Alright people, this is, in a way, it.
While some would say this is a filler, I can say that it is simply the build-up to one massiv and epic chapter next time... I pray.
Now, while this can be called a filler, remember that fillers, if used for something, are actually useful. Yes, I know that 7/10 of this story has been fillers, but considering how many stick around for it, I must be doing something right. And fillers are, at least in my stories, used to build up and prepare for epic battles and fights, such as what went down on Noveria or Therum.
Also, I think I better do this before I get sued by either Bioware or another company whose character's I've taken and really fleshed out:
I do not own the original characters from Mass Effect, AvP, Star Wars or the AI-idea from Halo. All OC's except for Adrian Shepard, who is from Half-life, Exar Kun, who is a suggestion from a reader, as well as Danson and Biff who hail from the wronged series 'A clone apart', are mine. All except for these people, to repeat, are mine. There, I think that should save my behind in an American court ;)
A Sun ignited
Arcturus station, barracks mess hall
Well, if I have to give a compliment, just one to Eden Prime's mess... their oatmeal was actually better than this. What I'm eating... I'm not completely sure actually, but it seems like some sort of glue, mixed with weak spices to hide the taste of oil or grease... fuck if I know, it just doesn't taste like Nicolai's oatmeal... fuck...
Why did that stupid son of a whore have to go and get himself smashed to pieces like that? I mean, I know Scorch and Boss had it worse, they actually lost Fixer. At least Nicolai can still wake up in a few weeks... or months... just, not years. If he stays in bed like that for years, I'm going to lose it.
With a small, tired humpf, I dig into the meal, trying to swallow it as fast as I can, not tasting more than I absolutely have to. As the lump travels towards my stomach, I shudder, then look around the room.
The mess hall here is connected to the barracks housing the marines and guards of the station, as well as the marines and crewmen stationed here while their ships are in for repair. We go under that category now, the engines of the Normandy being replaced with new ones. There are, at the moment, about a few thousand people in here, eating and talking, the noise being untellable from that of an engine or animals screaming. Reminds me a bit of main street in Aarhus, with an ocean of people and no way of being able to hear just what the hell they are saying. Next to me, Ash, Kaidan and Jenny are seated, with Tequila and Jane across the table. Currently, Kaidan is trying to tell a joke while having trouble due to the gluey substance making it hard for his mouth to function. Tequila always seem to be able to eat anything served her, and is just quietly eating, not really paying much attention to any of us. Ash isn't eating, having had her fill before the rest of us. Instead, she is playing seat to Jenny, currently showing her disdain and distaste for the breakfast in front of her. Half of it exits the mouth again, despite us having showered... no, bathed it in sugar to hide the taste of glue.
"This doesn't taste good." She finally says, pushing a half-eaten bowl from her. I share a look with Ash, both of us having a small smile on our lips. Well, she does, I have a hard time smiling when I still have to eat this shit.
"No, but I can assure you it's good for little girls in the making. Remember, you need to build up your energy for when you get back to your parents." Ash says. Ah yes... there's thát too...
Late last night, Ash had the idea of simply switching off the translator and then hear what language Jennifer speaks. Turns out it was Swedish, which is both good and bad if we didn't have our translators. Good, because it is easy to understand, and bad... well, it's fucking difficult to speak. This just means we have to go through a Swedish phone-book... or whatever they use these days, and find her there. Shouldn't be all that hard, and the address ought to be there too. Also, since we are in the Arcturus Stream, practically a mile from "home", this would be a... a good time, to deliver Jen back. So why do I just want to piss on it and keep her with me?
"Because you have grown to love her. Calm though, even if you deliver her to her parents, you will see her again someday."
"You sure of that?"
"How often have I been wrong?"
He does have a point there. Doesn't make it any less painful that in maybe a few days only, I'll have to let Jen go, maybe never see her again even. It's not something I look forward to, to put it mildly.
"When are we going to Earth?" She asks, sounding like she's looking forward to it. I really can't blame her, seeing how she will be reunited with her parents again. I know I would be glad for an opportunity to see my mum and dad again, even if it was just once, just to tell them that I am not as dead as they think.
"In a few days. We need to get a shuttle or the Normandy fixed to go there." Jane says, speaking from behind her mug of coffee.
"I'm going to see my parents in just that short? I'm really happy, and you have to meet them. Then we can still talk when you fight that Saren bad-guy." Jennifer says. I smile, forcing myself to do it actually. I know I should be ecstatic that she can go home at last, see her parents and have a normal life... as normal as a biotic can anyway. And yet, some part of me wants her parents to have been degraded to drug abusers or simply dead, just so that I can keep her. I know it's wrong and sick, but the thought of never again seeing the little girl who has pretty much become part of my life, of my heart... it makes me cringe inside.
"Yeah... and then they can meet Santa." I say, keeping up the smile. Jen looks at me with a bright smile, one of the brighter I've seen in some time.
"But he is not really Santa, is he?" She says. At first, I'm taken a little aback, but her smile doesn't say anything negative. I just smile and shake my head.
