WARNING: This fanfiction is based off of an M-rated video game, and contains heavy spoilers for Mass Effect 3. Turn back now if you aren't comfortable or haven't played through the Mass Effect trilogy. Mass Effect is property of BioWare, a division of EA. I own nothing. Thank you, and I hope you enjoy this!
Chapter 1: Arrival
Sara'Turan nar Usela ordered another round of triple filtered turian brandy, determined this time to drink her worries away completely. She'd begun to lose track of how many days she'd sat in Eternity Lounge- perhaps on account of the brandy- and pondered on how exactly she'd gotten herself into this position. She'd arrived on Illium perhaps three months ago after blowing most her credits on fuel roaming from isolated fringe colony to isolated fringe colony on a quest to find the perfect item to bring back for Pilgrimage. Illium had been a short relay jump away, and she knew cheap- if not always legal- labor was easy to come by. Unfortunately she was a quarian, and the stereotype of her being a thief and lowlife seemed to be shared by the local businesses. She'd almost gotten into the Eclipse mercenary band after showing off her more than precise accuracy with her M-97 Viper sniper rifle, but someone higher up heard and had her turned away. She'd been forced to sell her shuttle, which left her with a mediocre stack of credits that had by now become virtually nonexistent. In her drunken misery, she sometimes felt like that shuttle had left her behind. Left her on a stool in a dimly lit bar to get intoxicated and hit on by turians.
"Stupid shuttle…"The familiar slide of another alcoholic beverage alerted her just before the glass gently bumped her hand. She glanced up at the asari bartender.
"Thanks Aethyta, if you don't mind putting it on my tab…" The matriarch leaned against the bar and looked Sara in the eye.
"Babe, listen, I feel for you. Illium isn't a nice place for people without credits. But I can't keep putting drinks on your tab, you haven't paid any of them off and you've been in here for the past two weeks straight." Sara felt a sinking pit form in her stomach, which she hoped the brandy would fill up. Aethyta was right but she'd tried every job she could think of, from shipment handling to VI programming, and no one seemed willing to hire a quarian. Sara lifted her head up and poured the brandy into a slot under the chin of her mask. After a moment of sterilization, she gulped down the burning beverage. The sinking feeling didn't go down.
"Thanks Aytheta, but I think I'm aware of that. I've been living off of nutrient past for the past few months, attempted illegal work, sold my ship, and squandered every meager credit I've earned on this levo-protein hell-hole on cheap brandy in a low-lit smoky bar filled with single turians and stuck up asari bosh'tets!" her rage quickly subsided and she put her head in her hands. "I'm so sorry, I've been under a lot of stress and I know you've been really good to me and I really needed to let that out and…" She felt the matriarch's hand rest on her shoulder,
"I think I'll cut you off after that one babe." Said the matriarch, serious, but gentle. "You should go back to your unit in the shelter home and lie down. Tomorrow, I'll talk to some people, and we'll see about getting you that ticket off Illium." Sara looked up to find Aethyta smiling at her, and for the first time saw her as a true friend.
"Yes, that sounds nice. Um, I hope you don't mind helping me to the nearest transit station…
Wraith awoke in a flurry, blowing away his bed sheets with a biotic burst and whipping out the M-5 Phalanx he kept under his pillow. Panting, he swung the gun around the room, checking to make sure that he was alone. That he was safe. After a moment he lowered his weapon, sure that it had just been another nightmare. He lay back down, coated in sweat and still feeling the effects of those horrific dreams. Or, more like memories. Memories of the time Cerberus had taken experimenting on him and the other biotic subjects to make a more powerful super soldier. Project: Phoenix they called it. Brutal training and surgical procedures, meant to deaden the subject to pain and mercy. Few survived, and most of those who did were now either dead or still with Cerberus. Only a hand full defected. Wraith was one of them. Now he lived on the human colony Feros, serving in the militia. So far Cerberus hadn't tracked him down, proving that Zhu's Hope colony was an uninteresting ping on The Illusive Man's radar, which suited Wraith just fine. As the last cob webs of his dream faded away, Wraith stood from his cot in the cramped freighter quarters and stretched.
"Better get a move on," he said to himself, "The barricade won't man itself." He opened the armor locker on the opposite side of the room and took a moment to admire the Phoenix class hard suit Cerberus had been so generous to supply. It glowed a pristine ivory white, even in the dimly lit environment of his cabin. It didn't take long to dress out, he'd done it so many times the movements had become embedded in his subconscious. He took the helmet and carried it under his arm, as he wouldn't need it while on watch unless there was another varren raid. He checked his wrist mounted electric flip baton, as was a habit of his. It worked perfectly of course, clean and precise. Satisfied with his armor, he strapped the Phalanx to his thigh and proceeded out into the main access hall. He took the door on the left that lead to the outer tower.
