~Main Docks, Illium, Year 2185~
"So tell me again, Shepard, why did we bring this buffoon with us?" Miranda asked the commander as her patience started to wear thin. The strawberry blonde sighed at her question while the golden-eyed blonde from another era growled.
"Hey, I didn't ask to come along! Hell, I would have perfectly fine to stay on the ship and try to get Kat-chan to talk to me again, but no-o-o," Naruto drawled the word out as he pouted childishly, "Mom wanted to keep an eye on me after hearing about what I did to Hock, despite the fact he was a bastard."
"I don't need you accidentally blowing a hole in the trash compactor when you try and recreate another biotic attack," Shepard said with an annoyed tone, "That, and I was sure that Joker would have killed you if I hadn't gotten you off the ship."
"I still can't believe you tried to recreate the Biotic Pull right by the airlock," Miranda idly commented, "If it weren't for the fact I knew you personally, I would be amazed.
"So you'll leave EDI to take the venting anger, huh? How nice of you, Shep," Naruto grunted out while ignoring Miranda as he looked around the shopping center. The blonde merc paused when he saw an Asari standing off to the side trying to catch the attention of one of their group. Curious, Naruto slipped away while Shepard and Miranda continued to meet Miranda's contact.
"Hello there miss," the merc greeted cheerfully when he appeared at her side. The Asari, unprepared for a sudden appearance, jumped at his words before putting a hand over her chest to calm herself down. Must have some human genes in her, Naruto thought before he continued, "Sorry about Shep's attitude. He's kind of got this thing called a one-track mind. Not his fault, really. He had a bad accident a few years ago. Can I help you?"
"Uh, I...I don't..." the Asari started before her eyes rolled into her head and a dual voice came from her mouth, "Yes. Message for Shepard: We hide; we burrow; we build, but we know you seek the ones that assaulted our Mothers. When the time comes, our voice will join with yours. And our crescendo will burn the darkness clean. Thank you, Shepard. The Rachni will sing again."
Naruto's eyes widened and then narrowed as the Asari fell unconscious into his arms. The blonde carefully sat the woman on a bench to make it look like she fell asleep before he walked away. Outwardly, he was calm and cool, but on the inside, his mind was running at thousands of miles an hour. Shepard had met Rachni? Where? When? Weren't they extinct? Why hadn't he been told? Did he tell the council? Where were they located?
It's times like these that I wish I had learned the mind scanning technique when Ino offered, mentally grumbled the blonde as he searched for a certain green armored human. Oh, how he and Shepard were going to have words.
"Thanks Lanteia," Miranda said as she and Shepard left the bar, the raven-haired biotic then looked to the Spectre, "We have to hurry, I-Wait...Is it me, or are we short one idiot?"
"What do you mean?" Shepard asked before looking around for Naruto. Hanging his head with a sigh, Shepard gestured for Miranda to follow him, "Let's go find our merc."
"Oh, there's no need," Naruto said coolly as he emerged from the shadows of the bar, startling a few patrons and making one toss a full glass over his shoulder before he left. The blonde's eyes were a burning red and slitted, drawing both Miranda's and Shepard's attention. A scowl crossed his face as soon as they did, "We need to talk."
"You're right. Naruto, I can't have you-Grk!" A hand wrapping around his throat cut off Shepard's scolding. A growl came from Naruto and his grip slowly tightened. Miranda had taken aim with her M-5 pistol at the blonde merc's head.
"Drop him, Naruto," the biotic ordered sternly as her eyes narrowed.
"Back off, Princess!" Naruto snarled as he snapped his gaze in her direction. For one of the few moments in her life, Miranda felt fear as his blood red eyes bored holes in her skull. The weapon in her hand trembled ever so slightly and a brief image of her father slitting her throat went through her head.
Naruto's ruby eyes slowly went back to Shepard's grey, before he growled, "Rachni. Where are they?"
"W-What are you talking about?" Shepard asked through a gasp. Naruto snarled and tossed Shepard through a nearby table. The Spectre groaned before he was pulled back to his feet by a strong grip on his jaw. The blonde shinobi hoisted Shepard into the air.
"Don't lie to me!" he snarled, "There was an Asari by the shops with a message from Rachni! How do you know about them? What do you know? WHAT AREN'T YOU TELLING ME?"