"No, not really." I admit.
"But we call him that to tease him, right?" She says, causing me to smile again, this time for real. Oh Gods, I just want to hug her, to hold her in so close I even can get away with, never letting her go. If I ever have kids, I want them to be just like her.
"We do, yeah." I say, finishing the "oatmeal" as they call it here. I'd call it tapestry-glue, but what do I know about cooking? A helluva lot more than these guys it seems. That's when someone from behind me speaks up.
"Corporal Thomas Fisher?"
Turning to see who spoke, I'm faced with a pair of bulky men in commando-armor, the Katarn-class to be precise. Both are completely black aside from a red and white stripe going down the right arm. They stand there, towering at easily two meters, giving off an aura of 'no bull-shit'. Both have a pair of heavy pistols strapped to their thighs, as well as a long knife inserted in a sheath over the shoulder. It looks like it can be just pulled out and stabbed into someone at a moment's notice. Did I mention these guys were big?
Casting a quick glance to the rest of the table, I notice Jane's eyes having gone wide.
"Ehm..." I mutter, scrambling to stand at attention. The red stripes are really enough giveaway that not saluting would be like spitting at Hackett. N7-marines... why the hell do they want me?
"Yes, I'm Corporal Fisher, SSV Normandy ground crew." I say, guessing that I'm supposed to give all the credentials I even know off to a pair of soldiers with all the rights to simply shoot me where I stand. At least, I think that they can do that, never did ask Jane about it.
"Is there a situation with my subordinate?" Jane says, standing from her seat at the table. Her face is set in hard lines, her jaw clenched. Her eyes are radiating determination the likes which almost makes me wince, and I'm not even the target of her eyes. One of the N7's, a man with a large rifle over his shoulder, turns to look at Jane. Wait, Jane was never here in the first place... fuck! She has no authority with these people, and now they're going to lock her up for speaking!
"I don't think so... just watch the show"
"Captain Shepard? Pardon ma'am, we weren't aware you were staying in the soldier's section. All officers were meant to be in the Officer's lounge." Wait... wait what?
"Doesn't matter. Why do you want my marine?" These people know her? What the hell?
"Ma'am, we are not at a liability to reveal information of that type." The other marine says. At this point, the argument between a captain in the grunts section and a pair of N7's have drawn the attention of pretty much every single person in the room... and I'm still standing here, not knowing just what the fuck to do, or how the hell Jane is known by these people. Just what the hell did I miss out on?
"Then I'm not at a liability to release him into your custody." She says, arms crossed over her chest. At the moment, I have zero idea of what's going on, so I'm just staying silent, giving Ash and the rest a raised brow and a shrug off my shoulders. Where Ash and Jenny are looking concerned, Tequila is looking more interested than anything else, and Kaidan is just Kaidan, looking at what's going on with a calculating gaze that reveals only his mind grinding at the highest level.
"Ma'am, we have orders from Admiral Hackett to bring the corporal in for questioning. Technically, you have no right or authority to interfere, but we would prefer if you just let us do our jobs without the problems you getting mixed up in this could cause." The first marine says, his distorted voice sounding a mix between creepy and calm. Like the Grim Reaper trading for your soul.
"I see... well then, I'm coming too." She says, now standing in front of the two N7's on the floor. And I still have no idea how they know her. She was never born here, so how does this even work? The first marine looks at his partner, then just shrugs;
"I see no issues in that, but you must be prepared to leave the room at all times, as well as obey any restrictions placed upon you." Jane seems to be okay with that. At any rate she simply nods and gestures for me to follow the marines. I give the rest of the table a final look, a longer one to Ash as well, then I follow Jane and the first N7, the second one walking behind me with what feels like a loose trigger-finger on his oversized pistols. I knew this day would be crap when I saw the oatmeal...
We leave the room, drawing the gazes of what I guess is the entire room. Great, now I'll not only be... whatever I'll be since Hackett himself wants to see me, but now the entire station is going to looks at me and say 'hey, wasn't he the guy the N7's came down and picked up?' and 'yeah, I bet he was suspected of espionage of something'. Just what I need.
"So... where are we going?" I ask the marine in front of me. Of course, since he has to be this untouchable hardass, he doesn't answer me. Figures, just leave me to contemplate whatever I might have done to piss Hackett off. Let's see...no one knows about Miranda or Jacob except for us, so it can't be that...hmm, maybe it's because we haven't delivered Jenny back yet? No, no then they would just have taken her... is it because Adrian told them he saw me on fire? Wait, he can't. He's been in the hospital all the time, and I don't think he was even conscious enough to remember what I did. So... what can it be? Seriously, this is starting to get on my nerves, and the complete silence of the three soldiers, Jane included, is getting on my nerves.
After what seems like forever of walking between these people, we get to a door made from stainless steel... I think. Hell, I've never been the most knowledgeable on that sort of stuff. I'm better at figuring out wires and the sort, like hot-wiring a car and the likes... not that I ever did that, of course.