Zhu's Hope was bustling this morning as people prepared for the day's activities. First of course was the morning treatment for the victims of the mind-controlling plant called the Thorian, which had been killed almost three years ago by Commander Shepard. Most of the current colonists were survivors of said ordeal, and still suffered side effects of its slavery. Some were even experiencing a form of telekinetic connection, sharing emotions, thoughts, and feelings without even being in the same room. This trait was quickly spreading, but proved to be an asset as opposed to a liability. Wraith hadn't been on the colony during the battle with the geth, so he didn't need the therapy. He entered the mess hall, where he spent the next half hour taking his time eating varren bacon with a form of oatmeal. Soon, people from therapy began trickling into the room, taking their food and beginning their day with idle talk. Most sat at tables away from Wraith, which suited him fine. He knew very few people on a personal level, and those he did were mostly restricted to his fellow militiamen.
"Hey Wraith," he looked up to see Davin Reynolds and a few other people in Wraith's squad coming in to take seats opposite his side of the table. The speaker was Davin himself. "Did you sleep well last night?" Wraith glanced up, afraid Davin had overheard his outburst this morning. He considered Davin a friend, but the nightmares were a part of his past that he felt best remained hidden, as Cerberus had a reputation for being extremist, racist terrorists. Not that Wraith shared their beliefs, but he doubted that anyone else would believe him.
"As well as anyone can on military cots. So, you know what we're doing today?" To Wraiths relief, Davin didn't persue the subject of sleeping, meaning he hadn't heard.
"Just the routine patrols. We might go across the Sky Way later to hunt varren; you're welcome to join us." Wraith smiled, and replied,
"Count me in, it never hurts to have an extra biotic at your side." Davin nodded in agreement and called across the room to Lizbeth Baynhem,
"Hey, Lizbeth! Have we gotten the comm relay situation sorted out?" Lizbeth Baynhem, the colony co supervisor, was sitting across the room talking with her mother, Juliana Baynhem and the green asari Shiala. After a brief moment of continual talk, Lizbeth turned around.
"Yes, May got the power cells installed last night, so we should have access to the extra net again." Gavin grinned, it had been five days since the relay's power cells had malfunctioned, and the militiamen had been worried he'd miss the playoffs for Human Football airing today.
"Whew, I was worried that I'd miss the playoffs for Human Football." He said a second later. Wraith had no interest in sports, but for the sake of something to do, he stated,
"Well, why don't we go watch it right now? We've got an hour to waste before patrol time." The squad looked at each other, and no one seemed to have a problem with the suggestion.
"All right," Gavin said, "You get the beer, and I'll get the chips!" Moments later, they were all gathered in the game room, crowding together in front of the vid screen. Wraith stood off to the side, leaning against the wall. Once they were all situated, Wraith waved his omni-tool toward the screen and turned it to the appropriate channel. But instead of the playoffs, an emergency bulletin by the Alliance News Network appeared. At first, there was a roar of complaining by the gathering, but they dropped dead quiet as the footage rolled. Wraith had seen some pretty shocking things in his life, and not blinked an eye. But the images on the screen made his mouth drop. He couldn't believe his eyes…
Qurt Turanis brought up his M-13 Raptor and adjusted the optical zoom to get a better view of the warehouse. He could see a group of Blood Pack mercenaries patrolling the rooftop, composed of two krogan and five vorcha. The Blood Pack planned on using the facilities here to smuggle large shipments of highly illegal weapons tech into turian space.
"Not if I can help it." Although he wasn't part of the turian armed forces anymore- and if he tried to go back they would kill him- he still remained loyal to his people, and acted outside of regulation under the title "Valkrie", hunting down gangsters, mercenaries, and bounty hunters threatening the peace. He'd received the nick-name from the people he helped, which reminded him of another free lancer by the name of Archangel who'd died around six months earlier. "Carrying on the legacy" he thought with a smirk. Now, it was time for him to make his move. He slid down from his vantage point that topped one of the many hills on Aephus, and used the rock below him to both stop his decent and to cover him. He peeked around the side, checking his distance with the scope of his rifle. Sixty-seven meters. The warehouse was nestled down in a valley, below scanner range. There was very little room between the side of the structure and the hill side, maybe two or three meters. Two groups of krogan-vorcha squads patrolled this stretch of land, and two more guarded the checkpoint on the single road leading into the valley, and there were bound to be at least two more inside. However, this wasn't anything new to him, as he'd hit half a dozen facilities just like this during his three years on the run from the turian military. He slid down to the last rock on his decent and waited for the next patrol to pass. He could hear the heavy tramp of krogan feet and the scratchy voices of Vorcha.
"Hugh! Why do we come here? Vorcha hunger for blood, and you have us walk around trail like varren! Hugh!" Soon after he heard the heavy thump of krogan head on vorcha followed by a yelp of pain.
"Because Vlask, you were told to. Now be a good vorcha and shut up!" Qurt waited for the sound of grumbling to fade more. He peaked around and saw that the enemy squad was nearing the corner of the structure. Now was his chance. He slid the last few feet to the trail and placed his custom-built magnet gloves on the metallic wall of the warehouse. He felt it stick nicely, then used his upper body strength to hall himself up a meter in the air. He then activated his mag boots and scaled the wall like a klixen. At one point he was forced to stop as the second patrol rounded the corner below him. He held his breath; he was a good thirty feet above them, and had twenty more to go to the top, so he felt sure that they wouldn't stop to look up, but you could never be too careful. Once they'd passed he continued up the wall. When he neared the ridge he stopped, waiting for the tell-tale tramp of the roof patrol. There he waited, yet he heard no tramp for a good five minutes. Knowing this wasn't normal, he took the chance of peeking over the edge onto the roof. It was a mostly flat expanse, save for a few entrance hatches and ventilation structures, with a central hatch big enough for medium shuttles to pass in and out through. Near said hatch was the roof patrol, apparently taking a break with a barrel of ryncol being split between the krogan and a freshly killed varren being eaten raw by the vorcha. Qurt cursed softly, this was going to complicate things. No way he'd be able to enter the ware house without alerting the mercs.
