Well, seems my intro was making some people mad. I usually don't care but this is getting old, nobody reads the story and they all just try to start an argument. It won't work. You disagree on something? send me references that prove me wrong, I'll send you references that prove me right. If your references are more solid than mine, I'll change it. Otherwise, you're just wasting both out time.
So, this is written first person present tense, love it or hate it, I'm working on improving it right now. Needs better details.
More accurately, you'll be following Lance Corporal Adam Sinclair, twenty during Mass Effect 3, twenty eight in this story, officially recruited in N7 during the fight with the Reapers and trained on the field by now deceased Lieutenant Carol Lenihan.
All of this happens eight earth years (From Adam's point of view, with time dilatation and gravitational changes, this can range from five to twelve years in some places) after their arrival in the Warhammer 'vers, years during which ships were repaired, casualties were replaced and, in some case, populations flourished (Krogans, especially, now count fifteen times as many warriors as they used to, thanks to the genophage being cured, vat grown 'Pure' Krogans and Wrex's wise leadership. Wanted to call it a Dic-tatorship, but not everyone would get it.) Everyone was far too busy rebuilding to go out there and explore the galaxy or start trouble with their allies, but galaxy's a small place and Murphy always finds a way to screw with you.
Let's get to it.
The elderly man stood straight and tall, arms folded behind his back, looking over the assembled crowd. Some of the longer lived members had known this warrior as a force of destruction, unstoppable, unrelenting and unforgiving, but the Cadian, powerful as he was, could not fight nature; his skin was wrinkled, tanned like old leather, his hands shaky and distorted by years of use as deadly weapons and he needed a cane to hold himself up. The man would not live another year.
"Old friends, old foes and anyone in between, I thank you for taking the time to make this trip. I know you are all very busy with the war, but this is something that should have been done long ago; we are here to honour those who laid down their lives for the greater good as they saw it, those who gave everything and demanded nothing in return, those we used to call criminals, exiles or terrorists, those we said brought shame to our people."
He cleared his throat before continuing.
"They were not heroes and never claimed to be, they did what they did by necessity or for personal reason, but their sacrifice is very real and their courage demands respect. They fought when we cowered, stood where we ran and died as we lived on, knowing they would get no recognition or gratitude for their actions, yet doing what needed to be done." There was a slight pause in the speech as the man waited for the audience to recall the deeds of those he spoke of, then spoke again, his voice as loud as it was when he ordered troops around, "This is the true measure of a man; willingly sacrifice all he has, all he is, not to follow orders or gain a seat in the afterlife, not to have a statue in his image or a book written on his life, but because he felt it was right, and believed in it deeply enough to kill and be killed for that concept..."
He shielded his mouth with his sleeve and coughed in it; a long and raspy choking cough that left dark red stains on the grey fabric.
"Those men and women deserved more than we gave them, more than a speech in the burning sands of a dead planet, but they will never get it, they will never hear those they saved from oblivion tell them they are grateful for their actions, they died, we live and the only gratitude we can offer them is to never let anyone doubt that they did the right choice, never let anyone forget them..." He bent over and grabbed an handful of sand, "...for the sand of this world drank deep of their blood and the stones witnessed their bravery, they will remember, long after we have passed away, and our children's children have forgotten us, the sands of this world will remain soaked with the blood of those who took a stand for their convictions."
He drew a flask from his coat's inner pocket and voided the golden liquid in the burning sands.
"Wish we'd have shared that drink, I miss you all." He whispered, a tear rolling on his cheek, swirling around scars and wrinkles until it also fell in the sand.
The crowd remained quiet as it dispersed. No clapping, no talking, the air was heavy and everyone was in a hurry to leave this cursed planet.
The Batarian engineer is known as Charon; like everyone in the 139, he uses only his code name to go around. Mine is Sinner, so this situation is pretty ironical: 'A Sinner and Charon meet in a Citadel bar, so Charon tells the Sinner…'
"Excuse me, human," his deep gravelly voice continues, not as hostile as expected, "Is that an M-76?"
I need to think about it for a while, the machine gun on my back was my instructor's, I know it's a Revenant, know it was never modified to receive thermal clips and that it never, ever overheats. Maybe I'm just that good, but I genuinely think this gun loves violence more than I do.
I was tracked as a marksman before Carole got killed, then I swapped my Mattock for her Revenant on a hunch and that gun landed me a job as a squad heavy weapons specialist, which meant drawing attention, which meant switching to heavier armor, which meant bench pressing more to be able to move in said armor, which made me bigger, which made me look meaner and most likely contributed to getting me into JTF 139.
Back to business, the Revenant is indeed designated M-76, so I nod, "Yeah, what about it?"
I don't like Batarians; too many eyes, never know which ones to stare at. I don't like much anyone not human. Except Asari, for obvious reasons.