"Enter. And you captain have to remain out here." The foremost N7 says, gesturing at the door. I give Jane a look, mostly trying to convey the 'fucking help me here!' I want to scream, but she just grumbles, then nods and leans against the wall. Fuuuuuuuuck... I'm boned, I just know it.
"Calm down... at least I can block the bullets at the execution." I swear, Roku sounds like he is closer to enjoying this than to share my concerns. With a final intake of breath, I palm the interface and enter the room. Which turns out to be an office with a window overlooking space. Anna, of all people, is sitting at a desk, face turned to me, while a man with grey, almost white hair, is standing by the window, looking away from me. Both are wearing really high-ups uniforms, and since I know Anna is an admiral, I'm guessing the other person is too. Oh gods, this reminds me of the talks between me and the school... at least my parents aren't here to be embarrassed...
"But your sister is."
"Ahh, Corporal, come in. Have a seat please." Anna says, her face a mask of calm and friendliness. Still, I'm not comfortable with this at all. Still, I comply, taking the chair readied for me. It's a bit weird in design, with solid surfaces of steel and metal. Almost like one of the chairs James Bond has to sit in and then those weird wrist-things come up and trap him. Still, this is hardly a movie, so why the heck do I feel nervous.
Not even a second after I've sat down, the very same wrist and leg-things come out of the chair, effectively trapping me in it.
"Anna! What the fuck?!" I exclaim, staring at my sister still wearing the friendly face. Finally, the man turns around, and of course it's Stephen Hackett. I mean, who else would be... You know what? Never mind, why am I trapped? What the hell is happening?
"This is... curious..."
"Sorry about that Thomas, but ehm... we need to have a little chat. And... I am going to ask a few things from you too." She says, her face now a bit regretful but still smiling. A sad smile, yes, but still smiling. Hackett looks at me, his grey eyes drilling through my soul and being. Crap he is scary in real life!
"Well, at least this means you won the bet."
"Remember, before the promotion, I made a wager with you, whether you would faint or not when Hackett showed up. Granted, it turned out to be Anna instead, but I'd still say you won."
"Can we please focus on me having been strapped to a chair?"
"What the Admiral means to say Fisher, is that we need some answers, and you are the one to give them to us." Hackett says. Fuck, I always wanted to meet Hackett, but now that I have, he's more of a menacing figure than the bad-ass officer-version of Zaeed. I still don't know why I'm strapped in, but might as well try and play it cool.
"But it wasn't me!" I declare. Anna's mask of calm goes away, replaced by confusion.
"What wasn't you?" She asks, making me stop and think. Just why did I even say that? I still don't know why I'm here... on the other hand, they are kinda treating me like I just morphed into Timmy...
"Ehm... the thing you are going to punish me for? Or... okay, just... why am I strapped up like this Anna? And why, no disrespect meant, is Hackett here? I thought like, both of you kinda had more important stuff to do that... well, capture me, as weird as it sounds." I mutter, still feeling no way of breaking out from these cuffs. Of course, I could just burn through them, but... no.
"This isn't a punishment, and you can be damn sure this is important Corporal. I have a long list of things to do, and talking to a regular isn't part of it." He says, making me shrink a bit under his hard gaze. This guy... is scary.
"You've said that once already..."
"Well he is!"
"Then... why am I cuffed? Or restrained or whatever it's called."
"Well, let me explain that one Stephen." Anna says, making me feel cold sweat run down my back. I just don't know why.
"Hmm...agreed, you have some history, so I'll let you fill him in." Hackett says. Anna just smiles at him, then get's up from her chair before walking around mine.
"Now... Thomas, first of all, you should be made aware that Admiral Stephen Hackett is fully aware of just who you are. This is also the reason I'm here. Furthermore, he is my uncle and as such you will show him as much respect as you can even come up with."
"Wait what?" I start, feeling my eyes almost jump from their sockets in shock. Anna and Hack- that means- Holy mother of all nukes!
"You are related to Admiral Stephen Hackett of the Alliance... quite a twist in the story-line, won't you say?"
"Holy Talos and Mara! You can bet your ass this is- I mean... how is this even-"
"Let me finish. Now, during the mission to Valhalla that my fleet undertook, we encountered an unknown enemy. We have yet to be completely certain as to what or who they are, but all my guts tell me it's the Reapers. Now, the first thing we do, is that I ask you if you know anything about the Reapers?"
I'm left in stupefied awe at her words. The Reapers are... they are here? But... but that's far too soon! They can't be here yet, we haven't even caught Saren! My head is spinning, and I can feel the nauseating lump in my throat build up. After having fought the lump down, I gasp for air, trying to take in what she just told me. It just... seems impossible.
"Yes... I know what they look like." I mutter, nodding weakly to the pair of admirals. Anna then brings up a holographic screen, showing mostly just blackness and the occasional streak of light as a projectile or a shooting star passes by.
"Good. Now, I'm going to show you an image of what we encountered above Valhalla. You don't have to say anything, but you nod if what you see is a Reaper. Can you do that?" Anna says, her fingers hovering above some controls for the screen.
