanity so loud that his vocal chords seem to strain enough to where the words were indistinguishable. Brooklyn hopped behind the closest piece of debris, landing shoulder first, her legs arching down just before the charges had detonated.

The explosion was both chaotic and properly destructive, large enough that the Mako vehicle bounced back two meters and rocked back and forth. The mercenaries behind the door were knocked back by both shrapnel as well as the concussive shockwave that carried it.

Darius saw the explosion from the east wall, feeling his bones shake within his skin. "You all better tell me what the hell happened over there!"

Burke's ears rung as he stepped up, pointing his pistol toward the gap through the smoke and steam. Martello, still muttering curses under his breath, produced the sniper rifle from his back, adjusting the sight to switch to thermal vision as he peered through the hole. A spray of gunfire launched out from within, Burke ducking and Martello pounding a hole through the lump of orange and yellow with his precision rifle, a Blue Suns trooper. Beecher rounded along the intact segment of the massive door, leaning his body through the hole and firing a myriad of rounds until the rifle itself overheated. This display of gunfire dispatched the two surviving Blue Suns legionnaires.

Beecher leaned back against the exterior wall, pointing inside and making a decapitation gesture along his neck. Martello nodded, standing up and walking toward Burke, who was stepping to his feet, brushing the dust off his armor. "Craddock." The gunnery chief began. "You have no idea how much I want to blow your nads off right now."

Burke made no vocal response, spreading his legs apart and holding his hands up with a smirk. "My testes are all yours, chief, just gotta aim and yank the trigger."

"Guys?" Brooklyn sighed, stepping in between them, she stared at Burke. "Our work isn't done here."

Martello leaned his ear into two fingers. "Caterpillar to Horsefly, surface secured. Initiating go-code Charlie."

"We'll take it from here. You all stay up here and wait for the cavalry." Burke spoke, mashing his finger to his ear bead. "Darius, we'd love it if you joined us."

"I think I'll take the alternate entrance in rather than stride into the deathtrap that awaits in that route." Darius responded heading over to them.

"Suit yourself, Dare." Brooklyn spoke, entering the breach. "Burke, get in here, watch your step."

With that, they both disappeared behind the smoke and into the interior. "You really sure this is a good idea?" Beecher asked.

Martello huffed. "He's Burke Craddock for crying out loud. He probably lives on a balanced diet of baby heads and the blood of virgins, knowing that crazy murderous psyc-"

The communications bud whined in the ears of the three planetside corsairs, their commander trying to contact them. Alec was yelling before Martello could acknowledge the fact that the former had broken his end of radio silence. "Horsefly to Caterpillar and Roach! You have a hostile dropship coming down on you from the northwest, get dug in!"

"Uh, acknowledged. Why didn't you tell us sooner, skipper?" Beecher asked, watching the sky, his eyes spotting the ship in question. "Damn. I see it."

"That ain't no infantry dropship!" Gardner identified, using the Mako's zoom sensor. Unwittingly, she spotted three mobile signatures drop out of it. Her eye twitched and her heart skipped a beat.

Martello aimed through his scope toward the sky, adjusting the distance. Sweat rolled down his neck and a chill paraded down his spine. "Definitely not an infantry dropship..." He gulped. "Skipper?"

"Hang in there!" Alec shouted, unlocking the controls and bringing the Jargeau down. "I swear on my mother if you aren't all fighting like you've never fought before down there, I'll make you pay for it!" The frigate began to tremble as it adjusted to gravity and exterior atmosphere. "Is Craddock down there with you?"

"He and his little whore went down into the mine. I don't know where the fringehead is." Beecher responded, aiming down the rifle's sights at the three approaching figures. "Skipper is there any way we can get the friendly reinforcements here soo- oh... oh- OH SHI-"

Gardner had begun putting the Mako in reverse as it was hit by two heavy mass accelerator rounds and a single missile, bursting the shields and causing the entire front of the Mako to catch fire for half a minute. A missile impacted to the right of Beecher, the concussion lugging his body into the ruins of the barracks, and a heavy rifle round tore Martello's left leg off below the knee as he fled for the wreckage. He collapsed as the flying dust surrounding him, lying grimacing and fighting off screams along with other wounded hostiles.

