Chapter Thirty-Four – No Salvation
"There you go," Charles said, as he transferred the recording of him talking to the Illusive Man from his omni-tool to Captain Richards' computer.
Richards and his men had taken permanent residence in Udina's old office, which still wasn't being used. The other council races were still discussing if the humans could be trusted with a seat on the council after Udina's betrayal, which had led to an assault performed by a human organization. Whilst the three remaining councilors were discussing whether to allow the humans to nominate another candidate as the next councilor, Richards had commandeered the councilor's office and was using it as a combat coordination central.
"Good work, son," Richards said, when the file appeared on his screen. "This should be more than enough to prove that Falco is sponsoring Cerberus. I will send three of our strike teams to Bekenstein and kick his doors in. If we take him out of the picture that should be a major setback for the Illusive Man."
"Sir," one of Richard's men interrupted. "Falco has an entire army at his service. Maybe we should just bomb his mansion and the barracks from orbit - soften him up a little bit before the strike teams move in."
"No," Vera said. "You can't do that! There are hundreds of invaluable artworks in there!"
"We're not going to bomb the mansion," Captain Richards assured her. "But frankly, I don't give a shit about the art. I'm worried about the hundreds of human beings in that house. We have no evidence that they even know that the man they're working for is supporting Cerberus. We could end up killing hundreds of innocent people."
"Yeah," Vera muttered, blushing. "Them too."
"Maybe you could convince some of Falco's soldiers to join the Alliance," Kolyat said. "If you inform them of their master's Cerberus connection they might join the war on our side."
"That's a good idea, drell," Richards said.
"We'll come with you when you bring down Falco," Jack said. "I'd love to see that asshole's face when we storm his castle."
"No, you're not," Richard's said. "I have another assignment for your team, sub-lieutenant."
Jack shuttered. Being recognized by rank still didn't sit well with her.
"Where are we going, sir?" Prangley asked, cleverly preventing Jack from saying something stupid to the captain.
"New Canton," Richards said. "There's a temple under one of the mountains there, and the people who live in it decided to stay when we evacuated the rest of the colony. We told them it was a bad idea, but they wanted to stay and take care of the temple."
"Let me guess," Kurt said. "The reapers rolled in, and now they've changed their minds?"
"It seems like it," Richards grumbled. "We received a broken up message from the temple. It was hard to make out what it said, but I think it's safe to assume that they need help. It might already be too late for them, but I would like you to check it out. We can't just leave five hundred people to fend for themselves against the reapers."
"So the reapers are already there?" Jack asked.
"We don't know," Richards said. "We have no scout vehicles in the area. You should be prepared for anything."
Just two hours later, the Psychotic Biotics were on a merchant ship heading for the Terminus Systems and the New Canton colony. They had kept the shuttle from the Falco mission, but none of them felt very good about flying in such an old piece of shit. Having Jack as their pilot didn't help at all. For now, the shuttle was parked in the belly of the merchant ship, which was already well on its way to New Canton.
"I can't wait to take on the reapers," Prangley excitedly said as they were getting ready to go to sleep.
This time there were no officers' cabins and not even crew quarters with room for them, so they had to sleep in the cargo hold next to their shuttle. They'd ransacked a few shipping crates and 'borrowed' the bubble wrap. They would be using a few sheets of that for mattresses.
"Me neither," Jack agreed. "The Cerberus motherfuckers are assholes, but the reapers are the real threat."
"Try not to get too excited, my dear gung-ho friends," Kurt said. "We are not even sure that the reapers will be there when we arrive. Maybe we can just get in, grab the temple fellas and get out without problems."
"Or maybe we're too late and the reapers have already killed everybody and left," Kolyat speculated.
"I hope not," Prangley muttered. "I really want to test myself against those bastards!"
"We should get some sleep," Vera said and turned off the lights in the cargo bay. "Goodnight."
Failing to fall asleep, Charles rolled over on his 'bed', causing several of the tiny plastic bubbles to burst loudly. Getting into a comfortable sleeping position was proving difficult, even though he was really tired. As he curled up to try a new position, his mattress started cracking and popping again.
"For fuck's sake, mate," Kurt whined. "If you're trying to have it on with Jack, could you at least wait until the rest of us are asleep? Ouch!"
Jack had punched Kurt in the arm, and from the way Kurt's bubble wrap bed was sounding, Charles could tell that his friend was writhing in pain even though the cargo hold was pitch black except for a little green dot in the distance – the 'Exit' sign above the door to the bridge.
"You deserved that, Kurt," Vera chuckled in the dark.
"Maybe," Kurt said. "But the twat stopped moving, so I'd say that it was worth it.
"I'm a twat now?" Charles complained.
"You're getting your girlfriend to fight me, so yes, I think that I'm allowed to call you a twat. Auww!"
"She's not fighting you," Charles laughed. "She's destroying you!"
In fact, they had already taken precautions to avoid tempting Charles and Jack to get too friendly during the night. Both Prangley and Kurt had insisted that they should. Specifically, they had placed a wall of people between the two, which one would have to sneak past in order to get to the other. Vera was sleeping furthest away. Next to her was Kolyat, and then Charles, Prangley and Kurt. On the other end of the line was Jack, apparently perfectly placed for punching Kurt every time he got out of line.
"Goodnight, Nielsen," Jack said firmly, leaving no doubt that it was time for Kurt to go to sleep. "Everybody, just try not to move around too much. This bubble shit makes scratching your balls sound like a gunship taking off."
Not long after, Kurt's soft snoring revealed that he at least had fallen asleep. Soon he was joined by Prangley and Vera.
Kolyat was impossible to gauge in the dark. The drell didn't make a single sound whether he was asleep or not. Actually, Charles wasn't sure that he would be able to tell if Kolyat was sleeping or awake, even if he was standing right next to him in a fully lit room.
"Jack?" Charles whispered, unsure if she was still awake.
"How are we supposed to evacuate 500 people?"
"According to Richards the temple has its own ship, but for some reason they haven't used it to escape by themselves," Jack whispered. "Maybe it's been destroyed by the reapers, or maybe they just need us to distract the reaper ground forces while they escape in the ship."
Charles didn't like that they knew so little about this mission at this point. In theory, they could be walking into an ambush. Jack didn't seem to share his concerns. She just wanted to test herself against the reapers as soon as possible. The more, the merrier.
"What if…" he started, but Jack interrupted him.
"Charles," she said softly. "I know that you're worried, but you can't always expect to know everything before going on a mission. Sometimes you just have to go there and see for yourself. Even Shepard does that all the time, and he's got EDI, the Spectre intelligence office and the Alliance at his service."