"Yeah..." I sink, dreading the image of a cuttlefish-like dreadnought. And then... it's there. In front of hundreds of ships, the large looming presence of the squid-creature is spreading out its tentacles, floating down on top of an Alliance cruiser or frigate or... I don't know, but the difference in size... Sovereign wasn't this big, Sovereign was nowhere near this big.
And yet, it is the very same type of ship, the same type of machine.
I nod, not capable of saying a word. This is bad...
"I'd say, from what I can gather, we are nowhere near ready for the Reapers to show up."
"Fuck... I knew it. I bloody knew it!" Anna shouts, causing me to wince as much as I can in the chair. Right, I'm still strapped in. I can feel my hands starting to shake with fear, like when you're deprived of sugar, and you just start shutting down. This is pretty much what's going on here, except for fear being the main factor. Sweat is now washing down my face, more than one bead hitting my eyes, all the while my clothes are getting soaked. I really hope the feeling in my pants is sweat too...
"Alright, what do you suggest we do Anna? You're the only one to have fought the Reapers." Hackett says, taking a hand to his chin. Anna turns to look at him... her... her uncle. Fuck it sounds strange.
"No need to constantly swear."
"How the fuck should I know? I just lost more fifty-thousand people taking one, one of those things down. Steve... I just don't know if the new ships will be enough. I designed them with the intention of the enemy being smaller then us... not this."
"I'll get the Parliament gathered again. We need to prepare. If Saren is the key to bringing them here, I want all stops pulled to find him. If he's on a planet, we blow the planet up from orbit. Utter annihilation if that is what it takes. Proceed with the rest here, you know how to reach me." Hackett says, heading for the door. If this can scare him... then we are fucked. New armor and gunships be fucked, we are all going to die this way!
"Fuuuuuuuuck..." Anna sighs, leaning on her desk. She seems to have aged since the last time we met, having more grey hair as well as more wrinkles. She seems ready to fall over, her eyes red with what I'm guessing is frustration of just worry.
"Anna, I'm sorry. I don't know how the Reapers are here so early. Sovereign yes, but... why would Saren be on the ship and not on the planet? You took down the Reaper right? Like, you killed it?" Anna seems to just barely notice my words, holding her forehead with what seems like a lot of effort.
"It's okay. Guess I always knew I wouldn't live to have grandkids... just didn't know it would be this soon. But yeah, we took them down." This makes me almost throw up. The bile that's building up over the... revelation that there were more than one Reaper... it's just too much.
"What? There was only... Anna, just how many of them were there?"
"Two... one small, and one big. The small one was about a hundred and fifty meters, and the big one... more than four kilometers." The room grows fuzzy and hazed, my vision starting to blur out. Four kilometers? I thought the Reaper Sovereign only measured as two!
"Hmm... seems a lot more than we thought has changed... now we start seeing the negative side of the changes."
"Yeah no shit!"
"Fuck...Fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck!" I can't help it. If I don't swear or hit something, I'm going to go crazy. Four fucking kilometers, that's twice Sovereign's size! How the fuck do we beat that?
"Listen Thomas... you can't do anything about it, so just... keep doing what you do. I know, it sounds like I brought you here just to say yes or no, but, there is something else too... mainly why you are restrained."
"Do tell..." I respond, still shaken by the revelation that we have more than just Sovereign to worry about.
"The brass looked at the recordings from your mission to Valhalla... there was one in particular that we found to be interesting." She says, giving me a look I just can't point to what means.
"Yeah... needless to say, the discovery of an Alliance soldier with the ability to coat himself in green fire and take down mutated beings the size of a building, got their curiosity peeked. So... anything you or your friend wants to tell me?"
Now... telling one's sister secrets always seemed to be sort of stigmatized back home, and just in general. There would always be this or that that you wouldn't tell, and things would get awkward and all that. Still, here Anna is asking me why I become pretty much a firebender when pissed off, and how I can do the shit I do when fighting Harvesters. Not really what I had expected when I got up this morning.
This is also why I find I don't know what to say. I mean, yeah, Anna knows about Roku, she's done that for months. But how do I give an explanation to the Alliance parliament on how I do this?
Hmm... an interesting problem. Even I did not remember that the helmets record everything. I suppose this is what they call a 'human error'"." Anna, to her credit, doesn't even flinch when Roku repeats his old stunt with me as a speaker.
"Yeah, except you aren't human." She says, looking above me as if Roku was hanging from the ceiling.
"True, but the fact remains that the Leaders of humanity has seen what they cannot explain. I can answer only that we did what was needed to save the lives of fellow soldiers. The decision as what to do though, remains yours Admiral."
"I know, which is what pisses me off. Still, the test I had planned seems kinda... well, irrelevant now." Anna says, pressing a control on her ignited Omni-tool. The clamps holding my hands and legs unseal, allowing me to stand and rub my sore wrists.
"I'd wager a guess that your tests would involve Thomas burning through the cuffs with green fire."