"I-It wash t-two yearsh ago!" Shepard managed to get out past Naruto's hand. The merc's eyes narrowed and the strawberry blonde continued, "Sharen captured a hibernating Queen and forced her to breed. I shtopped the breeding but...I couldn't kill the Queen."
"You let it live?" Naruto asked, nostrils flaring, "You...You stupid FUCK!"
Shepard dropped to the ground abruptly before Naruto kicked him in the chest. The attack put Shepard through a wall, startling a private party as he landed on their table, causing it to collapse and dump their drinks on the Spectre. The bar had gotten quiet enough that Shepard could barely make out the soft thumps Naruto made as he approached. A hand grabbed his armor's collar and Shepard was pulled back to his feet once again.
"That's your one warning, Shepard," Naruto snarled, "You keep something like this from me again and I'll kill you. Saving the Universe be damned."
Shepard merely groaned, "Gotcha...no secrets...Wanna go help my XO out? Miranda's still frozen."
The blonde looked back to the Biotic, who was in fact still staring blankly ahead where Naruto once stood, before snorting, "Nah...she'll be fine. That wasn't even all my killing intent."
Not all his what? Shepard mused as he regained his bearings once Naruto set him down. The strawberry blonde rubbed a small dent on the collar and looked back to the merc. Said merc's eyes had become golden once more, lacking a single hint of red. Weird.
Looking around him, Shepard gaped when there was no structural damage. Glancing at himself, he noted that he didn't see a single drop of any foreign liquid. When he looked back up to ask Naruto what he did, the blonde was in front of Miranda, waving his hand in front of her eyes.
"Huh, she really is out of it," the blonde murmured in a thoughtful tone, "People are much more susceptive to genjutsu under KI. Good to know."
"What was that?" Shepard asked once he regained his voice, "Naruto, explain!"
"Maa, calm down," Naruto said with a wave of disinterest while he scrutinized Miranda's still frozen face, "Just a small genjutsu with a bit of force at the end. Everything you just experience was a lie, well, except when I grabbed your collar. I actually did that."
"How did...No, wait, I don't think I want to know," Shepard said as he approached his frozen XO, "What did you do to her?"
"Nothing...Say, think she'd look good with a moustache?" Naruto asked as he pulled a black marker out. Shepard stared at him with an impassive face, making Naruto pout, "Killjoy. You're lucky I'm not really angry with you anymore. Well, the fact that I got lost like five times before I confronted you helps with that. I got to cool down. Still, I needed answers and my acting is top notch."
With a twitching eye, Shepard pointed at Miranda, "Fix. Now."
"...Fine!" the merc, whose sanity was being questioned by Shepard, childishly relented. He walked around to Miranda's side, pulled his hand back, and then swung it at her rear, exclaiming, "What an ass!"
The Cerberus agent yelped and her hands instinctively went to her rear. Swiveling around with her pistol ready, she felt her face redden when Naruto grinned at her.
"Yeah, that happened. No, I'm not sorry. No, I can't promise I won't do it again. And yes, you can touch mine."
Shepard stared in shock at the man, now certain that he had a death wish, before reaching up and activating his headset, contacting the Normandy's AI.
"I'm gonna need Garrus out here, EDI."
"Shepard, your own instructions dictate that only a minimum party of three can leave the ship at a single stop."
"Yeah, I know. Naruto will be returning to the ship shortly. I want him quarantined in his room."
"Did Naruto contract a disease?"
"...You could say that."
"I can't believe Shepard had you quarantine me!" Naruto cried out as he pressed some medi-gel to his swollen eye. Oddly enough, Miranda reverted to some sort of female instinct and threw her pistol at his face with a biotic Throw. He woke up with sore ribs and a black eye. Thankfully, his balls were still attached. How, he didn't know, but he wasn't exactly complaining.
"Well if you hadn't provoked Executive Officer Lawson you wouldn't be in this situation," EDI replied. VI Kichi nodded his head in agreement from where he sat in front of the blonde.
"Yeah! Niisan shouldn't have pissed off Neechan!" Kichi stated 'helpfully' before looking to the door, "Visitor."