The Mako's wheels locked into a twenty degree turn, rounding about and crashing its backside into the battered command tower. The flames were dying down slightly, but the scene still looked visibly war torn.

The jet thrusters on the back of the War Drum suits slackened their acceleration, causing the three of them to descend in a near perfect triangular formation. The soles of six bulky boot pieces mashed into the ground in front of the mine entrance. Under the lead suit, Centurion Lucille Owens grinned like a comic book villain. The visor of the war drum suit was shut, requiring a vision software that allowed the user to see through the armored faceplate, this gave her face an eerie hot violet glow. She turned her head toward the gaping hole in the mine's door.

"Holy hell, they really went to work on this place, just look at it." One of the troopers laughed, completely unsympathetic to his wounded allies.

"Look for survivors, put them down, find their ships, blow them up. That particular sequence isn't mandatory, just get the job done. I'll be downstairs." The centurion huffed, firing a missile into the door and widening the gap.

The two men inside the suits, one a human, and the other a turian wordlessly complied. The turian activated his jets once again, soaring above for a lookout while the other merely stepped across the wastes and searched for any signatures from ground level.

Martello gasped, fighting back tears and throes out of ache and affliction. If anything caused him to grimace in agony the most it was the irony of being scrapped along with the enemy wounded and dead, looking just as mutilated as they were. He placed his hand on his ear bud, trying to keep as still as possible. "Beecher. Come in." He whispered, straining. "Gardner? Are you there? I'm hit bad." He placed his hand on the top of his helmet and his face in the dirt. He could not stand the prospect of being alone with only wounded and enemy shock troops to accompany him during his likely fate. His stump was suffering slight cauterization, which reduced and slowed the bleeding to some extent. "Craddock, Seltzer. Can you hear me?"

There was no answer. The two privateers likely had their communications signals congested or blocked entirely by the underground rock. He pounded his fist into the dust, trying as quickly as possible to accept his coming fate.

"Take it easy, shooter." A deep and slightly distorted voice hissed over the channel, one that could only be that of a turian's. "Keep still and they won't be able to find you."

Martello gasped, slightly relieved. "Macerdin, is that you?"

"The one and only." Darius responded with a grunt, tossing the hefty anti-tank rifle he liberated from one of the guard towers up the gash in the command tower's floor to the operations floor. He grasped a bit of rebar that stuck out the lip of the hole and hoisted himself up to the top floor. Along with the corpses, he made a note of the suit jockey that hovered by the window, Darius merely lying down and playing dead as he passed by.

Afterward, he stood up, hastily snatching the anti tank rifle with both hands and propping along the sill of the shattered window, the barrel breaking off the jagged bits of insulated glass as it was stuck through. Looking through the scope he had clear views of both suits, as well as Martello among the dead and dying.

"I see you, chief. You got any medical supplies that you can sneak into your bloodstream without them noticing?" Darius asked.

"Two doses of medigel, one morphine, three adrenaline." Martello sighed, resisting the urge to look at his wound again.

"Take a half dose of morphine. The medigel isn't going to heal that stump, and adrenaline isn't going to help at all." Darius lined his sights up to the back of the airborne shock trooper's jetpack.

"Yeah I know what it'll do, you don't have to tell me." Martello looked around him, noticing the grounded cyan-steel clad trooper had passed him by a few meters.

"You're a tough little prick, Martello." Darius placed the tip of his finger on the trigger as he aimed. "Keep still and I'll try to keep them off of you."

He fired the large weapon, the high charged round blowing a hole through the jetpack of the trooper, rupturing the dynamos of one of its burners. The bottom of the jetpack spewed smoke and flames and the armored suit twirled around, one heel over his head as he eventually hit the ground. By the time the other shock trooper opened up on the tower with all of his armaments, Darius had already regrouped to safety.

Burke's boot hit the ground inside the cavernous slope, being surrounded by water ankle deep. "What the hell is it so wet down here for?"