Charles sighed. He guessed he just had to get used to it. Those were the terms of military service.
"Alright… Goodnight, Jack," he whispered.
The 'Shit Shuttle', as it had been fearfully dubbed, shook violently as Jack pushed the steering well over its limit. They were flying in the mountains, looking for the temple. So far, there were no signs of reaper presence.
"Why are you playing chicken with every bloody peak!?" Kurt shouted, as Jack narrowly avoided another snow-covered cliff.
"Hazardous flying in a shuttle this old is an unnecessary risk," Kolyat said, calm as ever.
"Bahh!" Jack laughed from behind the controls. "This is fun!"
"Would you please keep your eyes forward?" Vera nervously asked.
"Woah!" Jack shouted and laughed like a maniac, as they knocked the snow off another peak. "That was close!"
The entire shuttle suddenly plunged towards the ground, before Jack managed to pull up.
"JACK!" Charles shouted.
"That wasn't me," she said. "We just lost propulsion for a moment there."
"Of course we did!" Prangley shouted. "This thing isn't meant to be pushed that hard!"
"We need a new shuttle," Vera said.
"We need a new pilot," Kurt muttered as loudly as he dared.
"Shut the fuck up, Nielsen," Jack said, but she was still laughing. "Hang on, is that the temple down there?"
"Yes," Charles said from his position in the co-driver's seat. "There's an entrance at two o'clock."
Jack didn't give a fuck about the designated landing site. Instead, she crashed the shuttle into a huge pile of snow, causing a minor avalanche on the snow-covered mountainside.
"Are you taking the piss?" Kurt panted, as they finally stopped, the shuttle half-covered in snow.
"You're alive, aren't you? You big baby!"
"Mate," Kurt said, poking Charles on the shoulder. "Your bird's bonkers!"
"Remind me why I haven't killed you yet, Nielsen," Jack said, pressing the button to open the shuttle's door.
"Because you love me too much, ma'am," Kurt said and gave her a sloppy salute before starting to push snow away from the shuttle, so they could get out. "So nice of you to land in this bank of snow instead of the landing pad that is just 10 meters away!"
Jack gave an irritated sigh and closed the door again. With a mighty effort from the shuttle's engine, she moved them out of the snow and over to the landing pad, where she put them down with a demonstrable thud.
"Happy?" she asked.
"Delighted," Kurt said, smiling falsely.
They all grabbed their weapons and jumped out of the shuttle.
"Shit, it's freezing!" Vera said, zipping her uniform all the way up.
Kolyat, who had been given a red uniform similar to the others, was trembling immediately.
"Drell are very susceptible to cold weather," he stuttered through chattering teeth. "We evolved to thrive in the deserts of Rakhana."
It was hard for Charles to think of Kolyat as a reptile, since he was obviously both sentient and highly intelligent compared to the reptiles on Earth. But in fact, the drell were actually very closely related to the reptiles Charles knew from his home planet. Physically, the drell and Earth's reptiles were almost completely alike. The differences were few. The most obvious ones being size, brain power and the perfect memory.
As a reptile, Kolyat was relying heavily on the conditions outside his body to keep his core temperature stable, which was why he was suffering on the windy, snow-covered mountainside.
"Let's get inside," Jack said.
For the first time since Kahlee Sanders had given her the uniform, Jack was regretting that she had chosen to make her own adjustments, which included cutting up the white shirt, so her entire midriff was exposed. It wasn't very practical in the cold weather.
Suddenly, as they were moving towards an entrance in the side of the mountain, a giant birdlike creature came swooping down from out of nowhere. It made a horrible screeching noise just as it landed behind them, just next to their shuttle. It was much larger than the shuttle, and it appeared to be scanning the vehicle for signs of life.
"What the fuck is that?" Jack asked, as her team gathered behind her.
"It's a reaper," Vera said. "A harvester."
Suddenly, the harvester seemed to notice their presence, and it turned its head towards them, opened its mouth and fired a burst of cannon rounds at the biotics, who jumped for their lives.
"Kill that son of a bitch!" Jack roared and charged her biotics.
Charles, Prangley, Vera, Kurt and Kolyat all drew their Carnifex pistols and opened fire on the giant winged reaper.
"It's armored!" Kolyat shouted.
"Warp!" Prangley bellowed and threw the first warp field himself.
Another burst of cannon fire from the beast's mouth almost killed Kurt, but he managed to put up a barrier in the very last second.
"It's spawning husks!" Prangley shouted.
True enough, from underneath the harvester's belly, twenty or so humanoid forms appeared and started sprinting towards them.
"Prangley! Jack shouted. "You, Rodriguez and I will concentrate on the harvester! Charles, Nielsen and Kolyat, make sure those zombie fuckers don't get close!"
"Right, ma'am!" Prangley said and fired another warp at the harvester followed by a few shots of his Carnifex.
"Charles!" Prangley shouted, embracing his role as the second-in-command. "You've got to move up, so you can stop the husks before they get to us! We'll cover you! GO!"
Prangley, Jack and Vera simultaneously fired warp fields at the harvester, distracting it enough for Charles, Kolyat and Kurt to move forward safely.
"Move!" Charles shouted and took off like a bullet.
He, Kurt and Kolyat sprinted across the snow until they came to a large rock, which would give them cover from the harvester and allowed them to intercept the husks before they were able to jump on their friends.
"Here they come!" Kurt shouted, as the first husk came running around the side of the rock.
Kolyat, who was the closest, grabbed the husk by the head and twisted its neck with a loud crunch. There was no time to admire the drell's impressive handiwork though, because the husks just kept coming.
Charles and Kurt was guarding the left side of the rock, while Kolyat singlehandedly took care of the husks on the right.
The first husk on Charles' and Kurt's side was hit point blank by a biotic throw from Kurt, throwing it out over a cliff edge and off the mountain. The next one was tripped by Kurt, so it fell face first down in the snow, where Charles killed it with a gunshot to the back of the head.
He quickly checked over his shoulder to see how Kolyat was doing. Four more husks were already lying dead at his feet, and right at that moment Kolyat roundhouse kicked another oncoming husk, pushing it back into another one of the reaper zombies. They both stumbled backwards, allowing Kolyat to aim his gun and kill them both.
"Help!" Kurt screamed, and Charles spun around to see his blond friend being brought to the ground by two husks. The reapers had managed to knock the Carnifex out of Kurt's hand, and one was now straddling his torso, pounding its fists into Kurt's flailing arms, which were the only thing protecting the young biotic from taking a deadly blow to the head. Apparently satisfied that Kurt was being dealt with, the other husk ran straight for Charles, who holstered his pistol and charged his right fist with as much biotic power as he could and leapt forward towards the oncoming husk.