"Guess I'll have to give the old Phaeston a work-out." He said to himself. As stealthily as he could, he hauled himself onto the roof and took cover behind one of the ventilation hatches. He waited a moment, listening for any clue that he'd been spotted. Thankfully, it was quiet except for the low grumblings of the krogan. "Spirits, how am I supposed to take out two krogan and their vorcha?" And it seemed the spirits heeded his prayers;
"Hey, I've got to take a leak," Came the gruff voice of one krogan, "you keep the vorcha from eating each other. I'll be back." The other one responded,
"Alright, but be quick, I've gotta go too." Qurt, elevated by this information, took the chance to peak around the corner. The first krogan was moving toward what appeared to be an outhouse of sorts. Luckily, it was far enough from the others that it granted Qurt the chance he'd been waiting for. After the door closed, Qurt began to move from vent to vent, closing in on his target. He finally made it to the outhouse, and from within he could hear the very suggestive sound of a large amount of liquid being poured down into a drainage pipe. Qurt politely waited, not wanting to interrupt such a personal moment. He contemplated how he was going to kill this beast in the mean time. Krogan were highly resilient opponents, capable of sustaining injuries that would have normally killed any other species. Their number one weakness was their fleshy throat, and Qurt planned to exploit that. Soon after, the pouring stopped, and he seized his chance. He stepped out and opened the door. The krogan was busy re-sealing his armor. He began to turn around.
"Hey, I thought I told you-" as he was speaking, Qurt had flipped out his duel omni-blades and cross-sunk them deep into the krogan's throat. His eyes widened in shock, but it wasn't yet a fatal wound. Before he could react, the turian swept the diamond-hard, scalpel-sharp blades across each other, effectively severing the spinal cord. Orange blood gushed over his arms, and it took all his strength to heave the 800 pound lizard forward and into a sitting position on the toilet. The krogan twitched a few more times in tune with the spurts of blood, but he was effectively dead. Qurt closed the door behind him and drew out his silenced assault rifle, hiding behind the outhouse. It wasn't too long before the other krogan came to check on his buddy. He approached the door, not bothering to knock.
"Hey what's wrong, you get it caught in the zipper?" he said as he opened it. At this exact time, Qurt rushed around and positioned the barrel of the Phaeston right at the back of the krogan's head. Normally, at range, the reduced velocity of the slugs wouldn't be kill shots. But at point blank, the krogan's ceramic armor and scaled plates might as well have been made of tissue paper. For good measure, Qurt held down the trigger and put a good two dozen rounds into the beast's skull. He barely made a sound as he slumped head first into the outhouse, which at this rate would soon be draining orange blood down the toilet. He nudged the fresh kill's legs into the outhouse, put the door on "occupied" and promptly shut it. Now, for the vorcha. They'd be the easy part, as they wore very little armor with no kinetic barriers. He approached as close as he dared and let lose a spraying volley that killed most of them. The ones left alive were critically injured, but the remarkable regenerative properties of vorcha meant they'd be on their feet and calling for help in a matter of minutes. After dispatching them, Qurt switched to his Raptor.
"And now the fun part." He approached the most obscurely placed hatch and opened it a crack, checking to make sure this entrance was clear. A facility of this size shouldn't have any automated detection systems, and Qurt saw no hostiles below, so he slid down the ladder. The warehouse had very little lighting, which was to his advantage. He was up on an elevated catwalk about forty feet from the ground, an excellent sniping position. Every ten feet or so was another catwalk, all connected via stairs. Positioned on the wall on the third floor was a control booth, where the Pack commander would oversee the operation. It was also where the hatch controls would be located. The ground floor was occupied by a rover, freshly unloaded, and a shuttle in the process of being loaded. Shipping crates both sealed and open where stockpiled on the walls with a group of Blood Pack checking the contents to make sure all was there. Qurt took inventory of what they were bringing in;
"Hmm, M-100 grenade launchers, M-451 Firestorms, ML-77 Missile Launchers, M-76 Revenants…" Most of these materials he'd seen mercs get a hold of, but he was shocked when they opened up a crate and revealed neatly stacked M-920 Cain's. The awesome impact force and sheer destructive power had given the Cain the nick name "nuke gun" in reference to the mushroom cloud created by the explosion. One rocket was enough to take down armored gunships in one shot, with enough force left to kill any infantry within a very large radius. The mere thought of what these mercs could accomplish if they put the Cain's into use…
"No way they're leaving this building intact." Qurt had a plan, but it couldn't take him too long, as it was only a matter of time before the Blood Pack realized one of their squads was missing. Not wanting to attract attention on the cat walks, he looked around for another route. Unfortunately, the only other path seemed to be long supporting beams connecting Qurt's walk way to the other. The beam seemed to be only about as wide as his foot, which caused Qurt to grimace. Turians weren't known for their sense of balance. However, the turian in him wouldn't let him give into defeat, so he left his fear of heights on the catwalk as he stepped out onto the support. It soon became apparent that this wasn't a good idea, as he almost immediately lost his balance before he could get his other foot forward. There was a precarious moment in which he could feel his upper body hanging above the forty foot drop, and it seemed the fear of heights hopped right back on the beam with him. Thinking fast, he stuck his Raptor out on the other side of himself as a counter weight, and his body soon fell back into its normal position.