"Right again Roku. Tell me... what powers did you give my brother? I need to know what I have to work with before I think of something to tell the brass."
"You misunderstand Anna. I have not given him any powers at all. I merely lend him the power he needs to stay alive in confrontations. Were I to give and grant him my entire being, or just half a of it, he would cease to be, simply disappear in a shower of blood and plasma. I only grant him a fraction of a percentage of my being, but it suffices in keeping him intact."
"Yeah, yeah that. What can you make him do?"
"I'm still here you know." I remark. Being discussed in third-person has always pissed me off.
"I grant him the Divine fire, or just 'green flames' as you call them. With this power, Thomas can withstand damage that would leave any tank a smoldering wreck. It also increases his physical prowess, as well as letting him carve his way through enemies. So far, only the metal in the Reaperised creatures have proven resilient to the flames. I plan to correct that soon enough. At occasions, I have also brought him back from the dead. As you might have guessed, the trip we underwent to Pragia involved his death at the hand of an assassin."
"That sounds... useful. So you're saying I could, in theory, have him storm a brigade of tanks, and he would emerge the victor?" I definitely don't like the look of consideration in her eyes.
"Not quite. You see, where barriers and shields draw power from generators or Element Zero, the kind of protection I grant Thomas comes with a price..."
"There's always something..." Anna mutters.
"Indeed, but not what you might expect. Whenever a bullet or the likes hit Thomas, it draws on his mental capacity... I am not sure how to explain it so that you would understand, but it drains his soul's powers. It is like... quickly recovering shields. While it would be possible for him to stand hours in the rain from regular or even anti-vehicle fire, being hit with something meant to take down a ship would melt his mind, leaving him a husk of a man. It would also render me unemployed."
"So... I could still have him carve up battalions of bad guys who only have anti-personnel weapons?"
"Yes, but I do not know if this would be wise."
"Oh, I think I do know what would be "wise" in this case... though it might take a few years to fully implement.
"I cannot be shared among several individuals Admiral"
"Oh, I know that... or, I didn't, but I had the feeling that would be the case."
"Could the two of you please stop talking about me as if I'm not here?" I say, staring at Anna while mentally flipping Roku off. Anna seems to find it entertaining though, and chuckles.
"Damn, sorry about that Bro. I just have a few ideas, but given the fact that pulling you from the Normandy would be not only stupid, but also serve to piss you off, I think they will have to wait in your case. Now, there is another way. I understand that you have a certain Jane Shepard on the Normandy as well?" She says. I'm starting to see where this is going, but I really hope I'm wrong.
"I also understand that this is not what should have been her place, or time for that manner."
"Impressive Admiral. When did you learn about that?"
"Oh, I pick up things here and there... plus she kinda came asking back her position as N7, or at least to be put back in the N-school." Anna says, shaking her head with a small grin, probably at the memory of Jane asking for her old life back... well, part of it.
"What did you say? To her I mean." I say, pondering just what this could mean in the future. Of course, a Shepard with the familiar red and white stripes would be a step in the right direction of having something akin to canon back, but at this point it would just be for show.
"That I would consider it, but that we both knew you didn't ask to be enrolled in the N7-program. Besides, I need to find out if she really is as good as she claims. Any input on that?
"You're asking me? Why?"
"You serve with and under her." Right, good point.
"Well... aside maybe from, I dunno, the commandoes, she's the most effective soldier I've ever seen. She keeps a cool head in all situations, saved my life, held her ground against hordes of hostile aliens... can kill pretty much anything that pisses her off... Yaghs being among them, and... she is a good leader, supplementing John where he falters." I say, counting off on my fingers. It is really something to ponder or contemplate, when thinking about it. Jane, despite still being a hundred percent human, has done everything I just said minus the Yagh. Still, I wouldn't be surprised if she can pull that off in her current state as well.
"So, would you say she could be a good candidate for the program?" My sister says, scratching her side with an idle motion. Hell, Jane is an N7, and if she is anything like I remember, she would be the queen of the N7. Plus, she has kinda gone through it all once. It would just be in, beat the program and out, then become humanity's first Spectre, and badabing, badabum, we're on our way back to something that can be somewhat recognized as canon... before I fucked everything up that is.
"In my honest opinion? Yes. Yes I think she would make an excellent N7, plus she spoke the truth you know. She already has been through the program. You didn't notice the red and white stripe on her armor?" Wait, how come no one saw it? I mean, it was kinda obvious, and I spent the entire start of the medal- and promotion-ceremony worrying that someone would ask for her credentials.
"Good question... let's not ask it."
"I suspect it would be like asking a firm believer to explain dinosaurs. No matter what they used as argument, it would hardly qualify."
"That... makes no sense at all, and you know that."
"Try it then." At that, I just growl.
"How come you didn't ever ask her off her credentials as an N7, or why she was acting captain on the ship?" I ask, causing Anna to briefly look away as in thought, then back to me. She then just shrugs;
"Never thought of it really."
"You're shitting me." I say, hoping she is just joking.
