Same night, different person
Afterlife, Omega's main attraction.
The music was loud, constant, complimented with rays of neon lights and half-naked asari displaying their assets to the countless patrons that walked in rich and walked out poor. The lights, the colors, the music and the women did nothing to cloud his judgment. He saw it for what it was. A black hole for credits.
The patrons left them alone, some of the mercs eyed them cautiously, well, the ones that weren't drunk that is. Like any other night, they would make a weekly visit to Afterlife, order their drinks without so much a word to the waitresses, and talk through a private link to each other.
They were from a small-time merc group, 'Black Guard' as they so called themselves. A group of mercenary volunteers who protected their small portion of Omega with keen eyes and pre-set weapon points. Every point into their district was watched carefully, the same for every point out. The group gained fame for its protection of people under its custody, ironically also making them infamous.
The safest group received the wealthiest customers. On Omega, safety was everything, and so were creds.
With the troubles the many factions were going through with however, they were forced to turn a blind eye towards the small group of mercs. It was the perfect setup.
Now, discussing plans with each other, the four Black Guard members, clad in their dark armor, spoke amongst themselves while trying to keep an eye out for anyone who may even look suspicious.
"Rik?" the human asked. The salarian opened his omni-tool and ran through its many keys rapidly. Closing the tool only seconds later, the salarian nodded.
"Channel's as secure as I can make it."
"Vladik?" the human turned to the large, burly krogan, the only one in the group, if not their entire merc group, who was krogan. He snorted heavily through his nose.
"Not a thing on my end."
"Reyna?" the human now turned to the female, the asari. She took a while to respond.
The human nodded. "Good. Today's reports won't take long, so we should only be here for a short while. Rik," the Salarian paid close attention. "the cameras in sector 12b are down again. It's by one of the malfunctioning power cells. Either fix the camera, or requisition another cell so we won't have to recalibrate it every three days." the Salarian nodded.
"Vladik," the krogan didn't bother turning his head. "patrons in the west sector are complaining about vorcha sightings. I want you to go there and sit tight for a while, maybe an hour or so, if there are vorcha, they'll figure you left and they'll eventually come out. I know we've had reports for a while, so I want to make sure this isn't another damn attempt for them to sneak into our district and sabotage our operations. Our clients there are scared enough as it is."
The krogan grunted once. The human turned to the asari, the used-to-be leader of their little troop. "Reyna, position Bravo-2 needs another ammo dropoff. Reports detail on more Blue Sun merc sightings and, with the amount of warning shots fired, we really need another set of ammunition, plus a space pack if they try things. Leave a note for the men. Two warning shots, that's all. The third goes for the leg, the fourth the shoulder, the fifth, kill shot."
The asari nodded. With the team in understanding, Zane leaned back in his seat. "I'll be stationed at the safe house in sector 2A. Balcony, as always. I'll watch the second main street down the scope of the Mantis until team four's shift begins. Until then, keep comm chatter at a minimum until something happens. Clear?" The group nodded once more. Zane sighed and nodded slowly.
"That concludes the meeting, then." A waitress approached them, placing a drink on the table directly in the center before retreating back. As soon as she was out of sight, Rik shook his head. Sensing his teammates eyes were on him, he couldn't help but explain what was bothering him. He leaned onto the table, an elbow on one side, a finger tracing patterns on the other.
"We help people, we kill the mercs who try and make life hell for people who already don't have anything and we try making Omega safe one sleazy district at a time." he leaned back, swaying a hand in the air once. "We do all this and they're afraid of us, afraid of the peacekeepers."
"No one said they'd love us." Vladik replied in his deep voice, shrugging. "Do what I do. Read a brochure, skip to where is says 'expected income' and take the job if it pays enough."
"I figured that was the only reason you do this, the credits."
"It's not always for the credits." the krogan replied. "It pays to have some justice done around here. I killed more men than you will in your lifetime salarian. Probably because I'm at least forty times older than you. I stopped killing because it's lost its meaning." He snorted once more. "It's what kept me from charging into Patriarchs home in the first place, all those centuries ago."
"Cut it." the human finally spoke up, not moving from his relaxed position. "Keep the stories for later, this is the only time we have to ourselves in a place we can enjoy it. Try relaxing for once."
"Why don't you relax, Vastrikov?" the krogan replied. "Being the leader of this small band of wanna-be-heroes, you deserve to get drunk just about as much as we do."
"I don't drink." It earned him a scoff from the asari. "Not here." he amended. "You drink, you lose yourself, you lose yourself, you indulge yourself blindly, do anything blindly, you lose everything. Lose everything, you die. It's the way of Omega, has been for… well, forever." turning to the krogan, he concludes, "It's why I never drink here."
"It's why we don't either." the krogan replied, nodding.
"He has a point." the salarian pointed out, gesturing a hand towards the bottle of brandy on the table. "We come here and we supposedly have a good time, but like everything else, we come and we go, not actually drinking anything. Like that bottle, nothing will change, at least not with us."