"Too close, too close… turians were not meant for gymnastics." He then tried inching his feet forward, the one in front slid forward and was followed by the back. With this technique, he'd be up here for another solar cycle. Another thought crossed his mind, but to go through with it would go against everything he stood for as a turian. But the more he thought of it, the more he decided to forget about dignity. "Oh, forget it!" he finally gave in and lowered himself into a crawling position. From there he proceeded to wrap his legs around the beam, using his arms to drag himself forward. "Spirits, I must look like a Pyyjak. Glad the boys back in the 9th can't see me…" But he made it, which was the important part, and from here he could proceed with his plan. Utilizing the mag boots and gloves, he lowered himself onto the top of the command booth and located the power junction keeping the lights on. Using his omni-tool, he fried all of the circuits except for the one to the hanger door. As the lights went out, he remotely accessed the hatch controls and opened them, then fried those too. There was a hiss as the door below him opened.
"What the hell's going on? Whats up with the lights and hatch?" Came the angry roar of the Blood Pack chief below him. The krogan was talking to what must be the Blood Pack equivalent of a field engineer.
"Must be something wrong with the power junction, maybe a power surge or something. I don't know, I didn't build the damn place."
"Well than get me someone who knows what they're doing down here!"
"Can't unless we send out the rover. Communications are dead this low in the hills- Ugh!" Qurt had to hold back a chuckle as the pipe the Chief had been priming flew down directly into the engineer's groin. He slumped to the floor as the rest of the Pack laughed. The Chief grunted for silence.
"If you care about your quads, you'll stop telling me things I already know and start getting me those engineers!" as the Pack scrambled to prepare for their unexpected trip, Qurt used the cover of darkness to sneak down onto the cargo floor, where he skirted around the crates until he got to the Cains. He heaved one out and placed it on his back, in which case he was glad for the built in kinetic pads that took some of the weight off his body. He then shot a tracer onto the shuttle via omni-tool and proceeded back up to the top floor. With the power out the Pack was having trouble opening the heavy duty steel doors, so Qurt should have more than enough time to finish them all in one go. Once on the roof, he waited for the patrols below to get out of sight before he quickly made his decent. Running up the hill took all his strength with the added weight of the Cain, but eventually he made it to his vantage point.
He took a moment to gaze at the base, making sure the rover hadn't left yet. Satisfied that all was well, he pulled out the Cain and synced its targeting system to the tracer he'd planted. The great thing about the Cain was that its incredible knack for destruction was offset by its deceptively low recoil. He took aim and pulled down the trigger. He felt the mass effect field generators spinning up as they prepared to cause horrifically beautiful destruction. There was a beep, followed by the slug jetting out of the barrel. Qurt watched it sail up, arc, then dive straight down into the ware house. There was a resounding boom as the war head hit its mark. The structure shook, but it did not fall. However, just as Qurt had planned, that first explosion had triggered all the other heavy weapons. There was a rapid series of explosions caused by the grenade and missile launchers as they punched man-sized holes in the walls while the Cains finished it up by blowing the wall away completely. And within a few seconds the only thing left to ever prove its existence was a heap of twisted, burned, incinerated metal. Qurt lifted his head and took a deep breath of that freshly-bombed odder that he'd grown fond of;
"Ah, just another day at the office."
It wasn't long before Qurt located his rover, nestled in one of the many crevices scattered throughout the hills. Once inside he decided to take a break, now free of the weight of the Cain. He'd promptly disposed of it by tossing it down a deep sink hole, where it was likely no one would ever find it. Not that they'd have any ammo. He leaned back, satisfied with the day's work.
"I think I deserve a break." With this statement he opened the emergency supply hatch under him and pulled out a chilled bottle of Serrice Ice Brandy, Dextro's Delight edition. Not bothering to go for a glass, he opened the bottle with his mouth and took a swig. After the warm tingling passed he hit a button which extended the long range relay dish. He flipped the vid screen on, which had a special emergency bulletin from the Alliance News Network. Qurt took another swig, not much caring for human news. He was going to change the channel when the footage started playing. He stared for a moment, soaking up what he was seeing. When the severity of it hit him, he felt his mouth gap open. He couldn't believe his eyes…
Ulera T'Sone wasn't your average asari matron. While most asari her age were looking for someone dependable to settle down with, Ulera was hunting a batarian crime lord responsible for the looting of dozens of asari fringe colonies. She was a justicar, and had been for nearly two hundred years. Though not easy, her life as a justicar had been very rewarding, and it soon would be again. She stood in a C-Sec security scan station in the Zakara Ward. She was apparently having trouble getting in on account of the fully prepped combat hard suit she wore and the Disciple shotgun slung on the back of her waist. Luckily, she was patient, and confident that justice would be served at its own pace. The turian door guard got off his communicator and went back to his panel.