With a mighty biotic punch Charles brought his entire hand and forearm straight through the chest of the husk. He pulled back and stared at the hole in this creature's body that he had just created, before the husk stumbled to the ground.
Kurt had now managed to roll himself and the husk around, so he was now the one straddling the husk. Like Charles, he willed his biotics to gather in his hand and he punched the husk in the face, crushing it completely.
"Watch out!" Jack shouted, seeing yet another husk grabbing Kurt from behind.
With a whistle, something flew through the air and lodged itself in the eye of the husk, who had grabbed Kurt. All Charles saw was a knife handle sticking out of the husk's eye socket and Kolyat looking pleased with himself.
"Holy fuck!" Kurt swore, chocked that Kolyat had dared to throw a knife at a target just a few centimeters away from his head.
"I stole my father's throwing knives for the first time when I was four," Kolyat explained with nostalgic sentimentality. "I have practiced ever since. I promise you, Kurt, you were never in danger."
Kolyat threw another knife, taking down a husk that was trying to climb over the rock they were hiding behind, thus proving his incredible accuracy.
Two more husks almost slipped past them, trying to get to Jack, Vera and Prangley, who were still trying to take down the harvester.
"No you're not!" Kurt shouted and pulled the two husks up into the air, where Kolyat could easily shoot them.
Five husks, which must have been the last of them, suddenly came round the corner of their cover and jumped them. One of them brought Charles to the ground before he could defend himself. With a loud screeching howl it pulled back its arm and punched Charles directly in the jaw.
For a brief moment, the mountainside disappeared from Charles' eyesight and everything went cloudy. His ears were ringing loudly and the only sound he could recognize were faint screams of something that didn't sound human at all.
The reapers, his brain kicked back into action and reminded him where he was. His sight returned to normal, just in time to see the husk's fist closing in one more time.
Pow! Another painful hit to head. Charles could feel himself slipping into unconsciousness, and he shook his head, trying to fight away the cloudiness that seemed to invade his mind a little further with each punch.
He took another hit. He hardly felt them anymore, but he saw the husk pulling back its fist. Blood was dripping from it. His blood.
"No!" Charles growled and reached for his pistol, but it had been knocked out of reach. Beyond his Carnifex, which was lying helplessly in the snow, he could see Kurt and Kolyat, both fighting two husks. They were unable to help him.
I have to save myself, Charles realized and reverted his attention to his attacker. The husk was preparing the final blow. The hit that would kill him.
'You're a biotic!' Charles internally shouted at himself. 'Do something, you idiot!'
He tightened all the muscles in his body and closed his eyes, and just as the husk pinning him to the ground was about to kill him, Charles and the husk disappeared in a bright blue flash of light.
Charles felt wind rushing against his face and heard a swooshing sound, and when he opened his eyes, he saw the landing pad and the harvester beneath him, getting rapidly closer. He was in a free fall, dropping from the sky like a stone. In a desperate last minute effort he'd performed a vertical biotic charge, rocketing himself and the husk several hundred meters up into the air above the mountains.
His eyes watered from the wind resistance, but he could tell that the husk had been blown to pieces by the sudden acceleration caused by the biotic charge. Pieces of the reaper was raining towards the ground along with him.
Not wanting to get splattered against the surface of the landing pad, Charles held out his arms and tried to calm down enough to control his biotic powers. It worked and he slowed down significantly.
Now that he was moving towards the ground at a less threatening velocity, Charles was able to use his altitude to get an overview of the battle still going on beneath. Kurt and Kolyat had finished the last remaining husks and were looking up at Charles, who was glowing brightly and slowly controlling his own fall. Jack, Vera and Prangley were still busy with the harvester, which had them running around, frantically looking for cover on the mountainside.
Charles had an idea. Perhaps it was stupid and dangerous, but the harvester hadn't seen him yet, though he was an easy target. He was going to try and take it out.
In another flash, he shot across the sky like a blue shooting star, stopping directly above the harvester, where he allowed himself to fall freely the rest of the way down to the giant winged monster. Just as he was about to collide with the harvester's head, he channeled all the biotic power he could muster into his fist and punched with all his might and all the momentum of his free fall.
Though he was worried about not being able to break through the metallic scales and shattering his entire arm, Charles didn't hold back one bit. Luckily, his forearm completely disappeared down into the harvester's head, where it caused catastrophic damage to the brain.
With a very slimy sound, Charles pulled his arm out of the harvester's head and jumped off it as it collapsed. He landed in a pile of snow, which was lucky, because the harvester exploded violently a few seconds after its death.
"You stupid son of bitch!" Jack shouted and ran towards him, as Charles was digging his way out of the snow.
She stopped right in front of him and smacked him across the face.
"Are you fucking insane, Charles?"
He didn't answer. He could see that she was genuinely worried.
"I'm sorry," he said.
She slapped him one more time and then threw her arms around his neck.
"Don't do that shit to me, Charles," she whispered in his ear.
He could feel that she was trembling, but she was hot and sweaty from the fight with the harvester, so it wasn't from the cold mountain air.
"I'm sorry," he repeated quietly.
"You worry me," Jack whispered hoarsely. "Not because you're not good enough to survive, but because you don't know how good you really are. If you can take out a harvester like that, husks shouldn't be able to put those marks on your face."
Jack was right, Charles realized. If he'd been more aware of his biotic powers, the husk would never have been able to hold him down and punch him several times. He wasn't getting carried away though. He knew that the harvester had only gone down so easily because Jack, Vera and Prangley had already torn its armor to pieces. It was probably just about to drop dead either way.
"Does it look bad?" Charles asked, holding Jack at arm's length so she could see the bruises on his face.
Jack ran her fingers softly across his forehead. Above his left eye Charles felt a stinging sensation, which turned into a burning sensation at Jack's touch.
"There's a gash in your eyebrow," Jack said. "And you've bruised your jaw and busted your lower lip."
"Is my eye swollen?" Charles asked. "My eyesight on the left eye is a little weird."
"No," Jack answered. "But there's quite a bit of blood from the eyebrow."
"I must look a mess."
"Actually," Jack said, putting her hand on his chest and leaning in closer. "I think you look quite hot."
"That's just because I just killed a harvester," Charles joked and chuckled, but stopped immediately, as the bruises on his face hurt. "Ouch, could I have some medi-gel?"
"If you promise not to do anything that stupid ever again," Jack said. "Rodriguez! You're up!"
