While this story contains all original characters the universe is entirely the property of EA and Bioware.
The Red Moon Collection - 2 - Three Phantoms
Blood Pack Munitions Depot, Second moon of Imorkan, Sahrabarik System
"Will! What's the situation?"
Eleena's voice crackled over the comms as Will stared down at the mess in front of him. So far this assured "milk run" of a mission that they were engaged in was proving to be anything but that. The objective was simple enough: destroy a Blood Pack munitions dump. Their employer, a batarian whose business was ruined by the ruthless krogan and vorcha, had obtained the information regarding this weapons depot and assured them that it would be a simple mission. Shansa and Tul's scouting in the Kodiak had revealed a collection of prefab structures at the edge of a massive cliff centered around a large warehouse. They launched their attack minutes later only to have a pair of Blood Pack shuttles arrive just Shansa zipped away to hide herself and the Kodiak in a nearby crater. Two dozen Blood Pack soldiers poured from the landing pad and into the base. Despite a good effort from the Hyperion crew to hide the Blood Pack quickly stumbled upon the squad.
Kallux and Eleena had run for the opposite end of the facility to draw the attention of their foes from Will and Tul. The human and quarian had managed to sneak out of sight and into the warehouse where they finally found their objective: hundreds upon hundreds of crates packed with guns, flamer fuel and explosives. As Will prepared their remotely detonated explosive, fate gave them another slap in the face: the trigger mechanism was not responding. He stared in disbelief as Eleena shouted into his ear.
He shook his head and looked over to Tul. "I can't get the trigger working."
The quarian leaned over and groaned. "I just checked it before the mission!"
"I swear to the goddess, if you two are dead I-"
"We're okay!" Will quickly shouted in reply. "But we've got a small problem."
"Oh, you've got a problem?" Eleena inquired sarcastically, gunfire blaring under her voice. "Just take your time."
"We're in a corner," Kallux added calmly, the hammering of his cannon behind him. "We're in a barracks at the edge of the cliff. Only one entrance so we're keeping them bottled up."
"The trigger mechanism is malfunctioning!" Tul informed them irritably.
Eleena shouted in exertion as the sound of a biotic shockwave rang out. "Then fix it!"
Will looked over the bomb and shook his head. "We're not explosives experts!" He sighed in exhasperation. "We'll figure something out."
Tul stood and looked around the room. "There's got to be a trigger we can use in one of these crates."
Will pulled himself up beside the quarian. "You really want to dig through every box?"
"Do you have a better idea?" Tul inquired as he stepped toward the first container and began pulling up the lid.
Will spun to see a vorcha standing in the doorway. He was a alone, luckily, and appeared to not have his flamer equipped. As the vorcha pulled up his shotgun Will drew his pistol with deft speed and squeezed off a few quick shots into the Blood Pack grunt's head and neck. The vorcha screeched in pain and fell to the ground, gurgling as blood filled his throat. As Will stared down the door to be sure that the vorcha had no friends following behind him, something caught his eye: a pipe running from the floor to the ceiling with the painted symbol of an orange and red explosion.
"Tul, forget the crates," Will advised as he ran to the pipe and looked over the valve positioned at eye-level. "Call Shansa and tell her to get over here fast."
Tul looked up curiously. "What? Why?"
Will pulled his rifle from his back. "Just do it."
"Shansa, do you read?" Tul inquired over the comms as Will raised his M-15.
"I'm here!" Shansa was clearly ready to be off this moon as well.
"We need an extraction," Tul informed her. "We'll be on the roof of the warehouse at the center of the complex."
"Gotcha, be there in about two minutes."
Will stepped to the side of the pipe and brought the butt of his rifle down onto the valve handle with a grunt. The wheel popped off and shot a few feet away as the sound of a clear gas began rushing from the pipe and into the room. Will turned and ran to Tul'Sorrin with an outstretched hand.
"Give me your blowtorch!"
The quarian paused briefly before pulling the small blowtorch from a pouch on his outer thigh. "I need this for making suit repairs, you know."
Will grabbed the tool and ran to the opposite side of the room. "I'll buy you a new one with a gold embroidery!"
He ignited the blowtorch and placed it at the far corner of the cavernous room before sprinting back to where Tul stood by the growing plume of gas. The quarian, having caught wind of Will's plan, turned and followed the captain out the door without question. Will led them out the door and to the right where a ladder at the end of the hallway ascended into the ceiling and, hopefully, the roof. Will leapt up and grabbed hold of a high rung with Tul starting below him as they climbed as fast as they safely could. The hatch at the end of the ladder opened with the push of a button and Will pulled himself to the roof with a grunt before turning and offering a hand up to Tul'Sorrin. The massive gas giant Imorkan loomed above them and left a blue tint on the visor of Will's helmet. The pair shut the hatch behind them and crouched down to avoid being spotted by the flurry of Blood Pack running about the base below them. After a few seconds of waiting the roar of the Kodiak's thrusters filled their ears along with a series of shots from the krogan and vorcha below. The bullets reflected off of the shuttle's armor as Shansa lowered the Kodiak to the roof and opened the side hatch.