"Thanks, Kichi," Naruto grunted as his door was pounded on, "I can't exactly open it from in here!"
The door opened to reveal a disgruntled Jacob, earning an arched brow from the merc. The Biotic entered with arms crossed, followed by a smirking Jack, who elected a grin from the blonde. Jack matched his grin and asked, "So...Was it worth it?"
"Totally," Naruto quipped without shame before he looked at Jacob, "I can guess why Jack's here, but you? You suddenly grow a distaste for the Cheerleader, too?"
"No," Jacob grunted before crossing his arms and looking away, "Orders from Shepard. He wants us to go meet with one of the possible teammates. The sooner we recruit, the sooner we can kick Collector ass."
"Oh...Okay!" Naruto said, hopping to his feet with a grin. A long silence passed before Naruto broke it while frowning, "Well, you're in charge, aren't ya?"
Jacob narrowed his eyes and asked, "And if I am?"
"I was waiting for a debriefing," Naruto replied, "What should I bring and what not. Should I wear heavier armor? Maybe bring multiple thermo clips? Perhaps I should pack some condoms? How many knives should I prepare? Should I pack explosive tags? Will I need my breathing mask?"
"Wait, wait, wait..." Jacob said with a hand held up before his brown eyes narrowed on the blonde, "What was the third thing?"
"How many knives I need?" Naruto asked innocently. Jacob's eye twitched while Jack snorted.
"No...The thing before that," Jacob slowly grit out.
"Thermo clips?" the blonde suggested far too innocently to be sincere. Jack bit down on one of her knuckles to keep from laughing when she took note of Jacob's growing irritation.
Accepting defeat, the Biotic threw his hands up and left the room, calling back over his shoulder, "Just be ready to go back to Illium in ten!"
The door slid shut behind him and the two remaining occupants of the room exchanged a glance before bursting into laughter. When she calmed down enough, Jack snickered out, "Damn, man, you're suicidal today! What's next, you gonna smack Garrus across the face with your dick?"
"Nah, I'll wait until his birthday for that," Naruto chuckled out before sighing and becoming somber, "I...Learned something interesting today. Interesting...and upsetting. I'm still trying to come to terms with it, so don't ask, ok?"
"Like I would ask you what crawled up your ass," Jack replied before holding her chin, "Unless...you're into that sort of thing..."
With a mock gasp, Naruto dramatically put a hand over his mouth in shock, "How did you know? You asked Kat-chan about the banana incident, didn't you? It was one time, I tell you!"
Jack laughed and held her gut, "Ah man...don't ever change, Whiskers."
With a content smile, Naruto replied, "Not planning on it, Jack."
"I'm going to throttle him," Miranda grumbled as they rode on the transport to the far side of Illium, "In his sleep!"
"Geez, I know he smacked your ass but surely you're not really going to kill him, right?" Garrus asked, looking at the woman. Taking note of the colder than normal glare being sent his way, the Turian quickly looked away and rubbed his scarred mandible, "Or you might, what do I know?"
"Cool off, Miranda," Shepard ordered with a sigh before looking at Garrus, "You read up on the debriefing?"
"What am I, a newborn? Yes, I read the debriefing," Garrus snorted as he pulled his Mantis out along with a cleaning rag to ensure the scope was clear, "I'll provide cover while you and Miss Personality here get her sister back. I'm starting to wonder if Naruto wasn't wrong about you being a mother hen, Shepard."
With a twitching eye, the Spectre asked, "What, is he on your 'good' side again?"
"Far from it, but I did get a email from Cherry from a Citadel address explaining everything," the former vigilante sighed, "Still doesn't make up for the fact he ditched us without so much as a goodbye. And honestly, it's fricken hard trying to stay mad at the guy when he gives you so much evidence not to...unless you're a woman that is. I think Miranda's like...the ninety-second on the list of females out to kill him."
"Maybe we should tell them that Naruto is working for the Collectors," Shepard mused jokingly, "That'd get us an army that would certainly win."
Garrus chuckled, "Yeah, but the second they see my face they might get distracted."
"You mean on account of how ugly you are?" the Spectre asked with a smirk. Garrus scoffed.
"You, my friend, are not one to talk about ugly," the Turian shot back. Before Shepard could reply, his Omni-tool beeped with an incoming message.