"Nope... we have hundreds of N7's currently active. I can't recognize even a few of them. Besides, it would be damn awkward to ask her that, and then either have her produce them, proving me a paranoid fool, or fail to produce them, proving her an imposter which would then get her arrested." She isn't shitting me...
"Also, who do you think asked her to drop the stripes on her new armor? I even wrote on it just to be sure." Anna continues.
"I... I'm almost afraid to ask, but... what did you write?"
"'Not an N7. Look the other way' Genius right?" I can't resist, and my palm impacts on my forehead, the slap echoing through the room.
"I don't even... Please tell me Hackett isn't the only admiral with some sort of reason in his mind." I plead, feeling a headache start thrumming... again.
"Hey, I do lots of smart stuff. Now, can it and let's finish up here. We have determined that Jane Shepard would make a good N7, so I'm, forwarding a request to have her considered for the program. Next subject."
"Remember to use rubber when doing Williams." I fall to the floor, but not before slamming against the wall in pure shock. That, was the last thing I ever expected my sister to say, and I know she is half-way demented! I mean, for the love of fuck, who the hell even told- why does she even know? When and how-
Looking up from the floor, I notice Anna laughing her ass off. Or, I noticed it when I heard her laughter, but the look of pure enjoyment on her face... now I know why siblings fight all the time. I really want to hit her. Like, like really hard, right in the face.
Arcturus station, Arcturus stream
Corridor between office of Anna Fisher and Barracks.
"So, what did she say?" Jane asked, going next to the younger corporal Thomas Fisher. It had been almost forty-five minutes in the office, and she had started getting worried when she heard the raised voices. Still, nothing had happened except for Admiral Hackett himself exiting the room fairly early on, a disturbed and concerned expression on his face. She had, of course, saluted as was the rule when being in the presence of a living god. A legend would come nowhere near doing him justice.
She noticed that the corporal remained silent, but had a strange red color to his face.
"What?" He asked, looking and sounding annoyed and frustrated.
"What happened in there? What was Hackett doing there, and why did he leave so soon?" She asked, silently dead-curious for an answer as to why the corporal and not her had met Hackett in the flesh. She could understand why Admiral Anna Fisher had been there, but Hackett's presence was still a mystery.
"Summed up in short version: Saren is still evil, we still need to catch him, Anna fought a pair of Reapers above Valhalla, and she wants to make you and N7 again, and nothing else." He said, giving her an annoyed glance. Jane, being who she was, would have normally beaten the crap out of anyone being disrespectful to her in a high degree, while she would berate anyone being slightly disrespectful. She didn't here, which she decided was because she knew the corporal had some sort of important role to play out. Also, he reminded her a lot of Magnus.
It was probably for that reason she told him as well;
"I know about the Reaper-engagement. The commander and Nihlus had me dragged to the meeting as well, seeing as I was one of the commanders of the ground teams, and the beacon zapped me." She didn't mention the annoying-as-fuck representative who had behaved like she remembered Udina to have behaved at most of their conversations.
Like a total prick.
"You knew? Wait, just... Anna mentioned something about new dreadnoughts. You know anything about those?" Thomas asked as they walked on, the wall to their right offering a stunning view of the void, as well as countless ships flying to and from a large construction taking place on the exterior of the station.
She didn't say anything though, content with either letting him discover it on his own or remain unaware. As Thomas passed her, Jane shook her head and followed him, silently asking herself just why she stood for all the occasions of lack of rank and discipline she saw from him.
Her mind just kept seeing Magnus in him, even if the two were nothing alike. Between her dead lover and the corporal, the only similarity was that they were not Christians, one being Asatru while the other seemingly called out to gods and deities she had never even heard of. Maybe the similarity had been their pasts? Thinking about it as she walked beside the silent corporal, she had never known much about Magnus's past before the military. He had just said he felt like joining was a smart thing, and never really said much aside from that.
And then the idiot had gotten himself killed, and it hadn't even been his fault. He had just been going about his business with her and then bang! Her world had collapsed at his death throes, leaving her a shell of what she used to be. She could still see him at times, walking in the periphery of her vision, standing or maybe leaning against walls and doors, following her or sitting in booths or tables across from hers. Yet, he never seemed to have been there when she looked, disappearing like the invisible blind mark in the human eye.
She would never let anyone know, but it was slowly, surely, starting to cause her to lose focus. She had already lost sleep on it, waking up bathed in sweat after reliving the scene again and again and again, just blown massively out of proportions, with the gun ripping his body in two, and enough blood to fill a lake, drowning her in it. She still kept the only things she had left of him, the small necklace with the Mjolnir-hammer in a thin but strong chain. It was made in hematite and shaped and carved into the form of a hammer.
"It's hematite. Means love, protection and that sort of thing. Carry it, even if, you know, it's kinda heathen in your eyes. Okay?" He had said, giving her the piece of jewelry the day she graduated from N-school. He had never mentioned or bothered her about him not being able to complete his career as an N7, instead just supporting her every step of the way.