"So, no more trips to Afterlife?" Zane asked. The team looked at him, giving him their silent answers. He nodded. "We stay." The team relaxed once more. It wasn't every day they were able to leave their orderly district. Since their faction began cleaning up Omega one spire at a time, things had become rather dull with the loss of vorcha and the caution of the rival factions.
Surely enough, they all figured the factions would, at some point, try an all-out assault on their district, try and get their wealthy or near-wealthy clients back, but the Black Guard were too organized, a perk of the small gang. Aside from the variations of medium to heavy armor most of them wore, the ones with light armor proved deadliest due to additional stamina and speed. Another reason Vastrikov was the leader.
Cutting his brief reminiscing short, Zane sat up straight and kept his ears, or at least his audio receptors, to a calming low, closing his eyes and listening. It was a strange habit of his. He would only hear the main beats as faint zooms while the loud bangs of the speakers came as patterned thuds. He couldn't explain it, but it helped him think, focus. Perhaps one of the only reasons he brought them to Afterlife for debriefs and 'social time'.
Vladik looked over to their 'fearless leader', young but experienced. He briefly remembered meeting him; a timid, reserved youth who followed orders and was nearly always quiet. It wasn't until an attempted assault by the Blood Pack a year and some months ago that forced the youth to come out of whatever shell he lived in and take command. It was a dark day for vorcha everywhere. Aside from two other individuals in the Black Guard, Zane was one of the few he wouldn't mind following.
He snorted heavily to himself and looked off to the center, observing the asari dancers with no form of need or interest. They were entertainment, nothing more.
Rik was the most jumpy of the lot; jumpy being him never looking at one location for long. He was jumpy for good reason, nearly always in any occasion being within the zone of danger, always near or directly at the location where a fight did in fact break out, and always quick to draw his weapons. Aside from being the youngest of the crew, by experience, he was, nonetheless, their assigned tech expert.
For the moment, the salarian busied himself with the scenery, only wondering briefly as to what to do later on in the day and, at times, whether he should, against his friends wishes, indulge in the asari of the club. There certainly was no shortage of them, and he was, by salarian standards, slowly drifting to that part of his age where a love life would be little of an option. He couldn't help himself, really. He'd only been with a woman twice and the tastes made him beg for more. Simply staying seated was a sign of his restraint.
He silently thanked his training.
Reyna… she had more mystery to her, even a slight mystery to Vladik, who had been with her from the start as a team member, not as a friend. It was easy to determine that she was, at the least near two-hundred, give or take, but that information did little in terms of helping them figure out her story, that is 'if' her story was worthwhile. When you know nothing of a person who looks entirely meaningless, you develop interest. Zane figured it out long ago.
The group leader looked at each of his team members slowly, remembering briefly times good and bad that he had with them. He nodded and could feel himself beginning to grin, if not briefly.
They really were a group of wanna-be heroes.
"The last time I hang with you lot." the burly krogan muttered.
"But we didn't do anything." the salarian replied, jogging just behind the krogan in an attempt to catch up with him. The krogan waved a hand in the air nonchalantly.
"Exactly. Nearly thirty minutes of doing nothing but sitting down and thinking to ourselves and enjoying the scenery, and not so much a word from the lot of you after the debrief was finished." he stopped a distance away. "Times like this I wonder if I should hang up the suit and call it quits."
The salarian felt like replying. Zane walked past them, Reyna close behind. Passing the krogan, the leader looked around at the scenery just outside of Afterlife, the large door closing behind them. "You won't quit. Can't quit what you love doing." Hearing a grunt from the krogan, he replied, "You just won't admit it."
"Try not making us look like fools out in the open, Rik." Reyna said looking around. "We have an image to keep, don't want it ruined with your childish antics."
"Not childish, inexperienced. I'm only thirteen." Rik replied. It didn't stop him from stopping his non-caring actions and look around. A small group of Blue Suns were just in the way of their exit. Like any other time, it would probably end in the same way, a threat and a sneer. Looking to Zane, he observed the leader as he looked at the group. With only a few seconds wasted, Zane took his first few steps down and walked towards the transports. Rik followed casually.
The group stayed close to each other, moving slowly but fluidly towards the transports. It would have been undisturbed had the Suns not perked their head in their direction, muttered, chuckled and boasted to themselves Vastrikov was certain they would try something, a move, but nothing happened. They reached the gap and exchanged glares with the Suns briefly without stopping.
They'd try something, something, soon. He'd have to be very keen during his shift tomorrow.
Stopping by the transport, he stood by the vehicle and kept an eye on the Suns, a few turians and a human looking at him and his troop. They muttered to themselves, but still eyed him. Zane kept his eyes on them as well.
Yes, they 'were' planning something.
With the krogan inside, Zane kept an eye on the Suns for only a brief while longer before moving in and taking a seat in the vehicle. Turning to his salarian squad mate, the tech specialist ran through his omni-tool and nodded, muttering "Clean" and closing his omni-tool.
So there were no explosives. With Omega, you can never be too sure where there was an explosive, or where there wasn't. They waited patiently for a short while longer before the vessel lifted off and made its way to their district. None of the four members felt safe either way. Not until they reached their turf.
Leaning back, Vastrikov sighed to himself.
Just another night in hell.