"Commander, Officer Taylor wanted to inform you that he, Naruto and Jack were going to recruit The Assassin. He also wants me to tell you that, quote, "If you do this to me again, I'm going to shove a Bio-Grenade down your throat!" End quote. Response?" EDI asked.
Garrus snickered and Miranda smirked while Shepard sighed and rubbed the bridge of his nose. At this rate, his own team would kill each other before the Collectors did. Their transport slowly came to a stop and Shepard sent a reply, "Tell Jacob that I'll make it up to him somehow and please ask Naruto to behave."
"You should've sent Mordin to keep an eye on them, Shepard," Garrus said with a smirk.
Shepard sighed again, feeling older than he should, before he replied, "Mordin is not as capable of leading as you'd think, Garrus. He's too absentminded sometimes and too focused at others. Giving him command over Jack and Naruto would be like signing Illium a death warrant."
The Turian smirked, "Oh come on, give him a chance. He can't be that bad...right?"
Back on the Normandy, Mordin was poking and prodding at Grunt's arm, "Interesting. Higher regeneration. Thicker skin. Hm. Perhaps a increase of hormones? No, no, too risky. Would've made too uncontrollable. DNA manipulation? No. Wanted perfect Krogan. Too different wouldn't be perfect. Unless...Ah-ha!"
"Figure something out, Doc?" Grunt asked. The whole reason he was here was to find out what made him different from other Krogans. The Tank didn't say much about how he was different, only how he should act. And like any sentient being, Grunt was curious about his origins. Hence, why he was in the research lab with Mordin.
"Yes! Naruto's Perfect Ramen Recipe!" Mordin replied as he dashed to a computer and pulled up a holoscreen, "Too much salt. Needs less sodium to be nutritious. Hm. How to fix? Create healthy replacement? No, not enough materials."
Grunt growled, "You're working on the runt's cookbook? What the Hell?"
"Also thinking of Krogan physiology. Reverse engineering Collector weapon. Cure for humanity's common cold, tricky, but close to solution," Mordin replied before looking at him, "Have all I need. You can go."
Grunt gaped at the Salarian before said scientist shooed him out of the labs. Grunt looked back at the shut door before he looked to where EDI had popped up and asked, "Are all Salarians like that? The Tank said they were inquisitive and intellectual, but Mordin..."
"Thankfully, Doctor Solus is a rare case of Salarian genius. A quote dumb unquote Salarian acts about as normal as Mr. Monroe," EDI said. An outraged cry came from the cockpit. Grunt gave a small grin.
"Naruto is rubbing off on you," he noted with a smirk before there was a muted boom coming from the labs behind him. Curious and maybe a tad concerned for his Salarian comrade, Grunt reentered the lab to find a slightly charred Mordin standing in front of a smoking pot.
"Ah, note. Salarian mucus and Paracetamol are highly explosive when combined. Might make a good replacement for semtex. Should probably patent. Ah, Grunt. Please take me to Dr. Chakwas." With that, the Salarian fell forwards onto the floor. Grunt scratched his crown before grabbing the lizard-like alien and throwing him over his shoulder, doing as he asked. Not because he was asked, but because Shepard needed Mordin.
Naruto suddenly stopped walking and looked back towards the Normandy with a brow arched, "I think someone I know was talking about someone else I know, causing said someone else to sneeze. Man, I miss everything!"
"Knock it off!" Jacob ordered as their escort led them into Liara T'Soni's office. The Asari scholar in question had just hung up her phone before looking at them.
Smiling gently, earning a light blush from Jacob, Liara asked, "So, you're Shepard's comrades?"
"That's right, Miss-" "What! Liara-chan, you know Shepard, too? Why doesn't anyone tell me these things!" Naruto's question cut Jacob off. Both Biotics stared at the merc as he rushed around the Asari's desk and wrapped her in a hug.
"F-Fox? Fox! Where've you been?" Liara asked with a smile as she returned the hug, "It's been a while, hasn't it?"
"Six months, twenty days, and one hour...now," Naruto said after he broke the hug and stepped back, before pouting once again, "Why didn't you didn't tell me you knew Shepard?"