He had even cooked for her when she had been too dead-beat tired and hungry to do it herself.
She never had it around her neck, instead keeping it in a small pocket on the inside of her uniform. It was the only thing he had given her that she had left.
Faia system, 2.7 million miles from Zorya
"Unidentified flotilla, this is Zorya control. You are inbound for private space, state objective and reason for presence. Fail to comply and be boarded." Tara felt her chest tighten at the sound of the comms operator demanding their reason for being in the system with nearly a hundred ships inbound for the headquarter of the Blue Suns. This ends today... Now remained to be seen how the leader of the Reformists would handle the situation.
"Zorya control this is Commander Terus Ardenian of the Solar Invictus. We have returned unscheduled from mission to the Caleston Rift due to threat of geth-attack following signs of outposts on multiple planets in the system. Purpose of return is rearming and refueling of fleet as well as fresh provisions. We will then return to the Rift. How copy?" Tara held her breath, praying to all the Ancestors she could think off that the data-package had been successfully implemented by their agents on the humid planet.
What felt like an eternity passed before the comms crackled again.
"Solar Invictus, this is Zorya control. You are cleared for frigate descent on Zorya and Cruiser-docking on orbital platforms 1, 7 and 10. Crews will meet up to perform eventual repairs and restocking. Have a nice day." With that, the comms were turned off, and Tara felt her stomach loosen up a little. Still, the day had only just begun in earnest, and her crew were anxious. Despite them trying to hide it, she had seen more than one of the human members kneeling on the floor while praying to her god in the cargo-section. She had often found it strange that humans seemed to bow down in humility when facing their ancestors, but she refrained from mentioning it.
As the ships closed in on the planet, she went over the plan in her mind, despite having done so more than twice since the Relay. It was as simple as possible, seeing how complicated plans relied on everything going as planned. This one allowed for adaptation of the course of action.
Land, appear to stroll around and stretch legs, silently take out nearby guards, infiltrate HQ, murder Vido as well as high-ranking officers. Eliminate all Batarian personnel on site. Cruisers in orbit would then commence surprise-attacks on opposing forces, decimating the defense-fleet. Her crew would be responsible for the silencing of guards while she would proceed to infiltrate the head-quarters with a token force. The rest of the Reformists would then act as the decoy-force, carrying out a major battle against the defense-garrison on site. Hopefully the whole thing would end with the death of Vido, the surrender of the garrison and the execution of every single Batarian Blue Suns. It was past time to eradicate the four-eyed terrorists, and Tara felt more than happy to help solve that issue.
The comms then crackled top life again, displaying private transmissions to the fleet only. There was a veritable wall of codes, firewalls and anti-spy programs making sure none of the communications would be caught by the enemy Blue Suns.
"Alright people, this is it. This is the day we have been waiting on for twenty years. This is the day we take back, not only our honor, but the honor of the entire organization. We now go, reclaiming the land long lost to murderers, terrorists and scum, and we do so with a raised fringe and forehead. We do this, not for personal glory or gain, but for the future, and the lives of countless innocents everywhere in the Terminus. We Suns were once the safeguards of peace and life in the Terminus systems, now look what we have become. The galaxy no longer sees the Legionaries of Aradoth. They no longer see the Blue and white vigilantes ready to help the helpless. You know what they see? What they think when the word 'Blue Sun' comes up? They think 'bastards, robbers, backstabbers and murderers'. I think it is due time we rectify that, and reclaim the name and honor lost. Let's go pay Vido a visit, listen to your superiors, and Spirits, gods and Ancestors be with us all." Tara could feel her adrenaline rushing, making her slightly giddy at the expectation of finally getting the job done, of finally killing the man who had cast the name and honor of the Suns into the trash, reducing them to mere pirates and common mercs.
Behind her, down the stairs in the mess, the entire crew was gathered around the table, getting the last smokes, prayers and preparations done. Guns were double-checked, cigarettes inhaled to the stub and gods appeased. One man in particular was busy doing all three at once, having just put down his rifle to check his pistol.
"Odin, all-father and wise High King of Asgard. Accept those who will fall by the end of this day, to your side as Einharjar to the end of times. Thor, god of thunder. Protect those who will do battle soon, will your servants and their allies to carry your strength and name through the day. Let our weapons be as Mjolnir, and strike fear into the hearts of our enemies." He recited, shifting the cigarette in his mouth. It was one of the few they had, so it went on turns. Due to differences in genetic build-up, the humans had one package, the Turians and Quarians another.
"Tyr, god of war and warfare, mentor of the warrior and judge of fallen man. Grant us the victory and the will to send our enemies to Hell or Asgard, dependent on your will. Let our warcry be as your own, and send our foes running."
"Njord, god of ships and seas. Grant our fleet the luck it needs to persevere and conquer. Grant the brave men and women serving with me the day after this. Let our ships be fast, their hulls strong and their weapons deadly."
"Freya, god of love and compassion... If I die this day, grant me that I may once more be with Jane, wherever she might be, dead or alive. Grant that I might see her one last time, and grant that I may tell her how much I loved her, how much I do love her."