"Sorry for the inconvenience ma'm, but I'm afraid you're still not cleared past this checkpoint." Ulera looked the guard straight in the eye and replied calmly,
"Tell you're captain that I'm a justicar here on official asari business." The turian sighed, obviously not sharing Ulera's trait of patience.
"I just did, ma'm, again. You just saw me do it. And like the last few times, he told me to uphold protocol and not let you in loaded with that gear." She frowned, as this wear-and-tear game she was playing with the C-Sec captain wasn't getting her anywhere. She decided to play her winning hand.
"Very well, get me Councilor Tavos." The turian put a hand to his head.
"Ma'm, listen-" Ulera cut him off.
"Tell her to remember reach." The guard stared for a moment before getting back on his communicator. Ulera leaned against the wall, hoping this favor she had was still worth something. After a good few minutes of low mumbling, the turian said,
"You can't be- yea, okay…" He took a deep breath before turning to her. "My apologies Ms. T'Sone. You've been cleared for entry." Ulera dipped her head.
"Thank you, I promise not to become a burden." She strode through the door way, managing to catch the guard's muttered statement.
"No more burden than you've been for me…" Ignoring this, Ulera continued with her mission. Being an asari justicar, she was bound to draw unwanted attention if she pursued her target through official channels, attention that would cause him to go to ground again. Yular was a powerful leader of a Terminus bandit gang, and he'd been known to use the new construction sites on the wards as fronts for storing the goods he stole before shipping them out to sell. He was a conceded man, and liked to oversee the movement of goods personally. Her contact in his group said that today he'd be supervising a shipping detail, and wouldn't say more over an unsecure channel. The trick would be to get inside the operation before alerting Yular or his security detail, but she'd cross that bridge when she got there. In the mean time, she made her way to the Dark Star club at the top level of Zakara Ward. A thin veil of mist covered the floor as slowly pulsing and moving lights lit up the otherwise shadowed establishment. The bar dominated the center of the room, forming an oval lined with bar stools. Ulera paused at the door, scanning the room for her informant.
"There he his." Her contact was leaning against the bar, talking with the turian bar keep. Ulera made her way toward them, trying not to draw attention. She began to pick up more on their conversation as she drew closer.
"Your saying he drank a glass of ryncol? And he wasn't rushed to the ER?" the informant was saying. The turian was nodding his head.
"Oh yea, didn't catch his name, some N7 marine. Had a quarian and a turian with 'em. He did that some seven or six months back. Haven't seen him since." The informant nodded and turned back to the drink in his hand. Ulera decided to make her presence known.
"So, a whole glass of ryncol, huh?" the man didn't make eye contact, just casually sipped his drink.
"Yea, very impressive for a non-krogan to walk out of here with all their blood after downing one of those. But I doubt you came here for the drinking stories." Still without making eye contact, Ulera ordered a drink for the sake of blending in.
"No, actually I'm looking for a friend. He's a shipping yard worker, moving some valuable equipment for me." The turian slid her the drink. She smacked a credit on the counter, which he promptly took. Her informant glanced at it.
"A little weak, don't you think?" she gave him a hard stare to remind him of the situation and promptly sipped her beverage. He turned his gaze back to his glass "Any way; I work at the shipping yard, and I might be able to assist you in meeting your friend. In fact, I could take you there right now if you're willing." Ulera downed her beverage, not letting her surprise show at how soon she'd be able to get to her target.
"If you're driving, then it sounds like a plan." The informant placed a couple credits on the counter and stood from his seat. Ulera decided she'd allow him some time to ready up. She hung around the bar for a little bit longer, spectating the erotic dancing going on all around her. After leaving, she wandered around the ward levels, making her way to the rendevoue coordinates. Once she stopped to admire a model ship at the Citadel gift shop.
"I'm Commander Shepard, and this is my favorite store on the Citadel." Chimed the automated advertisement VI. Ulera frowned, swearing she'd heard that same advertisement play at numerous other establishments. She shrugged it off, not wanting to be late. Her stroll ended at a small human food restaurant at the bottom level of Zakara ward. She nonchalantly approached the automated transit station and pressed a small bug on the side. The tiny machine hijacked the system, and Ulera pressed the button that would inform her contact that she was ready. It wasn't long before what appeared to be an empty cab pulled up next to her. She got in the driver's side and closed the doors. Her informant, who'd reclined his seat all the way down, rose from his lying position and took control from his custom built right hand drive car.
"Well that went better than I expected." Ulera adjusted her posture to get more comfortable.
"And what exactly did you expect?" the informant zoomed away from the transit hub.
"I expected our meeting to be compromised so that we would be forced to fight our way through a slew of gangster thugs who would slit our throats without a second thought." Ulera looked at him curiously.
"We fight our way out? You don't even have a gun." The man smiled and reached into his jacket pocket, pulling out an M-77 Paladin pistol.
"In my line of work, I've learned to always come prepared. So, on the subject of my job, which I will soon be out of, we need to go over our plan." Ulera nodded agreement.
"We will. But if I'm going to trust your information, I think I deserve to know your name."