"Hope you two brought your tickets," Shansa quipped.
Will ran to the shuttle and jumped through the open door. "Bill me later!" He opened the comm to Eleena and Kallux as Tul leapt into the shuttle behind him. "Extraction incoming! Where are you two?"
"Squad waypoint is up," Kallux responded as a blue blip appeared on the squad's HUD. "Circle around back and keep the door open!"
Will reached up and grabbed onto a handle bar to balance himself as Shansa sent the Kodiak blasting off toward the waypoint. Tul'Sorrin jumped past Will and into the cockpit as they soared over the prefab buildings. Will ducked slightly as a few shots whizzed past him and into the shuttle, impacting on the wall behind him. The shuttle circled around as they reached the edge of the facility and descended with the open door toward a series of floor to ceiling windows on the wall of the barracks.
"Watch your heads!" Kallux shouted.
Will raised his rifle to the ready as a series of shots from Kallux's cannon burst through one of the windows. Shansa spotted the opening and brought the Kodiak's side hatch adjacent to the gaping hole in the side of the building. Inside, Kallux and Eleena were firing at the horde of vorcha and their krogan commander as they attempted to scramble through the door and into the room. Eleena let down a final massive shockwave, toppling the Blood Pack and giving herself and Kallux a brief respite from the gunfire. The pair turned and sprinted toward the hole in the wall as Will opened fire over their heads and into the recovering vorcha. Eleena leapt for the Kodiak and slammed into the floor beside Will with Kallux following close behind. One of the Blood Pack krogan fired off a blast from his shotgun as he scrambled to his feet, catching Kallux's ankle as he jumped. Kallux let out a roar of pain, but easily made the jump and tumbled into the Kodiak, sending it swaying to the side from his weight.
"We're in! Go!" Will shouted to Shansa.
"Close that hatch," Shansa replied as the Kodiak's thrusters roared to life once again.
Eleena reached up and ordered the door shut as the shuttle tilted up and sped away from the surface of the moon.
"Did you fix the trigger?" Eleena asked as Will turned and offered her a hand up.
She grabbed the hand thankfully and pulled herself up as Will replied. "Had to improvise."
Eleena and Will turned to help up Kallux as the krogan winced in pain from his bleeding leg. "Hate the damned Blood Pack," Kallux muttered.
Will activated his omnitool to prep a dose of medi-gel. "Who doesn't?"
"Damn!" Eleena exclaimed as she stared at the viewscreen on the wall of the shuttle.
Will looked up to see that the rear-facing camera had captured an enormous explosion erupt from the Blood Pack base as the Kodiak sailed into the sky above it. He let out a sigh of relief that the blowtorch had stayed lit long enough to ignite the spreading gas.
Kallux laughed. "How the hell did-"
"Like I said," Will answered as he applied the medi-gel to the krogan's ankle. "We improvised."
"We'll be at the ship in about a minute," Shansa called from the cockpit.
Will stepped to the door and leaned into the cockpit. "Your timing couldn't have been better on that exfil, Shansa."
"Thank you, thank you," the redhead replied with a beaming smile as her hands danced across the flight controls. "Though it sounds like someone on the crew needs to read up on explosives."
Will smirked and stepped back into the cabin as the Kodiak approached the opening cargo bay door. The shuttle slipped into the cargo airlock with ease and hovered patiently as the atmosphere automatically vented into the chamber. As the inner door opened Shansa piloted the Kodiak into the cargo bay and over to the custom-built docking armatures with incredible speed and precision. Will let out a satisfied sigh as he jumped from the Kodiak to the deck of the Hyperion and slid the helmet from his head. He took in a deep breath of the recycled air and turned to watch as the others stepped down behind him. Eleena, Kallux, Tul and finally Shansa exited the craft before Will reached up and shut the hatch behind them with a nod.
"Nicely done, everyone," Will commended while they removed their helmets as he did and began walking to the far wall of the cargo bay.
"It could have gone a bit smoother," Tul'Sorrin noted.
Shansa grinned. "That's an understatement."
"Hey, we recovered pretty damn well if you ask me." Will stopped as he reached his locker and set his M-15 on its rack.