"Loki, god of deceit and subterfuge. Grant that our plan will work and our enemies be none the wiser. Grant that our scheme will play out and the honor of our faction be restored, as will yours in the world that will follow Ragnarok." He muttered, idly fingering the place where his own amulet had once been, the obsidian-made cross that had been a gift from Jane when he was taken onboard the Normandy. In his heart he had never seen the religious meaning in it, but he had seen the meaning and importance she had put in it and thus he had worn it with pride, confident that Freya would forgive his carrying medallions of other gods when it was due to love.
He took one last draw from the small stick of tobacco, then passed it to a bald man next to him. As he did, he went back to preparing his pistol, the sidearm being a simple Predator. A cheap model, but a handgun nonetheless. It had little effect on armor, but the large heat sink would allow for sustained firing. He had already made sure that his Avenger was ready, or at least as ready as the scrap-gun could be. Aside from being robust, the only advantage of the rifle was that it was reliable as all hell, and could be fitted with just about any sort of mod and attachment one could think of. Still, it didn't pack much of a punch, leaving it better suited for sustained suppressing and covering fire, or close-up gunning down enemies.
He looked up when a familiar Turian sat next to him, purple mandibles spread in a curious facial expression.
"Something on your mind?" Magnus asked, giving the Turian a side-ways glance as he continued the maintenance of his gun. As he was satisfied with it, he pulled one of the shield-modules from his armor, looking it over while the Turian Sun looked on in silence for a moment, then spoke;
"I have read a lot on your culture, you know."
"I didn't." Magnus said, placing the small circular object on the table next to a shotgun belonging to one of the other Suns.
"I've always been curious about new and foreign religions, and I've studied and written my... you would call it a PhD, in human religions." The Turian said, a hesitant tone to his two-flanged voice.
"You're a brown nose?" When Sidonis looked at him with a confused pair of eyes, Magnus rolled his own; "it means nerd... geek, you know, someone who is constantly reading?"
"Ah... no, but I wanted to know something. I noticed you as well uttering a prayer to your gods, but you seemed to turn to different gods or spirits than Matsuo over there. I have studied the major religions of your race, and she seems to be Muslim, from what I can gather."
"The point Lantar?" Magnus said with a slightly annoyed voice, using the Turian's first name.
"Right, I was wondering... who did you pray to?" He said, his mandibles going slowly towards his head again.
"Why, writing a paper on the crew?" The human said, causing the Turian to scratch the inside of his mandibles. It seemed to be the same as neck-rubbing with humans, though Magnus didn't know for sure.
"Maybe, if I survive today. Have a friend somewhere out there, fighting the good fight. He wanted me to, and I quote "Expand my horizons", as he called it. Figures really, he always was a bad Turian, but a spirits-be-damned good shot. I think he left C-Sec recently, but I have no idea what the bug is doing these days, only that he seems to have developed a liking towards human women." Sidonis said. This made Magnus in turn raise a brow, seeing as the only description of bad Turians were what Garrus had told him. They were more fluid, more adaptable and more open to unorthodox solutions.
"Heh, so what, you send him a report on human beliefs?"
"Again, maybe. Depends if the next twenty hours end with me dead, in a torture-chamber or sailing through the void, smoking and drinking while toasting to our victory. If that last part happens, then yeah, I'll get something written down." Sidonis said, managing to be humorous about his predictions for the outcome of the mission.
From the cockpit, a call from their Quarian leader came out;
Sidonis and Magnus looked back at each other. Magnus sighed, putting the module back in place. As he heard the small hum of the module activating, he rolled his neck;
"Well... I'm what most would call Asatru, or a heathen, if you ask the devoted people of pretty much every other religion the human race has. I worship and hold a group of gods known as the Aesir, powerful beings of divine power who created the planet Earth, as well as the universe from the body of the giant Ymir. Of course, Ymir himself was made from the black void and the fires and cold of Elívagar, the primeval river of ice. When the gods killed him, they made the void of his skull and the planet of his body and blood. There are gods for just about anything, though there are about eight or nine really important ones. I revere them, and so far I'm still alive." He explained, placing his pistol in its holster.
"I know how you ask them of help, so how do you pay tribute?"
"In pretty much the same way as you Turians do with your spirits." He said casually. Sidonis nodded solemnly.
"Kill the bad guys?" He said, a spark of humor in his bone-encased eyes. Magnus nodded at that;
"Kill the bad guys."
I don't have much to say here, other than reme- oh wait, I do actually!
As you might have noticed, I am including different religions, beliefs and philosophies here. I also include, in the story as a whole, characters who I feel were mistreated in the games or movies. I like to think that I give them a second chance, like Sidonis. I have long played with the idea of him not being a cowardly traitor, but an actual fleshed out guy...Turian... person.
Also, the whole 'send me any pictures you might make to the story as fan-art' thing, is still very much open. Just thought I'd be saying it again :)
Anyway, aside from that, remember to review.