"It's likely a side effect or issue with the moon's terraforming system. Moisture and condensation." Brooklyn responded, reluctantly putting her leather boot into the icky cave water.

"Never knew you were the science type." Burke chuckled, his visor's radar circle scanning for signatures.

"I did what I could at Cornell to prepare for my law degree." Brooklyn activated her omni tool, accessing a rough copy of the area map. The mine itself was comprised mostly of several tubular metal tunnels and large areas of rock and water. "College general ed sort of required to take something like chemistry, so that's why I remember. Anyway, this part of the mine is more or less dry."

"Yep!" Burke scoffed, his foot stomping into the water and spraying droplets over both of them. "Sure is dry here! Dry as a dandruff ridden scalp!"

"Burke cut it out!" Brooklyn groaned. "I meant in terms of the minerals they were mining."

Burke wordlessly nodded, the bottom of his palm smacking into his helmet. "Silly me! Statistically I should have been able to realize you weren't talking about moisture, hence you using the word 'dry' when there's water all over the cavern floor. It's only necessary that I had to assume you were talking about minerals being depleted."

"Burke keep your voice down and watch out for hostiles." Brooklyn changed the subject, running the sights of her barracuda SMG along the darkness. She prepared her omni tool to fire a tech flare.

"Relax there's nobody there." Burke cackled. He turned his head and yelled. "Hey everyone! B.C. Seltzer here is terrible at using science and vocabulary together!"

"Burke shut the hell up! What's gotten into you?" Brooklyn gasped, dropping an orange tech flare into the darkness, illuminating the centermost area. Around mounds and pillars of rock were soaked mining equipment as well as several crates, supposedly to store and haul ore. "Fuck, and you wonder why I haven't let you get into bed with me for six months."

"Oh, just trying to lighten the mood, miss Seltzer." He approached the flare carefully as it hovered just a few inches above the wet rock, carefully checking the flanks, corners, and possible cover locations of hostiles. Brooklyn did the same, following shortly behind him. Burke then stopped suspiciously, cocking his head toward different directions.

"I don't understand why you're so tempted to do so under the circumstances, not excluding the fact that we're probably going to walk into a hostage situation at nearly any moment." Brooklyn finished her sentence right as Burke raised his shotgun, firing it just to the right of her. Just then, the top of the large crate behind him popped open, revealing a batarian brandishing a pistol. Brooklyn sidestepped let out a thread of automatic fire into the four eyed alien's chest and neck.

Burke pulled back the pump on his shotgun, a burning hot thermal clip leaping out the midsection of the small arm and producing steam once it hit the ankle deep water. Brooklyn looked behind her, seeing that Burke had dispatched a Blue Suns gunman that also ambushed them from inside a crate. They were slumped back down inside the crates, covered in blood and surrounded by smoke.

"Had I not had this radar software in my helmet, I wouldn't have known that these jokers were ready to pounce us." Burke moved to the nearest door, seeing a door to yet another metal tubular tunnel that led lower into the depths. Both of them felt tremors, some violent, which caused dust to seep from the supported ceiling and the floodwater to tremble.

"I thought we all took care of everybody up there." Brooklyn questioned, staring at the ceiling.

"You shouldn't be at all surprised if there were a few isolated pockets of resistance still duking it out topside." Burke pressed his back against the rocky wall beside the circular blast door, Brooklyn taking the opposite side for a breaching maneuver.

"You know, to be honest, I'm kind of surprised we haven't run into any booby traps yet." She smirked.

"Could you have jinxed us a little later? Perhaps earlier? For fuck's sake." Burke laughed, checking the door panel, seeing that it was unlocked.

"No, seriously. I think all the engineers were killed during the bombing run." Brooklyn pulled the foregrip of the machine pistol back downward for increased stability and accuracy. "Plus, the Suns aren't big on guerilla tactics anyway, right?"

"Not really, but still, I'm not a big connoisseur when it comes to unpleasant surprises. Get ready." Burke pat the panel instrument, the door hissing open.