The others lined up to either side of him and did the same with their weapons. The new "armory" that they had installed in the cargo bay was working out well so far. Everyone had hated having to suit up in the crew's quarters. Will set his helmet into place and began pulling off the rest of his armor piece by piece; it was the first time out with the new set and he had hoped they might see some action to break it in. Unfortunately, the fight had come at a terribly inconvenient time. Still, for the amount of credits he had put down on the set of Devlon Industries armor he was fairly sure that a test run wouldn't necessarily be needed. He slid the chest piece into place on the rack at the center of his locker and smiled lightly into his reflection as it shone back in the deep red composite metal. He finished removing the rest of his suit quickly and stepped back, stretching his arms and legs.
"I'm gonna get us out of orbit and set course for Omega," Shansa called as she skipped off toward the forward hall.
"Sounds good," Will replied as he looked to the side and watched as Kallux began stripping his cannon for its maintenance.
Tul'Sorrin stood leaning against his locker beside Will's. "I feel I should remind you, Captain, that we did not escape completely unscathed."
Kallux looked down to his ankle and shrugged. "It's fine. Barely even bleeding."
"Not you," Tul corrected him. "Will left my blowtorch to be vaporized."
"Ahh, improvisation," Eleena chimed in. "Sometimes sacrifices have to be made, Tul."
Will grinned and gave Tul and slap on the shoulder. "I'll head to the market as soon as we dock."
"I appreciate it. I'll come along and make sure it's a good one," Tul replied as he began walking toward the door. "Now if you don't mind, I've got some work to do."
"Have at it," Will called to him.
"Mind if I join you in the market?"
Will turned and looked to the far locker where Eleena was removing the last piece of her armor while looking to him with a raised brow.
"Not at all," Will replied with a smile.
"Good." Eleena shut the door to her locker. "I need to pick up a few things for the port thruster. Fuel governor has been acting up again."
"Course set," Shansa reported over the comms. "Should be about six hours."
"Just enough time for some rest," Kallux mentioned from his workbench. "Too bad I've gotta work on this thing."
"We'll head to Discharge after the markets. Get you some of that battery acid you krogan call alcohol," Will grinned and glanced to Eleena. "El, you in?"
"Sounds good," Eleena replied. "I'm gotta hit the engine room."
"And I've gotta do some work in the loft," Will grumbled. "Come get me if anyone needs anything."
The drone of the ship as it flew comfortably in its FTL jump was always a relaxing sound to Will. He stared down at the datapad in his lap with his eyes half-closed, unaware that he had become lost in his own thoughts. He had been looking over the list of potential missions that Kallux had forwarded to him when he began thinking about the state of the ship, as he often did. Every mission the crew had completed over the five months since dealing with Sommesh had made them more cohesive than the last and Will was feeling more confident about their abilities by the day. He felt a sense of pride as he thought about all they had done so far as well as the fact that he felt more accomplishment in the past few months than he had in the six years he spent making cargo runs. As his mind continued to wander a set of two knocks rang out from the hatch in the corner of the loft.
Will snapped out of his thoughts and looked up from his datapad. "It's unlocked."
The handle twisted to the open position before the hatch was pushed up to allow Eleena's light purple hands to reach up and pull herself through the hole in the floor. She quietly climbed into the small room and knocked the hatch shut with her foot. Eleena adjusted the satchel that slung over her shoulder as she turned and looked to Will as he lounged on the couch.
"How's the work going?" The asari stepped toward where he sat and crossed her arms.
Will picked up the holopad and tossed it to the side. "That answer your question?"
She eyed him with a small smirk. "Glad you're taking care of all of that boring crap for the rest of us."
He shrugged and pulled himself to his feet with a smile. "If there are sacrifices to be made you can rest assured that I'll be there to... consider them." Will looked her up and down quickly. "So, I'm guessing you're here for more?"
Eleena grinned slyly. "I might be."
"Well you know I can't just give it to you for free." Will smirked, holding back a smile.
The asari rolled her eyes with a smile and reached into her bag to produce an old, hard-cover book and hold it out to him. Will took the book with a wink and turned back to the shelf on the wall behind him, sliding it into place and scanning the row of books for another.
"I'm almost out of new ones," Will lamented. "Pretty soon the only reason you'll have to come up here is to spend time with me."
Eleena smiled as she watched him look across the bookshelf. "Don't sound so fuckin' repulsed by the idea."
"That couldn't be further from how I feel," Will replied as he pulled a relatively thin book from the shelf. "Looks like we'll be diving into some science fiction this time."
Eleena frowned slightly in disappointment at the change in subject but smiled as he turned back to face him. "Oh?"
"Yeah, one of my favorites when I was a kid. The Martian Chronicles." He smiled down at the worn cover. "I'm glad human space exploration didn't go quite the way Bradbury imagined."