He sits on the stool to my right and order two glasses of Batarian Ale. As the bartender cracks open the bottle, he turns his head to me and smiles, "Rare gun, thought only officers were issued this kind of hardware…"
He's right, of course, but the lack of thermal clips in this thing had it dismissed as an obsolete weapon and I was authorized to keep it, "True," I confess, "but this one's not exactly up to specs, outdated, they say." I scoff and sip on the newly filled glass. It tastes like smoke, blood and vinegar; I love the stuff instantly. "Classic, I say."
He sips on his own drink and nods. He packs an Eviscerator shotgun and Carnifex heavy pistol. Fuck the eyes, a guy carrying guns like that is all right in my book. I buy another round and we talk about the thermal clip concept. Batarians refused to switch, although he admits being able to just reload your weapon when needed has quite a few perks.
"Yeah, it's good for short, brutal skirmishes" I admit, sipping my glass slower this time, "but on long engagements, when supply lines are blown to shit and you're alone with your gun, having to count your shots is a pain in the ass."
"Damn right it is!" A krogan to my left roars. He's from the 139 as well, almost everyone in the bar is. He shows us his Claymore shotgun. New model, uses thermal clips, but he jacked the thing to fire with the same kickback as the old model, meaning it fires bigger pellets at greater speed.
Of course, he wants to show us the result and, before I can argue, fires the gun at some fancy glass statue of a Turian in the rear left corner of the bar. The pellets grind the glass to a fine mist and bounce off with a loud set of pings and whistles that causes a third of the patrons to dive for cover; the third not part of the 139. It's not battlefield experience or whatever, it's just that we are all wearing armor with kinetic shields, they're not.
See, that's the reason why very little civilians come to this bar anymore; Krogans with shotguns.
"Don't do that again," I hiss, slapping his shotgun down, "You'll scare the hookers."
Both my new friends laugh and the word 'hooker' seems to attract a pair of Turian and a Salarian to our little gang. Maybe the gun demonstration has something to do with it too.
The Turians are packing a Vindicator assault rifle and Geth pulse rifle respectively. I got no opinion on these guns, they get the job done and, despite all my bitching, that's all a good warrior should need, they just don't speak lots about their owner. The two go straight to the Krogan and bombard him with questions about his Claymore, to which the green scaled warrior proudly answer in many details.
The Salarian, however, shows more of himself in his choice of armament; he's got a Kishock harpoon rifle slung on his back, that's a sign that someone means business. Probably STG, certainly hard ass.
I extend a hand and shake his two long, slender fingers. "I'm Sinner, this is Charon." The Batarian only nods.
"Pleased to meet you." He blurts out, almost comically. Salarians have a funny way of talking and acting, but they shouldn't be underestimated; this guy with his ragged rifle could probably beat the young Krogan to my right in open combat. "Part of team…"
Takes both Charon and I a second to figure out he's asking us what team we're in. I'm 101st company, first platoon, Epsilon squad, red team. Charon is 101st company, third platoon, Delta squad, yellow team.
No clue about the Krogan. Don't think I've ever seen him before, so he must not be from our company. Then again, I don't know the whole company.
"Ah, shore leave. Ends in two days." He ponders, "Going back to Tuchanka aboard ACRS Anderson for six month tour, hunt down Cerberus cells. Right?"
We both nod. It's not classified or anything, we've been at it for almost a decade, if Cerberus doesn't know we're looking for them, some drunken bar talk isn't going to tip them off.
"Ah… Not anymore." With that, he types a few lines of code on his Omni-tool and mine beeps as it receives new briefing data.
Derelic starship found by STG scouts, kilometers long, matches no known profile, multiple living organism detected, signs of ongoing battle within the ship, ACRS Anderson re-assigned to investigate.
"When are we leaving?" Stupid question, I know, normally we'd be getting a proper briefing and all once we're in the ship, but normally we don't get Salarians with Turian escort delivering mission orders to us in some dirty citadel bar.
"Now." And that explains it, "Tried to contact everyone by suit communicator. Didn't work. Operators dislike keeping helmets on during shore leave, apparently."
"Hard to get drunk otherwise." Charon defends, downing his glass in one swig and shoving on his dome-shaped helmet.
He doesn't sound too happy, I guess I'm not either, we just spent the last month hopping from a mass relay to another, patrolling Associated Citadel Races space. Even the 139 needs some time off now and then, damnit.
Actually, the whole concept of the JTF 139 is a force capable of reacting to any and all threats within hours, both by garrisoning troops and by having a fast response force ready at all time. To achieve this, we established a rotation system between platoons, but it seems this is an all hands on deck situation, so I down my own glass and hit the ground like a sack of bricks.
Not my fault, the room started spinning!