They both pointed their weapons through the open ingress. As was expected, it was yet another tubular hallway that descended in a tilt. Except that the water had leaked through, sending a small, thin stream of H2O that trickled down toward the bottom. The stream had left a rusty stain that stretched from top to bottom, eventually trickling down into a gutter at the foot of the door at the end of the passage. The pipeline was lit by overhead lights that

Burke nodded to his associate. "Cover my back Brooklyn, I'll go in fir-"

There was a high pitched hiss followed by an explosion behind them, which caused their shields to burst and launched them both into the passage, the slick rusty path lubricating their descent as they slid down, cursing and rolling on top of one another.

Owens stood in the armored suit, the shoulder mounted missile launcher still smoking. She activated her loudspeaker, and stepped to the door. "Welcome back, Burke! You never told me what your middle initial stood for. Could it be Judas?" She readied her heavy rifle as she closed in on the entrance. "Well we're gonna give you, your new bitch, and your turian ass-pal a little more than just Barabbas. En guard!"

Gardner woke up rather viciously, spitting blood into her lap. The confusion was added to more as the interior was slightly smoky, possibly what woke her up. She tried to calm herself as she climbed out of the corner she was launched into once the Mako had crashed into the side of the command center. She coughed and wheezed, stumbling and kneeling beside the controls. She calmed considerably once she realized that her bleeding was the result of a laceration on her lip rather than internal trauma.

"Gardner to Martello. Beecher. Greyjoy, anybody." She spat. "Do you copy? Is anybody alive out there?"

Darius was sprinting out of the building once hostile eyes were not onto him, he sprinted away toward one of the utility shacks that was partially destroyed, peeking out of a gaping hole in the back, surveying the scene. "This is Macerdin." He spoke, propping the anti tank rifle on the bottom of the gash. "Thought you were a goner, service chief."

"I intend to stay alive until I get my first kiss." Gardner chuckled, wiping her lip.

"Wait, wha- nevermind." Darius now saw that the suits were attempting to clear the interior of the command center with their shoulder mounted launchers. "Martello, you still with us?"

"Pretty good…" The gunnery chief responded, a cloud of relaxation and laughter in his voice.

"Martello I told you to give yourself a half dose of morphine, it's sounding like you cleared out the syringe there, buddy." Darius sighed.

"Wait, what happened to him?" Gardner gasped, accessing the master HUD of the Mako and checking the structural integrity.

"He's minus a leg, Gardner."

"Oh my God."

"Yeah, you better pull your Mako up and stabilize him, you think you could do that?" Darius murmured, shifting the rifle to the right as he lined the sights of the grounded suit, his jetpack still billowing smoke.

"What about those armored bastards?"

"I'll continue to at least draw them away from you. How's your medical training?"

"I'm not a qualified field surgeon like Korolev, but… I can keep him alive."

"Beautiful. How's the gun on that thing, does it still work?"

"Yeah. The hydraulics are still functioning, and the munitions are-"

"Okay, okay listen. You gotta take at least one of them out for this to work, how close are you to him, I know he's on your side of the building."

"Okay, I… fuck he's really close!"

"How close?"

"Want me to let you talk to him? He's right beside the freaking Ma-"

"Unload on him! Swing that turret around and light him up! Do it, do it, do-"

Gritting her teeth, she activated the gunnery cache, swinging the turret to the left and strangling the machinegun trigger. The majority of the shots did not penetrate the armor, though the fire was extremely rapid as the suit staggered back, not even his jetpack able to get him out of the situation. Gardner then finally pulled the other trigger, firing the main gun, which broke through all layers of armor and shattered the interior operator's head like a melon.

Darius fired the rifle, the heavy round hitting a sloped section of the armor, which tilted the fire and bounced off. The jockey turned his body around and unleashed firepower on the general area behind him, Darius already sprinting away. The firepower of the heavy rifle was cogent enough that it passed through several sections of wall in the cluster of utility shacks, one smashing through the wall Darius was close to while he fled, bursting out just behind him.

"Fucking hell! How long have I been out?" Beecher yelled through the intercom, sounding as if he was struggling and disoriented.