"Yet another depressing human novel?"
"Oh not at all," Will grinned. "It's a series of short stories."
Eleena smiled appreciatively as Will held out the book to her. "Thanks, Will."
"Of course." He nodded as Eleena grasped the book and gently slid it into the satchel at her side. "You wanna sit for a little while? I'm kinda just wasting time up here alone."
"Sure, why not." The asari removed her bag and set it beside the couch as she dropped down with a sigh.
Will slid onto the couch beside her and leaned his head back. "Good work today. I was a little worried about you and Kallux going up against the entire Blood Pack."
"Sheesh, have a little faith," Eleena scolded jokingly. "You should have seen Kallux about ten seconds before you all showed up. I don't think I've ever seen someone so damned calm while mowing down a dozen vorcha."
"It's a little weird sometimes," Will agreed. "We won the fucking lottery finding him."
Eleena chuckled to herself. "Have I ever told you about the krogan I served on a ship with that was the exact opposite of Kallux?"
Will grinned lightly at the prospect and looked over to her. "I don't think so. Wouldn't that just be a normal krogan?"
"You'd think so," she admitted. "But I swear I have never seen someone so stupid, hot-headed and easy to piss off than this guy. This was about fifty years ago when I was serving on a turian Triumph class cargo hauler. The ship had a security detail and this krogan, Grakull (we just called him Grak), was nothing short of the biggest nightmare you could imagine. One day I'm walking to engineering with a bunch of supplies and he walks straight into me. My stuff goes everywhere and I tell him he needs to watch where the fuck he's going."
"Sounds like you," Will commented with a laugh. "I'm sure that went over well."
"Oh, exceptionally well." Eleena shook her head. "The first thing he says is that he oughta kill me right then and there. Of course, I tell him to grow a fuckin' quad and fight me. He roars and tells me to be in the cargo hold in ten minutes."
Will nodded with a growing smile. "So?"
"So, I go to the first mate, Tarsus, and tell him that he needs to officiate a fight. He agrees with a laugh and we head down to the cargo bay." Eleena sighed and rolls her eyes. "As expected, Grak was pacing back and forth steaming with rage. Tarsus says that he's just there to make sure we don't kill each other and that there's only one rule: no weapons. Grak happily agrees and tells me that he's going to beat me into a new shade of purple." She laughed and shrugged. "He must have spent the whole ten minutes thinking up that line."
Will raised his brows, waiting for her to continue.
"Tarsus yells, 'Go!' or something like that and before I know it Grak is lowering his head and charging at me at full speed. I did a quick dodge to the side and turned around to blast him with a biotic charge." Eleena grinned at the thought. "The momentum of his charge combined with the impact of mine sent him flying into the wall so hard that his crest split the damn wall paneling apart. I have never heard a turian laugh as hard as Tarsus did at that."
"Was Grak okay?" Will asked through a chuckle.
The asari crossed her arms and sat back with a cocky grin. "He was out for a day or so, but it didn't matter. He left the crew at the next stop without saying a word to me."
Will smiled and shook his head. "Hearing stories like that makes me wish I'd served on a ship with more than just Shansa and Captain Nieto."
Eleena put an arm over the back of the couch and tilted her head to the side. "You've still never told me why you left your colony to work on the Hyperion."
"Shansa and I kinda... had to." He shrugged and looked away. "I'd rather not get into it right now."
"Sure." Eleena nodded understandingly. It was the same answer every time. "But, you know, if you ever need to talk or something..."
Will looked up with a small smirk. "How hard was that for you to say?"
She narrowed her eyes slightly and grinned. "Hey, I'm not incapable of being there for my friends."
After a small silence he looked to her with a sad smile. "Remind me again why I shouldn't kiss you?"
"Will..." Eleena's grin faded as she averted her gaze. "It's the same reason I gave you a few weeks ago. I just can't deal with something like that right now. With anyone, not just you."
"I know," Will quickly responded. "I shouldn't have brought it up. I'm sorry."
She sighed heavily. "I'm sorry if I'm being a fucking tease or leading you on."
"Don't be ridiculous," he objected. "Spending time with a friend doesn't have to have any implications. And I promise, I'm not under the delusion that there are any."
Eleena looked back to him with a small smile. "You're a good friend, Will. Definitely too good for me."
"You know that's not the case," Will assured her.
The asari looked to her satchel and scooped it into her hand as she stood and looked down to him with the same regretful smile. "I should get back to engineering... finish up that..."
"Sure," Will agreed before she could finish. "Still on for the markets?"
She nodded and turned to open up the hatch. "Count on it."