Liara's smile strained slightly and she looked away, "It...wasn't important at the time. I thought he was dead."
"He's looking pretty good for a dead man," the blonde commented before smacking his hand to his headband, "Oh! Where are my manners? Liara, Officer Jacob Taylor and 'Subject Zero' Jack. Jacob, Jack, meet Liara T'Soni. My last employer before Shepard picked me up."
"Well, isn't that ironic," Jacob hummed with crossed arms. Jack tossed a light Push at Naruto, who ducked and allowed the attack to shatter a window.
"Don't call me that, Whiskers," Jack warned. Naruto chuckled uneasily before looking at an amused Liara.
"Sorry 'bout the window...again..." he sheepishly admitted with a shrug before grinning, "Hey, after I'm done with this recruitment thing, you wanna grab a drink?"
"Unfortunately, I'll have to decline," the Asari sighed out, "I have too much work that has to be done, and originally I allowed this appointment to see Shepard."
"What, I'm chopped liver? After all the things we did? Huh, great to know where I stand, Liara-chan," Naruto muttered with a frown. Liara blushed and looked down before coughing to clear the slowly rising confusion in the air. The three members of the Normandy's crew looked at her as she donned a mask of content.
"Anyway," the Asari said, "You want to know where this 'Assassin' is? Well, all I can say is that the Drell you're looking for made contact with one of the cargo transfer officers. I believe her name is Seryna."
"Thank you," Jacob said with a nod, turning to leave, "Let's go."
Naruto watched Jack and Jacob leave before looking at Liara with hardened eyes, "I found it."
Liara's eyes widened, "How? My sources are still looking."
"I know, but your sources were never hired by SB," the blonde mercenary replied before slipping her a data chip, "Everything you need to know is right here. If you need our help, just ask Shepard or I when we show up again."
"Thank you, Fox," Liara said as she held the chip and scrutinized it. A brief silent moment passed before she realized what he said and looked up, "Wait, what do you mean...?"
The blonde was no where in sight, making the Asari sigh and put her hand on her cheek, "Dammit...I hate it when he does that."
"So, you and T'Soni have a...history do you?" Jack asked as they walked towards the cargo transfer area. The woman was curious about their Mercenary partner, as was about everyone else on the ship that didn't already know him. Jacob, while trying to remain professional and keep from showing his distaste for mercs in general, listened in hope that he would get something on the blonde.
"Yeah, Liara-chan and I did some pretty crazy things. Man, bureaucracy has become even more violent since I was a kid," Naruto mused. The two took no notice of his slight slip. Jack frowned when she realized he didn't recognize her teasing.
"No, you idiot, I want to know about your history with T'Soni!" she told him. Naruto gave the Biotic a confused glance.
"She hired me to take out a few un-cooperating clients and look up some info on others," Naruto replied with an arched brow, "Why do you want to know that so much?"
"She's asking you if you and T'Soni had sex, you dumbass," Jacob spat, unable to keep quiet much longer. Naruto blinked and brushed the insult off like dust.
"Maa, no need to be so angry about it, Taylor. And if you wanted to know, just ask," Naruto said to Jack. He then continued to walk silently with his hands in his pockets and not a care in the world. Jack and Jacob both stopped and stared at his still walking form.
"...Hey, is he doing this on purpose or is he completely serious right now?" Jacob asked after a moment.
"I have no fucking idea," Jack replied as she shook her head, "Whiskers! Wait the fuck up!"
Naruto stopped and looked back at the two Biotics with a smile. Unknown to them, he had understood what Jack was asking from the first time and successfully took control of the conversation. With someone like Shepard, that wouldn't have been possible, but these two, who were more interested in things other than the long term goals that Shepard has, were so easy to manipulate it was kind of sad. He could understand though, both were filled to the brim with anger, Jacob at the fact that he had to deal with not one, but two mercenaries, and Jack because, well, Jack is Jack.
"What, did you two get distracted by my fine ass?" Naruto asked with an arched brow, "Let's go grab this Assassin. I made a bet with Grunt that we'd beat Shepard back to the Normandy."
AN: Hi ho. Yeah, started playing ME2 again so...expect more updates. BTW, still love ME3, haters can SUCK IT.
Taichou is coming along slowly...
Review if you want a faster update!