"Finish your nap already?" Darius snidely derided, winded by the weight of the anti tank rifle which slowed him down.

"Beecher I need your help getting Martello inside the Mako." Gardner ordered, driving toward the position of her fallen squad mate, the wheels grinding over two corpses of deceased Blue Suns.

"What the heck happened to him?" Beecher climbed over the rubble, limping as he got into the street, a piece of shrapnel lodged in the side of his calf muscle.

"He's been hit!" Gardner spoke, climbing out of the Mako's side hatch and leaping out.

"Big deal, I'm hit too!"

"Shut the fuck up, Beecher!" She knelt beside Martello, checking his pulse with her omni tool. He was near death, having lost six pints of blood."

Beecher managed to reach her position by that time, turning his vox communication off. "Oh… wow." The marine's face sank into a look of contriteness. "I didn't know-"

Gardner gave him a glare that would have caused a bird to shed all its feathers. Beecher nodded and began to turn their gunnery chief over on his back, putting his legs up while the service chief unpacked her field dressing and a tourniquet and began wrapping Martello's bloodied stump.

The turian inside of the armor sprinted east, looking around down through the digital yellow crosshair that moved wherever his heavy weapon pointed.

Suddenly his visor screen exploded in his face, an anti tank round grazing the side of his head. He yelled and opened his faceplate, blinking due to temporary blindness. Smoke was now rising out both the pack and from the helmet piece as it rose from the interior compartment.

Beecher had already tore out of his position once Martello was in the safety of the battered Mako. He toggled through the settings on his rifle, switching his rounds to incendiary. He then aimed down the scope and strangled the trigger, letting rounds loose into the cyan steel armor. "Burn you fringe-headed bastard!"

"I resent that!" Darius yelled back, expending another thermal clip and aiming at his back. He clenched the trigger, nothing but an unresponsive click. The gun had either misfired or ran out of disposable heat sinks, and Darius did not exactly care at this point, tossing the rifle aside and bringing out his tactical hybrid rifle.

The shock trooper's armor was partially on fire, his weapon had been shot up as well, jamming as a result. Beecher's rifle overheated, hissing steam and beeping. He threw it aside, grasping his assault shotgun from his lower back, assembling it and charging toward him like a jaguar.

The turian shock trooper opened his eyes, activating his omni tool and firing his last two missiles from the launcher. The armaments had to be aimed manually, as his targeting software could not lock.

The first one soared beside his head and the second hit its mark, the missile exploding into his left shoulder, encompassed by smoke, shrapnel, fire, as well as the dust, which was kicked around by the concussion.

"Beecher? You there?" Gardner yelled from inside the Mako.

Darius thought about telling her what had happened, but he decided it was not a necessary topic in the middle of a fight. He crept closer to him, going in a full on run. As if the other turian anticipated his move, he made a vicious backhand with his massive suit gauntlet, knocking Darius at least ten feet back. He landed rolled about, his hybrid rifle landing a few yards from where he was. He grasped his stiletto pistol from his hip, cocking it and aiming toward the shock trooper as he trudged in to kill him hand to hand.

The sound of several ships echoed through the atmosphere, becoming steeper in pitch and louder as they no doubt drew closer. The other turian stopped, and both looked up to see the Blue Suns dropship that carried them out tumble through the sky high overhead, eventually crashing in a fiery explosion. Two frigates flew overhead in chase, no doubt making sure their target was destroyed.

"Good shooting Inchon! Mursa Major get your boys down there!"

There was a massive crack, and the ground shook as another Mako was dropped on top of the steel clad, his head pinned between two of the wheels. The frigate that dropped it flew toward the west end of the base, setting down and dropping a small handful of troops and engineers.

"St. Lucia to Jargeau, go ahead and land in the center of the outpost and get your wounded out of there, we've got the flanks."

Darius stood up, walking over to the pinned suit. The turian inside looked up from inside his armor, breathing heavily. His mandibles fluttered and he turned his head to the side, and a single shot to it from Darius' pistol ended ensured a short end to his career.