Vera pulled a pack of medi-gel from her pocket and started smearing it over Charles' injuries.
"Punching through the skull of a harvester is one thing," Vera said as she wiped the blood away from his eye. "But controlling biotic charges and levitating like that. Why didn't you tell us that you can do that?"
Charles smiled at his friend.
"Vera, you know that I didn't even know I could do that myself."
"Which makes you a complete lunatic for even trying that kind of shit," Vera pointed out and dropped her voice to a whisper. "You should have seen Jack. She couldn't decide between being turned on, worried and proud at the same time."
The medi-gel worked quickly, numbing the pain and stopping the bleeding. Eventually, it would also allow his injuries to heal much faster than normally, while minimizing scarring.
"Okay," Jack said, when Vera was done with Charles. "I think we can confirm that the reapers are definitely here. Let's get inside this mountain and find these bastards. Kolyat is starting to look a little turquoise."
They followed a path from the landing pad to the entrance leading into the mountain. Prangley pushed against the door, but it was locked.
"Who's there?" a voice, apparently coming from the door itself, said, making them all jump.
Above the door was a surveillance camera and a tiny loudspeaker, which was where the voice had actually come from.
"We're here to help," Jack said. "We are with the Alliance."
"Then why are you not wearing Alliance uniforms?"
"Listen up, you stupid fuck! We're not the ones hiding inside a fucking mountain with the reapers on our doorstep, so if you don't want our help, we could just leave. If you want us to get you out of here, I suggest you shut the fuck up and open this door!"
"You speak like you're possessed by a demon, my child. You must make peace with God, or you will burn in Hell," the voice said.
"Your god can kiss my ass! Are you going to open this door or not?"
The door opened and Jack and her team stepped inside a tunnel that had been carved into the mountain. It was dimly lit and compared to the outside temperatures, it was very pleasant.
"Let's go," Jack said and led them deeper into the tunnel as the door closed behind them.
They didn't have to walk long before they came to an enormous hall that had been formed inside the mountain. The hall was bustling with activity. Hundreds of people were walking around, all wearing the same blue robes, many of them quietly chanting or praying. There were old people, tiny kids, men and women there, and not a single one of them even appeared to notice the arrival of six strangers.
Charles wasn't religious by any means, and all of this seemed somewhat ridiculous to him, but he respected their right to make their own decisions about how to live their lives.
"This is kinda creepy," Kurt whispered to Charles.
"Mmhm," Charles agreed.
The hall they were standing in had no decorations and no furniture except for countless rows of wooden benches all angled towards a raised pulpit at the far end of the room. Suddenly, sinister organ music started playing and all the robe-clad people sat down on the benches. The Psychotic Biotics remained standing.
A man wearing a white robe and a tall white hat appeared on the pulpit and spread out his arms theatrically.
"Brothers and sisters!" he said, his voice echoing in the stone chamber. "God is great!"
"Amen," the congregation chanted.
Then the speaker noticed Jack and her team standing in the back.
"Who, in God's name, are you?"
Jack starting walked between the rows of benches towards the pulpit, her team sticking close by.
"We're here to help you," Jack yelled to the man on the pulpit. "The Alliance sent us here!"
The man laughed.
"We don't need the help of the Alliance! God has told me that he will protect us, as long as we stay here and protect his temple!"
"Has he now?" Jack said. "And they said I was crazy when I heard voices."
"You don't believe in God?" The man asked, quite unnecessarily.
"Nope," Jack said, popping the 'p'. "And every time I've heard of him, someone's told me that he wants me to go to Hell, so even if I did believe he existed, I would say that he was a dick."
"Blasphemer!" the speaker shouted and dissatisfied murmurs started to spread among the people on the benches.
"Oh no," Jack said in a baby voice, "did I insult your invisible friend?"
"You may very well burn in Hell, but that will be your own doing!" the man yelled.
"Fine, asshole!" Jack said, "but if you're going to threaten me, I would suggest you threaten me with something that is actually real, otherwise, I can assure you that I've had worse. Now, why did you send a message to the Alliance if you don't want help?"
"A simple mistake! God's help is the only help we need!"
"Suit yourself," Jack said and turned on her heal. "Come on, guys. If these nuts want to die, let them."
As Charles followed Jack back where they came from, he looked at the people on the benches. Most of them glared back at him with murder in their eyes, but a few looked genuinely worried. He imagined all these people being slaughtered when the reapers finally attacked the temple. So many would die, and a lot of them were only children.
Charles sighed, turned around and approached the pulpit again.
"You're making a mistake, sir," he said. "What if your god doesn't stop the reapers from coming in here? All these people would die!"
"If the reapers get in here, that would be God's will, my son, and we would all be with Him in Paradise."
"So you would condemn these children to torture and death, because you think there's an afterlife waiting for you?"
"Don't bother with these people, Charles," Jack said. "They're insane."
"But Jack," Charles pleaded. "Look at these people. We can't just leave them here!"
"What do you want me to do? Knock them out and drag them out against their will?"
"We can't save those who don't want to be saved, mate," Kurt said.
"God will save us!" the speaker shouted. "Now, leave! You're interrupting my preaching."
Charles shook his head. He couldn't believe that all these people would follow this maniac into death.
As they were exiting the chamber and going back into the tunnel, they were stopped by a young man, wearing the same blue robe as everyone else. He was probably a few years younger than Charles.
"Hello, my name is Luke. I was the one who signaled the Alliance."
"So not all of you are contempt with sitting here and waiting to die?" Kolyat asked.
"No," Luke answered, and led them into a side tunnel. "More than a hundred of us have already been killed by the reapers when they were trying to go outside for provisions or to spread the good word in one of the towns at the foot of the mountains. But Father Martin says that we should stay."
"Let me guess," Jack said. "Father Martin is the fuckface with the ridiculous hat?"
Luke winced at Jack's language but nodded.
"Father Martin says that we'll go to Hell if we go against God's command, so not very many of us are willing to risk it."
"Why are you willing to risk it?" Vera asked. "You messaged the Alliance... You must want to leave?"
"I hope God will forgive me for leaving the temple," Luke said before breaking into tears. "My parents have already been killed by the reapers, and I just don't want to die too. I believe they're in Paradise, waiting for me, but I'm just not ready to die right now!"
"Hey," Vera said, patting him on the back. "I understand. So, how many of you want to get out of here?"
"At least 50," Luke sniffed.
"Way too many for the Shit Shuttle," Prangley mumbled.
"I thought you had your own ship?" Jack said.