"Don't really have one. I grew up as a duct rat, so I've been called a bunch of different things. Most people just call me Hush, so you just stick with that."
"Hush," Ulera thought, "What an odd name." out loud she said, "So Hush, how are you getting me in?"
"Well, Yular has this problem where he thinks he's invincible. Now, he still has security blocking the most obvious and direct paths through his operation. But he has a tendency to leave the vents alone, so that's how you're getting in. So, here's the plan: I'm going to land on the roof and get out to talk to the guards. They'll say I can't land there, and while I'm arguing with them, you slip out of the shuttle and get into a vent. I'll maintain radio contact with you, and find where you are in the system. Then, you'll follow me through the system to the shipping zone. From there, you'll do what you do best and take down that batarian bastard." Ulera looked at Hush, seeing the hard light of determination in his eyes.
"You really sound like you want this man dead." Hush caught her drift and seemed to loosen up a bit.
"Me and him, well, we don't share the same morals. If you don't mind, I'd like to leave it at that. Personal stuff." She nodded, respecting his privacy. They sat in silence for the rest of ride. Eventually, Hush pointed,
"All right, there's our building. Keep the plan in mind, and do your best to stay quiet in those ducts. Not easy in hard armor." He broke right and swooped to a frame work of a building. The justicar looked at her heavy ceramic armor and regretted not going with a more stealthy choice.
"Too late now." Hush was landing the car. He glanced at her and gave her a confirming nod that she returned. She reclined into a lying position and listened to the encounter going outside.
"Hey, what do you think you're doing Hush? You can't land a shuttle up here." Came the static voice of a helmeted guard. Hush was soon to reply.
"Well, I don't see a "no parking" sign officer. Maybe you should check your optics, I think they're smudged."
"Now listen Hush," came another helmeted voice, "Don't play smart. Get in your shuttle and move it with the others!" As they started getting into it, Ulera saw her chance. As quickly as only centuries of extensive training as both a commando and a justicar could grant her, she rolled up and out of the shuttle, taking cover behind it. She glanced over the vehicle, where she could see Hush arguing with two human Blue Suns mercenaries. They didn't make any sign of showing they'd noticed her. In the clear, Ulera dashed to a nearby duct, checked to make sure it was completely built, and hopped in stomach first. The smooth metal carried her down a good ten feet in a curving arc, reducing the noise she made on her way down. The shaft was a three by three, so the fit was comfortable. She beeped her communicator to signal that she'd made it to Hush. After receiving the counter beep, she closed her eyes and began her justicar meditations so that she may focus better when the time to strike came.
"Okay, I'm in the clear," came Hush's voice over the comm. link, "I'm on my way, just sit tight, and follow me to the meeting. I'll let you decide on how you'll take care of Yular there."
"Understood." she responded. It wasn't long before Hush made it to her location. She could see him through the slits in the vent. He paused, glanced up, and began moving down a corridor. Ulera crawled after him. After taking numerous detours around fan blades, they came to the central complex. The vents stretched all along the perimeter and extended across each side where they met in a cross at the center. All doors were guarded by Blue Suns mercs armed with M-8 Avengers. Stacks of crates dominated the center of the room, filled with pirated goods. Hush stopped to check with one of the guards. After bio-scanning him they gave him the all clear and he proceeded into the room, where he joined a group of smugglers and informants. Ulera, having planned her attack, made her way to the central crossing and waited. After a short wait, there came the woosh of an automated door.
"Captain Yular "Three Eyes" Shau'bar has entered!" Ulera peaked through a slit and saw her target. Yular strode into the room, clad in jet black battle armor with a blood red cape stretching over one shoulder. His face was heavily scarred, and an eye patch covered his upper right eye, giving him his name. On his back was a Kishock Harpoon Rifle, a weapon made illegal in council space due to its serrated bolts that caused heavy internal bleeding in the victim. He was flanked by two batarian enforcers, equipped with M-300 Claymore shotguns.
"That's going to complicate things… I'll have to deal with them first." The justicar unfolded her Disciple, preparing for her strike. Yular approached one of the crates and kicked it open, revealing priceless golden asari sculptures of the goddess Athame. Seeing such sacred asari objects being shipped by one so unworthy as this terrorist filled Ulera with anger. She quickly calmed herself. The time was nearing. The batarian began to speak.
"Hmm, seems all is in place. This is one of my most successful plunders yet, so I want twice as many guards attached to this shipment." The batarian was speaking to one of his enforcers, who got on the radio to order additional squads to their location.
"Now's my chance" Yular had turned to speak the other enforcer. In one swift, clam motion, Ulera kicked the vent off, swung out the duct, and landed with her legs wrapped around one enforcer's neck. She twisted right, snapping his neck and simultaneously blowing off the head of the second enforcer. Before anyone could react, she leaped off the falling corpse and pushed Yular to the ground, Disciple primed on his head. But she underestimated the pirate's agility, and he managed to push her off. She staggered back and was just able to dodge a volley of Ballistic Blades fired by Yular. By now everyone was up to speed. The guards began firing on the justicar.
"Hold your fire, damn it! Don't damage my treasure. I'll handle this one." The batarian smiled as he activated his blade armor, causing malicious blades to sprout all over his armor.
"Well, I guess melee combat is out of the picture." The batarian brought up his Kishock and fired a shot that was deflected by the justicar's biotic barrier. She felt energy drain from her by the impact, and knew she'd have to avoid taking consecutive hits. She flipped out of the way of another projectile and fired shots of her own. Yular's shields were formidable; he didn't even flinch as the pellets were turned away. Ulera popped in another thermal clip and hit the batarian with a powerful reeve attack. As he stumbled, one of the mercs thought it be a good idea to take shots at the justicar. She sped out of danger, causing the slugs to shred a crate. Priceless gems spilled out. Yular roared in rage and fired a harpoon straight threw the unlucky guards head.
"I said no firing!" he looked back at the justicar and powered up his enforcement gauntlet. "Let's end this!" he charged the asari, who leaped out of the way. As he over shot her, she utilized the brief distraction and deployed a warp field. She fired another volley, stripping away the pirate's shields. He spun around and charged again. Only this time, as he entered the field, his body was assailed by thousands of tiny singularities, ripping him apart on a molecular level. He roared again, trying to escape. But Ulera wouldn't have that. She charged herself up, and hit him again with an even more devastating reeve. The excess energy overloaded the warp, creating a massive biotic explosion. Yular was blown off his feet, hurtling into a pair of door guards watching the duel. The mercs stopped the remains of Yular from going any further. The once-powerful batarian crime lord was now nothing more than a heap of bloody, blown-out organs, bone, and armor. There was a gasp from the crowd, as no one was able to comprehend that their leader had been destroyed. The silence was broken by three powerful gun shots. Three guards dropped dead, their heads mostly gone. Ulera made a break for the exit cleared by Hush, who was running for it too while reloading his Paladin. Slugs sped past them, and Ulera fell behind Hush as to protect his unarmored body from the projectiles. They flew down the hall ways, storming by confused squads of mercenaries as they made their way to the shuttle lot.
"Thanks for the assist!" Ulera managed to gasp out as they rounded another corner.
"Don't mention it. You did the hard part!" Panted Hush. They finally broke out onto the lot and hopped in Hush's waiting shuttle. As they took off Ulera a glanced back. A pair of gunships were taking off from the site, and were now in hot pursuit.
"Hush, we've got gunship's on our tail!" The human looked in his rear-view monitor.
"Shit, hold on, this is ganna get bumpy." Pretty soon high-velocity slugs were slamming into the buildings around them. In this sector of the citadel, traffic was light, making them easy to follow. If they were to have any chance of shaking the gunships, they'd have to make their way into a more populated area. And being a justicar, Ulera knew she couldn't let that happen.
"Drop me off." She said. Hush looked at her like she'd gone crazy.
"Are you mad? Those gunships will tear you apart! If we can get to a more heavily populated area, I can-
"And endanger innocent civilians? I'm a justicar; I swore an oath to protect the innocent. Drop me off, or I jump." Hush pursed his lips, thinking hard for a moment.
"Ah, you justicar with your damn code. All right, I'm pulling over. But if they follow me, I'm going through traffic. Got it?" Ulera nodded, but she knew they'd follow her. After all, she was the one who killed Yular.
"Make it quick, fly low enough so that I can get out, but don't stop for a minute." Hush swooped to the right, making for another construction site. As he neared, Ulera opened the hatch and rolled out onto the roof. She brought herself to a halt, watching the car speed off. Just as she thought, the two gunships spun around, targeting her. They fired a salvo of missiles. As they neared, Ulera brought up a powerful biotic field that caught the missiles like a spider web. Through immense concentration, Ulera turned the war heads around and fired them back at her assailants. One gunship dropped out of the way, but the other wasn't so quick to react. It caught two missiles full in the face, breaking the kinetic barriers and destroying the cockpit. it spun out of control, dropping to the hard wards below. The other gunship corrected itself, moving in for the attack. The justicar dived out of the way of the strafing run, considering how she was to bring down this vehicle without heavy weapons. She looked around, and noticed a tall structure protruding from the building. An idea came to her. Pretty soon, the gunship spun around and began racing in for another attack. Ulera dashed towards the structure. She used her biotics to propel herself up twenty or so feet in the air. The gunship neared, not realizing what was about to happen. She leaped into the air, landing on the vehicle as it sped by. Through the tinted glass, she could just make out the pilots shocked expression. She closed her eyes.
"Find peace in the embrace of the goddess," She said. Then, with a fist powered by pure biotic energy, she punched a hole straight through the glass and grabbed the pilot by his jump suit. Before he could do anything about it, the justicar yanked him through the opening and tossed him into the abyss. His screams could be heard for just a few seconds before he became too far away. Ulera hoped into the now-empty cockpit and took the controls. She'd served as a gunship pilot in Talon Swarm during her days as a commando, so the flight controls were familiar to her. She zoomed off, satisfied with the day's events. She would probably never see Hush again, a fact that didn't surprise her. The life of a justicar was a lonely one, and she had learned the hard way that having friends only got in the way of her duties. She ditched the gunship in an old ware house and made her way back to her ship. As she was crossing a busy street in the wards she noticed a large screen on the side rolling an emergency bulletin by the Alliance News Network. Curious to see if it was covering the recent massacre at the construction sites, Ulera pushed her way through the crowd until she was standing at the front. She realized that it wasn't about her and was preparing to leave when the footage began rolling. There was an audible gasp from the crowd, composed mostly of humans. Ulera, being a justicar, had been trained to not show her emotions easily. But the video on the screen shocked her to the core.