"We do," Luke nodded. "The Genesis, but Father Martin is the only one who has the code required to start it. We asked him for it once, but he refused to give it to us. He said that God wants us to stay right here, and that he's keeping us here for our own good. I was then given ten whiplashes to set an example for the others not to go against the will of God."
"What a loving god," Jack snarled.
"God is loving!" Luke insisted. "I think Father Martin was acting on his own accord back then."
"So what makes you so sure that he's not acting on his own accord when he told all of you to stay here and guard the temple?" Charles asked.
Luke couldn't answer that.
"So we'll just force Father Martin to give us the code for the ship, so Luke and the rest of the reasonable people can get out of here?" Prangley asked, cracking his knuckles. "Shouldn't be too hard."
"Wait for an hour, and he'll be in his chamber," Luke said. "You can come back to my place while he's doing his service."
They all followed Luke through a labyrinth of tunnels, walking through hundreds of caves, which apparently functioned as some sort of apartments for all of Father Martin's followers.
"How often does Father Martin preach to you?" Kurt asked.
"Five times a day," Luke said.
"And are you required to be there for all of them?" Charles asked.
"Yes, but since I was whipped for disobedience, I've been banned for two months," Luke explained shamefully.
"Not allowed to go to church… Doesn't sound like much of a punishment," Kurt whispered to Charles.
They walked for a couple of minutes before Luke finally stopped outside one of the caves.
"This is it," he said.
The cave apartment consisted of a double bed and a smaller bed at the foot end. That was it. Not a single picture on the walls or any pictures of Luke or his parents.
"Some drell religions don't allow their followers to have personal belongings. Is that the same for you?" Kolyat asked.
"When you join the temple, all your belongings are sold and the money is given to Father Martin, who uses it to buy what God wants us to buy."
"Of course," Charles said, not understanding at all, why these people hadn't left the temple a long time ago.
While Father Martin was finishing his preaching in the great hall, Luke told them more about how the reapers had killed most of the people who ventured outside the mountain. They also learned that reapers had in fact already managed to get inside the tunnels, but Father Martin had 'brilliantly' foreseen this and bought incredible amounts of explosives with which he had collapsed the sections of the tunnels that were infested with reapers. Sadly, that maneuver had caved in fifteen apartments, killing another 42 people.
When Father Martin's service had ended, Luke took them back down to the great hall, where people were breaking up to return to their apartments.
An older woman noticed Luke with the six strangers who had challenged Father Martin in public.
"You should know better, boy. The Lord has already punished you for your heathen behavior. These blasphemers are going straight to Hell, but you can still be saved," she said and pointed to Jack. "Look at the demon markings on this one! She is either a witch or a demon!"
"Actually," Jack growled. "I am the she-devil!"
She waved her hand upwards and the old woman was lifted off the ground.
"Argh!" she screamed. "The devil! The devil is here!"
Charles looked at Luke, who was slowly backing away, looking absolutely terrified.
"Relax," he said. "She's only kidding. She's not the devil."
To prove himself he used his biotics to lift Kurt of the ground, somersaulting him once and putting him back down.
"We're biotics," Charles explained to Luke, who didn't look comforted by this at all.
"Father Martin always told you that biotics were demons, didn't he?" Prangley asked.
Luke nodded, and Prangley sighed.
"Sadly, that's not at all uncommon," he told Charles.
"Well, I see no reason to believe that demons even exist," Charles said. "We're certainly not demons, that's for sure."
Jack was doing a good impression of a she-devil though. Her maniacal laughter sounded almost demonic with the echo in the great hall. The lady she was levitating was screaming her lungs out, shouting about devils, demons, witches and black magic. When Jack finally put her back down, she sprinted away with a speed Charles hadn't expected from a woman that old.
"See you in Hell!" Jack called after her and laughed.
"Jack, you're scaring Luke," Vera said.
"Well, Luke should grow a pair. We're only here to help, aren't we?" Jack defended.
"We are," Vera said. "So maybe we shouldn't tell them that we're demons, no?"
"I didn't," Jack said. "She called me a demon, and I told her what she wanted to hear. You're not really scared, are you, Luke?"
Luke swallowed nervously.
"There you go! Let's go see Father Martin, so we can get out of this hellhole."
"His chamber is down that tunnel," Luke said and pointed to a hole in the wall behind the pulpit. "If you don't mind, I think I'll stay here."
"That's fine," Prangley said. "We'll handle this."
As they entered the tunnel leading to Father Martin's chamber, Charles grabbed Jack by the hand.
"Honey," he whispered. "I know you want to kill this guy, but let's at least ask him nicely for the ship code first."
"Sure," Jack said. "But if he says no, he's mine."
"Fair enough," Charles agreed, as they entered a chamber that was at least twenty times the size of the cave where Luke lived.
In the back was a large bed, a bath, several bookshelves and a dining table. It wasn't anything spectacular, but compared to what his followers were living in, Father Martin was living a life of luxury. Several of these followers were shuffling around in the chamber, either cleaning or doing other practical tasks for their leader.
Father Martin himself was sat at a desk right in front of them. He was reading the bible and was now wearing a purple robe and no hat. On the desk was some sort of communication advice, which Luke probably had had to sneak into Father Martin's chamber to use.
"Little Luke told you where to find me, didn't he?" Father Martin asked without even looking at them. "And now you want the code to the Genesis."
"You know, Martin," Jack said. "You're not as stupid as I thought. But then again, I would have compared you to a slug, so it's really not that impressive."
"It's Father Martin," he insisted, finally looking up from his bible.
"Whatever," Jack said. "The code, please?"
He just laughed, and Jack turned to Charles.
"See, I asked him nicely first."
"Have at it," Charles said.
"Last chance, Martin," Jack said. "Fork over the code or all Hell breaks loose. Hah, did you get that? All Hell, Martin. You don't like that, do you?"
"You taunt me, demon-woman, but you will suffer to eternity!" Father Martin shouted and pulled out a detonator from under his desk.
"What's that supposed to be?" Jack asked.
"I've rigged our entire temple with explosives," he said, waving the detonator around.
"Why would you do that?" Vera asked, taking a step back.
"When Luke got his message out I knew that some of my followers were starting to doubt God's command. I needed a backup-plan in case the Alliance came and forced me to let them go."
"And killing yourself and everyone else is your best backup-plan?" Jack asked, stepping closer to him.
"STAY BACK!" Father Martin roared. "God has ordered us to stay here! He wants us to stay here!"
"You might be here, but you'll all be dead," Charles said. "And you will be the one responsible. I thought you weren't supposed to kill?"
"We must not kill," Father Martin said. "It's a sin, and it's very likely that I'll go to Hell when I push this button, but I will have spared the soul of Luke and everyone else who would have left with you."
"You're insane!" Charles shouted. "You're trying to justify killing all these people, when you could just give us the code and we can save everyone, including you!"
"You don't get it, do you?" Father Martin asked. "This life is nothing compared to the afterlife. What's a few years here compared to an eternity with our heavenly father?"
"But how do you know Heaven and Hell even exist?" Charles asked.
"They do!" Father Martin shouted. "My bible says so!"
"And now your god has given you the choice between staying here and dying or killing hundreds of people and going to Hell. Not much of a loving father, is he?" Jack said.
"ENOUGH!" Father Martin roared. "Forgive me, Father."
And then he pushed the button.
Jack grabbed the pistol from Prangley's hip and shot Father Martin twice in the chest.
"Motherfucker!" she shouted, and then they heard the first explosion going off somewhere in the mountain. "RUN!"
All six of them turned and sprinted back through the tunnel to the great hall where people in blue robes were running around like headless chickens as large parts of the ceiling rained down. They heard a loud blast from behind and turned to see the tunnel leading to Father Martin's chamber collapsing.
"We gotta get out! Now!" Jack shouted.
"Where's Luke?" Vera asked, jumping to the side to avoid a rock the size of a skycar falling from the ceiling.
"No time!" Kolyat yelled. "GO!"
"Over there!" Charles said, pointing out Luke and a bunch of his friends, who were standing by one of the exits.
"This way!" the boys shouted and Luke and his friends disappeared into the tunnel that would take them out of the mountain.
Jack sprinted across the great hall with her team on her heels, narrowly avoiding one falling piece of ceiling after another. Just a few meters before they reached the tunnel that Luke and his friends had disappeared into, they heard a deafening explosion and the tunnel collapsed in a cloud of dust. The blast knocked all of them backwards.
"Nooooo!" Vera shouted. "Luke!"
"FUCK!" Jack cursed.
Charles just stared at the rubble in front of him. Was that it? Was this how he was going to die - Like Luke. It seemed ironic. In the middle of a galactic war, to be killed because another human was crazy enough to blow up a mountain… And Cerberus wasn't even involved.
Suddenly, the lights died and the hall became pitch black. Around him, Charles could hear the rocks as they collided with the floor, screaming from those who were still alive and several explosions going on in other sections of the temple.
"Use your hands as torches!" Jack shouted. "We need to find another way out of here!"
Five blue orbs appeared in front of Charles, bathing his friends and the area around them in a dim bluish light.
Quickly, he forced enough biotic power into his hand to make it glow and followed the others, who were running along the wall, trying to find another tunnel.
"Here!" Kolyat shouted and led them through a hole in the wall. "I can smell the fresh air!"
"Go! Go! Go!" Kurt shouted as the ceiling in the great hall collapsed completely.
They sprinted through the tunnel, while they heard the noise of the great hall's destruction behind them. They could feel the air being pushed through the tunnel, as the hall collapsed, but suddenly they could also see daylight in front of them.
"RUUUN!" Jack yelled, as the very tunnel they were in started to collapse.
Charles, who was at the rear, saw Kolyat, Kurt, Prangley, Vera and Jack throw themselves out of the tunnel and into the bright sunlight, before he reached the exit himself and jumped after them, just in time to avoid being crushed by the tunnel roof.
Immediately, he was blinded by all the white snow outside, but he had to force his eyes open, because he was sliding down the mountainside. In front of him, the others had managed to stop by digging their heels into the snow, so Charles did the same thing and ended up with the rest of the team.
"Is everyone alright?" Jack asked.
They all nodded.
"We need to get out of here," Prangley said. "It won't be long before the reapers find us."
"Should we look for survivors?" Vera asked.
"We'll look on the way back to the shuttle," Jack said. "I can see the landing pad over there, but I can't see if the shuttle is still there. If the reapers destroyed it or it was taken by someone who managed to get out of the temple we're fucked."
The walk to the landing pad was long and cold. None of them had eaten for a long time and they had all used a substantial amount of energy on their biotics. Kolyat had almost lost all muscle control when they finally arrived at the landing pad. Thankfully, the shuttle was still there. Outside it, a man was sitting on a rock, holding his two little daughters. All three of them were wearing blue robes, but their uniforms and their faces had been covered in grey dust. They were all shaking from the cold.
"Thank God you're here!" the man said.
"No!" Jack yelled. "Let's not fucking thank God. Thanks to your fucking lunatic of a religious leader, hundreds of people, including your daughters' friends, just died inside that mountain. Fuck you and your god! If you want to thank somebody, you should thank Luke for asking the Alliance for help. Oh no, you can't! Because your god decided that Luke deserved to die!"
"But he saved us," the father said, trying to cover his daughters' ears so they wouldn't hear Jack yelling at their god.
"Why are you so insistent on diminishing the human effort?" Jack asked him. "You and your daughters are alive because you fought to get out. That's why! At least give yourself some credit! Why is it that you praise God for everything good that happens to you, but you never blame him for any of the bad shit?"
"He works in mysterious ways," the man said.
Jack snorted scornfully.
"What's mysterious about being a dick? Do you want a ride in the heathen-mobile or what?"
The man lifted his daughters into the shuttle before climbing in himself. As soon as everyone was strapped in safely, Jack took off from the landing pad and steered them away from the mountains.
"Keep a look out for harvesters," she told Charles, who was sitting in his usual spot at the co-pilot's controls. "I'm not sure the Shit-shuttle would be able to take as much as a single hit from those cannons."
Luckily, they didn't meet any reapers on their way out of the mountains, and they were able to make the rendezvous with the merchant ship that was taking them back to the Citadel.
"You're lucky," one of the workers on the ship told them, when they stepped out of the shuttle, that was parked in the cargo bay. "This is the last time we're going to New Canton. Way too many reapers here and most of the civilians have already been evacuated, so there's not much business going on. At least there are still those religious nuts out in the mountains. They'll still need supplies."
"No they won't," Jack said. "They're dead."
"What? When?" The worker asked.
"Today," Jack said and pointed to the man and his daughters. "These three are the only survivors."
"Shit. They never take a day off from being evil, do they. Damn reapers!"
"Yeah," Jack mumbled. "The reapers..."
"This is the refugee camp," Charles told the man, who was holding his two daughters by the hands. "The conditions are pretty primitive here, but I guess you're used to that. They even have religious services down here if you still feel the need for all that jazz. They're probably a lot more moderate than the ones you're used to with Father Martin though."