"By the Goddess…" she whispered. She couldn't believe her eyes…
Sara plopped on her bed in the Turian shelter home, dizzy and exhausted. It had taken Athyeta long minutes of arguing with the transit worker to convince him to let a drunken quarian in his cab. The long drive to her destination had brought all the feelings of hopelessness back to the front of her mind.
"Nobody cares about us." She miserably thought to herself. The turians here had been good to her, but that might be mostly due to her hips. Her "room" in the shelter was simply a small ten-by-ten closet with a cot, chair, and coffee table for furnishing. Sara felt sick to the stomach, and realized that it might be the turian brandy coming back on her. "Keelah, don't let me throw up in my helmet." The last thing Sara needed was to stumble into the lobby, requesting a minute in the sterilization room to clean vomit off her mask. The feeling subsided; a soothing sensation she thanked her ancestors for. She flipped up her omni-tool and checked the time. 8:23, Illium time. With nothing better to do than try to shake off the affects of alcohol, Sara decided to locate some medication in the medicinal lounge. She swayed a little upon standing, trying to find out which way was up, and which way was down. Upon confirmation that her feet were infact on the floor, Sara staggered into the hall way, mostly vacant. She caught an admiring whistle from a passing turian, which she ignored. The hall way led into the main lounge, which was filled with her fellow occupants. Being the only quarian in the shelter, it was no surprise that its dominantly male population knew her by name. She'd only bothered to learn the names of a few trust worthy friends, though whether they deserved that title was up for debate. She approached the clerk, a female turian.
"Hey Tarrus," she said to get the clerks attention. Tarrus pressed a button on her headset, then gave her full attention to Sara.
"Good evening Sara, what can I do for you today?
"I… had a rough day. I was wondering if I could get some medicine from Doctor Kabon?" Tarrus nodded and went to her terminal. There was a beep and she shook her head.
"Hmm, the doctor isn't in right now, he's running some errands. He should be back any minute; why don't you take a seat?" Sara looked over at the array of chairs, mostly occupied by turians flipping through the channels on the single vid monitor in the shelter.
"I just might do that. Thank you." Tarrus nodded and got back on her terminal. The quarian made her way, careful to avoid falling over. When she was close enough to hear the monitor she leaned against the wall. The turians took no notice of her, as they were caught up in their own debate.
"Try 943." Said one to the turian in control of the remote."
"Okay… nope, just infomercials."
"Well, what about 546?"
"The Alliance channel? All right, it's worth a shot." He dialed in the number and up on the screen came an emergency bulletin by the Alliance New Network. There were moans from the crowd, with many demands to change it. But before anyone could do so, footage started rolling. Every voice in the room trailed away. One by one, all eyes turned to the screen. Sara, shocked into soberness, left her position on the wall and approached the screen, forgetting her reasons for seclusion. She couldn't believe her eyes. On the screen, which was apparently footage from Vancouver, Earth, was a massive alien warship. Its sized excelled that of the near-by skyscrapers; a colossus of near-black metal extending five massive, tentacle-like appendages forward as it crushed anything in its path. A horrible red beam shot forth from one of its joints, incinerating the foundation of an array of buildings, all of which toppled like a childs building blocks. The monster let forth a deep, vibrating roar as it entered a harbor. Soon after, another one came flying down from the heavens, blasting away a squadron of gunships parked on a landing pad. Then another one landed, and another one. The camera zoomed out, revealing a burning city littered with destruction and revealing a dozen of those horrible machines. The scrolling segment underneath stated:
-EARTH ATTACKED BY MYSTERIOUSE ENEMIES DUBBED REAPERS BY ALLIANCE ADMIRAL HACKET. ALL TRAFFICKING TO EARTH HAS CEASED, PLANET ASSUMED LOST TO HOSTILE FORCES.-
"Reapers…" Sara whispered to herself. She recalled hearing of a human commander claiming that the geth attack on the citadel three years ago had been orchestrated by one of those legendary creatures. The council had dismissed it as false; the Reapers were a myth common among many cultures. Of course they weren't real. But here they were, on this screen. An Alliance dreadknot hovered a good mile or two away from one Reaper. It faced all forward and let lose a barrage that would have destroyed most ships in such low orbit. But the Reaper shrugged off the impacts and let lose an attack of its own. The direct impact completely obliterated the human vessel, creating an explosion that toppled a nearby structure. Sara gasped and closed her eyes. A dreadknot was the most formidable of war ships in council space, and one shot from what could only be a ?had destroyed it. "I can't believe it… if what that human commander said was true, then the Reapers are here to…to…" her eyes flew open, and she finished her sentence out loud.
"They are here, to destroy us."
For more information on the characters, please visit my companion story
"Alliance Database: N7 Special Ops"
Well, there you have it. If you didn't know this already, these characters are based off of my favorite multiplayer characters. I hope you enjoyed it, let me know what you thought in the review box.