The man looked out over the enormous refugee camp, which was spreading and filling more and more of the streets on the wards. Luckily, all traffic on the Citadel was done by skycar or on foot, so it didn't really affect the workings of the citadel that much that thousands of people were sleeping in the streets. Of course the presence of so many refugees was bad for morale on the Citadel, but maybe it wasn't so bad for them to realize that there was actually a war going on.
"Thank you, child," the man said. "God bless you."
Though Charles didn't believe in God, he understood that this was just this man's best way to express gratitude.
"Take care," Charles said and waved at the two little girls, as they followed their father into the refugee camp.
"So?" Jack said, when he returned to the others, who were getting the shuttle refueled before their next mission.
"They'll be alright," Charles said and grabbed a sandwich from a bag that Kurt was holding. "What are we doing now?"
"We need a place to sleep tonight," Vera pointed out. "Preferably some place where we won't have to sleep on bubble wrap."
"Agreed," Jack said. "But we can't afford The Azurian."
"Why don't we use my apartment?" Kolyat suggested. "I'm sure I can make room for all of us."
Charles, Kurt, Prangley and Vera had already been in Kolyat's apartment back when Jack had asked them to leave her alone so she could figure out which of them to choose as her XO.
"Good idea," Prangley said. "But we should also get a mechanic to check out the shuttle. You put it through some pretty rough stuff on this mission, ma'am."
To Charles' relief, Jack agreed that the shuttle could do with a check-up. He was just as nervous about getting into that thing as he was about the reapers.
"Prangley and I will take the shuttle to an Alliance mechanic," Kurt said. "The rest of you can just go ahead to Kolyat's place. We know the way there."
So Jack, Charles, Vera and Kolyat jumped in a rapid transit skycar and were taken to the Huerta Memorial Hospital, from which it was just a few minutes on foot to Kolyat's apartment.
"Not bad," Jack said when they entered the apartment. "Do all teenage drell live like this?"
"No," Kolyat croaked. "My father's work was very sought-after, and he was one of the highest paid assassins in the galaxy. Even when I wasn't speaking to him, he always sent me more money than I knew what to do with. Now, of course, since I was his only heir, I probably won't have to worry about money ever again."
Kolyat's apartment really was nice without being overly luxurious. In fact, on the inside it was very ordinary, but the location, just next to the hospital, was very expensive. Charles didn't know much about house prices on the Citadel, but he was certain that the rent that Kolyat had to pay for a year was more than the value of his parents' house back on Earth.
Kolyat walked over to his wall and turned on his TV.
"This is Emily Wong with Citadel NewsNet. In the early hours of the morning on Bekenstein, a special team of Alliance soldiers performed an attack on prominent business man Fabrizio Falco's mansion in the micro-nation of Concetta. According to the Alliance, five of their soldiers have sustained injuries, while an unknown number of Falco's private security guards have been killed. The purpose of this attack was to stop the money that allegedly was flowing from Falco to the human terrorist organization Cerberus, that recently carried out an attack on the Citadel. The attack on Falco's mansion revealed that he really was deeply affiliated with Cerberus along with possession of a number of invaluable artworks and relics of Earth history, many of which have been lost for years."
"That's good to hear," Vera said. "This must be a smack in the face of the Illusive Man."
Jack's omni-tool beeped, signaling an incoming call.
"Yes?" she said, accepting the call.
"Hi, Jack, this is Diana Allers."
"You can put it up on the screen," Kolyat said, which Jack did, so Diana Allers' face appeared on Kolyat's big TV-screen.
"Cool, now I can see you too," Diana said. "How are you?"
"Good," Jack said. "As you can see, Kolyat is a part of our team now, and we're actually in his apartment on the Citadel right now."
"That's good, I'm sure Shepard will be pleased to hear that you're looking after Thane's son."
"What is Shepard doing right now?" Vera asked.
"He's trying to broker peace between the quarians and the geth, but none of the two sides trust the other, so progress is very slow."
"How's James?" Vera asked.
"Fine," Diana said. "He seems a little frustrated about the situation at the moment, but that's just because Shepard won't let him shoot at the quarians."
"Shoot at the quarians?" Jack said. "Are things that tense?"
"You wouldn't believe it, Jack."
"Thanks for the update, Allers," Jack said. "But that's not why you called, was it?"
"No. I heard a rumor that you were involved in the attack on the Falco Estate, so I wanted to know a little bit more about that. Our viewers loved the stuff I already put out about you, which means that my editor loves you. He's almost as excited about the fact that I've got access to you as my posting here on the Normandy."
Jack then told Diana Allers about everything that happened on New Canton, including the fact that the reapers were there but also that Father Martin had been responsible for killing his own followers.
"Only three survived," Jack said. "We just left them down in the camp on Tayseri Ward."
"Oh, that's horrible!" Diana whispered.
"The worst is, that we could have saved them if Father Martin hadn't tried to kill us all," Jack said.
"I'm sorry, Jack. I'm sure you all did your best. So, where are you going now?"
"We don't know," Jack said. "But if you want to know more, you should get in contact with Captain Brett Richards. He's the one who gives us our missions. I'll let him know that he can tell you where we are."
"That's fantastic. I'm usually quite good at persuading Alliance officers to tell me what I need to know, but it would be nice if you at least told Richards about me."
Diana then showed them some of the Psychotic Biotic material that had already been sent out on the Alliance News Network. There were several short news features about them from back when the Citadel had been attacked and a 30-minute documentary, which included their background story, individual interviews with all of them and lots of surveillance video clips of them fighting Cerberus and helping rebuild the Citadel after the Cerberus coup attempt.
Charles found it very weird to see himself on TV. The fighting sequences from the surveillance videos were one thing, but seeing and hearing the interviews that Allers had made with him was almost too much. He wasn't really revealing that much about himself, just his name, his age and a few thoughts about the war and being a part of the Psychotic Biotics. He could see the pain in his own eyes when he talked about his parents being on Earth. That was the most personal the documentary ever got. He didn't reveal anything about Jack or his special relationship with his own biotic powers.
Jack's interview was mostly about her checkered past, and how she was now fighting on the side of good. Though most of it was bleeped out, Jack ended her interview by directly threatening the Illusive Man, daring him to try and come and get her personally.
"Well," Kolyat said, once the documentary was over. "I feel that I've learned a little more about all of you just by wathing this."
"That's great," Diana said with glee. "Then the viewers, who don't know any of you personally, will feel like they've gotten to know you."
"It's probably good we did the Falco mission before this came out though," Vera said. "What are the chances that none of the people in the mansion watch Alliance News Network on a regular basis?"
"Very slim," Diana said, sounding thoroughly satisfied. "This war has really boosted our ratings, with my show 'The Battlespace' being the most popular, so the Psychotic Biotics might very well become a household name before this war is over. As I said, the viewers are crazy about you!"
"Why?" Jack asked. "We're just one small group in a HUGE fight."
"But not just any small group, Jack," Diana explained. "To begin with, the Psychotic Biotics is led by someone who was already well-known across the galaxy, secondly, you guys, except for Kolyat, are human biotics. That is still relatively rare and people are curious to learn more about it. As if that wasn't enough, you're all young and beautiful, which has never been a bad thing on TV."
"Thank you." Vera blushed.
"How do you feel about this media circus, Kolyat?" Jack asked. "It seems we´re in it now, but you never got the chance to decide if you wanted to be part of it or not. You can still back out, if you don't want to be a part of that."
"No, it's fine," Kolyat said. "Miss Allers seems professional, and I think it's good that people all over the galaxy can follow the brutalities of this war."
"Brilliant," Diana chimed. "I'm happy you see it that way, Kolyat. This might be an excellent opportunity for the people of our galaxy to learn a little more about the drell as well."
"Thank you for showing us this, Allers," Jack said. "And thank you for not editing out the parts where both Prangley and Kurt say that I'm an excellent teacher."
"You're welcome, Jack. I'll get in contact with Captain Richards. If he can give me a heads up on where you're going next, maybe one of my colleagues could be there with a camera. The viewers loved seeing you taking care of Cerberus, so if we could get some footage where you fight the reapers, I'm sure they'll lose their shit."
Just as they had said goodbye to Diana, Kurt and Prangley stepped through the doors.
"The Shit Shuttle should be as good as new tomorrow morning," Kurt said, plopping onto Kolyat's couch. "Well, not as good as new, but as good as it was before Jack crashed it into a mountain."
Jack ignored the baiting and showed the two of them the documentary that Diana had sent instead.
"And now the fans can't get enough?" Prangley said self-satisfied, as he leant back in the couch.
"Will I have to worry about you two fuckers goofing around and trying to kill reapers in the most spectacular ways just in case there's a camera pointing your way?" Jack asked.
"Well, we're not the one's flying around, punching harvesters to death," Kurt defended, nodding towards Charles, whose facial bruises had almost healed already thanks to the magic of medi-gel.
"Sorry," Charles said, bowing his head.
He and Jack had had a long talk on the way back to the Citadel about that particular moment. She was livid with him. Firstly, because he had allowed himself to nearly get killed by a husk because using his biotics still didn't come natural to him. He simply forgot what powerful tool he actually had access to. Secondly, she was fuming because he had chosen, quite stupidly, to take on a harvester. She hadn't been able to hide her pride though. It wasn't that the biotic punch that had taken down the harvester was anything special. Frankly, it only worked out so well because the reaper had already been weakened so much. But she had told him that his biotic charges were nothing less than phenomenal, showing incredible biotic potential. Still, she warned him that if he ever did that shit again, she would kill him herself.
"We've talked about this," Jack said. "I don't want any of you to behave any different just because there might be some public interest for what we do."
"Understood," Prangley said. "I know I kid around a lot, but you can trust that I would never take any unnecessary risks just to look cool."
"Good," Jack said. "You promised me that when I made you XO, but it's nice to hear that you remember."
The evening at Kolyat's was nice, and Charles thought it felt good to actually be in a home instead of in a hotel or on a spaceship. This was Kolyat's home, and there was just something special about that. They ordered food and spent most of the evening discussing what their next mission might be.
When it was time to go to sleep, Kolyat turned his couch into a bed, which Kurt and Vera could sleep on. He gallantly offered his own bed to Jack and Charles, but none of them wanted to push Kolyat out of his own bed. They had already invaded his home. Instead, Kolyat and Prangley would sleep in the bed, while Jack and Charles decided to sleep on the kitchen floor.
They had borrowed a few pillows from the sofa to rest their heads on and a blanket that barely covered them. From the floor, they were able to look out of Kolyat's window and all the way to the opposite side of the Presidium Ring. It was an amazing view.
"Are you going to steal this from me like you usually do?" Charles asked, holding up the blanket, which didn't cover him very effectively to begin with.
"Probably," Jack said, tugging a little on the blanket to prove her point. "Do you like it here on the Citadel?"
"It's amazing," Charles said. "But I wouldn't say that I know it well enough to form a particularly comprehensive opinion. Most of the time I've spent here, I've been either fighting Cerberus or in a hotel. And I'd imagine it's an entirely different experience without all the refugees here. Why do you ask?"
"I was just thinking…" Jack said and paused. "That when this war is over, maybe you and I could live together somewhere. You seemed to like it here, so…"
"Really?" Charles said. "You want to live with me?"
"If you want to," Jack said and rested her head on his shoulder. "It doesn't have to be here though."
"Jennifer," Charles whispered in her ear and kissed the place on her neck where his own name was written. "I'd go anywhere in the galaxy. As long as you are there, that's where I want to be."
"Anywhere?" Jack moaned, enjoying the kisses along her neck.
"You're not going to try to convince me to start a pirate gang now, are you?" Charles chuckled.
"Are you absolutely certain you don't want to do that?" Jack asked. "We'd be making a killing."
"I'd travel to another galaxy for you, baby. But I don't want to kill and steal from innocent people for you."
"You really are a saint, aren't you, Charles? I hate that you're so good?"
He laughed quietly.
"And I love that you think you can change that."
"I have ways to bend your will, you know?" Jack threatened playfully.
"Show me!" he whispered hoarsely, before she rolled on top of him and pressed her lips against his.
There you go. Another one.
Let me know what you think.
I have a very important exam this thurday, the result of which will be absolutely crucial for my near future, which means that it will also have a great influence on the publishing date of chapter 35. If I do well it might be out quite soon, if I fail, It'll probably be a while. So wish me luck.
PS: I am an atheist, which you might very well have guessed after reading this chapter. I will often critisize religion, but that is not at all my objective with this story - it is simply a sci-fi fanfic, which I hope most people will be able to enjoy. I care about my readers, and because I do that, I've taken notice that many of you are openly religious. So I want to make it very clear to all of you, that I have absolutely no problem with your personal faith, and this chapter isn't in any way an attack on you. Also, this will probably be the only chapter in Biotic Beginnings where religion is even a theme. However, should any of you want to discuss faith and religion or comment on anything I've written in this chapter, I'd be more than happy to do that - please review or send me a PM (but please don't tell me that I deserve to burn in hell, it's just not nice to wish that for another person, even if they don't regard it as a real threat)
Wishing you all the best in 2014